The man who flies around the world for free; links

For a period of time, I had a heavy business travel schedule. When I first understood how often I'd be traveling, I imagined the glamour of frequent flier status, hours spent in First Class and nights away from home in hotels or in cities I'd wanted to visit. Both in my case, and in those of the many consultants or salespeople I know who travel, the shine wore off quickly. I achieved my coveted status, but eventually the plane became like any other long commute, hotel beds felt less and less comfortable, and restaurants became an annoying substitute to a home-cooked meal. Ben Schlappig and I are not cut from the same cloth:

Up in the air
Mr. Schlappig is a celebrity in the world of what's known as the Hobby - gaming airline systems to collect massive amounts of reward points and use them for free travel around the world. This man has no home, as he conducts his entire life from the road while traveling in first class, eating at the finest restaurants and staying at the best hotels, all for free. Some of this tips for racking up miles seem so easy they're hard to believe, but this fantastic article is a great insight to a truly and totally unique life.

How prop masters must evolve alongside cameras
Today's super-advanced HD and 4K film cameras have wrecked havoc upon the prop industry. Since the earliest days of theater, prop masters have been tasked with making items that suspend the belief of their audience and pass for utterly realistic interpretations of what's happening in the story. Advanced cameras have made obscuring the little details that might shatter that illusion ever more difficult; Bloomberg reports on how technology has forced prop-making to evolve in ways wholly unexpected.

The madness of the Confederacy
Robert Bunch was a British consul assigned to Charleston in the time leading up to and during the rebellion. His observations, collected in the book Our Man in Charleston give a contemporary outsider's view of what drove the Confederacy, how it came into being, and its true motivations. They're not particularly charitable, and certainly don't align with the whitewashed view that's been presented domestically over time. 

Profanity's evolution through the years
It's tough to imagine that "Odsbodikins" was once as offensive as the words we can't say on broadcast TV today. The WSJ has a long look this week at the evolution of profanity and how wider acceptance of words like "fuck" that we once considered wholly offensive are consistent with the evolution of other profanities over time, and reflect the current taboos in culture.

Preserving the rights of both accuser and accused
The correct manner in which to handle sexual assault allegations is a topic I've posted about here frequently. My general belief is that the rights of the victim/accuser are paramount, and that they ought to be protected and able to make a reasonable accusation in a way that is comfortable and secure. I continually worry, though, that after preserving those rights, our institutions turn around and in their zeal to protect victims, obliterate the rights of the accused. This particular case from Slate is a cautionary tale that occurs not in the extra-judicial area of academia, but through a county prosecutor who ignored virtually all reasonable evidence to obtain a conviction (now vacated). Sexual assault is a violent crime, and one that needs to be stamped out with the same zeal as murder. But our eagerness to do so can't usurp the fundamental protection we're all guaranteed, which is to preserve innocence until proven otherwise. 

And finally, two thoughts on the pending Iran nuclear deal:

Why circumvent Capitol Hill?
This is ancillary to the nature of the deal itself, but one has to wonder what the administration thought they were gaining in winning UN approval before allowing Congress to consider the proposed nuclear deal. Even the President's supporters seem chaffed by his circumventing them.

All roads lead to Syria
Not surprisingly, the nuclear deal has not led to an immediate change in rhetoric or attitude in Iran. While that in and of itself is not a deal-killer, it's concerning in the context of the wider security situation in the Middle East that this deal was meant to de-escalate. The American Interest argues that in focusing so much on Iran, we're missing the real key piece to stability right now, which is Syria. How the US engages and works to resolve the Syrian conflict will say more to the skeptical Saudis and others than the deal itself.