Economist 2/12/16

  1. Using indicators from our sister company, The Economist Intelligence Unit’s “cost of living” survey, you can now discover which cities offer the best monetary value for a romantic mini-break. Topping the table is Sofia, Bulgaria, where taxis to and from the airport, a fancy meal, a night in a quality hotel with top-shelf drinks in the bar and a bottle of champagne smuggled up to your room will set you back a little over $200. Head toNew York though, and the equivalent trip will cost you over five times as much, largely due to hotel costs, the second highest in the survey after Doha, Qatar. In comparison, $689 for one night in Paris, France seems almost reasonable.Yet there are plenty of bargains to be had around the world if you are prepared to economise: cancel the restaurant and Kiev, Ukraine is the best value option, while ditching the taxis in Tokyo more than halves the cost.
  2. Our bodies are wired to a 24-hour day, with regular cycles of daylight and darkness. Crossing time zones ever faster only serves to throw our internal clocks further out of whack when we arrive.Fortunately, researchers at Stanford University believe they have found a cure for jet lag—or at least a way to make it much less of a nuisance. The solution, not surprisingly, involves light, which dictates our circadian rhythms.Typically, sleep researchers say it takes about one day to adjust to a one-hour time change.according to the Stanford researchers, continuous light shifted a person’s internal clock by just 36 minutes. A two-millisecond flash of light every 10 seconds, by contrast, advanced the clock by an average of nearly two hours, and sometimes more.  Of course, most travellers can’t spend a night in a lab before every flight. So the Stanford team is working to develop a sleep mask with LED lights that can be programmed with a smartphone.
  3. Turkey, a secular but mainly Muslim country of 75m people, is not a nation of big drinkers. At an average of 1.6 litres a year, consumption per head (excluding bootleg booze) is the second-lowest among the 40 member and partner countries of the OECD. Among these, the only drier place is Indonesia, another secular but Muslim-majority country.In keeping with its Islamist roots, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been doing its best to keep it that way. The party’s leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, urges Turks to stop drinking or at least do so only at home.Big tax rises since 2004 have more than trebled in real terms the price of raki, an anise-flavoured spirit that was the preferred tipple of Kemal Ataturk, the nation’s founding father.According to the OECD, perhaps 29% of the booze consumed in Turkey is sold illegally.
  4. A law pushed through by the AKP in 2013 prohibits any sort of promotion of alcohol, including ads, sponsorship deals, product placement or even wine tastings.As a result, a wine industry that had seemed on the verge of a breakthrough is now plateauing. Production, having more than doubled between 2006 and 2010 to 58m litres, has since stalled, as has domestic consumption.Reined in at home, wine companies are seeking a bigger share of foreign markets. About 30 of them have locked arms as Wines of Turkey, a group that promotes exports.Although the government has banned all marketing to domestic customers, it subsidises the promotion of wine to foreigners.
  5. Drone-racing began as an amateur sport in Australia only a couple of years ago, and spread with the aid of social media as pilots shared videos of their contests.The sport has had to work out some technological kinks, such as eliminating the “latency” that delays the live video feed to the pilot, which could cause a drone to miss a turn and crash. Races require special drones that are swifter than those mass-produced for consumer use by firms like DJI of China. DRL makes its own.  As drones have become more affordable, the sport has gained enthusiasts. This year perhaps 3m drones will be sold in America, generating around $950m in revenue, according to the Consumer Technology Association, an industry group.

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