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Social Studies

What are hotels doing with all the data they have on guests? Add to ...

Pampering or prying?

“Hotels have always kept logs on their guests, tracking previous stays, comments and complaints, even which pay-per-view movies you ordered,” writes Peter Jon Lindberg of CNN.com. “What has changed, in this brazen new world, is the sheer amount of data that hotels now collect on guests. … A representative for a prestigious Beverly Hills hotel recalls welcoming a first-time guest to the property. ‘We knew very little about her before she checked in, so we searched for her online and discovered she had a dog named Bo,’ the rep says. ‘When she arrived, there was a little doggy gift waiting in her room, with a note card that said “Bo misses you.”’ Creepy? Cute? You be the judge.”

Cockatoos beat temptation

“Cockatoos display as much self-discipline as a child of four when it comes to making ‘economic’ decisions that will benefit them in the future,” says The Daily Telegraph. “Researchers found that the Goffin’s cockatoo can resist the temptation of eating food immediately in order to receive a better reward later. … Psychologists say that such aptitude could be considered a sign of economic decision-making and is rarely found outside humans. Just a few, typically large-brained, animals have been found able to refuse an immediate snack for a bigger one for more than a minute.”

Bar bans Google glasses

“Even though Google glasses aren’t even available yet, a Seattle bar has already banned them from its establishment,” reports United Press International. “‘For the record, The 5 Point is the first Seattle business to ban, in advance, Google Glasses. And [butt] kickings will be encouraged for violators,’ Seattle’s 5 Point Café said. Google is still developing the glasses, which can take pictures, videos and display directions and social conversations on the lenses, KIRO-FM Seattle said. Dave Meinert, 5 Point owner, said he wants to preserve patrons’ privacy, and doesn’t want his customers to be secretly videotaped. The glasses will likely be available for purchase by the end of 2013, KIRO-FM said.”

All of nature is abuzz

“The forest really does hum with life,” writes Becky Oskin for NBCNews.com. “Though often too low or too high for human ears to detect, insects and animals signal each other with vibrations. Even trees and plants fizz with the sound of tiny air bubbles bursting in their plumbing. And there is evidence that insects and plants ‘hear’ each other’s sounds. Bees buzz at just the right frequency to release pollen from tomatoes and other flowering plants. And bark beetles may pick up the air bubble pops inside a plant, a hint that trees are experiencing drought stress. Sound is so fundamental to life that some scientists now think there’s a kernel of truth to folklore that holds that humans can commune with plants. And plants may use sound to communicate with one another.”

Consumers won’t eat babies

“A marketing stunt to grow designer fruit in the shape of babies went pear-shaped when shoppers declared them too cute to eat,” says Orange Co. U.K. “The baby-shaped pears – grown in special moulds – have gone on sale in supermarkets in the Chinese capital, Beijing, with a price tag of $3 each. Fruit growers call the snacks Lucky Baby Pears after a Chinese myth about a ginseng tree that grows magic infant-shaped roots. But instead of a rush of customers ready to snap up the novelty harvest, shops have been stuck with the baby pears on their shelves. One shopper explained: ‘How could anyone bear to eat them? They’re too cute. I’d feel terrible.’”

Thought du jour

“There are only two classes in society: those who get more than they earn, and those who earn more than they get.”

Holbrook Jackson, British journalist (1874-1948)

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