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Disappearing icon of airport design finds new life in Qantas lounges

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The rapid, breathy clacks of a classic departures board is a formative feature of the modern air travel experience, and sadly one which is quickly slipping into obscurity and obsolescence. From Australia, however, an airline emerges as conservationist, incorporating the “Solari board” into its premium airport lounges as fine art.

It’s an imposing presence, the black and white words and letters and blinking yellow lights hooked on high, presiding over a sea of travelers crisscrossing paths en route to destinations from Taipei to Toronto and Antananarivo to Amsterdam. “I grew up listening to the ‘fwip-fwip-fwip’ of the board at Bangkok’s original international airport, Don Mueang,” says pilot, cinematographer, and Boeing 747 simulator owner/operator Joe Corrigan. “There was the one big departures board and you’d stand underneath and wait until your flight displayed. The sound it made was fucking mesmerizing.”

It’s a solid sentiment with which Qantas agrees. As traditional analog Solari boards disappear in favor of digital signboards or flatscreen displays, the Australian airline has emerged as an unlikely conservationist, installing them throughout their First Class International lounges at both Sydney and Melbourne airports. There are three boards, always updated with live flight information, in the SYD lounge, for example, and their presence is counted as a true amenity for premium passengers.

Last week I had the chance to chat with Kobe, a member of the gracious reception staff at the Qantas SYD lounge. We stood together in front of the largest board, which greets guests as they emerge into the lounge up an escalator that, whether intentional or unintentional, feels like an ascension to some heavenly realm.

“Our guests love to poke the boards with their fingers, which is why there are now velvet rope stanchions to protect them,” explained Kobe. “They were nearly glassed over, but the sound is too important. Our guests love to hear them as well as see them.”

One of the Solari boards in the Qantas F SYD lounge. Image:

One of the Solari boards in the Qantas F SYD lounge. Image: Cynthia Drescher

Such excellent information and product design hails from a country that counts great style as one of their historically most important exports: Italy. The Solari website pegs the year 1725 as its business start, with the company first operating as an “Old and Prized Tower Clocking Industry”, but it was in the 1950s that the brothers Fermo and Remigio Solari gave the company its most famous product: the split-flat display. Then as now manufactured in Udine, an Italian industrial and university city just under the Italian Alps and only some 25 miles from the Slovenian border, the boards immediately found international customers in Vienna International Airport and Liege train station, in Belgium.

NEW Asset details boltaron_runwaygirl_300x300The Museum of Modern Art in New York City even installed a Cifra 3 model board (designed by Gino Valle, lettering by Massimo Vignelli) with nine rows of 11 flippers in 1996. While it typically rotates through the flight information of Milan’s Malpensa Airport, the board is occasionally “hacked” in support of other special MoMA exhibitions.

Today, as digital displays relocate the split-flap to the annals of history, spotting a true Solari board is a rare enough occasion to warrant a pause of observation and appreciation, something Qantas recognized for the design of their First lounges. AtlasObscura also notes the particular appeal of the boards for artists, some of whom have been lucky enough to purchase decommissioned Solari boards (like the one from Boston Airport, for a bargain $350).

Not traveling in First Class through Australia anytime soon? Travelers may view the clackety, original versions by looking up when traveling through airports like Frankfurt, Manila, Singapore, Colombo, and Brussels. In the United States, you’ll have to make a special detour to Jacksonville Airport in Florida for the country’s last remaining active split-flat Solari. JFK Airport’s landmarked, TWA Flight Center still has its board, though lying dormant since the terminal ceased operations in 2001.

Solari now Instagrams and, under the brand Solari Lineadesign, promotes split-flap clocks for homes and interior design of spaces smaller than major transit hubs. The company will also open an online store this week, just in time for holiday gift-giving. Perhaps considering an upward trend in nostalgia for midcentury airline ephemera and a throwback appreciation of early technology, Solari could consider making departure boards appropriate for private residences. Until then, however, at least there’s the Qantas First International lounges.

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The post Disappearing icon of airport design finds new life in Qantas lounges appeared first on Runway Girl.

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satadru
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toddgrotenhuis
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Indianapolis
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reconbot
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Needs user research
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Uber is running scared of Juno, a NYC competitor that's kicking its ass

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Juno is a "driver-friendly" rideshare service that competes with Uber by paying its drivers more and giving drivers the ability to pick up a fare, get them to install the Juno app, and give them a discount. (more…)

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satadru
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glenn
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So many quarters... lost
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"The other day I sent the following email to two friends who were particularly adamant and outspoken..."

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“The other day I sent the following email to two friends who were particularly adamant and outspoken in their support of the now president-elect:

Please understand that I am not mad at you because Clinton lost. I am totally unconcerned that you and I have different ‘politics.’ And I don’t think less of you because you voted one way and I another.

No, I think less of you because you watched an adult mock a disabled person while addressing a crowd and still supported him. I think less of you because you saw a candidate spout clear racism day after day and still backed him. I think less of you because you heard him advocate for war crimes and still thought he should be given the reins of government. I think less of you because you watched him equate a woman’s worth to where she landed on a scale of 1 to 10 and still got on board. I think less of you because you stood by silently while he labeled Mexicans as criminals and Muslims as terrorists.

It wasn’t your politics I found repulsive. No, it was your willingness to support someone who spouts racism, sexism, and cruelty almost every time he opens his mouth. You sided with a bully when it should have mattered most, and that is something I will never be able to forget.

So in response to your post-election expression of hope, no, you and I won’t be 'coming together to move forward.’ Obviously, the president-elect disgusts me; but it is the fact that he doesn’t disgust you that will stick with me long after the election.



- Phil Shailer - Sun Sentinel
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sirshannon
1 hour ago
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Is this too long to add as an auto-correct in iOS?
wreichard
6 hours ago
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It's really hard for me not to say a lot of things like this every day.
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Today in Trump’s America

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Example #1: The execution of former Jets running back Joe McKnight.

Ronald Gasser, the man authorities say shot and killed former NFL player Joe McKnight, was released from custody overnight without being charged, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office authorities said Friday morning (Dec. 2).

Gasser, 54, has not been formally charged, said JPSO spokesman Col. John Fortunato. Investigators are consulting with the district attorney’s office on the decision whether to formally charge Gasser, Fortunato said.

As the investigation into McKnight’s death continues, Fortunato asked anyone with information about the shooting to contact department homicide detectives at 504-364-5393.

McKnight, 28, was shot about 3 p.m. Thursday (Dec. 1) at the intersection of Behrman Highway and Holmes Boulevard in Terrytown. A witness, who declined to give her name, said she saw a man at the intersection yelling at McKnight, who was trying to apologize. The man shot McKnight more than once, the witness said. She said he shot McKnight, stood over him and said, “I told you don’t you f— with me.” Then the man fired again, she said.

He murdered an unarmed man execution style and the cops just let him go. That my friends is what you call a racist nation with a racist “justice” system allowing for whites to kill black people and be treated with kid gloves. Maybe he and George Zimmerman can go on the road together.

Example 2: Trump giving white men the room to do whatever they want to Muslims.

Three men physically attacked a Muslim teenager at a Manhattan subway stop on Thursday night while shouting the name of the President-elect, police told the New York Daily News.

Police said the unidentified 18-year-old victim was waiting alone for the uptown 6 train at the 23rd Street and Park Avenue station when three young men approached her shouting “Donald Trump.”

Officers told the Daily News that they followed her onto the train, continuing to shout Trump’s name and allegedly calling her a “fucking terrorist.” The men, who the victim said appeared intoxicated, also allegedly told her to “get the hell out of the country” and said she didn’t “belong here.”

When she did not respond, they ripped her purse off her shoulder, breaking the strap, and attempted to pull off her hijab, police said.

What is terrible here is also that no one intervened and stood up for this woman. When we see this, we must do the right thing, even if that places us in physical danger ourselves. When we cower in terror, understandable as this may be when it happens, we enable fascists to act ever more boldly, leading to increasingly horrible crimes. I know it’s easy for me to sit here and write this and I’m not trying to act as a keyboard warrior. I’m just saying we all have to figure what we are going to actually do in these situations if we see them. And some people are doing the right thing and intervening.

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sirshannon
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How's that peaceful non-violent opposition to nazis going?
wmorrell
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Indian Prime Minister's Shake Down of Private Wealth

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stunned his country earlier this month when, out of the blue, he declared 85 percent of the nation's currency notes null and Indian Changevoid.

India's two highest rupee notes — Rs. 500 ($7.50) and Rs. 1,000 ($15) — will no longer be legal tender, and will be replaced with redesigned Rs. 500 notes and new Rs. 2,000 bills. Indians can swap a relatively small number of old bills for new ones by the end of the year, but only at designated banks and with proof of ID. Anyone trying to swap large sums of cash that they can't legally account for will be subject to investigation and legal action. And all the unswapped currency will stay with the government, a massive transfer of wealth from private citizens to the state/

Modi's fans see this as an audacious move to smoke out untaxed "black money" from India's informal economy, which constitutes anywhere from 25 to 40 percent of the nation's GDP. But in reality, this demonetization scheme is the equivalent of killing the patient to cure a headache. And it marks an end to India's three-decade flirtation with market liberalization.

Modi was elected in a landslide on the slogan of "Minimum Government, Maximum Governance." He promised to end babu raj — the rule of corrupt, petty bureaucrats who torment ordinary citizens for bribes — and radically transform India's economy. But rather than tackling government corruption, he has declared war on private citizens holding black money in the name of making all Indians pay their fair share.

Tax scofflaw behavior is indeed a problem in India. But it is almost always a result of tax rates that are way higher than what people think their government is worth. The enlightened response would be to lower these rates and improve governance. Instead, Modi is taking his country down what Nobel-winning political economist F.A. Hayek called the road to serfdom, where every failed round of coercive government intervention simply becomes an excuse for even more draconian rounds — exactly what was happening in pre-liberalized India.

Last year, Modi went after black money stashed in Swiss banks, demanding that Indians with such accounts pay a 30 percent penalty and bring their money home or face a lengthy jail sentence. This scheme was a flop.

Next Modi offered Indians hoarding illegal assets amnesty from prosecution in exchange for paying a 45 percent penalty. But this flushed out only a small fraction of the expected haul, for the simple reason that the penalty was higher than the taxes people were trying to avoid.

So now Modi has ripped a dusty page from the playbook of communist dictatorships (Soviet Union, North Korea, Cuba), military juntas (Myanmar, Pakistan), various other kleptocratic banana republics, and India circa 1978 — all of whom tried demonetization and failed.

The theory with Modi's new scheme is that rich hoarders of illicit cash would simply forfeit their money rather than risk jail. Meanwhile, middle-class folks who work for legitimate businesses and poor laborers who have small cash savings would be free to legally swap old bills for new.

The reality is different. Yes, the rich have indeed gotten poorer. But the poor have been decimated. Call it trickle-down poverty.

About 600 million Indians don't have bank accounts, many because they are poor and uneducated. Roughly 300 million don't have official identification. It's not easy to swap their soon-to-be worthless cash, which is a catastrophe given that they live hand to mouth. It is heartbreaking to see these people lined up in long queues outside post offices and banks, missing days and days of work, pleading for funds from the very bureaucrats from whose clutches Modi had promised to release them.

Modi hatched his scheme in complete secrecy, without consulting his own economic advisers or the Parliament, lest rich hoarders catch wind and ditch their cash holdings for gold and other assets. Hence, he could not order enough new money printed in advance. This is a massive problem given that about 90 percent of India's economic transactions are in cash. People need to be able to get money from their banks to meet basic needs. But the government has imposed strict limits on how much of their own money people can withdraw from their own accounts.

Patients needing critical care are being turned away because they don't have new bills, and hospitals won't accept the old denominations. Old people are being forced to choose between food and medicine. Some farmers, living on the brink of financial catastrophe given their meager savings, have committed suicide as produce sales plummet. Industries dominated by small businesses that rely on private, off-the-grid financing from local money lenders and have no access to India's meager official credit institutions are getting wiped out.

Modi insists the trauma is temporary and worth it because more Indians will be forced into the formal economy that can be tracked and taxed to fund vital infrastructure and boost growth. But that assumes that India's bloated, corrupt, and inefficient government can spend other people's money better than they can. In truth, the government will waste the new funds while rich people, whose wealth has been confiscated, will cut back consumption and lay off their employees.

But the biggest tragedy of Modi's demonetization scheme is that because it does nothing to eliminate the underlying causes of black money — India's tax burden that includes hidden levies such as bribes to bureaucrats — won't disappear. People will simply park less of it in cash and more in harder-to-trace, non-cash assets such as gold and real estate, which already account for almost 60 percent of household savings. (Poor households have taken to buying jars of Tide to barter for goods and services, giving new meaning to the term money laundering.)

And you can be sure that Modi, who has already warned of further action before the end of the year, will go after gold and other assets next. He's already raised excise duties on gold and requires jewelers to check the tax identification card of anyone purchasing gold worth over $3,000, echoing India's notorious 1968 Gold Control Act that criminalized gold holdings by private citizens.

As for real estate, it's possible that Modi might try a demonetization equivalent for illicit property called the E-Property Pass Book scheme. Essentially, all property ownership would be declared invalid for one year, with property sales banned. During that time, owners would be required to re-register their property in an electronic passbook linked to the equivalent of India's Social Security numbers, by personally appearing before authorities and showing proof of ownership. Properties that are not re-registered would default to the government, just like unswapped black money holdings.

This is not boldness, but sheer conceit based on the misguided notion that people have to be accountable to the government, rather than vice versa. Over time, it will undermine the already low confidence of Indians in their institutions. If Modi could unilaterally and so suddenly re-engineer the currency used by 1.1 billion people, what will he do next? This is a recipe for capital flight and economic retrenchment.

The fear and uncertainty that Modi's move will breed will turn India's economic clock back to the dark times of pre-liberalized India — not usher in the good times (aache din) that Modi had promised.

This column originally appeared in The Week.

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