Robots, at your service
Hotels across the country are rushing to introduce robots, with the promise of enhancing the guest experience and increasing efficiency. The automated companions can do everything from make and pick up deliveries to help guests find their way around. In 2014, Aloft Cupertino in the Silicon Valley (rates from $150) was the first hotel in the United States to introduce Savioke’s Relay robot, nicknamed Botlr. The Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas (rates from $259) employs Pepper, a humanoid robot from SoftBank Robotics. Pepper supports the staff by handling repetitive tasks like greeting visitors, providing directions and answering property-specific questions using technology similar to Amazon’s Alexa. The robot has large eyes, lifelike gestures and facial recognition technology that allows it to respond in intuitive ways to entertain guests by telling jokes and posing for selfies.
New York Times
TSA nabbed 3,957 guns
More people have been packing heat in airports, with the TSA discovering a record-breaking number of firearms in passengers’ carry-on bags for the 10th year in a row. Airport security screeners uncovered 3,957 firearms in 2017, a 16 percent increase from 2016, according to the TSA’s Year in Review Report. Eighty-four percent of those guns were loaded. The number of firearms discovered at airport checkpoints has more than quadrupled since 2007, according to the report. Guns were discovered at 239 airports nationwide, with Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport taking the top spot for most firearms seizures, with 245. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston round out the top three. Federal law allows for passengers to transport unloaded guns in a locked, hard-sided container. It must be declared, and the gun cannot be packed in a carry-on.
New York Daily News
Kansas City is City of Music
In November, Kansas City, birthplace of jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker Jr., earned the nation’s first City of Music title from UNESCO, based on its history of jazz, especially bebop and swing, and the influence those styles had on musicians at home and abroad. Wendell Phillips, the city’s African-American community, is home to the 18th and Vine district, also known as the jazz district, where visitors can still hear live music in the Blue Room at the American Jazz Museum. The nearby Mutual Musician Foundation International, a union founded in 1917, still holds jam sessions on weekend nights after midnight. Robert Altman made the 1996 jazz-themed film “Kansas City” in the area where the city now hopes to see increased investment.
New York Times
Support peacock denied
United Airlines has drawn the line on emotional support animals, at least when it comes to peacocks. A woman who tried to board a United flight from Newark, N.J., recently was turned away after showing up at the airport with her emotional support peacock in tow, reported Live and Let Fly. She had offered to buy a second ticket for the bird, but the airline declined. “This animal did not meet guidelines for a number of reasons, including its weight and size,” United told Fox News in a statement. “We explained this to the customers on three separate occasions before they arrived at the airport.” Delta Air Lines recently made headlines for tightening its own rules on emotional support animals.