The Daily Valet. - 2/2/24, Friday
Friday, February 2nd Edition
By Cory Ohlendorf, Valet. Editor
Catch me on a plane, a train or an automobile ... but never a cruise ship.
Today’s Big Story
It’s Groundhog Day
How did it all start? And how is it still “a thing”?
Did you happen to catch that today is Groundhog Day? That may interest you since we’re all curious about how much more cold weather we’ll have to endure. Of course, predicting the forecast for the next month and a half is challenging even for trained meteorologists—how can we expect better from a simple marmot? And seriously, how is this day still a thing?
Did you know the holiday grew out of traditions tied to the Christian holiday of Candlemas in Europe—which itself has roots in pagan observances? Yeah, neither did I! Tradition was, that if Feb. 2 was a clear and sunny day, winter would stick around for a few more weeks. But if Candlemas was overcast or rainy, winter would end early. German immigrants brought the practice over from Europe and by 1886, the editor of The Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper dubbed the day “Groundhog Day.” Over a century later, here we are—still checking in with the burrowing rodent in their town.
Of course, Punxsutawney Phil is the most famous, but there are all sorts of fuzzy oracles getting thrust out into cold February air for the celebrations—from Buckeye Chuck in Ohio to New York’s Dunkirk Dave. Sadly, the groundhogs are often wrong when it comes to predictions. Last year was the third straight year Punxsutawney Phil spotted his shadow, something he has done 107 times since his first prediction in 1887. Though he has apparently seen his shadow in 84% of his predictions, Phil has been right only about 39% of the time, according to the Stormfax Weather Almanac.
Those in Chicago will have perhaps a greater attraction to look forward to: The first-ever "Groundhog Day movie cast reunion" will take place, commemorating Chicago-born Harold Ramis, co-writer and director of the 1993 cult favorite film. NBC News reports that at least seven cast members from the movie will be onsite and the legendary Bill Murray is rumored to be one of them.
Phil will make his call around 7:30 a.m. at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney in Western Pennsylvania.
The C.I.A. Hacker Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison
The former computer engineer carried out the largest data leak in the agency’s history
A former CIA software engineer who was convicted of carrying out the largest data breach in the agency's history was sentenced to 40 years in prison on Thursday, the Department of Justice announced. The 35-year-old Joshua Schulte was convicted on “crimes of espionage, computer hacking, contempt of court, making false statements to the FBI,” and some other unseemly things that you’d think a hacker would be too smart to leave on his hard drive.
He first handed over reams of classified CIA data to WikiLeaks in 2016. According to the New York Times, the site published secret methods that the United States used to break into computer networks used by foreign governments and terrorists. The disclosures caused what the government termed “catastrophic” damage to national security and set off an intensive hunt for the person responsible.
And interestingly enough, the most “brazen leak” in American history was seemingly motivated by anger over a workplace dispute. Schulte had been struggling to meet deadlines and Assistant US Attorney Michael Lockard said one of his projects was so far behind schedule that he had earned the nickname “Drifting Deadline”. Boy, you start some gentle ribbing to motivate and look what happens …
A former CIA deputy director of digital innovation described the leak during Schulte's trial as a "digital Pearl Harbor."
Cruises Are Huge
Cruise ships are bigger and noisier than ever. And Gen Z is to blame.
Have you taken a cruise lately? Or at all? It’s one travel segment that just doesn’t seem to interest me much … and yet, I realize I’m the outlier. The floating resort trend has gotten so popular, that cruise lines are having to build bigger boats. Last week, the world's largest cruise ship set out to sea: The Icon of the Seas weighs as much as five Titanics—it’s not exactly elegant or restrained in terms of design, but the whole ship is a floating ziggurat of fun and indulgence.
According to Business Insider, the megaship embodies a rapid redemption for the cruise industry. In the early months of the pandemic, as the global cruising fleet moldered at port, some wondered whether the hiatus might prove terminal. Instead, cruising has come roaring back, setting passenger records and attracting a new cohort of younger travelers.
And The Telegraph speaks with a slew of “crazy cruisers” who have been on almost 200 sailings. And even more astonishingly, all with the same cruise line—partly because they enjoy the brand and have no wish to change lines, but also because cruise company loyalty clubs reward regular customers with perks.
CNBC dives into the world of expedition cruising, which they call the breakout travel trend of the decade.
A Weekend Pairing
‘Mr. & Mrs. Smith’ + a Whiskey Sour
Donald Glover and Maya Erskine star as John and Jane, respectively, two newly-minted spies whose first mission is to pose as a married couple in Manhattan. Co-created by Glover and Francesca Sloane (of Atlanta), Mr. & Mrs. Smith loosely follows the 2005 Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt-starring film and all eight episodes are now available on Prime Video.
The Verge calls it a “clever interpolation of the classic spy fantasy,” which "reworks the original movie’s spy fantasy into a layered drama about relationships.” And Rolling Stone says the series features a ton of spicy cameos and is “a whole lot of globe-trotting fun”—so fun, in fact, it will make you "forget all about Brangelina.” How’s that for a rave?
Pair It With
Also Worth a Watch:
‘Feud: Capote vs. the Swans’ on Hulu; ‘Let’s Talk About CHU’ on Netflix
Indulge for Valentine’s Day
MR PORTER has a wide range of luxurious goods that make great gifts
Maybe you want to send a hint about what might make your Valentine's Day a little more special. Perhaps you're flying solo this year and want to treat yourself by spending what you would've wasted on an expensive night out instead on a luxurious treat for yourself. Either way, MR PORTER is currently stocked with some amazing high-end pieces that fit either scenario. From luxury takes on staples like a cashmere blend polo or leather cross-body bag to always-in-style classics like a suede trucker or an Italian-made wallet, here's what's making our hearts race.
Find your balance this weekend.