Monday. 19/12/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Shutterstock

Opinion / Christopher Cermak

Irreconcilable differences

We Americans have a special knack for turning serious political crises into a form of entertainment. There’s a vicious feedback loop that develops soon after a crisis emerges: politicians take sides and lean into well-established media narratives, which only ratchet up the entertainment value. This might succeed in raising politicians’ profiles but they lose the ability to govern or persuade anyone but the already converted.

This is what the committee hearings investigating the attack on the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 have felt like. A very real threat to our democracy became a prime-time television format. While it has made for compelling viewing at times and delivered a strong case that Donald Trump sought to hold onto the presidency by any means necessary, it has failed to persuade anyone who hadn’t been already convinced. Liz Cheney, one of only two Republican lawmakers who joined the committee, made a name for herself as its de facto leader but lost her seat in Congress and her credibility with most conservative voters in the process.

Perhaps this committee had been doomed to be partisan from the start, since most Republicans refused to support a bipartisan investigation. Later today, after a year of hearings, the committee will hold its final session and announce any criminal referrals before releasing its full report on Wednesday. But most Americans have already made up their minds, and I fear that we are doomed to repeat our mistakes as a result. The real work of convincing the country to have faith in the electoral process and not take matters into their own hands needs to happen behind the scenes.

Christopher Cermak is Monocle’s Washington correspondent.

Image: Getty Images

Sport / Qatar

After the final whistle

As the dust settles on Qatar 2022, the tiny Gulf state today begins life as a former host nation. Having spent an estimated $220bn (€207bn) to stage the monthlong tournament, its organisers hope that the stadiums, which reportedly account for about $10bn (€9.4bn) of that cost, can be one way through which it can have a longer-term effect. Each of the eight venues comes with its own plan. Stadium 974 (pictured), built from recycled shipping containers and steel, will become a port-side business park, while the Al Bayt stadium will be turned into a multi-use space including a five-star hotel, shopping centre and hospital. Elsewhere, the Al Thumama stadium will host weddings and funerals.

But what of football culture in Qatar? While some arenas will continue to host competitive fixtures, there is little evidence to suggest that the nation has fallen in love with the beautiful game. Though Fifa pleaded with critics to “focus on the football” during the tournament, legacy planners’ attention seems to be elsewhere.

Image: Getty Images

Aviation / Global

Out of the turbulence

Airlines are gearing up for some of their biggest profits since coronavirus prompted flight cancellations and travel bans that hammered the aviation industry. Last week, Delta Air Lines raised its fourth-quarter profit forecasts, with the carrier adding that it expected its 2023 earnings to be double those of this year. Meanwhile, Scott Kirby (pictured), CEO of United Airlines, said that he saw no evidence of a coming recession in his airline’s data.

The companies’ profits are taking off thanks to a combination of a strong dollar, which has made it cheaper for Americans to travel abroad, and the return of millions of workers to offices, boosting corporate travel. While it’s reassuring to see the pandemic slipping into the rear-view mirror for airlines, it’s hard to forget that a bounce in airline traffic will also result in greater carbon emissions. Let’s hope that these companies are using their predicted windfalls to push further into green flight.

Image: Getty Images

Society / Finland

Last Christmas

When Finns, many of whom have grown up believing that Joulupukki (the Finnish name for Santa Claus) resides in Lapland, learnt in October that Turkish archaeologists in Myra, a town in the country’s south, had discovered the original burial site of Saint Nicholas, their collective reaction was puzzlement. St Nicholas was a bishop who lived in the fourth century and whose deeds of distributing presents to the poor are widely believed to have inspired the legend of Santa Claus.

The archaeologists’ discovery confirmed that not only was Santa Turkish – at least according to modern-day geography – but that he was also dead. In addition to keeping children happy, the idea that Finland is the homeland of Santa Claus makes excellent business sense: Joulupukki’s home in the Lapland city of Rovaniemi is one of the country’s key attractions. So, how will Finnish adults break it to the country’s children that their beloved Santa is dead?

Read the full story in Monocle’s ‘Alpino’ newspaper, which is now on sale.

Image: Chanel

Fashion / France

Heaven scent

From the classic powdery wafts of Chanel No 5 to the citrus and wood notes of Bleu de Chanel men’s cologne, Chanel’s scents have been turning heads for more than 100 years. Le Grand Numéro de Chanel, an exhibition at Paris’s Grand Palais Éphémère that runs until 9 January, explores the secrets of the fashion house’s perfumes.

Chanel’s flagship scent dates back to 1921, when perfumer Ernest Beaux presented Gabrielle Chanel with fragrance samples; the fashion designer ultimately decided on the fifth, hence the name “No 5”. Iconic bottles and celebrity brand ambassadors, from Marilyn Monroe to Marion Cotillard, followed. The new exhibition will explore the inspirations behind these perfumes, showcased in a festive setting. If you’re unsure about your signature scent, a Chanel perfume psychologist will be on hand to guide you with an olfactive prescription based on your aura.

Image: Satoshi Nagare/The Nippon Foundation

Monocle 24 / The Urbanist

2022: Urbanism in review

What were the biggest wins from the world of urbanism over the past 12 months? With the help of our global correspondents, we get a view from around the world about some of this year’s successes in planning, architecture and civic leadership, and what they mean for their cities.

Monocle Films / Global

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