Electric Christmas lights were first displayed in 1882 by Edison Electric Light, although it took 21 years until General Electric introduced wired light strands for home use -- costing $325 in today's money for 24 lights. Fancier Christmas-themed bulbs were being sold by 1908 by Sears and Roebuck, while the famous flame-shaped Christmas lights were introduced in 1919, becoming the standard for decades.
Why it matters: Today is the 80th anniversary of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, which led to the United States formally entering World War II. While the USS Arizona is often the center of attention during Pearl Harbor commemorations, this year, historians are making sure people don't forget about one of the first ships that was hit, the USS Utah. The Utah was commissioned in the early 20th century and was used as an antiaircraft training vessel. On that fateful day, the battleship sunk with 58 people on board.
Todd Ordal offers 13 questions for leaders to ask about their performance, their organization, staffing and culture for 2021 as a moment of strategic reflection before 2022. "Yes, I'm sure you already have a 'quarterly business review' or some other type of annual planning meeting, but I also know that those become very tactical and judgmental," Ordal writes.
Anxiety can be thought of as a habit because it originates with a cue, continues with a corresponding behavior and offers some kind of reinforcing reward to the brain, says psychiatrist and neuroscientist Dr. Judson Brewer. While medication is one form of treating anxiety, what can also help many people is a process for acknowledging the trigger, pausing to question the urge to worry and then replacing that action with "what I call the bigger better offer, the BBO," Brewer says.
Companies looking to reopen offices this winter face additional uncertainty with the unknowns surrounding the Omicron variant of COVID-19, not to mention the ongoing effects of Delta, which continues to ravage unvaccinated populations in particular, says Dr. Michael Osterholm, head of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. That said, with what's known now, business travel and holiday parties can be conducted "relatively safely" provided the right precautions are taken, Osterholm says.
Why it matters: Everyone knows Las Vegas as Sin City, but a new list from WalletHub reveals plenty of others that can hold their own in the realm of debauchery. You might be surprised to find out St. Louis ranks second behind Vegas. Port St. Lucie, Fla., ranked last on the list. Beyond the simple "did you know" aspect of this story, it's an interesting look at how behaviors within cities have or haven't changed during the pandemic. For example, in 2019, Los Angeles ranked second, and this year it is fourth.
Why it matters: At some point in our lives, we've all fantasized about the possibility of someone literally paying us to sit around and do nothing. It turns out, the closest to thing to that actually exists at Infosys. The company has something called the Bench, where certain employees are essentially on-call freelancers who could go months on end without being assigned work. One anonymous employee says his time on the Bench left him feeling unfulfilled and out of the loop. It's also really hard to explain to future employers what you accomplished as a Bench player.
Why it matters: The pandemic has added several Greek letters (but hopefully not too many more) to our daily vocabulary. "Delta" is pretty straightforward in its pronunciation, but "Omicron" is tougher, at least according to a list of the words mispronounced most frequently by newscasters and other TV figures this year. Athletes Jason Kelce and Stefanos Tsitsipas had to deal with people often getting their names wrong, as did singer Billie Eilish. Cryptocurrencies Dogecoin and Ethereum, along with the Korean candy dalgona, tripped people up as well. For 2022, maybe we can resolve to make an effort to pronounce names and other words correctly. Or at least get really, really close. -- Cathy
Why it matters: It seems everyone, including the Duke of Sussex, has an opinion on the Great Resignation. Prince Harry has been a steadfast advocate of efforts to promote mental health since he and his wife's departure from the royal family. But his newest comments supporting people quitting their jobs if they're unhappy are being derided as tone-deaf. Not everyone has a royal inheritance to fall back on, Harry! This story is a reminder that for sensitive topics like mental health, the messenger is just as important as the message.
Why it matters: Roman Catholic nuns have been a mainstay in popular culture for decades, with portrayals as varied as those of Julie Andrews in "The Sound of Music" and Susan Sarandon in "Dead Man Walking." But why do nuns generate so much interest? Vox's Alissa Wilkinson takes a deep dive into movies and TV shows past and present and explores how they use nuns to challenge male religious authority that's often corrupt, sometimes from an exploitative or extremely sexualized perspective and other times from a more respectful one. Wilkinson also notes that nuns inspire curiosity because of their unique lifestyle. My personal favorite pop culture nuns on "Call the Midwife" are actually Anglican, not Catholic, but they also illustrate the fascinating realities of life in a religious order and the power of women devoted to a cause greater than themselves. -- Cathy
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