July 7, 2014

Dom Dwyer's yellow-card selfie thrilled fans but not the referee. At the Tour de France, selfie-taking fans have received far less punishment—at least for now.     Photo: Sporting Kansas City/Twitter

Selfies Are Ruining Sports

Tour de France cyclists and soccer refs hate them

There is a time and place for selfies, but just ahead of an oncoming peloton is not one of them. The volume of spectator selfies at this year's Tour de France has gotten so overwhelming that many cyclists have expressed their rage over the self-centered practice.

It's "a dangerous mix of vanity and stupidity," American podium contender Tejay van Garderen tweeted. "Very dodgy," Team Sky rider Geraint Thomas told the BBC, summarizing the new combination of cycling and selfies as "the latest pain in the arse." Getting in the right position for the perfect shot often puts riders and the selfie-taker in danger.

Hopefully officials crack down on intrusive TdF selfie offenders as hard as they do in soccer. When Sporting Kansas City's Dom Dwyer celebrated a goal Sunday with a sideline selfie, a referee punished him with a yellow card for "excessive celebration." At least there was no risk of a disastrous cycling crash, but you'll have to decide for yourself if the shot was worth it.

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Views like this could be in jeopardy if development around the South Rim gets out of hand.     Photo: Steve Dunleavy/Flickr

The Grand Canyon Is Doomed

Gondolas, shops, and hotels pose monumental threat

Back on June 4, we reported that Fabien Cousteau, grandson of the famed red knit-cap-wearing oceanophile Jacques Cousteau, was going to spend 31 days underwater with his crew off the Florida Keys. Yesterday, Fabien resurfaced after spending all of June in Aquarius, the world's only underwater laboratory, which is operated by Florida International University.
“It was amazing how much it felt like home,” Cousteau told the media, five hours after seeing daylight for the first time in over a month. “I can imagine for someone who doesn’t like tight spaces it could be much more difficult.”
The project, dubbed Mission 31, was undertaken to collect research of the ocean environment, while raising awareness for marine conservation. With the successful completion of his endeavor, Cousteau the younger (and two tenacious scientists who also stuck it out) now holds the record for the time continuously spent submerged in the big blue. Fabien bested his grandfather's record by one day, although it is unlikely that he will ever match Jacques verbal acuity.
"A lot of men attack the sea," he once said. "I make love to it."

The National Park Service has called new developments proposed for the Grand Canyon the "most serious threat the park has faced in its 95-year history." 

A mesa visible from the South Rim, which belongs to the Navajo Indian Reservation, could soon become a construction site as restaurants, hotels, and shops are erected in an attempt to spur local tourism, according to the Los Angeles TimesThe same developers are also planning to install a gondola that will transport visitors from the rim to the canyon floor, currently only accessible by foot or mule.  

R. Lamar Whitmer, one of the developers, justified the plans by saying that the NPS offers most visitors only a "drive-by wilderness experience." He claims that the Grand Canyon Escalade gondola would give less-mobile individuals a chance to see more of this 2 billion-year-old geological wonder. "The average person can't ride a mule to the bottom of the canyon," Whitmer said. "We want them to feel the canyon from the bottom."

The developers are also planning to add 2,200 homes and 3 million square feet of commercial space just south of the canyon. NPS worries those new developments will jeopardize some of the park's most iconic vistas and push already-strained resources to the brink.

"They are serious threats to the future of the park," said park superintendent Dave Uberuaga. "When you have that size and scope of potential development that close to the park, it will impact our visitor experience."

 

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Who would've guessed that this view would ever be blasé?     Photo: Scooter Lowrimore/Flickr

This Drone Will Make You Proud to Be American

Navigates fireworks, captures incredible video

The 2014 way to watch your Independence Day fireworks display? By drone, of course.

Joe Stiglingh rigged his DJI Phantom 2 drone with a GoPro Hero 3 Silver camera, then navigated the UAV into the sparks of the fireworks show in West Palm Beach, Florida. According to CNet, the drone came away unharmed—and with some footage that will make you proud to be American.

The result of this fiery flight is a four-minute video, set to music from Andrea Bocelli. The video has gone viral, drawing more than 6 million views on YouTube.

Robert Hartline, a Nashville entrepreneur, also sent a drone into the fireworks display of downtown Nashville with similar results (minus the opera). The videos have sparked controversy, with some calling the act dangerous and irresponsible.

"It should be obvious that flying a drone through a fireworks display is unsafe and illegal," Forbes contributor Gregory McNeal told the New York Daily News. "Unfortunately, stories like these demonstrate that what is clearly unsafe to most people is somehow lost on a few careless operators."

Whether filming fireworks with drones is irresponsible or not, this video proves that it definitely has impressive visual results.

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New airline reporting rules might help you avoid views like this in the future.     Photo: Matt Trommer/ThinkStock

Why Cheap Tickets Always Cost You

Lost bags, delayed flights, and a lack of transparency

That cheap ticket feels like a win—until you land and can't find your bag. But newly proposed Department of Transportation rules will force discount airlines, which have a record of poor service, to disclose more data, giving you a better idea of what to expect before booking your next flight.

The rules changes, explored by travel expert and consumer advocate Christopher Elliott, would require airlines accounting for more than .5 percent of domestic passenger service to publicly release their on-time performance, mishandled baggage data, and oversales data. Larger airlines have always been required to report this information, but airlines representing less than 1 percent of domestic passenger service, like Spirit and Frontier, have been exempt.

In addition, the department wants all reporting airlines—including the larger airlines—to include code-share partners (the smaller flight operators) in their statistics, account for lost luggage more effectively, and keep real-time logs of extra fees, helping travelers watch out for overpriced services.

Air travelers interested in the new proposal should leave a note with the DOT online or call the department. In the meantime, make use of Outside's experts and ask our travel agents for the 411 on all your travel problems.

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