Edible transport tickets, @Metaverse and Time people of the year

Planet Business: Chocolate inequality and banishing Christmas stress the German way

Meal ticket: an edible one-day ticket for Berlin’s public transport operator BVG, designed to help commuters ‘calm down’ during the ‘stressful’ Christmas period. Photograph: Tobias Schwarz/AFP

Meal ticket: an edible one-day ticket for Berlin’s public transport operator BVG, designed to help commuters ‘calm down’ during the ‘stressful’ Christmas period. Photograph: Tobias Schwarz/AFP

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Image of the week: Swallow this

Kudos to Berlin’s public transport operator, BVG, for coming up with this: a one-day travel pass that, for the season that’s in it, is edible. Made of rice paper and sprinkled with “no more than three drops” of hemp oil – said to have a calming effect – the tickets can be consumed post-use.

“Afterwards you can simply swallow your Christmas stress and ticket,” says BVG, which has some form in this sort of thing; in 2018, it launched a limited-edition pair of Adidas sneakers that also functioned as an annual metro ticket (and was much cheaper than a normal ticket). Sadly, the €8.80 edible tickets were on sale this week only.

Even more sadly, the chances of Transport for Ireland introducing edible tickets on Dublin Bus are absolutely nil. (The German word for “Christmas stress”, incidentally, is Weihnachtsstress.)

In numbers: Chocolate inequality

0

Chocolates behind the eighth door on an advent calendar sold by Dutch ethical chocolate purveyors Tony’s Chocolonely.

2

Chocolates behind the ninth and 24th doors on the calendar. The company, which also sells bars comprised of uneven chunks, designed the “unequally divided” calendar as a “conversation starter” to highlight inequalities in its industry.

1.56 million

At least this many children work under illegal conditions in Ghana and the Ivory Coast because the price being paid for cocoa is too low, the company says, while 30,000 adults and children are forced to work. “We don’t think that’s okay,” it tweeted.

Getting to know: @Metaverse

Australian artist Thea-Mai Baumann had been happily using the handle @metaverse on Facebook-owned Instagram for nine years, posting her work to the account and using it to promote her augmented reality business Metaverse Makeovers. That all changed in early November. Five days after Facebook announced it was rebranding to Meta as part of its push to become “a metaverse company”, Instagram shut her out of her account and said it had been “blocked for pretending to be someone else”.

Attempts to rectify the situation with Instagram failed and she remained “wiped from the internet” for a month. It was only when a journalist at the New York Times made enquiries to Meta that Instagram admitted the account had been “incorrectly removed” and apologised, restoring Baumann’s account two days later. Her fear that metaverse culture could become “corrupted” by “Silicon Valley tech bros” seems a reasonable one.

The list: Time people

Elon Musk – and controversially not vaccine scientists – has been named Time’s Person of the Year, a designation that is not meant as an honour or a prize, but merely a reflection of impact, the magazine says. Past selections include Donald Trump, Joseph Stalin (twice) and Adolf Hitler (in 1938). But which business figures have preceded Musk?

1: Walter Chrysler. In 1928, the automotive industry pioneer was the second recipient of what was then known as Time’s Man/Woman of the Year (mostly just the Man, to be honest). His corporation merged with Dodge Bros that year, then he broke ground on New York’s Art Deco Chrysler building.

2: Harlow Curtice. The man who led General Motors for five years was Man of the Year in 1955, which was when GM became the first company to make net annual profit of more than $1 billion.

3: Ted Turner. In 1991, the CNN founder (83) was Time’s choice in a year that saw his 24-hour cable news network televise Operation Desert Storm and the wider Gulf War – a conflict frequently liked to a video game war thanks to its real-time coverage.

4: Andrew Grove. In 1997, the Intel chairman and chief executive – who was the chipmaker’s third employee on its establishment in 1968 – was cited for being “the person most responsible for the amazing growth in the power and the innovative potential of microchips”.

5: The Computer. Bill Gates (shared with Melinda French Gates and Bono, for some reason), Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg have all been Time picks, but in 1982, the magazine cut straight to the point and named a machine of the year. The cover blurb read “the computer moves in”. It’s never moving out.

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