February 27, 2014

TRAVEL NIGHTMARES

Bill Saporito’s March 3 cover story, an inside look at flight cancellations, unearthed raw memories for many readers. “Weather gives [airlines] a ‘get out of financial liability free’ card,”wrote Joe Farrell of Claremont, Calif., noting the inconsistent explanations he was given when he was stranded in Chicago last summer. “Weather is an act of God,” agreed Bruce Glendening of Williamsburg, Va. “Airlines not communicating with customers for 16 hours nor providing website ability to rebook flights is an act of airline incompetence.” Saporito found that computer-generated algorithms like the Cancellator (so nicknamed by employees at American Airlines) determine which flights will be canceled–a fact that delighted Al Roker, who offered his Arnold Schwarzenegger impression in a discussion of the cover story on NBC’s Today show. “The Cancellator,” he intoned. “I am going to cancel you. Right now!”

CHILDHOOD OBESITY

A story by Alice Park on the aging effects of fat on kids’ bodies drew some pointed comments about parental accountability. “Your story is horrifying,” wrote Susan Stafford of Berkeley, Calif. “But no one gains weight out of nowhere. People live in denial about food. Parents eat garbage and feed their kids the same.” Diabetic Peter Baxter of Brighton, England, advocated for home cooking to combat ubiquitous ads for meals “that will kill children.” Meanwhile Katy Steinmetz’s TIME.com piece on state initiatives to ban big soda was widely shared on Twitter, where food writer Mark Bittman wrote, “The soda wars escalate.”

TSA SCREENERS

“Save America from the Security Surveillance Police State,” read one of hundreds of comments in response to a TIME.com essay by former Transportation Security Administration agent Jason Edward Harrington suggesting that passengers direct their screening-related frustrations primarily at TSA headquarters, not on-the-ground agents. Despite Harrington’s stated dissatisfaction with the agency and its often “absurd” rules, those decrying the TSA’s “vile” airport workers drowned out more even-keeled commenters like tsaoutourpants, who wrote, “I’m with you, Jason. Most (but certainly not all) of the frontline TSA screeners are decent people that don’t enjoy abusing travelers, and change needs to come from the top.”

TIBETAN WISDOM

Elizabeth Dias’ interview with the Dalai Lama struck a chord with global print and broadcast media and on Twitter. Among the most widely shared of the Dalai Lama’s comments were his opinions on Chinese President Xi Jinping, who His Holiness said was “courageously tackling corruption”; social media (“You can’t blame technology. It depends on the user of the technology”); and marijuana (“very bad” except for medical reasons). “Excellent interview,” tweeted communications consultant Pamela Leavey. Added Justus Kilian, also on Twitter: “Love the Dalai.”

PIERS MORGAN’S CANCELLATION

TV critic James Poniewozik’s take on the cancellation of the British host’s nightly CNN show–in which he suggested that potential motives for Morgan’s firing were as numerous as in a British murder mystery–brought out the Morgan haters. Many in the U.S., wrote wata3001 on TIME.com, “have developed the idea … that anyone with a British accent has something to say worth listening to. Here is proof positive it ain’t so.” Also, “he was a bore” (neow.gee13), and “the only humor we want to see from Britain are reruns of The Benny Hill Show” (DonYaxley). In Morgan’s defense, PaulMatthew commented: “I will miss his honest, straightforward, no-bull interviews [and] more worldly view.”

NOW ON TIME.COM

To get a sense of the effects of one of the coldest winters in recent history, we went high. Watch the freezing of 88% of the Great Lakes in our time-lapse satellite imagery at time.com/science.

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This appears in the March 10, 2014 issue of TIME.

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