Shared posts

15 Sep 13:23

Here Is What Tech Conferences in 2014 Are Like, in One Photo

by Kevin Roose

A running joke in Silicon Valley is that if you want your start-up to succeed, just call it the "Uber of ___." There is an Uber for everything — plumbers, weed delivery, bodyguards. And today, at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference, I saw the teleological end of the on-demand economy: an Uber for other Ubers.

Mowares, as the Uber-for-Ubers is called, is a company that designs apps for companies that want to make their own "Uber for X" companies. Its co-founder, Arjun Subburaj, bills Mowares as a "turnkey Uber for X solutions" company. I asked Subburaj if there aren't already enough Uber for X companies in the world. He said he imagines that "many more" will exist in the future, owing to the demand for instant gratification and push-button services.

One client in Amsterdam, he added, had just used Moware's back-end technology to power his new start-up: an Uber for prostitutes.

Read more posts by Kevin Roose

Filed Under: lol silicon valley ,business ,tech

12 Sep 21:11

The Economist Denounces One-Sided Account of Slavery

by Jonathan Chait

The Economist reviews The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, by Edward Baptist. Not having read the book, I cannot credibly assess it. I do have enough familiarity with the basic facts to know that The Economist's reviewer’s argument that the book is fatally biased seems a little … off:

Unlike Mr Thomas, Mr Baptist has not written an objective history of slavery. Almost all the blacks in his book are victims, almost all the whites villains. This is not history; it is advocacy.

I can think of reasons other than ideological bias to explain why almost all the black people would be victims, and the white people villains, in a book about white people who captured black people and subjected them to torture, rape, murder, humiliation, and oppressive forced labor.

Unless The Economist wants to suggest that there were overlooked cases of deserved slavery, it seems pretty intuitive that the black people are mostly going to be victims in a book about slavery. It also seems like the white people are inevitably not going to come off terribly well, either, in a book about slavery. Sure, there were plenty of white people who had nothing to do with slavery, but they may not feature so heavily in a book about slavery.

Read more posts by Jonathan Chait

Filed Under: the national interest ,politics ,slavery

12 Sep 15:17

World's Largest Axe in Nackawic, Canada

World's Largest Axe

Buried in the ground like the work of a frustrated giant, the World's Largest Axe is a monument to the importance of lumber and forestry and also to the world's love of giant stuff. 

Built in 1991, the huge woodsman's tool is a gleaming symbol of the industrious lives and legacies of Canada's lumberjacks. In the same year the axe was installed, its hometown of Nackawic in New Brunswick was named the Forestry Capital of Canada, hence the colossal construction. The shining, chromed blade of the axe is 23 feet in length and made of a solid 55 tons of steel. The handle extends another 50 feet into the air, buried for all time in a huge concrete stump that is itself 33 feet in diameter.

There is also a time capsule imbedded in the axe head for future generations to discover, although it is anyone's guess who will think to look for such a relic inside of a giant axe. The wide stump is also host to musical and theater performances, making the world's largest axe more than just a roadside oddity.  

12 Sep 15:12

Wakie: Like an Alarm Clock but with Strangers

by John Sherman

Wakie app

Do you ever wake up and feel lonely? Bored by your boring old alarm? Positively ennui’d by the utter nihilism of the snooze button? Do you ever wish you could awake to the voice of a total stranger, somewhere in the world, asking you questions or telling you a story—all before you’ve had so much as a drop of coffee? If you answered “Yes” to even one of those questions, there’s an app for that! Wakie, the weirdest app since Miranda July’s Somebody, connects “sleepies” (sleeping people) to “wakies” (strangers who like waking people up) for humanity fun community love Internet. Right? Morning strangers!

No. Not right. Call me a misanthrope, but it’s all I can do to tolerate my own boyfriend before 8 a.m., much less a stranger who’s been awake for six hours and feels like chatting. One of Wakie’s supposed selling points is that it lets you “wake up with a different person every day,” or, a one-night stand without the sex or mutual interest, and without the chance of anyone making you breakfast.

The actual alarm function of Wakie is a telephone call that lasts 60 seconds, after which the call is disconnected. “No awkward goodbyes,” Wakie assures—only awkward hellos, how are yous, and huh?s. Sleepies rate their wakies, and can even become wakies themselves, once they rub the sleep gunk from the corners of their eyes and try to get a grip on who, exactly, they just talked to. There’s a confusing pillow-talk undercurrent to the “wake up with someone new” line, since wakies are limited to 60 seconds. One screenshot on the app’s website features “Jennifer O’Donnell,” a pouty 29-year-old with a come-hither wakie face. (Like many new apps, Wakie solves a problem you never had in a way in which sex never seems completely off the table.)

Strangers are having a moment, it seems, particularly in tech, and the innovations of the past year comprise a veritable stranger economy. From rideshares like Über, Lyft, and Cab With Me to the bizarre extroversions of Wakie and Somebody, people are actively including strangers in otherwise strangerless places, like cell phones, taxi backseats, and bedrooms. Forget online dating, is this how we meet people now?

But then maybe actually meeting people isn’t the point; maybe it’s the feeling of meeting people—the illusion of making a connection through the morning fog of a melatonin hangover, or after last call, or between the fake sobs of a nearby stranger. When so much of our lives is mediated through the Internet’s weird personal/impersonal connection/disconnection paradox, what even is a stranger? The person on the other end of the phone is someone, somewhere, talking to you.

It’s almost nice, if you barely think about it. If you think about it for a moment longer, it’s deeply sad that complete strangers are so able to replace real people in our lives. When instead of calling someone, you text a stranger to give them a message. When instead of calling friends or family members in the morning—after coffee, please—we take a call from London, or Houston, or Mumbai, for 60 seconds with someone we’ll never see or meet. How did we get here? Are we all so starved for connection that a wake-up call from a stranger seems like an exciting new way to socialize? Do any of us even call our friends anymore? Or are we just that bored with the people we already know? If this is the case, there are certainly other, better ways to meet new strangers—like, pretty literally anywhere that is not the surface of your phone.

Follow John Sherman on Twitter @_john_sherman.

12 Sep 14:51

Prepare Yourself for the ‘Married … With Children’ Spinoff

by Zach Dionne
Jon Schubin

Shared because Gillian Anderson will be a series regular on Hannibal‘s third season!

Great news - her character is the best... Probably means that Alana is dead, which is also good news.

We’re coming up on two decades since Married … With Children wrapped its 11-season run. Meaning, yes, the nostalgia box is ripe for the opening, and inside it is David Faustino, the center of a potential new series Sony Pictures Television is thinking about. Bud Bundy forever?

Here’s the new new Batmobile, courtesy of Zack Snyder.

Here’s a real picture of the #Batmobile.

— ZackSnyder (@ZackSnyder) September 11, 2014

Sons of Anarchy‘s seventh (and final) season premiere is the show’s most-watched episode with 6.2 million viewers.

Gilmore Girls is coming to Netflix.

Gillian Anderson will be a series regular on Hannibal‘s third season.

The inevitable mating of McConaughey’s Lincoln ad with True Detective audio.

Denzel Washington and Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer) are definitely doing a new Magnificent Seven.

The Simpsons will be haunted by their old, jankily drawn selves in this year’s “Treehouse of Horror.”

George Clooney will be on Downton Abbey‘s Christmas special.

Jon Heder nails a minute-long Napoleon Dynamite impression 10 years later.

Katie Holmes has lined up her directorial debut.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill’s movie about Richard Jewell, the 1996 Olympic bombing-preventer who got his own 30 for 30 short, might be directed by Paul Greengrass.

Is Stallone doing Rambo V: Last Blood?

And Channing Tatum vs. porcelain dolls.

12 Sep 13:23

Hot Honey: How Two Companies Are Vying to Make the Next Great Condiment

by Sierra Tishgart

Pour some sugar on me.

When Mike Kurtz, a 32-year-old Brooklyn resident, was traveling in Brazil several years ago, he stumbled upon a tiny pizzeria and found chile-infused honey on each table. It was his holy shit moment. "I've long been a lover of all things spicy, as well as pizza," Kurtz says. "So when I tasted it, I thought it was incredible." He became obsessed — and like someone who's returned from Italy wanting to re-create a perfect cacio e pepe, Kurtz set about making his own ultimate spicy honey. He spent eight years experimenting, and it appears that was time well spent. His product, Mike's Hot Honey, has been a hit since he debuted it four years ago. Now hot honey looks like it could be the next sriracha, and as interest has grown, so has Kurtz's competition.

If you've seen hot honey at a restaurant, you were probably at Paulie Gee's. In 2010, Kurtz began an apprenticeship at the Greenpoint pizza joint and presented owner Paul Giannone with a bottle of his homemade hot honey. Giannone loved it and decided to serve it atop his Sopressata pies. When customers started requesting to-go ramekins of the condiment, Kurtz knew he had made something special, and began producing, bottling, and selling his hot honey out of the Paulie Gee's kitchen — which is still his home base.

The key to hot honey's appeal is its versatility. Like all the great condiments — Heinz ketchup, sriracha — you can drizzle hot honey on all sorts of things. Pizza (of course), fried chicken, fresh ricotta, hot biscuits, Brussels sprouts. The sweet-heat combo is universally appealing, but hot honey also had an added layer of depth thanks to the floral qualities of both the honey and the peppers used to infuse it. (Kurtz keeps his exact recipe a secret.)

It was only a matter of time until somebody else saw the appeal and entered the hot-honey fray. Kurtz's biggest rival is MixedMade's Bees Knees, a start-up company launched in late January by entrepreneur Morgen Newman and his friend, Casey Elsass. Theirs is different than your typical artisan origin story: "Our business started in a funny way," Elsass says. "Morgen came to me with the idea of starting a business in 30 days, and I wanted to do something with food. Hot sauce is such a crowded market already, and spicy honey is much less crowded. When we started, we weren't even aware that there were other brands on the market.” While Kurtz spent eight years working on his recipe, Elass only took two nights to develop his hot honey, which is spicier than its predecessor. The 30-day challenge for Bees Knees was totally self-imposed: Elsass and Newman set a time limit so that they could "avoid falling into inactivity." Time is of the essence when you’re vying to become a category leader.

Hot Honey

Both Kurtz and Elsass say that cheese and hot honey is their favorite pairing.Photo: Courtesy of Mike's Hot Honey

Bee Knees is growing exponentially, which is interesting because it’s the more expensive product: An 8-ounce bottle costs $14, while a 12-ounce bottle of Mike’s Hot Honey costs $10. (Kurtz's version does include vinegar, while Bee's Knees doesn't.) Newman and Elsass started their company because they saw an opening in the marketplace, and their tech-start-up approach is paying off: Demand is so high that Elsass recently quit his job at the Metropolitan Opera. He makes no secret of his ambitions, either: "We want to be in every city, and in as many states as possible," Elsass says. "Retail is our big focus.” Bees Knees is already available at shops in Iowa, Nashville, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, and the company has wisely partnered with fellow start-ups like Good Eggs and Mouth.

This is just the beginning of the expansion, too. Whole Foods will soon carry both brands, which is perhaps the biggest prize in the race to become America's premier hot honey. Success on the national stage could mean sriracha-like awareness and appeal — a bottle of hot honey in every food snob's pantry around the country.

For his part, Kurtz — essentially the godfather of hot honey — doesn't seem too concerned about his competition. "You can't patent a food recipe, so I assumed that at some point, someone else would start making it," he says. "They released a very similar product, but all I can do is focus on my own business.” One of the dueling businesses could end up dominating, the VHS to the other products' Betamax. In reality, though, the two companies could end up both being successful, like the Coke and Pepsi of the hot-honey trade. For the moment, having two groups vying to become the leader only ends up exposing the condiment to more people — which will help both businesses. It seems it only takes one taste to catch potential customers off guard and get them hooked on a great new idea.

Read more posts by Sierra Tishgart

Filed Under: condiment talk, bees knees, condiments, hot honey, mike's hot honey, mixedmade, spicy honey

12 Sep 12:21

The 10 Best Places To Read About Music That Aren’t Pitchfork

by Cassie Marketos


It’s a loud world out there — an audio menagerie of constantly updating music blogs, magazines, Twitter handles, and SoundCloud feeds. Where’s a girl to go to find something, well, just plain good to listen to? Below, a selection of ten under-the-radar music publications that are consistently churning out excellent aural-based editorial. Plug in your headphones, turn up the volume, and lose yourself. After the jump.


1. Wondering Sound

Age ain’t nothin’ but a number. Wondering Sound might be just about brand new, but it’s already packing one helluva an influential punch — likely due to the pedigrees of its founding members, eMusic veterans Jayson Green and Joseph Edward Keyes. What you’ll find here: A well curated mix of new music, thoughtful long form pieces on everything from Missy Elliott’s feminism to the complicated politics of playing Tel Aviv, and daily track premieres. In summary, the thinking man’s digital music publication.

2. Self-Titled

self-titled looks as good it sounds, featuring stand-out original photography to accompany its daily avalanche of new music, mixtapes, track premieres, and general music news. Sort of the dark older brother of online music publications, stop by their daily feed for audio that hews toward the noisy, electronic, post-punk-y edge of things.  Past highlights have included everything from epic conversations between Black Dice and Genesis P-orridge to the favorite cult Japanese films of noise musician Puce Mary.

3. Still Single

An informal Tumblr extension of Doug Mosurock’s column for Dusted, Still Single’s slap-dashery plays well with the type of grungy, hardcore, punk, and noise that they typically tend to spotlight. Come here for way-below-the-rader 7″ single reviews for bands with great names like Ausmuteants  and Rat Columns. Scroll the stream for anything labeled “Recommended.” That’s were you’ll find the true gems.


4. Pigeons & Planes

Pigeons & Planes is a place to keep up with everything from experimental pop to mainstream hip hop — a nice overview of what’s happening in music in 2014. They often host contests you actually want to win and space out the light-hearted listicles with some serious digging for good, new music. Check them out for their studied, in-depth Q&As with well-selected artists like Rome Fortune. Yesss.

5. Disco Naivete 

At any given moment, you could treat the homepage of Disco Naivete like the world’s best mixtape. Just go on down, hitting play along the way. The no frills format, well-curated selection of electro-infused pop music, and consistent focus on the thus undiscovered up-and-comers makes this one of the best blogs to go for feel good, super high energy new music. Put ya hands in the air.


6.  Aquarium Drunkard

The hermetic Uncle of music blogs. Aquarium Drunkard hews to the folky, bluesey category of things, doesn’t say too much about itself, and also hosts a killer Sirius radio show. Go here to find amazing reissues, ancient rarities, and features on musicians who lived-and-died long before your time. Get your feet wet with this timely end-of-summer September medley mix.

7. Ssssound!

We love Ssssound! because it’s highly personable, very conversational, and extremely well-curated. Cool photos paired with good sounds — a visual and aural feast that will keep you side-scrolling for at least a few hours. What keeps us coming back? The killer mixtapes and the curated Ssssoundtracks.

8. Other Music (newsletter)

Other Music is a New York City staple. A classic, old school record joint that has retained its neighborly air while its East Village home has steadily gentrified around it. The staff can always be counted on to know what’s-what across an unbelievable wide range of genres — a know-how that’s aptly reflected in their weekly, lengthy Other Music updates. These newsletters are like having a good, long chat with a record nerd. No stars or ratings; just capable, insightful prose about a bunch of good ass records. Cool.

9. No More Pop

This no frills musical outpost keeps things as simple as its name: one mixtape at a time. Nothing else to worry about. Just load the page and hit play. (Seriously, try it.)


10. Ad Hoc

Ad Hoc is the collaborative efforts of ten, globally-based music lovers/writers/thinkers/doers. Co-founded by Emilie Friedlander and Ric Leichtung, this is a musical-visual mash-up that shoots for the stars (only featuring the best of the best), with an emphasis on “emerging artists and musical movements that best exemplify the new grassroots, Internet-fueled DIY.” They also regularly publish a ‘zine that features more lengthy meditations on music, plus all kinds of original artwork for a crazy cross-spectrum of talented under-the-radar makers. We love everything about it.

11 Sep 18:01

Black Seed Introduces Late-Night Pizza Bagels

by Sierra Tishgart

When pizza's on a bagel, you can eat pizza anytime.

It's 2 a.m., you're wasted, and you can't decide if you'd like to face-plant into a greasy slice, or buy a massive bagel to use as a pillow on the cab ride home. Now, you can have the best of worlds: Starting tomorrow, Black Seed will open from 10 p.m. until 4 a.m. on Thursday through Saturday, with a limited menu that includes two different kinds of pizza bagels (a $6 cheese pizza with basil, and a $7.50 pepperoni option), and bagels by the bulk, with cream cheese on the side. Note that this doesn't mean that Black Seed will stay open for regular dinner service: It'll close between 4 p.m. and the start of the 10 p.m. late shift. So the answer is no — you can't eat these particular pizza bagels anytime.

Read more posts by Sierra Tishgart

Filed Under: dreams come true, bagels, black seed, new york, news, pizza

11 Sep 18:00

No Need to Slide into Someone’s DMs When You Can Text Them a Taco

by Erin Mosbaugh

Taco Text is a new app that allows you to send a taco to anyone using text messages and other social apps on your iPhone. Think about the possibilities… Your girl’s mad at you? Text a taco. Someone sends you nude…


The post No Need to Slide into Someone’s DMs When You Can Text Them a Taco appeared first on

11 Sep 14:34

Can putting a plant on your desk make you more productive?

by Joseph Stromberg

Should you make it a point to have more plants in your office? A new study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests that the mere presence of plants in a workplace makes workers more productive.

But is it true? Will going out and getting a plant for your desk make you better at your job? Here's our look at the evidence.

The evidence for

houseplant 2

(Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images)

Previously, a handful of small studies by other researchers had looked at the effect of plants on worker productivity. They arrived at inconsistent results, with some finding that plants had a positive impact, others a negative one, and still others finding that the presence of plants had no apparent effect.

But the research team behind this new study, led by Marlon Nieuwenhuis of Cardiff University, found one problem across most of the previous work: it involved plants put into computer labs set up specifically for the experiments. They argue that these settings fail to replicate an authentic office environment, so their findings about office productivity probably don't translate to the real world.

To fix this problem, the researchers went to the open-plan office of a London consulting group and filled part of it with plants. 17 workers stayed in the "lean" (plantless) part of the office, and 16 got to work in the plant-filled part, with enough plants so that each person could see at least three from his or her desk.

workers in the plant-filled area completed the tests more quickly and accurately

For several consecutive days, at some point during the working day, the two groups of workers performed simulated work tasks (sorting memos and answering questions about them, as well as proofreading a magazine article). When these tasks were graded, the researchers found that those in the plant-filled area completed the tasks 15 percent more quickly and accurately than the others.

Additionally, the researchers conducted a few experiments at other offices for the same study, and they made some other positive findings. Another office of British consultants' self-reported productivity (as gleaned from survey responses) increased when plants were present. And in both offices — as well as a Dutch health insurance company's call center — workers reported higher levels of satisfaction with their office environment when plants were present.

There's also hard data showing a possible mechanism through which plants might increase productivity. Many experiments have demonstrated that houseplants can remove several forms of indoor air pollution — including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) — from indoor environments. And other work has indicated that the high levels of VOCs found in many offices and classrooms can detrimentally affect decision-making and concentration.

The evidence against

houseplant 3

(Christian Senger)

There are some things to consider before getting too excited about this finding. The most important is that it was an extremely small study, so random variation between individual workers' baseline productivity could easily account for the effect observed. Even though the idea makes some sense, we still don't have great evidence that plants actually made the workers more productive.

this was an extremely small study

Additionally, in the Dutch call center, the researchers tracked productivity in actual work, rather than simulated work. And when they did so, they found that the presence of plants had no significant effect on productivity.

Unfortunately, there's in this Dutch study too — productivity was measured in terms of the average time each call took a worker to do. The company later admitted that this may be a poor measure, since it can reward a worker for simply getting off the phone with a customer as quickly as possible, instead of helping him or her.

So should you put a plant on your desk?

houseplant 4

(Ciera Holzenthal)

On the whole, the evidence here is somewhat mixed and very limited. But on the whole, it probably doesn't hurt to go out and buy a houseplant for your desk.

After all, there might well be benefits, and there are virtually no costs — beyond a few dollars for the plant itself and a few minutes every so often to water it. This isn't like trying an experimental drug or an expensive weight-loss treatment.

Besides, even if the plant doesn't make you more productive, other studies have suggested that people have lower stress levels when their workplaces include a bit of nature — whether it's a view of the outdoors or a houseplant. So even if you don't get any more work done, buying a plant may well make you a little happier.

10 Sep 13:54

How to Keep Your Cat, c. 1470

by Ask the Past
Cat Churning Butter, 14th c.
Yale, Beinecke MS 404, f. 148r

"If you have a good cat and you don't want to lose it, you must rub its nose and four legs with butter for three days, and it will never leave the house."

The Distaff Gospels

This trick will certainly prevent your cat from running away. It's less clear whether the cat will stick around because of adoration or poor traction.
09 Sep 14:48

Ginger Jihadis: Why Redheads are Attracted to Radical Islam

Dozens of young redheaded men and women are replacing the ritual bullying of the playground with the ritual strictures of radical Islam, perhaps – at least according to some experts – as a result of the bullying and persecution they endure early in life.

You’ve likely already made the connection between ginger hair and home-grown Islamic radicals yourself. Subconsciously, perhaps, from newspaper reports showing carrot-topped wannabe jihadis from Bradford, and TV clips of auburn brothers in east London. What you probably don’t know is just how vastly over-represented redheads are in the ranks of Islamist converts.

There are no surveys of jihadis, of course. The Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism organisation, told us that no one keeps reliable data on white converts to Islamism. So news reports probably represent the best data set available to researchers.

We sampled national newspaper coverage of white converts to radical Islam published between 5 August 2013 and 4 August 2014, excluding cases where there was no evidence of extremism or radicalisation. For example, Lucy Vallender, the ginger-haired Territorial Army private who had a sex change and became Britain’s first transgender Muslim woman, was excluded from our results.

We discovered that 76 per cent of white British converts to radical Islam had red hair. In the Daily Mail archives, 69 per cent of white Brits lured into jihadism or the orbit of an extremist preacher were ginger. The number was similar for the Mirror and the Telegraph. The Guardian yielded a full 100 per cent redhead rate for the stories we sampled.

These are extraordinary numbers when you consider that in northern and western Europe, the average incidence of red hair in the general population is 5 per cent. In other words, Islamic extremists reported on by the media are fifteen times more likely than the general population to have red hair.

Unless you think there’s a Fleet Street conspiracy to single out and report on ginger jihadis – and that the Guardian is leading the charge – the data clearly demonstrate that white people who convert to radical Islam are overwhelmingly likely to be ginger.

Of course, leading Muslims in public life and senior police officers have known about this for years, though they’re understandably reluctant to discuss it in public – until now. Fiyaz Mughal, founder of Tell MAMA, an advocacy organisation that tracks islamophobia, says: “For whatever reason, there does seem to be a number of people with ginger hair that are present in extremist activities. In no way do I suggest that the gene for ginger hair is a factor, but bizarre it is.”

“I’m glad someone is finally tackling this thorny topic,” says the director of a leading Muslim think-tank, who preferred to remain anonymous. “I can remember having a conversation with a counter-terrorism police officer in 2008 about this and he claimed most of the converts he dealt with are ginger.”

Another prominent Muslim in public life who appears regularly in the media adds: “Though there are no reliable statistics on this, ginger people do tend to be over-represented in extremist circles.”

Hate preacher Anjem Choudary, founder of banned group al-Muhajiroun, has assembled nothing short of a ginger cabal of supporters and protégés, including Richard Dart, who goes by the name Salahuddin, Paul Mellor, who now calls himself Abu Jibreel, and Jordan Horner, now known as Jamaal Uddin.

News reports, documentaries and their own promotional YouTube videos reveal the tonsorial similarities between so many of Chaudary’s acolytes; our data suggests that they’re the rule and not the exception among white converts.

Elsewhere in the world, marginalised redheads take a consumerist, pick-and-mix approach to their cries for help, mingling conspiracy theory, fake science, cross-dressing and religion. Sister Boom Boom, the ginger-haired mother superior of drag queen activist syndicate The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, started as an astrologer and satirist of Catholic culture before converting to Islam in 2003.

Such prolific solution-hopping is rarer in Britain, where Islamism tends to win out among the competing extreme ideologies available to dorky ginger twenty-somethings. There are exceptions, of course: red-haired Brit David Myatt was a neo-Nazi autodidact who converted to Islam in 2003, but then rejected it in 2010 to develop his own “mystical philosophy” called The Way of Pathei-Mathos.

Female radicals, fewer in number, invariably convert to Islam after a romantic entanglement with a Muslim extremist. Women such as “White Widow” Samantha Lewthwaite, “Jihad Jane” Coleen LaRose and “Jihad Jamie” Jamie Paulin-Ramirez all converted to Islamism shortly after being seduced by militants. Each of those women, incidentally – one British, two American – were originally redheaded and subsequently dyed their hair another colour.

“Blood-nut,” “fire-truck,” “matchstick” and “tampon” are among the more printable insults levelled at ginger-headed children, according to comedian Tim Minchin. But it can be hard to sympathise with the narrative of victimhood propagated by ginger prejudice campaigners, until you recall what relentless and cruel abuse redheads are often subjected to.

Beauty magazine insiders will tell you that naturally red-headed celebrities are airbrushed even more brutally than their peers to ensure an even skin tone. And a nightclub experiment reported in Psychological Studies in 2012 showed that red-headed men were much more likely to be rebuffed, and red-headed women less likely to be approached, all else being equal. (The researchers used wigs to exclude other variables.)

Why are people so mean? Some scientists think it’s genetic: they say we’re wired to be attracted to rich genetic mixes – hence, perhaps, the near-universal attractiveness of Italians and Spaniards. The relative genetic purity of ginger-haired people – too much of anything else and the recessive gene won’t assert itself – isn’t what we’re programmed to appreciate.

They also draw attention to the frequent coexistence of freckles with red hair. Freckles are mini-cancer factories; people with lots of these naturally-occurring circles of brown skin are far more likely to get skin cancer. In other words, it could be an evolved, adapted response to avoid mates with a lack of genetic mixing.

But if those theories told the whole story, Britain wouldn’t be home to such uniquely virulent ginger prejudice. Bullying experts agree that we lead the world in vindictive cruelty toward redheads. “I was never aware of redheads being so vulnerable to name-calling and bullying until I came to the UK,” says Claude Knights, the strawberry blonde Belgian chief executive of anti-bullying charity Kidscape.

“We regularly see children with red hair and it’s always the same story. I’m not for criminalising things that don’t need to be criminalised, but we have no laws or structures in place to protect ginger people. Ginger prejudice in the UK is especially bad, but I’ve spoken to the bullies and they can’t themselves analyse it.”

Historians take a different view: our hostility toward gingers is the product of a long and complex history of conflict with the flame-haired Celts on our borders, not least a gigantic wave of hungry Irish migrants in the 1800s, say researchers such as the late Dr Ruth Mellinkoff.

That would explain why ginger prejudice is still socially acceptable, when other forms of appearance-based bigotry aren’t: its roots are historic, not genetic. When asked whose responsibility it was to monitor discrimination against red-headed people, the Commission for Racial Equality told the BBC: “It is certainly not us.”

Regardless of hair colour, the reasons people turn to religious extremes are well documented. For lonely young men in particular, the siren call of brotherhood can be irresistible. The moral certainty of Islam combined with ambitions of jihad and the glamour of sun-drenched warfare can represent an intoxicating brew for those struggling to find a place in society.

Morten Storm is a Danish former biker gang member who was later a double agent inside al Qaeda. His memoir, Agent Storm: My Life Inside al Qaeda, was published in July. Red-haired Storm told us: “It’s been my experience that many converts to radical Islam have troubled childhoods, including people who have been bullied. Being part of a tight-knit community of like-minded zealous believers makes them feel appreciated, important and wanted.

“Converts are often more vulnerable to radicalization than those brought up culturally in Islam, because they are more prone to literal, fundamentalist interpretations of Islamic texts.”

“If you’re on the receiving end [of bullying], you might well seek out someone who offers you a sense of belonging,” Knights agrees. “Some bullied children become adults who don’t have a sense of their own identity. They have to go out and create one.”

Alienation, victimhood and a desire to visit revenge upon their communities make bullied gingers the perfect recruits for extremist activists. As Knights puts it: “Predators are looking for … vulnerabilities, and a person who has been bullied in childhood can remain in a ‘victim script’ and will be targeted.”

Knights and Storm both stop short of making the connection between ginger hair and Islamism explicit, for some obvious reasons, but we know that a unique concatenation of events in British history has conspired to make redheads an ostracised group, with a cluster of anxieties that maps perfectly onto the Islamist checklist.

Red facial hair of the kind sported by Bradford Islamist convert and former rapper MC Chippy, who now goes by the name of Brother Adam (look him up on YouTube), has at various times in history been considered a symbol of divinity. One of the Roman emperor Nero’s family names was Ahenobarbus, or “bronze-bearded,” and Mohammed is, in some Muslim traditions, said to have had reddish facial hair.

Do jihadis see in the recessive ginger gene, so much more commonly expressed in northern Europe than the Middle East, a hint of the divine? Anjem Choudary hadn’t returned a request for comment as we went to press. But it’s certainly plausible that redheads, through a combination of physical appearance and the concomitant emotional problems it can bring, are singled out by extremists as ripe for the picking.

Good luck getting today’s politically correct Police to admit there’s a correlation between red hair and radicalisation, though – even though they surely must have noticed what’s happening on British streets. “There is no evidence to suggest an individual’s physical appearance has any bearing on their vulnerability to radicalisation,” the Met told us in a curt email statement. Their spokesman declined to elaborate – and wasn’t interested when we offered to share our findings.

Several recent studies have demonstrated that redheads react to pain differently to the rest of us. Scientists say ginger-haired people are less responsive to subcutaneously administered anaesthetics, but suffer more from toothaches. They’re also more susceptible to the cold.

We’re a long way from establishing that there might be psychological differences, rooted in genetics, that explain why redheads are more vulnerable to dangerous ideologies. But, if there’s one uncomfortable truth that the relatively new science of genomics is repeatedly surfacing, it’s that observable characteristics do indeed correlate with different kinds of behaviours. So who knows? After all, redheads do have a reputation for being feisty…

Jamaal Uddin
Jordan Horner

A member of the notorious “Muslim Patrol,” which threatened to “kill the non-believers.” Renounced his previous lifestyle of boozing and “seeing girls.” Jailed for assault and for using threatening words and behaviour.

Salahuddin al-Britani
Richard Dart
A middle-class white boy who became a Christian while working at a kids’ camp in the US, Dart was converted to radical Islam by hate preacher Anjem Choudary and later jailed for planning terrorist activities.

Sherafiyah Lewthwaite
Samantha Lewthwaite

A troubled child who sought solace with Muslim neighbours, Lewthwaite has a string of terrorist ex-boyfriends (some imprisoned, some dead), including 7/7 suicide bomber Germaine Lindsay – hence her nickname, the “White Widow.” Currently on the run and a member of terrorist group Al-Shabaab.

Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad
Tim Winter 

Cambridge director of studies who once recorded a video describing homosexuality as a sinful and “inherent aberration,” and gays as “ignorant people who don’t know what their bodies are for.”

Brother Adam (centre)
MC Chippy 

Chippy is not known to be an extremist, but his videos are used as a recruitment tool in Bradford and elsewhere. 

Matthew Hamza (centre)
Matthew Newton 

Described by his family as a quiet lad, Newton started recruiting for the Taliban from a stall in Longsight market in Manchester. Jailed for trying to radicalise undercover police officers. 

Abu Jibreel
Paul Mellor 

Formally a Lance Corporal in the Irish Guards, Mellor turned his back on the Queen to become a self-declared “soldier of Allah.” 

Abdul-Aziz ibn Myat
David Myatt

Once a leading lights of the British neo-Nazi movement, Myatt converted to Islam, becoming a notable apologist for suicide bombing civilians. Has now moved on.

Abdullah Deen

Former drum and bass MC, Millwall fan, cocaine dealer and self-employed perfume salesman before his conversion to radical Islam.

09 Sep 14:17

This Pitbull Fucking Loves Bubbles

by Gabrielle Bluestone

"It's almost the weekend," you're probably thinking to yourself. You're so excited. But not as excited as this fucking bubble-loving pitbull.


09 Sep 14:16

In Madagascar's Capital City, a Plague of Locusts

by Siobhán O'Grady
09 Sep 00:10

27 Of The Most Memorable Joan Rivers Jokes

by Ariane Lange

She was the best act in her price range.

Joan Rivers died at 81, and the world lost a great comedian and an admirable bitch. The woman spoke truth:

Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

VALERY HACHE / AFP / Getty Images

View Entire List ›

09 Sep 00:09

Sarah Silverman Makes Fun of Jimmy Kimmel the Way Joan Rivers Would Have Wanted

by E. Alex Jung

Sarah Silverman went on her ex-boyfriend Jimmy Kimmel's late night show Thursday night to talk about how she brought a pot pipe to the Emmys, her boyfriend Michael Sheen, and of course, one of her mentors, Joan Rivers. Silverman said that she always remembered to watch Joan Rivers's Fashion Police because it contained some of the most "hardcore jokes" on TV. And, instead of moping about Rivers's death, she decided to make some jokes about Jimmy's fashion — just the way that Joan would have wanted.

She also continues to roast Jimmy when he asks about her new boyfriend, Masters of Sex's Michael Sheen. If only all of our past relationships could be as entertaining as this one.

Read more posts by E. Alex Jung

Filed Under: in tribute ,sarah silverman ,joan rivers ,jimmy kimmel live ,jimmy kimmel ,tv ,candy

08 Sep 02:45

New Service Offers Taxis Exclusively for Women

SheTaxis’s drivers, all women, will sport hot pink pashmina scarves and an “S” company logo on their cars.
05 Sep 14:57

Ban Free Pizza at Bars

by Dayna Evans
Jon Schubin

Just because the author is no longer 22 doesn't mean he doesn't have to ruin 22 for everyone.

Ban Free Pizza at Bars

Lulu's Bar in Greenpoint, where you can get a free pizza for every drink you order, is closing this month. Good. All free pizza bars should be closed.


04 Sep 22:18

Aphex Twin - minipops 67 [120.2][source field mix]

Jon Schubin

Much like.

The piano towards the end is very interesting, but honestly that drum programming continues to innovative far after you think it would become stale.

This is the stream of 'minipops 67 [120.2][source field mix]' from Aphex Twin's 'Syro', available from Bleep - This is the first Aphe...
04 Sep 22:16

Just Six Months After the Olympics, Sochi Looks Like a Ghost Town

by Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan on Gizmodo, shared by Lacey Donohue to Gawker

Just Six Months After the Olympics, Sochi Looks Like a Ghost Town

It's been almost exactly six months since the Sochi Olympics wrapped up and the world promptly moved on to speculating about the Rio 2016. Since then, the town of Sochi has been left holding the proverbial bag—which as Russian photographer Alexander Belenkiy shows us, is full of too many buildings and not enough people to occupy them.


04 Sep 17:58

Kishi Station in Kinokawa, Japan

Kishi Station

Kishi Station in Kinokawa, Japan, was threatening closure due to low ridership in 2004. Then a lucky calico cat came along to save the rural station on the  Kishigawa Line of the Wakayama Electric Railway from obscurity. 

Tama, a stray calico cat, was adopted in 2007 as Kishi Station's Super Station Master. The feline who sports a station master hat at a rakish angle has gone on to draw tens of thousands of visitors a year, keeping the train station in business for locals and reviving what was once a depressed point of the Wakayama Prefecture into a tourist boon. 

In 2010, the station was renovated to be cat-shaped, and inside there's a cat-themed café. You can visit Tama at her office, or her apprentice Nitama, also a calico. There's even a Tama-themed train that departs the station. Tama turned 15 in 2014, but as of this writing was still on the job, taking photographs with fans and sleeping soundly at her post. 

04 Sep 17:15

People actually prefer the shuttle to the G train

by freewilliamsburg
Jon Schubin

More trolls

credit: Greenpointers

credit: Greenpointers

We griped and griped, but many commuters actually preferred the shuttle to taking the awful G train. Enjoy it while it lasts. Service resumes on Tuesday:

“It’s faster,” said George Huarotte, 22, who works in Greenpoint. “I prefer the shuttle.”

“The shuttle is always there,” said Tiffany Elisca, 25, who also works in Greenpoint. “And it’s free.”

The G train has been shut down between the Nassau Avenue and Court Square stops since July 25 to allow workers to make “extended repairs” after 3 million gallons of salt water flooded the line during Sandy, according to the MTA…

Taveras once waited 20 minutes for the train to leave the Court Square station, making her total commute about 30 minutes, she said. But with the shuttle, she said she zips to work in just 10 to 15 minutes.

“I actually get to work on time now,” she said. “It is convenient.”

For nighttime commuters, the shuttle has been particularly beneficial, said John Monte, 47, who commutes from work in Long Island City to his Greenpoint home at night.

Monte doesn’t mind the G train during the day, but after 10 p.m., “it’s awful,” he said.

“The shuttle comes more often,” he said.

03 Sep 22:37

Letitia James Calls For $5 Million NYPD Body Camera Pilot

by Jillian Jorgensen
Jon Schubin

Honestly she makes a good point. I would predict that claims would fall if there was full-time video monitoring cops at all times. I know it's creepy, but cops have too much power not to be monitored.

Public Advocate Letitia James holds up an example of a wearable body camera. (Jillian Jorgensen)

Public Advocate Letitia James holds up an example of a wearable body camera. (Jillian Jorgensen)

Public Advocate Letitia James called on the city to fit police with wearable cameras in a pilot program broader than the one a federal judge has ordered — and said the $5 million effort would actually save taxpayers money.

“If we were to do, to implement body cameras on 15 percent of our police force in New York City, it would only cost taxpayers $5 million. Currently, we are spaying out $152 million annually to claims, individuals who are charging police officers with police misconduct,” she said a press conference in her offices.

Ms. James said she believed having cameras on cops would reduce those police misconduct claims — recently outlined in Comptroller Scott Stringer’s ClaimStat report — covering the cost of the cameras and then some. She based those projections, she said, on the results in other cities using cameras — the Rialto, California, police department saw claims against police drop by 88 percent after introducing body cameras, Ms. James said.

“Clearly it will save taxpayer dollars, and it’s a win-win for police and community,” she said.

The public advocate first issued a call for body cameras in the wake of Eric Garner’s death in NYPD custody on Staten Island, which was only caught on camera because a passerby shot cellphone video. Since then she has reiterated her call; today she offered a more concrete proposal and demonstrated one of the small cameras in a packed room of reporters.

Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin called for the precinct in each borough with the highest number of recorded stops to use body cameras as part of a decision ruling the city’s use of stop and frisk unconstitutional. But though Mayor Bill de Blasio dropped an appeal filed by his predecessor, the city has yet to implement that ruling, which is still under appeal from other groups.

“We want to focus primarily on precincts where there’s a high rate of crime and a high rate of police misconduct — that’s much broader than the recommendations from Judge Scheindlin,” Ms. James said.

Videotaping interactions between police and community protect both officers and those they stop, and said she believed the removal of the “hearsay” involved in many complaints is why cameras so drastically reduced claims in other cities.

“In cases where police officers are falsely accused of police misconduct, it will exonerate them, because it will provide an objective record of what happened as opposed to hearsay,” she said.

There’s another potential benefit for the NYPD, she added — the city could use the money it saves by reducing claims to provide the NYPD with new technology or spruce up its notoriously out-of-date stationhouses.

The pilot alone would cost $5 million in taxpayer dollars; to expand it to the entire force would cost about $32 million, Ms. James said, pointing out that was still well below the cost of settling claims. The cameras — she held up a device about the size of a pager — can be worn on the lapel or the belt, depending on an officer’s height.

So far, many key players — Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association among them — have yet to commit to any body camera program. But she said she has an upcoming meeting with PBA President Patrick Lynch, and recently met with Mr. de Blasio on the issue. And she pointed out Mr. Bratton is not unfamiliar with cameras: a pilot program is underway in Los Angeles, where Mr. Bratton has formerly served as commissioner. 

“We had a meeting about it. [Mr. de Blasio] said he’s reviewing the proposal, he’s looking at other jurisdictions, he’s studying the data. He’s not made a decision, and he’s reserved his decision with regards to whether or not we should implement cameras,” Ms. James said. “But clearly, in the past, Police Commissioner Bratton has supported this initiative.”

In between his jobs in California and New York, Mr. Bratton told the New York Times he would want his officers to wear cameras if he were to lead a force again.

And while some of the same people now calling for police cameras have often been wary about violations of civil liberties presented by other types of surveillance, Ms. James said cameras were simply a part of life in the city today.

“The reality is that we’re in a culture where video cameras are all around New York City, so it’s something that all of us are living with,” Ms. James said.

As a councilwoman, she allocated funds for cameras in housing projects in her district to reduce crime, she added.

“I’ve embraced cameras, I have embraced technology. I recognize that it’s just really part of our culture and part of keeping New York City safe,” she said.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the amount of money Ms. James said the city spends each year on claims. It is $152 million.

03 Sep 22:18

Disney Now Offering Mac and Cheese Bread Cones, Because Why Not

by Allee Manning
Jon Schubin

Remember when people tried to make pizzacones happen?

In case giant turkey legs and deep-fried everything isn’t enough to turn your Disney vacation into a food coma, not to worry: the Macaroni and Cheese Bread Cone is here. Disney’s latest theme park atrocity ($9.29) is served propped up in a…

Photos: Disney Food Blog

The post Disney Now Offering Mac and Cheese Bread Cones, Because Why Not appeared first on

03 Sep 20:51

Bran Stark and Hodor Won’t Be on Game of Thrones Next Season

by Lindsey Weber

According to actor Kristian Nairn, neither he (as Hodor) nor his partner in crime Bran Stark will be on next season's Game of Thrones. "We have a season off and we have a year's hiatus, solely because I imagine our storyline is up to the end of the books," he told Yahoo! News, adding, "So, I get my year off now to do Rave of Thrones and gallivant all over the world." Remember: He's not joking.

Read more posts by Lindsey Weber

Filed Under: game of thrones ,hodor! ,tv ,bran stark

03 Sep 20:50

Tim Hortons Introduces Sauce-Filled Buffalo Chicken Donut At NY State Fair

by Jen Carlson
Tim Hortons Introduces Sauce-Filled Buffalo Chicken Donut At NY State Fair State Fairs are a fantastic first stop to make after you've broken free from your nutritional prison. You can stand there, barely moving, as you wrap your lips around deep fried everythings. While staring at butter sculptures. In sweatpants. Petting the pig that will later become fried bacon on a stick. [ more › ]

03 Sep 20:23

Kate Bush faces a battle to save Devon clifftop home from falling into the sea

Jon Schubin

Falling off that cliff
With no problems


The house near East Portlemouth owned by Kate Bush. The cliff on which it sits has been crumbling into the sea fro some years and the singer – who last week performed for the first time in 35 years – faces a battle to save it

Comments (0)

Kate Bush's big comeback to the top of the pop scene might be spoiled by a sudden fall – as her cliff-top hideaway inches closer to the sea.

The publicity-shy singer, 56, bought the five-bed mansion for a reported £2.5 million in 2005 in a bid to live a quiet life away from obsessive fans.

But last year a huge landslip caused a section of the coast near Kingsbridge in Devon to crumble into the sea and her neighbour's front gate is now just inches from an 88ft drop.

Her 200-year-old property is next in line and council officials last week warned the area is in danger of toppling into the sea unless she invests in pricey re-enforcements.

Steve Gardner, of Devon County Council, said: "If you live there you can either accept it and let your house fall into the sea, or you can take action to prevent further damage, although that can cost hundreds of thousands.

"You can attach netting to the cliff face, or another option is spraying it with concrete, although these are very expensive and not something the council would pay for."

The property, set in 17 acres, rests on a cliff edge in rolling countryside near East Portlemouth in South Devon.

In 2007 she installed CCTV cameras, but removed them just hours before a council was due to meet over complaints they overlooked beach-goers in the cove below.

On Boxing Day 2011, an obsessive fan broke in, prompting the star to install high-security fencing, and blinding spotlights.

She has also spent much of the past decade campaigning to close a footpath around the house. Her wish was granted after part of it fell into the sea during last year's landslip.

Devon County Council subsequently closed off a half-mile section.

03 Sep 15:20

Saigon Pearl opens in Albany

by Steve Barnes, senior writer

A Vietnamese restaurant named Saigon Pearl opened Friday (8/29) at 791 Madison Ave. in Albany, taking over the space formerly occupied by Kim’s Vietnamese. The interior has been attractively renovated, and the menu includes pho, banh mi, rice-noodle bowls and rice dishes. I had rice noodles with charcoal-grilled pork that had a delicious smoky sear, bean-curd skin stuffed with shrimp paste and egg rolls, below. A liquor license is pending.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Call 451-9251 for info or to order.

In an extraordinary example of customer service, I called to ask whether the menu was available online anywhere. The employee who answered the phone said they’d been too busy with opening-weekend details to get the menu posted yet. I thanked him and hung up. He called back 12 minutes later, apparently having used called ID, to say the menu was now online and he hoped I’d look it over and find something appealing. I did.


03 Sep 14:18

21 Words That Have A Completely Different Meaning In England

by Luke Bailey
Jon Schubin


We invented English, yet no one understands the language like us.



What it usually means: Optional hot drink.
What it means in England: Mandatory life fuel.




What it usually means: A verbal signal that you find the other person fascinating.
What it means in England: A verbal signal that you want the other person to go away.

AMC / Via


View Entire List ›

03 Sep 13:21

Why the Upper East Side Is Now Cooler Than Brooklyn

Jon Schubin

Troll article of the year

ular at the Arlington Club, and James Corden goes to Jones Wood Foundry, while Emma Watson, Johnny Depp, Mila Kunis, Daniel Radcliffe, and Katie Holmes have all been spotted in Upper East Side bars and eateries this year.