Shared posts

14 Jul 14:04

Panhandlers Dressing As Jews, Collecting Money From Hasids

by Nikita Richardson

Image: NY Times

Yesterday, Gothamist reported that Asian panhandlers have started dressing as Buddhist monks and begging in Times Square. Meanwhile, the same thing is going down in Brooklyn, except here panhandlers are donning some semblance of Orthodox dress and begging for money from ultra-Orthodox residents.

The Post reports that panhandlers in a few of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods have recently taken to wearing “long skirts and head coverings” and visiting kosher markets before Shabbat and other Jewish holidays to run their scam. Many have learned a bit of Hebrew and Yiddish—including the word “tsedaka,” which means “charity”—in hopes of being more convincing.

The trend has resulted in one hilarious run-in so far:

A young woman wearing a snood on her head approached a Post reporter last month on Coney Island Avenue in Flatbush with arms stretched out, saying, “Tsedaka.”

When the Hebrew-speaking journalist asked if she spoke Hebrew, she looked confused, said “Jewish,” then ran off.

So, not everyone’s getting it quite right, but one Borough Park-based panhandler claims he put the scam to good use and collected $750 during Passover. Still doesn’t make it right, though.

Follow Nikita Richardson on Twitter @nikitarbk

12 Jul 15:31

World Cup Crib Notes: Day 20

by Allison McCann

Friday’s games mark the start of the quarterfinals and feature a UEFA vs. UEFA matchup in the morning followed by a CONMEBOL vs. CONMEBOL game in the afternoon. In the first match of the day, Germany has a 52.5 percent chance of defeating France and advancing to the semifinals, according to FiveThirtyEight’s World Cup predictions. In the second, however, Brazil is heavily favored to defeat Colombia (72 percent to 28 percent) and play the winner of Germany vs. France in the semifinal next week.

  • France vs. Germany: 12 p.m. EDT
  • Brazil vs. Colombia: 4 p.m. EDT



See our World Cup predictions for the latest probabilities.


All eight teams still in the tournament won their respective groups, so there are no true underdogs left. But if we go back to the beginning, Brazil and Germany both had very good chances of reaching this stage of the knockout rounds (80 percent and 68 percent) compared to Colombia and France (46 percent and 45 percent).

France and Germany are old foes, having faced each other 25 times since 1930 (prior to 1990, Germany competed as West Germany). In those games France has been victorious 11 times compared to Germany’s eight. However, almost all of these games were friendlies. The last time these two teams met competitively was in the 1986 World Cup semifinals, and Germany edged France 2-0. ESPN’s Soccer Power Index rates France vs. Germany as the most evenly matched of all the quarterfinal games.

Brazil vs. Colombia, on the other hand, is supposed to be anything but even. Strangely, these teams have also met 25 times, and Colombia has managed to win only twice. A Seleção have slaughtered Los Cafeteros on more than one occasion, 9-0 in 1959 and 6-2 in 1969, but this is a different Colombia team. Their last meeting with Brazil, a friendly in the U.S. in 2012, ended in a 1-1 draw.

Brazil trumps Colombia in overall and offensive SPI ratings (90.6 and 3.1 to 89.4 and 2.6) but Colombia’s defense is slightly better, with an SPI rating of 0.4 average goals allowed to Brazil’s 0.5 (lower defensive scores are better). Brazil’s defense has something to worry about in James Rodriguez, this World Cup’s breakout star for Colombia, who has tallied five goals — the most of any player so far — including this beautiful chest-to-volley on the turn against Uruguay:

But Brazil’s Neymar (and Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Germany’s Thomas Muller) are only one goal behind Rodriguez, so if Brazil clinches a win in this clash of the golden boys, Rodriguez may be out of the race for this year’s golden boot.


France and Germany are neighbors, and each has international power and its own distinct culture — berets and baguettes vs. lederhosen and bratwurst. So given the ease of travel between the countries, it’s not surprising that there’s a lot of cross-tourism. According to the French Ministry of Handicrafts, Trade and Tourism, there were about 6.3 million overnight stays in France from German tourists in 2012. Conversely, the German National Tourist Board reported that there were roughly 3.1 million, or half as many, overnight stays in Germany from French tourists in the same year. When adjusted for each country’s total population at the time, this means that about 8 percent of Germany’s 80.4 million people stayed overnight in France at least once in 2012, while about 5 percent of France’s 65.7 million people stayed overnight in Germany. They may not be the best of friends, but it looks like the old enemies have at least upgraded to a friendly rivalry – at least as far as tourism goes. — Hayley Munguia


CORRECTION (July 4, 10:57 a.m.): An earlier version of this post had the incorrect year of the last competitive meeting between France and Germany. While the two teams did face off in 1982, they also met in the 1986 World Cup semifinals.

10 Jul 14:28

"Orange Is The New Black" Cast Superlatives With Samira Wiley And Matt McGorry

by Whitney Jefferson

We asked two members of the Orange Is the New Black cast to assign classic yearbook superlatives to their co-stars. These are their answers.

Macey J. Foronda / BuzzFeed

When the actors who play Poussey Washington and Officer Bennett on Netflix's insanely marathon-able Orange Is the New Black visited the BuzzFeed offices, we simply had to ask them to call out their cast mates' behavior on set. For more, read on!

Best Dressed

Best Dressed

Macey J. Foronda / BuzzFeed

View Entire List ›

09 Jul 01:17

Friday Food 131 – Salt

by Liuzhou Laowai

Friday Food is an occasional article about one of the more unusual food items to be found in Liuzhou that week. This time we investigate the strange world of salt.

Not since 2011 and the Insane Salt Rush in response to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, has salt featured as a headline item here on the blog.

But something strange is going on with Liuzhou’s salt.

About nine months ago, the salt I had been buying for years disappeared from the supermarkets and corner shops. It was a low sodium salt (低钠盐) and was pretty much the only salt available. Although packed and distributed by a Nanning company, it is produced in Zigong (自贡) in Sichuan. Ziging is one of China’s oldest and best known salt producing cities.

Refined Low Sodium Salt (低钠盐)

Refined Low Sodium Salt (低钠盐)

In its place this appeared. And it became the only salt available.

sea salt2

Sea Salt (自然晶盐)

sea salt 3

Sea Salt (自然晶盐)

It is crystal sea salt from Beihai (北海市) on Guangxi’s south coast. Splendid stuff. And local.

But a couple of weeks it disappeared overnight in every shop and supermarket. Not a drop is to be found.

Instead we get these:

iodised salt


Low Sodium Salt 低钠盐

Low Sodium Salt 低钠盐


The first is a refined salt supplemented with iodine extracted from sea weed. This is produced in Xiaogan city (孝感市) in Hubei province (thousands of miles from the sea).

The second is a low sodium version of the Beihai salt above. That’ll do me.

The more eagle eyed among you may have noticed that all the salts above bear the same logo. Salt is a state controlled monopoly in China (has been for centuries). Gui Shan is the Nanning branch. They decree what salt can be sold and fix the price.




07 Jul 16:06

Razr Burn: My Month With 2004's Most Exciting Phone

Jon Schubin

I was so happy when I got my RAZR

In July of 2004, Motorola debuted the Razr V3, one of the most iconic cellphones of all time. Exactly 10 years later, I shed my iPhone for a month to experience the world where apps don't exist and T9 reigns king. Maybe I did it for the nostalgia. Maybe I did it because I hate myself just a little bit. Either way, one thing is certain: Using 2004's hottest phone in 2014 is hell.

It may be hard to remember now—or to believe at all, if you're under 20—but at the time of its release the Razr was the final word in mobile technology. For the first time, you got a sleek, powerful, and wildly expensive bit of metal to call not only your cellphone but your status symbol, too. A couple of years and a few slashes into the $700 price tag later, you could barely go outside without seeing someone flip open a Razr. In four years, Motorola sold 130 million of them, a record that wouldn't be touched until well into the iPhone's run.

That lingering coolness factor only makes it all the more depressing when you realize that, today, the Razr is a barely functional, actively-out-to-sabotage you bit of technological refuse. What was once displayed with pride on a shiny store pedestal, I found on eBay for $36 and sandwiched between a bulk set of broken chargers and discontinued memory cards.

As someone with a moderate to severe smartphone dependency, I knew my Razr month would be an adjustment. But I would have never guessed which things actually ended up needing the adjusting. Here's everything I learned during 30 days soundtracked by polyphonic ringtones and my own, gentle cries of defeat. Kids, please, don't try this at home.

The Things I Missed

Maps are hard. I am perhaps the most directionally inept person I know. I always assumed that, were it not for my phone's GPS, I would have been forced to settle down in the nearest park to build a new life for myself long ago.

In retrospect this is obvious, but I hadn't even considered the fact that my Razr wouldn't have access to a maps app. And since I don't have a printer because why would you, I rediscovered the long-lost art of our ancestors.

That said, there were several occasion in which I was forced to admit defeat and catch a cab because I had no conceivable idea where I was. Cartography is not my strong suit.

There was a reason we used to carry around digital cameras. As far as the casual consumer is concerned, cellphones today are more than capable of handling our various photo-taking needs. I was quickly reminded that this was not always the case.

Although, if there's one thing the early aughts did right, it was the the Fun Frame™.

Foolishly, I waited until after I had deactivated my Razr try to get the photos I had taken off of it. And while I'm sure it would have been a snap to upload photos 10 years ago, I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to bring these 1.3 megapixel wonders into the modern world. During my quest, I found multiple message boards with people bewailing similar problems, and they'd found solutions! My problem was solved, is something I would say were it 2009. Because as far as I can tell, that is the last time someone successfully got photos off a Razr V3 using the software itself.

Instead, I had to journey back to the Verizon store (my Razr naturally couldn't be activated online), switch service from my recently reinstated iPhone back to my Razr, spend about 20 minutes texting a friend a total of five-ish photos, and then ask the kind people at Verizon to switch service back to my iPhone. I'm still not sure it was worth it.

We take threaded conversations for granted. And they have made me impossibly lazy. I'm so used to being able to see entire messaging conversations at a swipe that I hardly even bother to absorb the words I'm looking at. Because normally, I can take an absentminded glance (mostly to stave off notification anxiety), and later, when I'm ready to respond, the entire back-and-forth is staring me in the face.

During one of my earlier, more naive days of #RazrLyf, I'd been absentmindedly opening a barrage of texts from a friend while working on something else. No big deal. Later, when I'd finally decided to transfer my full attention over to my newly activated relic, there was just one message left waiting for me:

Did I remember anything I had glanced at not ten minutes ago? No. Did I want to go through the obscene series of clicks to take me back through each individual message? Please—I'm not an animal.

And that is an absurd way to think—I know! But spending tens of seconds on actual clicks is torture to my attention-addled brain, and frankly, I would rather T9 my way through pure guesswork before subjecting myself to that kind of abuse.

I figured I would play it safe by answering with a simple "Haha." I never received a response.

The Things I Didn't

SMS sucks, but at least it works. If you thought switching to Android was iMessage purgatory, Razrland is the deepest, darkest pit of iMessage hell. I quickly learned that whenever I was going anywhere, I'd need to tell anyone who might need to contact me for whatever reason that they had to switch off their iMessage function. Otherwise, this would happen.

There is no greater test of a relationship than the iMessage black hole. Half the time, messages were re-routed to fester on my computer, where they'd live as inactionable relics to what could have been. This was the better of the two outcomes.

The other? The messages you see above along with countless others, sent to that unfathomable abyss where iMessages go to die. Say goodbye to messages filled with potential plans and burgeoning friendships—the early aughts have spoken.

Using a password manager is a dangerous game. I'm loath to admit it, but until just about a year ago, I'd been using the same several passwords I'd been assigned in middle school for pretty much everything. Finally coming to terms with the fact that this was a) lazy and b) dumb, I gave in and surrendered the money for a password manager.

It's worth noting that, for those using technology manufactured after Bush was in office, 1Password and password managers like it tend to work spectacularly. They're secure and, more importantly, do all the dirty work for you. So much so, in fact, that you can't physically do the dirty work (read: memorize a dozen or so 13-character keys) even if you wanted to. Rainmen of the world excluded.

So when I log in to, say, a friend's smartphone to check Twitter because my phone does not know what a Twitter is (okay technically it might but if I was going to tweet I was going to do it in style) we run into a bit of a problem: I need to use my password manager (which I don't have) to get my Twitter password (which I can't remember) to log onto a website (which I can't access). Because even if I tried to reset it, my email accounts are equally impenetrable.

I have a hardwired swiping tick. I'm fully aware of my unhealthy relationship with smartphone games, but a new low was reached when, about two-and-a-half weeks in, I found myself unconsciously clawing at my deficient device every five minutes in an attempt at quality Threes! time.

We've become far too complacent with shitty battery life. For example—and this is an admittedly extreme-ish case—but on a recent plane trip I brought two backup battery cases to supplement my fully charged iPhone. Granted, I currently have the iOS 8 beta on my phone which ravages my battery more than I ever dreamed possible, but this isn't that dissimilar to who people would prepare for a trip under more normal circumstances.

During my month in Razr darkness, I had to charge my Razr a total of eight times. Eight times. In a whole month. That's about two days' worth of charges in iPhone years.

It's not just the iPhone, though. The best any modern smartphone strives for—at least in terms of battery life—is being just slightly less awful than totally defective. But in 2014, that's life.

The Things I Couldn't Let Go

Answers to every question, public transit info, impromptu flashlights, music players, photo editors, private taxi-hailers, your actual concert ticket—all at my literal fingertips one second and gone the next. Yes, we hear about these digital detox clinics and envision idyllic, open fields and blood pressure plummeting to near-stasis, but that's a) fantasy and b) essentially taking place in Amish country. In the real world, being without a smartphone is goddamn miserable.

Smartphones are so ingrained in our daily lives that we swipe them open with the same unconscious instinct we'd use to swat a fly on our arm. Five idle minutes would pass by in a subway car. I'd reach for my phone, realize just a little too late that it had nothing to offer me, and then self-consciously pretend that I had just wanted to look at my impotent lump of a phone.

And impotent it was. Friends were fed up with me. I was late to pretty much everything. And more than once my mother nearly filed a missing persons report after I didn't respond to her texts—because I'd never actually received her texts.

If you're thinking that a break from the constant connection of the real world sounds nice, by all means, take a break; turn off your phone. It is nice! For a very, very short while. But as soon as you've had your fill, turn your phone the hell back on and be grateful. I guarantee someone's been trying to call you, and they're about to get pissed.

07 Jul 13:56

Tornado Backdrop Gives Couple the Most Badass Wedding Photos Ever

by Dennis Mersereau on The Vane, shared by Aleksander Chan to Gawker

Tornado Backdrop Gives Couple the Most Badass Wedding Photos Ever

A couple in Saskatchewan, Canada got a better backdrop than they bargained for when a tornado touched down a couple miles down the road from the wedding. The photographer took full advantage of nature's fury and took the most badass wedding photos ever taken.


07 Jul 13:37

'Star Trek: The Next Generation' season 8 boldly goes from Twitter parody to book

Jon Schubin

There are some VERY funny ones here

Star Trek: The Next Generation ended its run on TV in 1994 after seven acclaimed seasons, but what if it hadn't? Parody Twitter account  "TNG Season 8 (@TNG_S8)" has been imagining new, ever-sillier storylines for the never-made eighth season since October 2011. Now, it's being turned into an illustrated guidebook all unto its own, with the official licensing from the franchise.

"Star Trek: The Next Generation: Warped, An Engaging Guide to the Never-Aired 8th Season," is written by Mike McMahan, who runs the Twitter account, with illustrations from Joel Watson (creator of webcomic HiJINKS ENSUE) and Jason Ho (illustrator of comics for The Simpsons and Futurama). It's due out March 3, 2015, and is said to contain everything from episode descriptions to new aliens to "behind-the-scenes" accounts of the show's "troubled production," according to Until then, we've rounded up some of our favorite fictional storylines from @TNG_S8 below.

Picard must relax for a week while his new heart is delivered. GEORDI AND WORF CONTRACT A RARE SCREAMING DISEASE.

— TNG Season 8 (@TNG_S8) December 19, 2012

Stuck in a holo dance-off movie, Data & Geordi must boogie their way to freedom. Data's astonishing pop-locking clocks in at 500 pops/lock.

— TNG Season 8 (@TNG_S8) September 6, 2012

Picard's production of MacBeth becomes far too real. Having torn apart the warp core, Geordi now thinks the weird noise is coming from Data.

— TNG Season 8 (@TNG_S8) June 19, 2014

Wesley's dino experiment mistakenly mixes with Riker's beard DNA, creating the sexy-but-dangerous Velociriker. Troi's mom tries to marry it.

— TNG Season 8 (@TNG_S8) April 30, 2012

07 Jul 13:35

Shocker! "Community" Has Been Renewed!

by Kate Aurthur
Jon Schubin

Hooray! I am sorry I'm really happy about this and was not ready to let it go without a final season (and of course a movie)

By Yahoo. By Yahoo?


Though NBC canceled Community in May after five seasons, the comedy has gotten a reprieve from an unexpected place — Yahoo.

The show will return in the fall for 13 episodes during its sixth season, fulfilling half of its #sixseasonsandamovie promise.

Sony, Community's producer, shopped the cult comedy actively, but found no buyers on cable or at Netflix or Hulu. With the hold on the show's cast expiring today, June 30, Yahoo swooped in. According to Vulture's Josef Adalian, talks with Hulu fell apart over the show's budget, but cash-rich Yahoo made it work.

For its part, Yahoo, under its video umbrella, Yahoo Screen, has recently committed to trying to challenge the streaming services (which also include Amazon). In April, Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer announced that the company had picked up two new full-length comedy series for eight-episode seasons. They will be ad-supported like Hulu, not a subscription service such as Netflix or Amazon Prime.

In addition to the cast, Community creator Dan Harmon will also be back. In the press release announcing the Season 6 renewal, he was quoted: "I look forward to bringing our beloved NBC sitcom to a larger audience by moving it online. I vow to dominate our new competition. Rest easy, Big Bang Theory. Look out, Bang Bus!"

07 Jul 13:25

July 02, 2014

Last hour to buy! Thanks one last time everyone. We're so happy to be able to make this book the way we want to make it.
07 Jul 13:25

Hate your open office? Slide into a Cozy Room

by Lloyd Alter
Jon Schubin

Sounds great but I would fall asleep.

Work or play in peace and quiet with your own personal pod.
07 Jul 12:37

Continuum: “Last Minute”

Jon Schubin

So wait, this is good?

peaking of reset buttons, there’s no better way to close things out than to look at the case of Alec Sadler and Alec Sadler, the temporally twinned, warring boy geniuses. The third season premiere, in which Alec and Kiera both travel a week into the past and find themselves in a new timeline, one in which another Alec and another Kiera already exist, marks the show fully engaging with its time travel premise not just as general background but as an engine to drive specific stories. Erik
07 Jul 12:27

Life Lessons

by admin

07 Jul 12:25

That's a Big Carp

Jon Schubin

So many big carps!

  1. It’s okay to eat fish / ‘Cause they don’t have any feelings

    Happy (belated) 47th from That’s a Big Carp.

07 Jul 12:22

Manhattan Real Estate Explained: "Very Expensive"

by Hamilton Nolan

Manhattan Real Estate Explained: "Very Expensive"

Although the rent on Manhattan apartments is far too expensive for you to afford, look on the bright side: the prospect of buying a Manhattan apartment is also a laughable dream that recedes ever farther from the realm of possibility (for you).


07 Jul 12:03

The great Doritos mystery is over

For months, the nation's finest amateur detectives (Rust Cohle, and one of our editors among them) have been trying to crack the case of the Doritos Jacked mystery flavors. Well, Doritos finally busted the thing wide open, and it turns out Test Flavor 855, aka Spicy Street Taco, is the people's choice.

You'll remember Spicy Street Taco as the red bag full of cayenne-blasted chips. As for its two rivals, Test Flavor 404 (yellow bag... or Yellow King?!) was Caribbean Citrus Jerk, while Test Flavor 2653 (blue bag) was Chocolate Chipotle Bacon and not, sadly, our guess of Tijuana Girl Scout. Unfortunately, only one variety will come to grocery stores as an official Doritos Jacked flavor this Fall, and Spicy Street Taco garnered the most votes on the Bold Flavor Experiment site due to its "bold combination of Sriracha sauce and savory taco spices cooled with a kick of sour cream".

With this case closed, we can finally re-focus our attention on the disappearance of Doritos 3D, one of the most disturbing cold cases in snacking history.

Kristin Hunt is a food/drink staff writer for Thrillist, and is surprised anything with "bacon" in it lost. Follow her at @kristin_hunt.

We ate the mystery Doritos, and think we know the secret flavors
06 Jul 15:44

How Israel is punishing ordinary Palestinians for three murdered Israeli students

by Max Fisher
Jon Schubin

Stay classy, Israel

Twenty days after three Israeli high school students were kidnapped in the West Bank merely for being there, two days after they were found murdered in an apparent execution by Hamas members, and one day after Israelis gathered nationally to mourn the deaths, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies on Israel's political right appear to have extracted what they wanted from the crisis.

And that has been disastrous for Palestinian civilians, who are suffering what, by every indication, appears to be collective punishment by the Israeli government for the actions of a few rogue militants.

Netanyahu's government is launching attacks against Hamas, which Netanyahu insists is collectively responsible for a kidnapping that appears to have been conducted by rogue members. This makes it far more likely that full-on conflict will resume between Israel and Hamas, a dynamic that Netanyahu seems to prefer, because it favors Israel's overwhelming military strength and marginalizes Hamas politically. The last round of Israel-Hamas violence, in November 2012, killed dozens of civilians, almost all of them Palestinian.

netanyahu's own rhetoric has fed the perception of a collective punishment

The Israeli campaign is also driving a wedge between Hamas and the more moderate, West Bank-based Fatah. In April, the two groups joined in support of the first Palestinian unity government since 2007, but the Israeli response to the kidnappings risks splitting them again. This is a success for Netanyahu, who opposes Hamas's involvement in Palestinian politics, whether it moderates the group or not, and wants to break it away from Fatah. If the groups splinter, this will also have the effect of making peace talks far more difficult. Israel has said for years that a peace deal is impossible without a unified Palestinian government.

The greatest immediate effect of the Israeli response, though, is humanitarian, rather than political. Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza have suffered Israeli responses that have certainly felt like collective punishment, including mass arrests and military raids across the West Bank. These responses have killed at least five Palestinians, led 400 to be arrested, and disrupted the lives and work of many others. Hundreds of Palestinians who live in the West Bank and work in Israel were prevented from crossing over. On Tuesday, Israel launched dozens of air strikes in Gaza that it said were retaliation against Hamas for 18 rockets launched into southern Israel. But given Netanyahu's recent insistence that he will dismantle Hamas in retaliation, it seems unlikely the rockets were the primary instigation. As always, Gazan civilians will feel the brunt of the violence.

Part of what makes this so troubling is that Israeli tactics in the Israel-Palestine conflict have recurrently veered into actions that certainly appear to have the effect, and very possibly the intent, of collective punishment of Palestinians. Perhaps the most famous ongoing example of this is the Israeli blockade of the Gaza strip, imposed shortly after Hamas won legislative elections there. Israel says the blockade is necessary to limit rocket attacks, but it has the effect of causing widespread poverty and unemployment.

Now, with Israel's kidnapping response, Netanyahu himself has fed into the perception of collective punishment. His heavy-handed rhetoric most recently blamed all of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority for the kidnappings, before it was clear who had actually committed them. Similarly, Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel argued that Israel should retaliate by expanding settlement construction in the West Bank — an act that only makes sense as "retaliation" if you blame, and seek to punish, all Palestinians for the actions of a few.


Mourners attend a funeral for the three murdered Israeli students. Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images

Collective punishment is designated as a war crime by the Geneva Conventions, which regulate warfare under international law. It's also deeply harmful to the Israel-Palestine peace process, polarizing Palestinian political groups and civilians against Israel. It also polarizes Israelis against Palestinians. Israeli government rhetoric and actions implicitly blaming wide swathes of Palestinians for the kidnapping have coincided with incidents of Israeli mob violence against Palestinians, including what appears to be the abduction and murder of an Arab teenager.

hamas does hold at least some indirect responsibility, but ordinary palestinians do not

This does nothing, of course, to excuse or soften the kidnappings and murders that sparked the crisis, which appear to have been committed by rogue Hamas members. They belong to a group with a record of opposing and undermining Hamas's ceasefires and negotiations with Israel.

Hamas is not so much a victim here, though. There is an important and valid case to be made that Hamas leaders, or at least some members of its armed wing, do bear some responsibility for the teenagers' deaths. The group has previously encouraged and funded kidnapping Israeli civilians as a tactic. Hamas is labeled a terrorist group by the U.S. and E.U. for good reason, after all. But that does not mean that the group is directly responsible for this kidnapping. More to the point, Hamas joined in a Palestinian unity government in April, which would seem to at least potentially shift its incentives a bit away from militancy and toward cooperation.

In any case, the Hamas political leaders based in Gaza seem unlikely to have participated in a kidnapping in the West Bank committed by rogue Hamas militants, so it's not clear that air strikes on Hamas political leaders in Gaza are an appropriate or justified response. Whatever you think of Israel's political leaders, they're intelligent enough to see the distinctions here. It's hard to conclude that the air strikes are anything other than either blunt collective punishment or an attempt to damage Hamas's political position. What the strikes are not doing, though, is deterring future kidnappings of Israeli students or punishing the suspected culprits of this one.

04 Jul 03:46

Women sit in a modern chic boutique in Casablanca,...

Jon Schubin

Casablanca is not this hip now alas

Women sit in a modern chic boutique in Casablanca, 1971.Photograph by Thomas J. Abercrombie, National Geographic Creative

04 Jul 00:36

Are you ready for ramen fries?

by Peter Rittweger


What took them so long?

Keizo Shimamoto, creator of the famous Ramen Burger has created the only side dish worthy of being paired with his game changing burger, Ramen Fries. No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you, those are straight up wedges of deep fried ramen noodles topped with what looks like a secret sauce of some kind and chopped green onions.

Shimamoto is being fairly secretive about his new creation revealing only this photo on his official website and Facebook. There’s no official drop date on the Ramen Fries but Shimamoto has said fans can expect them soon at Smorgasburg, Brooklyn Flea, and Berg’n, at least when it finally opens.

H/T + PicThx Ramen Burger [Foodbeast]

03 Jul 16:50

Photos: 20 mouth-watering Iftar foods from all over the world that Instagram users are feasting on during Ramazan

Jon Schubin


Ramazan is the holy month in the Islamic calendar when the faithful observers of Islam fast during the entire month from sunrise (sahour) to sunset (iftar). Thoughts must be kept pure and no food or drink is consumed during this period. According to Islam fasting teaches its followers patience, modesty and spirituality.

The meals are served either before sunrise or after sunset, and are enjoyed with family. Usually the 'iftar' food includes fresh fruits, vegetables, halal meats, breads, cheese, and sweets. Followers of Islam across the world are posting pictures of the delectable 'iftar' food on Instagram. Here's a look at some of the most scrumptious food from across the world.

Worshippers break their fast at world's BIGGEST Iftar, shrine of #ImamReza where I'll lecture from the 10th #Ramadan

— Sayed M. Modarresi (@SayedModarresi) July 2, 2014
03 Jul 16:38

Inside UAE’s biggest iftar kitchen

Jon Schubin

Yummy mass iftar! Ramadan mubarak to the zero Muslims that are in the Cabal.

Dubai: It’s about 11am on a scorching Ramadan morning and a group of eight chefs along with a few dozen helpers are racing against time to garnish 10 giant pots full of simmering mutton porridge — or kanji as they call it at a kitchen in Sonapur.

The humble broth coddled with rice, lentil, fennel, coriander and other herbs will feed nearly 3,000 men — mostly blue collar workers — at an iftar in Ali Rashid Lootah mosque near Naif Gold Souq in Deira.

And this happens everyday during Ramadan in what is arguably the UAE’s biggest iftar, according to Liyakath Ali, general secretary of the Indian Muslim Association-UAE, registered as the IMAN Cultural Centre which has been organising this special iftar service for 35 years.

Ali who has been at the helm of this community service since the start told XPRESS: “We are serving what I could safely say is the biggest iftar in the UAE.”

Inside the kitchen near the RTA bus depot in Sonapur, the chefs and another 50-odd helpers get together to cook, pack, load and offload the food — all in a day’s work, starting at 5am.

“That’s been pretty much my schedule for the last 10 years during Ramadan. I hardly sleep, but then it is all for a great cause,” said Anwar Badshah, 39, who is a cook in the same labour camp kitchen.

During Ramadan, Badshah happily does a double-shift, preparing kanji that uses almost 150kg of basmati rice and 60kg of Indian mutton daily.

“We don’t do it for money, but we are suitably rewarded. The greatest satisfaction of course is to see thousands ending the fast with what you cook,” adds Badshah, looking visibly tired on his chair, having woken up at 4am after just a few hours sleep.

His Ramadan shift is about to end at around 3pm, but work continues for other volunteers who have joined a little later. At about 3.30pm they rustle up plastic bags with amazing alacrity, packing the food in boxes.

Each food pack contains samosas, dates, water, fruit, laban and juices besides the porridge.

Meanwhile, dates in 500 cartons, each weighing 10kg, are already stacked at the mosque also known as the Kuwaiti masjid.

The porridge, however, remains the main attraction for over 100,000 faithfuls who throng this mosque during the month for iftar.

“It’s a traditional porridge from Tamil Nadu in India where most of us hail from and is central to our iftar every Ramadan since we began this service,” said an ever-smiling Ali.

“We are the only ones serving kanji. It helps, especially the fennel to cool your body down after a hot day of fasting. Most others serve biryani,” he added.

“We started in 1979 with about 500 meals initially for three years [during Ramadan], but the number has gradually picked up and is in the region of 4,000 every day for decades now, including another 1,000 packets for two nearby masjids,” said the 59 year old finance executive turned businessman.

Mohammad Thaha, joint secretary and iftar team leader, said: “There are 65-odd people who do everything from start to finish in a structured manner every day.”

By 4pm, Thaha is at the Ali Rashid Lootah mosque overseeing offloading of the food packets by forklift.

In an hour’s time, scores of volunteers join hands in preparing for the thousands expected to line up for iftar in about two hours.

“People from different countries and different walks of life working here in Dubai participate and make this iftar truly global. They make sure everyone who comes even at the last minute gets a place to sit and partake in iftar,” adds Thaha.

And he was right. This reporter reached the mosque just a minute before iftar. And he wasn’t disappointed.

Which is the biggest iftar you have been to?

03 Jul 13:50

This Ingenious Tent Lets You Camp In The Trees

Jon Schubin

Um, how terrible would it be if your tent falls down in the middle of the night?

This invention takes camping to the next level — literally.

Alex Shirley-Smith, a London treehouse architect, came up with the idea for a portable treehouse called Tentsile, which allows users to camp suspended above the ground, according to the product's website. With the help of product designer Kirk Kirchev, Shirley-Smith made Tentsile a reality.

REI began selling the product in April 2014.

According to the product's website, Tentsile has the comfort of a hammock with the security and space of a multi-person tent. It is secured with three anchor points, and floor straps divide the treehouse into individual hammocks.

Tentsile has an insect mesh roof to protect users from bugs, and is also UV-protected and waterproof.

The website says each tent holds up to 820 lbs. The tents cost $599 or $749, depending on the model

03 Jul 13:35


In an episode of the murder mystery yarn Murder She Wrote entitled Death n' Denial, sleuth Jessica Fletcher is coerced into eating a full serving mulukhiyah after posing as the victim's mother in order to suss out a clue. She is shocked by the spicy nature of the dish but it is explained that she must finish the entire course or it would be considered an insult. The dish serves as somewhat of joke throughout the episode and when Jessica is offered the dish again in the final scene she is quick to decline.

03 Jul 06:15

Should Auschwitz Be a Site for Selfies?

by Ruth Margalit
Jon Schubin

This selfie hate has gotten out of hand. People take photos of places where they go. When it was a standard camera, people posed and someone else took a picture. That's it. It's a very standard thing. I'm sure lots of people took pictures at Auschwitz. It's fine. Just because it's a #selfie doesn't change much.


Four teen-agers huddle together, striking a severe pose like a boy band. In the background, just overhead, a sign looms: “Arbeit Macht Frei.” A girl kneels down next to some austere-looking, moss-ridden stairs. Wearing a black beanie and red lipstick, she makes a duck face and an inverse peace sign as the camera snaps. Two girlfriends draped in Israeli flags stand side by side, smiling, in a snow-topped forest. The caption reads, “#Trablinka #poland #jewish.” Underneath, a single comment: “Oh my god, beauties!!!”

The Instagram era has now brought us the selfie in a concentration camp. Or, as the phenomenon was identified in the title of a new Israeli Facebook page (translated here loosely), With My Besties in Auschwitz. The page, taken down on Wednesday, culled from real-life photos—most of them also taken down recently—that had been posted on social-media sites by Israeli kids on school trips to Poland. From the self-absorbed faux seriousness of some (meditating on the grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau!) to the jarring jokiness of others (hitching a ride by the train tracks!), the pictures have fed a perception of today’s youth as a bunch of technology-obsessed, self-indulgent narcissists. more
03 Jul 06:08

North Korea Bans Choco Pie, the Chocolaty Black Market Currency

by Angel Chang

If you’re not yet familiar, the Orion Choco Pie is a South Korean treat composed of two spongy, chocolate-covered cakes sandwiching a layer of marshmallow cream—pretty much the same as moon pies in the U.S. But while they cost less than 50 cents…

Photo: Flickr/Su-Lin

The post North Korea Bans Choco Pie, the Chocolaty Black Market Currency appeared first on

02 Jul 17:14

First Avenue Pierogi & Deli

by Dave Cook
Blueberry pierogi, First Avenue Pierogi & Deli, First Avenue, Manhattan

(From my mom-and-pop archives; this little shop closed, after 30 years, in 2014.) In summer, when blueberries are in season, these nubbly half-moons are wonderful with a little butter and sugar. To my taste, however, plum pierogi — like the one shown below in cutaway view, from an autumn visit — are better with sour cream.

Sweet or sour? In truth, it's hard to go wrong either way.

First Avenue Pierogi & Deli
130 First Ave. (7th-8th Sts.), Manhattan

Plum pierog (cutaway view), First Avenue Pierogi & Deli, First Avenue, Manhattan
First Avenue Pierogi & Deli, First Avenue, Manhattan
02 Jul 17:13

How You Can Recreate 36 World Cuisines Using 3 Spices

Jon Schubin

Great infographic!

When it comes down to it, what makes an exotic dish stand out is a signature set of ingredients. Thanks to this beautifully designed infographic by DataDail, we now have the huge advantage of creating 36 unique cuisines from around the world at our fingertips browser histories. Breaking down each country’s main cuisines to three staple items, the chart is definitely more than just a novelty. Especially for aspiring foodies.

I sure didn’t know that Northern India uses tons of cumin, ginger and lemon. Or that West Africa incorporates chili peppers, tomatoes and peanuts. This awesome graphic not only educates, but also makes me want to get out there and try more cuisines from around the world.

Looking at you, Lebanon.

How to Recreate 36 World Cuisines With 3 Spices

This article originally appeared at Foodbeast. Copyright 2014. Follow Foodbeast on Twitter.

02 Jul 17:07

Another Meme: The 100 Chinese Foods to Try Before You Die

Jon Schubin

83/100. I have eaten a lot of Chinese food.

20080912-chinesefood.jpgOK. Memes are spawning memes are spawning memes. It's like an experiment gone out of control. Mutations are rampant, and they're spreading like viruses. You remember The Omnivore's 100, right? Then there was The Traveling Omnivore's 20. Then the 10 Texas Sausages to Eat Before You Die.

Now, the blog Appetite for China has birthed The 100 Chinese Foods to Eat Before You Die. The rules are similar to Omnivore's 100: Copy the list, paste it into your own blog, and bold all the foods you've had.

There's also a 100 Japanese Foods to Try list, but I'm saving that post for tomorrow. My Chinese list, after the jump.

  1. Almond milk
  2. Ants Climbing a Tree (poetic, not literal, name)
  3. Asian pear
  4. Baby bok choy
  5. Baijiu
  6. Beef brisket
  7. Beggar's Chicken
  8. Bingtang hulu
  9. Bitter melon
  10. Bubble tea
  11. Buddha's Delight
  12. Cantonese roast duck
  13. Century egg, or thousand-year egg
  14. Cha siu (Cantonese roast pork)
  15. Char kway teow
  16. Chicken feet
  17. Chinese sausage
  18. Chow mein
  19. Chrysanthemum tea
  20. Claypot rice
  21. Congee
  22. Conpoy (dried scallops)
  23. Crab rangoon
  24. Dan Dan noodles
  25. Dragonfruit
  26. Dragon's Beard candy
  27. Dried cuttlefish
  28. Drunken chicken
  29. Dry-fried green beans
  30. Egg drop soup
  31. Egg rolls
  32. Egg tart, Cantonese or Macanese
  33. Fresh bamboo shoots
  34. Fortune cookies
  35. Fried milk
  36. Fried rice [I LOVE IT! In all its forms. Yes, I am a gweilo.—AK]
  37. Gai lan (Chinese broccoli)
  38. General Tso's Chicken
  39. Gobi Manchurian
  40. Goji berries (Chinese wolfberries)
  41. Grass jelly
  42. Hainan chicken rice
  43. Hand-pulled noodles
  44. Har gau (steamed shrimp dumplings in translucent wrappers)
  45. Haw flakes
  46. Hibiscus tea
  47. Hong Kong-style Milk Tea
  48. Hot and sour soup
  49. Hot Coca-Cola with Ginger [This sounds awesome! Someone gimme a recipe. —AK]
  50. Hot Pot
  51. Iron Goddess tea (Tieguanyin)
  52. Jellyfish [I think I've had Japanese jellyfish dish, but not sure if I've had a Chinese version. —AK]
  53. Kosher Chinese food
  54. Kung Pao Chicken
  55. Lamb skewers (yangrou chua'r)
  56. Lion's Head meatballs
  57. Lomo Saltado
  58. Longan fruit
  59. Lychee
  60. Macaroni in soup with Spam
  61. Malatang
  62. Mantou, especially if fried and dipped in sweetened condensed milk
  63. Mapo Tofu
  64. Mock meat
  65. Mooncake (bonus points for the snow-skin variety)
  66. Nor mai gai (chicken and sticky rice in lotus leaf)
  67. Pan-fried jiaozi
  68. Peking duck
  69. Pineapple bun
  70. Prawn crackers
  71. Pu'er tea
  72. Rambutan
  73. Red bean in dessert form
  74. Red bayberry
  75. Red cooked pork
  76. Roast pigeon
  77. Rose tea
  78. Roujiamo
  79. Scallion pancake
  80. Shaved ice dessert
  81. Sesame chicken
  82. Sichuan pepper in any dish
  83. Sichuan preserved vegetable (zhacai)
  84. Silken tofu
  85. Soy milk, freshly made
  86. Steamed egg custard
  87. Stinky tofu [I've had Japanese natto. Does that count? —AK]
  88. Sugar cane juice
  89. Sweet and sour pork, chicken, or shrimp [Have had all of them. —AK]
  90. Taro
  91. Tea eggs
  92. Tea-smoked duck
  93. Turnip cake (law bok gau)
  94. Twice-cooked pork
  95. Water chestnut cake (mati gau)
  96. Wonton noodle soup
  97. Wood ear
  98. Xiaolongbao (soup dumplings)
  99. Yuanyang (half coffee, half tea, Hong Kong style) [Mmm. Sounds good. I'm missing out! —AK]
  100. Yunnan goat cheese
01 Jul 23:05

David Ruprecht singing La Cucaracha

At the end of Supermarket Sweep's Cruise to Paradise finals tournament, host David Ruprecht decides to serenade the winners by singing La Cucaracha. I think ...
01 Jul 17:30

The War Against NYC Subway Dancers Rages On

Jon Schubin

Yes! Great rid of these people!

New York City Subway dancer Marcus Walden ( Mr Wiggles)  performs with other members of his dance crew November 23, 2010. The dance crew of Donte Steele (Thebestuknow); Tamiek Steele ( B/Boy LJ) and Marcus Walden ( Mr Wiggles) perform their roughly 45-second routine between stops on the train running from 125th Street in Harlem to the Brooklyn Bridge.
Photo: Timothy A Clary/AFP/Getty Images

“It’s Showtime!” are two of the most polarizing words in New York City public transit, but in Bill de Blasio’s town, the performance that follows is going the way of the peep show. That’s the plan, at least: NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton’s continued crackdown on beat-boxing subway acrobats has resulted in more than 240 arrests so far in 2014, six times the amount at this time last year.

“Is it a significant crime? Certainly not,” admitted Bratton, who subscribes to the “broken windows” theory of policing, in which low-level shenanigans are stamped out before they can blossom into violence and anarchy. “Does it have the potential both for creating a level of fear as well as a level of risk that you want to deal with?” he added. Um, maybe?

The police are also floating the idea that dancing in close quarters is, in and of itself, dangerous. “If the dancers make a mistake, someone could get hurt,” explained Chief Joseph Fox, head of the NYPD’s Transit Bureau. “The dancers themselves could get hurt.”

But the AP reports that no injuries have been reported. The disturbance comes instead when the NYPD jumps in to criminalize creative panhandling:

The arrests are usually uneventful but can turn nasty. An acrobat who was being arrested spit on one officer and tried to bite another.

“No matter how you look at it, it’s dangerous,” Fox said. “It’s dangerous for us, too.”

Or … it doesn’t have to be! “We all, as New Yorkers, get these force fields around us,” said one performer. “We just try to go inside the train and change the vibe.” But nothing changes the vibe back to tense and adversarial like arresting a teenager for dancing.

01 Jul 17:11

Another rehabbed building in downtown Troy, and a restaurant for Slidin' Dirty

by AOA
Jon Schubin

Perhaps I'll finally be able to try this.

9 First Street Troy

9 First Street in downtown Troy.

The owners of the popular food truck Slidin' Dirty announced today that they're opening a restaurant in downtown Troy. They're taking the space on the first floor of 9 First Street, a historic building which is currently undergoing a total overhaul that includes residential upstairs.

"We just sort of outgrew the truck," said Tim Tanney, who owns Slidin' Dirty with his wife, Brooke. "This space is going to allow us to do more with the truck, so the truck's not going to miss a beat, and then we're going to have this space."

there's more