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28 Feb 19:23

12 Examples of Frost Shadows

by twistedsifter


For those that live in colder climates where snow is an annual occurrence (Toronto, Canada myself), frost shadows are a fairly common sighting. But for our readers in warmer temperatures who perhaps never get to experience the joy (and pain) of a snowy winter, you may have never witnessed this phenomena.

Recent posts on Reddit (here and here) sent me on a quest to find more examples of frost shadows on Flickr and Google. Below is the resulting gallery, enjoy!



frost shadows (4)

Photograph by Chad Coleman |




frost shadows (5)

Photograph via TwentyFour7 on Reddit




Unthawed frost in fence shadows

Photograph by Ronald White (pictureperfect33 on Flickr)




frost shadows (1)

Photograph by rhiles on Reddit




frost shadows (3)

Photograph by Wihakayda on Reddit




frost shadows (6)

Photograph by Bill Tyne (wit on Flickr)




frost shadows (7)

Photograph by Martha T. (roswellsgirl on Flickr)




frost shadows (8)

Photograph by David Lienhard (blacklord on Flickr)




frost shadows (2)

Photograph by iSmokeTheXS on Reddit




frost shadows (10)

Photograph by zogecko on Flickr




frost shadows (9)

Photograph by The Kozy Shack on Flickr




Protecting The Frost

Photograph by Gary Slawsky (gmsphoto on Flickr)




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28 Feb 19:20

nevver: Performance-Enhancing Drugs for Writers

28 Feb 19:19

nevver: The alphabet fades away

28 Feb 19:18

(via Lisa Congdon - Sister Corita Kent’s Art Department Rules)

28 Feb 19:17

Follow-up on the Pet-Tich-Eye Project

Abby Nardo

I was invited to a preview listening party for this. I didn't go, mostly because I didn't really understand what it was, and CK wasn't feeling well. I'm sort of glad I didn't go. I love Ashlie, but I feel like this is a misuse of Kickstarter. Just sell the album you already made and make money off of the work you did.

I’d like to follow-up from yesterday’s post regarding the Pet-Tich-Eye project. Last night, I was lucky to formally meet and have a great conversation with Ashlie White who is spearheading this project. (Many thanks to Ash Crowe for recognizing, as a mutual friend, that Ashlie and I had never met and for introducing us. Ash recognizes that face-to-face, open and honest discourse is the best way to address any issue and she’s not afraid to stir a pot or two.) Ashlie just posted an update on the Kickstarter page, much of which includes information and answers that she and I discussed last night. Please take a moment to read that personal statement.

From my chat with Ashlie last night I learned a few things about Pet-Tich-Eye that have changed my perspective a bit:

First of all, Ashlie is a doll. I see few people as passionate and excited about anything as she is about this project. She believes in it wholeheartedly and wants to see it succeed. Not for the sake of her planning and effort that she’s put into it. But because she sincerely believes that our community deserves to be showcased in the way that Pet-Tich-Eye could achieve. None of this was surprising to me. It comes across in everything that she has posted via her personal social media outlets as well as the Pet-Tich-Eye publicity.

The most important question that was answered last night via our exchange was “Why Kickstarter?” This Kickstarter is being used as a reimbursement for the money fronted to fund the recording, mastering, pressing of vinyl, etcetcetc. So why use Kickstarter instead of doing it the “old fashion way” and making back that money by album sales, touring, etc? The explanation is actually quite simple even though I don’t think it comes across very well in the project description.

  • First, there are no plans to tour this project. Ashlie feels like that would be asking too much of these artists, many of whom are already trying to balance working a full time job and touring with their own band. Makes sense. But because of that, they lose some money-making potential.
  • Secondly, and this is the key take home message guys: the hope is for 100% of any sales that happen after the Kickstarter to go directly to the artists and the community organizations. And that will be possible if the debt is cleared upfront by this Kickstarter. The sooner the debt is gone, the sooner the proceeds from sales can go to those intended.

Knowing that now, using Kickstarter as a means of eliminating that debt makes a little more sense. The reimbursement is not being done for selfish reasons, to put cash in someone else’s pocket necessarily. The purpose is to get a kickstart (haha, cliché) on having Pet-Tich-Eye work the way it has been envisioned: bands and community organizations getting 100% of proceeds. Giving a little money upfront via the Kickstarter will result in more money in the pockets of artists and organizations, which I think is a generally good thing, right?

All that being said, I now feel a little more comfortable with the “business end” of this Kickstarter project and I have fewer qualms about donating. I encourage anyone else who has questions or concerns about this project to do your own research, to be on the lookout for more updates from the project, and man up and have a sit-down with Ashlie. This collaborative is an amazing idea and I want it to succeed.

I also sincerely feel that based on feedback from me and others, considerations will be taken for future Pet-Tich-Eye projects, re: “buddy-buddy” collaborations, etc. By publicly addressing my concerns and the concerns of others via today’s project update, Ashlie has shown that she is listening and wants to make this work for all involved—herself, the musicians, the artists, the community organizations, and us, the public and potential donors.

I plan on making a contribution to the Kickstarter and I plan on supporting this project in future endeavors as well. I understand that a number of folks have issues with Kickstarter in general. But there are other ways to be supportive, like attending the release show on April 20 or downloading the record online after the Kickstarter is complete. I encourage y’all to find a way that fits you best to support this wonderful collaboration.

Situations like this make me thankful for the amazing community that I am a part of. It is full of passionate people who are not afraid to sacrifice a little (or sometimes a lot) to make something unique and fabulous. Folks in this community recognize that having other members “call bullshit” actually makes us stronger as a group. It is full of open, mature conversation that makes community members comfortable giving and receiving constructive criticism. It is comprised of folks that support one another and work together to achieve some lofty and amazing goals. I love this town, this community, these people. And I am thankful for Ashlie and for all of you for listening, caring, and not being afraid to start a dialogue.

28 Feb 19:08

Waze Updates to Help You Easily Avoid Road Closures

by Adam Dachis
Abby Nardo

I actually just noticed by chance that I could do this last night, and I did... because my road is closed RIGHT NOW!

Click here to read Waze Updates to Help You Easily Avoid Road Closures Waze is one of our favorite turn-by-turn navigation apps thanks to its ridiculously long list of useful features. Today, it adds the ability to report road closures so you can warn others about inactive roads and avoid them yourself. More »
28 Feb 19:07

TED2013: Interview with creators of Romo iPhone robot

by Carla Sinclair
Abby Nardo

I want one of these!!

One of the biggest charmers at TED2013 so far has been Romo the Robot, who rolled and whizzed around the stage with one of his creators, Keller Rinaudo. With large bubbly eyes, four fang-like teeth, and a happy alien voice, it's easy to forget that this animated robot is actually just an iPhone mounted on a rolling platform.

"We wanted to build a robot that anyone can use, whether you're eight or eighty," Rinaudo told the audience. So he and his two friends - Peter Sodd and Phu Nguyen - all from Phoenix, created Romo, who you can control from an iPad, computer, or another iPhone after downloading its free app. The three twenty-somethings then started their company, Romotive, where you can purchase Romo for $150. I spoke to them after the talk.

What's the purpose of Romo?

Rinaudo: He's just a robot that anyone can program and hack. He's also just fun to play with. You can invite anyone to control Romo from anywhere in the world. We think of him as a robot, but a lot of people buy him for kids, especially because when kids create behaviors for him and they try to train Robo how to do things, they are actually learning about computer science. It's a really cool way to get kids excited about technology and robotics and coding.

How did you create your first prototype?

Peter Sodd: He [pointing to Nguyen] called me on the phone and said, "What if we could build robots that used smart phones as their brain?" Two weeks later I built the first prototype, and it worked.

Rinaudo: We built 100 of them by hand - at first. Then we built 2,000 of them.

By hand?

RK: Yes. Now we're building 2000 of them per week. But not by hand.

What can you do besides hit the [touch-screen] joystick and make him move around?

Romo has a bunch of autonomous behaviors, which means he can interact with his environment, he can track you, and he can also use computer vision not only to track your face but also to recognize different glyphs. Something we're working on is the ability to hold different glyphs in front of Romo - we call it Romo glyphs - and what that allows people to do is program him. Romo knows that each card means something different and by holding cards in front of him you can create a program. And by changing the order of those cards and holding them in front of him again you can change the program. So that's our attempt to make programming accessible to kids who are even just six or seven years old - make it tangible, make it easy, and make it interactive with a robot that is actually going to show kids what they are creating in real time.

Is your primary audience kids?

We built Romo for 12-year-old versions of ourselves because we thought that advanced robotics shouldn't only be in research labs and factories - we wanted to figure out a way to get those robots into homes. It's in much the same way the first personal computers were called toys, and they appealed to kids and hackers who were sitting on the floors of their garages hacking on these things, getting them to do cool stuff. Same thing with Romo. But we don't think about whether the robots are for kids or adults. We build robots we think are awesome and that appeal to all ages of people.

See all TED2013 coverage

28 Feb 02:38

An Urban Exploration Journey with Chris Luckhardt

by twistedsifter
Abby Nardo

Cool photos! I didn't read all those pesky words in between.

Nara Dreamland

Nara Dreamland, Japan | Photograph by Chris Luckhardt. Prints available at


Wikipedia defines Urban Exploration (often shortened as urbex or UE) as:

The exploration of man-made structures, usually abandoned ruins or not usually seen components of the man-made environment. Photography and historical interest/documentation are heavily featured in the hobby.


In the latest installment of our interview series, we chat with photographer and seasoned urban explorer Chris Luckhardt, who has not only shared his incredible photography, but also taken the time to answer questions about himself and his urbex experiences.


Chris Luckhardt: Website | Twitter | Flickr | Facebook | Instagram



Sattler Theater – Buffalo, New York

Buffalo's Abandoned Sattler Theater

Photograph by Chris Luckhardt | Prints available at



Can you give the readers a short bio Chris?

My life can be easily summarized with two words: creative exploration. As an entrepreneur, I divide my time between building websites with the Drupal content management system, running my Motionblur Media podcast network and being a semi-professional photographer. During my free time I like to travel, do urban exploration and play lots of guitar.



Zydeco Zinger – Six Flags New Orleans Amusement Park

Zydeco Zinger

Photograph by Chris Luckhardt | Prints available at



Where are you from/currently living?


Where was the last place you traveled to?

I recently spent 6 amazing weeks in Japan!



Redford High School (demolished 09/12) – Detroit, Michigan

Frozen in Time

Photograph by Chris Luckhardt | Prints available at



What was the last book you read?

Tough Sh*t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good, by Kevin Smith

What album are you currently enjoying? (doesn’t have to be new)

I’ve been doing a lot of web programming lately and my favourite background music for that is the Blade Runner Trilogy [25th Anniversary Edition]. A recent release I’ve been enjoying is Steve Vai’s concept album The Story of Light.



Martyrs of Uganda Parish – Detroit, Michigan

Martyrs of Uganda Parish

Photograph by Chris Luckhardt | Prints available at



How long have you been shooting for?

I’ve considered myself to be a serious photographer for approximately 7 years. However, I purchased my first digital camera 10 years ago. Even as a kid, I was especially fascinated with our family’s budget Kodak Instamatic X30 and Disc 4100 cameras.



Calgary Tower – Calgary, Alberta

Looking Down From the Calgary Tower

Photograph by Chris Luckhardt | Prints available at



Do you have a favourite type of photography?

Capturing star trails has always been my favourite photographic pursuit. It’s a less practiced form of photography, making the photos somewhat unique in a sea of worldwide photos being uploaded every second. I enjoy the locations; doing this kind of photograph properly puts you in dark, desolate landscapes where it’s just you and nature – isolated from most of humanity. Often, I’ll shoot star trails with close friends and fellow photographers, making for great conversation and a chance to learn more about the craft of photography.



Ferris Wheel Star Trails – Six Flags New Orleans

Abandoned Six Flags New Orleans Ferris Wheel Star Trails

Photograph by Chris Luckhardt | Prints available at



If you could hop on a plane tomorrow, all expenses paid,
where would you go?

After seeing the Long Way Round documentary, I’ve been inspired to do extensive urban exploration and travel throughout eastern Russia.



Phoenix Trotting Park – Goodyear, Arizona

Phoenix Trotting Park

Photograph by Chris Luckhardt | Prints available at



Do you have any favourite photographers?

Current favourites include: Emma Katka, Jeff Bierk, Ed Serecky, Ikumi Nakamura and Christina Laing. They’ve reached a level of storytelling through photography that I aspire to achieve.



Bethlehem Steel North Office – Lackawanna, New York

Bethlehem Steel North Office

Photograph by Chris Luckhardt | Prints available at



If you were to suggest one album, movie, tv series and book to someone, what would they be?

Album: Robert Johnson – The Complete Recordings
Movie: Metropolis
TV series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Book: On the Beach



Michigan Central Station – Detroit, Michigan

The Long Halls of Michigan Central Station

Photograph by Chris Luckhardt | Prints available at



Any advice for hobbyists and aspiring photographers getting more serious about their photography?

They should experience the art of slow photography.



Mega Zeph Roller Coaster – Six Flags New Orelans

Walking the Mega Zeph

Photograph by Chris Luckhardt | Prints available at



Where’s the sketchiest place you’ve been?

New Orleans was by far the most dangerous location I’ve explored. We were staying in the Lower 9th Ward (where the worst Hurricane Katrina flooding occurred). Our group was directed to not go outside alone during the day and to not go outside at all during the night. The French Quarter is certainly safe, but the rest of New Orleans was described to us as being like the lawless wild west. Incidentally, the abandoned Six Flags New Orleans theme park was much safer (at least from crime) due to its relative distance from the downtown core.



Michigan Central Station – Detroit, Michigan

Michigan Central Station

Photograph by Chris Luckhardt | Prints available at



Is there a city/building that you’re yearning to see?

I would love to explore Michigan Central Station again. It’s my all-time favourite abandoned building, but recently it’s become difficult to gain entry. The owner is doing superficial renovations as a political move to maintain his monopoly on border crossing revenues between Canada and the United States.



Hashima Island – Nagasaki, Japan

Escape From Hashima

Photograph by Chris Luckhardt | Prints available at



I read your post about ‘adventures in Japan’; I would love to know more about your experience getting to Hashima Island. Any thoughts, emotions, anything about this journey would be great!


The journey to Hashima Island actually began as I exited Six Flags New Orleans on the final day of our three-day exploration. A guy in our crew asked if I’d heard about an abandoned island off the coast of Japan. I had known about the island for a few years and happened to know a Japanese urban explorer (via Twitter) named Ikumi who had previously acted as a guide to the island for foreigners.




Photograph by Chris Luckhardt | Prints available at



I contacted Ikumi and six months later (after intense negotiations and numerous translation hiccups) I was sailing to Hashima Island. My exploration of the island was arranged through a network of people, starting with Ikumi and ending with a fisherman who is, on rare occasions, willing to risk taking explorers to the island for a sizable amount of cash. This exploration was precedent setting – we were allotted a record 8 consecutive hours on the island. Other explorers are limited to 2 hours over 2 days. It’s still a mystery why we were given the extended time, but I was very thankful for the opportunity!



Stairway to Hell Reprise

Photograph by Chris Luckhardt | Prints available at



The 15km passage to Hashima Island was intricate and carefully choreographed amongst a number of other, smaller islands. Once we sailed up to Hashima island’s sea wall, we had to quickly climb over a set of ladders and run for cover to avoid being spotted by the patrol ships watching the island.



Middle Ground

Photograph by Chris Luckhardt | Prints available at



Exploring the island was incredible; I was awestruck for the entire 8 hours (while also staying out of sight of the patrol ships). My words and photos will never be able to properly describe the experience. I can remember every second of every minute of my time on the island. Experiencing silence where over 5,000 people once lived (mostly in cramped, harsh conditions) is like nothing else on this planet. Imagining the life experiences lost to the ocean air is an indescribable feeling. Yet, there is a peacefulness in knowing that you’re stepping inside history. Perhaps one day I’ll have the language to properly describe the sensory overload I experienced that day.



Mourning Slide

Photograph by Chris Luckhardt | Prints available at



Getting off the island was equally as choreographed as getting onto the island. We received the call from the fisherman and waited on a small landing platform of the sea wall for his arrival. Just as he was approaching, one of the patrol ships sailed around the southern end of the island and headed in our direction. However, for no apparent reason to us, it turned around and headed in the opposite direction. Indeed, it was a close call! We quickly hopped on the fisherman’s boat, ducked for cover, and sailed back to shore (while getting heavily splashed from the sea water).



Deep Dive

Photograph by Chris Luckhardt | Prints available at



Exploring Hashima Island was an incredible experience. I’m planning to publish a detailed version of the adventure (including video) this year. Stay tuned!




Photograph by Chris Luckhardt | Prints available at



Any other thoughts about your Urban Exploration experiences?

I’ve been fortunate to do hundreds of urban explorations across Canada, the United States and Japan. Whenever I set foot in a location, I’ve always done so with the utmost respect for the structure and the memories that became part of its history. I never take items from locations; only on a rare occasion will I even move an object to capture a more aesthetically pleasing photograph. I leave the locations as they were when I arrived.



Sattler Theater – Buffalo, New York

Empty House

Photograph by Chris Luckhardt | Prints available at



Urban exploration for me is as much about the abandonments as it is about the inner exploration. The silence of the abandonments gives me time to reflect; urban exploration often becomes a meditative state. Seeing the decay of the past allows me to reflect on the possibilities of the future.



Nara Dreamland – Nara, Japan

Leaving the Picture

Photograph by Chris Luckhardt | Prints available at



I’ve made some incredible friends while doing urban exploration. Ultimately, those relationships stand as a testament to the adventures we’ve experienced together. We have a good time, document the abandonments, create some art, keep each other safe (regardless of any language barriers) and bring home a few interesting stories to tell our family and friends.



Don Valley Brick Works – Toronto, Ontario


Photograph by Chris Luckhardt | Prints available at



To quote the final frame of Calvin & Hobbes, “Let’s go exploring!”




Chris Luckhardt: Website | Twitter | Flickr | Facebook | Instagram





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7014849245 dee3cfedc3 c An Urban Exploration Journey with Chris Luckhardt



24 Feb 23:36

Tony Bock, Photographer

by the gentle author

At The Royal Oak, Bethnal Green

These pictures – published here for the first time – are a selection from those taken in the five years between 1973 and 1978, when Tony Bock lived in the East End working as a photographer for the East London Advertiser. “Britain in the nineteen seventies never seemed comfortable with itself,” Tony admitted to me, “caught between the post-war years that hung on too long and the late twentieth century that seemed late in arriving.”

Although he was brought up in Canada where his parents emigrated in 1952, Tony was born in Paddington and, after being thrown out of photography school in Toronto in 1972, he decided to return to his country of birth and the East End where his mother’s family came from. “My grandfather was a docker his entire working life, working at Hay’s Wharf near London Bridge in the nineteen twenties then moving on to ‘The Royals’ (as the Royal Docks were known) until he retired.” he explained.

Yet Tony’s return was destined to be short-lived and there is an ambivalence which runs through these eloquent photographs. While he had a personal connection to the world that he portrayed, equally Tony was a stranger to it. In many of these pictures a dramatic tension exists between the empathy of the photographer and an underlying sense of dislocation – though it was not simply the dislocation of an outsider, but that of a world undergoing transition and fragmentation. In these photographs, Tony explored his relationship to the culture of his own origin, yet he discovered it was a troubled society in which he could never feel at home.

“I lived in Wapping for several years and met Lyn, my wife-to-be, who was also a journalist at the East London Advertiser.” Tony recalled, “But in 1978, I was offered work at The Toronto Star, the largest paper in Canada.  The racism and pollution in the East End were getting me down and when Maggie Thatcher was elected – well – that was enough to send me back home.”

Tony’s spell at photography school granted him an awareness of the work of the great international photographers of the twentieth century and this knowledge informed the confident aesthetic of his East End pictures, with their strong compositions and deftly-balanced multiple points of focus within a single frame. For Tony Bock, his sojourn in the East End delivered the opportunity he needed to take a clear-eyed look at his roots before returning to pursue a career as a photojournalist in Toronto. Today, these pictures from the mid-seventies offer us an invaluable personal vision of a not-so-distant world that is rapidly fading from memory.

“I worked at The Star for over thirty years, it was a great place to be a photojournalist. It was a paper that cared about photography, had the budget to undertake long term projects, sent staff around the world, and dealt with social issues.” he told me, “Oddly, my life in East London followed the route my mother’s family had taken years earlier.”

Saturday night out, Dagenham

Children playing in Poplar

Clown at Stratford Broadway

At J.Kelly, Pie & Mash, Bethnal Green

At The White Swan, Poplar

At the E1 Festival, Stepney

Train departing Liverpool St Station

In Watney Market

Corner Shop, Sidney St

Boy with a gun and his sister, Pearl St, Wapping

Wapping Stairs

Demolition at Tiller Rd, Isle of Dogs

Commercial Docks, Rotherhithe

No remuneration to Place-keepers.

Photographs copyright © Tony Bock

22 Feb 01:00

10 Surprising Marketing Tricks You Should Be Aware Of

by Paul Michael
vitamin water

As an advertising professional, I get exasperated by the use of deceptive language and product claims that are misleading. From ambiguous wording, to modern examples of snake oil, here are 10 things you should know before spending your hard-earned money.

1. Excedrin — Many Names, One Product

You’ll see this not just with Excedrin, but with a multitude of products in the pharmacy section. Why sell just one product when you can repackage it many different ways and grab more of the market share? In this case, Excedrin Extra Strength, Excedrin Migraine, and Excedrin Menstrual Complete all contain exactly the same ingredients, at the same strengths. Buy one; you’ve got them all.

By the way, this also goes for Tylenol Simply Sleep, Benadryl, and generic allergy meds. The only difference is the price and the packaging. (See also: Market Clones: How to Pay Drastically Less for Pricey Products)

2. Beware of "Organic" Eggs

As we all try to do our bit to encourage better food production practices, we often spend a little bit more on eggs to ensure they’re organic and also cage free. But some of those labels are misleading. In one recent case, the 36,000 hens at Chino Valley Ranchers produced eggs for a variety of different labels, ranging from Walmart’s Great Value label to Eggland’s Best and Horizon Organic. The same eggs were repackaged and the prices varied depending on package and destination, but not the treatment of the hens.

3. Chocolate and Champagne Diamonds Are Usually Poor-Quality

Here’s another example of an already scandalous industry trying to make even more money from something that has little worth. It’s no secret that the diamond industry hordes diamonds to keep the prices artificially exorbitant. But now, there’s a new scam. Although there are genuine brown diamonds out there, the vast majority are dusty, cloudy, poor-quality diamonds that have been exposed to radiation, turning them brown. You wouldn’t want these "gems" anywhere near your rings and necklaces, but they have been rebranded as "chocolate" or "champagne" and their prices marked up accordingly. Avoid them.

4. Subway's "Cold Cut Combo" Is All Turkey

Strange but true. Even the Subway menu has it in writing, saying, "The Cold Cut Combo is stacked with turkey-based meats — ham, salami, and bologna." Now, call me old-fashioned, but I always thought ham was made from, well, ham. This is not the case at Subway. Salami and bologna, I was willing to accept that they would be a mixture of different meats. But ham? Even the term "Cold Cut Combo" implies a selection of different meats.

5. Jose Cuervo "Especial" Isn’t Special

If I sold you a cashmere sweater, and you discovered it was made with 51% cashmere and 49% cotton, how would you feel? If I sold you a diamond necklace, and you later found out only 51% of the diamonds were real, would you be annoyed? Well, this is the same deal with Jose Cuervo Especial. The law states that you can label a drink Tequila if it has at least 51% agave. And Jose Cuervo Especial meets that bare minimum. The rest is fermented from other less expensive sugars. Ironically, it’s the most popular brand of Tequila, due to price and some very smart branding. But if you want the real deal, stay away from Especial, and go with their Tradicional and Reserva De La Familia varieties. Better yet, buy a bottle of triple distilled Corralejo Reposado. It’s under $50 a bottle and tastes divine.

6. You Cannot Name a Star

It’s a nice idea, right? To name a star after a loved one as a birthday present or anniversary gift? And there are plenty of sites out there that will let you name a star for as little as $20. They’ll even send you a frameable certificate and a picture of your newly named star.

Well, it’s completely bogus.

Those names are not recognized by anyone outside of the company you paid. Only the International Astronomical Union assigns names to stars, and usually they are a long string of numbers containing the precise coordinates of the star. So, if someone gives you a "star" as a gift, you can smile and say thanks, but just know it means absolutely nothing.

7. Certified Angus Beef May Not Be All That

This is another example of the power of marketing.

In 1978, the American Angus Association coined the term "Certified Angus Beef" as a way to promote Angus as a higher quality beef than other cattle breeds. And now it’s seen as a label of real quality. But the major control method used to determine this Angus "quality" is that the meat comes from a cow with at least 51% black hide. There are other control methods, too, but many butchers will tell you that you won’t be able to taste the difference between regular beef and Certified Angus Beef. If you want quality, look for the USDA Prime label. But note, only 2 to 3% of all beef can receive that high grade.

8. Power Balance Bracelets Do Absolutely Nothing

Well, let me rephrase that. They make money for the companies selling them. And they take money from the poor suckers who believe the hype. But other than that, they are just silly pieces of silicone and plastic that do not contain any special powers at all.

It’s all about the power of suggestion and the placebo affect. If you think you’re getting some benefit from one, it’s because you think it’s working. Mark Cuban famously trashed the stock of power balance bracelets in the NBA dressing room. Oh, and the makers settled a $57 million lawsuit because they had to admit the product does not do what it claims. Still, they continue to be sold on sites like Amazon, so please, avoid them.

9. 73% of Doctors Do NOT Recommend 5-Hour Energy

Have you seen the 5-Hour Energy ad that shows a woman sitting next to a massive pile of papers? There are some incredible claims made in that ad, but this is a classic example of the power of words and the way in which they can be manipulated. It would take a long time to explain it all, and other outlets (Forbes, BrandFailure, BlenderLaw) have dug into the ad in detail. In a nutshell, the ad claims that "73% of doctors who reviewed 5-Hour Energy said they would recommend a low calorie energy supplement to their healthy patients who use energy supplements." It’s garbage. It’s deceptive. And it’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Doctors are not recommending this product; they are saying that healthy people who are already taking energy supplements should take a low-calorie version. It’s unbelievable that this ad even aired, and as someone who works in advertising, I’m ashamed of this kind of misleading rubbish. Not only that, but 5-Hour Energy has been linked to a number of deaths. Having this ad out there, linking it to doctors, is beyond irresponsible.

10. Vitamin Water Should Really Be Called Sugar Water

This is another example of blatantly deceptive language in an attempt to cash in on many consumers' desire to eat healthy and stay fit.

You’d think a product like Vitamin Water would be a healthy one, but once again it is marketing at work. The two main ingredients in the drink are water and fructose. And while the label states there are only 13 grams of sugar, there is deception at work yet again. Why? Because there are 2.5 servings in a bottle of Vitamin Water! That means a bottle contains 32.5 grams of sugar, which puts it up there with most sugary soft drinks. As for the vitamins in the bottle, they are in there, but they’re trace amounts of synthetic vitamins. The greater danger here is that because of the deceptive language, people are chugging these bottles of "healthy" water without realizing that they’re as bad for them as a bottle of Coke or Pepsi. Even Coca-Cola’s lawyers (Coca-Cola produces Vitamin Water) say that it’s not a healthy beverage! Don’t buy into the hype. Drink water, preferably from the faucet.

How have you protected your wallet by avoiding misleading marketing or outright scams?

Written by Paul Michael and published on Wise Bread. Read more articles from Wise Bread.
21 Feb 04:34

Dec. 27, 1964: In the magazine, a round-up of nightlife sites...

Dec. 27, 1964: In the magazine, a round-up of nightlife sites for the city’s “nocturnal butterflies.” Trude Heller’s, the only truly “in” spot in Greenwich Village, was favored by the young, “particularly models,” but not the weary or claustrophobic. “When the floor gets crowded,” Robert Alden observed, “the atmosphere can be positively nightmarish.” Photo: Sam Falk/The New York Times

21 Feb 03:29

Comedy: Great Job, Internet!: This photo of Kanye West with Aziz Ansari's parents is fantastic

by Josh Modell

We recently ran an interview with comedian Aziz Ansari about the difficulty of finding true love in the modern age, and he spoke a bit about his parents. Well, here's a picture that's been floating around the web today of Mama and Papa Ansari, along with Kanye West and Aziz. There's so much to love in the photo itself—Aziz's mug, Kanye's hard stare, Mr. Ansari's confusion—that perhaps we can put the pursuit of romantic love on hold for at least one more day. [h/t to Uproxx]

Read more
21 Feb 03:28

Really Cleaning Up Your Digital Crap

by Michael Schechter

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a technology junky. It’s rare that the release of a new app, social network or device isn’t met by an explosion of dopamine-infused joy. However, last year things started to feel different. Perhaps it was the voice of Patrick Rhone and the idea of Enough in the back of my head, or perhaps I’d just overdone it to the point where I truly have had enough, but for the first time the tools started to feel like a burden rather than an aid.

In a rare moment of honesty (technology can be a bit of a blind spot for me), I found I had more devices than I use, more emails than I can manage, more networks than I enjoy and more information than I can process coming my way.

It wasn’t that I was enjoying technology less. In fact, much of my workflow feels more aligned than ever before, but I started to feel the bloat. In late November, I setup a little project for myself (one that’s still a work in progress) and decided to do something about it, starting with the greatest offender of all…

Email Unsubscribing

I don’t know when it happened, but at some point, I grew numb to the daily task of deleting spam or email newsletters that I signed up for and never read. Unsubscribing on the whole is a pain in the ass and it always seemed faster to just swipe and delete. So swipe and delete I did. Every day. Swipe. Delete. Swipe. Delete. It became second nature. It also made me dread going into my inbox knowing that I’d have to do my little routine to clean out the over 70% worth of garbage.

Now I have no problem deleting an unnecessary email, but the daily habit made me feel as if there was little value to even having an email account (spoiler alert: there is). At first, I tried a service like which attempts to eliminate and consolidate much of this for you, but it wasn’t a fit. I didn’t want to make my unneeded emails better, I wanted them gone. So I decided to dedicate a month to cleaning out the crap. Rather than the daily routine of swiping and deleting, I found the often elusive unsubscribe buttons, dealt with the often annoying unsubscribe process and chipped away at all of the nonsense that I had allowed into my life. There’s still the occasional spam, or a subscription that I’ve yet to eliminate, but my daily email count is down by about 60% and the signal to noise ratio has improved drastically. It also doesn’t make me dread going into my inbox, something which I’m certain was coming off in the messages I did want to send.

Social Cleanup

I used to love Facebook, I used to love Twitter. I got a tremendous amount out of both services and they really helped me understand just how passionate I am about technology and the way we communicate. But, and this is entirely my own fault, I way overdid it. On Facebook, I was far too liberal with who I accepted as a “Friend” and what businesses I “Liked.” On Twitter, I played the social media douche bag game of trying to build up a following rather than focusing on making genuine connections and ended up with a Twitter Stream that was almost entirely noise I didn’t care about. When I opened Facebook, I couldn’t find an update I cared about, and when I opened Twitter, I had to use a tool like a list just to cut through all of the crap.

It wasn’t until I got a do over with that I realized two things: I still essentially love what I can get from those types of networks and that the problem was entirely fixable. I was tempted to burn many of my social profiles down and start again, but I didn’t like the idea of losing all of my digital records (I can’t tell you how much I owe Facebook as a photo service after our robbery last year). I decided to attack this on two fronts, realigning the tools I still want to use and eliminating those I don’t.

Facebook First

I started with Facebook and used a paid Chrome extension called Ultimate Friend Remover Pro and aggressively cut down on the amount of friends I follow (I tried doing this in app, but Facebook makes it very difficult to bulk unfriend or unlike). I cut approximately two thirds of my friends (essentially anyone I did not care if I ever saw again) and immediately saw the difference. While I still needed to clean out a hell of a lot of “liked” Pages, the updates were from people I actually cared about. On days where nothing major is going on, it’s nice to check in with the friends I know more from my real life than my online world. (On the days things are actually happening in the world, please, for the love of all that is holy, stay away from Facebook!)

Twitter Next

Twitter is a strange one. I had been using a list to only see what I wanted of Twitter and ignored the rest. In theory, I really didn’t need to do anything to clean this up, but it was bothering me. It may have been shame from the time spent chasing follower count, but I really just wanted to align Twitter with my actual usage. I didn’t want to count on a list to help me ignore the 4000+ people I was “Following.” ManageFlitter gave me a tool that allowed me to quickly eliminate those I was no longer interested in following, while white listing those I still wanted to hear from.

More Social Clutter

From there it was a matter of looking at the Apps I have on my phone and the credentials I had in my 1Password account and determining what I wanted to do. I’m still not looking to part with services like Instagram, but Path, as much as I love the app, is just another thing that I do not need in my life. I haven’t been as aggressive as I’d like with these other social apps, and I will likely need to do another pass through, but there’s a certain pleasure in eliminating something that you know you’ll never use again.

RSS Pruning

When it comes to how I go about learning and the way I consume information, RSS or Really Simple Syndication (you can read more on how I use RSS here) plays a major role. When a new interest arises or a new voice comes along that interests me, I add the feed from their website into my Google Reader and I automatically receive any new content. Every day I scan through my feeds and pull the posts that interest me most into Instapaper to read.

As my interests have shifted and certain sites have drastically increased the frequency with which they post, there was more excess to consider than I would have liked. I don’t mind dismissing things, but I don’t have the time to dismiss everything. With this in mind, I took a similar approach to the one I used with Facebook and just aggressively cut down my feeds. Now when I go in, my feeds do a far better job of reflecting my interests and make it far easier to find the work that I want to read most.

The Benefits of Cleaning Up Your Crap

Feeling weighed down by the very technology that’s meant to help push you forward can be frustrating. There’s often a temptation to “declare bankruptcy” and burn your email, your social networks or your feeds down. Believe me, I was tempted to do all three myself. Yet as you begin to clean out your email, you realize there are messages that you would not want to miss in your frustration. As you reduce the size of your social network following (and the number of networks you use), you can see only what you want about those who matter to you most. As you reduce your feeds, you can make it easier for the stories that help you grow (or just amuse the hell out of you) to rise to the top.

There’s also the unintended benefit of seeing how my tastes have changed. I’ve had the same email address for over a decade, I’ve been on Facebook for five or six years and have been using RSS daily for the past three years. This exercise has helped me get a better sense of where my overall focus is. It’s shown me what I’m no longer paying attention to, as well as what I still may be paying too much attention to. It’s helped me identify friendships that I’ve let lapse as well as recognize friendships that have grown.

It’s also served as a great reminder that no matter how tempted I may get in a moment of frustration to get rid of it all, the technology plays a large and positive role in my life. A role that’s far more enjoyable since I took the time to be far more intentional about the way I use it.

Additional Recommended Reading:

21 Feb 03:26

Supercut of Really Cute Animals Doing Really Cute Things

by Justin Page
Abby Nardo

I'm not sure what is up with the overly dramatic music and the use of the term "supercut," but it's cute. I like cute things a lot.

The Humpy Observer has created a seven-minute supercut that shows really cute animals doing really cute things.

music by Dexter Britain“The Time To Run Finale”

via Viral Viral Videos

21 Feb 03:05

How to Do Things That Scare You

by Mikey Rox
woman biting nails

There are lots of famous quotes on the topic of facing your fears.

Here's a good one. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face… The danger lies in refusing to face the fear, in not daring to come to grips with it... You must make yourself succeed every time. You must do the thing you think you cannot do."

Nice sentiment, for sure, but that's almost always easier said than done.

So, then, how does one muster the courage to step out of their comfort zone to do the things that scare them?

Instead of spitting out my sage advice (which you may not want to follow anyway because I'm deathly afraid of a lot of things), I've asked a few experts what they suggest when it comes to conquering fears. Here's what they had to say. (See also: Why You Should Do Things You're Bad At)

Enlist Support

It always helps to have a friend to lean on when you're faced with something frightening. When I do something scary — like fly on an airplane — I prefer to have a companion traveler. They provide a hand to squeeze when the plane hits a rough patch of air, and it makes me feel better that if the jet goes down, at least I won't die alone.

Although much less selfish than that personal assessment of my particular fear, Pheng Taing, author of "The Book You Shouldn't Have Read," agrees that having support when facing a fear is definitely helpful.

"The best advice on how to do things that scares you is to do it with someone who has already done it," she says. "This way you can get your feet wet, see that it's not scary and know that you have someone there for support. Once you start and keep doing it, you won't be afraid of it anymore."

Personally, while my travel buddy doesn't ease my anxiety about plummeting to the ground and crashing in a ball of fire, it certainly does feel better to have someone with me than when I fly alone. Lucky them.

Assess the Risk

Social and dating coach Nick Sparks says that one key to overcoming a fear is to assess the potential danger. Will facing this fear cause you harm? Is it illegal? Answering those initial questions (and deciding that the answers are no, hopefully!) can help ease your tension.

"If you look at others who have done this same activity," Sparks says, "you can get an idea of how much real risk you're taking versus how much perceived risk you've imagined. This lets you start to distinguish between legitimate fears and illegitimate fears, respectively."

Start Small

Another one of Sparks' tips is to ease into facing your fear by leading up to it with less daunting tasks.

For example, he says,

I work with a lot of individuals who are terrified of starting conversations with strangers. One exercise I use as a warm-up exercise is for them to speak loudly enough to passersby on the street in order to get acknowledgement, and then keep on walking without looking to follow up with conversation. This warm-up then usually makes it easier for them to initiate full conversations with strangers.

Licensed psychologist Dr. Audrey Cleary thinks Sparks is spot-on with his advice. For those with a fear of heights, for instance, she suggests learning to tolerate being at gradually higher elevations. She mentions, however, "people vary in terms of what scares them, so 'building up gradually' will look different to different people."

In other words, how you work toward facing your fear should be on your terms, no one else's.

Avoid Regret

How many times have you been too scared to do something that in hindsight you regret not doing it? I know I have.

Fear has a funny way of making you feel inferior, and that's precisely why entrepreneur coach Jeff Hellenbrand lives to face his fears head on, like joining a swim team despite a fear of water and learning how to drive a motorcycle.

What separates me from the people I know who play it safe is this: I am more afraid that I will look back on my life and think, 'well, that was disappointing.' To me, it's not about doing stupid things for the thrill, it's about getting over my fears to live the life I really want.

I can fully respect that, although, like Eleanor Roosevelt's advice, Hellenbrand's is often easier said than done — but encouraging nonetheless.

Reward Yourself

If there was ever a time to reward yourself for a job well done, it's when you've faced and overcome a fear, says lifestyle expert Maryann Reid, who — similar to Hellenbrand — was afraid of swimming in deep water but registered to become a certified scuba instructor to overcome her fear.

This is a particularly great tip because it creates an incentive for you to keep going when anxiety is at its highest (and when you're in the thick of it, it will be), and that reward may be just what you need to keep you from giving up.

Try Hypnosis

This method of fear conquering isn't for everyone, but plenty of people swear by it. I like to live by the motto, "don't knock it until you've tried it," so I certainly don't have a negative opinion about hypnosis. I'm a skeptic, for sure, but I wouldn't count it out as a last-ditch effort.

Have you conquered a major fear? How did you do it? I'd love to hear your tips and tricks in the comments below.

Written by Mikey Rox and published on Wise Bread. Read more articles from Wise Bread.
20 Feb 21:36

Smitten Kitchen's Tip for Incredibly Smooth Hummus: Have You Tried It?

by Stephanie Barlow
Abby Nardo

That's dedication, Holmes.

I make hummus more often than I buy it. I find that not only is it inexpensive and fast, but making my own hummus tastes far better than the varieties I find at the grocery store. Fresh hummus has a spicy garlic taste that just never comes through in hummus that's sat on shelves for weeks or longer. But in all of my hummus making, I had never heard of this particular tip. Have you? More

20 Feb 00:50

Massive Bird Nests Built on Telephone Poles in Southern Africa are Home to Multiple Species of Birds

by Christopher Jobson
Abby Nardo

OMG, this is insane!

Massive Bird Nests Built on Telephone Poles in Southern Africa are Home to Multiple Species of Birds nests nature birds Africa

Massive Bird Nests Built on Telephone Poles in Southern Africa are Home to Multiple Species of Birds nests nature birds Africa

Massive Bird Nests Built on Telephone Poles in Southern Africa are Home to Multiple Species of Birds nests nature birds Africa

Massive Bird Nests Built on Telephone Poles in Southern Africa are Home to Multiple Species of Birds nests nature birds Africa

Massive Bird Nests Built on Telephone Poles in Southern Africa are Home to Multiple Species of Birds nests nature birds Africa

Massive Bird Nests Built on Telephone Poles in Southern Africa are Home to Multiple Species of Birds nests nature birds Africa

Massive Bird Nests Built on Telephone Poles in Southern Africa are Home to Multiple Species of Birds nests nature birds Africa

Massive Bird Nests Built on Telephone Poles in Southern Africa are Home to Multiple Species of Birds nests nature birds Africa

Massive Bird Nests Built on Telephone Poles in Southern Africa are Home to Multiple Species of Birds nests nature birds Africa

No these aren’t haystacks stuck in a phone pole. Visit the Kalahari Desert in the south of Africa and you’re bound to run into a peculiar animal called the Sociable Weaver Bird. The birds are called “social” not just because they live in organized colonies, but because they build massive homes out of sticks, grass and cotton that are home to several other kinds birds. That’s right, the nests are so large that birds of other species are welcome to setup shop, not the least of which is the South African pygmy falcon which lives exclusively inside the social weaver’s nests that often accomodate over 100 birds at at time. Via the San Diego Zoo:

The sociable weaver’s nest sees plenty of guests—a regular Kalahari Desert inn! The South African pygmy falcon Polihierax semitorquatus relies completely on the sociable weavers’ nest for its own home, often nesting side by side with the sociable weavers. The pied barbet, familiar chat, red-headed finch, ashy tit, and rosy-faced lovebird often find comfort in the cozy nesting chambers, too. Vultures, owls, and eagles will roost on the nests’ broad roof. Why are weavers willing to share the huge nest they worked so hard to make? More residents mean more eyes keeping a watch for danger. And the weavers often learn from the other birds where new sources of food can be found.

Photographer Dillon Marsh has a lovely series of weaver bird nest photographs titled Assimilation that are well worth a look. (via neatorama)

19 Feb 23:00

The World’s First 3D Printing Pen that Lets you Draw Sculptures

by Christopher Jobson
Abby Nardo

Holy crap! Karkow needs this!

The Worlds First 3D Printing Pen that Lets you Draw Sculptures sculpture printing pens drawing device

The Worlds First 3D Printing Pen that Lets you Draw Sculptures sculpture printing pens drawing device

The Worlds First 3D Printing Pen that Lets you Draw Sculptures sculpture printing pens drawing device

The Worlds First 3D Printing Pen that Lets you Draw Sculptures sculpture printing pens drawing device

The Worlds First 3D Printing Pen that Lets you Draw Sculptures sculpture printing pens drawing device

The Worlds First 3D Printing Pen that Lets you Draw Sculptures sculpture printing pens drawing device

Forget those pesky 3D printers that require software and the knowledge of 3D modeling and behold the 3Doodler, the world’s first pen that draws in three dimensions in real time. Imagine holding a pen and waving it through the air, only the line your pen creates stays frozen, suspended and permanent in 3D space. Sound like magic? Well it certainly looks like it, watch the video above to see the thing in action. The 3Doodler was designed by Boston-based company WobbleWorks who recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to sell the miraculous little devices that utilizes a special plastic which is heated and instantly cooled to form solid structures as you draw. I don’t know about you but for me this might have just won the most impulsive Kickstarter purchase in history. Check it out.

19 Feb 22:59

The Most Beautiful Nature GIFs on the Web

by Christopher Jobson

The Most Beautiful Nature GIFs on the Web nature gifs

The Most Beautiful Nature GIFs on the Web nature gifs

The Most Beautiful Nature GIFs on the Web nature gifs

The Most Beautiful Nature GIFs on the Web nature gifs

The Most Beautiful Nature GIFs on the Web nature gifs

The Most Beautiful Nature GIFs on the Web nature gifs

It’s not everyday you discover what could be your new favorite blog, but lucky for me that day was today. A Netherlands-based visual artist named Marinus has been at the helm of his blog Head Like an Orange since October 2011. He takes short excerpts of wildlife footage and crops, loops and times them to create mesmerizing moments of life. What you see here is just from the last few days, there are literally hundreds of these and they are well worth a few minutes of your day. Go now! (via jessica olin)

19 Feb 20:52

Reclining Airline Seats Are an Evil, Needless Relic

by Evann Gastaldo
Abby Nardo

I agree with this so hard, it's ridiculous.

We've all experienced it: that dreaded moment when the first person on the plane reclines his seat, forcing the person behind him to recline her seat, and so on, until suddenly you find yourself with your book or laptop shoved into your face and hatred simmering in your heart for...
19 Feb 04:49

Picture of the Day: Singapore Snake Lantern

by twistedsifter




snake lantern singapore aerial 2013 chinese new year Picture of the Day: Singapore Snake Lantern

Photograph by Choo Yut Shing


According to the Chinese Lunar calendar, 2013 marks the year of the snake and began on February 10th. In Singapore, photographer Choo Yut Shing took this fantastic overheard capture of a snake lantern sculpture made from 850 yellow sky lanterns.

The snake stretches about 300 meters (984.5 ft) from the junction of Upper Cross Street and South Bridge Road to Sago Street in Singapore’s Chinatown district.


Choo Yut Shing on Flickr via PetaPixel


picture of the day button Picture of the Day: Singapore Snake Lantern



18 Feb 18:23

Efterklang with Nightlands and Onoheim in Raleigh on Fri Mar 1

17 Feb 20:26

5000 users, starting iOS app, future plans, hopes & tears

Abby Nardo

BOOKMARKLET! "...we are looking forward to bookmarklet, mass-editing, sorting, and lots of other features you requested"

One happy team

This is amazing. Incredible. Outstanding. And absolutely unexpected. We reached our personal milestone this morning. In early June Dmitry made a bet that he would start making an iOS app once The Old Reader hits 5000 registrations, and the team gladly accepted this challenge. We have not expected this to happen until early 2013 but in these last five days ~1900 new users registered. These are mostly some awesome people from Brazil who have found us and spread the word in Twitter with astonishing passion and lots of sincerity. 

We are sorry for some technical issues you might have experienced recently; importing your feeds should work much better now and we are trying various things to make it work perfectly. And thank you all for your patience, words can’t describe how important and touching it was to receive reassuring replies like “Ok, I can wait :)”.

So, 5000.

What does this mean for us?

The Old Reader is not even half-finished. We have lots of different tasks to do and the list is growing on a daily basis. All Dmitry talks about these days is different optimizations, while Anton silently opens terminal and starts typing, while Elena is trying to land us a sponsorship or a partnership. And, of course, we are looking forward to bookmarklet, mass-editing, sorting, and lots of other features you requested.

What does it mean for you?

The Old Reader is not even half-finished. But some day it will be.

What does it mean for all of us? 

As we promised earlier, along with other tasks we are going to start working on an iOS app. Yes, it’s a big deal for us.

Last month was not the best for our team in terms of our project: one of us changed jobs, some of us changed countries and all three of us are now unable to spend evenings and weekends coding, tweaking, fixing, writing emails, resolving issues, and generally having the best experience that friends can have: creating something together. But we will continue doing everything we can to bring The Old Reader to the new level.

We thank all our users for your interest, kind words, critique, suggestions, patience, and new challenges you give us. And thanks to our old and new friends for using The Old Reader to read, curate, and share the best content ever. Keep on going and we will keep on working. 

P.S. We knew that Elena can cry while reading emails and replies in Twitter, we witnessed her doing that multiple times during last few days, but apparently she is also able to write a post and cry at the same time. Hardcore multitasking.

17 Feb 15:54

specialnights: Freedom Riders.


Freedom Riders.

17 Feb 15:54

benkling: Here’s the lot of this year’s portrait...


Here’s the lot of this year’s portrait valentines.

Check out all of them the rest if you like, and of course, pass them on if you like them.

They’re on sale herebut if they won’t reach you in time just print em out. If you feel guilty you can donate.

17 Feb 15:16

The miracle of birth, but cuter and reversible and made from felt.

17 Feb 06:07

Nov. 12, 1972: Roller derby action at Madison Square Garden,...

Nov. 12, 1972: Roller derby action at Madison Square Garden, Jolters versus Chiefs. A match the next spring at Shea Stadium was put together by Jerry Seltzer (son of the sport’s founder, Leo P. Seltzer) at which he addressed whether roller derby was a sham. Mr. Seltzer’s reply: “Would you question the federal government?” Photo: Patrick A. Burns/The New York Times

17 Feb 06:05

Citroën 2CV… beach cruise

by F.S.

citroen 2cv

17 Feb 06:05

Not without my Camera

by F.S.