Thursday, August 8, 2013

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NextDraft: The Best-Run Charity and Other Fascinating News on the Web

Aug 08, 9:01PM

High-Tech Charity Water of love deep in the ground But there ain’t no water here to be found Some day baby when the river runs free It’s gonna carry that water of love to me. – Dire Straits “It's like sleep-away camp for geeks.” Scott Harrison has used the language and strategies of start-up culture to build Charity: Water, one of the most significant water-related organizations in the world. He not only borrows from the start-up culture, he also taps into the cash and expertise of some well-known execs and investors. How does he get so many young and wealthy individuals to back his efforts? He leads them to where the drinkable water isn’t. From the NYT Magazine: A Save-the-World Field Trip for Tech Moguls. + If you want to learn more and/or get involved, here’s more about Charity: water. Obama Cancels Talks with Putin We’ve gone from the Cold War to the cold shoulder. President Obama has cancelled planned talks with Vladamir Putin following several fallouts (of the non-nuclear kind) over issues including the handling of Edward Snowden. As The Daily Beast’s Peter Pomerantsev explains, the relationship between Obama and Putin has hit an all-time low. Newest Smoking Trend Forget all those rules about not smoking in bars or the workplace. The new smokers aren’t exhaling smoke into your face, they are sucking on an e-cigarette and emitting a smoke-like vapor. The so-called “vaping” is changing the rules of smoking, and possibly starting to make it cool again. In addition to getting smokers to “quit,” are the new e-cigs getting non-smokers to start? + The Vaping trend may come as good news to employers. According to a recent study, the cost of a smoker to an employer runs nearly six grand, between the time taken for smoke breaks and health costs. Short Attention Span Theater Mixbit is a new app for sharing and editing short video clips. With several players already in the marketplace, why is this news? Because Mixbit is run by YouTube co-founders Chad Hurley and Steve


New Astronaut Barbie Sports Pink Space Boots

Aug 08, 8:38PM

For everyone who complains that Barbie dolls teach young girls to feel bad about themselves, behold the “I Can Be” collection. It’s featured Barbie in a variety of fulfilling careers, from last year’s President (“President Barbie doll can stand on her own — literally!”) to 2010′s Computer Engineer (complete with glasses and dorky shoes). Now, Barbie’s long list of careers is getting a new addition: Mars Explorer Barbie, released just in time for the one-year anniversary of the Mars Curiosity rover landing on the red planet. The $12.99 doll debuted on August 5 in a flurry of hot pink. Her helmet, backpack, boots, and spacesuit accents all feature her favorite color, even though pink seems like it would clash with the red dust on Mars. “Adding to her resume of more than 130 careers, Mars Explorer Barbie doll inspires girls to be adventurous and to always reach for the stars!” Mattel said in a statement. It teamed up with NASA to create this newest career Barbie, and the box includes information about famous female astronauts. This isn’t Barbie’s first foray into space. Her first space exploration was in 1965, in honor of Valentina Tereshkova, who became the first woman astronaut two years earlier. That silver and brown space suit had no pink accents. It did include an American flag, however, even though Tereshkova was Russian. The 1985 astronaut Barbie took a very different approach to costuming: she was outfitted in a mostly pink, poufy suit that included knee-high boots. Mattel Inc. The new doll isn’t perfect — the suit is suspiciously form-fitting, and it oddly fails to protect Barbie’s hands against the elements of Mars, which can sink to -225 degrees Fahrenheit.Nonetheless, it’s undoubtably an improvement from the the early 1990s when Teen Talk Barbie was programmed to say, “Math class is tough!” MORE: Barbie, Meet Average Barbie MORE: Little Girls Losing Love for Barbie: Is Body Image to Blame?


Frankenfish Catch Sets World Record in Virginia

Aug 08, 6:29PM

Fish have the wildest names: fangtooth, blobfish, stargazer — even snakehead. The northern snakehead, an invasive and predatory species with some cool if creepy-sounding quirks, lives up to its name. Its tapered head gives it an almost cryptozoological appearance, as if someone had grafted a snake’s head and several inches of slithery body onto a fish (thus its “frankenfish” sobriquet). The largest one ever caught until this summer? 17 pounds, 4 ounces — in Japan, not the U.S. (MORE: Cronut Hype Has Yet to Reach the Heartland) Now there’s a new record holder.  On June 1, Virginia resident, plumber and sometime angler Caleb Newton hauled a monster-sized northern snakehead out of Aquia Creek in Stafford County measuring 17 pounds, 6 ounces. That’s a world record, of course, making Newton an instant fishing celebrity. “His record has been approved and we'll be sending the certificate later this week, or early next week,” said Jack Vitek, world-record coordinator for the Florida-based IGFA (International Game Fish Association), via the The Free Lance–Star. Newtown also broke a second record: the biggest fish caught in the 20-pound line class. His first attempt to nab the snakefish failed when it turned away from a rubber worm, but after he switched to a plastic lure that looked like bait fish sporting multiple hooks, the snakehead couldn’t resist. Newton said it took him about a minute to get the fish into his boat, and that it barely fit in his cooler. The northern snakehead, originating in Asia and first discovered stateside in a Maryland pond in 2002, is considered an invasive species and has become a serious ecological problem in several Eastern states, prompting Department of Natural Resource officials to offer rewards for catching and killing the fish. It’s an apex predator, meaning it sits at the top of its food chain unchallenged outside its natural environment, and — here’s the creepy-cool part — can actually breathe air and survive (in wet environments) up to four days on land, wriggling around like a snake to shift from one body of water


Pixie Dream Girls: Beyoncé Joins the Short Hair Club

Aug 08, 4:58PM

Never failing to keep things interesting, pop star Beyoncé debuted a dramatic new haircut on Instagram late last night, and the more than 14,700 comments (so far) on the picture of her bob range from “amazing” to “YUCK !!!!” The striking new look has many precedents, however. Here’s a look back at stars who famously shed their locks, whether preparing for a new role or a new chapter in their lives. Hulton Archive / Getty Images Audrey Hepburn: The classic movie star dazzled viewers with her pixie cut in Roman Holiday (1953) — for which she won an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role — and Sabrina (1954). In the words of a New York Times reviewer, “Amid the rhinestone glare of the current glamour crop, she shines with the authenticity of a diamond." Mondadori / Getty Images Mia Farrow: Legend had it that she got her long, blonde hair chopped off by Vidal Sassoon for a part in the 1968 horror film Rosemary’s Baby, and that her husband at the time, Frank Sinatra, reportedly “served her with divorce papers” after seeing her new look. But Farrow told the New York Times that she was sporting short hair as early as 1966; she experimented with cutting it off while working on the TV show Peyton Place and Ol’ Blue Eyes loved it. She even boasted a “closely cropped coif” for their wedding on July 19, 1966. Gregg DeGuire / Getty Images Halle Berry: The Monster’s Ball star got a pixie cut when she was about 18 or 19 years old to stand out at auditions. Lora Voight / Getty Images Keri Russell: Producers of Felicity asked her to cut off her long curly hair in the middle of season 2 in the fall of 1999, and critics blamed the new do for the show’s drop in ratings. A WB exec reportedly said, “No one is cutting their hair again on our network.” Andreas Rentz / Getty Images Natalie Portman: The Harvard-educated actress stunned movie-goers when she went bald for a starring role in V for Vendetta (2005). “Some people will think I’m a neo-Nazi or


Cronut Hype Has Yet to Reach the Heartland

Aug 08, 4:40PM

New York City may be breathlessly engulfed in a cronut craze, but the rest of America seems to be decidedly unimpressed by the doughnut-croissant hybrids that have been selling on the black market for $100 each. A poll conducted by YouGov on August 1-2 found that 68 percent of Americans surveyed had never even heard of them. (They should read TIME.com more often). Only 21% of respondents say they’ve heard of the delicacy, which is exclusively available in Dominique Ansel’s Soho bakery. The survey, which included 1,000 Americans, found that the majority of respondents, at 52%, weren’t even interested in buying the much-hyped pastry. Only 5% said they’d be willing to wait more than ten minutes, and that slice winnows down to 2% for those willing to wait over an hour. All of this, despite the long lines of eager New Yorkers shown pouring outside of Ansel’s shop. Since the cronuts are a New York invention, it makes sense that those from the Northeast are most familiar with them — 26% of those in the Northeast had heard of the treats, a 5% leap from the Midwest in second place.  They’re also the most willing to buy a cronut, even when faced with a wait. Cronuts have been so hyped that imitations have sprung up as far away as Los Angeles and Syndey, Australia. But, according to this study, the hype may outshine their appeal in the Heartland. MORE: Dunkin' Donuts Cashes in on the Cronut Craze MORE: Can't Get a Cronut? Try the Crookie MORE: Great Doughnut Innovations Since 1958 MORE: Baker Cracks Down on 'Cronut Scalpers'  


WATCH: Kangaroo Saves Missing Child

Aug 08, 3:37PM

Simon Kruger wandered into the Australian wilderness Saturday after spotting a wallaby and following it into the bush. The seven-year-old survived nearly 24 hours in the dense forest with the help of the friendly marsupial. The kangaroo slept next to the boy throughout the night, keeping him warm as the temperatures fell to near freezing. Eventually, a rescue helicopter sighted the missing child and plucked him out of the forest. “I think God sent a kangaroo to keep him warm,” said his father. His elated mother says her son’s jacket still smells like kangaroo and bushes.


WATCH: Manning Brothers Are Totally Pumped About Football On Your Phone

Aug 08, 3:35PM

Yes, Peyton and Eli Manning are known for their individually outstanding football careers, but now they’re dabbling in R&B music as well. While the brothers may not top Eminem or Jay-Z, you could say that they do bring a unique style with their goofy dancing and out-of-character outfits. In an ad for DIRECTV’s mobile video offerings, the Manning brothers explain, "your phone ain't for calling, it's for football." When Peyton asks what Alexander Graham Bell would think of all this, Eli sagely observes, “Who cares? Dude’s dead.” Be forewarned – you might be caught mindlessly humming to the catchy tune throughout the day.


Texas Restaurant Bans Kids after 7 P.M.

Aug 08, 11:45AM

First, babies weren't allowed in first class. Now they're being banned from some restaurants. La Fisheria, a Mexican restaurant in Houston, Tex. is the latest eating establishment to put the kibosh on little munchkins who insist on wreaking havoc on fellow patrons. Starting this week, the restaurant will begin enforcing a rule that prohibits any child under the age of eight from dining at the establishment past 7 p.m. (MORE: Should More Restaurants Ban Kids? Chefs Really Want To!) “We have a lot of complaints from couples who decide to have dinner and the customers say ‘I left my children at my house with the babysitter and we come to the restaurant and see children running around the restaurant screaming and crying,’” co-owner Aquiles Chavez told local ABC affiliate KTRK, who notes that 7 p.m. is when they often begin serving drinks and wine. According to Death and Taxes magazine, co-owner Ena Niño says the policy was only instituted after several customers walked out after several screaming children created an incident at the establishment. (MORE: No Small Fries: Restaurant Bans Kids Under Six Years Old) Some customers—childless, we assume—are praising the move, saying they welcome the ability to eat and have a few drinks in peace. However, not everyone is on board with the rule. Houston resident Bertran Bilton lamented to local station WFAA, "If I had kids under nine, I definitely wouldn't support them. I believe families should be able to eat together." Several other restaurants across the country have given kids the cold shoulder as well. As Delish reports, “This past June, in Alexandria, Virginia, The Sushi Bar banned those who are 18 and under. Over in Pennsylvania, McDain’s Restaurant in Monroeville banned kids under six completely back in 2011.” Harsh.


Watch Sesame Street Spoof Sons of Anarchy and Icona Pop's "I Love It"

Aug 08, 9:45AM

With the new season of Sesame Street set to begin on Sept. 16, the long-running show has released some YouTube videos just for parents. First up is Icona Pop’s smash hit single “I Love It”. In the video, Cookie Monster offers his spin on the ubiquitous pop song with “I Want It,” where the furry puppet does his best to resist the temptation of cookies. His message is of self-control and temperance (“Me want it, but me wait”), something parents battling a toddler’s sweet tooth undoubtedly appreciate. Sesame Street also rolled out a clip that gives the FX motorcycle gang drama Sons of Anarchy a G-rated makeover swapping poetry-spouting puppets for the Sons' leather-clad gun-runners. In the video, Sons Jax, Clay, Bobby and Tig trade their firearms for free-verse in the more age-appropriate "Sons of Poetry," which also features a cameo by Edgar Allan Poe’s raven. After watching the clip, the show’s notoriously crotchety creator, Kurt Sutter, tweeted his appreciation: growing up with bert & ernie, having a 6 yr. old who loves elmo. this meant so much to me. thank you Sesame Street. http://t.co/O84BDOS4Eo — kurt sutter (@sutterink) August 6, 2013 Watch now: MORE: G Is for Grief: 1983 Sesame Street Episode Helps Kids Cope After Newtown Tragedy MORE: Sesame Street's Elmo Talks To Kids About Hurricanes


Shark Week: Dead Shark Found in NYC Subway Car

Aug 07, 7:18PM

In what looks like a teaser for a sequel to Sharknado — or at least a Shark Week marketing stunt — a dead shark was found on a New York City subway train early Wednesday morning. A passenger who was in the same car as the shark told Gothamist that the “stench” signaled to her that something “fishy” was going on. Photos obtained by the New York City news website also show a passenger posing with the creature. Another shows the dead animal with a cigarette in its mouth and flanked by a Metro Card and a can of Red Bull (there are already Twitter parodies). NYU student Brandon Sanchez, 20, uploaded a photo to Instagram of the shark under a row of seats: Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) confirmed to The Huffington Post and Gothamist that the conductor of a Queens-bound N train was alerted to the situation around 12:30 a.m. The train was evacuated at the Queensboro Plaza stop. When it got to the end of the line, the conductor put the creature in a garbage bag and put it in the trash. Once it was determined that the car was clean enough, the train went back into service. MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz told The Huffington Post, “Looks like a good promo for Shark Week on the Discovery Channel.” The Discovery Channel, however, has denied that the incident had anything to do with its TV series. In an email to Metro, Laurie Goldberg, executive vice-president of PR for the Discovery Channel, wrote: “Shark Week is all about conservation, so it deeply saddens us that someone would think that this was funny or in any way connected to our celebration of sharks.” In other fishy news gone viral, a 5-foot-long dead shark was also found last week in front of the entrance to the Sea Dog Brew Pub on Nantucket. This article was updated to reflect The Discovery Channel’s statement and Twitter reaction to the dead shark. MORE: Discovery Airs Fake Shark Film WATCH: A Cat Celebrates Shark Week


Daredevil Escapes from Locked Box Dropped from 14,500 Feet

Aug 07, 6:43PM

In a stunt that seems like every claustrophobe’s worst nightmare, a daredevil successfully escaped from handcuffs and a locked box dropped from an airplane 14,500 feet in the air Tuesday — in less than a minute. Here’s how it worked, according to the Associated Press: a plane took off in Ottawa, Illinois, southwest of Chicago. When it reached about 14,500 feet, Wisconsin escape artist Anthony Martin, 47, was helped into the box, and his hands were handcuffed to his belt. Then he was locked inside with a prison door lock that doesn’t have a key. (PHOTOS: Feet of Strength: Daredevil Nik Wallenda Tightropes 1,500 Feet Above Grand Canyon) A small parachute called a drogue attached to the top of the box was “tossed” from the door, pushing the whole thing out of the aircraft. The box was supposed to be plummeting at 140 mph. While two men were positioned on either side to keep it stable, it kept rocking back and forth, which was “disorienting,” as Martin told the AP afterwards. While the CNN video above does not show his miraculous escape up close, the AP reports that at about 6,500 feet, Martin pried open the lock within 30 seconds, busted open the door, and “somersaulted” out. He then activated a parachute and landed safely on a farm in nearby Serena, Illinois. (You can watch this exclusive video of the escape from ABC News to see it from a different angle.) (MORE: Stuntman Tries Tightroping Over 1500-Foot Gorge) Martin, who has been picking locks since he was six years old, told reporters after the jump, “Praise God it all went good. It’s good to be here and it’s good to be alive.” He told Good Morning America that most of his training for the jump focused on skydiving, not lockpicking or escaping, since he does both of those stunts on the ground all the time. The Aug. 6 feat marked the 25th anniversary of the first time he pulled it off during his 17th skydive at age 22 —not to mention the release of his new book


American Tourist Snaps Finger Off 600-Year-Old Statue in Florence Museum

Aug 07, 6:10PM

Hoping to overcome the stereotype of the obnoxious, ignorant American abroad? An unidentified U.S. tourist who snapped a finger off a 600-year-old statue in an Italian museum hasn’t helped the cause. (MORE: Fake Transit Cop Spooks Bike Thieves) No, the tourist wasn’t drunk, being belligerent, in a brawl, dangling from the statue wearing nothing but his skivvies or whatever other wild imagery your brain might conjure: The reportedly 55-year-old Missouri native was simply trying to measure the statue’s pinky finger, holding his own hand up to the statue’s outstretched one. But the museum — like most museums that harbor centuries-old works of art — has a no-touching rule that the tourist allegedly flouted, leading to the tragic act of digital disfigurement. “In a globalized world like ours, the fundamental rules for visiting a museum have been forgotten, that is, ‘Do not touch the works’,” said museum head Timothy Verdon, via the NY Daily News, which reports that the tourist has since apologized and has been described as ”very disappointed.” MAURIZIO DEGL’ INNOCENTI / EPA The statue, dubbed “Annunciazione” and located in Florence’s Museo dell'Opera del Duomo (“Museum of the Works of the Cathedral”), is of the Virgin Mary, by 15th century Florentine sculptor Giovanni d'Ambrogio. Apparently the pinky finger wasn’t original to the statue, having been made of plaster and added at a later point: The finger didn’t snap off entirely at the time the act occurred, and restorers were able to remove it before it fell to the ground; they’ll now work to reunite the statue with its missing digit. “It is a fairly simple restoration will be done by the restorers of the Opera del Duomo,” the museum told the Daily News. MORE: Taco Bell Expanding Test of Waffle Taco


Stephen Colbert Spins a Band No-Show into Comedy Gold

Aug 07, 5:23PM




WATCH: A Cat Celebrates Shark Week

Aug 07, 5:14PM

As many of us opt out of cleaning the kitchen so we can snuggle up on the couch and watch the marathon of shark attacks on TV during the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, we may be guilty of ignoring our own animals. The only viable solution for a dirty kitchen and a jealous cat during Shark Week is to dress the pet in a shark costume and plop him on a Roomba while we tend to kitchen chores, like the woman in the video above does. Sadly, the cat gets only a few token glimpses from the lady, who seems more interested in shucking corn over the garbage bin than admiring her robot-riding, costume-clad cat. If you're behind the eight ball here and need to get your pet a costume ASAP,  you can also check out these cat costumes on Imgur or this one for dogs on Etsy. MORE: Discovery Channel Provokes Outrage with Fake Shark Week Documentary


Schadenfreude Alert! Inside a Collection of Wretched Writing

Aug 07, 4:45PM

Ross and Kathy Petras spend their days neck-deep in unfortunate words. The brother-sister team behind a new collection of “crimes against the English language”–called Wretched Writing (Perigree; 224 pages)–have also compiled very bad poetry and countless anthologies of “stupidest” quotations. If you’re in need of a new back-of-the-toilet book, their latest pièce de putridity just might be for you. NewsFeed spoke to the authors about how they decided what was truly wretched, where they managed to dig it up and why readers should endure the woeful work, too. Filed under: celebrity poets “I draw a hot sorrow bath in my despair room.” - Keanu Reeves, Ode to Happiness (2011) In fairness to aspiring authors, all the entries have been published, and the Petras duo tried to find examples of terrible text crafted by well-known people where they could—to drive home the point that we all let the pen get away from us now and again, even those capable of stopping runaway buses. So what other qualifications must wretched entries have? “It's sort of like pornography: you know it when you see it,” Ross says. “A wretched writer is bolder and more intrepid than an average writer, more freely sprinkling out bad syntax, commas, weird words, unacceptable imagery.” Kathryn adds that there’s one other important quality: “a blithe lack of self-consciousness.” Filed under: adjectives, excessive use of “The things were odd, weird, grotesque. There was something horribly uncustomary and unwonted about them. There were completely unfamiliar. There appearance was outlandish and extraordinary. Here was something quite phenomenal about them. They were supernormal; they were unparalleled; they were unexampled. They were curious, odd, queer, peculiar and fantastic.” - Lionel Fanthorpe, Galaxy 666 (1968) To research the book, the Petras’ combed their previous collections of the cringe-inspiring and surveyed authors they consider infamous for poor prose, like English writer Lionel Fanthorpe. Then they moved through genres where writing is often second to plot construction. “We started off with romance novels. Then there's science fiction and fantasy, where you get to be excessively creative because you're


Move Over, Boo: Jiff the Pomeranian Is the Newest Puppy Sensation

Aug 07, 4:16PM

Jiff the Pomeranian is one puppy with a lot of starpower. Just three years old, the dog has amassed more than half a million followers on Facebook and thousands of Instagram since he joined Facebook at the end of 2011. He’s also an actor and model, and, as of last month, something of an acrobat. Jiff made his film debut this May, in Adventures of Bailey: A Night in Cowtown, playing a kidnapped dog named Felix. He’s also starred in commercials for Target, Banana Republic, and the New York State Lottery. But the Chicago native, who recently moved to Los Angeles to focus on his acting career, is more than just a pretty face. In a new video, which has racked up almost 200,000 views on YouTube since July 22, Jiff performs everything from a moonwalk to a walking handstand. The fluffy dog quickly draws comparisons to Boo, the other Pomeranian celebrity who rocketed to fame in 2010 on a wave of cuteness. Jiff still has a way to go before reaching his predecessor’s level of stardom — Boo currently has over 7 million likes on Facebook. He also has the particular honor of having his photo tweeted by Ke$ha with the note “new boyfriend.” Until Jiff gets a celebrity girlfriend, he’s still the underdog. MORE: Boo Does NYC: How Did 'The Cutest Dog in the World' Get So Famous?


Fake Transit Cop Spooks Bike Thieves

Aug 07, 3:27PM

Here’s a novel approach to law enforcement. Unable to pay more officers to patrol its transit stops, the Boston area’s debt-laden transit authority has resorted instead to cardboard replicas of police officers to help deter crime. Since it installed two, life-sized cutouts of 10-year veteran Officer David Silen earlier this summer, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority has curbed bike thefts at one station by 67% compared to last year, according to WHDH. Officials have also outfitted the Alewife T stop in Cambridge — which is known for theft — with cameras, but Silen’s looming presence near the bike racks may be the main deterrent. Deputy Police Chief Robert Lenehan told WHDH just one bike was taken from the station last month when the posters went up, down from between four or five that were stolen last year during the same period. "I had a conversation with a friend who's a psychiatrist. She said to me, 'a split second before someone commits a crime, maybe they glance up and see it, maybe it reminds them, there are police, there are cameras in the bike cages, it reminds them that maybe someone will come looking for them,'" Officer Silen told the local TV station. Cardboard cops are on the rise. In June authorities in southeast England’s Berkshire county stationed cutouts of policemen in stores to curb shoplifting, according to the BBC. Similar cardboard artifices have successfully been deployed in other parts of North America, India and Thailand — forcing residents to think twice before breaking the law. MORE: Cardboard Police Officers Trick Bangalore Drivers Into Obeying Traffic Rules


Pop-Up Café Helps You Find a Date Too

Aug 07, 10:45AM

"What about that handsome stranger over there?" Matchmaker Café in New York City's Financial District serves up a little something extra for its patrons – a shot at finding love. Less than a month old, the pop-up café lets single customers browse potential dating matches on an iPad as they leisurely sip their lattes. It’s also the physical outpost for the service’s online dating app, which launched last November and offers in-person introductions by a matchmaker, according to DNAinfo. Like another dating service that launched in the spring of 2012, Coffee Meets Bagel, the Matchmaker dating app uses people’s Facebook profiles to suggest potential dates. The difference? Matchmaker has an actual, albeit temporary, coffee stand staffed with friendly baristas who will let you use their iPad to browse other singles in the area, then help arrange dates. Until Labor Day, when the pop-up cafe closes, guests can pay $5 for three phone introductions or $10 for ten. They can also pay for a subscription to the Matchmaker Cafe app, which has more than 3,000 members. (MORE: Perk Up: Yawn-Activated Coffee Machine) "There's nothing like real human connection," Slotnick told the New York Post. "You can have all of the online stuff, and technology does make it much more efficient to connect — but ultimately you have to meet." Slotnick believes the café can differentiate itself from competitors because there's already a "vetted party" as the middleman. She’s already a pro at blending dating and coffee shops: She founded Drip Cafe on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in 1996, which let customers search physical binders filled with dating profiles. Once guests found someone they wanted to meet, the cafe would help arrange a meeting for a small fee. (MORE: Coffee Drinking Linked With Lower Risk of Fatal Prostate Cancer) So far, the pop-up dating cafe has gotten mixed reactions. Megan Zilis, a 29-year-old account executive, said, "I would be open to this only if the barista was a close friend and all the other café patrons were also close friends." Meanwhile, Sharon Nord,


Simpsons Legos Are Coming in 2014

Aug 07, 9:45AM

There are Batman Legos and Star Wars Legos, The Hobbit Legos and even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Legos. And soon enough, there will also be Simpsons Legos. Rejoice, friends, because that sounds pretty awesome, right? The Danish toy company confirmed that the special Simpsons series will launch globally in 2014, the Associated Press reports. But so far, they’re keeping further details under wraps. Company spokesman Roar Rude Trangbaek wouldn’t tell the AP which characters will get the Lego treatment, but said the new set will “appeal to fans of The Simpsons family.”  (MORE: Simpsons Theme Park to Open in Orlando) So basically, we can expect to see the five central members of the clan, and then just cross our fingers for our favorite secondary, tertiary and mostly-irrelevant characters. (Full disclosure: NewsFeed has plans to put in a special request for a Lego version of the Yes Guy.) Of course, not everyone is thrilled about the prospect of Simpsons-themed Legos. The announcement has already sparked some backlash, mostly among the online Lego community (which, yes, is a thing). The primary concern here is that a Lego set based on the often raunchy, crass TV show wouldn’t be appropriate for children. When the idea first began to float around the web a few months ago, some concerned parents even started a petition to prevent the company from going through with the plan. But — d’oh! — looks like that didn’t work out. MORE: 'Lego Bandit' Claims Conspiracy Against Him


Taco Bell Expanding Test of Waffle Taco

Aug 06, 10:01PM

NEW YORK — Taco Bell says it’s expanding its small test of waffle tacos, as it prepares to take its breakfast menu national sometime next year. The fast-food chain says the waffle taco, which includes scrambled eggs, sausage and a side of syrup, was the top seller during breakfast hours at the five Southern California restaurants where they were tested earlier this year. Now the company wants to see how it would fare on a bigger scale; the waffle tacos and a full breakfast menu will be expanded to about 100 restaurants in Fresno, Calif.; Omaha, Neb.; and Chattanooga, Tenn., starting Thursday. (MORE: The Hot, Quirky Features on Fast Food Menus Everywhere) Brian Niccol, president of Taco Bell, said the idea is partly to get a better sense of how well restaurants will be able to handle the added operational pressure from the waffle tacos. “You only get one shot when you go with big items,” he said. Taco Bell already offers breakfast at about 850 locations in 10 Western states and has been tinkering with new items such as the waffle taco before rolling it out to its 6,000 U.S. locations. Also being tested in the additional locations starting Thursday are a yogurt parfait and oatmeal. Taco Bell isn’t alone in trying to serve food in different parts of the day. Since restaurant chains are already paying for fixed costs of such as rent and electricity, the thinking is that they want to ring up as many sales as possible throughout the day, not just during the busy lunch and dinner hours. In industry jargon, executives often refer to this concept as “expanding dayparts.” McDonald’s, for example, has been testing an “After Midnight” menu that mixes breakfast and lunch items. Taco Bell has also been promoting a “Happier Hour,” which features snacks and drinks intended to attract customers in the late afternoon, when business tends to be slower. (MORE: Taco Bell Tests Waffle Tacos) Yum Brands Inc., the parent company of Taco Bell, clearly sees breakfast as its next big opportunity.



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