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10 Great Gifts For Car Lovers

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Car Lovers_Gift Guide

Car lovers don't just love cars. 

They also love anything related to cars.

So even if you can't buy the car lover in your life an actual car, you can certainly obtain something connected to the wonderful world of driving.

And it's worth noting: These gifts are a lot easier to wrap.

Famous, collectible Porsches cost a fortune, but scale models of famous, collectible Porsches are totally affordable

Take the 1973 Porsche Carerra, an iconic version of what many car nuts consider to be the greatest sports car every build by human hands. These can sell for half a million dollars at auction. But you don't need to have that kind of coin if you want to "collect" the car. A scale model exhibits all the detail of the full-size dream machine — and doesn't require a climate-controlled garage for storage!

Price: $123



These carbon fiber Ferrari sunglasses complete any look with style

Let's say you have a friend or relative who's fortunate enough to own a Ferrari. They probably like to spend time in their car. And while they're spending time there, they might want to bond with the glorious machine. What better way than to have a pair of sunglasses made out of the same material as the car — lightweight, super-strong carbon fiber?

Price: $2,300



Car lovers can also love motorcycles, and for them this Belstaff jacket exudes soul

For the car lover who also digs motorcycles, you can always go for high-tech, modern protective gear. But chances are the biker on your list already has that. If you want to provide them with an infusion of throwback British style, you can't do better than one of the most famous motorcycle jackets of all time — the waxed-cotton Belstaff Roadmaster. It looks as good on the road as it does on the town.

Price: $850



See the rest of the story at Business Insider






The Best Italian Restaurants In New York City

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Carbone Manhattan

There's no shortage of Italian food in New York City: In some neighborhoods, there's a pizza place on every corner.

So how do separate the excellent from the merely passable?

We asked the restaurant experts at The Infatuation for a list of New York City's very best Italian spots.

Try one for your next client dinner or date night. And don't forget your after-dinner mints.

Babbo

110 Waverly Place, Manhattan

Babbo is run by Mario Batali of "Iron Chef America" fame. He's written nine cookbooks and owns 20 other restaurants, but this one is widely considered to be the best of the best.

The menu is staggering; it includes multiple tasting menus and more than 50 a la carte options, but the best way to go is the pasta tasting, according to The Infatuation's Andrew Steinthal.

Batali's pastas are the David to his Michelangelo.  

Check out The Infatuation's review of Babbo here



Carbone

181 Thompson St., Manhattan

Carbone pays homage to the classic Italian-American restaurants found in New York during the mid-20th century. It strives to provide an elegant, comfortable, and unpretentious atmosphere.

Favorite dishes include seafood salad, chicken scarpariello and veal parmesan.

Check out The Infatuation's review of Carbone here



L'Artusi

228 W. 10th St., Manhattan

L'Artusi is one of several beloved Italian spots from Epicurean Management (the team also runs dell'anima and Anfora).

The menu is loud and proud  heavy on garlic, olives, chiles, and fat, according to The Infatuation.

And they're known for their lengthy wine list (and cellar) and exceptional cheese menu.

Check out The Infatuation's review of L'Artusi here



See the rest of the story at Business Insider






Restaurant Customer 'Accidentally' Ate A $300 White Truffle

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White Truffle

A Sunday afternoon brunch attendee made a very expensive mix-up when she confused a rare, white Alba truffle for a complimentary offering. 

The owners of Equinox — a Washington, DC based restaurant — had placed one of their Alba truffles they had purchased in a glass case in order to promote a new vegan brunch buffet they were offering, reports the Washington Post. The special promotion included shavings of the truffle for a $20 surcharge. 

But one customer apparently thought the display was free and took a massive bite out of the truffle.

The single bite she took was "the size of a silver dollar" and cost an estimated $300, owners Ellen Kassoff Gray and Tod Gray told The Post. 

But the customer was not impressed with the special delicacy, telling co-owner Gray that she didn’t like the taste, and “suggested the chef salvage the unbitten part,” according to the Washington Post.  

Luckily for the customer, Gray decided to not charge the diner for the $300 mistake. 

White Alba truffles are so expensive because they are difficult for restaurateurs to get their hands on. They are incredibly rare, hard to find, and only available for three months of the year. When these truffles are unearthed, they usually sell for astounding prices — a buyer in China recently offered $1 million for a 4.16 pound find.

Here's hoping the customer learned her lesson.

SEE ALSO: Customer Furious After Restaurant Charges Him $3,750 For Wine It Said Cost 'Thirty-Seven Fifty'

DON'T FORGET: Follow Business Insider's Life On Facebook!

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The 15 Best War Stories Ever Told

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The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

Despite the heartbreak and gruesomeness that often accompanies war, there's no doubt that the subject is fascinating to read about.

Michael Inman, Curator of Rare Books at The New York Public Library, and curator of the current exhibition Over Here: WWI and the Fight for the American Mind, picked out the best nonfiction books about war.

These books are a selection of scholarly histories, journalism, first-hand accounts, and works on the tactics and theory of warfare from the crusades to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The Crusades: The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land" by Thomas Asbridge

The battle for the holy land launched in 1095, and pinned Catholics and Muslims against each other for the next almost 200 years. Asbridge puts the conflict in context, from Pope Urban II's call upon "Latin Europe" to take a stand against the Muslims to the Muslim reclamation of the holy land.

Asbridge lays out a clear timeline of events, and offers a compelling retelling of the crusades that reads nothing like a history textbook.

Buy the book here »



"This Kind of War" by T. R. Fehrenbach

Taking place in part along the 38th parallel where American and North Korean troops faced off, "This Kind of War" is a profound portrayal of the Korean War which includes maps and photographs to illustrate a human perspective on war.

First published in 1963, "This Kind of War" has become a classic in military history books.

Buy the book here »



"Thank You for Your Service" by David Finkel

A MacArthur fellow and Washington Post journalist, Finkel takes an in-depth look at some of the psychological issues, including PTSD, that plagued many of his fellow battalion members after returning from service in the Iraq war.

A sequel, if you will, to his book "The Good Soldiers," "Thank You for Your Service," presents snapshots of Finkel's battalion mates post-war, and how their service has affected their lives and loved ones.

Buy the book here »



See the rest of the story at Business Insider






The 20 Best Restaurants In San Francisco

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acquerelloZagat has announced the results of its survey of the best restaurants in San Francisco this year.

Greek eatery Kokkari Estiatorio took home first-place honors in the food category this year, dethroning Gary Danko for the first time in half a decade.

While the list does feature many fine dining establishments, several pizzerias, bakeries, and comfort-food diners also made the list. 

Food ratings are out of 30 on the Zagat scale.

20. Range

842 Valencia Street

Food: 27

Despite a delicious New American menu and outstanding cocktails, Zagat diners say Range is "one of the most underrated" spots in the Mission.

Diners rave about the restaurant's seasonal ingredients, and the pork shoulder is a favorite.



19. B. Patisserie

2821 California Street

Food: 27

Grab a morning coffee and world-class pastries at this European-style cafe in Lower Pacific Heights.

Highlights include chocolate-banana-almond croissants and a flaky kouign amann.



18. Roka Akor

801 Montgomery Street

Food: 27

Enjoy fresh Japanese dishes, like Butterfish tataki, at this modern Downtown restaurant. 

There's a bar and lounge on the lower floor and dining room upstairs.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider






NORAD Releases Specs On Santa's Sleigh, Which Goes 'Faster Than Starlight' And Runs On Hay

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santa clause sleigh helicopter

President Barack Obama suggested the US military's C-130 transport aircraft is "a little more efficient than Santa's sleigh" in a speech at the the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey on Monday. However, according to data provided to Business Insider by the North American Aerospace Defense Command's Santa tracking program, Obama's assessment of Santa's technical capabilities was clearly incorrect. 

Business Insider reached out to NORAD, which is a bi-national program run by the US and Canadian governments, shortly after the president's speech. A spokesperson provided us with this statement on his remarks. 

"We really don't want to compare Santa's sleigh to a C-130, but what we can confirm is that Santa's sleigh is a versatile, all weather, multi-purpose, vertical short-take-off and landing vehicle," the spokesperson said. "It is capable of traveling vast distances without refueling and is deployed, as far as we know, only on December 24th (and sometimes briefly for a test flight about a month before Christmas)."

Though the spokesperson declined to provide their own comparison of the C-130 and Santa's sleigh, they gave us all of their "technical data" on the sleigh. Based on this information, it's abundantly clear Santa's sleigh is far faster and capable of carrying a much larger payload.

According to NORAD's fact sheet, the top speed of Santa's sleigh is "faster than starlight." NASA lists the speed of light as approximately 186,000 miles per second. On the other hand, the Air Force fact sheet on the C-130 notes its maximum speed is just 417 miles per hour. NORAD also said Santa's sleigh can carry about 60,000 tons while the maximum allowable payload of a C-130 is 44,000 pounds. The White House did not respond to a request from Business Insider about the president's incorrect claims about the sleigh.

NORAD's technical data on Santa's sleigh contains several other interesting tidbits. It notes the sleigh is armed with "purely defensive" antlers. NORAD also claims Santa weighs 260 pounds at the beginning of his annual mission and gains 1,000 pounds during his flight.

Read NORAD's complete "technical data" on Santa's sleigh below. 

Designer & Builder

K. Kringle & Elves, Inc.

Probable First Flight

Dec. 24, 343 C.E.

Home Base

North Pole

Length

75 cc (candy canes) / 150 lp (lollipops)

Width

40 cc / 80 lp

Height

55 cc / 110 lp

Note: Length, width and height are without reindeer

Weight at takeoff

75,000 gd (gumdrops)

Passenger weight at takeoff

Santa Claus 260 pounds

Weight of gifts at takeoff

60,000 tons

Weight at landing

80,000 gd (ice & snow accumulation)

Passenger weight at landing

1,260 pounds

Propulsion

Nine (9) rp (reindeer power)

Armament

Antlers (purely defensive)

Fuel

Hay, oats and carrots (for reindeer)

Emissions

Classified

Climbing speed

One “T” (Twinkle of an eye)

Max speed

Faster than starlight 

SEE ALSO: Here's how much Santa should be paid for his work this year

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Crocs Just Appointed A New CEO To Help The Company Grow Earnings

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A shopper holds a box of Crocs shoes at the Glendale Galleria shopping mall on Black Friday in Glendale, California November 28, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

(Reuters) - Crocs Inc, known for its colorful clog shoes, said it appointed Gregg Ribatt as chief executive, effective late January 2015.

The footwear maker's net income has declined in five of the last six quarters, hurt by waning popularity amid lack of product innovation.

The company's profit forecast for this quarter was below average analyst estimate. Crocs had reported a fall in third-quarter sales from Asia-Pacific, a region that contributes about 40 percent of total revenue.

Crocs has been looking to remodel its core footwear brands and said Ribbat's appointment would aid the transformation. The company had said it would hire a CEO with a focus on earnings growth after John McCarvel retired in April.

Ribbatt, who joined Croc's board in January, would be paid an annual base salary of $950,000, the company said on Monday.

Crocs' shares closed at $12.16 on Monday on the Nasdaq. Up to Monday's close, the Niwot, Colorado-based company's stock has fallen more than 23 percent this year.

 

(Reporting by Nayan Das in Bengaluru; Editing by Joyjeet Das)

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6 Food Myths That Are Completely Wrong

7 Signs You Order Way Too Much Takeout

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Plated lead photoThis post is sponsored by Plated.

At the end of a long, stressful day, the temptation to order takeout is real.

But after adding up a bunch of evenings filled with greasy burgers, fried dumplings, and free cans of soda, you might end up with an expanding waistline, a shrinking checking account, and an increasingly difficult time climbing stairs.

Plated, a startup that delivers fresh ingredients and quick recipes to your door, could be the dinner hack that gets you back to food basics — with its antibiotic-free meat, sustainably sourced seafood, fresh veggies, and 30-minutes-or-less cooking times.

If any of the following situations apply to your life, consider letting Plated help put your dinner life back on the right track.

takeout

1. When you walk into your favorite restaurant to order, they already have your meal waiting for you.

“We were expecting you.” Has that ever not sounded creepy?

2. “Boiling pasta” pretty much sums up your cooking repertoire.

We mean, hey, you can boil with the best of them, but ...

3. Your kitchen table is littered with condiments and takeout receipts. 

How many times can you order General Tso’s chicken in one month?

pizza delivery

4. The delivery guy drops off your food and says, “See you tomorrow.”

Having a friendship is nice, but maybe you should continue it by inviting him over for something home-cooked.

5. You have a recurring nightmare about your microwave breaking.

You wake up in a cold sweat after shouting, “How will I ever get this slice of pizza hot again?”

6. It’s hard to remember the last time you ate in the company of another human being.

No, Netflix does not count as a person.

7. Every time you order takeout, you think, “I’m not going to do this tomorrow.”

Except you might ... unless you replace it with something way better. 

Plated is extending a special discount to Business Insider readers. Click here to get your first four meals FREE.

plated

Find out more about Sponsored Content

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See Why Army-Navy Is The Greatest College Football Rivalry On Earth

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army-navy football gameThe US Naval Academy and US Military Academy football teams faced off in their 115th meeting on Saturday.

The schools' rivalry is one of the most unique in college sports. Though fiercely competitive, Army Cadets and Navy Midshipmen understand they're playing for the same team: Team USA.

Midshipman Second Class Jeffrey Martino, a junior at the Naval Academy, took photos at last weekend's game. We've republished them with his permission.

The Army-Navy game is the hallmark of one of the longest, most heated rivalries in college football. The U.S. Naval Academy and U.S. Military Academy football teams have played each other since 1890.



2014 was Navy's year to host the game, and they threw down at M&T Bank Stadium. Both Academies make the transportation arrangements to get each of their more than 4,400 student bodies to the game.



A Naval Academy midshipman finds his bus and prepares to make the early morning ride to Baltimore, Maryland. Attendance is required of all students.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider






Three Great Pairs Of Touch-Screen Gloves To Buy Right Now

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touchscreenglovesstack

Touchscreen gloves used to be a novelty accessory, but now that smartphones are the norm, gloves that work with them should be, too. There are a lot of options out there, so we've rounded up a few that will help your hands stay warm while texting this winter.


 

touchscreenWirecutter picked this pair of Glider Gloves ($15-$30 depending on size) last winter as their favorite. They call it "a double-layered knit glove that will keep you warm in below-freezing temperatures; and fits snugly enough to conform to a range of finger sizes and provide reliably accurate screen taps."

Price: $15.00-$26.50




 

ORGlovesThis pair by Outdoor Research won over some reviewers on Amazon for their tight fit, which is important if you want dexterity for your phone, but probably won't win you any awards in the looks category.

Price: $22.95-$45.95




Screen Shot 2014 12 15 at 2.40.40 PMTimberland has a couple of solid options, including a thicker pair if warmth is more of your priority.

Some reviewers complained that the touchscreen portion doesn't extend to the tips of the fingers, so be warned if that's how you typically navigate your phone.

Price: $29.99 with Free Shipping




redesign_20167923993396.2DXzHBqpwBXX4tDI4kfL_height640And finally, with the help of our friends at Stack Commerce, we got a deal on these gloves from TRNDlabs. They normally cost $49, but we have them here for $19. They've got rubber grips on the palm to make sure you're not going to drop your phone while holding it.

Get 61% off TRNDlabs Knitted Touchscreen Gloves here ($19).


 

If you already have a pair of gloves that you love, you can always go the DIY route. Pick up some conductive thread on Amazon and put a few stitches into your existing pair. $10 will get you enough thread for around 20 finger tips.

Warning: it probably won't look as nice as buying a pair, and we don't advocate doing this with leather.

Screen Shot 2014 12 15 at 2.11.55 PM

 

SEE ALSO:  The Drone Gift Guide: Four Drones To Help You Start Flying [Up To 55% Off]

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MARK CUBAN: Here's My Biggest Goal For My Kids

The 20 Best Fiction Books Of 2014

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college student reading outside

For anyone who can't resist a good story, Goodreads has rounded up the best fiction books of 2014.

To compile the list, Goodreads editors nominated titles frequently reviewed on the site, which were then voted on by readers.

The list spans genres from fantasy to crime to romance, pulling together some of the most compelling reads 2014 had to offer. 

"Landline" by Rainbow Rowell

When Georgie's husband, Neal, and her two daughters leave for a family trip without her, Georgie wonders if this might signify the end of her marriage as well. So when she discovers a way to relive the early, pivotal moments of her relationship with Neal, Georgie sets out to decide if their marriage should ever have happened at all. 

Buy it here for $15.58



"Big Little Lies" by Liane Moriarty

This novel follows the lives of three mothers in a quiet Australian suburb who all have children in the same kindergarten class. Snippets of a police investigation are interspersed with the narration, revealing that one of the characters will end up dead in the end. But between cheating spouses, abusive husbands, and school bullies, it's impossible to know who the victim will be. 

Buy it here for $16.16



"The Storied Life Of A.J. Firky" by Gabrielle Zevin

After losing his wife and watching sales steadily decline at his bookstore, A.J. Firky begins to unravel. But when a baby mysteriously appears on the front steps of his store, the infant captures his heart and things begin to turn around. 

Buy it here for $10.75



See the rest of the story at Business Insider






13 Gifts Any Golfer Would Love

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Golf_Gift Guide

No matter what season it is, golfers always have the game on their mind. 

Fuel your golfer's obsession this holiday season with the with great golf gadgets and gifts. 

From personalized accessories to golf simulators, here are 13 great gifts any golfer would love.

A framed picture of a favorite golf hole is the perfect office decor.

Golfers will love looking at a picture of their favorite golf hole when they're away from the course, whether that's at the office or at home. The thoughtful gift can be tailored to any budget.

Price: From $11



Help him look like a pro with these Nike golf shirts.

Stay stylish and cool while playing a round on a hot summer day. Golf greats like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy sport these golf looks by Nike.

Price: $90



Track every shot with Game Golf.

You will never lose a golf ball again. Just hook up the sensors to your club grip and Game Golf tracks shot locations and distances.

The data Game Golf collects can be seen right on your mobile device or home computer. Pros like Jim Furyk use this to help improve their game.

Price: $199



See the rest of the story at Business Insider






Business Insider Is Hiring An Audience Development Manager for BI Studios

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horse race winner

Business Insider is looking for a goals-oriented Audience Development Manager to join BI Studios, our in-house content team.

BI Studios works with marketers to develop robust, engaging sponsor content in a variety of formats (text, videos, slideshows, and infographics) as part of their ad campaigns. The person in this role will grow traffic and video views to that content, as well as help foster and strengthen audience engagement.

Do you love diving into data and performance metrics, understating them inside and out -- and then improving upon them? Do you want to be part of a growing team dedicated to producing and distributing the best branded content on the web? Then this may be the job for you. 

The ideal candidate is a self-starter who thinks strategically and proactively about how to drive traffic and engagement. As Audience Development Manager, you will be responsible for the following:

  • Measure, report and analyze key performance indicators across branded content at Business Insider
  • Provide regular analytics support and best practices to internal stakeholders -- Studios Content Development and Ad Sales teams
  • Oversight and optimization of social programming strategy across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks with core emphasis on growing traffic and streams to sponsored content
  • Develop deals and maintain relationships with social and digital influencers, publishers, and platforms to drive additional content distribution
  • Drive engagement and consumption of sponsored content and campaigns to enhance advertiser's ROI
  • Constant evaluation of new social / digital platforms, marketing services, and products and trends

Qualifications:

  • 3+ years experience in digital analytics
  • Strong passion and deep understanding of all social media platforms 
  • Proven track record driving click traffic and streams via paid digital and social marketing campaigns; deep knowledge of ad products across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Outbrain, Taboola, and others
  • Familiarity with content aggregators and destinations (such as Reddit and StumbleUpon) and digital analytics tools (Parsley, SimpleReach, Google Analytics, and Facebook Insights)
  • Thorough understanding of the relationships of social media and SEO to site traffic
  • Strong verbal and communication skills

If this is the right gig for you, please apply online and tell us why you're a good fit for the role. 

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Russians Are Buying Cheese The Same Way People Bought Weed In 1980s Brooklyn

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shopping russia store

Russia's economy is in free fall. Last night the government took emergency measures to stop the bleeding by hiking interest rates, but it didn't work. Problems run too deep.

Part of Russia's pain is due to dramatically declining oil prices. And part of it is due to international sanctions against the country.

This cheese story is about the latter part.

Back when the EU, Australia, Norway, Canada, and the US placed economic sanctions on Russia, Russia responded by banning a bunch of imports from all of them. That ban included a lot of food — meat, dairy, vegetables, and so on.

Unfortunately, people really like food — especially cheese. So in Russia, they've devised ways to circumvent this inconvenient ban when it comes to the good stuff.

Corner stores have become black-market cheese dealers.

"A sort of speakeasy scene for French and Italian cheeses evolved which was akin to buying drugs from 1980s bodegas in Brooklyn," one Moscow banker told Business Insider. "First, you walk into the bodega slowly, trying to wipe any suspicious look from your face. Then you pretend to look around the shelves for a while until the clerk recognizes you, at which point you and the clerk make eye contact and establish that metaphysical connection that signifies to both of you 'I'm here to cop an ounce.' You wait until there are no customers around, approach the clerk. He takes you to the back room, shows you the goods, you haggle over the price, shove the bag in your pocket, hand over the cash and bounce. Except here you're leaving the store with a ball of fresh Italian mozzarella..."

Or some amazing camembert, or brie ... You get the picture.

All this suffering, however, isn't necessarily making Russians dislike Putin. On the contrary, says our source, they're buying Putin's message that the country's economic woes can be blamed on a Western plot to hurt Russia.

"If you look at the way the elite that emerged from the '90s made their money, you'll realize that they essentially capitalized on ignorance by cheaply scooping up newly-privatized equity from an uneducated public," the banker said. "Physical certificates of stock were often exchanged on the street for bottles of vodka and that's not an exaggeration. In that sense, Russians are much less inclined to side with financial logic and more inclined to buy Mr. Putin's emotional message."

As long as that message remains, Russians will stay on Putin's side.

NOW WATCH: 11 Facts That Show How Different Russia Is From The Rest Of The World

SEE ALSO: 30 Crazy Facts You Didn't Know About Russia

Join the conversation about this story »








7 Reasons You Should Teach Your Kids To Speak French

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marion cotillardThere's an argument to be made that we should stop teaching French in schools.

In The New Republic last year, John McWhorter wrote about why we should stop pretending French is an important language, noting that Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish are far more useful in today's global society.

The piece came in response to a New York Times article about an initiative from the French government to increase the amount of French instruction in American schools.

And in The Spectator, Liam Mullone makes a "moral" argument against teaching the language, saying it perpetuates France's involvement in some of Africa's most devastating countries, including French-speaking Ivory Coast and Chad and Mali.

But here's why they are wrong, and everyone should learn French.

1)  For English speakers, French is the easiest language to learn.

You may have heard it's Spanish. That cannot possibly be true though, because English is actually the mutant stepchild of German and French, and it got most of its genes from its Gallic side. In fact for several centuries French was the official language of the English court. The list of English words with French roots is basically infinite.  

2)  Learning French makes learning Spanish way easier. 

If you're reading this, we probably don't need to spell out all the socioeconomic benefits that come with learning a second language. We again assume America's natural inclination is to learn Spanish (we'll exclude Chinese). Since French and Spanish are the mutant step children of Latin, you can practically cut out a step if you ever decide to take up Spanish. And If you already know Spanish, it requires very little effort to make the jump to French. 

3)  All over Europe, French is still the main second language taught in school.

Forget about the Nordic countries, who've consciously abandoned their own languages for English — their languages were never important to begin with. When I lived in France, I found it impossible to communicate with the kids from Italy, China, Japan, and Mexico in anything other than French. Nor was English an option when I traveled to Poland and the Czech Republic. 

Here is how the French government defines what it calls "the sphere of French language." It's much larger than you think:

francophonie

4)  If you want to understand modern China and Russia, you need to know French.

french revolution

For all the good stuff it led to, the French Revolution gave the world its first glimpse at totalitarianism. The Russian Revolution of 1917 was basically an attempt to reenact that part of the French Revolution. And Mao's Communist revolution in China was basically an attempt to reenact the Russian Revolution. This is why Alexis de Tocqueville's book on the tragedy recently became a best-seller. Yeah, you can get it in English. But translations suck — and who is going to do the translations in the first place if we run out of French speakers?

5)  Half of Africa speaks French.

To continue on the China point: As you've probably heard, Chinese corporations have begun flooding into Africa, where deals are cheap and resources are abundant. French speaking countries, Algeria top among them, comprise a significant chunk of that investment. Half of the top-10 fastest growing countries in Africa have French as an official language. We can thus expect Africa to be an increasing focus of global trade and international relations.

6)  Americans still hear French all the time.

wolf of wall street frenchIf you live in New York or Washington, you probably catch snippets of French conversation on the subway all the time. Ever wanted to be treated like an American hero? Give out directions to a lost French tourist family in their own language.  

It also pops up in movies and TV shows. Knowing I spoke French, one of the first things my family asked me after seeing "Wolf of Wall Street" was what Jean DuJardin and Leo DiCaprio were saying to each other in the Geneva negotiation scene. 

7)  French politics is the greatest show in news.

hollandeselfie

Regularly reading the news can get depressing. The best cure for this, which your child will come to appreciate, is reading news out of France. Nothing too terrible ever really happens there these days. As a result, the French end up putting themselves in absurd situations to make life more interesting. You may have heard French President Francois Hollande was caught last year leaving his attractive actress mistress' house wearing a ridiculous motorcycle helmet. In the U.S., this would have resulted in scandal. In France, this resulted in a resurgence in Hollande's popularity.

Bottom line: For relatively minimal effort, you can learn a second language that will allow you to access useful, important and entertaining stuff.

The original version of this story was written by Rob Wile. Edited by Julie Zeveloff.

SEE ALSO: 30 Books That Changed The Course Of History

FOLLOW US: See Updates From Business Insider's Life Section On Facebook

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Thread Count Is A Lie — Here’s How To Buy The Best-Quality Sheets

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bed sheets sleeping girl in bed

Most people deciding between two sets of sheets would choose the higher thread count.

But it turns out we've all been duped.

“There’s a maximum number of threads that can fit into a square inch of fabric,” explained Scott Tannen, CEO of Boll & Branch, a luxury linen provider. “Depending on the type of cotton used, that number is generally not more than 400. So there is an awful lot of interesting math involved in the sheets you see in a department store that can be up to a 1200 thread count.”

In fact, Consumer Reports says that 50 years ago, the most luxurious thread count available was 180, but now 1,000 thread counts are the norm.

So what happened?

We spoke with Tannen about what thread count is, why the numbers are so confusing, and how to buy the best sheets for your bed.

Know The “Real” Thread Count

Thread count is the total number of threads per square inch in a fabric (counting both horizontal and vertical threads). In theory, the higher the thread count, the softer and higher-quality the sheets.

But brands nowadays are counting multi-ply threads, which can lead to higher, erroneous numbers.

“In reality, to achieve a higher thread count manufacturers are generally using a lower grade of cotton that becomes very thin when spun," Tannen explained to us. "They then twist this thread around itself to create a `multi-ply’ thread. When they use 2-ply thread and weave it to a theoretical 300-thread count (150 horizontal, 150 vertical) they call it a 600 thread count sheet and sell it that way.”

So imagine that a 4-ply thread is woven as a 200 thread count, but sold as an 800 thread count. A regular ply 300 thread count would feel better and last longer, but most consumers are convinced to always buy a higher thread count.

“Fortunately, brands are now required to list the thread ply on the package," Tannen said. "So when sheets are 'lustrously woven from 2-ply cotton thread' as I recently saw at a major department store, people should be highly skeptical.”

Always Buy Cotton

Experts say that organic cotton, Egyptian cotton, and Pima cotton are the best choices over synthetic materials that don't breathe as well and can make you hot (and sleep poorly as a result).

But Tannen warns that not all types of cotton are equal.

sheets bedding sleeping bed“The term 'Egyptian Cotton’ was given to a plant called Gossypium barbadense when it grows along the Nile River in Egypt," he told us. "This plant type is known for its extra-long staple length (the length of the strand of cotton the plant produces). Unfortunately, modern manufacturers realized that customers were looking for `Egyptian Cotton’ when purchasing bedding, so they stretched the definition.”

Now, most so-called Egyptian cotton is either a sub-par cotton grown in Egypt or Gossyplum barbadense that isn’t grown in Egypt but in Pakistan, China, or India (and due to soil compositions, is not quite as good as the original).

To be safe, Tannen recommends 100% organic cotton because it’s durable, soft, and breathable.

Don’t Rely On Touch

Common sense dictates you can tell how nice sheets are by touching them, but unfortunately it’s not that simple. 

“Many manufacturers are applying polishes, waxes, and other substances that increase the luster or soft feel," Tannen said. "Unfortunately, they all wash off after a washing or two.”

Instead, Tannen advised that your sheets are a good quality if they feel better after every subsequent wash. Good quality sheets should also last for years and never pill.

If you're deciding in the store, look at the seams and manufacturing. This won’t always be an easy tell, but if there are threads hanging off or nonuniform stitches, that’s a giveaway that these sheets are not the best.

In conclusion, consumers should stop putting so much emphasis on thread count, and put far more emphasis on the quality, softness, and durability of the cotton.

And worst comes to worst, keep your receipt.

SEE ALSO: 18 Perfect Gifts For The World Traveler

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The Most Popular Toy In Every State

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lego

With the holidays approaching, many parents are scrambling to buy Christmas gifts. 

E-commerce giant eBay has released a list of the most popular toy in every US state. 

Legos, Barbies, and videogames are popular motifs. 

Alabama: Furby Boom Pink Hearts

Alaska: Lego Minifigures

Arizona: Barbie Fashion Doll Clothing Set

Arkansas: My Little Pony Derpy Vinyl Figure

California: Call Of Duty 

Colorado: Assassin's Creed IV

Connecticut: Webkinz Sparkle Harp Seal

Delaware: Littlest Pet Shop Playset

barbie dolls

Florida: Assassin's Creed IV

Georgia: New Super Mario Brothers for Nintendo DS

Hawaii: Star Wars: The Black Series R2D2 Action Figure 

Idaho: Mario & Sonic At The Sochi 2014 Olympic Games

Illinois: Call Of Duty Advanced Warfare

Indiana: Super Mario 64 DS

Iowa: LEGO Minifigures 

Kansas: Star Wars Clone Wars

call of duty advanced warfare

Kentucky: Disney Frozen Snow Glow Elsa Doll

Louisiana: Disney Frozen Elsa Toddler Doll

Maine: Funko POP Game of Thrones Arya Stark Vinyl Figure

Maryland: Call Of Duty Advanced Warfare

Massachusetts: Lego Minifigures

Michigan: New Super Mario Brothers Nintendo DS

Minnesota: Barbie Fashion Doll Clothing Set

Missisissippi: NCAA Football 12 Video Game

Missouri: Lego Minifigures 

Montana: The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Nebraska: Prestige 1:16 Scale Tractor

snow glow elsa frozen toy 2014

Nevada: LEGO Star Wars Favor Kit For 1 

New Hampshire: Lego Minecraft Microworld The End

New Jersey: Call Of Duty Advanced Warfare

New Mexico: The Lionel 30'' Straight Track

New York: Call Of Duty Advanced Warfare

North Carolina: Disney Frozen Puzzle Set

North Dakota: Littlest Pet Shop Horse Pet and Horse Friend

Ohio: Lego Minecraft Microworld The End

pokemon-cards

Oklahoma: Call Of Duty Advanced Warfare

Oregon: Pokemon Black & White 4 2-Pack Trading Card Game

Pennsylvania: New Super Mario Bros Nintendo DS

Rhode Island: Disney Frozen Snow Glow Elsa Doll

South Carolina: Barbie Fashion Doll Clothing Set

South Dakota: Mega Bloks HALO Covenant Scarab Building

Tennessee: Halo The Master Chief Collection

furby pink hearts

Texas: Lego Bricks & More

Utah: Fisher Price A Little People Christmas

Vermont: Magic The Gathering 2012 Core Set Booster Pack

Virginia: Lego Minecraft Micro World The End

Washington: Call Of Duty Advanced Warfare

West Virginia: Lego Bricks & More

Wisconsin: New Super Mario Bros Nintendo DS

Wyoming: Pokemon Black Version 2 Nintendo DS

SEE ALSO: The Most Popular eBay Item In Every State

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3 Things Men Should Do For Perfect Skin

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skincareMen aren't socially conditioned to care about their skin, but they really should if they'd like to keep it looking healthy and clear.

The world of skin maintenance isn't so hard, either. It will just require a few simple changes to your daily routine to keep your outermost layer in great condition for decades to come.

These are the three ways men can take better care of their skin.

Cleanse

Soap is bad for your skin. Really bad. The basicity of both liquid and bar soap dries your skin out and leaves it rough and raw.

Instead, when you wash your face daily you should use a non-soap cleanser like Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser. It will rinse all the excess oils off your face without drying your skin out.

It's also not as irritating to your skin since it doesn't have any fragrances or dyes.

If you outright insist on using soap, look for one with moisturizers in the formula.

Know How To Shave Correctly

Unless your father was a master barber, he probably didn't teach you the best way to shave your face (or worse, he advised you to use an electric shaver).

Here's the right way to do it:

First, make sure you shave after washing your face. This will stop any bacteria lying on your face from getting into any freshly opened pores, which can cause irritation or acne.

Apply your normal shaving cream. Then, shave with the grain of your beard. Use short strokes and don't go over any areas more than once. Apply only a little pressure as you shave, letting the razor do most of the work for you. This will minimize your chances of ingrown hairs and reduce irritation.

After each pass, rinse the razor's blade with hot water before you stroke again. After you're done, make sure you rinse your face with cold water to close your pores.

And when it comes to razors, skip those multi-bladed razor offerings. Any razor with more than one or two blades will only end up irritating your face.

After you're done shaving, apply a soothing aftershave balm, like Dove Men's Hydrate Post Shave Balm. It's important to note, however, that many things called "aftershave" are frequently alcohol-based, which will dry out skin. You want something that will moisturize or contains aloe vera if you commonly get razor burn. 

Moisturize

Adding a moisturizing lotion, like Neutrogena For Men Facial Moisturizer, to your routine can help restore moisture to your skin, making it look healthier in the short term and protect you against wrinkles.

Many men forget that shaving dries out their skin. Apply your moisturizer after shaving for maximum effect. 

SEE ALSO: 15 Things Every Modern Gentleman Should Have In His Bathroom

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