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Killer who's on the loose connected to bizarre murder plot involving a Hollywood heiress

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Richard Matt

Convicted killer Richard Matt is the subject of an intense manhunt, after he and another prisoner at New York's maximum-security Clinton Correctional Facility escaped from their cells on Saturday.

Matt — a 48-year-old upstate New York native — landed in Clinton for murdering and dismembering a 76-year-old in 1997, but has led a life in and out of prisons. "Law enforcement in Western New York are all too familiar with him," according to The Buffalo News, and he "had a record of felony convictions."

Perhaps the most bizarre crime that Matt was involved with unfolded in the early 1990s, as he found himself at the center of a murder-for-hire plot orchestrated by a fellow inmate at the Erie County Holding Center.

The man behind the plot was David Telstar, a prominent California socialite who was married to the granddaughter of a Warner Bros. founder. Telstar had landed in jail on allegations he embezzled $1.6 million from his wife.

After being released from the Erie County Holding Center in December 1991, Telstar bailed Matt out and allegedly tried to involve the then-25-year-old in an elaborate murder scheme, according to The Buffalo News. 

Telstar was charged with trying to hire Matt to murder his wife, Desiree Telstar, and her parents — Los Angeles Police Commission President Stanley Sheinbaum and Betty Warner Sheinbaum, the daughter of Harry Warner, the Los Angeles Times reported in January 1992. Matt was also told to kill a former business associate of the Telstars, prosecutors said. 

Instead, after Telstar paid his bail, Matt turned to the local authorities, revealed the details of Telstar's plan. Matt told the US Attorney's office that that "Telstar told him where to find the intended victims and what to do with their bodies" and "alleged that Telstar's instructions were to burn Desiree's body so no one could identify it," according to the LA Times.

Matt reportedly did not receive any sort of deal for his cooperation in Telstar's case, the LA Times reported, and was even issued a bulletproof vest because he feared there was a "backup killer."

Telstar eventually pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge and sentenced to five years in a federal prison, according to the Buffalo News

SEE ALSO: Escaped New York murderers left a taunting note in the prison

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6 compelling correlations that make absolutely no sense

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Regardless of how many times you hear the phrase "correlation does not imply causation," you can't help but get a little excited when there is data to support a strange relationship. 

I decided to dive into some real data to find a few ridiculous correlations. All the maps and correlations are real. But I think it is safe to say that there's something else going on here.

Produced by Sara Silverstein

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Why this 2,073-foot Chinese building could be an omen of economic doom

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DNU Shanghai TowerNothing suggests the height of human achievement and economic prowess quite like a skyscraper.

The newly completed 2,073-foot-tall Shanghai Tower is officially the second-tallest building in the world (behind Dubai's Burj Khalifa) and the tallest in China.

And taller skyscrapers are planned, such as China's Sky City and Saudi Arabia's Kingdom Tower.

But as "cool" as all of these buildings are, glitzy construction booms have historically coincided with the beginnings of economic downturns, according to Barclays' "Skyscraper Index." (For all you economics wonks out there, basically, skyscrapers can be considered a sentiment indicator.)

Using Barclays' index, we pulled together 10 skyscrapers whose constructions overlapped with financial crises.

Equitable Life Building (1873)

The Long Depression, 1873–1878

The Long Depression, a pervasive US economic recession with bank failures, coincided with the construction of the Equitable Life Building in New York City in 1873.

The 142-foot building was the world's first skyscraper. (You could stack 14 of these on top of one another, and they still wouldn't be taller than China's new Shanghai Tower.) 

Source: Barclays



Auditorium (1889) and New York World (1890)

British banking crisis, 1890

Chicago's 269-foot-tall Auditorium, completed in 1889, and New York's 309-foot-tall New York World, completed in 1890, coincided with the British banking crisis of 1890 and a world recession.

Source: Barclays



Masonic Temple, Manhattan Life Building, and Milwaukee City Hall (1893)

US panic marked by the collapse of railroad overbuilding, 1893

Chicago's 302-foot-tall Masonic Temple, the 348-foot-tall Manhattan Life Building, and the 353-foot-tall Milwaukee City Hall coincided with the US panic of 1893 marked by the collapse of railroad overbuilding.

It also overlapped with a string of bank failures and a run on gold.

Source: Barclays



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Professional chefs say the key to getting tons of reservations is a good Instagram photo

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We're all guilty of Instagramming a good brunch or a good burger, a cocktail or an ice cream sundae.

But while most of us are amateur photographers with only a handful of followers on Instagram, there are a few people in the food business who have more of a reach when they upload some excellent #FoodPorn: Professional chefs.

 on

“It’s all about exposure,” Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn in San Francisco tells Wired's Miguel Andrade.“Instagram came to give a voice to chefs and to the food they serve.”

 on

But can a good photo (like the ones above taken by chef April Bloomfield and Matthew Jennings, respectively) actually translate into a booming restaurant business?

Chefs seem to think — and know — so. "A shot of a new dish posted to their own accounts, or a diner’s, can cause reservations to spike," Andrade writes. And some of those chefs like to be the only on-site photographer. Wired notes French chef Alexandre Gauthier of La Grenouillère who banned patrons from Instagramming in his restaurant.

And some love their guests' photography work.

“I’ll be honest. If I have a better looking dish, I give that one to the people taking photos,” Benedict Reade tells Andrade.

Reade is the former chef at Nordic Food Lab in Copenhagen and generally feels good about folks Instagramming his dishes, but says it can be annoying if the photograph takes precedence over simply eating and enjoying the food.

 on

“What really annoys me is when people Instagram live,” Reade says. “When I’m serving someone’s food and put a beautiful hot plate on the table but they are so concerned to post and food gets cold because they are trying to find the perfect caption before they eat the f--king food. Do you know how much I sweated to make the food the right temperature for you? Are you here to show off to your friends?” 

 

 

 

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The American Confederacy is still alive in a small Brazilian city called Americana

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brazil american southerner confederates confederados

When the American Confederacy lost the Civil War in May 1865, 10,000 Southerners fled the US for a small city in Brazil, where they could rebuild their lives and carry on their traditions.

Now, 150 years later, their story has been seemingly erased from the history books.

But deep in the heart of Brazil, descendendants of these confederate expats gather annually to celebrate their controversial history and maintain their traditions and culture.

Thanks to VICE reporter Mimi Dwyer, whose exposé on Americana peeled back the curtain on Brazil's reported tradition of slavery.

Each year, the small Brazilian city of Americana throws a huge celebration to commemorate the 10,000 Confederates who fled the American South after their side lost the Civil War.



They settled in Americana in the Brazilian state of São Paulo, which remains a sort of enclave for the long-dead expats' descendants.



Photos of the annual gathering induce some pretty serious cringe. But for the 2,000 Brazilians in attendance, the American South is part of their heritage.



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A famous chef went on a 6-month scientific mission to create the perfect hamburger — here's what he came up with

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heston blumenthal burger

Everyone has an opinion about the perfect hamburger, and a growing number of fanatics have made it their mission to hunt down the ultimate combination of patty, bun, and condiments, Benjamin Wallace writes in the latest issue of New York.

But Heston Blumenthal, the chef behind London's Michelin three-star restaurant The Fat Duck, took a scientific approach to creating the ultimate burger back in 2007 for an episode of the short-lived BBC show "In Search of Perfection."

As Wallace notes in New York, "Blumenthal and his team spent six months making dozens of different burgers in pursuit of its ultimate incarnation" while tossing aside "all preconceptions about buns and ketchup."

The result is scientifically sound, and — according to Blumenthal, at least — "my perfect hamburger."

We dug up the episode and broke down Blumenthal's quest for burger perfection.

This is Heston Blumenthal. He's a Michelin three-star chef who is known for his scientific approach to cooking and for pushing the envelope of molecular gastronomy.



Blumenthal says *this* is the ultimate hamburger. He and his culinary team spent six months traveling to famous burger restaurants, meeting with food scientists, and experimenting in their lab before revealing the perfect specimen.



Their journey starts at Louis' Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut — said to be the birthplace of the hamburger. At Louis', the burgers are made from a blend of five cuts of meat and cooked on vertical grills.



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There's a simple way you can tell whether a man is wearing a bad suit

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Chris Hemsworth Suit

It's getting harder and harder to tell whether a man's suit is any good. The arrival of modern cuts and quality fabrics at various "fast fashion" retailers, such as Zara and H&M, mean a suit can look great and fit nicely without being especially well constructed or costly.

But one thing is a dead giveaway of a bad suit: the lapel roll of the jacket.

On a suit jacket of reasonable quality, the lapel will always exhibit a gentle, soft, curling roll from the shoulder and collar line, down the gorge to the point where the jacket buttons.

Here's a reasonably good example, starring Chris Hemsworth at the UK premier of the "Age of Ultron" Avengers sequel:

Hemsworth Lapel Skitch

Hemsworth is actually a bit of a tailoring challenge, given that he owns a very sculpted, top-heavy physique that's really not ideal for outfitting in a suit jacket (guys with bulky upper bodies are always going to stretch and pucker the jacket in unusual ways, but if the cut is too generous, the proportion between jacket and trousers gets messed up).

He looks great in the "Thor" costume. But he also looks pretty good in this Calvin Klein Collection suit, though the jacket does pucker ever so slightly more than it should at the buttons (it should, in fact, pinch not at all when buttoned). 

Still, you can clearly see the roll, something Calvin Klein suits get right, interestingly, at many different price points, at least in my experience.

Some suit jackets showcase a perfect roll because of the extensive thought that has gone into their construction. Here's former Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo (on the right) standing next to current Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (and current Ferrari chairman) Sergio Marchionne. Montezemolo's suit is most likely bespoke, and the roll of the lapel is exquisite:

Montezemolo Lapel Roll Skitch

But a suit jacket doesn't have to be custom stitched by a tailor to have a good roll. Nor does it have to do be outlandishly expensive. But for the most part, el-cheapo suit jackets have a lapel that doesn't roll, but rather flattens out abruptly just above the first button.

This makes the entire lapel area, as well as the front of the jacket, look as if it's uncomfortably or ill-fittingly attached to the wearer. A good roll, by contrast, makes the jacket look fitted to the man and creates a bit of slightly raised dimension, providing the jacket with subtle oomph and depth.

When you're trying on a suit, be sure to check the roll. A thumb should be able to find some room as you slide it under the lapel, moving down from shoulder to button.

The jacket below is not what you want. As you can see, the first button looks as if it's floating in a sea of fabric. Overall, this entire jacket exudes inexpensive, in a bad way as it fits poorly and lacks any critical quality cues, starting with the terrible lapel roll.

man in suit

A defining feature of a suit jacket is the lapel. It's important that it be done right! It should be one of the first things you examine when buying a new suit — and if the roll isn't right, it should lead you to try on something else.

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The New York Post ripped a huge hole in that controversial 'wife bonus' tell-all, and now the publisher is backtracking

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Primates of Park Avenue

Wednesday Martin's Upper East Side memoir, "Primates of Park Avenue," came under fire this weekend.

The New York Post fact-checked the just-released book, citing numerous inconsistencies in Martin's story.

A tell-all about life in a circle of uber-wealthy moms, the book has become known for its description of the "wife bonus," an annual performance-based payout that Manhattan's masters of the universe supposedly award to their wives.

Since the wife bonus became news, Martin has downplayed its prevalence. This "backpedaling" seems to have prompted the Post's autopsy.

Here's what the paper reported:

  • According to property records pulled by the Post, Martin lived on the Upper East Side for three years with one child. The book says she spent six years there — conducting the memoir's "field work" — with her two children.
  • Martin describes being pregnant during the co-op interview for her Park Avenue apartment. Property records note, however, that the sale of the apartment took place in 2004; Martin's two sons were born in 2001 and 2007.
  • She writes about gifts bought at Ladurée, but the macaron shop wasn't open when she lived on the Upper East Side. Martin moved from the Upper East Side to the Upper West Side in 2007. Ladurée opened its first New York City location in 2011.
  • She writes about discussing Uber while living on the Upper East Side, but Uber didn't launch in New York City until 2011. Again, Martin lived on the Upper East Side from 2004 to 2007.
  • She says she left the Upper East Side because her two sons were accepted by schools on the Upper West Side. But if she moved away from Upper East Side in 2007, her second son, according to the Post, wouldn't have been born yet.

It's worth noting that the Post made an error in its fact-check of the book. The paper said Physique 57, the gym in which Martin said she lost the weight from her second child, did not exist in 2007, the year the baby was born. According to Physique 57's website, it opened locations in New York and the Hamptons in 2006.

Still, the timeline of events is fuzzy enough that Martin's publisher, Simon & Schuster, is appending future editions of the book with a disclaimer that details and chronologies of the memoir have been changed.

Editor's note: The New York Post contacted us after this story was published. The paper maintains that, according to Martin's narrative, Physique 57 would not have existed at the time she says she worked out there, which was "not long after [her] older son started nursery school." 

SEE ALSO: Why I let my husband pay me a 'wife bonus'

SEE ALSO: The 'Primates of Park Avenue' author calculated how much Upper East Side moms spend on their looks

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Two tricks Europeans use to find great, everyday wines for cheap

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wine dinner table woman

Many Americans are just now catching on to something Europeans have known for centuries: Wine can be a regular part of your evening meal and not just a "special occasion" drink.

A good “food friendly” wine not only complements your meal, but can be part of an evening ritual where you relax over dinner and transition into a little down time after a hard day of work.

But wine can get expensive ... quickly. And that's especially true if you’re steering clear of overly manipulated, ultra mass-market wines (I’m looking at you, Two Buck Chuck and Yellowtail!) 

Luckily, there are two tricks that Europeans have known for generations that can help you find good everyday wines that won’t break the bank. 

Trick #1: Buy “vertically” from a really good wine producer.

The most complex, sophisticated wines require low-yield grape harvests with long aging times in expensive barrels. Winemakers (often by law) can take no shortcuts in producing these top-end wines.

All this expense gets passed on to the consumer. But what do these top tier winemakers do with the juice that doesn’t make the cut? They produce really good (but not as great) wine that sells at a significantly lower price. If they are going to put their name on the bottle, they are going to make sure it is a well-made wine. This is where you have an opportunity for a great weeknight bottle. 

Two truly great Northern Italian wines types are Barolo and Barbaresco. These wines come from very specific areas in Piedmont (northwestern Italy) that produce near-perfect harvests of the Nebbiolo grape. For me, they are special-occasion wines brought out for a great meal, and not something I would typically haul out on pizza or burrito night. 

Piedmont

But these wines have inexpensive siblings that regularly make it to my weeknight dinner table. Often, these wines are grown in a field a few kilometers from their more expensive counterparts! These wines won’t receive the same kind of exquisite care and aging that their more expensive neighbors get, but they're still pretty terrific.

For instance, one of my favorite Barolo/Barbaresco producers is Vietti. On the high end, a bottle of Vietti Barolo can go for between $40 and $85, depending on its vintage. A bottle of Vietti Barbaresco can average $55 to $90.

On the other hand, these bottles' lower end siblings Vietti Barbera d’Alba and Vietti Nebbiolo go for around $13 and $12, respectively.

Other great makers from the Piedmont region include La Spinetta, Sordo, Massolino, and Travaligni.

Here are some other vertical swaps to look for on your next trip to the wine store:

Brunello di Montalcino ($30 – $250 a bottle) to Rosso di Montalcino ($15 – $40) to Rosso Toscana ($8 — $14)

Winemakers to look for: Castello di Banfi, Uccelliera, Sesti, Fonterenza, and Biondi Santi.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape or Gigondas ($25 — $250+) to Cotes du Rhone Village ($20 — $40) to Cotes du Rhone ($9 — $25.) 

Winemakers to look for: E. Guigal, Paul Jaboulet, and Jean-Louis Chave.

Burgundy Premiere Cru ($40 — $1,000) to Burgundy Village Cru ($20 to $50) to Bourgogne Rouge or Blanc ($10 — $25.) 

Winemakers to look for: Bernard Moreau, Prudhon, Louis Jadot, and Domaine Leflaive.

Where possible, stick with a top name producer (your wine store will help if you can't find the producers named above.) Great wine can't happen without great grapes, but a top-notch wine producer minimizes the shortcuts to get the most out of the juice. Are the more expensive wines worth it? That's up to you, but they typically are more complex, able to age and evolve for a long time — we're talking 50+ years for a good vintage — and are generally thought of as better wines.  

argentina malbec wine

Trick #2:  Switch from Reserve/Riserva wines to standard ones.

The phrase Reserve*, or Riserva in Spain, Argentina, and Italy, legally means different things in different parts of the world. But typically, aging requirements and sometimes crop yield requirements must be met to label a wine "reserve." And that designation can add a hefty sum to the price.

For example, one of my favorite Argentinean Malbec producers is Bodega Catena Zapata. The average price for a bottle of Bodega Catena Zapata Reservada is $130. Bodega Catena Zapata Malbec, on the other hand, retails for $11. 

Is the $130 wine better? You bet. But if you’re having a nice dinner and looking for a bold, everyday weeknight red, the $11 provides great bang for the buck. 

Look for Chianti Classico, Rioja, and Malbec to try this trick.  

[*Note: the term “Reserve” has no real meaning for wine made in the US. Confusing, I know.]

There are some other ways to reduce the cost of your wine.

  • Buy wine by the case, which often yields a significant discount (15% — 20%, typically).
  • Buy from good flash sale sites to find great wines at significant discounts. My favorites are Wines ‘til Sold Out and Cinderella Wine, but there are many good sites that will have incredible bargains on wines if you know what you’re looking for. 
  • Buy large-format bottles (1.5 liters or larger) or a good boxed wines (yes, they do exist).

Have a glass over a weeknight dinner, and you will see why there are so many happy Europeans. And, when you find a low-cost wine that you really enjoy, reverse the process for that special occasion and you’re almost sure to find a winner.  

SEE ALSO: There's a simple way you can tell if a man is wearing a bad suit

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Hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen bought the most expensive statue ever auctioned

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Man Pointing Giacometti Steven CohenWhile world media was abuzz with the world-record breaking sale of Picasso’s "Les femmes d’Alger" for $179 million at Christie’s, another anonymous buyer took home the most expensive statue ever auctioned. 

That anonymous buyer turned out to be hedge fund billionaire Steven Cohen, Page Six reports.

Cohen secretly bought Alberto Giacometti’s 1947 masterpiece "Man Pointing" for $141.3 million at Christie’s — adding to an impressive collection of artwork with an estimated worth of $1 billion. 

Cohen's collection houses works by Monet, Edvard Munch, Jasper Johns, Jeff Moons, Willem de Kooning, Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst, among others, according to Vanity Fair

For Cohen, however, the life-sized sculpture is not the most expensive piece he’s bought. In 2013, Cohen spent $155 million on Picasso painting, "Le Reve," buying it from casino giant Steve Wynn. 

The avid art collector even waited six years as Wynn repaired the painting after putting his elbow through the canvas, and even as the price increased $139 million in 2006 to $155 in 2013 — likely due to restoration.

Cohen, who runs Point72 Asset Management (formerly SAC Capital), previously purchased another one of Giacometti's sculptures, named "The Chariot," for $101 million at Sotheby’s. 

"Man Pointing" is one of 6 casts made by the artist. Four are housed in museums, while others are in private and foundation collections.

Despite these big purchases, the investor, who has an estimated networth $11.3 billion, still had to show his ticket to enter Christie's

Check out some of Steven Cohen’s incredible buys>

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What it's like to use Amazon's ambitious new device invented to take over online grocery shopping

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Amazon Dash

Amazon has a new plan to revolutionize the way we all grocery shop. And it's all about this little device, meant to replace pretty much everything you would do in a physical store.

It's called "Amazon Dash." My wife and I have been using Amazon's grocery service for a few months now and generally we are fans. Fresh Direct doesn't seem to have as good of a selection, at least in our area, and Amazon is just the slightest bit more convenient (and a little cheaper too).

During our last order, the company offered to let us use the Amazon Dash program for free. It's free for those invited right now.

The idea behind Dash is that you use the device to do all your ordering anywhere in your house, and then send it over to the Amazon Fresh app for easy ordering.

It's really ambitious, and not at all perfect.

Here it is: Amazon Dash. It comes in this nifty little black box with a comprehensive guide.



Open it up, and this is what you get. The Dash device is a wand type thing with a couple buttons. Oh and thank you, Amazon, for including AA batteries.



First things first: take the thing apart and put in the batteries.



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The Apple Watch is no threat to the Swiss (AAPL)

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Apple Watch Golden Dreams

Prior to the arrival of the Apple Watch earlier this year, there was a lot of hand wringing about how this new device was going to lay waste to the Swiss watch industry.

The Swiss endured a close call in the 197os with the so-called "Quartz Crisis," when cheap, highly accurate quartz-powered watches from Asia caused numerous traditional Swiss manufacturers of mechanical timepieces to go under.

The Swiss bounced back and have enjoyed decades of uptrending sales, as the world's consumers have become more affluent and sought to define themselves through luxury goods.

But the Apple Watch was expected to put the Cupertino colossus' massive influence in direct conflict with the Swiss. If you want the best smartphone, it's the iPhone. If you want the best watch for modern life, it has to the Apple Watch. Design, functionality, connectivity, Apple-ness — all on your wrist!

Plus, the thinking was that all the people who don't currently wear or watch or who've never worn a watch would inexorably gravitate toward the Apple device.

Apple, Apple, Apple, must get, must get, must get!

Look out, Switzerland.

Well, so far the threat has utterly failed to materialize. According to the Swiss Horological Federation, which tracks how the Swiss timekeeping industry is doing, there was no significant drop off in sales from April 2014 to April 2015. Sales were up in tech-early-adopting America, as well as in China, a critical market for Swiss luxury watches.

Okay, a decline ahead of a crisis could still happen. But the initial panic that preceded the Apple Watch's debut has rapidly mellowed. 

My feeling is that this is due to Apple Watch buyers and potential buyers realizing how complicated the device is, relative to a traditional watch, Swiss or otherwise. This was my reaction to the Apple Watch, in the short time I got to sample it at Business Insider's offices. The thing is fiddly. Well made and well designed, but fiddly. It takes time to set up. And unlike a traditional watch, it doesn't make you want to look at it again and again. It's a black glass square most of the time. Yes, it's an incredible conversation piece, for the moment. But it isn't a luxury conversation piece. 

Matt DeBord Apple Watch

There was some commentary before the Apple Watch hit that it would gut the lower end of the Swiss watch industry. Rolex and Patek Philippe would be fine. But TAG Heuer would have problems. $10,000 timepieces would still sell. $500-$1,000 ones would be crushed by the Apple Watch.

I took this argument seriously at first, but now I think it's not that relevant. If you want a decent watch to wear, for telling time or signaling your membership in a certain stratum of adulthood, a $500-$1,000 TAG could still be the way to go. An Apple Watch, while a very curious thing, might signal that you're a little too tech-y. It is, after all, a digital watch.

And there's one other factor: The Apple Watch wants to be a 24/7 device. You have your iPhone with you at all times. Likewise, your Apple Watch. It banishes everything else from your wrist.

This is just impractical. The Apple Watch isn't going to be tough enough for that kind of duty — unlike many, many traditional watches. It's also a downer for anyone who likes to change up the look of their wrist every few days. Much of the fun of collecting traditional watches, be they inexpensive or not, is creating a rotation for wearing them.

Rolex Submariner

It's like changing clothes every day, freshening the outfit, stimulating the sartorial imagination.

The Apple Watch, by contrast, aims for uniformity, even thought one can swap out straps and change the design of the face. The move from thin, leather-strap dress watch to stainless-steel sport watch to simple, fun weekend watch with a colorful band isn't in the cards with the Apple Watch.

Could this be a major problem for Apple? Maybe, if watch sales aren't as massive as expected. Frankly, I figure that Apple will sell lots of watches, and maybe sell plenty to traditional watch buyers. But I think those buyers will use the Apple Watch on a part-time basis and favor their traditional watches mush of the time. The Apple Watch has great potential as a fitness-and-wellness device. And plenty of younger consumers who don't now wear watches could favor the Apple Watch.

But that's a good thing for the Swiss — those younger buyers weren't going to be luxury watch customers ever, without the Apple Watch coming along to get them into wearing something one their wrists.

So there you have it. The Apple Watch — an anticipated threat to old-school watches that, so far, isn't.

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Here's why I think everyone should bring a selfie stick on vacation

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Selfie TuscanyUgh, the selfie sticks.

I used to roll my eyes at these embarrassing contraptions, mentally reserving them for newbie tourists and narcissists who were more interested in recording every second of their travels rather than living in the moment.

When cultural institutions like New York's MoMa and London's National Gallery banned them, I rejoiced like the classy and normal human that I am.

But last week things took a turn.

I was summoned to Italy for a wedding, and justified the astronomical price of the flight by turning it into a proper vacation, deciding to bike across Tuscany with my boyfriend for three days prior to the festivities.

Packing was hard. Heels mingled with cycling shoes, spandex with floor length dresses. As I jammed a dusty camera that I don’t even remember last using into my bag, I had a revelation: my arms aren’t long enough!

If I was going to be cycling across Tuscany for three days, I wanted some pictures to prove it. And graciously, I wanted my boyfriend to be in them too. Pride was promptly swallowed; a selfie stick ordered.

selfie hills

On arriving in Italy I was surprised to find that every street vendor was selling the things. One arm bore roses, the other a bouquet of selfie sticks.

Despite the obvious ubiquity, I was still embarrassed. The first few stops we took on our ride had us frantically hurling the selfie stick back into the saddlebag on the rare occasion that someone wandered by.

However, comparing regular ol’ selfies with the ones we took using the stick, I was pretty pleased with my purchase. The photos were way more flattering (once we mastered the right angle — always slightly from above!), and incorporated way more of the beautiful Chianti Hills and vineyards we came to Tuscany to see. Plus, I didn’t have to accost some poor soul to unwillingly take a picture of me, or fear that said soul would take off with my phone (or is that just my personal, irrational fear every time it leaves my person?).

I was a selfie stick convert — at least when no one else was around.

Selfie PiazzaOnce we got to the wedding I hissed at my boyfriend to keep his mouth shut about the selfie stick — our European friends just didn’t get it. To them, we were brainwashed by American stupidity.

But we had the last laugh. The only other US-dwelling couple at the wedding also had a selfie stick. And, even better, they brazenly took it to the wedding. At first, everyone rolled their eyes. But by the end of the night, no doubt somewhat fueled by the open bar, friends were crowding around us every time the stick made an appearance.

Thanks to the selfie stick I have beautiful pictures of my boyfriend and I cycling through Tuscany by ourselves, as well as awesome pictures of a bunch of my best friends and myself on the dance floor — more smiling faces crammed into one shot than any ol’ arm could have ever managed.

So thank you selfie stick. You may have stolen my dignity, but you’ve paid me in epic memories of an epic trip. 

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The best restaurant in 32 countries around the world

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Indian Accent

This year's list of the World's 50 Best Restaurants was just released, and Spain's El Celler de Can Roca took home first place for the second time (it first won back in 2013).

This comprehensive list is curated with the help of over 900 international journalists and leaders in the restaurant industry.

Besides Spain, many other countries including Peru, Russia, and Switzerland made it onto the list.

We went through the list to find the restaurants that received the top rating in their respective countries. 

The countries are listed in alphabetical order.

ARGENTINA: Tegui

Serving classics such as lamb and pork belly in unusual ways, the food at Tegui in Buenos Aires is prepared and served in creative ways that you most likely haven't seen before and won't see again.

The restaurant is ranked No. 83 in the world.



AUSTRALIA: Attica

In the unlikely setting of a suburban strip mall in Melbourne, Attica delivers Australian fare such as red kangaroo and pearl-oyster meat, despite the fact that chef Ben Shewry grew up in the New Zealand countryside.

The restaurant is ranked No. 32 in the world.



AUSTRIA: Steirereck

Helping to revolutionize Austrian cooking, chef Heinz Reitbauer's Steirereck provides a sharp contrast to the monuments that surround it in a city rich in history — Vienna.

His modern cooking earned him the No. 15 spot on the World's Best list.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider






19 unlikely animals who became best friends

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Lion and monkey

It's not unheard of for animals to become quite chummy with members of another species  — even with those they would normally consider eating. 

Abandonment, trauma, or living together on farms or zoos, all serve as factors in bringing animals together in unexpected ways.  

In celebration of National Best Friends Day, we're taking a look at what happens when opposites attract. 

Robert Ferris wrote the original version of this post.

A baby monkey, a lion cub, and tiger cubs play at a Tiger Park in China.



A turtle catches a ride on the back of an alligator in Panama's Summit Zoo.



A monkey bought from an animal trader in Bangladesh spends hours hugging and cuddling this puppy.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider






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