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15 cultural faux pas you should avoid making in London

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Mind the gap London tubeWhile the massive metropolis of London is wildly heterogeneous, with inhabitants running the gamut from eccentric and permissive to prim and proper, a few faux pas are universally frowned upon by locals.

Quora thread outlines universally condemned customs in London.

Here are 15 faux pas you should avoid making in London during your next visit.

1. Not using a location's full address

Don't be lazy and omit the "street" or "road" part of an address. Omitting those signifiers can be very confusing to Londoners, especially when there are similarly named addresses all over town, like Pembridge Villas, Pembridge Road, Pembridge Gardens, Pembridge Place, or Pembridge Crescent. Saying you're "on Pembridge" helps no one.

2. Not saying please and thank you

Brits are known for being exceedingly polite — some might even say for being obsessive about manners — and thus please and thank yous are greatly valued, as well as used in abundance. Most exchanges will either end or begin with "I'm sorry," "excuse me," "please,"  and "thank you," and often even contain all of them.

3. Not buying a round

Round of beers, pubBrits are dedicated adherents to the pub etiquette of buying rounds. This means that instead of repeatedly buying yourself a drink, you will buy everyone in your group a drink once. In accordance to etiquette, everyone in that group should then take turns returning the favor. Buying yourself a separate drink, or buying a round of drinks and then figuring out who owes what is a no-no in British culture.

4. Being loud

Londoners, and Brits in general, are taught to be discreet, and are generally wary of drawing attention to themselves. Thus, they will frown upon anyone loud or brash, two stereotypes that are unfortunately often associated with Americans, so try not to validate their preconceived notions. To put into perspective just how serious they are about volume, one Quora reply states "If you have just gashed your femoral artery in a pub brawl and require medical help instantly or you'll bleed to death, say, 'Would you ring for an ambulance, please?' to the bystanders. Shouting at them hysterically will only tempt them to let you die.”

5. Drawing attention to yourself

Faux pas, disgusted coupleThe British hate drawing attention to themselves or "making a fuss" as they put it. Thus, making a scene — whether you've lost your luggage or find that the steak you ordered at a restaurant is overcooked — is unacceptable.

6. Complaining

Don't complain about anything, at least not while it's happening. Brits like saving their complaints for later, and find it humiliating when you complain out loud, like, say, confronting a waiter by sending back a dish at a restaurant.

7. Doing anything on the Tube that will force someone to engage with you

london tubeLondoners are incredibly serious about their Tube etiquette, and generally ask visitors to please have their Oyster cards ready, and not block the flow of traffic. Their biggest concern however, and a common one in dense cities filled with commuters, is that you not speak to them or attempt to make small talk on the Tube. Londoners like to keep to themselves, and they don't want to have to speak to you. Obstructing exits, for example, and thereby forcing them to engage with you will make you deeply unpopular. 

8. Standing on the left side of an escalator

Right is right. Do not, whatever you do, stand around on the left side, which is essentially the escalator's fast lane.

9. Cutting the lineOxford Circus Station, London, crowds

This should be a no-no anywhere, but even mild-mannered Brits will lose it if you mess with their sense of courtesy. Not "queuing" appropriately was mentioned time and time again as a major London faux pas. Whether in line for the bus or in line for the bar, don't cut and always indicate whether someone was there before you and that you've acknowledged their superior position in line.

10. Being overly sensitive

Mild mannered they may be, but Brits have a fiercly sarcastic sense of humor. Friendly banter is the norm, so roll with the punches, learn to dish it out, and don't be offended.

11. Accepting offers

Brits are polite, and this means that they will without a doubt offer you help or some sort of assistance, even if it's not exactly sincere but a by-product of their civility. Americans are generally quick to accept these favors, assuming that those were genuinely offered, not purely out of politeness.

12. Initiating talk of politics, religion and money

Unless you're very close with someone, these topics are considered inappropriate and gauche.

13. Saying "what"

women looking disgustedMake that "Excuse me," "sorry," or "beg your pardon." While the norm for you, saying "what" to elicit a repetition is perceived as incredibly rude in the UK.

14. Mimicking the English accent

Erase the words cheerio and guvna from your vocabulary right now.

15. Assuming every Londoner understands cockney rhyming slang

They don't. And they certainly don't use it.

SEE ALSO: 25 common American customs that are considered offensive in other countries

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Middle Easterners descend on this idyllic Alpine town to escape the scorching summer heat

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MARIEKEVANDERVELDEN5

When the temperatures on the Persian Gulf reach into the hundreds, there is one spot locals prefer to escape the heat — and it's not the beach.

The sparkling lake of Zell am See in Austria has become an increasingly popular tourist destination for those seeking to avoid the scorching weather in the Middle East.

In the summer, visitors from Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iraq, and Oman all flock to this idyllic land of clear mountain lakes, towering icy peaks, and authentic schnitzel. Each year, nearly 70,000 tourists from the Gulf States visit the Austrian Alps, bringing an appreciated economic boost to the region.

Workers and residents of Zell am See happily welcome the yearly influx of Arabic travelers and are eager to share local customs and traditions — and learn a few themselves. 

Dutch photographer Marieke van der Velden recently teamed up with journalist Saskia Adriaens to document a summer in this alpine wonderland touted as "the paradise" by travel agencies in the Middle East.

She has shared these stunning images from her series "Das Paradies" with us below, along with captions by Adriaens.

SEE ALSO: Stunning pictures expose the clash between modern life and native culture in Greenland

This family comes from Saudi Arabia where it is now 122º Fahrenheit, which is why the family searches for cooler temperatures here. The youngest child does not like the cold.



Khaled (policeman) and his wife Mariam (housewife) come from Dubai. Along with their four children Sumayah, Hamda, Abaid and Rashed, they have come for a ten-day holiday in Zell am See and following that a four-day holiday in Vienna. “The children keep crying that their hands are cold,” Mariam says laughing.



Mariam is not bothered by the cold and proudly shows her arms which have been beautifully decorated with henna.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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This 'party zone' mansion in Atlanta's most affluent neighborhood can be yours for $2.9 million

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Georgia Party Mansion

A mansion in Georgia's affluent Buckhead neighborhood has a fun secret hidden inside the depths of its nearly 17,000 square feet. Plenty of real estate agents claim the houses in their listings are "built for entertaining," but this one actually is.

Instead of a boring foyer, the inside of the mansion has what Curbed dubbed "an indoor party zone." 

Complete with a glass ceiling, pool, and hot tub, the atrium-like room has everything you could possibly need to throw a house party for the ages — including a Sphinx-like statue and a pool-side bar.

Georgia Party Mansion

Overlooking the atrium are multiple staircases and many feet of open and balconied hallways leading to the mansion's six bedrooms and 10 bathrooms.

Aside from the mansion's "party zone" claim to fame, it has three front doors, a gated driveway, and a movie theater. You can see more photos and specs for the $2.9 million listing at Zillow.com

Georgia Party MansionGeorgia Party Mansion

SEE ALSO: The 15 most expensive houses for sale in America

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America's 10 best ZIP codes for first-time home buyers, ranked

America's 10 best ZIP codes for first-time home buyers, ranked

How IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad became one of the richest self-made billionaires

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Ingvar Kamprad

Swedish business magnate Ingvar Kamprad has been at the helm of IKEA, one of the world's largest furniture stores and most beloved brands, for more than 70 years.

With a net worth of $48.1 billion, he's now one of the world's richest self-made billionaires.

Kamprad remains boldly innovative, inherently simplistic, and incredibly wealthy.

From humble beginnings selling holiday tchotchkes to his neighbors as a child, here's how Kamprad started a privately held $11.8 billion furniture revolution and became a billionaire.

 

SEE ALSO: The 25 richest self-made billionaires

SEE ALSO: Ikea's Strategy For Becoming The World's Most Successful Retailer

Kamprad was born in the south of Sweden in 1926 and by the age of five began selling matches for profit. At 10, he rode his bike around the neighborhood to sell Christmas decorations, fish, and pencils.

Source: Business Insider, Sweden.se



In his teens, Kamprad became involved in a Nazi youth movement by the influence of his German grandmother who was "a great admirer of Hitler." He later described that time as "the greatest mistake of my life," and even penned a letter to his employees asking their forgiveness.

Source: Telegraph, Fortune



When Kamprad was 17, his dad gave him a cash reward for making good grades in school despite his dyslexia. He used the money to found IKEA in 1943. Kamprad didn't introduce furniture until five years in; he'd started by selling small household items, like picture frames.

Source: Business Insider



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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How a Florida beautician and 'bag holder' in a drug conspiracy got Obama on her side after a life sentence

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Stephanie George

In December 2013, an inmate named Stephanie George — a grandmother in her 40s doing life for a drug conviction — got an unexpected call to the front office of her federal prison.

The out-of-the blue call terrified her. Only a couple months earlier, she'd been hit with the news that her 20-year-old son had been murdered. 

"Mostly when they call you up there, it's either a death or somebody's sick," George told me over the phone recently form her home in Florida. "Everything ran through my mind. ... I'm sitting there for five minutes that seemed like five hours."

It turned out to be "unbelievable" news. 

George — who got the nightmarish sentence after police found her ex-boyfriend's cocaine at her home — had achieved the nearly impossible feat of having her life sentence commuted by President Barack Obama at the end of 2013. She got out of prison in April 2014 and spoke to me recently about her unlikely path to freedom. 

There is no federal parole system for many of the thousands of federal inmates sentenced to life. For federal lifers like George to get out early, they have to make their case stand out from thousands of others and persuade the president of the United States himself to sign off on their early release through a process known as commutation. The odds of getting clemency are extremely long. 

The clear injustice of George's sentence helped make her release possible, as did her own transformation in prison. But George probably never would have won back her freedom if it weren't for the pro-bono lawyers who made her case to the Office of the Pardon Attorney, which works with the president on clemency cases. 

"We make our living at being very persuasive people," Thomas Means, one of George's pro-bono attorneys, told me recently over the phone.

'A girlfriend and a bag holder'

George's story began with a promising future in Pensacola, Florida, according to written Congressional testimony that her lawyers at Crowell & Moring submitted about her case.

Beach ball water tower PensacolaThough George became pregnant her senior year of high school, she still managed to graduate after the birth of her baby. She became a licensed beautician in 1996 and also worked as a housekeeper, in a nursing home, and at a fast food restaurant. Her lawyers say she still struggled to support her three kids.

George became involved with drug-dealing boyfriends to help make ends meet. She handled drugs and delivered messages for those men, and she let them store drugs at her house. The men she dated operated under the assumption that the cops wouldn't suspect a single mom of keeping drugs, according to George's lawyers. 

Of course, George did get caught. Her third arrest, after two relatively petty drug crimes, landed her the life sentence under the notorious "three strikes" provision included in a 1994 drug law. She was a 26-year-old mother of three when she got that sentence. 

George was first arrested on her front porch while sitting next to a bag that contained cocaine residue, and she got probation for possessing crack. Weeks later, she sold $160 worth of crack and powder cocaine to an undercover officer and got nine months in jail. Nearly three years after that, according to her lawyers, police got a tip from a secret informant and raided her house. They found 500 grams of cocaine and $13,710 in a safe owned by her former boyfriend, Michael Dickey, who was also the father of her daughter.

George went to trial, and six witnesses testified that she'd had a minor part in Dickey's drug conspiracy, according to her lawyers. She received the longest sentence of any of her co-defendants, including Dickey. He got out in 2007.

Vinson statementAt her sentencing in 1997, US Judge Roger Vinson said he didn't want to put George behind bars forever for her relatively minor role in drug-dealing.

“Even though you have been involved in drugs and drug dealing for a number of years … your role has basically been as a girlfriend and bag holder and money holder," Vinson told George at the time, according to the court transcript cited by George's lawyers.

"So certainly, in my judgment," he said, "it doesn’t warrant a life sentence."

His hands were tied by mandatory-minimum sentencing, which forces judges to mete out harsh sentences — often for nonviolent drug crimes. The cruelest irony of mandatory minimums is that high-level criminals can often trade their cooperation for lighter sentences. Meanwhile, lower-level offenders like George have less information to give prosecutors and therefore often get hit with harsh sentences.

“She [George] was not a major participant by any means, but the problem in these cases is that the people who can offer the most help to the government are the most culpable,” said Vinson, the judge in her case, in 2012, according to The New York Times.

“So they get reduced sentences while the small fry," he added, "the little workers who don’t have that information, get the mandatory sentences."

'One day these laws are going to change'

In 1997, George was an "angry young woman" who had a "rocky transition to institutional life" at the federal prison in Tallahassee, according to her petition for clemency. She racked up several minor disciplinary offenses and was even transferred out of the prison for two years after engaging in a "group demonstration" with 90 other women. 

She began adjusting and even thriving in December 2004. She began counseling then to help her manage her anger, started going to church, and began attending weekly bible-study classes, her lawyers said. 

George also got an education. She earned a certificate in business administration and management and took classes toward a business degree taught by professors who came in from Tallahassee Community College, she said. She also worked at a prison "call center," answering customer calls for a telecommunications company called kgb.

"I pretty much ran the call center," George told me. 

George mentored younger women at the prison, telling them they should also focus on improving themselves while doing their time. 

"I said, 'One day, these laws are going to change,'" George said, referring to mandatory-minimum sentencing. "And it's going to make a difference as to whether you go home or not."

Eric HolderThough mandatory minimums aren't dead yet in the US, the Obama administration has made it clear it wants to reform them. 

In 2013, then-Attorney General Eric Holder issued new guidelines for federal prosecutors to change the way they charge drug crimes for low-level, nonviolent offenders who aren't part of gangs or cartels. Under the new guidelines for those defendants, prosecutors don't include the amount of drugs at issue, meaning mandatory-minimum sentences aren't triggered.

But the actual law hasn't changed, and the next administration could go back to enforcing mandatory-minimum laws in the same way that landed George behind bars.

But there has been some progress for advocates of change in Congress lately, as bipartisan negotiators look set to introduce a bill that would reform sentencing laws. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) — the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee who up to even this year opposed reforming sentencing laws — has said he is open to the freshly discussed proposals.

Still, the law probably wouldn't apply retroactively even if it did change, meaning people like George wouldn't necessarily be released if Congress did away with mandatory minimums.

George was right not to give up hope, though. While she had exhausted the appeals process, she had one more option: A commutation from the president, which she applied for on her own in March 2012. A form of executive clemency, a commutation significantly reduces a sentence — often to time served. When presidents grant pardons, on the other hand, they're forgiving a criminal and restoring certain lost rights like voting or serving on a jury.

Though there was technically a chance for George to obtain freedom through a commutation, presidential clemency had become extremely rare in the US after the Clinton administration.  

Roger Clinton Bill ClintonThat's likely because President Bill Clinton drew criticism for issuing a whopping 140 pardons on the last day of his presidency, as well as a number of commutations. One of those pardons cleared Clinton's very own half-brother, Roger, of a drug-trafficking charge, as The New York Times pointed out at the time. 

Arnold Paul Prosperi, a former fundraiser for Clinton, not only got a pardon but also had his sentence commuted. 

President George W. Bush apparently overcorrected for Clinton's excess. He issued only 11 commutations during both of his terms, compared to his predecessor's 61 commutations. 

During his first term, meanwhile, Obama granted a commutation to just one person — Means' other client, Eugenia Jennings. Stephanie George's own long odds probably increased exponentially when Means took on her case, too. 

'The sentence was just so extraordinary'

Eugenia JenningsWhile she was in prison, George stayed in touch with Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), an advocacy group that lobbies for reform of harsh drug laws and the release of individual prisoners.

It was through FAMM that Means, the lawyer at Crowell & Moring, heard about George's case. Means, whose work focuses on environmental law and the energy industry, is something of a heavy-hitter in the pro-bono arena. In addition to representing Eugenia Jennings, he secured two of the handful of commutations granted by George W. Bush during his entire administration.

George's case caught his eye because of the harshness of the sentence and because of "the degree of injustice she suffered based substantially on the misconduct of her daughter's father," Means told me in an email.

"Stephanie's case was compelling because it was a life sentence," Means had told me earlier over the phone. "It was just a minor drug offense, and the sentence was just so extraordinary."

Means and an associate at the firm, Sherrie Armstrong, began working on the case late in 2012. While prisoners can file clemency petitions on their own, it makes a huge difference to have a reputable law firm on their side.

Unlike other cases Means has worked on, however, George's clemency petition did not include letters of support from government officials.

Letter clemencyThe main letters of support came from people most prominent in George's own life — including her mother, sister, and aunt. Her three children all wrote heartbreaking letters. One came from her daughter, Kendra, who was just 6 years old when her mother was incarcerated. Kendra had missed out on almost an entire childhood with her mother, but wanted her out of prison so they could "start new memories." She hoped her mom would be able to give her away at her wedding.

Perhaps the most heartbreaking letter came from her son, who died just a couple of months before she was finally granted clemency.  

"I would like to ask if you could find it in your heart to assist in giving my mother a second chance at life," he wrote. "She has been away from me for too long and I need her now more than ever."

Dick DurbinThe letters illuminated the fact that George's incarceration hurt many people in her life — not just her. She had other support, too. The judge who sentenced her, Vinson, sent a short letter to the Pardon Attorney on her behalf.

Means and Armstrong submitted congressional testimony as part of an effort to support sentencing reform and to encourage US Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, to urge Obama to grant clemency to George. Her lawyers also reached out to Senate and White House officials to ask them to support her petition.

It's impossible to tell which one of these factors made George's case stand out from many deserving others, but in late 2013 she became one of eight people in prison for drug-related offenses who received a commutation.

Means had the privilege of calling her to say she would get her freedom back. 

'I hope you have a wonderful Christmas'

Stephanie GeorgeWhen Means called George in December 2013, she said she thanked him over and over. George said she cried as he told her, "You're welcome," and, "I hope you have a wonderful Christmas."

Four months later, she'd return home to her family. There would be challenges ahead. She still hasn't been able to find full-time work — in part, she says, because of her criminal record. Though she got to reunite with some family, others had died by the time she got out — including three of her grandparents, her father, and her own son.

George sees her remaining family every day.

"I always said," she told me, "I would never give up on trying to get home to my family."

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The most famous band of all-time from every state

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Prince (singer)

Great music can be found all across the country. And every state has a famous band that hails from it.

To determine the most famous band from every state, we looked at reputation, record sales, and awards, considering each band within their own era.

We used the term "band" loosely here, including any musical act consisting of more than one person. We focused mostly on the state where each band originally formed, but also considered where their music was popularized, as well as artists' hometowns.

Check out which band is making your state proud.

SEE ALSO: The most powerful person in Hollywood at every age

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ALABAMA: Alabama

One of the most successful bands of all-time, Alabama has sold over 73 million records and has seven multiplatinum albums and two Grammys. The band sold more records during the '80s than any other bandNot only is their success impressive by any measure, but they also managed to make country music popular in the mainstream.



ALASKA: Portugal. The Man

Portugal. The Man released their debut album, "Waiter: You Vultures!" in 2006 and booked their first headlining tour the next year. The rock band released three more albums — including breakout record "The Satanic Satanist" — before signing with Atlantic Records in 2009. Danger Mouse, known for working with artists like Beck and The Black Keys, produced Portugal. The Man's most recent album, "Evil Friends."



ARIZONA: Alice Cooper

The first of the many shock-rock bands of the '70s, Alice Cooper kept fans entranced with their gender-bending outfits and dark, on-stage theatrics — concert-goers could expect performances to include stunts like Cooper's faux beheading via guillotine. But it's the music that kept fans coming back for more, and their riff-heavy brand of hard rock produced a string of hits including "School's Out" and "Be My Lover." Alice Cooper was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.



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15 crazy facts about one of New York's most exclusive buildings

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Dakota Building NYC

The late-19th-century Dakota building is one of Manhattan's most mysterious and exclusive residences.

Stories of ghost sightings have loomed around the building — located at 72nd Street and Central Park West — for years.

But even more intimidating than its rumors of hauntings is the Gothic-style building's picky co-op board, which has made a sport of rejecting rich and famous applicants.

Here are the 15 most fascinating facts about The Dakota, from past to present.

John Lennon was shot dead in front of The Dakota by a crazed fan

On December 8, 1980, Lennon was assassinated by Mark David Chapman outside The Dakota. He died at Roosevelt Hospital at age 40 after releasing his album "Double Fantasy."

Yoko Ono still lives in The Dakota and says she saw Lennon's ghost there

Ono and husband Lennon moved into The Dakota in 1973. Ono stayed in the building after Lennon's death and, according to the New York Post's Page Six, saw her husband's ghost sitting at his white piano. She says he told her, "Don't be afraid. I am still with you."

When he was alive, Lennon told Ono he saw a 'crying lady ghost' in the building

The Beatles musician told his wife he had seen the ghost roaming the halls.

The building has no fire escapes

Architect Henry J. Hardenbergh purposely avoided fire escapes by slathering mud from Central Park between the layers of brick flooring to fireproof and soundproof the building.

Tenants are 'forbidden' to throw away original doors and fireplace mantels

If tenants want to rid apartments of these items, there is a special storage area.

The_Dakota_1890b

The original owner's former apartment has sterling-silver floors

Singer Sewing Machine Company founder Edward Clark commissioned The Dakota as a $1 million apartment building for 60 families, including his own. Clark, however, died in 1882, two years before the building was completed.

According to legend, it gets its name from its far-west location

People liked to joke that it might as well have been built in the Dakotas.

It has been a magnet for the rich and famous since it opened in 1884

The building was reportedly fully rented before it even opened, thanks to a glowing New York Times review. The Steinway family, of Steinway piano fame, was one of The Dakota's first residents. Though he died in 1883, Peter Tchaikovsky is said to have lived there (perhaps he lived in it before its completion). Actress Lauren Bacall owned a nine-room apartment for 53 years that recently sold for $23.5 million.

Other notable residents have included author Harlan Coben, U2's Bono, Rex Reed, Jack Palance, Lillian Gish, Boris Karloff, Rosemary Clooney, Connie Chung, and Maury Povich.

The building had zero vacancies for 45 years after it opened

From 1884 to 1929, all 65 of The Dakota's apartments — each with a reported four bathrooms, parlor, and servant quarters — remained spoken for.

the dakota

The current application process is insane

Hopefuls must submit years of financial statements and tax documents, go through a background check, and pay a fee of over $1,000. After applicants complete the rigorous application process, the co-op board can still deny them.

Back in 2011, the co-op board was accused of bias and faced a defamation and racial-discrimination lawsuit by a former board member who lived in The Dakota.

Celebrities don't get special treatment

Notable celebrities who have been rejected by The Dakota co-op board include Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas, Cher, Billy Joel, Madonna, Carly Simon, Alex Rodriguez, Judd Apatow, and Tea Leoni.

One particularly odd 10-room apartment has been for sale for 8 years

Apartment 26 has been on and off the market for the past eight years, dropping from a $19.5 million asking price to a recent price of $14.5 million.

It's rumored that $30,000 is buried under the floor of Lennon and Ono's apartment

According to author Stephen Birmingham's 1996 book, "Life at the Dakota," the previous resident of John and Yoko's apartment hid the money under the master-bedroom floor. Whether that's true will remain a question, as the board refuses to destroy the floor to solve the mystery.

the dakota

Its boilers could heat every structure in a 4-block radius

The Dakota has an in-house power plant, so its residents will never have to shiver.

Leonard Bernstein's former apartment was the building's most expensive sale

Located on the second floor, the four-bedroom, four-bathroom apartment had a library, a formal dining room, a wood fireplace, kitchen and breakfast areas, and views of Central park. It was listed at $25.5 million and sold for $21 million.

SEE ALSO: No one wants to live in this $14.5 million apartment in New York's most exclusive building

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Cristiano Ronaldo just bought an $18.5 million apartment in Trump Tower — here’s how he spends the rest of his money

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Cristiano Ronaldo is the world's highest-paid soccer player and arguably the sport's finest athlete. The New York Post reported Sunday that the Real Madrid superstar bought an $18.5 million apartment in New York City's Trump Tower. The purchase has fuelled already-bubbling rumors that Ronaldo could be eyeing a move to the MLS once his contract expires in 2018. 

Produced by Devan Joseph. Special thanks to Tony Manfred and Melissa Stanger.

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The 50 best colleges in America

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Best Colleges in America 2015_2x1

When it comes to assessing the value of a college, the most important factor to consider is how much that school helps students succeed in life.

For our seventh annual ranking of the best colleges in America, we asked over 1,000 Business Insider readers to choose the colleges that best prepare their students for success after graduation.

We then combined those results with each school's average SAT score from the college-data website College Board and the median starting salary from the employer-information website PayScale to come up with the final ranking. You can read the full methodology here.

This year, Massachusetts Institute of Technology tops our list after a brief hiatus from the No. 1 spot. Stanford, last year's top school, slips to No. 2; Harvard, Princeton, and CalTech round out the top five. 

 Did your school make the cut this year? Read on to find out.

See a one-page version of our 2015 best colleges list: The top 25 colleges in America

SEE ALSO: The 50 best computer-science and engineering schools in America

50. Villanova University

Average SAT score: 1960

Median starting salary: $53,300

Founded in 1842 just outside Philadelphia by the Order of Saint Augustine, Villanova grants a liberal arts-based education in a large university setting. Among graduates of the class of 2014, 97% were employed or enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduation, and 60% held at least one internship.

 



49. Boston University

Average SAT score: 1945

Median starting salary: $50,100

The Boston University alumni community is full of Nobel Prize and Pulitzer winners, Fulbright scholars, and poets laureate. The school received over $350.3 million in grants and contract awards last year, powering it as one of the top research universities in the country.



48. Bucknell University

Average SAT score: 1960

Median starting salary: $56,800

A whopping 97% of Bucknell students report being employed, in graduate school, volunteering, or some combination thereof within nine months of graduation.

And if you think the median starting salary for Bucknell grads is high, it's important to note that the alumni median lifetime earnings are equally high; the Lewisburg, Pennsylvania-based school ranks No. 5 among liberal-arts colleges surveyed by PayScale.



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The top 25 colleges in America

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For our seventh annual ranking of the best colleges in America, we asked over 1,000 Business Insider readers to choose the colleges that best prepare their students for success after graduation.

We then combined those survey results with each school's average SAT score from the college-data website College Board and the median starting salary from the employer-information website PayScale to come up with the final ranking. You can read the full methodology here.

This year, Massachusetts Institute of Technology tops our list after a brief hiatus from the No. 1 spot. Stanford, last year's top school, slips to No. 2; Harvard, Princeton, and CalTech round out the top five. 

Read on to see which schools make the cut:

BI GRAPHICS_25 Best Colleges in America 2015 (1)

SEE ALSO: The 50 best colleges in America

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This man captures aerial photos of the most exquisite vacation spots in the world

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Maroubra Bay Swimmers Gray Malin beach photography

Beach photos are a dime a dozen on Instagram.

But photographer Gray Malin serves up spectacular scenes of beaches and pools that turn the genre into art.

Malin's aerial shots of vacationers can make beach scenes look like playful, colorful wallpaper patterns or storybook illustrations. He even hops in a helicopter sometimes to get his shots.

There's something soothing about the way the photos come out — in fact, they're similar to the equally addictive Instagram trend of knolling.

Malin's most popular works feature aerial beach scenes, quirky animals, and a smorgasbord of colors. His Instagram account reaches nearly a quarter of a million users per day. 

Let's dive in to see what makes Malin so successful. 

This is Gray Malin, the brilliant photographer behind the camera.

Malin has cultivated a brand based on a lifestyle of passion, inspiration, and adventure.



To capture his popular beach scenes, Malin travels to many different countries.

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Italy and Australia are home to some of the most iconic shots.

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This startup is reinventing the flash sale for discerning men — and it just raised $40 million

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Massdrop

Massdrop is a new kind of Internet retailer. Actually, it's technically not a retailer at all.

The site doesn't have any kind of item on hand to sell you. Instead, it acts as a middleman between manufacturers, enthusiasts, and would-be customers.

"We started Massdrop three years ago with the goal of building a fundamentally better community for enthusiasts," CEO and founder Steve El-Hage told Business Insider.

Basically, Massdrop is the next evolution of enthusiast-oriented communities like forums, IRC chats, and subreddits.

El-Hage​ noticed that these communities were doing group buys anyway, but with no real accountability or structure in place to help them. Enter Massdrop.

It works like this: Massdrop users vote for what product they would like to see on a "drop." Coats, backpacks, boots, shoes, wallets, and belts are all available to be voted on, as well as watches, razors, camping equipment, headphones, and drones.

Once the poll closes, Massdrop will reach out to the brand of the top-voted product. If they decline, Massdrop will then reach out to the product with the second most votes.​ Within successful drops, 80% of items are offered for sale again through another drop.

Launched in July 2012, the site now has over one million monthly users. To keep up with that demand, Massdrop's employees have ballooned from 14 just over a year ago to 70 today. The staff is projected to reach 110 by year's end, according to El-Hage. 

Massdrop

El-Hage says that the company's unique relationship with vendors sets it apart from other failed flash sale websites. Massdrop prioritizes relationships with its vendors and manufacturers in a few ways: it uses a third-party shipping service to get products to customers, it takes a small percentage of the profit, and it's committed to connecting vendors with enthusiastic buyers. 

Eighty to 85% of vendors list on Massdrop again.

El-Hage's vision for Massdrop doesn't stop at group buys. The company has also been experimenting with custom, community-designed products, and creating a platform for its community to share its expert opinions, information, and advice.

Massdrop just closed its Series B round of investment this month; it will be using the $40 million it raised to further these goals. 

The company is also looking to expand the categories it currently offers — such as men's clothes, watches, and headphones — with aftermarket car parts, dog and cat products, and RC cars.

SEE ALSO: This new website lets you buy expensive, authentic menswear for cheap — but there's a catch

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The best tourist spots around the world, according to locals

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Piazza Navona, Rome

Going to Paris? Instead of waiting in line at the Louvre, locals recommend checking out the Musee d'Orsay instead.

The best travel tips come from locals, who know the destination better than any travel guidebook.

Love Home Swap analyzed over 700,000 travel tips from locals and created an infographic that shows the best local bars, restaurants, and activities around the world.

Their research found that Londoners recommend the little-known Horniman Museum over the big museums like the National Gallery or Tate Modern, and that Romans think the Piazza Navona is the best tourist attraction in the city — and not over-hyped spots like the Spanish Steps.  

There are also great restaurant and bar recommendations. Singaporeans think that hip KU DE TA is one of the best bars in the city, while Dubliners recommend Slattery's Bar for a true Irish pub experience. New Yorkers say that the best restaurants in the city are Momofuku and Dell'Anima — not over-hyped touristy restaurants like Serendipity or Tavern on the Green.

The full infographic is below.

Secret travel destinations infographic from Love Home Swap

SEE ALSO: This map shows the best tourist attraction in every state

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Former gardener asks $75 million for Nixon's 'Western White House'

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Nixon front

San Clemente, California's La Casa Pacifica is famous for being the "Western White House" of President Richard M. Nixon. 

Along with his business partners, Nixon was the historic home's second owner — he bought it in 1969 for $1.4 million. The current resident, retired Allergan CEO and founder Gavin S. Herbert, is asking $75 million for the Spanish Colonial Revival stunner, which has been featured in Architectural Digest three times. 

Herbert, who has owned the home for the past 35 years, was already a burgeoning businessman when he volunteered to be the property's head gardener, back when Nixon still owned the estate. His love of all things green is evident throughout the property. 

Hôm Sotheby's International Realty's Rob Giem holds the listingKeep scrolling for a tour around the lush estate. 

SEE ALSO: Donald Trump just sold a Park Avenue penthouse he never lived in for $21 million

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The two parcels of land that comprise the estate total 5.45 acres, with 450 feet of beachfront property.



Restored and modernized in 1927, the 9,000-square-foot main residence includes five bedrooms, a grand main room, a den, a bar, and a guest suite.



But there's also a detached two-bedroom guest house across the way, just in case the guest suite is occupied.



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What 10 royals' favorite drinks are

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Some of history's most powerful kings, queens, and members of royal families have been known for their unique drinking habits. 

While some, like Princess Diana, only sipped on Peach Bellinis from time to time, others, like Catherine II (later known to the world as Catherine the Great), became renowned for their surprising drinking abilities. 

We've put together a graphic of 10 royals' favorite drinks, from a ginger-based concoction made specifically for King Edward VII, to Queen Victoria's strange mix of single malt whisky and claret. 

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