codethekitty-deactivated2014013 asked:

So I head you like magma! Did you know about the 'Door to Hell', located in Derweze, Ahal Province, Turkmenistan? Apparently it was a natural cave filled with gas. Scientists wanted to enter the cave and explore it. So they thought of lighting it up, expecting the cave to burn for a few days, maybe a week. But as it turns out, it still burns today. It was lit in 1971. Fun world, we live in! :)

Fascinating. Thanks for sharing (here’s a link for others). I hope to be able to check it out one day!

Verizon Has A Funny Definition Of “Global”

Yesterday, as I landed in a foreign country, I did my normal routine: switched off airplane mode on my phone, waited for signal to kick in, repeat, repeat, repeat.1 Once I connected, in poured the push notifications, the first of which is usually a text from the foreign carrier I just connected to warning me that I’m roaming and threatening to take my first child for every MB of data used. Yesterday, the message was a little different.

It was actually a text message from my U.S. carrier, Verizon, notifying me to turn data services off or use WiFi to avoid data charges. I thought nothing of this since I had the global data plan already enabled on my phone. Next, in came the foreign carrier text telling me the current take-your-first-child rates: $20.48 per MB of data used. Not even one minute later (I checked the time stamps), a third message came in, this time from Verizon again, alerting me that I’ve “exceeded $50 in global data charges.”

Again, I didn’t think too much of this because I knew my global data plan was enabled. That plan allows you to pay $25 for each 100MB of data usage when traveling abroad — still a rip-off, yes, but a relative steal compared to the aforementioned take-your-first-child rates normally associated with international data roaming. Because I had been in another country a few weeks prior, I thought such a message might just be a residual warning from data usage on that trip.


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David Pogue:

Look: international roaming has always been insanely priced. And like many people, I’ve always assumed that there’s some reason for it. International tariffs, maybe. Special equipment. Something. It couldn’t be as simple as outrageous, consumer-hostile greed, could it?

Yes, it could.

This is a very clever thing for T-Mobile to try — even if the data will be hampered by very slow speeds. As with SMS, the carriers have long used roaming charges to gouge customers simply because they could.

The general rule seems to be that being a dick is not a sustainable business model.

Adam Nagourney on the shift underway in Las Veags:

In 1984, the city’s sprawling casinos accounted for 59 percent of all the money collected on the Strip. Last year, gambling made up just 36 percent of the revenue. Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, took in $9.4 billion in gambling revenue last year, up from the year before but still far short of the $10.8 billion during the peak year of 2007, according to statistics from the Center for Gaming Research.

So what are people doing instead?

“Gaming went down more than total visitor spending, by a greater percentage,” said Stephen P. A. Brown, the director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “The visitors who have come back are here for clubs and shopping. They’re buying swimsuits to go to the day clubs and evening clothes to go to the nightclubs. That’s the big growth.” “I think what’s going on here is we’re seeing a shift away from Las Vegas as the only gaming destination in the United States to being one of many gaming destinations,” Mr. Brown said. “But it is holding up as a tourist destination.”

Shopping. What would Bugsy Siegel think? At least they’re still drinking.

For most of my life I was in a film set. And it was a horror movie.

David McAnirn, a tour guide in Northern Ireland who now leads people through the various locations in the country used in Game of Thrones. But he’s speaking, of course, about the sectarian fighting that ripped apart Northern Ireland between 1969 and 1998.

Now tourism is starting to boom, thanks in part to the show, as Stephanie Rosembloom points out.

A few days ago, upon noticing something while traveling, I posed a question on Twitter: Are there really no Starbucks in Italy?

Several folks responded that there are indeed no Starbucks in Italy — which still blows my mind. And a few sent the link above full of interesting details as to why not — at least not yet

Worth noting: were it not for Howard Schultz sitting at a cafe in Milan while on a business trip in 1983, there would be no Starbucks as we know it today.