Clipping Clipping

Do you clip coupons? No, nor do we, but nor do many people these days. And if we/they wanted to, brands and retailers have been discontinuing paper coupons, certainly those printed in newspaper inserts. Says Axios:

“It’s hard to pinpoint exactly if and when print coupons will become extinct, but they’re definitely on that path,” Kristin McGrath, savings expert with RetailMeNot, told Axios.

Brands and retailers are moving away from newspaper coupons — and digital offers haven’t grown fast enough to catch up, The New York Times reports (subscription).

Kantar Media estimates 168 billion coupons circulated in 2021 across print and digital formats, down from about 294 billion in 2015.

If you really want to start “clipping” grocery coupons, supermarket websites often offer digital coupons. Northeast supermarket chain Hannaford has an app-based loyalty program, and offers coupons through it. Actually, we never looked at them before…perhaps we should!

They all seem to be for toothpaste and laundry detergent. What are they implying?!

And we wonder how many people have done their phone in actually trying to clip a digital coupon.

Core Competence

Core77 recently bestowed their Core77 Design Awards in a variety of categories, one of which was “Visual Communication” which “honors all visual and graphic design, branding and identity projects for print, digital or physical environments. Examples include: logos and identity systems, environmental graphics, signage, typefaces, infographics, motion graphics, print design, advertising.”

This year’s winner was “Seeing Outside Boxes,” a digital signage installation created by Play Design Lab for the permanent Climate Change Exhibition in NSTM (National Science and Technology Museum in Taiwan).

The installation composes of 20 inter-connected boxes of digital signages. Each box contains a different mechanism that works in its own way and at the same time makes up the "entire world", the overall pictorial, to move. Buttons on the installation each representing different issues on Global Warming.

When pressed by the audience, a ball will start rolling through different boxes in a Rube Goldberg machine style to lead the issue. Following the rolling ball, the audience could see the interdependencies among different indicators and learn about the issue based on DPSIR model.

By the way, scientists use the DPSIR model (D=Driving forces, P=Pressures, S=States, I=Impacts, and R=Responses) to describe and analyze the overall cause-and-effect of human activities on the environment.

The runner up is Work & Co’s rebrand of Giving Gap:

With more corporate allies and individuals joining the call for racial justice than ever before, it should be a watershed moment for Black nonprofits. But of the $450 billion donated annually in America, still only a fraction goes to Black-founded organizations. What's more, on the most recent list of America's largest charities compiled by Fortune, none on the list are Black-led. Giving Gap (originally known as Give Blck) is a brand and digital product that's changing that.

Click through for more than a dozen notable mentions. We’ll be highlighting more in future editions of Around the Web.

Dole Out Leather

In a recent edition of Around the Web, we mentioned a type of leather being made from fish skin. In other alternative leather news, via Core 77, there is now faux leather made from pineapple leaves, the production of which is said to be environmentally friendly.

Dr. Carmen Hijosa, a former textiles designer, has developed a way to transform the leaves into Piñatex, a convincing leather substitute. The raw material is readily available, and the production process is environmentally superior to the resource-intensive production of conventional leather.

“Piñatex is one of those rare products of design thinking that hits all the sustainability buttons at once,” says product designer Clare Brass, director of British sustainability consultancy Department 22. “It is a material that is completely cradle to cradle, it substitutes leather that has a very heavy environmental and welfare impact, and it brings new income streams to subsistence farmers, allowing them to fully utilise their crops.”

Here’s how they make it:

Black Books

Mental Floss recently had a round up of a few supposedly cursed books. (We don’t know if any of these are in the library at the Museum of Printing, but it would explain a lot.) Here’s the thing, though: collectors of cursed objects struggle to actually find any cursed books—rather, books are only of occult danger when they contain spells or recipes of magic potions or something. In other words, books are a way of making other objects cursed but the books themselves are rarely cursed. (A book that’s cursed at is another thing, and is common when reading Dan Brown.)

But, you know, sometimes there is trouble.

Every now and then, though, a book gets a bad reputation. Maybe misfortune seems to follow it wherever it goes, or maybe an urban legend catches on in some creepy corner of the internet. Or maybe—and here’s where things get especially interesting—representatives of powerful institutions simply didn’t want the book to be read. From a diabolical Bible to a mournful Japanese war poem, here are eight texts that have been blamed for madness, misfortune, and death.

Click through for all eight, but the one that caught our attention was Historia del Huérfano, or The Orphan’s Story, a novel written by Martín de León y Cárdenas, a Spanish monk, sometime between 1608 and 1615. He was going to have it published, but pulled it, fearing it would wreck his standing in the Catholic Church, as he had become a bishop by then.

The book was long thought lost, but in 1965, a Spanish scholar found what’s thought to be the only surviving copy in the New York archives of the Hispanic Society of America. There were several attempts to publish it, but none of them worked out, and rumors began to circulate that The Orphan’s Story was cursed. 

If failure to get published is a sign that a book is cursed, we have a filing cabinet that no one should ever open. Anyway, the manuscript ended up with Belinda Palacios, a Peruvian philologist who spent two years editing the book for publication. It was then the trouble began—and not just Microsoft Word (which is cursed, as well as cursed at):

“When I started working on it, a lot of people told me that the book was cursed and that people who start working on it die,” Palacios told The Guardian in 2018. She was more specific in an interview with The Telegraph that same year: “It’s taken a while because the people who have worked on it have died—one from a strange disease, one in a car accident and another of something else.” According to the Endless Thread podcast, the casualties include a Spanish scholar named Antonio Rodríguez-Moñino, who died in 1970, and a professor of Spanish named William C. Bryant.

The Orphan’s Story finally went to press in 2017, and so far Palacios is fine. She teaches Spanish-American Literature in Switzerland and this year published a novel of her own called Niñagordita, and by all accounts her own editor is still among the living.  

Your Number’s Up

Wait, wasn’t this a Stephen King story?

Spooked phone bosses have suspended the mobile phone number 0888 888 888 - after every single person assigned to it died in the last 10 years.

And not just died, but died horribly.

The first owner, Vladimir Grashnov - the former CEO of Bulgarian mobile phone company Mobitel, which issued the number - died of cancer in 2001 aged just 48. Despite a spotless business record there were persistent rumours that his cancer had been caused by a business rival using radioactive poisoning.

Is that a thing? Then there was Victim #2: Bulgarian mafia boss Konstantin Dimitrov, who was assassinated during a trip to the Netherlands to check up on his £500 million drug-smuggling empire. And Victim #3: Konstantin Dishliev, who was also assassinated and who “had secretly been running a massive cocaine trafficking operation.” Not that secretly, apparently.

Since then, the number is understood to have been dormant while police maintained an open file on Dishliev's killing and his smuggling ring.

Now spooked phone bosses are said to have suspended the number, which from an international line is +359 888 888 888, for good. 

Well, you know, it didn’t help that the victims were in fairly risky lines of business. If you’re a cocaine smuggler in deep with the Russian mob, we’re not sure you can blame your demise on the phone. That would be like blaming Sonny Corleone’s death on the license number of the car he drove through the tollbooth. (There is of course the less supernatural explanation that the number was on the mob’s speed dial and could be easily tracked.)  

Nothing to Sneeze At

In other cursed object news, we came across a link to an Atlas Obscura story about a “cursed Kleenex ad.”

IN 1986, KLEENEX RELEASED THIS COMMERCIAL in Japan. It’s a simple, almost minimalistic premise: a woman in white and an ogre child sit on a pile of hay and enjoy their Kleenex brand tissues while the song “It’s a Fine Day” by Jane & Barton plays in the background. 

YouTube won’t let us embed it, but click the link above Air that during Twin Peaks and you’d really freak everyone out. But even so…it did freak everyone out.

Almost instantly, TV stations and Kleenex corporate allegedly began receiving complaints regarding the ad. Perhaps it was its overall strangeness, perhaps it was the minor key of the song, but people were almost ubiquitously unnerved by the commercial and requested that it be taken off the air. 

But then things got even weirder.

Several rumors began to circulate about the cast. One claimed the entire film crew met untimely deaths in freak accidents. Another reported that the ogre child had died immediately after filming. Still others circulated that the actress, Keiko Matsuzaka, died, was committed to a psychiatric hospital following a mental breakdown, or became pregnant with a demon baby.

However, this is nothing but a tissue of lies (sorry). None of these things happened, and everyone involved with the ad is fine. The only casualty was that Kleenex did pull the ad—replacing it with one that was even creepier (so creepy that YouTube let us embed it). Really, Kleenex?

What is in those tissues?

Graphene Goes Home

Was it a good week for graphene news? It’s always a good week for graphene news! A start-up in the UK called Vector Homes has been developing sustainable housing materials and techniques—using graphene. They recently announced that they have secured nearly £200,000 (almost USD$245,800) in Smart Grant funding by Innovate UK. Says Graphene-Info

The money will help fund a research program to develop graphene-enhanced recycled plastic formulations for residential construction. The project will enhance polymers with nano-materials to increase strength, durability, thermal and acoustic performance and further recyclability.

… Vector is ultimately looking to mass manufacture sustainable and affordable smart housing flat-packs from graphene-enhanced recycled materials.

The houses will feature hundreds of sensors which will help to provide smart environmental controls throughout. The sensors will feed information to a ‘brain’ – the Vector Node – which will measure the temperature and humidity in each room.

The system will close roller blinds to keep rooms cool in the summer, or open bathroom vents in the winter to allow the humidity out. Each Vector home will also feature solar panels and the energy they generate will be stored in batteries which will be used to power the property.

Oh, the fun a hacker could have with this! 

Air BnB

Remember when flying was a comfortable and enjoyable experience? No nor do we, but Air New Zealand is apparently trying to bring a little human dignity back to the flying experience. Well, maybe not dignity per se, but a little comfort: beds on airplanes, and not just in first class. Via Gizmodo:

The most anticipated upgrade to Air New Zealand’s Dreamliner fleet is the new Economy Skynest option. The airline calls it “the world’s first sleep pods in the sky,” and while not as spacious as the bed you have at home, it allows six passengers to either sit or spread out on a full length bed, complete with pillows and blankets. You can even still get food and drink service if you opt for the bunk bed experience. It’s not as private as the lay flat beds offered in each plane’s Business Premier section, but there appears to be curtains that can be pulled across if you want to sleep your way through turbulence, crying babies, and endless announcements.

Image: Air New Zealand

Obviously, that’s a staged simulation, but there is one thing conspicuously absent: seat belts of some kind. (Even Amtrak’s top bunks have safety netting to keep sleeping passengers from getting pitched to the floor on rough track or if there is an accident.)

Alas, there will only be six Economy Skynest options per flight, so book now.

Air New Zealand is also making some passenger-centric upgrades elsewhere in the cabin.

The cheapest seating option on the Dreamliners will now offer more space and legroom, extra storage capacity for carry-on luggage, and a seatback screen that’s 50% larger and includes the option to connect wireless headphones to the plane’s in-flight entertainment system over Bluetooth, as well as pair a smartphone which will then function as a remote or an additional screen for content.

Now, if we could get major industry events to relocate to New Zealand (we’d prefer it to Vegas), this would be a great option.

We Can Work Out

Ask just about any gym owner what the biggest complaint they get from members is and they’ll never hesitate to say “the music.” When several people, especially from different generations, are working out in a room together, the chances of everyone liking the same genre of music is pretty slim. In general, Gen Xers and older like classic rock, millennials tend to go for hip-hop of various kinds, and we are bemused when Snoop Dogg comes on and teens call it “grandad rap.” Ha! (Those who prefer progressive rock are inevitably left out of the mix, probably because one song could take up the entire workout.)

Anyway, via CNet, there is actually a science to creating a good workout playlist that will actually improve your performance.

Research proves that music, especially high-tempo, high-intensity music, can boost workout performance and even motivate you to exercise for longer.

If you work out in group classes, you may not have a choice and ear/air buds may not be an option. But if you can create your own playlist:

… When it comes to improving workout performance, picking a playlist is all about tempo. Matching the music tempo with your intended heart rate will keep you pumped up for the duration of your workout, while mismatching can do just the opposite. 

…Creating the perfect workout playlist is actually really simple. Just focus on two things: tempo and type of workout. The more intense you want the workout to be, the more upbeat the tempo should be. 

Finding a song tempo in beats per minute is just like finding your heart rate. People who are musically inclined may have an easier time counting the BPM in a song -- if you have trouble with that, this handy song BPM tool can help. Just plug in a song name and get the BPM. 

Different types of workouts can be optimized by different BPMs:

  • Yoga, pilates and other low-intensity activities: 60 to 90 BPM
  • Power yoga: 100 to 140 BPM
  • CrossFit, indoor cycling, or other forms of HIIT: 140 to 180-plus BPM
  • Zumba and dance: 130 to 170 BPM
  • Steady-state cardio, such as jogging: 120 to 140 BPM
  • Weightlifting and powerlifting: 130 to 150 BPM
  • Warming up for exercise: 100 to 140 BPM
  • Cooling down after exercise: 60 to 90 BPM

You can also get obsessive about it:

For example, if you plan to go for an interval run where you’ll run fast for 3 minutes, slow for 2 minutes for 30 minutes total, you can create a playlist that supports that goal. In this case, you'd enlist a fast-moderate-fast structure. Just make sure the lengths of the songs are close to the interval timeframes. 

But then we know of many prog rock epics that will run through all of those in one song.

House of Speed

Via Print magazine, Saucony recently launched its Endorphin Pro 3 shoe in Europe, and the launch event was a pop-up experience held at a gallery in Le Marais in Paris during the men’s collections at Paris Fashion Week. 

Design Army led the creative for the House of Speed, leaning on the bold Prospect Pink colorway of the shoe to inform visual cues, guerilla marketing, and experiential activations that would bring to life a high-energy space centered around movement and endorphins.

It would do, um, many many things to the human metabolism. This would require a very calming playlist…

The bright pink exterior and glowing window displays make a splash in Paris’ Marais District. Inside the house, every nook is an opportunity for education, exploration, and content creation. All details and touchpoints ladder back to speed and feeling – from the art gallery-esque entry and immersive treadmill experience room to the upstairs interactive living quarters boasting an Endorphin Bar, bright pink bathtub with Endorphin Pro 3-clad feet, and a bed whose mirror above reads “Go Faster” for the ultimate selfie moment. Around Paris, Metro stations boast a first glimpse of the campaign for the Endorphin Pro 3. And a bright pink branded “newspaper”, which first started as a prop in the soon-to-be-released film (shot in New York City), is being handed out throughout the city as well as at the Saucony House of Speed.

Burger Beef

It’s barbecue season, and time to reignite the old debate over the optimal number of times to flip a burger. Just once? Many times? Constantly? Via Discover magazine, the problem can be solved by mathematics.

we get an answer to this important question thanks to the work of Jean-Luc Thiffeault, a mathematician at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Thiffeault has created a mathematical model of burger flipping which leads to a crucial insight that should allow you to cook burgers 29 per cent more quickly.

Thiffeault’s model is relatively simple. It assumes a flat burger that is one centimeter thick but infinite in extent (in mathematics, dreams can come true). The model includes a heating element on one side of the burger with fresh air on the other.

The key lies in the fact that there are two sides to every burger. On the bottom, heat enters the patty at 200°C “here the contact heat transfer coefficient is 900 Watts per square meter per degree centigrade.” Meanwhile, on the top, heat escapes from the meat at 25°C “where the radiation and heat transfer coefficient is 60 Watts per square meter per degree centigrade.”

The meat is considered cooked when it reaches a temperature of 70 ?C so an important part of the calculation is to determine the temperature of the meat at the center of the patty. Note that the temperature history at each point in the burger is important. As Thiffeault points out, cooked meat can cool down but it cannot “uncook.”

We know that all too well. So the question becomes, does flipping the burger speed up or slow down the cooking process? Thiffeault simulated the speed of cooking for different numbers of flips, while varying the interval between flips, using mathematics software MATLAB (not MEATLAB?) to crunch his data.

It turns out that for a single flip the optimal time for the first interval is just 45 per cent of the total and accounts for only 29 per cent of the cooking. The rest is done during the second interval, particularly towards the end when there is a sudden surge in the percentage of cooked meat. This is probably a result of the time it takes for heat from both intervals to diffuse through the meat. 

This diffusion has important implications for greater number of flips. It turns out that for optimal cooking times, the flipping intervals should be about the same length, except for the last one, which should be longer to allow for diffusion.

However, with more flips, the decrease in cooking time becomes smaller. So, he says you should flip “a few times!” A bit imprecise for a mathematician.

But then, since the best you can ever really do is shorten cooking time by 29%, unless you have a packed patio of completely ravenous BBQ guests, it’s probably not going to make too much of a difference.

Pop Will Eat Itself (Nothing Else Will)

Two words: ketchup pop. One word: no! But, alas, yes: for a limited time, and in Canada, you can get a frozen ketchup pop. Food & Wine has the gory details:

the condiment specialists at French’s have found out a way to put ketchup front and center without squirting sachets of the stuff into your mouth: a ketchup popsicle. Launching this week, these limited-edition ketchup-flavored ice pops — called a “Frenchsicle” — are (sadly) only available in Canada, but that doesn’t mean they can’t pique our interested down here in the States.

Oh, yes, it can.

The popsicles were created in collaboration with the Canadian ice pop brand Happy Pops, using 100 percent Canadian tomatoes and sweetened with organic cane sugar, resulting in what French’s describes as a “savory tomato flavor [that] is perfectly balanced with a hint of salty sweetness.”

Aw, shucks, we missed it: they were only given out in Vancouver; Toronto; and Leamington, Ontario, from June 22 to 24. Maybe when come out with mustard ice cream we can grab a scoop.

(PS: Grey Poupon does have a mustard wine.)

This Week in Printing, Publishing, and Media History

June 27

1880: American author, academic, and activist Helen Keller born.

1895: The inaugural run of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s Royal Blue from Washington, D.C., to New York City, the first U.S. passenger train to use electric locomotives.

1898: The first solo circumnavigation of the globe is completed by Joshua Slocum from Briar Island, Nova Scotia.

June 28

1846: Adolphe Sax patents the saxophone.

1926: American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter Mel Brooks born.

1975: American screenwriter and producer Rod Serling dies (b. 1924).

2018: American writer Harlan Ellison dies (b. 1934).

June 29

1613: London’s Globe Theatre, constructed by William Shakespeare’s playing company, burns down. A second Globe was built by 1614, so all’s well that ends well.

1900: French poet, pilot, and author of The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, born.

1920: American animator and producer Ray Harryhausen born.

1975: Steve Wozniak tests his first prototype of the Apple I computer.

2007: Apple Inc. releases the iPhone.

June 30

1685: English poet and playwright John Gay born.

1937: The world’s first emergency telephone number, 999, is introduced in London.

July 1

1874: The Sholes and Glidden typewriter (aka Remington No. 1), the first commercially successful typewriter, goes on sale.

1881: The world’s first international telephone call is made between St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada, and Calais, Maine, United States.

1892: American journalist and author James M. Cain born.

1963:  ZIP codes are introduced for United States mail.

1979: Sony introduces the Walkman.

1869: American author and educator, and co-author of The Elements of Style, William Strunk Jr. born.

July 2

1566: French astrologer and author Nostradamus dies (b. 1503). (Funny, he didn’t see it coming.

1698: Thomas Savery patents the first steam engine.

1897: British-Italian engineer Guglielmo Marconi obtains a patent for radio in London.

1900: The first Zeppelin flight takes place on Lake Constance near Friedrichshafen, Germany.

1900: Jean Sibelius’ Finlandia receives its première performance in Helsinki with the Helsinki Philharmonic Society conducted by Robert Kajanus.

1961: American novelist, short story writer, and journalist, Nobel Prize laureate Ernest Hemingway dies (b. 1899).

1962: The first Walmart store, then known as Wal-Mart, opens for business in Rogers, Ark.

1977: Russian-born novelist and critic Vladimir Nabokov dies (b. 1899).

2013: American computer scientist, inventor of the computer mouse Douglas Engelbart dies (b. 1925).

July 3

1767: Norway’s oldest newspaper still in print, Adresseavisen, is founded and the first edition is published.

1877: German-born Swiss poet, novelist, painter, and Nobel Prize laureate Hermann Hesse born.

1886: The New-York Tribune becomes the first newspaper to use a linotype machine, eliminating typesetting by hand.

1883: Czech-Austrian author Franz Kafka born.

July 4

1804: American novelist and short story writer Nathaniel Hawthorne born.

1826: John Adams, 2nd President of the United States (b. 1735), and Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States (b. 1743), both die on the same day.

1831: American soldier, lawyer, and politician, 5th President of the United States James Monroe dies (b. 1758).

1855: The first edition of Walt Whitman's book of poems, Leaves of Grass, is published In Brooklyn.

1950: Radio Free Europe first broadcasts.

1883: American sculptor, cartoonist, and engineer Rube Goldberg born. It was a needlessly complicated birth.

July 5

1687: Isaac Newton publishes Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica.

1833: French inventor, creator of the first known photograph Nicéphore Niépce dies (b. 1765).

1954: The BBC broadcasts its first television news bulletin.

1958: American author and illustrator Bill Watterson born.

July 6

1865: The first issue of The Nation magazine is published.

1893: French short story writer, novelist, and poet Guy de Maupassant dies (b. 1850).

1962: American novelist and short story writer, Nobel Prize laureate William Faulkner dies (b. 1897).

July 7

1752: French weaver and inventor, inventor of the Jacquard loom Joseph Marie Jacquard born.

1907: American science fiction writer and screenwriter Robert A. Heinlein born.

1928: Sliced bread is sold for the first time (on the inventor's 48th birthday) by the Chillicothe Baking Company of Chillicothe, Missouri. At the time, it was said to have been the greatest thing since...hmmm…

1930: British writer Arthur Conan Doyle dies (b. 1859).

July 8

1822: English poet and playwright Percy Bysshe Shelley dies (b. 1792).

1889: The first issue of The Wall Street Journal is published.

1947: Reports are broadcast that a UFO crash landed in Roswell, N.M., in what became known as the Roswell UFO incident.

July 9

1901: Prolific English author Barbara Cartland born. She published 722 novels and holds the Guinness World Record for the most novels written in a single year (23 in 1976). When she died in 2000, the paper industry went into a severe recession.

1911: Decidedly less prolific English author and illustrator Mervyn Peake born.

1945: Decidedly more prolific author (but nowhere near Cartland’s output), Dean Koontz, born.

July 10

1851: French photographer and physicist, inventor of the daguerreotype Louis Daguerre dies (b. 1787).

1856:  Serbian-American physicist and engineer Nikola Tesla born.

1863: American author and educator Clement Clarke Moore dies (b. 1779).

1871: French novelist Marcel Proust born. In Remembrance of Things Past, he probably wrote as many words in one novel as Cartland wrote in 722.

1888: Greek-Italian painter and set designer Giorgio de Chirico born.


1962: Telstar, the world’s first communications satellite, is launched into orbit.

1978: ABC World News Tonight premieres.

2008: Apple’s AppStore opens.