Yelp Reviews For Places You Can't (or shouldn't) Go

New York City's Rikers Island
New York City's Rikers Island
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With its user-generated reviews and recommendations, Yelp can be great for trying to find a fun spot for dinner. But there are plenty of profiles that aren't so helpful, and not just because of the quality of the reviews. Pages have sprung up for fake restaurants, jokes from Onion articles and even websites. Check out these strange Yelp reviews and be sure to chime in in the comments with your most bizarre Yelp sighting.

"Great sea urchin ceviche"

Dorsia, in New York's Flatiron district, is one of the hottest and most exclusive restaurants. Judging by the reviews, it's almost impossible to get a reservation and even if you do, it's still a pricey meal (four dollar signs). That said, the sea urchin ceviche is great and New York Matinee hailed the peanut butter soup with smoked duck and mashed squash as a "playful, but mysterious little dish."

Fans of American Psycho will of course recognize Dorsia as the ultra-exclusive haunt of Patrick Bateman. And while some of the locations visited in the movie are real (check out this blog's slightly NSFW tour of Patrick Bateman's New York), Dorsia is not. The entire Yelp page (which lists Dorsia as closed) is full of references to the movie and inside jokes about how difficult it is to get a reservation. Some of the lower-rated reviews even touch on the fact that "nobody goes here anymore" and recommend Texarkana, another fake restaurant from the movie with a very real Yelp profile.

"The line for the Lazy River was crazy packed"

An Onion article about an "Abortionplex" in Kansas created an Internet sensation when the blog Literally Unbelievable collected Facebook comments from readers who thought the article was real. Then Yelp took the joke a step further by creating a (largely inappropriate) profile for the Topeka Abortionplex, complete with more than 200 comments. Based on the reviews, the center sounds pretty great: there's a lazy river tube ride, a puppet show, a selection of vegan cookies, a full bar and even an IHOP. However, a lot of visitors seem upset that their Groupons or Scoutmob deals weren't accepted.

The Yelp page, like a great Onion article, works as a pitch-perfect parody of both Yelp reviews and the Planned Parenthood debate -- there's even a reference to Sen. Jon Kyl.

"Ah! New York's little 'vacation' spot!"

Several of New York's jails have garnered rather positive reviews on Yelp. Rikers Island has 3.5 stars, Sing Sing gets a perfect 5 stars (granted, with only one review), but Manhattan Central Booking only gets 2. In a glowing Rikers Island review, one commenter praises the food as "fusion, with various flavors of American, French but mostly Jamaican food." Another calls it a "'holiday' spot."

Unlike other jokey Yelp pages, these reviews are actually real, albeit less than serious. One reviewer of Central Booking told the New York Post that she wrote the review after spending a night for a bar fight. "It was spontaneous and it gave me a laugh at the time," said Davisha Badone, who criticized the facility as "unfun" because "junkies in withdrawal do not make great conversation."

The trend has started to spread to jails in Austin, San Francisco and Indiana. San Quentin has even crossed over to FourSquare.

"The commercials are creepy"

Yelp may be great for restaurants and other physical places, but a number of reviewers have decided to use it for the digital world as well. For example, the dating website eHarmony.com only gets 1.5 stars, with many reviewers commenting on the overall troubles of online dating or the site's TV commercials. Meanwhile, the profile for Google Headquarters has become a sounding board for any Google product ("Free email is nice, but you get what you pay for."). Likewise with Amazon.com.

And, in the predictably meta twist, even Yelp has a profile on Yelp. The verdict? 3 stars, and not good for kids.

What Would Happen If a Plane Flew Too High?

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iStock

Tom Farrier:

People have done this, and they have died doing it. For example, in October 2004, the crew of Pinnacle Airlines 3701 [PDF]  was taking their aircraft from one airport to another without passengers—a so-called "repositioning" flight.

They were supposed to fly at 33,000 feet, but instead requested and climbed to 41,000 feet, which was the maximum altitude at which the aircraft was supposed to be able to be flown. Both engines failed, the crew couldn't get them restarted, and the aircraft crashed and was destroyed.

The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable causes of this accident were: (1) the pilots’ unprofessional behavior, deviation from standard operating procedures, and poor airmanship, which resulted in an in-flight emergency from which they were unable to recover, in part because of the pilots’ inadequate training; (2) the pilots’ failure to prepare for an emergency landing in a timely manner, including communicating with air traffic controllers immediately after the emergency about the loss of both engines and the availability of landing sites; and (3) the pilots’ improper management of the double engine failure checklist, which allowed the engine cores to stop rotating and resulted in the core lock engine condition.

Contributing to this accident were: (1) the core lock engine condition, which prevented at least one engine from being restarted, and (2) the airplane flight manuals that did not communicate to pilots the importance of maintaining a minimum airspeed to keep the engine cores rotating.

Accidents also happen when the "density altitude"—a combination of the temperature and atmospheric pressure at a given location—is too high. At high altitude on a hot day, some types of aircraft simply can't climb. They might get off the ground after attempting a takeoff, but then they can't gain altitude and they crash because they run out of room in front of them or because they try to turn back to the airport and stall the aircraft in doing so. An example of this scenario is described in WPR12LA283.

There's a helicopter version of this problem as well. Helicopter crews calculate the "power available" at a given pressure altitude and temperature, and then compare that to the "power required" under those same conditions. The latter are different for hovering "in ground effect" (IGE, with the benefit of a level surface against which their rotor system can push) and "out of ground effect" (OGE, where the rotor system supports the full weight of the aircraft).

It's kind of unnerving to take off from, say, a helipad on top of a building and go from hovering in ground effect and moving forward to suddenly find yourself in an OGE situation, not having enough power to keep hovering as you slide out over the edge of the roof. This is why helicopter pilots always will establish a positive rate of climb from such environments as quickly as possible—when you get moving forward at around 15 to 20 knots, the movement of air through the rotor system provides some extra ("translational") lift.

It also feels ugly to drop below that translational lift airspeed too high above the surface and abruptly be in a power deficit situation—maybe you have IGE power, but you don't have OGE power. In such cases, you may not have enough power to cushion your landing as you don't so much fly as plummet. (Any Monty Python fans?)

Finally, for some insight into the pure aerodynamics at play when airplanes fly too high, I'd recommend reading the responses to "What happens to aircraft that depart controlled flight at the coffin corner?"

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

Baskin-Robbins Russia Debuts Self-Driving Ice Cream Truck

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iStock

While technologists tend to tout the potential benefits of self-driving cars for futuristic commuters, the best use of autonomous driving technology may not involve passengers at all. (Apologies to everyone who wants to nap while they drive.) What we really need are self-driving ice cream trucks.

In Russia, that's already a reality. A driverless ice cream truck from Baskin-Robbins Russia and a company called Avrora Robotics just debuted in Moscow, according to The Calvert Journal.

The VendBot, similar to a smart ice cream vending machine on wheels, debuted at Moscow's Hydroaviasalon conference, an event about seaplane technology and science. The small vehicle is currently designed to move around parks, event spaces, and shopping centers, and can maneuver independently, detecting obstacles and stopping for customers along the way. For its debut, it was stocked with six different Baskin-Robbins flavors.


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Based on videos of the VendBot Baskin-Robbins Russia posted to the company's Instagram account, the miniature truck doesn't come equipped with the jingles U.S. ice cream trucks play incessantly. Instead, it beeps to alert potential customers of its presence instead. Once it stops, customers can order their dessert from a keypad on the side of the vehicle similar to ordering from a vending machine.


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Avrora Robotics, based outside of Moscow in Ryazan, Russia, specializes in developing autonomous vehicles for freight transport, industrial farming, and military use. And now, ice cream delivery.

Unfortunately, there's no mention of Baskin-Robbins bringing its driverless ice cream truck to other countries just yet, so we will have to content ourselves with chasing after human-driven ice cream trucks for a while still.

[h/t The Calvert Journal]

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