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Why Don't Cars Come with Ashtrays Anymore?

The other night, I was having a heated discussion with an acquaintance, who happens to be a smoker. I argued that I didn't mind if he smoked in his car, but I did mind if he held the cigarette out the window, and flicked the ashes in the wind, which sometimes wind up in my car at red lights, and such. I also don't like when smokers flick the butts out the windows into the streets. During the summer, many of our big Los Angeles wildfires start this way and there are other, less direct environmental issues, as well. We went on arguing for about 5 minutes when suddenly he said: "So what would you like me to do with the ash and butt? Cars don't come with ashtrays anymore!" Holy, er, smokes! He had me there! I hadn't even noticed.

Sure, you can get a smoker's package, which is an ash tray that fits in a cup holder. But auto manufacturers haven't included them as standard for quite some time, depending on make and model. I remember, growing up, when there were even ashtrays in the back seats (for the kids?! ;-). Then, during the 80s and 90s, those disappeared. But you still had the main one in the front, where many of us just kept spare change or gum.

So why have car manufacturers done away with them altogether? Well the answer seems to vary, depending on who you ask. Critics say the auto companies are just trying to save money on extra parts. A fellow I spoke to at one auto manufacturer, who asked to remain anonymous, said it's more about subtle behavior modification. If there are no ashtrays in the car, maybe you’ll give up that filthy habit? Smoking isn't cool anymore, so what car manufacturer wants to associate with something that isn't popular when they're already having a hard enough time selling cars, right?

What do you all think? Anyone have a recent-ish model that DOES have an ashtray? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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History
The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

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holidays
Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)
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For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, UglyChristmasSweater.com sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.

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