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    party drunk binge drinking alcohol

    • Everyone has heard of a favorite hangover cure, but people still often find themselves searching for something that'll actually work to cure a hangover.
    • That's partially because many hangover cures are myths.
    • In honor of St. Patrick's Day, we explore the truth behind the myths.

    Everyone's heard some version of a hangover cure.

    Some people swear that remembering to chug water before bed will cure a hangover. Others have more elaborate routines, involving various types of food, drink, or physical activity.

    The problem with trying to find a hangover cure is that many aspects of what causes a hangover are still a mystery to science. But that doesn't mean every hangover cure is bunk.

    From what we can tell, hangovers are at least partially — perhaps mostlycaused by the byproducts our bodies create when we break down alcohol. We know that people whose blood alcohol content spikes quickly suffer more severe hangovers, meaning that doing a bunch of shots is likely to send you down a dark and painful road. And we know that the more people drink, the worse the hangover they suffer after.

    Unfortunately, this also means that a lot of hangover "cures" are myths. Some of them might help you feel slightly better, but the degree to which they are a cure is questionable.

    In honor of St. Patrick's Day are some of the most common myths — and the truth behind them.

    SEE ALSO: How playing video games affects your body and brain

    Myth: Hangovers happen because you're dehydrated — chug a glass of water before bed and you'll be fine.

    Truth: Drinking dehydrates you, and that dehydration usually accompanies a hangover but probably isn't responsible for it.

    Most hangover symptoms come from the breakdown of alcohol, not dehydration. And while we need water in our bodies to break down alcohol, we still won't feel better until our systems have dealt with the byproducts of that process.

    That said, no one wants to be dehydrated and hungover at the same time. So if you feel thirsty, chug away.

    Myth: Liquor before beer, you're in the clear.

    Truth: This isn't entirely false, but that's not because the order you drink things changes the way your body processes them.

    Alcohol is alcohol, and too much of it will make anyone feel sick.

    That said, people who switch from beer to mixed drinks or straight whiskey may be less likely likely to monitor their alcohol consumption and thus drink more.

    Plus, at least one small study indicates your body metabolizes carbonated drinks like beer and mixed drinks faster than higher-concentration alcohol (like a shot of whiskey). Adding liquor to a stomach-full of beer could, in theory, create a sort of mixed drink that would metabolize faster than one or the other on its own.

    But in general, the biggest effect here probably comes from being less careful with liquor after a few beers.

    Myth: You can cure a hangover with 'hair of the dog.'

    Truth: Having a drink the morning after a session can make you feel better, but it's not curing your hangover — it's prolonging it.

    Your body prefers to deal with ethanol instead of the painful byproducts created by breaking alcohol down, so if you give it more alcohol, it can temporarily take away the pain of breaking down alcohol's byproducts.

    But really, that's just putting off the pain. Your body still has to break down those byproducts, which means the pain may come back even worse later.

    Some researchers think this "hair of the dog" effect is why hangovers may be a risk factor for alcoholism instead of a natural deterrent to becoming an alcoholic. Studies show that alcoholics get some of the most severe hangovers around.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    • "Invisible PA" company ibLE offers pay-as-you-go remote PAs at £35 an hour.
    • The PAs are paid around £45,000 a year and can work from anywhere in the world.
    • Co-founder Emma Hatto told Business Insider it's a "lucrative" career — and a day can involve anything from planning a celebrity bash to simply answering a few emails.

    Gone are the days of the desk-bound, dedicated secretary who sits outside your office screening your calls and fetching your coffee.

    Now, it's all about having a flexible personal assistant, or PA — and sometimes you'll never even see them.

    Emma Hatto, co-founder of "invisible PA" company ibLE and a former PA herself, told Business Insider that there are countless benefits of using a remote PA.

    With ibLE, online signup involves a one-off fee of £250, then the use of a PA is £35 an hour, billed in five-minute increments so no time is wasted.

    "Once you’re registered online, you then get assigned a PA based on your profile — what your business is, or if you’re a private person what you think you need, then we’ll look at who the best PA is for you," she said.

    Each PA has a maximum of three clients to make sure they're readily available. However, as it's a pay-as-you-go service, clients only pay for what they use. According to Hatto, this means you can have a PA for a year, but only use them for six months in different blocks of time throughout.

    "That PA will always stay there. They’ll learn about your business, learn about you, learn what you like so you’ll never have to go away from that one person," she said.

    "There are a lot of small businesses out there that need support from someone, so it's good for them as it's cheaper," she said. "They don't have to worry about bringing someone onto the payroll."

    She added that at the moment, the company is working with a lot of tech startups who "need to look lean because they’re going after investments so they don’t want to have that person on their payroll."

    IbLE also works with private individuals "that have a busy life," and the remote PA can provide support without them needing to hire someone full-time.

    "It can just be business tasks like time management, email management, doing presentations, reports, that sort of stuff, to more of the kind of concierge-style stuff," she explained.

    And she stressed that it doesn't necessarily have to be remote working.

    "If you want somebody to come to your house or you want somebody to come to your office once a week, or you want someone to come help with an event, we will have people who are available to come to you," she said. "It just means they’re not sat at desks taking up space all day every day."

    Dedicated, pay-as-you-go service

    Balloons just seem to find me #dirty30 #madasahatto

    A post shared by Emma Hatto (@emmahatto) on Sep 24, 2017 at 9:01am PDT on

    It's not the only company tapping into the remote PA trend. 

    Last year, Business Insider spoke to You Need a PA, a company providing the rich and famous — from Suki Waterhouse to Nick Grimshaw — with personal assistants in London for £45 an hour or £350 a day.

    However, according to Hatto, other companies don't always provide a dedicated PA.

    "Al ot of our competitors might have 18-20 clients each which is quite alot," she said. "You can’t really give someone a dedicated service.

    She added that the majority of PAs at other companies don't have the same experience or are new graduates, while ibLE is focused on "impeccable service." 

    "You need to have experienced people working on it for sure," she said.

    It's a pretty appealing offer for the PAs, too

    #mrsandmrsbower #internationalwomensday #rulingtheworld

    A post shared by Emma Hatto (@emmahatto) on Mar 8, 2017 at 10:51am PST on

    According to Hatto, a PA working fulltime hours — six or seven a day — is earning around £45,000.

    "These people are 60k PAs in a normal job, so we’re saying you’re getting a 60k PA for £35 an hour, which is not very much," she said.

    "However, we want to pay them well because we want to make sure we get the good ones. A lot of them could probably go out themselves and get paid a little bit more, but they’re not having to market [themselves] and do the business development, and that’s the hardest part for people that don’t know how to do that.

    "We’re a platform to enable them to get the business, because once the client’s there and they’re attached to them it means they have the relationship themselves."

    Hatto and business partner Georgie Bale, also a former PA, also own a recruitment company called BOWER, which comes in handy.

    "A lot of them come from that," she said. "The recruitment business feeds quite nicely into ibLE, from the candidate side but also from the client side."

    She added that the majority of ibLE's PAs are mums who "have decided to go back to work but they don’t want to be in the city or they don’t want to be working fulltime hours.

    "As a PA, it’s really hard to get a job if you’re not able to be in an office day-to-day.

    "[Remote working] means they can get up and do a school run, be online, do a school run again, and they can put the kids to bed and be back online in the evening."

    It's also popular with yoga instructors.

    According to Hatto: "As a career path, it’s quite lucrative, especially if you've [just] come out of full time work, some people just don’t want to be in the city all the time any more."

    Landing the job involves a rigorous testing process

    "For our recruitment business we do alot of testing," Hatto said. "We have a diary management test we’ve built, [and] we’ve got gamification testing, so you download an app and play games and about logic, attention to detail, and all those sorts of skill sets. They have to be over a certain level to be even considered as a PA."

    Then, the company do face-to-face interviews. If candidates are successful, Hatto and Bale will use them on a trial basis as PAs themselves.

    "I have one at the moment," Hatto said. "My birthday party was in Ibiza last year and I gave her the whole thing [to organise.] It was the best birthday I've ever had."

    The biggest happy 30th birthday to this little treasure! @emmahatto love you le hat #madasahatto #hat #hatto

    A post shared by Hannah Kehoe (@hannahkehoe) on Sep 30, 2017 at 4:42am PDT on

    "I wanted to know that if I gave that to the hands of the PA what I’d get from them, so it was really good to test that."

    She added that the PAs all have to have at least eight years of experience, so "they've all pretty much seen most things and are able to deal with it."

    "We do ask them to do background checks, stuff like that, to check they’re who they say they are," she added.

    "Confidentiality is key so that’s something we take really seriously."

    Every day is different...


    It may sound (and look) like fun, but it's not always glamorous work.

    "A lot of it would be emails," Hatto said. "The majority of them communicate over Whatsapp, so it’s a quick message in the morning — 'How’s your day looking? Can I do anything for you today?'

    "The ones that are checking inboxes and stuff, it will be alot of inbox management at the beginning of the day, checking the diary, arranging meetings."

    However, the tasks can vary depending on what the client is looking for.

    "Some could be out personal shopping, some could be going to look at event spaces, some could be putting together a presentation. It’s such a variety of tasks. Some do social media management and stuff like that."

    The company has a ticketing partner as well as an HR partner and a virtual finance director, so experts are on hand for any advice a client may need.

    She added that there's "not much we would say no to" — and some requests are certainly more extravagant.

    "We had a new watch brand that was released, and one of the PAs did the launch party with lots of A-list celebrities on that list," she said.

    She added: "We’ve had some weird requests on people being stuck in various places in the world when they’ve gone away for personal holidays, and needed help finding their passport or their keys and everything else that comes with it.

    "People do lean on [the PAs] quite heavily... there are lots of weird and wonderful things they get asked to do."

    ...and you're always on the move

    Days are pretty varied for Hatto, too.

    She's based at IbLE's office in Victoria.

    Thomas House 2

    Here's a peek inside.

    Thomas House 3

    However, she often finds herself working out of the Devonshire Club in the City and is "always on the move."

    Casual working #dowhatyoulove

    A post shared by Emma Hatto (@emmahatto) on Jun 8, 2017 at 4:59am PDT on

    This involves a lot of travel for fun, too.

    "That is the one of the benefits of this — you can work from anywhere," she said. "I was in Verbier last week and they’ve got a co-working space there now."

    #taketuesdayofftoo #bestplaceinverbier #chezdanny

    A post shared by Emma Hatto (@emmahatto) on Feb 6, 2018 at 11:58am PST on

    She added that a lot of what she's learned came from being a PA herself.

    "For me it was a good fast track to learning how to run a business, that’s what I used it for," she said. "I didn’t go to university, came out the other side and thought 'What am I going to do?'

    "The PA world seemed like an obvious route."

    SEE ALSO: Meet the pay-as-you-go PAs who get super-rich clients into Eton, charter choppers to Glastonbury, and ghost-proof mansions

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Inside London's Harry Potter-style bar where you mix your own cocktails in a cauldron and pour beers using a magic wand

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    Google St. Patty's Day doodle 2018

    St. Patrick's Day is here, and that means another one of Google's annual customized holiday doodles.

    Every March 17 since 2000 (save for the year 2003), Google's homepage has displayed different variations of its logo celebrating Irish culture with shamrocks and Celtic designs. This year's St. Patrick's Day Doodle features a design by Irish artist Ross Stewart with a picturesque Irish countryside scene and "Google" spelled out in stones next to a river bank. 

    In honor of today's festivities, we've rounded up every St. Patrick's Day doodle featured on Google's website since 2000. Have a scroll and find your favorite.

    Read more about the holiday: Everywhere from New York to Egypt celebrates St. Patrick's Day — see the photos of raucous celebrations around the world




    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    St. Patrick's Day in Dublin, Ireland

    Irish and Gaelic descendants have been celebrating St. Patrick's Day for over 1,000 years. The holiday, which falls on the anniversary of St. Patrick's death, is accompanied by parades, drinking beer, and eating traditional foods like corned beef and cabbage or shepherd's pie. More than 100 parades are held across the United States including the largest ones in New York City, Chicago and Scranton.

    Although the US is home to some of the largest St. Patrick's Day celebrations, festivities take place around the world from Ireland to Australia. 

    Here is a breakdown of St. Patrick's Day by the numbers:

    Source: WalletHub

    Source: WalletHub

    Chicago started dyeing its river green in 1962. The first year used 100 pounds of dye.

    Source: RewardExpert

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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     North Palm Beach Florida 3

    • Tiger Woods and his ex-wife, former Swedish model Elin Nordegren, divorced in 2010 after six years of marriage.
    • In 2011, Nordegren purchased property in North Palm Beach, Florida, and custom built a mansion.
    • The 11-bedroom mansion is now listed for $49.5 million.


    Tiger Woods' ex-wife Elin Nordegren, who was married to the pro golfer for six years, has placed her 11-bedroom Florida mansion on the market for $49.5 million. Woods and 38-year-old Nordegren divorced in 2010.

    The property was purchased by Nordegren in 2011 for $12.25 million, and the custom-built mansion was completed in 2014.

    The 23,176 square-foot oceanfront home is in Seminole Landing — a private, gated community in North Palm Beach, Florida. The property comes with 11 bedrooms, 15 full baths, a guest house, and a four-car garage.

    Other perks inside include a wine cellar, theater, fitness center, a catering kitchen, and a three-story Swarovski crystal chandelier. The home is inspired by British West Indies architectural design, and if the beach doesn't impress, there's also a swimming pool equipped with a waterslide and spa, lounge areas with fire pits, a half basketball court, and a putting green.

    The listing is held by Cristina Condon and Todd Peter of Sotheby's International Realty.

    Keep scrolling for a full tour of the mansion.

    SEE ALSO: An elite networking group that counts professional athletes and fashion executives as members is turning an island off Finland into the next Soho House

    DON'T MISS: Nobody wants to buy Warren Buffett's $11 million Southern California vacation home — take a look inside

    In total the mansion is 25,878 square feet.

    The home sits on 1.4 acres of land.

    The design was inspired by British West Indies architectural design.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Mermaid Paisley

    • Mermaids, beer historians, and cat café owners all make a living from unusual and cool jobs.

    • Some gigs involve inherently interesting activities, like finding Spanish coins and traveling the country visiting breweries.

    • Business Insider spoke with a number of people who have particularly interesting jobs.


    Cool jobs may seem hard to come by sometimes, but they're definitely out there.

    Some jobs, like mermaid and treasure hunter, are so interesting that they almost sound far-fetched.

    But Business Insider found that's it's more than possible to make a living doing things that you love.

    Here's a look at how six people came by some of the most incredible jobs out there and what their lives entail:

    SEE ALSO: The 50 best places to work in 2018, according to employees

    Paisley Easton was introduced to the world of mermaids by a high school friend

    Paisley Easton has always loved the water.

    "I'm not a swimmer per se, but growing up we were always going to the pool and water parks," she said.

    Now, she spends part of her work days underwater, working as a mermaid at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park in Florida. A high school classmate who she attended college with first clued her in to the world of Weeki Wachee's mermaids.

    "As we were sitting in a college class, she told me, 'Oh I just wish I could be a mermaid forever,'" she told Business Insider. "Obviously, she's there getting her education to move onto something else, but you could tell that she really loved the job by that comment."

    Prospective mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park in Florida have to undergo a number of tests before they earn their tails

    Easton had visited the tourist attraction as a kid, but that conversation was what sparked her interest. Typically, prospective mermaids audition in groups of 60, but Easton's friend snagged her a private audition.

    To make the cut, Easton had to swim 400 yards in 16 minutes, try out some underwater moves, and do breath exercises.

    "I had to take a breath, hold, and smile and wave at the windows so they could watch how comfortable I was," she said. "You've got to make sure that your face just looks calm and relaxed and not scrunched up. And you've got to keep your eyes open."

    Easton said the mermaid performances have brought out her more outgoing side

    Easton ended up getting the gig. Along with the other new mermaids, she trained to swim relying on her arms, keeping her legs straight and her ankles together.

    Wearing the costume fish tail actually makes swimming easier, Easton said, because it keeps your legs together for you. The mermaids perform three shows a day, but Easton said swimming before an audience isn't too stressful, and the job has brought out her more outgoing side.


    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    • About 17.2 million cars were sold in 2017, according to data from Kelley Blue Book.
    • Compact and mid-size crossover SUVs accounted for nearly 40% of all sales.
    • Among the top-selling SUVs were the Toyota Rav4, Nissan Rogue, and Honda CR-V.

    There were about 17.2 million cars and trucks sold last year, according to a report by Kelley Blue Book.

    Though the total number of car sales is down 1.8% from 2016, the report shows that people are continuing to favor SUVs and trucks over sedans. In fact, compact and mid-size crossover SUVs combined accounted for about 40% of all car sales in 2017. Some of the top selling crossover SUVs include the Toyota Rav4, Nissan Rogue, and Honda CR-V — over 350,000 of each was sold in 2017 alone.

    Out of all the SUVs sold in 2017, here are the best sellers according to KBB:



    SEE ALSO: Ford is cutting back on sedans to build more SUVs — and it could mean a boom for its business

    12. Jeep Cherokee: 169,882 sold during 2017. Down -14.9% over 2016.

    11. Subaru Forester: 177,563. -0.6%.

    10. Subaru Outback: 188,886. +3.3%.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    surprised phone texting

    • Frequent social media use and screen time have been portrayed as universally bad for our health.
    • However, a lot of research on this phenomenon has been characterized by poorly done studies and bad science.
    • The vast majority of evidence suggests that our smartphones are not uniformly harmful, and in some cases, they may be a force for good.

    True story: I once walked headfirst into a pole on my way home from work.

    I can't blame the darkness (the sun had only just begun to set), and I can't blame my vision (I'd recently gotten new glasses). But I can blame my iPhone, whose vibration had lured me into staring at its crisp bright screen. The text I was responding to was not worth the heart-shaped bruise that I shamefully covered in makeup the next day.

    Until my ridiculous injury, I had laughed at stories about the dangers of "walking while texting." I'd eye-rolled at reports of painful "iPhone neck" from leaning over tiny screens. And I'd never taken the idea of social media addiction seriously.

    But that evening, I started to wonder if maybe our generation was screwed— and maybe our smartphones were to blame.

    So I did some digging: I pored over scientific studies and talked to researchers who specialize in psychology, sociology, addiction, and statistics. A few experts were emphatic that social media addiction is real and should be added to the DSM IV, long considered the diagnostic bible for psychologists. Others hedged their bets and said more studies were needed.

    But the conclusion I gathered was the opposite of what I've been hearing in the news. Social media and smartphones are not ruining our brains, nor will either become the downfall of a generation.

    The vast majority of the large and well-designed statistical studies on smartphones and the brain actually suggest these technologies are having little to no effect on our health and well-being. And in some cases, the availability of social media and phones may be a power for good.

    'The lowest quality of evidence you could give that people wouldn't laugh you out of the room'

    texting working lateMost of the headlines about social media — the ones that warn us about smartphones destroying a generation, ruining our posture and mood, and eroding our brains— are simply "a projection of our own fears," Andrew Przybylski, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, told Business Insider.

    That's because most existing studies on social media's effects suffer from the same problems that have plagued the social science field for decades.

    For one thing, many of the studies are too small to carry a lot of statistical power, Przybylski said. Researchers also often go into a study with an agenda or hypothesis that they hope their study will support.

    Take, for example, the claim that because teen depression and iPhone ownership have been rising at the same time, they must be connected. This is a classic example of correlation, not causation: our phones are not necessarily to blame for cases of depression.

    Przybylski has attempted to replicate some of the studies that suggested there's a strong tie between social media use and depression. When he used larger sets of people in a more well-controlled environment, he failed to find the same results. Instead, he's found either no link or a very, very small one.

    "People are making expansive claims about the link between well-being and tech use, but if this was displayed on a Venn diagram, the circles would overlap one quarter of one percent," Przybylski said. "It is literally the lowest quality of evidence that you could give that people wouldn't laugh you out of the room."

    Last year, Przybylski co-authored a study published in the journal Psychological Science in which he examined the effect of screen-time on a sample of more than 120,000 British adolescents. The researchers asked teens how much time they spent streaming, gaming, and using their smartphones and computers. After running the data through a series of statistical analyses, it became clear to Przybylski that screen-time isn't harmful for the vast majority of teens. In fact, it's sometimes helpful — especially when teens are using it for two to four hours per day.

    "Overall, the evidence indicated that moderate use of digital technology is not intrinsically harmful and may be advantageous in a connected world," Przybylski wrote in the paper.

    Even when it came to those positive results, however, Przybylski said the significance of the effects they observed was tiny.

    "If you're a parent and you have limited resources, the question becomes: which hill are you going to die on? Where do you want to put your limited resources? Do you want to put it into making sure your kid has breakfast or gets a full night's sleep? Because for those activities the effects are three times larger than they would be for screen-time," Przybylski said.

    Seeing problems everywhere

    walking and textingMany parents fear that using social media is universally bad for teens. They get distracted by text messages during class; they miss out on family time because they're texting at the dinner table; they scroll through Instagram instead of going to sleep.

    Once you see a few examples of phone-obsessed behavior — a whole family staring silently at their phones while eating a restaurant, say — you tend to notice it more wherever you go.

    This may be partially a result of the phenomenon known as confirmation bias. Essentially, you see one event that supports an idea you already have, then because you are hyper-aware of these types of activities, you find more examples that appear to confirm that idea.

    It's a bit like when you begin shopping for a certain kind of car — a Honda Civic, let's say — then suddenly notice that everyone appears to be driving a Honda Civic. In reality, that model hasn't gotten more popular overnight; you're simply primed to notice them.

    "A lot of the research is bound up in these problems," Przybylski said. "Our concerns or panic about a new thing" — in this case, social media — "guide how we do the research and interpret the results."

    Distorted, negative viewpoints have likely influenced the research on a host of new inventions and activities throughout history.

    Unfortunately, paying attention exclusively to social harms makes us blind to the ways a new technology may be help us. In the case of social media, such biases can take attention away from other more serious problems.

    "It's important to think about all the things we're not talking about here. We don't talk about things like privacy, advertisements, who owns your data, and all this stuff that's actually important. So actually it serves the interest of larger companies to be debating things like screen time and usage. When you bring it all together you have a big dog and pony show," Przybylski said.

    When social media may help, not harm

    teensCandice L. Odgers, a professor of psychology and social behavior at the University of California Irvine, specializes in studying new technologies and adolescent development. She told Business Insider that social media may be having some positive effects on teens and young adults, but many people are not paying attention to that research.

    "The digital world hasn't created a new species of children. Many of the things that attract them to things about social media are the same things that attract them to other activities," Odgers said. "There are a lot of good things that are happening with social media use today and there's been a really negative narrative about it."

    A large review of 36 studies published in the journal Adolescent Research Review concluded that instead of feeling hampered by their screens, teens are chiefly using digital communication to deepen and strengthen existing in-person relationships. The authors concluded that young adults find it easier to display affection, share intimacy, and even organize events and meet-ups online.

    Similarly, the authors of a 2017 review of literature on social media and screen time published by UNICEF concluded that "digital technology seems to be beneficial for children's social relationships" and that most young people are using it to "enhance their existing relationships and stay in touch with friends."

    Kids who struggle to make friends in person may even use digital tools to "compensate for this and build positive relationships," they said. A small 2018 study of British teens in foster care supports that idea — it suggested that social media helped young people maintain healthy relationships with their birth parents, make new friends, and ease the transition from childhood to adulthood.

    Other research, including a small 2017 study of Instagram users aged 18-55, suggests that teens also turn to platforms like Instagram as a means of exploring the world and dreaming up potential adventures — a category of people the researchers classified as "feature lovers."

    "Feature lovers want to see something that's exotic or unique; they're looking at Instagram and they're thinking, 'take me to China or Alaska or some place I can't afford to go,'" T.J. Thomson, the lead author of the study, told Business Insider.

    You're probably not 'addicted' to Facebook or Instagram

    Girl iPhone XThe researchers behind these studies emphasized that social media and smartphones are not so much an "addiction" as a novel, attention-grabbing platform for enhancing existing activities and relationships.

    In other words, social media has similar impacts on the brain as lots of other types of activity — too much or too little can be linked with negative impacts, while moderate use can have positive results.

    "Claims that the brain might be hijacked or re-wired by digital technology are not supported by neuroscience evidence and should be treated with skepticism," the authors of the UNICEF review wrote.

    Addiction is a complicated but serious problem that neuroscientists have yet to fully understand. It typically stems from a cache of interconnected factors that include our environment and our genes. As a result, classifying our nearly-universal reliance on digital tools as an "addiction" simply isn't fair to the people whose lives have been torn apart by things like alcoholism or drug use.

    A chief characterizing factor of addictive behavior is that use of a given substance interferes with daily activity so much that people can't function normally. Studies suggest that social media, by contrast, is often used to enhance existing relationships, and does not decrease real-world interactions or cause uniform harm.

    Research does indicate, however, that people who may already be predisposed to depression and anxiety could suffer more as a result of using these types of "compare-and-despair" platforms.

    A series of studies published this month in the journal Information, Communication, and Society found that while people's Facebook use had no impact on their social interactions later that day, scrolling through the platform did appear to be linked with lower feelings of well-being if the person had been alone earlier in the day.

    ”People who use social media alone likely aren't getting their face-to-face social needs met,” Michael Kearney, a co-author of the study, said in a statement. "So if they’re not having their social needs met in their life outside of social media, it makes sense that looking at social media might make them feel even lonelier."

    There are plenty of simple, healthy ways to address these risks without resorting to harsh measures like breaking up with your smartphone. I, for one, no longer text when I walk.

    It's a small change, but my forehead is grateful.

    SEE ALSO: A Stanford researcher is pioneering a dramatic shift in how we treat depression — and you can try her new tool right now

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This indoor farm in New Jersey can grow 365 days a year and uses 95% less water than a typical farm

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    The Academy, Kasia Urbaniak and Ruben Flores

    • Kasia Urbaniak, a former dominatrix, has been teaching both women and men ways to communicate more powerfully and effectively for the past five years.
    • It's based on what she knows about power dynamics, and is backed by social science, too.
    • She told Business Insider her top tips for improving relationships.

    Kasia Urbaniak is wrapping her arm gently around mine. “I want to reach 50,000 women,” she tells me, and I sense I might be one of them. Her quest: to put more women in positions of power, and re-shape the ways people interact.

    The former dominatrix, dressed in a soft black sweater and leather, metal-studded boots, is comfortable commanding a room. But she also knows when it's OK to be quiet, kick off her shoes, pause and ask questions, or roll up her sleeves and inch closer to her colleagues to make a point.

    For Urbaniak, learning how to become more "dom" and less "sub" is really just about learning what people need, and meeting them where they are. She says this keen ability to "read a room" and engage with a client or a colleague is an essential human skill — and something we can take from her dominatrix power playbook into the streets.

    Urbaniak has utilized her skills to create a new kind of communication school called "The Academy." At the New York City school, she coaches women (and men, too) to change how they communicate, and learn her jujitsu style for "verbal self-defense."

    But the class isn't just about shutting down creeps. Urbaniak wants to completely transform the way we talk to each other in all our relationships.

    The number one relationship-crusher

    Urbaniak says one of the biggest issues we face in all kinds of relationships is what she often refers to as "speechlessness" — the idea of being frozen or stuck in a moment, and feeling like you don't have the agency to speak up. It can be crippling when you're dealing with a predator or a bully. But it's also a problem in relationships with people who we're close to, like a partner or co-worker. 

    "The idea of being good, by being low maintenance, is an absolute falsehood," Urbaniak says. She argues it's often what people don't say in conversations that's most dangerous to their future.

    This speechlessness can be a learned habit, but the easiest way to break out of it, she says, is by saying something in the moment. Bringing up an awkward comment, or giving immediate feedback about something that makes you uncomfortable, is the easiest way to change the situation.

    Open communication can be crippled by social rules about perfection and politeness

    small new study of doctors and residents at Harvard's Brigham and Women's teaching hospital in Boston backs Urbaniak up, finding that feedback is crucial for good work, and when politeness and excellence are prized above moment-to-moment constructive criticism in a hospital setting, a dangerous culture of silence reigns. doctor patient hospital healthcare

    To change this, Ubraniak gives her students tips on ways to practice breaking out of speechlessness. If what someone is saying is unclear, phrasing a response like, "It seems like what you're saying is..." might help. Or if you're frustrated someone just took credit for an idea, note what's happening right as it happens, like an athlete catching a pass: "Quickly pick up the ball," she says. "And go, 'Exactly what I was saying, thank you!'"

    She says if you let an uncomfortable situation like this fester, it makes things worse. 

    "With added time, there's a sense of betrayal," she says. "It also impacts all of the interaction in between, so there's just a lot more to clean up."

    Throwing out dated gender scripts

    Social scientists know that as we age, our brains change to respond to more social cues. By the time we're adults, our communication pathways are set up, and we develop habits about how to interact with each other. Some studies suggests that ways men and women respond to negative feedback can be quite different: women more often (quite literally) turn their gaze inward, while men look out. man talking to woman

    But Urbaniak believes it's time for those old habitual ways to morph into something new. She says the social reasons for some of those behaviors are fading, and it's time to change up the gendered script. 

    In her classes, she encourages students to ask more questions, and expose what's not being said. Urbaniak says one of the simplest ways to shift a gaze outward is to start asking simple, probing questions, ones that don't involve any "I's." Like, "is that true?" or "why do you think that?" 

    "Up until not very long ago, the best thing a woman could do for herself and her status and her future was to marry well," she says. "This is all new. We have to have a lot of compassion right now, for women and for men."

    SEE ALSO: This is what your smartphone is doing to your brain — and it isn't good

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The key to long-lasting relationships is more simple than you think

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    Barack and Michelle Obama 5

    • Barack Obama first met his future wife Michelle at work in 1989.

    • The former First Couple went on a date that same year, and subsequently were married in 1991.

    • The Obamas have spoken at length about how they made their marriage work, despite the pressures of the campaign trail and the White House.


    Barack Obama reportedly knows how to sweep a girl off her feet.

    The future president's first date with his wife Michelle began at the Art Institute of Chicago, where they grabbed lunch. It didn't start auspiciously.

    Michelle was Obama's mentor at the law firm Sidley Austin LLP, and was therefore reluctant to go out with him. According to David Mendell's "Obama: From Promise to Power," the future First Lady also thought Obama sounded "too good to be true" at first. She was also unimpressed when he showed up to the date in a "bad sport jacket" with a "cigarette dangling from his mouth."

    "I thought: 'Oh, here you go. Here's this good-looking, smooth-talking guy. I've been down this road before,'" she told Mendell, according to the Washington Post

    But ultimately, Barack won her over. They went out walking, and later caught a screening of Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing," the Telegraph reported.

    The date went well by all accounts, and couple reportedly had their first kiss outside a Baskin-Robbins at 53rd and South Dorchester in Chicago. The spot is now marked by a plaque commemorating the event, according to Atlas Obscura.

    Here's a look inside the 25-year marriage of the former First Couple:

    SEE ALSO: A look inside the marriage of the richest couple in history, Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos — who met at work, were engaged in 3 months, and own more land than almost anyone else in America

    Michelle, then 25, became 28-year-old Barack's mentor at Sidley Austin LLP in 1989. Michelle worried that it would be too "tacky" to date the new summer associate.

    Source: INSIDERABC News

    But ultimately, Barack won her over. The couple's first romantic excursion inspired the 2016 film "Southside with You." "We clicked right away… by the end of the date, it was over… I was sold," Michelle said, according to

    Source: Youtube, Atlas Obscura,

    In 1991, Barack passed the bar exam, and took Michelle out to dinner at the now-shuttered Gordon's restaurant to celebrate. It was there he proposed to her.

    Source: Youtube, Atlas

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Sam's Club Food 11

    • Costco and Sam's Club are extremely popular in the US, and while memberships are needed to buy items, the food courts are open to all. 
    • We decided to compare the food from two of the biggest bulk retail chains in the country: Costco and Sam's Club.
    • Both had nearly identical set-ups and price points, but Costco's larger selection and shockingly good quality won out in the end. 

    Costco and Sam's Club are shining basilicas of American bulk shopping.

    Within their hallowed — and exclusive — corrugated-metal-and-concrete walls, shoppers grab pounds of pasta and peanut butter amid miles of aisles of marked-down goods. 

    There is virtually nothing that isn't offered by these warehouse giants — coffins, cars, even vacation packages can be purchased through their services. And even Amazon can't stand in the way of bulk efficiency, as Costco's most recent quarterly earnings report showed. 

    And no matter which warehouse store you're shopping in, you're bound to get hungry. Luckily, both Costco and Sam's Club have mini food courts to satiate hungry shoppers. While they may look rather bare-bones, make no mistake: under the right circumstances, the food can be shockingly good. 

    We visited a Costco food court and were floored by the quality and downright deliciousness of some of the options — it was suspiciously good. So, we decided to head over to one of Costco's biggest competitors, Sam's Club, to find out if its food could beat the best:

    SEE ALSO: We tried biscuit breakfast sandwiches from major fast-food chains — and the winner is shockingly clear

    First, a recap of Costco's highlights.

    Costco has a fairly large amount on its menu considering it's a tiny kitchen hidden within a bulk retailer.

    This entire spread — cheese pizza, hot dog, three different sandwiches, a quasi-stromboli, a soda, and a churro — cost just over $25. That's pretty impressive. 

    The pizza is fine, but nothing astounding.

    It's a large, doughy, slice that's similar in taste to Pizza Hut — salty, with a slightly sweet sauce. It's nothing special, but for $1.99, I wasn't complaining. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    elementary 2015 2016 renewals cbs

    It's almost spring, which means it's that time of year when TV show cancellations start rolling in. 

    The networks, as always, have some  shows that are struggling from low ratings and bad reviews from critics.

    But this year has been a bit unusual. A lot of shows that premiered in fall 2017 that didn't perform well haven't been officially canceled yet, including ABC's "Inhumans" and The CW's "Valor."

    The only big network shows that have been canceled so far are the ABC shows "The Mayor" and "Once Upon a Time." Most of the other cancellations in 2018 have been streaming service shows on Amazon and Netflix. 

    A few shows further into their runs are also at risk of cancellation, including CBS' once beloved "Elementary," which is nearing its end, as interest has dropped significantly over the past few seasons. 

    Is your favorite show at risk?

    Check out the status on our list of 17 TV shows that will probably get canceled:

    SEE ALSO: All the TV shows that have been canceled in 2018

    "9JKL" — CBS

    Despite airing on a good night with "Man with a Plan" and "Kevin Can Wait," the show's ratings aren't good. It could survive another season, but it's not likely at this point. 

    "The Blacklist" —NBC

    The James Spader drama used to be really popular, but in its fifth season it's the second lowest rated show on the network. It could get a sympathy final season, but it could just get the axe. 

    "The Brave" — NBC

    NBC has tried to get more viewers to watch this show, airing it after "The Voice." But it hasn't done much to improve ratings, and it's on the same night as ratings hit "The Good Doctor," on ABC. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    eating restaurant

    • Americans tip 16.4% of the check, on average, according to a study from Square.
    • High-income states like California and Massachusetts tip well below the national average.
    • One survey found that purchases with credit cards are more likely to include a tip than those with cash.


    You've enjoyed your meal but your work is not yet over. You have to pay the check and figure out how much to tip.

    Americans tip 16.4% of a check, on average, according to a study from Square, which measured credit and debit card transactions from over two million vendors in July 2017 and discovered how much people tip in each US state.

    A June 2017 survey of 1,002 Americans from found men were more generous with tipping, at least to restaurant servers. When asked if they leave tips 0f 15% or more, 59% of men responded in the affirmative while only 47% of women said yes.

    Women, however, were more likely to say they always tipped hair stylists, baristas, and hotel staff than men.

    The survey — which is self reported — found that plastic also pays more than paper; purchases with credit cards are more likely to include a tip than those with cash.

    People also tip differently depending on which part of the country they live. According to Square's research, five of the ten states that tip less than 16% are in the Northeast.

    The state with the lowest tip average, Hawaii, paid 14.8% of the check, while the place with the highest tip average, Idaho, paid out 17.4%. See where every state ranked in generosity, according to data from Square.

    SEE ALSO: Bill Gates has no idea what groceries cost, but you should — here's how much it costs to buy groceries in 25 major US cities

    DON'T MISS: These stores have the best return policies in retail

    Hawaii — 14.8%

    Washington, DC — 14.9%

    Massachusetts — 15.0%

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    the last jedi tree2 final

    • The burning tree scene in "The Last Jedi" was a practical effect — they really lit a fake tree on fire.
    • It took months to build the tree, and close to 25 separate gas lines were rigged to it to have the tree burn to director Rian Johnson's liking.
    • Special effects supervisor Chris Corbould explained to Business Insider how the scene was pulled off.

    In an era when you assume anything amazing that happens in a movie is courtesy of computer-generated imagery, it’s always exciting to learn when a memorable scene was pulled off by practical effects.

    Since the “Star Wars” prequels, in which George Lucas was heavily criticized for using too much CGI to create the worlds and characters, many big-budget movies have tried to find that happy medium of practical and visual effects to give the action on screen a more grounded feel. And the now Disney-owned “Star Wars” saga is leading the way.

    A perfect example is in “The Last Jedi” (available on digital release Tuesday, on Blu-ray/DVD March 27) when Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) attempts to burn down the giant tree that holds the sacred Jedi texts. It’s a scene that also features a Force ghost of Yoda.

    When Skywalker tells the legendary Jedi master what he’s about to do, Yoda doesn't talk him out of it. But when Skywalker gets to the giant tree, with flame in hand, he can’t go through with it. This leads to Yoda summoning a giant lightening bolt that strikes the tree and engulfs it in flames. He then delivers his famous giddy laugh as Skywalker looks on in complete shock.

    the last jedi tree finalAlmost all of that scene is done with practical effects. From the puppet of Yoda, voiced by Frank Oz, that Hamill traded lines with, to the enormous tree and giant flames shooting from it.

    It was the handiwork of the movie’s special effects supervisor Chris Corbould, and one of the reasons why he recently received a visual effects Oscar nomination for “The Last Jedi.”

    Responsible for some of the greatest visual effects pulled off on screen in the last 40 years, he’s done everything from James Bond movies like “Moonraker” and “GoldenEye,” to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and “Inception” (which he won an Oscar for). He’s now hit the effects industry mountain top with getting the “Star Wars” gig (he was also the effects supervisor on “The Force Awakens”) and the Yoda/Skywalker scene for him is one of his favorites.

    There’s the nostalgia of seeing Luke and Yoda on screen again, but also the pride of pulling off a practical effect of this size.

    “It was a tricky one,” Corbould admitted to Business Insider.

    First, there was building the tree and rigging it to burn. Corbould said it took a couple of months for the construction crew on the movie to build the fireproof tree that was almost 60 feet high and close to 50 feet wide. It was so big that the tree could not be built on the set.

    “They had to assemble it in various parts,” Corbould said.

    So the tree was basically a very large Lego set. A piece of a trunk would be built on set, then another piece of the trunk would be brought in and attached to that. Then the multiple branches were attached one at a time.

    After all that, close to 25 separate gas lines were put into the tree, each one with its own valve so Corbould and his team could adjust the flame to his and director Rian Johnson’s liking.

    “It’s very easy to have it just burst into flames,” Corbould said. “Rian really wanted it to catch the light a little bit slower. So we had to spent quite a lot of testing time to bring the gas lines to a point where it looked like the flames were slowly creeping up and then totally enveloping the whole tree.”

    The tree burning scene was shot over two nights with a crew of 20 people just responsible for the tree catching on fire. Most of the shots pre-fire were completed on the first night. The second night was for the shots after the tree was on fire, which included Hamill, the Yoda puppet, and Oz voicing the character in front of the giant burning tree. And it got hot — to the joy of everyone on set.

    “When we shot the scene the nights were incredibly cold,” Corbould said. “I think the whole crew was happy when we lit that up.”

    The tree was lit on fire close to 30 times by the time they wrapped on the scene, according to Corbould.

    Chris Corbould Frazer Harrison GettyThe special effects veteran laughed when he was told that many people probably think the tree fire scene is just another dazzling VFX feat by the wizards at Industrial Light and Magic.

    “I think when you do something for real you get a much more convincing performance from the actors,” he said. “I think that’s why a lot of the directors — Chris [Nolan], Rian [Johnson], J.J. [Abrams] — they value those moments where you’ve got a real look of terror, anxiety, excitement on the faces of the actors.”

    Corbould added that some of the excitement for him is seeing if a practical effect could even be pulled off.

    He said he wasn’t completely confident he could pull off the 18-wheeler truck flip he did in “The Dark Knight.”

    “There was a bit of banter between me and Chris Nolan,” he said. “Eventually we pulled it off.”

    But in today’s moviemaking landscape, it’s what’s done on the VFX side that has really upped everyone’s game in the special effects profession.

    “When CGI was first invented we all thought we're not going to have a job in five years,” Corbould said. “But what it actually did is it allowed films to do even bigger visual effects and we had to enhance what they did — whether it's an asteroid hitting the ground or blowing 10 cars up in the air. It's a great marriage these days. It's a combination of practical and visual effects to make that great film — that's what we're striving to do.”

    Corbould's next task: Making our hearts melt for Winnie the Pooh in the upcoming Disney release, "Christopher Robin."

    SEE ALSO: The amount of money The Rock gets paid for a single movie is unheard of in Today's movie business

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: You can connect all 9 Best Picture Oscar nominees with actors they have in common — here's how

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    • Veteran TV actor Walton Goggins gets some time on the big screen this weekend as he plays the villain in "Tomb Raider."
    • He talked to Business Insider about coming up with the right tone for the character.
    • He also teased his next big TV role, playing Jack Vincennes in the series adaptation of James Ellroy's "L.A. Confidential."
    • And we chatted about his Oscar win in 2002.

    Walton Goggins is one of those actors you can’t help but root for.

    From his breakout performance in the 2000s FX hit “The Shield,” to his Emmy-nominated work on “Justified,” to his recent string of impressive performances in Quentin Tarantino movies (“Django Unchained” and “The Hateful Eight”), he’s done it all over his 28-year career. But only recently has he gotten cast in the high-profile projects he deserves (upcoming ones include “Ant-Man and The Wasp” and a TV series on the popular James Ellroy book “L.A. Confidential”).

    Goggins also plays the villain in “Tomb Raider” (in theaters Friday) opposite Alicia Vikander in the title role. In a movie that tries very hard to show its hero Lara Croft is not a superhero but instead an ordinary person doing extraordinary things, Goggins used that real-world template to craft Mathias Vogel. Vogel is the leader of the expedition to locate a hidden tomb on a mysterious island who, after seven years of searching, has gone a little mad and is obsessed with finding the tomb so he can return to his family.

    Business Insider talked to Goggins about crafting this grounded character, preparing to take on the role of Jack Vincennes in the “L.A. Confidential” TV version, and the night he won an Oscar.

    Jason Guerrasio: First off, Mathias Vogel — he's a relatable villain. 

    Walton Goggins: You know what, I'll take that. Okay.
    Guerrasio: Because if I was on an island for seven years just blowing up rocks I would probably lose it too.

    Goggins: I think so. If you really take a walk in his shoes — that he's a father and the day he left his family he kissed them all on the cheek and said he would be back in a year — you understand him. Desperate people do desperate things and that was my only way into him.

    Tomb Raider Warner Bros finalGuerrasio: I feel you could have done this role two ways: Play him really crazy and do a scenery-chewing performance or do what you did — make him more grounded. 

    Goggins: You know I had a lengthy discussion with Roar Uthaug, our director, on a Skype call and I said, "If you want me to be a part of this story I think this is how I can help you tell it." It was in a grounded way. And I thought Alicia was going to do the same thing and Roar wanted to tell a similar story so we were all on the same page. To take it out of the realm of superpowers because Lara Croft doesn't have them. With everything I've been fortunate enough to do that's always been a part of my experience, be truthful to who these characters are. Even how grandiose Lee Russell was in “Vice Principals,” he's still a person in the world with deep pain. That's what interested me.

    Guerrasio: Was the “Tomb Raider” role also attractive because it's basically a one-off in the franchise? You don't have to be stuck with a character for years. You can get in and out. 

    Goggins: Huh, no one has asked me that. If I was offered a character in a franchise in a meaningful way I would have done that, for sure. But I don't think about those things. For this, this is a complete journey for this character and that's really satisfying. 

    Guerrasio: Is your character also a one-off in "Ant-Man and The Wasp?"

    Goggins: I don't know man, you got to see the movie. [Laughs] We'll see what happens. 

    the shield FXGuerrasio: Have you ever auditioned for a major Marvel or DC character that would have locked you into a franchise? Have you gone down that road yet?

    Goggins: No. Not beyond what I've participated so far. I look at it like this, honestly, I've been in television for 15 years and however long it takes to tell the story that's how long it takes. For "The Shield,” I don't think [creator] Shawn Ryan had any idea that it would go seven years. But the story goes until the time when it doesn't need to anymore. And that's how we all felt about "Justified" too. So whether it's sequels or franchise, if you're doing it from an authentic place and it rings true then I'm up for it.

    Guerrasio: Has it been crazy to watch the evolution of television from back on "The Shield" to how it is now? A lot of talent believe it’s more rewarding to do TV these days more than movies. That wasn’t the case when you started out. Has that been weird to see how things have shifted?

    Goggins: With TV it's just rewarding because in a serialized story things can play out over a very long time so the opportunities to really explore nuances are there. It's very rewarding right now, but I feel that way about movies. The way they wanted to tell Lara Croft in this “Tomb Raider” movie is very refreshing and different. And this is possible because of what's coming out of TV now, each impact the other.

    Guerrasio: You've bounced back and forth from movies and TV for a long time.
    Goggins: A long time. 

    hateful eight the weinstein companyGuerrasio: Did things change in the offers you were getting when you starred in back-to-back Tarantino movies?

    Goggins: Yeah. Most people who have worked with Quentin you measure your life in “before Quentin Tarantino” and “after Quentin Tarantino.” But for me it's never been more complicated than to be good at telling stories. The cherry on top, though, is working with filmmakers like Quentin.
    Guerrasio: Will we see you in the next Tarantino movie?

    Goggins: Buddy, I don't know who you are talking about right now. [Laughs] Tarantino who? No. He's very private in his process and I respect that. We'll see. Maybe.

    Guerrasio: But you’ve done two movies with him, are you at the point where you can text him and just say hi or do you just wait and see if you're called on again?

    Goggins: It's not something that you ever expect to happen again. When you get that call, that golden ticket, you just jump on the ride. 

    Guerrasio: Can you talk a little about playing Jack Vincennes in the upcoming TV version of "L.A. Confidential?"

    Goggins: I can tell you that it isn't a remake of the movie (in which Kevin Spacey played Vincennes). It is a telling of James Ellroy's novel and I'm really excited about it. 

    Guerrasio: I’m actually reading the book again right now. There's so much to the Jack character that was not explored in the movie.

    Goggins: That's how I feel. I'm just reading Ellroy for the first time now. 

    Guerrasio: It's a quick read, right? You just fly through his books.

    Goggins: Yeah. And the story behind how he found his voice for “L.A. Confidential,” from what I was told, is he was told to cut a third of the book and he couldn't do that so we went back to page one and just began cutting words and sentences and did it through the whole book and it became this rapid, quick-fire read. I'm just blown away by it. 

    Walton Goggins Oscar Oscars finalGuerrasio: It dawned on me the other day, you are an Oscar winner. You won in 2002 for a short film you starred and produced, "The Accountant," right?

    Goggins: It was myself and my two partners, Ray McKinnon and Lisa Blount, who has since passed away. And in the short film category you can only put two names down for the award, so it was Ray and Lisa, but we all did it together so we all decided we'd walk up on stage. And we timed our speech so we all could talk in 30 seconds and not piss anyone off. It came from the heart and it brought the house down. And that's hard to do after Sidney Poitier just got his lifetime achievement award. It was pretty incredible. 

    Guerrasio: Do you have one of the Oscars?

    Goggins: I have one and Ray has the other and we have Lisa in our hearts.  

    SEE ALSO: The 30 most important deaths in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ranked by how sad they were

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: You can connect all 9 Best Picture Oscar nominees with actors they have in common — here's how

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    Toys R Us NJ 1996

    As Toys R Us nears its end, fans of the store are lamenting its demise.

    The retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September and officially filed for liquidation early Thursday. As a result, Toys R Us will soon close or sell its more than 700 stores across the US.

    The store has been saddled with debt since a leveraged buyout in 2005 and struggled to keep up with competitors.

    Though many Toys R Us fans were aware of this, they're still heartbroken to see it go.

    In 1948 in Washington, DC, Charles Lazarus opened a baby-furniture store that would become the first Toys R Us after expanding into toys in 1957.

    In the 1990s, Toys R Us was the biggest toy seller in the US, expanding rapidly as it pushed out smaller chains. But by 1998, things had changed, and Walmart began selling more toys than Toys R Us in the US — a signal of more trouble ahead.

    Take a look back at what Toys R Us was like in its heyday:

    SEE ALSO: We went to a Kohl's store and saw how it's bucking the trend of dying department stores and malls

    As Toys R Us prepares to close its doors for good, fans are lamenting the death of the chain and looking back on their favorite childhood memories.

    This is what a store in New Jersey looked like in 1996.

    It had everything a kid could want. This photo from 2001 shows the Imaginarium section of a New Jersey store.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Frederik Groce, associate at Storm Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm.

    • As an African-American, Frederik Groce, an associate at Silicon Valley's Storm Ventures, is a rarity in the venture capital world, where only 3% of all employees are black.
    • In addition to being an atypical VC, Groce had an unusual journey into the industry. He grew up poor, planned on being a lawyer, and didn't really have a firm grasp on what venture capitalists do until he interviewed for a position at Storm.
    • But his experience running a multimillion dollar business organization at Stanford impressed Storm Ventures.
    • Hoping to help other blacks who are either in the venture industry or hoping to break into it, Groce's helped form a networking group in Silicon Valley and plans to eventually expand it to Los Angeles and New York.

    Fredrik Groce isn't your typical venture capitalist.

    He's 26. He's never run a startup and didn't come from the worlds of consulting or finance. He grew up living in motels.

    Oh, and he's black — something that's exceedingly rare in the venture industry.

    As even Groce acknowledges, "I'm a fluke."

    But now that he's a working VC, the associate at Silicon Valley's Storm Ventures is determined to help other African-Americans, maybe even some with similarly unusual backgrounds, make it into the industry or get their businesses funded by it.

    "I feel like it's my responsibility to help more people get into venture or navigate venture," Groce said.

    He's already helped organize a series of meet-ups for black venture capitalists. And he's working to turn the effort into a formal organization — tentatively dubbed BLCKVC — with branches in New York and Los Angeles as well as in the Bay Area.

    "We're creating a space for black venture," he said.

    His childhood homes were motels, and he moved frequently

    Not only is Groce an unusual venture capitalist, he took an atypical path to the industry. Indeed, as a kid, he probably had about as much chance of becoming a venture capitalist as landing on the moon.

    Groce grew up poor and itinerant. His father was a car salesman who moved the family around every year or two, looking for better opportunities. The family bounced from the Bay Area to the Pacific Northwest to Ohio. Groce's life was so much in flux that he went to three high schools in four years, two in Ohio and one in Portland, Oregon.

    Except for a two-year period when Groce was in high school, his family lived in motels throughout his childhood, because they didn't have enough saved to put down a deposit on an apartment, much less a down payment on a house.

    "There wasn't much that kept us in any one place," he said. "If we saw an opportunity, we'd leave."

    Among Groce's relatives, his family's experience wasn't exceptional. Of his dad's 12 siblings, just one had some semblance of financial success, becoming a doctor. Some of the other siblings ended up in prison.

    Getting out of his situation meant going into medicine or the law

    His parents' financial hardships and all that moving around influenced Groce's world view — and made him determined to not fall into the same trap. Groce was a good student and was preparing to go to college. But if you asked him what he wanted to do after, it was to be a lawyer. Because where he came from, it was a career in the law or medicine that helped people like him open the door to better financial situations.

    "Become a lawyer or a doctor, and you're set" was the thinking, he said. "The people who made it out went through those pathways."

    After a somewhat haphazard process of applying to colleges — Groce divided potential schools into various categories and applied to only one of the top 10 ranked in each, a process that makes him "cringe" now when he thinks about it — he decided to go to Stanford.

    Although he got into all the colleges he applied to and going to Stanford meant moving far away from his parents, who were in Ohio, he didn't struggle with the decision. Stanford offered him more financial aid than he needed. He had older siblings who lived in the East Bay. And he'd have a place to live for four years — longer than he'd ever stayed in one place in his life.

    "It was an easy decision to be made," he said.

    Going to Stanford was 'transformational'

    The choice ended up being a "transformational" one for Groce, one that opened doors for him that he couldn't have imagined growing up. But as he entered Stanford, he initially saw the school as a stepping stone to going into law.

    Cyclists traverse the main quad on Stanford University's campus in Stanford, California, U.S. on May 9, 2014. To match Special Report COLLEGE-CHARITY/   REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach/File PhotoKnowing that a lot of his peers were also law-school bound, Groce figured he needed to set himself apart. One way to do that was to work on his business skills. Stanford doesn't have an undergraduate business school, so he couldn't formally study business there. But it does have an organization called Stanford Student Enterprises, which oversees the student store, sells advertising in campus publications, and handles the finances of the campus student organization.

    Groce got involved in SSE as a freshman, selling advertising that ran in the campus guidebook and alongside the campus map. During his tenure at Stanford, he grew more and more involved with the organization — and more and more successful.

    By the time he was a junior, he was making more money through SSE than his parents had ever made in a year. As a senior, he became the organization's chief operating officer and was working there about 30 hours a week. He made enough money working for SSE that he was able to pay cash for a house for his parents in Ohio. The move was almost as much for his peace of mind as for his parents.

    He was thinking, "OK, my parents will never be homeless."

    Working for a law firm changed his career path

    But if he loved business, Groce came to realize he wanted no part of being a lawyer. During the summer after his junior year, he got an internship at DLA Piper, a law firm with offices in Silicon Valley and San Francisco. The internship gave him a chance to see what it was like to work in the law — and it was nothing like he expected.

    "I absolutely hated it. I was bored by everything there," he said. "It was earth shattering to me."

    So when it came time to graduate in 2014, he was somewhat at a loss about what to do next. He no longer wanted to go to law school. His experience at SSE had been great and made him interested in business, but he wasn't sure what direction he wanted to go in. So when the CEO position at SSE opened up — a two-year post that's reserved for recent Stanford graduates — he jumped at the opportunity, figuring he loved the organization and could use the time there to figure out his next career step.

    After being hired as CEO, Groce had a fairly unique opportunity for someone who had just graduated from college. He was overseeing an operation with dozens of employees, a multimillion dollar budget, and a half dozen business units.

    "There's a business side, an entrepreneurial side," he said. "You're the financial manager of all the student government and student groups at Stanford."

    It also gave him an opportunity to meet with people in the business community. And that led directly to his entry into venture capital.

    A chance meeting led to a new career

    Ryan Floyd wasn't necessarily looking to hire someone from an underrepresented minority group when he reached out to Groce in late 2015. One of the founders and managing directors at Storm Ventures, a relatively small firm, Floyd was mainly looking for someone young and talented to add to the team.

    "There were a lot of things we'd like to be doing here that we just didn't have the horsepower to do," he said.

    But diversity is valued at Storm. One of Floyd's partners is Indian. Another is Korean. Another is half Cherokee. One of his founding partners was born in Argentina. So Floyd also wasn't looking for the typical Stanford student, either.

    "I didn't want hire someone that had exactly my background," he said. "The makeup of entrepreneurship is wide and vast, and we need to reflect that at Storm if we want to see the best opportunities."

    I didn't want hire someone that had exactly my background. The makeup of entrepreneurship is wide and vast, and we need to reflect that.

    Stanford hosts events that showcase student entrepreneurs and startups. Floyd had been to some of those events and had found out that SSE funded many of the programs. He figured he ought to meet the person who ran SSE, thinking that person could help connect him with students who might make good candidates to join Storm.

    Floyd met with Groce informally, just to get to know him. But he walked away from the meeting so impressed that he didn't take his hiring search much farther.

    Groce admittedly didn't know much about the venture capital business, even then. SSE oversees Cardinal Ventures, a startup accelerator that invests in student-run businesses, so as he moved up in the management of the organization, he learned about the industry. But before he met Floyd, he didn't really know any VCs and didn't have a firm grasp on what they did until he was going through the interview process.

    But that didn't matter much to Floyd. The experience Groce had gained from SSE in managing people, budgeting, dealing with campus politics really made him stand out, Floyd said.

    "I think of myself when I was his age, my ability to articulate my interests, what was interesting about a business, what drives people," Floyd said. "He was much better than me. Much, much better than me."

    A small firm offers lots of experience

    Floyd and Storm initially decided to hire Groce part-time, while he was still working for SSE. He then resigned early from his CEO position and joined Storm full time as an analyst, studying potential deals. After two years, Storm, which focuses on enterprise startups, promoted him to being an associate — its only one — where he helps make the case for potential investments.

    "Because we're so small, there's not a deal Storm has done that I haven't touched in some way," Groce said.

    Storm Ventures' founding partners. From left, Alex Mendez, Tae Hea Nahm, Sanjay Subhedar, and Ryan Floyd.One area he's focused on for the firm is on startups that specialize in serving the technology needs of governments. That's an area that Storm had previously ignored. But the firm has now backed two startups in that business, based in part on the investment thesis Groce put together.

    "It's been an impressive progression for him," said Floyd. "He has a tremendous amount of maturity for his level of experience."

    To be sure, Groce is still early in his career. It's not clear if or when he'll become a partner at Storm or any other firm. Ultimately, that will depends on his ability to develop deals and generate returns, Floyd said.

    But Storm's invested in Groce and open to that possibility.

    "I'd love nothing more than to have Frederik as my partner at some point in the future," Floyd said.

    Silicon Valley has a diversity problem, thanks partly to pattern matching

    Still, Groce's experience is exceedingly unusual.

    Silicon Valley has long had a diversity problem. For literally decades, blacks, Latinos, and women have been underrepresented in the industry.

    In recent years, partly due to pressure from the Rev. Jesse Jackson, some of the biggest tech companies, including Intel, Apple, and Google have pledged to diversify their ranks and have made halting steps in that direction. But the venture capital wing of the industry has largely evaded that pressure and scrutiny — and done little to diversify.

    A lot of VCs just have the wrong mindset. They need to drop the stereotypes of what a founder looks like and be more intellectually curious.

    If you look at everyone working in the venture capital industry, from administrative assistants to managing partners, just 3% are African-American and only 4% are Latino, according to a 2016 survey by Deloitte and the National Venture Capital Association. Among so-called investment partners — a grab-bag title intended to cover the people that make investment decisions that includes managing partners, founding partners, general partners, and managing directors — none are black, just 2% are Latino, and only 11% are women.

    Critics inside and outside the industry blame the lack of diversity in part on pattern matching. Venture capitalists think they know what a successful startup entrepreneur looks like — all-too-frequently someone who is white who graduated from Stanford or an Ivy League school. Consciously or not, they typically invest in startups founded by people like that.

    And when looking to hire new partners, they frequently draw from the ranks of successful startup founders — which just so happen to be the same pool of white Stanford and Ivy League grads, because they're the ones who got funding.

    "A lot of VCs just have the wrong mindset," said Mitch Kapor, a partner at Kapor Capital and a longtime champion of diversity in tech. "They need to drop the stereotypes of what a founder looks like and be more intellectually curious."

    Hoping to forge a new path for others like him

    The lack of African-Americans in the venture industry makes it difficult for blacks aspiring to join the venture business or to found startups. The few blacks in the venture industry rarely make partner. And when they leave to form their own firms, they've had trouble raising funds, Groce said he's found in talking with them. As a result, many end up leaving the industry — and, as a result, blacks who join it have few mentors.

    "When you get into venture, you better be ready to be only black person there and all that entails," Groce said.

    That's why Groce has started reaching out to other African-Americans in the industry. He's trying to build a network of black VCs who can share their experiences, lend each other support, and help guide the next generation who enter the business.

    The hope is that while his path to the industry has been unique, he won't be the last one to follow something like it.

    "We're creating a space for black venture," he said.

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    Boeing 737 MAX 8 Southwest Airlines

    • Consumer Reports released its rating of America's 11 major commercial airlines.
    • The airlines are scored based on survey responses from more than 55,000 travelers who completed domestic flights from July 2016 to June 2017.
    • In economy, all airlines received low scores for seat comfort and legroom while also struggling with in-flight entertainment and Wi-Fi connectivity.

    The complexities of air travel can be overwhelming these days. Even with fewer airlines to choose from, deciding which one to fly can still be an exercise in frustration.

    Well, Consumer Reports is here to help.

    The organization, best known for its independent product evaluation and consumer advocacy, has released a comprehensive ranking of America's 11 major commercial airlines using information gathered from a survey of passengers who completed domestic flights from July 2016 to June 2017.

    Parameters of the survey included questions on pricing transparency, ease of check-in, information on flight status, seating comfort, legroom, staff service, cabin cleanliness, Wi-Fi connectivity, in-flight entertainment, and the selection of complimentary snacks and paid food and drinks.

    The 11 airlines were rated based on a reader score. A score of 100 means respondents are completely satisfied with the airline. A score of 80 means passengers are very satisfied, while a 60 means folks somewhat satisfied.

    Consumer Reports broke down their ratings into two segments, business/first class and economy.

    Based on replies from 5,059 respondents who made 8,702 flights in business or first class, Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines shared a spot at the top of the premium cabin rankings with a score of 89. The duo was followed closely by Delta with a score of 85. American and United closed out the ranking with scores of 80 and 79.

    Since the vast majority of us spend our time back in the economy section, we'll spend more time on this portion of the Consumer Reports ranking.

    Here, the publication based its ratings on information from 52,507 respondents who completed 97,765 flights in economy.

    According to Consumer Reports, the overall trend in economy-class travel is something with which we're all familiar: It's really uncomfortable back there. Every airline in the survey received low scores for legroom and seat comfort. In addition, most airlines also struggled with in-flight entertainment and Wi-Fi connectivity.

    Here's a closer look at how the economy-class offerings of America's 11 major airlines fared, according to Consumer Reports:

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    11. Spirit Airlines: Reader Score — 62

    10. Frontier Airlines: 63

    9. United Airlines: 67

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    Vladimir Putin

    • Vladimir Putin — who is expected to win his fourth presidential term in Russia's upcoming spring election— may be the wealthiest man in the world.

    • Forbes won't even estimate his net worth, because it can't verify his financial assets, Newsweek reported.

    • The Russian president does indulge in some displays of immense wealth, however.

    • Putin is reported to own luxury watches, a fleet of yachts, and multiple expensive properties, including a $1 billion palace.

    • American financier Bill Browder estimated that Putin had "accumulated $200 billion of ill-gotten gains," according to the Atlantic.

    Vladimir Putin very well may be the richest man in the world.

    But it's impossible to say for sure. According to the Kremlin, the Russian president earns around $133,000 a year and lives in a small apartment.

    That description doesn't jive with most accounts of Putin's lifestyle. Former Russian government adviser Stanislav Belkovsky estimated his fortune is worth $70 billion. Hedge fund manager Bill Browder, a noted critic of Putin, claimed it was more like $200 billion. A fortune that enormous would propel him straight past Amazon founder and richest man in the world Jeff Bezos, who Forbes estimates has $125.6 to his name.

    So why can't we pin down Putin's net worth with any certainty? The 2015 Panama Papers revealed that Putin may obscure and bolster his fortune through proxies.

    We've put together a list of all the clues that indicate Putin is likely one of the richest people on the planet:

    SEE ALSO: 9 Vladimir Putin quotes that offer terrifying insights into his mind

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    DON'T FORGET: Trump and Putin's morning routines contain a striking parallel

    As President of Russia, Putin's official residence is the Moscow Kremlin. However, he spends most of his time at a suburban government residence outside of the city called Novo-Ogaryovo.

    Source: Business Insider

    He reportedly has access to 20 different palaces and villas.

    Source: Up North

    Official records published in 2016 by the Kremlin would have us believe that Putin has a very modest real estate portfolio. The report said he owned a small plot of land and an apartment with a garage.

    Source: Newsweek

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    stephen hawking stars breakthrough starshot GettyImages 520676566

    • Stephen Hawking died in his home in Cambridge at age 76 on March 14, 2018.
    • The physicist pioneered new ways of understanding black holes and the universe.
    • His popular-science books — especially "A Brief History of Time" — may persist as some of his greatest achievements.

    Stephen Hawking, who's known for his explorations of time and discovering that black holes can evaporate, died today at age 76 in his home in Cambridge.

    I was lucky enough to see him speak in person twice, but I first got acquainted with the British physicist during a long Boy Scout trip to the middle of nowhere, Ohio.

    Hawking, of course, wasn't riding on our body-odor-filled bus. Instead, I saw his image on a paperback copy of his 1988 book, "A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes". In the photo, the bespectacled author sat in a wheelchair in front of a star field.

    I don't recall why a friend handed me the book. But that introduction to Hawking's writing influenced the arc of my life, and undoubtedly that of millions of other people.

    How Hawking helped change me with words

    a brief history of time stephen hawking book cover amazon

    Like many tweens-going-on-teens in the 1990s, I was trying to fit in at school with limited success.

    "A Brief History of Time" became a magical escape hatch. In reading it, I could leave behind probing questions about girls I liked, peer pressure to make a clown out of myself (which I excelled at), and chaotic and sometimes cruel social circles.

    Instead, I could join Hawking on fantastical adventures to the edges of black holes and inside time-traveling spacecraft; shrink down to the infinitesimal scale of subatomic particles; and journey to the birth and eventual death of the universe. He was like a Time Lord from the show "Doctor Who," though he scurried about the universe via words instead of a phone booth.

    The book — which had sold millions of copies even then — was dense, for sure. But to me it read like a riveting sci-fi tale and murder mystery rolled into one. And it was real. What Hawking wrote represented a digestible guide to the limits of human knowledge.

    I had only a crude knowledge of mathematics, so I didn't understand half of what Hawking wrote, at least at first. Yet his prose was eminently readable. I read the book cover-to-cover, again and again, extracting new understanding each time.

    "We find ourselves in a bewildering world. We want to make sense of what we see around us and to ask: What is the nature of the universe? What is our place in it and where did it and we come from? Why is it the way it is?" Hawking wrote.

    His book not only helped answer those questions for my teenage self, but also instilled in me new curiosities, such as "Is there a theory of everything?" and "Will we ever detect evidence of multiple universes?"

    More importantly, Hawking revealed to me how science was thought through and performed.

    The things that once felt exciting and mysterious to me, like astrology, ghosts, and UFOs, suddenly seemed foolish. Why clamor for evidence of the occult when the greatest source of mystery in our existence — the universe itself — was at our fingertips?

    Smitten by the ultimate

    nasa apollo 11 earth africa 1969 AS11 36 5352HR

    I eventually returned the book to my friend in a dog-eared and tattered state. But its wonder stuck with me.

    Hawking — whose struggle with the neurological disease ALS left him increasingly unable to move his body — summoned the courage and resolve to turn his condition into a gift. He used it to formulate bold ideas, put them forth with careful and thoughtful writing, and develop an uncanny ability to make the exceedingly complex comprehensible (and at times hilariously entertaining).

    His work helped me see the purpose and excitement of learning to do math and science. It's also why Hawking and "A Brief History of Time" are the first two things I think of when asked why I became a science writer.

    The book was my first deep-dive exposure to the technically challenging, murky frontiers of human knowledge. It gave me the desire and the language to chase the ultimate in my career. Hawking's work is probably why I'm still smitten by absurdly complex topics like gravitational waves, black holes, nuclear physics, and space exploration. And it's why I spend my workdays striving to understand these frontiers and their profound, surprising relevance. (Have a gold or platinum ring? Thank a pair of colliding neutron stars.)

    Hawking was not perfect by any means — no one is — and he had a lot of help in his enterprise. But now more than ever with his passing, I hope others will continue to find the boundless yet grounded curiosity he helped me discover at a young age.

    I hope my work will, like Hawking's did for me, spur readers to look up at the night sky (preferably in the middle of nowhere) and see more than "just" moons and stars. Hopefully they will fund and understand the beauty and interconnectedness of the universe, how little we know about it, and just how much we have yet to learn as a young alien species stuck on a rock that's drifting through the void.

    This story was originally published on March 14, 2018, at 5:49 p.m. ET.

    Remembering Stephen Hawking:

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