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One of the happiest countries in the world does marriage differently from most everywhere else


parents with new baby

  • In Norway, couples are more likely to have kids when they're living together than when they're married.
  • This is a trend in industrialized nations across the globe, but it's especially pronounced in Scandinavia.
  • Scandinavian couples typically marry later in life, as a symbolic display of love.

The Atlantic recently published a fascinating article on the ever-evolving function and meaning of marriage.

The author, sociologist Andrew Cherlin, explains that marriage has become a "trophy," in that many couples wed only after they've had kids together and/or achieved other markers of maturity — not before. As some researchers would put it, marriage is now more of a "capstone" than a "cornerstone" of adult life.

One statistic Cherlin cites jumped out at me: "The median age at first marriage in Norway is an astounding 39 for men and 38 for women, according to a recent estimate—six to eight years higher than the median age at first childbirth."

As I delved deeper into the research, I learned that Norway is hardly the only place where marriage often follows the birth of kids. In industrialized nations across the globe (including the United States), more couples are choosing to have kids while living together, even though they haven't formally exchanged vows.

But the trend is most visible in Scandinavian countries (which, by the way, are consistently ranked as some of the happiest in the world).

One paper Cherlin cites, published 2015 in the journal Demographic Research, reports that in 2013, firstborn Norwegian kids were more likely to have cohabiting parents (50%) than they were to have married parents (32%) or parents who didn't live together (18%).

Scandinavians are marrying — just later in life

Importantly, that's not to say that Norwegians are eschewing marriage entirely.

The same paper asserts: "Most children born into a union [in Norway] will have parents who are married or will marry later." Another paper Cherlin cites, published 2013 in the journal Demographic Research, reports that 17% of all marriages in Sweden happened after the couple already had two kids.

This trend might not have emerged if not for the unique benefits conferred upon cohabiting Norwegian couples. As the 2015 paper puts it, it's "less risky" for parents to live together without being married than it might be in other industrialized nations.

According to the Children Act in Norway, when a child is born to cohabiting parents, the couple is granted joint parental responsibility, just like a married couple would be.

Marriage in Scandinavia is more of a personal choice, as opposed to a legal or financial obligation if you want to start a "legitimate" family.

The researchers behind the paper spoke to couples in Oslo, Norway's capital, who told them that marriage often serves a symbolic function, a way to "celebrate love," as one respondent put it. 

Meanwhile, the researcher behind the 2013 paper analyzed marital trends in Sweden and noticed that relatively few couples are marrying within a year of having a kid. That suggests people don't feel pressed to marry in order to confirm — in the eyes of the law or society at large — that they're a family.

As one highly educated, Oslo-based woman told the researchers behind the 2015 paper: "It becomes more serious when you have children — then you are in a relationship for life, even if you break up. It is a bigger commitment to have children. It should be."

SEE ALSO: Being in a relationship won't change your life — at least not the way you think it will

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A relationship psychologist explains why marriage seems harder now than ever before

The mysterious life of Kim Jong Un's wife, Ri Sol-ju — who probably has 3 children, frequently disappears from the public eye, and just got back from China


kim jong un xi jinping and wives

Ri Sol-ju, the wife of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, quickly became a fashion hit in China when the couple paid a surprise visit to Beijing this week to meet with President Xi Jinping.

Social media users praised Ri for her looks and outfits, which they reportedly viewed as old-fashioned, but flattering and polished, nonetheless.

Beyond her taste in fashion, few details are known about Ri, the woman who in 2012 was identified as Kim's wife.

She is thought to be 28 now and a mother to three children, according to South Korean intelligence reports. But the Hermit Kingdom's secretive government has not confirmed that information.

Ri doesn't appear in public very often. She's usually seen when Kim celebrates missile test launches, and is always photographed smiling politely, wearing clean-cut, pastel dresses.

She was reportedly born into an elite family — her father was a professor and her mother a doctor — but little else is known about her life, or how she ultimately became the wife of the world's most notorious living dictator.

Here's everything we know about Ri Sol-ju:

SEE ALSO: Kim Jong Un's secret trip to China was full of gourmet food, wine, and music — take a look inside the lavish visit

DON'T MISS: How North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, 33, became one of the world's scariest dictators

Ri Sol-ju was first identified as the wife of Kim Jong Un in July 2012, when North Korean state media made it official.

An international media frenzy had been mounting for weeks over the "mystery woman" spotted with Kim at a a series of public events, including a theater performance featuring Disney characters, and a tribute to Kim's grandfather on the anniversary of his death.

Source: CNN

Ri's eventual public introduction was underwhelming, to say the least. North Korean media mentioned her almost as an afterthought during coverage of an amusement park opening in Pyongyang.

Source: The New York Times

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

A women's only club that raised $32 million is under investigation by New York's human rights commission for excluding men


The Wing Staff

  • The Wing, a women-only coworking space and club that has raised $32 million from investors like WeWork, has three locations in New York City, and one in Washington D.C.
  • On Monday, Jezebel reported that The Wing is under investigation by the New York City Commission on Human Rights for possible violation of the city's strict anti-discrimination laws.
  • An outpouring of support on Twitter from members of The Wing has gained the attention of the Commission, and on Wednesday, mayor Bill de Blasio stated his office supports The Wing.

The Wing, a women-only coworking space and social club that has three locations in New York City and one in Washington D.C., is under investigation by the New York City Commission on Human Rights due to its strict no-men-allowed club rules — possibly violating the city's Human Rights Law, Jezebel reported.

On Wednesday, Gelman and Dunn told Business Insider that they heard about the Commission's investigation from the Jezebel journalist before hearing from the Commission themselves — leaving Gelman confused about what motivated the leak.

The Commission, which received a tip from a member of the public, has confirmed the investigation to The Daily News. However, the Wing's co-founder, Audrey Gelman, and Karen Dunn of Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, who is representing the The Wing, have referred to the investigation as a "conversation."

"Quite surprisingly, the Commission reached out to us on the first day of Women's History Month. That call has resulted in nothing more than an agreement to meet and have a conversation — in fact, we have been assured that the de Blasio Administration fully supports the mission of The Wing and will work with us to see it prosper. Because of the history of women in this country — and even more so in this time we live in — it is important to protect and foster the work of The Wing and similar space that give women a positive and safe space to thrive," said Gelman in a statement.

After Jezebel broke the news of the investigation, Gelman notified members of The Wing in an email statement — requesting that they Tweet at both the Commission and mayor Bill de Blasio. Members immediately took to Twitter, vocalizing their opinions about the investigation and The Wing.

On Tuesday, the Commission was engaging in the conversation, replying to those Tweeting at The Wing and its members:

On Wednesday, de Blasio's spokesman Eric Phillips told the Daily News: "The mayor is fully supportive of The Wing's mission, and we are confident the human rights commission and The Wing can work together to ensure the law is being followed so that The Wing can continue to focus on its important work."

New York City's Scott M. Stringer, who Gelman has worked for in the past, also Tweeted his support:

Dunn has said in a statement: "We are looking forward to a productive talk with [the Commission]. After all, last I checked, human rights included empowering women not taking more away from them. The law recognizes this too and is consistent with The Wing's values and mission."

SEE ALSO: The exclusive no-men-allowed club that raised $32 million from investors like WeWork just opened a brand new location — take a look inside

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: How Jay-Z and Diddy used their fame to make millions off of 'cheap grapes'

Sean Penn's debut book is getting gleefully torn apart by critics who are calling it a 'garbage novel'


sean penn smoking cigarettes on ambien during late night appearance

  • Sean Penn's first novel just made its debut and it's getting terrible reviews. 
  • "Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff" is a satirical novel that's a comment on the current culture in America.
  • One critic called it a "garbage novel" and another called it "a book-shaped thing."
  • Penn's been doing press for the book, which included an awkward appearance on Colbert where he smoked and said he was on Ambien. 

"What have you done this time, Sean Penn?" Jeff Giles of The New York Times wrote of Oscar winner Sean Penn's debut novel. 

Penn has been all over the media recently, but he's not promoting a new movie, or an edgy HBO show. He's promoting his debut novel, a satirical book called "Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff," published on March 27. The book is described on Amazon as a "darkly funny" novel about "a modern American man, entrepreneur, and part-time assassin."

The reviews are terrible and his media appearances have been bizarre. 

On "The Late Show" with Stephen Colbert, a disheveled Penn said he was a bit groggy because he had taken Ambien. He smoked a cigarette throughout the entire interview. Thankfully, Colbert came prepared with an ash tray. 

Penn also made a strange appearance on the podcast "WTF with Marc Maron." When Maron asked him about his relationship with his ex-wife Robin Wright ("House of Cards"), he gave a long, confusing answer about how their views on parenting are different. When Maron asked him to be more specific, he said it was too personal.

Penn's novel ends with a poem about the #MeToo movement that hasn't been well-received, especially because rumors about Penn physically abusing ex-wife Madonna have swirled for years — appearing in the 1991 book, “Madonna Unauthorized,” and being the subject of a 2015 defamation suit Penn brought against Lee Daniels. Both Madonna and Penn have denied that any domestic violence took place.

Here are some of the most scathing things critics and people on Twitter have said about Sean Penn's debut novel:

SEE ALSO: The 'Roseanne' premiere tackles the American political divide over Trump head-on and fans have mixed feelings

"What have you done this time, Sean Penn? What is this book-shaped thing that lies before us? Is it just a lark — a nutty novel you wrote because you’re famous and they let you?"

The New York Times also calls the satirical novel plotless and "conspicuously un-fun."

"Penn delivers prose as if he were gunning for a prize from the American Alliteration Association."

In a review with with "What Is Sean Penn Thinking?" in the headline, The Washington Post points out alliterations in the book including “Dreams died like destiny’s deadwood,” "Spurley sloppily slurps,” and “racial rancor by Ruger in a country rife with rule of law.”


"Scattered throughout is the sort of gleeful racism and misogyny that qualifies Penn’s work as 'darkly comic.'"

HuffPost calls the book a "garbage novel" that is "nonsensical, unpleasant and left me sweaty with mingled horror and confusion."



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

I traveled to Waco, Texas, to see the town that has been transformed by HGTV's hit show 'Fixer Upper' — here's what it's like


Chip and Joanna Gaines

After five successful seasons of "Fixer Upper" on HGTV, Joanna and Chip Gaines are best known for their show in which they sell houses and style them for lucky clients in Waco, Texas.

But the Gaineses have come a long way from their small business flipping houses. Nowadays, it's safe to say they've built a nationally recognized lifestyle brand.

They opened a bakery, publish a quarterly journal, and have their own home paint and wallpaper line, among other things.

Along the way they've stayed true to their roots in Waco, often lifting up other small business owners with them.

A longtime fan of the show, I decided to get off my couch and head to Waco last June to check out its "Fixer Upper" transformation.

First, I had to get there. I flew into Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, rented a car, and drove about 100 miles north to Waco. It's about equidistant from the Dallas airport.

Back before "Fixer Upper" the TV show, while Chip Gaines was flipping houses, Joanna Gaines had a dream to run a boutique home-goods shop. The original Magnolia store she opened still stands off a busy street, but they recently moved their business to a bigger store. You can drive by, but the store is closed.

Now you can visit the Magnolia Market at the Silos instead. The Silos were an abandoned fixture in Waco until Joanna and Chip bought them and relocated their shop next door.

To read more about the journey from the small Magnolia shop to the Silos, check out "The Magnolia Story," Chip and Joanna's recently released memoir.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

A vape pen with twice the nicotine of comparable devices is taking over high schools — and adults are frightened


JUUL In Hand Female Black Tank Small

  • The Juul vape pen, an e-cigarette that comes with a vaporizer and pre-filled containers of nicotine liquid, is soaring in popularity.
  • Young people appear to be especially drawn to the device, which is discrete enough to hide.
  • Juul is emphatic that its product is made to appeal to adults looking to switch from smoking to vaping.
  • On Wednesday, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb cited concerns with e-cigs and called out the Juul by name.

Vaping is becoming increasingly popular, and now a vape pen that's small, discrete, and easy to use is taking over high schools — and the e-cig market.

The Juul (pronounced "jewel") appears to have a loyal and growing following among young people, who brag on social media about being able to sneak puffs in class or in the bathroom. But it's not just teens who are using it — the device represents a third of the market share of the total e-cig category, according to Nielsen data, meaning a large share of adults are also turning to the Juul.

Compared with smoking conventional cigarettes — a process that involves setting ablaze a handful of tobacco, tar, and toxic metals — vaping seems objectively healthier. Nothing is burned — only heated — and tobacco doesn't need to be involved at all.

But vaping still comes with health risks, and these risks may be especially worrisome for young people.

"The people that are marketing these new devices claim that their main focus is to reduce the risk of smokers, and I agree, vaping probably represents a reduction in risk from smoking," Ana Rule, a professor of environmental health and engineering at Johns Hopkins University and an author of a study on e-cigs and teens, told Business Insider.

"But they fail to address the increased risk to this huge market they are creating among teenagers and young adults that never have smoked, and would have never even considered smoking," she added.


JUUL In Hand Female Denim Jacket copy

Among teens, the Juul is not just a noun. It's also a verb.

Instagram and YouTube are full of videos of teens posting clips of themselves vaping, or "Juuling," in class and in front of teachers; a string of high schools along the East Coast has acknowledged "Juuling" in bathroom stalls as a widespread problem, and dozens of teachers report confiscating Juul devices disguised as Sharpies and other classroom items.

The problem has drawn the attention of scientists who've been called into high schools to give presentations on the health dangers of the Juul; leaders at the US Food and Drug Administration, who are struggling to come up with a way to regulate the device; and members of Congress.

On Wednesday at a conference organized by the media outlet CNBC, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said he was "deeply concerned" with teen use of e-cigarettes and specifically cited the Juul, saying, "We see what’s happening with Juul."

That comes just a few weeks after Frank Pallone Jr., a Democrat representing New Jersey, called on the agency in a letter to start reviewing the Juul — which he cited by name — along with other e-cigs. Because of a current rule, many recent e-cig manufacturers are not required to apply to the FDA for review until the summer of 2022.

"The availability of JUUL and e-cigarettes to youth is extremely troubling," Pallone wrote.

Gottlieb added that the agency plans to take action soon.

Ashley Gould, Juul's chief administrative officer, told Business Insider that the soaring interest in the device among youth runs counter to Juul's mission.

"Juul is a company that was started by smokers with an objective to switch smokers to non-combustible products," Gould said, adding that the company is vehemently opposed to anyone under 18 using their products and even has a number of campaigns aimed at addressing and curbing underage use.

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance — one analysis ranks it below heroin and cocaine but above barbiturates (anti-anxiety drugs) and alcohol. Some 85% of people who try to quit smoking on their own relapse.

Some evidence suggests that e-cigs may be helpful to adults who are looking to quit smoking. But research also suggests that vaping is an appealing habit to teens, and that those who pick up a vape pen are at a greater risk of smoking conventional cigarettes than those who never vape.

That means that while adults who pick up the Juul may be using it to quit, teens who use it may become addicted and eventually turn to traditional cigarettes.

Why vaping is so appealing to teens

marijuana vaporizer vaping vapeE-cigs have a handful of qualities besides highly addictive nicotine that may make them especially appealing to young people.

Unlike conventional cigarettes, which have a natural stop mechanism — they burn to the end — e-cigs can be re-filled and reused. Additionally, where cigarettes are highly noticeable and easily policed, e-cigs are discrete and sometimes odorless (or have a non-offensive smell). Vaping isn't universally banned in indoor and outdoor places.

The Juul is also sleek, small, colorful, and fairly affordable, at $35 for the pen and $16 for a four-pack of pre-filled cartridges (or "Juul pods").

But the device is different from most e-cigs in one key way: its nicotine.

Not only does the Juul have a higher nicotine concentration than other comparable devices (a Juul pod is 5% nicotine by volume; a Blu e-cig cartridge is 2.4%), it also uses a slightly different nicotine formula than most vape pens use.

Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, a professor of pediatrics at Stanford University who studies nicotine and recently published a review of Juul devices, said she found the product's high nicotine content "scary."

"It is much higher than what we're seeing in conventional e-cigs. It's a tremendous amount," Halpern-Felsher said.

Halpern-Felsher is one of several scientists who've been called into high schools to give presentations to students warning of the Juul's high nicotine content.

Instead of straight liquid nicotine, otherwise known as "freebase," Juul uses a patented formula that combines nicotine with salt. The company says the nicotine-salt combination is similar to what's naturally found in the leaves of a tobacco plant; the end result is a stronger e-liquid that vaporizes more smoothly.

James Pauly, a pharmacologist at the University of Kentucky who studies nicotine, told Business Insider that he'd been reading a lot about Juul devices because their "concentration of nicotine is so high." He said the salt mixture likely makes the vapor less harsh, meaning it's easier to inhale more strongly for longer.

While an adult smoker might enjoy this aspect of the Juul experience, a teen who's never smoked might end up vaping a dangerous amount of nicotine in one sitting with no knowledge of how much they've consumed.

Other health concerns tied to vaping

Beyond nicotine addiction, several other health concerns about vaping are starting to emerge.

One study published last month found some of the same toxic metals in conventional cigarettes in e-cigs. Another found that at least some of those toxins appear to be making their way through vapers' bodies, as evidenced by a urine analysis run by researchers who randomly sampled nearly 100 people in the Bay Area who vape. And research presented recently at a large conference concluded that there was substantial evidence tying daily e-cig use to an increased risk of heart attack.

So although evidence may suggest that vaping is a healthier habit for adults looking to quit smoking, it is an entirely different issue when it comes to young adults.

"Vaping among teens is my (and most public health professionals) biggest worry," Rule said.

If you have questions or concerns for Juul related to underage vaping, you can email them at youthprevention@juul.com.

SEE ALSO: Scientists are beginning to learn how vaping impacts your health — and the results are troubling

Join the conversation about this story »

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9 signs your marriage isn't as happy as you think it is


couple kissing anonymous

  • Marriage is always hard, and it's tempting to ignore problems in your relationship and hope that they'll go away.
  • But some problems could spell trouble down the road — and will only get worse the longer you put off addressing them.
  • Those problems include experiencing a lot of dramatic downturns in your marriage, having a good "alternative" partner, and shutting down during conflict.

It's easy to brush stuff under the rug.

Maybe you didn't realize until recently that your partner's obsessed with earning money and you're not; or maybe the magic of that first year after the wedding is starting to wear off, laying bare a less exhilarating existence. Whatever it is, you're hoping that if you ignore it, it'll go away.

Below, we've listed nine research-and-expert-backed problems that probably won't go away — and that could portend disaster in your marriage.

A word of caution: Many of these problems are fixable (if you want to fix them, that is), so don't panic if you notice one or more in your own relationship.

SEE ALSO: One of the happiest countries in the world does marriage differently from most everywhere else

You were overly affectionate as newlyweds

Having to be practically dragged apart in the months following your wedding could spell trouble down the road.

Psychologist Ted Huston followed 168 couples for 13 years — from their wedding day onward. Huston and his team conducted multiple interviews with the couples throughout the study.

Here's one fascinating finding, from the resulting paper that was published in the journal Interpersonal Relations and Group Processes in 2001: "As newlyweds, the couples who divorced after 7 or more years were almost giddily affectionate, displaying about one third more affection than did spouses who were later happily married."

Aviva Patz summed it up in Psychology Today: "Couples whose marriages begin in romantic bliss are particularly divorce-prone because such intensity is too hard to maintain. Believe it or not, marriages that start out with less 'Hollywood romance' usually have more promising futures."

One of you withdraws during conflict

Sure, you're not screaming in a fit of rage — but if one partner refuses to talk at all during conflict, that's not a good sign.

A 2010 study, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, found that husbands' "withdrawal" behaviors predicted higher divorce rates. This conclusion was based on the researchers' interviews with about 350 newlywed couples living in Michigan.

Meanwhile, a 2014 study, published in the journal Communication Monographs, suggests that couples engaged in "demand/withdraw" patterns — i.e. one partner pressuring the other and receiving silence in return — are less happy in their relationships.

The lead study author, Paul Schrodt at Texas Christian University, says it's a hard pattern to break because each partner thinks the other is the cause of the problem. It requires seeing how your individual behaviors are contributing to the issue and using different, more respectful conflict-management strategies.

You don't think about your partner when you're apart

Sorry, Bob who?

In 2007, researchers randomly dialed nearly 300 married people and asked them a series of questions about their relationships and how in love they felt.

Results showed that certain relationship characteristics were linked to stronger feelings of love. One especially interesting finding: The more often people reported thinking about their partner when they were apart, the more in love they felt.

The same study included a follow-up experiment with nearly 400 married New Yorkers, which found that difficulty concentrating on other things while you're thinking about your partner is also linked to strong feelings of love — especially for men.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The fabulous life of Chloe Green, the 27-year-old Topshop heiress who parties with Beyoncé and Paris Hilton and is reportedly having a baby with the 'hot felon'


Jeremy Meeks and Chloe Green are seen in Los Angeles, CA.

  • Topshop heiress Chloe Green is reportedly having a baby with "hot felon" Jeremy Meeks.
  • Green is the daughter of billionaire Sir Phillip Green, a high-roller dubbed the "British Donald Trump" who's known for partying with celebrities like Kate Moss, Beyoncé, and Leonardo DiCaprio. 
  • The heiress has been making headlines for years, appearing on a reality show, launching a fashion line, and socializing with celebrities — including her ex-boyfriend Marc Anthony. 

Topshop heiress Chloe Green is making headlines after reports surfaced that she is having a baby with the "hot felon." 

The 27-year-old heiress and Jeremy Meeks, the 34-year-old model who became famous after his mug shot went viral, are expecting their first child together, Us Weekly reported on Monday. 

Green is no stranger to fame. As the daughter of billionaire Sir Philip Green — the chairman of Topshop owner Arcadia — the heiress has lived her life in the spotlight. 

Here's a look inside Green's glamorous life:

SEE ALSO: Jared Kushner's brother is breaking his political silence following Trump's election — here's everything we know about the millionaire entrepreneur who's dating model Karlie Kloss

Green is just 27 years old but has been making headlines for years.

Instagram Embed:
Width: 658px


Her parents, Phillip and Tina Green, are worth an estimated $4.9 billion.

The couple purchased the retail company Arcadia Group in 2002.

Source: Forbes

Sir Phillip Green is a controversial figure, dubbed by Vanity Fair the "British Donald Trump" for his "flamboyance and arrogance."

The businessman has been accused of dodging taxes and enriching himself by allowing the iconic retailer British Home Stores to fail. 

"In this era of austerity the British people seem to have had quite enough of the retailing tycoon, with his legal tax dodges, his complicated corporate structure, and his hyperinflated lifestyle, replete with a helicopter, a Gulfstream G550 jet, and three yachts — including one, Lionheart, which is 295 feet long and reportedly has a swimming pool, a helipad, and a beauty salon," Vanity Fair reported in 2016. 

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

What business casual really means


man happy smiling excited work boss

• Business casual dress is typically defined as a professional yet relaxed style.

• But definitions of what exactly constitutes business casual dress can vary based on factors like your company, climate, and culture.

• Make sure you're dressing for success.

It's not always obvious what exactly "business casual dress" means.

Generally, Oxford Dictionary defines the term as "a style of clothing that is less formal than traditional business wear, but is still intended to give a professional and businesslike impression."

But what does that mean from a practical standpoint? Fashion and style are subjective, but it's still a crucial distinction to be able to make in the professional world.

If you lean too hard on the "business" aspect, you could find yourself feeling stuffy and overdressed. And, of course, overemphasizing the "casual" part and is hardly ideal, either. You don't want to find yourself embarrassed and looking unprofessional in flip flops or sweatpants.

"It is critically important to be aware of dress codes, understand what they mean, and follow them," said Darlene Price, president of Well Said, Inc., and author of "Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results." "Employees are obliged to comply with company standards. Oftentimes, that means maintaining a professional appearance in the office, at client sites, and any business functions."

Price said during her 20-plus years working as an executive coach, one of the most frequent career roadblocks she has observed is inappropriate dress in the workplace.

"Many highly intelligent, well-qualified, capable men and women are often disqualified or dismissed because 'they don't sell for what they're worth,'" Price told Business Insider. "They've left the 'business' out of 'business casual' and the lack of professional appearance holds them back. It's frustrating, because clothing certainly does not determine one's actual competence and credibility; it does, however, influence others' perception of those qualities — and that reality impacts career opportunities."

The problem is, most people don't have a clear understanding of the different dress codes today.

For example, there is in fact no general agreement on the definition of the term "business casual."

"It depends on several factors including the industry, size of the company, number of employees, amount of interaction between employees and customers, geography, climate, culture, and average age of the workforce," Price said.

At most companies, however, the "business casual" dress code encourages employees to project a "professional, business-like image while enjoying the advantage of more casual and relaxed clothing," Price explained.

Appropriate business casual dress typically includes slacks or khakis, dress shirt or blouse, open-collar or polo shirt, optional tie or seasonal sport coat, a dress or skirt at knee-length or below, a tailored blazer, knit shirt or sweater, and loafers or dress shoes that cover all or most of the foot.

Below are examples of appropriate "business casual" outfits.

Business casual 2x1

Jacquelyn Smith contributed to a previous version of this post.

SEE ALSO: How To Dress Like A Leader In Any Work Environment

Join the conversation about this story »

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Netflix will literally pay you to binge-watch movies and TV shows and come up with category names


bring it on netflix secret categories graphic

  • Netflix pays a group of 30 people to binge-watch TV and film on its platform and label the content with category tags and metadata.
  • Fast Company recently profiled a professional "Netflix tagger," who described how her team develops descriptive "tags" for the service's recommendation algorithm and content sorting.
  • Netflix currently has several job openings for the position. 

If you've ever found yourself wishing you could get paid to binge-watch TV and films, Netflix might actually be able to hook you up with a job.

Fast Company published a profile of a professional "Netflix tagger" on Wednesday, describing how the streaming service currently employs a group of 30 people whose sole job is to watch Netflix content and "tag" TV shows and films with category information and metadata. 

Sherrie Gulmahamad, the "tagger" profiled, discussed how her team develops Netflix's subjective and often bizarrely specific "category tags," which the service uses in its recommendation algorithm to label and sort content for viewers' discovery

"We work with a sprawling palette of tones and storylines to capture the spirit of our content, and when it comes to those sorts of tags, we can be more editorial," Gulmahamad said.

For example, Gulmahamad listed a long series of the available tags for "supernatural content" on the platform, which she said included "zombies, witches, dragons, cannibals, Bigfoot, mad scientists, mutants, magical creatures, angels, demons and even 'evil kids.'" 

Gulmahamad described the job as "like being a librarian" with a "broad knowledge base of how TV shows or movies are related," where you spend up to 20 hours a week watching Netflix content. 

There are currently several available listings for the "tagging" job, officially labeled "editorial analyst" on the company's website.

Qualifications for the job include: "Ability to distinguish nuances within different movie and TV genres," "Ability to distill the essence of a movie/show and share findings in a concise manner," and "5+ years experience ... in the film and/or television industry."

Read Fast Company's profile here.

SEE ALSO: 39 of the best secret categories on Netflix and how to find them

Join the conversation about this story »

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People are threatening to cancel their Netflix subscriptions after former UN Ambassador Susan Rice was named to its board (NFLX)


Susan Rice Obama

  • Former UN Ambassador Susan Rice was named to the Netflix board of directors on Wednesday.
  • This led to outrage on social media, with some threatening to cancel their Netflix subscriptions.
  • The anger primarily stemmed from previous (incorrect) comments Rice made about the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

On Wednesday, former UN Ambassador Susan Rice was named to the Netflix board of directors, leaving some customers outraged by the choice and threatening to cancel their Netflix memberships.

"We are delighted to welcome Ambassador Rice to the Netflix board," Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said in a statement on Wednesday. "For decades, she has tackled difficult, complex global issues with intelligence, integrity and insight and we look forward to benefiting from her experience and wisdom."

But critics of Rice disagreed with Hastings' characterization, and they voiced their displeasure on social media platforms like Twitter, where Rice was called a "liar" and a "criminal" by various users.

Why did the appointment of Rice lead to such anger?

Days after the September 11, 2012, attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, then-UN Ambassador Rice went on the Sunday news shows and said the attack was due to protests over a US-made YouTube video. GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona suggested Rice was part of a political cover-up heading into the November presidential elections.

The Obama administration later said the attack was a pre-planned terrorist act and not a protest that turned violent. The attack led to four Americans being killed, including US Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens.

Since then, Rice's name has provoked the instant rage of many, especially US conservatives.

Here are a few examples of people who have spoken out on Twitter against the appointment, some of whom threatened to cancel the streaming service or have used the hashtag #BoycottNetflix:

Business Insider contacted Netflix for comment but did not receive an immediate response.

SEE ALSO: R Kelly accused of sexual misconduct with 14-year-old girl he was keeping as a "pet"

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Cutting down on calories could slow the aging process, according to new research


coney island nathans hot dog eating contest

  • Researchers have new evidence that reducing calorie consumption may help people live longer.
  • A study of Americans who reduced how much they ate by 15% for two years found that they used energy more efficiently, kickstarted their metabolism, and turned off some damaging signs of aging.
  • The find goes along with previous research on calorie consumption from around the world: people who are forced to eat less for years at a time tend to live longer.

Eat less, live more.

That seems to be the conclusion of a growing pile of research conducted on both people and animals around the world.

Perhaps nowhere is this more true than in Okinawa, Japan. Before the 1960s, schoolkids in the poorer, war-torn prefecture routinely consumed only 62% of the calories that their Japanese counterparts in other areas of the country were eating. When the Okinawa kids grew up, they turned out much healthier — they've often been touted as some of the very healthiest, longest-living people in the world. 

Now researchers are finding evidence that the same kind of reduced-calorie diet could be good for modern Americans, too. A small study of 34 people, who cut down on what they ate by 15% for two full years, found that compared to people who kept eating their regular portions, those dieters slowed down critical aging processes inside the body. 

The dieters didn't follow any specific rules during the study. The important thing was that they cut down on what they were putting on their plates and in their mouths by about one sixth. Most of these study participants weren't old; their average age was around 40.

But by restricting their diets for two years, not only did those people lose 5% or more of their body weight (much of it fat), their nighttime core body temperature dropped and their fasting insulin levels lowered  — two key biomarkers of aging.  

Why eating less can help you live longer

If you think of your body like a well-oiled machine, the idea of restricting how many calories you're putting inside makes a lot of sense. By eating fewer calories, you're putting less stress on your digestive system. Like a car, if you drive it around less frequently, you're going to see less wear and tear on the tires. spaghetti eating contest

Dan Buettner, who for years has studied what he calls the "Blue Zones" of the world — the places where people tend to live the longest and the healthiest — says when we eat fewer calories, our bodies oxidize less, and have to deal with fewer free radical byproducts.

Having too many toxic free radicals floating around can lead to cancer, tax our arteries, shrink our brains, and less directly, cause more wrinkles.

Plus, when we consume fewer calories, our cells have less work to do, converting food we eat into fuel. Reducing calorie consumption may help give our bodies a much-needed break.

"Put simply, it causes us to rust less from within," Buettner said.

Attempting a reduced-calorie diet doesn't necessarily mean consuming less food. Many countries around the world nosh down lots of nutrients while taking in fewer calories than average Americans. These nutrient-dense foods usually include a heaping dose of fresh vegetables. In Japan, for example, people tend to eat lots of fiber-filled tubers and starches, like sweet potatoes. 

Still, going on a reduced-calorie diet is not easy to do from a biological standpoint. For much of human history, it was nearly impossible to get too many calories. When there was an abundance of food, it was in our best interest to gobble up as many calorie-dense treats as possible. That's not the case anymore.

Eating less isn't always a good thing, though

The science is still evolving on whether reduced-calorie diets are good for everyone at every age. Some reduced-calorie diet studies (in monkeys) have suggested that monkeys who are fed less don't live any longer than others. Even in humans, aging is a complex phenomenon that's not completely understood.

Nutritionists like Lareina Lee, Chief Clinical Dietitian at Upper East Side Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in New York, say there's not yet enough evidence  that calorie restriction leads to longer life spans in humans, either. 

She says the idea of restricting calories without paying attention to the kinds of foods your putting into your body misses the point of healthy eating.

"Instead of restricting calories (unless you are overweight or obese), it is more important to focus more on where your calories are actually coming from, and to remember to eat in moderation and not in excess," Lee said in a statement.

Claudia Kawas, who's been studying over 1,600 volunteers who make it beyond age 90 for the past 15 years, recently found that many who become nonagenarians drink alcohol regularly and have a little paunch, too. She thinks being skinny and temperate when you're really old probably isn't the best way to stay alive.

After all, when you're old, a little extra fat could help you live through a bad bout of illness. Plus, since older people's systems don't absorb nutrients as efficiently, they might need to eat a little more than younger people to stay healthy.

Buettner thinks it's possible that the very old can be fine with a little extra fat on their bellies, too. But he cautions that many people who elected to be in Kawas' study may have won the genetic lottery, and are outliving others because they've got stellar genes. 

"There are some people who are just stronger," he said. "They're able to elude chronic diseases better than other people."

Scientists aren't yet suggesting that everyone try cutting their diet down by 15%. But they are starting to study whether restricting calorie intake more intermittently (for example, on a few chosen days each month) could also slow down the aging process. That might be more manageable, and it could possibly work just as well at keeping us young as fasting all the time.

SEE ALSO: Sugary drinks are linked to a risk of dying early, according to a study of more than 17,000 people

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NOW WATCH: Here's what losing weight does to your body and brain

The 11 best and worst airlines in America (AAL, DAL, UAL, JBLU, ALK, HA, LUV)


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:

SEE ALSO: The next big thing in airplane tech is becoming a nightmare for some airlines

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Spirit Airlines: Reader Score — 62

Frontier Airlines: 63

United Airlines: 67

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Business Insider is hiring a tech editor in London


business insider west san francisco wework new office 5156

Business Insider is looking for a talented tech editor to work out of its London office.

We are looking for a driven storyteller who can spot scoops and is able to write quickly and independently.

This person should be obsessed with covering the world's biggest tech companies, including Google, Facebook, Apple, Uber, and Amazon. He or she should be excited about chasing down news and delivering original, reported features.

As a tech editor you will:

  • Report and write in-depth feature stories about the world’s top tech businesses and the personalities behind the companies.
  • Work closely with reporters, coaching them on strategies and techniques for building sources, breaking news, finding news in public documents, etc.
  • Assign and edit a wide range of short news pieces, longer features, and other types of stories.

We will consider candidates at various experience levels. The best candidates have:

  • Strong business news editing skills — everything from spot news and in-depth features to earnings reports.
  • An appetite for news, and great judgment.
  • A passion and familiarity with the tech industry, and a network of industry sources.
  • A proven talent for framing headlines.

This person has excellent communication skills and is genuinely excited about building Business Insider's tech readership. A solid grasp on SEO is a plus.

Apply here with a CV, cover letter, and links to several writing samples, if this sounds like your dream job.

This full-time position is immediate and is based out of our London office. Business Insider offers competitive compensation packages complete with benefits. 

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Costco employees share the 15 things they wish shoppers would stop doing


Costco shop shoppers members employee worker

Costco jobs can be rough sometimes — especially when employees find themselves dealing with difficult members and annoying habits.

• Some customers are egregiously rude, while others have habits that are just quietly aggravating.

• Blocking the front entrance, leaving out perishables around the store, and trying to start fights over warehouse policies are all sure to annoy Costco employees.

Costco jobs aren't always a cakewalk.

Sometimes, that's due to the behaviors of Costco members.

A 2018 study from the University of British Columbia found that the promise of deals can "lead consumers away from fully recognizing the human qualities of employees."

The finding doesn't exactly bode well for workers at Costco, which is known for touting bargains through buying in bulk, as well as cheap eats.

While the retail chain made Glassdoor's list of best places to work in 2017, employees have still occasionally taken to social media to complain about bad behavior from shoppers.

"There are some really pleasant regulars that come in, but the negative ones outweigh the good for sure," wrote one seven-year Costco employee in a 2013 Reddit AMA.

Here are 15 annoying behaviors that are sure to irk Costco employees:

SEE ALSO: 11 insider facts about shopping at Costco only employees know

DON'T MISS: Costco employees share their best food court secrets and hacks

Treating employees poorly — then expecting them to 'bend over backwards' for you

Rude customers are a problem that most retail workers come up against. Costco employees are no exception.

In a 2013 Reddit AMA, a Reddit user who said they'd worked at Costco for seven years estimated that they hated 80% of the members that visited the store.

"Because people pay a membership fee to shop there, they feel entitled to treat us like s--- and expect us to bend over backwards for them," the employee wrote.

A Costco food court employee wrote in a 2014 Reddit AMA, "I'm not some indentured servant. I'm a person that has lived a life just as full as yours. I just so happened to end up on the other side of the counter today."

Trying to shop at Costco without a membership

Costco employees are sometimes forced to deal with non-members trying to shop at the warehouse.

In a 2016 Reddit thread, a Reddit user who said they'd worked at Costco for eight years wrote that their go-to response to indignant non-members was, "I do apologize, but it is Costco's policy. It is a membership-based warehouse, and if you are not a member then you cannot shop here."

Causing problems at the front of the store

Costco members can easily make life difficult for employees monitoring the front entrance of the store. 

A Reddit user who said they'd worked at Costco for eight years as of 2016 wrote that annoying behaviors include customers failing to show their Costco member card, blocking the front entrance, and "pulling the 'but I've shopped here for year' excuse' in lieu of a card.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Meet Ronny Jackson, the White House doctor who gave Trump a glowing physical and was just named secretary of Veteran Affairs


ronny jackson trump health

President Donald Trump announced on Twitter on Wednesday that Rear Admiral Dr. Ronny Jackson will serve as the head of the Department of Veteran Affairs, replacing the current secretary of the department, David Shulkin.

Jackson had previously gained national attention when he gave his report on Trump's physical at a press conference in January, wearing a slick military suit displaying his various honors.

Trump's measurements and overall good health that Jackson reported were called into question in the media and on Twitter, where celebrities and journalists alike claimed he had given a low-ball measurement of the president's weight, giving birth to the "Girther Movement" conspiracy. Others, like CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, claimed the numbers Jackson reported indicated that Trump had heart disease.

But Jackson has served in the White House for 12 years — personally caring for three presidents — and many former White House officials have lined up to defend his credibility.

Jackson's history as a combat doctor and experience working with soldiers is likely to serve him well in his new position, which be only the latest prominent role he has filled since he first started serving the country in the military.

Here is a rundown of his impressive and varied career:

SEE ALSO: Here's Trump's full health report from his first physical exam as president

DON'T MISS: Trump's doctor says he's in 'excellent health,' but the numbers tell a different story

Jackson was born in Levelland, Texas in 1967. He studied Marine Biology at Texas A&M University at Galveston before graduating from medical school at University of Texas Medical Branch in 1995.

Source: US Navy

Jackson led an impressive career in the US Navy, gaining highly specialized skills in submarine medicine. He served for years in states from Florida to Hawaii, and trained to defuse bombs as part of an Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit in Sicily, Italy.

Sources: Harvard Medical SchoolNew England Journal of Medicine, US Navy

A few years after finishing his medical studies in 2001, Jackson was deployed to Iraq to serve as the Emergency Medicine Physician in the US Marine Corps. In 2006, he was chosen to be one of the White House physicians for former President George W. Bush.

Sources: Harvard Medical SchoolUS Navy

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

There's a new disorder called 'orthosomnia' affecting people who obsess about their sleep — and it can be caused by tracking apps


sleep covers

  • We're constantly told how sleep is incredibly important.
  • But worrying about getting enough consistent sleep can cause problems too.
  • "Orthosomnia" is when people obsess over what their sleep tracking apps tell them, and it can lead to even worse sleep as a result.

Wearable technology is great in some ways. It's fun to see how many steps you've taken in a single day, and it can be useful to track your sleeping pattern.

But apps that do the latter may be causing more harm than good.

According to a new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, people are obsessing over whether they're getting a good night's sleep, and it's causing the development of a new disorder.

The sleep disorder has been called "Orthosomnia," derived from "ortho" meaning to correct, and "somnia" meaning sleep. It has particularly affected people who use Fitbits or apps to track their sleep, like Sleep Cycle.

The researchers say in the paper that people are becoming concerned about getting the perfect night's sleep — and it's stopping them from actually getting it.

"There are an increasing number of patients who are seeking treatment as a result of their sleep tracker data because of concerns over both sleep duration and quality," the study says. "Patients are preoccupied or concerned with improving or perfecting their wearable sleep data."

They likened it to orthorexia, which is the unhealthy preoccupation with eating healthily, to the point that it's actually unhealthy.

Sleep trackers become an obsession that's hard to ignore

The issue with sleep trackers arises when people rely on them completely. When their sleep data isn't perfect, they end up diagnosing themselves with problems.

For example, the paper looked at three case studies where adults sought out help for their sleep issues. In one, a 40-year-old man complained of "light and fragmented sleep" as well as "irritability, cognitive difficulties (poor attention, memory, and concentration), and fatigue during the day."

He said he only had these symptoms when his tracker told him he got less than eight hours of sleep the night before.

Although his goal was to have eight hours consistently every night, the man would occasionally look at his phone throughout the night to answer texts and emails, and he would work right up until trying to sleep.

Sleep scientists are all agreed that screens are terrible for our sleep. The bright lights stop our bodies from producing enough of the hormone melatonin, which makes us feel sleepy. Essentially, the light tricks our body into thinking it's still day time.

That's why binge watching shows late at night is bad for you, and people struggle to sleep if they turn their laptops and phones off only just before they lie down.

In the second case study, a 27-year-old woman complained of Restless Leg Syndrome, and found her sleep efficiency was only 60%, according to a tracker.

After some ongoing tests and adjustments to her lifestyle, she went into the lab for a polysomnogram — a type of test that measures the depth of sleep. The results showed she managed to sleep deeply, but she couldn't shake the tracker results from her mind, and asked "then why does my Fitbit say I am sleeping poorly?"

Rather than relying on how they felt, people in the study seemed to be unable to ignore their trackers. It was unclear whether the patients had real sleep problems before they started using apps, but it is certainly possible that they didn't help.

Ultimately, the best way to achieve a good night's sleep is routine. Sleep scientists agree that having a set bed time and waking up at the same time every day gives you the best chance of achieving good "sleep hygiene." (But the occasional lie-in is fine.)

Life gets in the way of this sometimes, but the advice is to try and wake up at the same time even if you've had a late night. It will probably be painful to drag yourself up every day, but you'll feel the benefits in the long run.

SEE ALSO: What a sleep scientist says you should do if you and your partner have different body clocks

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2 formerly obese economists lost a combined 120 pounds in 18 months — and a 'boring diet' was one of their core tricks


Rob before after

  • The key to weight loss and weight management is sticking to a boring diet, say Rob Barnett and Christopher Payne.
  •  Barnett and Payne are formerly obese economists and the authors of "The Economists' Diet."
  • Research backs them up: People seem to eat less when they eat the same foods every day.
  • Still, some variety in your diet is important for overall health.

"A boring diet is a slimming diet."

So says Rob Barnett, an economist and a co-author of "The Economists' Diet: The Surprising Formula for Losing Weight and Keeping it Off."

In the book, Barnett and another economist, Christopher Payne, explain how it's possible to lose a significant amount of weight using fundamental principles of economics, the same way they did.

Both Barnett and Payne were once obese. Payne lost about 45 pounds in 18 months; years later, Barnett lost 75 pounds in 18 months.

I spoke with Barnett and Payne in January, and they told me that, to this day, one of their best weight-management tricks is sticking to a relatively monotonous diet.

Barnett said it goes back to the concept of diminishing returns.

To use his example: If you eat a single Oreo, you're going to enjoy it — but "if you eat a full bag of Oreos, by the time you eat the last one, you're not going to get nearly as much happiness or utility out of it."

He added: "If you restrict your food choices day in and day out, no matter what kind of preferences you have for food, you're going to get bored with it."

Both authors said they eat a salad for lunch every weekday. Not only is it a nutritious meal — but as Payne said,  "I've gotten to like salads over the years, but I don't have the urge to overeat a salad."

And when Payne goes to Starbucks, he orders an Americano with a dash of nonfat milk.

Science suggests eating similar types of food every day can help with weight loss

Behind Barnett and Payne's argument is a growing body of scientific evidence on the role of habituation — i.e. getting used to something — in weight loss.

One small study, published 2011 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that obese and non-obese women between ages 20 and 50 ate less when they were given the same food (macaroni and cheese) five days in a row. By contrast, another group that was presented with the same macaroni and cheese once a week for five weeks ended up eating more over time.

Another small study, published 2013 in the journal Appetite, yielded similar findings in children between ages eight and 12. Interestingly, kids who were given a similar macaroni and cheese dish decreased their consumption as much as kids who were given the same macaroni and cheese dish. And both groups lost more weight than kids who were given a variety of meals.

Some amount of nutritional variety is still important for overall health

The "similar" bit above is key here: You probably don't want to eat exactly the same foods every single day of your life, even if you might wind up slimmer.

As Alexandra Duron reported for Greatist, when you eat the same thing every day, you're necessarily missing out on certain nutrients. Duron also cites a study, published 2014 in the Journal of Nutrition, suggesting that nutritional variety is associated with a smaller chance of developing metabolic syndrome, or risk factors for issues including heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

A sensible middle ground between a Groundhog Day diet and complete variety appears in a recent New York Magazine feature, in which David Katz, the director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, and columnist Mark Bittman answer common questions about nutrition.

Asked whether it's OK to eat the same thing every day, they recommend eating the same type of meals every day — and being more creative at dinnertime.

As they suggested: "So, for instance, how about whole grains (hot or cold), mixed fruits, and nuts for breakfast — every day? Then, how about a salad, soup, or stew of mixed vegetables and beans or lentils for lunch? And then for dinner, a wholesome variety of choices."

SEE ALSO: 2 formerly obese economists lost a combined 120 pounds in 18 months — here are the best tricks they used

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NOW WATCH: Here's what losing weight does to your body and brain

'The Americans' creators share their feelings on ending the show after 6 seasons — and reveal the character fans wanted them to kill


the americans

  • "The Americans" had its sixth and final season premiere Wednesday on FX.
  • The Emmy-nominated series is about KGB spies hiding in plain sight as an American family in DC.
  • While it's never had high ratings, it's a favorite for critics and has a loyal following.
  • Business Insider recently talked to the showrunners about the final season, the characters fans wanted them to kill off, and why it was so great working for FX CEO John Landgraf. 

For years, critics have agreed that FX's "The Americans" is the best show on television.

"The Americans" follows Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, KGB spies living as Americans with two kids (who don't know their parents' secret) in suburban DC in the early 80s. Philip (Matthew Rhys) is more optimistic about American life than Elizabeth (Keri Russell), which leads to issues in their work and personal lives.

The show came quietly in 2013, back when shows including "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad" were still on the air, and "Game of Thrones" was still in its early seasons.

But as those prestige dramas came to an end or started to lose their spark, critics began to notice "The Americans," which was always on the same level. And loyal TV fans caught on, too. The show's been nominated for the Emmy for best drama and its stars Rhys and Russell have been deservedly nominated for two Emmys, though they haven't won yet. Margot Martindale won a best guest actress Emmy in 2015 for her role as Claudia, Philip and Elizabeth's handler. 

Now in its sixth and final season, "The Americans" is building up to a tense ending.

Business Insider recently spoke to showrunners Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg (the show's creator and former CIA officer) about the final season's significant time jump, their relationship with FX, which characters fans wanted them to kill off, and where all the many wigs Philip and Elizabeth wear throughout the series ended up when the show wrapped.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

The Americans

Carrie Wittmer: Season five ended in 1984 and season six starts in 1987. The time jump is pretty seamless and obvious without screaming, “Hey, it’s 1987 now!" Why did you decide on this time specifically?

Weisberg: We talked a lot about this. We wanted to do 1987 because we wanted to get to a point where Gorbachev had been in power for a couple years and getting into the swing of things because that was really gonna provide a challenge for Philip and Elizabeth. Everything comes down to the marriage on this show. And we've realized Philip and Elizabeth were not going to have the same perspective on those changes on reform in the Soviet Union. And since Philip has quit spying, he's able to give a couple years for that to sink in on their marriage.

Wittmer: Philip and Elizabeth are probably further apart then we’ve ever seen them. Was this significant riff in their marriage something you planned on happening this late in the series?

Fields: Yes, that was a really big part of what we wanted to achieve in this time jump. The notion that marriage is a complicated journey. And where we ended the prior season, with Elizabeth doing something very loving and supportive and understanding for her husband by suggesting that he stop doing the [spy] work that was causing him so much pain. Three years later, even though that came from the best of places, it's extremely challenging for their relationship.

Wittmer: Did you have an ending planned from the beginning of the series?

Weisberg: Both of us have similar personalities. We're planners. And a big part of how we write is planning things way far in advance. But we're also big believers in not sticking to your plan when you find a better plan. So there were lots of stories that went in new directions and some of the most fun we had on the show was allowing the characters and the stories to surprise us along the way.

Wittmer: This show always had pretty low ratings, but FX still gave you six seasons. Were you ever worried about getting canceled?

Fields: FX has really, from the beginning, made clear that they're buying the show and they want it to be as good as it can be, not as popular as it can be. That was something we heard really clearly from John Landgraf [CEO of FX] from the beginning. In particular between seasons one and two, when they put a lot of thought into what might be done to expand the audience, and ultimately they said that the thing that was important was to continue to make the show better and better, and hope the audience would follow. And that's been great for us.

Weisberg: With a little less attention we were able to focus and do our work. We could do our thing without being overwhelmed by attention. It was pretty great. Then we started to get more attention and that was great, too. It's very nice to be recognized so I think from our perspective, we almost couldn't dream it up any better.

Wittmer: How are you feeling about the end?

Fields: It's strange to feel that this journey is coming to an end. Endings are natural and if you're telling a dramatic story, you need an ending otherwise things will be flat. But when you're having a great experience in life you also don't want it to end. So there's a lot of mixed feelings. For me, and I think I can speak for Joe, too, the main feeling is gratitude. As sad as we are to see this journey come to an end, it's hard to feel that anything exceeds the gratitude for how great the journey was.

Weisberg: I'm having trouble finding something to be bitter about, but I'm looking for it.

Fields: But my gratitude does eclipse the bitterness.

Wittmer: One of my favorite characters on the series is Pastor Tim. In season 5, he was sent to South America because he knew the Jennings' secret. How’s he doing these days?

Fields: I thought you were going to say the mail robot.

Weisberg: We both thought you were going to say the mail robot...

(Note: the Mail Robot is exactly what it sounds like: a robot that delivers mail ... at the FBI headquarters. It is based on a real thing that existed at the FBI, and became so popular on the show that it has its own Twitter account).

The Americans mail robot

Fields: Pastor Tim was a really important character for us. That whole journey for Paige was such a significant part of her development. And we really wanted to portray a good liberal Christian church and minister. It's something you don't see a lot on television now and that kind of ministry, it's not as front and center. These days you see much more by of the right wing evangelical variety of Christianity and of Christian ministers. But my dad was a liberal rabbi and a lot of his close friends were liberal ministers who had grown up with him in the civil rights movement and were really, really passionate social activists. It was a lot of fun to have that be a part of Paige's journey.

Wittmer: It would've been interesting if he died.

Weisberg: One of the interesting things for us on the show has been to discover that the audience wants the strangest people to die. There was a long period of time when they kept wanting us to kill Pastor Tim. And then a lot of people were very bitter about Paige. They wanted Paige to die!

Wittmer: What? 

Fields: I'm a big Paige fan. A lot of people wanted Paige to die.

Wittmer: That's upsetting.

Fields: It's very upsetting! And from our perspective we're like, 'How many people do we have to kill?!' Although that's not how we decide who to kill. But sometimes the nice people have to go.

the americans season 5

Wittmer: What happens to all the wigs now that you're done shooting?

Weisberg: That's a good question.

Fields: They really should go to the Smithsonian.

Wittmer: I agree.

Weisberg: As with all these things, they get boxed up. Just as we were walking past the stages and you see these sets that we've lived with for six seasons and some of them are just in these dumpsters. There's a big dumpster outside the office ...

Fields: I don't want to think about the wigs in the dumpster! I think they're probably in glass cases in a nuclear bomb shelter somewhere.

SEE ALSO: All 43 notable FX original TV shows, ranked from worst to best by critics — from 'Atlanta' to 'The Americans'

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Why 555 is always used for phone numbers on TV and in movies

The strange and unusual origins of Easter bunnies and chocolate eggs


easter bunny chocolate

• Easter in the United States is widely associated with bunnies, candy, and flowers.

• Many of those symbols have ancient origins.

• But the idea that Easter's name derives from a pagan goddess is likely untrue.

Easter is the most important feast day on the Christian calendar: a celebration centered around Jesus Christ rising from the dead.

So, what do egg-hiding, floppy-eared bunnies, chocolate encased in colorful plastic shells, and pretty flowers have to do with any of that?

Such symbols are sometimes written off as a sort of pagan residue, left over from before Christianity swept across Europe.

But that's probably not true — or, at least, not entirely true.

Eostre is frequently cited as a pre-Christian Germanic spring goddess (who hung out with a rabbit, no less). Early Christians are said to have co-opted her festival's symbols and rituals — and even her name! But the only documentary evidence for this goddess exists in early medieval monk and scholar Bede the Venerable's telling.

The evidence for Eostre-worship being the basis of Easter traditions is thin, at best, as the Guardian's Adrian Bott previously asserted. It's not that it's impossible that Eostre was indeed a popular pagan goddess, or that such pre-Christian influences survive today — it's just that there's really not much concrete to base that assertion on.

Historians in the 19th and 20th century often argued that most medieval Christians were actually just thinly veiled pagans. However, that trend has changed in recent years. As English historian Ronald Hutton put it in his article "How Pagan Were Medieval English Peasants?": "... there is no good evidence for a survival of active paganism among the English population after the early eleventh century."

That doesn't mean that there aren't some strange and unusual beginnings for some of Easter's most popular symbols, however.

Here are some popular Easter symbols with surprising origins:

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Bunnies are ancient symbols of fertility

Medieval folks couldn't get enough of bunnies. They're a frequent theme in illuminated manuscripts and other art from the Middle Ages.

Ancient scholars like Pliny the Elder and Artistotle wrote about hares and their propensity for fertility (as the Smithsonian reported, Aristotle actually was right when he proposed that rabbits can get pregnant while they're pregnant).

Due to this potential for double pregnancies, as English polymath Sir Thomas Browne wrote, hares were also long believed to be hermaphroditic — and, therefore, capable of virgin births. That led to an association with the Virgin Mary. The sign of the three hares appears in medieval Christian art as well, symbolizing the Trinity.

So it's not surprising that the hare became especially associated with Easter in Germany by the 17th century. As History.com reported, it was likely German immigrants who brought the idea of the Easter bunny to America in the 1700s.

Eggs have represented new life for centuries... for obvious reasons

Every Easter, children embark on hunts for candy and chocolate enclosed in colorful plastic eggs. It's a bit like the tradition of waking up to presents on Christmas morning, except with more sugar and running around.

The history of egg symbolism goes back centuries. As Forbes reported, "In pagan times, eggs were part of the Bacchic or Dinoysian mysteries, possibly a symbol of the underworld; they could be used to cast spells and, conversely, to offer protection."

Later on, eggs became a symbol of rebirth for Christians.

Easter eggs first got a shout out in a book aptly titled "De ovis paschalibus" (or, "About Easter eggs"). As the book "Thinking Like an Anthropologist" says, the 1682 book refers to "... an Alsace tradition of an Easter Hare bringing Easter Eggs."

Lilies received a special shout-out in the Bible

In the spring, we're all happy to see any flowers at all, but one flower in particular has come to represent the holiday: the lily.

Lilies come up a few times in the Bible. Jesus even mentions the flower in the Gospel of Luke, 12:27, saying: "Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."

Lilies also turn up in the story of Easter. In some legends, they are said to have bloomed in the Garden of Gethsemane after Christ's agony. As a result, it's become the flower traditionally associated with the feast.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider
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