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Many millennials are itching to become homeowners — here are the 17 best cities to put down roots


pittsburgh pennsylvania

  • More than 80% of millennials say buying a home is a priority for them.
  • Homeownership is more attainable in some cities than others, especially if you're a first-time buyer.
  • Texas is home to six of the top-20 best cities to buy your first home, while Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, took the No. 1 spot.


Home prices are up and supply is down across the US, but buying a house isn't as tough as it may seem. You just have to know where to look.

More than 80% of millennials say becoming a homeowner is a priority for them, according to NerdWallet's latest homebuyer report. Many are considering it "the next step in my life" and plan to buy within the next five years.

Affordable real estate is hard to come by in America's coastal cities. Migrating to the Midwest or the South is a smart bet if you're looking to put down roots at an affordable cost.

That's evidenced by SmartAsset's annual list of the best places for first-time homebuyers. SmartAsset gathered housing data for 64 metros (the US cities with a population over 300,000) related to securing a loan, the value of the average home, stability of the housing market, and affordability.

Each city was ranked in seven categories, and then given an average score. We narrowed down the list to feature the cities with a total score of 55 or higher, out of a possible 100. 

Below, check out the top 17 best places for first-time homebuyers.

SEE ALSO: Forget San Francisco and New York: These are the 19 best places to live where the typical home costs less than $260,000 and monthly rent is under $1,000

DON'T MISS: Millennials love this new housing community in a forgotten stretch of California thanks to its ultrafast internet and dirt-cheap home prices

17. Raleigh, North Carolina

Loan funding rate: 76%

Value per square foot: $128.67

Median listing price: $347,248

16. Corpus Christi, Texas

Loan funding rate: 67%

Value per square foot: $90.33

Median listing price: $209,900

15. Denver, Colorado

Loan funding rate: 76%

Value per square foot: $322.33

Median listing price: $485,000

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

17 insider facts about shopping at Costco only employees know (COST)


Costco shopper

  • Costco deals aren't too hard to find.
  • But there are a few less-than-obvious hacks and tips to apply if you ever spring for a membership.
  • From watching the price tags to shopping on Mondays, here's a look at some insider tips from employees that you should know if you're going to shop at Costco.

Costco deals are easy to come by.

The retail chain is famous for having just about everything. And certainly, some of its offerings stretch beyond what you'd expect from a big-box store — Costco sells cars, vacations, food kits for the apocalypse, cheap eats in the food court, and even caskets.

Given the breadth of Costco's selection, it pays to come in armed with as much information as you can get. That way, you can keep an eye out for the best possible deals and shopping strategies the next time you visit your local Costco.

Costco employees tend to have the most insider knowledge, like knowing how to shop without a membership, how to avoid annoying them, and how to know when buying in bulk isn't worth it.

Here's a look at some tips that only Costco employees and seasoned shoppers know about:

SEE ALSO: We ate at a Costco food court, and it was one of the best dining experiences we've ever had

DON'T MISS: 12 Costco deals that are well worth the money

You don't need a membership for everything

A standard Costco membership, which costs $60 a year, can help a customer rack up huge savings.

But you don't need a Costco membership to get an eye exam or grab a bite to eat at outdoor food courts.

A San Francisco-based employee added that you also don't need a membership to buy alcohol at the store. And a Costco employee in Illinois added that membership isn't required to buy gas at the chain, either.

The pharmacy's also open to non members, according to another Costco employee Business Insider spoke with.

If you need a flu shot or a shingles vaccination, you can show up with a signed immunization consent form and take care of it.

So if you're trying to shop at Costco without a membership, just tell the Costco employee at the door what you're there for, Eat This Not That recommends.

Start your hunt in the middle of the store

Many Costco employees place the store's biggest bargains in the "center court" of the store, Business Insider's Kate Taylor reported.

You're better off skipping the more expensive displays at the store's entrance and starting somewhere in the middle.

There's a reason stuff gets moved around so much

The displays employees set up at Costco are far from static.

The chain touts the flux as a sort of "treasure hunt" — and in a sense, it's right.

Costco typically moves items around in order to get shoppers to see — and buy — more.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

7 great movies you can watch on Netflix this weekend


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 Disney

To make choosing what movie to watch on Netflix easier, every week we go through Netflix's current catalog to deliver you a short list of movies that are worth staying inside to watch, no matter how nice it is outside. 

We select a few that have come onto Netflix recently, and mix in a couple of movies that have been streaming for a while that you might have missed.

From critically acclaimed historical dramas "Carol" and "Atonement," to Marvel standout "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," these are some great movies on Netflix right now that you can watch this weekend.

Here are 7 movies on Netflix you should definitely check out:

SEE ALSO: The top 20 Marvel Cinematic Universe superheroes, ranked from worst to best

"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" (2017)

Netflix description: The ragtag, wisecracking band of miscreants known as the Guardians of the Galaxy return to unravel the mystery of Peter "Star Lord" Quill's origins. 

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 83%

Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 88%

"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" isn't quite as endearing as the 2014 original, but it's quick-witted heroes, stunning visuals, and a surprising twist with Star-Lord's dad live up to expectations. Plus, there's Baby Groot. 

"Up in the Air" (2009)

Netflix description: Ryan Bingham flies around the country firing employees on behalf of companies, but he faces losing his job he savors to recent college grad Natalie. 

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 91%

Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 79%

This cute and clever movie with great performances from George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, and then-newcomer Anna Kendrick expertly balances laugh-out-loud comedy with heartache. 

"13 Going on 30" (2004)

Netflix description: When a geeky teen's birthday party goes awry and she makes a wish that she could be 30, she wakes up to discover she's flash-forwarded 17 years. 

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 64%

Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 70%

Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo star in this delightful romantic comedy that was a love letter to the 80s years before "Stranger Things" was a thing. The movie really showcases Garner's comedic chops, and features Ruffalo reluctantly doing the "Thriller" dance. It also stars rom-com queen Judy Greer and Andy Serkis.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Meghan Markle's dad will attend the royal wedding and walk her down the aisle — but her half brother is calling for the whole thing to be canceled


Meghan Markle Thomas Markle dad father composite

  • Meghan Markle's father, Thomas Markle, will walk her down the aisle at the royal wedding, Kensington Palace announced on Friday.
  • He will attend the ceremony on May 19 alongside Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland.
  • Both of Markle's parents will meet Queen Elizabeth, Prince William, Kate Middleton, and other royals before the ceremony.
  • The news comes after Markle's half brother, who isn't invited, urged Prince Harry to cancel the wedding and called her a "jaded, shallow, conceited woman."

Meghan Markle's dad has been invited to the royal wedding on May 19 and will walk her down the aisle.

Kensington Palace announced on Friday that her father, Thomas Markle, and mother, Doria Ragland, will both come to Windsor Castle and take part in the ceremony.

This photograph shows Ragland and Meghan together at the Invictus Games in Toronto last year: 

But the announcement comes under a shadow, as Markle's half brother has attacked his sister's character in the media and warned Prince Harry not to go through with the wedding.

Both of Markle's parents will come to Britain several days before the wedding and meet Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Prince William, Kate Middleton, and other royals in private ahead of the ceremony.

In a statement posted online, Kensington Palace's press secretary posted details of Markle's parents' roles in the ceremony and said the future royal was "delighted" that they are coming:

"Both of the bride's parents will have important roles in the wedding. On the morning of the wedding, Ms. Ragland will travel with Ms. Markle by car to Windsor Castle.

"Mr. Markle will walk his daughter down the aisle of St George's Chapel. Ms. Markle is delighted to have her parents by her side on this important and happy occasion."

Whether Markle's dad would be a part of the ceremony has been a subject of intense media speculation in the run-up to the wedding.

Thomas Markle, a former lighting director who is separated from Ragland, lives just south of the US-Mexico border and has been described by his family as a "recluse."

St George's Chapel aisle Windsor Meghan Harry

Last December, the Daily Mirror tracked Markle down near his home in Rosarito Beach. He told the British tabloid he was "delighted" about his daughter's engagement but couldn't talk about it.

He added that he'd "love to" walk her down the aisle but didn't comment on whether it would happen.

Other members of the Markle family have been far less enthusiastic about the wedding.

Thomas Markle Jr., Meghan's 51-year-old half brother, wrote a letter to Prince Harry imploring him to ditch Meghan, whom he called a "jaded, shallow, conceited woman."

prince harry meghan markle

He shared the letter with the gossip magazine In Touch Weekly, which published it this week.

Last month, he told the Mirror that he and other relatives had not been invited to the ceremony, saying it had "torn my entire family apart."

Samantha Grant, Meghan's half sister, has also been vocal about the wedding, though less critical of her sister.

Grant is writing a book about their relationship, which was originally titled "The Diary of Princess Pushy's Sister" but renamed to "A Tale of Two Sisters."

The royal wedding takes place in just over two weeks, on May 19.

SEE ALSO: Here's what time Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal wedding will start where you live — and how to watch it

Join the conversation about this story »

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Exactly how much time to spend on dating apps, according to a scientist who helps design them


Tinder Bumble Jess Carbino

  • After working at Tinder and now at Bumble, Dr. Jess Carbino has seen people overusing dating apps.
  • Carbino said you generally shouldn't spend more than 30 minutes a day online dating, especially if you're not messaging anyone.
  • Yet a Badoo survey found their users spend on average 90 minutes a day on dating apps.

I've never used a dating app — and maybe that's a good thing.

I tried online dating back in 2012, before apps were really popular, and I was absolutely addicted. As soon as I got out of work, I'd run home, log on, and scroll through a seemingly endless pool of men who might just be my next date, hookup, or husband (spoiler alert: didn't find the husband on there).

One time, some family came over and I let them talk amongst themselves while I took care of an "important work thing," i.e. chatting with some guy on OKCupid who said he had dogs.

So when I spoke recently with Dr. Jess Carbino, Bumble's in-house sociologist (she previously worked at Tinder), I asked her, for a friend: How much time should you really be spending online dating?

"There has to be a boundary associated with how anyone spends their time," Carbino said. Uh-oh.

Thirty minutes a day is sufficient, she said: 15 in the morning and 15 at night. Especially once the novelty and excitement wear off, which tends to happen a month in, you shouldn't be spending more than an hour a day on dating apps.

Carbino did caveat that if you're really active on dating apps and messaging with multiple people at once, 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening might be fine. The point is not to spend hours every day swiping through one profile after another without actually communicating with anyone.

Yet according to a survey by dating app Badoo, its users spend on average 90 minutes a day online dating, logging on 10 times a day for about nine minutes at a time.

"People are busy, and they need to think about dating as a part of their life, as a component of their life," Carbino said. "It shouldn't feel like a job. Dating should feel like something that you're doing in order to meet somebody."

A more effective way to use those hours (and hours) instead of swiping? Carbino said: "It would be better if you were spending a couple hours a week on a date, or two dates, or three dates, and trying to get to know people that you've matched with."

SEE ALSO: Tinder's sociologist reveals one big mistake people make in their profile photos

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A dating app founder reveals how to make your response rates go up 60%

These ex-Googlers made a Siri for self-care, and they say you might want to date it in 25 years


her joaquin phoenix

  • Created by two ex-Googlers, Maslo is a "digital companion."
  • Users record entries into a voice journal, and Maslo uses artificial intelligence to scan the recording, read for human emotion, and respond accordingly. 
  • The founders, who became inspired to make technology more personal during their jobs at Google, said Maslo's goal is for users to take a moment out of their day and acknowledge what they're feeling. Malso is there to listen.


Maslo is young, friendly, and earnest. It asks me how I'm feeling every day, without fail, and when I talk, it listens. Maslo's creators call it the ideal companion — though it's only software.

In 2016, two former Google employees quit their jobs working on smartphone technologies and Google Assistant and created Maslo, a "digital companion" that uses artificial intelligence to read human emotion and respond accordingly. The goal, according to founders Cristina Poindexter and Ross Ingram, is to make Maslo more personalized as users interact with it.

Maslo won't schedule meetings, make dinner reservations, or reply to emails for you (yet), but the founders say Maslo isn't meant to be a digital assistant like Fin or IBM's Watson Assistant.

It (he?) is a digital companion. The difference, Ingram said, is that digital assistants get stuff done in the outside world, while Maslo's mission is to help you take care of what's inside.

"Our vision is to build technology to help people grow as a person, and that starts by encouraging self-expression in multiple forms," Poindexter told Business Insider.

Today, Maslo exists as a voice journal. The app suggests a series of prompts — which range from, "Tell me about the things that slow you down," to, "What type of pizza would you be?" — and the user speaks a one-minute journal entry. Maslo then spits out an appropriate response.

Meet the founders

maslo app founders

Before working at Google, Maslo's CEO, Ingram, was a bright-eyed college dropout who cut his teeth writing code and launching marketing campaigns for robotics company Sphero, which is behind the popular "Star Wars" toy, BB-8. The bot could be controlled with gestures, or "The Force."

His cofounder, Poindexter, was a Yale-educated sociologist. She wrote her thesis paper on people's fears around technology, specifically smartphones. She went to Google out of college because she had "strong opinions" about the growing role of technology in our lives and its potential harms.

The pair met at a birthday party in San Francisco and got to talking about — what else? — tech.

A few weeks later, they discussed how to make technology feel more personal over coffee on the Google campus. Feeling the burnout of Silicon Valley, Poindexter was planning to leave the search giant to work on a farm in Italy. Instead, the two quit their jobs, moved to Los Angeles, and enrolled in a startup accelerator to develop a basic prototype that would become Maslo.

What's a 'digital companion,' really?

Maslo falls somewhere on the spectrum between Siri and the sweet, sexy operating system in the movie "Her" (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). Though Maslow is embodied in the app as a quivering blob.

Maslo app

Users poke Maslo to greet it and swipe through five short prompts, which change daily, to find inspiration for a journal entry. When they select a prompt, users begin recording a 60-second log.

The artificial intelligence that powers Maslo runs the recording through a neural net (a type of computer system made up of a number of simple, highly interconnected data), and the software looks for patterns in the user's speech. It identifies the number of times a person, place, or thing is mentioned, and listens for sentiment based on vocabulary.

During my first voice journal, I told Maslo that I was excited but anxious about recently moving to the startup beat at Business Insider (hi, pitch me). The app took about a minute to process, and it returned a word cloud showing the things I said most and an emoji score: "neutral face."

"Overall, things sound mixed," Maslo said.

Eventually, Maslo will tell me how often I felt this way over the last seven days.

Your relationship with Maslo might get romantic

According to Maslo's founders, the app might someday say something like, "I noticed you've felt this way lately. Do you want to talk about why it bothers you?" Poindexter explains that the app won't give advice on how to handle the situation, but the prompt alone creates a space for the user to pause and acknowledge what they're feeling, which can be just as important as feedback.

"We're not saying Maslo is therapy by any sense. It can be therapeutic," Poindexter said.

joaquin phoenix her

In the future, the founders said they imagine that users will interact with Maslo in any number of applications. They might express themselves by drawing, dancing, or making funny faces, or ask Amazon's Echo, "Alexa, can I talk to Maslo?" when they just want a friendly ear to listen.

I asked the founders if they worry about people falling in love with Maslo, like in the movie "Her," a love story between a man (played by Joaquin Phoenix) and his voice assistant.

The answer? Maybe someday.

According to Ingram, Maslo builds "platonic" relationships with a hint of intimacy, adding that "the user has to feel comfortable opening up, and trust is one of those things that happens over time."

"Today, we're not focused on building a sort of romantic relationship with users, but who's to say what's going to happen in 10 to 25 years," Ingram said.

SEE ALSO: This founder went from scooping ice cream to running a $250 million startup that caters lunch for Salesforce, BuzzFeed, and Fandango — here's how he did it

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: You can own a working 'Star Wars' droid for $150

This little-known Instagram Stories trick is an easy way to turn your iPhone photos into Boomerangs



Facebook is constantly updating Instagram to help it stay competitive; occasionally, a smaller feature goes unnoticed in the midst of larger app updates. 

One of those little-known features is what you can do with Live Photos on your Instagram Story. If you upload a Live Photo the way you would any other picture or video and hold it down, it comes to life and turns into a boomerang — the popular GIF-like video that goes back and forth (and back again). 

It's a useful little trick since Live Photos often unexpectedly turn into better boomerangs than the ones you plan. And while the iOS 11 update does let you do that same thing in the camera roll itself (scroll down from the photo and you'll see an option to convert to "Bounce"), this is a good alternative if you don't want it to be saved that way to your camera roll permanently.

If you're new to Live Photos or Instagram Stories, here's a quick run-through:

When you take a picture from your iPhone, make sure the circle in the top center is yellow, indicating it's in Live mode.

Open your Instagram app and swipe left from your Feed or tap on your own Story icon in the top left-hand corner to get to the camera for your Story.

Tap the camera upload icon in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen and choose your favorite Live photo.

The date the photo or video was taken will automatically come up when you upload from your camera roll — you can delete it by holding it down and dragging it to the trashcan. 

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The Kentucky Derby is selling a $1,000 cocktail to support Jennifer Lawrence's charity


mint julep kentucky derby


The mint julep at the 2018 Kentucky Derby, held on May 5, is something else.

In tune with the extravagance and pomp that makes the Kentucky Derby the Kentucky Derby, the event's signature cocktail comes with a four-figure price tag: $1,000.

While more affordable mint juleps will be available on Derby day, the net proceeds from the splurge-worthy cocktail go to a good cause — the Jennifer Lawrence Art Fund, which supports a variety of nonprofits that promote arts education. The actress is a Kentucky native.

A total of 100 drinks were sold online already and will be picked up in person at Churchill Downs. Only five drinks are sold at the track on Derby day.

Served by Kentucky bourbon distillery Woodford Reserve, the drink includes ingredients from Woodford County, such as local farm-sourced mint and sorghum for the simple syrup. The ice comes from iron-free spring water that prevents the addition of off-putting flavors to the cocktail as it melts, and is filled with limestone, a perfect match for the bourbon's fermentation process. And this year, the cocktail will feature chocolate mint.

For a final touch, it's garnished with a sprig of mint, three spray roses, and a single rose petal from the Kentucky Derby's Garland of Roses.

Something so rich in flavor needs to be served in an equally decadent cup — luckily, buyers have the choice of both silver and gold cups.

Featuring a thoroughbred horse, jockey, rose, and Woodford reserve bottle in 18-karat plated yellow gold as well as etchings of the spires of Churchill Downs and a stream of Kentucky limestone water, the sterling silver "Bluegrass" cup went on sale for $1,000 on April 11. Within 20 minutes, $48,000 worth of drinks sold and within a week, online orders were completely sold out, reports Town & Country.

Derby-goers were equally as excited by the $2,500 "Commonwealth" 24-karat gold-plated cups with a silver sipping straw, which has sold out.

To get the most bang for your buck, one should take at least 22 sips of the mint julep before hitting the bottom of the glass — and this should be done via straw to help mix the sugar and mint, keeping the drink fresh.

As Woodford Reserve's master distiller, Chris Morris, explains to Fortune, that logic means one sip is worth $45. At that rate, the cocktail should last an hour, the standard time between races at Churchill Downs.

SEE ALSO: Kentucky Derby 2018: Everything you need to know about the 20 horses racing in the 'Run for the Roses'

DON'T MISS: The 30 best-selling cocktails in the world in 2018

Join the conversation about this story »

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Here's a simple mint julep recipe for the Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby has been a playground for celebrities and rich people for over 100 years — here's how it has evolved over time


Kim Zolciak Hosts Kentucky Derby Hat Contest At Empire City Casino At Yonkers Raceway attends as Kim Zolciak hosts the Kentucky Derby hat contest at Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway on May 6, 2017 in Yonkers, New York.

  • The Kentucky Derby is having its 144th run this year on May 5th.
  • Wild fashions and large hats have long been associated with the Kentucky Derby.
  • Horse racing and mint juleps are also embedded in the culture of the event.


Since the races were first run in 1875, the Kentucky Derby has been drawing thousands of celebrities, politicians, and Louisville locals to the horse track at Churchill Downs.

Started by Louisville Jockey Club founder Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr., the sporting event has a long history tied to horse racing, mint juleps, and, of course, the famous Kentucky Derby hat.

As you prepare to watch the 144th iteration of the big event Saturday, see an overview of the Derby's history in photos. 

SEE ALSO: A photographer spent 25 years documenting rich people — meet some of her most memorable subjects

Though the Kentucky Derby was held for the first time in 1875, photos of it began to appear in the 1920s. It was during this time that the derby began being broadcast on the radio, and five to six million listeners tuned in.

Starting in 1931, the Kentucky Derby was permanently scheduled for the first Sunday of every May.

Even throughout the years of the Great Depression, the race continued, though tickets were priced at 50 cents for a spot in the infield. In 1932, it was broadcast on the radio internationally.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Marriott is caught in a debate over 'panic buttons' and how to protect employees (MAR)


Maid service

  • The hospitality industry is in the midst of its own #MeToo moment, as workers' rights advocates have fought for more effective methods for hotel employees to report and protect themselves from inappropriate behavior from guests.
  • Chicago, New York City, and Seattle require hotels to equip employees with panic buttons they can use if they feel threatened, and other cities are discussing similar measures.
  • A group of Marriott hotel workers attended the hotel chain's annual shareholder meeting on Friday to ask questions about the company's sexual harassment policies.
  • Marriott said it was "interested" in bringing panic buttons to hotels in cities "where it made sense," but the company didn't specify which cities might be included.

The hospitality industry is in the midst of its own #MeToo moment. 

The ongoing debate over hotels' responsibility to protect workers from threats of sexual harassment came to a head Friday as eight Marriott hotel workers from four different cities showed up at the hotel chain's annual shareholder meeting in Washington, DC.

The demonstration was organized by Unite Here!, a labor union that represents workers in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation, and airport industries. 

"Marriott is now the largest hotel brand in the world, and we want Marriott to be a partner to our workers as well as non-union hotel workers in addressing and appropriately remedying the pervasive harassment hotel workers experience," Unite Here! spokesperson Rachel Gumpert told Business Insider.

Workers' rights advocates have fought for more effective methods for hotel employees to report and protect themselves from inappropriate behavior from guests. They argue that the power dynamics and language barriers some hotel employees face make it difficult for them to report guests who make them uncomfortable.

Advocates have suggested giving employees "panic buttons" that could immediately alert security personnel to intervene if an employee feels threatened by a guest. The buttons can come in the form of electronic whistles, iPads with alert functions, or GPS-equipped devices.

Housekeepers in unionized, New York City hotels have been given panic buttons since 2013. A union representative told Bloomberg in December that panic buttons were activated at least two times last November at a single hotel in Midtown. The hotel kicked out the guest in both instances.

In November 2016, Seattle citizens voted for Initiative 124, legislation that requires hotels to give their employees similar devices, and Chicago's City Council approved a similar measure in October. California, Las Vegas, and Miami Beach are discussing similar policies.

Marriott, along with major hotel brands including Hyatt and Hilton, is a member of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. The association filed a lawsuit in December 2016 to block Initiative 124, but a King County Superior Court judge dismissed that case in June 2017.

For major hotels, panic buttons can be expensive to buy and implement. And in some cases, legislation proposing panic buttons can include other measures that make hotels uncomfortable. The Seattle ordinance limits the amount of square footage a housekeeper can clean before being paid overtime, and both the Seattle ordinance and California bill require hotels to ban guests for three years if they have been accused of violence or sexual harassment through a sworn statement from an employee under penalty of perjury. 

"While deemed by many experts and hoteliers to be a solution in search of a problem, the panic button message has proved to be an effective fig leaf for the new workforce rules, making the initiative appear to be about protecting women, rather than the merits of the other mandates," the AHLA said about the Seattle measure during a board meeting in November 2016, according to HuffPost, which obtained notes from the meeting. 

But the AHLA has praised similar measures to protect workers that were put into place, with the association's vice president for communications, Rosanna Meitta, telling Bloomberg, "Safety and security — whether our employees' or our guests' — is top priority."

Looking for change

Hotel Housekeeper

According to Gumpert, the Marriott hotel workers who attended Friday's shareholder meeting asked questions about the company's sexual harassment policies, including whether the company would release information about the number of sexual harassment cases it has settled. They also touched on topics including wage equality for female employees and panic buttons.

Gumpert said Marriott was "extremely respectful" toward the workers, but didn't commit to any specific changes.

"Unfortunately, we didn't get a lot of concrete answers out of them," she said.

Marriott came closest to making a commitment when discussing panic buttons, which the company said it was "interested" in bringing to hotels in cities "where it made sense," though it didn't indicate which cities might be included, according to Gumpert. Though the company only said it was "in talks" about the possibility of expanding the use of panic buttons, Gumpert was hopeful that the hotel chain might set an example for the rest of the hospitality industry.

"We're really hoping that they were speaking in good faith and that they'll be a partner with us, because the entire industry is going to be looking to them for what they need to do to keep their workers safe," she said.

A Marriott spokesperson did not immediately return Business Insider's request for comment.

SEE ALSO: These photos of Victoria's Secret commercials over the years reveal why the store is struggling in the #MeToo era

Join the conversation about this story »

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There's no such thing as being right or left-brained — here are 10 misconceptions about the human brain we always get wrong


meditation brain

However long you've been alive, chances are you've heard a completely incorrect "fact" about the brain. The human brain is notoriously complicated, and despite many advances in modern science, much of the organ remains a mystery. 

That's probably why, when someone hears a rumour about how the brain functions, they spread it — regardless of whether or not it's true.

Here are 10 of the biggest and most widely believed misconceptions about the human brain, and why they're wrong. 

SEE ALSO: You shouldn't completely write-off brain training — not yet at least

1. There are 'left brain' and 'right brain' people

According to popular culture and quizzes on Facebook, logical, analytical people have a "left brain" while creative and artistic types think with their their "right brain."

But this isn't true. No scientific studies have really ever been able to prove people are dominated by either side of the brain.

In fact, in a study in 2013, researchers from the University of Utah examined the brains of more than 1,000 people, and found there was no significant difference among people in terms of their brain dominance. Essentially, by looking at MRI scans of brain activity, both sides of the brain were more or less equal in their neural networks and connectivity.

The "right or left brain" myth could have arisen from the work of Roger Sperry, who won a Nobel Prize for his research on patients with epilepsy. They were treated by having their corpus callosum cut — an area that connects the two brain hemispheres.

2. We only use 10% of our brain

It's pretty compelling to think that the human brain has mostly untapped potential. But in reality, the idea we only use 10% of our brains is totally untrue. This means the pill they created in the film and TV series "Limitless" would be essentially useless.

In terms of evolution, it would be a pretty terrible idea to spend so much time and energy growing such a large brain if most of it wasn't used. In fact, we use pretty much all of it — studies have shown how our brains are engaged in even the smallest cursory tasks.

There is evidence we do have brain reserves, though. For example, people can lose significant portions of their brains and still function relatively normally.

3. We all have a 'learning style'

Many people were taught they had a "learning style" at school, the idea that some people are better at retaining information orally, visually, or by listening.

There is actually very little scientific evidence the learning styles exist. A recent study from the Indiana University School of Medicine was the "nail in the coffin" for the theory.

Researchers Polly Husmann and Valerie O'Loughlin found that students who revised with their assessed "learning styles" didn't do any better in their end of year exams than others.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The 29 coolest small US cities to visit in 2018


Charleston, South Carolina

National Geographic has released its list of the 29 best small cities in the US  — and it's giving us some serious travel inspiration.

The travel magazine worked with branding advisers at Resonance Consultancy to produce a "small-cities index" that drew from statistics and mentions on Instagram and Yelp to determine which cities rank highest across 10 categories:

  • Most hipster-friendly (coffee shops, tattoo parlors, record shops, vintage stores)
  • Grooviest (music venues, live music, instrument stores)
  • Most Instagrammed (hashtags)
  • Artsiest (art galleries, art supply stores, art schools)
  • Best groomed (barber shops, hair salons, hair removal services, cosmetic dentists)
  • Meatiest (butchers, delis, steakhouses)
  • Most dog-friendly (pet-sitting, pet stores, pet groomers, dog-friendly restaurants)
  • Sudsiest (breweries)
  • Most caffeinated (coffee shops)
  • Greenest (parks)

The results in each area were then sorted into three categories based on population sizes: 40,000 to 100,000, 100,000 to 200,000, and 200,000 to 600,000. An algorithm then determined which cities ranked highest per capita.

The National Geographic editors also included "trending" cities that didn't make the cut on the list this year but appear to be on the rise.

The 29 cities on the list weren't ranked relative to one another, but Business Insider has noted which categories each won.

From favorites like Charleston, South Carolina, to the beach town of Pensacola, Florida, here are the 29 coolest small cities to visit in the US in 2018.

SEE ALSO: 26 tourist landmarks in Europe that are worth lining up for, according to top travel experts

Albuquerque, New Mexico — Sudsiest

Sun, craft beer, and food trucks galore — what more could you ask for?

Anchorage, Alaska — trending, most caffeinated

There are about six coffee shops for every 10,000 residents in Alaska's largest city and cruise-ship port. Need we say more?

Ann Arbor, Michigan — greenest

With a botanical garden and 159 parks, the city plans to plant more than 1,000 trees every year.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

A depression drug that researchers have called 'the most important discovery in half a century' just got a big lift (JNJ)


man silhouette alone sunrise sunset

  • Ketamine is emerging as a potential new drug for depression— the first of its kind in 35 years.
  • Johnson & Johnson plans to file for FDA approval of a nasal spray formula called esketamine this year.
  • On Saturday, they presented new research suggesting the drug worked well alongside a traditional antidepressant for a month.
  • Like any drug, however, it also had some unpleasant side effects.
  • Other companies are also going after ketamine-inspired antidepressants.

Ketamine, which has been called "the most important discovery in half a century," just got a step closer to becoming the first new depression drug in 35 years.

Johnson & Johnson, one of the pharmaceutical companies pursuing the drug's fast-acting antidepressant qualities, presented some promising new research on Saturday that could raise the drug's profile as a potential treatment for the condition.

It's a dramatic departure for a compound that most people know either as a surgical anesthetic or a party drug. And it's a seemingly welcome one, according to physicians and psychiatrists who say they've grown tired of giving patients the same mediocre drugs for the past four decades.

Johnson & Johnson isn't the only drugmaker that's hot on the ketamine trail. Allergan is in the last phase of clinical trials with a drug that acts on the same receptor as ketamine, and San Francisco drugmaker VistaGen is studying a similar ketamine-inspired drug.

J&J's version of ketamine is a nasal spray made with a compound called esketamine, the chemical mirror image of ketamine. In its latest clinical trial, the company's neuroscience partner, Janssen Research, wanted to show that the spray was safe, well tolerated, and superior to both a placebo and a traditional antidepressant.

To do it, the researchers had 236 adults with treatment resistant depression — known as one of the hardest forms to treat — take a traditional antidepressant for four weeks alongside a nasal spray. Only half of them got a spray with J&J’s drug in it; the other half got a placebo.

Their results were promising: The people who got the real spray saw significantly better improvements in their depressive symptoms than those who got the placebo, over the course of 28 days. More importantly, it is also the first time a novel treatment has come out on top even when compared to a traditional antidepressant drug.

The findings come roughly a month after J&J published the results of a small, preliminary version of this study which suggested that over the course of a single day, the spray and traditional antidepressant combo was better than a placebo and traditional antidepressant combo. That study, however, suggested the results diminished over the course of four weeks, while the longer and larger study suggests they might not.

The emerging science on ketamine

Depression is one of the world's leading causes of death. Current treatments for depression, which take roughly five weeks to begin to take effect, may not work well in up to 80% of the people who get them.

Most existing antidepressants, from Abilify to Zoloft, work by plugging up the places where our brain takes up serotonin, a chemical messenger that plays a key role in mood. The result is more free-floating serotonin and, in some people, relief from a dark curtain of depressive symptoms.

tree branches foliage leaves fall colors

Ketamine doesn't work this way. It capitalizes on a different mechanism in the brain and affects key switches called NMDA receptors.

Like serotonin receptors, those for NMDA play an important role in our mood and help keep our emotions in check. But NMDA receptors also keep our brain's synapses — the delicate branches that serve as the ecosystem for our thoughts — flexible and resilient.

Potentially because of depression's damaging effects on these brain switches, it appears to cause our synaptic branches to shrivel up and in some cases even to die. Scientists think existing antidepressants send help to those branches indirectly over time by way of serotonin. Ketamine, by contrast, delivers its aid directly to the source, plugging up NMDA receptors like a cork in a bottle, and nipping depressive symptoms within hours.

A 2012 study published in the journal Science analyzed ketamine's rapid ability to reduce depressive symptoms in people who'd failed to respond to other drugs. The authors called ketamine "the most important discovery in half a century." Five years later, researchers concluded in a study in the American Journal of Psychiatry that the drug's antidepressant effects appeared to last at least a month.

Still, like any drug, ketamine has a range of unpleasant side effects, the most troublesome of which appears to be its tendency to produce what are known as dissociative, or "out of body," experiences.

Experts worry those effects could lead patients to either react negatively to the experience and not want to repeat it, or react positively and want to repeatedly use, potentially leading to a drug-use disorder.

In J&J's most recent study, patients reported other side effects as well, including dizziness, headache, blurred vision, and nausea.

The biggest unanswered question: long-term effects

Besides its immediate side-effects, some researchers approach ketamine with hopeful caution for another reason.

Without a good number of long term studies on ketamine for depression, it's tough to know what the drug's effects might look like over the course of several months or years. Its beneficial effects, for example, could wear off; other negative side effects could emerge as well.

Allergan and VistaGen are currently doing long term studies of their new drug candidates, which act on the same pathway as ketamine but appear to have substantially fewer side effects; results from those trials are expected in the next two years.

J&J is also pursuing more research on its nasal spray ketamine formula, some of which will include longer trials. Company representatives told Business Insider that in addition to the research they've presented so far, they also have plans to study the nasal spray formula in teens with major depression who are at imminent risk for suicide.

The company is expecting to file for approval of their drug with the US Food and Drug Administration later this year.

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SEE ALSO: Pharma giants are looking to ketamine for clues to the next blockbuster depression drug — and science says they're onto something big

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There's a good chance Meghan Markle and Prince Harry will honeymoon in Namibia — here's what their itinerary could look like, including a moonlit dinner and hot air balloon ride


Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attend the UK team trials for the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 at the University of Bath in Bath, England, Friday, April 6, 2018.

  • Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are getting married on May 19.
  • The couple's honeymoon is reportedly taking place in Namibia, in West Africa. 
  • We talked to a travel agent who specializes in luxury travel throughout Africa to find out what Markle and Prince Harry might do during their time in Namibia.


After the royal wedding on May 19, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will jet off for their honeymoon — and according to Travel + Leisure, the destination of choice is Namibia, in South West Africa.

Neighboring Botswana, which the couple most recently visited for Markle's 36th birthday celebration, Namibia offers incredible views and ultimate privacy.

To find out what a honeymoon itinerary in Namibia may look like, Business Insider talked to Marisa Lassman, a travel expert and founder of Another Africa, a luxury travel agency that specializes in unique and tailored trips across the continent.

"We go to great lengths to profile our clients and understand their interests, travel preferences, and requirements," Lassman told Business Insider. "No two itineraries are ever the same." Lassman also noted the best time of year to visit Namibia is in May. With the royal couple and their tastes in mind, she drafted an eight-day itinerary for their honeymoon.

From horseback riding, to private tours led by a wildlife documentary filmmaker, to witnessing stunning views of the Skeleton Coast, see how the royals could be spending their time together in Namibia. 

SEE ALSO: People are hoping Meghan Markle's wedding dress could include pieces of Princess Diana's dress from 1981 — here's what that could look like

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After flying into Windhoek's international airport, it's a 50-minute flight to the Wolwedans Private Camp airstrip. Located within the NamibRand Nature Reserve, Wolwedans Private Camp is a remote and beautiful retreat, and can be booked only on an exclusive basis.

Two nights would be spent at Wolwedans. The first day would include activities such as a scenic walk while getting acclimated to the area and in-suite massages.

While there, tours would be given by Hayden Turner, an expert guide who has dedicated much of his life to filmmaking and photography in the surrounding areas for clients such as National Geographic and the Discovery Channel.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

This woman went from running a $45 million company to buying a private island in Finland open only to women


supershe island finland retreat 68

  • Two years ago, SuperShe founder Kristina Roth was running a multi-million-dollar consulting business.
  • She's since sold it and launched a women's community called SuperShe devoted to empowering its members.
  • In September, she purchased a private island in Finland, open only to women, for her and her fellow SuperShes to congregate for restorative retreats.

Off the coast of the Baltic Sea in the Raseborg region of Finland, there's a woman-only island that serves as the headquarters for the female enclave of SuperShes. 

The SuperShe community's founder, Kristina Roth, bought the 8.47-acre island entirely out of pocket in September of last year to give her women's network a homebase.

supershe island finland retreat 24Members of the 6,000-strong female tribe will congregate on the property during the season for retreats costing up to $7,250 that are replete with activities that strengthen the body, mind and soul; kayaking, breathing exercises, nutritional foods, massages and sisterhood will be at the forefront of every island affair.

Think Themyscira — the island in Wonder Woman — but with yoga mats and smoothie bowls. 

In 2015, Roth's consulting business, Matisia Consultants, landed the number seven spot on Forbes' Fastest-Growing Women-Owned Businesses list. The company's revenue at the time was at $45 million. She sold it a year later and launched SuperShe.

supershe island finland retreat 21

Roth didn't launch it as a business (not one dollar in revenue has been made yet since its inception,) but as a blog platform to build content and spotlight interesting women. It eventually blossomed into a networking community and, now, an island settlement.

The community has held four retreats before the island was purchased, which have operated much like how Roth hopes her island retreats will. There have been two in Hawaii, one in Turks & Caicos, which is the most recent event, and one co-ed gathering last June on Richard Branson's Necker Island, attended and co-hosted by the Virgin founder himself. 

supershe island finland retreat 30

The SuperShe community, Roth said, is comprised of financially and emotionally independent women that strive to be the best version of themselves.  The application to become a SuperShe is fairly simple: the form listed online contains five mandatory fields to fill out, but Roth said the most important part is telling her your story.

"When women write their story and it’s in sync and resonates with the SuperShe DNA, then it’s a-go,” Roth said.

Every woman in attendance at SuperShe retreats thus far, and those that will attend the island retreats, went through a vetting process and was handpicked by Roth herself. This exclusivity has spelled heavy criticism for SuperShe, with some accusing the community of being an elitist and privileged colony, designed specifically for affluent women, that excludes men and discriminates against the LGBTQ community.

Roth said, however, that anyone who identifies as a woman is welcome to apply. 

“The island is elite, not everyone can buy an island, but the island is really just the tip of the iceberg," Roth said. "There’s definitely so much more to SuperShe and what I would like to accomplish with it.”

supershe island finland retreat 73

The inner workings of SuperShe Island

The season extends for 12 weeks starting in June, and the island's four cabins can house a maximum of 10 women at any given time. Meaning that only 120 of the 6,000 existing SuperShes can attend the island's one-week-long retreats for the upcoming season.

There are three pricing packages for a spot on the island, ranging from $3,500 to $7,250, or between 2,900 -5,900 euros. A few "nominated" women will also be offered an opportunity to stay on the island for free, Roth said. 

supershe island finland retreat 44

The most basic package is $3,500 and will get you one of two twin beds in a shared room in a four-person cabin.

Up a notch is the $4,790 deal, which will get you one of two twin beds in a two-person cabin. The big kahuna costs $7,246 and will get you a cabin for yourself.

All three packages are all-inclusive, except for flight fare, and cover food, massages, facials, and airport pick up by car, though you can opt for a 20-minute helicopter ride for extra if you wish.

Roth said she has more affordable one-day SuperShe island programs in the works as well.

supershe island finland retreat 16

The tentative schedule for these retreats would start with guests being shuttled from Helsinki Airport to SuperShe Island.

For the bulk of the day, the women would keep moving with kayaking, bicycling, hiking and yoga. A nice facial and/or a massage, with access to Finnish saunas, would be waiting for them at the end of at least every other afternoon said Roth.

While being on the go during the day will strengthen the body, workshops will be held every day that will strengthen the mind. Speakers will skype in to connect with the SuperShes and discuss topics such as nutrition and sex.

supershe island finland retreat 2

The retreat's menu would be nutrient dense and healthy. The idea is to detox and hopefully lose a little weight by the end of the week. The island is a substance-free zone, which means this is one retreat that won't be supplying alcohol. 

In its stead will be sunshine, female empowerment and views of the Baltic Sea. Not a bad trade-off. 

SEE ALSO: This private club of socially-conscious entrepreneurs bought a ski mountain in Utah for $40 million to build what has been called a 'utopia for the millennial elite'

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The Reagans hosted the best White House parties of all time


Nancy Reagan Ronald Reagan

For over two centuries, presidents and first ladies have welcomed guests to the White House for lavish parties. Some first families have been known for hosting awe-inspiring gatherings, while others were not expert entertainers.

But the presidential couple that stood out from the rest was former President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan. The 40th President of the United States and his wife were known for throwing elegant, star-studded soirées.

Given his Hollywood connections, Reagan's parties were filled with some of the biggest Hollywood celebrities, in an era when fabulous people reigned supreme.

Step inside the Reagan White House parties:

SEE ALSO: Inside Number One Observatory Circle, the often overlooked but stunning vice president's residence where the Pences live

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As the nation saw an increase in millionaires and billionaires, the Reagans hosted parties in gilded surroundings with superstar guests, such as Frank Sinatra.

Source: AP

In this famous photo of Sinatra, Reagan cut in to dance with his wife.

Source: Town & Country

Keeping with tradition, the Reagans hosted foreign heads of state and dignitaries for special dinners at the White House. But some did criticize the Reagans fancy parties for being elitist.

Source: Reagan Presidential Library

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Los Angeles just took a big step toward regulating Airbnb stays — here's what new short-term rental laws could mean for hosts and travelers


Los Angeles

  • Los Angeles and Airbnb have battled for years over short-term rental regulations, and home-sharing is technically illegal in the city.
  • On May 3, the Los Angeles City Council approved a new set of home-sharing rules that would bar residents from renting out homes that are not their primary residence.
  • The draft ordinance also caps the number of days a host can rent out their home or a room to 120 days a year, though there are exceptions.
  • If voted into law, it could reduce the number of legal, home-share rentals in the city.


The tide is turning in Los Angeles.

On May 2, the 15-person Los Angeles City Council unanimously agreed to approve a new set of rules on home sharing in the city.

The draft ordinance — which still has to be reviewed by the planning commission and voted on again to become law — would finally legalize short-term rentals in Los Angeles, but place a few significant restrictions on hosts. The regulations would affect rental sites including Airbnb, HomeAway, and Vacation Rentals by Owner, or VRBO.

Most notably, the proposal limits the number of days a host can rent out their home to 120 days a year, though it would allot more days to hosts in good standing (those who are registered with the city and violation-free). There is currently no cap on the number of rental days in a given year in Los Angeles.

It also bars residents from renting out any home or apartment that is not their primary residence, is under rent stabilization rules, or is considered affordable housing. That means multi-family apartment building landlords would not be able to rent out individual units on a short-term basis, unless they live there. The same goes for homeowners who rent out a second property or vacation home on a home-share site.

airbnb los angeles

"We crafted an ordinance that allows good operators to thrive and weeds out those who are cited as nuisances to their neighbors," said Councilman Jose Huizar, the author of the ordinance, which has been in the works since 2015.

There are more than 16,700 Airbnb rentals available in Los Angeles right now, about 65% of which are listings for entire homes, according to Airbnb tracker AirDNA. The average daily rate for rentals is about $150. The city of Los Angeles does not include Santa Monica, a popular beach community and tourist destination that has its own home-sharing rules.

The ordinance won't become law until vetted by the LA Planning Commission and then voted on again by the city council, and the specifics are subject to change, according to the Los Angeles Times. Huizar estimated that process could take up to four months. It's unclear how many current Airbnb listings would be affected if the proposed restrictions are put in place; Airbnb does not release the addresses of its rentals to the public or the city of Los Angeles.

los angeles homes

It's also unclear whether accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, are considered a primary residence or not under the draft ordinance, or if they are considered a separate rental. ADUs have become increasingly popular in Los Angeles since a January 2017 law made it easier for homeowners to build "granny flats," or second units, on their property.

Los Angeles and Airbnb have been battling it out for years over ways to regulate, and ultimately both benefit, from home sharing. Some people argue Airbnb disrupts neighborhoods and inflames the housing crisis, while supporters say it's a way for struggling residents to earn extra income and promotes tourism to the city.

In 2016, the city of Los Angeles reached a deal with Airbnb in which the home-sharing site would collect a 14% transient occupancy tax on the listing price for stays of 30 nights or less, which has net the city tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue already.

"Short-term rentals are playing an important role in the lives of thousands of Angelenos who increasingly rely on home sharing to make ends meet. We are proud to support the City of Los Angeles with over $66 million in additional tax revenue since August of 2016," Airbnb's Southern California Policy Manager, John Choi, said in a statement to Business Insider. Airbnb has warned city officials that capping the number of days a host can rent their home, or restricting the type of housing, could greatly impact tax revenue.

City officials are likely concerned about more than just tax revenue, however. Though home-share horror stories are rare, regulation may be able to make the vacation rental industry safer for local residents and travelers alike.

"As Airbnb continues to grow, we look forward to the passage of fair and reasonable home-sharing regulation that continues to grow LA's tourism economy, its tax base, and allow LA residents to earn valuable income," Choi said.

If the ordinance becomes law, Airbnb could face fines for listing rentals on its site that have not been registered with the city. The company spent about $250,000 on lobbying efforts related to LA city regulations in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to city disclosures reviewed by the LA Times.

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Thanks to Thanos, 'Avengers: Infinity War' is Marvel's 'The Empire Strikes Back'


thanos gauntlet

  • Thanos is one of the most complex and fully formed villains ever put on screen.
  • Because of that, "Avengers: Infinity War" is the MCU's "The Empire Strikes Back."

Warning: Major spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen “Avengers: Infinity War.”

Villains in superhero movies are usually forgettable.

In this latest era of the genre, many times they are ominous figures in the background of the story who suddenly appear — often in some ugly ship — to take on our hero, who (if the storytelling was done correctly) we now have a vested interest in. The bad guy, on the other hand, we know little about and is just there to be used as the good guys’ last obstacle in the movie.

It’s something audiences have complained about a lot since Marvel Studios kicked off the latest superhero craze with “Iron Man” in 2008. Gone are the days of Gene Hackman as the wisecracking Lex Luthor (in the Christopher Reeve Superman movies) or Jack Nicholson as the playfully deranged Joker (in Michael Keaton’s Batman). Now it’s CGI goliaths that give us little to care about, audiences have said.

These CGI-heavy villains are often compared unfavorably to one of the greatest of all time, Heath Ledger’s Joker in the Christian Bale-era Batman movies.

the dark knight jokerThat performance, which led to Ledger receiving a posthumous supporting actor Oscar win, is so special because Ledger and director Christopher Nolan took the time to craft an arc for the character.

And that’s the biggest thing. If the creatives go into the project dedicated to giving their villain more than just a mean backstory, the movie itself becomes a better experience.

But recently, the MCU has featured more nuanced villains, and it has led to critical acclaim and lots of box office coin.

Sony’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming” gave us a grounded villain in Vulture, played by Michael Keaton. He's a blue collar guy who finally found a way to make some money in this world thanks to Chitauri technology, despite doing illegal things with the tech. A well-grounded interest that audiences can relate to was just one of the aspects of the movie that led to “Homecoming” earning over $880 million worldwide.

And then there’s Killmonger in Disney’s “Black Panther.” Michael B. Jordan’s performance is gripping and his motivations behind his villainy are so well played on screen that it launched the internet into a frenzy with many making the case that Killmonger was right. That kind of reaction is one of the things that’s helped the movie become the third-highest domestic grossing movie of all time.

Coming into “Avengers: Infinity War,” the big question was how the directors would handle Thanos.

He's the biggest villain of them all in the current phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, who is obsessed with capturing all the Infinity Stones. We’ve only seen brief glances of him in the last ten years as Marvel/Disney has built up the franchise by telling the stories of dozens of heroes. How do you prove that Thanos is worth the wait?

Well, for starters, directors Anthony and Joe Russo put him right at the opening of the movie. He decimates the ship the Asgardians were on after fleeing their planet at the end of “Thor: Ragnarok,” and kills Loki for the Space Stone. He also kicks the crap out of Thor and The Hulk in the process.

That’s quite a way to start a movie.

And Thanos’ wrath continues on through the entire movie. But what makes “Infinity War” not just a great superhero movie, but (and I’m very serious about this) “The Empire Strikes Back” of the MCU, is the layers that Thanos is given.

In many ways, “Infinity War” is Thanos’ movie. The story spends a lot of time covering why he wants to bring “balance” to the universe by destroying half of all lives. There are key scenes that show that he really did love and have affection for his “daughter” Gamora. And we explore why the destruction of his home planet only fuels his belief that he's right.

Avengers Infinity War thanos fire_1523945234978It’s all madness. Thanos is a psycho who believes genocide is right. But “Infinity War” had to show just what the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy are up against: The Dark Lord, like Darth Vader, is conflicted, but is too blinded by inner hate to care what comes from his actions.

Then there’s just the performance itself. Thanks to remarkable CGI and a motion-capture performance by Josh Brolin, Thanos is an incredible sight up against our heroes, but also displays that pathos that elevates the character and the story.

This is just like Vulture and Killmonger.

My feeling is part of the mission in the past 10 years of the MCU was to get the heroes to a point where audiences were fully sold on their stories and their motives. With that accomplished, they now used “Infinity War” to tell Thanos’ story.

Because of the care in getting Thanos' story right, I think “Infinity War” will be talked about and analyzed for years to come — like “The Dark Knight” or “The Empire Strikes Back.”

SEE ALSO: "Avengers: Infinity War" is worth the 10-year wait and will rop your heart out

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If you loved 'Karate Kid' you need to watch 'Cobra Kai' on YouTube Red


cobra kai youtube

  • The classic 1980s movie, "The Karate Kid," gets a reboot with the original cast members in the YouTube Red series, "Cobra Kai."
  • If you were a fan of the movie you really need to see this.

YouTube Red has been trying to get into the original content space with something that would grab a big audience, and may have finally got it with "Cobra Kai."

The 10-episode series dusts off the classic 1984 movie, "The Karate Kid," and brings it to the present day by looking at where the characters ended up after the movie.

If you've never seen "The Karate Kid" — first, how dare you, go watch it right now on Hulu or iTunes — the movie is the definition of a kid overcoming the bully. Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) moves out to Los Angeles from Newark and has a tough time fitting in at his new high school. And things get really bad when he falls for Ali, who happens to be the ex-girlfriend of the top student at the Cobra Kai dojo, Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka). This leads to Lawrence and his friends constantly kicking the crap of and tormenting LaRusso. LaRusso befriends the maintenance man in his building, Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), who teaches him karate. This leads to LaRusso and Lawrence facing off in a karate tournament at the end of the movie. Of course, LaRusso defeats the odds to beat the big bully Lawrence.

"Cobra Kai" takes place in the present day. The tournament looks to have shattered Lawrence's life as he lives a sloppy existence trying to get by doing maintenance work (which he soon gets fired from doing). LaRusso, on the other hand, owns a car dealership that is thriving with multiple locations. This is a fact Lawrence can never escape because he constantly sees LaRusso commercials and billboards.

karate kid columbia picturesThe pilot episode focuses on Lawrence's down-and-out life. But it's also filled with tons of "Karate Kid" references, including many clips from the movie and 1980s needle drops. There's even a "Rocky IV"-like montage where Lawrence drives his broken-down Firebird while clips from Lawrence in "Karate Kid" flash on screen.

One of the best moments of the first episode is when Lawrence has to show off his long-ignored karate skills.

When a kid from his building is bullied by a group of kids, Lawrence steps in (well, when the kid is thrown into his precious Firebird). The group of kids then tries to take on Lawrence and he shows no mercy, even letting out the familiar high-pitched grunts that anyone who loved "The Karate Kid" will remember him doing in the movie.

By the end of the episode, the seeds are planted for a potentially great season. Lawrence and LaRusso meet after Lawrence's Firebird is crashed into and gets hauled to LaRusso's dealership. They kind of act cordial to one another, but you can tell they generally don't care for each other. But the encounter gives Lawrence a light-bulb moment: He's going to relaunch the Cobra Kai dojo. 

"Cobra Kai" is extremely entertaining, but even more so if you loved "The Karate Kid" (and its sequels) growing up. Zabka and Macchio are all in with the reprisal of their iconic roles and that's really the hook. Some of the stuff will certainly go over your head if you weren't into the movie, but YouTube is hoping that the popularity of the movie over decades has enough passionate fans to launch this series (and YouTube) into the streaming zeitgeist.


SEE ALSO: The sad ending of "infinity War" has inspired a hilarious meme

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