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Sonos and Ikea are teaming up to create a speaker that can act as a shelf


sonos ikea speaker

  • Ikea released details about its first product that will be made with Sonos since the two companies announced an upcoming collaboration in December 2017. 
  • The Ikea/Sonos speaker will be designed to be functional as a piece of furniture, like a shelf, or it can be integrated into Ikea furniture so that it's less of a standalone device. 
  • The speaker, called "Symphonies," will be available after the summer of 2019. 

Sonos and Ikea have revealed details on the first product to be made since they announced their collaboration back in December 2017.

On Thursday, Ikea announced its debut hardware will be a speaker called "Symfonisk" that combines the wireless audio expertise from Sonos and the furniture company's design know-how.

Ikea said the Symfonisk speaker will come with brackets so it can be installed on a wall and act like a shelf/speaker combination. The company also said it can integrated into existing Ikea furniture, like the Metod kitchen cabinet using the brackets. 

sonos ikea speaker

The idea is to have a speaker that integrates into a home's decor and functions like a built-in speaker system rather than existing as a standalone device. "Many people dream of built-in sound systems, but few can afford it. Our goal is for our collective work to save space, get rid of cords, make clutter invisible, and bring sound and music into the home in a more beautiful way," Ikea's Home Smart business leader Björn Block said in the company's press release.

The Symfonisk speaker is still under development at this stage, and is expected to be sold in Ikea stores after the summer of 2019. 

As for pricing, there are no details yet. The Sonos/Ikea collaborations was described as a "democratization" of music and sound in the home, so with that in mind, the Sonos/Ikea speaker may not cost as much as a typical speaker from Sonos, like the $200 Sonos One

SEE ALSO: Sonos just announced a $399 home theater soundbar, powered by Amazon’s Alexa — and it’s getting Apple’s Siri, too

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Here's the meaning behind all of those obscure IKEA product names

What the British royal family looked like the year you were born


kate middleton royal family queen

In a changing world, few things have remained as constant as the British royal family.

People all over the world follow Queen Elizabeth II and her large family of kids and grandkids for their dose of inspiration, fashion, and even scandals throughout the years. Acting as a bellwether, the royal family is also a way of tracking the changing times.

Here is what everybody's favorite royals were doing on the year you were born:

SEE ALSO: Here's what the royal family actually does every day

DON'T MISS: Queen Elizabeth has been in power so long, 4 out of 5 UK residents weren't alive when she ascended the throne

1950: Queen Elizabeth II was a young princess in line to take over the throne after her father, King George VI.

Source: Britroyals.com

1951: Queen Elizabeth II had married Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark and given birth to two children, Charles and Anne.

Source: Britroyals.com

1952: After several years of ill health, King George VI died in February 1952. Princess Elizabeth was on a royal tour of Kenya when she found out.

Source: Britroyals.com

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

How this couple saved enough to pay for their own wedding while living in New York City


“Twine-namic Duos” is presented by Twine. Joe & Mo save a significant amount of their income each month. This allowed them to pay for their own wedding and their cat's expensive $12,000 surgery, all while living in New York City. Following is a transcript of the video.

Mo: I mean, I save like crazy. I save over a quarter of what I make, basically, per month. I think that has been the smartest thing, just because, for example, we had an emergency where our cat almost died. That was like $12,000, and it was so much nicer to just be able to be like, "Okay, you, know, this is really tight for us, but like, we can make sure our cat doesn't die." It's really nice to have — we paid for our wedding almost entirely ourselves.

Joe: Yeah, that was very smart, yeah.

Mo: And we still have like a buffer.

Joe: Yeah, I mean, like we talk about since we got married or started living together, it's just a fact of like, these disasters or these things like — getting married wasn't a disaster — but paying for a wedding. Excuse me, financially paying for a wedding is known for being incredibly difficult and you don't want to start off your marriage in debt. And then we had the emergency with the cat like almost a year later. And that was like, that could have financially screwed us up. I mean, you don't want to be starting off your life together then just being like, "Oh, should we open a credit card and max it out to survive?" That seems like — so yeah, saving and having that cushion for those emergencies was probably the smartest thing we've done.

Mo: This is why I'm the CFO of our marriage.

Joe: If it was me, I'd have been toast.

Mo: I actually get on him for it too. I'm like, how much money did you save?

Joe: Right.

Mo: Like I ask, I give quarterly check-ins.

Joe: And I'm like, ah, none.

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12 ways your smartphone is making your life worse



  • The smartphone has changed our lives for the better in some ways, but it definitely has its drawbacks, too.
  • For instance, some research has found that smartphone use may contribute to sleep issues and depression.
  • Below, a clinical psychologist weighs in about the negative impacts smartphones can have on our lives.


 Your smartphone may help you stay in touch with family and friends worldwide, meet dating and marriage partners, and direct you when we’re lost, but there are also downsides. Yes, there areways your smartphone is making your life worse.

Of course, one primary downside of them is their addictive nature. A few years ago, I became soaddicted to texting that I decided to give it up — first for Lent, then forever. I made it my mission to call people if I wanted to speak to them or, better yet, to make plans to see them in real life.

I soon learned the value of a natural back-and-forth conversation on the phone, and that nothing could replace face-to-face communication.

Dr. Suzana E. Flores, clinical psychologist and author of “Facehooked: How Facebook Affects Our Emotions, Relationships, and Lives,” agrees that smartphones are useful in numerous ways, but can also cause friction in our lives.

“Of course, there’s the addiction aspect — they’re always within arm’s reach,” she told Business Insider. “We should continue to enjoy our digital connections, but second only to our offline realities. Just as with anything else, too much of a good thing may not be a good thing after all.”

Here are 12 ways, from an expert, that smartphones could be making your life worse.

SEE ALSO: I stopped using my phone for 2 hours before bed, and it had a more powerful effect than I expected

1. Smartphones contribute to sleep issues

Research has found that using your smartphone before bed can make it harder to fall asleep due to the blue light it emits, as Business Insider previously reported.

“Not only does the bright light emitted by digital devices impact our sleep, but social media content distracts and entertains us, too,” Dr. Flores said.

2. They can ruin romantic relationships

Smartphones could also be damaging people’s romantic relationships.

It’s probably happened to you at some point — the person you’re on a date with looks at their phone more than at you.

“This sends a message thattheir phone is more important than their partner,” Dr. Flores said. “When a partner feels dismissed or unappreciated, they will eventually choose someone else who values their company.”

Furthermore, some couples are spending more time engaged with their phones than with their significant others, which can take a toll on intimacy. “As humans, we give and receive information through our five senses — we need to feel the warmth of our lover’s embrace, we need to smell the roses (so to speak), and we emotionally benefit from spending physical time with loved ones in real-life situations,” Dr. Flores said. “Such experiences simply cannot be gained through digital communication.”

3. They can take a toll on friendships

I used to have a friend who checked her phone so much when we were together that I finally told her she had to choose — me or her phone.

Friends are foregoing manners and proper social etiquette because of their smartphones,” Dr. Flores said. “The dopamine hits we receive every time we get a push notification may be to blame, so much so that many of us have convinced ourselves that our push notifications are more important than who or what is around us.”

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

People are fleeing San Francisco's housing market for sunny SoCal — here are 10 ways they compare according to people who have lived in both


Beach happy woman smiling

People are getting more and more fed up with San Francisco's crazy-high housing prices.

The city's always tight housing market has only gotten even more competitive as people migrate across the globe to land jobs in the growing and high-paying tech industry.

A recent survey conducted by public-relations firm Edelman revealed that about half of residents in the Bay Area found the cost of living so insane, they have considered leaving.

And when they do leave, one top place they go is sunny Southern California, or SoCal, where cities like Los Angeles are seeing more Bay Area transplants.

So, how do the two cities compare?

We've rounded up 10 comparisons made by people on forum site Quora who have lived in both cities.

SEE ALSO: San Francisco is losing more residents than any other city in the US, creating a shortage of U-Hauls that puts a rental at $2,000 just to move to Las Vegas

1. San Francisco has less of a "show off" culture.

There's less of an obsession with self image and more freedom for people to be themselves in San Francisco. 

Women in particular feel less pressure to wear tight clothing and lots of makeup to be attractive.

"There’s a saying that 'in LA, the poor pretend to be rich; and in SF, the rich pretend to be poor' and it’s completely spot-on," said Quora user Li Xuo.

2. People in San Francisco seems to be smarter, or at least more intellectual.

Not that people in LA really aren't as smart, said Quora user Irene Avet: The city still attracts top entrepreneurial and business talent.

But the Bay Area's tech presence has grown exponentially, meaning that there's a concentration of people who identify as "geeks" in the area, with all the stereotypes of high IQ associated with that.

And it is true that some of the brightest minds in the tech world live in the Bay Area's Peninsula. 

3. More people in San Francisco are introverted.

Because of that concentration of brilliant-but-geeky-types, Bay Area residents have a reputation for being more introverted than those in LA.

Meanwhile thanks to the higher concentration of people in the performing arts in LA, people there have a reputation for being warmer and friendlier, or at least more outgoing.

"If I had a make a specific comparison, LA and Dallas are quite similar culturally, while San Francisco and Boston are similar in many ways," said Li Xuo.

Some Silicon Valley legacies can back this up: Larry Page, cofounder of Google, and Apple's Steve Wozniak are both introverts.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Pippa Middleton is pregnant


pippa middleton

  • Pippa Middleton is pregnant.
  • The Duchess of Cambridge's sister broke the news in her Waitrose Weekend column — which focuses on fitness.
  • Middleton said she would keep readers informed on her pregnancy workouts.

Pippa Middleton is pregnant, the Duchess of Cambridge's sister confirmed on Friday.

The royal's sister broke the news of her pregnancy in her Waitrose Weekend column and said she was lucky not to have suffered from the same morning sickness her sister had.

Middleton married multi-millionaire hedge fund manager James Matthews in May 2017. This will be the couple's first baby.

Her Waitrose Weekend column is centred around fitness — and she promises to keep readers informed on how to keep fit during pregnancy.

"This being my first pregnancy, I had so many questions I felt were still unanswered," she wrote.

"I wanted to know things like, would I strain if I served in tennis, are all strokes of swimming safe, can I still do a normal yoga class if I avoided certain positions? Could I still work my abs?

"It's particularly hard in the early months when you don't really want to share the news with everyone, not even your class instructor."

Middleton said she was scaling down "pavement pounding" exercises like running and is instead walking, swimming, and cycling.

"I've noticed my body change and weight increase, but through effective exercise and sports I feel that it's being strengthened to support a healthy pregnancy, birth, and recovery," she wrote.

Reports suggest that Middleton is expected to give birth at some point in October.

SEE ALSO: What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum? Kate Middleton's severe morning sickness explained

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Sneaky ways Costco gets you to buy more

Prince Philip turns 97 on Sunday — here's the best photo from every year of his royal career


Prince Philip

Prince Philip turns 97 on Sunday — and it's been over a year since he announced his official retirement from public service.

According to The Telegraph, the Duke of Edinburgh has carried out 22,219 solo engagements and 637 solo visits overseas since he left active military service in 1952. 

In retirement, the Duke is reportedly enjoying more leisure time at the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk — he is an avid carriage driver and enjoys oil painting.

His Royal Highness' career will be remembered equally for his sharp wit as he will be for his gaffes, which have often left the nation laughing or reeling. 

The Prince's prolonged service has won him support from both sides of Parliament — Jeremy Corbyn applauded his "clear sense of public duty" and Theresa May praised his "steadfast support" to the Queen. 

Philip's lengthy career, marked by hundreds of visits to far-flung corners of the British Empire, has unsurprisingly produced some remarkable royal photography.

As he turns 97, here are the best images from each of his years as Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh:

SEE ALSO: The 23 best candid photos from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal wedding

1947: Prince Philip began his journey as a British Royal when he married into the country's royal family after a five-month engagement to his distant cousin, Elizabeth. He was 26.

1948: The couple had their first child, Prince Charles, in 1948. In this picture, he sleeps in the arms of his mother, then Princess Elizabeth, after his Christening at Buckingham Palace.

1949: Philip spent many of his younger years in the Royal Navy meaning family time was precious. He spent much of 1949 stationed in Malta as the first lieutenant of the destroyer HMS Checkers, the lead ship of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean Fleet.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

A yoga teacher explains the difference between Bikram, Vinyasa, Rocket, and Power yoga — and how to pick the right one for your goals


Screen Shot 2018 05 02 at 10.06.15

  • High-intensity interval training (HIIT) continues to grow in popularity, but the high impact workout can often lead to stiffness and tight muscles.
  • It's important to factor some restorative exercise into your routine.
  • Chris Magee, head of yoga at Another Space, talked us through some of the many variations of yoga and how to pick the right practice for you.
  • Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Hatha, Restorative, Rocket, Power, and Bikram yoga are just a few of the many variations.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) continues to grow in popularity, but the high impact workout can often lead to stiffness and tight muscles, making it more important than ever to factor some restorative exercise into your routine.

Yoga is very versatile — but there are many different styles of practice that could confuse a beginner. To make it even more complicated, many studios and instructors teach their own signature styles.

To help us through the maze, Chris Magee, head of yoga at Another Space, talked us through a few of the many variations of yoga and and what they're likely to mean on a timetable.

Chris Magee, a former actor and ex-professional rugby player, found yoga as a way to heal his body from long-term sporting injuries — and he stresses the importance of mixing up your workout routine.

If you're looking to strike a balance in your training regime, or are simply interested in taking up yoga, here are some of the most popular variations you may come across:



"Vinyasa is the broadest term for flow yoga which is the most popular in the western world," Magee told Business Insider.

The word Vinyasa applies to the principle of synchronising movement with breath. In a Vinyasa class everything is guided by your breath, including how long you hold a pose for, he said, and each posture flows into the next.

A teacher will instruct the class with things like: "Inhale bring your arms up into the air, exhale fall forward into your legs," he said.

"It's consciousness, breath, and movement. But it can be quite aerobic, it can be quite fast-paced, and you can still get your sweat on — I teach quite a strong vinyasa class.

"No two classes of mine will be the same. There will be similar elements and I may reintroduce things, but you won’t know what you're getting," he said, adding that it's his favourite yoga to practice, because he enjoys the unknown.



Ashtanga yoga is a variation of Vinyasa — it’s just with a set sequence of movements.

"If you take an Ashtanga primary series class, no matter where in the world you are or who is leading the class, they’ll teach you the same sequence — so you know which pose is coming next," Magee explained.

"There’s something to be said for going in and knowing what you’re getting. It can help with your understanding, and you can also moderate yourself throughout the class a bit more: save a little bit of energy for this, decide where to test yourself, and where to ease off."

There are also some fast-paced, dynamic variations of Vinyasa, such as rocket or power yoga.


Rocket yoga, as the name might suggest, is a fast-style yoga. "It's a derivative of Ashtanga. It comes from the traditional Ashtanga series, but was modified for the west by a man called Larry Schultz in San Francisco," Magee explained. While Schultz was on tour teaching yoga to American rock band "The Grateful Dead," one member, Bob Weir, suggested he name his yoga style "Rocket, because it gets you there faster" — and it stuck.

According to Style Craze, Rocket yoga was the result of Schultz' attempt to make Ashtanga yoga more accessible to westerners, by breaking down the rigidity of the classic practice.

"Rocket's great, I teach and practice it a lot," Magee continued. "It's playful and has a set structure, but the teacher has some room for manoeuvre within that. Each class won't necessarily be the same, but it's much of a muchness."



There are a number of Power yoga styles, and the one Magee highlighted was made popular by Baron Baptiste. "It's quick, it's punchy," he said. It's sometimes, but not always, practised in a heated room.

"The only downside to something like Power yoga is, yes, you're going to get a sweat on and feel aerobically challenged, but for a beginner does it have the queuing and the guidance needed to keep you moving safely in and out of the spaces where you need to go?" Magee said. "In my opinion, probably not. You'd probably need a few beginner classes first, which focus on the yoga fundamentals. "



For those who really want to push themselves, there's always Bikram, the original hot yoga founded by Bikram Choudhury. It’s a set series of 26 postures in a 90-minute class, in a room heated to 40°C (105°F ). Bikram himself apparently calls the rooms "torture chambers."

Meanwhile, "hot yoga" refers to any style of yoga practised in a heated room. It can be influenced by many different schools of yoga. The classes can be shorter, lasting just 60 minutes, and they're sometimes slightly less hot — more like 33°C — which many people find more manageable.

By warming up the muscles it can help to avoid injury and the added intensity of the heat is thought to help burn fat faster, and provide a detoxifying effect on the body, although not everyone is convinced that hot yoga is superior to other practices.

meditating relaxing yoga exercise


"All yoga comes from Hatha yoga, including Vinyasa and Ashtanga — it's posture-based yoga," Magee said, adding that when you see it advertised on timetables as a style of practice, it’s typically a technique-centred class that's not as focused on "flow," and is heavily oriented around learning the fundamentals.



"Restorative yoga is a yin style yoga that is primarily linked to releasing," said Magee. "It's based around release work rather than flow."

This style, he explained, is heavily reliant upon props to build yourself into a pose.

"You'll use the props to support yourself to get into a space then stay there for three, four, or five minutes — it's very gentle and relaxing.

"You might be in 'pigeon position' for five minutes, giving yourself time to breath and relax — the time allows your body to really start to let go," he said. "Often if you're in a pose for too short a time you don't gain the full benefit."

Nailing the basics

As is a good idea when taking up any form of exercise, Magee suggests taking some time to understand the fundamentals first. Lots of classes will give you the option to hold stages one to five of a pose — one being the most basic and five being the most intense version.

But Magee warns it's important to first get comfortable with option one. "It's as good an option as five," he said. "Drop the idea that we always have to push."

workout fitness rowing exercise gym

The importance of cross-training

While Magee is a self-confessed yogi, he stresses the benefits of "cross-training" — incorporating different workouts into your exercise regime — on the body and mind.

"Too much of one thing is detrimental to you in the sense that it can lead to injury," Magee told Business Insider. "If you do nothing but strength training, your body will become tight and bound and that lack of space means a lack of appropriate movement for the joints and muscles. Things start to tear, pop, and go wrong.

"But also if you did nothing but flexibility training your body would become so loose and so weak that the joints can’t stabilise themselves when you need that strength — and that looseness also leads to pops and tweaks."

He added that as the body adapts so quickly to repeated activity, it's easy to plateau if you're exercising in the same way all of the time.

Acknowledging that many gym-goers who are short of time are reluctant to forgo their cardio or weights session for something low impact like yoga, studios like Another Space are increasingly offering cross-training classes that combine either HIIT and yoga or HIIT and cycle into one 90-minute fusion class.

"The benefit of cross-training is that you’re constantly giving your body little shocks in different ways and you’re also bringing yourself to a place of balance," Magee said.

SEE ALSO: Why kickboxing is a better full-body workout than boxing, according to the venture capitalist and COO duo who started a gym dedicated to it

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NOW WATCH: How a $9 billion startup deceived Silicon Valley

The 19 coolest places for a European holiday in 2018, according to travel experts



Globetrotters are always looking for inspired travel recommendations from those in the know in order to experience new destinations in the most authentic way possible — and those passed by word-of-mouth are always best. 

As summer kicks off, Business Insider asked friends, colleagues, and some of the world's travel experts for their favourite — and overlooked — European destinations that can be seen in a long weekend. 

From the mystical Arabic influence of Granada to the dilapidated charm of Porto, and the gothic churches of Transylvania, here's a selection of their top recommendations, along with some local tips. 

SEE ALSO: 25 under-the-radar places in Latin America to visit in your lifetime, according to the world’s top travel experts

Pretend you're in a Bond film at the Bay of Kotor, Montenegro.

Montenegro provides a less obvious alternative to neighbouring Croatia, and it's not hard to see the draw of the stunning setting of the Bay of Kotor, with its glistening Adriatic sea and mountainous backdrop. The bay is also home to the preserved medieval old city of Kotor which just so happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage site.

One TripAdvisor user from the UK called it "Europe's best kept secret." 

"Despite seeing many images of this place before my visit, nothing really prepared me for just how stunningly beautiful this bay is," the review stated. "The waterside setting (obviously) with its mountainous backdrop was for me a cross between the Norwegian fjords and those lovely Alpine lakes."

Admire the azulejos (painted tiles) and dilapidated charm of Porto, Portugal.

Emma McWhinney, the UK head of editorial at Secret Escapes, recommends a long weekend in Porto, a coastal city on Portugal's northern coast that's steadily growing in popularity as an alternative — possibly even a cheaper one — to Lisbon. 

"Often overshadowed by bustling Lisbon, Porto, with its coastal thrills, postcard-perfect architecture, and eclectic culinary scene, is a must-visit cluster of colour and charm," she said.

Wander through Porto's hilly streets and admire the crumbling buildings and ramshackle colourful houses decorated with azulejos (painted tiles), and you'll soon see why its dilapidated charm is drawing in tourists.

Porto's proximity to some pretty stretches of beach adds to its appeal.


Soak up the Andalusian sunshine, snack on the famous free tapas, and lose yourself in a colourful maze of market stalls in Granada, Spain.

Granada, located in Spain's southern Andalusian region, is a city rich in history and culture —and its Arab influence gives it a mystical edge.

Aside from the tapas — it's one of the few places in Spain where a free tapa is religiously served with every drink — there's the majestic Alhambra Palace, abundant Arab baths that make a perfect first stop to unwind into your weekend, and the intriguing whitewashed gypsy caves of Sacromonte, where some of the city's best flamenco haunts lie. 

Sakshi, a New York-based editor who recently visited the city, told Business Insider: "We enjoyed one free tapa with each drink. So we bar hopped as is recommended, we didn't ever get a second round at the same place.

"A tip for tourists is saying 'que tapa' after letting the bartender know the intention is a drink — either a cana (a small beer) or copa (little glass of wine). Bar Bodegas Castañeda came highly recommended and is somewhat of an institution. We started our bar hop there," she added. 


See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Scientists have created a murder-obsessed 'psychopath' AI called Norman — and it learned everything it knows from Reddit


Norman large

  • Researchers at MIT have programmed an AI using exclusively violent and gruesome content from Reddit.
  • They called it "Norman."
  • As a result, Norman only sees death in everything.
  • This isn't the first time an AI has been turned dark by the internet — it happened to Microsoft's "Tay" too.

Some people fear Artificial Intelligence, maybe because they've seen too many films like "Terminator" and "I, Robot" where machines rise against humanity, or perhaps becaise they spend too much time thinking about Roko's Basilisk.

As it turns out, it is possible to create an AI that is obsessed with murder.

That's what scientists Pinar Yanardag, Manuel Cebrian, and Iyad Rahwan did at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology when they programmed an AI algorithm by only exposing it to gruesome and violent content on Reddit, then called it "Norman."

Norman was named after the character of Norman Bates from "Psycho," and "represents a case study on the dangers of Artificial Intelligence gone wrong when biased data is used in machine learning algorithms," according to MIT.

The scientists tested Norman to see how it would respond to inkblot tests— the ambiguous ink pictures psychologists sometimes use to help determine personality characteristics or emotional functioning.

In the first inkblot, a normally programmed AI saw "a group of birds sitting on top of a tree branch." Norman, however, saw "a man is electrocuted and catches to death."

When the normal AI saw a black and white bird, a person holding an umbrella, and a wedding cake, Norman saw a man getting pulled into a dough machine, a man getting killed by a speeding driver, and "man is shot dead in front of his screaming wife."

"Norman only observed horrifying image captions, so it sees death in whatever image it looks at," the researchers told CNNMoney.

The internet is a dark place, and other AI experiments have shown how quickly things can turn when an AI is exposed to the worst places and people on it. Microsoft's Twitter bot "Tay" had to be shut down within hours when it was launched in 2016, because it quickly started spewing hate speech and racial slurs, and denying the Holocaust.

But not all is lost for Norman. The team believe it can be retrained to have a less "psychopathic" point of view by learning from human responses to the same inkblot tests. AI can also be used for good, like when MIT managed to create an algorithm called "Deep Empathy" last year, to help people relate to victims of disaster.

None of this has stopped people on the internet freaking out, though.

Here are just a few Twitter reactions to Norman:

SEE ALSO: The careers millennials are choosing are less likely to be taken over by robots — here's why

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NOW WATCH: You've been pouring your Guinness all wrong

Kate Spade's death was suicide by hanging, New York's medical examiner has confirmed


Kate Spade

  • The New York City Medical Examiner confirmed on Thursday that Kate Spade's death was a suicide.
  • The cause of death was suicide by hanging.
  • 55-year-old fashion designer Spade was found dead in her Park Avenue home on Tuesday.

Kate Spade's cause of death was suicide by hanging, the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed on Thursday.

Spade's body was found by a cleaner in the bedroom of her Park Avenue home on Tuesday.

Spade was 55, and is survived by her husband, Andy, her 13-year-old daughter, Frances Beatrix Spade, and her brother-in-law, actor David Spade.

Police have said that Spade left a note behind that pointed to suicide.

TMZ reported that the contents of the note said: "Bea — I have always loved you. This is not your fault. Ask Daddy!"

Spade had "suffered from depression and anxiety for many years," according to a statement Andy Spade released to The New York Times on Wednesday, also confirming the couple had been living separately for 10 months.

She launched her business, Kate Spade New York, which sells handbags, shoes, and accessories, with Andy in 1993.

It currently has more than 315 stores globally, including more than 140 in the US, although the couple sold their shares to Neiman Marcus for an undisclosed amount in 2006.

Liz Claiborne then bought the company shortly afterward for a reported $124 million, before it was acquired by Coach $2.4 billion last year.

Spade's father, Frank Brosnahan, told the Kansas City Star that he spoke with his late daughter the night before she was found dead.

He added that Spade would be "delighted" if she knew her death inspired a national discussion that might help people struggling with mental illness.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or has had thoughts of harming themselves or taking their own life, get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7, free, confidential support for people in distress, as well as best practices for professionals and resources to aid in prevention and crisis situations.

Remembering Kate Spade:

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The most luxurious hostel in every European country under £40 a night


Andorra, Mountain Hostel

The idea of staying in a messy, loud hostel might seem like a thing of the past — best kept for the backpacking days of your late teens and 20s.

However, a "hostel" is simply "budget-friendly accommodation that focuses on a shared social experience." While to be considered a hostel it must have the option of a dorm room, most offer private rooms as well — and instead of messy and loud, some can actually be pretty luxurious.

Business Insider teamed up with hostel booking site Hostelworld and its HOSCAR ranking of the best hotels in the world to discover where you'll find the most luxurious hostel in every European country for under £40 ($54).

Scroll down to see each one — as well as what it will cost you and what you can expect — in alphabetical order.

The following nation states and cross-border countries are not included in the list: The Åland Islands, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Monaco, San Marino, Svalbard, Ukraine, and Vatican City.

SEE ALSO: 14 hostels you won’t believe aren’t luxury hotels

ALBANIA: Stone City Hostel, Gjirokaster.

Situated right in the heart of the old town of Gjirokaster, Stone City Hostel is close to the best sights, including a castle and communist bunker.

It boasts a huge roof terrace with brilliant views of the castle, a shaded garden with fruit trees, and is also next to the best coffee bar in town.

Price: Private rooms from £22, dorms from £8.

ANDORRA: Mountain Hostel, El Tarter.

If the outdoor heated pool and jacuzzi aren't enough to tempt you, Andorra's eco-friendly Mountain Hostel is perfect for mountain sports and activities like skiing, snowboarding, freeride, freestyle, and ski touring in the winter season, and mountain biking, hiking, and trail running in summer.

The hostel uses solar energy and is also bike-friendly, offering cyclists a security box, padlock, workshops with tools, and a bike wash area.

Price: Dorms from £22 per night.

ARMENIA: Kantar, Yerevan.

Located in the very centre of Yerevan, just a minute's walk from the Republic Square, this cosy hostel has dorms for four to eight people or private bedrooms with balconies. 

Price: Dorms from £10 per night.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The co-founder of booming vegan chain By Chloe just opened a new Middle Eastern restaurant. Here's what it's like to eat there.


DEZ 2891

  • Samantha Wasser, co-founder of the international vegan fast-casual chain By Chloe, just opened a new Middle Eastern restaurant called Dez, which is short for desert. 
  • The chef at Dez is Eden Grinshpan, star of the Cooking Channel show "Eden Eats."
  • The food served at Dez has some very personal touches. "[The food] is exactly the way [Eden] would prepare it for you if you came to her home," founder Sam Wasser said.

By Chloe, a vegan fast-casual chain, has become an international success since opening in 2015. The chain now has 10 stores, including a new location in London, where another is on the way. 

By Chloe co-founder Samantha Wasser recently opened her latest fast-casual spot, which is in collaboration with chef Eden Grinshpan, who hosts the Cooking Channel's "Eden Eats." Called Dez, short for desert, the restaurant serves up a mix of Middle Eastern food, including dishes like Moroccan lamb meatballs, harissa curry shakshuka, and falafel cauliflower pita.

Though Grinshpan had been sitting on the concept for a couple of years, the idea to open a restaurant came about after she hosted a pop-up in Brooklyn. She received so many positive responses that within weeks, she was meeting with Esquared Hospitality, which also operates By Chloe. 

The menu at Dez took more than two years to come together. The prices are relatively low, with meze costing $6 and salads priced at $11. 

Grinshpan, who is half-Israeli, said the Middle Eastern concept hits close to home. 

"The food that I'm cooking at Dez, every dish has a story," she told Business Insider. "You get Persian influence, you get Moroccan influence, you get so many different cultures that you can see sprinkled in throughout the entire menu. Nothing is super traditional."

While this is Grinshpan's first restaurant, Wasser is clearly no stranger to the fast-casual industry. The hope is to appeal to millennials in much the same way that By Chloe does, and to eventually grow Dez's presence elsewhere. 

"What I love about the fast-casual industry right now is that it's pretty much designed for me and my peers, and millennials as well, where people want delicious food that is well-sourced and well-curated in a high designed space. And that's kind of where fast food is lacking," she said.

We recently went to Dez to see what it was all about. Here's what it was like:

SEE ALSO: This chain wants to be the McDonald's of vegan fast food — here's what it's like to eat there

Dez is located in Soho, just around the corner from By Chloe.

It was pretty busy considering that it had only been open for two hours when I visited.

There were colorful decorations and plants throughout the interior, and a cardboard camel decorated with flowers sat in the front of the restaurant. While designing Dez, Wasser placed an emphasis on creating a well-designed space. "I think more people are going to be paying attention to the setting and the packaging. People want to have fun when they're eating," she told Business Insider.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Anthony Bourdain's death is part of a disturbing trend in the US that's getting much worse


anthony bourdain

Anthony Bourdain, the celebrity chef and globe trotter who explored the world through cuisine, died Friday in France, CNN said.

Early reports indicated that Bourdain hanged himself in his hotel room. His death, and that of designer Kate Spade earlier this week, both come amid a larger, startling trend unfolding across the US: Since 1999, the suicide rate has risen 28%.

More people in all but one state and across every age group — from 10 to 75 years old — are dying by suicide. But Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told reporters on Thursday that "middle-aged adults had the largest number of suicides, and a particularly high increase in rates."

Suicide is now the fourth leading cause of death in the US for men aged 45-54, and the eighth leading cause of death for males 55-64, a group that included Bourdain. 

Schuchat called this new data "disturbing."

A precipitous rise in suicides across the US

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death overall in the US today, and one of only three causes of death that are rising. The other two are Alzheimer's and drug overdoses.

Studies show that as many as 90% of people who commit suicide experience some kind of mental illness. Psychiatrist and neurochemist John Mann, who studies the causes of depression and suicide at Columbia University, told Business Insider that many of those patients go without help in the US because they can't afford care or don't seek it out. That's especially true among men, who are three and a half times more likely to commit suicide than women.

"We need to make more of an effort at getting people who aren't good at seeking help, like men, to go and get help," he said. 

Experts also say some suicides among middle-aged people could be tied to stresses around jobs and money. Historically, the suicide rate in adults from ages 25-64 tracks with recessions, rising when times are bad and falling when they're better. But the causes of any suicide are always complicated and rarely due to any one factor. 

The suicide rate has also jumped for teenage girls in recent decades: the number of suicides among girls ages 10 to 14 tripled since 1999. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for all US teens and young adults ages 10 to 35. Hospitalizations for suicide attempts and ideation at children's hospitals around the country doubled in the seven years from 2008-2015, according to a new study in the journal Pediatrics

suicide rates map

"Suicide can happen to anybody," Schuchat said. The CDC's goal is to reduce the annual suicide rate in the US 20% by 2025. 

"Help people," she said. "Look for those warning signs in people you love and care for." 

What to do if you're worried someone may be suicidal

For anyone who is dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts, or has a loved who is struggling, it can be tough to know what to do.

One useful resource is the National Council for Behavioral Health's Mental Health First Aid handbook, which was published in 2015. It's a how-to guide for talking about mental health.

The book advises that people not shy away from asking someone in their life about suicidal thoughts if they think that person may be at risk.

"Do not avoid using the word 'suicide,'" the book says. "It is important to ask the question without dread and without expressing a negative judgment."

The authors also suggest a few simple ways you can go about this difficult conversation.

"Are you having thoughts of suicide?" or "Are you thinking about killing yourself?" are both fine ways to start.

Talking about suicide won't plant the idea in a person's mind (as some people fear), and telling someone you care and want to help is always a good idea. Mental-health trainers say one of the best things you can do for someone is express concern and willingness to help — then let them do most of the talking.

"They need the opportunity to talk about their feelings and reasons for wanting to die, and they may feel great relief at being able to do this," the book says. "It may be helpful to talk about specific problems the person is experiencing. Discuss ways to deal with issues that seem impossible, but do not attempt to solve the problems yourself."

Reminding someone that suicidal thoughts are common and often associated with a treatable mental disorder can also be a way to support them. Ask that person to think about some things that may have helped them in the past, like a doctor, therapist, family member, or friend. Don't ever use guilt or threats to try to prevent a suicide.


If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or has had thoughts of harming themselves or taking their own life, get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7, free, confidential support for people in distress, as well as best practices for professionals and resources to aid in prevention and crisis situations.

SEE ALSO: The CDC just released staggering data on the rise in suicides across the US. It shows the growing severity of the issue.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The best way to make scrambled eggs — according to Anthony Bourdain and Danny Bowien

The trailer for the new 'Halloween' movie has impressive scares while also paying homage to the original


Halloween 2 Universal final

  • The trailer for the new "Halloween" movie does not disappoint.
  • It has some great scares, and with the return of the franchise's star, Jamie Lee Curtis, as well as its creator, John Carpenter, this one has some added anticipation.

The highly anticipated trailer for the latest "Halloween" movie is online, and it doesn't disappoint.

The Universal/Blumhouse Pictures production directed by David Gordon Green ("Stronger"), who wrote the script with Danny McBride, has been on the minds of horror fans since the news hit in 2016 that the creator of the horror classic, John Carpenter, agreed to come back and watch over the making of the new movie.

Carpenter hasn't put his name on a "Halloween" movie since having a producer credit on 1982's "Halloween III: Season of the Witch."

But with Blumhouse ("Get Out," "Split") involved and a script that won over Carpenter (who is an executive producer on the movie), the maestro of the franchise is back, which has given this "Halloween" a real sense of excitement. And this trailer will just amp things up even more.

Business Insider saw the trailer at this year's CinemaCon, the yearly convention of movie-theater owners, and it was one of the event's highlights. The combination of frights it teases along with Green's use of the legend of Michael Myers really got everyone pumped.

In "Halloween," opening October 19, a filmmaking team seeks to learn more about Myers, even tracking down where he's been held since the gruesome events from the first movie (that's right, forget everything that happened following 1978's "Halloween").

But, of course, something goes wrong that leads Michael to escape from prison, and he heads right back to his hometown, where Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is awaiting her rematch with the classic villain.

Curtis' performance looks really good, giving off a Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) vibe from the first movie.

Watch the trailer below:

SEE ALSO: All the DC Comics movies in the works, including one starring The Rock

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Airstream has a new $45,900 trailer that's a big departure from its iconic designs — check out its new look


Airstream Nestr

  • Airstream recently introduced a new trailer, its first-ever production fiberglass model.
  • The product came from a 2016 acquisition of an Oregon-based startup.
  • The Nest by Airstream can be towed by relatively modest vehicles.
  • It sells for $45,900, and it weighs 3,400 pounds.

Airstream is famous for its iconic aluminum trailers. 

But now the company has launched its first-ever fiberglass production model: Nest by Airstream

Nest, which can be towed by a compact SUV, makes an attractive investment for both younger buyers looking to get into the outdoor life and for those who want to take to the road without the need of hotels and motels along the way. 

Here's a closer look.

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If you know anything about Airstream trailers, it's probably the silver-bullet aluminum models you've seen.

The 85-year-old company manufactures, in the USA, the all-American trailer at its best, crafted from shimmering aluminum and exuding timeless cool.

But Airstream has been shaking up its designs of late. Its modest Basecamp rolled out in 2016.

The Basecamp was a shiny Airstream that evoked the brand's image. The recently launched Nest by Airstream is a different story.

In 2016, under CEO Bob Wheeler (who joined in 2005), Airstream acquired NEST Caravan, an Oregon startup that had produced a prototype trailer that caught Airstream's eye.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The 21 best heist movies of all time, ranked


oceans 8

There's something about a good heist movie that makes going to the multiplex worthwhile.

With the high stakes, and the top-shelf actors and directors who seem to gravitate to the genre, when it's done right, it can be a thrilling cinematic experience.

With "Ocean's 8" hitting theaters Friday — where the likes of Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Paulson, and Rihanna make up a group of thieves who pull a heist at the Met Gala — we thought it was a good time to look back on the classics of the genre.

Here are the 21 best heist movies of all time, ranked:

SEE ALSO: Steven Soderbergh has a new plan to make Hollywood movies outside the control of big studios

21. "A Fish Called Wanda"

John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, and Michael Palin play a bumbling group who commit a robbery of very pricey diamonds and then try to con one another out of the loot. Cleese and Palin are at top form, and Kline's portrayal of a cocky American earned him an Oscar win for best supporting actor.  

20. “Mission: Impossible”

Though Tom Cruise's first time playing Ethan Hunt showed off all of the fun spy aspects of the franchise, it also had a very elaborate heist element. Hunt breaking into CIA headquarters to steal the "NOC" list is a highlight of the film.

19. “Bottle Rocket”

For Wes Anderson's directorial debut, he cast then-unknown brothers Luke and Owen Wilson as friends who plan the heist of a factory only for things to go horribly wrong.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

A top tech investor says cameras watching your every move is inevitable in the US: 'It's not my fault what the future holds, so if it's scary I apologize' (AAPL, NFLX)


sarah guo greylock partners vc

  • Sarah Guo of Greylock Partners predicts that someday surveillance cameras will watch your every move and that it will change people's behavior.
  • "There's a saying, 'You are who you are when no one's watching,'" Guo said at a recent tech event, adding that she thinks "we're going to be watched" all the time.
  • China is already building a vast surveillance network designed to track all 1.4 billion citizens and rate their social citizenship. 

An episode of Netflix's show "Black Mirror" imagines a world where everyone is given a social score out of five.

The main character, Lacie, whose rating hovers around a respectable 4.2, becomes desperate to boost her score. She strikes gold when she's invited to a social-media star's wedding, where hobnobbing with "prime influencers" and posting perfectly filtered photos will surely juice her rating. Spoiler alert: It doesn't.

At a recent debate among top tech investors in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sarah Guo of Greylock Partners put out the idea that the future predicted by "Black Mirror" might not be so far off.

Smart cameras are blanketing the world, from the 170 million surveillance cameras in China used for tracking citizens to the facial-recognition security system in Apple's iPhone X. These bring new levels of convenience, but Guo, who focuses her investments on cybersecurity and artificial intelligence, said that if people know they're being watched, they may also change their behavior — for better or worse.

"There's a saying, 'You are who you are when no one's watching,' but I think we're going to be watched," Guo said at the tech debate. "And I know that I'm going to change as a driver if all the cars around me are going to be rating my politeness and safety all the time."

black mirror future tech trends 4

Each year, the Churchill Club, a 32-year-old discussion forum based in Silicon Valley, hosts a debate among some of the leading — and most opinionated — luminaries in tech and business. This year, five venture capitalists, including Guo, laid out their predictions for what nonobvious tech trends would emerge in two to five years.

Guo said it wasn't unreasonable to imagine a world where people are rated by others and surveillance cameras based on good social citizenship, not unlike what happens in the season-three premiere of "Black Mirror." A person's ranking may determine, for example, whether they have access to a loan and at what interest rate, Guo said.

In the "Black Mirror" episode, Lacie sets out to increase her score after finding her dream home and hearing from the realtor that she can shave 20% off the rent if she boosts her rating above 4.5.

This sort of thing is already happening in China.

The most populous country in the world has deployed 170 million cameras since 2014 as part of a vast surveillance system it's building. China wants to track all 1.4 billion citizens through a combination of facial-recognition technology, group-chat monitoring, and smartphone apps created by the state — and give people scores based on their "social credit." People with good scores get rewarded, and those with bad ones are punished.

The program, which is mandatory for Chinese citizens, is expected to be fully operational by 2020, but it's already being piloted for millions of people.

black mirror future tech trends 3

Building a 'social credit' system in America

The arrival of ubiquitous smart cameras in the US is inevitable, Guo said.

"If you live in an American city, you're caught on a security camera about 70 times a day," she said. "But most of these cameras have been dumb — eyes without brains, blindly saving images and videos to some server in some closet never to be seen again."

But as cameras become cheaper and smarter, adding algorithms to understand the content they're capturing, there will be an explosion of new consumer experiences built around facial recognition, Guo said. Cameras will power "seamless convenience," like unlocking your iPhone X without entering a passcode or shopping at the store without having to check out. Cameras might capture memories from inside the home, "automatically saving clips of the milestones that you missed," Guo said.

Her prediction caused anxiety for some tech investors who shared the stage at the Churchill Club debate. Nicole Quinn of Lightspeed Venture Partners said she was excited about the convenience provided by facial recognition but worried about its implications.

"Haven't any of you watched the 'Black Mirror' episode?" Quinn said.

Tomasz Tunguz of Redpoint Ventures expects a full-blown rebellion if the government ever introduces a social-credit system in the US, saying the public would demand regulation.

Guo responded to their criticisms: "It's not my fault what the future holds, so if it's scary I apologize. But in all seriousness, I think there could be a backlash."

SEE ALSO: 10 new tech trends that VC investors say will completely change life and business in the next 4 years

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Inside Bonnaroo: How the music festival doubled down on its roots to rebound from record-low attendance in 2016



  • After it posted a record-low attendance in 2016, Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival shifted its focus and resources to concentrate on its in-festival camping community, which over 90% of its audience participates in. 
  • Jeff Cuellar, VP of strategic partnerships for AC Entertainment and Bonnaroo's director of community relations, spoke to Business Insider about how the festival's camping and curated activities have come to be "the key differentiator" for it in a crowded marketplace. 

In an age when music festivals are abundant and proliferating, Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival has attempted to separate itself from its competition by focusing on what makes it distinct: the experience of camping on a farm in the middle of Tennessee. 

Jeff Cuellar, VP of strategic partnerships for AC Entertainment and Bonnaroo's director of community relations, as well as a member of the festival's team since its inaugural year in 2002, spoke to Business Insider about how the festival's camping community and curated activities have come to be "the key differentiator" for Bonnaroo in a crowded marketplace.

As attendees started flooding the four-day event for the opening of its 17th annual festival on Thursday, Bonnaroo will have transformed its home of Manchester, Tennessee, from the 112th largest city in the state to the seventh most populous, Cuellar said. 

Bonnaroo becomes an artificial "city," he explained, and one largely inhabited by camp tents and campers — the majority of whom are seeking out not only live music but auxiliary activities and engagements in a community setting.

"Most festivals that even have camping as a part of their experience, it's not the primary way in which people are there. 90-plus percent of our audience camps," Cuellar said. "What makes that even more special, which comes with the size, is that we literally create a city. All of the things that go into creating a city, the infrastructure and services that we have to provide, I think that's not lost on people."

"Getting back to our roots"

BonnarooCuellar explained how Bonnaroo's renewed focus on its camping community resulted from the festival leadership's process of "getting back to our roots."

Bonnaroo's strategy shift roughly followed the record-low attendance mark that the festival posted in 2016, when ticket sales of 45,537 were dwarfed by its previous ten-year average of 73,000. Attendance rebounded significantly in 2017, with more than 65,000 tickets sold, according to the Tennessean

Cuellar said that Bonnaroo has since worked in its marketing campaigns to highlight the features that make it unique, the "all-inclusive" experiences of a festival that runs 24 hours a day. 

"Unlike most events, we don't stop. It keeps going. If you need to have an Amish donut at 4 o'clock in the morning, that option is available to you. If you want to keep dancing in the silent disco, we can do that," Cuellar said, referencing a festival tent where crowds collectively listen to live dance acts on individual headphones.

"I think we are able to cater to the desires and the escape that people are looking for in this chaotic world," he added.

In the totality of its "city community" experience, Bonnaroo features yoga sessions, hosts a 5k run, and in a new addition for this year's festival, offers a free laundry service.  

The lead-up to this year's Bonnaroo found the festival making an active effort to promote the ancillary features of its camping grounds — where Cuellar said 20 percent of festivalgoers are situated at any point in time — including several bars and an activation site at a barn, led by Cage the Elephant lead singer Matt Shultz: 

The benefits (and challenges) of Tennessee

bonnaroo campsites

When asked whether Bonnaroo's location in central Tennessee might be a drawback for potential attendees, Cuellar walked through the reasons that Bonnaroo initially settled on the area, which included its musical heritage and its accessibility to an international airport (Nashville International) and an interstate highway, I-24. 

"The specific benefit that we have, and it's a major reason why we picked the property that we did, is proximity," he said. "Tennessee, where it's nestled in the United States, you have access from our specific point where 85% of the US population is within a one-day drive of the festival. It's why FedEx is in Memphis. It's why UPS has a major hub in Louisville."

Cuellar added that no one state represents more than 15% of the festival's audience.

When asked whether the festival's attendance drop in the past few years could be due to its culture of camping making Bonnaroo cost prohibitive, Cuellar acknowledged the potential costs of traveling and camping, but said that the festival's greatest challenges come from outside its walls.

"Our biggest challenge, more or less, is the fact that there's so much competition out there right now. So the strategy is being able to promote what the Bonnaroo experience is and why it is special and why you should be a part of it, and still maintaining a price point of attainability," he said.

Down years and fluctuation: "The nature of the beast" 


Preceding Bonnaroo's record-low attendance in 2016, The New York Times wrote an op-ed saying that its writers would not be attending Coachella and Bonnaroo that year, citing the diffusion and doubling up of acts across the lineups of an ever-growing list of festivals, which they wrote gave their "music critics less and less return" for attending.

This week, the music blog Consequence of Sound published a feature titled, "The End of Bonnaroo as We Knew It," in which writer Tyler Clark described why the outlet was opting not to attend Bonnaroo for the first time since the site started its live music coverage in 2009.

"This year, we looked at the lineup for Bonnaroo, and we didn't really see a story," Clark told Business Insider in a phone interview, noting the ubiquity and lack of narrative intrigue in Bonnaroo's 2018 headliners, Eminem, The Killers, and Muse.

In discussing the camping and community aspect of Bonnaroo, however, Clark said that he sees it as one of the festival's "greatest strengths."

"And I think that playing that up, as they seem to do be doing this year, is a really smart move," he added. 

Cuellar and Bonnaroo's executives, meanwhile, are taking year-over-year fluctuation and lineup strife from media outlets in stride. 

"There's always fluctuation. It's in any business. For a number of years, we were hitting home runs, and it felt like we couldn't do anything wrong in terms of how we positioned our lineup, to the experiences we were presenting," Cuellar said. "You're going to have an off year every once in a while. It's just the nature of the beast. But I think the product and experience we put out there resonates." 

SEE ALSO: What the 'song of the summer' is going to be, according to the music chief of over 850 radio stations

Join the conversation about this story »

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The magic ingredient in Silicon Valley's favorite 'bleeding' veggie burger is under fire


impossible foods plant based burger 6

  • The Impossible Burger is a plant-based patty made by Silicon Valley startup Impossible Foods with backing from Bill Gates.
  • The burger is available across the US, most recently in White Castle burger chains.
  • Environmentalists and journalists are taking issue with the burger's safety because of a key ingredient called heme, which is made using GMOs.
  • But the scientific research suggests that the burger is perfectly safe.

Today's veggie burgers can be described with a handful of delicious-sounding adjectives, but "meaty" isn't one of them.

At least it wasn't — until Silicon Valley startup Impossible Foods began creating a meat-free burger that tastes disturbingly close to the real thing. The meat-like flavor can largely be attributed to an ingredient called heme — the magic spark that even allows the Impossible Burger to "bleed" like a real burger does.

But that magic spark may be poised to ignite a fire.

After opting to ask the Food and Drug Administration to review the burger's safety (something it was not required to do) in 2015, the company was taken aback by what it received: A long letter saying that the data they'd submitted wasn't sufficient to "establish the safety" of heme for human consumption. In response, Impossible Foods sent the agency more than 1,000 pages of additional research data to back up its claims that the burger was safe, and although the agency said it would respond in April, it recently extended that deadline to the middle of June.

impossible foods burger 0403A handful of environmental activists have also taken issue with the burger.

But their issue with the burger isn't heme — it's the fact that the Impossible Burger is made using genetically engineered ingredients, or GMOs. Those concerns largely take the shape of the old and unsubstantiated claim that GMOs cause everything from autism to cancer, despite the scientific consensus that they are safe.

Still, several journalists at places like Grub Street, Bloomberg, and Food and Wine have glommed on to the recent controversy, saying they aren't sure the burgers are ready for prime-time.

But the science so far is clear on Impossible's product. Both heme and GMOs are safe to eat, according to researchers and several large, peer-reviewed studies.

"Heme has been consumed by humans and other animals for a long time with no issues," Robert Kranz, a professor of biology at Washington State University in St. Louis who's studied heme extensively, told Business Insider.

Heme, the essential nutrient you've never heard of

impossible foods burger 0342Heme is an essential nutrient in many proteins. It's also in just about every living thing on Earth.

In our bodies, heme can be found tucked inside of a molecule in our blood called hemoglobin. Heme helps ferry oxygen throughout the body, carries iron, and colors our blood red. For most of us, the majority of the heme we consume comes from animals.

But soy roots also contain heme — and that's where Impossible Foods gets theirs.

Still, soy roots only produce a tiny amount of heme, which initially presented Impossible Foods with a problem: They'd need to harvest roughly an acre's worth of soy plants just to get a kilogram of heme.

GMOs: The old villain that's hard to forget

Instead of wasting land and resources — something that would be antithetical to the company's mission to make a tasty meat alternative — Impossible Foods founder and CEO Pat Brown found a different solution.

But it involved GMOs, that old villain that everyone from environmentaliststo conspiracy theorists love to hate, despite the scientific consensus that the ingredients are safe.

By tweaking the DNA of yeast in a process known as genetic engineering, Brown realized the company could turn the ingredient into tiny manufacturing hubs that would churn out heme. Admittedly, this wasn't an entirely novel solution: insulin, the compound that diabetics' life depends on to regulate blood sugar levels, is manufactured in much the same way, using GM yeast. Drugs, beer, and perfume are all frequently made this way, too. (Yes, all of these products are technically GMOs because of it.)

GMOs, heme, and a wave of sudden controversy

gmo cornOnce several activists began linking the GMOs and the heme in Impossible Foods burger to potential safety issues (none of which have yet been substantiated), the controversy grew.

In an article published in Food and Wine magazine in March, the author wrote that "excessive" heme consumption had been linked to colon and prostate cancer, citing a 2012 blog post in the New York Times.

But again, the science here is clear: no such link between heme and cancer exists.

That problem is that there is a plethora of studies linking red meat and cancer. Red meat also happens to be where most Americans get the majority of the heme they ingest. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Health Organization, there is a strong link between red meat, especially processed meat, and cancer. The type of cancer with the strongest link is colorectal cancer, a variety of the disease that begins in the colon or rectum.

But no such link appears to exist for heme alone and cancer — potentially because the amount of heme you'd have to consume to reach "excessive" levels would be prohibitively high.

"Considering how much heme we are eating in red meat, I do not see any health issues arising" from putting it in a vegetarian burger, Nicolai Lehnert, a professor of chemistry and biophysics at the University of Michigan, told Business Insider.

Studies that have attempted to isolate heme and study its link to cancer separate from red meat have also come up empty-handed, either finding no link or finding a negative one.

In a 2012 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that involved a sample of nearly 90,000 men and women, researchers found no tie between heme iron intake and colorectal cancer.

"Our results ... suggest that zinc and heme iron intakes are not associated with colorectal cancer," the researchers wrote.

Iqbal Hamza, a professor of cell biology and genetics at the University of Maryland who runs a lab dedicated to the study of heme and is working on a heme-based supplement for iron-deficient people in developing countries, similarly concluded that the ingredient was safe for human consumption.

"I would have no qualms about getting heme from the Impossible Foods burger and I would have no qualms about getting heme from a plant based source," Hamza told Business Insider.

A 2011 study published in the journal Cancer Causes and Control also examined a large group of people in an attempt to suss out links between heme and cancer. They found none. In fact, they found a slightly negative relationship between the two things, meaning that people who consumed more heme were actually less likely to develop cancer.

"It's not a lack of evidence [linking heme to cancer]. There's evidence. And the evidence is for safety," David Lipman, Impossible Foods' chief science officer, told Business Insider.

SEE ALSO: A controversial technology could save us from starvation — if we let it

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