Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel

Embed this content in your HTML


Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)

More Channels

Channel Catalog

Channel Description:

Code + Community
    0 0

    When Courteney Monroe, CEO of National Geographic Global Networks, wanted to reinvent its video programming, she turned to Imagine Entertainment, the production company founded by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. Imagine is best known for films such as Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind, has produced a number of projects for National Geographic, including Breakthrough, a scientific documentary series featuring celebrity directors; Mars, an unusual scripted miniseries interspersed with interviews with space experts such as Elon Musk and Neil deGrasse Tyson; and Genius, a scripted anthology series that has so far told the stories of Albert Einstein and Picasso. Monroe and Grazer spoke at the Fast Company Innovation Festival about how shared values have shaped their relationship, and the content they’ve produced. Edited excerpts follow:

    Monroe: We had dabbled in scripted movies. They were all based on Bill O’Reilly’s books, the Killing series: “Killing Kennedy,” “Killing Lincoln,” Who else did we kill? “Killing Jesus.” They were very successful in terms of ratings and it signaled to me that there was and advertiser demand, but we’d never done a scripted series with this vision that we had of really becoming a truly prestige, premium destination for content. Scripted is a natural part of that–Genius is our first one–but it’s still based on facts. Our first season of  Genius was based on Walter Isaacson’s book biographies.

    Brian Grazer [Photo: Daisy Korpics for Fast Company]
    Grazer: [Producing for National Geographic] was really seamless. I think it’s a function of [the fact] that National Geographic and Courteney, specifically, and Ron [Howard] and I share the same value system so we didn’t have to do anything corrective. We just did what interested us.

    Monroe: I agree. [We did] what felt right for the brand and in service of the story, even under the guise of scripted drama, with great writing and great directing, great production values.

    Grazer: I think what Courteney and we share is that we approached these with wonderment. We both said, “Einstein is perfect [for Genius].” It’s absolutely the right thing, but then we go, “Well, why is it the right thing?” [Viewers get to see that] everybody has a roadblock in life. Einstein had a roadblock, and you’re seeing the trajectory of a very interesting and unique life with lots of crises.

    Monroe: I knew that what we were chasing and what we were ultimately were going to make was going to make everybody proud, but there was certainly an element of: Trust me.

    Grazer: We found the perfect Einstein, Geoffrey Rush, an Oscar-winning actor, but we also had to have a young Einstein. We had two young movie stars who wanted to play young Einstein. Having been a producer for 30 years, it’s almost a reflex that, oh, the network or the studio’s gonna want the star. But we came across this kid who we thought was really good–Johnny Flynn–who was virtually unknown… And so I thought, oh, we’re going to have to hire the star. She’s going to make us do that. But it was like totally cool. [Courteney said:] “No, this guy is better.”

    [Photo: Daisy Korpics for Fast Company]
    Monroe: The shared value system is so important. I really only want to work with partners that kind of share the ambition, understand intuitively what we’re doing, and want to do the same thing. I think that makes the perfect recipe. [Where we’ve had] the most debate and dialogue is deciding who the next Genius is going to be, because it’s such a high bar. We want to identify somebody who will have global relevance and resonance–somebody who can sustain 10 hours of television.

    I felt very strongly that the third season of Genius had to [feature] a woman. We selected Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein. She was a radical feminist. She’s really amazing, a pioneer, and people don’t know her. And then Brian had this amazing idea: We’re trying to make it Aretha Franklin, I think we’ll still do Mary Shelley, but you’re going to try because we can develop many more than one idea. Albert Einstein was so on the nose for National Geographic and so perfect, but Genius is the bigger idea, and there are a lot of people who qualify as geniuses, and so it’s fun to kind of play in different spaces.

    0 0

    Paola Antonelli is senior curator of architecture and design and director of R&D at MoMA. She’s responsible for adding important cultural artifacts to the permanent collection. She’s also, apparently, a hoodie expert. In a new video for TED, she walks us through the 3,000-year history of everyone’s favorite couch companion.

    With origins in ancient Greece–because the Greeks really did invent everything–the hoodie has since been adopted by monks, authors of mythological imagery like the Grim Reaper, and women in the 17th century (who required anonymity after relations). The company now known as Champion resurrected the design in 1919, adding a hood to the sweatshirt to give athletes and laborers extra protection from harsh elements. It went on to become a street culture icon and, later, the favored uniform of Silicon Valley.

    The factoids are all fascinating, but Antonelli makes an important point by identifying the hoodie as both a symbol of power and powerlessness. Trayvon Martin was murdered for wearing a hoodie, while the Valley elite like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wear one to convey nonchalant authority.

    “If you’re wearing a two-piece suit, you might be the bodyguard,” says Antonelli. “The real powerful person is wearing a hoodie with a T-shirt and jeans.”

    Ultimately, though, Antonelli celebrates the hoodie’s design for the reasons that we all want to wear it in the first place. It provides a sense of privacy and coziness, with nothing more than the flip of the hood. Which is why the hoodie has been around for 3,000 years, and probably will be for 3,000 more.

    0 0

    While the news cycle makes it feel like it was 12 lifetimes ago, the polls closed on the midterm elections just three days ago. The elections were so recent, in fact, that the results are still trickling in for tight races in Florida, Georgia, and Arizona.

    Here are the Senate and Governor races that are still undecided:

    • In the U.S. Senate contest in Florida, Republican Rick Scott, who is currently the state’s governor, and incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson are in a race so tight the race’s margin is currently just 0.2 percentage points, NPR reports.
    • The race to fill the Florida’s governor seat is tight with the difference between Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron De Santis within a margin of less than 0.5 percentage points, according to NPR. De Santis has filed a lawsuit in the hopes of preventing a recount, which led Gillum to point out that counting votes is not partisan, it’s democracy.
    • Georgia’s governor race between Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams has yet to be decided. While Kemp claims victory, Abrams won’t concede until all votes have been counted–and potentially recounted. The election was plagued with allegations of voter fraud and vote suppression.
    • The Arizona Senate race is also up in the air. Democrat Kyrsten Sinema is over Republican Martha McSally, according to Arizona’s ABC affiliate. The state is still working its way through some provisional and mail-in ballots, which could take several days.
    • The race to fill a Senate seat in Mississippi is in an automatic runoff between Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith, who was appointed to the position, and Democrat Mike Espy. That will take place on Nov. 27, per the Clarion-Ledger.

    There are also at least 10 House seats still to be filled, including five in California. Here’s where they stand, according to CNN’s tally:

    • ME-2: Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin leads Democrat Jared Golden
    • UT-4: Democrat Ben McAdams leads Republican Rep. Mia Love
    • NM-2: Democrat Xochitl Torres Small leads Republican Yvette Herrell
    • NJ-3: Democrat Andrew Kim leads Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur
    • GA-7: Republican Rep. Rob Woodall leads Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux
    • CA-49: Democrat Mike Levin leads Republican Diane Harkey
    • CA-48: Democrat Harley Rouda leads Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher
    • CA-45: Republican Rep. Mimi Walters leads Democrat Katie Porter
    • CA-39: Republican Young Kim leads Democrat Gil Cisneros
    • CA-10: Republican Rep. Jeff Denham leads Democrat Josh Harder

    0 0

    A little more than two years after launching the plant-based Impossible Burger at Momufuku Nishi with David Chang–a chef known for his love of meat–Impossible Foods is now in more than 5,000 restaurants. It’s also preparing to bring its uber-realistic burger to retail stores next year.

    Most customers at restaurants who buy the burger now at restaurants are meat eaters, not vegetarians, the company says. Selling in grocery stores is the company’s next step in converting more omnivores to the product, which was reverse-engineered by biochemists to have the same texture and rich flavor as beef, and even bleeds a plant-based version of blood, developed from a protein found in the roots of soybean plants.

    [Photo: Impossible Foods]
    The experience of cooking the patty, and watching it change color from red to grayish-brown–just like beef–is what initially convinced chefs like Chang to put the burger on the menu. So far, customers haven’t yet been able to try that themselves. “Consumers who are buying our burger basically get handed the finished product,” says Patrick Brown, the Stanford professor emeritus who is the company’s founder and CEO. “They don’t get that sort of magical, dynamic experience that the chefs get.”

    The startup is now adding more production capacity at its Oakland-based factory to handle the increase in demand. To date, it’s sold more than 13 million burgers, from Michelin-starred restaurants to chains like White Castle and sports stadiums. That’s a tiny slice of the company’s audacious goal: to completely replace animals in the food system by 2035, in an attempt to address the massive environmental impact of animal agriculture. The startup is now focused on its version of ground beef, but says that the platform it has developed–including the key ingredient that gives the plant-based meat its bloody appearance and taste–can also apply to the other types of “meat” it plans to develop in the future. “We’re highly confident in our ability to launch killer products that compete against other animal-derived products,” says Brown.

    0 0

    For most recruiters, taking candidates at face value is second nature. With multiple, urgent roles to fill, tons of resumes to go through, and dozens of interviews to schedule, you don’t always have the time to dig into a candidate’s background as thoroughly as you would like. Most of the time, this isn’t a problem–the majority of candidates are honest, upstanding people just trying to find the right opportunity.

    But every once in a while, you will find a bad actor who chooses to exaggerate or even flat-out lie about their experience in order to get the job they want. If hired, the consequences can be disastrous. Replacing an employee–even if they’ve only been there for a short amount of time–is time-consuming, expensive, and tedious.

    So the next time you have an interview with a candidate that seems too good to be true, make it a priority to check for these signs that a candidate is lying or exaggerating.

    1. Their answers are vague or unrelated

    We’ve all encountered it before: You ask a candidate a thoughtful, multifaceted question, and they respond with an irrelevant or imprecise answer. This isn’t just a sign that a candidate didn’t sufficiently prepare for the interview–it could also indicate that they’re not telling the whole truth.

    “Vague and incomplete responses to questions are a warning sign of embellishment or otherwise falsified accounts of a candidate’s responsibilities,” says Tammy Cohen, founder and chief visionary officer of background screening company InfoMart. “An applicant failing to use common industry jargon or who doesn’t cite processes, metrics, or team members’ roles may also be exaggerating the scope of their work.”

    When faced with this situation, recruiters should push candidates to elaborate to determine whether they’re exaggerating their credentials or just nervous.

    “The interviewer should look to remain silent if the candidate has provided a vague or limited response, in order to encourage the candidate to expand. Although it may initially be awkward for both parties, this method is more likely to generate a much more individual response than spoon-feeding the candidate with further questions,” says Lars Herrem, group executive director at recruitment agency Nigel Wright Group.

    Herrem also suggests “repeating a question, be it immediately after the candidate’s response or later in the interview, [to] highlight whether a candidate is being consistent, and therefore honest, with their answers.”

    2. Their body language gives them away

    You may have seen “human lie detectors” on TV shows and in movies who are instantly able to tell whether or not someone is lying just by observing them. But the truth is, you don’t need to be FBI-trained to spot signs a candidate is lying.

    “Constant fidgeting, darting eyes, or complete avoidance of eye contact during important questions can mean an applicant is unsure of their answers,” Cohen explains.

    Keep in mind, though, that these could also simply be signs that a candidate is nervous, so context matters. There’s a big difference between a candidate who bounces their knee every once in a while during lulls in the conversation and a candidate who goes on and on about grandiose achievements while refusing to meet your gaze.

    3. They lean too heavily on group accomplishments

    It’s true that collaboration is essential in the modern workplace, but beware the candidate who only talks about their accomplishments as part of a group–it could suggest that they’re not as individually adept as you might want them to be.

    “Personal pronouns like ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘my’ are reflective of firsthand experiences, rather than the use of ‘they’ and ‘we,’ which suggests the candidate is borrowing examples from other sources or people,” Herrem says.

    Don’t let impressive-sounding team achievements sway your opinion without digging deeper.

    “If they mention a group project, then ask them what their specific role was, or ask them to tell you about something they did on their own,” says Executive Resume Writer Donna Svei.

    4. They get defensive

    Every once in a while, a candidate will give you a hard time if you ask probing questions into their backgrounds. According to Susan Hosage, senior consultant and executive coach at OneSource HR Solutions, this is one of the telltale signs a candidate is lying.

    “Despite the submission of resumes and cover letters detailing their extensive experience, I had two candidates who specifically had memorable issues during the interview. I had one candidate angrily say, ‘I don’t know who created these questions?’ To which I replied, ‘That would be me.’ The candidate abruptly changed his attitude, but unfortunately, didn’t do any better responding to the remaining ones,” Hosage shares. “I had another candidate who ended his panel interview by saying, ‘Now, I want to ask you a bunch of questions you can’t answer.’ Needless to say, he left a big impression on the panel–but it was a bad one!”

    It won’t always be as clear cut as these examples, but if a candidate you’re interviewing appears to deflect a probing question or dismiss your concerns, you may have a fibber on your hands.

    5. Their skills don’t pass the sniff test

    One of the most common things candidates lie about or exaggerate is their experience with a given skill. Fortunately, there are relatively easy ways to assess their competence.

    “Candidates tend to exaggerate about their software skills. An example would be someone who says ‘Excel power user’ on their resume. I found the best way to separate the truth tellers from the boasters was to ask this simple interview question: ‘Tell me about the most complex thing you’ve ever done with Excel,'” Svei says.

    Another simple way to gauge a candidate’s proficiency in a given area is through an assignment or exam.

    “You can see flamboyant details in the resume, but when you assess the skills with a questionnaire or test, it’s all spoof,” says Ketan Kapoor, CEO and cofounder of HR technology company Mettl. “Sometimes, it’s hard to believe that someone who has fared so [well] on the resume can flunk an assessment. But if it happens, think before you take your chances.”

    This article originally appeared on Glassdoor and is reprinted with permission. 

    0 0

    What: The care and attention surrounding one pundit’s night of terror.

    Who: Tucker Carlson, the media at large.

    Why we care: Noted white-people-enthusiast Tucker Carlson constantly cautions his millions of viewers against an “invasion” of their country. Earlier this week, however, the Fox News host suffered an actual invasion of his own when a group of far-left protesters descended on his home.

    The group, which apparently calls itself Smash Racism DC, gathered around Carlson’s home and chanted, “Tucker Carlson, we will fight. We know where you sleep at night.” The group proceeded to spray paint an anarchy sign on Carlson’s property and knock on his door hard enough to leave a crack. Now, police are investigating the matter.

    Before commenting on the media and police response to Carlson’s situation, allow me to get the obvious out of the way. I don’t agree with this group’s actions at all. Protesting is a right of monumental importance, and although it is not Fast Company‘s official position, it is my opinion that this right extends to restaurants refusing to serve Sarah Huckabee Sanders and that sort of thing. Actually going to Carlson’s house, threatening him, and damaging his property is not only an illegal and morally indefensible counterpunch to his white nationalist tendencies, it actually turns him into a martyr.

    Having said all that, it’s also true that Carlson is receiving disproportionate attention and pity for his harassment, compared with certain other people. On the same day that news of Carlson’s ordeal broke, NPR released a piece on Christine Blasey Ford’s ongoing nightmare, and you probably don’t have to guess whose name, between Ford and Carlson, became the subject of national hand wringing. The chief Brett Kavanaugh accuser reportedly has had to move residences four times in the months since she came forward, she’s had to pay for a private security detail, she has yet to return to her job as a professor at Palo Alto University, and she keeps receiving death threats.

    As far as the public seems concerned, Ford’s story ended the moment the U.S. senators decided either not to believe her story about Kavanaugh, or that it didn’t matter. The ongoing campaign of harassment against her could be a flashpoint for explaining oft-asked questions like, “Why didn’t she come forward sooner?” and “Why don’t women report their sexual assaults?” Those are the kinds of conversations we could be having, rather than ones about what Carlson’s traumatic experience means for society.

    0 0

    Three massive wildfires are tearing through California, stretching as far north as the Camp Fire in Paradise (about 180 miles northeast of San Francisco) and as far south as the Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. A third fire, the Hill Fire, is torching parts of the Santa Rosa Valley, not far from the town where 12 people were killed in a shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill this week.

    Evacuations are currently under way, with tens of thousands of people having already been forced to flee their homes, and hot and dry weather conditions are exacerbating the problem. Per USA Today, the three fires stretched a combined area of 33,000 acres as of Friday.

    Using data from various government sources, spatial analytics company Esri has created two interactive maps to help people track the progression of the fires and stay up to date on traffic and smoke forecasts. I’ve linked to both of them and provided descriptions below.

    • Traffic map. This one shows current wildfires along with real-time traffic information. It also  shows thermal hotspots detected by satellites. Find it here.
    • Smoke forecast map. This one shows 48-hour smoke forecasts from the National Weather Service for areas affected by the fires. According to Esri, it should be updated soon with pins for the Camp Fire and the fires in Los Angeles, both of which just broke out yesterday. Find it here.

    0 0

    Once, tablets were viewed as physically and computationally lightweight devices that could do a few things well but were no match for the power and interface flexibility offered by notebooks. Competition between the two companies that drove the strongest PC era rivalry, though, is rapidly changing that. Microsoft’s latest Surface Pro is one of many PCs that can address similar tasks well. Meanwhile, Apple’s iPad Pro is aimed at leveraging reimagined apps of growing sophistication to justify Apple’s growing prices.

    Microsoft launched the Surface line with two devices. The baseline Surface, which couldn’t run traditional Windows programs, was intended to compete against the iPad. The more expensive Surface Pro line, though, was a “real PC”–a tablet running the full Windows operating system that could replace a laptop, as Microsoft put it. In fact, there was one laptop in particular that Microsoft thought it ought to replace: the MacBook Air. Microsoft challenged Apple’s hugely popular ultra-sleek laptop in head-to-head ads. It showed how one could take advantage of the Surface Pro’s touch screen or detach its keyboard (something highly inadvisable to do to a MacBook Air).

    After the less expensive Surfaces designed to take on the iPad fell flat, the Surface Pro evolved into a nice business for Microsoft. And just as Apple has approached the MacBook Pro, which has kept its same basic appearance for a decade, Microsoft has not changed the device’s exterior much since the Surface Pro 3.

    Last year, though, the tablet designed to take on a laptop got a proper laptop sibling of its own. The Surface Laptop is a more conventional notebook, and an even more direct competitor to the MacBook Air. That includes a non-removable keyboard.

    By contrast, while its naked slate proposition has stayed intact, the iPad line has received far more dramatic upgrades over the past few years. At its recent event in New York, Apple released larger Pro models that have featured a far slimmer bezel and Face ID without the more controversial notch of the iPhone. Apple now also offers a keyboard case that attaches without Bluetooth, à la the Surface, and a stylus that now attaches magnetically to the side of the device, also like the Surface. Apple has even added USB-C, another hallmark of laptop expandability that is on Microsoft’s Surface Go, and has abandoned its Lightning port in the process.

    Internally, the company has continued to outpace the industry in more powerful processors to the point where it can now run the desktop engines of products such as AutoCAD. And Adobe describes the version of Photoshop running on the new iPad Pro as “real Photoshop.” Finally, with iOS 11, the company made iPad-specific changes to iOS to provide more flexibility in using multiple apps, helping to bridge the gap with desktop operating systems like Windows on the Surface Pro.

    That Apple has made all these Surface-like additions isn’t too surprising on its own. Other tablets, such as Samsung’s Galaxy Book line and Google’s new ChromeOS-Android mashup, the Pixel Slate, also offer companion keyboards and styluses. However, that Apple has done so is atypical given that Microsoft has a far stronger reputation for quick iteration to catch market-leading features, and that the iPad was already so far ahead of other tablets in terms of market share.

    RelatedI ditched the Mac for the iPad, and I’ll never go back 

    Now, though, if the foundational idea of the Surface was the convergence of tablet and PC, Apple is playing up the idea of the iPad Pro as the benchmark for tablets when used alone, but an increasingly versatile device as accessories are added. It’s now clearer than ever that the iPad Pro has replaced the MacBook Air as the Surface’s main competitor, the iPad having grown up from a smartphone operating system and the MacBook remaining behind the established strengths of Windows.

    When used similarly to a laptop, the Surface tablets offer one of the most portable full-PC experiences. But detach the keyboard and its tablet experience falls flat. It’s apparent that Microsoft is paying the price for its botched attempt to attract touch apps with Windows 8 and the lack of a smartphone base from which to groom such apps. Despite retaining a tablet mode in Windows 10, Windows tablets aren’t great for many tablet apps beyond reading PDFs and watching videos.

    For the iPad Pro, the challenge is reversed. It has years of strong developer support for the iPad as a slate but is still working to raise developer consciousness to add such PC staples as keyboard shortcuts. Apple has long touted how much better iPad apps take advantage of an expanded canvas than iPhones provide. The demonstrations by AutoCAD and Adobe at its event, though, countered the tendency of companies to produce watered-down versions of desktop-quality apps for the iPad.

    In addition, Apple has some legacy–or perhaps “growing pains”–of its own related to decisions that were made to create a simplified smartphone experience a decade ago. Some of the ones I wrote about in 2015 have been at least partially addressed, while others still can impede workflow even as the iPad musters the raw horsepower to power desktop-quality apps. For example,  in part because it lacks support for a cursor or mouse, there are still things that are far more difficult to do on the iPad than on a Mac or other laptop. Both Microsoft and Google haven’t had an issue with enabling such in their touch interfaces of Windows and Android.

    But why saddle the PC of the future, which will surely take on new kinds of applications, with the paradigms of the past? Apple’s purist approach leaves open the possibility that a new class of apps at the intersection of advanced processing and touch could materialize. Augmented reality may be one example, at least until Apple drops the other shoe on a device optimized for such experiences, but it will need time to mature into a primary use case.

    That said, the long-term incentive for at least Mac developers to adapt the full power of their apps for the iPad seems clear. The level of mastery Apple has achieved in silicon–combined with the emerging ability to bring iOS apps to the Mac–points to a future where the Mac could more or less be an iOS development target that uses a trackpad instead of a touch screen. On the other hand, despite the strong growth in touch-screen PCs since the launch of Windows 8, there still isn’t a great incentive for Windows developers to create great optimized experiences for a tablet.

    Apple introduced the iPad as something between a smartphone and laptop. Even today, someone who uses an iPad as their main computer is viewed as a kind of avant garde minimalist. This has never been so for the Surface Pro user whose device, at worst, has had to prove ergonomic legitimacy versus Windows laptops with similar specifications. But Apple has also long called the iPad their embodiment of the future of personal computing. The question is if it can get there in a way that leaves Microsoft behind.

    0 0

    The U.S. Postal Service’s Informed Delivery service is cool. The free service sends users an email every morning with photos of the mail they can expect in the day’s delivery. It’s a convenient option for anyone anxiously awaiting the arrival of their Orphan Annie Secret Society decoder pin (or just too lazy to trudge to the mailbox every day). More than 6 million people have signed up for Informed Delivery, but they may rethink the decision after a recent warning from the U.S. Secret Service.

    Tech watchdog Krebs on Security reports that the U.S. Secret Service sent an internal alert on November 6 warning that scammers are using the Informed Delivery feature “to identify and intercept mail, and to further their identity theft fraud schemes.” They also want to use the service to “surveil potential identity theft victims” on criminal forums, Krebs reports.

    The alert was sent in the wake of a Michigan bust, where seven people were arrested for allegedly stealing credit cards from mailboxes and racking up $400,000 in charges after signing up as those victims at the USPS website. Krebs on Security had warned this was possible a year ago, bluntly calling Informed Delivery “a stalker’s dream.”

    Reached for comment, a USPS spokesman sent the following statement:

    “The fraud referred to is a matter of identity theft that has already been perpetuated by a criminal. Postal Service customer identities’ are not compromised by using the Informed Delivery feature. Unfortunately, in very few cases, an individual’s identity has already been compromised by a criminal who then has used it to set up an Informed Delivery account.”

    He added that customers have two options to report a potentially fraudulent Informed Delivery account (or to block its address), either online at the USPS help desk or by calling technical support at 1-800-344-7779.

    In the meantime, Krebs also notes that there is a “new security wrinkle,” because the perennially cash-strapped USPS is reportedly trying to generate a little income by selling third-party advertising on the emails it sends to subscribers. Look for an alert from the Secret Service warning about this in about a year.

    0 0

    The American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Center for Constitutional Rights sued President Trump and other officials Friday, saying new restrictions on how people can seek asylum violate federal law.

    “The government’s blatant disregard for the rights of asylum seekers cannot stand,” said Melissa Crow, a Southern Poverty Law Center senior supervising attorney, in a statement.

    The new policy says migrants can only seek asylum if they “present themselves for inspection” at an official port of entry. Those who enter the country “unlawfully through the southern border” won’t be eligible to do so, Trump said in a “presidential proclamation” released Friday.

    The civil-liberties groups say federal law explicitly says immigrants don’t have to pass through a port of entry to claim asylum. Most asylum seekers who enter the country and are then apprehended show up for court hearings as instructed, the groups say, citing Department of Justice data.

    Waiting for processing at official border crossings, where asylum processing can drag on for days or weeks, can be highly dangerous, they argue.

    “The region of Mexico near the border with the United States is a particularly violent area with limited law enforcement capacity,” according to the complaint in the lawsuit. “Asylum seekers turned back from a port of entry have been raped, beaten, and kidnapped and held for ransom by cartel members waiting outside.”

    They also argue that Department of Justice and Homeland Security officials didn’t follow proper procedures in issuing new rules with minimal notice.

    Trump, who made a so-called migrant caravan a central issue in the midterm elections, said in his proclamation that the presence of groups traveling through Mexico from Central America leaves no time for delay.

    “The continuing and threatened mass migration of aliens with no basis for admission into the United States through our southern border has precipitated a crisis and undermines the integrity of our borders,” he said. “I therefore must take immediate action to protect the national interest, and to maintain the effectiveness of the asylum system for legitimate asylum seekers who demonstrate that they have fled persecution and warrant the many special benefits associated with asylum.”

    0 0

    The results of Florida’s tight Senate race may have been ruined by a poorly designed ballot that caused voters to miss one of the most important races in the United States. That’s right, it’s a hanging chad situation all over again.

    The Florida Senate race represented one of the closest margins going into Tuesday’s election night, but by the end of the evening, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) had conceded the race to Republican Rick Scott, believing he was behind by 57,000 votes. A few days of counting later, though, and the margins fell to a mere 15,046 votes. The plot thickened when officials spotted an anomaly: In Broward County, 3.7% of voters left the Senate vote on their ballot blank.

    This “undervoting” occurred in Broward at more than three times the rate than it did anywhere else in the state. That behavior doesn’t add up, even when analyzing the voting patterns of Broward County in its own vacuum. According to FiveThirtyEight, 26,060 people in Broward County voted for for the gubernatorial race and not the hotly contested Senate race.

    Why would anyone skip the Senate race? There are two plausible explanations. One is that auto-counting voting machines made some error and missed this part of the page. But another very likely theory being floated is simply bad ballot design.

    Every county across the U.S. is allowed to design their own voting ballot. In the case of Broward County, the ballot begins with a long list of instructions on how to vote. Right below this long column sits the Senate race box. It’s plausible that voters who skimmed the instructions may have skipped right over the Senate race box. Their eyes went straight to the governor’s race instead, which appears clearly on the top of the page, one column over from the instructions.

    Take a look for yourself. Would you have missed the Senate vote?

    So, what happens now?

    Florida Law dictates that any race that’s within a half point margin gets a machine recount (the race currently meets this margin). Only at a quarter-point margin does it get a manual recount. But recounts can do nothing to fill in votes that were never cast. That means if a design error really did disenfranchise Florida, there is probably no getting those lost votes back. That’s bad news for the left, since Broward County typically leans toward the Democrats, and more evidence suggesting that bad design is shaping the outcome of elections.

    0 0

    News flash!

    There’s a good chance that you didn’t see any of those important stories this week about how the government is using (or misusing) our taxpayer dollars and undermining key protections—because you were distracted by President Donald Trump calling Jim Acosta a “rude, terrible person” and deriding April Ryan as a “loser.” Those kerfuffles generated front-page headlines (including, I admit, a story that I wrote yesterday) and led news broadcasts around the world. Search “Jim Acosta” on Nexis and you get more than 1,200 hits over the last two days. Here’s the Google trends chart for the CNN reporter’s name over the last week:

    Don’t get me wrong. The president should be lambasted for his treatment of the press as the “enemy of the people,” and Acosta shouldn’t have had his credentials pulled. And I don’t expect sometimes-complicated regulatory debates over government policy to make the network news or inspire viral Instagram memes. And I’m the first one to admit that I’ve chased my share of celebrity scandals and juicy news nuggets in my 20-plus years in journalism.

    But it’s time to step back, take a breath, and reassess what we’re doing—to stop chasing every little tweet and comment and fuss, just because it comes from the president. The fable of the boiling frog has been repeated many times in the Trump era, but it may be a metaphor in need of a revamp, because it’s no longer adequately conveying the gravity of the situation. At this point, the frog isn’t paying attention to the water that’s slowly getting hotter around him because he’s also distracted by the monkey sitting on the rim of the pot making faces at him and occasionally doing somersaults.

    It’s time to wake up and get out of the damn pot. And we can start, as reporters, at a very simple level by boycotting the damn White House press briefings, even for just a day (as recommended by the New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer and the Guardian‘s Suzanne Moore), and covering the myriad agencies in government whose policies and regulations are notoriously undercovered.

    0 0

    A new kit of parts for children doesn’t come with any instructions. But the kit–with 64 small connectors, wheels, and other parts–is designed to turn water bottles, juice boxes, and other items that might otherwise end up in the trash into toys.

    [Photo: Toyi]
    “With Toyi, children are making their own toys by redefining and redesigning everyday objects around them,” says Elif Atmaca, the Turkey-based designer behind the project, which is now running a Kickstarter campaign. “In this way, a water bottle can be transformed into a six-armed robot. Now the water bottle is no longer just trash, but a really precious robot that reflects children’s imagination. With that approach, children adopt an upcycling mindset by developing a sense of producing without consuming at an early age.”

    [Photo: Toyi]
    Atmaca was inspired by her own experience growing up in disadvantaged parts of Turkey, where children often didn’t have access to toys. “Especially in regions with many disadvantaged children, it is hard to send them the desired toys, so I thought I should make something that allows children to transform the materials around them into toys…Instead of creating a ready-made toy, I wanted to create a tool that children can use to design their own unlimited number of toys,” she says. For each kit sold on Kickstarter, she will donate another through nonprofit partners.

    [Photo: Toyi]
    For kids that have an overabundance of toys, the kit is designed to help them rethink consumption and their own ability to create and reinvent toys, rather than only buying more. Atmaca deliberately made the kit open-ended to help spur creativity and problem-solving.

    [Photo: Toyi]

    “The play and toy industry is shaped by grown-ups whose creativity is limited when compared to children,” she says. “Play rules are set by adults. They tell children how to play and what toys to make. Even with toys composed of construction blocks, the end product is shown to children beforehand. Toyi is giving priority to children’s needs and supports child-led play. There are no instructions or rules in Toyi kits. The entire process is left to children’s imagination.”

    In initial tests, a 6-year-old girl who wanted to be a pilot made an airplane from water bottles; others made an old box into a singing robot or a bottle into a rocket. “There are no limits to what children can do with their imagination,” Atmaca says.

    0 0

    Demolition Man, the Sylvester Stallone, Sandra Bullock, Wesley Snipes 1993 classic, depicts the world in 2032. Aside from all the law enforcement and toilet hygiene etiquette the film predicted for that year, it also showed us a society in which TV commercial jingles (or “mini-tunes“) were the most popular music of the day. If we are indeed headed for that future in less than 14 years, then surely Chili’s baby back ribs ditty will be among the most classic of classics. A flame-grilled meat equivalent to Otis Redding’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.” And now we have its episode of Behind the Music.

    Someone needs to make this into a show: Behind the Jingle. And I am 100% volunteering. Imagine the possibilities… First season would break down like this: McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It,” Pusha T opens up about the creative process, followed by meticulously detailed accounts of the people behind “I Wish I was an Oscar Meyer Weiner,” Subway’s “Five-Dollar Foot-Long,” “Like a Good Neighbor” by State Farm, and Lucky Charms’ “Magically Delicious.” And of course, rare video footage of the “By Men-nen!” sessions. Netflix, get in touch.

    0 0

    This story reflects the views of this author, but not necessarily the editorial position of Fast Company.

    Many Americans see entrepreneurs as the saviors of our day–the engines of economic growth and innovation in our communities, workplaces, and daily lives. We love reading stories about self-made founders, college dropouts who began their ventures out of garages, and rags-to-riches success stories. We’ve glorified entrepreneurship, and our policymakers often tout business owners as the heroes of our country.

    I am not here to argue that entrepreneurship is inherently bad. New businesses do contribute to economic growth, and in turn, job creation. But today’s capital-raising culture has made starting a business look easy, even for those without a safety net to fall back on. This is a problem, especially for entrepreneurs who choose to jump into the game when they are 50 years old or older.

    The unglamorous reality of starting a business

    Entrepreneurship is a precarious line of work: Only about half of all firms survive their 5th birthdays. Assuming they do stay in business, entrepreneurs often lack health insurance, according to the Treasury Department. They are at risk of poverty in retirement, with only 8% contributing to a retirement plan in a single year. This foretells a dire future for many Americans, considering that only one in five workers aged 50 and older, including their spouses, have saved less than $1,000 for retirement. That number gets lower the younger you are.

    Those who have higher levels of assets, spouses who have steady jobs, or families with a modicum of wealth are in a better place to start a business. If their ventures fail, they have something to fall back on. But what about the majority of Americans without ample emergency or retirement savings and who need access to employer-sponsored health insurance to reduce its cost?

    Entrepreneurship is especially risky for older workers

    Here’s what we do know. Entrepreneurship–a fancy-sounding word often interchanged with self-employment–is less likely to provide critical benefits that are tied to a traditional workplace. This is concerning for people of all ages, but it is of particular concern for the one in five workers aged 50 and older who are self-employed and nearing the typical retirement age. These individuals, most of whom are too young to qualify for Medicare–our country’s universal health care program for those 65 and older–are far less likely to receive health insurance and pension benefits.

    For retirees who move back into the labor force through entrepreneurship, their non-pension wealth often declines. And counter to the prevailing belief, entrepreneurs earn less, on average, than their counterparts who work for someone else. With less time to make up for losses, the risks associated with entrepreneurship inherently increase with age.

    Of course, entrepreneurs start businesses for other reasons. They want to be their own boss, and they see it as the best way to give back to future generations. Then there are also those who are forced into entrepreneurship by unemployment or age discrimination.

    The importance of safety net programs

    Our safety net system ties significant benefits that promote longer, healthier, and happier lives–health insurance and retirement savings–to the workplace. The irony is that the entrepreneurs we love to herald as the epitome of the American dream are often the ones whose later lives we put most at risk.

    But we must speak honestly about the costs and benefits of this work, especially for those approaching retirement age. We need to make it easier for people of all ages to access key safety net programs, such as affordable health insurance, “food stamps,” and unemployment insurance, while at the same time asking ourselves why key programs that are so directly linked to our physical and financial well-being so often require a good job (and not just any job) to receive them.

    There have been attempts to solve this. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) has introduced legislation creating a pilot program that would fund portable benefits–something that entrepreneurs could tap into. Washington also introduced a similar bill in 2017 (and reintroduced it in 2018). Unfortunately, we haven’t seen much progress on both.

    Many of these workplace-related benefits are too expensive for a single person to afford alone–especially older entrepreneurs–but as a part of a group, they may become more accessible.

    In the absence of these protections, what should potential entrepreneurs do? Know that entrepreneurship can be a high-risk, high-reward game. Do your homework. And if you’re older and approaching retirement, be especially vigilant about assessing these risks. If anything were to happen, it’s essential to have a safety net to fall back on. Currently, our country isn’t providing one.

    Cal J. Halvorsen, PhD, MSW, is an assistant professor at the Boston College School of Social Work and a 2018 Encore Public Voices Fellow.

    0 0

    The term “gig economy” refers to a workforce that’s defined by short-term engagements, temporary contract work, and independent contracting. As such, the gig economy includes freelancers, contractors, side hustlers, and anyone who’s making money on the side or earning full-time income with various short-term projects, rather than a single full-time job.

    While this may seem like just another new buzzword, the gig economy is booming. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 5.9 million people held “contingent jobs” in May of 2017, which represents 3.8% of all workers in the U.S. A career transition is a perfect time to jump and test the waters because you likely have more time on your hands and less income coming in.

    Tracy Ring, self-proclaimed admin pro, stepped into the gig economy during her career transition into social media and marketing. She explains, “I was able to use freelance work in the interim so that I could continue this path and career pivot, and not just accept another job to have a job, but rather focus on what I wanted”

    Use the following ideas to become a part of this new work movement and–bonus–make extra cash along the way”

    Start with something you know how to do

    People hire freelancers for a few reasons, one of which is that they specialize in something. Companies don’t want to fully train you like they would a new staff member, which takes time and money. Rather, they want to bring in someone who can get the work done with whatever project-based direction they have to give.

    Ultimately, the implication is that you understand the nuts and bolts of how the work is done, you just need to cater your skills to their brand or project needs.

    If you’re moving from one career to the next, you may be moving away from your current skill set to learn a new one, but don’t leave those skills at your last job. Instead, use them to jump into the gig economy and generate income while you look for the job you want to have. In this way, you can use those honed skills as tools to get from point A to point B.

    Remember that this can also be a chance to test the waters using some skills from your past to get gigs that will give you experience for where you want to go. For example, Ring did a lot of small business marketing in her past roles, but never had a marketing title or marketing-specific job. So she’s using freelance and short-term gigs to build out those skills to eventually land a full-time marketing job.

    “I had always been in generalist roles that were a blend of marketing, HR, project management, and admin. When thinking about my career path moving forward I knew that I wanted to focus on the route enjoyed most–digital marketing. Starting to ease into freelance projects allowed me to build tangible skills. I was able to strengthen my writing abilities and eventually create a portfolio of bylined articles,” says Ring.

    How to manage a side hustle when you’re employed full-time

    If you can maintain a consistent flow of clients, you may want you keep the gigs going, even with a new full-time job. This is especially true if your career transition means you need to start in an entry-level job and work your way back up.

    That’s why it’s smart to start with a side hustle in mind. In fact, 44 million people have started their own side hustle as a way to make extra income. The key is to choose a side hustle that has legs; something that can grow into an income generator, whether you have a full-time job or not. If you’re not sure where to start, check out this nearly exhaustive list of 105 side hustle ideas. Consider which ones would be best for applying your current skill set.

    For example, selling photos online could be a great way to generate passive income if you’re a photographer. While selling cupcakes could be perfect for the person who wants to start a bakery one day.

    Make yourself visible

    If you’re new to the side hustle game, you have to start building relationships. One way to do that is to create profiles on various freelance and gig-finder websites, like Upwork or This is the best way to find work both actively and passively. Actively, you can be searching for gigs that fit your skillset, just like you would with regular job searching. On the other hand, with a good profile in place, you’ll be able to passively find work as well because those looking to fill positions can find you. If someone thinks you’re a great fit for a project, they can ask you to interview.

    That doesn’t mean you don’t have to put in the work, though. Ring has had the best success finding gigs on these sites when she puts in the time with every application. “Never copy and paste cover letters or intro blurbs. Tailor your responses to the role and company. Any work I’ve secured has come from quick research on the organization/position, or writing responses that take the job description into mind. Make your pitches as concise as possible and always end with the unique value you can bring to the project.”

    Ultimately, however, Ring says that it’s a numbers game, so actively apply for gigs as much as you can. “The more gigs you apply to the better your odds. But that doesn’t mean you can focus on quality over quantity.” That means focus on your research and tailoring your application to the role, as Ring suggested.

    Don’t do it on your own

    If the idea of creating a profile, finding clients, and maintaining that work feels daunting, take another route. There are many other ways to get into the gig economy without being a freelancer or contractor, like driving for Uber. With so many services like this now available to consumers, and many similar services for businesses as well, there are plenty to choose from based on your availability and preferences.

    For example, if you want to share your car, rather than be a driver, sign up with a service like Hyre or Turo. This means that your car is available to rent–note that the process of screening renters is extensive and additional insurance is provided for your car.

    If you drive a lot, consider wrapping your car in a business’s advertisement. These car wrapping services do require that you drive a certain amount of miles every day, but if you drive a lot, you can even make more money depending on where you live, i.e., in a city where more people see your car.

    Another option is to rent your home or a room in your home on one of the many rental sites now available to consumers. If you’re renting an apartment now, check with your landlord first. In many cases, they don’t allow you to rent your apartment or space if you’re on a lease.

    Jump into the gig economy with both feet

    Our increasingly innovative and digital world has put the power to earn right into our hands. As you transition into a new career, supplement your lack of income with short-term gigs or a side hustle. Not only can you control how much money you bring in, but you may end up earning more than you think–turning your side hustle into a business or giving your savings a boost when you do get another full-time job. Whatever your skills, there’s a way to bring income, so consider your options and jump into the gig economy with both feet.

    This article originally appeared on Glassdoor and is reprinted with permission. 

    0 0

    Google is teaming up with the *ahem* veteran storytellers at StoryCorps to help mark Veterans Day with a new oral history project. Google’s new animated Veterans Day Google Doodle features five veterans’ stories—one from each branch of the U.S. military. The stories come from a partnership with StoryCorps and, like most of the tales gathered by StoryCorps, they are gems about friendship, loss, hardship, hope, and love.

    In addition to the new Doodle, Google is launching a story-collecting initiative called Veterans Voices. Would-be Studs Terkel’s are invited to interview a veteran in their life and upload the video to either the StoryCorps app or YouTube along with the hashtag #VeteransVoices. While YouTube allows for visual storytelling, veterans’ tales collected via the StoryCorps app will be submitted for permanent inclusion in the Library of Congress.

    Google isn’t just helping veterans preserve their history for future generations. It is also helping them find new work, meaning, and success in their civilian lives. To celebrate National Veterans Small Business Week, Google is helping veteran-owned and veteran-led businesses by promoting them on Google Maps and making it easier for users to know who they are supporting.

    The search giant also made it easier for service members to find civilian jobs by simply entering their military occupational speciality code directly into Google Search to see jobs that require similar skills. To further help veterans in their job searches, gave a $2.5 million grant to the USO (United Service Organizations) to provide training and career guidance for transitioning military personnel, military spouses, and veterans to earn a Google IT Support Professional Certificate.

    0 0

    In the United States and many other countries, there are no legal protections to stop internet service providers–landline or mobile–from tracking where you go online. (A 2017 act of Congress enshrined that right to snoop in the U.S.) They can use the info to market to you directly, or sell the data to other marketing companies. New laws, spearheaded by efforts in the EU and California, may someday prevent that–emphasis on may someday.

    Meanwhile, you can throw a wrench in the schemes of ISPs, or snoopy governments or hackers, with a new, incredibly simple, and free app that encrypts the identity of the servers your mobile apps access. That partially obscures not only your web surfing, but also whether Spotify, Instagram, Fox News, MLB, or any other apps are pinging their respective servers.

    How it works, and what’s in a name

    Just click one switch to turn on the app in Android or iOS. [Image: Courtesy Cloudflare]
    The new app, from Cloudflare, is called–the name of the internet server it uses. Cloudflare’s main business is as a content delivery network that optimizes the speed of websites using it, as well as shielding them from cyberattacks.

    But Cloudflare also operates what’s called a DNS service. This is the lookup service that translates a text web address like “” to the four-part numerical IP address that internet routers use. In this case (actually one of a bunch that Google uses).

    Forgoing the default DNS server that your ISP provides and using an alternate one like Cloudflare’s (or others) makes it a lot harder for your ISP to log all the sites you go to. (They have to dig a lot deeper into your web traffic to get the info.)

    Related: Here’s How To Plug One Of The Biggest Privacy Holes In The Internet

    A cool feature of Cloudflare’s service, at the IP address, is that it supports encryption. So an ISP, government, or hacker also can’t read the requests you send to Cloudflare’s server by trying to intercept the traffic.

    Cloudflare introduced the service on April 1, based on the dad-joke humor that 4/1 sounds kinda like “four ones.” (I described how it works in more detail, including set up on PCs and Macs, back then.) Now it’s launching the mobile app on 11/11.

    The app not only saves the process of manually configuring the Android or iOS operating systems to use as their default DNS server, it also forms an encrypted connection between the DNS server and every app on the phone. Previously, each individual app had to support this form of encryption, called DNS over HTTPS. (Firefox for Android is the only one that I know of, though there may be others.)

    Should you use

    If you don’t consider yourself super techy, you probably should use this app. It’s an incredibly simple way to add privacy to your smartphone: Just install, and click one switch. Cloudflare’s DNS service is also really fast, so it could speed up your browsing, especially to sites and web services that run on Cloudflare’s network.

    During installation, the app asks you to install a VPN service on your iOS (left) or Android (right) phone. [Image: Courtesy Cloudflare]
    If the following two paragraphs look like techy gobbledygook, you fall into that first group who should use the app. And you can skip to the how-to part.

    If you’re more security-minded and use a VPN (virtual private network) encryption app on your mobile, Cloudflare’s app will actually downgrade your security. That’s because Cloudflare uses a VPN connection to send these encrypted DNS requests. And since your phone can run only one of these apps at once, it actually prevents you from using your original VPN app–which you may have gotten from your employer or set up on your own.

    Cloudflare’s VPN connection is inferior, because it encrypts only the DNS requests, not the rest of your traffic. I happen to use a VPN app called Tunnel Bear (which Cloudflare likes so much, it almost bought the company, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince told me). So I will not be running on my phone. But you can still configure your mobile operating system to use the DNS service (or other alternate DNS services like Google’s at to see if it speeds up your surfing.

    How to set up

    This part’s super easy. Find the app in the iOS or Android app stores and follow the installation instructions. At one point, the dialog will ask your permission to install a VPN service. Go ahead and say “Yes” (assuming you don’t already have a VPN, in which case Cloudflare’s app is not for you).

    After the install, you’ll see the app’s main screen, featuring a single toggle switch. Click to turn it on. That’s it.

    0 0

    Huge swaths of California are currently on fire. The Hill and Woolsey fires have cut through thousands of acres (over 83,000 at last count) of Los Angeles and Ventura County, while the Camp Fire in Northern California has become the third deadliest and most destructive fire in state history. All told, these climate change-fueled disasters have killed at least 23 people, destroyed thousands of homes, displaced hundreds of thousands of residents across the state, and decimated the entire town of Paradise.

    If you are reading this, you probably want to help. Here’s how you can:

    Donate Goods or Services

    • Give an evacuee or a firefighter a free place to stay through Airbnb. Find out more here.
    • If you’re in California, donate non-perishable food items to the Salvation Army Ventura Corps, which is providing food and shelter to victims and first responders.
    • Caring Choices in Butte County is currently looking for medical volunteers.
    • Other volunteer opportunities related to the fires are posted on California Volunteers, including financial and other donations.

    Donate Money

    Help Animals


    0 0

    Now that Americans have cast their ballots in the midterms, it’s time to turn our attention to another popularity contest. The 2018 People’s Choice Awards, in which fans vote on their favorite pop-culture treasures, is happening tonight. The voting part already ended, but the awards ceremony takes place at Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, California.

    The awards, now part of NBCUniversal’s E! network after years on CBS, celebrate a number of categories including music, TV, movies, and the stars themselves. It also has some wackier categories like most binge-worthy show. You can check out the full (very long) list of finalists here. There’s no actual host this year, but E! promises a star-studded performance lineup, including an opening performance by Nicki Minaj.

    Red Carpet coverage is set to begin today (Sunday, November 11) at 7 p.m., with the ceremony beginning at 9 p.m. ET. If you’re a cord cutter looking to live-stream the action, you’ll need access to one of the five NBCUniversal-owned channels that will air the event. They include Bravo, E!, Syfy, Universo, and USA Network.

    These streaming services offer NBCUniversal channels and some are offering free promotions, so you can try them out and cancel if you’re not into it:

    • FuboTV: This low-cost service has a free trial going and offers NBCU channels in some areas. Find it here.
    • YouTube TV: The Google-owned live-TV service offers NBCU channels. You can find a full list here.
    • Hulu with Live TV: Hulu’s live TV service offers NBCU channels. Find it here.
    • Sling TV: This one from Dish Network offers NBCU channels. Find it here.
    • Bravo or USA online: You can stream live TV directly from these networks’ websites, but you’l need access to login credentials from a cable or satellite TV company, which is annoying. Find them here and here.
    • Behind-the-Scenes live streams: E! says it will air special behind-the-scenes coverage from the Barker Hanger on its YouTube and Twitter channels.