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Silicon Valley's biggest billionaires have reportedly poured millions into a super PAC-run series of anti-Trump TV ads ahead of Election Day

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 4:52pm  |  Clusterstock
Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskovitz and ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt have reportedly donated to a a pro-Biden super PAC that is running a series of anti-Trump TV ads in the home stretch before Election Day.
  • Silicon Valley billionaires like Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskovitz and ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt have poured millions into a Democratic super PAC that is behind a slew of anti-Trump TV ads in the home stretch to Election Day, per a Recode report.
  • The super PAC is spending more than $100 million on TV ads in support of Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden, an amount that surpasses any other group's spending.
  • The report comes as the tech world continues to fight off Republicans' claims that the industry harbors an anti-conservative bias on online platforms.
  • It also comes after reports that employees from Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and others have collectively donated $4.8 million to Biden since 2019 — nearly 20 times as much as they have given to Trump.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Some of Silicon Valley's biggest tech leaders have poured millions of dollars into a secretive Democratic super PAC that has booked a series of television ads speaking out against President Donald Trump in the lead-up to the election, according to a Tuesday report from Recode's Teddy Schleifer.

Per the outlet, Dustin Moskovitz, a cofounder of both Facebook and Asana, has donated at least $22 million, Twilio founder Jeff Lawson and his wife have donated $6 million, and ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt gave $750,000 to the super PAC Future Forward since September. The funds raised equal to $66 million in the 45-day period between Sept 1 and Oct 15, a sum that Future Forward plans to report to the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday, according to Recode.

Much of that has gone to a series of anti-Trump television ads to run from Sept 29 through Election Day, representing the largest amount of ad spending funds put toward support of Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden.

Future Forward has reportedly been both testing and creating ads over the course of the year, developing over 100 different spots with other Democratic groups. Per the report, only a dozen of them have aired so far. But that changed in September — the super PAC aired or booked over $100 million of television ads between Sept 29 and Nov 3, according to the media-tracking firm Advertising Analytics as Recode reports. The TV ad spending represents four times as much outside spending shelled out for pro-Biden messaging as the second closest Democratic group, Independence USA.

According to the report, Moskovitz did his fair share of research to determine how to most effectively use ads in the lead-up to the election. He reportedly concluded that running ads right before Election Day would be best for optimizing the ads' impact.

The super PAC and other Democratic entities have also been working to elect Texas Democrat MJ Hegar to the US Senate, according to Recode.

Future Forward was founded in 2018 and says its mission is to "help rebuild America's middle class" and the nation's democracy, according to its website. According to the report, the group has purposefully stayed under the radar.

The news comes as what has been called one of the most important presidential elections in modern US history looms just weeks away.

Tech leaders aren't the only ones reported to be funding a Biden win. A Wired report earlier this month found that employees at Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google's parent company Alphabet, Microsoft, and Oracle have poured $4.8 million into support for Biden to win since 2019. That's 20 times as much as tech workers have donated to President Trump.

It's no secret that Silicon Valley has long leaned left, though some tech execs have come out in support of President Trump. But the Recode report comes as tech firms work to push back against Republicans' long-held but disproven theory that they actively work against conservatives on their platforms and limit the reach of right-leaning content. The right's perception of anti-conservative bias on tech platforms reportedly prompted Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to green-light an algorithm that would limit traffic to left-leaning news publications.

And if anything, conservative content prospers on the site. A Facebook executive recently told Politico that's because "right-wing populism is always more engaging," since the platform's algorithm is designed to promote posts that it thinks people will find most captivating. 

You can read the full report on Recode here.Read the original article on Business Insider

The best hair masks

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 4:52pm  |  Clusterstock
  • Hair masks are an affordable and easy way to strengthen, deep condition, and nourish without going to a salon — especially in the winter when all the cold air is drying out your hair.
  • You can use one in the shower to treat your hair weekly, or if you have really damaged hair, every few days. 
  • Our top pick is the It's a 10 Haircare Miracle Hair Mask, but we also like ones from Brigeo, Function of Beauty, Living Proof, and Olaplex.

Between blow-drying, heat-styling, color processing, skipping hair cuts, and more, your hair can incur some serious damage. Thankfully, at-home hair masks are one of the easiest ways to give your strands a little TLC without leaving your house or breaking the bank.

Whether you want to repair, strengthen, add shine, or protect your hair from future damage, the right hair mask can help transform your hair and even improve its overall health. But with so many on the market, working out which one is right for you can be overwhelming.

So we did the research and put our own hair to the test to find the best hair masks. 

Here are the best hair masks:

Updated 10/20/20 by Maria Del Russo: Updated links and prices. Replaced "best overnight hair mask" because our previous mask was no longer available. We are currently re-testing products for this guide, including hair masks for natural hair. 

The best hair mask overall It's a 10 Haircare Miracle Hair Mask transforms dry, damaged hair into super-soft and smooth strands while also restoring elasticity.

It's a 10 Haircare Miracle Hair Mask is a sulfate-free conditioning treatment that was made to treat many types of hair. The mask contains linseed and apricot extracts, which help soothe and repair your scalp while leaving you tangle-free.  

The mask also features almond extract to promote healthy and shiny hair, and oat extract, which strengthens and restructures hair to make it smooth and soft. The lightweight mask is versatile enough to be used as an everyday conditioner for hair, or as a periodic treatment.

Plenty of members of the Insider Reviews team have tried this mask and love it. Editor Maria Del Russo calls this mask her go-to winter hair mask because it effectively nixes the static that tends to plague her mane when the temperature dips.

"I use it twice a week instead of my conditioner, and it cures any dry hair fuzz that pops up," she says. The only drawback? "It's very easy to use too much, and when you do, it can really weigh your hair down," she says. So make sure to start with less than you think and add little by little if you feel you need more. 

Pros: Leaves hair tangle-free and super soft, soothes and repairs scalp, treats damaged hair, can be used daily

Cons: Can weigh your hair down if you use too much

Best deep conditioning hair mask Briogeo Don't Despair, Repair Mask deep conditions for an extra boost of hydration and moisture.

The Briogeo Don't Despair, Repair Deep Conditioning Mask is formulated with a host of ingredients to help restore hydration and transform lackluster hair into shiny, healthy locks. Rosehip oil delivers fatty acids, which work to add hydration while removing frizz, while algae extract delivers a rush of amino acids and antioxidants to strengthen.

Vitamin B, on the other hand, actually works to improve the texture of the hair, leaving you with softer, more elastic strands over time. Vitamin B is especially great for folks who have suffered damage because of chemical or heat treatments. It helps to repair the brittle texture you get from over-styling. 

The mask works on all types of hair including chemically-treated, relaxed, and keratin-treated hair. It is also cruelty-free and made without any silicones, parabens, sulfates, and artificial dyes. In a blind clinical trial run by the brand, 80% of women said they saw a "noticeable improvement in hydration".

Pros: Makes hair super soft and silky, deeply hydrating, cruelty-free, makes hair shiny

Cons: Customers have claimed the formula used to be thicker, and that the thinner formula isn't as effective

Best personalized hair mask If you're looking for a customized formula that addresses one or many concerns, try Function of Beauty.

Function of Beauty develops personalized hair-care products, including a hair mask. At $19 for a 7.5 oz jar, it's not cheap. But it's also a weekly deep-conditioning treatment that's catered specifically to your needs, so I think the price is justified. There's also an option to subscribe to regular deliveries of each product, so you'd never run out.

To create your custom formula, you'd have to take a short online quiz and indicate your concerns and needs. I said that I wanted to hydrate and repair my dry, heat-damaged hair, but wanted to make sure the formula wouldn't be too heavy and weigh my fine hair down. 

A few weeks later, the mask arrived at my door. Since I've been using it, I've noticed that my hair definitely feels stronger and healthier, and it has a lot more shine than before. While each formula is made specifically for your particular hair needs, it generally contains hydrating Japanese sake extract, as well as argan and jojoba oils.

The Insider Reviews team has tested and reviewed other Function of Beauty hair-care products, here's the full review.

Pros: Personalized formula for your specific hair needs, has one-time or subscription option for flexibility 

Cons: Is only available online 

The best overnight hair mask Living Proof's Perfect Hair Day Night Cap helps add shine and tame frizz overnight, and the results last for multiple shampoos. 

If the idea of applying a hair mask in the shower sounds a little too time-intensive for you, then look for a mask that does the work while you snooze. Living Proof's Perfect Hair Day Night Cap Overnight Mask helps to soften and add shine to your strands overnight, so you wake up with more hydrated hair than you fell asleep with. 

Living Proof's hair mask is made with the brand's patented healthy hair molecule OFPMA. This molecule seals the hair cuticle, which is what makes the hair look frizzy. Your hair cuticle lays like shingles on a roof, and when they're dry or damaged, they fray. This is what makes your hair look frizzy. But by sealing the cuticle, your strands look smoother — and it also helps protect pigment fading if you color-treat your hair. 

I like to use this mask when my hair is going through a particularly rough patch, like in the dead of winter, or after I've been using my dryer for a while. I'll shower at night, towel-dry my hair until it's damp, and then rake two pumps through my hair from ear-length down. I try to avoid the crown of my hair, so it doesn't look oily in the morning. 

When I wake up, my hair is air-dried, soft, and much more manageable than before, making this a clutch option to use before a party or another event where your hair needs to look its best. Just be forewarned, it can take some trial and error to get the correct amount for your hair type just right. The first few times I tried it, I used too much, and had to wash my hair again in the morning because all of the product didn't absorb, which made my strands greasy. — Maria Del Russo, style & beauty guides editor

Pros: Works while you sleep, seals the hair cuticle, leaves hair feeling soft and frizz-free

Cons: Might be a little too heavy for finer hair types

Best hair mask for strengthening If color-treating and heat-styling have weakened your hair, then you need Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3, which is a favorite of professional hairstylists

Hair-care brand Olaplex is used in top salons, but the Hair Perfector No. 3 was created for general retail when the brand realized how many of its clients wanted to use it at home.

The mask is made with Olaplex's patented bond-building technology, which relinks the broken parts of hair caused by chemical, thermal, and mechanical damage. It's not a conditioning mask for that reason — it actually works to rebuild the bonds in your hair. Olaplex works on many hair types and is formulated without parabens, sulfates, or phthalates.

If you have color-treated hair or regularly heat-style, Hair Perfector No. 3 is a great restorative treatment that will bring softness and shine back to your hair. Some users with particularly damaged hair recommend leaving it in for a bit longer than the instructed ten minutes.

You can have too much of a good thing, though. "You should only use it once a week," says Lucille Javier, a color specialist at Mark Ryan Salon in NYC. "It's a bonding treatment, so it can only do so much. The hair can only absorb so much. Using it more than once a week is wasteful." Instead, she recommends alternating between Olaplex and a conditioning mask if you want to use a hair mask more than once a week. 

Pros: Repairs and strengthens hair, leaves it feeling soft and bouncy, professional-grade treatment at home

Cons: Not as strong as the in-salon treatment, you should only use it once a week

Check out our other hair-care buying guides The best curling ironsThe best anti-frizz hair productsThe best straightening brushes  Read the original article on Business Insider

Why the US Supreme Court letting Pennsylvania's extended ballot deadline stand is one of its most important decisions this year

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 4:43pm  |  Clusterstock
A voter casts his early voting ballot at drop box outside of City Hall on October 17, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • The US Supreme Court denied a challenge from Pennsylvania Republicans seeking to block a state Supreme Court ruling extending the deadline for mail ballots to be received. 
  • The members of the court split 4-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the three liberals on the court in denying the stay. When the court ties, the lower court ruling in question stands. 
  • The dissenting justices appeared to side with the Pennsylvania Republicans' argument that the state court infringed on the right of the constitutional right state legislature to determine the rules around the election. 
  • The deadlocked decision was a narrowly-missed disaster for Democrats, and highlights the importance of Judge Amy Coney Barrett's impending confirmation to the high court. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The US Supreme Court issued one of the most consequential legal rulings of 2020 on Monday, deadlocking 4-4 in denying an emergency application for a stay from Republicans in the Pennsylvania state legislature over an extended ballot receipt deadline for the November election. 

In a mid-September ruling, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a number of major decisions in response to a lawsuit brought by the state's Democratic Party challenging some of the state's election rules. 

In a win for Democrats, the Court in Pennsylvania ruled to extend the deadline for mail-in ballots to be received from Election Day, November 3, to November 6, three days afterwards, even if the ballot does not have a fully legible postmark. 

The court also ruled that counties can have more than one ballot dropbox or in-person location for voters to submit mail ballots, and that individuals can only work as a poll watcher in the county where they're registered to vote, a loss for Republicans who sought to have out-of-county poll watchers permitted. 

The US Supreme Court took a long time, nearly two full weeks, to issue a decision, with no dissenting justices writing an opinion. Whenever the Supreme Court ties on a decision, the lower court ruling in question, in this case, the ruling from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, stands. 

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the three liberals, Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor in voting to deny the stay while four of the conservatives, Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh indicated that they would have granted the stay.  

What exactly did the Supreme Court decide?

Because the US Supreme Court deadlocked, the original Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision stands for now. 

The nature of case itself was unusual, since the Supreme Court doesn't often rule on legal issues pertaining to state laws or decisions from state courts. And the court deadlocking 4-4 on this issue raises a host of implications for how the court may approach other issues involving state legislatures and state courts. 

The Republicans' challenge asserted that in ruling to adjust certain election rules in response to an outside lawsuit, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court violated Article II of the US Constitution, specifically the component that gives state legislatures, not the courts, final authority over a state's procedures for choosing their electors and conducting a presidential election. 

"If state courts are departing from state statutory law, there is an argument that they're doing something that is itself a violation of the federal constitution, which, after all, says that it's up to the state legislature to decide how electors are going to be selected," Paul Smith, the vice president for litigation at the Campaign Legal Center, explained to reporters in a Tuesday press briefing.

"The argument is that a state court, for example, extending the deadline for ballots, is interfering with the legislature's exclusive authority to set the method for selecting electors," he added of the GOP's argument. 

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a campaign speech at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 3, 2020. How does this affect Trump's chances in Pennsylvania? Will it impact the vote totals? 

While the ruling dealt a blow to Republicans in the state, the short answer is that we don't know exactly how much this will harm President Donald Trump's chances in Pennsylvania, though it certainly doesn't help them.

It will likely prevent hundreds to thousands of disproportionately Democratic ballots from being rejected for late arrival, a top reason mail-in ballots have been disqualified in primaries so far. 

Nearly every aspect of Pennsylvania's election system has changed since the 2016 election, when Trump won the state by a margin of around 44,000 votes, with 96% of the electorate voting in-person on Election Day. 

Before 2020, Pennsylvania only allowed absentee voting for those with an excuse and didn't offer any in-person early voting at all. Legislation signed by Governor Tom Wolf in 2019 allows any Pennsylvanian to vote by mail without an excuse, with some counties also offering "in-person absentee" voting before Election Day. 

Partly due to Trump's months of disparaging mail voting and telling his supporters the process is fundamentally fraudulent and untrustworthy, there's expected to be some stark partisan divisions in how Americans cast their ballots, with the mail vote in many states skewing Democratic while the in-person Election Day vote skews Republican.

According to data from the US Elections Project, registered Democrats are both requesting and returning mail-in ballots at higher rates than registered Republicans. As of Tuesday data, 73% of the returned mail ballots were submitted by registered Democrats, 18% were submitted by registered Republicans, and 8% submitted by non-affiliated voters. 

Judge Amy Coney Barrett reacts during the third day of her Senate confirmation hearing to the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, October 14, 2020. What does this say about how the court could handle future election cases? 

For election law experts, the 4-4 decision underscored the importance of Judge Amy Coney Barrett's impending confirmation to the high court. 

After three days of hearings last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote to advance her confirmation on Thursday to a full floor vote scheduled for Monday, October 26, just eight days before November 3. 

Had a Justice Barrett theoretically sided with the four conservatives to grant the Pennsylvania Republicans' request for a stay, that 5-4 decision could have caused massive voter confusion around when ballots are due and thrown Pennsylvania's election into chaos. 

"She easily could have been a fifth vote hear to side with the broad power of state legislatures against state Supreme Courts seeking to protect voting rights under the state constitution," Richard Hasen, an election law scholar at University of California Irvine, wrote in Slate. "If you thought the stakes of a Barrett confirmation couldn't get any higher, they just did."

The litigation over Pennsylvania's election rules isn't over yet, and Barrett's presence on the court could play a key role in any last-minute pre-election litigation or post-election lawsuits that make their way to the Supreme Court. 

"Since the Pennsylvania decision was a 4-4 split on a stay, we don't really know how strictly the Supreme Court views that rule and how it's going to enforce it," Smith said Tuesday. "But it could come up in the post-election phase as it did in Bush v. Gore, where several justices thought that the Florida Supreme Court was violating Article II by changing the rules contrary to the system that had been specified." 

As Smith noted, the Pennsylvania Republicans could try to challenge the law again or raise other similar disputes after Barrett is confirmed, either before or after the election, which could result in a more definitive ruling with major implications. 

"The decision is troubling in ways, because now you have a 4-4 deadlock, and there's no resolution on this issue with the extension of the mail ballot deadlines," Gineen Bresso, an election lawyer and current counsel at Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky PLLC, told Insider on Tuesday, noting that other federal appeals courts, including the 7th and 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, have moved to block lower court decisions extending mail ballot deadlines.

"When you have a deadlock like this, if there's any post-election litigation and you have are split circuits, there could be an issue in resolving any election contests brought before the Supreme Court," she said. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to watch the 2020 World Series without a cable subscription

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 4:33pm  |  Clusterstock

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Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger (35) hits a home run in the seventh inning in game seven of the NLCS at Globe Life Field.
  • The Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays will compete in Major League Baseball's 2020 World Series starting October 20.
  • All seven World Series games will be held at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, where approximately 11,500 fans will be allowed to attend.
  • The Dodgers have now reached the World Series in three of the past four seasons, but the team hasn't won the title since 1988.
  • Tampa Bay has over-performed its low team payroll on its way to its second World Series appearance in franchise history; the first came in 2008.
  • Every game of the 2020 World Series will be broadcast on the Fox network through cable and live TV streaming services, like Hulu, Sling TV, FuboTV, YouTube TV, and AT&T TV.

Major League Baseball will crown a new champion this October as the Tampa Bay Rays prepare to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2020 World Series.

Los Angeles entered the season with MLB's second-highest payroll and something to prove after falling short in the World Series two of the past three years. Tampa Bay has the third-lowest payroll in the league but an impressive roster of young stars led the team to the top seed in the American League.

MLB limited teams to a 60-game regular season schedule with 16 teams reaching the playoffs in September. A record number of teams played in the opening wild card round but the top seeds in each league ultimately reached the World Series.

Tampa Bay dispatched their division rival New York Yankees and the 2018 champion Houston Astros on their way to winning the American League pennant, while the Dodgers overcame a 3-1 series deficit to beat the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series.

Unlike most seasons, the 2020 World Series teams will not host games in their home stadiums due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, all seven games will be played at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. MLB used the same field for the NLCS, and plans to seat about 11,500 fans for each World Series game. Seats will not be available within 20 feet of player areas on the field, and masks are required for attendees.

How to watch the 2020 World Series

The 2020 World Series will air on Fox starting tonight, October 20. If you already pay for cable or satellite TV you can watch the World Series games via the Fox channel,, or the Fox Now app. The Fox Now app is available on iOS and Android devices, as well as Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast, and Xbox. 

If you don't have an existing cable or satellite pay-TV provider, you can instead sign up for a live TV streaming service with access to Fox, like Hulu, FuboTV, AT&T TV, Sling TV, and YouTubeTV.

Of those options, Sling TV's Blue plan is the most affordable way to stream the World Series on Fox. Sling TV Blue is available for $30 a month and includes access to 45 channels. With that said, local Fox broadcasts are only available in select markets, so be sure to check if your location is supported before signing up. New Sling TV members can receive a free three-day trial.

Full 2020 World Series schedule

The NLCS and ALCS were both played on a daily schedule, but the World Series has two planned rest days. If necessary, the final game of the series will be played on October 28; last year Game seven of the World Series was held on October 30, so 2020's shortened season won't be running any later than usual.

  • Game one: Tuesday 10/20, 8:11 p.m. ET on Fox
  • Game two: Wednesday 10/21, 8:08 p.m. ET on Fox
  • Game three: Friday 10/23, 8:08 p.m. ET on Fox
  • Game four: Saturday 10/24, 8:08 p.m. ET on Fox
  • *Game five: Sunday 10/25, 8:08 p.m. ET on Fox
  • *Game six: Tuesday 10/27, 8:08 p.m. ET on Fox
  • *Game seven: Wednesday 10/28, 8:09 p.m. ET on Fox

*Games will only be played if necessary.


Read the original article on Business Insider

Why these Gucci clothes are racist

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 4:30pm  |  Clusterstock

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: When this model walked down the runway in Gucci's 2018 Fall Winter Show, there was no major uproar. In fact, this turtleneck was being sold for nearly a year. But it's not just a simple turtleneck. There's something more sinister in the image that this turtleneck portrays, even if the creators weren't aware, as they claim. There have been countless examples of big fashion brands being accused of racism.

Gucci is being accused of profiting from blackface. Moncler released a line that some say resembles the harmful Sambo stereotype. Katy Perry released shoes that resemble blackface. Prada produced this black monkey with exaggerated red lips. And these are just some of the examples.

The offending items are usually removed from stores after the brands face backlash from consumers. But it begs the question, why exactly are these items racist?

"Sambo" was a term used to describe black people during slavery. In 1899, a children's book, "The Story of Little Black Sambo," helped solidify the derogatory caricature of dark-skinned children. The resemblance of some of high fashion's hot items is striking, and this image didn't stop with the drawings.

White actors would paint their faces black and leave large outlines around the mouth to imitate having full lips. This is how blackface was born. In the 1800s, blackface was heavily prominent in the form of minstrel shows. To be clear, this was not a form of flattery. It was very clearly done to mock black culture and to portray black people as inferior or unintellectual. Minstrel shows shaped the nation's views on race and reinforced white superiority well after the abolition of slavery.

Although the blackface minstrel shows gradually disappeared, this form of entertainment had a major influence over vaudeville, radio, television, motion picture, and world music industries of the 20th and 21st centuries. And reports of politicians and college students dressing up in blackface are a regular part of the news.

Dark skin, wide noses, and full lips are things that the black American community has struggled with for years because these features were deemed unwanted by the larger white society, and there's been a decades-long process of reclaiming and celebrating those features. So it's no wonder that these images still cause so much pain for the black community to this day. And blackface doesn't just stop at being a harmful form of artistic expression. It fed into a larger ideology of white supremacy, an ideology alive and well today, and an ideology that has real and lasting effects.

Because of white supremacy, a black American is likely to get a 20% longer sentence for the same offense as a white American. Black homeownership rates are way behind white homeownership rates, and black poverty rates are also much higher than white poverty rates. So let's take a look at the turtleneck in question. We can begin to see why it would be so hurtful to so many people. The item in question was trending online with tons of people expressing their disgust.

Kim Bhasin [Bloomberg Luxury Reporter]: The initial spark of anger that you get from the public is obviously the most prominent piece of this. But people remember things that brands have done in the past. If you look at the most recent examples of offensive fashion, whenever a new one comes up, everyone refers to all the previous ones that had happened before.

Narrator: Gucci's CEO Marco Bizzarri said in a statement, "We are coming from a different culture. We are Italian. We don't know all the cultural differences." Gucci said they'll take full responsibility in a statement apologizing for the offense. But the claim that they don't know feels kind of like a cop-out.

Gucci has a plethora of people making decisions. How did not one of those people flag the sweater as potentially offensive? Gucci has announced a full program of scholarships that will facilitate an increase of different communities within the creative office. Prada has announced a diversity council that aims to elevate voices of color within the company and fashion industry at large. But even from an American perspective, we're not exactly leading the way.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America is one of the industry's premier trade organizations. Only 3% of the members are black. For the Fall Winter 2019 New York Fashion Week, only 10% of the designers were black.

So the biggest question may be, are we doing enough to change the fashion industry?

EDITOR'S NOTE: This video was originally published in February 2019.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Reformation internal investigation finds workplace culture and ex-CEO Yael Aflalo 'not racist' — despite rampant allegations of discrimination from current and former employees

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 4:27pm  |  Clusterstock


Reformation founder Yael Aflalo in 2017.
  • An internal investigation at Reformation published last week found the "workplace culture is not 'racist,'" and asserted it "did not find any evidence that [former CEO and founder Yael Aflalo's] conduct toward any Reformation employee was racially motivated."
  • The report — conducted by the law firm Morgan, Lewis, and Bockius LLP and involving interviews with 47 employees — comes five months after a series of allegations against the buzzy "cool girl" brand for systemic racism and discrimination stemming from the top. 
  • However, the investigation did cite various workplace issues tied to an overall lack of transparency, inadequate human resources, and a "cliquish" culture that has caused some employees to "feel less included." 
  • "Reformation is addressing these issues through a range of actions, which focus on instituting HR processes for operational improvement, fostering an environment of growth and development, and creating a culture of respect, accountability, and inclusion," the company said in a statement. 
  • Business Insider previously reported claims of a toxic culture of racism that pushed out, silenced, and degraded Black employees at Reformation. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Five months after allegations of discrimination erupted against Reformation and the fashion brand's former chief executive Yael Aflalo, findings from an internal company investigation released last week claim otherwise. 

The report — which was conducted by the Chicago-based law firm, Morgan, Lewis and Bockius LLP and included interviews with 47 employees — concluded that "the Reformation workplace culture is not 'racist,'" and asserted it "did not find any evidence that Ms. Aflalo's conduct toward any Reformation employee was racially motivated."

"We did not find the Reformation workplace culture to be racist," the report states. "Nor did we find that its former CEO — or, furthermore, that its current CEO — are racist."

Read more: Reformation's CEO and founder just resigned — 12 employees claim the company has a 'horrible' culture of racism that pushed out, silenced, and degraded Black employees

The findings fly in the face of claims of racism stemming from the top at the buzzy "cool girl" brand shared both publicly on social media and with Business Insider earlier this year. 

Reformation first came under fire after former employee Elle Santiago detailed her experiences at Reformation on Instagram in June, inspired by Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. 

In her viral post, Santiago said she was passed over for promotions in favor of white employees, experienced discriminatory behavior from Aflalo and other executives, and started to develop panic attacks due to issues at work. 

The Instagram prompted subsequent calls for a boycott of Reformation, including at retailers like Nordstrom, which made a statement at the time that it was investigating the allegations because it "does not tolerate discrimination of any kind and that extends to our partners." (Nordstrom is still currently selling Reformation products.) 

"The foundation at Reformation is rotted in prejudice and poor leadership," Santiago wrote in an email to Business Insider in June. "Accountability goes for everyone who plays a role in the mistreatment of others. Employers need to take real responsibility for how they affect not only the livelihood but also the spirit of their employees."

In a statement to Business Insider, Reformation emphasized the report's conclusion that its workplace culture is not racist, while noting "there has not been a strong enough recognition of the importance of people, namely the employees at Reformation, and that has had negative impacts on the workplace culture." 

"Reformation is addressing these issues through a range of actions, which focus on instituting HR processes for operational improvement, fostering an environment of growth and development, and creating a culture of respect, accountability, and inclusion," the company said in a statement. 

A sign outside of a Reformation store in New York City in 2016.

Though Aflalo stepped down shortly after the allegations emerged in June, concerns surrounding her had been mounting. A former digital marketing employee who left Reformation in 2019 told Business Insider in June that the culture was "toxic" and "horrible," with a pervasive "mean girls" attitude that came directly from top executives like Aflalo.

While the report acknowledged personal issues between employees and Aflalo, it stated "employees who commented on this subject said that they do not believe that Ms. Aflalo is racist," noting that "various employees of all racial backgrounds reported, in similar fashion, that she had treated them in ways that were upsetting to them."

Beyond Aflalo, the investigation detailed workplace issues tied to an overall lack of transparency, inadequate human resources services, and a "cliquish" culture that has caused some employees to "feel less included." It also noted a lack of attention to several facilities-related complaints related to heating, cooling, and water infrastructure at Reformation stores. Employees at the New York City and Los Angeles flagship stores told Business Insider in June that they experienced several issues on the job, ranging from freezing temperatures that required staffers to wear coats indoors to overflowing plumbing, adding that their reports of these incidents largely went unheard from upper management."

Morgan, Lewis, and Bockius LLP wrote that Reformation is taking multiple steps to improve its culture, including  hiring a Chief People Officer "to strengthen its human resources and employee relations functions." Reformation has also "engaged a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant to initiate foundational learning on these important topics," according to the report. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

How bike shops kept up with America's 121% spike in demand

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 4:26pm  |  Clusterstock
  • As bikes became a means of recreation, exercise, and commuting during coronavirus shutdowns, bike companies were facing growing demand.
  • In March, leisure-bike sales jumped 121% in the US.
  • But when Lunar New Year and COVID-19 outbreaks shut down bike-manufacturing factories in China, bike companies also had to contend with a shortage of the now super-popular bikes.
  • Business Insider stopped by the Linus Bike warehouse in Los Angeles and State Bicycle's shop in Tempe, Arizona, to see how the companies pivoted to keep up with demand.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Following is a transcription of the video.

- When the coronavirus shut down public transportation and gyms, Americans returned to a trusted classic: the bicycle. In March, leisure-bike sales increased by 121% in the US. By April, bike shops across the country were cleared out of inventory.

Adam McDermott: At no point did we ever satisfy demand.

Narrator: And that demand is still holding strong. But bike companies are facing a problem: a shortage of bikes.

Adam: This whole shelf right here all the way back to that side of the warehouse is usually stacked with bikes, and now there's nothing.

Narrator: We visited two bike shops, one in LA and one in Arizona, to see how they're keeping up with this unprecedented surge in demand.

Mehdi Farsi: During typical times, we have bikes in stock, and we can ship them the bike that same day.

Narrator: That's Mehdi, the founder of State Bicycle in Tempe, Arizona. Usually, he sells 30 to 40 bikes a day. But now, he's more than tripled his daily orders, to 150. Mehdi's bikes are made in Taiwan and China.

Mehdi: In January and February, right around the Lunar New Year, all bike suppliers really were shut down for at least four weeks.

Narrator: Then COVID-19 shut down the factories for an additional month through February. That happened just before demand for bikes started to surge stateside, in mid-March.

Mehdi: Only a couple weeks later, we were completely sold out of bikes.

Narrator: Even though bike shops were deemed essential businesses, Mehdi still had trouble bringing new bikes in.

Mehdi: Production times are getting longer and longer, and that's why we're seeing such a shortage of bicycles still.

Narrator: Over in Los Angeles, Adam McDermott had a similar story. His company, Linus Bike, was wiped clean of its bikes.

Adam: We immediately sold through all our inventory, and it was just like, waiting for the next container. And by the time that next container arrived, it was already completely sold out.

Narrator: Adam and his business partner, Chad Kushner, started Linus Bikes back in 2007. Customers can buy their '50s French-inspired city bikes starting at $400 online.

Adam: Our web traffic increased by, like, 150%. Like, every sector that we sell through, we're seeing, you know, 100% increase in revenue.

Narrator: Built in Taiwan, the bikes are sold all around the world. But we stopped by the Simi Valley warehouse in LA.

Adam: We're down to kind of just the bare minimum here. If we could just get more product, that's really what we're facing right now.

Narrator: From his Venice Beach shop not too far away, Adam's team would normally sell wheels to walk-in customers, meaning they could buy a bike and take it home that day. But since the pandemic, this isn't an option.

Adam: Inventory that was supposed to last us the entire year, we were selling just in a matter of months. So, at, like, peak, in July, we were back-ordering for some models all the way to February, which is insane for us.

Narrator: Linus went from selling 1,200 units a month to about 4,000. Now it's taking the company nearly double the time to produce a single bike. To keep up with demand, both companies had to get creative.

Mehdi: We quickly went to a preorder method and started ramping up our production overseas.

Narrator: Mehdi also put a cap on the number of bikes each of his 300 dealers could sell.

Mehdi: In order to prevent larger shops from eating up all the inventory and kind of taking away availability from some other shops.

Narrator: Over at Linus Bikes...

Adam: When COVID broke out, New Jersey, where our other warehouse is, the picture looked much worse there for New Jersey and New York, so we diverted all inventory to the West Coast, just 'cause it seemed like this warehouse will keep operating. So, we're doing all our shipping from the West Coast. It's a much bigger expense, but at least we knew this warehouse would be functioning.

Narrator: Adam's also working on a new kind of inventory.

Adam: We just introduced e-bikes. They're just landing now, so they're not even available. We're still preselling them. And those range from about $2,000 to $3,000. It's a really massive kind of change. It became a business of managing inventory and trying to allocate inventory. Where we can get the bike to the customer, how we can, like, keep one customer happy and not lose another customer.

Mehdi: If we had bikes in stock that we could send to someone same day, I could only imagine sales might be up 10X or more.

Narrator: Linus doesn't anticipate getting many of its popular bikes back until 2021.

Adam: I think it's really key not to rest on this crazy demand that is temporary. I know it's temporary in some form. I think if a business expects it or assumes it, like, you'll pay for it later.

Mehdi: My advice for any other small-business owner out there, try to be as agile and flexible as you can in order to adapt and survive.

Narrator: For both companies, the biggest surges happened in cities, where residents traded in crowded trains for bikes.

Adam: It's Portland, New York, Brooklyn, Chicago. Los Angeles is a big market.

Mehdi: People just feel a lot more comfortable commuting by bike versus subway trains or buses now.

Narrator: And the demand for two wheels isn't expected to let up.

Adam: We think demand will hold into 2021.

Mehdi: With so many more riders experiencing their cities on bikes, the future of American cities might actually transform as well. More and more people are going to look to commute via bike, which is obviously awesome for the environment. We love to see that. And, who knows, maybe the next Lance Armstrong or the next Tour de France winner has gotten on a bike during this pandemic, and in several years' time, we're gonna kind of see the next great American road cyclist come out of this.


Read the original article on Business Insider

A simulation of coronavirus spread in a classroom found kids in the back corners were safest. Here's why.

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 4:25pm  |  Clusterstock
High school students in a social distanced classroom.
  • In a classroom model of coronavirus spread, the back corners of the room were safest from aerosol particles.
  • The combination of open windows and air conditioning removed about 69% of aerosol particles from the classroom.
  • Glass shields installed at desks, when combined with distancing, also helped reduce particle transmission.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

In a simulation of coronavirus spread in a socially distanced classroom, the back corners of the room were the safest spots.

Researchers at the University of New Mexico simulated the path of small and large particles in a computer model of a classroom setting, published today in Physics of Fluids. They found that the distribution of aerosol particles — airborne viral particles smaller than one micron, which can float further than six feet — was not uniform.

As such, where students sit relative to air-conditioning outlets matters.

Students seated in corners also benefit from not being surrounded by all sides, Khaled Talaat, co-author of the study, told Business Insider. Those seated in the middle of the classroom, on the other hand, were most likely to transmit particles to others, so Talaat recommended getting rid of the middle seat entirely.

The study also found that opening windows, in addition to air conditioning, increased the amount of particles cleared from the room. Additionally, installing desk shields helped divert the path of any remaining particles.

Up to 50% of smaller particles exited the classroom via the air conditioning, while larger particles deposited on the ground, on desks, and on surfaces throughout the room.

"I'd recommend that people sanitize their hands, even without coming into contact with other people's belongings, " Khaled Talaat, co-author of the study, told Business Insider. "Particles can travel from one person to another person's belongings, like to your desk and even to your t-shirt, so by just touching yourself, you can be putting yourself at risk."

Aerosols re-concentrate near AC outlets

The air conditioning configuration modeled in the study — which is standard for an average classroom, Talaat said — had inlets located in the corners and center and outlets around the edge of the room. The corners were the safest spots because they were farthest from the outlets, where aerosol-sized particles are found at higher concentrations.

"Initially, when somebody exhales aerosols, this aerosol is sort of concentrated," Talaat said. "It then disperses in the room and the concentration decreases. But, it re-concentrates again at the outlets of the air conditioning."

Many air conditioning systems recycle the air they take in, so if the filtering system isn't top-notch, some particles will be re-expelled into the room via AC outlets. You can tell the difference between AC inlets and outlets based on whether air is flowing in or out, and schools should have them clearly labeled, Talaat said.

The back corners were slightly safer than front corners because people typically exhale aerosols facing forward, sending more particles towards the front of the room. Still, the differences between front and back corners was very small, Talaat said.

Opening windows increases the amount of particles that leave the classroom by 40%

Open windows allow some particles to leave the classroom entirely, instead of exiting via the air conditioning system.

Without the windows open, anywhere from 24 to 50% of particles leave the classroom through the air conditioning. Opening the windows increases the fraction of particles that exit the classroom by about 40%, Talaat said, clearing a total of about 69% of aerosolized particles from the classroom in their model.

"The challenge with opening windows is that obviously there are some cold cities right where it's not really a feasible measure to open the windows," Talaat said. 

If you can't open the windows, good ventilation via air conditioning is especially important. Siddartha Verma, an assistant professor of fluid mechanics at Florida Atlantic University who was not affiliated with the study, also stressed the importance of ventilation.

"It is essential to remove aerosolized droplets as quickly as possible," Verma wrote in an email to Business Insider. "The aerosolized droplets accumulate over time (even from just talking and breathing), and can stay suspended for several hours, which also poses a hazard to classes that may follow in the same room."

Glass shields can redirect airflow

As for the particles not cleared by AC and open windows, glass shields can help redirect their path to avoid transmitting virus particles between students.

"They don't stop the particles directly, but what we see is that they affect the local airflow field near the source and change the trajectory of the particles," Talaat said.

The glass screens employed in the model were about 70 centimeters, or 27.5 inches high, so they would reach about a foot above a student's head when seated. They extended across the full width of the desk.

The effectiveness of shields depends on the student's positioning relative to the air conditioning source, but overall, the combination of screens and distancing reduced aerosol transmission by about 92% — good enough that Talaat recommended glass screens be installed in classrooms this year.

Read the original article on Business Insider

24% of New York City's bus and subway workers have contracted COVID-19, and 76% said they personally knew a coworker who died, a new NYU survey finds

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 4:20pm  |  Clusterstock
A train conductor looks out from a train on the subway in the Brooklyn borough on June 22, 2020 in New York City.
  • A new survey from NYU found that 24% of New York's bus and subway workers have contracted COVID-19, a figure higher than previously estimated. 
  • The survey also found that workers dealt with widespread fears about their own safety, especially when it came to enforcing mask-wearing on buses and trains. 
  • About 131 New York transit workers have died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. 
  • The MTA pushed back on the survey's findings in a statement to Business Insider, saying that the 645 workers who responded are "a fraction of the NYC Transit workforce, and captured only those who were most motivated to participate."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Nearly a quarter of New York's bus and subway workers say they have been infected with COVID-19, a new survey by NYU published Tuesday found. That figure, which is based on self-reports, is higher than a previous estimate conducted in May, which found that about 14% of New York's downstate transit workers tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies. 

In addition, more than 70% of transit workers said they were fearful for their safety at work. Beside concerns about their own health, workers said that they were worried that riders would attack them if they tried to enforce mask-wearing, or if they didn't enforce mask-wearing on other riders. 

The survey illuminates the heavy toll that COVID-19 has taken on the employees that keep New York's trains and buses running.

"The transit workers have suffered the most casualties," said Roberto Martinez, a bus operator, in a previous Business Insider report. "Why? Because we are in contact with more people on a daily basis."

Early in the pandemic, MTA workers said that there weren't adequate safety protocols on trains and buses, Business Insider previously reported. Concerned about their own health, employees brought their own masks to work and cordoned off areas to try and distance themselves from passengers. Management told workers they could be disciplined for their efforts and when supplies did come, they often were insufficient, workers told Business Insider. 

There have been "significantly more" personal protective equipment, safety supplies, and sanitary protocols compared to early March, transit workers said, according to the survey. Still, the stress of COVID-19 exposure has negatively affected the mental health of employees. Over half of respondents said they felt "nervous, anxious, on-edge, and cannot control worrying," and 15% said they felt "isolated, down, depressed or hopeless."

Since the outbreak, about 131 MTA workers have died of COVID-19 and New York MTA has begun paying a $500,000 "COVID Death Benefit" to their families. 91% of workers surveyed said they knew a coworker who had been infected, and 76% said they personally knew a coworker who died of COVID-19.

The MTA pushed back on the study in a statement to Business Insider, saying that the 645 workers who responded to the study are "a fraction of the NYC Transit workforce, and captured only those who were most motivated to participate." An MTA spokesperson also said that the overall COVID infection rate for MTA workers is about 7%, and that NYU's poll numbers were inflated because they were based on self-reports, rather than antibody tests.

"We hope any future 'study' is based on science, data and facts as the MTA's highest priority remains the safety of our workforce," said MTA's chief communications officer, Abbey Collins.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best coolers

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 4:14pm  |  Clusterstock
  • Whether you're heading out for a weekend camping trip, an afternoon in the park, a tailgating party, or you're grilling in the backyard, you'll need a cooler if you like cold drinks and fresh food.
  • When shopping for a cooler, keep in mind that although some might have an expensive price tag, most of today's coolers are designed to be a lifetime purchase. 
  • Our top pick, the Coleman Performance 48-Quart Cooler, is a true classic that stands the test of time with its incredibly low price and three-day ice retention in 90-degree temperatures.

To the fisherman, a reliable cooler makes the difference between bringing home fresh fillets or wasting the catch as it spoils in the heat. At the tailgate party or picnic, a good cooler means cold beer and soda instead of warm swill. For the campers, a cooler keeps food chilled and safe for days on end even when the nearest refrigerator is a three-day hike back out of the woods. Coolers serve many people in different ways all by doing one thing well: Keeping its contents chilled.

As someone who dabbles in just about every example listed above, I own four coolers, which is admittedly a bit excessive. To be honest, I only use two of them all that often: A large hard-shelled classic and a soft-sided compact. There's nothing wrong with the other two coolers, one is just a bit small for the family and the fourth is simply redundant, yet I can't bring myself to part with it.

Though one of the reasons I've yet to part with it is due to the fact coolers tend to have somewhat shocking sticker prices these days, the real reason is that a great cooler can be a lifetime purchase. A cooler certainly isn't as important or complicated a purchasing decision as something like a car or a major appliance, but you'll almost surely have the cooler for many years more than any vehicle, fridge, or washing machine,

In other words, you owe it to yourself to choose wisely. Just be ready to spend a few bucks if it turns out the cooler that best suits your needs happens to be on the pricey side.

The coolers on this list are all distinct from one another in multiple ways. There's a good chance that a few of them will be the outright wrong choice for some people, but there's a great chance that at least one will be the absolute best cooler for you. Read on to see which of our picks fits your needs.

At the end of this guide, I've included some helpful tips on how to shop for a cooler, as well as a rundown of the testing methodology I used

Here are the best coolers:

Updated on 10/20/2020 by Rick Stella: Added the Yeti Hopper M30 as our pick for the best soft cooler, updated the section on how to shop for a cooler, added a rundown of our testing methodology, checked the availability of all recommended coolers, and updated the prices and links where necessary.

The best overall The Coleman Performance 48-Quart Cooler is a classic hard-shelled cooler with multi-day ice retention and an all but indestructible design.

If Coleman's cooler weren't such a simple, reliable, and all-around great piece of hardware, I would have called it the best low-cost cooler instead of the best overall cooler. It costs less than thirty dollars, but it will last you thirty years or more provided you take the time to wipe it clean now and then and you don't run over it with a truck.

This is the cooler your dad brought on family camping trips, it's the cooler of your childhood, and it's still an awesome buy.

Coleman's 48-quart cooler can hold 63 standard 12-ounce cans and is tall enough for two-liter soda bottles to stand upright with the lid closed. It's more than sturdy enough to double as a seat, yet still light enough for one rather fit person to heft alone or for two people to easily carry down the dock, into the park, or onto the beach. Empty, the cooler weighs about seven pounds, so you can easily lift it up onto the top shelf of the garage for storage, too.

The Coleman Performance 48-Quart Cooler has a drain built into the bottom so you can let out any spilled beverages or ice melt without dumping the entire contents, but for the record, there won't be much meltwater provided you keep the lid secure most of the time. This cooler offers three-day ice retention even when the mercury tops 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Oh, and this cooler is made in America, too.

Pros: Great price, sturdy construction, large capacity, trusted legacy brand

Cons: Hinges on lid prone to eventual breaking

The best backpack cooler Yeti's known for its incredibly high-quality products and the Hopper 24 backpack cooler is no different, featuring a durable exterior, a 100% leakproof zipper, and insulation designed to keep contents cold for days.

It should be no surprise that Yeti shows up multiple times in this guide as the company's made its name manufacturing some of the best coolers on the market. With its Hopper 24, the brand delivers the same kind of durable construction and quality design its fans have come to expect in the form of a backpack cooler

With space enough to carry roughly 20 cans of beer or soda (with ice included), or 25 pounds of ice, the Hopper 24 is at no lack for available cooler space. And don't worry about a loaded pack feeling especially heavy either. Yeti designed it so weight distributes evenly, and its removable hip belt and ergonomic shoulder straps make it comfortable to tote around, whether it's down a long trail to the beach, a short jaunt to a campsite, or a few steps to a backyard. 

Yeti also includes its HydroLok Zipper which helps keep any contents from spilling out (i.e. water from melted ice), and its ColdCell Insulation is capable of keeping ice for several days (something we've tested and confirmed often). 

Similar to many of Yeti's products, the Hopper 24 isn't cheap, sporting a price tag of $300. However, Yeti consistently exceeds standards of quality and this backpack cooler is no different — it'll be one of your favorite pieces of go-to gear for several, several years. -- Rick Stella

Pro: Keeps ice cold for multiple days, ergonomic shoulder straps allow for easy and comfortable transport, high-quality and durable construction

Cons: Expensive

The best for long-term use Best cooler for longterm use The Yeti Tundra 75 Cooler can keep ice frozen for more than a week even if you're using it in the middle of the summer.

To deal with the elephant in the room first, yes, this cooler costs almost five hundred dollars. That's a lot of money to spend on a cooler, no two ways about it. But for that price, you will get one of the absolute best coolers on the market today. Let's just rattle off a few highlights, shall we?

The Yeti Tundra 75 Cooler's rugged rotomolded design makes it tough enough to be certified as bear-resistant. That's right, in a fight between a bear and this cooler, the cooler will probably win. Its three-inch-thick PermaFrost insulation and ColdLock gasket allow the cooler to keep ice frozen for days on end. You can expect at least a week of sub-zero temperatures within provided you loaded it up with sufficient ice.

It has a 50-can capacity and also comes with a dry goods basket that holds a selection of foodstuffs above the ice. Its BearFoot non-slip feet and AnchorPoint tie-down points help you to secure the cooler in the bed of a truck or aboard a boat. 

Do most people need this level of cooler? Probably not. But if you're a serious fisherman, if you're on a road trip and you want to stay self-sufficient, or if you're stocking a cabin or campsite for an extended stay, you'll be glad you have the Yeti Tundra 75 at your disposal, no buyer's remorse involved. Just note that the cooler weighs 30 pounds even when empty, so if you have trouble lifting heavier loads, you might need to look elsewhere.

For a smaller, but more equipped cooler with a cutting board, dry storage tray, and hose fitting that's ideal for fishing, have a look at Coleman's new 55-quart Super Cooler.

Pros: Amazing ice retention, rugged construction, great for boating or long road trips

Cons: Very expensive, very heavy

The best soft cooler Yeti's Hopper M30 is a highly-durable, tote-style soft cooler that now features a better zipper closure system that made its already quality ice retention even better. 

It should be apparent at this point that Yeti's coolers are worth every bit of the recognition of nabbing three spots in this guide, as its coolers are just that damn good. And when it comes to picking the best soft cooler, the Hopper M30 is a clear choice. With the brand's patented bomb-proof construction, some impressive ice retention, and surprisingly large capacity, this is the one you want for day trips to the beach or local park.

Though the Hopper M30 gets a lot right, its best feature is how well it keeps ice throughout the day. During my tests, it reliably kept ice anywhere from roughly 15 hours on up to 20 hours, depending on how hot it was outside, how often I opened it for a drink, and whether I'd remember to fully zip it up or not. But even on its lower 15-hour days, that's more than enough time to get your fill of hanging at the park or lounging on the beach (it was even a nice supplemental cooler on two-day car camping trips). 

You'll be surprised at how much this cooler is able to house, too. Despite often stocking it with more cans of beer than I'd know what to do with, there was still plenty of room for a couple of sandwiches, some cheese sticks, and whatever other snacks seemed fit for the outing. It also comes with a padded should strap that makes lugging the thing either from car to beach or park a comfortable experience — I've even slung it over my shoulder while riding my bike and it was completely fine. 

Then there's its durability. The Hopper M30 can take an utter beating, whether it's getting tossed into the back of a car, dragged down a trail, or even falling completely off my bike (this only happened once and the cooler managed to avoid tacking any damage at all). Its zipper closure system also seals the cooler airtight and not even melted ice (aka water) drips out if it's tilted upside down or laying on its side. 

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more high-quality soft cooler, which is why the Hopper M30 is our go-to whenever I want to leave my bulky, cumbersome cooler at home. — Rick Stella

Pros: Extremely durable, keeps ice anywhere from 15 to 20 hours, large capacity, highly portable

Cons: Expensive, requires two hands to unzip and close

The best tote bag The CleverMade SnapBasket Soft-Sided Cooler tote can keep as many as 50 12-ounce cans cool, yet it can also fold down into a package measuring just three inches thick.

The CleverMade SnapBasket tote weighs in at just two pounds, yet this cooler is rated to carry as much as 50 pounds of ice, food, drinks, or whatever else you want to keep chilled. Although it has a 50-can capacity when fully loaded, it can pack down small enough to tuck away in any closet or even in a drawer. If that were all there was to say about this affordable, durable tote cooler, I'd still be recommending the thing, but there's more.

The CleverMade SnapBacket features two exterior storage pockets, one that zips shut and is perfect for a phone, keys, and other small but important items, and one that is made of mesh and has an open top. This second pocket is great for spare napkins, sunglasses you want in easy reach, or a bottle of sunscreen, to name a few of the innumerable things you could stash there. There is also a bottle opener attached to one of the handle straps. Additional side grip handles make it easy for two people to carry the tote between them when it's loaded up and heavy.

As for the actual cooling capabilities of this cooler? For a soft-sided tote, it's a fine piece of chilling hardware. The eight-gallon interior features a leak-proof liner and enough insulation to keep ice cold for at least a half-day even on the warmest days of summer.

Pros: Lightweight and packable, leak-proof liner, large capacity

Cons: Single-day ice retention

How to shop for a cooler

When choosing the best cooler for your needs, first consider where you'll most often use it. If a cooler is too big to bring along on a camping or fishing trip, it's useless for those outings. Same goes for if it can't retain ice well enough to keep things fresh during a weeklong stay in a cabin or camper. If its only purpose is for convenient beverage chilling in your own backyard during cookouts, that's going to have a huge impact on how much you need to spend (which should be well south of $100 in that scenario).

Consider how frequently you're going to be opening and closing your cooler open, too. If it's every 20-30 minutes, it won't much matter whether you have a Coleman Performance or a Yeti Tundra (save for a price tag difference of several hundred dollars), especially on hotter days. 

You'll also need to think about what you'll be keeping cold, and how much of it. It's easy to judge cooler capacity as almost all coolers explicitly list their interior quart size and how many cans they're able to hold. Don't forget to review the overall size of the cooler, as some are much larger on the outside than their interior dimensions might have you think.

To really keep contents cold, you'll need to keep a ratio of somewhere around 2/3 ice to reach optimal efficacy. Even a rotomolded cooler simply won't do its job without you meeting it halfway.

How we test coolers

Each cooler featured in this guide went through several field tests, be it fishing, camping, lounging in the backyard at home, or at the park, to see how well they fared across these four categories: Ice retention, durability, portability, and value. Specifically, here's how each category factored into which coolers ultimately made this guide:

  • Ice retention: Perhaps a cooler's most impactful feature is how well it's able to keep ice. Though variables such as how often you open and close the cooler, how much ice you use, and what all is in the cooler impact ice retention, the differences shouldn't be so dramatic that you're able to confuse a poorly-designed cooler for a quality one. We judged ice retention in a number of ways, though mostly used each cooler as we normally would while keeping track of how much ice or ice water was left after one, two, and three days.
  • Durability: A cooler's durability comes down to more than just its exterior quality but also how well its hinges or zippers hold up to constant use. If the cooler you buy gets a lot of run each summer and by fall you're already thinking you'll need to upgrade next year, then durability is a major concern. This is where spending more money on a premium cooler can save you quite a lot in the long run.
  • Portability: Coolers are inherently portable (for the most part) but some are designed far better than others. Even the most cumbersome of coolers should still offer some method for it to be easily carried (via one or two people), and if it's a small cooler like a soft cooler or a backpack cooler, then these should have portability near the top of what list of what they do exceedingly well. 
  • Value: As mentioned above, coolers aren't always an inexpensive investment — especially the premium options like what Yeti offers. But if you're able to piece together how exactly you need to use the cooler and for what activities you'd use it most, then you're able to make a better decision on a cooler's true value. Consider the three categories above, as well, and keep in mind that it's better to invest a little more in a premium product that's designed to last than to spend less money, more often on something that's second-rate.
Check out our other buying guides for outdoor adventures The best travel mugs you can buy

All of the travel mugs we recommend should keep your coffee hot during and after the morning rush. Many are also versatile, easy-to-use choices for on-the-go needs.

The best water bottles you can buy

A great refillable water bottle will help you stay hydrated while you're on the go. We tested many firsthand for their rugged construction and great temperature retention. Here are our picks for the best water bottles you can buy.

The best tents for car camping

When you're car camping, gear weight isn't an issue, so choose a tent with plenty of space and all the extra features you and your camping buddies could want in a home away from home. Plus, you'll want your tent to be easy to set up and take down while still keeping you protected from the elements. Here are our picks for the best tents you can buy for car camping.

Read the original article on Business Insider

What to do if someone on your work Zoom does something weird, according to an etiquette expert

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 4:02pm  |  Clusterstock
  • Virtual meetings have been the norm for many since March.
  • But even though people are attending from their homes, business conduct is still expected — even if people are slipping up.
  • If you see someone making a Zoom faux pas, you should alert them or whoever is in charge of the meeting right away.
  • If you're the one making the faux pas, apologize quickly, and don't drag out the issue.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Meetings have looked a little different since March, but that doesn't mean that all of the rules of business conduct have changed.

Yes, we may be able to see each other's home decor, pets, and children more than we normally would, but etiquette expert Elaine Swann told Business Insider that every meeting is still in the "business arena" — and that means you should dress, speak, and behave as you would around a conference table.

Elaine Swann.

That also means that if you're planning on attending to personal business while on a work call, you probably shouldn't. New Yorker staff writer Jeffrey Toobin was recently suspended for exposing and pleasuring himself while on a work Zoom call, according to Vice News.

Swann said that this is behavior you should certainly refrain from, unless showcasing more private features of yourself is part of your business model.

What to do if you see or experience something strange

If someone on your call is doing something that could lead to potential embarrassment — or just shouldn't be happening — Swann said you try and alert them to it.

If you're not in charge of the call, let whoever is know that something potentially unpleasant may be unfolding. Swann emphasized that you should never take a photo or screenshot to show others; it could lead to legal fallout, and is "not the right thing to do when someone has made such an egregious misstep."

Instead, if a coworker messes up, you shouldn't chastise them further. They're already "wounded" by messing up.

"Don't add to their embarrassment," Swann said.

What to do if you're the one who messed up

Perhaps you're the one who messed up on the Zoom call. If you've made a social faux pas, Swann said that there are three steps you should take: Acknowledge the mistake, apologize, and move on quickly. She said that the longer you dwell on the mistake, the longer it'll linger.

"Don't go on an apology tour," she said. "The more you talk about the incident and the longer you discuss it, the longer it will take for people to move beyond it."

Keep in mind the basic tenets of Zoom etiquette

Swann said she's mostly been asked about when screens and microphones should be turned off. If there's going to be an obvious distraction — like a roommate or someone else you live with coming over to ask a question — turn off the microphone. And if you're stepping out to grab your mail or laundry, you should turn off video; an empty screen can be a major distraction for others on the call.

And Swann said to remember that video meetings are a type of visual communication; that means that, yes, you should dress professionally for them.

While your personal life is all yours, wait until the workday ends and your computer is closed to attend to any offscreen matters.

"In the business area, there is certainly conduct that is expected. If you would not sit in a business meeting and pleasure yourself, then you should definitely not do it in a Zoom, whether you turned the screen off or not," Swann said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best 4K Blu-ray players

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 4:02pm  |  Clusterstock
  • To play the best-quality movies on a 4K TV, you need a 4K Blu-ray player that supports 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs.
  • 4K Blu-ray players are also capable of high dynamic range (HDR) technology for enhanced contrast and colors.
  • The Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player balances price and performance better than any other player on the market, making it the best fit for most buyers.

Streaming services might offer the most convenient way to watch movies at home, but if you want the very best video and audio quality on a 4K TV, there's still no real substitute for a disc format. Yes, you do actually have to get up from the couch to pop in a movie, but the performance benefits of discs are clear — especially when watching 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays.

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is the latest and greatest disc format for movies and TV shows. The format uses an Ultra HD video resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels for impressive detail, along with high dynamic range (HDR) support for enhanced contrast and colors. 

Without internet bandwidth limitations and buffer times to worry about, 4K Blu-ray allows studios to present content with less compression than streaming services. Less compression means you'll get more accurate images with better detail, along with lossless sound for a greater range of frequencies. For more information about all the benefits of 4K Blu-ray, be sure to read our additional breakdown of features

Of course, to watch 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays you'll need a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player. 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players are also backward compatible with regular Blu-rays and DVDs, so even if your 4K disc collection is just getting started, you'll still be able to watch all of your old discs, too. There are several worthwhile 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player models available from companies like Sony, LG, and Panasonic. Some gaming consoles even include 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc drives as well.

I've been covering the consumer electronics industry for seven years, and during that time I've demoed and reviewed numerous media devices and Blu-ray players. Through hands-on testing and expert reviews, we've picked the best 4K Blu-ray players you can buy for a variety of needs and budget levels.

Here are the best 4K Blu-ray players in 2020:

Prices and links are current as of 10/20/2020: Replaced the discontinued Xbox One X with the Xbox One S. Added additional slides for 4K Blu-ray player buying advice and 4K Blu-ray benefits. Jacob Roach contributed to an earlier version of this guide. Updated by Steven Cohen.

The best 4K Blu-ray player overall Thanks to its affordable pricing, excellent media support, and solid build quality, the Sony UBP-X700 is the best 4K Blu-ray player for most people.

When it comes to covering all of the basic features most buyers will need from a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, the Sony UBP-X700 essentially checks every box — and it offers all of those capabilities for a surprisingly low price.

The device provides 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc playback with support for both HDR10 and the more advanced Dolby Vision HDR format. Like competing models, the UBP-X700 also features backward compatibility with standard Blu-rays and DVDs, along with 4K upscaling to make those older discs look better on modern Ultra HD TVs. 

Connectivity options are also solid thanks to dual HDMI connections — the extra HDMI port can be used for dedicated audio output to an AV receiver if you want to bypass having to also transmit the video signal through a receiver. A coaxial digital out is included as well, but the player is missing a digital optical port. The lack of an optical connection shouldn't be an issue for most modern TVs and audio systems, but it could be a problem if you want to plug the player into certain soundbar models.

The X700 doesn't include all of the audiophile bells and whistles that are integrated into more expensive players, but it will still output lossless Dolby Atmos and DTS:X from compatible discs just fine. You can also play high-resolution audio files up to 24bit/192kHz in multiple formats, including FLAC.

Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity are included as well for access to select apps, like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu. The X700 actually has greater support for streaming services than most Blu-ray players, but it's still lacking compared to a smart TV or a dedicated streaming box

As great as overall performance is on the X700, there are a couple of noteworthy drawbacks worth mentioning. Unlike Sony's step-up UBP-X800M2 and UBP-X1100ES, the X700 does not include Bluetooth support, so you can't connect wireless headphones for private listening. 

The player's Dolby Vision playback is also hindered by an odd design choice on Sony's part. Instead of automatically detecting when a Dolby Vision disc is being played and then automatically switching to Dolby Vision output, you have to manually select Dolby Vision in the settings menu. Sadly, if you leave Dolby Vision selected, the player then incorrectly forces Dolby Vision output for any disc you put in — even if it doesn't support Dolby Vision. This results in an inaccurate image. 

For buyers who don't have a Dolby Vision TV or who really don't care about the differences between HDR10 and Dolby Vision, this really shouldn't be an issue. Just disable Dolby Vision and forget about it. If you're buying a 4K Blu-ray player with Dolby Vision in mind, however, having to manually turn the setting on and off could prove to be very annoying. With that in mind, we recommend the more expensive LG UBK90 as a better player for Dolby Vision.     

Despite these flaws, there's no denying the value of the X700. Home-theater enthusiasts who want more advanced features and connections will have to opt for a more expensive player, but most buyers who simply want to watch 4K Blu-rays on their 4K TV should be more than satisfied with what the Sony UBP-X700 has to offer.

Pros: Affordable price, HDR10 and Dolby Vision support, Wi-Fi and Ethernet, access to some streaming apps

Cons: No optical audio output, lacks Bluetooth, Dolby Vision has to be manually activated, missing some advanced video and audio features, no HDR10+ support

The best 4K Blu-ray player for Dolby Vision The LG UBK90 offers a solid assortment of features for a mid-range 4K Blu-ray player, along with support for automatically detecting Dolby Vision discs.

Though it's more expensive than Sony's X700, the LG UBK90 is a more convenient player for buyers who are specifically looking for a reliable Dolby Vision 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player.

The device offers all of the same basic features you'll find on all players, including 4K disc playback and backward compatibility with Blu-rays and DVDs. The UBK90 also supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision playback from compatible 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. Unlike the more affordable Sony X700, however, the LG has no issues automatically activating or deactivating Dolby Vision playback when it needs to. No matter what 4K disc you put in, the player will be able to recognize if it should output in HDR10 or Dolby Vision, and then adjust accordingly.

Dual HDMI outputs are included for easy video and audio connectivity. There is one digital optical output, but no digital coaxial output — the latter is commonly found on many soundbars. Wi-Fi and Ethernet are also supported, and you can play high-resolution audio in the FLAC format. When it comes to apps, however, the player only includes access to Netflix and YouTube. In other words, if you're looking for a device to stream movies on, this isn't it. 

You won't get any advanced tone mapping features, chroma upscaling, Bluetooth connectivity, or multi-channel analog audio ports, but for buyers who want a straightforward 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player with convenient automatic Dolby Vision playback, The LG UBK90 is one of the most affordable options. 

Pros: HDR10 and Dolby Vision support, Dolby Vision playback is automatically detected, Wi-Fi and Ethernet, optical audio connection

Cons: No Bluetooth support, lacks advanced video and audio features, very limited library of apps, doesn't support HDR10+

The best high-end 4K Blu-ray player The Panasonic DP-UB820 is pricier than a lot of other 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players, but it offers comprehensive HDR format support and advanced processing. 

As an all-around great 4K Blu-ray player, it doesn't get much better than the Panasonic DP-UB820. While it's on the expensive side, its performance is basically unmatched by any other model in its price range. In fact, as a home theater journalist, this the Blu-ray player I bought for my own entertainment setup — and I couldn't be more happy with my purchase.

Unlike most 4K Blu-ray players, which only support one or two HDR formats, the DP-UB820 supports all four HDR types: HDR10+, HDR10, Dolby Vision, and Hybrid Log-Gamma. The player also has no issues automatically selecting the proper format that should be played. This means you never have to worry about manually selecting Dolby Vision or researching which HDR version a 4K Blu-ray disc supports. As long as all of the HDR formats are enabled in the settings, the player will simply activate the best format supported by each disc.   

It's also a network connected player, meaning you can stream (from the internet via Wi-Fi or Ethernet) Netflix, YouTube, and a few other apps. With that said, the app selection is not as wide as most standalone streaming media players, like a Roku or Fire TV Stick. Wirelessly streaming videos from a connected DLNA-compatible device, such as a computer or media-enabled hard drive, is also supported.

Powering the DP-UB820 is Panasonic's HCX processor, which is the same chip found in the company's much more expensive DP-UB9000. With it, the DP-UB820 is able to interpolate 4:2:0 color signals into 4:4:4, which refers to a ratio in something known as chroma sample. To spare you the technical details, higher numbers can result in more defined colors in individual pixels and an overall higher-quality image with smoother gradients.

The player also has Panasonic's HDR Optimizer feature, which uses tone mapping to better scale HDR performance to your TV's particular capabilities (HDR10 only). Your HDR display will use its own tone mapping by default, but you may find better results relying on Panasonic's process instead of your TV's.

If you have an extensive collection of DVD and regular Blu-ray movies, the DP-UB820 can upsample them to 4K. While they still technically won't be true 4K, upscaling can make movies in Full HD or standard definition look a lot better on a 4K TV.

As for sound, the DP-UB820 leaves nothing to be desired. The built-in 192-kHz/32-bit 4-DAC produces excellent audio quality. Panasonic gives you ample connectivity to take advantage of it, too. The DP-UB820 supports digital and optical outputs, as well as HDMI and, most impressively, 7.1-channel analog output for surround sound. The DP-UB820 also supports Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and high-resolution digital audio file formats.

Panasonic also integrated Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, so you can control playback with your voice if you have a compatible smart speaker at home. 

Kris Heering of Sound and Vision gave the player a "top pick" award, saying it "offers reference-level video performance and also sets a new bar for HDR playback with both HDR flat-panel TVs and projectors."

On the downside, the player doesn't include support for SACD or DVD-Audio discs, but those formats aren't exactly popular, so this is unlikely to be a deal-breaker. For a sturdier build and even more advanced audio connections, you could opt for the more expensive DP-UB9000, but in general, the DP-UB820 really is the high-end 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player to beat right now.  

Pros: Support for all of the major HDR formats, high-end audio processing, advanced tone mapping and chroma upsampling, compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant devices

Cons: Remote seems flimsy compared to the main unit, no support for SACD or DVD-Audio, pricier than many competing players

The best 4K Blu-ray player for gamers As a gaming console that doubles as a Ultra HD Blu-ray player, Microsoft's Xbox One S is a versatile entertainment hub.

Though Microsoft and Sony are both gearing up to release new consoles later this year, if you're a gamer who wants to watch 4K Blu-ray movies, then the current-generation Xbox One S remains a solid option.

As a game console, the Xbox One S supports many popular titles and can even output select games in HDR. With that said, while the system can upscale 1080p games to 4K, it does not support native 4K resolution for games.

As an Ultra HD Blu-ray player, however, the Xbox One S offers full 4K playback support. Though Xbox consoles originally had some issues with 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray black levels and color output, Microsoft has since fixed these problems with firmware updates.

Now, the Xbox One S offers 4K Blu-ray video quality that's comparable to most standalone players. With that said, the console only supports HDR10 for disc playback and does not offer Dolby Vision or HDR10+ (Dolby Vision is supported for Netflix streaming).

There's also another potential downside related to the device's disc tray and fan. Since the Xbox One S is designed to be a gaming console first, it can be noisier than a typical Blu-ray player when it's reading a disc. Whether the extra noise outweighs the added gaming benefits the console provides, will ultimately depend on your preferences as a buyer.

For shoppers willing to spend more, it's also important to note that the upcoming Xbox Series X and Sony PlayStation 5 consoles will both include 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray support as well. Both of these consoles will cost $200 more than the Xbox Series S, however, and it remains to be seen just how well they will perform as Blu-ray players.

Pros: 4K HDR10 support for 4K Blu-ray discs, Dolby Vision support for Netflix, HDR gaming capabilities, excellent user interface

Cons: Disc reader and fan can be loud, no Dolby Vision or HDR10+ support for discs, doesn't support native 4K gaming

The benefits of 4K Blu-ray

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray offers several key benefits over streaming services and older disc formats, like regular Blu-ray. Most notably, the format offers superior compression, color, and audio quality.

Compared to 4K streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presents video and audio content with far less compression. This means you'll get a more stable image with no drops in quality.

For instance, you might sometimes notice your videos becoming blocky or fuzzy when streaming movies on Netflix. If you watch the same video on a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc, those issues will be virtually eliminated. This is because videos on a disc can be encoded with more data and presented at higher and more consistent bitrates. In other words, the video never needs to buffer and it will always look consistently good. 

Expanding upon the previous Blu-ray format, 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays can hold up to 100 GB of information, allowing them to store movies and TV shows in 4K resolution. 4K offers four-times the number of total pixels compared to the Full HD resolution previously used on standard Blu-rays. This enables 4K Blu-ray movies to offer more detail than ever. 

In addition to including more pixels, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs also add support for high dynamic range (HDR) with 10-bit color. This process allows for a wider range of colors, contrast, and brightness compared to standard Blu-rays. You'll need a compatible 4K HDR TV to take advantage of this feature, but the improvements can be dramatic.  

When it comes to audio, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray supports lossless Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. If you have the right audio gear, this means you'll get to hear movie soundtracks bit for bit as they were meant to be heard with surround effects in all directions — even from above.

What you should look for in a 4K Blu-ray player

When shopping for a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, there are a few key performance specifications and extra features that you should look out for depending on your needs.

  • HDR support: Though all 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs and players support the standard HDR10 format, only specific models add support for more advanced HDR formats, like Dolby Vision and HDR10+. If you have a TV that's compatible with Dolby Vision or HDR10+, and you want the very best picture performance, it's worth seeking out a player that can output those formats.
  • Advanced video options: Since all 4K Blu-ray players can simply pass the data contained on a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc directly to a TV, default image quality is nearly identical on all models. With that said, certain players include enhancement features, like chroma upsampling and specialized tone mapping, that can help improve 4K HDR contrast and gradient performance. Many players also include advanced upscaling capabilities to make lower-quality videos, like Full HD (1080p), look better on 4K TVs. Most buyers will be fine simply letting their display handle all the work, but enthusiasts might prefer the enhancements a high-end player can provide.
  • Audio capabilities: When it comes to general home theater playback, all 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays include support for outputting Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio over HDMI. Some players also include a digital optical connection for transmitting audio if you can't use HDMI. On top of that, certain models offer added support for more advanced audio processing and features, including high resolution music playback, multi-channel analog outputs, and support for SACD and DVD-Audio discs.
  • Connectivity: Ethernet and Wi-Fi are common on many players for keeping your device current via firmware updates. Bluetooth connectivity is also featured on certain models for connecting to separate devices, like wireless Bluetooth headphones.
  • Smart features: Though app selection on most Blu-ray players is rather limited, certain models include access to streaming services, like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. More expensive models even offer compatibility with voice assistants. This feature may be redundant if you already own a smart TV or streaming box (Roku, Apple TV, etc.), but it's convenient if you don't like to switch between devices in order to access Netflix.
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The best places to shop for kids' winter gear online

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 3:50pm  |  Clusterstock

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There's almost no better way for kids to enjoy the winter weather than heading outdoors to sled, snowshoe, ski, or spend the day making a snowman. But that requires bundling them up in proper attire.

This year, make sure your kids have the best winter clothing, accessories, and toys by shopping from retailers who offer a great selection of high-quality cold weather clothing and gear. 

We're featuring everything from gloves and mittens, sleds and skis, to apparel that will keep little ones warm on the slopes and stylish in the city.

Being the father of two young children and a man who enjoys high alpine hiking as well as strolling down the streets, I have personally purchased gear and clothing from all of the retailers covered. I trust this stuff enough for my kids, but if that's not good enough for you, I've also checked in with plenty of experts as well as with other moms and dads.

Here are the best places to shop for kids' winter gear: The best winter outerwear for kids Columbia Sportswear makes outerwear designed for use in the Arctic, so even though your kids won't be playing in such extreme conditions, you can rest assured that they're well covered.

I've worn Columbia gear at frigid mountain altitudes above 15,500 feet, in driving snow storms, in icy downpours, and while kayaking across open water on subzero days. Long story short, Columbia's outerwear performs perfectly in winter conditions that are anything but hospitable to human beings. So when the weather turns bitterly cold and the snowfall starts, it's Columbia clothing I trust to keep my kids warm and comfortable while they enjoy the outdoors during the winter.

Columbia's winter apparel is designed with two primary directives: to keep the wearer warm, and to keep him or her dry. The company accomplishes the former with various types of insulation, layering, and with proprietary technologies like the Omni-Heat lining, which features thousands of small metallic dots that bounce radiated body heat back at you. As for keeping things dry, the company uses fabrics that shed water and are breathable enough to release the excess heat and moisture that have built up within a garment.

Many garments are fully waterproof, feature multiple layers of insulation, and the pants have a reinforced knee and seat, adding strength to the fabric in spots where kids are prone to flop down. 

Pros: Winter apparel made to exacting standards, options for all ages of child, broad catalog of outerwear options

Cons: Many options run small

Worth a look:

Shop all kids' winter outerwear at Columbia The best ski gear for kids REI offers an expansive range of snow sport gear for kids, including snowboards and skis for downhill daredevils of all ages, sizes, and skill levels.

The earlier you get kids on a pair of skis or a snowboard, the more likely it is that they will develop a love for snow sports. Wait too long, and the self-preservation instinct that counsels a human against zipping downhill at breakneck speeds just might kick in. Kidding aside, most ski mountains permit kids ages three and older to hit the slopes with a guardian or an instructor, of course, and there's no reason not to get your little guy or gal on skis or a snowboard at that young age. That is, as long as you equip your youngster with the best ski gear for kids.

REI offers all the basic kids' ski and snowboarding hardware you'd expect, including skis and snowboards and boots, of course. 

But beyond the actual skis and snowboards, REI also offers all of the other gear required for safe, enjoyable downhill adventures, including poles, ski goggles, and the all-important helmets, a must-have for children who have an appetite for speed and little regard for safety.

Arguably just as excellent as the kids' ski gear REI sells are the classes the co-op offers. They offer all sorts of opportunities for people of all ages to learn the basics of downhill skiing or boarding or for those who want to take their snow sport game to the next level.

REI also offers lots of helpful articles on its blog, such as a piece titled "How to Teach Kids to Ski," so parents can help foster enjoyment of mountain sports without signing up for any classes.

Pros: Good variety skis, multiple options for safety gear, brand offers numerous how-to resources

Cons: Prices are often high

Worth a look:

Shop all kids snow sports gear at REI The best stylish winter clothes for kids Nordstrom offers all sorts of stylish yet warm apparel guaranteed to keep kids looking and feeling great all winter long.

From playful festive sweaters to stylish boots and fashionable faux fur-lined coats, if you want your kids to be dressed in seasonally appropriate style, Nordstrom is the place to shop.

This legacy retailer has earned its good name over the years by stocking high quality and stylish apparel, and their selection of items suited to a child's winter wardrobe does not disappoint.

Nordstrom features dozens of types of winter coats for kids, including options from iconic brands like Burberry and trusted activewear companies like The North Face. The site offers warm clothes for babies, toddlers, and bigger kids alike. For those older kids, many Nordstrom's apparel offerings are essentially the exact same garments as an adult would buy, albeit smaller. This allows for elegant dresses suitable for holiday gatherings or stylish winter jackets for that holiday card picture.

Pros: Multiple designer brands represented, high quality items, great customer service

Cons: Most apparel is quite pricey

Worth a look:

Shop all kids' winter clothing at Nordstom The best winter accessories for kids If you can't find your kid a good hat, scarf, or pair of gloves for sale from Amazon, then you have unrealistically high standards for what kids' winter accessories should be.

For many types of purchase, I contend that it's best to stick with dedicated experts. I trust Columbia Sportswear brand outerwear for my kids because I trust the gear myself. I know a dedicated outdoor company is going to have a better curated selection of skis and snowboards than a department store or big box retailer. And so forth.

But when it comes to those one-off purchases, I, like millions of other people, turn to Amazon. Why? Well, here are a few reasons. When you punch "kids winter hats" into the search bar, you get more than 40,000 results. "Kids winter gloves" brings in more than 10,000 hits. "Kids winter scarves" also gets 10,000 returns. And so on it goes.

Worried your kid's boots might not be warm enough for harsh winter days? No problem there, either: "Kids winter socks" gets more than 20,000 hits on Amazon. And of course you can count on low pricing no matter what kids' winter accessory you're searching for on this juggernaut retailer's site.

Can it be overwhelming? Yes, yes it can. But if you go in with an idea of which accessories your kid needs, you're sure to find products that fit.

Pros: Vast selection of winter accessories, great pricing, fast and affordable shipping

Cons: Occasional quality issues

Worth a look:

Shop all kids' winter accessories on Amazon The best sleds, saucers, tubes, and toboggans If your kids can't wait to head for the sledding hills after the first snow of the season, head to Home Depot before the flakes fall because the company has a stellar selection of downhill snow toys.

Back in the day, if you wanted to enjoy some downhill snow play, you had basically two options: the age-old wooden toboggan, or, as of the late 1800s, a sled with metal runners, the famed Flexible Flyer being the prime example. Soon, the snow saucer joined the lineup, and kids had yet another way to zoom downhill, and now with the added joys of zero control over their trajectory. Inflatable snow tubes and plastic snow sleds joined the fun later, followed by foam sleds, steerable sleds, ever more advanced downhill winter conveyances.

If you want to get just about any and every type of sled ever made, head to Home Depot. The company stocks everything from classic and simple sleds to inflatable tubes. 

The Home Depot offers pull sleds for toddlers not ready for downhill action as well as large and rugged plastic sleds suitable for use by multiple kids at the same time or by adults who know enjoying the snow isn't relegated to childhood alone.

In short, if you can think of a type of sled you can't get from Home Depot, you probably missed your calling as a professional sled designer. As for pricing, Home Depot is competitive with all other major retailers when it comes to the sled-buying marketplace. 

Pros: Great selection of classic and modern sleds, competitive pricing, fast and reliable shipping

Cons: Many styles often out of inventory

Worth a look:

Shop all sleds, saucers, and toboggans at Home Depot Check out our other winter gear buying guides


Read the original article on Business Insider

Snap crushes analysts' Q3 revenue expectations, sending its stock soaring

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 3:49pm  |  Clusterstock


Evan Spiegel, CEO and cofounder of Snapchat, talks at the 2018 Code conference.

Snap's revenue for Q3 blew away analysts' expectations and sent its stock booming in after-hours trading late Tuesday.

Snapchat's parent company said it generated $678.7 million in revenue in the third quarter, up by 52% year-on-year.  The reported revenue beat Wall Street analysts' consensus by more than $100 million.

In after-hours trading, Snap's stock shot up more than 20%.

Here are the key numbers, as well as the average analyst estimates, via Bloomberg:

  • Revenue: $678.7 million, up 52% year-on-year (vs $559.2 million estimate)
  • Daily Active Users: 249 million, up 18% year-on-year (vs 244.6 million estimate)
  • Earnings Per Share (adjusted): 1 cent (vs estimated loss of 5 cents)

Snap's third quarter has historically been successful: Last year, the company saw a 50% increase in revenue and 13% increase in DAUs. In a call with investors Tuesday night, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said the company reported year-over-year Q3 growth rates for both revenue and daily active users that are higher than they've been since 2017.

The jump in revenue growth by Snap could signal optimism for the rest of the tech industry as it continues to stymie the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Snap's third-quarter earnings come more than a week before tech giants like Facebook and Google release their own.

Like many tech companies, Snap relies on revenue from brands, whose pandemic-related financial slowdowns were expected to have a domino effect on ad buyers. However, digital ad spending has since started to trend back up across the board, boosting the revenue of social networks like Facebook, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Further, social-distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders have helped to boost consumer tech's usage numbers. Snap added 39 million DAUs globally, marking 18% growth year-over-year.

The biggest uptick in DAUs came in Snap's international presence outside of North America and Europe. Snap saw 43% year-over-year growth in "rest of world," the term it uses for its presence in countries like India, Brazil, and the Phillipines. However, the company is still struggling to monetize those new users in emerging markets: Snap reported in Q3 a 6% decrease in average revenue per user.

Snap again declined to provide financial guidance on its estimates for Q4 due to "given the uncertainties related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the rapidly shifting macro conditions." In Tuesday night's call, Snap chief financial officer Derek Andersen said the company expected percentage growth in both revenue and DAUs in Q4 similar to that it reported this quarter.

Looking forward, the company is in the process of rolling out its one of its biggest format changes. The company unveiled at its Snap Partner Summit in June that it was adding a navigation bar to help Snapchat users easier find and access the deluge of features added to the app. Spiegel disclosed Tuesday that the navigation-bar update is the first time the company has "prototyped and launched" a redesign first on Android — a userbase the company notoriously alienated with a Snapchat app known for frequent crashing and poor camera quality. Snap released its overdue revamp to its Android app last year.

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US stocks climb as investors await stimulus developments, shrug off Google antitrust lawsuit

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 3:49pm  |  Clusterstock
  • US stocks closed higher on Tuesday as investors awaited developments on a fiscal stimulus deal and shrugged off the Justice Department's antitrust lawsuit against Google.
  • Major indexes pared gains in the final minutes of trading after The Washington Post reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the White House to refrain from striking a stimulus deal before the election.
  • Shares of Google climbed on Tuesday despite the antitrust lawsuit. Tech heavyweights like Facebook, Amazon, and Apple also finished the day higher.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

US stocks rose on Tuesday as investors weighed a series of strong earnings reports, developments on a fiscal stimulus deal, and an antitrust lawsuit leveled against Google.

Major indexes pared gains in the final minutes of trading after The Washington Post reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the White House to refrain from striking a stimulus deal before the election.

McConnell had signaled earlier in the day that the Senate would consider a bipartisan stimulus proposal approved by President Donald Trump.

Here's where US indexes stood at the 4 p.m. ET market close on Tuesday:

Read more: A fund manager who's doubling up the competition in 2020 tells us his strategy for investing in the 'K-shaped' economic recovery - and details the only 2 stocks he added as the market recovery took off

Shares of Google's parent, Alphabet, rose on Tuesday after the Justice Department and 11 attorneys general accused the search engine of monopolistic behaviors.

The DOJ said the company abused its leadership in online search — which could have relieved some investors who thought the department would target Google's advertising business.

"People use Google because they choose to, not because they're forced to, or because they can't find alternatives," Google said in response to the lawsuit, adding that the lawsuit would "artificially prop up lower-quality search alternatives, raise phone prices, and make it harder for people to get the search services they want to use."

Read more: The head of sustainable investing at a $64 billion advisory firm shared with us 4 stocks that are leading the way as companies embrace the social-justice movement

Facebook, Apple, and Amazon also moved higher on Tuesday, signaling that investors are not worried about the outcome of government lawsuits against the tech giants.

A strong earnings report from Logitech indicated that work-from-home activity was still boosting demand for its computer-accessories business and online gaming. Procter & Gamble reported earnings that beat analysts' estimates, posting its best organic sales growth since 2005.

General Motors surged after it said it would invest $2 billion into a Tennessee manufacturing plant to build electric vehicles including the new Cadillac Lyriq.

Read more: We spoke to 4 US Investing Championship contenders who raked in a combined return of 1,349% in just 9 months. Here are the 11 books they say transformed them into trading juggernauts.

AMC Entertainment slipped after it said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it could file for bankruptcy if it can't raise enough cash to keep its operations going.

Gold rose as much as 0.5%, to $1,914.15 per ounce.

Oil traded higher. West Texas Intermediate crude jumped as much as 2.1%, to $41.70 per barrel. Brent crude, oil's international benchmark, rose 1.6%, to $43.30 per barrel, at intraday lows.

Read more: Bank of America shares 12 under-owned stocks likely to soar on earnings this quarter with investing conditions ripe for the picking

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Trump abruptly ended his '60 Minutes' interview after 45 minutes and then tweeted about host Lesley Stahl not wearing a mask inside the White House

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 3:41pm  |  Clusterstock
President Donald Trump on May 26.
  • President Donald Trump ended his interview for "60 Minutes" abruptly on Tuesday after just 45 minutes of filming, according to CNN.
  • Trump was supposed to return for a "walk and talk" with Vice President Mike Pence but did not do so.
  • The news broke shortly after Trump tweeted a video of "60 Minutes" host Lesley Stahl not wearing a mask inside the White House.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Something happened during the taping of President Donald Trump's interview for "60 Minutes" that led him to end the interview early, according to CNN.

Trump did 45 minutes of taping with host Lesley Stahl before he walked out and did not return for a scheduled "walk and talk" taping with Vice President Mike Pence, according to CNN.

According to CNN, Trump told producers he believed they had enough material for the interview.

Shortly before the news broke, Trump tweeted a video of Stahl not wearing a mask inside the White House.

—Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 20, 2020

Sit-down interviews with the big networks have gone south for Trump before.

Trump has done far more one-on-one interviews with Fox News, though those have also sometimes created issues for him, like when he made news over the summer after a talk with "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace in which he talked about taking a cognitive test.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris are also set to do "60 Minutes" interviews to air alongside Trump's, though they did theirs remotely from one another.

Trump and Pence were supposed to appear together, but after Trump walked out, Pence's will be done separately, according to CNN.

—Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) October 20, 2020

All these interviews are scheduled to air on Sunday night.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I've only been using Apple's new iPhone 12 and 12 Pro for a few hours, but I can already tell they're dramatically different from their predecessors

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 3:40pm  |  Clusterstock
Apple's new iPhone 12, right, and iPhone 12 Pro.
  • Apple's iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro bring big changes like 5G support, a refreshed design, and cameras that are better at seeing in the dark.
  • While 5G has been touted as the main attraction of Apple's new iPhones, the upgrade to 5G isn't a change most people will notice right away.
  • Aside from 5G, the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro come with a bunch of small changes that together make for a noticeably different pair of iPhones that are a step up from their predecessors. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Apple's new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are launching this Friday, bringing changes like 5G support, a refreshed design, improved cameras, and a new bigger screen size for the Pro model.

Apple pointed to 5G as being the biggest change coming to its new crop of iPhones during its launch event on October 13. Just before unveiling the new phones, Apple CEO Tim Cook called 5G "the most exciting step yet" for the iPhone in terms of leaps forward in cellular network technology.

Whether 5G will make a big difference in the way you use your phone each day is still up for debate.That's because next-generation 5G networks still aren't nearly as common and widespread as 4G LTE. And the type of 5G that is widely available is typically only moderately faster than 4G LTE.

But 5G aside, even after using Apple's new iPhones just for a few minutes, I can tell it feels like a much more substantial upgrade than we've seen in the past two years of iPhone releases. The updated design and refreshed screen sizes make Apple's iPhone lineup feel newer than it has in years.

After spending a few hours with the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, here are some of my immediate first impressions. 

The design is very different from the iPhone 11 and iPhone XS lineups'. The iPhone 12 Pro, below, and the iPhone 12.

The first thing you'll notice when unboxing the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro is their new look. Both models feature smooth, flat edges that make them almost feel like a cross between last year's iPhone 11 and the iPhone 5 from 2013. 

On the iPhone 12, these edges are made from aluminum, while the iPhone 12 Pro has surgical-grade stainless steel edges. 

In addition to giving the iPhone 12 lineup a new look, the bigger edges also make it easier to securely grip the new phones compared to the rounded edges on the iPhone 11 and iPhone XS families. 

The iPhone 12 is noticeably lighter than its predecessor, too. The iPhone 12 Pro, left, and iPhone 12.

Despite having thicker and more pronounced edges, Apple's iPhone 12 is actually lighter than its predecessor. The new model weighs 5.78 ounces, while the iPhone 11 weighs 6.84 ounces. 

The iPhone 12 Pro, on the other hand, is just slightly heavier than the 6.63 ounce iPhone 11 Pro at 6.66 ounces.

This is more than just a difference on paper; the discrepancy is actually palpable when holding the two devices, making the iPhone 12 easier to use and hold in one hand compared to last year's model. 

That goes for the packaging as well. The box for the iPhone 12, top, versus the one for last year's iPhone 11.

Apple is nixing its EarPod wired headphones and charging adapter from the iPhone's packaging for the first time, resulting in a much more compact box. 

Take a look at the box for the iPhone 12 above alongside the packaging for the iPhone 11, and you'll notice its much slimmer.

The iPhone 12 Pro also has a bigger display compared to the iPhone 11 Pro. The iPhone 11 Pro, left, and the iPhone 12 Pro.

Apple introduced its edge-to-edge screen design back in 2017 with the iPhone X, and the iPhone 12 family may represent the biggest improvement on this design yet.

The iPhone 12 Pro now has a more expansive 6.1-inch display compared to the iPhone 11 Pro's 5.8-inch screen since Apple was able to reduce the display's surrounding borders. Even though the iPhone 12 technically has the same-sized screen as the iPhone 11, its notch cutout for the selfie camera as well as the thin black border surrounding its display are also much slimmer.

This gives the iPhone 12 a more premium look, making it feel more like a high-end device than last year's iPhone 11, which seemed like a follow-up to the budget friendly iPhone XR. 


The addition of Apple's OLED Super Retina XDR display on the iPhone 12 is an appreciated upgrade.

The iPhone 12 also got a major upgrade when it comes to its display. It has Apple's Super Retina XDR OLED display just like its pricier Pro sibling, and unlike the iPhone 11 which has an LCD display.

OLED screens typically offer better contrast, bolder colors, and deeper black tones than LCD screens. Even just after spending a brief period with the iPhone 12, I've begun to notice this change in certain apps, particularly on apps and websites with dark backgrounds.

When reading a story in Apple news that consisted of white text against a black backdrop, for example, I noticed the white text looked slightly bolder and more crisp on the iPhone 12 compared to the iPhone 11.

The iPhone 12 Pro is also better at taking photos in the dark compared to the iPhone 11 Pro. The iPhone 12, left, and iPhone 12 Pro.

Apple's Night Mode feature is getting a big update this year. Both the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro have an improved aperture that makes it possible to take in more light. The Pro model gets a bonus with a LiDAR sensor that can help it autofocus even more quickly in the dark.

Here's a photo in a dark room taken with the iPhone 11 Pro. And here's the same photo taken on the new iPhone 12 Pro.

You'll notice that the photo taken with the iPhone 12 Pro is a bit brighter than that taken on the iPhone 11 Pro.

All told, the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro's updated design and refreshed screen sizes make Apple's iPhone lineup feel newer than it has in years.

The new designs are their most striking change, but the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro otherwise come with a bunch of small improvements that that make them an overall step up from their predecessors. The addition of 5G support likely won't matter much for now, but it'll ensure that your phone won't feel obsolete once 5G does become the norm. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Airbnb revealed new trends for travel in 2021 and the destinations where travelers want to go most — here's what to know and where to stay

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 3:36pm  |  Clusterstock

When you buy through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

  • Airbnb surveyed 1,010 U.S. adults to identify top travel trends that have emerged as a result of the pandemic that will redefine travel in 2021.
  • In 2021, travel will focus on domestic locations that promote living, working, and connecting away from home, safely. 
  • Key themes include booking homes that allow you to live anywhere, redefine the staycation, encourage pod travel, and inspire future trip planning.
  • Locations for these trends crisscross the US, from California to the Smoky Mountains, Florida to New England.
  • We break down each trend below, and also included a top-rated place to stay in each trending location.
  • Read more: Airbnb reveals the 10 most popular destinations in the US right now — here's where they are and where to stay in each

The novel coronavirus has dramatically changed travel in 2020 and looking ahead, it's clear those impacts will be felt well into 2021.

And in the new year, travel will be less about traditional tourism and more focused on living, working, and connecting while away from home — safely.

That's according to new data from Airbnb, which surveyed 1,010 U.S. adults between September 15 and 19, 2020, and discovered several trends that have emerged from our new pandemic lifestyle.

According to findings from study participants, remote work and schooling have altered traditional vacation periods, and even blur the line between traveling and meeting the everyday commitments of life.

Domestic travel also continues to be favored over far-flung, international destinations, and travelers continue to prize cleanliness and safety more than ever, which in turn drives business to private rentals where contact with other people is minimal. Indeed, doctors say that private vacation rentals are generally a low-risk form of travel, especially compared with hotels.

And finally, so-called "pod travel," or, gathering in an isolated space with loved ones, continues to rise in popularity.

Below, we break down each of these four trends, plus the U.S. locations where Airbnb predicts they'll be the most popular in 2021.

And since we know you'll want to get a head start on booking these desirable destinations, we also pulled top-rated Airbnbs in each spot, determined based on the following criteria:

  1. We selected Airbnb listings with pristine ratings that come as close to a perfect five stars as possible.
  2. Listings are for the entire home, or units with private entrances, to encourage safe social distancing.
  3. We looked for Superhost status and an Enhanced Clean badge where available to ensure your safety, health, and wellness are prioritized.
  4. We also selected unique and isolated stays, in trending lodging styles, in line with Airbnb's new data.

Just remember, without a vaccine, it's nearly impossible to guarantee any place other than your home is safe. The pandemic is an evolving situation and it's crucial to follow guidelines set forth by organizations such as the CDC and WHO, and practice safety measures, no matter where you go, including wearing a mask, washing your hands, and maintaining social distancing. Additionally, consider quarantine mandates for your destination, as well as your own level of risk, and whether you're traveling from or to a hotspot, so as not to increase the rate of infection.

These are the top trends for travel and places to go on Airbnb in 2021. 2021 Travel Trend No. 1: Live anywhere

With work and school going remote for many people, 83 percent of respondents said they're in favor of relocating as part of remote working. A fourth of respondents believe they will be able to "live where they want and work remotely" in the coming year. A fifth said they've already relocated their living situation during the pandemic — whether temporarily or permanently.

For parents, 60 percent said they're very or somewhat likely to consider working remotely and traveling with kids if school is disrupted.

The survey found that travelers are turning to Airbnb to try new locations before committing to more permanent moves. From July to September, there was a 128 percent increase in guest reviews mentioning terms such as "relocation" or "trying a new neighborhood" compared with the same period last year.

Of people who relocated during the pandemic, 24 percent say they moved to a suburb and 21 percent to a rural area, both of which are greater percentages than those who went to larger cities. 

On Airbnb, people who have the opportunity to work from anywhere are actively booking longer stays (2+ week trips) in small-to-mid-size cities with access to natural surroundings and wide open spaces, including these trending destinations below. 

These are the most popular places in the US on Airbnb among those who have the opportunity to work anywhere.  Santa Fe, New Mexico Book this private room in a B&B starting at $49 per night

This listing goes by "El Nido," which is Spanish for "The Nest." Located just outside Santa Fe and 15 minted from historic Santa Fe Plaza, the property is surrounded by tranquil nature and mountain views. Expect stunning sunsets and starlit skies.

El Nido can host two guests in their own private wing of the home. Access includes three outdoor spaces, including two covered porches. Reviewers give it a perfect 5.0 score for cleanliness.

Rating: 4.98

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: No specific COVID policies are mentioned, and this home does not participate in the Enhanced Clean program, however, the owner is an Airbnb Plus Superhost and past reviews and ratings comment on how clean and tidy the home is.

Search additional listings in Santa Fe. Boise, Idaho Book this private sunset studio starting at $60 per night

This studio apartment in the Sunset area of Boise's north end has room for three with one bedroom and one bath. The area is marked by charming old homes and tree-lined streets, with easy access to downtown.

The studio has a private entrance and guests and their pets also have access to a private and fenced English garden set under a large old maple tree. Outdoor seating is available in warmer months and this popular listing gets a perfect 5.0 cleanliness score.

Rating: 4.99

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Search additional listings in Boise. Durham, North Carolina Book this spacious wooded retreat starting at $60 per night

This listing is located on a three-and-a-half-acre wooded lot within a peaceful forest setting, less than 10 minutes from the UNC campus and downtown Chapel Hill. The quiet and private apartment is 1,300 square feet and comes with easy keyless self-check-in, which is available 24 hours a day.

The bedroom has a walk-in closet, large smart TV with Netflix and Hulu, plus a DVD player with movies for kids and grownups. The King-size bed has hypoallergenic bedding and six pillows. In the closet is a Queen-size air mattress bed, and there is also a tent for guests who want to camp outside. The living and dining space has a couch that folds out into a double bed. There's also a kitchenette with extras like coffee, hot chocolate, and popcorn included.

Perhaps the real highlight, however, is the private outdoor patio surrounded by oak, pine, cedar, and poplar trees. The backyard has picnic tables, a swing, slide, fire pit — and even a zip line.

Rating: 4.91

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: No specific COVID policies are mentioned, and this home does not participate in the Enhanced Clean program, however, the owner is an Airbnb Plus Superhost and past reviews and ratings comment on how clean and tidy the home is.

Search additional listings in Durham. Indianapolis, Indiana Book this carriage house starting at $62 per night

This 1,200 square-foot apartment overlooks a pond that includes turtles, carp, ducks, and geese. Such a bucolic setting really makes it feel like a peaceful country getaway. And guests give it a perfect 5.0 cleanliness rating.

There are two bedrooms, each with Queen beds, and the living area has a pullout sleeper sofa with a Queen-sized memory foam mattress. There's also a full kitchen, washer and dryer, a smart TV, and parking for one car.

Rating: 4.98

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: No specific COVID policies are mentioned, and this home does not participate in the Enhanced Clean program, however, the owner is an Airbnb Plus Superhost and past reviews and ratings comment on how clean and tidy the home is.

Search additional listings in Indianapolis. Park City, Utah Book this woodside treehouse starting at $85 per night

Access more than 300 miles of biking and hiking trails right from the front door of this listing, with easy access to Main Street for apres-ski fun. There's a hot tub to relax your muscles after a day on the slopes, and a stocked kitchen (but no oven) to safely cook at home.

Guests here have their own apartment, with a private entrance and assigned off-street parking. This listing is best for couples or solo travelers, but the host can set up bedding for a third guest on the sofa in the living area. This place gets a perfect 5.0 cleanliness rating, with recent guests calling it sparkling clean.

Rating: 4.92

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: No specific COVID policies are mentioned, and this home does not participate in the Enhanced Clean program, however, the owner is an Airbnb Plus Superhost and past reviews and ratings comment on how clean and tidy the home is.

Search additional Park City listings. Fort Walton Beach, Florida Book this beachwalk cottage starting at $99 per night

This loft-style townhouse is located next to Blue Dolphin Beach Walk at Beach Access 1 on Okaloosa Island. Newly renovated, the listing provides large and comfortable lodging just a short walk from white sand beaches.

The large master bedroom upstairs has a King-size bed and en suite bath with double vanities. There's also a new Queen sleeper sofa in the living room downstairs, and an additional twin air mattress available.

The private balcony upstairs offers peaceful views of the island, while back inside, there's seating for four at the breakfast counter. Other amenities include smart flatscreen TVs on each floor, a fully equipped kitchen, a washer-dryer, walk-in closets, a private fenced patio with seating, an outdoor shower, and an additional half bathroom downstairs.

Rating: 5.0

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: No specific COVID policies are mentioned, and this home does not participate in the Enhanced Clean program, however, the owner is an Airbnb Plus Superhost and past reviews and ratings comment on how clean and tidy the home is.

Search additional listings in Fort Walton Beach. Richmond, Virginia Book this chic downtown apartment starting at $108 per night

Located in Richmond's downtown Arts District, this chic, renovated brownstone apartment that dates back to the 1800s feels airy even before you consider the private rooftop deck. It has one parking space, can sleep four, and pets are permitted.

From this launch pad, walk to many attractions and cultural experiences, including Altria Theater, Quirk Hotel, the Jefferson Hotel, First Friday Art Walk, and more.

The space comes with plush linens and towels, as well as shampoo and conditioner (the host owns a salon downstairs). It also comes with coffee, tea, sparkling waters, and snacks, and the host can make special accommodations for dairy-free and gluten-free diets, too.

Rating: 4.95

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: No specific COVID policies are mentioned, and this home does not participate in the Enhanced Clean program, however, the owner is an Airbnb Plus Superhost and past reviews and ratings comment on how clean and tidy the home is.

Search additional listings in Richmond. Greenville, South Carolina Book this luxury condo with a balcony starting at $149 per night

This listing gets you right into the downtown experience: The Main Street-facing property has a large balcony with sofas for lounging and soaking in the environment, which was remodeled in 2019, and includes brand new furnishings. It gets a perfect 5.0 cleanliness score.

The studio unit has a completely open floor plan for contemporary loving. The bedroom area has a King-sized bed decked out with luxury bedding, while two additional guests (for a total of four) can sleep on the Queen-size sleeper sofa.

Rating: 4.99

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: No specific COVID policies are mentioned, and this home does not participate in the Enhanced Clean program, however, the owner is an Airbnb Plus Superhost and past reviews and ratings comment on how clean and tidy the home is.

Search additional listings in Greenville. Truckee, California Book this mountain home starting at $151 per night

This cabin accommodates eight guests with a relaxing fireplace and view of the forest. From here, it's a short walk to the Trout Creek recreation center, which has pools, spas, fitness, and sports facilities all year long, a local store, as well as the Lodge bar and restaurant. Guests can also use the equestrian center and the private Donner Lake beach.

Included are shower amenities, Nespresso coffee, soft bedding and towels, Wi-Fi, and two smart TVs with cable. For guests traveling with kids, there's a pack-and-play and an umbrella stroller included. The kitchen is also equipped with the basics, and there's a barbecue for seasonal use.

Rating: 4.87

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: No specific COVID policies are mentioned, and this home does not participate in the Enhanced Clean program, however, the owner is an Airbnb Plus Superhost and past reviews and ratings comment on how clean and tidy the home is.

Search additional listings in Truckee. Steamboat Springs, Colorado Book this historic log cabin starting at $185 per night

This bright two-bedroom cabin suits five guests in quiet, residential downtown Steamboat Springs, and is just a six-block walk to Main Street. It's right for couples or small families (and one well-trained, quiet dog, if pre-approved.) It's also one of the area's original log cabins.

Here, there's an expansive fenced yard, spacious deck, gas grill, fire pit, and pretty views of the surrounding landscape. There's also a recently remodeled and well-stocked kitchen, TV, Wi-Fi, and parking for two cars.

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Rating: 4.96

Search additional listings in Steamboat Springs. 2021 Travel Trend No. 2: Redefining the staycation

Domestic travel will continue to trend in 2021, according to the survey, with 62 percent of people interested in taking a vacation within driving distance of home.

Whereas trip planning in 2019 for 2020 included destinations like Paris, London, and Rome for U.S. travelers, Airbnb forecasts that 2021 travel will favor domestic locations in national parks, ski, and beach towns.

And while they keep close to home, travelers are looking for more unique experiences and are most likely to book nontraditional — and environmentally friendlier — spaces, including treehouses, yurts, barns, Cycladic houses, and domes. 

These are the most popular locations and residential types on Airbnb for a 2021 staycation. Davenport, Florida Book this private condo starting from $58 per night

Hosts bill this Davenport listing as a "hidden gem," offering value-priced accommodations for four with one bedroom with a queen bed and one bath. There is also a sofa bed in this top floor condo unit that is located on a resort-like property in the ChampionsGate area, with a pool and fitness center.

Reviewers praise this listing for its responsive host, convenient washer and dryer, and central location with easy access to Disney and other theme parks.

Rating: 4.94

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Search additional listings in Davenport. Breckenridge, Colorado Book this cozy yurt starting from $82 per night

Travelers looking for rustic accommodations without sacrificing comfort should consider a glamping yurt experience like the one found here, which is perfect for hikers and bikers. Indeed, the Mineral Belt trail is a minutes' walk away. 

The yurt holds four guests and is located a half-mile from downtown Leadville, which is about 40 miles from Breckenridge.

Inside, savor starry views from a loft and there's also a couch that pulls out into a full-size bed. The space includes a half bath, a TV, and a kitchenette with a fridge and microwave. Kids and dogs are welcome and a pack-and-play is available on request. The fenced back patio is lovely for relaxing outdoors, and best of all, the yurt has a private entrance and private parking space.

Rating: 4.92

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Search additional listings in Breckenridge. Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee Book this cozy treehouse starting at $175 per night

Smoky Mountain Treehouse is tucked high in the treetops at 3,700 feet in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. A private wooded lot surrounds the home, which is located at the end of a quiet street.

The home has room for six, with two master bedrooms as well as a pullout sofa in the family room. The kitchen is fully stocked with small appliances, dishes, pots and pans, and utensils. There's a push-button gas log fireplace in the living room for a truly cozy feel, while rocking chairs on the covered back porch are surrounded by trees. The patio also has a picnic table for meals or games and there is a gas grill on the deck for outdoor cooking.

Rating: 4.92

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Search additional listings in the Great Smoky Mountains. Palm Springs, California Book this large, secluded dome house starting at $382 per night

This striking Palm Springs geodesic dome house is situated on five remote acres with stunning views of the desert, mountains, valleys, windmills, and Joshua trees. This listing is supremely secluded, and access is via a dirt road. Still, it's just a 15-minute drive to downtown Palm Springs. And yes, there is strong and fast Wi-Fi.

The home has a spacious kitchen with indoor and outdoor dining areas, three bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms, and an office, with room for six spread over three Queen beds. The living room has a 26-foot ceiling, and the unique loft bedroom impressed with dramatic skylights, as you'd expect from such a unique, dome-shaped lodging.

Rating: 4.95

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Search additional listings in Palm Springs. 2021 Travel Trend No. 3 - 4: The rise of pod travel and planning for the future

Having created an urgent longing for human connection, the pandemic caused many to want to relocate permanently or temporarily live near family: 85 percent of survey respondents expressed this feeling.

And as a result, families are choosing Airbnb as a safer way to connect with each other, with three times more recent wish lists including "family." Groups of loved ones — families, friends — now quarantine together as a "pod," which has emerged as a clear trend. 

Additionally, Airbnb's survey found that travel still inspires as much as ever: 36 percent of respondents said they daydream about travel daily or more, increasing to 47 percent among those who work from home. Airbnb's research also showed that planning a trip makes respondents feel hopeful.

While travel might look different in 2021, these are the US cities where Airbnb users want to go as soon as it's safe. Taos County, New Mexico Book this cozy midcentury trailer starting at $76 per night

This 1954 Silver Dome travel trailer is located minutes from town with room for two in a full bedroom. The turquoise bathroom comes with a tub and shower that both have new plumbing, and the kitchen and living room are decked out with a nostalgic midcentury aesthetic. For basic cooking, there's a stove, microwave, and refrigerator. 

This bright and airy listing offers spectacular mountain views from all around, best enjoyed from the welcoming fenced yard and small deck. Expect to see stunning sunrises, sunsets, and starry nights.

Rating: 4.92

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: No specific COVID policies are mentioned, and this home does not participate in the Enhanced Clean program, however, the owner is an Airbnb Plus Superhost and past reviews and ratings comment on how clean and tidy the home is.

Search additional listings in Taos. Tisbury, Massachusetts Book this cottage on a pond starting at $136 per night

This charming cabin was built in 1930 and faces a freshwater pond inhabited by ducks, swans, bunnies, snapping turtles, and bullfrogs. (No swimming is allowed.) Enjoy the tranquil view from the shaded deck under a tree.

This furnished private studio is detached and secluded more than 150 feet from the main house and is fully remodeled with streamlined decor. The cabin has room for two guests with a Queen-size bed with a foam mattress, a full bathroom, and an efficiency kitchen with a cooktop, a small fridge, microwave, and toaster. 

Rating: 4.93

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Search additional listings in Tisbury. Maine Book this luxury treehouse starting at $395 per night

This 350-square-foot treehouse may be petite (as homes go), but it comes with plenty of little luxuries. There are soothing timber walls, a farmhouse-inspired full kitchen with a vintage fridge, and a Queen-sized bedroom with a custom maple headboard.

Front row views of treetops are seen through many windows that invite tons of natural light, ant the full bathroom guarantees there's no roughing it, with a spa-like rainfall shower. There's also a cute dining nook and two sleeping areas with Queen-sized beds. 

Other perks include a hide-away projector and screen to stream movies on high-speed internet, a wood stove, a deck with a grill and a private hot tub, and views of the trout pond (where you can catch your own meals). The home's energy is wind sourced, soon to be solar and totally carbon neutral.

Rating: 4.96

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: No specific COVID policies are mentioned, and this home does not participate in the Enhanced Clean program, however, the owner is an Airbnb Plus Superhost and past reviews and ratings comment on how clean and tidy the home is.

Search additional listings in Maine or read our guide to the best Airbnbs in Maine. Read the original article on Business Insider

I tested all of Casper's new mattresses and the Nova Hybrid is my favorite, thanks to its heat-dissipating properties and soft feel

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 3:35pm  |  Clusterstock

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Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Casper has been one of the top bed-in-a-box brands since it first hit the market in 2014. One reason why the company continues to stay ahead of the competition is its focus on customer feedback and incorporating it into upgrades to its mattress product line.


The startup recently updated a few popular models and added two completely new mattresses: the budget Element and the plush Nova Hybrid. I tested the Nova Hybrid for free and was impressed with its balance of support and comfort. After testing all five of the mattresses, it's by far my favorite one. In fact, it's one of the top mattresses in our buying guide.   


In addition to a layer of individually-wrapped springs that aid in airflow and support, the Nova Hybrid has four foam layers. The proprietary foam of the top two layers is called "AirScape" because it's designed to help prevent overheating. The plush topmost layer has small perforations that are designed to increase airflow to cool you down at night. 

The next layer features three ergonomic zones for pressure relief and spine alignment. The third layer works with the above layer to provide more zoned support, relieving pressure under the shoulders and supporting the hips, lower back, and waist. And, the base layer surrounds the coils to offer firm edge support.

Casper doesn't use ozone-depleting materials in the making of the foam for the Nova Hybrid, and it's CertiPUR-US certified. The cover is made of upcycled cotton, rayon, lycra, and recycled polyester (which is partially composed of recycled bottles).

Casper has brick-and-mortar stores in every major US city, though certain stores have restrictions given the novel coronavirus pandemic, so call ahead first. Usually, at the stores, you can schedule a 30-minute sleep trial to try before you buy. If you shop at Target, more than 1,000 Target locations across the US sell Casper mattresses too.

Set-up process

The process of unboxing and setting up the mattress was similar to other beds that arrive at your door in a box. Casper provided some simple instructions, but the process is intuitive. First, you remove the vacuum-sealed mattress from the box onto your foundation. Any foundation will do. I used a cheap Zinus bed frame. 

Next, unwrap the outer layer of plastic and unfold the mattress. At this point, I was annoyed that the mattress unfolded upside down so I had to flip it before removing the inner layer of plastic. But overall, the whole operation was relatively painless and took about five minutes.

Normally, you can skip this whole step by choosing Casper's in-home setup service. For a fee, Casper will contract with a local company to deliver your bed, set it up, remove the packaging, and remove your old mattress and foundation if you want. However, due to the novel coronavirus, the in-home setup has been suspended for now. We'll update accordingly once it resumes.

Review of the Casper Nova Hybrid

The number one best way to choose a mattress that is right for your body and sleeping style is to actually sleep on it for up to two weeks so your body adjusts to a mattress. This makes a risk-free home trial imperative. Casper gives you 100 nights to try out the Nova Hybrid.

If the mattress isn't right for you, contact Casper, and the company will work with a local recycling center or charity to remove the bed. You will then get a full refund within two weeks. Casper's refund is impressive because it doesn't have any hidden costs, like a shipping or restocking fee, so you get all of your money back.

By design, this is a very soft mattress, and I absolutely loved it after tough workout days. I mainly prefer to sleep on my side, and the seven support zones of the Nova Hybrid cradled my body perfectly to give me one of the deepest nights of sleep I've ever had. 

The Nova Hybrid does a great job of dissipating heat. I'm a hot sleeper, and I was mainly sleeping in a room that was hotter than I generally like, but I never felt like I was overheating while testing this mattress. In fact, when I would return from middle-of-the-night bathroom trips, I'd notice that the spot where I was sleeping had cooled significantly. This made it easier for me to fall back asleep. 

The bed's edge support is also better than average. When putting on my socks and shoes in the morning, the mattress didn't sink much. And as I rolled my body progressively closer to the very edge of the bed, I was able to get pretty far off before I finally fell. Good edge support is helpful when you have a partner who seeks to conquer the entire bed as her territory. 

Casper recommends rotating your mattress every three to six months. At 89 pounds, the Nova Hybrid is heavy, making this a difficult task. Plus, it tends to flop around a bit when you try to move it. Fortunately, Casper installed helpful handles under each corner of the mattress. 

All Casper beds, including the Nova Hybrid, are backed by a 10-year limited warranty. If your mattress has deterioration, physical flaws, major indentations, or manufacturing defects, the company will either replace or fix it. You must handle your bed properly, use a supportive bed frame, and use the mattress "normally" for the warranty to remain valid.

Cons to consider

Though hybrids with individually-wrapped pocket coils tend to offer outstanding motion dampening properties, this was not the case with the Nova Hybrid. Perhaps due to its softness, the bed flunked our motion transfer test. We repeatedly dropped a 15-pound bowling ball onto the mattress so that it would 12 inches from a pop can. The can fell over every time, which means the Nova Hybrid is lacking in the motion isolation department. I could also feel when my wife or dog laid down on or got up from the bed.

Since the mattress is so soft, I would not recommend it for back or stomach sleepers. I occasionally like to sleep on my stomach, but when I tried to do it with this mattress, I found that it put my neck at a weird angle. I couldn't get as comfortable as I wanted. Back sleepers might fare a little better.  

Out of the packaging, the Nova Hybrid had a distinct "new bed smell." This is common, and it's why I usually unbox mattresses in the morning. It gives them time to expand and get rid of their odor before I go to bed. However, the Nova Hybrid has continued to hold onto its odor. I've grown used to it, but individuals who are sensitive to scents might want to be proactive and use odor-removers to neutralize the smell.

The bottom line

I've tested dozens of mattresses, and the Nova Hybrid ranks among the top three or four most comfortable that I've slept on. It's rare for me to sleep much past sunrise, but with this mattress, sleeping in was not a problem. And, I appreciated that when I woke up during the night, I fell right back asleep because the heat dissipated quickly. 

Should you buy it?

When determining if others should buy a mattress, I assess whether I would buy it with my own money if I weren't testing it. At $2,000 for the Queen, the Nova Hybrid is expensive but not unreasonable. And, it's hard to put a price on a good night's sleep. But, let's do just that. Over the course of an assumed 10-year lifespan – the length of the warranty – you would spend less than 55 cents a night on this bed. I think we'd all agree a good night's sleep is worth some pocket change. Plus, Casper offers buying options that start at 0% APR.

However, this mattress isn't for everyone. As a side-sleeper of average weight who sleeps hot, this mattress perfectly cradled my body and kept me cool. But I think it would be too soft for stomach sleepers and most back sleepers. 

Though there's no research to support it, the prevailing wisdom is that firmer mattresses are better for back pain. My chronic back pain did not flare up at all while I was testing the Nova Hybrid. So, it could be a good option for back pain sufferers, but it's hard to say so check with your doctor for medical advice first.

What model should you get?

The right mattress size for you will depend on your bedroom, your build, and your sleeping partner's size. If you are small and sleep alone, the Twin might work. If you're on your own and taller, go with the Twin XL, and if you're bigger, try the Full. If you want extra room or you sleep with someone, a Queen, King, or Cal King will be ideal. The Queen should suffice for your average couple. Bigger couples might want to upgrade to a King or Cal King. My wife, dog, and I felt a little crowded on the Queen and usually sleep on a King.

What are your alternatives?

I've tested all of Casper's new mattresses, and the Nova Hybrid is my favorite. The Original Hybrid was runner up at $700 cheaper (for the Queen) and has a similar construction to the Nova, only it lacks the zoned support layer. If you're on a budget and pressure relief isn't a major concern, the Element is only about $600 for a Queen, though it isn't very dynamic in its support. 

And, if you are looking for non-Casper recommendations, give our guide to the best mattresses a gander. I thoroughly tested dozens of mattress models to come up with the recommendations in the guide.

Pros: Soft comfort ideal for side sleepers, excellent heat dissipation properties, great edge support, 100-night risk-free trial, 12 inches thick with four pressure-relieving foam layers and supportive coils, made with eco-friendly materials

Cons: Failed motion transfer tests, not ideal for back or stomach sleepers, never really got rid of new bed smell

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to trade away election uncertainty, plus recession-proof stocks

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 3:32pm  |  Clusterstock

Hello everyone! Welcome to this weekly roundup of Investing stories from deputy editor Joe Ciolli. Please subscribe here to get this newsletter in your inbox every week.

Dear Readers,

If your head is spinning ahead of the election because of all the conflicting investing guidance you've gotten, find comfort knowing you're not alone.

Depending on who you ask, a Joe Biden win — which is currently the odds-on outcome — will either help or torpedo stocks. It depends on whether you think the market will focus on the fiscal stimulus he'll presumably enact, or if traders will get hung up on the tax hikes he's expected to implement.

As these expectations around a Biden victory have been priced into markets, the so-called Blue Wave outcome has crystalized as Wall Street's base case. But once again, not everyone agrees. Some pundits argue that signals are flashing under the stock market's surface that a Blue Wave is becoming less certain, due to lingering tight odds in the Senate races.

So what on earth is an investor to do if they can't get a straight answer?

If you aren't yet a subscriber to Insider Investing, you can sign up here.

One option is to look straight past the election and focus on the medium-term V-shaped economic recovery that Morgan Stanley expects — even if a stimulus deal takes until 2021. The firm recently laid out five relatively election-agnostic trades it sees thriving going forward.

Nancy Tengler, the CIO of $750 million wealth management firm Laffer Tengler Investments, recommends a similar alternative. She doesn't see the equity bull market ending regardless of how the election pans out — so she's focused on picking the right stocks to ride the wave higher. Tengler shared with us her 12 highest-conviction selections.

For more, see below Business Insider's best Investing stories of the week, which include a wide array of additional recommendations, strategies, and tips for navigating uncertainty.

Thanks for reading!

-- Joe

Join Business Insider on Wednesday, October 21 at 2 p.m. ET and hear from three investment experts who will share their advice on how to navigate the election-season peak.

Topics will include: investing strategies for protecting your portfolio regardless of who wins the election, the individual sectors and stocks poised to benefit from distinct outcomes, and advice on how to navigate a contested result.

Register here.

7 thriving stock picks from investor who's grown her mutual fund 98,000% in 12 years

Lori Keith has established a 12-year track record of outsized returns at the Parnassus Mid-Cap Fund without investing in flashy, explosive growth names. That's helped her mutual fund grow from $6 million at the start of her tenure to just under $6 billion today.

Keith said she prioritizes quality, durability, and visibility — and gave seven examples of companies that illustrate what she looks for.

Read the full story here:

Lori Keith's mutual fund has grown 98,000% in 12 years by focusing on unflashy companies. She told us about 7 such stocks that thrived in the recession — and will likely do even better in the recovery.A stock that's soared 1,155% — and other assorted picks from a top investor

Jeff James is the lead portfolio manager of the $283.2 million Driehaus Micro Cap Growth fund and the $293.6 million Driehaus Small Cap Growth fund, which have returned 47% and 38% this year, respectively.

The 30-year investing veteran shared a micro-cap stock that has surged more than 1,000% so far in 2020, and another under-the-radar stock that he believes will have similarly "dramatic upside." James also laid out three COVID-induced small- and mid-cap opportunities in the technology sector.

Read the full story here:

Jeff James has crushed the market this year thanks to a stock pick that's soared 1,155%. He shares another bet he expects to deliver similar returns — and lays out 3 additional opportunities in tech.A 99th-percentile investor reveals her approach — and some stock picks

Nancy Zevenbergen — founder of Zevenbergen Capital Investments, which has about $5 billion in assets — has a knack for investing early in companies that see extraordinary growth.

She detailed for Business Insider her market-beating approach to investing, and shared four stocks she thinks could be the next market leaders.

Read the full story here:

Nancy Zevenbergen is in the top 1% of investors over the past 5 years. She breaks down what she looks for in young companies — and shares 4 stocks she thinks could be market leaders 10 years from now.Stock pick central

Seeking experts who are willing to name names? Look no further:

Chart of the week

The chart above shows just how fickle major-index dominance can be. Back in the halcyon days of 2000, firms like Exxon Mobil, GE, and Cisco were among the market's five biggest stocks. Fast-forward to today, when Microsoft is the lone holdover.

It's hard to imagine a future where firms like Apple, Facebook, and Alphabet aren't the biggest names in town — but that may well be the case. Goldman Sachs recently compiled a list of 21 possible index leaders for the future.

Click here for more detailsQuote of the week

"I would much rather buy a company and go to a desert island for five years knowing that a founder was leading it, because their vision and their passion would drive the company through ups and downs."

Nancy Zevenbergen — founder of Zevenbergen Capital Investments, which has about $5 billion in assets — discussing her preference for investing in founder-led companies

Read the original article on Business Insider

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