"Sky"s the limit" for machinists as WNY manufacturers struggle to find more

At 50 years old, Oswald Love moved from Jamaica to Buffalo and started a new career in machining......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsJun 23rd, 2022

How much RAM do you need? How to tell and when you should upgrade your computer storage

Ever wondered how much RAM you need? Here’s how you can tell and signs to look out for that you need to upgrade your RAM. How much RAM you need will depend on how you use your computer.PC Format Magazine/Getty Images Most users need about 8 GB of RAM, but to use several apps at once, you might need 16 GB or more. If you don't have enough RAM, your computer will run slowly and apps will lag. VRAM is located on your graphics card and stores temporary graphical data from apps and games. RAM, short for random access memory, is a vital component of your desktop or laptop computer, and even your smartphone or tablet.However, nearly every device has a different amount of RAM. And despite how important it is, tech manufacturers don't always make it easy to tell how much you'll need.Here's a guide to why RAM is important, how much you'll likely need, and whether it's worth it to add more RAM.RAM is an essential part of any computerIf you plan on multitasking on your computer — even if that just means having multiple apps open at once — then you're relying heavily on your system's RAM. Without adequate RAM, multitasking can slow your device down to a crawl.Livestreaming, which requires you to run multiple apps at once, takes a lot of RAM space.Emma Witman/InsiderYou can think of RAM as your device's short term memory. When you leave a program running in the background, RAM keeps track of where you left off, so you can switch back to it without waiting for it to load again. This goes for browser tabs too, which is great if you're the type to leave dozens of tabs open at once.This means that if you don't have enough RAM, your device will be frustratingly slow to respond when you try to switch tasks.How much RAM do you need?8 GB is the standard amount of RAM for your average desktop computer. Past that, many people go up to 16 GB, and occasionally users will go for 32 GB.RAM is contained inside "memory sticks" in your computer. When buying RAM, you'll see that these sticks come in various combinations — for example, if you're getting 16 GB, you can buy it in:One 16 GB stickTwo 8 GB sticksFour 4 GB sticksAnd so on. The combination you get doesn't really matter. You just need to make sure that it all fits into your computer case, and is compatible with the rest of your computer's parts.This Mac has 16 GB of RAM, split into two 8 GB sticks.Emma Witman/InsiderSo how much RAM do you need?8 GB RAMIf you spend most of your computer time composing Word documents and playing Solitaire, your PC probably doesn't need a significant amount of RAM. The standard 8 GB will do fine, as it can cover most of your basic computer needs. You'll even be able to open a couple of tabs in your browser without experiencing a huge hit on performance.Quick tip: If you like keeping dozens of programs open at all times, more RAM is key.If you like using design software, you might be able to get away with the less resource-demanding options like basic Blender or Photoshop projects. Your computer might struggle with something like Maya or Unreal Engine 5. And if you're into modern gaming, you can comfortably play a few titles, but shouldn't expect your PC to run Cyberpunk 2077 without a hitch since the recommended RAM is 12 GB.16 GB RAMTo meet the demands of modern software, 16 GB of RAM is what most people will need. This amount will help strike a good balance between running standing and resource-hungry apps on your computer. So if you're prone to opening lots of tabs in Google Chrome, you find that your computer will barely complain.Also, gamers will find that 16 GB meets the need to run demanding games on their highest settings (although other factors like graphics card and CPU speed play a role). It's also ideal for artists who'd work with Photoshop, Blender, and Adobe Premier professionals, but as the projects get more and more complex, they'll eventually need more RAM.32 GB RAMIf all you want to do is work with standard apps and on the internet and play games, then 32 GB is kind of too much. As mentioned 16 GB is more than suitable for most people and even gives some extra wiggle room to push their PC to the limit without running into significant bottlenecks.However, if you're a professional designer or editor whose projects tend to get complex, then 32 GB is ideal. For instance, if you're rendering 4K resolution videos or textures in Adobe Premiere or Photoshop, you'll need at least 32 GB RAM.Quick tip: If you're creating a high-quality 3D animation or game, you might even need more than 32 GB of RAM to be able to meet the demands of the software you're using.RAM on phones and tablets As far as phones and tablets go, there's been a race to the top recently when it comes to RAM. So although you reasonably only need 4 GB of RAM on your Android or iPhone, the standard for newly released smartphones is 8 GB. And unless you're really tech savvy, you can't upgrade your phone's RAM.What to do if you need more RAMRAM is one of the easiest parts of a PC to upgrade. It's simply a matter of identifying how much RAM you currently have, buying more, and putting it into the correct slot inside your case. Where exactly this slot is will depend on your motherboard.This motherboard is outfitted with four red G.SKILL RAM sticks.Emma Witman/InsiderThat is, if you're working with a desktop. Most modern laptops have their RAM sticks soldered in, so they can't be replaced without tearing out all the internal parts. If you want to upgrade the RAM on your laptop, you might be better off buying a new one, or sending it into a professional repair and upgrade shop.However, upgrading your RAM can come with diminishing returns. A jump from 8 GB to 16 GB will be pretty noticeable. Unless you're doing very intensive work, 16 GB to 32 GB probably won't give your system a big boost. And past 32 GB, any boost will likely be negligible.When you should get more RAMWhen your computer needs more RAM, you'll start to notice a few signs. Here a few you should look out for:Your computer warns you that it's running out of memory.The computer becomes sluggish or constantly crashes.Applications load more slowly, crash frequently, or take longer to respond.Installing an update takes longer than usual and hinders your productivity since you can't use the computer.Opening multiple apps takes a long time or is downright impossible.Tabs in browsers will constantly refresh or will not load fully.Tying in Word or Google Docs has a delayed response – words a appear on screen a second or more after typingWhat is VRAM?In addition to RAM, you also have VRAM, which stands for video RAM. VRAM is where graphically-demanding games and applications temporarily store the graphical information needed for rendering the next frame. This includes textures, images, meshes, and shaders.VRAM is found on your graphics card (GPU), and 8 GB is usually what you'll need for most gaming or design use cases. But if you can get 12 GB of VRAM, you're guaranteed to have plenty of headroom, especially if you're fond of maxing out graphical settings.Quick tip: Since VRAM is attached to your graphics card, you can't remove it when you need to upgrade and have to purchase a new GPU with more VRAM altogether.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMay 5th, 2022

The World Is Failing In Both Energy Affordability And Climate Goals

The World Is Failing In Both Energy Affordability And Climate Goals Authored by Alex Kimani via, Global energy investment is forecast to rise by 8 percent to $2.4 trillion this year. Investment in renewables is rising, but it’s nowhere near the levels necessary to limit global warming within a 1.5 degrees Celsius increase. IEA: Inflation has brought the first increases in the cost of renewables in a decade. U.S. shale spending remains far below 2019 levels in 2022. Global energy investment is on the rise and expected to grow by 8 percent annually this year, pushed up by record spending on clean energy, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its new report World Energy Investment 2022.   On the face of it, that’s great news for global energy supply and climate goals. But in reality, the rising trend is a function of galloping inflation, a deepening divide between developed and emerging economies’ investment trends, and an increase in coal investments as the biggest economies in Asia prioritize energy security amid soaring energy prices and upended energy markets following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “As things stand, today’s energy investment trends show a world falling short on climate goals, and on reliable and affordable energy,” the IEA itself admitted as much in its report. Inflation To Eat Up Nearly Half Of Investment Increase Global energy investment is forecast to rise by 8 percent to $2.4 trillion this year, with renewables and grid investments increasing at the fastest pace. Still, nearly half of the $200 billion increase in investment in 2022 is likely to be eaten up by higher costs rather than bringing additional energy supply capacity or savings. Costs are soaring amid supply chain pressures, tight labor, and energy services markets, and surging steel and cement prices, the Paris-based agency said. Inflation has also brought the first increases in the cost of renewables in a decade, and as capital-intensive technologies, renewables face a stronger impact from pressures affecting the cost of raw materials and financing than other forms of power generation, the IEA notes. “Renewable equipment manufacturers are passing on some of these pressures in their products, with increases in the cost of solar PV panels and wind turbines of 10-20% and attempts to renegotiate existing contracts, depending on the technology and region,” the agency said. Cost pressures could raise the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) from variable renewables by 20-30 percent this year compared to 2020. Nevertheless, the IEA says, investment in renewables remains attractive due to the role of clean energy in the energy transition, especially if backed by supportive government policies and incentives. Renewable Investment Is A Tale Of Two Worlds While renewables investment and capacity installations are continuously rising in developed economies and China, the developing and emerging economies are stuck at the same level of clean energy investment as in 2015, when the Paris Agreement was signed, the IEA’s estimates showed. Apart from some bright spots such as growth in wind and solar in Brazil and utility-scale renewables in India, the developing economies except China struggle to see renewable energy investment take off. Those major regional variations in clean energy investment “underline the risk of new dividing lines on energy and climate,” the IEA notes, adding that “overall, the relative weakness of clean energy investment across much of the developing world is one of the most worrying trends revealed by our analysis.” The cost of capital can be up to seven times higher in developing markets than in advanced economies. Moreover, in developing economies excluding China, public funds to back renewables are lacking, policy frameworks are often weak, economies are threatened by soaring inflation and increased poverty, and borrowing costs are rising. “Much more needs to be done to bridge the gap between emerging and developing economies’ one-fifth share of global clean energy investment, and their two-thirds share of the global population,” the IEA said.   Fossil Fuel Investment Caught Between Climate Goals And Energy Security Investment in renewables is rising, but it’s nowhere near the levels necessary to limit global warming within a 1.5 degrees Celsius increase. At the same time, investment in fossil fuels, including coal, is set to increase this year, undermining the global pathway to climate goals on the one hand, but still insufficient to meet rising global energy demand, on the other hand. “Overall, today’s oil and gas spending is caught between two visions of the future: it is too high for a pathway aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5 °C but not enough to satisfy rising demand in a scenario where governments stick with today’s policy settings and fail to deliver on their climate pledges,” the IEA said. Investment in new coal supply is rising amid energy security concerns. “High prices and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine mean that fuel supply investment is currently viewed through an energy security lens, but climate pressures cannot be put aside,” the IEA said. Investment in coal supply jumped by 10 percent last year, led by Asia, and is likely to rise by another 10 percent this year to reach $116 billion, which would be higher than the 2019 investment of $104 billion. In upstream oil and gas, investment is also set for a 10-percent rise this year, to $417 billion, but it lags the $500 billion investment in 2019, per the IEA’s estimates. Moreover, cost escalation is diminishing the impact of higher spending on activity levels. Only the national oil companies in the Middle Eastern oil exporters are set to spend more this year than in 2019, as Saudi Arabia and the UAE look to boost oil production capacity. Despite an expected increase of U.S. shale investments, the level of 2022 spending is still expected to be around 30 percent below 2019 levels, as operators focus on profitability and capital discipline rather than production expansion, the IEA noted.  In refining, the sector saw in 2021 the first net reduction in global capacity for the first time in 30 years, as near-record levels of capacity were retired in 2020 and 2021, contributing to the current tightness in global fuel markets. Investment in refining, however, is not certain going forward, the IEA says. “However, the strong financial performance and high utilisation rates seen in recent months may not necessarily translate into higher investment levels given lingering uncertainty around the long-term outlook for oil demand.” Tyler Durden Sat, 06/25/2022 - 18:30.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJun 25th, 2022

As Biden begs for gun control action, here are the measures Congress is working on, from raising the semiautomatic rifle purchase age to 21, to banning bump stocks

The House will soon vote on an expansive gun-safety package while a bipartisan group of Senators also negotiate on a deal. Speaker Nancy Pelosi also says there will be a hearing on legislation to ban "assault weapons." "Ghost guns" are displayed at the headquarters of the San Francisco Police Department in San Francisco, on Nov. 27, 2019.AP Photo/Haven Daley, File The House will soon vote on a package of gun safety bills called the "Protecting Our Children Act." One bill would raise the buying age for some firearms from 18 to 21. Senators are also negotiating.  The measures come as Biden begs Congress to finally act to control gun violence. The recent spate of deadly shootings has pushed Congress once again to try to take action on a host of gun-safety measures. The latest attempt at controlling America's gun violence comes as Biden begs Congress to finally act on it, including banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines, and "repealing the immunity" that protects gun manufacturers.The House will in the coming days vote on an expansive gun-control package called the "Protecting Our Children Act." And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also said there will soon be a hearing on legislation to ban "assault weapons." More limited bipartisan measures are under negotiation in the 50-50 Senate, where anti-gun-control Republicans are likely to block more aggressive action."Saving our children can and must be a unifying mission for our nation," Pelosi wrote in a letter Thursday to Democrats. "To all those in the Congress who would stand in the way of saving lives: your political survival is insignificant compared to the survival of our children."The action follows mass shootings last month that killed 10 mostly Black people in a racist rampage at a Buffalo, New York supermarket, and 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. On Wednesday, five people were killed on the campus of a Tulsa, Oklahoma hospital, including the gunman who shot himself."For Gods' sake, how much more carnage are we willing to accept?" Biden asked on Thursday in a speech delivered from the White House, singling out Republicans for blocking gun safety measures. "This time we must actually do something."House Democrats have already passed legislation to expand background checks for gun sales. The Senate has not taken up the legislation. The latest package of bills coming from the House also faces tough prospects in the evenly-divided Senate, but Democrats are still pushing them in part to put their Republican colleagues on the record for opposing gun safety measures."For the children we've lost, for the children we can save, for the nation we love, let's hear the call and the cry," Biden said. "Let's meet the moment. Let us finally do something."Here's a look at the measures under consideration and what's ahead:Raising the purchase age for semi-automatic rifles to 21The House will vote next week on the Protecting Our Children Act package, which would raise the purchasing age for semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21. The shooters in Buffalo and Uvalde were both 18 and acquired their guns legally."Don't tell me raising the age won't make a difference," Biden said in his Thursday speech.The bill would also limit access to high-capacity magazines and ban bump stocks for civilian use. Bump stocks use the recoil of a semiautomatic firearm to rapidly pull the trigger and mimic fully automatic firing. Purchases of ghost guns, or homemade guns that are assembled from parts, would be subjected to existing firearm regulations and new federal offenses would be established for gun trafficking and straw purchasers.Another measure in the package would create criminal penalties for violating requirements for the residential storage of firearms.'Red Flag' bill to remove firearms from people who pose a danger to themselves and othersThe House will also vote next week on the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, a  federal "Red Flag" legislation that would allow family members and law enforcement to seek a court order to temporarily remove access to firearms for those who pose a danger to themselves or others. It would also encourage states to enact their own "extreme risk" laws. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia currently have extreme risk protection orders in place.The legislation is proposed by Rep. Lucy McBath, a Georgia Democrat who lost her son to gun violence, and Rep. Salud Carbajal, a California Democrat, whose sister took her own life with a gun.Lindsey Graham, a former Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, introduced similar legislation in the past, saying "it seeks to balance the Second Amendment rights of the individual with concerns from law enforcement and family members about those who may be experiencing a mental health crisis."—Steny Hoyer (@LeaderHoyer) May 25, 2022 Creating an Amber-alert style notification for mass shootings In her letter to colleagues, Pelosi said the House will also consider legislation to create an "AMBER Alert-style notification" in the event of a mass shooting.This bill — dubbed the Active Shooter Alert Act — introduced by Reps. David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat, and Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, will be brought to the floor "in the weeks ahead," she said."I've talked to my law enforcement at home in Michigan and they support this," Upton said in a statement. "It's a way that they can be there to respond to the scene and get innocent people out of the area to safety.Rep. David N. Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrats speaks during a House Judiciary Committee mark up hearing on gun safety measures on June 02, 2022 in Washington, DC.Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images'Assault weapons' banPelosi said the House will "soon" hold a hearing on legislation to ban "assault weapons," or military-style weapons that Congress banned in 1994. Congress allowed the ban to expire a decade later, in 2004.Pelosi said the ban "was proven to save lives and one that the American people support today." During the time of the ban, some researchers have found, gun massacres dropped by as much 37% but rose by 183% in the decade after the prohibition expired.Senate negotiationsTwo overlapping bipartisan groups of senators are discussing measures that include red flag laws, expanding background checks, school safety measures, and mental health resources.Sen. Chris Murphy, the Connecticut Democrat who pleaded with his colleagues to do something after the Uvalde shooting, is at the helm of the negotiations. In a Fox News op-ed, Murphy, a leading gun-control advocate since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newton, Connecticut, wrote on Wednesday that he acknowledges that he will need to accept a smaller set of reforms than he would prefer to find common ground. "My desire is simple – to find a way for Republicans and Democrats to come together around a small but meaningful set of changes to our nation's gun laws, along with major investments in mental health, that will make it less likely that another Sandy Hook or Uvalde ever happens again," he wrote.Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has signaled he's willing to work with Democrats on gun safety legislation but has not said which measure he'd endorse.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 2nd, 2022

Biden says that America cannot fail to "act" on gun control after mass shootings: "This time we must actually do something"

Biden renewed his call for a federal assault weapons ban and to require someone to be 21 to buy an AR-15. President Joe BidenAP Photo/Evan Vucci Biden's address comes as America confronts yet another mass shooting, this time in Oklahoma. Senators are engaged in bipartisan talks about some limited legislation. But Washington has failed to act after repeated mass shootings, including after Sandy Hook. President Joe Biden on Thursday evening urged federal action to curb gun violence while outlining a list of policies he supports, a plea that comes as the nation confronts a series of mass shootings."After Columbine, after Sandy Hook, after Charleston, after Las Vegas, after Parkland, nothing has been done," Biden said during a rare prime-time address. "This time that can't be true. This time we must actually do something."Biden drilled into the specifics on policies that he would support. He listed several ideas he said should become law, including expanded background checks, requiring gun owners to safely store their firearms, a federal "red flag" law, and repealing the liability protections for gun manufacturers.Biden also renewed his call for a federal assault weapons ban that would include a limit on high-capacity magazines. He conceded that a renewed ban might fail, so he also re-upped his push for raising the age that anyone can legally purchase an AR-15 or similar style gun.The US has seen a devastating spurt of mass shootings in recent weeks. Ten Black people were targeted during a racist massacre at Buffalo supermarket on May 14. Just days later, 19 elementary school students and two teachers were gunned down in Uvalde, Texas. And then on Wednesday evening, at least four people were killed when a gunman opened fire on a Tulsa, Oklahoma, medical center.Democrats responded to the Buffalo and Uvalde shootings by pushing for federal action. Top Democrats have expressed cautious optimism about bipartisan talks while conceding that previous tragedies have failed to spur Congress to act.Until Thursday night, Biden had largely left it to lawmakers to figure out a path forward. Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who has made passing gun legislation one of the focuses of his career, has led his party's talks with Republican senators such as John Cornyn of Texas and Susan Collins of Maine.Biden himself has experienced this frustration firsthand. While he was vice president, President Barack Obama made him the point person on the federal response to the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting. But a bill to expand background checks failed on the Senate floor months later, a stinging defeat that Obama called a "pretty shameful day" after the vote. Their struggles were only exacerbated by the fact that four Democrats opposed the legislation.During the 2020 primary season, Biden repeatedly bragged about beating the National Rifle Association, a reference to his role in passing a sweeping 1994 crime bill that included a federal assault weapons ban. The ban expired during George W. Bush's administration and there is little chance that Congress could pass it again.Biden outlined that lawmakers are mostly focused on more limited measures like red flag laws, which generally allow for authorities to temporarily confiscate a person's firearms if they pose an immediate threat to themselves or others. Some Republicans Insider previously spoke to at the Capitol expressed openness to such legislation, but they stressed that it should be mainly left to individual states to act. Conservatives and gun rights groups have previously opposed some state red flag laws over concerns that there were not enough due process protections for gun owners.Any new law would effectively need 60 votes in the Senate to pass due to the chamber's filibuster. This means that Democrats must find at least 10 Republicans to back any measure.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 2nd, 2022

Russia"s raking in billions in oil revenue, but running out of buyers. Here are the ways the country could deal with its unwanted oil — and what it means for the energy market

The EU is about to ban Russian oil and traders everywhere are "self-sanctioning". The list of buyers is getting shorter, with just China at the top. Russia's oil export revenue soared 50% this year.Photo by Janos Kummer/Getty Images Russian oil producers are having to rely on a diminishing list of buyers to sell their output.  Lockdowns in China have depressed crude demand, while the EU is trying to ban imports of Russian oil.  An industry expert laid out three possible options Russia has to deal with the situation.  Russia may be reeling in billions in oil revenue, thanks to sky-high crude prices that are the direct result of Western sanctions, but its list of potential customers is shrinking and it's having to pin more and more of its hopes on top commodity importer China.The US placed a full embargo on Russian energy imports, while the UK will phase out its purchases of Russian fuel. The EU has banned imports of Russian coal, but is still trying to get all member countries to agree to a ban on the country's crude and refined products. The EU has been Russia's largest crude oil customer and accounted for about 3 million barrels per day of its roughly 7 million barrels a day in exports. But even before there was any talk of import bans, traders were already shunning Russian oil.Countries like India and China have stepped in to snap up Russia's oil at bargain prices, but in far smaller volumes. India, for instance, has purchased at least 40 million barrels of Russian crude since it invaded Ukraine, topping the amount it bought throughout 2021. But this is still only equal to around 450,000 barrels per day.China too, has typically been a big customer. The country's independent oil refiners have been quietly buying cheap crude. But while China is taking large amounts of Russian oil lately, its appetite isn't insatiable. Its traders are already importing 1 million barrels of seaborne Russian crude. And the country is still subject to a series of tough coronavirus lockdowns that have weighed on energy demand. And even if demand from China fully recovers, the two countries that would take in Russia's oil - India and China - would not make up for the loss of EU demand, Fernando Ferreira, a geopolitical risk analyst at Rapidan Energy Group told Insider. "China and India alone are not going to come to the rescue," he said. Find new buyers A short-term solution for Russia would be to find new markets. "They will try to find new buyers," Ferreira said. "They shifted a lot of their customer base from Europe to Asia and they've managed to offset all disruptions so far by selling more to India and China." But several Middle East exporters produce similar grades of crude to Russia's flagship Urals grade and they have first-mover advantage, he said.India, for instance, has long-term trade agreements and commercial and strategic relationships with Gulf countries that they would want to maintain. "That's going to limit how much oil they are going to take from Russia," Ferreira said. Shipping constraints would hinder Russia's ability to move more oil to Asia, he added, as more shipowners and insurers avoid handling Russian oil as a result of tighter restrictions from the EU, for starters. Cut, or store outputAnother viable option for Russia would be to cut production, or build more storage facilities. Russia already started slashing crude production last month due to lower domestic demand. The Kremlin stated that it sees output falling as much as 17% this year, from around 11 million barrels per day. "Some of that [demand] may recover somewhat this month. We're seeing refineries trying to offset the drop in production but in the long-term, there is not a whole lot of sustainable solutions other than finding new buyers and they'll struggle with that," Ferreira said. "The best-case scenario is that India and China and other countries really just step up and absorb all of the disrupted Russian barrels, he said." It would be more of a dislocation than a disruption, he added. "The worst-case scenario, I think, would be something along the lines of, Chinese demand will recover and at the same time, you're going to see growing pressure on imports from Russia," Ferreira said. The Russian government in April said it was considering building storage facilities for 700 million barrels of oil — equal to around 70 days of global consumption, Reuters reported.Ferreira said oil prices "may be pretty close to the peak already." But there's still a possibility of a shortfall of 2 million barrels of oil a day if Russia can't find new customers, he said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMay 29th, 2022

The 15 best Wordle alternatives, from Heardle to Quordle to Squirdle

There are dozens of Wordle alternatives out there that make you guess to find a daily answer, like Heardle, Redactle, Cloudle, and Quordle. Wordle isn't the only daily guessing game out there.NurPhoto/Getty Images There are dozens of Wordle alternatives out there that make you guess to find a daily answer. Some of our favorites include Heardle, Redactle, Cloudle, and Quordle. Here are 15 Wordle alternatives that you can play every day — or for some, whenever you want. Within the span of a few months, Wordle has gone from a niche language game to an international sensation. But if you've already solved today's Wordle and are looking for a new challenge, don't worry — there's a whole world of Wordle clones and alternatives you can play each day.Here are 15 of our favorite Wordle-like games, including some that you can play offline.Hello WordlOne of the first Wordle clones to hit the internet, Hello Wordl plays just like the original. The biggest difference, though, is that it's not once-per-day — there are hundreds of available words, and as soon as you finish one game, you can restart with a new word to guess.As a bonus, you can choose how long you want the word to be. Using the slider at the top, you can set the word to be anywhere from four letters long to 11 letters long. Each length setting has its own dictionary of possible answers.If you can't get enough of Wordle, this is the game for you.Hello Wordl puzzles can range from four to 11 letters.Hello Wordl/ChordbugHeardleConsider yourself a music buff? Then check out Heardle, the game that asks you to guess the right song every day. When you start, you get to listen to the first second of the song. Each time you guess incorrectly or press the skip button, you'll get to hear a few seconds more. By the last guess, you'll be given the first 16 seconds.You've got six guesses to get it right, just like Wordle. But aside from the music, you're not given any hints or information — either you know the song or you don't.And if you're more familiar with video game soundtracks, you might like Videogame Heardle. It works just like Heardle, but all the music comes from popular games instead.QuordleIf one Wordle isn't enough, how about four? Quordle makes you play four different games of Wordle at once, each with a different answer. Every guess you make counts for all four games. Unlike the original though, you have eight guesses instead of six.Quordle has two game modes: Daily, which gives you one puzzle each day; and Practice, which lets you play for as long as you want.Try solving each puzzle one-by-one.Quordle/Freddie MeyerFramedBuilt for the more visual minded among us, Framed gives you still frames from a movie and asks you to guess what movie it is. You've got six guesses, and each guess earns you a new screenshot.The movie and screenshots change every day. If the only movies you know are blockbusters, you might struggle with this one — Framed isn't afraid to pick more obscure titles.Le Mot and Un Juego de Palabras DiarioWhile English might be the most spoken language in the world, it's certainly not the only one. So when Wordle erupted in popularity, it only made sense to adapt it into other languages.While there are dozens of language-specific Wordle clones, the two that we've played are Le Mot (French) and Un Juego de Palabras Diario (Spanish). Both work exactly like Wordle, just with a different dictionary.Other translated Wordle clones include AlWird (Arabic), Вордли (Russian), and Zidou (Cantonese). No matter your native tongue, you can probably find a version of Wordle that works for you.Globle and WorldleKeeping with the international theme, both Globle and Worldle ask you to find the right country every day. Once you guess, you'll be told how far away your guess is from the right answer. Use these clues to pinpoint the right spot on the map. Worldle also gives you the outline of the country you're looking for, which can make things easier for players who know their borders.Worldle gives you the distance and direction to your target country.Worldle/TeuteufSemantleWant to really test your vocabulary skills? Check out Semantle. This game asks you to find a hidden word, but instead of being told what letters are in it, you're only told how "semantically similar" your guess is to the right answer — in other words, how similar the words are in meaning.Every word is scored on a scale of negative 100 to positive 100. The lower your guess' score, the less related it is to the right answer. There's no limit to how many times you can guess, and an average game can take over a hundred guesses.If you're stuck, you can click the Hint button, and the game will reveal a word that's closer in meaning than any you've guessed so far. And if you're seriously stumped, you can just click Give Up to find the answer instantly.Squirdle, SWordle, and other fandom versionsThe English language has a lot of words — and that's not even counting the ones made up for franchises like Star Wars, like "Wookie" or "Jedi."There are plenty of Wordle clones that mix the guessing game format with all sorts of fandoms. Here are some of our favorites:Squirdle asks you to guess the right Pokemon from the ever-growing list of over 900. With every Pokemon you guess, you'll be told whether the right monster is newer or older; heavier or lighter; smaller or bigger; and whether you guessed the right type combination. You've got eight guesses to strike gold (or a Goldeen).YGOrdle gives you ten tries to guess the right Monster Card from the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game. As of this writing, there are more than 7,000 Monster Cards out there, so even the most experienced duelists might struggle with this one.SWordle takes Wordle to a galaxy far, far away. You've got six tries to guess the Star Wars-related word. These answers can get obscure, so read up on your Skywalker lore.If you've got a fandom you love, ask Google for a Wordle clone that fits your interests. There's a good chance that you'll find it.Squirdle isn't once-per-day, so you never have to stop playing.Squirdle/Sergio Morales EsquivelCloudleThe developers of Cloudle give their game a pretty simple description: "Look, it's Wordle, but for the weather."Cloudle asks you to guess the five-day forecast for a random city on Earth. You've got six guesses, and nine different weather conditions to assign to each day. You don't need to be a meteorologist to master this one, but it certainly helps.RedactleIf you love the Wikipedia Game, you'll get a kick out of Redactle. Every day, Redactle finds and massively censors a Wikipedia article (chosen from a list of about 10,000). It's your job to guess the words that have been censored, and use the blacked-out text to figure out what article you're reading.Just like Semantle, there's no limit to how many times you can guess. And trust us: You'll need a lot of guesses.Mastermind and JottoWant to take your Wordle obsessions offline? Then check out the games that Wordle is based on: Mastermind and Jotto.Mastermind (also sometimes called "Hit and Blow") is a two-player strategy game involving pegs that come in six different colors. One player (the Codemaker) places the pegs in a secret order, and the other player uses their own pegs to guess what order the Codemaker placed theirs in. With every guess, the Codemaker tells their opponent which pegs they placed correctly and which ones are wrong.Jotto is even closer. Each player picks a secret five-letter word, and the players take turns trying to guess each other's word. With every guess, the player gets a score from zero to five, telling them how many of the letters they guessed appear in the word.Pressman Toys makes Mastermind sets and actively sells them in stores and online. Jotto doesn't use any special equipment to play —  all you need is a pencil and a sheet of paper.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 11th, 2022

Adam Kinzinger Executes Neocon Vision For Ukraine

Adam Kinzinger Executes Neocon Vision For Ukraine Authored by Patrick Macfarlane via The Libertarian Institute, As the war in Ukraine approaches its tenth week, the steady flow of ominous headlines has grown to a floodwater deluge. Dissenting observers are made to watch, seemingly helpless, as the broader levy of sanity threatens to break, unleashing a torrent of death and destruction across Eastern Europe, and likely, the globe. Leading the bad news cycle, on Sunday, May 1, Congressman Adam Kinzinger proposed a new Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF) in the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation, if passed, would allow President Joe Biden to deploy American forces to restore "the territorial integrity of Ukraine" in the event that Russia uses chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. When Kinzinger announced the legislation on Meet the Press, he stated that he "doesn’t think we need to be using force in Ukraine right now." However, as opinion editor Kyle Anzalone ominously noted, in 2002, then-Senator Joe Biden similarly downplayed the danger of war before voting for the 2002 AUMF—under which President George W. Bush later prosecuted the invasion of Iraq. If bad Ukraine policy amounts to a downpour, Rep. Adam Kinzinger has been performing a rain dance for years now. Kinzinger was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010. In March 2014, while sitting on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Kinzinger pledged that the House would back the Obama administration’s efforts in Ukraine. Further, he stated the House would consider legislation calling for increased aid to Ukraine, up to and including adding Georgia and Ukraine into NATO. Kinzinger’s pledge came soon after the conclusion of the 2014 Euromaidan Coup, where the US State Department played an instrumental role in ousting then-president Viktor Yanukovych. By April, 2014, Ukraine would launch a civil war against pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. In 2016 Kinzinger co-authored H.R. 5094, the Stability and Democracy for Ukraine Act (the STAND for Ukraine Act). On September 21, 2016, the STAND for Ukraine Act passed the U.S. House unanimously by voice vote. It was engineered to "contain, reverse, and deter Russian aggression in Ukraine, to support the sovereignty of Crimea against Russia’s illegal annexation, and to ultimately assist Ukraine’s democratic transition." The STAND for Ukraine Act cemented sanctions as a permanent fixture of American policy by making it "effectively…impossible to remove certain anti-Russian sanctions unless Crimea is returned to Ukraine." Since Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Kinzinger has repeatedly pushed to escalate a situation that his policy helped to create. On March 3, 2022, he publicly called for a "no-fly zone" over Ukraine to “prevent Russian air attacks.” If enforced, a no-fly zone in Ukraine would see U.S. forces shooting down Russian planes and even attacking targets in Russia. Kinzinger’s corresponding press release cited his experience piloting an intelligence aircraft in Iraq as being some sort of qualification for such a daft and dangerous proposition: Representative Kinzinger understands what being a hero means…Maybe Congress and President Joe Biden should listen to him. Kinzinger thinks that war with Russia might be inevitable. We would have the advantage now when few people would die. It looks as if we will find out. Kinzinger likely wouldn’t state his true credentials for pushing such maniacal Ukrainian policy. Indeed, through his years advocating—near universally—for an aggressive U.S. foreign policy, Kinzinger has been immersed in the neoconservative think-tank circuit. George W. Bush just met with Zelensky over Zoom. He might as well. Most US politicians today sound indistinguishable from Bush circa early 2000s, with their newfound "freedom agenda"-style rhetoric — Michael Tracey (@mtracey) May 5, 2022 On March 24, 2014, Kinzinger joined the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) for a panel discussion involving arch-neoconservative Fredrick Kagan. During the panel, Kinzinger "underlined the…potential dangers associated with leaving [Afghanistan]" in the wake of the Karzai government. For all the seven years of U.S. support for the Kabul government between Kinzinger’s 2014 panel appearance at AEI and his April 15, 2021 reprisal, the withdrawal had the same predictable result. In a matter of weeks, the Afghan National Army washed away like water breaking upon stone. The Kabul government disintegrated with it. In 2022, nearly nine months after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the "potential dangers" Kinzinger foretold have failed to materialize—at least for the American public. Instead, Afghanistan has vanished from the U.S. news cycle. The AEI, who so loudly virtue-signaled for the rights of Afghanistan women, is now silent about the consequences of the twenty-year U.S. war there—except to the extent that it could be used to justify even further intervention. Beyond AEI, on May 26, 2016, Kinzinger attended an event hosted by the ultra-neoconservative Foreign Policy Initiative and The Hudson Institute. He stated: Our involvement in NATO is not because we just want to defend Europe out of the goodness of our heart, but because without NATO we never would have been able to drop the Iron Curtain and bring freedom to millions of people and make us safer…Are there challenges? Of course. But that needs to be done in the context of "how do we get NATO reengaged" versus "let’s just get out of the rest of the world. That’s a narcissistic foreign policy." The Foreign Policy Initiative was founded in 2009 by Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol and Brooking’s Institute Fellow Robert Kagan. In the 1990s, Kristol and Kagan founded the now-infamous Project for a New American Century are largely credited as being architects of the Global War on Terrorism. Robert Kagan’s wife, Victoria Nuland, served as assistant secretary of state during the 2014 Euromaidan Coup in Ukraine. In a leaked phone call with the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Nuland lamented the European Union’s decision to limit its involvement. She then stated “Yats is the guy, he’s got the economic experience,” referring to opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk. The first prime minister of the post-Madian interim government was none other than Arseniy Yatsenyuk. The Hudson Institute is: part of a closely-knit group of neoconservative institutes that champion aggressive, Israel-centric U.S. foreign policies. Founded in 1961 by several dyed-in-the-wool Cold Warriors, including Herman Kahn–a one-time RAND nuclear war theorist notorious for his efforts to develop “winnable” nuclear war strategies [emphasis added]. Kinzinger has also spoken at the Atlantic Council, a think tank that has long pushed increasing confrontation between the US and Russia over Ukraine. It is funded, to the tune of millions, by weapons manufacturers, the UAE, the Rockefeller Foundation, Goldman Sachs, Facebook, JP Morgan–Chase, and Palantir. While it is unclear exactly how much influence the above-named think tanks have had on Kinzinger’s policy positions, it is clear that Kinzinger has played a starring role in escalating diplomatic tensions between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine. Just as in the Global War on Terror, this time with Kinzinger as their thrall, the same ghouls slither forth from their crypts for another orgy of death. Is our best hope another twenty-year, society-eating slog? Or will the NeoConservatives’ Ukrainian denouement detonate a flash ending? Tyler Durden Fri, 05/06/2022 - 23:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMay 6th, 2022

Why Biden"s confrontation of Putin has barely moved his low polling with Americans

The historic "rally 'round the flag effect" won't save Biden's sagging approval ratings, experts tell Insider. President Joe Biden at the emergency G7 meeting in Brussels last month.Doug Mills /Pool/AFP/Getty President Biden hasn't received a Ukraine-related polling bump, despite approval of his leadership. Experts tell Insider they don't expect that to change anytime. Rather, this is yet another example of the decline of the "rally round the flag effect." Americans know there's a war going on. They just aren't flocking to their commander-in-chief. From the Cuban Missile Crisis to the aftermath of 9/11, American politics used to have a consistent pattern in presidential approval known as the "rally 'round the flag effect." But experts say President Joe Biden shouldn't expect his leadership of the West's response to Ukraine to rescue his sagging poll numbers anytime soon."It's not like the war in Ukraine isn't happening, it's just not impacting his standing with Americans," Lee Miringoff,  director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, told Insider.Biden's approval crashed last summer during a chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal and later a surge in COVID-19 cases. According to FiveThirtyEight's weighted tracker, Biden remains underwater by roughly 12 percentage points. His disastrous standing only adds to the fears Democrats have about the November elections where they could lose their already-slim control of Congress.In the latest Marist College poll conducted late March, just 39% of respondents approved of Biden's job performance. The Marist poll might be one of the few exceptions to whether Biden has received any sort of bump since Russia unleashed the worst war in Europe since WWII on February 24. The March 7 Marist poll showed Biden with a 47% approval rating, his highest since September 2021.Miringoff attributed that very short bump and then return to the status quo to Democrats "coming home and then wandering off again" after the State of the Union and the initial days of Russia's war.While Biden initially received higher marks for his handling of Ukraine, that too might be starting to dissipate. A recent NPR /Ipsos poll found that most Americans don't like his response. The Washington Post reported that Republican criticism of Biden's Ukraine policy has also weakened the chance of a bump.It wasn't always like this. Presidents from across the aisle have benefited from past "rally 'round the flag" bumps.President George W. Bush's approval soared 35-percentage points after 9/11, the largest and eventually the longest-sustained bump on record. His father, President George H.W. Bush, experienced first-hand how the sugar high of a rally round the flag effect can fall off quickly as an 18-point post-Gulf War bump gave way to a bruising election defeat just months later. Americans even rallied around President John F. Kennedy after the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion debacle.  Political scientist John Mueller pioneered the study of the "rally 'round the flag" effect in the 1970s. Mueller observed that such a bump must feature three characteristics: it's international, involves the United States, "particularly the president directly," and must be "specific, dramatic, and sharply focused." But in recent years, the crisis-related boosts have faded even more quickly and occurred far less often. President Donald Trump experienced that as other world leaders saw their approval ratings rise in the early months of the pandemic. One reason for the change, experts say, is that intense distrust between Democrats and Republicans has spawned an era of negative partisanship where presidents receive little crossover support. "In a hyperpartisan period that we find ourselves increasingly in, there's less on the table," Miringoff said. "It's about mobilizing your base, it's not about persuading people."Trump is a perfect study of such an outcome. He reaped part of the benefits of that intense loyalty as Republican voters largely stuck by him through two impeachments, a pandemic, and the churn of near-constant controversy."You think about the Trump presidency and all the controversies that he was involved in and people kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and for his approval to decline and it didn't really bottom out," Jeff Jones, senior editor at analytics firm Gallup, told Insider. "Republicans never really abandoned him regardless of what he did."It's still the economyHouse Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy talks to reporters about inflation during a March 18 news conference.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImagesThe economy and consumer sentiment continue to keep Biden's approval numbers bogged down. Republicans have also made clear that they will make inflation — a concern that also speaks even more to their base — a major issue leading into the midterm elections in November."There's no doubt … when it comes to the economy versus Ukraine, in terms of what's on people's minds, the economy is more paramount," Miringoff said. "He's getting very little in terms of what he's been handling probably the best."Despite many of the fundamentals showing a strong economic recovery from the depths of the pandemic, consumer confidence is at its lowest point in 11 years and inflation is at its highest in 40 years.While the American troop withdrawal from Afghanistan is when the Biden honeymoon period ended, his steady decline starting in the summer of 2021 has largely been correlated with how voters feel about the economy as well as his administration's pandemic response. Independent voters have been a leading indicator on this front, with their approval of Biden's job performance generally keeping in line with their assessment of the economy and the pandemic. While the economy and the pandemic have been intertwined from the outset in March 2020, inflation has become Biden's biggest problem.Morning Consult, a Washington-based research firm, has tracked Biden's performance among independents and his handling of the economy. His problem with independents began to emerge in August 2021, when 51% of people polled disapproved of how he was handling the economy.In the latest Morning Consult/Politico poll from March, Biden's approval rating among those who said the economy is their number one issue sat at just 37%. Only 31% of independent voters with no partisan lean said they either strongly or somewhat approve of the job Biden is doing as president.With inflation at its highest point in four decades, former Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter are comparable examples of how the issue can put a significant dent in a president's approval ratings and limit their tenure to just one term.The lack of rally moments could foretell a very different presidency in the future. In an era of cord-cutting, news silos, and intense partisanship Biden and his successors are likely to have even fewer opportunities to rally the broader American public behind them.It also means an underwater president like Biden will struggle even more to survive the historical current of midterm elections that in recent years have become searing referendums on the party holding power in Washington."Absent a rally event, and I'm not sure rally events are really that possible anymore, I wouldn't expect his approval to change between now and November," Jones said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 6th, 2022

8 Top CEOs Give Their Predictions for the Wild Year Ahead

(To receive weekly emails of conversations with the world’s top CEOs and business decisionmakers, click here.) Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, business leaders are heading into 2022 facing the strong headwinds of the Omicron variant, continued pressure on supply chains, and the great resignation looming over the labor market. TIME asked top leaders… (To receive weekly emails of conversations with the world’s top CEOs and business decisionmakers, click here.) Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, business leaders are heading into 2022 facing the strong headwinds of the Omicron variant, continued pressure on supply chains, and the great resignation looming over the labor market. TIME asked top leaders from across the world of business to share their priorities and expectations for the year ahead. Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, wants to leverage the advances his pharmaceutical company has made in fighting COVID-19 to tackle other diseases, while Rosalind “Roz” Brewer, CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance, has made improving access to healthcare one of her goals over the next year. GoFundMe CEO Tim Cadogan says building trust will be at the heart of decision-making at the crowdfunding platform—both with workers and its wider community. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Innovation is key to Intel CEO Patrick P. Gelsinger and Forerunner Ventures founder and managing partner Kirsten Green. And Rothy’s CEO Stephen Hawthornthwaite, Albemarle CEO Kent Masters, and Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, shared their suggestions for how companies and policymakers can respond to persistent supply chains problems. Read on to see how some of the most powerful people in business envision the coming year. (These answers have been condensed and edited for clarity.) What are the biggest opportunities and challenges you expect in the year ahead? Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer: The scientific advancements made by Pfizer and others over the past year have brought us very powerful tools to battle the worst pandemic of our lives. But, unfortunately, we don’t see everyone using them. I am concerned about the limited infrastructure and resources in the poorest countries as they struggle to administer their supply of COVID-19 vaccines to their people. Some of these countries have asked us to pause our deliveries of doses while they work to address these issues. While I am proud of the work Pfizer has done to make vaccines available to low- and lower middle-income countries over the past year, we need to find new ways to support the World Health Organization as they work with NGOs and governments to address these infrastructure issues. Getty ImagesAlbert Bourla, CEO, Pfizer Over the next year I’d like us to help find solutions to issues like the shortage of medical professionals, vaccine hesitancy due to limited educational campaigns, lack of equipment and even roads to allow timely delivery of vaccines. Throughout every chapter of this pandemic, we have been reminded of the importance of collaboration and innovative thinking. We need to work harder than ever before to address these health inequities so that people around the globe are protected from the virus. Pat Gelsinger, CEO of Intel: Throughout the history of technology, we’ve seen the pendulum swinging between centralized and decentralized computing. And there is still a tremendous untapped opportunity in edge computing as we bring greater intelligence to devices such as sensors and cameras in everything from our cars to manufacturing to the smart grid. Edge computing will not replace cloud; we’re swinging back to where decentralized compute becomes the primary growth for new workloads because the inference and AI analysis will take place at the edge. Technology has the power to improve the lives of every person on earth and Intel plays a foundational role within. We aim to lead in the opportunity for every category in which we compete. Roz Brewer, CEO of Walgreens: The pandemic affirmed Walgreens as a trusted neighborhood health destination to help our customers and patients manage their health. We provide essential care to our communities, including administering more than 50 million COVID-19 vaccines as of early December 2021. The opportunity ahead of us at Walgreens Health—our new segment launched this past fall—is to create better outcomes for both consumers and partners, while lowering costs across the care continuum. A year from now I want to look back on this time as an inflection point and a moment in time where real, lasting change happened—that we will all have collectively banded together to get through the pandemic and at the same time delivered real change toward improving accessible and affordable healthcare. I feel inspired and hopeful that some good will come out of this very difficult time in our country and the world’s history. Jason Redmond—AFP/Getty ImagesRosalind Brewer, CEO of Walgreens, speaks in Seattle, Washington on Mar. 20, 2019. Tim Cadogan, CEO of GoFundMe: We’re going to see continued disruption in the world and the workplace in 2022—this will require more people to come together to help each other. Our opportunity is to use our voice and platform to bring more people together to help each other with all aspects of their lives. Asking for help is hard but coming together to help each other is one of the most important and rewarding things we can do in life. We are continuously improving our product to make it easier for more people to both ask for and give help, whether it’s helping an individual fulfill a dream, working on a global cause like climate change, or supporting a family during a difficult time. Kirsten Green, founder and managing partner of Forerunner Ventures: We are nearly two years into the pandemic, and it is still ongoing. We must embrace this new normal and figure out how to make that reality work for our businesses, our consumers, and our people. Thankfully, we often see innovation come out of these periods of change and fluctuation. At the same time, it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that the world has evolved, and it is still important to understand that the ‘reset’ button just got hit for a lot of people. Values, goals, and core needs are being reevaluated and reestablished, and we as a society need to figure out how to move forward during a volatile period. Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles: Our industry needs to help drive the American economic recovery amid the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The top priority remains getting goods to American consumers and creating a more fluid supply chain. We also need to address the growing trade imbalance. Imports are at all-time highs while U.S. exports have declined nearly 40% over the past three years in Los Angeles. We have to help American manufacturers and farmers get their products to global markets. With the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, our team is working to get our fair share of federal funds to accelerate projects to improve rail infrastructure, local highways and support facilities. The Port of Los Angeles is the nation’s primary trade gateway, yet east and gulf coast ports have received most of the federal funding in the past decade. The best return on port infrastructure investment is in Los Angeles, where the cargo we handle reaches every corner of the country. Kent Masters, CEO of Albemarle: Challenges will likely continue to include competition for top talent, supply chain disruptions due to possible pandemic impacts to raw material availability and logistics, and potential inflation impacts to material and freight costs, all of which we’re monitoring closely so we can respond quickly. With the global EV market growing rapidly, we have a tremendous opportunity ahead of us for years to come. Next year, we’ll advance our lithium business through new capacity ramp-ups in Chile, Australia and China, and restart the MARBL Lithium Wodgina hard rock resource in Australia to help feed our new conversion assets and meet customer needs. We’re also keenly focused on organizational goal alignment and continuous improvement to drive greater productivity through our global workforce next year. What do you expect to happen to supply chains in 2022? Gelsinger: The unprecedented global demand for semiconductors—combined with the impact of the global pandemic—has led to an industry-wide shortage, which is impacting technology providers across the industry. Intel is aggressively stepping in to address these issues and build out more capacity and supply around the globe for a more balanced and stable supply, but it will take time and strong public-private partnerships to achieve. Read more: From Cars to Toasters, America’s Semiconductor Shortage Is Wreaking Havoc on Our Lives. Can We Fix It? Brewer: We learned a lot over the past two years and companies are taking action with investments in capacity, resiliency and agility for supply chains across the world. We will continue finding creative ways to increase manufacturing and shipping capacity. Manufacturers will continue expanding capacity and increasing the diversity in their supplier base to reduce reliance of single sourcing. Companies will continue to invest to increase resiliency through expanded inventory positions, extended planning horizons and lead-times, and increased agility in manufacturing and logistics capabilities to fulfill customer needs. As the marketplace changes, we must be agile and adapt quickly as we respond to shifts in consumer behavior. Investments in technology, such as real time supply chain visibility and predictive/prescriptive analytics, will enable companies to deliver the speed and precision expected by today’s consumer. Seroka: Goods and products will get to market. The maritime logistics industry must raise the bar and make advances on service levels for both our import and export customers. Retailers will be replenishing their inventories in the second quarter of the year. And by summer, several months earlier than usual, we’ll see savvy retailers bringing in products for back to school, fall fashion and the winter holidays. Despite the challenges, retail sales reached new highs in 2021. Collectively, supply chains partners need to step up further to improve fluidity and reliability. Stephen Hawthornthwaite, CEO of Rothy’s: In 2022, pressure from consumers for transparency around manufacturing and production, coupled with pandemic learnings about existing supply chain constraints, will push businesses to condense their supply chains and bring in-house where possible. I also predict that more brands will test make-to-demand models to better weather demand volatility and avoid supply surpluses—a benefit for businesses, consumers and the planet. Nimbleness and a willingness to innovate will be crucial for brands who wish to meet the demands of a post-pandemic world. At Rothy’s, we’ve built a vertically integrated model and wholly-owned factory, enabling us to better navigate the challenges that production and logistics present and unlock the full potential of sustainability and circularity. Courtesy of Rothy’sStephen Hawthornthwaite, chairman and CEO, Rothy’s Green: The pandemic crystallized what a lot of us knew to be true, but hadn’t yet evaluated: There’s not nearly as much innovation in the supply chain as a flexible world is going to need. What we’re seeing now is a giant wake-up call to the entire commerce ecosystem. This is more than a rallying cry; it’s a mandate to reevaluate how we’re managing our production processes, and 2022 will be the start of change. Expect a massive overhaul of the system, and expect to see more investment building innovation, efficiency, and sustainability into the supply chain space. Read more: How American Shoppers Broke the Supply Chain Masters: As the pandemic continues with new variants, we expect global supply chain issues to persist in 2022. To what degree remains to be seen, but I would expect impacts to some raw materials, freight costs, and even energy costs. On a positive note, we can successfully meet our customer obligations largely because of our vertically integrated capabilities. This helps us continue to be a reliable source of lithium, as well as bromine. Worldwide logistics issues are a factor, but more marginal in the supply question when the determining factor is the ability to convert feedstock to product and bolster the supply chain. In lithium, we have active conversion facilities running at full capacity now. As we bring more capacity online (La Negra III/IV, Kemerton I/II, Silver Peak expansion, and our Tianyuan acquisition in China) while making more efficient use of our feedstocks, it will help strengthen the global supply chain. How will the labor market evolve and what changes should workers expect in the coming year? Brewer: The labor market will continue to be competitive in 2022. I often say to my team: as an employer, it’s not about the products we make, it’s not about our brand. It’s about how are we going to motivate team members to feel good about themselves, fulfilled and passionate about their work, to contribute at their highest level of performance. How do we create a culture that means Walgreens Boots Alliance is the best place to work—so our team members say, “Yes, pay me for the work that I do, but help me love my job.” In the coming year and beyond, broadly across the market, we will see that managers will continue to become even more empathetic and listen more actively to their team members as people. Workers will expect that employers and their managers accept who they are as their whole, authentic selves, both personally and professionally. Read more: The ‘Great Resignation’ Is Finally Getting Companies to Take Burnout Seriously. Is It Enough? Gelsinger: Our employees are our future and our most important asset, and we’ve already announced a significant investment in our people for next year. As I’ve said, sometimes it takes a decade to make a week of progress; sometimes a week gives you a decade of progress. As I look to 2022, navigating a company at the heart of many of the pandemic-related challenges, we must all carefully consider what shifts are underway and what changes are yet to come. It will continue to be a competitive market and I expect you’ll continue to see companies establish unique benefits and incentives to attract and retain talent. We expect the “hybrid” mode that’s developed over the past years to become the standard working model going forward. Al Drago/Bloomberg—Getty ImagesPatrick Gelsinger, chief executive officer of Intel Corp., speaks during an interview at an Economic Club of Washington event in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Dec. 9, 2021. Bourla: The past couple of years have challenged our workforce in ways that we never would have imagined. Companies have asked employees to demonstrate exceptional flexibility, commitment, courage and ingenuity over the past two years—and they have risen to the challenge. I predict that we are likely to see an increase in salaries in the coming year due to inflation—and I believe this is a good thing for workers, as it will help close the gap in income inequality. That said, financial rewards are no longer the only thing that employees expect from their employers. Increasingly, people want to work for a company with a strong culture and a defined purpose. As such, companies will need to foster and promote a culture in which employees feel respected and valued for their contributions and made to feel that they are integral to furthering the purpose of their company. Businesses that are able to create such a culture will not only be able to attract the best talent, but also maximize the engagement, creativity and productivity of their people by enabling them to bring their best selves to every challenge. Green: For many years, Forerunner has been saying, “It’s good to be a consumer. Consumers want what they want, when they want it, how they want it, and they’re getting it.” That same evolution of thought has now moved into the labor market: It’s a worker’s market, not a company’s market, and the relationship between the worker and the employer needs to evolve because of that. Workers should expect to get more flexibility, respect, benefits, and pay in some cases—but they still need to show up and deliver impact at work. It’s a two-way street, and we need to tap into a broader cultural work ethic. As a society, we need to be more holistic in our approach to meeting both company and worker needs. Read more: The Pandemic Revealed How Much We Hate Our Jobs. Now We Have a Chance to Reinvent Work Seroka: There’s a need for more truck drivers and warehouse workers in southern California. President Biden’s new Trucking Action Plan funds trucker apprentice programs and recruit U.S. military veterans. It’s an important step forward to attract, recruit and retain workers. Private industry needs to look at improved compensation and benefits for both truckers and warehouse workers. We need to bring a sense of pride and professionalism back to these jobs. On the docks, the contract between longshore workers and the employer’s association expires June 30. Both sides will be hard at work to negotiate and reach an agreement that benefits the workers and companies while keeping cargo flowing for the American economy. Courtesy Port of Los AngelesGene Seroka, executive director, Port of Los Angeles. Masters: I think there will still be a fight for talent next year. It’s a tight labor market overall and Covid-19 restrictions are a challenge in some regions. Albemarle has a really attractive growth story and profile, especially for workers interested in combatting climate change by contributing in a meaningful way to the clean energy transition. We are embracing a flexible work environment, much like other companies are doing, and upgrading some benefits to remain an employer of choice in attracting and retaining the best people on our growth journey. And, of course, we should all expect pandemic protocols to continue next year to ensure everyone’s health and safety. How do you see your role as a leader evolving over the coming year? Bourla: We are entering a golden age of scientific discovery fueled by converging advancements in biology and technology. As an industry, we must leverage these advancements to make disruptive changes in the way we discover, develop and bring new medicines to patients. Since I became CEO of Pfizer, we have been working to reimagine this process by operating as a nimbler, more science-driven organization, focused on delivering true breakthroughs for patients across our six therapeutic areas. In the past few years, we have demonstrated our ability to deliver on this promise of bringing true scientific breakthroughs through our colleagues’ tireless work in COVID-19. But there is more work to be done to address the unmet need in other disease areas—and now is the time to do it. In the year ahead, my leadership team and I will focus on leveraging these advancements in biology and technology, as well as the lessons learned from our COVID-19 vaccine development program, so that we may continue to push this scientific renaissance forward. This is critical work that we must advance for patients and their families around the world who continue to suffer from other devastating diseases without treatment options. Gelsinger: We are in the midst of a digital renaissance and experiencing the fastest pace of digital acceleration in history. We have immense opportunities ahead of us to make a lasting impact on the world through innovation and technology. Humans create technology to define what’s possible. We ask “if” something can be done, we understand “why,” then we ask “how.” In 2022, I must inspire and ensure our global team of over 110,000 executes and continues to drive forward innovation and leadership on our mission to enrich the lives of every person on earth. Brewer: Purpose is the driving force at this point in my career. I joined Walgreens Boots Alliance as CEO in March of 2021, what I saw as a rare opportunity to help end the pandemic and to help reimagine local healthcare and wellbeing for all. Seven months later, we launched the company’s new purpose, vision, values and strategic priorities. My role as CEO now and in 2022 is to lead with our company’s purpose—more joyful lives through better health—at the center of all we do for our customers, patients and team members. I’m particularly focused on affordable, accessible healthcare for all, including in traditionally medically underserved communities. Healthcare is inherently local, and all communities should have equitable access to care. John Lamparski—Getty Images for Advertising Week New YorkTim Cadogan, CEO of GoFundMe, speaks in New York City on Sept. 26, 2016. Cadogan: The last two years were dominated by a global pandemic and social and geopolitical issues that will carry over into 2022. The role of leaders in this new and uncertain environment will be to deliver value to their customers, while helping employees navigate an increasingly complex world with a completely new way of working together. Trust will be at the center of every decision we make around product development and platform policies—do the decisions we are making align with our mission to help people help each other and do they build trust with our community and our employees? Green: Everything around us is moving at an accelerated pace, and being a leader requires you to operate with a consistent set of values while still leaning into opportunity. Arguably, the pandemic has been the most disruptive time in decades—a generational disruption on par with the Depression or WWII. People’s North Stars are in the process of transforming, and leaders need to figure out what that means for their companies, their cultures, and their work processes. How does this change require leaders to shift their priorities as a business? Courtesy, Forerunner VenturesKirsten Green, founder and managing partner, Forerunner Ventures Masters: My leadership style is to make decisions through dialogue and debate. I encourage teams to be curious about other perspectives, be contrarian, actively discuss, make decisions, and act. I wasn’t sure how well we could do this from a strictly remote work approach during the pandemic, but watching our teams thrive despite the challenge changed my mind. Our people adapted quickly to move our business forward. We’ve worked so well that we’re integrating more flexibility into our work environment in 2022. With this shift to hybrid work, it will be important for all leaders, myself included, to empower employees in managing their productivity, and ensure teams stay engaged and focused on our key objectives. We’re facing rapid growth ahead, so our culture is vital to our success. I’ll continue to encourage our teams to live our values, seek diverse viewpoints, be decisive, and execute critical work to advance our strategy. Courtesy of Albemarle Kent Masters, CEO of Albemarle Seroka: Overseeing the nation’s busiest container port comes with an outsized responsibility to help our nation—not just the Port of Los Angeles—address the challenges brought about by the unprecedented surge in consumer demand. That means taking the lead on key fronts such as digital technology, policy and operational logistics. On the digital front, our industry needs to use data better to improve the reliability, predictability, and efficiency in the flow of goods. Policy work will focus on improving infrastructure investment, job training and advocating for a national export plan that supports fair trade and American jobs. Operationally, we’ll look for new ways to improve cargo velocity and efficiency......»»

Category: topSource: timeJan 2nd, 2022

Will Federal Budget Reconciliation Ease Nation’s Housing Affordability Crisis?

U.S. lawmakers are on the cusp of adopting the most far-reaching affordable housing legislation the nation has seen in decades. Expanded tax credits under a pending budget agreement could pave the way to creating thousands of additional rental units for households with low and median incomes, helping to address a housing supply gap that has […] U.S. lawmakers are on the cusp of adopting the most far-reaching affordable housing legislation the nation has seen in decades. Expanded tax credits under a pending budget agreement could pave the way to creating thousands of additional rental units for households with low and median incomes, helping to address a housing supply gap that has dashed hopes and opportunities for a large and growing segment of the population. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Affordable housing initiatives expected to soon become law along with the 2022 federal budget range from an expansion of low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) allocations to states to the creation of several new tax credits to incentivize development and rehabilitation of affordable housing in a wider range of product types and income levels. Those could include a middle-income housing tax credit to promote affordable rentals for families with incomes closer to their local median but who struggle to afford median rents. A neighborhood homes tax credit would target development and rehabilitation of affordable single-family homes. Existing tax credits for preserving historic structures, investments in new markets and for renewable and clean energy may also expand. Discussion of these much-needed improvements to community development and housing programs has been overshadowed in the news by recent coverage of delayed votes and ongoing intraparty negotiations on a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and a social spending measure that has yet to be finalized. On Oct. 1, President Biden urged Democrats to scale back the reconciliation plan, which would include boost to affordable housing, from $3.5 trillion to about $2 trillion to gain support for its passage from the party's moderate members. On its surface, the ongoing drama on Capitol Hill could appear discouraging for proponents of housing reform, who in recent years have seen promising efforts to expand the LIHTC and other programs fail to reach decisive votes. The good news is that many of those earlier provisions influenced the budget reconciliation legislation still under discussion, and both the White House and the majority Democratic Party have made passage of the social spending package a priority. What is more, the current debate is focused on spending, while the federal approach to promoting affordable housing is chiefly through tax credits rather than an allocation from the treasury. Factor in strong bipartisan support for addressing housing affordability, and the housing and community development initiatives currently on the table have excellent prospects to take effect with a 2022 budget accord. These improvements could collectively channel billions of dollars to the creation of affordable housing. It could not come at a time of greater need. Affordability Grows More Elusive For decades, the United States has struggled to bring safe residential rental units within the financial reach of low-income households. Despite limited success since the LIHTC's introduction in 1986, affordability remains elusive for a growing segment of the population. Ideally, a household should spend no more than 30 percent of its income on housing. The White House estimates that before the pandemic, 11 million families or nearly a quarter of U.S. renters paid more than half their income on rent. The ability to lease a home is down 29 percent from a peak in 2001, according to the HUD Rental Affordability Index. In the first quarter of this year the index reached a new low of 99.7. That is a heartbreaking milestone, because any value below 100 on the index means a renter household with median income will not qualify for median-priced rent. The lack of available housing affects not only the jobless but also the working class. In many cities, median apartment rents strain the resources of full-time wage earners including service industry workers, skilled laborers and even civil servants.  Rising costs for land, materials and construction have simply made it financially infeasible to develop multifamily product that is affordable to working-class families without some form of incentives to mitigate development costs. Turning The Tide While authors of the reconciliation legislation have not yet published a draft, the plan is expected to draw housing priorities from recent proposals including the Biden administration's Build Back Better Agenda, the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2021, and three bills submitted in July by Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat who chairs the House Financial Services Committee. Another bill, the Decent, Affordable, Safe Housing for All Act (DASH), was introduced in September by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee. These measures vary in their approaches, but all reflect a sense of urgency and the conviction that the nation must do more to address increasing homelessness and an intensifying crisis in the availability and affordability of housing. And they provide concrete steps to make a greater impact on these pressing issues. Authors of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, for example, estimate their plan would generate 2 million new affordable housing units over the next decade. By way of comparison, the LIHTC program currently produces a little more than 100,000 low-income units per year. Currently the LIHTC program produces a little more than 100,000 low-income housing units per year, and those units serve households making at or below 50 percent or 60 percent of local median income. Sweeping changes are likely under reconciliation legislation for the Fiscal 2022 budget, however. Because both congressional houses have approved a budget resolution, lawmakers will be able to include these or other housing objectives along with other provisions as they reconcile the House and Senate versions. The LIHTC program has historically enjoyed strong bipartisan support as a way to stimulate community investment without direct federal funding, so its proposed expansion is unlikely to draw opposition. Whatever the housing initiatives ultimately adopted along with reconciliation legislation, new and expanding programs will translate into additional private and institutional capital flowing into communities. As they meet urgent needs for housing, projects made possible through tax credits will also create jobs and opportunities associated with the development, design, finance, construction, and management of affordable residential properties. Developers may find that obtaining development approvals for affordable housing becomes easier when they can target a wider variety of income levels. Real estate developers and investment funds will have more freedom to build tax-credit housing portfolios that appeal to a variety of investors, increasing the geographic diversity of properties within markets. The new investment vehicles that emerge to propel affordable housing initiatives will likely find an attentive and growing investor base. Given the Biden administration's efforts to increase taxation of capital gains and limit tax-deferred exchanges under Section 1031 of the IRS code, many individuals and institutions looking for ways to reduce their tax exposure may gravitate to tax-credit bonds. What is certain is that housing affordability is a formidable national challenge that supersedes partisanship, and the expected changes to the LIHTC program have the potential to bring tangible improvements for American households. The finance and real estate industries should prepare now for the crucial roles they will play in supporting and carrying out this noble effort. Article By Robert Walton, Managing Director of Credit and Asset Management, Trimont About the Author Robert Walton is Managing Director of Credit and Asset Managing at Trimont Real Estate Advisors, a globally integrated loan servicer and credit manager to the commercial real estate finance industry. Updated on Dec 27, 2021, 2:43 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkDec 27th, 2021

Exploring A Modern Solution To Take On the Heavy Lifting of Data Management

Experian’s recent Global Data Management Research report has revealed that despite the fact that 83% of businesses regard data as critical to their success, 69% say erroneous data continues to sabotage their efforts. The speed and availability of client data are key to the new digital economy. Data is accessed at all times from all […] Experian’s recent Global Data Management Research report has revealed that despite the fact that 83% of businesses regard data as critical to their success, 69% say erroneous data continues to sabotage their efforts. The speed and availability of client data are key to the new digital economy. Data is accessed at all times from all over the world, and data access is no longer a predictable event. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get Our Activist Investing Case Study! Get the entire 10-part series on our in-depth study on activist investing in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or print it out to read anywhere! Sign up below! (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Today, data is a hot commodity with an extremely high value. However, the real value of that data comes down to its management. The data itself has little to no value until it has been sorted, cleaned, and analyzed. Without that process, the data piles up quickly, uselessly collecting theoretical dust. To be frank, this is a painstaking process that very few individuals have the expertise to handle. Furthermore, for those who do have the technical understanding, it is tedious and clumsy. There must be a solution. The Pains of Data Digitization For businesses, digital transformation brings many incredible benefits, such as improved efficiency, revenue growth, and increased customer satisfaction. However, the complicated process of digitalization is not for the faint of heart, especially in the data analytics and infrastructure space. First, a huge quantity of the world’s data is trapped offline in CSV and Excel files that are stored locally or emailed. Second, offline files do not work well with software applications, analytics, or data science needs. Moving data to production databases is also very difficult and requires high technical skills. As a result, it is common to see fragmentation, inconsistency, and mismatched data models. Not surprisingly, the hand-off of data is often incompatible between technical and non-technical teams. In particular, for well-established businesses, making the shift from offline to online systems is highly time-consuming. Years – or even decades – of documents must be captured, which is labor-intensive and, therefore, costly. Furthermore, many companies do not have employees with these unique technical skills. Data Overwhelm Even when a business successfully captures its offline data, the struggle is not over. For many, the sheer quantity of data becomes problematic. Basic tools, like Excel, simply reach a limit, becoming bogged down and slow. For most, the initial data models used within the company are no longer efficient or relevant as the business grows. According to Tech Jury, 80-90% of the data we generate today is unstructured, with 95% of businesses citing the need to manage unstructured data as a problem for their business. This is where data management becomes absolutely critical. It is essential to hire talent that has a deep technical understanding of data analytics and integration, and it is also imperative to find systems that can successfully support this transition. How To Make Sense of It All In order to succeed, a business’ data must be digitized in the most beneficial way for the company in terms of actually utilizing that data. There are a variety of online data management platforms available like Sheety, Sheetsu, and Dropbase. For example, Sheety enables customers to instantly convert any Google sheet into an API for free. All you need is a spreadsheet to create powerful websites, apps, or whatever else you want. Your API is updated in real-time when you make changes to your spreadsheet, saving you precious time. Similarly, Tomek Popow, the founder of Sheetsu, created the tool to allow users to connect Google Sheets to Web, Mobile, IoT, or any service's API. When considering the common struggles of data management, Dropbase co-founders Ayazhan Zhakhan and Jimmy E. Chan saw many issues. They found that customers are under-utilizing their data that was “trapped” in offline files or in software systems that could not integrate with other tools, and non-technical teams are paralyzed due to the lack of technical resources available to solve data problems. They also noticed the single point of failure, resulting from improper tools and processes used to maintain large master datasets collaboratively. Dropbase empowers individuals, teams, and businesses to streamline and automate repetitive data cleaning workflows. The platform makes it easy for spreadsheet users to collect, clean, and centralize data from external sources seamlessly. External data can come from offline sources such as CSVs and Excel files or online sources such as Shopify, Salesforce, and Hubspot. As with other data management platforms, Dropbase users do not need advanced technical knowledge to set up data infrastructure or build scalable data pipelines. Final Thought In order to successfully handle the complexities and demands of the digital age, we need digital-ready data management solutions that update and streamline procedures. While there is useful information in data, it ultimately depends on how it is managed. By utilizing tools such as Dropbase or Sheety, you can easily streamline the process of digitizing your offline information to better manage and access your data. Updated on Dec 23, 2021, 5:05 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkDec 23rd, 2021

The 5 best desktop gaming PCs in 2021

Chip shortages and inflation have made building a PC an expensive endeavor, but there are lots of great prebuilt PCs available with the latest parts. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Dell; Corsair; Alyssa Powell/InsiderWhile many gaming enthusiasts choose to build their own gaming PCs, an international chip shortage has made it difficult to find crucial parts, like processors and graphics cards, needed for a custom computer. Even the potential savings that come with building your own PC have also been impacted by tariffs and scalpers re-selling parts.For most gamers, a pre-built gaming PC will meet their needs without the added effort of finding parts at competitive prices and putting everything together correctly in a neat package. There are also more options than ever, letting PC shoppers choose between a wide range of budget and premium machines.Below is our list of picks for the best gaming PCs from pre-built manufacturers based on our personal and industry experience as well as research into stock availability and the best prices. After that, we'll explain what to look for when buying a gaming PC and cut through the common jargon to help you make the most informed buying decision possible.Here are the best gaming PCs:Best gaming PC for beginners: Dell XPS Special Edition, $881.99 on DellThe Dell XPS Special Edition offers solid performance and essential features for a low price.Best gaming desktop under $1,500: HP Omen, $879.99 on HPThe HP Omen features the latest parts and plenty of ways to upgrade.Best gaming desktop under $2,000: Dell Aurora R10, $1,577.79 on DellThe Dell Aurora R10 offers great customization with flexible pricing.Best gaming PC overall: Corsair Vengeance a7200, $4,199.99 on CorsairThe Corsair Vengeance a7200 provides the best parts available with no compromises.Best gaming PC for beginnersDell$881.99 FROM DELLOriginally $1059.98 | Save 17%The Dell XPS Special Edition offers solid performance and essential features for a low price.Processor: Intel i5-11400Graphics: Nvidia GTX 1650RAM: 8GB DDR4 2933MHzWireless: Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 supportPros: Affordable, extra features like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are great at this price pointCons: Older processor and graphics cardThis special edition Dell XPS is our recommendation for gamers who are looking to pick up their first gaming PC. For around $1,000, you'll get one of Intel's latest processors and a graphics card that's capable of handling most games at 1080p resolution with medium settings. It also offers dual drive support with a 256GB M.2 solid state drive for loading games quickly and a standard HDD with 1TB storage providing tons of space for music, movies and other games you're not actively playing.The XPS also offers built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, and a disc drive for reading and burning CDs and DVDs. More expensive gaming PCs often skip a disc drive to reduce costs, assuming gamers will be downloading their games and programs rather than installing from a disc.Best gaming desktop under $1,500HP$879.99 FROM HPOriginally $979.99 | Save 10%The HP Omen features the latest parts and plenty of ways to upgrade.Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 5600XGraphics: Nvidia RTX 3060Memory: 8GB RAM DDR4 3200 MHzStorage: 256GB m.2 SSDWireless: Wifi 6, Bluetooth 5.0Pros: Plays games comfortably at 1080p with high settings, Lots of customization choices Cons: No AMD graphics cards offered, keeping prices slightly higher than the competitionThe HP Omen series is heavily customizable, allowing you to choose between the latest AMD or Intel processors as well as the most recent graphics cards from Nvidia and AMD. While you can certainly design an Omen that costs much more than $1,500, we found that the configurations sold by HP at this price point offer a bit more value than those at competitors like Alienware and Lenovo.Starting with a $1,399 configuration, you can get an AMD 5600X processor and RTX 3060 graphics card, both of which debuted in 2020. You can spend $100 more to add 8GB of RAM for more memory intensive games like Grand Theft Auto V and Microsoft Flight Simulator, double the solid state drive space for $40, or add a second 1TB hard drive for $50.This PC should be capable of playing the latest games with high settings at 1080p, but may struggle a bit when pushed to 1440p or 4K resolution or ultra settings.Best gaming desktop under $2,000Dell$1577.79 FROM DELLOriginally $1619.98 | Save 3%The Dell Aurora R10 offers great customization with flexible pricing.Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 5800Graphics: RTX 3060Memory: 16GB RAM DDR4 3200 MHzStorage: 1TB HDDWireless: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0Pros: Choice of AMD graphics cards, should play games at 1440pCons: Rounded case design is a bit more flamboyant than other PCs. Like the HP Omen, the Dell Aurora series offers customization options to choose different processors and graphics cards, and specifically more choice from AMD. The Aurora R12 uses Intel processors while the Aurora R10 are AMD-based machines. We recommend starting with the R10 model with a Ryzen 5 processor and $1,640 starting price, upgrading to a 1TB M.2 boot drive for $100, and upgrading to either the RTX 3060Ti graphics card for $100 or an RTX 6800XT card for $300 more.The RTX 3060 is capable of playing most games at high settings at 1080p, but with an RTX 3080Ti or AMD 6800XT you can play at 1440p or 4K resolution and push your games to higher frame rates for monitors with high or variable refresh rates. The comparable R12 model uses an Intel i7-11700F processor and 3060Ti for $1,879 to start.Best gaming PC overallCorsair$4199.99 FROM CORSAIRThe Corsair Vengeance a7200 provides the best parts available with no compromises.Processor: AMD Ryzen 9 5900XGraphics: RTX 3080 TiMemory: 32GB RAM DDR4 3200 MHzStorage: 2TB m.2 SSDWireless: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0Pros: Corsair packs the best CPU, GPU and SSD into a no-frills package.Cons: Quite expensive compared to a home built machineThe Corsair Vengeance line of pre-built PCs may break the bank in terms of price, but they offer all the latest parts in an impressive looking package with few compromises. You won't find the same level of customization available from HP and Dell with these computers, but Corsair's pricing is competitive if you're looking for the best possible parts.The Vengeance a7200 offers an AMD Ryzen 5900X processor and Nvidia's flagship 3080 Ti graphics card, making it capable of playing just about any game at 4K with max settings. The 2TB m.2 drive is huge and great for streamers who want to play and record their gameplay at the same time.A Vengeance a7200 with an AMD 6800 XT graphics card instead of the 3080 Ti and is also available for $3,600, and should still be capable of playing most games at 4K and 1440p with high settings. That version has dual drives with a 1TB HDD  and a 1TB m.2 drive instead of a single 2TB m.2 drive.What to look for when shopping for a gaming PCPre-built gaming PCs offer multiple configurations, allowing gamers to spend more to upgrade certain parts of the computer. A more expensive processor or graphics card can bring big improvements in performance, and different types of hard drives can store more data, help you load games faster, or both. Check out our glossary of terms below for a breakdown of common gaming PC features and what to look out for within each category.What specs should a gaming PC have?What you need ultimately depends on what kind of games you'd like to play, and the overall quality you want to see. For example, you can spend more than $3,000 on a pre-built PC that can play any game at 4K quality, or you could spend under $1,000 for a gaming PC with comparable power to a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One X.In terms of manufacturers, you should pay the most attention to the companies that make your computer's processor and graphic card. Intel and AMD are the leading creators of gaming processors, while AMD and Nvidia are the leading competitors in the graphics card market.Glossary of terms Processor (CPU): The processor is essentially the brain of your gaming PC, executing the complex commands that control each part of the computer. Gaming PCs require strong CPUs to process large amounts of data during gameplay, impacting load times and frame rates. Some CPUs have built-in graphics processors that allow you to play basic games without a dedicated GPU to handle graphics output.AMD processors are generally more affordable and energy efficient than Intel processors, but the latest 12th series Intel processors will outperform AMD in some games based on benchmarks from Digital Foundry. Ultimately both brands make great CPUs and the choice comes down to price and personal preference.Graphics Process Unit (GPU): If the CPU is the brain of your computer, the GPU is the heart. Your GPU is dedicated to handling the constant computations needed to produce quality visuals while gaming. Like the CPU, graphically intensive games will put more stress on the GPU, as will increasing the resolution you play at.Your GPU will ultimately determine what level of performance you can expect from your gaming PC, with prices ranging from $300 to $1,800. We primarily recommend Nvidia's 30 series GPUs thanks to their impressive software support, but AMD GPUs are slightly more affordable and can see performance boosts when paired with an AMD CPU.Random-access Memory (RAM): RAM helps determine how many tasks your computer can keep immediately accessible simultaneously, which is especially important when gaming. Typically, a minimum amount of RAM (8GB) is needed just to load the complex worlds you see in games like Grand Theft Auto, but having additional RAM (16GB ~ 32GB) can also improve your overall load times.Refresh rate: A term used to describe how often a display updates the picture on screen. Monitors with higher refresh rates will be able to display more unique images per second, which means gaming PCs that output high frame rates of 60 per second or more will have even smoother looking animation on a high refresh rate display.Storage (HD, SSD, M.2): Quite literally, storage describes how much space you have to store data on your PC, and what type of drive it will be stored on. There are three types of storage drive available: hard disk drives, solid state drives, and M.2 drives.Hard disk drive (HDD) is an older, slower storage type that uses a spinning disk encased in a magnetic material, but usually offers the most space for the least money. Solid state drives (SSD) don't have a physical disk inside and are capable of faster speeds than HDDM.2 and NVMe are new formats for solid state formats with even faster speeds and smaller sizes, but they're significantly more expensive than standard SSDs and HDDs for now.Wi-Fi: A wireless network protocol using radio waves, often used to connect portable devices to the internet. In 2018 the group that owns the Wi-Fi trademark began identifying new versions of Wi-Fi numerically, and the latest format, Wi-Fi 6 was approved in February 2021. All of the PCs we recommend support Wi-Fi 6 meaning they are compatible with the widest possible range of devices.Bluetooth: A relatively short range wireless format used to connect devices locally. Devices with the latest features are certified as Bluetooth 5.0 compatible to reflect the signal's improvements, but new devices remain downward compatible with older versions of Bluetooth.The best deals on gaming PCs recommended in this guideGaming PCs have been in a strange place for what feels like more than two years economically speaking. Gaming PCs themselves, at least pre-built machines from the big manufacturers, tend to also go on sale mostly around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Here are the best deals on our favorite pre-built gaming PCs.Dell XPS Special Edition Desktop (2021)$881.99 FROM DELLOriginally $1059.98 | Save 17%HP OMEN 30L Gaming Desktop$879.99 FROM HPOriginally $979.99 | Save 10%Read more about how the Insider Reviews team evaluates deals and why you should trust us.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 23rd, 2021

‘Every penny counts’: Phoenix restaurants struggle to find food and workers while keeping prices low

Miracle Mile Deli has been proudly serving pastrami sandwiches for 72 years, but the pandemic has Josh Garcia’s restaurant in “survival mode.” “What we’re seeing is the normal products that we’ve been able to get ahold of easily, like chicken tenders, we can’t get ahold of,” Garcia said. “The manufacturers are experiencing staffing issues like we are, but now that the world is open, they can’t keep up with the demand, so they’re trying to recover and we’re on the receiving….....»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsDec 10th, 2021

Casedemic: The Hideous Scandal Of The Irredeemably Flawed PCR Test

Casedemic: The Hideous Scandal Of The Irredeemably Flawed PCR Test Authored by Ian McNulty via The Brownstone Institute, Investigating the cause of a disease is like investigating the cause of a crime. Just as the detection of a suspect’s DNA at a crime scene doesn’t prove they committed the crime, so the detection of the DNA of a virus in a patient doesn’t prove it caused the disease. Consider the case of Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) for example. It can cause serious diseases like arthritis, multiple sclerosis and cancer. A Japanese study in 2003 found that 43% of patients suffering from Chronic Active Epstein-Barr Virus (CAEBV) died within 5 months to 12 years of infection. Yet EBV is one of the most common viruses in humans and has been detected in 95% of the adult population. Most of those infected are either asymptomatic or show symptoms of glandular fever, which can have similar symptoms to ‘long Covid.’ If an advertising agency attempted to create demand for an EBV treatment with daily TV and radio ads representing positive EBV tests as ‘EBV Cases’ and deaths within 28 days as ‘EBV Deaths,’ they’d be prosecuted for fraud by false representation so quickly their feet wouldn’t touch the ground. How Viruses Are Detected Before the invention of PCR, the gold standard for detecting viruses was to grow them in a culture of living cells and count damaged cells using a microscope. The disadvantage of cell cultures is they need highly skilled technicians and can take weeks to complete. The advantage is they only count living viruses that multiply and damage cells. Dead virus fragments that do neither are automatically discounted. The invention of PCR in 1983 was a game changer. Instead of waiting for viruses to grow naturally, PCR rapidly multiplies tiny amounts of viral DNA exponentially in a series of heating and cooling cycles that can be automated and completed in less than an hour. PCR revolutionised molecular biology but its most notable application was in genetic fingerprinting, where its ability to magnify even the smallest traces of DNA became a major weapon in the fight against crime. But, like a powerful magnifying glass or zoom lens, if it’s powerful enough to find a needle in a haystack it’s powerful enough to make mountains out of molehills. Even the inventor of PCR, Kary Mullis, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1993, vehemently opposed using PCR to diagnose diseases: “PCR is a process that’s used to make a whole lot of something out of something. It allows you to take a very miniscule amount of anything and make it measurable and then talk about it like it’s important.“ PCR has certainly allowed public health authorities and the media around the world to talk about a new variant of Coronavirus like it’s important, but how important is it really? The Dose Makes The Poison Anything can be deadly in high enough doses, even oxygen and water. Since the time of Paracelsus in the 16th century, science has known there are no such things as poisons, only poisonous concentrations: “All things are poison, and nothing is without poison; the dosage alone makes the poison.” (Paracelsus, dritte defensio, 1538.) This basic principle is expressed in the adage “dosis sola facit venenum“ – the dose alone makes the poison – and is the basis for all Public Health Standards which specify Maximum Permissible Doses (MPDs) for all known health hazards, from chemicals and radiation to bacteria, viruses and even noise. Public Health Standards, Science and Law Toxicology and Law are both highly specialised subjects with their own highly specialised language. Depending on the jurisdiction, Maximum Permissible Doses (MPDs) are also known as Health Based Exposure Limits (HBELs), Maximum Exposure Levels (MELs) and Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs). But, no matter how complicated and confusing the language, the basic principles are simple. If the dose alone makes the poison then it’s the dose that’s the biggest concern, not the poison. And if Public Health Standards in a liberal democracy are regulated by the rule of law then the law needs to be simple enough for a jury of reasonably intelligent lay people to understand. Although the harm caused by any toxin increases with the dose, the level of harm depends not only on the toxin, but the susceptibility of the individual and the way the toxin is delivered. Maximum Permissible Doses have to strike a balance between the benefit of increasing safety and the cost of doing it. There are many Political, Economic and Social factors to consider besides the Technology (PEST). Take the case of noise for example. The smallest whisper may be irritating and harmful to some people, while the loudest music may be nourishing and healthy for others. If the Maximum Permissible Dose was set at a level to protect the most sensitive from any risk of harm, life would be impossible for everyone else. Maximum Permissible Doses have to balance the costs and benefits of restricting exposure to the level of No Observable Effect (NOEL) at one end of the scale, and the level that would kill 50% of the population at the other (LD50). Bacteria and viruses are different from other toxins, but the principle is the same. Because they multiply and increase their dose with time, maximum permissible doses need to be based on the minimum dose likely to start an infection known as the Minimum Infective Dose (MID). Take the case of listeria monocytogenes for example. It’s the bacteria that causes listeriosis, a serious disease that can result in meningitis, sepsis and encephalitis. The case fatality rate is around 20%, making it ten times more deadly than Covid-19. Yet listeria is widespread in the environment and can be detected in raw meat and vegetables as well as many ready-to-eat foods, including cooked meat and seafood, dairy products, pre-prepared sandwiches and salads.  The minimum dose in food likely to cause an outbreak of listeriosis is around 1,000 live bacteria per gram. Allowing a suitable margin of safety, EU and US food standards set the maximum permissible dose of listeria in ready-to-eat products at 10% of the minimum infective dose , or 100 live bacteria per gram. If Maximum Permissible Doses were based solely on the detection of a bacteria or virus rather than the dose, the food industry would cease to exist. Protection of the Vulnerable The general rule of thumb for setting maximum permissible doses used to be 10% of the MID for bacteria and viruses, and 10% of the LD50 for other toxins, but this has come under increasing criticism in recent years: first with radiation, then Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS), then smoke in general, then viruses. The idea that there is no safe dose of some toxins began to surface in the 1950s, when radioactive fallout from atom bomb tests and radiation from medical X-rays were linked with the the dramatic post-war rise in cancers and birth defects. Although this was rejected by the science at the time, it wasn’t entirely unfounded. There are many reasons why radiation may be different from other pollutants. Chemicals like carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen are recycled naturally by the environment, but there is no such thing as a Radiation Cycle. Radioactivity only disappears gradually with time, no matter how many times it’s recycled. Some radioactive substances remain dangerous for periods longer than human history. All life forms are powered by chemical processes, none by nuclear energy. The last natural nuclear reactor on earth burned out more than 1.5 billion years ago. The nearest one now is isolated from life on earth by 93 million miles of vacuum.  As evidence mounted to show there was no safe dose of radiation, maximum permissible doses were lowered drastically, but limited doses were still allowed. If public health standards were based purely on the detection of radiation rather than the dose, the Nuclear Industry would cease to exist. The susceptibility of any individual to any health risk depends on many factors. Most people can eat sesame seeds and survive bee stings without calling an ambulance, for others they can be fatal. In the US bees and wasps kill an average of more than 60 people each year, and food allergies cause an average of 30,000 hospitalisations and 150 deaths. If public health standards were based solely on the detection of a toxin rather than the dose, all bees would be exterminated and all food production closed down. Food allergies set the legal precedent. Where minuscule traces of something might be harmful for some people, the law demands that products carry a clear warning to allow the vulnerable to protect their own health. It doesn’t demand everyone else pay the price, no matter what the cost, by lowering maximum permissible doses to the point of no observable effect. Minimum Infectious Doses (MIDs) have already been established for many of the major respiratory and enteric viruses including strains of coronavirus. Even though SARS-CoV-2 is a new variant of coronavirus, the MID has already been estimated at around 100 particles. Whilst further work is needed, nevertheless it could serve as a working standard to measure Covid-19 infections against. Are PCR Numbers Scientific? As the philosopher of science, Karl Popper, observed: “non-reproducible single occurrences are of no significance to science.” To be reproducible, the results of one test should compare within a small margin of error with the results of other tests. To make this possible all measuring instruments are calibrated against international standards. If they aren’t, their measurements may appear to be significant, but they have no significance in science. PCR tests magnify the number of target DNA particles in a swab exponentially until they become visible. Like a powerful zoom lens, the greater the magnification needed to see something, the smaller it actually is. The magnification in PCR is measured by the number of cycles needed to make the DNA visible. Known as the Cycle Threshold (Ct) or Quantification Cycle (Cq) number, the higher the number of cycles the lower the amount of DNA in the sample. To convert Cq numbers into doses they have to be calibrated against the Cq numbers of standard doses. If they aren’t they can easily be blown out of proportion and appear more significant than they actually are. Take an advertisement for a car for example. With the right light, the right angle and the right magnification, a scale model can look like the real thing. We can only gauge the true size of things if we have something to measure them against. Just like a coin standing next to a toy car proves it’s not a real one, and a shoe next to a molehill shows it’s not a mountain, the Cq of a standard dose next to the Cq of a sample shows how big the dose really is. So it’s alarming to discover that there are no international standards for PCR tests and even more alarming to discover that results can vary up to a million fold, not just from country to country, but from test to test. Even though this is well-documented in the scientific literature it appears that the media, public health authorities and government regulators either haven’t noticed or don’t care: “It should be noted that currently there is no standard measure of viral load in clinical samples.” “An evaluation of eight clinically relevant viral targets in 23 different laboratories resulted in Cq ranges of more than 20, indicative of an apparently million-fold difference in viral load in the same sample.” “The evident lack of certified standards or even validated controls to allow for a correlation between RT-qPCR data and clinical meaning requires urgent attention from national standards and metrology organisations, preferably as a world-wide coordinated effort.” “Certainly the label “gold standard” is ill-advised, as not only are there numerous different assays, protocols, reagents, instruments and result analysis methods in use, but there are currently no certified quantification standards, RNA extraction and inhibition controls, or standardised reporting procedures.” Even the CDC itself admits PCR test results aren’t reproducible: “Because the nucleic acid target (the pathogen of interest), platform and format differ, Ct values from different RT-PCR tests cannot be compared.” For this reason PCR tests are licenced under emergency regulations for the detection of the type or ‘quality’ of a virus, not for the dose or ‘quantity’ of it. “As of August 5, 2021, all diagnostic RT-PCR tests that had received a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for SARS-CoV-2 testing were qualitative tests.” “The Ct value is interpreted as positive or negative but cannot be used to determine how much virus is present in an individual patient specimen.” Just because we can detect the ‘genetic fingerprint’ of a virus doesn’t prove it’s the cause of a disease: “Detection of viral RNA may not indicate the presence of infectious virus or that 2019-nCoV is the causative agent for clinical symptoms.” So, while there’s little doubt that using PCR to identify the genetic fingerprint of a Covid-19 virus is the gold standard in molecular science, there’s equally no doubt that using it as the gold standard to quantify Covid-19 ‘cases’ and ‘deaths’ is “ill-advised.” The idea that PCR may have been used to make a mountain out of a molehill by blowing a relatively ordinary disease outbreak out of all proportion is so shocking it’s literally unthinkable. But it wouldn’t be the first time it has happened. The Epidemic That Wasn’t In spring 2006 staff at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire began showing symptoms of respiratory infection with high fever and nonstop coughing that left them gasping for breath and lasted for weeks. Using the latest PCR techniques, Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s laboratories found 142 cases of pertussis or whooping cough, which causes pneumonia in vulnerable adults and can be deadly for infants. Medical procedures were cancelled, hospital beds were taken out of commission. Nearly 1,000 health care workers were furloughed, 1,445 were treated with antibiotics and 4,524 were vaccinated against whooping cough. Eight months later, when the state health department had completed the standard culture tests, not one single case of whooping cough could be confirmed. It seems Dartmouth-Hitchcock had suffered an outbreak of ordinary respiratory diseases no more serious than the common cold! The following January the New York Times ran the story under the headline “Faith in Quick Test Leads to Epidemic That Wasn’t.” “Pseudo-epidemics happen all the time,” said Dr. Trish Perl, past president of the Society of Epidemiologists of America. “It’s a problem; we know it’s a problem. My guess is that what happened at Dartmouth is going to become more common.” “PCR tests are quick and extremely sensitive, but their very sensitivity makes false positives likely” reported the New York Times, “and when hundreds or thousands of people are tested, as occurred at Dartmouth, false positives can make it seem like there is an epidemic.” “To say the episode was disruptive was an understatement,” said Dr. Elizabeth Talbot, deputy epidemiologist for the New Hampshire Department of Health, “I had a feeling at the time that this gave us a shadow of a hint of what it might be like during a pandemic flu epidemic.” Dr. Cathy A. Petti, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Utah, said the story had one clear lesson. “The big message is that every lab is vulnerable to having false positives. No single test result is absolute and that is even more important with a test result based on PCR.” The Swine Flu Panic of 2009 In the spring of 2009 a 5-year old boy living near an intensive pig farm in Mexico went down with an unknown disease that caused a high fever, sore throat and whole body ache. Several weeks later a lab in Canada tested a nasal swab from the boy and discovered a variant of the flu virus similar to the H1N1 Avian flu virus which they labelled H1N1/09, soon to be known as ‘Swine Flu.’ On 28 April 2009 a biotech company in Colorado announced they had developed the MChip, a version of the FluChip, which enabled PCR tests to distinguish the Swine Flu H1N1/09 virus from other flu types. “Since the FluChip assay can be conducted within a single day,” said InDevR’s leading developer and CEO, Prof Kathy Rowlen, “it could be employed in State Public Health Laboratories to greatly enhance influenza surveillance and our ability to track the virus.” Up until this point the top of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Pandemic Preparedness homepage had carried the statement: “An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus appears against which the human population has no immunity, resulting in several simultaneous epidemics worldwide with enormous numbers of deaths and illness.” Less than a week after the MChip announcement, the WHO removed the phrase “enormous numbers of deaths and illness,” to require only that “a new influenza virus appears against which the human population has no immunity” before a flu outbreak to be called a ‘pandemic.’ No sooner had the laboratories started PCR testing with MChip than they were finding H1N1/09 everywhere. By the beginning of June almost three-quarters of all influenza cases tested positive for Swine Flu. Mainstream news reported the rise in cases on a daily basis, comparing it with the H1N1 Avian Flu pandemic in 1918 which killed more than 50 million people. What they neglected to mention is that, although they have similar names, Avian Flu H1N1 is very different and much more deadly than Swine Flu H1N1/09 . Even though there had been less than 500 deaths up to this point compared to more than 20,000 deaths in a severe flu epidemic people flocked to health centres demanding to be tested, producing even more positive ‘cases,’  In mid-May senior representatives of all the major pharmaceutical companies met with WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan, and UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, to discuss delivery of swine flu vaccines. Many contracts had already been signed. Germany had a contract with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to buy 50 million doses at a cost of half a billion Euros which came into effect automatically the moment a pandemic was declared. The UK bought 132 million doses – two for every person in the country. On 11 June 2009 WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, announced: “On the basis of expert assessments of the evidence, the scientific criteria for an influenza pandemic have been met. The world is now at the start of the 2009 influenza pandemic.” On 16 July the Guardian reported that swine flu was spreading fast across much of the UK with 55,000 new cases the previous week in England alone. The UK’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Liam Donaldson, warned that in the worst case scenario 30% of the population could be infected and 65,000 killed. On 20 July a study in The Lancet co-authored by WHO and UK government adviser, Neil Ferguson, recommended closing schools and churches to slow the epidemic, limit stress on the NHS and “give more time for vaccine production.” On the same day WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan announced that “vaccine makers could produce 4.9 billion pandemic flu shots per year in the best-case scenario.” Four days later an official Obama administration spokesman warned that “as many as several hundred thousand could die if a vaccine campaign and other measures aren’t successful.” The warnings had the desired effect. That week UK consultation rates for influenza-like illnesses (ILIs) were at their highest since the last severe flu epidemic in 1999/2000, even though death rates were at a 15-year low. On 29 September 2009 the Pandemrix vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) was rushed through European Medicines Agency approval, swiftly followed by Baxter’s Celvapan the following week. On 19 November the WHO announced that 65 million doses of vaccine had been administered worldwide. As the year drew to a close it became increasingly obvious that swine flu was not all it was made out to be. The previous winter (2008/2009) the Office for National Statistics (ONS) had reported 36,700 excess deaths in England and Wales, the highest since the last severe flu outbreak of 1999/2000. Even though the winter of 2009 had been the coldest for 30 years, excess deaths were 30% lower than the previous winter. Whatever swine flu was, it wasn’t as deadly as other flu variants. On 26 January the following year, Wolfgang Wodarg, a German doctor and member of parliament, told the European Council in Strasbourg that the major global pharmaceutical corporations had organised a “campaign of panic” to sell vaccines, putting pressure on the WHO to declare what he called a “false pandemic” in “one of the greatest medicine scandals of the century.” “Millions of people worldwide were vaccinated for no good reason,” said Wodarg, boosting pharmaceutical company profits by more than $18 billion. Annual sales of Tamiflu alone had jumped 435 percent, to €2.2 billion. By April 2010, it was apparent that most of the vaccines were not needed. The US government had bought 229 million doses of which only 91 million doses were used. Of the surplus, some of it was stored in bulk, some of it was sent to developing countries and 71 million doses were destroyed. On 12 March 2010 SPIEGEL International published what it called “Reconstruction of a Mass Hysteria” that ended with a question: “These organizations have gambled away precious confidence. When the next pandemic arrives, who will believe their assessments?” But it didn’t take long to find an answer. In December the Independent published a story with the headline “Swine flu, the killer virus that actually saved lives.” The latest ONS report on excess winter deaths had shown that instead of the extra 65,000 swine flu deaths predicted by the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Liam Donaldson, deaths in the winter of 2009 were actually 30% lower than the previous year. Instead of the low death rate proving that swine flu had been a fake pandemic, confidence in the organisations that had “gambled away precious confidence” was quickly restored by portraying swine flu as something that “actually saved lives” by driving out the common flu. PCR and Law Portraying something as something it isn’t is deception. Doing it for profit is fraud. Doing it by first gaining the trust of the victims is a confidence trick or a con.  In England, Wales and Northern Ireland fraud is covered by the Fraud Act 2006 and is divided into three classes – ‘fraud by false representation,’ ‘fraud by failing to disclose information’ and ‘fraud by abuse of position.’ A representation is false if the person making it knows it may be untrue or misleading. If they do it for amusement, it’s a trick or a hoax. If they do it to make a gain, or expose others to a risk of loss, it’s ‘fraud by false representation.’ If someone has a duty to disclose information and they don’t do it, it might be negligence or simple incompetence. If they do it to make a gain, or expose others to a risk of loss, it’s ‘fraud by failing to disclose information.’ If they occupy a position where they are expected not to act against the interests of others, and do it to make a gain or expose others to a risk of loss, it’s ‘fraud by abuse of position.’ In Dartmouth Hitchcock’s case there’s no doubt that using PCR to identify a common respiratory infection as whooping cough was ‘false representation,’ but it was an honest mistake, made with the best of intentions. If any gain was intended it was to protect others from risk of loss, not to expose them to it. There was no failure to disclose information and nobody abused their position. In the case of swine flu things aren’t so clear. By 2009 there were already plenty of warnings from Dartmouth Hitchcock and many other similar incidents that using PCR to detect the genetic fingerprint of a bacteria or virus may be misleading. Worse still, the potential of PCR to magnify things out of all proportion creates opportunities for all those who would gain by making mountains out of molehills and global pandemics out of relatively ordinary seasonal epidemics. The average journalist, lawyer, member of parliament or member of the public may be forgiven for not knowing about the dangers of PCR, but public health experts had no excuse. It may be argued that their job is to protect the public by erring on the side of caution. It may equally be argued that the massive amounts of money spent by global pharmaceutical corporations on marketing, public relations and lobbying creates enormous conflicts of interest, increasing the potential for suppression of information and abuse of position across all professions, from politics and journalism to education and public health. The defence is full disclosure of all information, particularly on the potential of PCR to identify the wrong culprit in an infection and blow it out of all proportion. The fact this was never done is suspicious. If there were any prosecutions for fraud they weren’t widely publicised, and if there were any questions raised or lessons to be learned about the role of PCR in creating the 2009 Swine Flu panic they were quickly forgotten. The First Rough Draft of History The first rough attempt to represent things in the outside world is journalism. But no representation can be 100% true. ‘Representation’ is literally a re-presentation of something that symbolises or ‘stands in for’ something else. Nothing can fully capture every aspect of a thing except the thing itself. So judging whether a representation is true or false depends on your point of view. It’s a matter of opinion, open to debate in other words. In a free and functioning democracy the first line of defence against false representation is a free and independent press. Where one news organisation may represent something as one thing, a competing organisation may represent it as something completely different. Competing representations are tried in the court of public opinion and evolve by a process of survival of the fittest. Whilst this may be true in theory, in practice it isn’t. Advertising proves people choose the most attractive representations, not the truest. News organisations are funded by financiers who put their own interests first, not the public’s. Whether the intention is to deliberately defraud the public or simply to sell newspapers by creating controversy, the potential for false representations is enormous. Trial By Media Despite the CDC’s own admission that PCR tests “may not indicate the presence of infectious virus,” its use to do exactly that in the case of Covid was accepted without question. Worse still, the measures taken against calling PCR into question have become progressively more draconian and underhanded since the very beginning. The mould was set with the announcement of the first UK death on Saturday 29 February 2020. Every newspaper in Britain carried the same front page story: “EMERGENCY laws to tackle coronavirus are being rushed in after the outbreak claimed its first British life yesterday,” screamed The Daily Mail. The first British victim contracted the virus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, not Britain, but it didn’t matter. With less than 20 cases in the UK and one ‘British’ death in Japan, the media had already decided it justified rushing in emergency laws. How did they know how dangerous it was? How were they able to predict the future? Had they forgotten the lessons of the 2009 Swine Flu panic? After almost 2 weeks of newspaper, TV and radio fearmongering, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made it official at the Downing Street press conference on Thursday 12 March 2020 when he said: “We’ve all got to be clear. This is the worst public health crisis for a generation. Some people compare it to seasonal flu, alas that is not right. Owing to the lack of immunity this disease is more dangerous and it’s going to spread further.” None of that statement stood up to scrutiny, but none of the hand-picked journalists in the room had the right knowledge to ask the right questions. After 20 minutes blinding the press and public with science, Johnson opened the floor to questions. The first question, from the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, set the mould by accepting the Prime Minister’s statement without question:  “This is, as you say, the worst public health crisis for a generation.” Any journalist who remembered the 2009 Swine Flu panic, might have asked how the PM knew, after just 10 deaths, that it was the worst public health crisis in a generation? He didn’t say it may be or could be but definitely ‘is.’ Did he have a crystal ball? Or was he following the same Imperial College modelling that had predicted 136,000 deaths from mad cow disease in 2002, 200 million deaths from bird flu in 2005 and 65,000 deaths from swine flu in 2009, all of which had proved completely wrong? As the BBC’s chief political correspondent Kuenssberg wouldn’t be expected to know any more about science, medicine, or PCR than any other member of the general public. So why did the BBC send their chief political correspondent to a press conference on public health and not their chief science or health correspondent? And why did the PM choose her to ask the first question? But the BBC wasn’t alone. Six other correspondents from leading news outlets asked questions that day; all were chief political correspondents, none were science or health correspondents. So none of the journalists allowed to ask questions had the necessary knowledge to subject the PM and his Chief Scientific and Medical Officers to any degree of real scrutiny  With the rise in the number of coronavirus ‘cases’ and ‘deaths’ reported on a daily basis and the Prime Minister’s solemn warning that “many more families, are going to lose loved ones before their time” filling the headlines the following morning, questioning what the numbers actually meant became more and more impossible. If the press and the public had forgotten the 2009 Swine flu panic, and those who helped calm it down had dropped their guard, those whose intention was to make a gain had learned their lesson. Subject the Corona Crisis of 2020 to close scrutiny and it begins to look more like a carefully orchestrated advertising campaign for vaccine manufacturers than a genuine pandemic. But that scrutiny has been made impossible for all kinds of reasons. ‘Follow the money’ was once the epitome of investigative journalism, popularised in the movie of the Watergate scandal, ‘All The President’s Men’ which followed the money all the way to the top. Now following the money is called ‘Conspiracy Theory’ and is a sackable offence in journalism, if not yet in other professions. The idea that there may be real conspiracies to make false representations with the intention of making a gain or exposing others to a risk of loss has now been driven so far beyond the pale it’s literally unthinkable.  If PCR has been tried by media in the court of public opinion, the case for the prosecution was demonised and dismissed at the outset and prohibited by emergency legislation soon after. The Last Best Hope The last line of defence against false representation in both science and the media is the law. It’s no coincidence that Science and Law use similar methods and similar language. The foundations of the Scientific Method were laid by the Head of the Judiciary, the Lord Chancellor of England Sir Francis Bacon, in the Novum Organum, published exactly 400 years ago last year. Both are based on ‘laws,’ both rely on hard physical evidence or ‘facts,’ both explain the facts in terms of ‘theories,’ both test conflicting facts and theories in ‘trials’ and both reach verdicts through juries of peers. In science the peers are selected by the editorial boards of scientific publications. In law they’re selected by judges. In both law and science trials revolve around ‘empirical’ evidence or ‘facts’ – hard physical evidence that can be verified through the act of experiencing with our five senses of sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. But facts by themselves are not enough. They only ‘make sense’ when they are selected and organised into some kind of theory, narrative or story through which they can be interpreted and explained. But there’s more than one way to skin a cat, more than one way to interpret the facts and more than one side to every story. To reach a verdict on which one is true, theories have to be weighed against each other rationally to judge the ratios of how closely each interpretation fits the facts. Trial By Law The ability of PCR to detect the genetic fingerprint of a virus is proven beyond reasonable doubt, but its ability to give a true representation of either the cause, severity or prevalence of a disease hasn’t. To say the jury is still out would be an understatement. The jury has yet to be convened and the case yet to be heard. Testing coronavirus particles in a swab is no different to testing apples in a bag. A bag of billiard balls rinsed in apple juice would test positive for apple DNA. Finding apple DNA in a bag doesn’t prove it contains real apples. If the dose makes the poison then it’s the quantity we need to test for, not just its genetic fingerprint. Grocers test the amount of apples in bags by weighing them on scales calibrated against standard weights. If the scales are properly calibrated the bag should weigh the same on any other set of scales. If it doesn’t, local trading standards officers test the grocer’s scales against standard weights and measures. If the scales fail the test the grocer can be prohibited from trading. If it turns out the grocer deliberately left the scales uncalibrated to make a gain they can be prosecuted for ‘false representation’ under section 2 of the Fraud Act 2006. Testing the quantity of viral DNA in a swab, not the quantity of live viruses, is like counting billiard balls rinsed in apple juice as real apples. Worse still, in the absence of standards to calibrate PCR tests against results, tests can show a “million-fold difference in viral load in the same sample.” If a grocer’s scales showed a million-fold difference in the load of apples in the same bag they’d be closed down in an instant. If it can be shown that the grocer knew the weight displayed on the scales may have been untrue or misleading, and they did it to make a gain or expose customers to a loss, it would be an open-and-shut case, done and dusted in minutes. If the law applies to the measurement of the quantity of apples in bags, why not to the measurement of coronavirus in clinical swabs? By the CDC’s own admission, in its instructions for use of PCR tests: Detection of viral RNA may not indicate the presence of infectious virus or that 2019-nCoV is the causative agent for clinical symptoms. From that statement alone it’s clear that PCR tests may give a false representation that is untrue or misleading. If those using PCR tests to represent the number of Covid cases and deaths know it may be misleading and do it to ‘make a gain,’ either monetary or just to advance their own careers, it’s ‘fraud by false representation.’ If they have a duty to disclose information and they don’t do it it’s ‘fraud by failing to disclose information.’ And if they occupy positions where they’re expected not to act against the interests of the public but do it anyway it’s ‘fraud by abuse of position.’ If the law won’t prosecute those in authority for fraud, how else can they be discouraged from doing it? As Dr. Trish Perl said after the Dartmouth Hitchcock incident, “Pseudo-epidemics happen all the time. It’s a problem; we know it’s a problem. My guess is that what happened at Dartmouth is going to become more common.”The potential of PCR to cause problems will only get worse until its validity to diagnose the cause and measure the prevalence of a disease is tested in law. The last word on PCR belongs to its inventor, Kary Mullis: “The measurement for this is not exact at all. It’s not as good as our measurement for things like apples.” Tyler Durden Mon, 12/06/2021 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 7th, 2021

Panicked New York bagel shop owners are hoarding cream cheese and crossing state lines for supply as dairy companies struggle against supply chain crisis

Several business owners told the New York Times they only have enough cream cheese to last a handful of days and are at a loss for alternatives. iStock/Getty Images New York City bagel shops are experiencing a shortage of cream cheese due to heightened demand and supply chain constraints.  Several store owners told the New York Times they've started hoarding cream cheese or driving to New Jersey for supply.  The schmear is the latest consumer product to be hit by the ongoing supply chain crisis.  The supply chain crisis has come for yet another beloved commodity — New York City bagels. Bagel shops in the nation's largest city are experiencing an unprecedented shortage of cream cheese, causing many to begin hoarding the spread, with some even crossing over state lines to get it, the New York Times reported. Local favorites from Zabar's and Tompkins Square Bagels in Manhattan to Shelsky's in Brooklyn said they are struggling to find ways to meet demand for the schmear.According to the New York Times, dairy manufacturers and suppliers have come up short in filling orders of pallets of unprocessed and unwhipped cream cheese in recent weeks. Bagel shops use this raw cream cheese as a foundation to create their own flavors, and thus typically don't turn to grocery store alternatives to fill voids. Several business owners told the Times they only have enough cream cheese to last a handful of days, and are at a loss for alternatives. On Thursday, the owner of Tompkins Square Bagels in Lower Manhattan was informed his 800-pound order of cream cheese would not be arriving at all. "Sunday bagels are sacred," Christopher Pugliese, the owner of Tompkins Square Bagels, told the New York Times. "I hate feeling like I've let people down."The spread is the latest in a growing list of consumer products plagued by shortages thanks to the supply chain crisis. Everything from personal-care products to popular food items continue to face bottlenecks, leading to recent price hikes across major consumer packaged goods companies like Unilever and Procter & Gamble. According to Kraft Heinz, the parent company of Philadelphia Cream Cream, the cream cheese shortage is tied to increased demand for "several of its products," partially driven by a rise in Americans eating from home during the pandemic. "We continue to see elevated and sustained demand across a number of categories where we compete," Jenna Thornton, a Kraft Heinz spokeswoman, told the Times. "As more people continue to eat breakfast at home and use cream cheese as an ingredient in easy desserts, we expect to see this trend continue."And while bagel shop owners said they have no immediate plans to increase prices, some are cutting less popular flavors of cream cheese from their lineups in an effort to preserve the commodity. "This is bad. This is very bad," Pedro Aguilar, a manager at Pick-a-Bagel, told the Times.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 4th, 2021

34 unique and thoughtful gifts your husband will love, from stylish clothes to the latest tech

From sweet treats to items that will get him a better night's rest, these 34 gifts tell your partner how much he means to you. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Inside this curated cocktail kit, he'll find all the top-shelf spirits and ingredients he needs to bring two creative cocktail recipes to life.Saloon Box Celebrate your partner with a gift that he'll love to keep around.  Our 34 gift ideas include blue-light glasses, delicious cakes and cookies, and lounge pants. Still looking for a gift? Check out our list of the All-Time Best products we've ever tested. The holidays are a great time to splurge on a gift for your husband or partner. Whether you're looking for a gift to supplement his hobbies or something you can enjoy together, we have a wide range of ideas that he's sure to love.Whether he has a sweet tooth or needs a better night's sleep, these 34 gifts tell your partner how much he means to you. And if you have kids, some of the gifts might even benefit the whole family. The 2021 holiday shopping season is feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Many manufacturers are experiencing supply-chain issues that limit their stock. Delays in shipping are also widespread. We recommend paying close attention to shipping times when ordering products to ensure they will arrive on time.Here are the best gifts for husbands in 2021A waterproof speakerJBLGift the JBL Clip 3 Portable Bluetooth Speaker, $49.95Portable Bluetooth speakers are ideal for rocking out on the go. The JBL Clip 3 is great because it's affordable and waterproof so he can listen to tunes or catch up on podcasts in the shower.For more great options, check out our guide to portable Bluetooth speakers.A high-quality electric razorBraunGift the Braun Series 7 (7085cc) Electric Razor, $149.94The Braun Series 7 is tops in our guide to the best electric razors for several reasons. It senses the thickness of his beard and automatically adjusts the power for a clean one-pass shave. The shaver has a 50-minute runtime, and it's waterproof for wet use.A GPS smartwatchJames Brains/InsiderGift the Garmin Forerunner 945 GPS Smartwatch, $599.99A good GPS fitness tracker is a must for anyone who runs outdoors. The Garmin Forerunner 945 is as good as it gets. The watch supports hundreds of apps, including Spotify, so he can stream music without having to lug around his phone. I like that I can enable the watch to send my location to my wife when I run. That way, if something happens, she can find me easily.If the 945 is out of your price range, consider one of these fitness tracker watches.A fashionable leather walletBellroyGift the Bellroy Apex Slim Sleeve Wallet, $129Bellroy's Apex Slim Sleeve isn't your dad's wallet. Made of eco-friendly leather, it fits folded bills and up to eight cards. A magnet keeps the sleeve closed. And, it features RFID protection to keep personal information safe. A snack box subscriptionTokyoTreatGift a 3-month TokyoTreat subscription, $106.50Who doesn't love snacks? If your husband is an adventurous eater, he'll love a TokyoTreat subscription. Each month, he receives 17 unique snacks from Japan, including fun KitKat flavors. Check out our guide for other snack subscription box ideas.Stylish, sustainable sneakersNothing NewGift a pair of Nothing New Sneakers, from $95What's better than giving the special eco-conscious guy in your life a stylish pair of shoes? Giving him shoes that are made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic. With a style similar to Chuck Taylor All-Stars, Nothing New sneakers come in several colors, and each pair saves 160 gallons of water and keeps 5.6 plastic bottles out of landfills.You can read our full review of Nothing New Sneakers here.Waterproof bone-conduction sport headphonesAmazonGift the AfterShokz Aeropex Bone Conduction Sport Headphones, $129.95Any active person who likes to bring their tunes or podcasts on workouts will tell you it's hard to find comfortable headphones. This is especially true if you have unique ears. Bone conduction headphones are fabulous because they don't depend on your ear shape to provide comfortable listening. A smart-home light starter kitPhilipsGift the Philips Hue White and Color LED Smart Button Starter Kit, $275.63One of the biggest gripes many dads have around the house is, "Who left the lights on?" If your partner has a similar commitment to the environment, thrift, and complaining, a smart light kit is the way to go. If the Philips Hue Starter Kit is out of your price range, check out our guide to the best smart light bulbs for more options.A wagyu steak gift boxBlack Hawk MeatsGift a box of American Wagyu steaks, from $49Wagyu steak is prized for its high fat content, which makes it melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The gift boxes from Black Hawk Farms offer an affordable way for the meat lover in your life to experience American Wagyu. Thanks to the extensive marbling, I like that even a cheaper cut of American Wagyu comes off the grill tender, juicy, and flavorful.A portable fire pit and grillBioLiteGift the BioLite FirePit+, $187.46If your husband enjoys camping and grilling, the BioLite FirePit+ is a must-have. It features a built-in fan that allows him to adjust the heat easily and control the smoke. It's our favorite outdoor fireplace and grill because it cooks efficiently, is easy to transport, and protects you from getting a faceful of smoke.A water bottle with a built-in purification systemAmazonGift the Grayl Ultralight Water Purifier [+ Filter] Bottle, $69.95If he's a traveler or adventurer, he'll appreciate this water purifier bottle that lets him access clean drinking water no matter where he is. It doesn't just filter out sediments and chemicals like chlorine; it gets rid of 99.9% of viruses, disease-causing bacteria, and more with a purifying filter that includes positively charged ions to cling into negatively charged pathogens and activated carbon to catch chemicals.   Silicone rings that look like the real thingEnso RingsGift the Enso Rings Classic Elements Silicone Ring, $39.99Silicone rings are great alternatives to metal wedding bands for anyone with an active lifestyle, even if it's just a weekly game of golf. The silicone won't get scratched or bent out of shape, and it's sweatproof and easily washable, too. Delicious cookies and truffle ballsMilk BarGift the Milk Bar Party of Two set that includes a 6-inch B'Day Cake and 12 B'Day Cake Truffles, $75If he lives every day like it's his birthday, he'll love digging into Milk Bar's B'Day Cake Truffles and 6-inch B'Day Cake. Items are packed securely and can be shipped nationwide. There's a $15 flat rate shipping on all orders.A Disney+ subscriptionAlyssa Powell/Business InsiderSubscribe to Disney+ for $79.99/yearDisney+ gives him unlimited access to movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and 20th Century Fox and costs $79.99 a year after a free seven-day trial. Read everything there is to know about Disney+ here.And if he needs some binge-spiration, here are all the new movies available to stream.A convenient way for him to discover new productsBirchbox InstagramGift a Birchbox Grooming 3-Month Subscription Gift Card, $45If he doesn't have the time and energy to hunt down new skincare and hair-care products, hand him over to Birchbox. The service will send him five samples catered to his hair, skin, and personal style every month. Breathable, supportive golf socksBombasGift the Bombas Performance Golf Ankle Sock 3-Pack, $49.50Little details, like the mesh under-toe ventilation zone, will make him appreciate these performance socks specially designed to up his golf game. Would it be extreme to attribute his birdie to Bombas? A gift card from one of our favorite activewear brandsRhoneGift a Rhone Gift Card, from $20Rhone makes some of our favorite workout gear for both inside and outside of the gym. Plus, the e-gift card is immediately sent upon purchase, so there's no need to wait for shipping. A vinyl record subscriptionVNYL InstagramGift a Vnyl subscription, from $29Vnyl's curators look at his music tastes, member profile, and Spotify playlists to send three records he'll want to dive into immediately. The included handwritten note explaining the suggestions makes the experience feel more like he's stepped into a record store. A sleek portable charger for his laptop and phoneAmazonGift the Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD 45W, $159.99 If he travels often, he's probably taking along all his tech — laptop, phone, e-reader, and more. All those gadgets have their own chargers, which can be frustrating to keep track of and take up space in his luggage, too. Anker's device can help him streamline and replace a few of the major chargers. It's a portable battery pack with enough power to charge a laptop and comes with a wall charger and USB-C to C cable so it can replace most, if not all, of his other cords and cables. Silky soft lounge pants that fit like a second skinTommy JohnGift a pair of Tommy John Lounge Pants, from $58The brand's beloved lounge pants are delightfully airy, stretchy, and soft. Matching underwear in a fun printMeUndies InstagramGift a matching set of MeUndies Matching Underwear, from $42Choose your favorite underwear cuts (over 15 options), then go on to the fun part. Find a print so the two of you can match. MeUndies offers solid colors, but we love the adventurous, cartoon-splashed prints more. The actual underwear is very comfortable and soft.A mini cast iron skilletField Company InstagramGift the Field #4 Cast Iron Skillet, $95The smallest version of Field Company's lightweight and smooth vintage-style cast iron is the perfect size for cooking small sides. Cookies that look like himEtsyGift the Custom Portrait Cookie Cutters from Etsy, from $30Having his likeness recreated on these delicious cookies is a gift he'll never forget. Make sure to take a side-by-side photo before he eats them all. A protective spray that keeps his shoes shiny and newAmazonGift the Jason Markk Repel Spray, $17If he loves shoes, he should have the right products to take care of his favorite footwear. This spray protects shoes from water and oil stains, and there are multiple people on our team who swear by it for every new pair of shoes they get. Creatively sentimental cufflinksLove LetterGift Uncommon Goods' Love Letter Cufflinks, from $80The tiny envelopes open up to reveal a small and thoughtful reminder. You can replace it and surprise him with your own sweet message, too.Vitamin-infused body washNecessaire InstagramGift the Necessaire Body Wash, $25Gender-neutral personal care brand Necessaire treats the body with clean, sustainable ingredients and vitamins. He'll love using the Eucalyptus or Sandalwood body washes to nourish his skin without stripping it of moisture. Glasses to reduce eye fatigueFelix Gray InstagramGift a pair of Felix Gray Sleep Glasses, from $145The blue light that comes off our screens affects sleep, so gift him these blue-light-blocking glasses. His eyes won't feel as tired or dry, and he might have an easier time drifting off to sleep. A framed photoMintedGift the Minted Best Dad Ever Frame, from $94.50You can never go wrong with a photo of the family framed by handcrafted wood or metal. The metallic foil gives it a special touch. Dress clothes that fit him perfectlySpier and MackayGift a Spier & MacKay Gift Card, from $50He can get custom-fit suits for surprisingly affordable prices from Canadian startup Spier & Mackay. Insider Reviews reporter Amir Ismael calls it the best choice "if you're having a treat-yourself moment or you need a shirt for a special occasion."A 15-pound weighted blanketJen Gushue/InsiderGift the Brooklinen Weighted Comforter, from $211.65This heavy weighted blanket will ease him to sleep after a long day, thanks to its comforting embrace. If this option doesn't feel quite right, check out our guide to the best weighted blankets.A new electric toothbrushQuipGift the Quip Electric Toothbrush, from $25With Quip's sleek metallic styles, this toothbrush is both a pretty and thoughtful gift. Because he'll always have a new brush head on the way via its subscription, you're also taking one more chore off his plate.A curated cocktail kitInside this curated cocktail kit, he'll find all the top-shelf spirits and ingredients he needs to bring two creative cocktail recipes to life.Saloon BoxGift a SaloonBox Cocktail Kit Box, $172.99Inside he'll find all the top-shelf spirits and ingredients he needs to bring two creative cocktail recipes to life. Rather than regret all the money spent on ingredients he'll only use once, he can refocus his energy to enjoying his boozy creation. A cool phone case and phone grip accessoryAmazonGift a Scooch Wingman Phone Case, $39.99It's a multi-talented force the likes of which the phone accessory world has never seen before — a grip, stand, car mount, and phone case, all in one convenient and sturdy package. Learn more about why we love it in our Scooch Wingman review.A staycationAirbnb/FacebookBook a unique online experience at Airbnb, price variesA staycation is a good excuse to get away from the kids for the weekend and reset, all while staying in your home. It'll help him appreciate a familiar place in a new light, and he'll return to his day-to-day with renewed energy and vigor. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 1st, 2021

Risk Cracks After Moderna CEO Comments Spark Global Stock Rout

Risk Cracks After Moderna CEO Comments Spark Global Stock Rout Ask a drug dealer if methadone helps cure a cocaine addition and - shockingly - you will hear that the answer is "hell no", after all an affirmative response would mean the fixer needs to get a real job. Just as shocking was the "admission" of Moderna CEO, Stéphane Bancel, who in the latest stop on his media whirlwind tour of the past 48 hours gave the FT an interview in which he predicted that existing vaccines will be much less effective at tackling Omicron than earlier strains of coronavirus and warned it would take months before pharmaceutical companies could manufacture new variant-specific jabs at scale. “There is no world, I think, where [the effectiveness] is the same level . . . we had with [the] Delta [variant],” Bancel told the Financial Times, claiming that the high number of Omicron mutations on the spike protein, which the virus uses to infect human cells, and the rapid spread of the variant in South Africa suggested that the current crop of vaccines may need to be modified next year. Here, the self-serving CEO whose sell-mode was fully engaged - after all what else would the maker of a vaccine for covid say than "yes, the world will need more of my product" - completely ignored the earlier comments from Barry Schoub, chairman of South Afruca's Ministerial Advisory Committee on Vaccines, who over the weekend said that the large number of mutations found in the omicron variant appears to destabilize the virus, which might make it less “fit” than the dominant delta strain. As such, it would be a far less virulent strain... but of course that would also reduce the need for Moderna's mRNA therapy and so Bancel failed to mention it. What is grotesque is that the Moderna CEO’s comments on existing vaccines’ effectiveness against the omicron variant is “old news so should be a fade,” says Prashant Newnaha, a senior Asia-Pacific rates strategist at TD Securities in Singapore. Indeed as Bloomberg notes, Bancel reiterated comments made by Moderna’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton during the weekend. Alas, the last thing algos care about is nuance and/or reading between the lines, and so moments after Bancel's interview hit, markets hit risk off mode on Tuesday, and yesterday’s bounce in markets immediately reversed amid fresh worries about the efficacy of currently available vaccines with U.S. equity futures dropping along with stocks in Europe. Bonds gained as investors sought havens. After dropping as much as 1.2%, S&P futures pared losses to -0.7%, down 37 points just above 4,600. Dow Eminis were down 339 points or 1% and Nasdaq was down -0.8%. Adding to concerns is Fed Chair Jerome Powell who today will speak, alongside Janet Yellen, at the Senate Banking Committee in congressional oversight hearings related to pandemic stimulus. Last night Powell made a dovish pivot saying the new variant poses downside risks to employment and growth while adding to uncertainty about inflation. Powell's comments dragged yields lower and hit bank stocks overnight. “The market’s reaction to reports such as Moderna’s suggest the ball is still very much in the court of proving that this will not escalate,” said Patrick Bennett, head of macro strategy for Asia at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Hong Kong. “Until that time, mode is to sell recoveries in risk and not to try and pick the extent of the selloff” U.S. airline and cruiseliner stocks dropped in premarket trading Tuesday, after vaccine maker Moderna’s top executives reiterated that the omicron variant of the coronavirus may require new vaccines. Most U.S. airline stocks were down: Alaska Air -5%, United -3.2%, American -3%, Spirit -2.7%, Delta -2.6%, JetBlue -2.6%, Southwest -1.7%. Here are some other notable movers today: U.S. banks decline in premarket trading following comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell that may push back bets on when the central bank will raise rates. Citigroup (C US) -2.4%, JPMorgan (JPM US) -2.2%, Morgan Stanley (MS US) -2.6% Vaccine manufacturers mixed in U.S. premarket trading after rallying in recent days and following further comments from Moderna about treating the new omicron Covid-19 variant. Pfizer (PFE US) +1.6%, Novavax  (NVAS US) +1.3%, Moderna (MRNA US) -3.8% U.S. airline and cruiseliner stocks dropped in premarket trading Tuesday, after vaccine maker Moderna’s top executives reiterated that the omicron variant of the coronavirus may require new vaccines. Alaska Air (ALK US) -5%, United (UAL US) -3.2%, American (AAL US) -3% Krystal Biotech (KRYS US) jumped 4.3% in postmarket trading on Monday, extending gains after a 122% jump during the regular session. The company is offering $200m of shares via Goldman Sachs, BofA, Cowen, William Blair, according to a postmarket statement MEI Pharma (MEIP US) gained 8% postmarket after the cancer-treatment company said it will hold a webcast Tuesday to report on data from the ongoing Phase 2 Tidal study evaluating zandelisib in patients with relapsed or refractory follicular lymphoma Intuit (INTU US) declined 3.4% postmarket after holder Dan Kurzius, co-founder of Mailchimp, offered the stake via Goldman Sachs In Europe, the Stoxx 600 index fell to almost a seven-week low. Cyclical sectors including retail, travel and carmakers were among the biggest decliners, while energy stocks tumbled as crude oil headed for the worst monthly loss this year; every industry sector fell led by travel stocks. Earlier in the session, the Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.6% while the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index lost 1.5% to finish at its weakest level since May 2016. Asian stocks erased early gains to head for a third day of losses on fresh concerns that existing Covid-19 vaccines will be less effective at tackling the omicron variant. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index extended its fall to nearly 1% after having risen as much as 0.8% earlier on Tuesday. The current crop of vaccines may need to be modified next year, Moderna Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel said in an interview with the Financial Times, adding that it may take months before pharmaceutical firms can manufacture new variant-specific jabs at scale. U.S. futures also reversed gains. Property and consumer staples were the worst-performing sectors on the regional benchmark. Key gauges in Hong Kong and South Korea were the biggest losers in Asia, with the Kospi index erasing all of its gains for this year. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index lost 1.5% to finish at its weakest level since May 2016. The fresh bout of selling offset early optimism spurred by data showing China’s factory sentiment improved in November. “With the slower vaccination rate and more limited health-care capacity in the region, uncertainty from the new omicron variant may seem to bring about higher economic risks for the region at a time where it is shifting towards further reopening,” said Jun Rong Yeap, a market strategist at IG Asia Pte. Asia’s stock benchmark is now down 3.5% for the month, set for its worst performance since July, as nervousness remains over the U.S. Federal Reserve’s tapering schedule and the potential economic impact of the omicron variant. “Moderna is one of the primary mRNA vaccines out there, so the risk-off sentiment is justified,” said Kelvin Wong, an analyst at CMC Markets (Singapore) Pte. Liquidity is thinner going into the end of the year, so investors are “thinking it’s wise to take some money off the table,” he added Japanese equities fell, reversing an earlier gain to cap their third-straight daily loss, after a report cast doubt on hopes for a quick answer to the omicron variant of the coronavirus. Telecoms and electronics makers were the biggest drags on the Topix, which dropped 1%, erasing an earlier gain of as much as 1.5%. Fast Retailing and SoftBank Group were the largest contributors to a 1.6% loss in the Nikkei 225. The yen strengthened about 0.4% against the dollar, reversing an earlier loss. Japanese stocks advanced earlier in the day, following U.S. peers higher as a relative sense of calm returned to global markets. Tokyo share gains reversed quickly in late afternoon trading after a Financial Times report that Moderna’s Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel said a new vaccine may be needed to fight omicron. “The report of Moderna CEO’s remarks has bolstered an overall movement toward taking off risk,” said SMBC Trust Bank analyst Masahiro Yamaguchi. “Market participants will probably be analyzing information on vaccines and the new virus variant for the next couple of weeks, so shares will likely continue to fluctuate on these headlines.” In FX, the dollar dropped alongside commodity-linked currencies while the yen and gold climbed and bitcoin surged as safe havens were bid. The yen swung to a gain after Moderna Inc.’s chief executive Stephane Bancel was quoted by the Financial Times saying existing vaccines may not be effective enough to tackle the omicron variant. Commodity-linked currencies including the Aussie, kiwi and Norwegian krone all declined, underperforming the dollar In rates, treasuries held gains after flight-to-quality rally extended during Asia session and European morning, when bunds and gilts also benefited from haven flows. Stocks fell after Moderna CEO predicted waning vaccine efficacy. Intermediates lead gains, with yields richer by nearly 6bp across 7-year sector; 10-year Treasuries are richer by 5.6bp at 1.443%, vs 2.5bp for German 10-year, 4.7bp for U.K. Long-end may draw support from potential for month-end buying; Bloomberg Treasury index rebalancing was projected to extend duration by 0.11yr as of Nov. 22. Expectations of month-end flows may support the market, and Fed Chair Powell is slated to testify to a Senate panel.       In commodities, crude futures are off their late-Asia lows but remain in the red. WTI trades close to $68.30, stalling near Friday’s lows; Brent is off over 2.5% near $71.50. Spot gold rises ~$11 near $1,796/oz. Base metals are mixed: LME zinc outperforms, rising as much as 1.6%.  To the day ahead now, and the main central bank highlight will be Fed Chair Powell’s appearance before the Senate Banking Committee, alongside Treasury Secretary Yellen. In addition, we’ll hear from Fed Vice Chair Clarida, the Fed’s Williams, the ECB’s Villeroy and de Cos, and the BoE’s Mann. On the data side, we’ll get the flash November CPI reading for the Euro Area today, as well as the readings from France and Italy. In addition, there’s data on German unemployment for November, Canadian GDP for Q3, whilst in the US there’s the Conference Board’s consumer confidence measure for November, the FHFA house price index for September, and the MNI Chicago PMI for November. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 1.2% to 4,595.00 STOXX Europe 600 down 1.4% to 460.47 MXAP down 0.5% to 190.51 MXAPJ down 0.6% to 620.60 Nikkei down 1.6% to 27,821.76 Topix down 1.0% to 1,928.35 Hang Seng Index down 1.6% to 23,475.26 Shanghai Composite little changed at 3,563.89 Sensex down 0.2% to 57,122.74 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.2% to 7,255.97 Kospi down 2.4% to 2,839.01 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.36% Euro up 0.6% to $1.1362 Brent Futures down 3.0% to $71.26/bbl Brent Futures down 3.0% to $71.26/bbl Gold spot up 0.7% to $1,796.41 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.65% to 95.72 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Euro-area inflation surged to a record for the era of the single currency and exceeded all forecasts, adding to the European Central Bank’s challenge before a crucial meeting next month on the future of monetary stimulus. If the drop in government bond yields on Friday signaled how skittish markets were, fresh declines are leaving them looking no less nervous. One of Germany’s most prominent economists is urging the European Central Bank to be more transparent in outlining its exit from unprecedented monetary stimulus and argues that ruling out an end to negative interest rates next year may be a mistake. The Hong Kong dollar fell into the weak half of its trading band for the first time since December 2019 as the emergence of a new coronavirus variant hurt appetite for risk assets. A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equities traded mixed with early momentum seen following the rebound on Wall Street where risk assets recovered from Friday’s heavy selling pressure as liquidity conditions normalized post-Thanksgiving and after some of the Omicron fears abated given the mild nature in cases so far, while participants also digested a slew of data releases including better than expected Chinese Manufacturing PMI. However, markets were later spooked following comments from Moderna's CEO that existing vaccines will be much less effective against the Omicron variant. ASX 200 (+0.2%) was underpinned by early strength across its sectors aside from utilities and with gold miners also hampered by the recent lacklustre mood in the precious metal which failed to reclaim the USD 1800/oz level but remained in proximity for another attempt. In addition, disappointing Building Approvals and inline Net Exports Contribution data had little impact on sentiment ahead of tomorrow’s Q3 GDP release, although the index then faded most its gains after the comments from Moderna's CEO, while Nikkei 225 (-1.6%) was initially lifted by the recent rebound in USD/JPY but then slumped amid the broad risk aversion late in the session. Hang Seng (-1.6%) and Shanghai Comp. (Unch) were varied in which the mainland was kept afloat for most the session after a surprise expansion in Chinese Manufacturing PMI and a mild liquidity injection by the PBoC, with a central bank-backed publication also suggesting that recent open market operations demonstrates an ample liquidity goal, although Hong Kong underperformed on tech and property losses and with casino names pressured again as shares in junket operator Suncity slumped 37% on reopen from a trading halt in its first opportunity to react to the arrest of its Chairman. Finally, 10yr JGBs were initially contained following early momentum in stocks and somewhat inconclusive 2yr JGB auction which showed better results from the prior, albeit at just a marginal improvement, but then was underpinned on a haven bid after fears of the Omicron variant later resurfaced. Top Asian News China’s Biggest Crypto Exchange Picks Singapore as Asia Base SoftBank-Backed Snapdeal Targets $250 Million IPO in 2022 Omicron Reaches Nations From U.K. to Japan in Widening Spread Slump in China Gas Shows Spreading Impact of Property Slowdown Major European bourses are on the backfoot (Euro Stoxx 50 -1.5%; Stoxx 600 -1.5%) as COVID fears again take the spotlight on month-end. APAC markets were firmer for a large part of the overnight session, but thereafter the risk-off trigger was attributed to comments from Moderna's CEO suggesting that existing vaccines will be much less effective against the Omicron COVID strain. On this, some caveats worth keeping in mind - the commentary on the potential need for a vaccine does come from a vaccine maker, who could benefit from further global inoculation, whilst data on the new variant remains sparse. Meanwhile, WSJ reported Regeneron's and Eli Lilly's COVID antiviral cocktails had lost efficacy vs the Omicron variant - however, the extent to which will need to be subject to further testing. Furthermore, producers appear to be confident that they will be able to adjust their products to accommodate the new variant, albeit the timeline for mass production will not be immediate. Nonetheless, the sullied sentiment has persisted throughout the European morning and has also seeped into US equity futures: the cyclically bias RTY (-1.7%) lags the ES (-1.0%) and YM (-1.3%), whilst the tech-laden NQ (-0.5%) is cushioned by the slump in yields. Back to Europe, broad-based losses are seen across the majors. Sectors tilt defensive but to a lesser extent than seen at the European cash open. Travel & Leisure, Oil & Gas, and Retail all sit at the bottom of the bunch amid the potential implications of the new COVID variant. Tech benefits from the yield play, which subsequently weighs on the Banking sector. The retail sector is also weighed on by Spanish giant Inditex (-4.3%) following a CEO reshuffle. In terms of other movers, Glencore (-0.9%) is softer after Activist investor Bluebell Capital Partners called on the Co. to spin off its coal business and divest non-core assets. In a letter seen by the FT, Glencore was also asked to improve corporate governance. In terms of equity commentary, analysts at JPM suggest investors should take a more nuanced view on reopening as the bank expects post-COVID normalisation to gradually asset itself over the course of 2022. The bank highlights hawkish central bank policy shifts as the main risk to their outlook. Thus, the analysts see European equities outperforming the US, whilst China is seen outpacing EMs. JPM targets S&P 500 at 5,050 (closed at 4,655.27 yesterday) by the end of 2022 with EPS at USD 240 – marking a 14% increase in annual EPS. Top European News Omicron Reaches Nations From U.K. to Japan in Widening Spread ECB Bosses Lack Full Diplomatic Immunity, EU’s Top Court Says Adler Keeps Investors Waiting for Answers on Fraud Claims European Gas Prices Surge Above 100 Euros With Eyes on Russia In FX, the Greenback may well have been grounded amidst rebalancing flows on the final trading day of November, as bank models are flagging a net sell signal, albeit relatively weak aside from vs the Yen per Cit’s index, but renewed Omicron concerns stoked by Moderna’s CEO casting considerable doubt about the efficacy of current vaccines against the new SA strain have pushed the Buck back down in any case. Indeed, the index has now retreated further from its 2021 apex set less than a week ago and through 96.000 to 95.662, with only the Loonie and Swedish Krona underperforming within the basket, and the Antipodean Dollars plus Norwegian Crown in wider G10 circles. Looking at individual pairings, Usd/Jpy has reversed from the high 113.00 area and breached a Fib just below the round number on the way down to circa 112.68 for a marginal new m-t-d low, while Eur/Usd is back above 1.1350 having scaled a Fib at 1.1290 and both have left decent option expiries some distance behind in the process (1.6 bn at 113.80 and 1.3 bn between 1.1250-55 respectively). Elsewhere, Usd/Chf is eyeing 0.9175 irrespective of a slightly weaker than forecast Swiss KoF indicator and Cable has bounced firmly from the low 1.3300 zone towards 1.3375 awaiting commentary from BoE’s Mann. NZD/AUD/CAD - As noted above, the tables have turned for the Kiwi, Aussie and Loonie along with risk sentiment in general, and Nzd/Usd is now pivoting 0.6800 with little help from a deterioration in NBNZ business confidence or a decline in the activity outlook. Similarly, Aud/Usd has been undermined by much weaker than forecast building approvals and a smaller than anticipated current account surplus, but mostly keeping hold of the 0.7100 handle ahead of Q3 GDP and Usd/Cad has shot up from around 1.2730 to top 1.2800 at one stage in advance of Canadian growth data for the prior quarter and month of September as oil recoils (WTI to an even deeper trough only cents off Usd 67/brl). Back down under, 1 bn option expiry interest at 1.0470 in Aud/Nzd could well come into play given that the cross is currently hovering near the base of a 1.0483-39 range. SCANDI/EM - The aforementioned downturn in risk appetite after Monday’s brief revival has hit the Sek and Nok hard, but the latter is also bearing the brunt of Brent’s latest collapse to the brink of Usd 70/brl at worst, while also taking on board that the Norges Bank plans to refrain from foreign currency selling through December having stopped midway through this month. The Rub is also feeling the adverse effect of weaker crude prices and ongoing geopolitical angst to the extent that hawkish CBR rhetoric alluding to aggressive tightening next month is hardly keeping it propped, but the Cnh and Cny continue to defy the odds or gravity in wake of a surprise pop back above 50.0 in China’s official manufacturing PMI. Conversely, the Zar is struggling to contain losses sub-16.0000 vs the Usd on SA virus-related factors even though Gold is approaching Usd 1800/oz again, while the Try is striving to stay within sight of 13.0000 following a slender miss in Turkish Q3 y/y GDP. In commodities, WTI and Brent front month futures are once again under pressure amid the aforementioned COVID jitters threatening the demand side of the equation, albeit the market remains in a state of uncertainty given how little is known about the new variant ahead of the OPEC+ confab. It is still unclear at this point in time which route OPEC+ members will opt for, but seemingly the feasible options on the table are 1) a pause in output hikes, 2) a smaller output hike, 3) maintaining current output hikes. Energy journalists have suggested the group will likely be influenced by oil price action, but nonetheless, the findings of the JTC and JMMC will be closely watched for the group's updated forecasts against the backdrop of COVID and the recently coordinated SPR releases from net oil consumers – a move which the US pledged to repeat if needed. Elsewhere, Iranian nuclear talks were reportedly somewhat constructive – according to the Russian delegate – with working groups set to meet today and tomorrow regarding the sanctions on Iran. This sentiment, however, was not reciprocated by Western sources (cited by WSJ), which suggested there was no clarity yet on whether the teams were ready for serious negotiations and serious concessions. WTI Jan resides around session lows near USD 67.50/bbl (vs high USD 71.22/bbl), while Brent Feb dipped under USD 71/bbl (vs high USD 84.56/bb). Over to metals, spot gold remains underpinned in European trade by the cluster of DMA's under USD 1,800/oz – including the 100 (USD 1,792/oz), 200 (USD 1,791/oz) and 50 (1,790/oz). Turning to base metals, LME copper is modestly softer around the USD 9,500/t mark, whilst Dalian iron ore futures meanwhile rose over 6% overnight, with traders citing increasing Chinese demand. US Event Calendar 9am: 3Q House Price Purchase Index QoQ, prior 4.9% 9am: Sept. FHFA House Price Index MoM, est. 1.2%, prior 1.0% 9am: Sept. Case Shiller Composite-20 YoY, est. 19.30%, prior 19.66%; S&P/CS 20 City MoM SA, est. 1.20%, prior 1.17% 9:45am: Nov. MNI Chicago PMI, est. 67.0, prior 68.4 10am: Nov. Conf. Board Consumer Confidenc, est. 111.0, prior 113.8 10am: Nov. Conf. Board Present Situation, prior 147.4 10am: Nov. Conf. Board Expectations, prior 91.3 Central Banks 10am: Powell, Yellen Testify Before Senate Panel on CARES Act Relief 10:30am: Fed’s Williams gives remarks at NY Fed food- insecurity event 1pm: Fed’s Clarida Discusses Fed Independence DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Just as we go to print markets are reacting negatively to an interview with the Moderna CEO in the FT that has just landed where he said that with regards to Omicron, “There is no world, I think, where (the effectiveness) is the same level... we had with Delta…… I think it’s going to be a material drop (efficacy). I just don’t know how much because we need to wait for the data. But all the scientists I’ve talked to . . . are like ‘this is not going to be good’.”” This is not really new news relative to the last 3-4 days given what we know about the new mutation but the market is picking up on the explicit comments. In response S&P futures have gone from slightly up to down just over -0.5% and Treasury yields immediately dipped -4bps to 1.46%. The Nikkei has erased gains and is down around -1% and the Hang Seng is c.-1.8%. This is breaking news so check your screens after you read this. In China the official November PMI data came in stronger than expected with the Manufacturing PMI at 50.1 (49.7 consensus vs 49.2 previous) and the non-manufacturing PMI at 52.3 (51.5 consensus vs 52.4 previous). The negative headlines above as we go to print followed a market recovery yesterday as investors hoped that the Omicron variant wouldn’t prove as bad as initially feared. In reality, the evidence is still incredibly limited on this question, and nothing from the Moderna CEO overnight changes that. However the more positive sentiment was also evident from the results of our flash poll in yesterday’s EMR where we had 1569 responses so very many thanks. The poll showed that just 10% thought it would still be the biggest topic in financial markets by the end of the year, with 30% instead thinking it’ll largely be forgotten about. The other 60% thought it would still be an issue but only of moderate importance. So if that’s correct and our respondents are a fair reflection of broader market sentiment, then it points to some big downside risks ahead if we get notable bad news on the variant. For the record I would have been with the majority with tendencies towards the largely forgotten about answer. So I will be as off-side as much as most of you on the variant downside risk scenario. When I did a similar poll on Evergrande 2 and a half months ago, only 8% thought it would be significantly impacting markets a month later with 78% in aggregate thinking limited mention/impact, and 15% thinking it would have no impact. So broadly similar responses and back then the 15% were most correct although the next 78% weren’t far off. In terms of the latest developments yesterday, we’re still waiting to find out some of the key pieces of information about this new strain, including how effective vaccines still are, and about the extent of any increased risk of transmission, hospitalisation and death. Nevertheless, countries around the world are continuing to ramp up their own responses as they await this information. President Biden laid out the US strategy for tackling Omicron in a public address yesterday, underscoring the variant was a cause for concern rather than panic. He noted travel bans from certain jurisdictions would remain in place to buy authorities time to evaluate the variant, but did not anticipate that further travel bans or domestic lockdowns would be implemented, instead urging citizens to get vaccinated or a booster shot. Over in Europe, Bloomberg reported that EU leaders were discussing whether to have a virtual summit on Friday about the issue, and Poland moved to toughen up their own domestic restrictions, with a 50% capacity limit on restaurants, hotels, gyms and cinemas. In Germany, Chancellor Merkel and Vice Chancellor Scholz will be meeting with state premiers today, whilst the UK government’s vaccination committee recommended that every adult be eligible for a booster shot, rather than just the over-40s at present. Boosters have done a tremendous job in dramatically reducing cases in the elder cohort in the UK in recent weeks so one by product of Omicron is that it may accelerate protection in a wider age group everywhere. Assuming vaccines have some impact on Omicron this could be a positive development, especially if symptoms are less bad. Markets recovered somewhat yesterday, with the S&P 500 gaining +1.32% to recover a large portion of Friday’s loss. The index was driven by mega-cap tech names, with the Nasdaq up +1.88% and small cap stocks underperforming, with the Russell 2000 down -0.18%, so the market wasn’t completely pricing out omicron risks by any means. Nevertheless, Covid-specific names performed how you would expect given the improved sentiment; stay-at-home trades that outperformed Friday fell, including Zoom (-0.56%), Peloton (-4.35%), and HelloFresh (-0.8%), while Moderna (+11.80%) was the biggest winner following the weekend news that a reformulated vaccine could be available in early 2022. Elsewhere, Twitter (-2.74%) initially gained after it was announced CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey would be stepping down, but trended lower throughout the rest of the day. The broader moves put the index back in positive territory for the month as we hit November’s last trading day today. Europe saw its own bounceback too, with the STOXX 600 up +0.69%. Over in rates, the partial unwind of Friday’s moves was even smaller, with yields on 10yr Treasuries moving up +2.6bps to 1.50%, driven predominantly by real rates, as inflation breakevens were a touch narrower across the curve. One part of the curve that didn’t retrace Friday’s move was the short end, where markets continued to push Fed rate hikes back ever so slightly, with the first full hike now being priced for September (though contracts as early as May still price some meaningful probability of Fed hikes). We may see some further movements today as well, with Fed Chair Powell set to appear before the Senate Banking Committee at 15:00 London time, where he may well be asked about whether the Fed plans to accelerate the tapering of their asset purchases although it’s hard to believe he’ll go too far with any guidance with the Omicron uncertainty. The Chair’s brief planned testimony was published on the Fed’s website last night. It struck a slightly more hawkish tone on inflation, noting that the Fed’s forecast was for elevated inflation to persist well into next year and recognition that high inflation imposes burdens on those least able to handle them. On omicron, the testimony predictably stated it posed risks that could slow the economy’s progress, but tellingly on the inflation front, it could intensify supply chain disruptions. The real fireworks will almost certainly come in the question and answer portion of the testimony. The bond moves were more muted in Europe though, with yields on 10yr bunds (+2.0bps), OATs (+1.0bps) and BTPs (+0.4bps) only seeing a modest increase. Crude oil prices also didn’t bounce back with as much rigor as equities. Brent gained +0.99% while WTI futures increased +2.64%. They are back down -1 to -1.5% this morning. Elsewhere in DC, Senator Joe Manchin noted that Democrats could raise the debt ceiling on their own through the reconciliation process, but indicated a preference for the increase not to be included in the build back better bill, for which his support still seems lukewarm. We’re approaching crucial deadlines on the debt ceiling and financing the federal government, so these headlines should become more commonplace over the coming days. There were some further developments on the inflation front yesterday as Germany reported that inflation had risen to +6.0% in November (vs. +5.5% expected) on the EU-harmonised measure, and up from +4.6% in October. The German national measure also rose to +5.2% (vs. +5.0% expected), which was the highest since 1992. Speaking of Germany, Bloomberg reported that the shortlist for the Bundesbank presidency had been narrowed down to 4 candidates, which included Isabel Schnabel of the ECB’s Executive Board, and Joachim Nagel, who’s currently the Deputy Head of the Banking Department at the Bank for International Settlements. Today we’ll likely get some further headlines on inflation as the flash estimate for the entire Euro Area comes out, as well as the numbers for France and Italy. There wasn’t much in the way of other data yesterday, though UK mortgage approvals fell to 67.2k in October (vs. 70.0k expected), which is their lowest level since June 2020. Separately, US pending home sales were up +7.5% in October (vs. +1.0% expected), whilst the Dallas Fed’s manufacturing activity index for November unexpectedly fell to 11.8 (vs. 15.0 expected). Finally, the European Commission’s economic sentiment indicator for the Euro Area dipped to 117.5 in November as expected, its weakest level in 6 months. To the day ahead now, and the main central bank highlight will be Fed Chair Powell’s appearance before the Senate Banking Committee, alongside Treasury Secretary Yellen. In addition, we’ll hear from Fed Vice Chair Clarida, the Fed’s Williams, the ECB’s Villeroy and de Cos, and the BoE’s Mann. On the data side, we’ll get the flash November CPI reading for the Euro Area today, as well as the readings from France and Italy. In addition, there’s data on German unemployment for November, Canadian GDP for Q3, whilst in the US there’s the Conference Board’s consumer confidence measure for November, the FHFA house price index for September, and the MNI Chicago PMI for November. Tyler Durden Tue, 11/30/2021 - 07:50.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 30th, 2021

Pets Are Increasingly Influencing their Owners’ Housing Decisions

(TNS)—Hannah Wood, a work-from-home product manager for a healthcare company, would like to relocate to Philadelphia to live near her mother, but she’s struggling to find a place that will welcome her roommate, Lea, a 55-pound, mixed-breed dog. Wood initially had hoped to buy a house, but the current competitive market has her searching for […] The post Pets Are Increasingly Influencing their Owners’ Housing Decisions appeared first on RISMedia. (TNS)—Hannah Wood, a work-from-home product manager for a healthcare company, would like to relocate to Philadelphia to live near her mother, but she’s struggling to find a place that will welcome her roommate, Lea, a 55-pound, mixed-breed dog. Wood initially had hoped to buy a house, but the current competitive market has her searching for a rental, and landlords often limit the size and breed of dog. “Many only accept dogs up to 15 or 20 pounds, which excludes like 60% of all breeds,” she said. “It’s been a struggle to find a place without a lot of restrictions.” Pets are increasingly affecting their owners’ real estate choices, whether it’s the neighborhood they choose, the home they buy or rent, or how they arrange and decorate their space. A 2020® survey found that a majority of pet owners consider their animals’ needs before making a home purchase. Of the 2,000 survey participants, 61% were dog owners, 45% owned cats, 12% fish and 9% birds. About half of U.S. households have pets, according to the Census Bureau, and in 2020, owners spent on average $1,201 on dogs and $687 on cats, according to Statistica, a provider of consumer and market data. Pet owners tend to buy larger homes with more bedrooms, Zillow reported in October. Buyers with at least one pet are more likely  to choose a home larger than 3,000 square feet, and about a third  purchased a home with four bedrooms or more, compared to a quarter of buyers without pets. “For me and many people in my generation, (my dog) is my child, where I spend my time and money,” said Wood, who’s 42 and single. “It’s time for real estate companies to understand it’s how we live.” What Pet Owners Want An ideal home for Wood—who would like to move to Philadelphia by January—would be a mid-rise or smaller building with adjacent green space, a nearby park and a space to wash Lea after a muddy walk. Wood has lived in several very pet-friendly cities, including Portland, Oregon, where dog biscuits were available at her building’s front desk, and her current home, Saratoga Springs, New York, where “dogs are allowed everywhere—restaurants, the post office.” “I literally just saw someone walking a cat in a baby carriage,” she said. Philadelphia, with 23.62% of rentals classified as pet-friendly, ranked 28th in a “Lets for Pets” list of 50 U.S. cities compiled in October by All About Cats, which offers expertise on feline behavior and health. New York was first with 66.45% welcoming rentals. In West Philadelphia, competition is fierce in old Victorians for ground level apartments with easy access to fenced-in yards, said Lindsay Johnston with Common Ground REALTORS® in University City, where “a dog is very much a part of the social life.” He sees the same dog owners walking the same loop every day, morning and evening. They also take advantage of the park and designated dog parks nearby. Before buying or renting, pet owners should check for homeowner association or building restrictions on number or type of pets and whether they need to be spayed or neutered. Beyond enough space for their pet, the National Association of REALTORS® says owners often seek a fenced yard; sidewalks; easy-to-clean, durable flooring; a mud room/wash area; a dog door; an animal pool/outdoor water feature; or a cat litter closet. “If you have the option,” Johnston said, “get your pet after you buy or rent, in case you don’t get the square footage or other things you want.” When Mindy Rhodes and John Braxton were house-hunting six years ago, they wanted a quiet, old house with enough acreage for her horse, Spike, whom she had been boarding. She thought the search would take several years, but they spotted an internet listing for a property in suburban West Chester, Pennsylvania, with “just enough land to bring my horse home.” Because horses are happier in a herd, she soon acquired two donkeys, Mama and Mia, to keep Spike company. She also has three dogs, two cats, two rabbits, four chickens in a coop, and a duck named Lucy, who wears a diaper when she comes inside (”I don’t know whether I’d do that again,” Rhodes said). She deemed cats the easiest, because they’re resilient and adaptable to their surroundings. “People train dogs,” Rhodes said. “Cats train people.” Rhodes’ animals enjoy having the run of her three acres, as well as a spot by the fire, she said. “It’s a luxury not to have to walk the dogs.” Pet-Friendly Design Having a dedicated space for pets is a major consideration when organizing a home, according to almost a quarter of the 1,000 adults surveyed last summer by the residential mortgage division of Ally Bank. “For us, dogs are family, so it was just a natural part of the design process to consider them,” said Kirstin McGowan, of Mechanicsville, Pennsylvania, who has two yellow Labrador retrievers, Milly and Bentley. During a recent remodel, she and her husband, Sean, added a built-in shelf for the dogs’ bowls “because there’s nothing more annoying than tripping over them in a tight kitchen,” she said. The McGowans put in hardwood floors and use washable rugs for easier cleaning and have multiple dog beds indoors and out. Because the dogs tend to dig, the couple built a stone patio and limited landscaping to trees in their fenced backyard. They’re in the process of adding a mudroom/laundry room and considering building in dog crates there. And they recently upgraded to a king-size bed for more room to cuddle in the morning with their two young daughters, Charlotte and Eleanor, and the dogs. What Sellers Should Do Certain pet-friendly features can contribute to a higher sale price or faster-than-expected sale, according to a Zillow report on 2020 home sales. Homes that advertise a doghouse in their listing description can sell for 3% more than expected, Zillow found, while homes advertising a fenced backyard or a dog run can sell up to five days faster. When it comes to in-person showings, however, sellers should erase any sign of a pet, especially cat odors, Johnston advised. “You’ll lose 99% of the market if you can’t remove the smell.” Sellers should repair anything damaged by pets, have the home professionally cleaned, replace carpeting and/or refinish floors. During showings, they should stow all toys, bowls and beds, and remove the pet from the house. People and Pets on the Move The coronavirus pandemic has fueled a surge of moving as Americans took advantage of remote work and record-low mortgage rates. At the same time, pet purchase and adoption rose as people were spending more time at home. In 2021, nearly three-quarters of homebuyers reported having at least one pet, up nine percentage points from the previous year, according to a Zillow housing trends report. Pet ownership among renters rose to 57% from 51% in 2020. Realtors and pet owners agree that prospective homebuyers and renters should do their homework and know their pets. “The size of the dog doesn’t necessarily tell you how much space they need,” said Pennsylvania homeowner Janet Cusack, who has a St. Bernard and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. The larger dog, Baloo, “just wants to be with people,” she said, although he does enjoy a walk in the woods. Rhodes carefully researched the type and size of pasture and best companions for her horse and spent six months getting acquainted with her property before moving him in. Wood learned from a stay at a pet-friendly hotel in Philadelphia that city sounds like traffic, sirens and fire alarms terrify her dog. Instead of setting restrictions on size or species, Wood said, she thinks landlords should require owners to demonstrate their pets have been trained to coexist peacefully with people and other pets. “Do pet interviews,” she said. “Even a Chihuahua can be mean.” ©2021 The Philadelphia Inquirer, LLC Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC The post Pets Are Increasingly Influencing their Owners’ Housing Decisions appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaNov 29th, 2021

The 7 best rice cookers we tested in 2021

If you eat rice often, a rice cooker is an invaluable tool, since cooking rice on the stove can be finicky. Here are the best rice cookers of 2021. Su-Jit Lin/InsiderTable of Contents: Masthead Sticky I researched 30 and tested 15 rice cookers to find the seven best. A lesser-known product by Yum Asia delivered flawless results across all four tests, besting well-loved brands. Read more about how the Insider Reviews team tests kitchen products.  If you've ever tasted "plain" rice and thought it was boring, I have a revelation for you: it may not be the rice. It might just be how you cooked it. Rice a staple food for countless cultures around the world, and not for nothing. It's inexpensive, filling, nutritious, and rich with subtle nuances, layers of flavor, and lovely distinctive fragrances — when prepared properly. And for that, you need a good rice cooker.Growing up in a Chinese-American family, rinsing rice for the family cooker was probably the first kitchen task I was ever given, even before I ever stirred cake batter. And having been raised in my parents' Chinese restaurant, where commercial rice cookers were an integral part of the business, it's no surprise I grew up sensitive to what constitutes good, acceptable, and bad rice. The princess and the pilaf, essentially; a pickiness I've leveraged as a food writer, product reviewer, and author of several rice cooker references and guides.However, none I've written have been as comprehensive as this one right here, for which I researched 30 rice cookers, home-tested a whopping 15, and distilled it down to the seven best based on grain type, preparation, and other factors important to both Eastern and Western rice aficionados.Here are the best rice cookers you can buy in 2021Best rice cooker overall: Yum Asia Panda 3.5-Cup Mini Rice CookerBest budget rice cooker: Aroma ARC-1126SBL 20-Cup SmartCarb MulticookerBest mini rice cooker: Black + Decker 3-Cup Rice CookerBest large capacity rice cooker: Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice CookerBest rice cooker for long-grain rice: Zojirushi UMAMI Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer NL-GAC10Best rice cooker for brown rice: Cuckoo CR-0632F 6-Cup Multifunctional Micom Rice CookerBest rice cooker for porridge: Aroma MTC-8008 Professional 8-Cup ChampagneBest rice cooker overallSu-Jit Lin/InsiderThe Panda 3.5-Cup Mini Rice Cooker from lesser-known brand Yum Asia blew me away with flawless rice through every test.Rice capacity (uncooked): 3.5 cupsRice capacity (cooked): about 7 cupsFuzzy Logic: YesPros: Detachable power cord, clear easy-view display, straightforward operation, sleek design, compact footprint, precision settings, 24-hour keep warm setting, included extra accessoriesCons: Top doesn't detach for cleaning, strong spring-back in the lid, inner pot markings are not high-contrast, only one set of water lines, quick rice setting is only for white riceThere's so much to love about this unassuming little powerhouse, it's hard to know where to start. Right out of the box, its tidy design and thoughtful details — like an included steamer basket and ladle; a handle on the measuring cup; and glossy magazine-style guide — earned immediate points. A detachable cord for neat self-storage, built-in carrying handle, minimal but easy-to-understand display, built-in spatula holder, and well-considered cook settings made it clear that functionality was a focus. The fact that it had different programs for long- or short-grain rice as well as brown rice, porridge, quick and slow cooking, steam, and even cake functions spoke to precision, which it delivered during my testing.  It cooked all four rice types perfectly — a remarkable feat. Every grain was well defined and evenly cooked all the way through. Every batch was moist but not wet; gemmy but not dry; sweet and aromatic. The only test in which the rice lost structure was as a porridge, which is to be expected, as you trade texture for extruded flavor. I loved that the countdown timer for the Keep Warm setting began right away by the minute, while most others only track time by the hour. The Keep Warm setting was gentle and the rice resisted developing any hard crustiness. Even better, as a small- to medium-capacity cooker, it's quick about its job, taking around half an hour for white rice, just under an hour for brown, and an hour and a half for porridge.Best budget rice cookerSu-Jit Lin/InsiderDespite being an older model (and one I've used for years), the Aroma SmartCarb Multicooker outperformed more expensive models in texture and taste.Rice capacity (uncooked): 10 cupsRice capacity (cooked): 20 cupsFuzzy Logic: NoPros: SmartCarb feature, large capacity, many included accessories, sauté-then-simmer capability, Keep Warm countdown begins immediately, eight one-touch programs, available in smaller 12-cup sizeCons: Non-removable lid is hard to clean, components like steamer vent and condensation catcher tend to pop off, condensation catcher eventually leaks, inner pot prone to scratching and denting, stainless steel SmartCarb basket is not nonstick, big for smaller householdsThis jack-of-all-trades multicooker has certainly mastered one: chewy, toothsome rice that retains its fragrance and flavor. It boasts a variety of other capabilities, including the Aroma brand's trademarked sauté-then-simmer technology and its headlining SmartCarb ability, which elevates the rice above the cooking water after boiling, preventing the starchy water from being reabsorbed and therefore cutting the carbohydrate content. (This feature sounds too good to be true, and unfortunately, it is. The rice texture ends up being too soft and grains blown out on this setting.)This model earned its ranking as the best budget workhorse for the quality and taste of its regularly cooked rice, a task at which it aces. This is even more notable as it's a more old-fashioned cooker, a "dumb" one despite having "smart" in the name. Unlike the other advanced cookers ruling this list, it's not a micom (microcomputerized) appliance. By relying on sensors that trigger "done" via the sudden temperature spike as the last of the water evaporates, rice (especially brown rice) comes out on just the right side of al dente. On the other hand, the fluctuations of the Fuzzy Logic micom cookers, which dynamically adjust the temperature as the rice cooks, actually have a tendency to overcook brown rice.White rice is ready to eat as soon as you crack open the lid, sweet and steam-cooked rather than boiled. And if you want to wait a bit, its 12-hour Keep Warm function does its job well for about three hours before the steam catcher traps more moisture than it returns to the rice.Best mini rice cookerSu-Jit Lin/InsiderIf you just need a cheap monotasker for one or two people, this bargain buy from Black + Decker is just right.Rice capacity (uncooked): 1.5 cupsRice capacity (cooked): 3 cupsFuzzy Logic: NoPros: Really inexpensive, detachable clip-on lid, just the basics, cooks quicklyCons: Looks flimsy, design creates boil-over and burn risk, hard to read water markings, outer body gets very hot, rice hardens quickly and is hard to scoop out, no Keep Warm timer, no display at all, no audible notificationsBeating out much pricier and much more advanced mini models, this child's toy-looking, basic one-setting, one-button, entry-level rice cooker resulted in surprisingly acceptable rice. The quality of its results came nowhere near any of the others on this list, but for a household of one that's short on storage space and long on thrift, this utilitarian mono-tasker does its job cheerfully and quickly. It relies on an old-fashioned temperature trip sensor to determine when the rice is done; the only audio cue you'll get is the flip of the switch as it changes from Cooking to Keep Warm settings. Like with other "dumb" rice cooker models, it's important to be patient and give the rice at least 15 minutes of resting time before it really is ready. If you try to eat the rice right away, you'll find it still quite wet and undercooked. Give it that rest, though, and your patience will be rewarded with sweet, chewy medium-grain rice that offers that lovely semi-translucent, gemmy look. We had less successful results with other types of rice: long-grain rice got soft but at least avoided mushiness; and brown rice was flavorful but on the under-done side. Its minuscule size also comes with natural cons. It accommodates only a mere 1.5-cup maximum of raw rice, which doesn't give you a whole lot of room to maneuver, especially while rinsing the rice since the inner pot was roughly the size of my (small) fist. There are also a few burn risks in the design: the lightweight inner pot makes it unstable, forcing you to grip it when scooping out rice, and the vent in the lid concentrates the steam in a sharp plume. However, I did appreciate the clip-on feature of the detachable lid, and the fun of being able to monitor the status of the rice visually through the glass top. Its ease of cleaning and the end taste of the rice is how it won over other small options.Best large capacity rice cookerSu-Jit Lin/InsiderThe gold standard of rice cookers, the legendary Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy is now available in double its original capacity.Rice capacity (uncooked): 10 cupsRice capacity (cooked): 20 cupsFuzzy Logic: YesPros: Precision settings for nearly every type of rice, detachable inner lid and rounded nonstick inner pot for easy cleaning, well-marked guidelines, choice of textures for customizable riceCons: Looks dated with its huge buttons, so many choices can feel overwhelming for inexperienced users, brown rice cooks too soft Though we tested the 5.5 cup version, the larger 10 cup model of this classic cooker is identical in everything but size, with thoughtful design and usability details that make it incredibly intuitive.The retractable cord, for instance, is such a simple but brilliant solution, as is the dual-sided rice paddle holder, soft-open lid, and easy-grip handles on the sides of the inner pot. In fact, I could devote an entire paragraph to this inner pot, which has a rounded bottom that makes rinsing the grains, scooping the cooked rice, and cleaning up a breeze. The pot also features high-contrast water markings for different types of rice to ensure precision.Most importantly, though, is how good the rice comes out and how it maintains that level of quality for hours after the rice is done. Rice porridge emerged glistening in a thick, pleasantly tacky suspension, soft but retaining a hint of a bite. Medium-grain rice comes out absolutely beautifully — chewy, polished, pearly, fully formed, uniformly cooked, and with a lovely enhanced sweetness few other cookers could match. The long-grain rice was fragrant, fully distinct, evenly cooked, but fluffy with unmatched airiness.In both white rice tests, the rice was better after 24 hours on Keep Warm than fresh-cooked rice from some of the other cookers, with minimal deterioration and no clumping or crust. The brown rice setting was its only underperformer due to the program's long cook time, which made the rice soft and blown out.Best rice cooker for long-grain riceSu-Jit Lin/InsiderThe Zojirushi UMAMI Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer NL-GAC10 is a stylish cooker and a bit of a splurge, but you assuredly get what you pay for, especially if you primarily cook long-grain rice.Rice capacity (uncooked): 5.5 cupsRice capacity (cooked): 11 cupsFuzzy Logic: YesPros: Sleek design, easy to read display, easy to use, clearly marked water lines for nearly all programs, hyper-specific settings, compact footprint, removable inner lid, extended Keep Warm, sturdy handle, detachable cord, included steamer basket, ambidextrous spatula holderCons: Keep Warm countdown doesn't start right away, so many choices can feel overwhelming for inexperienced users, brown rice cooks too soft This microcomputerized (micom) cooker has incredibly precise and detailed cooking settings. I appreciated the jasmine rice setting, a nod to the delicate structure of this long-grain cultivar. The batch I made on this setting was perfect from the get-go, with distinct, intact grains that were chewy and only got sweeter with time on the Keep Warm setting. The batch even held strong for over 66 hours without any significant degradation. It also performed remarkably with medium grains, too. They came out flawless: chewy, gem-like, moist, airy, and with no soggy or wet spots, retaining their character for 14 hours. The UMAMI setting that gives this model its name extends soaking and steaming to coax out more sweetness and subtleties in the rice. However, I do not advise using it on brown rice. The extended cook made it soft, wet, and blown out.Best rice cooker for brown riceSu-Jit Lin/InsiderSmart rice cookers tend to overthink and therefore overcook brown rice, but the Cuckoo CR-0632F 6-Cup Multifunctional Micom Rice Cooker nailed the cook on this tough grain.Rice capacity (uncooked): 6 cupsRice capacity (cooked): 12 cupsFuzzy Logic: YesPros: Keep Warm timer starts immediately, My Mode features for personalized flavor and textures, attractive coffee-colored inner pot, longer power cord, built-in spatula holder, cleans easilyCons: Overcooks white rice, significant bounce-back in lid operation, water line markings are hard to read, no handle, condensation catcher can leakWith all this talk of soaking brown rice, you'd think that the cookers who do it longest would make the best. I did. But after extensive testing, I found that extended soaking broke down the bran a bit too much, resulting in a mushier bite rather than the firm, gemmy one that comes with perfect rice. Plus, you lose the popcorn element that's so distinctive to brown rice — one of the greatest pleasures of it.  With this cooker, though, a propensity for cooking softer, mushier white rice benefited its brown rice execution. Although there's a hint of hot-heat scorch to the rice if you eat it as soon as it's done, it mellows after a few minutes of resting to a pleasant toasted nutty richness. This cooker blooms the grains visibly, but stops short of any blow-out. It breaks down the bran just enough to make it more easily digestible without compromising the chew. Every bite of brown rice from this cooker showcased the best qualities of this type of rice. Grains remained fully distinct, avoiding any kind of clumping, crusting, or wetness for a shocking 50 hours on Keep Warm. Plus, it also has a setting for GABA rice, a sprouted variety of brown rice with purported nutritional benefits. Get this cooker if brown rice is your primary pick, and just use less water than marked on the occasions you make white rice.Best rice cooker for porridgeSu-Jit Lin/InsiderIf you're partial to a thick, pureed porridge with country-style lumps, the low and slow cook of the Aroma MTC-8008 Professional 8-Cup Champagne model will give you what you want. Rice capacity (uncooked): 8 cupsRice capacity (cooked): 16 cupsFuzzy Logic: YesPros: Elegant design, thick inner pot, reheat feature, cake and soup features, turbo convection, detachable inner lid, many accessories, high-contrast markings, two-year warrantyCons: Drips and holds onto a lot of condensation, lid rebounds heavily, rice dries out faster than most on Keep Warm settingIn this cooker, soft lumps of broken down rice grains settle at the bottom and reattach to one another if undisturbed, providing pleasant glutinous bites reminiscent of underdeveloped mochi. Working this bottom layer back results in a creamy finished product in a luxuriously thick liquid suspension, which formed as the starches were gradually extruded into the rice water. While the grains broke down significantly, the nuances of the high-quality short-grain rice used weren't lost. All of the flavor elements become concentrated into what became not a mush, but a smooth slurry.  Porridge is best slightly cooled, in my opinion, getting sweeter and more textured, and the near suctioning power of the condensation and steam catcher of this cooker keeps it from getting watered down. Unfortunately, this characteristic is what caused it to perform very poorly in keeping other rice types warm. It catches and holds onto a lot of moisture, which gathers annoyingly in the inner lid and pours into the channel around the inner pot. This is likely why all of the batches of solid rice cooked very wet and patchily, and needed to be tossed after cooking to better distribute the remaining water. Its turbo convection power is supposed to help it cook more evenly, but we didn't find that to be the case. However, the rice is decent and this is the best pick if you prioritize porridge or congee.What else we testedSu-Jit Lin/InsiderWe tested more than a dozen rice cookers, and while many were able to do an adequate job, there were inherent design or performance flaws that made them less recommended. What else we recommend and why:GreenLife Go Grains Rice Cooker ($49.99): It's hard not to like a cooker this cartoon-cute, plus it's one of the only tiny rice cookers featuring micom Fuzzy Logic. Unfortunately, it consistently cooked every type of rice too dry and condensation puddled up around the rim, which made for a bothersome cleanup. It was a close call between this and the Black & Decker for best small capacity rice cooker, but ultimately, the cleanup decided it. Instant Pot Zest 8-Cup Rice Cooker ($39.00): Powered by a cult-favorite brand but using the traditional boil-and-steam method as opposed to pressure, this multicooker seemed initially promising. It yielded wet rice, which is a quirk folks can learn to work with by customizing their water fill, but the nuances of sweetness were lost in a flat boiled taste. However, it's a great size and a budget buy for entry-level cookers.What we don't recommend and why:Tiger JAX-S18U-WY 10-Cup Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer ($139.95): White rice cooked in this oversized model quickly degraded in structure. Obvious hot spots made results even more inconsistent. Minor inconveniences such as a freestanding rice spatula holder that created clutter and a fixed inner lid showed inadequate attention to detail. Hamilton Beach Advanced Multi-Function Fuzzy Logic 37570 ($109.99): Unlike the others, this micom rice cooker had a great visual chart that allowed you to track the progress of your rice. A shame, then, that the machine had the most uneven, haphazard cook of all of the products tested, yielding a soggy lower layer, dry and crusty top layer, and mushy grains in the center of the bowl. JINGTIEDA Small Rice Cooker Portable ($79.99): A tidy design with more digital features than most cookers of similar size, this rice cooker performed acceptably with long-grain rice but undercooked medium-grain rice. Its biggest flaw was a Keep Warm setting that made the rice hard, dehydrated, and inedible in mere hours. COMFEE Asian Style Programmable Multi-Cooker ($57.09): There was no getting away from having to constantly stir and manipulate the rice in this cooker; it cooked to various textures in layers, making for incredibly inconsistent batches. The bottom was always soggy and the top too dry, while the opposite was true for brown rice, which scalded. Our rice cooker testing methodologySu-Jit Lin/InsiderOver the course of over a month, I tested 13 rice cookers and evaluated them using the criteria:Cooking riceRegardless of the type of rice or preparation, I tested one measure above the minimum. For example, if the lowest marker was for 1 cup of raw rice, I tested with 2 cups; if it was for 2 cups, I tested with 3. I chose these measurements since cooking the minimum would increase the likelihood of a dry batch and maxing out the capacity would result in a wetter one.White rice: I used each rice cooker to prepare medium-grain Nishiki white rice to test liquid penetration and Thai jasmine rice to test flavor and structural preservation. Every batch was hand-rinsed five times and none were soaked prior to cooking. Brown rice: Rice cookers that performed well at white rice advanced to a final round where I tested mixed grain brown rice, a blend of brown medium-grain and brown jasmine, using the default brown rice setting.Porridge: For the rice cookers that offered this specific setting, I tested authentic Koshihikari short-grain rice for porridge/congee.Cook timeAlthough some rice cookers were equipped with Quick Rice functions, I ignored these in favor of the traditional preparation time to keep the test results fair. The faster the rice cooker could do its job on a standard setting without compromising the structure of the grains, the better.Keep Warm functionI taste-tested each batch of rice immediately after cooking, 30 minutes after cooking, then longer intervals of hours — up to 66 hours after cycle completion — to investigate how well the cooker protected the rice against crusting, yellowing, or hardening.DesignIn this all-encompassing criterion, I took note of everything from overall aesthetic to user experience, including controls, ease of use and cleaning, and overall look and feel. Functional necessities such as a carrying handle, delay timer, rice spatula holder, and bonus accessory materials were also major plusses.What to consider when buying a rice cookerSu-Jit Lin/InsiderAll rice cookers will cook rice, plain and simple. But the best rice cookers will have certain default features that will extract the most out of every grain. Here's what to look for in a rice cooker:Lid: Airtight, sealed tops help the aroma of fragrant rice types like jasmine and basmati bloom, as well as prevent rice from drying out on the Keep Warm setting.Smart functions: Micom, or microcomputerized rice cookers, are best for those who don't limit their pantries to just one type or preparation of rice. These smart rice cookers have different settings for each type of rice, so that you get consistent results each time. All Fuzzy Logic-marked rice cookers are equipped with this technology.Features: In an advanced rice cooker, audible indicators and digital countdowns make cooking even more effortless. Removable inner lids are also a great feature for easy cleaning. A spatula holder minimizes mess, and easy-to-grip handles simplify clean up even further. Finally, high contrast, water line markers will save a lot of frustration and help to guarantee success. Extras: Some rice cookers only come with a rice cup and paddle. Others include steamer baskets, ladles, spatula holders, scrapers, and other extras. If you're planning to use your rice cooker as an all-in-one cooking device, you may want to look for a model that contains extras.Capacity: A mere half rice cup of raw rice, three ounces, is considered one serving, with a yield of a full cup of cooked rice. A tiny, single-serving rice cooker might be fine if you're cooking for just one, but if you're cooking for a family, you'll want a rice cooker that makes at least 5 cooked cups of rice.Rice cooker safety tipsRice cookers are immensely easy to operate and even safer than cooking rice on a stovetop. That said, as with all small electronic appliances, you'll want to play it safe with some basic guidelines:"Dishwasher safe" typically only applies to the inner pot and accessory items. Never, ever immerse the outer electronic casing of the cooker in water.When grabbing the lid or standing near an active rice cooker, never put your hand or face over the steam vent. The concentrated direct blast can cause real injury.Remember that the inner pot is meant to retain heat. When you're done cooking, give it time to cool down before you handle it, and approach it with hand protection to avoid burn risk.If the cooker doesn't come with a spatula holder, it might be tempting to leave the rice paddle in with the rice. Don't. Rce paddles and accessories are often made of plastic, which can melt or leach plastics with extended and direct contact with heat.Because rice cookers work with so much moisture, it's important to keep them clean to avoid mold and bacterial breeding. Clean out the steam vent and condensation catchers after every use or prepare to be grossed out in the not very distant future. Wash out the inner pot right away and let it fully dry before storing it back in the cooker. And while that's airing out, leave the lid open to let any trapped or pooled moisture evaporate. Guaranteed that even if you wipe the moats, there will be some droplets hiding in the seams and linings you'll want to provide a chance to dissipate.Rice cooker FAQsSu-Jit Lin/InsiderIs a rice cooker worth it? What are its benefits?According to millions of Asians around the world: yes. It's more of a necessity to most Asian households than even a blender or toaster oven, saving significant time, labor, and babysitting over what for many families is a daily chore.It also saves even more time with cleanup, since the nonstick interiors take scrubbing out of the equation, and scorching, too. And while its name might hint at uni-tasking, digital rice cookers take on many uses with aplomb. Even the most basic ones can boil and steam simultaneously. With the more advanced, you can cook yogurt, oatmeal, stew, baby food, and even cake.What is the benefit of using a rice cooker instead of my stove?Rice is extremely absorbent and therefore sensitive to even minuscule variation in water-to-grain proportions, plus sticky to boot, so making rice on a stovetop can be tricky and requires more hands-on work. A rice cooker fully automates the process, so you can just add rice and water, press the cook button, and come back whenever you like to perfectly cooked rice.Can a rice cooker be used as a slow cooker?If it has a slow cooker function, absolutely! Just mind that because those models tend to be airtight; the lining might hold onto the flavor of what you're making, so be sure to clean and air it out thoroughly. We don't recommend attempting to slow cook in a rice cooker without a slow cooker function, however. Can I use a regular measuring cup?It's not recommended. Measuring cups that come with rice cookers are usually 2 ounces less than a standard one cup measure, and typically sized to match the markings on the inner pot of the rice cooker.Incremental measurements can make a noticeable difference when it comes to cooking rice, and if you use a conventional cup measure, the ratios will be off and affect the success of your end result. Hold onto the one that comes with your cooker, and just store it in the inner pot with its accessories to keep it on hand. But if you do happen to misplace it, a standard ¾-cup measure should do the trick with comparable results.How long can I keep rice in a rice cooker?Generally, rice is best consumed 15-45 minutes after cooking. However, that eating window may not work for everyone (or you might have extra you want to save and keep ready for the next meal). Most rice cookers — even the most elementary one-button ones — come equipped with a Keep Warm function that keeps your rice at a food safe temperature for hours after cooking.Ideally, cooked rice should be kept at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or higher on the Keep Warm setting. Different models can maintain that temperature for different amounts of time. The best rule of thumb is to use a thermometer to confirm that the rice is, in fact, being held above 140 degrees.However, keep in mind that the higher the temperature, the higher the risk of dry-out. Many hours spent on Keep Warm causes flavors to dissipate, too. Most manufacturers report 12 hours as the maximum rice should be kept in a rice cooker on the Keep Warm setting.What is the best way to store cooked rice?Allow it to cool and store in an airtight container, then consume it within six days; the extended shelf life if it's stored properly.To buy more time, you can also freeze it, but make sure you cool, package, and freeze it within an hour after cooking to avoid bacterial growth. Bacteria can live through the freezing process, living in suspension only to multiply once you heat back up, picking up right where it left off.What is the best way to reheat cooked rice?When reheating, reconstitute the grains with a sprinkle of water, then cover and microwave. One serving in a bowl will take as little as 35 seconds this way. For bigger batches, some advanced rice cookers have a "reheat" function (many of our top picks do). If not, you can also choose to steam the rice. Can I make rice in an Instant Pot or multicooker?If your household eats rice regularly, it's worthwhile to invest in a dedicated rice cooker that will last you for years. However, rice cookers can be quite expensive and may not be the best option if you only cook or eat rice occasionally. Multicookers like the Instant Pot can be a good alternative if you want a foolproof way to make rice once in a while. They provide excellent value and help maximize storage space by doing the job of more than one small appliance. Most usually have at least one setting for rice and can produce acceptable results.What is Fuzzy Logic?Fuzzy Logic-equipped rice cookers are microcomputerized (micom, for short) rice cookers that have smart settings that allow them to make micro-adjustments dynamically to the temperature and humidity during the cooking process. The most basic rice cookers rely on a one-button switch to cook and will automatically flip via spring mechanism to Keep Warm once the inner plate detects that all water has been absorbed into the rice grains. Fuzzy Logic, on the other hand, allows for more flexibility so that you can set preferences and programs for specific textures and functions. For example, jasmine rice cooks differently than medium-grain rice, which cooks differently than porridge. Fuzzy Logic allows for this variability.These presets are not perfect for all types of rice and preferences (see our note on brown rice in our best budget recommendation), but they're ideally suited for folks who like to change up their grains.Check out our other comprehensive kitchen appliance guidesJames Brains/InsiderThe best Instant Pot and electric pressure cookersThe best toaster ovensThe best air fryersThe best vacuum sealersThe best food processorsThe best ice cream makersThe best Crock-Pot slow cookersRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 18th, 2021

The 6 best kitchen knives we tested in 2021

There's no need to have piles of knives or even sets of them. These knives are the only ones you need in your kitchen. Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky Putting your knife set together piecemeal is best, and a chef's knife is the only real essential. Wusthof's Classic Ikon 8" Chef's Knife is our favorite, but we also like Victorinox, Shun, and more. Read about how we test kitchen products at Insider Reviews. There may be no more important tool in your kitchen than your chef's knife. It is the one-stop-shop for all of your slicing, chopping, dicing, and trimming needs. Sure, there are other kitchen knives well worth their steel, but we can't stress this enough: if you're going to put your money into any one knife, or if you're considering buying a knife set, think about a single, high-quality chef's knife to start.While we do offer a guide to the best knife sets — and recommend some budget-friendly options like the Victorinox Fibrox Pro set (a staple in many commercial kitchens) — you can end up with a lot of filler pieces if you go the pre-packaged route. Everyone we've spoken with on the matter, from famed butcher Pat LaFrieda to late gourmand and chef Anthony Bourdain, has been quick to the point: most knife sets are a waste of money. And having knocked around enough commercial bars and kitchens myself, I can't agree more. Rarely do you see a chef, sous chef, or line cook, fiddling with anything but a chef's knife.For this guide, we focused on chef's knives for the reasons above, but we also ran through dozens of paring, boning, utility, and bread knives to recommend one of each of those as well. Here are the best kitchen knives of 2021Best kitchen knife overall: Wusthof Classic Ikon 8" Chef's KnifeBest all-purpose kitchen knife: Benchmade StationBest budget kitchen knife: Victorinox Fibrox Pro 8" Chef's KnifeBest paring knife: Victorinox 3.25" Straight Paring KnifeBest bread knife: Victorinox Fibrox Pro 10.25" Serrated Curved Bread KnifeBest utility knife: Shun Sora 6"Best chef's knife overallOwen Burke/InsiderHefty but balanced, The traditional German design of Wüsthof's Classic Ikon 8" Chef's Knife suits most hands and stands up to just about every kitchen task.Length: 6", 8", 10"Blade: High-carbon stainless steelHRC: 58Handle: Polyoxymethylene (POM)Pros: Great for chopping and dicing, agreeable handle for most, rust- and chip-resistantCons: Requires regular sharpeningThe Wüsthof Classic Ikon Chef's Knife is the most traditional western knife there is: It's big, it's heavy, and it's made with relatively soft, rust-, and chip-resistant stainless steel. As far as quality knives go, this is the knife we've found to handle the most difficult tasks while also still offering agility and precision.Before we go further, we should mention one caveat: Ahead of investing in a chef's knife, know that of all the kitchen knives you might purchase, it is the most personal choice you're going to have to make.No matter which knife you choose, your chef's knife is the one you'll rely upon most. It offers the most surface area for larger chopping and slicing jobs, and it also handles the most force for hardier root vegetables, meat, and poultry. Different designs might favor chopping and dicing over slicing (and vice-versa), but we like the only slightly rounded belly of the Wüsthof Classic Ikon, which strikes a happy medium for the two tasks.We also like the modified handle of the Ikon series knives in general, which isn't quite German, but not quite Japanese, either. It seems to be a hybrid of the two and fits most hands comfortably (we placed our top pick in several different palms).All in all, this is a great knife for the average household in which kitchen knives aren't generally taken care of, and no matter who gets a hold of this thing or what they do with or to it, you'll be able to bring it back up to snuff. That and the fact that it's a relatively thin and agile blade as far as German knives go make it the best all-around pick based on our testing.Best all-purpose kitchen knifeOwen Burke/InsiderIf you want just one knife in your kitchen, Benchmade's station knife is the perfect middle ground between a paring knife and a chef's knife.Pros: Great for everything from slicing and carving to chopping and dicing, guaranteed for lifeCons: Some might not like the handle (subjective)Before testing Benchmade's Station knife, we would have scoffed at the idea of anything other than a chef's knife being considered all-purpose. The Station knife's tip has the deftness of a paring knife, while its extremely wide heel chops and slices like a cleaver, and we haven't found anything we can't do well with it, apart from slice bread. We broke down whole chickens, chopped piles of potatoes, sliced a dozen tomatoes, minced garlic and shallots, and hulled strawberries with ease.Made in the USA, these knives are customizable. You can get the basic, but highest-quality 440C stainless steel, or the upgraded CPM-154 (Benchmade's take on 154CM, which is 440C stainless steel with added Molybendum to prevent chipping). You can also choose your handle, from an epoxy G10 (seven colors), a resin-infused paper called Richlite (three colors), and black carbon fiber. Plus, you can have the blade etched with laser-marking if you want something really one of a kind.Finally, Benchmade will clean, oil, adjust, and resharpen your knife for life, free of charge through their Lifesharp service — you just have to pay postage.Best budget chef's knifeOwen Burke/InsiderPopular in busy commercial kitchens and homes alike, Victorinox's Fibrox has a highly ergonomic handle and stands up to rough use like few others.Length: 7.9"Blade: High-carbon stainless steelHRC: 55Handle: Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE)Pros: Maneuverable, comfortable handle, decent edge retentionCons: Not razor-sharp straight out of the factory, takes some work to sharpen, not perfectly balanced Victorinox's entire Fibrox line is a favorite in commercial kitchens because its knives are among the few that can pass through numerous line cooks' hands and accidental trips through the dishwasher unscathed. The Fibrox Chef's Knife is budget-friendly, but it's also perfect for short-term rentals, first apartments, and more generally, people who don't necessarily want to spend time taking care of their kitchen tools. My kitchen sees a lot of "chefs," and for that reason, I have my knives squirreled away separately from the communal kitchen knives, which are entirely from Victorinox. This way, I don't have to worry about someone slicing a lemon and leaving an expensive knife on the counter, not only wet but coated in citric acid, or trying to pry open a lid via a Japanese blade, which is horrific to think about. And even though the Fibrox Chef's Knife has withstood the abuse mentioned above (and more), there's neither a single stain nor chip on it. Sure, it's a bit scratched (coarse sponges are terrible for stainless steel, but more on care below), but all I do is give it a sharpening every couple of months, which with diligence gets it sharper than it was from the factory, and it performs impressively.We also find it to be a little on the safer side thanks to the ultra-grippy Fibrox handle, which is easy to hold even when wet or greasy.Read more about the Fibrox line in our guide to the best knife sets (even though we generally don't recommend sets, this one is an exception).Best paring knifeOwen Burke/InsiderA paring knife is a simple tool for lighter tasks, and Victorinox's 3.25" Straight Paring Knife offers everything you need of it and nothing you don't.Length: 3.25"Blade: 440 stainless steelHRC: 58-60Handle: Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE)Pros: Resilient, relatively rust-proof, dishwasher-safeCons: Very lightweight, requires regular sharpeningYou really, really don't need to spend a fortune on a paring knife. We think Victorinox's 3.25" Straight Paring Knife does the job about as well as anything because it's not the blade you're going to rely on for heavier-duty tasks.  Hulling strawberries, slicing a small bit of garlic, and peeling and seeding fruit is about all you're going to use it for, and while they're not the most demanding tasks, this knife handles them every bit as well as you'd hope anything would. Sure, you can spend a lot more and get a weightier paring knife, but it's far from necessary.And while, again, it's about as cheap as any kitchen knife gets, it's also much more resilient than pricier picks. Years ago, one of our testers admitted to running it through the dishwasher regularly, and has found only one small speck of rust since. The only other issue that arises with this knife is that you'll have to sharpen it as regularly as our budget pick for a chef's knife. Depending upon how often you put it to work, that could range from every month to every few months. Otherwise, keep this knife clean and dry like any other and it will work and last like any other.Best bread knifeOwen Burke/InsiderA long, thin blade with shallow serrations makes the surprisingly affordable Victorinox Fibrox 10" Bread Knife a precise tool for slicing bread and more.Length: 10.25"Blade: 440 stainless steelHRC: 55Handle: Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE)Pros: Nicely weighted (for a budget-friendly knife), great gripCons: Not as heavy as top-of-the-line bread knives, not as sharp out of the factoryIt's debatable whether you want to spend much on a bread knife depending on how often you'll be using it, but Victorinox's Fibrox Bread Knife is a quality tool at a reasonable price. It withstands the same amount of rough use as the rest of our recommendations from that line, but thanks to the larger handle and longer blade it carries a little more weight than the more budget-friendly options we considered. In our tests, which involved slicing less-than-forgiving, homemade, no-knead bread, it fared as well as everything we tried until we reached the $200 range, which is an absurd price for a bread knife for most people. That pretty much settled it. We also can't lend enough praise to the Fibrox handles in general, which everyone seems to appreciate, and apart from their ergonomic qualities, instill a sense of security with their non-slip grips.Because this blade is not only thin but also only shallowly serrated, you won't have as much trouble sharpening it on your own as you would with, say, a deep-scalloped one that doesn't take to a simple pull-through sharpener as well. It also turns out that this knife isn't bad for slicing softer fruits and carving meat and poultry.If you're looking for something a little more on the affordable side, our previous pick (which we retested against this one) is the Mercer Culinary Millennia Wavy Edge 10-inch Wide Bread Knife. It has a slightly thicker blade and a deeper serration, so it's not going to be as precise, but it's got a similar handle and costs half the price.Best utility knifeOwen Burke/InsiderWith VG Max steel wrapped in layered Damascus steel, Shun's Classic 6" Utility Knife is sharper and retains a better edge than most German-style knives, and is perfect for trimming and more precise cuts.Length: 6"Blade: VG-Max Damascus steelHRC: 62Handle: Pakka (plastic and wood composite)Pros: Extremely sharp, great edge retention, rust-resistant, very well-balancedCons: Slightly brittle and easier to chip than German steel, small, D-shaped handle favors right-handersA utility knife needs to be extra sharp for more precise cuts and trimming without tearing foods, and Shun's Classic 6" Utility Knife uses VG-Max Damascus steel, effectively offering the best of both worlds between Japanese-style and German-style blades.Damascus steel is made by forging and hammering carbon-rich steel (in this case, VG-Max) at a low temperature, cranking up the heat, and then cooling it abruptly. The material is known for its flexibility and corrosion resistance, not to mention its signature swirly "damask" pattern that tends to woo one and all. While its beauty is something to behold, the important takeaway is that you get a knife that holds a stronger edge than carbon steel but flexes better than stainless steel. While we veered away from Japanese steel for our chef's knife top pick, and didn't recommend a Damascus or VG Max steel option because of the cost, a smaller utility knife from Shun makes that type of pricier steel more affordable.Apart from being remarkably more rust-resistant than other Japanese and Japanese-style knives we tried, this knife isn't so brittle that we've had trouble with chipping or dinging. Still, you'll want to keep it away from harder foods and surfaces, and especially bones. Where this knife shines is with smaller, in-between tasks where a chef's knife is overkill and a paring knife is painfully laborious. Think slicing tomatoes or dicing shallots. It's not a necessary knife for everyone, but behind those two knives and a bread knife, it's the next most important one for most kitchens. On that note, it did offer enough flexibility for me to not necessarily fillet, but skin and trim boneless meat. Shun's knives are made with a material known as Pakka wood, which is really a wood-and-plastic composite that looks an awful lot like walnut. Purists might cringe, but it gives the look without bringing along the worry of the handle splitting.If you're really averse to owning a Japanese knife for one reason or another (either the handle or the extra care required), look to the utility knife version of our top-recommended chef's knife, the 6" Wüsthof Ikon.What else we testedOwen Burke/InsiderEach of the knives below did their job, and any of them will suit your kitchen well; they just weren't our top choices for most people or budgets.Shun: Probably the most popular Japanese knife in the US, Shun offers relatively affordable VG- and Damascus-steel knives. Apart from recommending the brand's utility knife, one of my personal favorite knives is the 8" Chef's knife.Korin: Another mid-range Japanese knife similar to Shun, Korin is a favorite of Pat LaFrieda and Andrew Zimmern, and is competitive with Mac.J.A. Henckels: One of the veritable classics in German knives, J.A. Henckels' knives were a little thicker in the blade than our other picks, but you really can't go wrong here.Dexter-Russell: Similar to Victorinox's Fibrox series, Dexter-Russell offers a line of similarly iconic white-handled knives at a great price point, and which you'll find in commercial kitchens all over. We just found that the handles on the Fibrox knives are much grippier.Mac: This company makes an outstanding chef's knife, especially for the price. The only reason we couldn't recommend this as an overall pick was its delicacy. At the hands of most people, this knife isn't going to stay in great shape for long. If you care for your knives, on the other hand, we can't recommend it enough.Made In: These, like many other DTC-brand knives, are made with X50CrMoV15 steel and are a great deal for the price. Like the others, they didn't exactly wow us, but we found nothing really wrong with them, either. The rounded handle seems to work well with many hands.Material: These knives are made with "high-carbon" steel, but we wouldn't call it high-quality. They have a hybrid handle that should suit most hands, and they're easy enough to sharpen and perfectly serviceable knives.Misen: More X50CrMoV15 steel and a great deal for the price. These are extremely popular for a reason, and we like them plenty, too.Our Place: Another DTC brand making X50CrMoV15 steel blades, Our Place's knives are more than satisfactory. We liked the hybrid handle, but not as much as others. If the handle looks like it'll suit you, these are nicely designed and balanced knives.Steelport Knife Co.: This is a much fancier, carbon-steel option for someone who wants to invest in a gorgeous and impossibly sharp blade. We love it, but we also recognize that it requires care. Our kitchen knife testing methodologyOwen Burke/InsiderWe finely sliced tomatoes and onions with chef's knives, minced garlic and shallots with utility and paring knives, hulled strawberries with paring knives, and sliced hard-crusted no-knead bread with serrated slicing knives. We then dulled each blade by rapping them repeatedly on a glass cutting board (word to the wise, never use one of these) and returned to each knife's respective task to note any dulling or chipping.We also made sure to put each knife into as many different hands as possible, ranging from professional cooks to hobbyists.Lastly, we consulted a series of chefs, butchers, and metallurgists, including Chef Shola Olunloyo of Studio Kitchen, Pat LaFrieda, and Michael J Tarkanian, a professor of metallurgy at MIT.A word on Japanese knivesWe took Japanese knives out of the running for our top chef's knife pick. While they're a personal favorite, they're notoriously difficult to maintain, and therefore not suited for most kitchens. Simply put, if you're starting to invest in your kitchen knives, we don't want to recommend a fine knife that will easily be misused."High-carbon stainless steel" is a bit of a buzzword in reaction to the popularity of Japanese-style knives, which can attain notoriously sharper edges than their German-style counterparts. The delicacy of Japanese knives has to do with the hardness of the standard high-carbon stainless steel, which allows for a finer and sharper but proportionally brittler edge.Still, if you're the type of person who takes particularly good care of your tools (and aren't sharing a kitchen with someone who won't), you may prefer a Japanese knife. But know that they require meticulous cleaning and drying, as well as careful storage, or they'll end up with rusted and/or chipped blades.Other considerations:Edge retention: Our knife-testing process involved slicing fresh tomatoes and taking note of the ease with which each chef's knife handled the task. After we had sufficient data, we took each chef's knife to a glass cutting board and ran it over the surface 200 times. Some knives held their edge, others not so much. We looked at the edges after running the knives and noted if there were any visible changes. We then returned to the tomatoes, cutting a few more and seeing how much resistance we felt compared with the performance of the knives straight out of the packaging. Knives that held their edges passed on to further rounds of consideration.Alloy, and the HRC (hardness rating): We consulted several experts in the field, but the most informative source we encountered was Michael J Tarkanian, a professor of metallurgy at MIT. With his help, we were able to cut through the marketing and the scientific terminology behind different alloys and what allows a knife to retain an edge.We looked for a hardness rating of around 60 HRC, which offers great edge retention while still allowing for an edge of around 15 degrees (though up to 20 degrees, which is duller than 15, was still considered sufficient).Ergonomics: For a knife to work well, you have to be able to hold it comfortably in your hand. We asked several people to pick up knives and decide which ones were the easiest to grip; across the board, they went for the ones with heavier, rounded, almost bulbous handles.Balance: The weight of the handle and the blade is also somewhat critical. Pricier knives almost always offer better balance because that extra cost goes into using denser and often more desirable materials, like layered Damascus steel. A well-balanced knife with a good blade will cut through vegetables with minimal pressure, like our top pick from Wusthof. A not-so-well-balanced knife will take a little force to get started.Kitchen knife FAQsOwen Burke/InsiderHow do I choose a knife?The most important thing about a knife, and especially a chef's knife, is how it fits in your hand. So long as you spend at least $50 on a chef's knife, it's going to be sharp (and sharpenable) enough to get most any job done, and most of popular DTC brands are selling great entry-level knives for fair prices. Decide what kind of handle you want first. German-style knives are generally more molded to the palm with a pronounced butt end, while Japanese-style knives are almost uniformly cylindrical and smaller. Both designs work for everyone; it just depends on the feel you prefer and, to some degree, how you hold the knife.The type of steel you choose should be based on the kind of care you're (realistically) going to give your knife. If you don't envision yourself sharpening and perfectly drying and storing your knife after every use, German stainless steel (e.g., 440, 420) is going to be much more forgiving, though softer and quicker to dull.If you are a tool fanatic and know that you'll take good care of your knives and are also confident that they won't find their way into the wrong hands, carbon steel is a great pick because it's incredibly sharp. Just know that it's likely to rust and chip more easily.In between, you have VG-10 and VG-Max (proprietary to Shun, but about the same as VG-10), which have added alloys (tungsten, vanadium) that make them a little more stain-resistant and less brittle. They're great for those who want a Japanese-style knife without having to care so devoutly for it.Then there's Damascus steel, which is made by forging and hammering carbon-rich steel at a low temperature, cranking up the heat, and then cooling it abruptly. Damascus steel is known for its flexibility and corrosion resistance, and we recommend it, but be wary of too-good-to-be-true deals. A lot of manufacturers will etch the mesmerizing swirls into a blade without performing the time-consuming and expensive hammering process.Why (or why not) should I buy a knife set?In general, things that come in sets tend to involve compromised quality, and often contain filler pieces. In the case of knife sets, you're probably going to receive a bunch of knives and other gadgets (including a large woodblock) that you may never use. A lot of newer (and older) DTC brands recognize that consumers are growing wiser and learning that sets are generally a ripoff. As a result, there are lots of two- to five-piece sets on the market. If you're looking in the budget range, we're all for them, and we've pretty much tried them all. The steel is almost always the same quality, so choose based on the handle style you like.Otherwise, though, sets don't make a lot of sense for most people. Invest in a chef's knife, first and foremost, with which, by the way, you can tackle all of your kitchen tasks, minus maybe slicing bread. Next, a paring knife is probably the most sensible purchase, but since it's not doing a lot of the heavy work, we say go cheap. That said, feel free to spend what you'd like; there is something to be said for a weightier, sharper blade in the case of every knife.A slicing and/or bread knife may or may not be important to you depending upon whether or not you consume much bread or slice much meat. You can find one that does the job for as little as $20, or, again, the sky's the limit. For most people, we like the $40-$60 range.Beyond the above, you're getting into specific tasks most people don't really take on at home. Fillet knives, boning knives, santoku knives, and shears are all further considerations. Even if you want all of those knives, you're still likely better off purchasing them piecemeal. It'll be more affordable, and you'll also be able to budget so that you can put your money where it counts.GlossaryOwen Burke/InsiderHeal: The corner of the blade where the edge meets the bolster.Edge: The sharpened, business side of the blade.Tang: The part of the blade that runs to or through the handle. "Full-tang" is a common term, which means the blade steel is a single piece of steel that runs through the handle.Rivets: The pins holding the handle together (more common in German handles).Bolster: Above the heel, a spacer where the blade meets the handle, and an area to grab or choke up on when performing finer tasks.Tip: The pointy, or front end of the knife opposite the handle.High-carbon steel: Steel with at least 0.55% carbon content.Stainless steel: An alloy of iron, chromium, and sometimes other metals. This is a very general term, but it's the basic steel with which German knives are made.VG10, VG-Max: A high-carbon steel blended with tungsten and vanadium, and sometimes other metals to lend flexibility and rust resistance.Damascus Steel: A two-plus-millennia-old process, Damascus steel is made by forging and hammering carbon-rich steel at a low temperature, cranking up the heat, and then cooling it abruptly, repeatedly (generally dozens of times). Damascus steel is known for its flexibility and corrosion resistance while still retaining a superior edge, which is why it is traditionally (and famously) used for samurai swords.The best deals on kitchen knives from this guideBuying your knives piecemeal is our recommended way of outfitting your kitchen with cutlery; you get everything you need and want and no cheap "filler" items. Knives (and knife sets) only seem to go on sale sporadically, but as with many things, the best times to snoop around for deals are usually Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday.Here are the best deals on our favorite kitchen knives.There are currently no deals on our recommended kitchen knives.Read more about how the Insider Reviews team evaluates deals and why you should trust us.Check out more related guidesToo many knives.Owen Burke/InsiderThe best knife setsThe best knife sharpenersThe best cutting boardsThe best knife blocksThe best bushcraft and survival knivesRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 15th, 2021