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    • My young son equated happiness with comfort, describing the sensation of feeling happy using words like "warm" and "comfortable."
    • According to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, all human beings need to feel a basic degree of safety and a sense of belonging to achieve happiness.
    • Ultimately, my son decided that the meaning of happiness is "hard to describe," a sentiment people of all ages must share.

    If someone stopped you on the street and, with no warning, asked you what it means to be happy, what would you say?

    When considering the question myself, I found most of my thoughts going first to tangible things. Does happiness mean having a great home? A decent bank account? A powerful car?

    I believe that material things can bring passing pleasure but not true happiness, no matter how fine they may be. The absence of things, however, can certainly bring about the opposite of happiness.

    As I understand it, happiness and gratitude exist in almost equal proportions. Happiness comes from appreciating what you have in your life — people and possessions — and in finding ways to enjoy what you do with your time.

    On a recent morning drive to school, I took advantage of a lull in the conversation and asked my five-year-old son what it means to be happy. Ben — who, full disclosure, is four years, eleven months, and one week old at the time of this writing, but I'd say we're close enough — thought about it for a while, then said, "I think happiness is like when you're comfortable. Like when you just feel very warm and very comfortable."

    Taking pains not to color his thought process in any way, I gently prodded him to expand on his thinking, and Ben's next words were ultimately the most telling: "I mean, it's really hard to describe. It's like I know what it feels like but I can't really describe it without just using the word, so that's hard."

    For the record, I'm quoting verbatim here. Ben has always been fantastically eloquent (and verbose) for his age. Once, at age 19 months, he said, "This is a little bit hard to eat," regarding a cracker. If you’ve read about early childhood development, saying that sentence at that age is, to use the language of the discipline, nuts.

    I agreed with Ben that describing what it means to be happy is difficult, saying the same was true for me in my mid-30s. He nodded and looked contemplative for a while, then reiterated his first point. "It's when you're very comfortable and feeling smiley and just feeling happy," he said.

    I relayed Ben's thoughts to my wife, who immediately brought up Maslow's hierarchy of needs, a theoretical approach to considering human well-being presented by psychologist Abraham Maslow in the 1940s.

    According to Maslow, a human cannot become fully self-actualized and will constantly experience varying degrees of anxiety, stress, fear, and dismay if a series of basic needs are not met. These are, starting with the most essential:

    1. Physiological Needs — water, food, health, e.g.
    2. Safety Needs — Physical security, stability, etc.
    3. Belonging — A sense of community with family, friends, and beyond
    4. Self-Esteem — Self-love, respect, and acceptance
    5. Self-Actualization — A realization of innate potential

    It took me a moment to connect the dots, but what does all that really add up to? I'd say if a one-word summation were required, the word "comfort" would be an excellent choice.

    SEE ALSO: 30 mistakes every parent makes

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    women mother daughter

    • My expectations of the working experience of adulthood have shifted radically since my 20s.
    • Here are the life lessons I've gained from six early beliefs that turned out to be completely wrong.


    At 20, I believed that I was an adult and that I knew everything. You won't be surprised to learn that I was wrong on both counts.

    The older I get, the less I cling to perceptions from my youth. Many of the assumptions I took into my early adult life made me feel bad about myself because they were unrealistic, and I couldn't live up to them.

    Here are six things I thought I understood about adult life when I was 20 that I now know, in my 50s, were off-base.

    SEE ALSO: When I decided to change careers in my 50s instead of retiring early, I drew on a skill from acting school I hadn't used in decades

    1. Adulthood is easier than it's made out to be

    The year I turned 20, I was a senior in college. I had learned everything I needed to know, clearly. There was no doubt in my mind that I would simply stride off my college campus and take the world by storm.

    What I didn't know then was that adult life is actually a never-ending series of hills to climb. Adulthood isn't about knowing everything but being nimble and flexible enough to master the new challenges that come every day.

    2. I am mature and without much need to grow

    I don't want to hate on my 20 year old self. I was reasonably together, spunky, and willing to work hard. But I was so clueless.

    In my early 20s, I was fired from my second job for boldly telling my boss I had too much respect for my clients to sell the ad agency's work, because I thought the quality had gone downhill. I was so surprised when I got fired the next day. After that, I began to catch a clue that life is better when I am able to see things from other people's perspectives.

    3. It's imperative to find your soulmate and get married early

    Don't tell anyone, but I spent my high school years wolfing down Harlequin romance novels. This gave me a slightly warped sense of relationships.

    I assumed my first serious boyfriend would be my guy forever. We would get married and have kids early. I call this my "White Picket Fence" fantasy.

    This plan hit a snag when our relationship ended when I was 20. It hit another snag a few years later, when I came out as a lesbian. No picket fence for me – same sex couples couldn't even get married at that time.

    Life, in its usual unpredictable way, came full circle. I did meet my soulmate (just not in my 20s), and I'm actually grateful my wife didn't know me at 20. That girl was a jerk.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    earthquake risk mexico

    • Earthquakes kill roughly 20,000 people each year, on average.
    • A new global mapping project shows which regions of the world are most at risk of earthquakes. 
    • 15 countries account for most of the death and destruction caused by quakes.

    Earthquakes kill, on average, about 20,000 people every year.

    When a quake strikes, there's very little time to prepare, and survival has a lot to do with luck: Building codes, the time of day, and even the weather (which can trigger avalanches and mudslides) can play a role in how much destruction an earthquake causes.

    It has generally been tough to determine where in the world people are most at risk, since there was no standardized, comprehensive way to compare the consequences of shaking around the world.

    But now, a new mapping project led by the Global Earthquake Model Foundation (GEM) has done just that.

    "No one's ever created a global earthquake risk map at this level of detail before, and certainly not for the public," GEM Secretary General John Schneider told Business Insider.

    GEM scientists pinpointed which parts of the world are most at risk of earthquakes and where people can expect these disasters to do the most damage. They factored in the latest earthquake science, like ground-shake potential, as well as the human element: how exposed and vulnerable people are to earthquakes in different areas of the world. They took into account how fragile people's homes, schools and workplaces are; how densely populated earthquake-prone regions are; and, to some extent, what previous fatality numbers have been. The effort included hundreds of collaborators from public, private, and academic institutions around the world who worked together on what's now an open-source collection of maps

    "This allows one to get much more detailed information about the types of buildings, the population density, the potential for fatalities, the potential for damage, and economic loss essentially anywhere in the world," Schneider said.

    After working on the maps for 10 years, the scientists realized that 15 countries account for most of the death and destruction wrought by earthquakes. They calculated that quakes cost us about $93.7 million globally, when expenses are normalized on a per-meter-squared basis (the researchers accounted for differences in construction costs across countries ).

    Of that $93.7 million, the following 15 countries rack up nearly all the damage: more than $71.5 million, the researchers estimate. Here's who's most at risk of a coming quake, according to the experts, in order from highest potential for loss to lowest.

    SEE ALSO: Why San Francisco is a nightmare, according to science

    China, a seismically active country with the world's largest population, accounts for roughly half of all earthquake deaths.

    "Whether it's over the last 50 years or the last 500 years, they've had half the deaths," Schneider said. 

    It's cheaper to rebuild after an earthquake in China than it is in nearby Japan, but with more than 1.3 billion people in the country, the potential for loss of life and property is huge. One of the most brutal Chinese earthquakes in recent memory, the 7.5-magnitude quake that hit Tangshan in 1976, killed 242,769 people. 

    The new GEM maps give the public an unprecedented way to see detailed, local data on Chinese earthquake risks. GEM's global seismic risk map, for example, allows viewers to zero in on average annual economic losses around different cities and towns, and it's normalized to account for differences in construction costs. 

    Japan sits in one of the most active earthquake zones on the planet: the Pacific Ring of Fire. Fortunately, earthquake-warning systems in the country are second to none.

    Japan debuted a system in 2007 that detects early shock waves via a network of more than 1,000 seismometers around the island nation. The system then pings phones, TVs, and radios across the country, stopping trains and providing people with a few extra seconds to prepare for the tremors.

    That time isn't always enough, though. A quake that hit the northern island of Hokkaido in September killed at least 39 people, as CNN reported

    That 6.7 magnitude tremor was far from the worst the Japanese have seen. A 7.9 quake hit Tokyo in 1923, killing 142,807 people. 

    Iran straddles the spot where the Eurasian and Arabian tectonic plates butt heads, which is why it sees such frequent quakes.

    A magnitude-7.3 earthquake that hit the country in 2017 killed more than 400 people. Rescue workers scrambled into action, but mudslides triggered by the quake made their work difficult.

    People as far as Baghdad, 200 miles from the epicenter in Iraq, felt the shaking.

    "I was sitting with my kids having dinner and suddenly the building was just dancing in the air," Majida Ameer told Reuters at the time. "I thought at first that it was a huge bomb. But then I heard everyone around me screaming, 'earthquake!'" 

    The Iranian capital of Tehran, which sits near the base of the country’s highest peak, Mount Damavand, is the area of the country that's most at risk.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    This story was delivered to Business Insider Intelligence "E-Commerce Briefing" subscribers hours before appearing on Business Insider. To be the first to know, please click here.

    Customer trust in Amazon's delivery speed is translating into a rising share of online sales as Christmas approaches, according to Rakuten Intelligence cited by The New York Times.

    Average number of days from order to delivery bii

    While Amazon’s portion of e-commerce sales can hover around 20% in the US around Thanksgiving, it can spike to almost 50% in the days leading up to Christmas. Additionally, while Walmart and Target saw their highest online traffic of the month on December 10, Amazon’s came more than a week later on December 18, just a week before Christmas, indicating that people believe the e-tailer will deliver fast enough to beat the holiday.

    The e-tailer has made trustworthy rapid delivery a deep-seated part of its brand image.

    • Amazon's delivery speeds best those of its competitors. Amazon first started offering free two-day shipping in 2005, and the service has evolved to include one- and same-day delivery on certain items as well. Additionally, the e-commerce giant has added a new same-day service, Prime Now, which delivers goods in as quickly as an hour in 30 cities. And even though over half of Amazon’s sales come from third-party sellers and may not have the Prime two-day guarantee, Amazon’s average delivery time from click to door is only 3.4 days. This beats major competitors Costco (3.6 days), Best Buy (4.6), Target (4.6), and Walmart (5.5).
    • Centering its brand on fast, reliable delivery not only helps Amazon during the holiday season, but is an ambient advantage all year. While Amazon’s reputation is a major boon when the holidays approach and consumers begin to run out of time to place orders, it also helps throughout the entire year. The fact that Amazon is seen as the most reliable e-commerce channel, any time a consumer realizes they need to buy something within a couple of days, may be a major contributor to its ongoing dominance of online commerce.

    Amazon's success is making other retailers realize the importance of offering quick and dependable delivery and developing offerings to compete. Walmart recently made millions of items available for free two-day shipping — albeit with a $35 minimum order size — and Target said that it would be offering free two-day shipping on “hundreds of thousands of items" from November 1-December 22, with no stipulations.

    While these are strong offerings that have likely helped the retailers battle Amazon during the holidays (especially among non-Prime members), more may need to be done to gain the broad appeal of Prime shipping. For example, Walmart may need to eliminate its order minimum, and Target could work to offer two-day shipping throughout the year.

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    SEE ALSO: FedEx's CEO says he does not see Amazon as a threat — here's why he's wrong

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    mobile payments lumiscapeThis is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.

    In the US, the in-store mobile wallet space is becoming increasingly crowded. Most customers have an option provided by their smartphone vendor, like Apple, Android, or Samsung Pay. But those are often supplemented by a myriad of options from other players, ranging from tech firms like PayPal, to banks and card issuers, to major retailers and restaurants.

    With that proliferation of options, one would expect to see a surge in adoption. But that’s not the case — though Business Insider Intelligence projects that US in-store mobile payments volume will quintuple in the next five years, usage is consistently lagging below expectations, with estimates for 2019 falling far below what we expected just two years ago. 

    As such, despite promising factors driving gains, including the normalization of NFC technology and improved incentive programs to encourage adoption and engagement, it’s important for wallet providers and groups trying to break into the space to address the problems still holding mobile wallets back. These issues include customer satisfaction with current payment methods, limited repeat purchasing, and consumer confusion stemming from fragmentation. But several wallets, like Apple Pay, Starbucks’ app, and Samsung Pay, are outperforming their peers, and by delving into why, firms can begin to develop best practices and see better results.

    A new report from Business Insider Intelligence addresses how in-store mobile payments volume will grow through 2021, why that’s below past expectations, and what successful cases can teach other players in the space. It also issues actionable recommendations that various providers can take to improve their performance and better compete.

    Here are some of the key takeaways:

    • US in-store mobile payments will advance steadily at a 40% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to hit $128 billion in 2021. That’s suppressed by major headwinds, though — this is the second year running that Business Insider Intelligence has halved its projected growth rate.
    • To power ahead, US wallets should look at pockets of success. Banks, merchants, and tech providers could each benefit from implementing strategies that have worked for early leaders, including eliminating fragmentation, improving the purchase journey, and building repeat purchasing.
    • Building multiple layers of value is key to getting ahead. Adding value to the user experience and making wallets as simple and frictionless as possible are critical to encouraging adoption and keeping consumers engaged. 

    In full, the report:

    • Sizes the US in-store mobile payments market and examines growth drivers.
    • Analyzes headwinds that have suppressed adoption.
    • Identifies three strategic changes providers can make to improve their results.
    • Evaluates pockets of success in the market.
    • Provides actionable insights that providers can implement to improve results.

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    This story was delivered to Business Insider Intelligence "Digital Health Briefing" subscribers hours before appearing on Business Insider. To be the first to know, please click here.

    Massive US conglomerate 3M acquired the tech business of healthcare speech recognition company M*Modal for $1 billion, highlighting healthcare players' bullishness on voice tech in healthcare.

    Number of digital health mergers and acquisitions 2018 BII

    M*Modal sells voice software that integrates with electronic health record (EHR) systems and allows doctors to verbally create, edit, and sign patient notes. The acquisition builds on 3M's existing healthcare portfolio, which includes clinical documentation software and risk assessment systems that help providers analyze patient data, per ZDNet.

    Voice tech is at a tipping point in healthcare as tech companies push their way into the space and providers look to improve clinical documentation:

    • Big tech’s been recruiting developers to create healthcare voice skills and placing strategic bets on healthcare voice startups. For example, both Google and Amazon invested in Aiva Health in 2018, a voice-powered healthcare assistant for seniors. And news surfaced in May 2018 that Amazon is building a health and wellness team within its Alexa division. These tech companies likely anticipate that fostering an ecosystem of health-related voice skills will make their smartphones and smart speakers more valuable healthcare tools for consumers and providers.
    • And voice shows promise to combat inefficiencies in physician note-taking.Physicians’ frustrations around extensive note-taking and time spent manually organizing EHRs is well-documented, and health systems and hospitals would likely welcome voice assistants that could automate clinical documentation, thereby reducing administrative burdens and increasing face-time with patients. AI-powered voice assistant Suki announced that physicians piloting its service have reduced the amount of time spent on medical notes by 70%, for example.

    3M’s acquisition rounds out 2018 as another big year for digital health merger and acquisition (M&A) activity. There were a record-breaking 54 digital health acquisitions and mergers in the US in 2018 through December 18, up 23% year-over-year (YoY) from the 44 deals that occurred in 2017, according to MobiHealthNews. And many of these deals were similar to 3M's recent deal — established healthcare players have been acquiring digital health startups, betting on the firms as potential sources of future revenue.

    For example, remote patient monitoring and sleep apnea company ResMed purchased digital therapeutics startup Propeller Health for $225 million, and health IT company Change Healthcare acquired the assets of healthcare blockchain startup PokitDok in late December.

    Subscribe to a Premium pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to:

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    Access to 250+ expertly researched reports plus all future reports
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    SEE ALSO: THE DIGITAL HEALTH ECOSYSTEM: An in-depth examination of the players and tech trends reshaping the future of healthcare

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    Toy Story 3

    • Sequels get a bad rap as often being worse than the original movie. 
    • But many sequels from Disney were more beloved than the originals. 
    • Critics liked "Ralph Breaks the Internet" a little bit more than the original.
    • "The Rescuers Down Under" had the same Rotten Tomato score as the original but there were elements viewers enjoyed me.

    When it comes to Disney sequels, fans can usually go into round two expecting it to be significantly less magical the second time around.

    At the turn of the century, Walt Disney Studios was busy releasing straight-to-video sequels for almost every one of their beloved '90s classics, and the majority of them fell completely flat. Case in point: The second installments of films like "Mulan", "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", and "Pocahontas"probably didn't need to happen, and their low scores on Rotten Tomatoes attest to that.

    However, amongst the myriad of flops, there were a few follow-ups that defied this trend and have become classics in their own right. Not only are these sequels completely watchable, but they've also beaten the odds to be more beloved by Disney faithful than their predecessors. Here's the ten Disney sequels that are better than the original and worth watching over and over again, according to fans and critics alike.

    "The Incredibles 2" came 14 years after the first one.

    When the first "Incredibles" film burst onto the scene in 2004, it was a breath of fresh air. With sleek computer animation, witty dialogue, and an interesting storyline, it was hard to believe that anything could top the original – until the second film came out.

    While fans had to wait 14 years for a follow-up, it was well worth the delay. Rotten Tomatoes users gave the 2018 sequel an 86% rating versus the first film's score of 75%.

    Critics liked "Ralph Breaks the Internet" a little bit more than the original.

    Speaking of 2018 sequels, "Wreck-It-Ralph's" continuation slightly edged out the original on Rotten Tomatoes' Tomatometer, which calculates the percentage of critics who give the movie a positive review.

    "Ralph Breaks The Internet," which scored88% versus the 2012 film's 87%, continued the winning combination of colorful animation and arcade nostalgia while delving more into core characters' relationships.

    "Toy Story 3" made many weep.

    While there's no arguing that the '94 "Toy Story"is one of the most beloved Disney films out there, the third installment of the movie got the best critic and fan reviews out of any movie and had the unique ability to make grown men and women openly weep when watching it.

    In addition, it became only the third animated movie ever (after Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" and Pixar's"Up") to receive an Oscar nomination for best picture— an honor that the original "Toy Story" did not receive.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    Best books of 2018

    As 2018 comes to a close, you might measure the success of the year by important life events like graduations, weddings, and promotions, or by the number of countries you ticked off your travel bucket list. 

    For a group of writers and bookworms like the Insider Picks team, reflecting on the triumphs of 2018 wouldn't be complete without the mention of a few excellent book discoveries. 

    After a year of nestling into our favorite reading spots at cafes and bookstores, holding patiently for long library wait-lists, and actually hoping for delayed commutes so we can finish that last chapter, we came away with 29 books that compelled us this year. 

    From painfully honest stories of self-image and loss to insider invitations to kitchens, labs, and offices, these books stand out among the many we read this year, rightfully earning their spots on our "favorites" shelves. 

    These are the best books we read in 2018:

    "Brief Answers to the Big Questions" by Stephen Hawking

    Buy it here >>

    This book, like Stephen Hawking himself, is a gift to mankind. It was started by Hawking in life, and finished by his family after his death. It uses his notes, answers given after speeches, interviews, and essays to provide all of us with an easily-digestible reference book for most of the big questions: God, space, AI, Brexit, etc.

    Most meaningful to me, however, was seeing one of the most prominent scientists of all time underscore the importance of our impact on one another during the twilight of his life. Understanding the universe is important, but it means relatively little if we do not acknowledge that it is other people that make life meaningful. Mara Leighton, Insider Picks reporter



    "And Then All Hell Broke Loose: Two Decades in the Middle East" by Richard Engel

    Buy it here >>

    Nothing, for me, has so brutally and succinctly summed up what otherwise seems like an impossibly complex series of events that put the United States where it is in the Middle East right now.

    Ultimately becoming NBC’s Chief Foreign Correspondent, Engel was at the center of it all starting in the 1990s, debriefing two presidential cabinets on the conflict and astutely taking note of the critical errors made by both. He also speaks volumes to the human psyche and the adrenaline junkie in us all, even if he denies having his own such tendencies. A thrillingly visceral, if remorseful ride. Owen Burke, Insider Picks guides reporter

    "Lethal White" by Robert Galbraith

    Buy it here >>

    "Lethal White" is the latest installment of the Cormoran Strike detective novels by Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling. I re-read the entire series before I cracked open the newest one because I love these books so much. Rowling’s alter ego does an excellent job of making the detective work seem real and the characters grow in complexity with each book.

    "Lethal White" not only gives you the satisfaction of a mystery solved, it also gives Strike fans something they’ve been waiting for since that fateful day Robin entered his office as a temporary assistant. Malarie Gokey, Insider Picks guides editor

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Royal Caribbean Empress of the Seas

    • Two sailors who had been stranded at sea for 20 days were rescued by a Royal Caribbean cruise ship on Friday, a Royal Caribbean representative confirmed to Business Insider.
    • Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas found the sailors while traveling between Grand Cayman and Jamaica after being rerouted from Cienfuegos, Cuba, to Ocho Rios, Jamaica, due to bad weather.
    • The sailors, one of whom was unable to walk at the time, received food, water, and medical attention after boarding the ship.
    • Once the ship reached Ocho Rios, the sailors went to a local hospital.


    Two sailors who had been stranded at sea for 20 days were rescued by a Royal Caribbean cruise ship on Friday, a Royal Caribbean representative confirmed to Business Insider.

    The sailors had departed from Porto Limon, Costa Rica, on December 1 for a fishing trip, and their boat had moved away from their fishing nets while they were sleeping due to strong winds, James Van Fleet, Royal Caribbean's chief meteorologist, said via Twitter. They used all of their fuel attempting to return, Van Fleet said.

    Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas found the sailors on Friday while traveling between Grand Cayman and Jamaica after being rerouted from Cienfuegos, Cuba, to Ocho Rios, Jamaica, due to bad weather, the Royal Caribbean representative said.

    "Had we not changed itinerary to get to better weather, we would never have been in that spot at that time," Van Fleet said

    The sailors, one of whom was unable to walk at the time, received food, water, and medical attention after boarding the ship, Van Fleet said, and once the ship reached Ocho Rios, the sailors went to a local hospital. The ship's crew gave them $300 to buy clothes and food after they left the hospital, Van Fleet added.

    The sailors told Empress of the Sea crew members that they had only brought enough food and water for seven days, Van Fleet said. Water had become their "primary issue" as they tried to fish for food, Van Fleet added.

    "I don't know about you, but I've already seen a Christmas Miracle. 20 days at sea should tell you everything about the odds of them being found alive," Van Fleet said. 

    Have you worked on a cruise ship? Do you have a story to share? Email this reporter at

    SEE ALSO: Working on a cruise ship can be brutal — but 2 lawyers who rep cruise-line workers explain why even terrible cruise-ship jobs can be attractive

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    • GiftNow is a new service that takes the guesswork out of gifting — and honestly, I can't believe it didn't exist before.
    • The service lets shoppers buy gifts that don't ship until their recipients have been notified and have chosen options like size and color.
    • Stores like Target, Uniqlo, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Kate Spade, Coach, and Michael Kors are currently working with GiftNow.
    • To better understand the concept, I just tested it out. It's an easy-to-use, efficient way to gift — here's how it works.

    Gifting is hard.

    Let's face it; no matter how many gift guides you scour through, how many hours you pour into trying to find a website where their size is in stock, or how much you spend, you can never really know what someone wants — unless you ask them of course, but we're trying to be discreet here. 

    Choosing that unexpected, yet perfect gift that wows the recipient is a great feeling, but the other end of the spectrum isn't so pretty. A lackluster gift — or one that's really great but just not really their taste — will likely end up in the overflow hall closet, brought to a White Elephant party, or even worse, back to the store where it was purchased.

    If you've ever been in this predicament, or are currently in this predicament because you couldn't land on that totally perfect gift, that's okay; we found a surefire way to solve your holiday gifting woes.

    GiftNow is a new service that takes the guesswork out of gifting — and honestly, I can't believe it didn't exist before.

    Essentially, GiftNow lets you instantly send someone a mold of the gift you want to get them, and then the recipient can take it from there, personalizing with their correct size and preferred color. It's a simple process that ensures your gift recipient will get something they love.

    To better understand the concept, we just tested it out. It's an easy-to-use, efficient way to gift — here's how it works.

    GiftNow is available at a range of retailers ranging from big-box stores like Target, to high-end department stores like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.

    To test, I went over to Uniqlo where the service is also available. 


    When you have chosen a product you're interested in, you'll see GiftNow listed with the rest of the purchase options. You don't even have to select a size or color; simply choose to GiftNow. Once you click, you'll be directed to the GiftNow window, which explains how the service works and lets you choose how you want to give the gift.

    You can choose to email, text, Facebook message, or hand deliver the gift. If you're curious about which you should choose, the window offers very helpful instructions on exactly how each method differs.

    Then choose from a few designs — I went for the festive and personal "Just For You." Write a custom greeting to go with the gift and finish off with the standard salutations of "To" and "From"— then your gift is ready to be given. The link is ready instantly, so you can choose when to send it to your giftee. If you're emailing it directly to them, you can have it sent immediately or schedule it for a specific date and time. 


    The gift comes to your recipient looking as much like an actual present as an online gift can — a gift box that opens to reveal a picture of the item you chose.

    Once your recipient opens the gift, the rest of the process is in their hands.

    From there, they choose their preferred size and color of the product and where they want it shipped. If they don't like the product at all — sorry — they can exchange it for something else on the site. Since you're actually picking out a gift, this still feels thoughtful and personal, but it also has just the right amount of personalization to guarantee that the person gets something they actually want. Plus, it's ready in a snap, which is great news for us last-minute gifters. 

    So, this holiday season avoid the awkwardness of choosing the wrong size or picking out a shirt in their least favorite color. With GiftNow you can play it safe, but still manage to give a gift that has that surprise factor. That's a holiday miracle.  

    Shop gifts at Target, Uniqlo, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Kate Spade, Coach, Michael Kors, and more using GiftNow.

    Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.

    SEE ALSO: All of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides, in one place

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. That’s the strategy e-tailers will have to adopt if they want to compete with Amazon. To fight back against the e-commerce giant’s expanding dominance, other online retailers must understand exactly why and how customers are buying on Amazon — and which aspects of the Amazon shopping experience they can incorporate into their own strategic frameworks to win back customers.

    Why Amazon First

    Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has obtained exclusive survey data to give e-tailers the tools to figure out how to do just that with its latest Enterprise Edge Report: The Amazon Commerce Competitive Edge Report.

    Enterprise Edge Reports are the very best research Business Insider Intelligence has to offer in terms of actionable recommendations and proprietary data, and they are only available to Enterprise clients.

    Business Insider Intelligence fielded the Amazon study to members of its proprietary panel in March 2018, reaching over 1,000 US consumers – primarily hand-picked digital professionals and early-adopters – to gather their insights on Amazon’s role in the online shopping experience.

    In full, the study:

    • Uses exclusive survey data to analyze the factors behind Amazon’s success with consumers.
    • Segments three types of Amazon customers that e-tailers should be targeting.
    • Shares strategies on how e-tailers can attract shoppers at key moments.

    First, why is Amazon so popular?

    Amazon is ubiquitous. In fact, a whopping 94% of those surveyed said they’d made a purchase on the site in the last twelve months. And of those who did, the vast majority believed Amazon’s customer experience was simply better than its leading competitors’ — specifically eBay, Walmart, Best Buy, and Target.

    The biggest contributor to Amazon’s superior experience? Free shipping, of course. According to Amazon’s 2017 annual report, the company actually spent $21.7 billion last year covering customers’ shipping costs, a number that’s been compounding over the past few years.

    Not only is free shipping included for all Prime members as part of their subscriptions but, of all e-tailers listed in the survey, Amazon also offers the lowest minimum order value for non-subscription members to qualify for the perk (just $25). The pervasiveness of free (and fast) shipping is steadily heightening customer expectations for the online shopping experience — and forcing competitors to offer similar programs and benefits.

    Who exactly is shopping on Amazon?

    The survey results showed that across generations for a large minority of respondents, Amazon is a standard part of their typical shopping process. Nearly a third (32%) of respondents said they begin their online shopping process on Amazon. Of those who do start their journeys elsewhere, 100% ended up purchasing something from Amazon at some point over the last 12 months.

    Based on the trends in responses, Business Insider Intelligence segmented out three different types of Amazon shoppers, each with unique implications for how competitors could evolve their strategies:

    • Amazon loyalists: This group of consumers is most committed to shopping on Amazon. E-tailers must understand what has made Amazon their default experience — and how they could be pried away.
    • Comparison shoppers: This consumer segment looks at other sites before ultimately completing a purchase with Amazon, which could allow e-tailers to find success at the bottom of the purchase funnel. E-tailers should focus on what they can do more of to steal sales away at the end of the purchasing process.
    • Open-search shoppers: These consumers start their online product search away from Amazon, often with specific reasons including what they’re looking for and why they’re not looking on Amazon. Other e-tailers have the opportunity to attract these shoppers from the beginning of the purchase funnel — keeping them from ever venturing to Amazon.

    Want to learn more?

    Business Insider Intelligence has compiled the complete survey findings into the four-part Amazon Commerce Competitive Edge Report, which dives deeper into each of these consumer segments to give e-tailers an intricate understanding of Amazon’s role in their purchasing processes.

    The report presents actionable strategies for retail strategists and executives to zero in on three individual consumer segments at critical shopping moments, and empower them to win sales in an Amazon-dominated world.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    The Last of Us: Part II

    • Sony's got a big 2019 coming up.
    • The much-anticipated follow-up to "The Last of Us" is expected to arrive on the PlayStation 4 — one of the last huge, exclusive games coming to Sony's PlayStation 4 consoles.
    • Sony is also expected to announce the next PlayStation console in 2019, which may or may not be called the PlayStation 5.

    For the 80-plus million PlayStation 4 owners, 2019 is going to be another big year.

    Between the impending launch of blockbuster-to-be "The Last of Us: Part II," the expected launch of the mysterious (and gorgeous-looking) "Death Stranding," and the likely announcement of the next PlayStation console, Sony has a pretty massive year coming up.

    So, with that in mind, we're looking ahead at the year to come in all things PlayStation.

    SEE ALSO: The 10 best PlayStation 4 games for your new console

    1. The PlayStation 5 is likely to get announced.

    It's true: Sony has already announced its ongoing work on a successor to its current game console, the PlayStation 4 — which it may have already hinted will be called (what else) the PlayStation 5

    Starting as early as May 2018, Sony executives were openly discussing work on the new console. And with PlayStation skipping the game industry's annual June trade show, E3, for the first time ever, it's entirely possible that the company will hold its own event specifically to announce the next PlayStation.

    That said, we know little about what the console will be. We do know that it might not arrive until 2021.

    "We will use the next three years to prepare the next step," PlayStation head John Kodera said in May.

    Here's what we expect from the next PlayStation console: 

    1. More horsepower, offering 4K/HDR support natively and, likely, support for G-Sync/FreeSync.
    2. Backwards compatibility: Support for PlayStation 4 games, and potentially more.
    3. A new, more powerful virtual reality headset.
    4. An evolution of the PlayStation Now streaming service, potentially with PlayStation 5 games outright streamable.

    2. The last few major exclusive games for the PlayStation 4, starting with "Days Gone."

    "Days Gone" is shaping up to be something like "Sons of Anarchy" meets "28 Days Later." You play as a lone biker surviving in the wake of a global pandemic. Billions were wiped out, and many millions more became "freakers"— that's zombies to you and me.

    As if zombies weren't scary enough, "Days Gone" turns them into a water-like mass capable of flooding into corridors with the speed and fury of a tsunami. They're a far more overwhelming threat than the "Night of the Living Dead" zombies in games like "Resident Evil."

    That is, of course, when you're not riding away on your sweet hog — which is always an option.

    "Days Gone" is the first major PlayStation 4 exclusive scheduled to arrive in 2019, on April 26.

    Check out the latest trailer for "Days Gone" right here:

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    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    tim cook

    • Apple announced several new products at various launch events in 2018, including updated iPhones, Watches, iPads, and MacBook laptops.
    • Apple's big product launches were the subject of the latest video from Bad Lip Reading, a popular YouTube channel known for dubbing footage of NFL players and other professional athletes.
    • You can watch Bad Lip Reading's treatment of Tim Cook and other Apple executives with this "Apple product launch" video, which is also embedded below.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: China made an artificial star that's 6 times as hot as the sun, and it could be the future of energy

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    enid alden twd 908

    • INSIDER caught up with Katelyn Nacon, who plays Enid on AMC's "The Walking Dead," at Walker Stalker Con New Jersey.
    • Nacon said she learned Enid would be in a relationship after this season's time jump by reading it in the script. No one told her ahead of time.
    • She estimates Enid is supposed to be about 23 after the two time jumps. Alden should be 29. The age gap isn't as weird as some viewers may have thought.
    • Nacon hints we'll find out why the two got together on the second half of season nine when the show returns in February.

    While we're still waiting for answers to who the Whisperers are on AMC's "The Walking Dead" and how Michonne and Daryl (and possibly more) wound up with those mystery "X" marks, we finally have some answers about Alden and Enid's unexpected relationship which occurred during the six-year time jump. 

    INSIDER sat down with Katelyn Nacon, who plays Enid on the AMC zombie drama, earlier this month at Walker Stalker Con New Jersey where we discussed the time jump, chopping off Aaron's arm, Negan's jail escape, and Enid's new romance.

    Nacon revealed just how old Enid is supposed to be, how she learned about Enid's relationship with Alden (Callan McAuliffe), and what to expect next.

    Before The Whisperers threaten to take anyone else out of our lives when "The Walking Dead" returns Sunday, February 10, here's everything you need to know about Enid and Alden's relationship and how we'll probably learn a lot more about how it came to be. 

    Nacon estimates Enid is now in her early 20s after the time jump. Alden is 29. And Henry is way too young for her.

    enid alden walking dead

    One of the most jarring things about seeing Enid with Alden was that it wasn't really established how old Alden was supposed to be on the series. 

    The last relationship Enid was sort of in was with Carl when the two were teenagers. It seemed like McAuliffe's character might be a lot older than Enid since he was hanging around Maggie (Lauren Cohan) a lot and appeared to have an interest in her. In real life, Cohan is 36. As a result, the uncertain age difference between Alden and Enid confused and creeped out some viewers.

    Nacon is aware that the age gap between Enid and Alden has alarmed some of the fans, but says it's not as large a gap as some may imagine.

    "I did the math in my head. I mean, if we're looking at last season, she [Enid] was probably about 16. And so there's a year-and-a-half time jump, so she's about 17 or 18 in the very beginning of season nine. And then after the five or six year time jump she'd be about 22, 23," said Nacon, estimating Enid's age now.

    "I've been asked a lot because it is kind of a weird topic. He's [Alden] honestly the only one that's closest to me in age other than Macsen [Lintz], who plays Henry," said Nacon, noting that Henry's too young for Enid. "He's 17, so he's a minor."

    How old is Alden? Nacon says Enid's new boyfriend is supposed to be about five to six years older than her character. 

    katelyn nacon enid alden kiss walking dead

    "I'm [supposed to be] 23 and he's [Alden], after the time jumps and stuff, I think he's about 29, 28 or 29, in his later 20s. I'm in my early [20s]. So it's not weird. No. Because I know a lot of people [are] like, "She's 15!" And I was like, 'No no no no no no no.' It's been a lot of years since then."

    In real life, Nacon is 19 while McAuliffe is 23 so the age difference isn't as big as the onscreen gap.

    Nacon cut her hair to to make Enid look older, and she was thrilled.

    katelyn nacon TWD

    In order to make Enid look like she aged a total of seven-and-a-half years in both of season nine's time jumps, Nacon cut her long brown locks short. It was something she was thinking of asking new showrunner Angela Kang about after wearing her hair long for so many years, but it was already in mind for the show.

    "I've wanted to have this hair length for three years now and so I remember they were talking about a time jump and so one day, I think it was the finale of last season we were filming, and Angela Kang was there. I remember walking up to her and I was like, 'So, for the time jump, ya know, Enid's hair...' And she was like, 'It should be short.' And I was like, 'Yes! Finally!'"

    "I had to wait a little bit longer than I expected because we had the first time jump and they didn't want it to look too different or too similar to the big, big time jump. It was a little shorter in the year and a half time jump and then I got to finally cut it off. It was so nice. I love it. It's so much easier. It used to be down to my butt. It was crazy."

    Nacon found out Enid would be in a relationship with Alden by reading the script and thought he was supposed to be with Maggie.

    Nacon learned she was going to have to amputate Aaron's arm this year before filming for season nine even began. But when it came to her new relationship with Alden after the time jump, no one gave her a heads up. Nacon found out on her own.

    "It was very strange though. No one really told me that that was gonna happen. I don't know if they were trying to do the Alden and Maggie romance and then that didn't work out. I'm not sure. I wasn't told," said Nacon of being surprised to learn Enid and Alden were in a relationship. "I just remember one day I was reading the script and it said, 'Enid kisses Alden.' And I'm like, 'Oh!'"

    katelyn nacon enid alden kiss walking dead

    Learning about that big change for her character came as an initial surprise. She had a similar reaction to some of the fans watching at home.

    "And then I was like, 'Wait! How old is this dude even?' And I was like, "OK, he's not that much older." So it's not too weird."

    It wasn't just Nacon who thought Alden was originally supposed to be a romantic interest for Lauren Cohan's character, Maggie.

    Enid's relationship with Alden came as such a surprise because it seemed like the show was leaning towards pairing together McAuliffe's character with the tough-as-nails Hilltop leader. 

    The only problem? Cohan was leaving the show this season — for now anyway— to start her own ABC series.

    "I've spoken to Callan before too and that's what he was talking about," Nacon said of McAuliffe believing Alden's character was originally supposed to wind up with Maggie. "He was like, 'Yeah, there's a character in the comic books that he kind of parallels.' But I don't know. I don't know what their plan was. It doesn't matter now because now he's with me. Sorry, Maggie!"

    twd 813 alden maggie

    In the comics, there's a member of the Hilltop community named Dante who eventually becomes the first person Maggie warms up to after her husband's death. It takes years and though Alden isn't a character from the comics, it seemed like the show was remixing him to be, at least, inspired in part by Dante.

    Enid's relationship with Alden hasn't been going on for a long time. This is new and we'll get insight into how it came to be.

    When Jesus was killed off the show, fans were upset we never got to see him in a relationship with Aaron. Showrunner Angela Kang told INSIDER they didn't feel they had built up the relationship to that point on the show. The comment confused some fans who pointed out that Enid and Alden and another relationship between Father Gabriel and Rosita appeared to come out of nowhere. 

    INSIDER asked Nacon if she and McAuliffe came up with a backstory of how their characters got together and she hinted that she didn't need to. 

    "Well, you might find out," said Nacon, in reference to how Enid and Alden got together. "It's a six-year time jump. They've gotta fill you in eventually, right?"

    Read more: 'The Walking Dead's' Katelyn Nacon says Enid won't be happy Negan's free

    "There's a lot of explaining that should be happening in a sense. So I don't want to say anything too much," she continued. "But there is a reason that Alden and Enid got together. And it wasn't as easy as it might seem on screen, because the relationship is still very, very new for Alden and Enid. There's not even a definite definition of the relationship. They're kind of in limbo right now. So you'll see later on how they got there. So it's not finite. She doesn't call him her boyfriend, he doesn't call her his girlfriend. It's still kind of in a weird situation."

    enid alden twd 908

    Although it came up a bit unexpectedly, Nacon says she likes where her character is with Alden and the time it took for them to find one another. This isn't a relationship that has been going on for years during the time jump. 

    "I do really like Enid and Alden together, and I think he is amazing for her in the sense that he is a very kind and caring person, but also very strong and knowledgeable of the world that is surrounding them, something that she can't always find that connection with, and I think she found it with him. I think he really does help her, and he's helped her to grow into a healthier grown woman, in that sense."

    "It wasn't easy in any sense for her to move on," Nacon added, noting that her relationship with Alden hasn't been going on for very long. "It was six years. And the fact that, no it was actually, yeah, more than six years. And the fact that it's just started [Enid's relationship with Alden]... It took her more than six years in order to get over Carl and stuff."

    enid carl kiss walking dead

    "It's very hard. Especially if you have that kind of connection with a person," Nacon said of the time it took for Enid to get over Carl's loss. "The world around you is falling apart, and they were the only person that you could connect with and could understand you. It's a lot to have that person taken away from you, and to not even be able to say goodbye. It took a long time. But I think she's finally come to terms with that kind of death and what that should mean in her life and how she should move forward from that. And Alden is in that kind of equation for this."

    Read more: 'The Walking Dead's' Katelyn Nacon hints we'll finally get to see Carl's letter to Enid

    Enid seems to have it all right now. Should we be worried for her character when the show returns?

    Whenever anyone seems to be too happy on "The Walking Dead," their lives often get uprooted. With the Whisperers now on the horizon, should Nacon be concerned for Enid's life?

    samantha morton alpha walking dead whisperers

    "I mean, it's hard to say," said Nacon, noting that she is an important part of the Hilltop now as a doctor. And those are in short supply.

    "Either way it's just nice to see Enid kind of take on this new role and character about herself," she continued. "She is becoming happy and ever since that, which is always scary, I think there's still a lot that she's trying to learn from. And I think there's still a lot that she needs to teach the community around her. So she still has a lot more to do."

    "I'm excited for people to get a lot of explanation and to also see how the Whisperers effect the group and how that kind of changes the group's dynamic and everything," Nacon said overall of what she's excited for fans to see when the show returns from its winter hiatus. "And for Enid, I'm excited for people to see the new person that she's grown into be. Because she is very different than when we first met her. She's still the same girl, but she's learned a lot from where she originally was."

    If Enid doesn't make it through the rest of season nine, she's currently on another series and has her own music career

    Nacon is also currently on a show called "T@gged," which follows a group of young high school students who get tagged in violent online videos. It used to stream on Verizon's go90 app until the service was discontinued in July.

    tagged season 2

    "Hulu picked it up and now they've released all of season three December 7," said Nacon of the show. "Hannah Macpherson, the writer and director, just does such an amazing job of bringing this thriller-horror genre into these teenagers' lives, and makes it still so relatable and so realistic. You feel like you could be one of those characters. Even though there's crazy chaos going around them that you would think would never happen in a normal day."

    Nacon also recently released a single called "Undone," which is available on iTunes and Spotify. Her old "Walking Dead" co-star, Chandler Riggs, also works on music under the alias Eclipse. Could we ever see the two of them team up on a project?

    carl enid walking dead

    "I don't know. I know fans would really love to hear it," says Nacon of the possibility of reuniting with Riggs on a musical project. "It's kind of hard because I live in Georgia [and] he lives in California. It makes it a little more difficult. But I love his music, too. I think he does really great work and I think we could do something cool. So, you never know!"

    We have our fingers crossed. "The Walking Dead" returns to AMC Sunday, February 10 at 9 p.m. on AMC.

    You can follow along with our "Walking Dead" coverage all season here.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The true story behind the name 'Black Friday' is much darker than you may have thought

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    Donald Trump

    • President Donald Trump spent much of his Christmas Eve attacking his opponents and critics on Twitter, lashing out at everyone from Republican Sen. Bob Corker to the Federal Reserve.
    • Trump also attacked Democrats over the border wall issue and went after James Mattis just days after he resigned as secretary of defense.
    • The president tweeted, "I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security."
    • From Sunday morning to 1 p.m. ET on Monday, the president tweeted 23 times.

    President Donald Trump spent much of his Christmas Eve attacking his opponents and critics on Twitter, lashing out at everyone from Republican Sen. Bob Corker to the Federal Reserve.

    The president tweeted, "I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security. At some point the Democrats not wanting to make a deal will cost our Country more money than the Border Wall we are all talking about. Crazy!"

    Trump's marathon holiday tweetstorm began with criticism of Democrats for not giving into his demands for funding for a massive wall along the US-Mexico border. The president's fight with Democrats over this issue has led to a partial government shutdown.

    "Virtually every Democrat we are dealing with today strongly supported a Border Wall or Fence,"Trump tweeted. "It was only when I made it an important part of my campaign, because people and drugs were pouring into our Country unchecked, that they turned against it. Desperately needed!"

    Read more: Alarmed traders are sending the S&P 500 to its biggest annual drop since 2008 — while Mnuchin's odd attempt to soothe markets backfired

    The president then lashed out at senators who've questioned his foreign policy in relation to his attacks on traditional US allies. Trump routinely butts heads with NATO allies, for example, over the issue of defense spending.

    Trump said members of the Senate who believe he doesn't "appreciate" being allied with other countries are wrong, adding that what he doesn't like is when countries "take advantage of their friendship with the United States."

    He made these comments in relation Defense Secretary James Mattis' recent decision to step down, who appeared to rebuke Trump's treatment of allies in his resignation letter.

    Trump tweeted, "We are substantially subsidizing the Militaries of many VERY rich countries all over the world, while at the same time these countries take total advantage of the U.S., and our TAXPAYERS, on Trade. General Mattis did not see this as a problem. I DO, and it is being fixed!"

    The president also went after Brett McGurk, the top US official leading a 79-nation coalition fighting ISIS who resigned on Friday, and Republican Sen. Bob Corker.

    Read more: Top US official leading fight against ISIS resigns with scathing letter calling Trump's Syria troop withdrawal a 'complete reversal' of US policy

    Trump referred to the Tennessee senator, who's set to retire at the end of the year, as "Little Corker."

    McGurk and Corker have both been critical of Trump's decision to withdraw US troops from Syria given the ongoing presence of ISIS in the region, among other concerns.

    In another tweet, Trump also went after the Federal Reserve, which he's been critical of regarding rising interest rates and chaos in the stock market, describing it as "the only problem our economy has."

    The president added, "They don’t have a feel for the Market, they don't understand necessary Trade Wars or Strong Dollars or even Democrat Shutdowns over Borders. The Fed is like a powerful golfer who can't score because he has no touch - he can't putt!"

    The White House announced on Saturday that Trump is spending Christmas in Washington instead of at his private Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. First lady Melania Trump is returning from South Beach to spend the holiday with him.

    From Sunday morning to 1 p.m. ET on Monday, the president tweeted 23 times.

    SEE ALSO: Trump worries about being compared to Herbert Hoover, the president at the start of the Great Depression

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Anthony Scaramucci claims Trump isn't a nationalist: 'He likes saying that because it irks these intellectual elitists'

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    Orlando shooting

    • Credit cards have been at the center of some of America's deadliest mass shootings, a new investigation from The New York Times reveals. 
    • According to The Times, there have been 13 shootings killing 10 or more people over the past decade. Of those, at least eight were financed using credit cards.  
    • Many of these attackers reportedly would not have been able to afford these firearms without credit cards.

    Credit cards have been at the center of some of America's deadliest mass shootings, a new investigation from The New York Times reveals. 

    According to The Times, over the past decade there have been 13 shootings killing 10 or more people, and of those, at least eight were financed using credit cards.  

    Attackers reportedly spent thousands of dollars on guns and ammunition using credit cards that were taken out in the months leading up to the attacks. These charges were not flagged by credit card-companies despite obvious red flags, law enforcement officials say.

    And many of these perpetrators likely would not have been able to afford these firearms without credit cards, The Times reported. 

    "Banks will complain this is the government's job and it's not our job, but you know what? They are the only ones with the ability to do this," Kevin Sullivan, a former New York Police fraud investigator who is president of the Anti-Money Laundering Training Academy, told The Times.

    Read more:How likely is gun violence to kill the average American? The odds may surprise you

    Credit-card companies have refused to monitor customer transactions. A spokesperson for Visa told The Times that putting a restriction on the purchase of legal goods "sets a dangerous precedent."

    The Times uses Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people and wounded 53 more in a shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016, and James E. Holmes, who killed 12 people and injured 70 others at a Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, in 2012, as examples. 

    Both shooters reportedly spent thousands of dollars buying guns and lethal weapons on credit cards in the run-up to the attacks.

    Holmes used a new Mastercard to buy more than $11,000 in weapons and military gear including various guns, grenades, a gas mask, a bulletproof vest, and 5,000 rounds of ammunition, The Times reported. 

    "This was a civilian making these orders, not the police and not the military," Sandy Phillips, a mother of a girl who died in the attack said. "Someone should have noticed."

    Read The New York Times' full investigation here. »

    SEE ALSO: There have been 307 mass shootings in the US so far in 2018 — here's the full list

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The true story behind the name 'Black Friday' is much darker than you may have thought

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    Hafþór Björnsson the mountain

    • Hafþór Björnsson is the official World's Strongest Man, having won the title at the 2018 World's Strongest Man competition.
    • He's also known for his acting role as Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane on the HBO hit series "Game of Thrones."
    • Björnsson is 6'9" and weighs 400 pounds, a size he maintains by consuming up to 10,000 calories every day.
    • He told Business Insider that the secret to his strength has much to do with his diet and exercise, but even more to do with positive thinking.


    2018 was a big year for Iceland's Hafþór Björnsson, who usually (and fittingly) goes by the nickname Thor.

    He turned 30, got married, and won the World's Strongest Man competition, a goal he had sought for more than half a decade. He can add that to a résumé including titles such as Strongest Man in Iceland and winner of the Arnold Strongman Classic. And there's his acting role as Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane on the HBO hit series "Game of Thrones."

    At six feet nine inches tall, Björnsson was always a big guy. But he didn't bulk up to 400 pounds of largely muscle through genes alone. He became the strongest man currently walking the planet through years of hard work, disciplined diet and exercise, and a positive attitude.

    Realizing he had a 'gift for strength'

    Björnsson told us that his participation in sports started with playing basketball when he was 12 years old. But he also spent a lot of time on his grandfather's farm, where he said he stayed active by "moving huge stones and rocks." By 16, he was at his full height, and by 19, he said, he realized he "had a gift for strength."

    A recurring ankle injury that ended Björnsson's budding basketball career at age 20 would lead him to make the most of that gift, as he soon began entering strongman competitions.

    When preparing for a strongman event, his training consists of a varied regimen of exercise and physical therapy sessions, helping him maintain strength while avoiding the injuries so easy to experience when a person works with hundreds of pounds of weight (or even a thousand-plus pounds, in some cases).

    "I train with heavyweights five times a week. I'm in the gym so often," he said. "But there's also a lot of other stuff I do outside of the gym. I do a lot of hot and cold treatments to make sure I stay injury-free, and so I can also train more often."

    Eating up to 10,000 calories a day

    Hafþór Björnsson

    When we sat down with him to ask how he stays strong and in shape, the food containers stacked beside the couch indicated that diet was definitely a part of the picture.

    "Diet is very important to stay in shape, to stay strong. So I'm very consistent with my meals. I eat six meals every single day," he said. "I eat mostly steak, rice, carrots, with some peppers, sometimes chicken. I eat so much, really. And definitely the hardest part of being in these competitions really is the diet."

    Björnsson said that he eats up to 10,000 calories each day to be able to maintain the shape and strength necessary for competitions.

    "There's a lot of eating, if you want to stay the best," he said. "I have to eat every two hours, I have to fuel my body. And there's a lot of timing, prepping meals, when I eat them. I think sometimes, 'Is this worth it?' I'm always eating, and I'm never hungry. I'm always eating and working out."

    Read more:I tried intermittent fasting for a month — and I saw 7 life-changing results

    The power of positivity

    Becoming the World's Strongest Man goes beyond the approximately 10,000 calories Bjornsson consumes daily and the hours spent in the gym. It's also largely a mental game.

    "I don't have a least favorite exercise, I don't believe in thinking about that, about least favorites," he said, when asked to name one. "I don't like to think that way. You have to have your mind positive towards everything in life, and I try to be very positive. To be good at everything, you have to be positive towards it. I train and I work very hard toward my weaknesses, and I have any weaknesses, I work even harder to make them my strength."

    But does The Mountain have a favorite exercise?

    "My favorite exercise is the deadlift, definitely that one," he said.

    That comes as no surprise, as in the spring of 2018 he set a deadlift world record by lifting 1,041 pounds.

    SEE ALSO: A Canadian photographer who built his 104-square-foot tiny house with his own hands says he 'house-hacked' his way into 'living for free'

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: How "Game of Thrones" sets stunt people on fire

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    GM self-driving bolt

    Tech companies and auto companies are all racing to be the first to roll out self-driving cars onto the road.

    The stakes are high for everyone involved. The self-driving revolution and the prevalence of ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft threatens to reduce individual car ownership, which would eat into a sizable piece of automakers' core business.

    Meanwhile, tech companies are jockeying for a piece of the self-driving-car market, which Apple CEO Tim Cook dubbed"the mother of all AI projects." These companies are all looking to deploy self-driving cars as part of a commercial ride-hailing service that would operate similarly to how Uber and Lyft do now.

    In a new free report, Business Insider Intelligence — Business Insider's premium research service — takes an in-depth look at the most expansive self-driving-car tests taking place in the US, and offers insights on the leaders in the self-driving-car race.

    To get your copy of this free report, click here.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Fast Food Signature Burgers 5

    Burger King recently announced that if customers go within 600 feet of a McDonald's location, they could order a Whopper for one cent via the revamped Burger King app. The counterintuitive deal is intended to promote Burger King's recently relaunched app. 

    Burger King has a history of bizarre ads and deals. And, it isn't alone — the fast-food industry has perhaps some of the strangest promotions in the world. 

    Here are some of the weirdest deals, advertisements, and promotions that fast-food chains have used to win over customers:

    SEE ALSO: 'We were sober': Burger King finally explains why it tweeted gibberish for hours

    Burger King's Whopper deal

    "If a guest is inside one of these geofenced areas and has the new BK App on their device, the app will unlock the Whopper sandwich for a penny promotion," Burger King said in a press release. "Once the 1¢ Whopper sandwich order is placed, the user will be 'detoured' away from McDonald's, as the app navigates them to the nearest Burger King restaurant for pick up."

    The Whopper deal started on December 4 and ran through December 12.

    Read more:Burger King is giving away Whoppers for 1 cent — but you have to go to McDonald's to get them


    Burger King's obsession with foods that turn your poop green

    In 2015, Burger King launched a Halloween burger made with a black bun that turned people's feces a greenish color.

    Despite people's bathroom-related freak-outs, the chain has doubled down on scatological deals, launching the Scary Black Cherry slushie this year. And, many customers reacted with eager anticipation around what color their poop would be after drinking. 

    Read more: Burger King has a new spooky black slushie, but all people can talk about is how it's turning their poop weird colors

    Burger King's Google Home ad that was hacked to say the Whopper is made of a 'medium-sized child'

    In 2017, Burger King launched a TV ad that triggers people's Google Homes with the command, "Ok Google, what is the Whopper burger?"

    When Business Insider tested the ad, Google Home recited the definition of a Whopper burger from its Wikipedia page. However, someone had edited the Whopper's Wikipedia page to say that the burger is made of a "medium-sized child," instead of a beef patty, and that it contains the toxic chemical cyanide.

    Burger King edited the Wikipedia entry and won an award at Cannes Lions for the ad. 

    Read more:Burger King's newest TV ad has a disastrous flaw

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    most valuable failed vc backed startups 2x1

    • This year's biggest startup flameout was Theranos, the embattled medical technology company that raised almost $1 billion in its lifetime. 
    • Using data from PitchBook, these are the 25 most valuable American startups that died in 2018.

    Having millions of dollars in backing from venture capitalists doesn't guarantee the longevity of a startup.

    Even well-established private companies are at constant risk of failure, as evidenced by some of the startups that went out of business this year. PitchBook compiled data on the 25 most valuable startups that failed in 2018; three of these companies have been around for more than 20 years and were still forced to shutter.

    Startups in the healthcare industry took a big hit — seven companies on the list are in the medical sector.

    The list is headed by Theranos, the blood-testing company, whose $9 billion valuation was greater than those of all the other startups on the list combined. It ultimately flamed out after a series of Wall Street Journal reports raised serious questions about its technology

    Here are the 25 most valuable VC-backed startups that failed in 2018:

    SEE ALSO: The 25 most valuable private tech companies in the US

    26. SDCmaterials — automobile nanotechnology

    Year founded: 2004

    Maximum valuation: $48 million

    Amount raised: $26 million

    Read more about SDCmaterials on PitchBook.

    25. Senzari — music and entertainment data intelligence

    Year founded: 2010

    Maximum valuation: $52 million

    Amount raised: $13 million

    Read more about Senzari on PitchBook.

    23. Industrial Origami — industrial material manufacturer

    Year founded: 2003

    Maximum valuation: $58 million

    Amount raised: $41 million

    Read more about Industrial Origami on PitchBook.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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