Want to read the inner thoughts of a beloved U.S. president? Then be prepared to cough up a pretty penny.
A diary penned by John F. Kennedy was bought Wednesday by a Massachusetts-based collector for $718,750 during a live auction, according to Boston-based auction house RR Auction. Only 12 of the diary’s 61 pages were handwritten — the rest were typed — and the artifact was bound in black leather cowhide. “This exceptional diary sheds light on a side of John F. Kennedy seldom explored and confirms America’s enduring sense that he was one of the most qualified, intelligent, and insightful commanders-in-chief in American history,” Bobby Livingston, executive vice president at RR Auction, said in a news release.
The diary was written during Kennedy’s short stint as a journalist in the wake of World War II. In it, the would-be president details his views on everything from liberalism and President Franklin Roosevelt to the creation of the United Nations. He also wrote about attending the Pottsdam Conference in Germany, which was attended by the likes of President Harry Truman, Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill, and about his decision to run for Congress. Entries and photos of the diary are available on RR Auction’s website.
Deirdre Henderson, who worked at Hearst with JFK and eventually helped coordinate one of his campaign advisory committees, was given the diary by the future president. In 1995, she published its contents in the book “Prelude to Leadership.” It included this entry, written on July 1, 1945, during Kennedy’s tour of an annihilated Berlin:
“The devastation is complete. The streets are relatively clear, but there is not a single building which is not gutted. On some of the streets, the stench — sweet and sickish from dead bodies — is overwhelming. People all have completely colorless faces — a yellow tinge with pale tan lips. They are all carrying bundles. Where they are going, no one seems to know. I wonder whether they do.”
Diet soda is getting more bad publicity. A new study comes to some alarming conclusions about these beverages
Artificially sweetened beverages may be linked to an increased risk of stroke and dementia, according to a study released this week by the American Heart Association’s peer-reviewed journal Stroke. The researchers looked at 2,888 people over the age of 45 (with a median age of 62) for stroke risks and 1,484 people over the age of 60 (with a median age of 69) for risk of dementia. After adjustments were made for age, sex, education, caloric intake, diet, exercise, and smoking, they found that diet soda drinks “were associated with an increased risk of ischemic stroke, all-cause dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease dementia.” (The study cites correlation rather than causation.)
Diet soda sales have tumbled as consumers, turned off by studies on artificial sweeteners, have switched to bottled water, teas and energy drinks, instead. And this not the first study that has made a connection between diet soda to other serious medical issues. Several recent studies have linked diet soda and cardiovascular disease and showed a correlation (if not a causation) between cancer and aspartame. The beverage industry says people who are overweight and already at risk for heart disease may consume more diet drinks in an attempt to control their weight and the Food and Drug Administration has ruled that artificial sweeteners are safe.
The beverage industry highlights the safety of artificial sweeteners. “Low-calorie sweeteners have been proven safe by worldwide government safety authorities as well as hundreds of scientific studies,” Lauren Kane, a spokeswoman for the American Beverage Association, told MarketWatch, on behalf of industry, including Coca-Cola KO, -0.05% and PepsiCo PEP, -0.14%Research shows that diet soda can be a useful tool as part of a weight management plan, she added. “According to the National Institutes of Health, the likelihood of developing stroke and dementia are related to age, hypertension, diabetes and genetics,” she said.
Americans now drink more bottled water than diet soda or traditional soda. Bottled-water consumption in the U.S. hit 39.3 gallons per capita last year, while carbonated soft drinks fell to 38.5 gallons, marking the first time that soda was knocked off the top spot, according to data from industry tracker Beverage Marketing Corp. But soda is still more expensive, racking up $39.5 billion in retail sales versus $21.3 billion for water, industry research group Euromonitor found. “In 2016, bottled water overtook carbonates to become the leading soft drinks category in off-trade volume terms, an astonishing milestone a decade in the making,” Euromonitor concluded.
There has also been a backlash against sugary drinks. Soda and sugary drinks may lead to an estimated 184,000 deaths among adults every year, a 2015 study by researchers at Tufts University published in the American Heart Association’s peer-reviewed journal Circulation. The study analyzed consumption patterns from 611,971 individuals between 1980 and 2010 across 51 countries. Sugar-sweetened beverages consumption may have been responsible for approximately 133,000 deaths from diabetes 45,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease 6,450 deaths from cancer, it concluded. (The American Beverage Association published a lengthy rebuttal.)
U.S. consumers spent $21 billion on bottled water last year
Americans now drink more bottled water than soda but, with Earth Day on April 22, some environmentalists say it’s worth highlighting there’s a hidden cost to buying all those plastic bottles.
Bottled-water consumption in the U.S. hit 39.3 gallons per capita last year, while carbonated soft drinks fell to 38.5 gallons, marking the first time that soda was knocked off the top spot, according to data from industry tracker Beverage Marketing Corp. But soda is still more expensive, racking up $39.5 billion in retail sales versus $21.3 billion for water, industry research group Euromonitor found. “In 2016, bottled water overtook carbonates to become the leading soft drinks category in off-trade volume terms, an astonishing milestone a decade in the making,” it said.
While the fizzy soda category has experienced an annual volume sales decline since 2003, bottled water grew every year over the last two decades, except 2009 during the depths of the Great Recession, driven by consumer concerns about the effects of artificial sweeteners and sugar.
While the fizzy soda category has experienced an annual volume sales decline since 2003, bottled water grew every year over the last two decades, except 2009 during the depths of the Great Recession, driven by consumer concerns about the effects of artificial sweeteners and sugar. Bottled water also had another unexpected boost aside from skittishness over sodas. Scares over possible water contamination have helped boost demand for bottled water over the last few decades, experts say.
More than one-quarter of bottled water revenue last year was shared by the soda giants Coca-Cola Co. KO, -0.05% and PepsiCo PEP, -0.14% which sell Dasani and Aquafina respectively. In the four decades since the launch of Perrier water in the U.S., consumption of bottled water surged 2,700%, from 354 million gallons in 1976 to 11.7 billion gallons in 2015, according to the International Bottled Water Association.
And not all European bottled water is always free of chemicals, according to studies of European bottled waters carried out in Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France — one published in 2011 and the other in 2013 — by the Goethe University Frankfurt’s Department of Aquatic Ecotoxicology. Among the main compounds Wagner found: Endocrine disrupting chemicals, or EDCs, which can act like hormones in the body and have been linked to diabetes, breast cancer and cardiovascular disease. (Representatives from the bottled water industry contend that the origin of these EDCs were likely environmental rather than from a packaging material.)
Plastic soda and water bottles are also clogging up landfills and floating as vast vortices on the world’s oceans. What’s more, consumers can purify their own tap water for a fraction of the cost of a $2 bottle of water or soda.
Plastic soda and water bottles are also clogging up landfills and floating as vast vortices on the world’s oceans, studies suggest. Americans discard around 33.6 million tons of plastic each year, but only 6.5% of that recycled and 7.7% is combusted in waste-to-energy facilities, according to Columbia University’s Earth Center. The U.S. was recently ranked 20th among 192 countries that could have contributed to plastic waste in the oceans, according to a 2015 study led by Jenna Jambeck, an environmental engineer at the University of Georgia and published in the academic journal Science.
The industry disagrees. Bottled water containers are 100% recyclable, an International Bottled Water Association spokeswoman said. “The most recent recycling rate for bottled water containers is 35.4% and, of all the drink packaging that is mismanaged, bottled water containers make up just 3.3%,” she said. (Glass containers make up over 66%, soda containers make up more than 13%, and aluminum cans make up nearly 8%, she said. Read more here.)
What’s more, polyethylene terephthalate or PET, plastic bottled water bottles already use less plastic than any other packaged beverage, the International Bottled Water Association spokeswoman added. Between 2000 and 2014, the average weight of a 16.9-ounce (half-liter) PET plastic bottled water container declined 51%, according to the Beverage Marketing Corporation. Another 2015 study estimated that the accumulated number of “microplastic” particles in 2014 weighed between 93,000 and 236,000 metric tons, which is only 1% of global plastic waste estimated to enter the ocean in one year. (Consumers can also purify their own tap water for a fraction of the cost of a $2 bottle of water or soda. Prices start at $5.)
But there is some irony for people who believe bottled water is spring water, sourced from some Alpine mountain peak or green meadow: Some 45% of bottled water brands are sourced from the municipal water supply — the same source as what comes out of the tap, according to Peter Gleick, a scientist and author of “Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water.”
Those within the industry, however, say that does not mean it’s the same as tap water. The spokeswoman for the International Bottled Water Association says purified and spring water must meet Food & Drug Administration quality standards. “When a public water system is used as a source for making purified bottled water, several processes are employed to ensure that it meets comprehensive U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations,” she says. “These treatments can include ozonation, filtration, reverse osmosis, distillation or de-ionization. The finished water product is then placed in a bottle under sanitary conditions and sold to the consumer.”
(Dasani and Aquafina use a public water source, but both companies say the water is filtered for purity using a “state-of-the-art” process.) And, as the industry expands, more bottled waters are available with different flavors, carbonation and vitamins.
And the alternative seems far worse. Soda and sugary drinks may lead to an estimated 184,000 deaths each year among adults from diabetes, heart disease and other obesity-related illnesses, according to a landmark 2015 study by researchers at Tufts University published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation. The study analyzed consumption patterns from 611,971 individuals between 1980 and 2010 across 51 countries, along with data on national availability of sugar in 187 countries. (The American Beverage Association published a lengthy rebuttal: “The authors themselves acknowledge that they are at best estimating effects of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption.”)
But sugar-shy consumers are shying away from diet soda too. Several recent studies have linked diet soda and cardiovascular disease and showed a correlation (if not a causation) between cancer and aspartame and, on last week, another study argued that diet soda is correlated to dementia and strokes in older people. The American Beverage Association also rejects those studies, highlighting the difference between “correlation” and “causation,” and says people who are overweight and already at risk for heart disease may consume more diet drinks in an attempt to control their weight and the Food and Drug Administration has ruled that artificial sweeteners are safe.
Last year, Pepsi announced that it will sell Diet Pepsi with both aspartame, the diet sweetener typically used in sweeteners like Equal, and sucralose, used in Splenda. Unlike bottled water, however, they’re both artificial.
What’s better than a group of women coming together to celebrate their bodies? A group of women coming together to celebrate their bodies by dousing themselves in glitter and having a super fun photoshoot.
Fifteen body-positive, Australia-based women held their third annual “Glitter Extravaganza” in rural Queensland earlier this month. The group, comprised of women ages 19 to 36, met on Instagram over a shared interest in lingerie.
Bonnie V., one of the participants who writes lingerie reviews, told The Huffington Post that the group’s goal is to shatter the pressure put on women to look a certain way. “We’ve had enough,” she said. “Our focus is encouraging women everywhere to embrace the bodies they have, regardless of what they have been told is acceptable by mass media.”
It might seem odd for a group of people who bonded over a love of lingerie to make a statement by stripping their clothes off altogether, but then, the lingerie isn’t really the point.
“We are showcasing that none of us look like stereotypical models, we are all different shapes and sizes,” Bonnie V. said. “Yet we can (and will) model our lingerie collections and celebrate the bodies we have.”
Plus, glitter just makes everything better, doesn’t it? Check out more photos from the shoot below.
Brennan Agranoff is a 17-year-old with a lot on his plate.
The high-school junior balances homework with another full-time job he’s had since he was 13: He’s founder and CEO of HoopSwagg, a custom socks startup.
HoopSwagg isn’t just a little project on the side for this teenager. In four years, Agranoff has grown his idea to make custom-design athletic socks into a profitable online-only business with annual sales of more than $1 million.
Agranoff’s lightbulb moment came in 2013 at a high-school basketball game, where he noticed most kids were wearing the same plain Nike athletic socks. If these simple socks started such a craze, he wondered: What would happen if he kicked things up a notch and printed custom designs on them?
Fast forward four years, and HoopSwagg now offers more than 200 original designs created by Agranoff himself: a mix of goofy (a melting ice cream cone), funky (a spoof of the infamous Portland International Airport carpet) and tongue-in-cheek (“goat farm,” a family inside joke scattered with photos of the real animals on the family’s property). Agranoff also wants to allow customers to create their own designs in the future.
The company is now shipping 70 to 100 orders a day, with each pair of socks priced at $14.99. And this week, HoopSwagg announced its first acquisition: It bought competitor TheSockGame.com, which will add over 300 designs to the portfolio and help expand HoopSwagg’s customer base.
But HoopSwagg started small. After Agranoff’s initial idea at the school basketball game, he spent six months researching logistics like machinery and technology needed for custom digital printing on fabric.
He then made the case to two potential investors: his parents. “They thought the concept was a little out there,” Agranoff said. But he was persistent and ultimately received a $3,000 loan.
In true startup fashion, HoopSwagg launched in the family garage in Sherwood, Oregon, just outside of Portland. Agranoff set up the design printing and heat presser machines with his family’s help. He enlisted his parents to buy “as many white athletic socks as they could get from Dick’s Sporting Goods.”
Hoopswagg’s first year was slow. But momentum grew quickly after the socks — which Agranoff said are “for everyone from 6-year-olds to 80-year-olds” — took off on social media.
Agranoff leveraged his own social network and targeted a group of social influencers to help spread the word. In particular, the sock design inspired by the Portland airport’s former teal-and-geometric-shape pattern went viral, bringing more attention to the brand.
As sales soared, the company quickly outgrew the garage. The Agranoff family built a 1,500-square-foot building on their property to accommodate production, warehousing and shipping.
His mother joined the business full-time, and Agranoff also has 17 other part-time employees. But self-sufficiency is key to his success, he said. Agranoff also taught himself to code, so he could better set up and manage his business’ website, and how to use graphic design tools to develop the designs. He remains the company’s only graphic designer, though he is colorblind.
For now, the socks are primarily sold through HoopSwagg’s website and via Amazon (AMZN, Tech30), eBay (EBAY) and Etsy. The next three years are pivotal for HoopSwagg, said Agranoff, who wants the brand to be in retail stores,” said Agranoff. He’s also expanding customization to other products like shoelaces, arm sleeves and ties.
Meanwhile, Agranoff is set to graduate high school six months early. While college is in the plan at some point, he’s slated to focus on HoopSwagg full-time after high school graduation. He currently spends about six hours per day on the business, after putting in a day of school and finishing his homework.
While Agranoff has never taken a business class, he learned a lot by buying items at garage sales and selling them on eBay — a pursuit he began when he was eight.
“So really, I’ve been learning how to do this for a while,” said Agranoff. “Especially today, with all the information available on the internet, you can’t be too young to learn how to be an entrepreneur.”
Welcome to the new world of work, where humans have the strength of robots.
People will still be essential on the factory floors, even as robots become more common
The Fourth Industrial Revolution has arrived. The first was the steam engine-driven Industrial Revolution; the second involved the innovations from Henry Ford’s assembly line. Third, microelectronics and computer power appeared on factory floors. Now, manufacturing businesses are beginning to integrate robotics, automation and other data-driven technologies into their workflows.
Robots have taken over difficult, dangerous and repetitive physical tasks, improving factory safety, worker comfort and product quality. The next phase of labor innovation will do the same thing for cognitive work, removing mentally stressful and repetitive tasks from people’s daily routines.
Human work will become more versatile and creative. Robots and people will work more closely together than ever before. People will use their unique abilities to innovate, collaborate and adapt to new situations. They will handle challenging tasks with knowledge-based reasoning. Machines enabled by the technologies that are now becoming commonplace — virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa, wearable sensors like FitBits and smart watches — will take care of tedious work details.
People will still be essential on the factory floors, even as robots become more common. Future operators will have technical support and be super-strong, super-informed, super-safe and constantly connected.
We call this new generation of tech-augmented human workers, both on factory floors and in offices, “Operator 4.0.” There are several types of enhancements available, which can be used individually or in combination to put humans at the heart of this technological revolution.
One straightforward enhancement would let workers wear robotic exoskeletons to enhance their strength. A “super-strength operator” could let a human truly control the physical power of a large robot. In today’s warehouses and construction sites, workers risk injury and exhaustion by handling heavy objects themselves. Or they are forced to compromise, using a more powerful tool with less adaptability, like a forklift.
The benefits go well beyond the workplace. Of course, a worker in a powered robotic suit could easily handle extremely heavy objects without losing the flexibility of natural human movements. The worker would also be far less likely to suffer severe injuries from accidents or overwork. And at the end of a day, a super-strength worker could take off the exoskeleton and still have energy to play with the kids or spend time with friends.
Fighter pilots use heads-up displays, which provide them with crucial information right on the cockpit windshield and directly in their line of sight. This is “augmented reality,” because it displays information within a live view of the world. It used to be very specialized and expensive technology. Now, Microsoft’s HoloLens makes it available for consumers.
An “augmented operator” can get directions or assistance without interrupting the task he or she is working on. Often, when new equipment or processes are developed, trainers need to travel long distances to factories, staying for weeks to teach workers what to do. Designers do the same, getting feedback for refinements and improvements. All that travel takes up a huge amount of time and is extremely expensive. With augmented reality available, it is often unnecessary.
A worker wearing a set of smart glasses can receive individualized, step-by-step instructions displayed right in front of his or her eyes, no matter where he or she is looking. With earbuds and a microphone, she or he could talk directly to trainers in real time.
Many manufacturing environments are hazardous, involving heavy equipment, caustic chemicals and other dangers that can maim and kill human workers. A “healthy operator” may be equipped with wearable sensors tracking pulse rate, body temperature, chemical exposure or other factors that indicate risks of injury.
This type of system is already available: Truck drivers can wear the Maven Co-Pilot, a hands-free headset that detects fatigue symptoms, like head-bobbing movements. It can also ensure drivers check their rear-view mirrors regularly to stay aware of nearby traffic. It can even provide reminders to take scheduled breaks. This helps keep the truck’s driver safe and improves everyone else’s road safety.
Possibilities are limitless. An “analytical operator” would wear a monitor showing real-time data and analytics, such as information on chemicals in a sewage treatment plant or pollutants at an incinerator. A “collaborative operator” may be linked to collaborative robots, or co-bots, like the assembly assistant YuMi. A “smarter operator” could be equipped with an intelligent virtual personal assistant, like an advanced Siri or Alexa.
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There does not have to be conflict between robots and humans, with machines taking people’s jobs and leaving them unemployed. Technology should be designed with collaboration in mind. That way, companies and workers alike will be able to capitalize on the respective strengths of both human and machine. What’s more, the inherent flexibility of “Operator 4.0” workers will also help to ensure workplaces of the future that can change and adapt. That means getting ever more efficient and safer, as new technologies emerge.
Lamborghinis and Ferraris are well known for being the most expensive and opulent sports cars on the planet. But Lamborghini wasn’t always considered synonymous with wealth and status. It began as an Italian tractor company known for refurbishing old military equipment. So how did Lamborghini go from selling tractors to becoming one of the world’s top luxury car brands? With a little improvisation, some not-so-friendly competition and an alleged sticky clutch.