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Young Asian girl carries her lunch tray in a school lunch room

Lunch time can be a nice break from classes — but not if you don’t have anyone to sit with. (Photo: XiXinXing/Shutterstock)

For a shy kid, there are few things worse than having no one to sit with at lunch. Sit by yourself and you might as well put a target on your back to attract the bullies. Ask to sit at an occupied table and you face rejection — or worse, if that makes the bullies circle like sharks. But thanks to a new app called Sit With Us, kids on their own at lunch can find a place to sit with just the click of a button.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie Hampton from Sherman Oaks, California, knows how difficult the school lunchroom can be. When she was in the seventh grade, she ate lunch by herself every single day. “When you walk into the lunchroom and you see all the tables of everyone sitting there and you know that going up to them would only end in rejection, you feel extremely alone and extremely isolated, and your stomach drops,” Hampton told NPR.

Hampton is now in her junior year at a different school, and she has plenty of friends to sit with at lunch. But the memory of those lonely lunch table days has stuck with her. “I felt that if I was thriving in a new school but didn’t do anything about the people who feel like this every single day, then I’m just as bad as the people who watched me eat alone,” said Hampton.

Sit With Us AppThe Sit With Us app keeps planning discrete, so kids don’t have to feel embarrassed about not having anyone to sit with at lunch.

But rather than scold kids or guilt them into sitting with people they don’t know at lunch, Hampton decided to take a positive approach to the problem. Sit With Us lets kids discretely search for a lunch table via their phones rather than deal with an awkward walk through the lunchroom. The app also allows students to act as “ambassadors,” inviting others to join them if they wish.

Hampton emphasized the need for the app to be private so that kids don’t have to feel embarrassed about eating lunch alone. “You feel like you’re labeling yourself as an outcast when you ask to join a table with someone you don’t know,” Hampton explained. “This way, it’s very private. No one else has to know. And you know that you’re not going to be rejected once you get to the table.”

Sit With Us is the perfect solution for new, shy or socially-awkward students who may have difficulty navigating the politics of the school cafeteria. And it’s also good for kids like Hampton, who have lots of friends now but want to reach out to others to make sure they never have to sit alone.


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Children Inherit Intelligence From THIS Parent!

Most of us generally assume that intelligence is inherited from both parents. But that’s not quite the case. There’s only one parent who gets the credit and that is – drum roll please – mom!
Through extensive study, we now know that intelligence is passed on through ‘conditioned genes.’ These particular conditioned genes live in chromosome X – which women contain two of.
But wait – what exactly are conditioned genes and why do they matter? The answer, coming right up!
Intelligence & Conditioned Genes
Conditioned genes behave differently depending on which parent they come from.
German researchers pioneered this concept back in 1984. Robert Lehrke continued to study it in more recent years. He found that genes from dad go to the limbic system, while mom’s head straight for the cerebral cortex.
Both are areas in the brain but they do very different things. The limbic system deals with emotion, instinct and mood. The cerebral cortex handles intelligence.
In other words, when mother passes on genes associated with high intelligence, they’ll wind up right where they need to be. If dad passes on those same genes – remember, men have one X chromosome – they’ll never make it to the area that needs them.
Because of these findings, psychologists now say the best predictor of a child’s intelligence is their mother’s IQ.
Just take a moment to appreciate how ironic this discovery is. For much of human history, we’ve ascribed intelligence to men, while attributing emotions to women. These findings prove that the exact opposite is true, as far as genetic development goes.
Moms, while this definitely gives you some bragging rights, don’t get too excited. Psychologists estimate genes account for just 40% to 60% of intelligence. The rest depends on environment and parenting styles – which both parents are a part of.
Consider your initial contribution more of a running start than a golden ticket.
Interestingly enough, dads, research shows that after your child is born, you have a much greater impact on their intelligence. Children who spend more time with their fathers wind up with higher IQ levels.
You can read more about that in this post.

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Elon Musk unveils ‘massive’ Tesla Autopilot 8.0 update using existing radar and fleet learning


Tesla CEO Elon Musk is finally sharing the “major improvements” coming to Tesla’s Autopilot feature.

In a press call this afternoon, Elon Musk described the “massive” 8.0 Autopilot software update, which turns the existing radar system inside Tesla cars into a primary source of information for the vehicle’s self-driving features. Musk said that with “fleet learning” the update will offer “probably a three-fold improvement in safety,” and called the coming radar-only braking feature “superhuman.”

The over-the-air software improvements are expected to be “deployed worldwide in one to two weeks” to Tesla Model S and X vehicles produced since October 2014, said Musk in a post on Tesla’s blog.

What’s changing

  • Radar as primary sensor: Before the 8.0 update, the radar technology in Tesla cars was used as a supplement for the camera system, which detects obstacles visually. With the 8.0 update, the built-in radar system is now a primary signal, along with the vision system, enabling Teslas to detect, steer around, and brake for unrecognized objects. Previously “the radar and camera would have to agree, said Musk. “Unless the camera would recognize the object, it would not initiate a braking event. It’s quite tricky because there were lots of things the camera wouldn’t recognize.”
  • More on radar: Musk says the updated processing of radar signals can now be used “to see beyond the car in front of you.” Radar “can see through rain, fog, snow, and dust quite easily,” Musk added.
  • Fleet learning: Ideally, your car would never brake for an object that is not a safety threat, such as litter, an overpass, or a road sign. Musk says Tesla is using data from all of its cars on the road to develop a “list of exceptions” to “almost entirely eliminate false positives” that trigger unnecessary braking.
  • UFOs and fluff: According to Musk, the limitations of Tesla’s vision and radar systems may cause its Model S and X cars to not automatically brake for fluffy objects, or even “a small deer.” Fielding questions from reporters, Musk added: “It should work for something like a moose, because a moose is quite a big mass.” With the 8.0 update, “the car should almost always hit the brakes correctly even if a UFO were to land on the freeway in zero visibility conditions,” Musk wrote on Tesla’s blog.
  • How much safer? When asked about the magnitude of improvements brought by the 8.0 update, Musk said: “I would imagine that the 8.0 set of improvements, radar, inclusive of the others, probably cuts the accident rates more than in half — that’s my guess. I think it would make the Model S and X by far the safest on the road … This will improve over time due to fleet learning.”
  • Would this update have saved Joshua Brown‘s life? “Yes,” said Musk, adding that “these things can not be said with absolute certainty.”
  • Not “perfect safety”: With the 8.0 updates, Musk warned users that “perfect safety is really an impossible goal. It’s really about improving the probability of safety. … There won’t ever be zero injuries. So it’s really just about minimizing the probability of injury … of death … not the illusion of perfect safety.”
  • Still not 100 percent autonomous: Like before, Tesla’s Autopilot feature remains semi-autonomous. It’s not designed to completely take over the car. “The new users of Autopilot are incredibly tentative,” said Musk. “Even intermediate users. It’s actually the people who know it best, ironically, where we see some of the biggest challenges.”
  • Other 8.0 changes: Apart from radar, Musk says the update will introduce changes to Autopilot related to braking, highway exits, Autosteer, more prominent alerts, lane changing, and more.

Musk teased the 8.0 update on Twitter nearly two weeks ago. At the time, he said the changes would see a “wide release in a few weeks.” The announcement was delayed due to an “unusually difficult couple of weeks,” Musk said, following the explosion of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.


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Maker of Drug Fueling Heroin Overdose Epidemic Is Lobbying to Keep Weed Illegal

In 2016, cannabis is still illegal in many parts of the country, and pharmaceutical giant Insys Therapeutics Inc., a manufacturer of fentanyl, just demonstrated much of the reason why.
Arizona is currently gearing up to vote on legalizing recreational cannabis. Ahead of that vote, Insys just contributed $500,000 in the fight against Proposition 205, U.S. News and other outletsreport.
The Arizona-based pharmaceutical company recently gave the funds to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, an anti-legalization campaign group actively fighting to defeat the ballot measure.
Insys’s contributions are particularly unsettling considering the company currently markets only one product — a spray version of fentanyl, a powerful opiate.
Fentanyl has become one of the country’s most dangerous prescription drugs. It is more potent than traditional addictive opiates, which already claim thousands of lives every year and drive addicts to graduate to heroin use. Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and has been linked to a growing number of deaths in the United States. It is particularly dangerous when sold on the street and cut with other drugs. Fentanyl has been blamed for worsening the sharp rise in heroin overdoses as dealers across the country have begun adding it to heroin to make it stronger.
Yet Insys and opponents of legalization are more concerned about a plant.
According to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, “four states and the District of Columbia have already legalized [cannabis] and are seeing disastrous repercussions for their youth, workplaces and communities.”
Of course, this assessment is incorrect.
Colorado has lower rates of teen cannabis consumption than the national average, and studies have shown driving while under the influence of the plant is far less dangerous than alcohol, a legal drug. Colorado has seen a spike in tourism, business, and tax revenues as a result of legalization.
Interestingly, a study by Johns Hopkins university last year found states with medical marijuana had lower rates of overdose from opiates.
In spite of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy’s claims they care about communities, it is completely comfortable taking half a million dollars from a company that produces one of the most toxic and addictive drugs on the market. Unsurprisingly, Insys previously sold a synthetic cannabis product and has already gained approval from the FDA to launch a similar one in the near future. These business ventures provide an even deeper understanding of why they oppose legalization.
“[W]e are truly shocked by our opponents’ decision to keep a donation from what appears to be one of the more unscrupulous members of Big Pharma,” J.P. Holyoak, chairman of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol said.
His statement continued:
“Our opponents have made a conscious decision to associate with this company. They are now funding their campaign with profits from the sale of opioids – and maybe even the improper sale of opioids. We hope that every Arizonan understands that Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy is now a complete misnomer. Their entire campaign is tainted by this money. Any time an ad airs against Prop. 205, the voters should know that it was paid for by highly suspect Big Pharma actors.“
Considering the myriad healing properties of cannabis, it is obvious why a pharmaceutical company in the business of selling powerful painkillers is eager to invest in maintaining prohibition. Legalizing and normalizing cannabis pose a direct threat to pharmaceutical profits considering cannabis is effective at treating pain, anxiety, degenerative diseases, and potentially even cancer. Though much more research is needed to determine the true efficacy of cannabis as medicine, the federal government’s insistence on keeping it illegal stifles further scientific examination.
There are legitimate concerns about treating cannabis like alcohol — namely, that convoluted regulations make legalization a bureaucratic headache compounded by the substance’s illegal status with the federal government. Nevertheless, powerful interests are aggressively trying to keep cannabis illegal — Insys’s donation is the largest any group associated with Proposition 205 has received.
Around the country, the pharmaceutical fight against legalization is joined by the tobacco lobby, the alcohol lobby, the private prison lobby, and law enforcement.
Still, U.S. News reports the ballot measure is gaining popularity among Arizonans. While corporate cash has been known to influence election outcomes, only time will tell if Insys’s desperate attempts to keep a plant illegal will sway voters.

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Being The Boss

It’s hard being the boss of someone when you do the same job as them.  I’m learning this the hard way.  I understand why NG doesn’t look at me as her boss because we have a unique situation where I got promoted, yet I’m still doing reception.  Not many people have a position where their boss is doing their job until they come in, and covers their break.  At least, I don’t think a lot of people have experienced that.

It’s also hard being the boss of someone who has decided that she will be absolutely miserable the second she walks through the lobby doors.  NG has decided to no longer fake being a happy adult, but to just look and act miserable.  Don’t even ask her how her day is going unless you want to her to break it down of how awful her job is.

Being the only person in the entire office that knows what it’s like to be a receptionist and understand how painful and under appreciated it can be, you think she would look to me to guidance.  Nope.  She looks at me and doesn’t understand why I got a new title and why she has to be stuck at the desk.

Seriously?, I’ve been here for YEARS.  I’ve put my time in, and I have put up with a lot.  No body is going to promote a miserable person, and everyone can tell you’re not happy.  If you’re gonna be miserable, blog! Apparently 26 people out there love reading about some random girl’s bad day!😉

Any who! In between of thinking what the heck I was going to do with this girl, and praying that she might quit, I was sitting at the front desk with Jim (who is still my buddy – which is still freaking me out…) a store manager who was visiting the home office came up to the desk and ask if she could ask me a question.  She overheard me answer the phone while she was in the lobby and noticed that I looked up a store’s phone number, gave a contact name, and seemed to  be an overly nice person to the caller.  Is this what I normally do with callers?

I explained to her that for the most part, I always try to get the caller the information they’re looking for, if it’s available to me.  Why.  What happened.

She laughed, no no, nothing.  Just wondering.

She lied.

She went on to talk about how she had called one day (and she knew the exact date and time because she was traveling and was in her car) and the girl who answered said that she wouldn’t look up a phone number for her, and that if she wasn’t looking for anyone in the corporate office she couldn’t help her.


Now I have managers complaining about NG and how badly she sucks.  I look at Jim and he tells me I have to talk to NG, and if she doesn’t improve, I can write her up.  First of all, write her up? What the heck does that even mean?  This isn’t school.  And second, no no no! I don’t want to do this!!!

I send her a meeting request for later in the afternoon and she doesn’t accept.  She doesn’t say no, she just decided to completely ignore my email.  So I go out to the lobby and tell her Mark is going to cover the phones so we can chat.  We’ll have our first “one on one”.  Riiiight.

We get in the room and I immediately start talking about the conversation I had with the manager.  She lies and tells me maybe it was when we had a temp in.  I tell her no, she told me the date and time and that’s when you were up there.  NG, you can’t do that.  You’re a receptionist, it’s part of the job.

“ok” with a smirk on her face.

OK?? that’s all you have to say? I tell her that we’re a team and when one person isn’t doing what they’re supposed to, it looks bad on both of us.

“Yup, got it.”

I end the meeting and send her back to the lobby.  I come out of the room to Jim and Dee (my new team member), who were dying to know what happened.  When they saw NG looking all “whatever Ruby” and me looking pissed, they asked what happened.

I know I suck as a manager since I’ve never been one before, but c’mon!  TRY to help me out, NG!
Can’t she just be a normal employee and suck up to her boss??  Just bring me a coffee in the morning and everything will be a-ok!😉


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Ex-NFL player Patrick Willis: What leaving football for Silicon Valley taught meEx-NFL player Patrick Willis: What leaving football for Silicon Valley taught me

Ex-NFL player Patrick Willis: What leaving football for Silicon Valley taught me

Many retired NFL players find their second act in coaching, sports media or small business — not working for a small tech start-up.

But former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis wouldn’t have it any other way.

For the past few months, Willis has been working for Open Source Storage, a start-up specializing in cloud technology. He is the EVP of strategic partnerships.

“I think my proudest accomplishment is being here,” Willis told CNBC.

Willis announced his retirement from the league in March 2015, ending an eight-year career at age 30. Sustaining multiple injuries contributed to his decision, but so did the desire for something new, he said.

The tough part was figuring out what came next.

“When I no longer had that passion … to get up each day and put forth my best efforts, I just knew it was time for a change,” he said.

Making the decision to retire wasn’t easy, but he had to trust his gut.

“Everybody in the world had everything that they thought I should do and the way they wanted me to do it,” Willis said.

The difficult decision taught him a valuable lesson about himself — and about making tough decisions.

“I have always been the kind of person to do what feels right for me, do what feels right in my heart,” he said.

A chance encounter would help him find a new path.

“As I was looking at some other things, I happened to come across a guy that happened to be my neighbor, and we just had a conversation,” Willis said. “One thing led to another.”

That guy was Open Source Storage CEO Eren Niazi, his future boss.

The move to leave professional football might not make sense to many, but Willis said his new job is very rewarding.

“I’m grateful for those times, but I’m even more grateful for the opportunity that I have now to be working at OSS, to be a part of the tech field and to be using my brain the way I get to use it every day.”

“I’ve just always been a different type of person, [the type] to create your own path, do things that haven’t really been done,” Willis said.

“You must trust what’s inside of you. Trust what was put there.”


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The relationship between trade and wages

In the words of my friend Mike Macartney, “free trade isn’t.”

This week “The Economist explains” is given over to economics. For each of six days until Saturday this blog will publish a short explainer on a seminal idea.

DOES trade hurt wages? Or, more precisely, do imports from low-wage economies hurt workers in high-wage ones? Many people assume so. Economists take a bit more convincing. Back in the 1930s, one trade economist, Gottfried Haberler, argued that “the working class as a whole has nothing to fear from international trade”—at least in the long run. This confidence rested on three observations. Labour, unlike other many other productive resources, is required in all sectors. It will thus remain in demand however much globalisation shakes up a country’s industrial mix. Over time, labour is also versatile. Workers can move and retrain; new entrants can gravitate towards sunrise sectors rather than industries in decline. Finally, workers are also consumers, who often buy the foreign goods in local shops. Even if competition from cheap imports drives down their (nominal) wages, they will come out ahead if prices fall by even more. Haberler’s confidence was not universally shared, however. Wolfgang Stolper, a Harvard economist, suspected that competition from labour-abundant countries might hurt workers elsewhere. In 1941, he teamed up with Paul Samuelson, his Harvard colleague, to prove it.

Their Stolper-Samuelson theorem concluded that removing a tariff on labour-intensive goods would depress wages by more than prices, hurting workers as a class, even if the economy as a whole gained. The theorem’s logic rests on the interaction between industries with different degrees of labour-intensity. It is perhaps best explained with an example. Suppose a high-wage economy were divided into two industries: wheat-growing (which is land-intensive) and watchmaking, which makes heavy use of labour and shelters behind a 10% tariff. If this protection were removed, watch prices would fall by 10%. That would force the industry to contract, laying off labour and vacating land. That in turn would put downward pressure on wages and rents. In response, wheat growers would expand, taking advantage of the newly available land and labour. This dance would continue until watchmaking’s costs had fallen by 10%, allowing the industry to compete with tariff-free imports.

Stolper and Samuelson paid close attention to the combination of rents and wages that would achieve this cost reduction. One might assume that both would fall by 10%. But that would be wrong. Since watchmaking is labour-intensive, its contraction releases more labour than land, putting greater downward pressure on wages than on rents. Conversely, the expansion of wheat growers would put more upward pressure on rents than on wages. The end result is that wages would have to fall by more than 10% because rents would fall by less. Rents would paradoxically rise. The combination of much cheaper labour and slightly pricier land would restore the modus vivendi between the two sectors. It would halt the contraction of the watchmakers (because cheaper labour helps them more than pricier land hurts them). It would also check the expansion of the wheat growers (because pricier land hurts them more than cheap labour helps them).

Trade liberalisation, in this example, depresses wages by more than prices, hurting labour in real terms. This gloomy conclusion has proved remarkably influential. It appears even 75 years later in debates about the Trans-Pacific Partnership between America and 11 other countries, many of them low-wage economies. Some economists regret this influence, arguing that the theorem’s crisp conclusion does not hold outside of the stylised settings in which it was first conceived. Even the theorem’s co-author, Paul Samuelson, was ambivalent about the result. “Although admitting this as a slight theoretical possibility,” he later wrote, “most economists are still inclined to think that its grain of truth is outweighed by other, more realistic considerations.”

Previously in this series


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