We want to talk about escape plans. The average US household credit card debt stands at $15,607
What amazing things have you done, or are you planning to do, to get out of debt? Any debt.
Come commiserate, gloat, or just share your story.
We want to talk about escape plans. The average U.S. household credit card debt stands at $15,607.
What amazing things have you done, or are you planning to do, to get out of debt? Any debt, big or small.
Come commiserate, gloat or just share your story.
This will probably come as a surprise to no one, but Silicon Valley is dominated by men. In fact, it's dominated by white men.
Google's workforce is around 70 percent male and just over 60 percent white, and New York Times tech reporter Farhad Manjoo says the company knows that's bad for business.
"The interesting thing about Google is it's working on problems that no one has ever worked on before," Manjoo says. "So the way to solve those problems is to get an extremely diverse group of people looking at them. [Google] feels like if they can get more women, more people from different parts of the world looking at these problems they'll have a better chance to solve them than if they have a bunch of people that live and work in Silicon Valley and look like the TV show 'Silicon Valley.'"
Manjoo wrote an article this week called "The Business Case for Diversity in the Tech Industry." He says Google has been promoting programs to try to draw more diverse students into software engineering, but it's also started tackling something below the surface. Manjoo says Google calls it "unconscious bias," and he attended a new diversity workshop put on by Google's human resources team.
"It was interesting because it's based on a lot of research in psychology about how people express biases in ways they don't know," Manjoo says. "Google's basic message in these workshops is that everyone is a little bit racist, a little bit sexist and the way to make sure you're not acting that way is to be conscious of what you're saying, to be conscious that this is a problem and not let your unconscious biases lead a meeting or lead the way."
Investigators from the U.S. Department of Agriculture say they cannot figure out how genetically modified wheat got into an Oregon field. Now GM wheat has been found growing in Montana, too.
We don’t want to make you paranoid. But these days, you have to be on the lookout for fraud, even via products that are supposed to prevent fraud.
"It’s quite an irony that these identity theft products have been consistently found to be sold in a deceptive manner,” says Prentiss Cox, an associate professor of law at the University of Minnesota Law School.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau just fined U.S. Bank in connection with identity protection and credit monitoring services it was selling. Customers were charged for credit monitoring by a company the bank hired, called Affinion.
Banks need written permission to monitor a person’s credit report. But the CFPB says U.S. Bank started charging consumers before they signed permission forms the bank sent out. Their credit was never monitored, but they were charged anyway, according to the CFPB.
“The bureau determined that this conduct was an unfair practice and ordered U.S. Bank to repay consumers approximately $48 million,” says Deb Morris, the deputy enforcement director at the CFPB.
Neither U.S. Bank nor Affinion would agree to an interview, but both sent statements. Affinion says it "proactively built and implemented a solution over two years ago to obtain the required authorizations upon enrollment to our service."
The U.S. Bank statement says the problem was with Affinion: "As soon as we became aware of the issues with Affinion, we took swift action to protect our customers, and ultimately, discontinued our relationship with Affinion approximately two years ago."
‘That’s that Bart Simpson defense," says Ed Mierzwinski, a consumer advocate with U.S. Public Interest Research Group. "I wasn’t there. I didn’t do it. You can’t prove anything.”
Mierzwinski says fraud in these anti-fraud products is widespread because they're profitable, and banks can automatically charge us once we sign up. Mierzwinski says don’t even sign up for stuff that’s free at first.
“The free trial offer only lasts for three or five days," he says. "And if you forget to or fail to cancel, they start billing your credit card on a monthly basis.”
The Bottom line: Depressing as it may be, always watch out for fraud — even from those who offer to help for free.
You've heard the grousing about Facebook? It’s usually about the advertising cluttering up your feed or the fact that they’re mining users' data.
While that might cause some people to see red, a startup named Ello saw a business opportunity. The social media site promises not to show its users ads or mine their data. And Ello is striking a chord with consumers: The social media site said it's getting 45,000 requests to join an hour.
So that’s all well and good, but there’s the billion-dollar question? How’re they going to pay for all this?
Paul Budnitz, CEO and co-founder at Ello, says, unlike Facebook, the social media site isn’t trying to get everyone on Earth to sign up.
“It doesn’t have to be worth $30 billion to be successful. It can just be a good business,” Budnitz said.
Budnitz says Ello won't charge users. Instead, to make money, the site plans to sell special features, like the ability to manage multiple accounts. They could also sell emojis and stickers.
Roseanne Wincek, a venture capitalists with Canaan Partners, said there is money to be made in hawking those goods. But, she says, if Ello plans to accept the 45,000 invitations it claims to be getting every hour, the social network will need big money.
“I think it’ll be hard to have investors and a ton of users and a ton of data and then say you’re not going to use it” to make a lot of money, Wincek said.
Brett Kopf is the CEO of Remind, a messaging app that’s aimed at teachers and students. Like Ello, Remind doesn’t sell advertising or user data. Kopf said while it might be hard to get mass consumers to pay for privacy, there are businesses that’ll shell out money for it.
“Like in education and in health care, there are real privacy concerns,” Kopf said.
And if there are real privacy concerns, he thinks people will be willing to pay real money for it.
Federal funds are supporting two different disaster-prevention approaches — coastal retreat, or people leaving flood zones, and coastal defense, or building infrastructure to protect at-risk areas.
Matt Atchity is the editor-in-chief at Rotten Tomatoes, the website known for its film reviews and its signature “Tomatometer.” The site is now a year into featuring television reviews alongside its long-running film reviews. Atchity reflects on the reasons that TV has moved so much more into the spotlight in recent years.
People want more of it
Film watchers are passionate, but the buzz usually dies down after opening weekend. Atchity says television audiences don’t want the coverage to stop after a season premiere. They want to read and talk about the show episode by episode.
“People have really emotional relationships with the characters and you hear people talk about, ‘Oh god, did you see what happened with Walter White and his wife last night?’ It’s gossip. They invite these people into their homes because they’re invested in those characters’ lives.”
Television is the new film
Television series are increasingly filmed all at once, similar to the way feature-length movies are shot. Atchity gives "The Knick," a drama series from Cinemax, as an example. “They shot that like a movie. That was a 70-day shoot.”
Beau Willimon did the same thing with "House of Cards," the series he created for Netflix. That’s also the way creator and director Jill Soloway shot her new Amazon series "Transparent."
When audiences are able to binge-watch 12 or 13 or even more hours of a television series, it can certainly feel like they’re watching a very long movie.
TV is more convenient
Atchity says Roy Price, the head of Amazon Studios, is right when he told Kai Ryssdal that TV should start when the viewer wants it to start. That’s a common theme among television services like Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go and Showtime Now.
Atchity also points out that younger viewers — like his 10-year-old son — are already comfortable watching 30- or 40-minute TV shows on their smartphones. The services and networks that figure out how to serve those audiences are going to win in the long run.
It's pumpkin-spice latte time.
What, you ask, does that have to do with anything?
Well, the good people — who clearly have too much time on their hands — at the Washington Post have run the numbers and figured out when peak "Decorative Gourd Season" is.
You know, pumpkins, squash and the like that show up carved and on people's porches and mantels this time of year?
Based on Google searches, Decorative Gourd Season runs from late August to early November. Specifically, the third Thursday in October is peak Decorative Gourd Day.
So, now you know.
Bill Gross built Pacific Investment Management Co., or PIMCO, into a $2 trillion powerhouse. But this week, he abruptly left, roiling the bond-investing world.
Linette Lopez from Business Insider and Cardiff Garcia from FT Alphaville talked with Kai Ryssdal about the week that was: The GDP is revised upward, what does it mean? What happens when the head of the world's largest hedge fund resigns? And we look at the report from "This American Life" on the role of Goldman Sachs and the New York Federal Reserve in the run up to the financial crisis.
Listen to their conversation in the audio player above.