No Comment Diary

The News Without Comment

This content shows Simple View


Guardians of the Galaxy 2: all of the trailers, news, and updates

Marvel’s next entry in its cinematic universe is Guardians of the Galaxy 2, which hits theaters on May 5th, 2017. Here’s all the news, trailers, and updates you need to get caught up.

The first teaser trailer for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 just dropped, and it looks like the whole gang is back: Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), and even Tiny Groot (Vin Diesel).

It’s hard to glean anything about the movie’s plot from the teaser. Gamora is seen running and jumping through the air with one of her deadly blades, while her half-sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) is sporting some new headwear. Yondu (Michael Rooker) is finally sporting a badass red mohawk, much like his comic-book counterpart. And lots of blue-faced aliens are flying through the air, and looking none too pleased about it.

"the first movie’s wry sense of humor is back"

What is clear is that the first movie’s wry sense of humor is front and center. Drax advises Quill that he needs to find a woman "as pathetic" as he is, rather than pining after Gamora. And the Guardians have spacesuits stored away for both emergencies and "fun."

Also returning: the film’s distinctive soundtrack. The teaser is set to Blue Suede’s "Hooked on a Feeling," which was one of many 1970s hits on Peter Quill’s mix-tape, received from his dying mother before being kidnapped by that passing spaceship.

The first Guardians of the Galaxy was the surprise hit of 2014. The movie earned tons of money at the box office, even though it was inspired by a C-list comic book title, and featured few recognizable stars. Pratt wasn’t yet a household name, and the movie’s two biggest draws, Cooper and Diesel, were just voices of CGI creations. But the movie’s success proved Marvel could spin gold out of nothing but humor and its own growing reputation as a hit-maker. That should raise the stakes considerably for the sequel and its director, James Gunn. The movie is set to be released May 5th, 2017.

Oh, did we mention there’s a new poster, too?

They’re back. Check out the brand new poster for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2! #GotGVol2

Posted by Marvel on Wednesday, October 19, 2016


LG UltraFine 5K review: 14.7 million pixels can’t be wrong

Apple finally refreshed its new MacBook Pros last fall, but while the laptops received their first new design in years, the long-suffering Apple Cinema Display didn’t even get a mention. Instead, buyers were pointed toward the new LG UltraFine 5K as the best monitor for their new USB-C laptops.

And after a few days using the $1,299 IPS display, I’m inclined to agree that when it comes to Apple’s latest laptops, the UltraFine 5K is a great option. But much like the updated MacBook Pros, the UltraFine 5K fits a much narrower use case than other more full-featured displays.

First things first: when it comes to the actual visual quality of the screen, the UltraFine 5K is perhaps one of the single best monitors I’ve ever used. Nothing I’ve seen can match it for color, brightness, and clarity. The display puts the already excellent display on the new MacBook Pro to shame, and going back to my old Retina MacBook Pro (circa 2013) felt like looking through a dusty window.

The UltraFine uses the same clever trick as Apple’s Retina displays — instead of running everything at the impossible tiny native 5120 x 2880 pixel resolution, the UltraFine 5K by default renders scales things up to more standard resolutions of, say, 2560 x 1440 when it comes to visual elements of things like fonts and icons, and using the extra pixels to render things twice as sharp. And much like it did when the iPhone 4 first debuted the Retina display, it’s a wonderful experience, with text rendered crisp even at the smallest font sizes and images appearing vibrant and clear. Between the high resolution and wide display, the UltraFine 5K is a multitasker’s dream.

From a design perspective, the 27-inch UltraFine 5K Display is virtually identical to LG’s smaller 4K 21.5-inch panel (which runs for a comparatively cheap $699.95). That means you’re getting the same uninspired black plastic case and bezels, and an overall bland design the could charitably be called “professional.” For all that Apple touts that it worked closely alongside LG to ensure that the UltraFine 5K would be the perfect monitor for its new USB-C MacBook Pros, that partnership hasn’t extended to the design, with the UltraFine tends to blend into the background among the rows of pedestrian Dell displays that line my co-workers’ desks.

That said, materials aside, the mechanical parts of the UltraFine 5K are wonderfully put together. Adjusting the screen is silky-smooth, with the perfect amount of resistance when it comes to sliding the display to a welcome range of heights. And ultimately, while Apple’s aluminum chassis on the now-defunct Thunderbolt Display may be nicer from an aesthetic perspective, functionally speaking it’s not strictly necessary when it comes to the actual use of the screen.

The display also features a built-in webcam, which offers a bit better visual quality than the built-in one on the new MacBook Pro and some integrated speakers, which at least provide some louder sound than the computer’s speakers, if nothing else.

But while Apple’s hand may not have been in play from an industrial design perspective, its vision for the future of computing is all over the UltraFine 5K Display. Unlike other desktop displays, which tend to offer a wide range of options to hook up computers, ranging from DVI to HDMI to DisplayPort, the UltraFine 5K has exactly one choice: USB-C Thunderbolt 3. And due to the confusing nature of the USB-C standard, that means that, unlike the smaller 4K UltraFine panel, not every laptop with a USB-C port will cut it here. So, for example, Apple’s new MacBook Pros are in, but the 12-inch MacBook is out.

Even if you have a Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 adapter, you’ll be limited to only specific, recent models of Apple’s desktops and laptops, which also can only run at a maximum 4K resolution of 3840 x 2160 instead of the full 5120 x 2880 that the newest MacBook Pros can power it. I tested the UltraFine 5K the non-Touch Bar 13-inch model, arguably the least powerful MacBook Pro that still supports 5K. Performance was fine for the most part, with some minor slowdowns during visually intensive Exposé commands. The bigger issue was 4K video, which tended to stutter on YouTube, something with probably has to do with the MacBook rather than the screen, but was still disappointing to see from a $1,500 laptop.

Like the MacBook Pro models that it was intended for, the UltraFine 5K is similarly anemic when it comes to ports. The single USB-C connection that drives the display also provides power to a connected laptop (up to 85W) and allows the computer to take advantage of the extra ports on the back of the display as a USB hub. But Apple’s single-minded devotion to USB-C shines through here as well, with the UltraFine 5K only offering three extra USB-C ports. On the one hand it’s understandable given Apple’s aggressive pushing of the format, but on the other I couldn’t help but be frustrated by the addition of three more ports that required the same dongles and adapters to connect a flash drive or SD card.

Setup of the UltraFine is meant to be plug-and-play — simply connect the display to powered, and connect your computer via USB-C, and you’re good to go. Or, at least in theory. In practice, I spent several minutes trying to figure out why I had been presented with a blank screen, before restarting several times and eventually updating macOS on the MacBook Pro I was using, at which point things actually were plug-and-play.

I also tested the UltraFine with a few Windows computers, as well. The monitor works out of the box with anything that supports Thunderbolt 3, but only the most recent of laptops were able to drive it at the full 5K resolution, with the rest defaulting to 4K. Additionally, while the Windows PCs were able to work with the display without any issues, there was no way to adjust the brightness without installing LG’s drivers first (which is more important than you’d think, given that the screen is almost blindingly bright at the maximum setting of 500 nits).

And to briefly address the router-shaped elephant in the room, the original shipments of of the UltraFine 5K display infamously suffered from issues where the screen would completely cease to function if placed within roughly six feet of a router, which many computers tend to be. I am pleased to confirm that based on my testing, LG does seem to have fixed that issue, and I experienced no problems with the 5K UltraFine cutting out.

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

At $1,299, the LG UltraFine 5K display isn’t cheap, costing almost as much as some of the computers it’s designed for, and suffers from a major lack of connectivity options, both for input and output, that make it incredibly limited in terms of compatibility. And while the Ultrafine may be the best accessory for your MacBook Pro today, it’s worth keeping in mind that Apple already has announced its plans to get back into the pro display game next year. But if you’re willing to work within the narrow scope that Apple has imposed the UltraFine 5K (and are willing to pay for it), then you can be safe in knowing that you’re getting one of the best displays on the market.


Pulling together the March for Science was no walk in the park

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Caroline Weinberg, Valorie Aquino, and Jonathan Berman met online after Berman, a post-doc in physiology, created a Facebook group and web page to galvanize some of the protest energy among scientists after Trump’s inauguration. The three, who were in New York, New Mexico, and Texas, thought that scientists should organize a march to “call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policy makers to enact evidence-based policies in the public interest.” Weinberg, a public health writer and researcher, and Aquino, who was finishing her Ph.D. in anthropology, volunteered to coordinate the planning. Almost overnight, the march became a viral social-media campaign.

The culmination of all their work will occur on Saturday, April 22, when the three volunteer cochairs of the March for Science will witness the results of their first experiment in grassroots organizing — with anticipated crowds of hundreds of thousands of people in Washington, D.C., and satellite marches in some 500 cities around the world, including in the Republican strongholds of Wyoming, Idaho, and Oklahoma.

Like Grist? Help us win the Webby for best green website! Hours left to vote!

The experience of pulling together this march, Aquino said, was tantamount to starting an NGO from scratch and immediately having “1 million members and running it with total strangers.” Weinberg told me over the phone in late February that the only reason she was able to get involved was because she “wasn’t working that day” and saw online chatter about the march. “We happened to be at the right place at the right time,” she said.

When they began to organize in January, they envisioned their march to be comparable to the Women’s March: a grassroots campaign that channeled the public’s anger into a productive movement for social change. President Donald Trump’s antipathy to science was clear before he took office, when he declared climate change was a hoax and appointed climate change deniers as his advisers. In just under 100 days as president, Trump has also alienated a much broader swath of the science and academic communities: He’s threatened to pull funding from the University of California-Berkley over anti-Trump protests; he aligned himself with anti-vaccine critics, proposed steep budget cuts to science agencies, wanted to eliminate or downsize science advisers’ role in the government, appointed Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and has sought to roll back agency work based on public health research.

Climate activists, who have organized similar marches since at least 2014, have planned their People’s Climate March in D.C. and in 200 cities around the country one week later. Although the two marches have overlapping constituencies and purpose, those involved in the climate march focus on specific policy demands — fighting climate change — while the science march is vague, championing more public engagement, evidence-based policies, and science research. But during the evolution of the science march, the organizers have been forced to face some unexpected realities about the community it’s engaging. Weinberg noted the “origin story” of the march is the narrative of “unbelievable sprawling grassroots nature.”

Aquino and Weinberg had more flexible schedules (Berman worked nine-hour shifts in his post-doc) to fit into their suddenly packed days and were able to put their other priorities on hold. Aquino postponed finishing her Ph.D. a few months ahead of schedule, and Weinberg stopped her freelance income in order to dive into planning the big picture and wrestling with the many logistics of permits, volunteer coordination, and march routes. Less than a month after Berman started the March for Science Facebook group, the three organizers, with the help of about 40 volunteers, had cobbled together a hasty, decentralized infrastructure for the online platforms and hundreds of satellite marches that popped up. They added more experienced organizers who created a database — what Weinberg calls “some kind of magic program” — to locate volunteers with the skills to address inevitable fires and the daily tasks, such as doing outreach to high schools and colleges.

The organizers were not just planning a single march. Their goal was to build a movement of scientists and science enthusiasts who take a stand when objectivity is under attack. In the process, they have struggled with growing pains, some predating the Trump administration. One is philosophical: What duty do scientists have to participate in a debate that politicizes and misrepresents scientific study? What responsibilities do scientists have as citizens?

For years, Republicans (and occasionally Democrats) have threatened to defund federal research and have resorted to cherry-picking scientific studies that support their conclusions. House Science Chair Lamar Smith has perfected this rejection of inconvenient scientific findings by popularizing the myth of a so-called pause in global warming. But organizers say the debate feels more urgent given this uniquely anti-fact White House and appointed climate change deniers.

“We’re all very nervous about entering into a territory where science is seen as being explicitly political,” Adam Frank, an astrophysics professor, tells Mother Jonesexplaining an essay he wrote about the march that was published on NPR. Frank thinks scientists do need to protest but worries that overt politicization is “the worst thing that could happen to science. Last thing we want is science being aligned with one or another political perspective.” He sees that we’ve passed a tipping point of attacks “where scientists don’t know what else to do.”

In January after the inauguration, Robert Young, a coastal geologist, wrote in the New York Times that “trying to recreate the pointedly political Women’s March will serve only to reinforce the narrative from skeptical conservatives that scientists are an interest group and politicize their data, research, and findings for their own ends.”

The organizers of the science march believe it’s their responsibility to wade into politics, but they have tried to balance on the nonpartisan tightrope. “I would actually argue that science is political,” Aquino said. “Scientific integrity goes beyond one person eroding it. It hits across both sides of the aisle and people who aren’t necessarily affiliated with a political party at all.”

Weinberg noted, “If you believe in scientific research and evidence-based policy. You take a stand for that and take a stand for what you believe in.”

Then there is the problem of diversity within the scientific profession. Many of the public figures discussing the march are white men. In some respects, the science march has become a microcosm of the criticism STEM initiatives and academia have received for being far too white and male.

BuzzFeed reported on the time the organizers’ attempted to address concerns about diversity by forming a committee and issuing a diversity mission statement. Conservative outlets, such as the National Review, have seized on these statements to claim the march is much more about the left co-opting science for political gain. Steven Pinker, a best-selling author and Harvard University professor of psychology, gave this faction a boost, tweeting in January that the march “compromises its goals with anti-science PC/identity politics/hard-left rhetoric.”

But the criticism comes from both sides. At least one early collaborator has distanced herself from the march, claiming that disorganization, clashes of vision, and micromanagement left the march doing too little to include diverse voices:

Gill did not return a request to explain further. Aquino had alluded to some infighting in an earlier interview back in February, noting that some of her 18-hour days were as much about handling “some kind of meltdown and crisis” as they were about organizing the big picture. Since then, organizers have brought on more than 200 partners. They range from science celebrities — Bill Nye the Science Guy, for instance — to nonpartisan academic institutions, like the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as more overtly political groups, like Tom Steyer’s climate advocacy arm, NextGen Climate. Beyond the dozens of partner organizations, they have put forward a set of basic principles supporting science. They have also managed to raise $1 million for the day’s costs and beyond, by selling merchandise and through sponsorships.

They have all tried to plan the next steps for their newly recruited activists after the march is done. “I’ve never really gotten to step back and really consider all this from a 30,000-foot view,” Aquino said. She hardly expects any overnight change in politics or among scientists, but added, “I’ve never seen such a united front in the science community and science supporters.”

Like Grist? Help us win the Webby for best green website! Hours left to vote!

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Pulling together the March for Science was no walk in the park on Apr 20, 2017. Source:

Gorillaz’s first on-camera interview was streamed live on YouTube

If you know anything about Gorillaz you know that they’re a secretive band, choosing to appear in avatar form, if they appear at all. But today, for the first time since their inception in the late ‘90s, the band gave a live on-camera interview.

Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett appeared (as 2D and Murdoch) on MistaJam’s Radio 1 show this morning, which was streamed live on YouTube, Dazed reports. Over the course of the 30-minute interview, 2D and Murdoch answered viewer-submitted questions about their upcoming album Humanz, smartphones (“We never had smartphones when we were starting out, and now we do”), and Donald Trump.

Albarn and Hewlett never break character, with 2D insisting that he was kidnapped by Murdoch in order to make this album. “It was very emotional for us,” 2D says of the band’s creative process. “Fear was one of the biggest emotions, and frustration… emasculation is another one.”

You can watch the entire joyful, goofy thing above. Humanz is out next Friday.


They’re here: photos released of 8 female activists that history almost forgot.


If you picture the Victorian era in America, what do you see? Probably the Wild West, or maybe some dude in a top hat.

But the late-1800s were also a hotbed of activism and civil rights struggles, especially among women and African-Americans. History books tend to name a select few, like Sojourner Truth or Booker T. Washington.

But the truth is, we forget that real change is only possible thanks to the labor of countless individuals.

We’re now getting another chance to peer into the past thanks to the Library of Congress.

In 2013, the Library of Congress got a hold of the photograph collection of William Henry Richards, a prominent African-American leader who taught at Howard University from 1890 to 1928.

In the collection, they found portraits of the young, badass female African-American activists whom Richards worked alongside.

1. People like Maria Baldwin

Photo by Elmer Chickering. Image via the Library of Congress.

Baldwin was a teacher and civics leader. In 1889, she became principal of the Agassiz Grammar School, turning it into one of the best schools in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

2. Hallie Quinn Brown

Photo by F. S. Biddle. Image via the Library of Congress.

A dean, professor, and lecturer, Brown founded civics organizations, spoke at national political conventions, and represented the United States at the 1899 International Congress of Women.

3. Anna J. Cooper

Photo by Falor & Smedley. Image via the Library of Congress.

Another notable educator, Cooper wrote "A Voice from the South by a Black Woman of the South," which called for equal education and the advancement of other opportunities for black women.

4. Lillian Parker Thomas

Photo by Giers & Koellein. Image via the Library of Congress.

Thomas, a journalist, was a local and correspondent editor for the New York Freeman, and she is believed to have been the first black woman to be a professional theater critic.

5. Clarissa M. Thompson

Image via the Library of Congress.

Thompson was a poet, novelist, educator, and an advocate for the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.

6. Laura A. Moore Westbrook

Image via the Library of Congress.

A passionate educator, in 1880, Westbrook moved to Victoria, Texas, where she took over as the Victoria city school principal.

7. Fannie Barrier Williams

Photo by Paul Tralles. Image via the Library of Congress.

A teacher, political activist, and women’s rights advocate, Williams helped found the NAACP.

8. Josephine Silone Yates

Photo by The New Photographic Art Company. Image via the Library of Congress.

Yates was a poet, writer, columnist, teacher, and activist. She helped organize the Women’s League of Kansas City and became its first president.

It’s thanks to these labors of these women, and countless others like them, that we’re able to be where we are today.

These women lived in a time where opportunities were hard fought for African-Americans — even more so for African-American women. These haunting, fascinating photos help remind us of who these women were and how much we owe to activists like them.

The Library of Congress hopes these photos will inspire more people to learn about the people who put together America’s past.

<br> Source:

Russia: Court Bans Jehovah’s Witnesses

(Moscow) – Russia’s Supreme Court ruled on April 20, 2017 that the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization should be closed down and no longer allowed to operate legally in Russia, Human Rights Watch said today. The ruling, which affects more than 100,000 Jehovah’s Witness worshippers across Russia, is a serious breach of Russia’s obligations to respect and protect religious freedom.

The Justice Ministry, which had petitioned the Supreme Court to close the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization, should withdraw the case and refrain from taking further measures that violate its obligations to respect the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization’s right to freedom of religion and to association. The Jehovah’s Witnesses organization said it will appeal the ruling to the European Court of Human Rights.

Yaroslav Sivulsky, member of the managerial center of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, gives an interview after the court hearing in the Supreme Court on April 7, 2017, Moscow.

© 2017 Dmitry Tischenko/

“The Supreme Court’s ruling to shut down the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia is a terrible blow to freedom of religion and association in Russia,” said Rachel Denber, deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia are now given the heartrending choice of either abandoning their faith or facing punishment for practicing it.”

The ruling declares the Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Center an extremist organization, closes the organization on those grounds, and bans all Jehovah’s Witnesses’ activities. The Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Center is the head office for 395 Jehovah’s Witnesses branches throughout Russia.

If the ruling enters into force, people who continue to be involved with Jehovah’s Witnesses organization or their activities in Russia could face criminal prosecution and punishment ranging from fines of 300,00 to 600,000 rubles (US$5,343 to $10,687) to a maximum of six to 10 years in prison. People found to be leading such activity would face a maximum 10 years. The organization’s property will be confiscated. Jehovah’s Witnesses will not be able to congregate for worship at their church or anywhere else.


People waiting for the Supreme Court decision in front of the Supreme Court building in Moscow, on April 7, 2017.

© 2017 Dmitry Tischenko/

According to the Justice Ministry, since 2007, local courts have banned at least eight local Jehovah’s Witnesses organizations, and 95 pieces of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ literature have been banned and placed on the federal registry of banned extremist materials. In most cases the ban was triggered by claims in the literature of the superiority over other religions of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ interpretation of the Bible. Anyone found with large quantities of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ banned materials can be held responsible for the misdemeanor offense of distributing “extremist” materials.

The Justice Ministry case followed an unannounced inspection, started in February 2017, of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Center in St. Petersburg. The inspection found that the Administrative Center had continued to fund branches that had been closed after a court banned them for extremism. It also found the organization had taken no action to change “extremist” literature and had continued to distribute it. Jehovah’s Witnesses have vigorously denied the latter allegation. The Justice Ministry suspended all Jehovah’s Witnesses’ activities when the ministry filed its lawsuit on March 15.

Members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Managerial Center during the court hearing in the Supreme Court of Russia, April 5, 2017.

© 2017 Dmitry Tischenko/

A member of the Council of Europe and a party to the European Convention on Human Rights, Russia is obligated to protect freedom of religion and association. It has previously been found in violation of multiple obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights for actions taken through the courts to dissolve communities of Jehovah’s Witnesses (Jehovah’s Witnesses of Moscow v. Russia, application no. 302/02).

The April 20 ruling to close the Jehovah’s Witnesses is a direct interference with freedom of religion, effectively denying its followers the right to worship, and cannot be justified as either necessary or proportionate. The closure order directly violates the pluralism of thought and belief that is foundational to a democratic society and as the court has repeatedly affirmed, is “at the very heart of the protection which [the convention] affords.”

“It’s not too late for the Russian authorities to make right this serious move against religious freedom,” Denber said. “The Justice Ministry should withdraw the suit against the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization and stop interfering with group’s peaceful religious activity.” Source:

Managers and Specialists are Toughest Jobs to Fill for Small Business

Experienced leaders are always leaving the workforce.

That’s true of Baby Boomers now. And new data from shows that small businesses are having a hard time filling the vacancies these retiring Boomers are creating.

Hardest to Fill SMB Jobs

Indeed has created a list of the top 10 hardest jobs for small businesses to fill. And the theme is clear. Jobs that require some experience and the wisdom gained from experience are staying empty at small businesses. That, or they’re being filled by the wrong person.

The most difficult job to fill for small businesses is a Road Manager. Director of Case Management was the second most difficult to fill. Mergers and Acquisitions Managers, Sales Advisors, Crisis Counselors, and Enrollment Specialists also made the top 10 at Indeed.

All these jobs tend to have at least one thing in common. A small business can’t afford to have someone inexperienced in these roles.

“Small businesses can have a difficult time finding employees to fill specialized jobs,” says Paul Wolfe, Indeed senior vice president and head of HR for the job site.

Training is Essential

Check out the current makeup of your team. Are your leaders nearing retirement?

If they left tomorrow, would your small business be in trouble? Who would be in charge?

If the jobs identified here match ones at your company, and you don’t have a leader in waiting, it’s time to act. If your company has a specialized role that took its current holder years to learn, that’s also a job that requires attention.

Companies with several employees can identify a current employee that could begin learning those specialized roles.

Startups with few or no employees will likely need a specialist right away, someone ready to take on numerous roles and lead in them. Startup owners should identify what to expect from such a position when it’s time to make the hire.

“Training new hires in these roles can attract applicants from the younger, more prominent talent pool as baby boomers are retiring and millennials continue to enter the work force,” Wolfe says.

Comment ▼ Source:

The 20 Best Companies for Work-Life Balance

“Work-life balance. ” It’s one of those well-worn corporate cliches that most companies are, quite frankly, pretty bad at executing.

Sure, nap rooms, unlimited time off, and other extravagant perks synonymous with a certain Silicon Valley tech giant (rhymes with Schmoogle) are slowly chipping away at long-held notions about workplace flexibility. But as anyone who has ever worked through a vacation or racked hundreds of hours of overtime can attest, the line between personal and professional can be quite blurry.

It doesn’t have to be, though.

Jobs site Indeed recently compiled a list of the top 1000 highest-rated companies for work-life balance, and found a wide range of employers that make downtime a guarantee, rather than a goal.

The results are surprising: Of the top 20 companies with at least 100 reviews, most fall outside highly-specialized fields like tech, finance and others known for stellar work perks.

Food and beverage chains had the strongest showing, with In-N-Out Burger (3), Chick-Fil-A (10), Honey Baked Ham (15) and Starbucks (19), all making the cut. Cult grocery chains H-E-B (4), Trader Joe’s (18) and Wegmans (20) are also on the list, as are clothing retailers NIKE (8), Century 21 (9), and–sleeper hit–Spirit Halloween Superstore (12).

Employee reviews for all 20 companies indicate “fair” and “flexible” work environments, says Paul Wolfe, Indeed’s Senior Vice President of HR. Many of the reviews also stressed a sense of community, Wolfe says, and a work environment that makes coworkers feel like “family.”

An emphasis on vacation and paid time off is another common denominator.

“Companies that proactively work to provide the appropriate personal time for employees tend to stand out,” Wolfe says.

In-N-Out Burger, for one, offers paid vacation for both part- and full-time staffers. The California-based fast food joint also reportedly rewards managers who meet their annual goals with all-expenses paid trips, often to Europe, and in first-class. Not surprisingly, the chain has one of the lowest management turnover rates in the industry, Wolfe says.

H&R Block, which topped Indeed’s list, provides flexible schedules for both full-time and seasonal staff. The tax preparer hires more than 70,000 seasonal associates during busy parts of the year (read: right now) to make that happen, according to spokesman Gene King.

“Our new and returning associates tell us that flexibility in their work schedule is the number one reason they enjoy working at H&R block,” he says.

“We understand the relationship between work experiences and physical and mental health,” says a spokeswoman for Wegmans. “[Work-Life balance] is a key differentiator why people choose to work and stay at Wegmans.”

Other companies on the list, like Capital One (11) and Cisco (13), stand out for letting employees choose how and where they work.

Capital One, one of the few financial services companies on the list–along with Network Capital Funding (2) and American Express (16)–offers flex time, remote work, and compressed schedule options, according to a spokeswoman.

Cisco, for its part, uses video devices and social-networking software to make it easier for employees to work from home or in one of the quiet rooms or collaboration areas scattered around the tech company’s Silicon Valley headquarters, a spokeswoman says.

Here’s the full list. Watch your back, Schmoogle.

  1. H&R Block
  2. Network Capital Funding Corporation
  3. In-N-Out Burger
  4. H-E-B
  5. Kaiser Permanente
  6. Intuit
  7. Southwest Airlines
  8. NIKE
  9. Century 21
  10. Chick-Fil-A
  11. Capital One
  12. Spirit Halloween Superstore
  13. Cisco
  14. Pfizer Inc.
  15. Honey Baked Ham
  16. American Express
  17. Raytheon
  18. Trader Joe’s
  19. Starbucks
  20. Wegmans Source:

This ‘menstrual wearable’ is nothing more than a sad heating pad

For generations, women have devised ways to cope with the pain their period causes. Some take pain medicine, others use a heating pad to ease their cramps. Heating pads work well, so it isn’t necessarily surprising that a new crowdfunding campaign is trying to sell a wearable, app-controlled heating pad. The Aika Black-T relies on an “innovative graphene” and something called “far infrared radiation,” which seems to be an unconventional method of attempting to provide beneficial energy to the body. If you Google it, you’ll find the one study that Aika mentions on its Indiegogo page, as well as some Eastern medicine websites extolling its virtues.

To check the claims’ veracity, I spoke with Maura Parker Quinlan, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University, to ask about the device. She reviewed the study and found nothing out of the ordinary, although the radiation technique is outside the mainstream. More than anything, she emphasized that local heat is helpful for cramps relief. The Aika Black-T “probably wouldn’t be harmful to try,” she said.

I agree with Dr. Quinlan, of course. Any woman who has used a heating pad during her period can attest to its effectiveness. But here’s the thing: heating pads are inexpensive — they can cost as low as $13. The Aika Black-T starts at $89 with the retail price jumping after early bird pledges sell out. You’re paying for an app and some elastic to keep the heating pad around your waist like a sad, less trendy fanny pack.

What further frustrates me about the Aika is its design. The company is trying to sell it as not only a practical medical item but also a fashionable, sexy device. Sexy! Okay, they never explicitly say sexy, but just look at this press photo:

Aika Technology

They even put it in a fashion show:

Aika Technology

As a woman with a period, I understand the demand for a heating pad and commend companies that want to promote and better women’s health. But Aika puts tech in a device that doesn’t need to exist. Sure, there’s a convenience factor to a wearable heating pad. Maybe women who stay home from work because of their pain could actually commute and work because of it. But with the lace, the company goes too far for me. Why does Aika have to sell its device on its sexiness?

Another company, my.Flow, attempted to create a smart tampon. That was also a bad idea. But decent ideas do exist to make periods more comfortable! The DivaCup was a major success, and I know lots of women who use it. The same goes for Thinx (it’s a shame about the poor leadership culture, though.) Tech companies should think more critically about why they’re creating female-focused products and what service they actually perform for women. Is your product genuinely useful, or are you attempting to profit off society’s idea that women should always be sexy, even when they’re bleeding from their vagina?


Apple and Nike Launch New Neutral-Toned ‘Apple Watch NikeLab’ Nike today announced that it has teamed up with Apple to create a new version of the Apple Watch Nike+, which pairs a Space Gray Apple Watch Series 2 aluminum case with a black and cream Nike band.

Called the Apple Watch NikeLab, the new device is limited edition and designed to be "the ultimate style companion" for those who love to run.

The limited edition, neutral-toned Apple Watch NikeLab maintains the beloved features of its predecessor: deep integration with the Nike+ Run Club app, exclusive Siri commands, GPS, a two-times-brighter display and water resistance to 50 meters*, all made possible by a powerful dual-core processor and watchOS 3. ​

Apple Watch NikeLab will be available starting on April 27 from, at NikeLab locations, and at the Apple Tokyo pop-up store at the Isetan department store. It will not be sold in Apple Stores or from the Apple website, a first for an Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch NikeLab will likely be priced at $369 for the 38mm model and $399 for the 42mm model, the same price as the rest of the Apple Watch Nike+ lineup.

Apple and Nike first teamed up in September of 2016 for the Nike+ Apple Watch that launched alongside Apple’s own set of Series 2 Apple Watch devices. Apple offers two Apple Watch Nike+ models in Silver and Space Gray aluminum along with standalone Apple Watch Nike+ bands.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch Series 2, watchOS 3
Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

Discuss this article in our forums