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The latest news on Features from Business Insider

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

    best new sous vide

    From January through December, you can find us testing and writing about products and services we think will benefit our readers.

    Sometimes, they're the best-selling cult-favorites that have already been around for a few years, and we want to confirm for you whether they really live up to the hype. Other times, we're on the front lines of product drops and we get our hands on the newest products to see if they're worth your time. In 2018, many of our favorite brands introduced shiny new things to get excited about.

    Notable new products of 2018 include cool tech that doesn't come from the big names you would expect, comfortable clothing you'll never want to take off, and kitchen tools that can help you make the most delicious meals of the year. 

    Check out the 23 best new products of 2018, along with their original reviews, below. 

    Best new candle: Otherland

    Shop candles at Otherland

    Read our review of Otherland candles here

    Beautiful packaging and limited-edition collections play a big role in Otherland's success. Our editors, a pair of ardent candle enthusiasts, agree that its whimsical scents and bold designs are unlike any other in the candle space right now. For $89, you can send off a custom gift box by picking three favorites, choosing a matchbox message, then writing a personal note. Just one candle will cost you $36.



    Best new cordless vacuum: Dyson V10 Absolute

    Dyson Cyclone V10 Absolute Cordless Vacuum Cleaner, $507, available at Amazon

    The trade-off for the convenience of a cordless vacuum is usually power, but we found that the V10 Absolute actually compared to a corded Dyson in suction power. It's lightweight, powerful, and versatile, with three power modes, two different cleaning heads, and four additional cleaning tools.

    Though it's expensive and may not be suitable for larger homes because of its relatively short battery life, it cleans efficiently and thoroughly, a godsend to anyone who enjoys living in a sparkling clean space. Insider Picks senior editor Ellen Hoffman said, "You'll never look back if you get a Dyson vacuum." 

     



    Best new women's underwear: Tommy John

    Shop underwear at Tommy John here

    Read our review of Tommy John women's underwear here

    Some of our favorite and most memorable products aren't fancy gadgets by any means. If you can perfect a basic essential, then you have our hearts, and that's just what Tommy John did this year with its launch of women's underwear.

    The very comfortable underwear is available in three different fabrics (the light, barely there Air; soft micro modal Second Skin; and breathable Cool Cotton), four cuts (Boyshort, Brief, Cheeky, and Thong), and a variety of colors. By providing coverage and comfort without pilling, rolling, or bunching, they've nailed exactly what we've been looking for in our underwear. The underwear isn't cheap, but it is definitely worth the cost.



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    the walton family walmart

    • The Walmart heirs are worth a combined $157 billion.
    • They grant money and resources to support education, environmental efforts, and their home community through the Walton Family Foundation.
    • In public, the Waltons live pretty modest lifestyles despite their wealth. Here's how they spend their fortune.

    The combined wealth of the Walmart heirs — which includes Rob, Jim, and Alice, as well as John's wife, Christy, and their son Lukas — is $157 billion, according to Bloomberg

    While some work in the family business — whether that's serving on the company board or working to manage the family's wealth — others chose to pursue areas of personal passion.

    Sam Walton, the original man behind the company that now encompasses both Walmart and Sam's Club, set his family up for financial success when he divided the ownership before he died.

    He wasn't a man of flashy luxury, but you can see how his children are living a slightly more lavish life now. 

    SEE ALSO: Walmart is eliminating the most dreaded part of holiday shopping

    Sam Walton opened the first Walmart store in Arkansas in 1962.



    He married Helen Robson on Valentine's Day in 1942, and together they had four children: Rob, John, Jim, and Alice.



    By the time Sam died in 1992, he had set up the company ownership in a way that minimized the estate taxes anyone on the receiving end of his will had to pay.

    Source: Fortune



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    miss piggy muppets kermit

    • Kermit The Frog and Miss Piggy have a confusing on-and-off relationship that spans decades.
    • Their wedding is an ongoing topic of discussion in "Muppet Show" episodes, "The Muppets Take Manhattan," and TV interviews.
    • The couple officially ended things in 2015.

    Name a more iconic duo than Miss Piggy and Kermit — I'll wait. But, just because this pair is well-known doesn't mean the road has been super smooth. In fact, with more ups and downs than many human celebrity couples, the road for these two has been rocky.

    The specifics of the relationship can be hard to follow, but they do exist, so we've mapped it out for you.

    1976: Miss Piggy and Kermit met.

    The star couple debuted on the pilot of "The Muppet Show" in 1976. While the romance took a little while to develop in the show, in "The Muppet Movie" (1979) Miss Piggy reveals that for her, it was love at first sight.



    1978: The Wedding sketch had Miss Piggy trying to trick Kermit into marrying her.

    In episode 310 of "The Muppet Show," Miss Piggy organized a "sketch" where she and Kermit were to play bride and groom, only this wouldn't be a sketch. Piggy secretly hired a real minister and convinced Scooter to trick into Kermit signing a marriage license. Unfortunately, chaos broke out right before Kermie has the time to say “I do” and the two were forced to wait to exchange vows.



    1979: An official engagement was announced.

    When Kermit the Frog was hosting a 1979 episode of "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson," Miss Piggy used the spotlight to announce their engagement. Kermit, however, was displeased and this clearly didn't end up in a marriage any time soon.



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    shopping clothes store

    • Paying full price for designer items and buying items based on the label rather than the fit could be costing you.
    • Not checking the care label of clothing items before you buy them could be costing you money in the long-run.
    • Throwing out receipts and splurging on items you'll only wear once instead of staple pieces could be causing you to waste money. 

    Trying to keep up with the latest fashion trends can be expensive, especially if you simply don't have the time to hunt for a deal. INSIDER spoke with celebrity stylist Ali Levine who shared the most common ways shoppers spend too much money on clothes and ways to save cash while staying on trend.

    Here are some common clothes shopping mistakes that are costing you money. 

    You aren't using promo codes or coupons.

    Levine said one of the biggest ways to save money is by taking advantage of online promo codes and store coupons. You can find these codes on the store's webpage, within their email newsletter, inside of mailed advertisements, or during a quick online search.



    You buy items at full price instead of waiting for sales.

    It can be tempting to buy the newest pieces as soon as they become available, but Levine said that if you're patient you can still have them without paying full price.

    "Build relationships with the stores you love and find associates you can trust to tell you when your favorite item goes on sale," she added. "Most items will go on sale eventually. Source around and do research."

     



    You choose the label over the fit.

    Even if you find a designer piece at an amazing discount, Levine recommends making sure the fit and style actually work for you.

    "A lot of shoppers will buy on an impulse just because it looks 'flashy' to them or feels like an expensive fabric. They assume because it's designer it's going to be the right choice," she told INSIDER. "They neglect the fact that every designer fits differently." 

    Read More:  5 ways to make your outfit look more expensive than it is



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    le creuset, $50

    Whether they have a cookware collection that rivals Martha Stewart's or their most prized kitchen accessory is their drawer of takeout menus, they'll appreciate a nice new kitchen tool to add to their space.

    From solving common cooking aggravations to just making mealtime more fun, there's really a kitchen gadget for everyone, and every budget, out there. 

    For a solid gift you can bank on them loving, check out our list of 21 kitchen accessories below. It runs the gamut from practical to quirky and everything in between, plus you can find all of it for $50 or less. 

    SEE ALSO: 35 clever presents for coworkers that they'll actually be happy to receive

    DON'T MISS: The 36 best products we discovered in 2018

    A batter crayon

    Fred CRAYUM Batter Crayon, $7.99, available at Amazon

    Getting the perfect pancake can be a challenge, but this batter crayon can help them out — and make breakfast a little more fun. 

     



    A stovetop espresso maker

    Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Coffee Maker (1-cup), $24.95, available at Amazon

    For the coffee-loving types who have already tried just about every way to get their morning brew, give them this moka pot. Bialetti actually invented the first stovetop coffee maker in the early 20th century and, even after all these years, it's original model is our favorite option out there. 



    A cheese melt pan

    Cuisinart BBQ Cheese Melt Pan, $9.99, available at Amazon

    If they're not already melting cheese on all of their favorite foods... they should probably start. Help them out with this pan that makes the ooey, gooey, cheesy topping of their dreams a reality. 



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    grocery shopping

    • Try to avoid going grocery shopping when you're hungry.
    • Keeping a running shopping list on your phone can be helpful.
    • Clean out and take stock of your pantry before you go shopping.

    Grocery shopping may be one of the most important outings you'll make all week, but with so many scattered grocery lists and overwhelming aisles, it can be tough to stay on track and have an efficient grocery shopping trip. 

    Here are some of the best ways to prepare for your grocery trip in order to save time and money. 

    Keep a running list of what you need.

    Registered dietitian and nutritionist Jenny Friedman recommends using shareable list and document apps that let you keep running lists that you can share with a partner or a roommate.

    "Because my phone is always on me, I can add to my grocery list as soon as I think of something [I need] or the second I use up that last bit of whatever as I'm cooking," Friedman told INSIDER. "I also love having a list on my phone because I always used to lose that little piece of paper I was writing it on. A list is great because it keeps you focused and helps you make sure you get exactly what you need." 

     



    Structure your grocery list to match the layout of your store.

    Although running around the supermarket may be a good form of exercise, if you want to be efficient, organize your list by department and food type. If you have a mental map of your usual grocery store, even better.

    "Most stores open into the produce section, so that's what I keep at the top of my list," Friedman told INSIDER. Plus, creating a list organized by route should mean less backtracking and fewer impulse purchases.



    Look at your calendar.

    "Some questions that are helpful to consider are: What's my schedule this week? What's the weather? Do I need to use anything up before it goes bad? What's the stock on my staples?," said Friedman. If you won't be home for dinner or have time to make lunch for five days in a row, it could shape your purchases. 

    Looking at the upcoming weather can also help structure your plans — is it going to be too hot to feel like spending time over your stove or will soup on a rainy night hit the spot? "Without an eating plan and without a grocery list, you're bound to end up making last-minute decisions that may not align with your health goals," Friedman added.



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    12

    Going to a different store for every item on your holiday shopping list can be a huge headache, so it's important to start with stores that have a wide selection of gifts.

    Target is a one-stop-shop year-round, so it's a onvenient destination during this time of year. On top of that, it has free two-day shipping on almost everything.

    To help you shop, we rounded up 51 awesome gifts to buy at Target for under $50. With everything from toys and video games to tech to smart home gadgets, and even kitchen appliances and beauty products, you're sure to find something for everyone on your list. Whether you're shopping for stocking stuffers, a white elephant gift exchange at work, or you simply need to stick to a strict budget, your money will go a long way here.

    Shop at Target now, or keep reading for our top picks.

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

    A chunky cableknit sweater

    Goodfellow & Co Men's Long Sleeve Cable Crew Pullover Sweater, $34.99

    This soft, textured cableknit sweater delivers expensive style at a super affordable price.



    A grip and stand for holding their phone more easily

    PopSockets Grips, $9.99-$14.99

    PopSockets Grips make using any smartphone easier by working as a stand and providing grip when texting and taking pictures. If you know someone who will also be getting a new phone this season, it's the perfect accompanying stocking stuffer.



    A warm cowl-neck sweater

    A New Day Women's Cozy Neck Pullover, available in seven colors, $29.99

    This cowl-neck sweater is super cozy and perfect for winter since it's extra long and warm.

     

     



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    startup

    • Startup founders were asked in a recent survey which private company they predict will increase its valuation the most over the next decade.
    • Of the 529 founders, 19% of them — around 100 — agreed on one company.
    • These are the 10 most popular predictions from founders.

    A lot can happen in the tech industry in a decade, but a recent survey of more than 500 startup founders shows that many are in agreement about which companies have a bright future ahead. 

    The State of Startups survey, published annually by venture capital firm First Round, asked founders about their thoughts on the current state of tech, views on investment and funding, and outlooks for the tech industry in the future.

    Of the 529 tech startup founders polled, 19% had the same answer when asked which private company would increase its valuation the most in the next 10 years. That's an estimated 100 founders in agreement that venture capital funding is likely to pour into at least one particular startup and boost its valuation considerably.

    And where VC money flows, IPO plans often follow, so it's no surprise that many of the companies that founders predict will increase in valuation are reportedlygearing upto go public in 2019.

    Here are the 10 private companies in the US that founders predict will increase their valuation the most in the next decade, ranked by the percentage of the vote they received:

    10. Pinterest — 1.6% of votes

    Most recent valuation: $12.3 billion (June 2017)

    Company role: Bulletin board-like platform for discovering creative ideas.

    Going public? Pinterest is reportedly planning a mid-2019 IPO.

    Source: Business Insider, Business Insider



    9. Lyft — 4.7% of votes

    Most recent valuation: $15.1 billion (June 2018)

    Company role: App for ride-hailing services

    Going public? Lyft filed paperwork for an IPO in early December, and is expected to officially go public in early 2019.

    Source: Business Insider, Business Insider



    8. Uber — 5.3% of votes

    Most recent valuation: $76 billion (August 2018)

    Company role: App for ride-hailing and delivery services

    Going public? Uber filed paperwork to go public "as soon as the first quarter" in 2019. 

    Source: Reuters, Wall Street Journal



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    Best iPad Cases

    Your trusty iPad is the supplement to your laptop that you never knew you needed, but it’s not quite as hardy as your computer. While I’ve found that I can get by almost exclusively on my Apple tablet rather than my MacBook, I also once lived in fear of dropping it, spilling on it, or otherwise causing it great harm and distress. Luckily, there are a plethora of iPad cases to assuage my (and now your) fears.

    When it comes to choosing an iPad case, you’ll want to keep in mind which model you have. Apple currently sells four iPads, which means that there are four sizes on the market. Don’t make the rookie mistake of buying a great case for a smaller model, or for an older iPad that has been discontinued.

    You’ll also want to find a case that actually does its job, which is to say, stays put on top of your iPad, preventing it from getting nicked and scratched.

    Seeing as you probably paid quite a pretty penny for your iPad, you probably don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on its case. Luckily, there are plenty of budget options that get the job done — not everything has to be Apple-priced.

    And you might also consider if you want your iPad case to double as a stand, and if so, how versatile this stand ought to be. If you only ever use your iPad for one purpose or in one position, this may not be as important. But if you’re alternating between reading, typing, and watching movies, you may want to give this a bit more thought.

    No matter which of these cases you select, we’re confident you’ll have an iPad that looks great and is well-protected.

    Here are the best iPad cases you can buy:

    Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.

    The best iPad cases overall

    Why you'll love it: Moko makes sleek and lightweight cases that don’t cost much at all, but they offer a classic look for the iPad and certainly keep your tablet safe.

    MoKo makes some of the most minimalist cases out there, and that’s exactly why we love it. When it came to protecting my iPad, it was pretty clear that if I wanted to keep with Apple’s minimalist aesthetic, MoKo would be the way to go. 

    Its cases completely cover the body of the iPad, and though prices start at around $10, you don’t feel as though the materials are cheap or flimsy. As long as you’re not throwing your iPad around or dropping things on it, you’ll be protected from dings and scratches.

    If you opt for the Ultra Slim case, you’ll have a case made of a plastic shell for the body of your tablet and a polyurethane screen cover. It obviously takes its design notes from the Apple Smart Case, adding just 4 millimeters to the thickness of  your iPad and barely any weight at all.

    One thing I love about MoKo covers is that when you close them, they stay closed. That’s key for when I’m throwing my MoKo-clad iPad in my bag when I’m off to run an errand and don’t want to worry about the case accidentally slipping open or having my iPad turn on (this cover automatically wakes or puts to sleep the newer iPads).

    Another thing to note — MoKo cases completely covers the bottom part of your iPad, so if you’re looking for something to totally protect your 9.7-inch folio, this is the way to go.

    Pros: Inexpensive, sleek, mirroring the design of Apple’s Smart Case, full coverage

    Cons: Not for heavy duty protection

    Shop all Moko iPad cases on Amazon for $9.99 to $20.99



    The best heavy duty iPad cases

    Why you'll love it: Urban Armor Gear sounds like it makes cases that will withstand some battle scars, and that’s exactly what sets this company apart.

    If you know that your delicate possessions are prone to breakage, then you’ll want to preempt any potential damage by investing in a seriously heavy duty iPad case. After all, you didn’t just spend at least $650 your 10.5-inch iPad just to end up with a cracked screen. The Urban Armor Gear iPad cases aren’t just tough — they’re military-grade drop test tough.

    In order to guarantee the longevity of your tablet, an iPad clad in this case is dropped 26 times onto a surface comprised of two inches of plywood atop concrete. The drop is done from a variety of angles, which means that if you find a way to break your iPad even with this case on it, you’re doing something pretty special.

    Even though they’re rugged, Urban Armour cases are extremely functional, and some models even come with an Apple Pencil holder. Plus, the lid comes off altogether so that you can turn your iPad into more of a laptop setup by attaching a Smart Keyboard. The adjustable and detachable stand of the Urban Armor case also comes in handy if you’re watching a movie or checking out a recipe on your iPad.

    I particularly appreciate the impact-resistant edges of this case, which are slightly built out and rounded so that your iPad will bounce and not shatter if it takes a tumble. Moreover, if you’re using third-party charging and/or headphone cables, this case comes with oversized ports to help accommodate those needs.

    Pros: Extremely heavy duty, shock absorbent, surprisingly sleek design for its purposes

    Cons: Some customers have complained about the cover leaving a smudge line on the screen

    Shop all Urban Armor iPad cases on Amazon for $39.95 to $149.95



    The best artistic iPad cases

    Why you'll love it: Moshi makes some of the more elegant iPad cases on the market, and they're perfect for your inner artiste.

    Not only does Moshi make its cases with higher quality materials than most of its competitors, this company also creates some of the most eye-catching designs on the market.

    The real selling point of these unique cases lies in their distinctive folding cover design, which is great for keeping your iPad screen safe from scratches and dust, but also for propping up your tablet at the right angles.

    The folds of the Moshi cover allow you to create multiple viewing angles for your iPad, which comes in handy as you use your iPad for different tasks. Capable of being stood up in both portrait and landscape positions, the origami-inspired design is extremely versatile.

    Whether you need to type, browse the web, or play a game, you’ll be able to find the optimal position with this case. And in my experience, the Moshi case has certainly turned some heads.

    Moshi covers also boast built-in magnets so that your iPad automatically goes to sleep when the cover is closed, saving you battery. Despite the seemingly delicate look of this case, it’s actually quite hardy. Moshi frames are shock absorbent, and customer have lauded the “rubber bumper” that now edges the entirety of the case.

    Oh, and if button coverage on your iPad is important to you, Moshi has that covered, too. Thanks to all the various folds on the case, the cover is very easy to lift up, but not so easy that it’ll move around in your bag.

    Pros: Multiple viewing angles, unique design, great protection around the edges

    Cons: As unique as the origami design is, some customers don’t like the complexity of the setup

    Shop all Moshi iPad cases on Amazon



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    duck

    • TripAdvisor has revealed the top 25 fine dining restaurants in the world for 2018.
    • The ranking was created by an algorithm which assessed both quality and quantity of reviews on the travel website.
    • The top restaurant this year is Au Crocodile in Strasbourg, France.

    The best fine dining restaurants in the world for 2018 have been revealed in a new ranking determined by travellers.

    This year's winner in the Travellers’ Choice Awards, run by TripAdvisor, has emerged as Au Crocodile in Strasbourg, France. 

    The ranking is based on the millions of reviews and opinions shared by TripAdvisor users. Restaurants were measured using an algorithm which took into account both the quantity and quality of reviews for restaurants around the world, gathered over a 12 month period.

    Scroll down to see the 25 best fine dining restaurants in the world in 2018, according to travellers, ranked in ascending order.

    25. Daniel, New York City, USA



    24. Europea, Montreal, Canada



    23. Tin Lung Heen, Hong Kong, China



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    Elon Musk

    • Tesla and Elon Musk took us on a wild ride in 2018 — but the stock is still the best performer in the US auto sector.
    • Tesla has surged at the end of 2018, becoming the only auto stock I cover that's in positive territory, beating out the S&P 500 index and GM, Ford, FCA, and Ferrari.
    • If you could handle the heat, Tesla was a good investment in 2018.


    Tesla CEO Elon Musk is no stranger to talking down Tesla's stock, but in 2018, he seemed to do everything in his power to both send it south and propel it into orbit. He behaved badly on Twitter — stock slid! He unveiled a go-private scheme, again on Twitter, calling for a $420-per-share price — stock surged! 

    Always volatile, Tesla shares in 2018 entered a new realm of lurching unpredictability. And now that the end of the year is upon us, we can add up the damage and discover that ... Tesla was 2018's best investment in the auto sector, among the stocks that I track at Business Insider.

    Yes, it could all go completely to hell in the next few weeks. But for now, Tesla shares are above $370, up 16% year-to-date. General Motors, Ford, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and Ferrari are all in the red, with Ford down over 30%. Only Ferrari is close, with its stock having slipped just 1%.

    Read more:I drove a $57,500 Tesla Model 3 for a week to see if it's practical for everyday driving — here's the verdict

    Since 2010, when Tesla staged an IPO, shares are up 1,300%, so early investors have certainly been copiously rewarded. But if you could somehow have stayed the course in 2018 — through what the nuttiest, most harrowing narrative I've seen in the auto industry since the near-simultaneous bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler in 2009 — you would have beaten the S&P 500 index by close to 20%.

    Tesla — the ultimate defensive stock!

    Tesla could have room to run in 2019

    Tesla Model 3

    So, are Tesla shares tapped out? Well, consider that a profitable third quarter could be followed by a profitable fourth. At which point, having more than 20% of Tesla's available shares making up various short positions means you have a scenario in which early 2019 brings a wave of short covering and a substantial move north for the stock.

    If Tesla can threaten $400 per share before 2018 comes to a close, there isn't much in the way of prospective negative news ahead of Q4 2018 earnings being reported — and 2019 looks to be a year in which Tesla could make several market-moving announcements on the product front, starting with an unveiling of the Model 3 crossover in the first or second quarter. 

    So why has Tesla seemingly brushed off an epic amount of bad news in 2018?

    It's the revenue, stupid. Tesla and Musk were a hot mess for the entire year, but in the end, the company has built and sold thousands more vehicles than it did in 2017. That translated into nearly $7 billion sloshing in for Q3, a record. Keep that up, control your costs, and Tesla neatly reverses from almost a decade of losses to a future of gains. 

    Plus, people love the product. They love it so much that they're willing to put up with Tesla's growing pains as a manufacturing enterprise. That might not last forever, but at the moment, if you want to invest in a pure electric-car play, Tesla is your only real choice. 

    Every year, I like to summarize the stock-market performance of the automakers I follow most closely. Here's this year's tale of the tape (as of the weekend of December 15), with Tesla coming out on top:

    FOLLOW US: On Facebook for more car and transportation content!

    Number 5: Ford. Down 33% YTD.



    Number 4: GM. Down 15% YTD.



    Number 3: FCA. Down 14% YTD.



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    best wooden toys

    • There’s something wonderfully old-fashioned and nostalgic about wooden toys. 
    • We’ve gathered up our favorite nine wooden toys and games for every age from babyhood through adulthood.
    • So whether you need to keep a toddler entertained, want to improve your older child’s focus, or are looking for a wooden game the entire family can enjoy, we’ve got you covered.

    Maybe it’s because wooden toys harken back to the days before mass-produced plastic, or perhaps it’s the connection between wood and nature. Whatever the reason, wooden toys are always a hit — not only with the toddler set, but even with adults.

    They don’t need batteries. They have a vintage appeal. They are eco-friendly. They’re made from a material that grew right up out of the ground, rather than being mixed or created in a factory. 

    While it’s admittedly not as easy to find wooden toys in today’s sea of plastic as it once was, they’re still out there and they’re still going strong.

    We’ve gathered up our favorite wooden toys and games for all ages — don’t make the mistake of thinking only babies go for wood. These playtime pleasers all make great gifts, whether you’re buying a present for someone else, or purchasing something fun for yourself–go ahead, you deserve it.

    Here are the best wooden toys you can buy:

    Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.

    The best wooden toy for babies

    Why you'll love it: The Manhattan Toy Skwish provides endless entertainment for little ones. They can squeeze it, shake it, teeth on it, and drop it over and over without damage to baby or toy.

    Manhattan Toy’s Skwish has been around for a long time. I purchased one for my own son when he was just a few months old, and he’s now in college. There’s good reason for this wooden, abstract-looking toy’s longevity.

    It’s practically irresistible, and not only to babies. Even adults enjoy squeezing and manipulating the toy, and it makes a great stress-buster to keep on your desk.

    Made of super-strong elastic cords strung with colorful wooden balls and rods, along with a few bells, the Skwish, as its name implies, easily squishes down flat, springs back up again, and generally tolerates all sorts of stretching and manipulation.

    Babies love teething on it, which is not a problem because the Skwish is made of sustainable wood with a nontoxic, water-based finish that won’t wear away, chip, or fade.

    The Skwish is safe for any age from newborn to adult.

    Pros: Very appealing design, safe for teething babies, durable, easy to carry in diaper bag or daycare pack

    Cons: A very few buyers complained that an elastic band frayed or broke during play

    Buy the Manhattan Toy Skwish on Amazon for $13.75



    The best wooden blocks

    Why you'll love them: Maxim Deluxe Wooden ABC Blocks are big enough for a baby to easily hold and stack, and colorfully carved and stamped with the letters of the alphabet, numbers, animals, and other designs.

    Wooden blocks are a classic toy for babies and toddlers. Babies enjoy holding them and looking at them. Toddlers like to stack them and then knock them back down. And of course, mom or dad can use the blocks to get a head start on teaching the alphabet and numbers.

    The Maxim Deluxe Wooden ABC Blocks are perfect for all of those activities and many more. The set includes a total of 40 wooden blocks, each with a carved letter, number, or arithmetic function symbol, as well as a stamped animal, number, or word.

    These blocks are a little bit bigger than many other sets. Each side measure 1.8 inches, so your child will have no problem stacking them. The blocks are 100% wood and stained with nontoxic, water-based colors, so no worries if baby decides to give one a chew. The set includes a storage bag, so once playtime is over, you can help your little one gather up the blocks and put them safely away.

    The block set is labeled for ages 18 months and up, although many buyers purchased them for younger toddlers.

    Pros: Nicely designed wooden blocks without rough edges, large set with many designs, storage bag included

    Cons: Somewhat expensive, although they are better quality than many other sets

    Buy the Maxim Deluxe Wooden ABC Blocks on Amazon for $44.10



    The best wooden ride-on toy

    Why you'll love it: What little one wouldn’t love gliding around on the crazy-cute Wheely Bugs wooden ride-on toys from Prince Lionheart? 

    Little kids–and not-so-little kids, as well–love ride-on toys. And why not? Members of the toddler set aren’t yet steady on their feet, so generally enjoy a ride. And when that ride is on one of the super-cute Prince Lionheart Wheely Bugs, well, the fun is just getting started. What a great way to keep your young ones happily playing for hours.

    There are several designs to choose from, including a bee, cow, hedgehog, mouse, ladybug, pig, and tiger. You can also get them in two sizes: small, for children 1-1/2 to three years, and large, which is for children ages three to six.

    The caster wheels glide silently over just about any indoor flooring without scratching, scuffing, or denting the surface. The wooden base of the toy has a lightly padded seat, so your child can sit comfortably, and the curved handle provides security while racing across the living room.

    The weight limit for the Wheely Bugs is 50 pounds.

    Pros: Won’t mar flooring, toddlers can ride or push, cute designs, sturdy construction

    Cons: Your child might quickly outgrow the toy, somewhat expensive

    Buy the Prince Lionheart Wheely Bugs on Amazon for $57.99 and up, depending on design



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    Hyundai Kona

    • The Hyundai Kona is one of the newest contenders in the subcompact crossover SUV market. 
    • Its rivals in the market include the Jeep Renegade, Honda HR-V, Toyota CH-R, Nissan Kicks, and Mazda CX-3. 
    • Kona comes standard with a 147 horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. A 175 hp turbocharged engine is available as an option.
    • We were impressed by the Kona's peppy turbocharged engine, sporty driving dynamics, and its solid array of standard tech features. 
    • We aren't quite in love with Kona's quirky styling and limited cargo capacity. 

    From the armada of Cadillac Escalades invading mall parking lots across America to the millions of the car-based crossovers dotting the nation's driveways, SUVs are everywhere these days 

    While the idea of the SUV within the collective conscious may be that of a rugged off-roader, the vast majority of SUVs sold in the US are actually car-based crossovers. In many cases, they are nothing more than economy hatchbacks with some extra ride height. 

    This is especially the case for entry-level subcompact crossovers SUVs. 

    But, these "cute utes" have become increasingly popular thanks to the recent tidal wave of demand for SUVs. 

    According to data from Kelley Blue Book, the segment accounts for 3.6% of the American auto market. While it doesn't have the sheer sales volume of the compact SUVs and full-size pickup trucks, it is still a rapidly growing segment. 

    Read more: We drove an all-new $32,000 Subaru Forester SUV to see if it could compete with Honda, Toyota, and Nissan. Here's the verdict.

    Over the first 11 months of 2018, manufacturers have sold more 560,000 sub-compact crossover SUVs in the US that's up more than 30% over the same period last year.

    One of the newest additions to the segment is the Hyundai Kona. 

    Recently, Business Insider had the chance to spend a few days behind the wheel of a 2018 Hyundai Kona complete with a Thunder Gray paint job.

    The base 2019 Hyundai Kona SE starts at $19,990 while the top spec Kona Ultimate starts at $27,500. The mid-grade SEL and Limited trims start at $21,800 and $25,550 respectively. All-wheel-drive is available as a $1,400 option. With options and fees, our 2018 Hyundai Kona Ultimate AWD carried an as-tested price of $29,850.

    Here's a closer look at the 2018 Hyundai Kona.  

    SEE ALSO: The 10 best used cars you can buy to get the most bang for your buck

    FOLLOW US: On Facebook for more car and transportation content!

    Here it is! The 2018 Hyundai Kona.



    It's the entry-level crossover SUV in Hyundai's lineup and slots in below the Tucson compact crossover.



    In the market, the Kona's rivals include the Mazda CX-3, ...



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    experiment laboratory

    • In 2018, scientists around the world published studies about a wide range of new discoveries.
    • Their research uncovered new truths about what's best for human health, how we're impacting our planet, and the rise of fake news.
    • Here are the 10 most-discussed scientific studies of the year — research that outraged, fascinated, frustrated, intrigued, delighted, and changed the world. 

    Scientific discovery can be a quiet enterprise. 

    A lot of scientific research happens in windowless laboratories, behind glowing computer screens, and out in remote fields and forests. But when scientists publish their work, they let the world in on what they've found. 

    A new scientific study can captivate the public imagination, stoke vibrant discussion, or even change public policy. Such was the case for a few of the most talked-about scientific findings of the year.

    The following list of the top 10 science findings of 2018 comes from data crunchers at Altmetric, who analyzed how much various research papers got discussed on science blogs, social media (Twitter, Facebook), and in published news stories. They also took into account which studies got cited in Wikipedia entries and how many of them informed public policy. 

    The research in the resulting top 10 list looked into our diets, the planet's health, and even the way fake news spreads online. Here are the most influential and talked-about studies of the past year.

    SEE ALSO: The most mind-blowing, life-altering scientific discoveries of 2018

    A team of public health researchers interviewed 3,299 Puerto Rican households after Hurricane Maria pummeled the island. They discovered that the government's official death toll was far too low.

    The team, led by researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, went house to house in remote and urban areas of Puerto Rico. They asked people if anyone at their home had died during or as a result of — the hurricane.

    Those surveys led the researchers to estimate that the true death toll from Maria on the island could be as low as 793 or as high as 8,498. Either way, that was far more than the death toll of 64 that the government had reported. 

    Not all of Maria's victims were killed right when the Category 4 storm slammed into the island.

    The research team, whose results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, said at least a third of the deaths happened after the storm hit, since people couldn't get life-saving care amid the destruction. 

    In August, the Puerto Rican government acknowledged the finding and quietly upped the official death toll to more than 1,400. But the true number could be higher still. 



    Researchers from MIT tracked how fake news spreads online, and discovered that it moves a lot faster than the truth.

    Surprise and disgust are both powerful emotions, and they're effective motivators when it comes to the spread of fake news and misinformation. 

    Researchers from MIT examined 126,000 Twitter posts, tweeted by roughly 3.5 million users between 2006 and 2017. They found that a false post spreads to 1,500 new eyeballs six times faster than the truth. Their results also showed that lies were 70% more likely to be retweeted, no matter how many followers the account had and regardless of whether it was verified. 

    "Humans, not robots, are more likely to spread it,"the researchers wrote in the journal Science.

    They think there may be a simple reason why fake news is more appealing than the truth: it's shiny and new.

    "We found that false news was more novel than true news, which suggests that people were more likely to share novel information," the researchers said. "Whereas false stories inspired fear, disgust, and surprise in replies, true stories inspired anticipation, sadness, joy, and trust."

     

     



    A global study of drinkers in 195 countries suggested that no amount of alcohol is good for our health. But the results were not that simple.

    Drinking to excess can have dangerous consequences.

    The authors of a major study published in the Lancet found that around the world, the more people drink, the more likely they are to develop cancer and the more likely they are to die.

    The research caused a stir, since the authors suggested that there is no safe level of alcohol. Journalists around the world quickly picked up that headline and ran with it. 

    But there is some evidence that a moderate amount of booze (say, one drink per day) can help protect against some health conditions, notably heart disease and diabetes. The lead author of the Lancet study, Max Griswold from the University of Washington, said that doesn't matter because "combined health risks" associated with alcohol increase "with any amount of alcohol."

    Others aren't so sure. 

    "Just because something is unhealthy in large amounts doesn’t mean that we must completely abstain," Professor Aaron Carroll from Indiana University School of Medicine wrote in The New York Times after the study was published.

    It's also important to remember that Griswold's finding wasn't based on entirely new research. Instead, his team reviewed nearly 600 previous studies on alcohol for a meta-analysis. Meta-analyses can make it hard to control for accuracy, since different researchers perform studies in dramatically different ways.

    Plus, other unmeasured factors could also account for increases in deaths and health problems in drinkers. People who consume alcohol might be stressed, smoke, or have other underlying health issues or genetic differences that make them more likely to develop diseases. 

    "We could spend lifetimes arguing over where the line is for many people," Carroll wrote. "The truth is we just don’t know."



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    Nintendo Consoles

    • Since the debut of the original Famicom in 1983, Nintendo has released over a dozen video game consoles and handhelds.
    • Each of Nintendo's systems has been focused on innovative technology and family fun, though some have been much more successful than others.
    • At their best, Nintendo's consoles have made a cultural impact that has changed the way people around the world view entertainment.
    • Naturally, we ranked them all. 

    Nintendo has been the number-one household name in video games since releasing its first console, the Famicom, in Japan circa 1983. The company helped pioneer the trend towards home video game consoles, pushing back against the arcades that dominated the industry at the time.

    Even as other companies worked to match the early success of the Nintendo Entertainment System, the company has shown a dedication to innovation and family fun that has inspired each of their follow-ups. While some of the company's consoles have certainly been more successful than others, Nintendo's constant push towards new ways to play games has proven beneficial for companies across the video game industry.

     

    Exploring the legacy of Nintendo's hardware offers an interesting look at how video games have grown from the earliest days of 8-bit pixels to the high-definition marvel that is the Nintendo Switch. And, naturally, we ranked them all.

    These are our favorite Nintendo consoles, ranked from worst to best:

    SEE ALSO: A complete history of Nintendo consoles, by the numbers

    SEE ALSO: A complete history of Nintendo consoles, by the numbers

    13. Virtual Boy (1995)

    Few would recognize the Virtual Boy as a Nintendo creation, and even fewer actually owned the odd console. The Virtual Boy was designed to use stereoscopic 3D to create an early form of virtual reality gaming, but failed to create a convincing enough experience for there to be much of an audience.

    Nintendo was quick to fold on the console, discontinuing the Virtual Boy within a year of its launch in 1995. With only 22 games ever released for the Virtual Boy, there's really no arguing that this is the least impressive of Nintendo's video game consoles — ever.



    12. Game Boy Color (1998)

    As the name might suggest, the Game Boy Color was Nintendo's first handheld to feature a color screen. The Game Boy Color arrived nearly a decade after the original, providing a hardware upgrade for the more demanding games of the late '90s. However, the system mostly served as a stopgap until the release of the next-generation Game Boy Advance in 2001.

    The Game Boy Color still saw more than 500 releases in that three-year span, though many of those games were still playable on the original Game Boy. The Color could also play classic Game Boy games, and would give them a basic color scheme to highlight their visuals.



    11. Nintendo Wii U (2012)

    Putting aside the huge flop that was the Virtual Boy, the Wii U is Nintendo's least popular video game console. Confusing branding, combined with technology that was only a half-step up from the massively popular Wii, hurt the Wii U at release. It was quickly outmatched by the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 when they launched the following year.

    The Wii U's most innovative feature was the introduction of a large tablet that could be used as a secondary screen during gameplay, or mirror the image of the television. With Nintendo's emphasis on family-focused gaming, the Wii U tablet was designed to allow children to play on the smaller screen while their families were using the living room TV.

    However, the tablet essentially turns into a brick when you walk out of range of the console, making it very limited indeed. The added requirement of developing games with the tablet in mind, and Nintendo's lackluster online gaming infrastructure, led to a lack of games from third party publishers, as well.



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    Peloton

    • High tech, at-home fitness companies are gaining ground and putting traditional players under pressure. 
    • Peloton, which is widely considered to be a pioneer of the home fitness industry, was valued at $4 billion in August after raising an additional $550 million in venture funding. 
    • These are some of the most exciting at-home fitness innovations to come out over the past year. 

    America is exercising more than ever, but people are becoming lazier when it comes to where they do it. 

    Home fitness has become one of the biggest trends of 2018, as a series of high-tech fitness companies have swooped in to create more advanced ways to replicate a boutique class-style workout from home. 

    According to insights firm Alpha, the home fitness equipment market is currently worth $14 billion and is gaining more traction among traditional gym-goers. Of the people it surveyed, 54% said they would be interested in buying an at-home fitness system, Fast Company reported earlier this year. 

    By comparison, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) estimated that 60.9 million Americans have a gym membership, which generates $30 billion in revenue annually. 

    Peloton, which is widely considered to be a pioneer of the industry, was valued at $4 billion in August after raising a further $550 million in venture funding.

    Recent data released by analytics firm Second Measure, which tracks the credit and debit purchases from a pool of four million US customers, showed that Peloton is increasingly stealing market share from the traditional market leaders. According to the report, during the third quarter of 2018 Peloton overtook SoulCycle for the first time ever, drawing in 4% more customers, though SoulCycle strongly denied this analysis in a statement to Business Insider this week. 

    These are some of the most exciting at-home fitness innovations to come out over the past year:

    SEE ALSO: Peloton is accusing Flywheel of copying its hugely popular at-home fitness bike

    Peloton Tread

    Peloton is best known for its wildly successful exercise bike, which paved the way for other high-tech at-home fitness options. 

    Its new product — the $3,995 treadmill — launched this fall and works in a similar way to its indoor bike. It has an HD touchscreen that streams thousands of live and on-demand classes, which users can join from home.

    Classes cost $39 a month and include high-intensity boot-camp routines, running drills, and mat work. 

    When Business Insider trialed the treadmill in February, we were impressed by the style and range of classes but were overwhelmed by the size of the machine. 

    Read more:We tried the new $4,000 treadmill from the billion-dollar startup that could be 'the Apple of fitness' — here's the verdict



    Mirror

    New York-based startup Mirror launched its $1,500 interactive mirror in September

    The machine looks just like a standard mirror but has an LCD screen that streams live and on-demand workout classes into your home. These classes cost $39 per month.

    Customers connect to the Mirror using a Bluetooth heart rate monitor or an Apple Watch.

    Read more:We tested the $1,500 mirror that streams exercise classes into your home and saw how it could upend the fitness world



    Flywheel — FLY Anywhere

    Boutique indoor cycling studio Flywheel made the move into home fitness in November 2017 with the launch of its FLY Anywhere bike.

    The bike starts at $1,699 and functions in a similar way to Peloton's version: it allows users to stream on-demand and live classes from their home. The main difference is that customers have the option to stream classes from their own device or pay extra to have a screen included on the bike itself.

    In September, Peloton filed a lawsuit against Flywheel accusing the bike of being a copycat version of its proprietary bike.

    Read more:Peloton is accusing Flywheel of copying its hugely popular at-home fitness bike



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    house_flipping_side_by_side

    • House flipping isn't all reality TV makes it out to be.
    • Flipping houses can be rewarding and a good investment, but you should be prepared for unexpected problems, budget increases, time-inducing mistakes, a longer renovation timeline, and issues selling on the market.
    • Here's what house flipping is really like, according to those who've done it.

    "Flip or Flop"— it's not just the name of one of HGTV's most popular home-improvement shows but the reality of house flipping.

    Buying a home, renovating it, and reselling it can be a hit or a miss. If it's the latter, you best be prepared for a financial hit.

    But that's not preventing people from flipping houses. American homeowners flipped 217,000 single-family homes or condos in 2017, the most in 11 years, reported Ronda Kaysen of The New York Times, citing real estate data company ATTOM Data Solutions.

    But flipping houses isn't as easy as reality TV makes it out to be — or as quick. We talked to several people who have been through the process of flipping a house more than once, and many said the real-life timeline of house flipping is longer than depicted. The consensus? You need to be prepared for unforeseen circumstances, especially going over budget. 

    You're also bound to learn the hard way from mistakes. One house flipper spent a grueling amount of time scraping wallpaper off her kitchen, while another didn't check how laminate flooring fit together before purchasing it, resulting in complications when it came to laying it down. 

    And then there's the housing market. Sometimes, a flipped house will take longer to sell or won't sell for as much as you anticipated, decreasing your profit.

    But that's not to say house flipping can't be rewarding — or a good investment — especially if you love doing it.

    Here's what house flipping is really like, according to house flippers themselves.

    SEE ALSO: Here's what living in a tiny house is really like, according to people who traded their homes for minimalism

    DON'T MISS: What a $250,000 home looks like in the biggest city in every state

    House flipping involves buying an investment home, renovating it, and reselling it quickly to make a profit.

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    You can make serious money if all goes well, but it's not a surefire way to get rich. There are a lot of details to house flipping that can get overlooked.

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    In fact, house flipping isn't what HGTV makes it out to be. Here's what it's really like, according to those who've done it.



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    Meng Wanzhou

    • Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was recently detained on suspicion of violating US trade sanctions, for which the company has long been under federal investigation.
    • Meng serves as the chief financial officer and deputy chairwoman of the board at the Chinese tech company and is also the daughter of Huawei's founder.
    • Her arrest has sparked outrage from Chinese officials, who have demanded that the US release Meng or face "grave consequences."
    • Here's a helpful primer on the Huawei executive and her career.

    Chinese officials have threatened the US with"grave consequences" if the "extremely egregious" arrest of Meng Wanzhou, an executive at one of its biggest tech companies, isn't reversed. Meng was detained, at the request of the US, on suspicion of violating Iran trade sanctions.

    The potential implications of this arrest, which took place on December 1 in Canada, on the tense trade war between the US and China has thrust the popular Chinese smartphone company Huawei into the spotlight. But Meng, the Huawei executive at the center of the controversy, is still very much an unknown for most people.

    Not only does Meng occupy a top position at a multibillion-dollar company, but she is also the daughter of Huawei's founder, Ren Zhengfei. The 46-year-old chief financial officer and deputy chairwoman of the board has risen through the ranks of the company since she joined Huawei in 1993, even as her father has reportedly denied rumors that Meng would eventually take over as CEO of Huawei.

    Here's what you need to know about Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou:

    Meng Wanzhou is the daughter of Huawei's founder, Ren Zhengfei, and his first wife, Meng Jun. She is one of Ren's two daughters — the second, Annabel Yao, came from Ren's second of three marriages.

    Source: South China Morning Post



    Meng was born in 1972 in Chengdu, China. Her family moved south in the 1980s to Shenzhen, a city that is now home to Huawei's headquarters.

    Source: New York Times



    Meng also goes by Cathy or Sabrina, and she took on her mother's maiden name (Meng) at a young age. The 46-year-old, who holds a master's degree in accounting from China's Huazhong University, joined Huawei not long after graduating college.

    Source: Bloomberg



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    tumblr feed nsfw

    • Tumblr announced this week it will ban content featuring nudity from its platform, starting December 17.
    • The decision was met with lots of backlash from users who view the site as a safe space to explore their identity and sexuality through not safe for work (NSFW) content.
    • Many Tumblr users have said they plan to abandon the platform for alternative blogging websites that allow explicit content, some which can be found below.

    Tumblr says it's banning "adult content" from its platform in order to make "a better, more positive" place, but the policy change has some users abandoning the site.

    The new policy goes into effect December 17, and will result in the deletion of any content portraying "real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples," Tumblr, a Verizon-owned company, said in its announcement.

    Reaction to Tumblr's announcement has been swift and critical across social media. More than 423,000 people have already signed a Change.org petition to "make Tumblr rescind their adult content ban."

    For many, Tumblr was seen as a safe space used for exploration and self-expression. 

    "I frequently got messages from folks who saw my work and said it helped them understand part of themselves better," an anonymous Tumblr user told The Washington Post. "That’s primarily what I saw on Tumblr, in my curated bubble: women and LGBT creators exploring sexual concepts that they didn’t feel comfortable sharing anywhere else."

    Dozens of newTwitteraccounts are starting to pop up from former Tumblr users who say they're switching social media sites as a result of the new policy. But while Twitter is mainly a platform for short text blurbs and sharing links, Tumblr emphasizes blogging with a mix of images, videos, GIFs, and creative writing.

    Other blogging platforms have already reported seeing an influx of new users since Tumblr announced its policy change.

    Here are some alternatives to Tumblr emerging in light of the ban on adult content:

    SEE ALSO: Tumblr is banning all NSFW content — and people are worrying it's the beginning of the end for the Verizon-owned website

    Newgrounds

    While the design of Newgrounds may be old-school (it's been around since 1999), the site prides itself on being wholly independent where it allows "everything for everyone."

    "Some of you might be dismayed at the thought of more lewd content on NG while others are super excited,"a post welcoming Tumblr users says. "The good news for everyone is that we're seeing a lot of REALLY TALENTED artists joining up and not everything they post is NSFW."



    Pillowfort

    Pillowfort.io is a user-friendly space that emerged from people "complaining about the limitations and flaws of these (other) sites, yet lamenting that there was nowhere better to go."

    Unfortunately, Pillowfort is in beta and costs a small free to join, but you can try out the platform as a demo user on Pillowfort's website. You may have issues accessing it though — I got an error message when I tried to set up my trial because of the unusually "high amount of traffic" the site is getting.



    Dreamwidth

    Dreamwidth is a free platform for "creative folk" who want to share artwork and creative writing. 

    "We'd like to take a moment to reassure all y'all that we have your backs,"a post welcoming Tumblr users says. "To the newcomers: we're happy to have you join us. Welcome aboard!"



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    mark zuckerberg christmas

    • Facebook threw its annual holiday party for employees last weekend.
    • It was themed around a winter village, with attractions including chainsaw ice-sculpting, a "thumbs up tavern," and costumed dancers.
    • It's been a pretty rough year for Facebook employees, and morale dropping following multiple scandals.
    • Attendees shared photos of the revelry on Instagram.

    Facebook employees blew off steam this weekend with a two-day party at a swanky San Francisco venue that featured a custom-built winter wonderland, chainsaw-ice-sculpting, and Christmas dancers.

    On Friday and Saturday, the Silicon Valley tech giant threw its annual official holiday party for employees. This time around, it was held at the Palace of Fine Arts, and was centered around a winter village with attractions including a Facebook "thumbs up tavern," sweet shop, "toy shop," and ski chalet-like decor. 

    It's been a tough year for Facebook employees, with morale dropping precipitously following multiple scandals — from Cambridge Analytica to the social network's role in the spread of hate speech amid genocide in Myanmar. The company holds festive celebrations for its employees every year; in previous years it has rented out San Francisco's AT&T park, and thrown Great Gatsby-themed shindigs.

    The party may have been held over two nights, but it sounds like that was for crowd control reasons rather than because it was a non-stop bacchanalian carnival — Facebook has tens of thousands of employees in the Bay Area, after all. An attendee told Business Insider that it was incredibly crowded, with queues for everything.

    COO Sheryl Sandberg was spotted there on Friday night, we're told; it's not clear if and when other senior leadership attended. But there was also a private area for execs and VIPs only, so they may have sheltered away from the crowds.

    SEE ALSO: The 18 biggest tech scandals of 2018

    Attendees' Instagram posts provide a window into how Facebook employees let their hair down at the party. There was a life-size bear ice sculpture there, which was carved via chainsaw. (Click the arrows on the Instagram post for a video and more images.)

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    One of the central areas featured shipping containers and a ski-lift gondola.

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    The winter village street was bedecked in holiday lights and festive decorations.

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