The Congressional Budget Office released a troubling report today on what could happen if the GOP moves forward with a plan to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act. The report projects that 18 million people would become uninsured within the first year alone, and that number would increase over the following decade. Most of the losses, the report said, would result from the elimination of the individual mandate penalties in which people without minimum coverage are required to pay a fine.
Those Obamacare penalties are really important
Warby Parker is sending a new pair of glasses to the reporter who was assaulted by a Republican candidate
Now we know that Montana Republican candidate for Montana's congressional seat Greg Gianforte is being charged with assault for "body-slamming" The Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs. But one of the remaining questions was about replacing Jacobs's glasses, which the reporter said were broken in the bizarre altercation. Well, in a prime example of "Brands in the Age of Trump," Warby Parker has stepped up. JB
After 26 years, Walt Mossberg has written his final tech column
"Personal computers are just too hard to use, and it's not your fault." With those blunt words, the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg began his first technology column in October 1991. He soon became the world's most influential tech writer, for the WSJ and later its All Things D site and, most recently, Recode and The Verge.
Now Mossberg is retiring from weekly writing. His last column says that technology has gotten easier to use, and that, with elements such as AI and advanced sensors playing an ever-growing role, it will soon become ambient. The uncompromising consumer advocacy he brought to his work is quite a legacy—and here's hoping that his influence on tech journalism continues to be felt even though he's leaving the weekly grind. HM
Lyft gets black-car service
Lyft has been aggressively expanding in the U.S. this year to catch up with Uber. Now it's launching a black-car service. It's an interesting move for a company that in its original conception encouraged riders to sit in the front seat with drivers. Lyft already offers higher-end rides in BMWs or Mercedes through its "Premier" program. The black-car service is aimed at more business class riders and also offers drivers, who already use a more luxury car to drive for Lyft, a way to expand their earnings. The black-car service has two tiers, Lyft Lux and Lyft Lux SUV. It's first rolling out in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, and San Jose. RR
Fight the tampon tax with Sustain’s new line of organic period products
Sexual wellness brand Sustain just released a range of 100% cotton pads, liners, and tampons, along with a bimonthly subscription box that allows women to mix and match period products. This is an obvious extension of the brand: Since its launch in 2014, Sustain has catered to women with sustainable, "vagina-friendly" condoms and lubricants.
For the first 30 days following this launch, Sustain is matching the dollars it collects via sales taxes with a donation to Girls Helping Girls. Period., a nonprofit provides feminine hygiene products to low-income women in the U.S. This aligns with Sustain's commitment to donate 10% of its profits to organizations like Planned Parenthood and puts its weight behind a movement protesting the "tampon tax"; across 37 states in the U.S., feminine hygiene products are classified as "nonessential" and taxed a minimum of 66 cents per box.
"It's about equity and access—there's no other tax that's this gender biased," cofounder and CEO Meika Hollender said in a statement. "To tax these items and not acknowledge or exempt them as essential products is another example of gender inequality playing out in policy." [Photo: courtesy of Sustain] PM
We only have ourselves to blame for the existence of Spicy Starbursts and Skittles
Now, it's coming for our candy aisle. A press release for the Wrigley Company reveals that this winter you'll be able to huddle around your packs of Skittles and Starburst for warmth as the company is rolling out spicy versions of their candy in December. According to E! Online, the "Sweet Heat" candy includes Skittles flavors like Blazin' Mango and Sizzlin' Strawberry while the Starbursts come filled with Fiery Watermelon and Pipin' Pineapple and oh god what have we done to our candy. Oh that's right, it's the same thing we did to our beer, our Cheetos, our tacos, and even our Lexuses.
Air New Zealand flight attendants are using AR to know what drink will make you relax during your flight
Air New Zealand is working with Dimension Data to develop proprietary software for Microsoft's augmented reality HoloLens that could take flying into the future. It also makes their cabin crew look like it raided Geordi LaForge's Star Trek wardrobe, but that's just an added benefit.
The AR headsets can be used to help flight attendants improve customer service—a welcome idea in this day and age—by "aggregating and displaying key customer information directly in front of them," according to a press release. Such information could include everything from a customer's preferred meal and drink as well as membership status, meaning the flight attendant can keep your tray table stocked with tomato juice and coffee without needing to repeat the request out loud. Additionally, the program can tell if customers are, you know, happy, a technology that United might also want to invest in. It's unclear when or whether this tech will become widely used on Air New Zealand, but please note for our next flight that we like our coffee black.
As The Verge notes, Air New Zealand has always been a bit ahead of the curve when it comes to the future of air travel. They have an award-winning unaccompanied minor tracking system called AirBand and introduced a biometrics-enabled self-service bag drop in the Auckland airport back in 2015. Delta just announced their plans to unroll a similar technology this summer.
Uber is working on a system for controlling your autonomous ride. Here’s a glimpse into its design process:
In a patent published today, Uber details a system that would allow passengers to control some aspects of an autonomous Uber experience from a mobile phone. It's essentially a communication system which would let the rider send directions to an autonomous car by answering questions Uber displayed on their phone. The document highlights the different elements Uber is thinking about as it designs autonomous rides. Do all locks on the door need to be unlocked for the rider, or just one? Do passengers need extra time to exit the vehicle? Should the car pop the trunk for luggage? See below for a glimpse into Uber's design process as it imagines your phone as a direct portal to the driverless ride experience.
Mobile game giant Seriously goes Hollywood with its first animated short, Boot Camp
Will the next big entertainment franchise be about a bunch of slugs? Seriously, the Santa Monica-based mobile game company certainly hopes so. Today the company is launching its first animated short, Boot Camp, based on its hit game Best Fiends. The short is being distributed via the Best Fiends app, and follows the comedic shenanigans of slugs Hank and Roger as they prepare to join the Slug Army and fight the Fiends.
The progression from mobile game to short film is in keeping with Seriously's manifesto, which is to reverse-engineer Hollywood IP by starting with games and moving into short films, video, and perhaps, ultimately, a feature film. The company, which was founded in 2014 by two former Rovio executives and recently became profitable, brings a Hollywood touch to its games, with plenty of emphasis on character development and narrative, and music. This formula has helped fuel the success of Best Fiends, which has been downloaded over 70 million times and has over 2 million active daily users.
Boot Camp is every bit as much of a Hollywood production as the game it is based on. The slugs are voiced by Pamela Adlon, Mark Hamill, Kate Walsh, and other stars. And its music was similarly composed by Heitor Pereira, who wrote the music for the Despicable Me movies. Produced by Reel FX under the creative direction of Augusto Schillaci, the short even has an Emmy-award-winning writer-producer in J. Stewart Burns of The Simpsons.
What it takes to win on Shark Tank, according to a new study
During their many seasons on prime time, Shark Tank and the lesser-known business reality show The Profit have doled out nearly $100 million to hopeful entrepreneurs. Now, noted news source (?) OnlineCasino.ca has taken a look at the traits of those winners to craft a portrait of the successful startup business owner. The website studied 780 success stories from Shark Tank and 76 from The Profit to crack the code on who closes the deal and who goes home empty-handed.
The winners? Unsurprisingly, white men come out on top on reality TV. On Shark Tank, 80% of successful contestants were Caucasian, while 67% were male. Having no facial hair, short brown hair, and brown eyes were also traits of most winners.
The Profit was even worse when it came to the diversity of winners, with 95% of winners being Caucasian and 69% male. In short, reality TV might be a lot more like real life than you previously believed.
Schick to shave into Gillette’s and Harry’s market with new online subscription service
Schick is hoping to cut into Gillette's market with a new online subscription service that could rival Harry's and Dollar Shave Club and a blade that fits onto a Gillette handle but costs less. The website, SchickHydro.com, just launched offering a subscription service with shipments of Hydro Connect blades that work with either Gillette's Mach 3 or its pricier Fusion line.
As cheaper online subscription services continue to shave into its market share, Gillette's parent company Proctor & Gamble announced it would slash prices by 12% on average and put a new focus on its cheaper products. Sounds like a win for consumers who are tired of shelling out big bucks just so they can look like a smooth-faced, aerodynamic Olympic diver instead of a lumberjack and/or retirement-era David Letterman.
[Photo: Johan via Wikimedia Commons]
Uber accused of ripping off millions of passengers
The ride-hailing company was slapped with a class-action lawsuit in federal court in New York on Wednesday, reports Fast Company's Ruth Reader. According to the complaint, UberX riders are being charged based on different, less-efficient routes than the ones its using to calculate what it pays drivers—and the result is higher fares. According to the lawsuit, Uber pockets an additional $7.43 million per month from UberX drivers thanks to its upfront pricing.
Watch Rocket Lab send the Electron into space in its first test flight
The small-scale satellite launch company Rocket Lab, one of our Most Innovative Companies in the space industry, has completed a test flight of its Electron rocket. Powered by electricity instead of liquid fuel, and with an engine that is manufactured using a 3D printer, the Electron represents a new model for the space business—one in which launches take place with far greater frequency than they do today.
The test, which was performed from the company's private New Zealand launch pad, had been delayed for several days due to weather. It's the first of three test flights before Rocket Lab begins taking commercial payloads into orbit.NR