The Beginner’s Guide to Edibles

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You’ve likely heard the “I ate too much of a tasty, chocolatey edible and freaked the eff out” stories, whether from friends, family members, or from New York Times opinion columnist Maureen Dowd’s much-discussed coverage of her Colorado weed-tourist trip.

Truth is, as states have been legalizing and then figuring out the business of selling marijuana, proper labeling has been a major issue. While in 2014, Dowd’s caramel-chocolate cannabis-infused candy bar did not provide advice on how much to eat, if she were to visit Colorado today, it would.

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Whether you’re planning to be a pot tourist, or are a retail-state resident turning over a new leaf for fun (or to address a medical concern), edibles don’t need to be scary, or a roll of the dice. We spoke with three industry professionals to get all your newbie questions answered.

What exactly are edibles?

Edibles are THC-infused food products in some shape or form, such as baked goods, gummies, or chocolates. Josh Hawkes, a Denver-based budtender and weed podcaster for the show Two J’s Later, says there are four categories of edibles: sativa-only, indica-only, hybrid (a mix of sativa and indica), and pure CBD.

So then, what the heck are sativa and indica?

The terms describe two primary strains of cannabis. “I always think of sativa and indica as high and stoned [respectively],” says Hawkes. “Sativa is more functional, uplifting and energetic. It’s more of a head high, more creative and goofball inducing. Then I always tell people that ‘in the couch’ is a great way to remember the effects of indica. Much like the commercials of NyQuil where they take it in bed because that’s where you’re going to end up, people taking indica edibles definitely tend to be a bit more relaxed and sedated. It’s more of a body high.”

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Let’s also take a moment to explain CBD. A cannabis plant compound and one of the top most commonly occurring cannabinoids (along with THC), CBD is popular because it offers potential medical benefits in a non-psychoactive product—in other words, it will make you feel good physically, but won’t get you high.

What type of edible should I try if it’s my first time?

Pick the type of high (or relief) you’re seeking, then an enticing product that corresponds with that. Cookies and brownies may be a mainstay in the industry, but if you want something a little different, Hawkes recommends gummies or chocolate bars because they’re not as intimidating. “There are a lot of people who already take gummy vitamins or supplements,” says Hawkes. “And who doesn’t enjoy chocolate?”

Any unusual ones, or favorites, to recommend?

Dez Kane, another Denver-based budtender, is particularly fond of the stroopwafel. She says the edible version of the traditional Dutch treat is basically like the outside of a waffle cone, in a caramel-drenched circular shape. “It has like no hashy taste whatsoever. … You can even smell them and they’re kind of a cinnamony caramel. They’re just excellent.”

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Hawkes says he thinks the most unusual (and probably his favorite) edible on the market right now is beef jerky, made from bison meat. “It’s thick-cut strips of sweet-and-spicy- or teriyaki-flavored goodness. The flavor isn’t overpowering, and you can still taste the bison meat,” he says. “As far as edibles go, it’s pretty much the only savory option that’s out there. Everything else is sugar-based.”

I went to the dispensary, purchased some edibles and I’m ready to give this a try. Now what?

Kane and Hawkes both share the same advice: go low and slow.

“10mg is considered a single serving for an adult. For somebody who’s never had an edible before, you should start with less,” advises Dr. Margaret Gedde, a physician who provides medical marijuana services through Vibrant Health Clinic in Colorado Springs. “5mg is a reasonable first-time starting dose. […] Once that 5mg kicks in, it will not be overwhelming.” (It’s worth noting that states differ on their dosing recommendations. In Colorado, “The state has recommended a 10mg dose as a recreational dose, so all edibles come in either 10, 10mg pieces, or one chunk with 10 scored bricks,” explains Hawkes. California and Washington are the same, at 10mg, but Oregon has set a 5mg THC per serving maximum.)

After that first dose, wait at least an hour, or an hour and a half, says Dr. Gedde, to figure out if you feel anything and what you feel. If it does kick in, you can then decide whether to ingest more or not. She adds that an edible high lasts longer than an inhaled high, so know that it won’t just wear off quickly.

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It’s really important, Dr. Gedde adds, to “think about the numbers.” In other words, know how many milligrams of THC is in each product you buy, and know whether you need to cut it into pieces or if you can eat the whole thing. Note how much you start with, how much time you’re waiting, and, if you decide to add, how much you’re adding. Tracking this process during your first few times will help you reach a more consistent high later on (and make purchasing products easier, too).

“Work up to that feeling that you’re looking for, and just realize that it does take time,” says Hawkes (who typically recommends that new users wait two hours after the first dose). “It’s not like smoking where you get instant gratification.”

Why is figuring out the correct dose of edibles so tricky?

All the ways of getting cannabis into the body can be separated into two categories, says Dr. Gedde. The first group, which is where edibles fall, metabolizes through the liver. The second group, which encompasses everything else (vaporizing/smoking/rubbing in salves to the skin/dissolving under the tongue), bypasses the liver and heads straight to the bloodstream.

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When THC from the second group hits your bloodstream, you feel the high within minutes—and can adjust accordingly.

But liver processing takes time. “Timing, just as a general thing, is going to be longer than just about any other common medication you might take,” explains Dr. Gedde. “If you take an Ibuprofen, or Aspirin, it will kick in in like 20 minutes or so. Right off the bat, the cannabinoid metabolism is much slower,” she explains. “It usually takes roughly an hour to take effect. Some medications are slow like that but usually people expect to feel the effect quicker, so knowing that it’s just longer than most things in general is important.”

Dr. Gedde adds that some individuals also just have slower livers, and there’s another consideration as well: what you’ve eaten, or not eaten, recently. Somewhat counterintuitively, your edibles may be more effective if you take them on a somewhat full stomach. “Cannabis does absorb better with some food along with it because it gives the body something to work with to digest,” she says. “Otherwise it’s kind of hard to digest the cannabis oil. If a person takes a concentrated dose, or takes a dose in a very small form, without any food, like if a person swallows a capsule just with water, it doesn’t absorb as well, so it might not start to kick in until after a person eats, which could be hours later. So they’ll be like, ‘Nothing happened. But then I ate later and all of a sudden I was stoned.’”

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On the other side, she says, understandably, if you take an edible with a large meal like Thanksgiving dinner, everything is slowed down. “The whole thing will take longer to kick in and longer to wear off.”

(Edibles are often a top choice for those taking cannabis for medical reasons because of this longer-lasting effect. They can offer better daily coverage, for instance, for someone treating or preventing chronic pain.)

To use a running analogy, edibles are a marathon, not a sprint, so Kane emphasizes: “Make sure you’re in a safe place, and make sure you’re paying attention to what your body is doing.” (And, sure, it can be tricky, but the budtender adds with a laugh, “have fun!”)

Is it OK to wash down my Friday night edible with an IPA (or a glass of Cab)?

“It’s not something that I would recommend,” says Hawkes. “I don’t typically mix marijuana and alcohol together. Some people do it. Some people have a great time with it. An IPA—you’re definitely going to feel the effects of the IPA well before you feel the effects of the marijuana.”

A friend gave me some of her homemade pot brownies. Are they OK for me to eat?

“Be really cautious,” says Dr. Gedde, when you’re a newbie and it comes to homemade edibles, because of the lack of standardization and testing. You really have no idea what your friend used or how much, whereas when it comes to purchased items, “Within certain limits, you can pretty much rely on a label.”

Holy crap, I think I ate too much of my edible (or I went ahead and ate my friend’s brownies and now I’m regretting it). What should I do?

“To anybody who feels that they are too high… have a glass of water and take a nap,” Hawkes suggests, because being too high is different than being too drunk. “We’ve all been too drunk or had too much to drink and we try to solve that with a cheeseburger and a soda or something. Well, with THC, if you intake more fat content, you’re gonna just send yourself into overdrive.”

Kane’s advice? “Find a mellow place to hang out, because it will wear off.”

Dr. Gedde agrees. “Wait it off. Drink water if you can. Definitely don’t combine with alcohol. That will make it all worse.” And be reassured that “there’s no danger,” she adds. “A person can feel really, really bad if they’ve gotten too much of an edible cannabis dose, but there is no toxicity to the organs. There’s no need to go to the emergency room.”

Seriously? All I can do is suffer through it?

If you do feel really terrible, there’s one more option Dr. Gedde offers: taking CBD to counteract the THC.

“CBD, of course, is the one that’s famous for not having the psychoactive effect. People have moved across state lines to get it for their kids. Part of what it does, is it actually is able to block the THC psychoactivity if you take them together. The CBD is able to sit on the same receptor on the brain that causes the psychoactivity and it shields it. […] Puffing on a CBD vaporizer, or liquid or tincture under the tongue, could get something in quickly and would help to balance that out.”

You can buy CBD through your local dispensary, but Dr. Gedde says you can also purchase it on many sites through mail order (including Amazon) and in health food stores because CBD is an over-the-counter hemp crop product that’s grown in open fields and isn’t as restricted as THC. (It’s key, she says, for instance, for those taking edible THC for pain relief so they can get the body effect without being stoned all the time.)

It’s an easy way to “hack your high,” Dr. Gedde says with a laugh.

Of course, it’s worth noting that although CBD is legal in 44 states, it’s still illegal on the federal level, which also means that the Food & Drug Administration does not provide quality assurance, testing or oversight, and as a consumer, you’ll want to research the company from which you’re purchasing.

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THE MOBILE PAYMENTS REPORT: Key strategies that wallet providers can implement to break from disappointing growth

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mobile payments lumiscapeThis is a preview of a research report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here.

In the US, the in-store mobile wallet space is becoming increasingly crowded. Most customers have an option provided by their smartphone vendor, like Apple, Android, or Samsung Pay. But those are often supplemented by a myriad of options from other players, ranging from tech firms like PayPal, to banks and card issuers, to major retailers and restaurants.

With that proliferation of options, one would expect to see a surge in adoption. But that’s not the case — though BI Intelligence projects that US in-store mobile payments volume will quintuple in the next five years, usage is consistently lagging below expectations, with estimates for 2019 falling far below what we expected just two years ago. 

As such, despite promising factors driving gains, including the normalization of NFC technology and improved incentive programs to encourage adoption and engagement, it’s important for wallet providers and groups trying to break into the space to address the problems still holding mobile wallets back. These issues include customer satisfaction with current payment methods, limited repeat purchasing, and consumer confusion stemming from fragmentation. But several wallets, like Apple Pay, Starbucks’ app, and Samsung Pay, are outperforming their peers, and by delving into why, firms can begin to develop best practices and see better results.

A new report from BI Intelligence addresses how in-store mobile payments volume will grow through 2021, why that’s below past expectations, and what successful cases can teach other players in the space. It also issues actionable recommendations that various providers can take to improve their performance and better compete.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • US in-store mobile payments will advance steadily at a 40% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to hit $128 billion in 2021. That’s suppressed by major headwinds, though — this is the second year running that BI Intelligence has halved its projected growth rate.
  • To power ahead, US wallets should look at pockets of success. Banks, merchants, and tech providers could each benefit from implementing strategies that have worked for early leaders, including eliminating fragmentation, improving the purchase journey, and building repeat purchasing.
  • Building multiple layers of value is key to getting ahead. Adding value to the user experience and making wallets as simple and frictionless as possible are critical to encouraging adoption and keeping consumers engaged. 

In full, the report:

  • Sizes the US in-store mobile payments market and examines growth drivers.
  • Analyzes headwinds that have suppressed adoption.
  • Identifies three strategic changes providers can make to improve their results.
  • Evaluates pockets of success in the market.
  • Provides actionable insights that providers can implement to improve results.

Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:

  1. Subscribe to an ALL-ACCESS Membership with BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report AND more than 250 other expertly researched deep-dive reports, subscriptions to all of our daily newsletters, and much more. >> Learn More Now
  2. Purchase and download the report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now

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11 ways one type of exercise is the closest thing to a miracle drug we have

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Want an all-natural way to lift your mood, improve your memory, and protect your brain against the decline that comes with aging?

Get moving.

Exercises that get your heart pumping and sweat flowing — known as aerobic exercise, or "cardio" — have significant and beneficial effects on the brain and body, according to a wealth of recent research, including a new study published this fall.

"Aerobic exercise is key for your head, just as it is for your heart," according to an article in a Harvard Medical School blog. Here are some of the ways cardio is such a boon for our bodies.

DON’T MISS: 18 ‘healthy habits’ you should give up in 2018

SEE ALSO: What your daily routine should look like, according to science

Cardio tones your muscles.

It was initially believed that when it comes to building muscle, cardio paled in comparison to exercises like resistance training, which are specifically designed to help you gain strength. But a recent review of 14 studies published in the journal Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews found that on average, men who did 45 minutes of moderate to intense cardio 4 days a week saw a 5%-6% increase in leg muscle size.

“Aerobic exercise, if done properly, can lead to as much muscle growth as you’d expect with resistance exercise,” Ball State University exercise scientist Matthew Harber, who authored the study, told Men’s Fitness

It also raises your heart rate, improving heart and lung health.

Aerobic workouts, especially swimming, train your body to use oxygen more efficiently, a practice that gradually reduces your resting heart rate and your breathing rate — two important indicators of cardiovascular health.

A 2008 study compared blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other heart health metrics across close to 46,000 walkers, runners, swimmers, and sedentary people. The researchers found that the regular swimmers and runners had the best metrics, followed closely by the walkers. 

Aerobic workouts appear to have a positive impact on your gut.

A small study published in November suggests that cardio exercise changes the makeup of the microbes in our gut.

Those microbes play a role in inflammation levels, which can be an early warning sign of illness.

The researchers had study participants exercise 3-5 times per week for 6 weeks, and observed increases in their concentrations of butyrate, a type of fatty acid that helps keep our guts happy by tamping down on inflammation and producing energy.

"These are the first studies to show that exercise can have an effect on your gut independent of diet or other factors," Jeffrey Woods, a professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois who led the research, said in a statement.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Orchestra in your pocket!

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It’s no surprise that musical instruments, like all consumer electronics, is trying to become smaller, and more advanced with time. The Zont follows the lines of Teenage Engineering’s Pocket Operator or Korg’s Mini Kaoss Pad, while a rather nifty Cartridge-based music creation and storage system finds its roots in the Gameboy. Designed to be powerful like the former, and playful like the latter, the Zont is essentially a fully functional synthesizer that allows you to generate, cue, and loop leads, basslines, drums, etc to create complex tracks and soundscapes in MIDI. It comes in a nice svelte black, paired with a complementary black and white display. To add the element of a tactile experience, it comes with a rather hands-on Olivetti Divisumma 18 inspired keyboard and even modulator knobs that allow you to precisely tweak settings to hit that audio sweet spot!

The cartridges that sit on top come in four bright colors and act as storage units, allowing you to create and share archives of your musical experiments, while even allowing you to share your work with peers and collaborate by simply swapping these cartridges. If you’re however looking for more power, the Zont even comes with a dock that allows you to connect the synth to your computer so you can use it alongside the Digital Audio Workstation you have set up on your machine. Built for the tinkerer/explorer to the seasoned musician, the Zont fits right into your pocket, allowing you to create art whenever inspiration strikes!

The Zont Synthesizer is a winner of the Red Dot Design Concept Award for the year 2017.

Designer: Pavel Golovkin

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How to Finger a Woman 

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Fingering is one of the best ways to pleasure a female-bodied person. It allows you to give her really targeted, focused stimulation, and can be one of the best ways to help her have an orgasm. Compared to oral sex or intercourse, it’s also relatively non-taxing for the giver. Here’s what you need to know to finger a woman.

Make Sure She’s on Board

Like any other sexual activity, step #1 is to make sure she enthusiastically consents.

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Attitude is everything when it comes to fingering. So many women struggle to receive, and worry about their partner not enjoying the time and effort that fingering takes. If you’re a man, keep in mind that many women feel pressured to have intercourse be the main event, and erroneously believe that they should get the most pleasure from intercourse itself. Your partner may think of fingering as a “lesser than” activity. You can help set her at ease by letting her know you want to finger her, and that you have all the time in the world. Focus on staying relaxed and genuinely enjoying yourself. She’ll notice it, I promise.

Get Prepared

Wash your hands before touching her bare skin. You don’t want to run the risk of spreading germs to her body. It’s also important to have short, filed nails. Sharp nails or jagged hangnails can really ruin the mood.

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It’s also good to have an idea of what you’re going to be touching. The term for the exterior portion of her genitals is the vulva. Women have two sets of labia – the outer labia and inner labia. The outer ones have hair on them (unless she’s removed it), and the inner ones don’t. Her inner labia join near the top of her vulva. The clitoris should be located around there—it’s a small nub of skin that can range in size. Some clits are large and protruding, while others are small and hidden under a small flap of skin called the hood. Further down, you’ll find the entrance to her vagina.

Get into Position

I recommend sitting up with your back against the wall or headboard, with your legs outstretched or slightly bent. Have her lie between your legs, on her back, with her feet close to the wall or headboard. This position is fantastic because her vulva should be right in front of you, within arm’s reach. You can see what you’re doing, and give her focused stimulation. You can easily swap between hands, if one arm starts to get a little fatigued. You can also stay in this position for a long time.

Warm Her Up

Before you even venture near her vulva, spend plenty of time teasing her and getting her excited for more contact. So many people (men especially) underestimate the lead-up, but many women say that the teasing is their favorite part of being fingered. Spend tons of time kissing her and playing with the rest of her body. Grind your body against her crotch. Take her pants off, but leave her underwear on. Run your palm up and down her labia. When you take her underwear off, continue using your entire hand to stroke against her labia, without parting them. Finally, part her labia with one fingertip, and continue that back and forth motion.

Use Lube

I can’t recommend lube highly enough. The tissues of the vulva are quite delicate, and fingering can often be uncomfortable if there’s not enough lubrication. Lube prevents any uncomfortable pulling or tugging of the skin, and also amplifies the sensation. I think silicone-based lubricant feels best against the skin, especially for fingering. I highly recommend investing in a nice bottle to keep in your bedside table.

Explore her Clitoris

Once she’s really enjoying herself, you can start focusing on her clitoris. Most women love clitoral stimulation, and need it to reach orgasm. Women tend to be divided into two very broad camps – women who like direct clitoral stimulation, and women who don’t. The clitoris is exquisitely sensitive, so some women feel more pleasure when it’s touched directly, and others feel more pleasure when it’s stimulated indirectly. Neither is “better” or “worse”; they’re simply personal preferences. It’s best to start with indirect stimulation. Start off by slowly circling her clitoris, without directly touching it. Make your circles tighter and tighter, until you start grazing against the clitoris. If she pulls away or tells you to be softer, stick with the indirect stimulation. If she likes the more direct stimulation, you can continue the circular motion directly over her clitoris. Or try stroking a finger diagonally across her clitoris.

And Other Areas Too

Although clitoral stimulation is typically what feels best for women, you still want to get other parts of her body involves. Play with her breasts, thighs and hips. You can also take breaks away from her clitoris to tease her. Try dipping one or two fingers into her vagina. If you’re dextrous, you can even try fingering her vagina with one hand, and her clitoris with the other.

Give Her Time

Aim to finger her for about 20 minutes, especially if she’s a new partner or has never had an orgasm with you. This gives her time to relax into the experience.

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It’s great to want to give her an orgasm, but don’t pressure her to have one. She can still enjoy herself and feel a ton of pleasure without having an orgasm. You can get this point across to her by telling her, “I’m just going to keep going. You tell me whenever you want me to stop.” Most women need consistency to reach orgasm, so once you find something that seems to be working for her, stick with it.

Prioritize Feedback

I hope this article is a helpful introduction to fingering, but keep in mind that getting feedback from the human being in front of you is far more important than memorizing my instructions.

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There are two ways to get feedback – verbal and non-verbal. I think verbal is best, but I also know it can be challenging for a lot of people. If you want to get verbal feedback from her, try to avoid broad questions like “what do you want?” You want her to be able to focus the majority of her attention on feeling good in that moment, not on trying to answer open-ended questions. Instead, try two different techniques. For example, circling around her clitoris and stroking diagonally across it. Ask her, “do you like it better when I do this or this?” If you’re in some sort of ongoing relationship, you can also ask her for feedback at some other time.

If you’re going for non-verbal feedback, pay attention to her body language. If she pushes back against your hand, it probably means she wants more pressure, more speed, or more direct contact on her clitoris. If she squirms against your hand, or seems to be re-adjusting her body, it’s probably because you’re being either too direct or too indirect. If you weren’t touching her clitoris at the time, try touching it more directly. If you were touching it at the time, switch to indirect. Keep an eye out for anything that deepens her breathing or makes her moan.

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This Map Shows Where Millennials Are Buying Houses (And For How Much)

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Millennial homeownership rates are essential to understanding the housing market because they facilitate additional home sales for other people.

How does this work? As HowMuch.net explains, suppose you make an offer on a house. The current owner is also probably on the market, and he or she likely has a contingent offer on another house. This sets off a chain reaction throughout the economy. Millennial homeownership rates are therefore an easy way to judge the economic vitality of any given area.

That’s why HowMuch.net created this new map…

Source: HowMuch.net

Our viz takes millennial homeownership data from Abodo and maps it by metro area across the country. Abodo adopted the data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which regularly collects a variety of information about the population, including the age of homeowners, the estimated value of their homes, and how long it would take to accumulate a 20% down payment. Our numbers are from 2015. We then overlaid this information across metro areas with bubbles representing the portion of millennial homeowners in each market: the bigger the bubble, the more millennial homeowners there are. We also color-coded each bubble to represent the median value of their homes—dark red circles mean the homes are worth over $500k, and dark blue means under $200k. This gives you a quick snapshot of the overall economy and the housing market.

The first trend you can see on the map is a clustering of red circles on both the West Coast and along the Northeast.

The most expensive city in the country for millennials is San Jose, CA, where the average millennial buys a home worth $737,077. Seattle, WA in the Northwest is also relatively expensive at $342,769. These are population-dense areas with booming tech sectors. At the other end of the spectrum, you can see clusters of blue bubbles across the Midwest in old manufacturing cities like Detroit, MI ($148,404) and Cleveland, OH ($160,251). Memphis, TN is the cheapest place for millennials at $142,795. Southern states like Texas and Florida are also relatively affordable thanks in large part to their suburban sprawl, which Zillow predicts will expand next year.

It’s no surprise that homes are more expensive in California (think Silicon Valley) than the industrial heartland, but consider how homeownership rates change based on affordability. The red bubbles all tend to be smaller than the blue bubbles. This means that as homes get more expensive, millennials become increasingly unable to afford them. It’s not like there’s a surplus of ultra-rich millennials buying up all the houses in California and New York. Millennials are just as sensitive to high prices as everyone else.

Let’s break the map down into a top ten list of the urban areas with the highest rates of millennial homeownership, combined with the average price of their home. A full 42% of the millennials living in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN own their own home, the highest rate in the country.

1. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI: 42.4% and $222,528

2. St. Louis, MO-IL: 40.2% and $167,791

3. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI: 40.2% and $148,404

4. Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN: 38.5% and $158,974

5. Pittsburgh, PA: 37.5% and $152,731

6. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN: 37.4% and $161,856

7. Kansas City, MO-KS: 37.1% and $170,254

8. Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN: 37.0% and $213,090

9. Oklahoma City, OK: 36.7% and $172,485

10. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD: 36.3% and $272,805

Buying a home is often the biggest financial decision anybody makes, and that’s especially true for young people. And there’s a lot to consider when buying your first home, but one thing other than affordability to keep in mind is how many other millennials are in the same situation. If you’re a millennial looking to buy a home, and you want to live next to other young people, you just might have to move to the Midwest.

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A mobile banking service is transforming how the poor transfer money — here’s how it works

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In 11 countries around the world, some 30 million people use a mobile money service that is transforming how people handle their finances.

It’s called M-Pesa, and it has lifted hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty in Kenya.

"Pesa" is Swahili for money. The Kenyan service provider Safaricom launched M-Pesa in the East African nation 10 years ago, and since then it’s enabled countless people to move small amounts of their own money and send it to others.

On a recent trip to Kenya, I got a firsthand look at how M-Pesa works on the ground.

SEE ALSO: I visited a baby elephant orphanage in Kenya — here’s what it was like

GiveDirectly is a charity that delivers cash right to people’s mobile phones. Agrippa Agida Onywero Krispo is one such recipient.

Krispo, 40, is enrolled in GiveDirectly’s experiment in basic income, a system of wealth distribution in which people receive a standard salary just for being alive.

The money comes with no strings attached. Krispo and the other villagers have received $22 a month since October 2016, and they’ll continue getting it until October 2028.

M-Pesa works similar to Venmo or PayPal —except you don’t need a smartphone or a bank account. GiveDirectly sends Krispo the monthly payment via his phone. He can use the app to withdraw, deposit, and send money.

When GiveDirectly sends the money between the 5th and 7th of each month, it’s just a few taps before Krispo can bring up the confirmation notice on his phone.

That screen lets him know the money was safely transferred to his M-Pesa account.

Scattered around town are M-Pesa stands, outfitted with live agents who can dispense money — essentially an ATM with a human teller.

This is one feature that sets M-Pesa apart from Venmo and PayPal, which can only sync with users’ bank accounts.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Net Neutrality – The End Of Google’s Biggest Subsidy

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Authored by Tom Luongo,

Net Neutrality is gone.  Good riddance.

Lost in all of the theoretical debate about how evil ISPs will create a have/have-not divide in Internet access, is the reality that it already exists along with massive subsidies to the biggest bandwidth pigs on the planet – Facebook, Google, Twitter, Netflix and the porn industry.

Under Net Neutrality these platforms flourished along with the rise of the mobile internet, which is now arguably more important than the ‘desktop’ one in your home and office. 

Google and Apple control the on-ramps to the mobile web in a way that Net Neutrality proponents can only dream the bandwidth providers like Comcast and AT&T could.

Because, in truth, they can’t.  Consumers are ultimately the ones who decide how much bandwidth costs, not the ISPs.  We decide how much we can afford these creature comforts like streaming Netflix while riding the bus or doing self-indulgent Instagram videos of our standing in line at the movies (if that’s even a thing anymore).

Non-Neutrality Pricing

Net Neutrality took pricing of bandwidth out of the hands of consumers.  It handed the profits from it to Google, Facebook and all the crappy advertisers spamming video ads, malware, scams, and the like everywhere.

By mandating ‘equal access’ and equal fee structures the advertisers behind Google and Facebook would spend their budgets without much thought or care.  Google and Facebook ad revenue soared under Net Neutrality because advertisers’ needs are not aligned with Google’s bottom line, but with consumers’.

And, because of that, the price paid to deliver the ad, i.e. Google’s cost of goods sold (COGS), thanks to Net Neutrality, was held artificially low.  And Google, Facebook and the Porn Industry pocketed the difference.

They grew uncontrollably.  In the case of Google and Facebook, uncontrollably powerful.

That difference was never passed onto the ISP who could then, in turn, pass it on to the consumer.

All thanks to Net Neutrality.

Undercapitalized Growth

With the rise of the mobile web bandwidth should have been getting cheaper and easier to acquire at a much faster rate than it has.  But, it couldn’t because of Net Neutrality.  It kept rates of return on new bandwidth projects and new technology suppressed.

Money the ISP’s should have been spending laying more fiber, putting up more cell towers, building better radios went to Google to fritter away on endless projects that never see the light of day.

The ISP’s actually suffered under Net Neutrality and so did the consumers.

And therefore, Net Neutrality guaranteed that the infrastructure for new high-speed bandwidth would grow at the slowest possible rate, still governed by the maximum the consumer was willing to pay for bandwidth, rather than what the consumer actually demanded.

And, once obtained that power was then used to punish anyone who held different opinions from the leadership in Silicon Valley.

Think it through, Net Neutrality not only subsidized intrusive advertising, phishing scams and on-demand porn but also the very censorship these powerful companies now feel is their sacred duty to enforce because the government is now controlled by the bad guys.

Getting rid of Net Neutrality will put the costs of delivering all of this worthless content back onto the people serving it.  YouTube will become more expensive for Google and all of the other content delivery networks.  Facebook video will eat into its bottom line.

The ISP’s can and should throttle them until they ‘pay their fair share,’ which they plainly have not been.

The Net effect of Net Neutrality is that your ISP may charge you more in the short run for Netflix or Hulu.  Or, more appropriately, Netflix and Hulu will have to charge you more and we’ll find out what the real cost of delivering 4k streaming content to your iPhone actually costs.

But, those costs will then go to the ISP’s such that they can respond to demand for more bandwidth.  Will they try and overcharge us?  Of course.  AT&T is just as bad as Google and/or Facebook.

But, we have the right to say no.  To stop using the services the way Net Neutrality encouraged us to through mispricing of service.  If the ISP’s want more customers then they’ll have to bring wire out to the hinterlands.

Inflated Costs, Poor Service

Net Neutrality proponents kept telling us this was the way to help keep the internet available to the poor and the rural.  Nonsense.  It kept the internet from expanding properly into the hinterlands.

I live just over the county line in rural North Florida.  To the south is a town with cable and DSL.   Between cable franchise monopolies retarding expansion across county lines and Net Neutrality keeping margins thin, my home was 10 years behind everyone else getting decent bandwidth to keep up with the needs of the modern Internet.

Bandwidth needs artificially inflated, I might add, by the misaligned cost structure engendered by Net Neutrality in the first place.

It took forever for my phone provider to upgrade the bandwidth across the county line.  I begged them for a second line for internet service, they wouldn’t even talk to me.  Why?  The return on that new line wasn’t high enough for them.

If Google was passing some of the profits from Adwords onto the ISPs I’d have multiple choices for high-speed internet versus just one DSL provider.

As always, whenever the political left tries to protect the poor they wind up making things worse for them.

The Ways Forward

The news is good for a variety of reasons. With Net Neutrality gone a major barrier to entry for content delivery networks is gone.

Blockchain companies are building systems which cut the middle man out completely, allowing content creators to be directly tipped for their work versus being supported by advertising no one watches, wants or is swayed by.

Services like Steemit and the distributed application already built and to be built on it point the way to social media cost models which are sustainable and align the incentives properly between producers of content and consumers.

Steem internalizes the bandwidth costs of using the network and pays itself a part of its token reward pool to cover those costs.  So, all that’s left is content producer and their fans.  Advertisers are simply not needed to maintain the network.

Net Neutrality was a trojan horse designed to replicate the old shout-based advertising model of the golden age of print and TV advertising.  It was a way to control the megaphone and promote a particular point of view.

Look no further than the main proponents of it.  George Soros and the Ford Foundation are two of the biggest lobbyists for Net Neutrality.  Only the political left and its Marxian fantasies of evil middle men creating monopolies fell for the lies, as they were supposed to.

The rest of us were like, “Really?  This is not a problem.”  And it wasn’t until you looked under the hood and realized all they stood to gain by it.

Now, with Net Neutrality gone the underlying problem can be addressed; franchise monopolies of cable and phone companies in geographic areas.  These laws are still in effect.  They still hang like a spectre over the entire industry.  Like Net Neutrality, these laws concentrate capital into the hands of the few providers big enough to keep out the competition.

So, instead of championing the end of franchise monopolies, which county governments love because they get a sizable cut of the revenue to fund non-essential programs, the Left made things worse by championing Net Neutrality.

That also needs to end.  Even if you believe that franchise monopolies were, at one point, necessary.  They are not now.  IP-based communication is now fundamentally different than copper wire for discrete services like phone and cable.  Let people run all the copper and fiber they want.  There’s plenty of room in the conduit running under our sidewalks and streets.

Let a thousand flowers bloom, as the great Lew Rockwell once told me.

Then and only then will the Internet be free.

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Whats really driving the price of Bitcoin through the roof

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Although Bitcoin is electronic and moves quickly, the real world doesn’t.  Since Bitcoin (which is colloquially BTC/USD) has been in the news, millions have decided to put their own money into the Crypto world and press their luck.  So here’s what’s driving the price.  Let’s say you want to buy Golem, it’s not offered on Coinbase, you need to first get an account at Bittrex or Cryptopia which are only fundable in Crypto.  That means if you are not a hacker or computer expert, you need to first connect your Coinbase account to your bank account at Wells or BOFA and then buy BTC paying the egregious 7% fee (which ironically is similar to an FX transaction).  Then, and only then, you can fund your Bittrex with BTC and buy XRP or whatever.  So this is driving the price of BTC higher, as there is precious little supply of BTC.  We call this in FX ‘real money flows’ – as DB noted recently, Japanese men have become ‘crypto day traders’ – but the real upward pressure is by using BTC as a base/funding currency, which is only beginning.  Crypto exchanges are experiencing huge bottlenecks, which means this squeeze has only started.  This week the price of BTC/USD can run up 100% or more due to this demand.  

That means, millions of people investing thousands of dollars, is driving the price of BTC up, and will likely continue to do so, until there are viable alternatives, which there will be.  Currently BTC is really the only choice for many – although it is slow, inefficient, and feature poor.

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The wildest scientific discoveries of 2017

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swope telescope gravitational waves neutron star collision

2017 was a year of discovery: NASA started using reusable rockets, patients started treating cancer using only their own cells, and scientists discovered the Earth’s lost eighth continent.

Here are some of the wildest, coolest, most promising science finds of the year: 

SEE ALSO: The most gorgeous and terrifying photos of the natural world captured in 2017

An international team of 32 scientists found a new continent in the South Pacific.

The lost land of ‘Zealandia’ sits on the ocean floor between New Zealand and New Caledonia. 

It wasn’t always a sunken land — researchers have found fossils that suggested novel kinds of plants and organisms once lived there. 

Some argue it should be counted alongside our (more visible) seven continents. 

Scientists created the ‘closest thing anyone has ever made’ to a new life form.

Living creatures have two kinds of amino acid pairs: A-T (adenine – thymine) and G-C (guanine – cytosine). This alphabet of four letters writes our DNA, and forms the basis for all genetic information in the natural world.

But scientists say they’ve just invented two new letters, an unnatural pair of X-Y bases.

In November, they demonstrated how these synthetic cell parts can function seamlessly alongside natural bases in the DNA of E. coli.

Floyd Romesburg, who led the research at The Scripps Research Institute in California, told Business Insider that his new invention could improve the way we treat diseases. For example, it could change the way proteins degrade inside the body, helping drugs stay in your system longer. Romesburg says the team is investigating how the finding might help cancer treatments and drugs for autoimmune diseases. 

Scientists witnessed how all the gold and platinum in the universe formed.

The formation of a cool $100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 of gold happened when two super-small, super-dense stars smashed into each other 130 million light years away from Earth, researchers discovered.

The crash also produced huge stores of silver and platinum. 

The finding, reported by a group of 4,000 very excited astronomers in October, came from scientists’ first-ever sighting of two neutron stars colliding. 

The two massive, exploded stars hit each other at one-third the speed of light, and created gravitational waves. Scientific instruments on Earth picked up the waves from that crash, an event astronomers say only happens once every 100,000 years. 

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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