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Updated: 11 min 19 sec ago

Here’s Kate Middleton and Prince William Cuddling Some Puppies

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 09:40

For the first time ever, a picture was taken of Kate Middleton and nobody cared what she was wearing. But that’s only because some very tiny German shepherds were in the picture, too.

The royal couple concluded their New Zealand trip with a visit to the Royal New Zealand Police College in Wellington, where they met some very brave future police puppies. William looked very involved in making sure his puppy was comfortable while Kate dealt with a mid photo-op puppy yawn.

Life’s hard when you’re a royal.

Kate and William have already landed in Sydney for the remainder of their trip down under.

But there’s still one remaining question: Will family dog Lupo be jealous?

Categories: Magazines

LaCie Joins Ranks of Hacker-Breached Companies, Says Credit Card Info Possibly Stolen

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 09:22

I’ve always thought of LaCie as more of a boutique storage-maker, the sort of outfit you’ll pay a little more to get something in orange, because hard drives always look better in orange.

The company sells storage devices with names like Blade Runner and Quadra and Porsche. I have one of the latter sitting on my desk right now, an aluminum brushed-nickel-finish brick with the company logo — all caps, the “C” bigger still — grandiloquently etched into the side. LaCie even sells a one-terabyte thingamajig audaciously dubbed the Christofle Sphère (Christofle being the French designer’s name, Sphère apparently being the French word for something that looks like it’d be right at home in Miss Cleo’s parlor) that’ll set you back $500. For one terabyte.

Now it seems the company has been hacked, or at least it’s pretty sure that’s the case. It’s put up an “incident notification” explaining that the FBI told it evidence has been found that someone used malware to breach its website and potentially accessed transactions occurring between March 27, 2013 and March 10, 2014. That’s no typo: the company’s basically admitting its site may have been exposed for the better part of a year, and during that year, the ne’er-do-wells may have accessed names, addresses, email addresses, account usernames and passwords, as well as credit card numbers and expiration dates.

It’s ultimately bad news for Seagate, a hard drive maker U.S. buyers are probably more familiar with: Seagate announced plans to snap up LaCie in May 2012, and the acquisition was completed in August 2012.

It’s also bad news for LaCie’s reputation as a purveyor of security wares. The company makes something called “Private-Public,” for instance, a Mac/PC-based encryption tool it markets to customers looking to encrypt files (documents, personal photos, passwords, etc.) on mobile devices. The breach didn’t involve access to the software, as far as anyone knows, but the last thing you want, obviously, is an albatross like this when you’re trying to present yourself as a credible security firm.

If you have a LaCie web account, the company has a “what you can do” to protect yourself FAQ (while it conducts a forensic digital analysis) here.

Categories: Magazines

Sports Illustrated’s New Cover Commemorates Boston Marathon

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 09:09

This week’s Sports Illustrated cover is testament to Boston’s resilient spirit in the aftermath of the bombings at last year’s marathon.

Commemorating the city’s comeback since the Boston Marathon tragedy one year ago, the cover photo depicts 3,000 Boston residents, including the city’s mayor, dozens of runners and first responders in a moving portrait of the city’s spirit.

To shoot the cover photo, Sports Illustrated asked fans to wear Boston gear and join Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and city police, firefighters and others in the city’s downtown area last Saturday, a little more than a week before this year’s Boston Marathon.

“The Boston Marathon can’t help but regenerate itself,” writes Scott Price, who wrote the accompanying story for Sports Illustrated this week. “It will always be new because there’s something about its history and civic fervor, its oddly attractive personal toll, even its most catastrophic moment, that makes converts of us all.”

Sports Illustrated is owned by TIME parent company Time Inc.

Categories: Magazines

Pentagon Warns More Spending Reductions Mean More Risk

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 09:09

For more than a year, the Pentagon declined to detail the impact of the battle-ax approach to cutting spending known as sequestration. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his allies bet that the prospect was so dire that lawmakers would reach a $1.2 trillion deficit-reduction pact that would avert the calamity.

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They cried wolf, without details.

But now, with Chuck Hagel running the Pentagon—and with sequestration the law of the land—the Defense Department is still crying wolf, but offering details of cut aircraft, docked warships, grounded drones and cashiered troops. It has just rolled out a report detailing how bad letting the automatic spending cuts resume, after a two-year relaxation, will be.

More than $1 trillion in “reductions to planned defense spending” between 2012 and 2021 “would significantly increase risks both in the short- and long-term,” says the report, released Monday night. “If sequestration-level cuts persist, our forces will assume substantial additional risks in certain missions and will continue to face significant readiness and modernization challenges.”

Note the conflation of “reductions to planned defense spending” to “cuts.” Whatever you want to call the caps, they only push defense spending back down to 2006 levels, when the U.S. was waging two wars.

The report says the required reductions translate into 15 fewer F-35s aircraft, five fewer KC-46 tankers, six few sub-hunting P-8 aircraft through 2021. It trims the Navy’s current 289-ship fleet by seven vessels, including a carrier—and doesn’t buy eight new ships. It grounds the Predator and Global Hawk drone fleets. The number of military personnel also would be cut: the Army would dip to 420,000 from its current goal of about 440,000.

Unfortunately for the Pentagon, there are scant signs the report is going to end sequestration. Defense hawks maintain the cuts will do massive damage to the national defense, while deficit hawks have said a soaring debt would be more dangerous than a weakened defense. So far, the deficit hawks are prevailing.

“I don’t see any, right now looking forward, I don’t see any possibility of overturning it,” Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., the chairman of the armed services committee, said in February. “My read on it is there are people that have bought into it, that think that it’s doing a good job, that it’s really cutting our spending, so I personally just don’t see that that’s going to end until a lot of pain is felt by a lot of people…This year is going to be really bad and next year is going to be worse, and the next year will really be worse.”

Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, suggested Tuesday that President Obama may simply ignore sequestration’s caps as he and the Pentagon assemble the 2016 defense budget, which will be unveiled early next year. “This is not definitive, and I don’t want to get ahead of the president, but I will tell you that it is extremely unlikely that we will ask for less money than the President thinks he needs to defend the country,” Kendall said. “I lived through a hollow force in the 1970s as an Army captain in Europe. We don’t want to go back to that.”

Categories: Magazines

The World’s Best Margherita Pizza Comes From Down Under

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 08:30

If you’re on a quest to find the best margherita pizza on the planet, don’t bother booking a trip to Italy, which was probably your plan. Instead, get yourself a ticket to Australia.

The results are in from this year’s World Pizza Championship, and the winner is Australian chef Johnny Di Francesco, who owns a restaurant just outside Melbourne. Di Francesco’s family hails from Naples, so at least there’s that. Also, his nickname is apparently “Mr. Pizza,” so you can’t really argue with that.

The competition, held each year in Parma, Italy, defines a margherita pizza as a pie “under 35cm in diameter, cooked in a wood-fired oven and contain only certain ingredients, such as peeled tomatoes, cheese, garlic, olive oil and salt,” according to the Guardian.

Hundreds of pizza-makers from 35 countries entered the championships, but Di Francesco managed to set himself apart. His secret? Italian-imported flour, high-quality buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil. That sounds pretty tame, so we assume he’s just unwilling to reveal his real secret.

Categories: Magazines

Louisiana Upholds Anti-Sodomy Law

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 08:25

The Louisiana State House voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to reject a state Democrat’s attempt to repeal an anti-sodomy law, enshrining the anti-gay measure in the state’s books.

State Representative Patricia Smith sought to amend Louisiana’s crimes against nature law by removing a prohibition on consensual relations between people of the same sex, the Associated Press reports. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled a similar Texas law unconstitutional a decade ago.

State Representative Valarie Hodges, a Republican, led opponents of Smith’s measure, who said the law protects children and upholds morality. The State House voted 66-27 in favor of rejecting the repeal.

Smith brought the repeal bill after Baton Rouge-area police officers arrested gay men using the law. They were unable to charge the men because the district attorney said the law was not enforceable.


Categories: Magazines

Here’s the Original, Tear-Inducing ‘Mom Is the World’s Toughest Job’ Video

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 08:18

Ad agency Mullen is getting a lot of attention for a viral job posting advertising a grueling-sounding job: no vacations, no breaks, 135-hour work weeks, and a salary of $0. The job ad got 2.7 million impressions from paid ad placements, but only 24 people inquired. When they were interviewed via webcam, their surprised responses were captured and turned into this spot. (Spoiler: Being a mom is the toughest job in the world.)

The spot is reminiscent of Proctor & Gamble’s similarly emotional Mom-themed campaigns for the Olympics. Aired just before the 2012 London Olympics, P&G’s ad above launched the company’s “Thank You Mom” campaign. The video went viral, drawing millions of views and an Emmy award. In all, 74 million viewers watched at least one digital ad or video in the campaign that year. P&G executives estimated they received $500 million in added sales from the campaign during the London Olympics. That’s the power of mom.

Categories: Magazines

Top Bitcoin Exchange Mt. Gox Set To Be Liquidated

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 08:02

Mt. Gox, once the world’s largest bitcoin exchange, is set to be dissolved after a Tokyo court dismissed Wednesday the company’s bid to restart its business.

The court placed Mt. Gox’s assets under a provisional administrator’s control before the company officially enters bankruptcy proceedings, Reuters reports. The court said it will likely be investigating CEO Mark Karpeles’ liability in the collapse of the Tokyo-based firm.

Mt. Gox filed for bankruptcy protection in February, saying it lost 850,000 bitcoins, or about $454 million at today’s rates, after hackers attacked its computer systems.

Karpeles’s lawyers have said he will not travel to the U.S. to answer a federal judge’s questions about the bitcoin exchange’s ongoing U.S. bankruptcy case.


Categories: Magazines

These Are the Female Authors You Should Be Reading

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 08:00

On Monday, Donna Tartt won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Goldfinch. It was no surprise, really, since the much-anticipated novel made the New York Times best-seller list during its first week on the shelves. The book was so popular that people flocked to the Frick Collection in record numbers to see the titular painting that features heavily in the Dickensian plot.

Tartt takes a notoriously long time to write her novels: The Goldfinch took 11 years, and she says that we may have to wait just as long for her next book. So now that you’ve finished The Goldfinch — and her other two books, The Secret History and The Little Friend — what to read next to tide you over? At the beginning of 2014, writer and illustrator Joanna Walsh began the Twitter hashtag #readwomen2014 in an effort to encourage readers to pick up more books by women this year. That task is only getting easier: 2014 will feature dozens of terrific books by women. But here are some current female authors who you may have missed and want to add to your reading list.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Eamonn McCormack—WireImage/Getty Images

Chimamanda Adichie

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Beyoncé loves her and so should you. Adichie, who is from Nigeria, is credited with heralding a new generation of African authors with her bestselling Half of a Yellow Sun. Her latest novel, Americanah, was named one of the 10 best books of 2013 by the New York Times. Oh, and she’s also a MacArthur ‘genius’ grant recipient.

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Eleanor Catton

Catton was only 22 years old when she wrote her first novel, The Rehearsal (what have you done today?). And her second and most recent novel, The Luminaries, was the winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize — making her the youngest ever recipient. The adventure-mystery novel is set in New Zealand, where the author currently resides.

Edwidge Danticat

Danticat published her debut novel, Breath, Eyes, Memory, when she was only 25 and was heralded as a young author to watch. She did not disappoint. Breath, Eyes, Memory became an Oprah’s Book Club selection in 1998. The Haitian-born novelist continues to tell stories of her home country’s history through documentary film, fiction and nonfiction, including her 2004 novel, The Dew Breaker, which was well received by critics.

Emma Donoghue

Though Irish-born Donoghue has written many novels (and plays and literary histories), none have had quite the impact as her international bestseller Room, a story narrated by a five-year-old who has been imprisoned in a single room with his mother for his entire life. Donoghue’s newest novel, a murder mystery called Frog Music that’s set in San Francisco in 1876, hit shelves on April 1.

Louise Erdrich

Erdrich, who has written 13 novels, taps into her Native-American heritage to dig deep into questions about identity and race in her stories. An unsolved, race-fueled murder is at the center of her most recent work, The Plague of Doves, a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize.

Elizabeth Gilbert

Gilbert has a reputation as the patron saint of any woman undergoing a well-funded mid-life crisis thanks to her bestselling memoir, Eat, Pray, Love. But she’s also an accomplished novelist who published 2013′s well-reviewed The Signature of All Things, a charming bildungsroman about a spirited botanist who uses science to organize her heart and world. Gilbert will also appear on Oprah’s upcoming The Life You Want Weekend tour.

Sheila Heti

If you haven’t read Heti’s 2010 novel-from-life How Should a Person Be, you’re missing out on something important. The Canadian writer is also a performance artist, a philosopher, a playwright and the interviews editor of The Believer magazine. She tends to write about her brilliant and eccentric friends, who are never boring.

A.M. Homes

Homes is known for having a taste for controversial topics in her writing, and her satirical novel May We Be Forgiven won her the 2013 Women’s Prize for Fiction. When asked about her writing, she once said she is “saying the things we don’t want to say out loud.”

Gillian Flynn Lloyd Bishop—NBC/Getty Images

Gillian Flynn

Flynn began as an Entertainment Weekly reporter and TV critic before making the foray into mystery novels that continue to be page-turners after her signature big twist. Read her New York Times best-selling mystery about a missing wife, Gone Girl, before the David Fincher-directed movie adaptation hits the big screen in October starring Ben Affleck.

Elliott Holt

Holt’s debut novel, You Are One of Them, is about two Cold War-era American schoolgirls who write to the premier of the Soviet Union, but only one of them gets a response and an invitation to visit Moscow. Critics raved about her first effort. Keep an eye on her.

Rachel Kushner

If you’re looking for girls who kick ass, you’ve come to the right place. Kushner’s second novel, The Flamethrowers, focuses on a woman who arrives in New York from Reno in 1975 determined to turn her obsession with motorcycles and speed into art. The 2013 book was a New York Times bestseller, a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award and a critical darling.

Claire Messud

In The Woman Upstairs, Messud flips the archetype of the friendly, unassuming spinster on its head, creating an angry woman who’s simply tired of being ignored. The author previously won accolades for The Emperor’s Children, her best-selling novel about three college friends in pre-9/11 Manhattan.

Lorrie Moore

Lorrie Moore won Seventeen magazine’s fiction contest at the age of 19 and has been a wordsmith since. Though her most recent collection of short stories — Bark, published on Feb. 25, 2014 — received mixed reviews, her New York Times bestseller Birds of America (1998) was received with resounding praise. Her stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories of the Century edited by John Updike and the 1998 edition of The Best American Short Stories.

Alice Munro

When Munro was awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature, it was considered a win for the short story. The Canadian writer’s stories tend to focus on women — often in small town settings — and their ordinary lives, relationships and moral dilemmas. One of Munro’s stories in her collection, Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, was made into a 2013 film, Hateship Loveship starring Kristen Wiig.

Karen Russell

At 32, Russell has already been shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (for her debut novel, Swamplandia! in 2012) and been anointed an official “genius” by the MacArthur Foundation. Read her collection of stories Vampires in the Lemon Grove and you’ll see why. Her newest novella, Sleep Donation, is now available as an e-book.

Taiye Selasi

This up-and-coming writer of Ghanian and Nigerian origin has been mentored by greats like Toni Morrison and Salman Rushdie. Her short story “The Sex Lives of African Girls” appeared in The Best American Short Stories of 2012 and her first novel, Ghana Must Go, was selected as one of the 10 best books of 2013 by the Wall Street Journal.

Zadie Smith at Times Center on November 13, 2013 in New York City. Robin Marchan—Getty Images

Zadie Smith

Smith was lauded as the next big thing when her first book, White Teeth, debuted in 2000. She was only 22 years old. The best-selling novel made TIME’s 100 Best English-Language Novels from 1923 to 2005 list and had critics comparing her to Charles Dickens, John Irving and Salman Rushdie. Smith’s gone on to publish three more novels, all of which have received critical praise.

Cheryl Strayed

Though Strayed initially became popular through her anonymous “Dear Sugar” advice column for The Rumpus (she unmasked herself in 2012), it was her memoir that earned her renown as a writer. After Strayed’s mother died of cancer in 1991, she decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail by herself. The resulting memoir, Wild, became a New York Times best seller. And if that’s not enough for you to pick up a copy, Oprah Winfrey chose Wild in 2012 as the first selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. An adaptation of the book starring Reese Witherspoon will premiere this fall.

J. Courtney Sullivan

Her sweeping novels, including Commencement and Maine — which was named one of TIME’s top novels of 2011 — often weave together first-person narratives from multiple generations of family members and friends. Her most recent novel, The Engagements, marries the story behind the famous “a diamond is forever” slogan with the history of a very special ring.

Amy Tan

This author often draws on her own life experiences as the daughter of Chinese immigrants to write best-selling books like The Joy Luck Club, which was turned into a successful film. More recently, she touched on familiar themes, such as mother-daughter relationships, in her 2013 novel The Valley of Amazement.

Margaret Wrinkle

Wrinkle’s debut novel, Wash, re-examines American slavery and spans decades and continents. The book was met with high praise when it was published last year and was named one of the top ten novels of the year by the Wall Street Journal.


Categories: Magazines

The Best White Noise Apps and Sites

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 08:00

The science of sound can help you in many aspects of your life, from increasing concentration to creating the right atmosphere for a better night’s rest. The key is to know which kind of sound will do the trick and the easiest way to access it. Fortunately, there are plenty of websites and apps that do just that.

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Do you notice that you sleep better when the rain falls steadily outside or the wind blows gently through the trees? That’s what researchers call pink noise, a combination of sounds that contain all of the frequencies that people can hear, with volume decreasing in high frequencies. This kind of pink noise “has significant effect on reducing brain wave complexity and inducing more stable sleep time to improve sleep quality of individuals,” according to a Journal of Theoretical Biology study. In comparison, white noise keeps the volume consistent across all frequencies and most people don’t find it as restful.

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There are many apps that offer noise generation for better sleep, but be sure to only use the features that provide a steady, consistent sound, not intermittent noise.

Lightning Bug

Lightning Bug provides relaxing nature sounds that will help you sleep better at night. Make sure to enable plug-ins and download the free White Noise pack. In the pack, you can choose from white noise and pink noise. Bonus: it also comes with an alarm, snooze button and sleep timer.

Price: Free with premium plug-ins available at Google Play

Sleep Fan Sleep Fan

Similar to falling rain, the noise of an electric fan also helps many get a better night’s sleep. This app, a favorite here, generates that exact sound for you. You can play a fan sound at low, medium or high speed and also set a time for how long you want the noise to play. It even plays as a background app, allowing your phone to go into sleep mode but still play fan sound through the night.

Price: $1.99 on iTunes


If you don’t like fan noises, try WhiteNoise. It has pink noise, brown noise (low frequency sound masking) and many more soothing sounds. Plus, it gives you great flexibility for painting your own soundscape, mixing up to five sounds at once. Pay a little extra to get a recorder and generator to create your own sounds.

Price: $1.99, $0.99 each in app for recorder and generator at iTunes

Sleep Bug: White Noise Soundscapes

Here’s your Windows Phone alternative. Sleep Bug offers an interesting twist on mixing your own sounds by providing auxiliary tracks that you can turn on or off on top of main tracks.

Price: Free or paid upgrade for additional content at Windows Phone; also available for iPhone on iTunes

Finally, if you are looking for an all-around effective noise generator, not just an app or sound file that mimics sounds, we highly recommend the Original Sleep Sound Generator from Hammacher Schlemmer. It creates a soothing sound that helps block other sounds in your environment that may be distracting you.

Sound for better focus and concentration

No matter how many times experts remind us to turn off the distractions when we’re trying to get things done, most of us enjoy listening to music on the job. A little bit of whistle-while-you-work can boost flagging energy and bolster creativity — but too much of a good thing is a definite no-no.

What you need is the right noise for the job: ambient sound for creative focus, white noise for tight concentration or more relaxed soundscapes for calm efficiency or relaxation. If you’ve always suspected you do better and more rewarding work when you cart your laptop down to the local shop, research is on your side. When you’re trying to coax creativity out of hiding, moderate levels of ambient noise can provide just enough of a distraction to free the rest of your brain for broader thought.

A study in The Journal of Consumer Research shows that background noise as mundane as the hum of a coffee shop in full swing or the muffled chatter of a television in the other room can enhance performance. Apply that knowledge with discretion: Higher noise levels are too distracting, and tasks that require concentration and focus on detail are better performed in a quiet environment.

If your surroundings are already littered with distracting sounds and conversations, you might need white noise to mask the chaos. Be careful about playing these sounds too loudly, too close to you or for too long. A recent study shows that white noise used to keep babies drifting in a peaceful slumber could in fact damage their hearing.

Options for laptop, desktop and mobile browsers

Ready to download some sound apps to help tune up your life? Not so fast. Our favorite sources for ambient sound, white noise, meditation gongs and calming music aren’t apps at all — they’re free websites you pull up right in your browser.

Coffitivity Coffitivity

Here’s the hottest spot to find that coffee shop ambience — what Coffitivity calls a “combination of calm and commotion” that inspires and supports creativity. Choose from several different vibes: “Morning Murmur” gives you the traditional hustle and bustle of the corner café; “Lunchtime Lounge” carries a little more energy; and “University Undertones” soothes you with the calmer sounds of a campus café.

Price: Free at or for Mac desktop at iTunes; Coffivitity app free at Google Play and iTunes


This ambient sound generator plays to maximum advantage on a second monitor because it includes a color generator that helps set the mood. Research also backs the role of color in influencing productivity. Using a blue desktop background, for example, can enhance creative performance, while red helps you attack and focus on nitty-gritty details.

Noisli lets you toggle and layer as many sounds as you like to create your own tapestry of sound. Choose among coffee shop chatter, three types of white noise and nature sounds including rain, thunderstorms, waves, crackling fire and more. Still distracted? There’s also a text editor for distraction-free writing.

Price: Free at

Here’s some serious noise. “Welcome to the convergence of serious audio engineering, creative sound design and the scientific understanding of human hearing,” reads myNoise’s introductory text. “The site you are about to enter is not just another of those soundscape websites but a serious tool oriented toward the needs of hearing professionals, sound therapists and people interested in noise machines in general.”

At myNoise, choose from sounds designed specifically for noise blocking, healthcare, sound therapy, meditation and tonal sound. The site allows you to calibrate much of the sounds to your own computer and hearing. Because the website is so robust, playing the noise generators from Mobile Safari (iOS) requires the larger RAM sizes of the newer iPads and iPhones; on Android tablets, Firefox 22 has been confirmed to play well. An iOS verson is anticipated to launch within the next month.

Price: Free at

App options for mobile productivity

If you’d prefer an app for your mobile device, you have plenty to choose from. Just remember to use earbuds or headphones if you’re going to use an ambient sound or white noise app on a mobile device; you’re seeking immersion in sound that surrounds you, after all.

Ambiance Ambiance

For your iPhone or iPad, we like the capacious sound library of Ambiance. With this polished app, you get more than 2,500 free sounds, from ambient and urban environment (the traditional coffee shop mix plus many alternatives), binaural beats and more. You can mix multiple sounds to blend just the right custom sound.

Price: $2.99 plus $0.99 for premium sounds on iTunes


While the whole idea of these apps and tools is immersion, if you’re really committed to going deep, go Naturespace. Naturespace attempts to reproduce soundscapes in a 3-D environment; you hear the birds in the trees above you as well as what’s before and behind you. This is some of the best sound quality out there.

Price: Free with limited previews or purchases from $0.99 and up on iTunes and Google Play

White Noise Box

Looking for something free? White Noise Box is the ticket. You get all the basic sounds and features you need and expect.

Price: Free or $0.99 for premium (removes ads and pointer to the store) on iTunes and Google Play

If what you really need is pure, sweet silence, try a pair of noise-cancelling headphones; Techlicious’ guide shows you the best.

This article was written by Lisa Poisso and originally appeared on Techlicious.

More from Techlicious:

Categories: Magazines

Morning Must Reads: April 16

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 08:00
  • “Ukrainian government forces and separatist pro-Russian militia staged rival shows of force in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday amid escalating rhetoric on the eve of crucial four-power talks in Geneva on the former Soviet country’s future.” [Reuters]
    • Here’s What the CIA Director Was Really Doing in Kiev [Daily Beast]
    • “There’s a sense of unreality inside the Beltway as news networks broadcast images of armed, masked men carrying out military operations in the worst standoff between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War.” [Politico]
  • “China’s gross domestic product growth slipped in the first quarter to its slowest level in 18 months as the world’s second-largest economy continued to downshift.” [WSJ]
  • “Three people have died and 293 remain unaccounted for after a South Korean passenger ferry slowly sank Wednesday off the country’s southern coast…” [WashPost]
  • “Top House conservatives are pressuring Republican leaders to bring an ObamaCare replacement bill to a vote by the August recess…party leaders have given no indication when they might present a plan or what form it will take.” [Hill]
  • Texas Twins Campaign, But They Aren’t Sure For What [NYT]
  • How the President Got to ‘I Do’ on Same-Sex Marriage [NYT Mag]
  • The Grisly Reality Behind Soaring Lime Prices [National Journal]
Categories: Magazines

Samsung Okayed Vicious Apple Ads Two Days After Steve Jobs Passed Away

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 07:51

The Apple-Samsung patent infringement suit has unearthed gobs of interesting, normally private information. There was Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ “Holy War” with Google, a possible “magic wand” in the works to control your TV, not to mention all manner of back and forth over who was winning the ad war.

But the latest may be the most incendiary: it appears Samsung green-lit its mocking anti-Apple ads just days after Jobs died. Here’s a timeline:

Oct 4, 2011
From Samsung’s VP of U.S. sales Mike Pennington to Samsung America CEO Dale Sohn and CMO Todd Pendleton:

“As you have shared previously, we are unable to battle [Apple] directly in our marketing. If it continues to be Samsung’s position to avoid attacking Apple … can we go to Google and ask them to launch a campaign against Apple…”

Oct 5, 2011
Steve Jobs dies.

Oct 7, 2011
Pendleton to Pennington:

“Hey Michael, We are going to execute what you are recommending in our holiday [Galaxy S2] campaign and go head to head with iPhone 4S.”

Digging deeper, AppleInsider claims Samsung executives discussed Jobs’ passing in even starker terms, saying it might have “unintended benefit for Apple.”

[Apple 2.0]

Categories: Magazines

Bloomberg Takes Aim at NRA With $50 Million Campaign

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 07:39

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to challenge the National Rifle Association in a $50 million effort to galvanize voters in favor of stricter gun control laws.

Bloomberg says he plans to use the tools of the NRA—political influence, organization, and a hard-line stance—in order to build a nationwide grassroots organization and sway voters and lawmakers to support gun control.

“We’ve got to make them afraid of us,” Bloomberg told the New York Times.

The former mayor will spend large sums on the behind-the-scenes style of fieldwork the NRA has used, organizing women and mothers in particular to help drive pro-gun control voters to the polls. He plans to restructure the gun control groups he currently funds into a single group called “Everytown for Gun Safety.”

MORE: Should Michael Bloomberg be on the 2014 Time 100?

The $50 million Bloomberg plans to spend far exceeds the $20 million the NRA has recently spent each year on political activities. The NRA has been focused on signing up 1 million new supporters, particularly in states more hostile to gun control laws such as Texas, Montana and Indiana.

Gun rights activists were skeptical about Bloomberg’s plans. “He’s got the money to waste,” Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America said. “So I guess he’s free to do so. But frankly, I think he’s going to find out why his side keeps losing.”




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This Is What’s Really Powering Google’s Ambitious, Long-Shot Projects

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 07:22

Google’s core online advertising business continues to generate gobs of cash, allowing the company’s braniac founders to pursue all manner of futuristic initiatives. From computerized eyewear to self-driving cars to robots and drones, Google continues to push the boundaries of technology in pursuit of “moonshots,” as the company calls its most audacious projects.

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On Wednesday, Google will report earnings results for the first three months of 2014, and Wall Street analysts are hoping that good news from the company will be a positive sign for technology stocks, which have suffered recently. Over the last month, the tech-heavy Nasdaq index has fallen by 6%, with many big name companies, including Amazon, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter suffering double-digit declines.

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Google hasn’t avoided the sell-off—it’s down 8% over the last month—but the company hasn’t been battered as hard as other tech companies, in part because investors remain confident about the company’s core strength in online advertising. “Google has actually hung in there quite well,” Paul Sweeney, a senior analyst at Bloomberg Industries, told told Bloomberg West. “That reflects the fact that their core business continues to put up very good top-line revenue growth.”

Google continues to benefit from the relentless shift of ad dollars toward online platforms. Last year, U.S. online advertising revenues increased by 17% to hit an all-time high of $42.8 billion, exceeding broadcast television advertising revenues for the first time ever, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). In search advertising, which accounted for 43% of online ad revenue last year, Google remains dominant, with 67.5% of the search market, according to comScore. The next closest competitor is Microsoft, with 18.6% of the market.

Google is also a beneficiary of the ongoing shift away from traditional desktop computers and toward mobile devices. For the third year in a row, mobile advertising revenues experienced triple-digit percentage growth according to IAB, increasing to $7.1 billion during 2013, a 110% jump from $3.4 billion in the 2012. Mobile advertising accounted for 17% of 2013 revenues, compared to 9% in 2012. Google’s Android mobile operating system accounted for 79% of global smart phone market share in 2013, according to Strategy Analytics.

“We continue to believe that Google is one of the best-positioned stocks for many of the secular growth drivers in the Internet space: the dramatic Mobile shift, the migration of TV ad budgets online, the growing importance of local Internet, and the Internet of Things,” Mark S. Mahaney, a technology analyst at RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a note to clients this week.

Wall Street analysts estimate the Google will report earnings of $6.39 per share, which would be a 10% increase compared to last year, on revenue of $15.52 billion, which would amount to an 11% increase, according to a Thomson Reuters survey. That would be a solid showing, but some analysts have expressed concern about Google’s profit margin, which has been under increasing pressure as the company pours money into its far-flung advanced research projects.

It’s those so-called “moonshots”—developed by the company’s secretive Google X lab under the leadership of co-founder Sergey Brin—that offer the most intriguing indication of where Google is headed in the future. This week, Google offered its Glass wearable computing product to the general public for the first time. At $1500 per unit, Glass remains out of reach for many consumers, and it remains unclear if the device will catch on with the broader public.

But Glass may only represent a glimpse of things to come. Earlier this year, Google filed a patent application for a contact lens with a built-in micro-camera that could be controlled by blinking. Such a product is most certainly years away from the market, but the patent application offers an indication of the scope of Google’s ambitions. In the nearer term, Google plans to focus on more conventional forms of wearable computing. Last month, the company announced Android Wear, an initiative that extends the operating system to wearable devices, starting with watches.

Google has also made clear that it plans to focus on robots and drones. Google’s self-driving cars have been well documented. Late last year, the company acquired Boston Dynamics, an engineering firm that has developed robots for the Pentagon. (Google said it will honor existing military contracts, but it doesn’t plan to take on new ones.) It was Google’s eighth purchase of a robotics company in six months, and while the company’s robotic ambitions remain vague, potential applications include manufacturing and logistics.

And this week, Google purchased Titan Aerospace, which manufactures solar-powered drones designed to stay aloft for years without landing. In a statement, Google said that such atmospheric satellites “could help bring internet access to millions of people, and help solve other problems, including disaster relief and environmental damage like deforestation.” Facebook, which is also interested in using drones to deliver Internet access, had been in talks with Titan, but was outbid by Google.

Wall Street analysts have occasionally expressed concern that Google’s futuristic projects—from wearable devices to robots to drones—could cause the company to lose focus on its core online advertising business, which is the main driver of shareholder value. But with Google continuing to dominate the online search market, and continuing to capitalize on the inexorable shift of ad dollars toward the Internet and mobile devices, investors seem content to go along for the ride.

Categories: Magazines

At GM, Safety Could Be Mary Barra’s Silver Bullet

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 07:16

When Toyota suffered its humiliating and costly recall over faulty accelerator pedals in 2010, the Japanese auto giant was forced to look inward. Its vaunted manufacturing culture had become outwardly focused, bent on becoming the world’s largest automaker. It had stopped listening to its own people. Communication was flowing out from Toyota City and any information that might delay the production mission—reports from the field, say, about jammed accelerators—either didn’t make it back or lacked the amplification needed to be noticed.

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So Toyota had to reinvent its safety culture around being a better listener, much the way GM is talking about doing this week. CEO Mary Barra announced the creation of a new Global Product Integrity organization that sits within its Global Product Development Team, a team she once headed. The idea is that safety rides along with other aspects of product development—power train performance, comfort, ride dynamics—as vehicle platforms are developed globally. “We will mirror this approach to focus on safety performance. Our goal is to ensure the highest levels of execution consistently across all our vehicles,” she said in the kickoff address to the New York Auto Show.

It’s not that safety isn’t a factor in car design because it obviously is: any car that any company creates has to meet global safety standards. But what Barra is suggesting is that, at GM, safety systems have been adapted to new cars in development as opposed to being integral to the design of new vehicles.

And in creating a “Speak Up for Safety “ program for all GM employees, Barra is expanding the responsibility for safety across the company. It’s not a department, it’s a mission. “We need to make sure we break down the organizational silos and work across,” she said in an employee town meeting recently. The program is formatted to recognize employees who contribute ideas, or those who raise questions about safety issues before they become bigger problems. Call it an internal whistleblower program. “We need to drive cultural change to make sure people are going to go that extra mile in this area,” she said.

Just the usual corporate blather? Her critics, including Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, aren’t buying the new act yet. Blumenthal said that if Barra is truly dedicated to safety she’d pull the recalled cars off the road until replacement ignition parts arrive at dealers. Barra has said she’d still let her own son drive one of the recalled Cobalts. “How can you let your own son behind the wheel of a car that the recall notice says is unsafe to drive,” he asked on Bloomberg television.

But even before the Cobalt crisis, Barra had begun to change GM’s corporate culture, particularly in the product development area. Her focus has been on a leaner, more responsive management organization.

And there’s a precedent for a culture of safety approach. In the 1980s, Paul O’Neill took over as CEO of aluminum maker Alcoa and announced that safety would become his top priority. In a metals industry that accepted injuries as a cost of doing business, the idea was greeted with more than a little skepticism. But focusing on safety forced the entire —including its unionized work force—to take greater responsibility for everything that it could control, from quality to accounting. Through safety, O’Neill made everyone take ownership Alcoa’s performance. Alcoa thrived with its safety focus and it probably saved lives in the process.

GM should do so as well.

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Drone Footage Captures Stunning Aerial Views of New York City

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 07:13

Sometimes the best way to appreciate New York City’s majestic beauty is to take a step back and observe it from afar — or from up high. This aerial footage captured by photographer Randy Scott Slavin, with the help of a drone, lets you explore the city’s busy streets and glittering skyscrapers on a sunny day. It makes you feel like you’re a bird, or like you have a magic carpet or something.

Plus, the city seems so much cleaner and less smelly from this perspective.

(h/t Gizmodo)

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This Is the Secret to Pixar’s Monster Success

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 06:54

How on earth does Pixar do it?

The computer-animation production company has turned out 14 box-office blockbusters in a row. Rave reviews. Great screenplays.

Now, Ed Catmull, one of the company’s founders, has written a book, Creativity Inc., which promises to clear up a bit of the mystery. In an excerpt prepared for Fast Company, Catmull explains that one of the company’s “key mechanisms” is the “Braintrust,” which meets every few months or so and operates on the following principle: “Put smart, passionate people in a room together, charge them with identifying and solving problems and encourage them to be candid.”

Catmull says that there are two important characteristics of the Braintrust. The first is that it offers much-needed perspective. “People who take on complicated creative projects become lost at some point in the process,” he writes. “Where once a movie’s writer/director had perspective, he or she loses it. Where once he or she could see a forest, now there are only trees. How do you get a director to address a problem he or she cannot see?”

The second is that the Braintrust concerns itself with the task, not the person. “The film—not the filmmaker—is under the microscope,” he says. “This principle eludes most people, but it is critical: You are not your idea, and if you identify too closely with your ideas, you will take offense when challenged.”

Peter Drucker would have surely been taken with Catmull’s insights, and in fact we’ve covered a number of these points before, including the importance of candor, trust and perspective.

But one area worthy of elaboration is the need to make sure the work at hand doesn’t get too personal.

Drucker recognized that many people identify closely with their jobs—and so it’s not surprising that they can take it hard when their ideas are questioned or criticized. A person’s “relationship to his work underlies all of man’s life and achievements,” he wrote in The Practice of Management.

And yet, like Catmull, Drucker thought it crucial for people not to view challenges to their ideas as a personal affront. “Emotions always run high” over key decisions, Drucker noted. “The smart thing is to treat this as constructive dissent and as a key to mutual understanding.”

At the same time, those doing the questioning need to be careful not to make it personal. They must focus on “What is right?” rather than “Who is right?” “To put personality above the requirements of the work is corruption and corrupts,” Drucker asserted. “To ask ‘Who is right?’ encourages one’s subordinates to play safe.”

Categories: Magazines

Turns Out Millennials Are Scary Smart With Their Money

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 06:51

Millennials are quickly becoming the most examined generation in history—and for good reason. Their numbers exceed even those of baby boomers, and with the social safety net fraying it’s never been more critical for young people to start saving early.

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The latest string of surveys and studies is encouraging. On the financial front, this generation of mostly twentysomethings displays surprising fortitude. They recognize the importance of saving and tend to be more proactive about planning than their elders, concludes Northwestern Mutual.

Some 62% of Millennials rate themselves disciplined or highly disciplined as money planners, compared to 54% of folks aged 60 or over, according to the firm’s 2014 Planning and Progress study. Certainly, there is evidence that Millennials are making plenty mistakes and may be characteristically overconfident on the financial front. Yet 68% acknowledge room for improvement in managing their finances, suggesting a degree of humility not often seen with this age group. They appear open to learning more but aren’t sure where or how to find a trusted source. Many mistakenly take their cues from online friends.

One of the financial virtues of this group appears to be a slow and steady approach to building a nest egg. Roughly a third favor a long-term tried-and-true strategy, Northwestern Mutual found. Another third would like to take that approach but feel like they are too far behind to play it safe.

Millennials’ cautiousness may be a double-edged sword. Just 14% in the survey say they are pursuing a high-growth investment strategy even though such a strategy would promise superior long-term returns. This may be a case of playing it too safe. Millennials have 40 years to ride out any bumps. If their money is socked away in savings bonds and other ultra-conservative investments it won’t grow fast enough for them to retire even over a long period of time. Now is when they should embrace prudent, low-cost, diversified risk through stock index funds and similar investments.

Other surveys have found that Millennials are generally ahead of earlier generations in terms of understanding the need for saving. Two in three young employees are committed to or have the ambition to save for retirement, according to a report from Aegon and the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. One in four are habitual savers who ‘always make sure’ they are putting something away. Two in five intend to begin saving soon and three in five understand that retirement saving is important—they just don’t have the means yet.

In another survey, The Principal Financial Group Knowledge Center found that 84% of Millennials describe themselves as passionate about creating financial security—more than are passionate about raising well-rounded kids (60%), having fun (66%), making a difference (49%) and exercise (44%). One reason: Most believe Social Security will no longer exist when they retire, Principal found.

Millennials need to start right away for a lot of reasons. Many are loaded with student debt and underemployed. They’re not pursuing home ownership in a big way, which leaves them stuck renting in a climate a fast-rising rents and missing out on the housing recovery. This generation is off to a good start in terms of knowing what it needs to do to reach retirement security. Its biggest problems seem to be lack of job opportunity and having started adulthood in a deep hole of student debt.


Categories: Magazines

Israel Police Disperse Riot at Jerusalem Holy Site

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 06:04

(JERUSALEM) — Israeli police stormed a sensitive holy site in Jerusalem on Wednesday and fired tear gas to disperse a riot by Palestinian Muslim worshippers, officials said.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the rioters hurled stones and firecrackers from atop the compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. Rosenfeld said police then entered the site and dispersed the rioters with tear gas and other non-lethal means.

The compound is known to Muslims as the “Noble Sanctuary” and is Islam’s third-holiest site. Israel captured the area along with the rest of east Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 war.

Clashes often erupt after Muslims finish their prayers at the site.

Jews typically pray below, at the Western Wall, but tensions have grown lately with an increased number of Jews arriving to pray at the Temple Mount as well.

Both sites remained open after Wednesday’s disturbances, and Jews were flocking to the Western Wall to pray during the weeklong Passover holiday.

The site is ground zero in the territorial and religious conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors. It’s gold-topped Dome of the Rock enshrines the rock where Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.

Jews believe the rock may be where the holiest part of the two ancient temples stood about 2,000 years ago — and where religious Jews pray a third temple will one day be built. The site is so holy that Jews have traditionally refrained from praying on the hilltop, but attitudes among some Orthodox Jews have been evolving and there has been growing demand to allow Jews to pray there freely as well.

The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem, and the Old City, as the capital of their future state. The status of the site remains perhaps the most sensitive and explosive issue in U.S.-brokered peace talks.

Meanwhile in Gaza, Hamas’ health ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Kidra said three Palestinians were killed in a large explosion, which appeared to have been triggered by militants mishandling explosives. All three were members of the Hamas militant wing.

Categories: Magazines

Nine Hard-Won Lessons About Grief

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 05:45

After journalist Jill Smolowe buried her husband, sister, mother and mother-in-law within the space of 17 months, she expected to fall apart. To her surprise — and relief — her grief bore no resemblance to the portrait of paralyzing despair depicted in American films, TV shows and memoirs. Here, she shares the coping strategies that helped her keep going:

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1. Remain connected to your life. When a loved one passes away (or receives a dire diagnosis), your life undergoes a seismic shift. As your Old Normal totters, well-meaning friends and relatives reinforce your feeling of disconnect from your old life by assuming that the only topic you want to talk about is your worry and sorrow. Perhaps that’s true. But if you, as I did, find the concerned “How are you’s” more exhausting than comforting, direct the conversation toward more familiar terrain. “How do you read Putin’s moves in Ukraine?” “What is ‘conscious uncoupling,’ exactly?” Your heart may not be in it, but as the focus moves away from your distress, you may find your thoughts do, too. Even a few minutes respite can be replenishing.

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2. Do not assume your sorrow will overwhelm you. Bereavement research of the last 20 years shows that a clear majority of mourners are quite resilient. They experience their grief as a constant oscillation between sadness and lighter moments. This helps them not only to endure their sadness, but also to experience pleasure even during the earliest days of loss. As for the five-stage cycle of grief so popular in our cultural script, it is a myth. Dismissed by bereavement researchers long ago, the cycle’s five stages (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) were based on Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s observations of the dying — not the people left behind.

3. Tune into what you actually feel and need. When I lost Joe, my beloved husband of 24 years, I assumed that collapse would follow. The way I envisioned it, one day soon I would get into bed, pull the sheet over my head and not get up. To my surprise — and relief — that day never arrived. Instead, I continued to function much as I normally do, albeit with emotions more intense than usual. Within two weeks of Joe’s death, it became clear to me that sitting home only added to the weight of his absence. So, I went back to work. I resumed walks with friends. I attended my daughter’s crew regattas. Though my sorrow accompanied me everywhere, the effort helped me to get out of my head and reconnect with the parts of my life that remained intact.

4. If you don’t want to, don’t. This piece of advice, offered by three widowed acquaintances on separate occasions, proved a keeper. Early on, I let it guide my responses to social invitations. I also let it inform my responses to inquiries, both sincere and casual, about how I was doing. If I didn’t feel like talking about my grief, I didn’t. As weeks, then months went by, I came to understand that, for me, grief was an intensely private experience. If I was going to cry (as I did daily for many months), I preferred to do it when I was alone. My feelings of loss were too personal and too impossible to explain. Talking about them did not help.

5. People are not mind readers; tell them what you need. Friends want to be supportive, but they will lean on their own (often untested) preconceptions about grief if you don’t speak up. For me, the commiserating hugs, worried looks and somber conversations got old, fast. I let friends know that what I needed most was for them to talk to me about their lives, their kids, their work. That response felt awkward, even ungracious, at times. But later several friends told me that by giving them clear guidance, I made it “easy” for them to help me. (Note to friends: helping a grieving person to focus on her strengths, rather than her sorrow, can be very therapeutic.)

6. For those who aim to lend support, watch for cues, listen carefully. Heartfelt though it may be, an offer of “If there is anything I can do …” is tantamount to offering nothing. (Trust me. A bereft person doesn’t want be saddled with the task of making you feel useful.) Instead, be attentive. If your concerned “Tell me how you are” meets with a brisk “Fine, how was your vacation?” that’s a signal to change the channel. If you notice a grieving neighbor’s trashcans are still curbside two days after the garbage pickup, ask if she wants them returned to her porch — or better yet, just do it. If your phone messages aren’t being returned, try email. Mourners appreciate your concern, but they may not be ready to deal with it on your schedule.

7. Express your love and appreciation. If there was any silver lining in Joe’s death, it was that we had time to prepare. While we didn’t anticipate that he would die, we knew from the day of his leukemia diagnosis that death was a possible outcome. Over the next two and half years, we constantly expressed not only our love, but also our appreciation for each other and for the life we’d built together. I’d always known that Joe loved me, but his acknowledgments of things I’d done for him and sacrifices I’d made on behalf of our marriage would later prove consoling. Those conversations also provided opportunity to address our unresolved issues. After Joe died, my grief was unencumbered by either unfinished business or regret that I’d left something important unsaid.

8. Gratitude is a potent antidote. As I worked on Joe’s eulogy, it occurred to me that too often such loving sentiments are reserved for memorial services. I wanted the people whose kindness had touched or steadied me during Joe’s long illness to know what I valued most about their support. Now. Before it was too late. So, I began writing thank-you letters that detailed what exactly it was about each person’s support that had lightened my load. Each time I unbottled my gratitude, it helped me to recognize the many reasons I had to go on without Joe.

9. Know your loved one’s final wishes. During a particularly gruesome hospitalization, Joe told me, “There are some things I want you to know, in case I die.” He specified the items he wanted me to save for our daughter, and told me to discard the rest. He told me he wanted to be cremated and wanted a memorial service. And he told me, “You should remarry.” Though numbing in the moment, his stated wishes proved a gift. Weeks later when he died and I was in the blur of new grief, I didn’t have to second-guess his burial preferences. His detachment about his possessions enabled me to sift and discard as I chose. And his generous statement about marriage enabled me to move on without guilt, knowing that he wanted me to build a new life.

Jill Smolowe is the author of the new memoir Four Funerals and a Wedding: Resilience in a Time of Grief.

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