Day: July 26, 2021

Olympic gymnasts tired of being objectified swap leotards for bodysuits

Germany's Pauline Schaefer-Betz in a unitard as she competes in the artistic gymnastics balance beam event during the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The German gymnastics team is attracting attention for more than its gravity-defying moves at this year’s Olympic games in Tokyo.

In an effort to prevent the sexualization of their bodies and the sport (and just feel comfortable while competing), the gymnasts traded in standard bikini-cut leotards for full-body unitards on Sunday during an Olympics qualifying round.

“We wanted to show that every woman, everybody, should decide what to wear,” said Elisabeth Seitz, a 27-year-old German Olympics gymnast, before the qualifying event, according to Reuters.

Elizabeth Seitz, German gymnast, competes in the Tokyo Olympics in a unitard.

Elizabeth Seitz, German gymnast, competes in the Tokyo Olympics in a unitard.
Credit: IRIS VAN DEN BROEK / Getty Images

German gymnast Pauline Schaefer-Betz wears a unitard as she flips upside down during the artistic gymnastics balance beam event during the Tokyo Olympic Games.

German gymnast Pauline Schaefer-Betz wears a unitard as she flips upside down during the artistic gymnastics balance beam event during the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Credit: IONEL BONAVENTURE / Getty Images

While bucking tradition, this is not the first time the German team has worn these full-body outfits, which reach their ankles. In April, they donned the bodysuits during the European championships, the Washington Post reported.

That move garnered the team widespread praise from other female gymnasts, according to Reuters.

The International Gymnastics Federation, the governing body of competitive gymnastics, allows gymnasts to compete in uniforms that cover or semi-cover their arms and fully obscure their legs, as long as the color matches their leotards, CNN reported. However, gymnasts have usually covered their legs in competition because of religious reasons, per Reuters.

Back in June, American gold medalist Simone Biles said she supported athletes being able to wear their preferred uniform, even if she’ll be sticking to the traditional leotard. “I stand with their decision to wear whatever they please and whatever makes them feel comfortable,” Biles said of the German gymnasts, according to the Associated Press. “So if anyone out there wants to wear a unitard or leotard, it’s totally up to you.”

Germany's Kim Bui shows off her moves in a unitard in a qualifying round of the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Germany’s Kim Bui shows off her moves in a unitard in a qualifying round of the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Credit: AFP via Getty Images

The unitards shouldn’t affect the athletes’ ability to perform at their peak condition.

“We also train in tights so we are used to the feeling,” said Kim Bui, a 32-year-old German Olympics gymnast, according to Reuters. “It is not that different between competition or training. It is comfortable and that is the most important thing.”

While the German gymnasts’ bodysuits didn’t break any regulations, the same can’t be said for the women’s beach handball team from Norway when they played in a separate competition. On Monday, the European Handball Federation fined each Norwegian female athlete on the team 150 euros ($177) each for wearing shorts rather than bikini bottoms during a game, the New York Times reported.

The federation requires female players to wear bikini bottoms with “with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg.” However, male handball athletes can wear shorts.

The Norwegian Handball Federation offered to pay the fines, as has singer Pink.

“The European handball federation should be fined for sexism. Good on ya, ladies,” Pink wrote on Twitter on Saturday.

For the German gymnasts at the Olympics, they wanted to look good without feeling uncomfortable.

Tweet may have been deleted

The team decided as a group to wear the bodysuit before the meet.

“We sat together today and said, OK, we want to have a big competition,” said Sarah Voss, a 21-year-old gymnast, reported the Associated Press. “We want to feel amazing, we want to show everyone that we look amazing.”

No new Galaxy Note this year as Samsung’s foldables gain S Pen functionality

Samsung sent out invites for its August 11 Unpacked event last week. While it’s clear this is going to be packed (somewhat ironically) even by the company’s standards, the event may well be as notable for what it doesn’t include. Namely, a slew of rumors have pointed to Samsung skipping its annual Galaxy Note update.

In a blog post today, the company’s president and head of Mobile Communications Business, TM Roh, writes, “Instead of unveiling a new Galaxy Note this time around, we will further broaden beloved Note features to more Samsung Galaxy devices.” The language isn’t entirely clear what that means for the future of Samsung’s beloved – if occasional erratic – phablet. No Note this event? This year? This … ever?

Samsung offered TechCrunch the following clarification, “We will not be launching new Galaxy Note devices in 2021. Instead, Samsung plans to continue to expand the Note experience and bring many of its popular productivity and creativity features, including the S Pen, across our Galaxy ecosystem. We will share more details on our future portfolio once we are ready to announce.”

Early rumors chalked the lack of a new Note up to supply chain problems that have persisted throughout much of 2020 and 2021. But further speculation has left many wondering whether the company may finally be sunsetting the Galaxy Note series on the eve of its 10th anniversary. Is it possible that the pioneering phablet has run its course, especially as other Samsung flagships get larger and siphon off its biggest features?

What’s clear is that some of the devices announced on the 11th will follow in the footsteps of the Galaxy S21 and bring Note-like features including S-Pen functionality. Likely this means at least the Galaxy Z Fold, confirming earlier rumors that the foldable would be the latest Galaxy device to blur the line between it and the Note. Presumably this also means a further reinforced display for the product. Recent leaks point to a carrying case with a pen holster, rather than baking the slot directly into the Fold’s already complicated design.

“I hope you’ll join us as we debut our next Galaxy Z family and share some foldable surprises — including the first-ever S Pen designed specifically for foldable phones,” Roh writes. The executive also promises “even more refined style, armed with more durable, stronger material” on the new Galaxy Z Flip, while also confirming the arrival of a new Z Fold.

Rounding out the news is a reference to the One UI Watch that appears to confirm that the latest Galaxy Watch will also make a cameo at the upcoming Unpacked.

Tesla’s quarterly profit surpasses $1 billion

Tesla reported Monday an eye-popping $1.14 billion in net income in the second quarter, results that blew past analysts expectations and marked the first time the company’s quarterly profit (on a GAAP basis) has passed the three-comma threshold. The results pushed shares up more than 2.2% in after-hours trading.

Tesla was able to beat expectations and log its eighth straight quarter of profitability even as it grappled with supply chain challenges and lost money from its bitcoin investment. Operating income was $1.3 billion, which increased year-over-year from $327 million, due to volume growth and cost reduction, the company said. Those positive results were partially offset by an increase in operating expenses, supply chain challenges, lower regulatory credit revenue and a bitccoin-related impairment of $23 million.

Supply chain challenges, notably the global shortage of semiconductor chips and congestion at ports, were two factors that affected its business in the second quarter. Tesla noted that it will continue to impact operations and its rate of delivery growth in 2021.

“With global vehicle demand at record levels, component supply will have a strong influence on the rate of our delivery growth for the rest of this year,” the company said in its shareholder deck released Monday.

Tesla reported revenue of $11.95 billion, a nearly 100% increase from the $6.04 billion it generated in the second quarter of 2020. Revenue in the second quarter was also higher than last quarter’s total of $10.38 billion. Analysts surveyed by Factset estimated $11.4 billion in revenue and $600 million in profit.

Tesla’s automotive revenue was $10.2 billion in the second quarter. Notably, only $354 million of that automotive revenue came from the sale of regulatory credits, which is 17% lower than last quarter and the lowest in the past four quarters. Meanwhile, Tesla’s automotive gross margins popped to 28.4%, the highest it has ever been.

Tesla reported that it earned $1.14 billion in net income compared with $104 million in net income in the same period last year. That record-setting number is nearly three times more than last quarter’s net income of $438 million. Tesla’s adjusted EBITDA in the second quarter was $2.24 billion in the quarter, up from $1.21 billion in the same year-ago period.

Quarter-end cash and cash equivalents decreased to $16.2 billion in the second quarter, according to Tesla, which said that decrease was driven mainly by net debt and finance lease repayments of $1.6 billion, partially offset by free cash flow of $619 million.

Earlier this month, Tesla reported its produced 206,421 vehicles in the second quarter. Of those, the company delivered 201,250 vehicles, nearly 9% more than the first quarter of 2021.

The best Chromebooks for kids, from grade school to college

The assumption that Chromebooks are kids’ laptops makes sense. They’re typically smaller and lighter than traditional laptops, and often hold up better against drops or spills. They usually don’t have fast processors, 4K screens, or many other high-end specs that kids just don’t need, which slashes the price big time.

For budget-conscious families, it’s also noteworthy that many beloved Chromebooks are rarely at their full price — especially near shopping holidays like Prime Day or Black Friday. Price cuts of 25% or more drop some models to near or below the $200 price point.

But there’s a more serious facet to Chromebooks that makes them appealing to cautious parents: They’re some of the most secure devices on the market. On top of the usual “stranger danger” apprehension, parents are likely concerned about their family’s data getting into the wrong hands.

But actually, parent or not, every paranoid internet user should have a Chromebook. Don’t @ us.

The main reason is that Chromebooks are cloud-based. Almost anything you do is automatically backed up on Google Drive, so you won’t lose all of your files if your Chromebook breaks — or if your kid forgets to save a school paper. Updates are automatic as well.

SEE ALSO: Which tablet to buy for your kid: These are the best right now

Google’s Chrome OS is a hardcore bodyguard in itself. Every web page or Chrome app runs its own sandbox, essentially ensuring that other parts of the computer won’t be compromised even if that page gets hacked or “infected.” However, a Chromebook probably won’t get a virus: Most malware is designed for Windows or Mac and ignore Google’s OS (for now). If something sketchy were to happen, the threat can be wiped out by closing the page or reverting to factory settings. These security features are a huge part of why nearly three out of every five machines in schools use Chrome OS.

Monitoring kids’ usage on the cloud can’t be done with downloadable parental control software. The easiest way to set limits is to take advantage of your router’s parental control features (Google Nest and Eero are great) or invest in a filter for your home network, like Circle with Disney. These let you manage things like screen time and blocked sites on every device connected to your home WiFi. Upon setup, it’s suggested that parents be the first person to create an account. The first account to log in is seen as the “owner” of the Chromebook, and the owner is who gets to control the settings on other accounts.

Choosing the right Chromebook for your kid

Some Chromebooks are lightweight and some are bricks. Younger kids will probably do better with compact laptops with military-grade durability that can handle a drop from the table.

Storage isn’t a huge deal when most everything is stored in the cloud. (Google Drive comes with 15GB for free.) However, if your kid will be downloading something like textbooks, you might consider a Chromebook with more storage or with an SD card slot to expand storage. Most have 32GB, basic models have 16GB, and nicer models stretch to 64GB.

If your kid uses Microsoft Office for school, you’ll need a Chromebook that can run Android apps from the Google Play Store. Most are Android-compatible, but some fumble with non-Chrome apps.

Chromebooks for entertainment versus actual work

No one is buying a Chromebook to use power-sucking software like Photoshop. That means that Chromebooks don’t need a lot of RAM, which is what determines how many tasks your computer can keep track of at once. But even with the draining apps reserved for MacBooks out of the picture, Chromebooks still aren’t one-size-fits-all when it comes to daily tasks. When is it time to bypass the average Chromebook 4GB RAM for 8GB or 16GB?

Kids using a Chromebook primarily for media consumption — streaming Disney+ or Youtube, playing games, or using light educational programs — could easily scoot by with 4GB, which is more than capable enough to handle anything that’s not super involved when it comes to data or graphics.

Bumping up to a beast like the Google Pixelbook Go or Slate and their 8 or 16GB RAM is the wise move if your kid is regularly using the Chromebook for more than entertainment purposes. We’re talking demanding programs like statistics software or storage of huge textbooks — any heavy-duty stuff outside of the Microsoft Word or Google Docs realm. Bigger workloads require more RAM to allow the computer to operate smoothly and avoid the ominous frozen screen. Such desktop-esque models are also more likely to have juicier displays and processors, more versatile ports and memory card slots, and backlit keyboards.

Here are the best Chromebooks for kids in 2021:

Citizen’s crime live streams are no substitute for local journalism

In May, the neighborhood crime watch app Citizen offered its user base $30,000 to track down a suspected arsonist on live video, only to discover that they’d sent a mob of civilians after the wrong guy. Now, Citizen is covertly hiring journalists to livestream on the app at crime scenes for $25 per hour through third party websites. I’m tired.

When Citizen first hit the App Store in 2016, it was called Vigilante — it marketed itself as a platform to fight injustice with transparency, which might sound good in theory, but in practice, it deliberately encouraged users to seek out crime scenes to report them. Vigilante was removed from the App Store for violating a clause in Apple’s App Developer Review Guidelines that an app shouldn’t be “likely to cause physical harm from its use.”

Surely, this would be the end for the nascent platform. But like a cockroach after an apocalypse, the app chugged on. It rebranded itself as Citizen, added disclaimers that no one should interfere with a crime scene, re-entered the App Store, and continued to raise VC funding. Now, the app is like a crowd-sourced crime blotter — as its App Store page says, “Citizen may notify you of a crime in progress before the police have responded.” But this level of hyper-vigilance can fuel panic, rather than make people feel safe — not to mention that user-reported crime incidents might be incorrect at best, and racist at worst. The app pulls data from 911 calls, but not all information in those dispatches are verified, which can be cause for false concern.

But Citizen can only function if it has enough of a user base, and its attempts to corral civilians to use the app have gotten more and more desperate. According to SensorTower, the app hit a monthly download high in June 2020, in the wake of widespread Black Lives Matter protests. (So, as the country protested police brutality, 677,000 people responded by downloading a policing app). But the following month, just 207,000 people downloaded the app. Since then, growth has been pretty stagnant — 292,000 people downloaded Citizen in March 2020, and 283,000 people downloaded it in March 2021.

In June, the Daily Dot reported that one specific user named “Landon” was live streaming from multiple crime scenes in one day, attempting to interview witnesses and first responders — given how often he seemed to stumble upon these crime scenes, it seemed unlikely that he was just an enthusiastic app user. Yesterday, the New York Post reported on another user named “Chris” who live streamed on Citizen from six emergencies in one day. Citizen confirmed that both Landon and Chris were working for the app as members of its Street Team.

“Citizen has teams in place in some of the cities where the app is available to demonstrate how the platform works, and to model responsible broadcasting practices in situations when events are unfolding in real time. We believe these teams will ultimately help guide our users on how to broadcast in an effective, helpful and safe way,” a Citizen spokesperson told TechCrunch.

Citizen has had Street Teams since the app’s launch; a spokesperson said that they’ve never tried to hide this. But these jobs are not listed on the Citizen website. Instead, they’re listed by a third party recruiter called Flyover Entertainment on the JournalismJobs board without mention of Citizen. An NYU Journalism website shared a similar listing, which did include the Citizen name. Citizen confirmed to TechCrunch that both of these listings are for the app’s Street Team. Citizen pays $250 per day for a 10-hour shift in LA, and $200 per day for an 8 hour shift in NYC, which comes out to $25 per hour.

“Broadcast journalists have experience in broadcasting safely and responsibly. This is a requisite for our Street Team members,” said the Citizen spokesperson. When asked why these jobs were posted on third-party job boards, but not Citizen’s own website, the spokesperson reiterated that it was because Citizen specifically wanted to find journalists. However, it could presumably also find journalists on its own website.

Surveillance state vigilantism concerns aside, local news is dying, and Citizen is not built to be a substitute for neighborhood journalism. Sure, local newspapers report on crime too, and it’s not as though Citizen is doing something unprecedented by sending reporters to scope out crime scenes. But there’s a difference between reporting news and live streaming from a crime scene on a surveillance app that only discloses who is a paid worker and who is an average civilian when directly asked. For an app that is modeled on “increasing transparency,” these covert job postings don’t feel so transparent. Plus, for an infrequent freelance gig with no benefits or paid time off that requires established broadcasting skills, $25 per hour is a pretty bad rate.

Now, Citizen’s latest attempt at growth is a paid service for $19.99 per month called Protect, which lets users send their location and a livestream from their camera to a Protect Agent. Citizen says its Protect Agents include former law enforcement officers and 911 operators, who can send an “instant emergency response” in case of emergency. This sort of seems like paying to get a personal 911 operator, which, again, feels like a poor alternative to policing, an already poor system.

Maybe Silicon Valley-bred tech companies aren’t the answer to the United States’ centuries-long crises of police brutality, racial profiling, and surveillance. Maybe a better way to reduce crime is to ensure that all people have access to health care, jobs, and affordable housing. Who knows!

It’s peak fat bear watching season, so tune in now

Brown bears congregated at the Brooks River in Katmai National Park and Preserve on July 25, 2021.

It’s fishin’ season.

The brown bears of Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve — the same bears of Fat Bear Week internet fame — are currently devouring the skin, flesh, and brains of 4,500-calorie sockeye salmon. The bounties of migrating fish attract an exceptional gathering of bears at Katmai’s Brooks River. The final week of July 2021 is burgeoning with activity: It’s a superb opportunity to tune into the dynamic livestream, beamed from a remote part of the Alaskan Peninsula.

Bears young and old congregate at the river’s waterfall, Brooks Falls, in July. It’s an ideal place for bears to catch salmon, as the fish run into a natural “roadblock” that slows their migration. The energetic salmon must repeatedly try to leap over the waterfall. Meanwhile, the bears feast on crowds of fish.

“Bear Insanity at Brooks Falls right now!!!” explore.org tweeted on Sunday night.

Tweet may have been deleted

Tweet may have been deleted

Brown bears, except mothers with cubs, live mostly solitary lives, so the annual July congregations are exciting events. Spend some time bear watching, and you’ll undoubtedly witness some of these behaviors :

Come August, many bears seek out other rivers with later salmon runs. But in September, brown bears return to Katmai’s Brooks River in large numbers to feast on the remains of dead or dying salmon. By October, the bears will be fattened up, sometimes to ridiculous degrees, for their long, harsh winter hibernation.

Watch the magic.

Amazon-backed Indian D2C beauty brand MyGlamm raises $71 million

MyGlamm, a direct-to-consumer beauty brand in India that sells most of its products through its own website, app and retail touch points, said on Monday it has raised $71.3 million in a financing round as the Mumbai-headquartered firm looks to scale its business across the South Asian market.

The startup had raised $23.5 million in its four-times subscribed Series C financing round from Amazon, Ascent Capital, Wipro in March this year. On Monday, it said it has added an additional $47.8 million as part of the round — which is now closed.

Accel led the investment in the new tranche while existing MyGlamm investors — Bessemer Venture Partners, L’Occitane, Ascent, Amazon, Mankekar family, Trifecta and Strides Ventures — also participated, Darpan Sanghvi, founder and chief executive of MyGlamm, told TechCrunch in an interview.

Sanghvi started MyGlamm in 2017 after pivoting his previous venture. He recalled the struggle he faced raising money for a direct-to-consumer brand, which were not as popular in the world’s second largest internet market just five years ago. To make matters worse, MyGlamm was also among the last direct-to-consumer startups to kick off its journeys at the time.

MyGlamm website

The startup today operates as a house of brands in the beauty and personal care spaces. “We operate across makeup, skincare, haircare, bath and body, and personal care. Unlike other brands, we have been able to successfully build a master brand across categories,” he said over a video call.

“The reason we have been able to build this is because we are truly direct to consumers. This allows us to communicate very directly with them,” he said, adding that most other firms in the industry are too reliant on third-party marketplaces for their sales.

He attributed the recent growth of the startup, which sells over 800 SKUs across categories (up from 600 in March), to its newfound user acquisition strategy. In August, the startup acquired POPxo, a startup that has built a community around content, influencers and commerce and serves over 60 million monthly active users.

“The content to the commerce engine has become our biggest moat,” he said. “We are acquiring 250,000 new users each month without spending any real money.”

POPxo, which is run by Priyanka Gill, engages with nearly 300,000 users each month, gathering their feedback and ideas for new products. Gill said in a video call that “in this line of business, CAC (cost of customer acquisition) is the game and POPxo has solved this problem,” she said, adding that POPxo, which is run like a fairly independent business, is on track to reach over 100 million users by March next year.

The startup also has 15,000 point-of-sale touch points in the physical world across India. The physical presence, which accounts for 40% of the revenue it generates today, “has been crucial to scale in the country,” Sanghvi said.

“We believe that the time is ripe for building out digital first CPG brands with a deep focus on content-to-commerce,” said Anand Daniel, Partner at Accel, in a statement.

“COVID has only cemented this belief. The unique combination of content coupled with a compelling product line gave us the conviction to lead this round in MyGlamm. We are excited to partner with Darpan, Priyanka and the MyGlamm team and look forward to building out the next generation CPG giant,” he said.

The startup plans to deploy the fresh funds to expand its product development, data science and technology research teams. It is also working to expand its offline presence and broadening the digital reach of POPxo.

The new investment comes at a time when Indian startups are raising record capital and a handful of mature firms are beginning to explore the public markets. Last week, Tribe Capital’s investment crowned BlackBuck as India’s 16th unicorn this year, compared to 11 last year and six in 2019. Food delivery startup Zomato made a stellar stock market debut last week and financial services firms MobiKwik and Paytm have also filed for their IPOs. Insurance aggregator service PolicyBazaar and online beauty e-commerce firm Nykaa are also expected to file their paperworks for IPO in the coming weeks.

Lucid Motors kicks off market debut with EV factory expansion plans

Lucid Group (formerly Lucid Motors) will be expanding its factory in Casa Grande, Arizona, by 2.7 million square feet, CEO Pete Rawlinson said Monday just hours after the company officially went public with a $4.5 billion injection of capital.

The company also said it has 11,000 paid reservations for its flagship luxury electric sedan, the Lucid Air.

Part of the expansion will be used to accommodate the manufacturing of Project Gravity, the mysterious title given to the automaker’s forthcoming luxury electric SUV, a Lucid spokesman told TechCrunch. Not much is known about Gravity at this point, other than that it’s scheduled to be available from 2023 and that it will use the same battery platform as the Air. Patent drawings submitted to the European Union Intellectual Property Office, first noticed by a member of the Lucid Forum, reveal little more than the renderings on Lucid’s website.

The company is also planning on bringing more of the component production in-house, including major pieces such as the body panel stampings, the spokesman added. These parts were being handled by an external supplier.

The Casa Grande City Council approved the plans to expand the nearly 1 million-square-foot space in March. The first phase of the factory, which cost around $700 million to construct, went up in a record 12 months after breaking ground. Lucid has said that it wants to expand production capacity from around 30,000 vehicles per year to up to 400,000.

Lucid has had a long, sometimes tenuous road to the public market. The company first set its sights on bringing an electric sedan to production as early as 2018, but it quickly hit funding challenges that pushed this timeline further and further back. Lucid received major funding in 2018 with a $1 billion investment from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, which continued to be its largest shareholder throughout Lucid’s merger with special purpose acquisition company Churchill Capital IV Corp.

That merger hit a bit of a hiccup last week when the company failed to garner a sufficient number of votes on a key proposal — likely due to the rise of retail traders and malfunctioning spam filters, executives said in an investor call.

Lucid, which will now operate under the name Lucid Group, is listed under the ticker symbol LCID.

The Mirror is $550 off (!) when you use this code at checkout

SAVE $550: July 26 is the last day you can use the code JULY400 to take $150 off The Mirror (normally $1,495) and get free shipping and installation (a $400 value).


Some of us never made it back to the gym after quarantine, and you know what? That’s perfectly OK — no one’s ever sat on their deathbed wishing they spent more time at a Planet Fitness.

But if a basic set of dumbbells and some resistance bands just aren’t cutting it for you anymore, allow us to introduce you to The Mirror, an elegant smart gym that streams live and on-demand fitness classes to the comfort of your living room. It’s our favorite piece of home gym equipment for interactive workouts, and it just so happens to be enjoying one of its all-time-highest discounts for a *very* limited time.

Through the end of the day on July 26, you can use the code JULY400 to save $150 on The Mirror and score free shipping and installation (a $400 value). That brings its price down from $1,495 to a slightly more stomachable $1,345 and works out to a total savings of $550, making this one of the best Mirror deals we’ve ever seen. (It technically even tops The Mirror’s Black Friday deal, which “only” took $500 off.)

Why trek to the gym for workout classes when you could just.... not?

Why trek to the gym for workout classes when you could just…. not?
Credit: mirror

You wouldn’t know what The Mirror was just by looking at it: It doesn’t appear to be anything more than a sleek, shiny, full-length mirror when it’s not in use. Flip a small switch on its bottom frame, though, and a hidden LCD panel will turn it into a screen; from there, you can pair it with your phone to bring it to life with a variety of workout classes featuring carefully curated playlists and professional instructors. (The latter will appear alongside your reflection so you can work on honing your form.)

We should note that access to those classes will cost you $39 a month by way of a Mirror All-Access Membership, but an extensive library of thousands of expert-led classes (all available 24/7) makes it well worth it.

Explore related content:

A magnetic helmet shrunk a deadly tumor in world-first test

Saqib Shah
Contributor

Saqib Shah is a contributing writer at Engadget.

We’ve seen helmets and AI that can spot brain tumors, but a new hard hat can actually treat them, too. As part of the latest neurological breakthrough, researchers used a helmet that generates a magnetic field to shrink a deadly tumor by a third. The 53-year-old patient who underwent the treatment ultimately passed away due to an unrelated injury. But, an autopsy of his brain showed that the procedure had removed 31 percent of the tumor mass in a short time. The test marked the first noninvasive therapy for a deadly form of brain cancer known as glioblastoma.

The helmet features three rotating magnets connected to a microprocessor-based electronic controller operated by a rechargeable battery. As part of the therapy, the patient wore the device for five weeks at a clinic and then at home with the help of his wife. The resulting magnetic field therapy created by the helmet was administered for two hours initially and then ramped up to a maximum of six hours per day. During the period, the patient’s tumor mass and volume shrunk by nearly a third, with shrinkage appearing to correlate with the treatment dose.

The inventors of the device — which received FDA approval for compassionate use treatment — claim it could one day help treat brain cancer without radiation or chemotherapy. “Our results…open a new world of non-invasive and nontoxic therapy…with many exciting possibilities for the future,” said David S. Baskin, corresponding author and director of the Kenneth R. Peak Center for Brain and Pituitary Tumor Treatment in the Department of Neurosurgery at Houston Methodist Neurological Institute. Details of the procedure have been published in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Oncology.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

Dev Patel dazzles in David Lowery’s captivating ‘The Green Knight’

Dev Patel as Sir Gawain in David Lowery's

I do not know at what point The Green Knight won me over.

David Lowery’s feature film, which adapted from the Arthurian story Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, is exceedingly slow and often so bizarre it defies description. It’s also some of the most magnificent and breathtaking cinema in recent history — par for the course for Lowery, who wrote and directed 2017’s A Ghost Story. The Green Knight now cements him as a master of genre, escapism, and mesmerizing visual language.

Star Dev Patel plays Gawain, a young man who craves greatness but flees from it. When an otherworldly knight (Ralph Ineson) arrives unannounced at the King’s (Sean Harris) Christmas feast, Gawain accepts his challenge: Strike the knight anywhere, and he will return the same blow “one year hence.” Gawain goes straight for the throat, slicing the knight’s head clean off — before his decapitated body picks it up and leaves, promising to strike Gawain back a year later.

The film unfolds in whimsical chapters: “The Christmas Game,” “A Too-Quick Year,” “A Kindness,” and “An Interlude,” each its own stylistic vignette. One is ironic, one violent, one horror, but the shifts never interrupt and only enhance the overall tone.

It’s best to leave these unspoiled, but Erin Kellyman’s segment is a standout, while a play-within-a-play foreshadows Gawain’s fate in what he dreads will be the final months of his life. He seeks out the Knight even as his lover Essel (Alicia Vikander) tries to dissuade him, because a great man would not do such a thing.

Dev Patel is truly legendary as Sir Gawain in "The Green Knight."

Dev Patel is truly legendary as Sir Gawain in “The Green Knight.”
Credit: a24

And so the film becomes a long, luxuriant meditation on greatness itself, an old-fashioned fascination with nobility or lack thereof. It’s not an easy sell given our distance from medieval society, and among the film’s many impressive feats is that it makes a case for antiquated greatness — or at least for how its pursuit alters the seeker. Characters explore this through action and dialogue, which the film magnificently mirrors.

Even without any script or story to speak of, The Green Knight could exist solely to boast its artistry. Minutes pass without dialogue, sometimes without even a human in sight, turning the experience over to Jade Healy’s production design, Christine McDonagh and David Pink’s art direction, and Malgosia Turzanska’s gorgeous costumes. Lowery once again teams up with cinematographer Andrew Droz Palermo for contemplative stationary shots and quiet, steady panning — all of which they deployed to stunning effect in A Ghost Story — set to Daniel Hart’s magnetic score.


With Patel in the lead, Lowery recognizes greatness in front of the camera and unleashes it.

With Patel in the lead, Lowery recognizes greatness in front of the camera and unleashes it in full force. It’s an inspired casting choice and easily a career-best performance; for an actor with over a decade of high-profile work, it feels like Patel was born to play this role, unlocking new depths in both Gawain and himself.

He gets to speak in his real voice, for one, not accented as the token Indian tour guide for white leads, and the casting choice should embarrass any Hollywood figure still shutting people of color out of historically white roles. It has been a quiet, triumphant evolution from gawky teen to epic symbol, and Patel wears the mantle like it’s destiny.

Vikander commands her scenes, but overall Essel and Gawain’s mother (Sarita Choudhury) aren’t very necessary. They pray for his safety, question his foolhardy quest, and then disappear for most of the remaining runtime. This isn’t a shortcoming of performance or script, but an inherent byproduct of a story set so squarely on the shoulders of one actor. Gawain’s introspection takes precedence over any supporting player, and they exist mostly to support him in the few scenes they have — particularly Harris and Joel Edgerton.

At just over two hours, The Green Knight is mesmerizing and immersive until the last millisecond. By the time it twists and turns and coils and uncoils to deliver those final moments, it’s a veritable feast of what movies have to offer, in no small part thanks to Lowery’s confident command of the cinematic language. It’s no surprise that greatness in cinema, as in Gawain’s story, comes from patience, attention, and imagination. The result is truly legendary.

The Green Knight arrives in theaters and on-demand Friday July 30.

How to delete your TikTok account

Is it time to delete your TikTok account?

So it’s come to this.

“This” being the end of the line for your TikTok account. It’s time to delete it.

We get it, though. After dozens upon dozens of “everything is cake” videos, you gotta say “enough’s enough” and pack it up. Even the Very Online people have limits. Or maybe you’re worried at how an app with an extremely unique algorithm is collecting a whole bunch of data on you. What are they doing with it all?

If you’re ready to escape TikTok forever (or at least until you get FOMO and create a new account), follow the steps below.

1. Navigate to your profile page by tapping “Me” in the bottom right corner.

Tap the profile button in the bottom right corner.

Tap the profile button in the bottom right corner.
Credit: andy Moser / tiktok

2. Tap the menu icon in the top right corner.

The menu button looks like three horizontal bars in the top right corner.

The menu button looks like three horizontal bars in the top right corner.
Credit: andy moser / tiktok

3. In the menu, tap “Manage account.”

"Manage account" will be close to the top of the menu.

“Manage account” will be close to the top of the menu.
Credit: andy moser / tiktok

4. Tap “Delete account” at the very bottom.

"Delete account" will show up at the very bottom.

“Delete account” will show up at the very bottom.
Credit: andy moser / tiktok

5. Carefully read the bulleted information on the following screen! Here’s what it’ll look like:

Read the info before you tap that big red button.

Read the info before you tap that big red button.
Credit: andy moser / tiktok

6. Once you’ve read all that, and you still want to delete your account, tap “Continue” at the bottom.

TechBoomers notes that you may be asked to perform some sort of verification step after. It’ll depend on how you created your count (phone/email/etc). This is because the app wants to verify that the real owner of the account is making the decision to delete it.

Verify your info if you’re asked, and then your account will be deactivated.

As mentioned on the bulleted information screen above, your TikTok account will deactivate for a period of 30 days (ya know, just in case you suffer Account Deleter’s Remorse and want to request TikTok reinstates your account).

After that 30-day period, your account will be deleted.

Solarisbank raises $224M at a $1.65B valuation to acquire Contis and expand its API-based embedded banking tech in Europe

Embedded finance — the process by which some of the more complicated, but also commoditized, aspects of financial services are built and wrapped in an API for anyone else to implement in their own products for end users — has become a huge cornerstone of how fintech is built today. Now, one of the earlier and bigger movers in the space is announcing a major round of growth funding to build out its own.

Solarisbank, a Berlin startup that provides a range of financial services by way of some 180 APIs that others use to build end user-facing products — they include basic banking and card services; lending; payments; and know your customer services — has raised €190 million ($224 million) in a Series D that values the company at €1.4 billion ($1.65 billion), and announced the acquisition of one of its competitors in the space, Contis.

Decisive Capital Management, a Swiss firm that has also backed insurtech startup Wefox, led the round with Pathway Capital Management, CNP (Groupe Frère) and Ilavska Vuillermoz Capital; and previous backers yabeo Capital, BBVA, Vulcan Capital and HV Capital, also participating.

The round is coming about a year after its last round of $67.5 million, but as a sign of the times, what is perhaps more notable is that the company’s valuation has nearly quintupled since then (it was $360 million in June 2020).

This latest round is going to be used for expansion. CEO Roland Folz said in an interview that the Contis acquisition — which underscores a wider consolidation trend in fintech — will help it better cover all of Europe, and start to make its first early moves into Asia. (No plans right now to add the U.S. to that list, he added.)

He added that the combined entity will be making revenues in the “triple-digit euros” — that is, hundreds of millions; it posted net revenues of €35 million in 2020 — and will be in a position to go public next year, if it chooses to.

In the meantime, it’s hoping to double down on the huge shift we’re seeing in the world of financial services, where consumers and businesses are opting for newer and more modern banking experiences as they migrate away from slower, less flexible and sometimes more expensive incumbents.

“Europe is an ideal space for us to work in,” said Folz. “We believe that in Europe there are roughly 800 million bank accounts and some 400 million of those will change ‘ownership’, where traditional banks will be swapped out with non-traditional banks… If we look at the 5-10 year perspective, we want to make sure a  significant proportion of those accounts will be on our platform.”

SolarisBank counts companies like Trade Republic, American Express, BP, Samsung and Vivid among its customers, powering basic banking, know-your-customer checks, lending, digital wallet and other services related to finance for companies that can in turn focus their energies on building more user-friendly customer experiences or other services altogether. It’s been growing at a rate of 40%-60% annually, Folz added, and it has some 50 “partners” (as it calls its customers) in all, covering some 2 million customer accounts.

Contis, meanwhile, is a substantial business in its own right, with some 200 customers covering more than 2 million users and €9.9 billion in transactions annually.

Solarisbank was founded five years ago, in 2016, out of the Berlin-based startup incubator and investor finleap, with Ramin Niroumand, a founder of finleap, essentially the “founder” of Solarisbank too. (Currently and more more formally, he is also chairman of its advisory board.)

Embedded finance is all the rage at the moment, and a number of startups today are providing fintech-as-a-service, or banking-as-a-service tools to third parties. Other notable names in the same segment of the market include Railsbank (which also announced funding earlier this month),  Rapyd, which also raised a big round at a $2.5 billion valuation earlier this year; Unit, another banking-as-a-service startup picking up funding and growing; FintechOS, which really does what its name says (and is also currently raising $$); and the startup 10x, which ironically is targeting incumbents.

Solarisbank believes its particular approach to this gap in the market gives it more flexibility and mileage: unlike its rivals, the bulked-up Solarisbank will have both banking licenses for Europe, and e-money licenses (in Lithuania and UK), with its tech stack living on AWS, giving it an opportunity to build more services, to scale, and to keep better margins in the process — a critical detail in what is essentially an economy of scale play.

It also believes that its own diversity in its customer base — covering not just obvious fintech companies like neobanks, but a variety of others, like Samsung, that are building financial services (in its case, a digital wallet) — gives it more staying power, to cater to whatever segment of that base is growing most at any given time. As Niroumand points out, around 70% of its revenues some from some 30% of its customers. “It’s quite a diverse clientele we are serving,” he said.

The company is currently active in Germany, France, Italy and Spain but says it can cover the whole EEA with passporting.

“With the combined entity, we are looking at numbers that no one else is even close to remotely,” added Folz.

The market opportunity, combined with Solarisbank’s approach and its current customer base, are what attracted investors.

“We are experiencing a paradigm shift in banking, where customers expect financial services to adapt to their specific needs,” says Thomas Schlytter-Henrichen, a partner at Decisive Capital Management, in a statement. “Technology is the key to enable this transformation and Solarisbank’s powerful Banking-as-a-Service platform positions it perfectly for this new banking era. We are both inspired by the team and thrilled to work together on its mission.”

5 portable power stations on sale for your emergency preparedness kit

Power your life during an emergency or while you're off the grid.

As part of your disaster preparedness plan, it doesn’t hurt to have a backup power station.

These six options — including indoor and outdoor models, solar-powered batteries, and are on sale as of July 26.

HomePower ONE: Backup Battery Power Station

With 1,002Wh of power, this backup battery station can provide up to seven days of power supply on a single charge. You can recharge it from your car, AC outlet, or with the compatible solar-powered accessory. Normally, the HomePower ONE retails for $1,299, but you can slash 26% off and pay just $949.99 for a limited time.

Generark Solar Generator: HomePower ONE + SolarPower ONE

This power generator also includes solar panel chargers, and provides up to seven days of battery power while giving you multiple ways to recharge. Get the Generark solar generator for just $1,399 (regularly $1,897) for a limited time.

EcoFlow DELTA Power Station

Power up to 13 devices at the same time with this 1,260Wh battery-powered generator. Use the solar panels to recharge it in just four hours. (It can also be recharged using your carport.) Get it for just $1,149 (normally $1399) for a limited time.

EcoFlow RIVER Portable Power Station

This power station is compatible with 80 percent of home appliances, like refrigerators and air conditioners. Get the EcoFlow RIVER for just $339.99 (normally $349) for a limited time.

EcoFlow RIVER Pro Portable Power Station

The RIVER Pro provides even more energy, with 720Wh of battery capacity. You can keep multiple devices powered at once and recharge through your car, solar panels, or standard outlets. Charge up to 10 devices at the same time. Take home the RIVER Pro for a limited time for just $629.99 (normally $649).

How one founder aims to make money management a mutiplayer game

Aditi Shekar’s path to entrepreneurship was a very intentional one, and while it wasn’t quite a childhood dream, it was the real-world version of the goals she did have as a kid. Fast forward to today, and Aditi’s company Zeta is on a rocket ship ride in fintech, having recently jumped from being a money management and virtual advisor app for couples, to an actual financial solutions provider built from the ground up with shared financial management in mind.

On this week’s episode of Found, me and TechCrunch Managing Editor Jordan Crook sit down with Aditi to talk about where she gets her endless drive and determination, to why she loves financial management (I’m trying to get her zeal to wear off on me, tbh). We also get into why Zeta makes so much sense in the context of a field of legacy financial solutions that generally don’t acknowledge that the way we manage and think about money, especially as it relates to the dynamics between multiple people, has changed significantly over the course of the past several decades.

Aditi definitely isn’t afraid to get real about what’s required to be an entrepreneur and dedicate yourself to a vision you really believe in. And as usual, me and Jordan end up feeling deeply inadequate and ashamed about our life choices — but in a fun way.

We loved our time chatting with Aditi, and we hope you love yours listening to the episode. And of course, we’d love if you can subscribe to Found in Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, on Google Podcasts or in your podcast app of choice. Please leave us a review and let us know what you think, or send us direct feedback either on Twitter or via email at found@techcrunch.com. And please join us again next week for our next featured founder.

Take your interest in photography to the next level with this course bundle

Learn how to take photos of all types.

TL;DR: Take pro-quality photos for your social media, website, blog, and more with the 2021 Ultimate Learn to Become a Photographer bundle. As of July 26, get the 13-course package for only $29.99, a total savings of 98%.


If you want to take your photography to the next level, this 13-course bundle will break down what you need to know.

The 2021 Ultimate Learn to Become a Photographer bundle begins with a course on how to take amazing photos for beginners and will guide you all the way up to advanced photography skills. There’s even a course that will teach you how to operate the professional photographer’s favorite camera: the Nikon DSLR.

The business side of photography is covered, too. There’s a course dedicated to creating your own wedding photography business: how to price packages, how to build an equipment kit, and how to build your own brand.

Courses are taught by professionals like Phil Ebiner, who boasts a rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars as an instructor. Since 2012, he’s taught over 200,000 students and shot and edited thousands of photos and videos.

Normally, this bundle of online photography courses retails for $2,600. But, for a limited time, you can get unlimited, lifetime access to all 13 courses for just $29.99.

Equity Monday: China boosts pressure on its tech sector as Duolingo’s IPO looks to raise a few more bucks

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here.

Ever wake up to just a massive wall of news? That was us this morning, so we had to pick and choose. But since this show is about getting you caught up, we decided to focus on the largest, broadest new information that we could:

  • Asian stocks were down, European shares are lower, and American equities are set to open underwater. Bitcoin had a great weekend, however.
  • China’s edtech crackdown continued over the weekend, with the country’s ruling party setting new rules for online tutoring companies; they can no longer go public and will be forced to become non-profit entities. Chinese edtech stocks around the world fell.
  • China’s larger tech crackdown continued over the weekend and into the week, with new moves against the present-day business models of both food delivery companies, and Tencent Music. The former must ensure minimum incomes, while the latter must give up exclusive rights deals. Shares fell.
  • The Jam City SPAC is kaput. It will not be the last similar deal to fall apart.
  • And we chatted about this bit of Rivian news, as it stood out to us.

All that and we had a good time. Hugs and love from the Equity crew, chat Wednesday!

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:00 a.m. PST, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts!

NotCo gets its horn following $235M round to expand plant-based food products

NotCo, a food technology company making plant-based milk and meat replacements, wrapped up another funding round this year, a $235 million Series D round that gives it a $1.5 billion valuation.

Tiger Global led the round and was joined by new investors, including DFJ Growth Fund, the social impact foundation, ZOMA Lab; athletes Lewis Hamilton and Roger Federer; and musician and DJ Questlove. Follow-on investors included Bezos Expeditions, Enlightened Hospitality Investments, Future Positive, L Catterton and Kaszek Ventures.

This funding round follows an undisclosed investment in June from Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer through his firm EHI. In total, NotCo, with roots in both Chile and New York, has raised more than $350 million, founder and CEO Matias Muchnick told TechCrunch.

Currently, the company has four product lines: NotMilk, NotBurger and NotMeat, NoticeCream and NotMayo, which are available in the five countries of the U.S., Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Colombia.

The company is operating in the middle of a trend toward eating healthier food, as more consumers also question how their food is made, resulting in demand for alternative proteins. In fact, the market for alternative meat, eggs, dairy and seafood products is predicted to reach $290 billion by 2035, according to research by Boston Consulting Group and Blue Horizon Corp.

NotCo’s proprietary artificial intelligence technology, Giuseppe, matches animal proteins to their ideal replacements among thousands of plant-based ingredients. It is working to crack the code in understanding the molecular components and food characteristics in the combination of two ingredients that could mimic milk, but in a more sustainable and resourceful way — and that also tastes good, which is the biggest barrier to adoption, Muchnick said.

“Our theory is that there is a crazy dynamic among people: 60% who are already eating plant-based are not happy with the taste, and 30% of those who drink cow’s milk are waiting to change if there is a similar taste,” he added. “Our technology is based in AI so that we can create a different food system, as well as products faster and better than others in the space. There are 300,000 plant species, and we still have no idea what 99% of them can do.”

In addition to a flow of investments this year, the company launched its NotMilk brand in the United States seven months ago and is on track to be in 8,000 locations across retailers like Whole Foods Market, Sprouts and Wegmans by the end of 2021.

Muchnick plans to allocate some of the new funding to establish markets in Mexico and Canada and add market share in the U.S. and Chile. He expects to have 50% of its business coming from the U.S. over the next three years. He is also eyeing an expansion into Asia and Europe in the next year.

NotCo also intends to add more products, like chicken and other white meats and seafood, and to invest in technology and R&D. He expects to do that by doubling the company’s current headcount of 100 in the next two years. Muchnick also wants to establish more patents in food science — the company already has five — and to explore a potential intelligence side of the business.

Though NotCo reached unicorn status, Muchnick said the real prize is the brand awareness and subsequent sales boost, as well as opening doors for quick-service restaurant deals. NotBurger went into Burger King restaurants in Chile 11 months ago, and now has 5% of the market there, he added.

Sales overall have grown three times annually over the past four years, something Muchnick said was attractive to Tiger Global. He is equally happy to work with Tiger, especially as the company prepares to go public in the next two or three years. He said Tiger’s expertise will get NotCo there in a more prepared manner.

“NotCo has created world class plant-based food products that are rapidly gaining market share,” said Scott Shleifer, partner at Tiger Global, in a written statement. “We are excited to partner with Matias and his team. We expect continued product innovation and expansion into new geographies and food categories will fuel high and sustainable growth for years to come.”

 

Switch effortlessly from studying to gaming with the right tech for college life


Getting your head around a new semester is all about using your time and resources wisely. Cutting-edge gaming tech can power your downtime at school, but it can also help you speed through your classwork. To find that perfect balance, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30 Series laptops are powerhouses for keeping up with intense games, handling demanding school apps, and creating content.

To make your gaming setup dorm room-friendly, a GeForce laptop is a smart, space-saving option. You’ll also love the newfound freedom and independence of a rig you can take pretty much anywhere—especially when you need a break from your roommate.

Here are our favorite picks for back-to-school tech perfect for gaming and studying:

Get speed and efficiency

What gives NVIDIA its summa cum laude status in the world of GPUs? It’s award-winning Ampere architecture with 2nd gen RTX. The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Laptop GPU on this Dell laptop packs ray tracing cores for cinematic-quality visuals and NVIDIA DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling), which is groundbreaking AI rendering technology that boosts game performance.


Dell G5 5510 ($1,499.99)

Credit: Micro Center

Treat your eyes to stunning graphics

Are you a visual learner? Prepare your peepers for realistic ray-traced graphics and AI-accelerated DLSS thanks to an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop GPU on this Alienware gaming laptop with a 17.3-inch screen and incredibly thin left and right bezels.


Alienware m17 R4 ($2,249.99)

Credit: Best Buy

Play hard and study hard

The 300Hz refresh rate, panoramic aurora lighting, and sleek chassis make this high-end machine a thing of beauty any gamer would be proud to own. Its swift NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop GPU and tons of system memory (32GB) let you max out your gameplay or get serious work done.


MSI GE66 ($2,999.99)

Credit: Best Buy

Stay calm with an accident-proof laptop

Game, stream, and write term papers on this battle axe of a rig offering military-grade durability and a familiar Windows 10 OS. The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Laptop GPU facilitates action-packed gameplay and blazing through a syllabus.


ASUS Tuf Gaming A17 ($1,149.99)

Credit: Micro Center

Train with an RGB keyboard

Get the power of a desktop in laptop form with an overclockable NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Laptop GPU and a 15.6-inch, widescreen, LED-backlit display. It also has a four-zone RGB backlit keyboard.


Acer Predator Helios 300 ($1,639)

Credit: Amazon

Create your own studio

Polish your presence for voice and video calls with the NVIDIA Broadcast app. Its AI-enhanced A/V tools remove background noise like typing and allow you to customize your background with an AI greenscreen. Go ahead and live-stream your next virtual presentation from Mars—or the campus coffee shop, at least.

Measure your wins with scientific precision

Want a competitive edge? NVIDIA Reflex tech reduces system latency in games by combining GPU and game optimizations enabling you to react quicker, increase aim precision, and acquire targets faster. For the accuracy-obsessed, your highly-polished skills are measured in milliseconds.


NVIDIA Reflex

Credit: NVIDIA

NVIDIA Reflex

Buying Options

See Details

Upgrade your “field” of play

Forget blurry visuals with this 24.5-inch gaming screen featuring a 360Hz refresh rate and NVIDIA’s Reflex Latency Analyzer tech to prevent tearing and ghosting when the action kicks up. Specially designed for competitive play, it also has VisionCare features to minimize eyestrain.


Acer Predator X25 ($799.99)

Credit: Acer

Get hands-on experience

The optical gaming sensor of this Reflex Latency Analyzer compatible wireless mouse tracks movements at 400 inches per second for lag-free responsiveness and has a built-in, programmable joystick you can use in digital or analog mode. Other customizable, DIY features include screw-less magnetic buttons and push-fit switch sockets.

John Oliver unpacks racial housing discrimination in America and calls for reparations

John Oliver has delved into the history of race and land ownership in America in the latest episode of Last Week Tonight. It’s a history that, in Oliver’s words, “has many horrifying chapters pretty much from chapter one when America was ‘discovered’ from under other people’s feet.”

As Oliver points out, some communities in the U.S. technically still have laws in place prohibiting the sale of homes to people of colour. Oliver begins by telling the story of a Black couple who owned two oceanfront lots on Manhattan Beach, California in the 1920s. After the Klu Klux Klan was involved in harassing them, the town seized the land. 100 years on, the Bruce family may have that land returned to them. Oliver goes on to make the case that other families who’ve experienced similar injustices should receive reparations for land that was taken from them.

“The only really strange thing about paying reparations to Black people is that we haven’t done it yet,” the host of Last Week Tonight said. “When you deprive somebody of something, you make it right by paying what you owe.”

The Business of Telemedicine is Growing – Here’s Why

The future of medicine is just a few taps away. Telehealth is less than 100 years old but is maturing at an unprecedented rate. Starting in the 1950s, closed-circuit television systems allowed communication between hospitals. In the 1970s, telehealth provided medical care to rural communities in Alaska. By the 1990s, videoconferencing for healthcare skyrocketed, leading to today. Even veterinary hospitals offer telehealth services. Virtual healthcare has a compound annual growth rate of 4.8%. Currently, telehealth is a $20+ billion-dollar industry that is expected to reach $186.5 billion by 2026.

In 2019, more than 75% of U.S.-based hospitals used video services to connect with their patients. COVID-19 has encouraged many to try telehealth for the first time. In just the first quarter of 2020, there were over 1,600,000 telehealth visits. Currently, 61% of Americans have had at least one telehealth appointment, a 3x increase since March 2020. Now that many have tried it, most Americans want telehealth to continue. 80% believe telehealth offers the same quality of care as in-person visits, which is up from 56% before the pandemic.

What is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine offers remote clinical services and is used to diagnose conditions, screen symptoms, offer low-risk urgent care, deliver specialist consultations, and provide mental health services. Telehealth provides remote non-clinical services and is much broader, including fulfilling medications, chronic condition support, and physical and occupation services. Telehealth is booming thanks to its many formats. Various virtual healthcare platforms include video calls, mobile health, remote patient monitoring, texting services, software such as Nurx or BetterHelp, and phone calls.

In addition to its rising popularity, the barriers to telehealth are being removed. Public skepticism has gone down; the vast majority of studies show patients now prefer telehealth over in-person visits. Patient privacy was a concern for 66% of adults, but consumers are growing more and more comfortable with their private medical records in the cloud. There were concerns of misdiagnoses, but studies show no significant difference between in-person and telehealth diagnoses. Additionally, 41% of patients have limited access to the internet, but this problem is being solved with Federal broadband initiatives.

What is Telehealth?

Telehealth implements many new technologies. Apps and smartphone gadgets such as MedWand, a diagnostic tool, and Headspace, a mental health product, are new apps that contribute to overall wellness. Mail lin labs for allergies, food sensitivities, genetic testing, and testing for COVID-19 is another technology available. Wearable devices such as sensor-embedded clothing and smartwatches can also help patients track their medical needs.

Telehealth is helping those in need by innovating solutions. Holistic healthcare includes the fields of cardiology, pulmonology, and endocrinology. Remote clinical services such as blood pressure monitors, anticoagulation testing, and ECG devices, are all tools that help measure various health markers. Currently, 28% of consumers use tech to moderate their health. In addition, telehealth programs increase access. This healthcare method can serve high-risk or rural locations, increase healthcare cost parity, help control and diagnose low-incidence diseases, and patients can save up to three hours commuting or around 100 miles of travel.

82% of Americans say telehealth has made it easier to get the care they need. Telehealth has also expanded access to acute care. 59% of Medicare patients have access to a laptop. Telemedicine has also lowered healthcare costs, with savings estimates anywhere from 17% to 75%. Additionally, 22% of the United States population will be older than 65 in 2050, and telemedicine is helping the older population that requires needs-based healthcare.

What are the benefits of telehealth?

The benefits of telehealth are evident. Not only does telehealth increase access, but it also increases patient satisfaction and retention by 81.5%. Telemedicine is more convenient; there is no need to take time off work or commute to the doctor’s office. Many feel less anxiety and fear when seeing a doctor remotely, increasing comfort. In addition, 31% of patients say their healthcare costs decreased when using telehealth.

Patients now expect their doctors to provide telehealth and digital tools. 90% of physicians have experience with remote treatment, and 77% want a shift towards telehealth. Over 75% of patients would consider using telehealth, and 83% of patients expect to use it after 2020. Jonathan Linkous, the CEO of the American Telemedicine Association, states, “In an age where the average consumer manages nearly all aspects of life online, it’s a no-brainer that healthcare should be just as convenient, accessible, and safe as online banking.”

The Booming Business of Telemedicine

The post The Business of Telemedicine is Growing – Here’s Why appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Non-writers can create killer copy with the help of Writesonic’s AI-based software

This AI writing tool is ideal for business owners,  marketers, and more.

TL;DR: Writesonic will become your new favorite copywriting tool, and as of July 26, get a lifetime subscription for only $69.99 — a 98% discount.


Let’s face it. Not everyone was born to be a writer. And if you’re one of the many who can’t arrange words into eloquent segments, you’ve likely already made your peace with it. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean you’re free of all writing forever. In fact, if you run a business of any shape or size, you’re going to need a wordsmith to give your brand a fighting chance.

Along with visual content and SEO, written content is essential to most business marketing strategies. And as of 2020, 70 percent of marketers actively invested in content marketing. But when funds are tight, the luxury of an on-staff content writer is sometimes not something you can afford. That’s where artificial intelligence saves the day (as usual). With Writesonic, the AI-powered tool that helps you write copy effortlessly, you can create high-performing ads, landing pages, descriptions, blog posts, and more in just seconds without breaking the bank.

Rated 4.9 out of 5 stars on AppSumo, Writesonic has the power to boost your business without you lifting a finger. Well, you’ll actually have to click a few buttons, but it’s still a major energy and time-saver. You’ll select from a collection of copy templates depending on what you need, including landing pages, ads, and more. Then, simply enter a short description (just one or two lines) of your product or service as input, hit generate, and watch as a dozen high-converting copy variants are formed in front of your eyes. If you want to add a few things in after the fact, feel free to edit the results. Then just copy, share, and launch your AI-written copy. 

Writesonic is powered by OpenAi, a San Francisco-based artificial intelligence research lab, and their revolutionary Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 technology. Consider it the brains of the operation. It uses deep learning to scour the web and figure out what type of content performs well and how to sound like a human, thus delivering only the best for you and your brand.

For a limited time, you can grab a lifetime subscription to this game-changing tool for only $69.99 (a $5,340 value).

One of Nigeria’s high profile angel investors is launching a fund for African startups

Olumide Soyombo is one of the well-known active angel investors in Nigeria tech startups and Africa at large. Since he began angel investing in 2014, Soyombo has invested in 33 startups, including Stripe-owned Paystack, PiggyVest, and TeamApt.

Today, the investor is announcing the launch of Voltron Capital, a Pan-African venture capital firm he co-founded with Abe Choi, a U.S.-based entrepreneur and investor.

Voltron will be deploying capital to roughly 30 startups, mostly in pre-seed and seed-stage across Africa, in a bid to “address the severe lack of access to early-stage funding for African tech companies.” The ticket sizes will range from $20,000 to $100,000, focusing on startups in Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and North Africa.

Soyombo is one of the few founder-cum-investors on the continent, despite his company not being the traditional VC-backed startup the world has become accustomed to. In 2008, he started Bluechip Technologies with a friend, Kazeem Tewogbade as an enterprise company that provides data warehousing solutions and enterprise applications to banks, telcos, insurance firms. Some of its biggest clients include OEMs like Oracle.

Non-traditional startup founder to an angel investor

Six years later, the pair decided to venture into tech, a relatively nascent industry in Nigeria at the time and began investing in startups via LeadPath, an early-stage firm they launched in Lagos, Nigeria. The idea was to invest $25,000 and take the startups through a three-month accelerator program culminating in a Demo Day. The plan was to run LeadPath like Y Combinator but it didn’t take off as planned.

“In 2014, three months after we found out that there was no investor to put them in front of. So you’d have to write another check yourself,” Soyombo said humorously over the phone. “We quickly saw that the accelerator model didn’t work, so we started investing individually. It’s funny how things have changed since then.”

LeadPath became a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the pair to carry out their angel investing deals. And over the years, Soyombo has launched several SPVs for the same purpose. So, why do things differently now by creating a fund? Soyombo walks me through one of the processes he has used to fund deals over the years to answer this question.

As an influential figure in Nigeria’s tech ecosystem, Soyombo has access to almost any important deal in the market. “I get the privilege of seeing many deals before most people see them. I’ve built that network within the startup ecosystem and reputation as an angel always ready to help. So obviously, that helped me see many deals very quickly,” he said. Often, his deal flows are filled with startups seeking six-figure pre-seed to seed investments. Say, for instance, a founder is looking to raise $300,000, Soyombo can typically invest $50,000 of his own money. And based on his perception of the startup’s growth prospects, he can choose to bring his friends and acquaintances on board to fill the round.

This informal approach is what Soyombo wants to make formal via a structured format where each individual or organisational LPs gets access to his deal flow simultaneously. The investor believes companies will get capital quicker this way. And the interesting bit is that his work in corporate Nigeria has allowed him to access non-traditional capital which means some of the investors that use Soyombo’s deal flows are outside the typical Nigerian tech investing landscape. 

He sees his job as someone bridging the gap of angel investing between his corporate friends and colleagues who have not typically invested in tech and startups that need their money. 

“There’s a bit of FOMO now,” he said. “People, including high net worth individuals, tell me to carry them along anytime I’m investing, and then I have startups looking for capital as well. But then again, I’m not trying to get a full job by managing a full fund which is why we’ve structured it this way.”

Anyone familiar with the happenings in African tech these past few months knows the two events that have caused this FOMO: Paystack’s exit to Stripe and Flutterwave’s unicorn status. Soyombo was an early investor in the former, marking his solitary primary exit alongside two secondaries within a portfolio that have cumulatively raised over $70 million. Thus, it’s not hard to see why Soyombo isn’t having a hard time convincing non-traditional investors, including HNIs (who are notoriously risk-averse when it comes to tech investing), to write checks in startups.

All of a sudden, everyone is interested in what’s happening in the space. The HNIs that would’ve thrown money into real estate are looking for startups. We even see older HNIs telling their children to invest on their behalf, so it’s an easier conversation to have. Most of them want to diversify their portfolio by having a piece of that pie,” he said, pointing to Paystack and Flutterwave successes.

Abe Choi (Co-founder, Voltron)

Voltron Capital will be managed on AngelList. Its investors cut across HNIs and executives from banks, telcos, among other sectors, each investing a minimum of $10,000. Voltron is similar to a typical seven-figure fund targeting pre-seed and seed-stage startups in Africa, yet it’s quite different in the way it chooses to back founders. The fund remains an embodiment of Soyombo’s investment stance, which is “founders-first regardless of the industry.”

“I’m going to continue backing interesting entrepreneurs. If Odunayo of PiggyVest was building a healthtech or edtech company, I’ll still back that company,” he said, referring to the $1 million investment he made three years ago in one of Nigeria’s widely celebrated fintechs. “So I think the investability of sectors, for me, is driven by quality entrepreneurs that are going to solve problems in that area.”

Early-stage investing needs more work

In 2019, African tech startups raised a record $2 billion, according to Partech Africa. They have raised half that number already this year, and some publications predict these startups will break 2019’s record.

A large chunk of these investments goes into late-stage deals, which is typical of most tech ecosystems globally. But Africa stands out because early-stage startups find it more difficult to raise investments compared to other regions. For instance, IFC reported that 82% of African tech startups cite access to seed funding and a lack of angel investors as major problems they face. Without early-stage funding, many of the startups primed to drive this growth are missing out on vital capital to support their early operations and generate revenue, which is a key requirement for securing later rounds of funding and a larger scale.

Voltron, in its little capacity, wants to fill this gap in the best way it can. Besides listing local investors as LPs, Soyombo says startups will be able to access foreign capital too. Choi is the key to making that happen. Personally, Choi has invested in 15 startups (exiting two); therefore, his experience and network in the U.S. will be crucial in sourcing foreign capital into the continent

Soyombo believes Stripe acquisition of Paystack has made foreign investors take notice of African startups. He humorously references Paul Graham’s tweet after the acquisition as another reason why foreign investors’ interests have also piqued. The tweet from the Y Combinator co-founder read: “Investors who ignore Nigeria now have to ask themselves: What do I know that Patrick Collision doesn’t?”

That said, the investor holds that the pace at which the African tech ecosystem is maturing should excite anyone. The quality of founders on the continent is improving and will continue in that manner because there are more problems to solve, he continued.

“Also, as our startups mature, we’ll see people leaving to set up theirs. We want the next wave of African tech success stories to not only make an impact on the continent but to be truly global; through Abe’s strategic connections to the USA, we’re confident we can provide our portfolio with the best possible opportunities to achieve this through our US and global network.”

Swimming coach’s wild reaction to Olympic win is an instant-classic meme

Ariarne Titmus of Team Australia embraces Coach Dean Boxall after the medal ceremony for the Women's 400m Freestyle Final on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 26, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

20-year-old Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus is making her mark at her first ever Olympics on Monday, beating out American champ Katie Ledecky to take gold in the women’s 400 metre freestyle final.

Titmus, whose nickname is “Arnie”, smashed her personal best time in the race, at 3:56.69, ahead of Ledecky’s 3:57.36. Ledecky put up a real fight, with the final lap a genuinely thrilling neck-and-neck push towards the wall.

But Titmus’ incredible win also gave viewers — and the internet — another indelible moment: the sight of her coach, Dean Boxall, going positively hog wild with GIFable joy up in the stands.

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Absolutely hooting and hollering.

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NBC’s commentary team noted a resemblance to Back to the Future‘s Doc Brown.

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This moment of joy and vindication is an clear instant classic reaction that will live on on the internet for years to come. It distils the essence of so many iconic sports GIFs: Vince McMahon leaning back in his chair (yes, WWE counts, don’t @ me), Rob Ryan fist-pumping, the Buckle Up Baby hockey kid. It’s all of those in one. Boxall is clearly ready to tear the stadium to pieces with his bare hands, fuelled only by pure adrenaline and pride.

While we cannot endorse ripping your mask off to scream very much outside your heart in the middle of a pandemic, violently air-humping barriers, or terrifying poor facilities staffers who were clearly not warned about how Australian men react to winning at sport, we can all recognise and relate to a moment of long-fought-for triumph.

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Hail to the camera operators who spotted and recorded this moment for posterity. And here’s hoping Boxall shouts that poor usher a drink once he’s out of Ultimate Warrior mode.

From old favorites to ‘Old’: Every M. Night Shyamalan thriller, ranked

Few filmmakers are as hotly debated as M. Night Shyamalan. To many, the story of his career goes something like this.

The Academy Award-nominated writer-director won over audiences with the horror flick The Sixth Sense (1999). He kept up the successful streak with the chilling superhero story Unbreakable (2000) and heart-wrenching alien invasion tale Signs (2002).

Then, things took a turn for the confusing with period thriller The Village (2004) and exhausting mermaid suspense story Lady in the Water (2006). This apparent quality nosedive culminated in total catastrophe with apocalyptic thriller The Happening (2008), one of the silliest films ever made.

Shyamalan’s reputation stayed lukewarm across found-footage film The Visit (2015) and Unbreakable sequels Split (2017) and Glass (2019). But with his latest release now in theaters, there’s never been a better time to revisit his divisive, extraordinarily hit-or-miss body of work.

On Rotten Tomatoes, Old (2021) is hovering around 50%. Its quality is being heavily contested on social media — and, yes, “the beach that makes you old” is getting memed.

As someone who gave Old a positive review (I stand by it!), this emphasizes to me the role personal preference plays in enjoying Shyamalan’s work. It seems to me what you expect from a thriller hugely impacts whether you walk away satisfied at the end of a Shyamalan film.

With this in mind, I’ve rewatched and ranked every Shyamalan thriller, spelling out what makes some titles work better for me than others. YMMV, but that’s true of every director.

Note: This is not a complete ranking of Shyamalan filmography. Because Shyamalan is primarily known for his thrillers, we’ve excluded dramas Praying with Anger (1992) and Wide Awake (1998), as well as fantasy films After Earth (2013) and The Last Airbender (2010).

That said, I will take this opportunity to say: The Last Airbender is terrible. Truly, it is the worst thing to happen to Aang, Katara, and Sokka since the Fire Nation attacked. Never watch it. Thank you.

10. Glass (2019)

"Belief in oneself is contagious."

“Belief in oneself is contagious.”
Credit: universal pictures

The Bruce Willis-starring superhero thriller Unbreakable came out before the Marvel Cinematic Universe existed. So you’d think that’d be the film to understand the world of comics the least.

But, nope. That distinction goes to Glass, the final film in the Unbreakable franchise that somehow manages to make superpowers lame and three great actors boring. Samuel L. Jackson and Will reprise their roles from the original film, and James McAvoy returns as his character from the other Unbreakable sequel Split. Sarah Paulson joins the cast as Dr. Ellie Staple, a psychiatrist.

Easily the worst Shyamalan thriller, Glass took the Unbreakable franchise — and, well, broke it. If you’re dying to see more of this world after watching the first two, cue it up. Otherwise, it’s a pass.

How to watch: Glass is available for rent or purchase on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube, iTunes, and the Microsoft Store.

9. Lady in the Water (2006)

"Where are you from?" "The pool."

“Where are you from?” “The pool.”
Credit: Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock

Starring Paul Giamatti as an apartment superintendent who skims way more than he was expecting out of his building’s pool, Lady in the Water is an overly contrived fairytale thriller best described as goofy. That said, Bryce Dallas Howard delivers an interesting enough performance as a nymph-like being named “Story” — yes, it’s as awkward to hear in dialogue as you’d imagine — who has to fight her way back to her underwater home after magically appearing in urban Philly.

The titular lady in the water isn’t particularly well-written, her world never feels truly believable, and Shyamalan’s cameo here is easily his most cringe-worthy. Still, Lady in the Water is a good on-in-the-background pick for its ethereal visuals. Just don’t try to follow or care about it.

How to watch: Lady in the Water is now streaming on Cinemax (via Hulu).

8. The Happening (2008)

“Why can’t anybody give me a goddamn second?!”
Credit: Zade Rosenthal/20th Century Fox/Kobal/Shutterstock

In The Happening, something is “happening.” At least, that’s what every character, including those played by Succession‘s Alan Ruck and Jeremy Strong, tells us during this apocalyptic snooze fest.

Though Shyamalan is often lampooned for his twist endings, The Happening is one of the most banally straightforward apocalypse films ever written. Flimsy stakes and unlikable characters — stars Zooey Deschanel and Mark Walhberg have never been so unappealing — make this difficult to enjoy as a suspenseful survival thriller.

But if you turn it into a drinking game or opportunity for heckling, then you’re in for a very fun watch. Count for example how many times hero Elliott, played by Wahlberg, asks himself a rhetorical question out loud versus how many facial expressions he has. (Answer: Too many, and 1.)

How to watch: The Happening is now streaming on Peacock.

7. The Village (2004)

"If it ends, it ends."

“If it ends, it ends.”
Credit: universal pictures

On the off chance you haven’t had The Village spoiled for you yet, I won’t say too much about its ridiculous plot. That said, this bizarre period thriller is among the more divisive Shyamalan films out there with a lot more going for it than critics at the time of release gave the movie credit for.

In her first collaboration with Shyamalan, Bryce Dallas Howard stars as Ivy Walker — a young woman living in a small Pennsylvania town in the 19th century. Though the settlement has been able to live in peace for years due to an ancient agreement, monsters surround the village and the threat of their attack always looms.

Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, Sigourney Weaver, and more round out the cast of what is at the very least a memorable film, with an ending best seen rather than explained. Seriously, the 180 this thing pulls is just unparalleled.

How to watch: The Village is now streaming on Peacock.

6. Split (2017)

“24 identities live in Kevin’s body.”
Credit: universal pictures

The better of the two Unbreakable sequels by a wide margin, Split doesn’t have all that much to do with superheroes and, aside from that post-credits scene, doesn’t include characters from the original. Still, James McAvoy’s jaw-dropping performance as Kevin Wendell Crumb, a dangerous man with 24 distinct psychological identities, is a cinematic experience to behold.

Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, and Jessica Sula co-star as three teenagers captured by Kevin and kept in an underground facility. Their tense fight for survival grounds the film — and while it’s not consistently compelling, this story will leave an impression.

How to watch: Split is available for rent or purchase on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube, iTunes, and the Microsoft Store.

5. Old (2021)

"Can you believe I found this online?"

“Can you believe I found this online?”
Credit: universal pictures

As spicy a take as this may be… I liked Old!

The latest Shyamalan nightmare takes us far away from the writer-director’s typical filming location of Philadelphia to a remote tropical island, where Guy (Gael García Bernal), Prisca (Vicky Krieps), and their children Maddox (Alexa Swinton) and Trent (Nolan River) are hoping for a great vacation.

But when the family becomes trapped on a sinister beach — yes, one that makes them old! — things take a turn for the dire. Undeniably awkward, a bit silly, and still pretty effective, Old takes a bonkers premise to its most extreme and, in my humble opinion, sticks the landing.

How to watch: Old is now playing in theaters.

4. The Visit (2015)

"Would you mind getting inside the oven to clean it?"

“Would you mind getting inside the oven to clean it?”
Credit: universal pictures

If there’s a true hidden gem in Shyamalan’s catalog, then it’s got to be The Visit.

When mom Loretta (Kathyrn Hahn) sends her kids Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) on a trip to meet their estranged grandparents, she expects they’ll have a quiet vacation. But soon after the kids arrive, Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) begin acting strangely.

A found-footage film made by aspiring documentarian Becca captures everything that comes next. It’s a nauseating, gut-wrenching nightmare filled with some surprisingly light moments and a stellar performance from DeJonge. You’ll laugh. You’ll scream. You might throw up. You’ve been warned.

How to watch: The Visit is available for rent or purchase on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube, iTunes, and the Microsoft Store.

3. Unbreakable (2000)

"This is an art gallery, my friend. And *this* is a piece of art."

“This is an art gallery, my friend. And *this* is a piece of art.”
Credit: Getty Images

The awesome movie that (for better or worse) made Split and Glass possible, Unbreakable tells the story of David Dunn. David, played by Bruce Willis, wakes up in a hospital to discover he is the lone survivor of a train derailment that killed more than 130 people. Discovering why, with the help of Samuel L. Jackson’s comic book-loving Elijah Price, grounds the rest of the film.

More than 20 years after its release, Unbreakable remains a gripping mystery that changed the game for superhero films. With a voice that’s especially original for its time, this hero’s journey is full of unexpected twists and turns that stand out even now.

How to watch: Unbreakable is now streaming on Peacock and Amazon Prime Video.

2. Signs (2002)

"Swing away, Merrill. Swing away."

“Swing away, Merrill. Swing away.”
Credit: Frank Masi/Touchstone/Blinding Edge/Kobal/Shutterstock

Signs is a great movie — if you can stomach watching a performance by Mel Gibson.

Over the years, Gibson has been heavily criticized for making racist, antisemitic, homophobic, and sexist remarks as well as been accused of domestic violence. As a result, Shyamalan’s stirring tale of an alien invasion, which stars Gibson, hasn’t aged as well as it could have.

That said, if you choose to watch Signs anyway, you’ll enjoy a wonderful performance from Joaquin Phoenix as the uncle of two children, played by Abigail Breslin and Rory Culkin, as they wait for extraterrestrial life to descend on Earth. It’s a moving story that elevates the art of the twist ending — even more than The Sixth Sense in my opinion — and features an all-time great jump-scare.

How to watch: Signs is now streaming on Peacock.

1. The Sixth Sense (1999)

"I see dead people."

“I see dead people.”
Credit: Getty Images

The Sixth Sense earned Shyamalan both of his Oscar nods, and with good reason. In this emotional ghost story, 10-year-old Haley Joel Osment plays Cole Sear, the iconic boy who can see dead people, opposite Unbreakable‘s Willis as Malcolm Crowe, a child psychologist.

Convincing lead performances, a scene-stealing turn from Toni Collette as Cole’s mom (her second-best horror movie after Hereditary, obvs), and a killer ending help sell The Sixth Sense as an all-time great scary story. You probably already know The Sixth Sense‘s “big twist”, but it’s Shyamalan’s keen understanding of spirituality and meticulous crafting of tension that make this 1998 film a classic.

How to watch: The Sixth Sense is now streaming on Peacock.