Posts made in January 2019

Greatest hits: Punching gets ‘poshified’ at an upscale boxing boutique

January 18, 2019

Get ready to rumble—but not in a wrestling ring. Rumble—a rarified boxing club that opened its doors in 2016—already has a cult following at its group classes in Manhattan, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

The luxe Rumble has attracted an upscale clientele of professionals and celebrities with its posh, crimson-lit workout rooms—enlivened by nightclub-quality sound systems blasting upbeat hip-hop music; and loft-like, high-tech architectural features.

According to a January 16 report by The Wall Street Journal, its fans include social media-savvy supermodels like Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Adriana Lima, and stylish male celebs like David Beckham, Chris Hemsworth, and Scott Eastwood—all of whom happily Instagram their jabs and crosses.

“Celebrities started showing that boxing didn’t have to be grungy,” Andy Stenzler, Rumble’s CEO, told the Journal. “That you didn’t have to hit each other to get a great workout.”

Boxing may be a centuries-old sport, but the combination of inviting spaces, trainers who aren’t bullies, and circuit-style classes feels fresh. At the chain’s elite studios, half of the space is filled with weight-training benches and dumbbells; the other half, by 185-pound boxing bags. Even the boxing gloves don’t reek of sweat; they’re stored on ski-boot heaters that kill bacteria. And the teardrop-shaped bags don’t hurt your wrists; they’re filled with water, which is more forgiving than sand.

Inside, the joint is jumping: Every 50-minute class offer two groups of 30 people each an opportunity to learn boxing— starting from introductory level instruction; and adding intensity and skill levels as participants progress (as well as private training).

Beginner-level group courses offer cardio-fueled warm-ups, pre-class instructions on the dynamics of six punches, three rounds of boxing on the bags, and three rounds of strength and conditioning.

Newbies need not fear getting punched in the nose. “We want it to be fun, not intimidating,” Stenzler told the news outlet.

First-time classes cost $32, “and,” the chain says, “we will hit you with the second one on us.” Ten classes cost $300; a private training session, $160.

Subtract the combat and, Rumble promises, boxing is still a killer total-body workout. “You’re constantly moving,” Chris Gagliardi, a certified personal trainer, told the Journal. “It’s challenging muscular endurance, strength, flexibility, body composition, your brain. You’re working on power, speed, balance, agility, coordination. It’s a lot of bang for your buck,” he said.

And if you don’t want to actually go to the gym, Rumble is taking things a step further.: Try At Home 360, a Peloton-esque venture that combines a Technogym boxing bag ($1,700, technogym.com) with a $39/month subscription for live and on-demand.

Research contact: @RumbleBoxingNYC

 

Closer to a cure: United Neuroscience tests Alzheimer’s vaccine

January 18, 2019

Today, 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s—and, every 65 seconds, someone in the United States develops the disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

For the past 20 years, biotech companies have been striving to tackle Alzheimer’s—with little success.  However now, Bloomberg reports, a four-year old Dublin-based biotech team—comprising leaders in neurology, vaccines, drug development, and disruptive ideas—believes it may be on to something.

To be clear, the news outlet says, United Neuroscience hasn’t solved Alzheimer’s yet, nor has it claimed to. But previously unreported results from a small, recent United clinical trial find that 96% of patients responded, without serious side effects, to the Alzheimer’s vaccine the company calls UB-311. The researchers describe the drug as “a novel synthetic peptide vaccine targeting beta amyloid [the main component of the amyloid plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer patients] in the treatment of Alzheimer’s.”

The patients demonstrated improved brain function and showed a reduction in the protein plaque gumming up their neurons, the company’s report says.

“The positive results show that we can safely raise and maintain [anti-beta amyloid] antibody titers in a predictable and sustained manner,” said Peter Powchik, EVP of Research and Development at UNS, in a company release.

“High response rates, reproducibility of response, and generation of antibodies directed to relevant toxic protein species are key elements of an effective therapeutic vaccine for neurodegenerative conditions. The UNS platform is proving that it can deliver on these requirements,” Powchik claimed.

Indeed, Bloomberg explains, United’s vaccine stimulates the patient’s own immune system to attack amyloid, which some researchers believe to be the leading cause. The vaccine’s job is to slow the proteins’ clumping and, if possible, reverse some damage and restore brain function.

United’s clinical trial, a Phase II study completed last year, tested the vaccine with a group of 42 patients who had mild cognitive impairment and appeared to be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

One set of patients was in the control group and received a placebo; while two other groups received three shots of the vaccine and then boosters either every three or six months over the course of a 18 months.

Although the small number of patients prevents United from drawing any major statistical conclusions, the company has been encouraged enough to move ahead with development of the vaccine, possibly with a larger partner, according to CEO Mel Mei Hu.

For now, United says it’s focused on raising capital to fund a more conclusive UB-311 study and to keep refining its widening range of vaccines. The 35-person company is gearing up to start trials of UB-312, aimed at Parkinson’s disease, and a second Alzheimer’s vaccine meant to combat tau [a protein that causes tangles in the brain].

“They have taken thoughtful initial steps with this very promising technology,” Eric Reiman, a leading Alzheimer’s researcher and an adviser to United Neuroscience, told Bloomberg. “But this is still the beginning of the beginning.”

Research contact: @UNSTechBio

Giuliani: ‘I never said there was no collusion’

January 18, 2019

And now, from the same man who told Chuck Todd of “Meet the Press” that “The truth isn’t the truth” last August comes a new pronouncement.

Referring to the Russia probe, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on January 16, “I never said there was no collusion between the campaign, or people in the campaign.”

He added, “I said the President of the United States. There is not a single bit of evidence the President of the United States committed the only crime you can commit here, conspiring with the Russians to hack the DNC.”

Indeed, according to CNN, “It’s another remarkable statement from Giuliani, given that the President and his supporters have repeatedly denied any collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.”

The cable news network noted, “A person familiar with the matter told CNN last week that [Paul] Manafort, while serving as Trump’s campaign chairman, tried to send internal polling data from the Trump campaign [to] two Kremlin-supporting Ukrainian oligarchs through his associate Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian national who is linked to Russian intelligence.

When Cuomo asked whether the sharing of this data by Manafort constituted collusion, Giuliani said Trump never shared the polling data himself and only found out about it recently in the news.

“Donald Trump wasn’t giving polling data to anyone,” Giuliani said, adding, “he did not know about it until it was revealed a few weeks ago in an article.”

Giuliani attempted Thursday morning to clean up his remarks, telling CNN’s Dana Bash that he did not intend to send any new signals regarding the Trump legal team’s understanding of the investigation.

“The President did not himself, nor does he have any knowledge of collusion with Russians. If anyone was doing that, he is unaware of it and so am I,” Giuliani said. “But neither he nor I can possibly know what everyone on the campaign was doing.”

Giuliani said collusion is not a crime and the term is now being used broadly to describe contact with Russians.

“I can’t possibly say no one had contact about something or in some way,” he said.

Research contact: @caroline_mkelly

What’s with all of the decluttering?

January 17, 2019

Healthcare. Gun control. Privacy. Global warming. At a time when most major issues are out of our control, Americans have focused on the pressing need for decluttering. If we cannot fix the world, at least we can bring some order to our own small parts of it.

It began back in 2014, with a manifesto by a professional organizer based in Japan—“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”—and it has built to a cultural climax with the hit Netflix series, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.”

And while, The Chicago Tribune reports, Marie Kondo’s minimalist manifesto is a phenomenon unto itself, with Twitter testimonials (#tidying, #konmari) and hundreds of YouTube videos, the author also has helped to espouse a broader societal cleaning spree: Your family, friends, and neighbors are accepting the 40 Bags in 40 Days (#40bagsin40days on Twitter) clutter-removal challenge—which runs from March 6 through April 20 this year.

They are listening to Graham Hill’s TED Talk (“Less Stuff, More Happiness,” with 4.4 million views and counting), posting photos of dumped junk on Instagram, and snapping up popular get-rid-of-it guides targeting minimalists (“The Joy of Less” by Francine Jay).

“The whole decluttering thing is a huge trend right now,” Kristin Collins, 40, of Raleigh, North Carolina, told the Tribune. She has been on a self-described clutter reduction “bender” for the last few years. “It’s what everyone’s talking about.”

Collins, a communications professional who lives with her husband and their nine-year-old daughter, told the news outlet that she doesn’t even have to purchase kid clutter; it comes to her. “Birthday parties (mean) piles of presents, and there’s treasure boxes at school, and they come home with all these cheap junky toys and goody bags, and then grandparents are shipping lots of cheap stuff from Walmart that breaks in the first two weeks and scatters on your floor. I feel like we’re at a point where it’s reaching a critical mass and people are just losing their minds

How did decluttering rise through the ranks of the American self-improvement agenda?

In a pioneering 2001-2005 University of California at Los Angeles study that sent researchers into the homes of 32 middle-class families to carefully chronicle their possessions, researchers found refrigerators covered with magnets, photos, calendars, memos, and kids’ art; common spaces full of toys; shelves stuffed to overflowing with DVDs, books; and mementos; and garages so full of boxes, bins and rejected furniture that there was no room left for cars.

The researchers began their report on “The Clutter Culture,” by describing the value system of the home owners: “Get stuff. Buy stuff. Get more of it. Keep that, too. Display it all, and proudly.”

“One thing that was really striking to everybody that worked on this study was just how much of a clutter crisis our families are facing right now,” Darby Saxbe, now a professor of Psychology at the University of Southern California, told the Chicago Tribune. “They were surrounded by stuff to the point where it seemed emotionally and physically stressful and taxing for them.”

Saxbe traces the clutter buildup, in part, to unprecedented access to deeply discounted consumer goods.

“We’ve got Walmart, where you can buy anything for $10, and we’ve become used to this very acquisitive style, where if you can’t find your stapler, you just go buy another stapler,” she said “I was just reading the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ books with my daughter, and if they wanted a doll, for example, they had to make it, and it was incredibly labor-intensive.”

Ergo, the success of Kondo’s book, which was a best-seller in Japan and Germany before hitting the U.S. market. The book—which is part cleaning memoir, part decluttering how-to—centers on the author’s personal “revelation” that our possessions, themselves, create stress. As a young girl, she learned to cull them mercilessly, keeping only those things that brought her joy. She built a system of decluttering based on that insight, as well as a business.

In a true Kondo household, every object has its place and is returned to it religiously after it is used. Kondo makes the remarkable — and very seductive — claim that no one who has completed her private tidying course, which involves a one-time, full-home purge, has rebounded into disarray. No one.

“This whole Marie Kondo thing has changed my life,” Jamie Gutfreund, the global chief marketing officer at the global digital agency Wunderman, told the Tribune.”Everybody who knows me right now is so tired of me talking about it, because I feel so much better,” Gutfreund says. “I really feel so much better. I (used to) lose my glasses every day. The whole thing is, you have to respect your items, and you have to put them in the places where they’re supposed to go. So now I’m putting my glasses where they’re supposed to go, and I don’t lose them — funny! I probably gained 20 minutes a day.”

There’s also an emotional aspect to decluttering, and for some a spiritual one. Like meditation and yoga, decluttering appeals to overscheduled Americans seeking calm and focus, Gutfreund says.

And that’s the key to the decluttering revolution—that sense of calm and control within the turbulence that characterizes our current society.

“I am the opposite of a neat freak — I’ve always been a messy person,” Collins says. “But even I just feel a sense of calm when there’s not stuff piled in every corner of my house.”

Research contact: @Marie Kondo

Pelosi: ‘State of the Union’ should be delayed due to lack of security during government shutdown

January 17, 2019

In a January 16 letter to President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) suggested that the State of the Union address, scheduled for January 29, should be postponed, due to security concerns caused by the partial government shutdown.

The annual statement—which covers the accomplishment and challenges of the current administration and is delivered by the president—is classified as a National Security Event under Public Law 106-544, passed in December 2000. Under that legislation, the U.S. Secret Service is designated as the lead federal agency responsible for coordinating, planning, exercising, and implementing security for the speech.

While the president is not required to deliver the information as a speech, every POTUS since Woodrow Wilson, except Herbert Hoover, has done so, in front of a joint session of Congress. Prior to that time, most presidents delivered the annual communication as a written report.

“Both the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security have not been funded for 26 days now—with critical departments hamstrung by furloughs,” Pelosi noted.

“Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week,” she said, “I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on January 29th

The suggestion, which, The Washington Post reported, could deny Trump an opportunity to make his case for border-wall funding in a prime-time televised address, came as White House officials were urgently lobbying Republican senators against signing a bipartisan letter that would urge an end to a shutdown.

The White House had no immediate response.

According to the same Post report, Pelosi later told reporters that the letter was intended as a suggestion and that she was not rescinding the invitation for Trump to speak. “He can make it from the Oval Office if he wants,” she added.

Research contact: @SpeakerPelosi

It’s #Team Fluff vs. #Team Ruff in Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl XV on February 3

January 16, 2019

If tail-wagging were a competition, all 93 puppies chosen for the Pedigree starting lineup in the 15th Annual Puppy Bowl would take the top prize—a “Lombarky” trophy from Chewy.com.

Prepare to fall in “puppy love” as the baby bow-wows—sourced from animal shelters throughout the United States and Costa Rica—take to the gridiron for two hours of tumbling and fumbling at Geico Stadium in Steubenville, Ohio, starting at 3 p.m. (ET) on February 3 on the Animal Planet in your area.

Even if they don’t “go big,” they are almost sure to “go home”—because the Puppy Bowl also serves as an adoption event. Indeed, fully 100% of the puppies that have run riot in previous years have been embraced and taken in by forever families.

This year, Animal Planet worked with over 50 dedicated animal shelters and rescue organizations from over 20 states and territories in the U.S. and made an international stop to Costa Rica, to get these puppies set for the big game.

With a bigger game in store for viewers later in the evening—Super Bowl LIII—audiences will be sure to find their favorite elements returning to the fluffiest game of the year; including a front row seat to the pregame rituals of these special pups via the locker room camera.

Viewers also will get an “pup-close and personal” look at the game through the famous water bowl cam, the fan favorite kiss cam, aerial shots of the field from the Temptations Sky Box, and a look at the touchdowns through the Sprint cameras in the end zones.

What’s more, this year, the audience will find out what these adorable puppies are really made of, with a Wisdom Panel Canine DNA Test. What genetic traits are giving them those advantages on the field? The organizers tested them all to find out!

The game will feature “aww-nalysis” from sports correspondents, including the infamous Rodt Weiler with James Hound and Sheena Inu serving as pre-game show analysts. “Rufferee” Dan Schachner returns for the eighth year in a row to call the puppy penalties, furry fumbles,and terrier touchdowns

The first half of the event will be sponsored by STXfilms’ Ugly Dolls, with the second half sponsored by Illumination’s The Secret Life of Pets 2 from Universal Pictures.

Midway through the exciting game, get ready for a purr-fect surprise during the Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Kitty Half-Time Show

All of the pups also will compete for the individual Bissell MVP (Most Valuable Puppy) by scoring the most touchdowns.

And finally, don’t forget to check out the spectacular group of baby kangaroo cheerleaders who root for their favorite team from the sidelines!

Research contact: @puppybowl19

Netflix hikes prices on subscription plans

January 15, 2019

As the old saying goes, “You pays your money and you takes your choice”—and that’s certainly true for Netflix.

The Los Gatos, California-based streaming video service has just raised prices for all of its subscription plans—a move that will enable the company to continue its aggressive spending on content in the face of stepped-up competition from rivals, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

Netflix will increase the price of its most popular plan by 18%—to $13 a month from $11. That plan allows users to stream from two screens at the same time. The most basic plan, which allows a single stream in standard definition, will go up one dollar, or 13%, to $9 a month.

“We change pricing from time to time as we continue investing in great entertainment and improving the overall Netflix experience for the benefit of our members,” a Netflix spokesperson told the Journal.

The new rates will go into effect immediately for new customers and be applied to the accounts of existing customers in the next few months, according to a person familiar with the plans.

Netflix last raised prices in October 2017, when the standard plan increased $1, to $11 a month; and the premium plan went up $2,  to $14.

The increase in monthly subscriber fees comes as Netflix continues to spend heavily to woo talent to its streaming service. Already, it has cut long-term deals costing hundreds of millions of dollars with powerful Hollywood producers—among them, Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy.

Indeed, the Journal reports, industry analysts expect Netflix this year will spend $12 billion on licensing and creating content, more than double what it spent just two years ago.

Research contact: joe.flint@wsj.com

Trump: ‘I don’t care’ if Putin conversation becomes public

January 16. 2019

Following media reports that he squelched access to transcripts of his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin—and welshed on any promises to share them with his top aides—President Donald Trump on January 12 said he would be willing to release the details of the leaders’ private conversation in Helsinki last summer, Politico has reported.

“I would. I don’t care,” Trump told Fox News host Jeanine Pirro in a phone interview. “I’m not keeping anything under wraps. I couldn’t care less.”

The president’s remarks came hours after a report by The Washington Post stating that Trump “has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details” of his talks with Putin. The Post also reported that there is no detailed record of Trump’s interactions with Putin at five locations over the past two years, according to U.S. officials.

The president referred to his roughly two-hour meeting with Putin in Helsinki — at which only the leaders and their translators were present — as “a great conversation” that included discussions about “securing Israel and lots of other things,” Politico said.

“I had a conversation like every president does,” Trump told Pirro. “You sit with the president of various countries. I do it with all countries.”

House Republicans in July blocked an attempt by Democratic lawmakers to subpoena Trump’s interpreter in Helsinki. Politico previously had reported that Putin raised the subjects of nuclear arms controls and weapons prohibitions in space during the one-on-one conference, according to a Russian document.

Asked by Pirro if he’d ever worked on behalf of Russia, Trump did not directly answer the question, calling a New York Times report of an FBI counterintelligence investigation on him “insulting.”

Trump also evaded a question on whether the administration was seeking to keep special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report on the Russia probe from the public, saying only that the investigation was a “hoax.”

Research contact: @QuintForgey

When it’s past time to pack a relationship in, ExBox will help you pack it up

January 15, 2019

In the past, when a single woman (or man) “threw the bum out,” the former beloved’s belongings often were tossed unceremoniously out of the window and onto the lawn below. But now, there’s a more civilized way to deal with the unwanted detritus of a failed relationship.

ExBox, a new service by on-demand storage solution New York City-based MakeSpace and media company Mschf, is here to help you get those physical reminders of your ex—his favorite hoodie, her teddy bear—out of your space in a timely manner, according to a report by Real Simple.

With a service that current is available in the New York metropolitan area; as well as in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles—and soon will be opening its doors in Boston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco—ExBox will put those unwelcome romantic reminders in cold storage until you’re ready to actually deal with them. Whether that means doing the mature thing and returning them, or burning them in a dumpster (if you are still hot under the collar), is totally up to you.

After some time has passed, you may even want to keep some of these mementos—because a toaster is a toaster, regardless of who bought it for you.

The online questionnaire at ExBox will request basic contact information, plus a ranking of how horrible your ex really was (from “I barely knew him” to “We were going to get married”): The worse the breakup, the more money you can save—as much as $39 when the engagement is off.

ExBox will send you a box, which you can fill with photos, ticket stubs, gifts, and other reminders of your ex. (You can even store items as large as a bed.) Once your items are all packed, someone from the service will pick them up and take them to a storage facility.

When you’re ready to go through the box and decide what to keep, toss, or return, ExBox will bring the stuff right back to you.

Research contact: @MakeSpace