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The Best Reusable Water Bottles To Ditch Single-Use Plastics

The Best Reusable Water Bottles To Ditch Single-Use Plastics

It’s not hard to make a decent insulated water bottle. Rarely do I find one that can’t keep a cold drink cold or a hot drink hot, and very few fail spectacularly at keeping liquid inside them. What sets reusable water bottles apart these days are their forms and features: better lids, tougher finishes, and small design flourishes. Some are just nicer to use, easier to sip from, and more ergonomic to hold. Others will fare better on the trail, dangling from a pack.

No matter where or when you’re using one, a reusable bottle is a good idea to cut single-use plastics out of your life. The same goes for non-insulated water bottles, whose main function is not to leak. I tested a variety of reusable bottles from numerous brands. Below are the ones I liked (and a few I didn’t).

On the go? Be sure to check out our other buying guides, like the Best Face Masks and Best Travel Mugs.

Updated October 2021: We adjusted stock and pricing, and we also added a pick to our honorable mentions.

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New Booster Approvals, Data on Kids’ Shots, and More News

New Booster Approvals, Data on Kids’ Shots, and More News

More boosters are approved, kids’ shots prove effective, and more countries open up. Here’s what you should know:

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Headlines

The FDA and CDC approve Moderna and J&J boosters

Yesterday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed boosters for eligible people who received initial doses of the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which means that tens of millions more Americans can get an additional shot as soon as today. The agency’s approval followed similar authorization from the FDA the day prior. The FDA, and later the CDC, also said that people who are eligible for boosters can get them from a different drugmaker than their first shots. There’s some evidence to show that any extra dose increases immunity, and in particular that people who got a first shot from Johnson & Johnson had a much better immune response if they got a second dose of an mRNA vaccine. The FDA said anyone who got a Johnson & Johnson shot is eligible for a booster two months after their initial vaccination.

Already, there are more boosters than first doses being administered in the US. But some medical ethicists and international organizations continue to voice their dismay with the way the US has prioritized eradicating any infection within its own borders over helping other countries secure initial doses, thereby reducing severe illness and death worldwide.

Pfizer and BioNTech submit data to the FDA demonstrating their vaccine’s efficacy in kids

Pfizer and BioNTech submitted data to the FDA today showing that their Covid-19 vaccine proved 90.7 percent effective at preventing symptomatic disease in children ages 5 to 11 during clinical trials. Participants received one-third of the adult dosage and saw only mild side effects. There were no cases of severe illness or myocarditis or pericarditis, heart conditions that have been seen in some other age groups of vaccine recipients, notably young men. Earlier this week the White House outlined its plan for distributing shots to kids once they’re approved, which could happen within weeks. The administration will partner with pediatricians’ offices and community clinics, among other health care providers, and will focus on educating parents about the shots.

Pfizer and BioNTech also filed with Health Canada for approval of their vaccine in younger kids this week. When it comes to vaccinating adolescents, Canada has been an exemplar. It was the first country to approve shots for kids ages 12 to 15 last spring, and more than 80 percent of Canadians 12 and older are fully inoculated.

Countries around the world ease restrictions for vaccinated residents and tourists

On Friday, Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, reopened after being locked down for 262 days, the longest cumulative lockdown for any city in the world during the pandemic. It follows in the footsteps of Sydney, where restrictions began easing two weeks ago. Starting next month, fully vaccinated international travelers will no longer need to quarantine when entering the two cities. In neighboring New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that country’s lockdown will end when 90 percent of eligible residents are vaccinated; so far, 86 percent of the population has received at least one dose. Kuwait also announced it will lift restrictions for people who’ve been vaccinated. And Thailand has said it will open up to visitors who’ve received their shots.

You Can Get This Free Crypto—If the ‘Orb’ Scans Your Eye

You Can Get This Free Crypto—If the ‘Orb’ Scans Your Eye

Altman, however, says that the system is secure and that the company will not be storing user data. Every picture of an iris will be converted into a digital code, called IrisHash, which will be stored in Worldcoin’s database to check against future IrisHashes and deny coins to known users; the pictures themselves will be erased from the database. “We take a picture of your irises, we don’t even store it, we calculate a code from it, the code is uploaded, but the the image never is,” Altman says. “We don’t know any more information about you than that image.” 

Right now, in fact, Worldcoin is running a pilot, involving about 30 Orbs in various countries, and storing a lot of data, including images of peoples’ eyes, bodies, and faces and their three-dimensional scans, according to the company’s own promotion material. “Without it, we wouldn’t be able to fairly and inclusively give a share of Worldcoin to everyone on Earth. But we can’t wait to stop collecting it and we want to make it clear that it will never be our business to sell your personal data,” reads a blogpost titled “Privacy During Field Testing.” In what Worldcoin calls its “field testing phase,” these images are being collected in order to improve the fraud-detection algorithms powering the Orbs. This phase will likely continue until early 2022; the data collected up to that point will be deleted once the algorithms “are fully trained.”

Alex Blania, who cofounded the company alongside Altman and Max Novendstern, explains that  the Orb system allows for beneficial “incentive-alignments.” Not only will people be enticed by the prospect of getting something for free, but an army of Orb Operators will be actively recruiting them in order to get their rewards. (And in turn, Worldcoin has been hiring people to recruit the Orb Operators, according to an ad posted on a Kenyan job bulletin). 

Worldcoin itself will remain in charge of distributing the Orbs, and also of kicking out any operators that try to tamper with the devices in order to extract unwarranted rewards (for instance, by scanning someone twice). Could Orb Operators get their rewards by surreptitiously scanning the irises of clueless people who never heard about Worldcoin? Blania says the company is testing fraud detection systems, adding that he cannot be “extremely specific.” But, in theory, the company could use metrics such as whether the user has actually claimed the Worldcoin or carried out any transaction, in order to spot untoward behavior and root out sneaky Orb-ers.  

Over the course of the pilot, more than 130,000 users have claimed their Worldcoins—60,000 in the past month. To date, the project has used 30 Orbs run by 25 entrepreneurs in various countries, including Chile, Kenya, Indonesia, Sudan, and France. Blania reckons that the production of new Orbs will be increased to 50,000 devices a year, a number on which the 1 billion users projection is based.

A launch date for the actual coin, which will be released as an ERC-20 token on the Ethereum blockchain, has not been released yet. A person familiar with the matter says a launch should happen in early 2022. For Altman, this will be just the start of a “wonderful, grand social experiment” about the power of networks, and also a dress rehearsal for future UBI ambitions. “One thing I believe is that you do an experiment, you do a first thing, and then you learn and you’ll discover all sorts of things about what works here and what we can improve,” he says. “There will be many answers to how something like this could become closer to a UBI.”

Tinder Thinks Love Has No Borders—Even in the West Bank

Tinder Thinks Love Has No Borders—Even in the West Bank

On the ground, the particular geopolitical situation of Israel and Palestine, with its checkpoints and patchwork of territorial designations, also shapes who uses Tinder’s service and how. Although the interface includes no explicit mention of the separation barrier aside from a dashed gray line to indicate a disputed border, users in the region face a significant obstacle: When Palestinians and Jewish Israelis do match, there is often no legal way for them to meet without leaving the country entirely, despite their geographic proximity when swiping. Israelis can cross the Green Line to travel on segregated roads to Israeli settlements, but not to Palestinian cities or villages. Palestinians in the West Bank, meanwhile, cannot cross the Green Line at all without a permit, which can be exceedingly difficult to obtain. Palestinians who do have a Jerusalem ID or hold Israeli citizenship can travel freely in Israel and Palestine to go on dates when they find a match. But the users I spoke with who do not have this freedom of movement say they are deterred by the fact that the vast majority of people they see on the app are either on the other side of a line that they cannot cross, or are located in Israeli settlements, where it is generally unsafe for them to travel. As a result, in the occupied West Bank the ability of different populations to use Tinder’s service to talk to and meet geographically proximate people varies, largely along ethnic lines.

Of course Tinder is not itself responsible for the injustices of military occupation. Still, in not acknowledging the ways that existing political dynamics impact the scope of their service, the company effectively normalizes occupation, treating de jure segregation (and the access differential it creates) as an acceptable condition under which a geolocation-based dating app can operate.

Samir, for his part, encountered these obstacles many times. In the early days of our friendship, he told me that if I did come to Ramallah I would be the first person from the app he’d meet in person while swiping from Palestine. He had matched with Jewish Israelis before, but until I crossed the Green Line, his Tinder relationships had been purely virtual.

“A couple times we got to know each other and they’d say, ‘If you’re ever able to get a permit and you can come in, hit me up,’ but it never happened,” Samir recounts. He also mentions matching with an Israeli woman in Ariel, a nearby settlement, on Tinder, but says he was uncomfortable when he found out where she lived.

“She invited me to come to Ariel,” he tells me, “but I said, ‘Hell no.’”

In recent years, we as users have collectively begun to question the idea that technology companies bear no responsibility when their platforms are used to disseminate misinformation, sway elections, and wage war. What we have not paid enough attention to, however, is the potential for the core functionality of the technology itself to have incidental political implications, and for nonpartisan companies to participate in marginalization by default. Often, it seems, their obligation to thoughtfully and carefully navigate the geopolitical circumstances of prospective markets is overlooked by a culture that, even amid a techlash, sees access to the free market of technological tools as an indicator of progress.

I Was in Israel. I Swiped Right on a Man in Palestine

I Was in Israel. I Swiped Right on a Man in Palestine

On the ground, the particular geopolitical situation of Israel and Palestine, with its checkpoints and patchwork of territorial designations, also shapes who uses Tinder’s service and how. Although the interface includes no explicit mention of the separation barrier aside from a dashed gray line to indicate a disputed border, users in the region face a significant obstacle: When Palestinians and Jewish Israelis do match, there is often no legal way for them to meet without leaving the country entirely, despite their geographic proximity when swiping. Israelis can cross the Green Line to travel on segregated roads to Israeli settlements, but not to Palestinian cities or villages. Palestinians in the West Bank, meanwhile, cannot cross the Green Line at all without a permit, which can be exceedingly difficult to obtain. Palestinians who do have a Jerusalem ID or hold Israeli citizenship can travel freely in Israel and Palestine to go on dates when they find a match. But the users I spoke with who do not have this freedom of movement say they are deterred by the fact that the vast majority of people they see on the app are either on the other side of a line that they cannot cross, or are located in Israeli settlements, where it is generally unsafe for them to travel. As a result, in the occupied West Bank the ability of different populations to use Tinder’s service to talk to and meet geographically proximate people varies, largely along ethnic lines.

Of course Tinder is not itself responsible for the injustices of military occupation. Still, in not acknowledging the ways that existing political dynamics impact the scope of their service, the company effectively normalizes occupation, treating de jure segregation (and the access differential it creates) as an acceptable condition under which a geolocation-based dating app can operate.

Samir, for his part, encountered these obstacles many times. In the early days of our friendship, he told me that if I did come to Ramallah I would be the first person from the app he’d meet in person while swiping from Palestine. He had matched with Jewish Israelis before, but until I crossed the Green Line, his Tinder relationships had been purely virtual.

“A couple times we got to know each other and they’d say, ‘If you’re ever able to get a permit and you can come in, hit me up,’ but it never happened,” Samir recounts. He also mentions matching with an Israeli woman in Ariel, a nearby settlement, on Tinder, but says he was uncomfortable when he found out where she lived.

“She invited me to come to Ariel,” he tells me, “but I said, ‘Hell no.’”

In recent years, we as users have collectively begun to question the idea that technology companies bear no responsibility when their platforms are used to disseminate misinformation, sway elections, and wage war. What we have not paid enough attention to, however, is the potential for the core functionality of the technology itself to have incidental political implications, and for nonpartisan companies to participate in marginalization by default. Often, it seems, their obligation to thoughtfully and carefully navigate the geopolitical circumstances of prospective markets is overlooked by a culture that, even amid a techlash, sees access to the free market of technological tools as an indicator of progress.

Facebook’s Name Change Won’t Fix Anything

Facebook’s Name Change Won’t Fix Anything

When Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook, in 2004, it was a mere directory of students at Harvard: The Face Book. Two decades, 90 acquisitions, and billions of dollars later, Facebook has become a household name. Now it wants a new one.

Zuckerberg is expected to announce a new name for the company next week at Facebook Connect, the company’s annual conference, as first reported by The Verge. This new name—meant to encompass Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, and the rest of the family—will clarify the company as a conglomerate, with ambitions beyond social media. The Facebook app might be the cornerstone of the company, but Zuckerberg has been very clear that the future of the company belongs to the metaverse.

But what’s in a name? In Facebook’s case, it comes with strong associations, some reputational damage, scrutiny from Congress, and disapproval from the general public. The Facebook name has led to a “trust deficit” in some of its recent endeavors, including its expansion into cryptocurrency. By renaming the parent company, Facebook might give itself a chance to overcome that. It wouldn’t be the first corporate behemoth to seek some goodwill with a new moniker: Cable companies do it all the time.

Still, branding experts—and branding amateurs on Twitter—aren’t convinced that renaming the company will do much to correct reputational problems or distance itself from recent scandals.

“Everyone knows what Facebook is,” says Jim Heininger, founder of Rebranding Experts, a firm that focuses solely on rebranding organizations. “The most effective way for Facebook to address the challenges that have tainted its brand recently is through corrective actions, not trying to change its name or installing a new brand architecture.”

Facebook’s decision to rename itself comes just after whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked thousands of pages of internal documents to The Wall Street Journal, exposing a company without much regard for public good. The documents spurred a hearing on Capitol Hill, where already Congress has, for years, been discussing the possibility of regulating Facebook or breaking up its conglomerate.

A new name might give the company a facelift. But “a name change is not a rebrand,” says Anaezi Modu, the founder and CEO of Rebrand, which advises companies on brand transformations. Branding comes from a company’s mission, culture, and capabilities, more than just its name, logo, or marketing. “Unless Facebook has serious plans to address at least some of its many issues, just changing a name is pointless. In fact, it can worsen matters.” Renaming a company can create more mistrust if it comes off as distancing itself from its reputation.

Modu says renaming does make sense to clarify a company’s organization, the way other conglomerates have. When Google restructured in 2015, it named its parent company Alphabet, to reflect its growth beyond just a search engine (Google) to now include a number of endeavors (DeepMind, Waymo, Fitbit, and Google X, among others). Most people still think of the company as Google, but the name Alphabet is a signal for how the company fits together.