WHO Lists 12 Deadly Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria and the Urgent Need for New Drugs

 

There are all sorts of diseases in the world, and every once in a while comes a certain ‘microorganism’ which creates havoc in the form of dangerous diseases like Ebola, Swine Flu, Bird Flu, and the like. Scientists have time and again come up with effective antibiotics to control the diseases and save lives, but the shocking part is that each year these microbes come back twice as more potent and resistant to the antibiotics. As such it is a constant struggle to reinvent and find effective cures. In such cases, intensive research is the only thing that can save lives as scientists discover more characteristics and behaviour of the triggers.

Recently, WHO published the first-ever list of antibiotic-resistant “priority pathogens” that included 12 families of bacteria that pose the greatest threat to human health. The intention was to spread awareness, as well as guide and promote research and development of new antibiotics. There is a serious concern on the growing global resistance to antimicrobial medicines.
(How Antibiotics May Make You More Prone to Infections)WHO Lists 12 Deadly Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria and the Urgent Need for New Drugs

What Did the List Include?

According to the global health body, the list is divided into three categories according to the urgency of need for new antibiotics: critical, high and medium priority.

“The most critical group of all includes multi-drug resistant bacteria that pose a particular threat in hospitals, nursing homes, and among patients whose care requires devices such as ventilators and blood catheters. They include Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas and various Enterobacteriaceae (including Klebsiella, E. coli, Serratia, and Proteus),” said a WHO statement.

It said that all the bacteria can cause severe and often deadly infections such as bloodstream infections and pneumonia.

“These bacteria have become resistant to a large number of antibiotics, including carbapenems and third generation cephalosporins – the best available antibiotics for treating multi-drug resistant bacteria,” said the report.
(Rare Disease Day: 7 Most Rare Diseases in the World and the Importance of Research)

bacteria

High- Medium Priority Type

The second tier includes antibiotics of high priority – for Enterococcus faecium, which is vancomycin-resistant; Staphylococcus aureus, which is methicillin-resistant; Helicobacter pylori, which is clarithromycin-resistant; Campylobacter spp, which is fluoroquinolone-resistant; Salmonellae, which is fluoroquinolone-resistant; and Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which is cephalosporin and fluoroquinolone-resistant.

The third tier includes medium priority antibiotics for Streptococcus pneumoniae, which is penicillin-non-susceptible; Haemophilus influenzae, which is ampicillin-resistant; and Shigella spp, which is fluoroquinolone-resistant.

“This list is a new tool to ensure research and development responds to urgent public health needs,” said WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation Marie-Paule Kieny in the statement.

Evelina Tacconelli, Head of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Tubingen and a major contributor to the list, said, “New antibiotics targeting this priority list of pathogens will help to reduce deaths due to resistant infections around the world.

“Waiting any longer will cause further public health problems and dramatically impact on patient care.”

gut bacteria

 

Surgery and Other Treatment Options for Arthritis Patients

Arthritis in the knee is the most common type is osteoarthritis which is a progressive condition that slowly wears away the joint cartilage. It is mostly likely to strike after middle age but can also occur as a result of injury or if a person is overweight. When the cartilage gets destroyed, the the bones of the joint rub constantly against each other and this may lead to swelling, pain and stiffness.

While age seems to be the most common cause of knee arthritis as the ability of the cartilage to heal diminishes when people get older and it may not be able to repair itself after the regular wear and tear, there are other factors that can also put you at risk. Obesity, people who are involve din athletics or some kind if genetic mutations may make a person more likely to develop knee arthritis.Surgery and Other Treatment Options for Arthritis Patients

Knee arthritis may bring a lot of pain to the patients and they may also lose mobility or find it difficult to walk. Therefore, the primary goal of treatment is to deal with these issues. Here are some common methods of treating knee arthritis. Be sure to take your doctor’s decide before you decide to follow any of these as the treatment option totally depends on the severity of the condition.

1. Pain Relievers and Anti-Inflammatory Drugs: Consult your doctor who may prescribe certain medications to relieve the pain and control the swelling.

2. Injections: Some doctors may suggest getting injected with corticosteroids or hyaluronic acid that helps in lubricating the joints and lessening the effects of the constant rubbing of bones.

3. Physiotherapy: Some easy exercises can help in strengthening your muscles and increase the flexibility in your joints. Some amount of physical stress can also help in easing out the symptoms of knee arthritis like pain, swelling and stiffness.

Also read: ( How To Treat Knee Pain: Easy Tips And Home Remedies )

knees

4. Weight loss: One of the main causes of knee arthritis may may be excess weight that puts an extra load on your knees leading to discomfort. The inflammatory mediators produced in fat can cause your joint tissues. In such a situation, weight loss can help in improving the joint functions.

5. Surgery: In severe cases, a ‘total knee replacement surgery’ may be recommended by doctors. Depending upon the degeneration of the knees, doctors may also suggest arthroscopes or partial replacements.

Stem Cell Therapy May Help Treat Lung Inflammation and Damage

Those suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can now seek alternative therapy to reduce their lung inflammation. According to a recent study, stem cell therapy may potentially help in repairing lung damage in patients with cystic fibrosis and COPD. Experts at Queens University Belfast, UK investigated the effectiveness of Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapy in a mouse model of chronic inflammatory lung disease. Chronic inflammation in conditions such as COPD and cystic fibrosis leads to inflammation, lung damage and reduced lung function which may often result in respiratory failure.

Stem cells were intravenously administered to mice at four and six weeks of age. Sample tissue and cells were then collected from their lungs at about eight weeks. As a result, it was found that the inflammation was significantly reduced in the group receiving MSC therapy as compared to the group of mice that didn’t receive the therapy. Cell count for both monocytic cells and neutrophils – signs of inflammation – were significantly reduced after MSC therapy, researchers said.

On investigating the lung tissue, it was revealed that the mean linear intercept and other measures of lung destruction had reduced in MSC treated mice. MSC therapy also resulted in significant improvements in lung structure, suggesting that this form of treatment has the potential to repair damaged lung.

(Also Read: Breathe Easy: 5 Natural Ways to Increase Your Lung Capacity)

Stem Cell Therapy May Help Treat Lung Inflammation and Damage: Study

“These preliminary findings demonstrate the potential effectiveness of MSC treatment as a means of repairing the damage caused by chronic lung diseases such as COPD,” said Declan Doherty, Queens University Belfast.

“The ability to counteract inflammation in the lungs by utilizing the combined anti-inflammatory and reparative properties of MSCs could potentially reduce the inflammatory response in individuals with chronic lung disease whilst also restoring lung function in these patients,” Doherty added.

MSC therapy is currently being investigated as a promising therapeutic approach for a number of incurable, degenerative lung diseases.

Google Chrome to Get Native Ad-Blocking on Mobile and Desktop

In a move that might come as a surprise to most of the tech industry, Google is reportedly planning to introduce an ad-blocking feature to its Chrome browser on both mobile and desktop platforms. While the search giant itself earns considerable revenue from advertising, people familiar with the matter believe that this move is expected to be made to keep other ad-blocking tools in check. This should also come as welcome news for Android users, as the usually preloaded Google Chrome browser for Android has for a long time had the distinction of not supporting ad-blocking, neither natively or via extension.

The search giant is planning to introduce its Chrome browser ad-blocking feature, which could be switched-on by default, to filter out the ads that will be considered unacceptable for the users as per the list of ad types released by Coalition for Better Ads last month, as per a report by WSJ. According to the released list by the industry group, ad types including “pop-up ads, prestitial ads, ads with density greater than 30%, flashing animated ads, auto-play video ads with sound, poststitial ads with countdown, full-screen scrollover ads, and large sticky ads” were described to be “beneath the initial Better Ads Standard.”Google Chrome to Get Native Ad-Blocking on Mobile and Desktop: Report

If you are wondering why Google would have this change of heart about advertising, the company’s aim behind streamlining the advertisements is to curb the growth of third-party ad-blocking applications, people familiar with matter told WSJ. Pushing out its own ad-blocking feature might help the search giant to prevent users from installing extensions, which will most likely tune out all ads instead of selected ones.
Notably, Google is already a part of “Acceptable Ads” program by Eyeo GmbH (the company behind popular AdBlock Plus tool) to enable advertising on its search engine to pass through its filters. Considering that Chrome is a popular browser choice, in case Google does introduce the aforementioned tool, it might end up creating a huge problem for the other ad-blocking tools. Notably, Apple enabled ad blocking on its mobile operating system with iOS 9 in 2015. Since then many users have shown interest in these tools.

As we mentioned of course, the move if true would be a great relief to Android users. The preloaded browser is a very popular choice on Android, and users are often subjected to pop-ups and download requests – many of them malicious. While Google may do its part on Android security, the minefield it willingly lets users traverse in daily browsing is a dangerous one. Google is long overdue in such an implementation.

 

Easter Bunny 2017: Significance and Celebration!

Easter Sunday is here and it brings along happiness and cheer. A significant celebratory day for Christians all over the world, Easter Sunday is known as the day of resurrection of Jesus Christ. According to the Scripture, Jesus rose from the dead or came back to life three days after being crucified. It is marked as Jesus’ victory over death. The crucifixion of Jesus is commemorated on Good Friday, which is the Friday right before Easter. Easter falls anywhere between March 22 and April 25 every year. It is always celebrated on Sunday, immediately following the Paschal Full Moon.

Easter Bunny- Significance

Easter is celebrated as it signifies the rebirth of Jesus. His resurrection symbolises the eternal life that is granted to all who believe in Him. There are different connotations as to why we involve bunny and eggs in the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. It is believed that Victorians were the first ones to adapt this tradition of making satin covered cardboard eggs filled with Easter treats, though nobody knows why. However, the story of the Easter bunny and eggs is thought to have become popular in the 15th century. And the reason will amaze you!

Rabbits usually give birth to a lot of babies (kits or kittens), which symbolises a new life, connecting it to the new life of Jesus after he was crucified. Interestingly, this led to the traditions of making nests for the rabbits to lay their eggs. Eventually, nests became the decorative baskets and colorful eggs were replaced by candies, gifts and treats.

easter delicacy

Traditional Easter Bunny Origin

The traditional Easter Bunny in ancient German denotes a rabbit bringing eggs, judging children’s behaviour and offering candies, eggs and gifts on the day. These bunnies traditionally were made as a cake but in modern times are made with chocolates filled with surprise gifts along with Easter eggs.

Another folklore goes as “spring is the season of rebirth and renewal”. Plants return to life after winter dormancy and many animals mate and procreate. Many pagan cultures held spring festivals to celebrate this renewal of life and promote fertility. One of these festivals was in honour of Eostre or Eastre, the goddess of dawn, spring and fertility near and dear to the hearts of the pagans in Northern Europe. Eostre was closely linked to the hare and the egg, both symbols of fertility.

Celebration Time!

A lot of churches start Easter celebrations right at midnight, on Easter Eve. The churches are decorated with flowers and candles are lit all over. While the candles are a remembrance that Jesus is the light of the world and when he rose from the dead, he got everyone rid of the darkness of evil; the flowers represent new life or rebirth. Priests love to wear their new robes in celebration of the newly born Jesus.

Kids love to paint the eggs and decorate them in and around their homes. Then there’s the iconic Easter egg hunt that adds a fun element for the kids while the adults wine and dine with family and friends over a nice brunch on Sunday.

Traditional Easter Bunny Cake
Recipe by Chef Vivek Chauhan- Pastry Chef, The Imperial New Delhi

easter bunny

Ingredients

  • Butter – 200 gm
  • Sugar -180 gm
  • Eggs – 4
  • Milk- 20 ml
  • Baking Powder – 5 gm

Method

  1. Mix flour and baking powder and sieve.
  2. Blend cream, butter and sugar in an electric mixer.
  3. Add egg at regular intervals in the mixture
  4. Add milk to the above mix.
  5. Fold flour in the above mix.
  6. Pour the batter in the moulds and bake at 170 C for 15-18 min.
  7. Decorate with icing.

Chocolate Easter Bunny Recipe
Recipe by Chef Vivek Chauhan- Pastry Chef, The Imperial New Delhi

easter bunny

Ingredients

  • Dark chocolate – 500 gm
  • Metallic Colour – 5 gm

Method

  1. Temper the dark chocolate for casting the bunny mould.
  2. Fill in the chocolate into the two halves.
  3. Refrigerate for few hours to set and demould.
  4. Heat up the marble top with the blowtorch.
  5. Rub your chocolate halves on the marble top to remove the excess chocolate from corners.
  6. Carefully join the two ends and allow it to set.
  7. Brush with the metallic colour.

 

Life and Technology April 23rd

 

Listen to the full show podcast for April 23rd

Shout Outs

  • Netgear’s Arlo security updated with rechargeable battery, alert siren
  • Google is launching a new version of Google Earth next week
  • TPG to build fourth mobile network in Australia with intent to cover 80% of the population

Interviews

  • Alfred Boyadgis

This week on Life and Technology, Charlie spoke to CEO & Co-Founder of Forcite, Alfred Boyadgis about their new smart motorcycle helmet that has integrated technology.

  • Markus Kemetter

This week on Life and Technology, Charlie found out more about Suunto’s robust HR and multisport GPS watch from Suunto’s product manager, Markus Kemetter.

  • Paul Reid

This week on Life and Technology, Charlie got to know about Panasonic’s newest product launches for TV, Audio and Blu-ray players from Managing Director, Paul Reid.

Starbucks is entering a new era and 4 jokes reveal the biggest problems haunting its business

 

  • Starbucks is sandwiched between inexpensive fast-food chains and high-end “Third Wave” coffee shops. 
  • While it built its empire on its cool, Euro-inspired image, Starbucks is increasingly known for “basic” drinks like the Unicorn Frappuccino. 
  • Moving away from the core brand sent Starbucks “over its skis” in the past, the CEO told Business Insider – and he’s well aware of past mistakes.
  • Starbucks’ new mission: to be everything to everyone. 

The other weekend I went with my family to a coffee shop that my mother deemed “the most beautiful” Starbucks she’d ever seen.

It was a sprawling, comfortable space on the main street in suburban Michigan, where we were visiting family. The exterior was covered in wood shingles and river rocks. Customers lounged in chairs outside and tapped away on their laptops at tables indoors. Chatty baristas were happy to help us with my mom’s low-cal venti iced-coffee order, my cold brew, my dad’s tea, and my brother’s request to use a bathroom.

Starbucks

It had little in common with the drive-thru Starbucks my parents visit in North Carolina or the crowded store where I pick up my mobile coffee orders in New York City.

These differences show the central tension of what Starbucks has become: all things to all people, and in the process, a brand that’s become intermittently muddled and decidedly middlebrow.

Once the chain persuaded Americans to spend $4 on a cup of coffee with Italian names for drinks and sizes that made coffee an elite experience bordering on pretentiousness, the Starbucks of 2017 is just as known for the super-sweet Pumpkin Spice Latte and the made-for-Instagram Unicorn Frappuccino.

Starbucks is sandwiched between low-end brands like Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s, which siphon off some of Starbucks’ customers with lower prices, and, at the other end, the “Third Wave” coffee chains such as Intelligentsia and Blue Bottle, with their precise pour-overs and baristas who make art out of latte foam.

As Starbucks enters a new era, with plans to open 10,000 locations in five years, and the move of longtime CEO Howard Schultz (the man behind the brand’s most revolutionary choices) from chief executive to chairman of the board, the company is trying to figure out if it can be everything to everyone.

The means serving Unicorn Frappuccinos for Instagram-obsessed college students, nitro cold brew for snobs, and a morning cup of joe for commuters on the go. All the while, it needs to fend off competition that its own success helped create at both ends of the market.

At Starbucks image is key. And, what some customers think about Starbucks has long been reflected by the jokes about the chain.

The “Venti” joke

Starbucks 1

When Chris Allieri visited Starbucks in Boulder, Colorado, as a freshman at the University of Colorado in 1992, he had to call his parents.

“It was magic, like a temple to coffee,” Allieri, the founder and principal of marketing firm Mulberry & Astor, told Business Insider.

The location, built in a former gas station, was modern, light, and airy. The smell of coffee wafted through the air, as employees ground beans in the store. Baristas – a new word to Americans back then – gave off a perfectly cool vibe, and the coffee options were seemingly endless. Everything about the store was different from the cafes and convenience stores where most people purchased stale-tasting coffee in the ’90s, if they even bought the beverage instead of just making it at home from Folgers Crystals.

On the phone from his dorm, Allieri told his parents he was convinced that Starbucks would be the next big thing.

“I kept saying, ‘This is bigger than coffee – you don’t get it!'” he recalls telling his father. “And I remember him saying, ‘Well, you should buy the stock.’ As if. I was a broke college student. If only I had the money, or the foresight.” If Allieri had purchased $1,000 in Starbucks stock back in 1992 – the year the company went public – he’d have $180,000 today.

The Starbucks experience

Starbucks has made billions of dollars by creating something that didn’t exist: a space where customers could not only treat themselves to fancy Italian-style beverages but also relax and socialize. It was a brand that immediately felt sophisticated and elite, making customers like Allieri feel as if they were joining an exclusive club.

When the first Starbucks opened in New York City, The New York Times had to define what a latte was and explain it was pronounced “LAH-tay.” Starbucks played up its exotic nature in everything it did, down to its sizes, with “grande” and “venti” providing a connection to the Italian coffee culture that inspired Schultz.

“Starbucks was an affordable way to get luxury,” Craig Garthwaite, an assistant professor of strategy at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, told Business Insider. While Starbucks was clearly pricier than your average cup of coffee, it was a small luxury in the grand scheme of things. Most people couldn’t afford to buy a BMW, but they could treat themselves with a “grande vanilla latte” as a small symbol of their expensive tastes.

In the 1990s and 2000s, the little details that set Starbucks apart and allowed it to charge a few extra dollars, were new and foreign – and ridiculed by many. As Starbucks expanded, the chain was mocked for calling its beverage sizes tall, grande, and venti instead of small, medium, and large.

In 2004, “Mr. Language Person” Dave Barry published an article in The Times that hit on the tropes of the venti joke:

Starbucks decided to call its cup sizes “Tall” (meaning “not tall,” or “small”), “Grande” (meaning “medium”) and “Venti” (meaning, for all we know, “weasel snot”). Unfortunately, we consumers, like moron sheep, started actually USING these names. Why? If Starbucks decided to call its toilets “AquaSwooshies,” would we go along with THAT?

Starbucks versus Dunkin’ Donuts

In 2006, the venti jokes were so common that Dunkin’ Donuts launched a campaign lambasting a “certain competitor” for using elitist words that were a perplexing mix of French and Italian. In the ad, which it called “Fritalian,” customers stand, slack jawed, looking at a coffee shop’s menu board filled with a nonsensical mishmash of words, such as “Limon Au Deau,” “Lattcapssreso,” and “Isto Cinno.”

“Delicious lattes from Dunkin’ Donuts – you order them in English, not Fritalian,” the narrator says in the commercial’s conclusion.

Dunkin’ advertising “lattes” shows how mainstream the beverage had become over the last decade, in large part due to Starbucks’ influence. As Starbucks grew, lattes had become a symbol of elitist liberals, out of touch with the average American. In 2004, a conservative PAC ran an ad during the Democratic Caucuses featuring an Iowa couple telling Howard Dean to take his “tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving left-wing freak show” back to Vermont.

Yet in 2008, Dunkin’ Donuts was selling more inexpensive versions of Starbucks’ semi-Euro beverages, while maintaining the brand’s all-American identity.

Starbucks didn’t want an all-American identity. For Schultz, confusing, potentially elitist naming conventions weren’t a bug; they were a feature.

“Customers believed that their grande lattes demonstrated that they were better than others – cooler, richer, more sophisticated,” Bryant Simon wrote in his book about Starbucks, “Everything But the Coffee.” “As long as they could get all of this for the price of a cup of coffee, even an inflated one, they eagerly handed over their money, three and four dollars at a clip.”

Starbucks’ strategy has long been different from that of McDonald’s or Dunkin’ Donuts. While Dunkin’ Donuts attracts customers with low prices and convenience, Starbucks’ strategy has been rooted in attracting customers to what Schultz called the “romance and theatre” of the coffee-shop experience.

“Any retailer can throw a few ingredients in a cup and say here’s your latte, but Starbucks has differentiated themselves with the experience,” Melody Overton, the creator of the blog Starbucks Melody, said.

When customers are making venti jokes, Starbucks is at its best, as an aspirational brand that’s unlike any other. The chain’s problems come when the venti becomes the norm.

The Starbucks on every corner joke

Throughout the ’70s and much of the ’80s, Starbucks was a coffee roaster first and a coffee shop second. But in the early ’80s, Schultz joined the company and became convinced that Starbucks could achieve a seemingly impossible goal: remain premium while becoming ubiquitous.

Schultz had never wanted Starbucks to stay small, like other regional chains such as Peet’s. In fact, Schultz left the company for a brief period in the mid-’80s because he was unable to convince Starbucks founders that the company could be an international chain, not just a coffee roaster. In 1987, Schultz acquired the Starbucks’ brand and 17 locations from its founders, who decided to focus their energy on Peet’s. Then Schultz began planting the seeds for one of the most ambitious retail expansions in history.

Between 1998 and 2008, Starbucks grew from 1,886 stores to 16,680.

Starbucks stores

“From the beginning, what they were hoping to be is the third place between home and work,” Garthwaite said, referring to the chain’s sociology-inspired mission to become a meeting place. “To achieve that goal, you have to be everywhere.” And soon Starbucks was.

Even when Starbucks had just 700 stores, the chain seemed pervasive, with NPR’s “All Things Considered” announcing as an April Fools’ joke in 1996  that Starbucks’ was building a “transcontinental coffee slurry pipeline” as part of efforts to become omnipresent. In 2000, an Onion headline read “New Starbucks Opens In Rest Room Of Existing Starbucks.” That same year “The Simpsons” aired an episode in which Bart visits a mall in which every store was swiftly being turned into a Starbucks. Lewis Black had a joke in 2002  about seeing a Starbucks across from a Starbucks, which he declared a sign of the end of the universe and evidence against a loving god.

It wasn’t an exaggeration. Around that time, if you stood at just the right spot in New York’s Astor Place, you could see three Starbucks without moving your head.

But unlike the venti jokes, these jabs spelled trouble for the company.

Overexpansion

“The number of new stores got ahead of Starbucks’ ability to have the [employees] to staff those stores,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson told Business Insider. The company “got over its skis,” sacrificing training and upscale marketing for speedy growth and shareholder returns without thinking of the consequences.

As a result, Starbucks made decisions that would leave the company reeling as it moved away from its roots as a sophisticated, luxury brand.

Schultz had stepped down as CEO in 2000. While he remained on the board, new leadership was more focused on expansion than safeguarding Starbucks’ unique brand.

Opening locations across the US and beyond meant adding menu items that appealed to a wider swath of customers, from the failed cocoa-butter Chantico, which launched in 2005 and lasted a year, to the fruity Sorbetto, which launched in 2008 and was pulled after one year . To speed up operations, stores swapped high-end La Marzocco espresso machines for automatic machines. Starbucks no longer smelled like coffee as the chain had begun brewing from flavor-locked packaging.

On their own, each change would have likely gone unnoticed, but taken as a whole they were almost deadly.

“The damage was slow and quiet, incremental, like a single loose thread that unravels a sweater inch by inch,” Schultz says in his book “Onward.”

While customers may not have been able to pinpoint the changes, they noticed a different environment at Starbucks. “They lost a little bit of their luster – a little bit of their chutzpah, a little bit of their sparkle,” Allieri said of Starbucks in the mid-2000s.

As quality slipped at Starbucks, McDonald’s and other fast-food competitors smelled opportunity, adding lattes and other specialty coffee beverages to their menus at lower prices. Customers began buying their coffee elsewhere.

“More and more people were asking themselves, ‘Why am I paying $4 for a cup of coffee?'” said Oded Netzer, an associate professor of business at Columbia.

It was a grim situation. Starbucks had built a business on its sophisticated brand. Then, as it became ubiquitous, the chain became sterile and corporate. Further, in the recession, expensive coffee was no longer an affordable luxury.

The breaking point

The chain finally reached a breaking point in 2008 .

In January of that year, Schultz returned as CEO, with the mission of “re-igniting” customers’ “emotional attachment” to Starbucks . In February, Schultz closed all 7,100 US Starbucks locations for three and a half hours to retrain baristas on how to make the perfect espresso. And in July, Starbucks announced it was closing 600 underperforming stores.

As the company’s fabled “visionary,” Schulz began trying to bring the company back to his roots, a role he took with zeal. Beans were once again ground in stores, a new type of espresso machine was installed across all locations, and stores were redesigned to “recapture the coffeehouse feel,” adding touches like local decorations and secondhand furniture .

He righted the sinking ship financially. The company’s stock has increased by 1,140% from Starbucks’ low in late 2008, and the company has opened 10,000 new locations around the world.

But few would say Starbucks fully recaptured the premium image it had crafted in the ’90s. Instead, it entered a period of appealing to both the wealthy and the working class, serving the urbane and the moms in minivans who go through its drive-thrus. Shoppers expect a Starbucks to be nearby, and they no longer wince calling a drink “grande.”

This is a big reason Starbucks is stuck in the middle now, sandwiched between chains focusing on no-frills value, like Dunkin’ and McDonald’s, and the “third wave” of high-end shops. Some are independent; others are fancier chains, like Intelligentsia and Blue Bottle.

Starbucks’ ubiquity empowered rivals at both ends. Over the past year, these problems have once again reared their heads as Starbucks’ stock stagnated. Store traffic slowed after years of growth post-2008.

Instead of being mocked for being pretentious, Starbucks now finds itself with something like the opposite problem.

The “basic” joke

The story of Starbucks’ current place in Americana can be summed up in one drink: the Pumpkin Spice Latte.

The PSL, as it’s known, sometimes derisively, is a seasonal concoction of cloves, nutmeg, and other spices synonymous with fall. It’s been on the menu since 2003, when Starbucks decided it wanted to create an autumn drink.

According to lore, the PSL was created while brainstorming ideas for a new espresso-based seasonal beverage. The innovation team sat with a pumpkin pie on one side and an espresso machine on the other, alternating shots of espresso and bites of pie in an attempt to deconstruct how best to combine the two flavors.

The drink has become an autumnal tradition. Over the past 13 years, Starbucks has sold 200 million cups of its Pumpkin Spice Latte. It’s even created an entire category of PSL products, from breakfast cereals to Pumpkin Spice Peeps . It has a  Twitter account .

It also happens to be the defining drink of the “basic b—h.”

The dangers of being basic

If you are an American between the ages of 10 and 30, being basic isn’t necessarily a definable term; it’s a feeling you get about a certain kind of person, almost always female. To be a “basic b—h” is to buy into an unoriginal image of what is enjoyable and feminine, and to broadcast these uninspired tastes to the world. It’s the opposite of being edgy or cool – it’s behaving as expected, buying into a certain degree of groupthink. Wearing Uggs and leggings? Basic. Instagramming your fingers, coated in Essie nail polish, clutching a rainbow bagel at brunch with your girls? Basic. Pumpkin Spice Lattes? The most basic thing of all.

Thought Catalogue listed “liking Pumpkin Spice Lattes” as No. 2 on the list of “21 Signs You’re A Basic B*tch”  in 2012.

By fall 2014 the topic had exploded. Twitter was flooded with jokes about “basic white girls” loving PSLs. More than one group of white people released a parody rap video about Pumpkin Spice Lattes (“pumpkin spice latte rap” yields more than 2,000 results on YouTube). BuzzFeed published a think piece about PSL and class anxiety , “breaking down why we’re actually dismissive of all things pumpkin spice.”

For Starbucks, the onslaught of PSL jokes is good and bad. On one hand, the Pumpkin Spice Latte is incredibly popular – estimates suggest the chain has made a billion dollars selling the drink . On the other hand, being seen as a beacon for the basic is far from the upscale coffee-shop image that the Starbucks brand is built upon and that Schultz fought tooth and nail to win back in 2008.

“You can say tough luck, we’re going to go with the new customers because they’re the majority now,” Netzer said on Starbucks’ attempts to serve both mainstream teens and coffee snobs. “The problem with that is [the original] strategy is why Starbucks can charge $3 more for coffee than McDonald’s or Dunkin’ Donuts.”

Schultz righted the chain after it became sterile – but he wasn’t able to regain the brand’s upscale “cool” factor.

“Something we all have to come to terms with as we get older is we’re all going to lose the it factor at some point,” Garthwaite said. It’s nearly impossible for a large corporation to maintain the “edgy, hip factor” that comes with being a small company doing something revolutionary, that Starbucks managed to capture in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

But Starbucks wants to try. For the past two years, Netzer says, the chain has realized that it was once again straying from its roots and doubled down on coffee to win back the “coffee connoisseurs” who were the brand’s base in the ’90s.

Beyond basic

The first result of that plan opened in Seattle in 2014. Called a “Roastery,” the 15,000-square-foot location combines coffee production, menu tests, and architectural whimsy. The Roastery has become a huge part of the company’s plans to roll out an upscale brand called Reserve.

“Ubiquity will create sort of a natural gravitation pull toward a commodity,” said CEO Johnson. Becoming a commodity is obviously something Starbucks wants to avoid, even as it grows. “Which is why our strategy really includes a key pillar to elevate the brand – which is why we’re building Roasteries.”

Globally, 1,000 Reserve stores will serve Roastery-style concoctions and food made in the stores. And 20% of all Starbucks locations will feature a Reserve Bar, to allow for more complex ways to prepare drinks.

Still, don’t count out the power of the Pumpkin Spice Latte-loving basics just yet. In April, as evidence grew that Starbucks was planning to open a third American Roastery in Chicago, the chain launched its most Instagrammable – and many would say most basic – beverage yet: the Unicorn Frappuccino.

The Unicorn Frappuccino is a brightly colored beverage that changes its color and flavor when stirred. Aesthetically, it’s remarkable, looking better when you photograph it yourself than in company advertising. Culinarily, it’s kind of gross – a sugar bomb that tastes like an Orange Julius married with Sour Skittles.

It was also an instant hit, flooding social media with customers’ photos of the drink, providing Starbucks with immeasurable free advertising. And nowhere was the drink more prevalent than on the “basic” hashtag on Instagram, where half of the posts are of the Unicorn Frappuccino. Scrolling through #basic, it’s as though the hashtag has been transformed into a Starbucks ad.

The everyone drinks Starbucks joke

Imagine walking into a Starbucks in 2022. The building is towering – an open space the size of a large auditorium. In one corner, there’s a bar with baristas mixing nonalcoholic coffee cocktails; in another, a roaster heating beans; in another, a full-service restaurant. Employees are clad in leather aprons and low-key hipster garb. Scruffy coffee roasters wear beard nets. The menu is made up of items that easily surpass the $10 mark – drinks that seem more fit for a classy Manhattan cocktail menu than a coffee shop.

Then imagine walking into another version of Starbucks five years down the road from today. Customers are staring at their iPhones, rushing in just as an employee greets them by name and hands them their drink. There’s no cash register, no workers taking orders, just baristas making drinks and handing off beverages to customers rushing in and out.

In fact, both of these Starbucks exist now, within just a few miles of each other in Seattle, Washington. One is the first Starbucks Roastery and the other is the first Starbucks’ test mobile-only store, which was launched earlier in April in Starbucks’ offices.

Looking at Starbucks’ history, it’s clear that the brand evolved – and will continue to evolve – out of necessity, as it is pulled in different directions.

“As our customer base has grown, sometimes our customer wants that third place experience, and sometimes they want convenience,” Johnson told Business Insider. “We’re not sacrificing one for the other, but it is a delicate balance.”

Striking a balance means drawing from all of Starbucks’ past eras – and the lessons Starbucks has learned from the jokes people tell.

The Roastery and Reserve stores are perhaps the obvious response to people mocking Starbucks. The new store formats, with their small-batch brews and siphoned coffee, are created to counter jokes about Unicorn Frappuccinos, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, and the increasingly basic nature of Starbucks. Schultz, who stepped down as CEO but will remain on the board, is at the helm of the project.

With the Roasteries, Starbucks has a chance to bring back the innovative, exotic Starbucks brand of the ’90s but at a much larger scale. Schultz told Business Insider in October that the Roasteries have shown Starbucks that there is a “real opportunity” for Starbucks to create a “super-premium brand.”

“As companies face the threat of e-commerce and mobile shopping, the burden of responsibility of the brick-and-mortar retailers is to create a very immersive, dynamic experience,” he said.

But Starbucks needs to be more than super-premium. It also needs to be convenient, basic, Instagram-worthy, and more.

Can Starbucks have it all?

Johnson says that the biggest reason you don’t hear jokes about “Starbucks in Starbucks’ bathrooms” as much any more is that the company has changed what a Starbucks looks like, rolling out new store formats in recent years and with more in the works.

“Take everything from an express store on Wall Street that is very small square footage, small menu, and it’s all for convenience. Customers walk up, we serve them their food and beverage quickly,” Johnson said, listing store formats. “Then, it’s our core Starbucks stores – the third place. Starbucks stores with drive-thrus. And now we’ve got Reserve bars and Reserve stores and Roasteries.”

In essence, Schultz and Johnson have realized that as Starbucks became ubiquitous it picked up new types of customers, from snobs to basics. Wedged between fast-food chains and hip coffee shops, Starbucks’ new strategy is to create different types of stores – all with an emphasis on customer service – that match up with different types of competitors. Express stores are as fast as any fast-food chain, while Roasteries serve beverages as complex as any indie shop.

“They’re bringing back the coffee and bringing back the service,” Nezder said about the proliferation of Starbucks formats. “I think it’s brilliant. I think it’s addressing the problem they’ve had for years.”

Others aren’t as convinced that Starbucks can pull of the balancing act.

“You can’t be everything to everyone,” said Gairthwaite, who is skeptical of Starbucks’ ability to compete with smaller brands like Intelligentsia and Stumptown while continuing to meet the needs of the majority of customers. “They’ve always struggled with this idea that some people want the artistry and some people just want a drink.”

Vlogger Bethany Mota may have best captured this Starbucks moment. Her video, “Types of People at Starbucks,” which describes customers including the Secret Menu Snob, the Instagram Addict, and the Rude Customer, has racked up more 1.5 million views on YouTube. Starbucks’ customers are increasingly visiting the chain for different reasons – and Starbucks is responding by trying to tailor its stores to all these needs.

“The problem with success is you get harder, more difficult problems to solve,” Garthwaite said.

Perhaps the next Starbucks joke will be, who wants a low-fat Nitro Unicorn Pour-Over to go for $10?

 

Apple has reportedly hired AR and VR expert Jeff Norris from NASA

Apple has hired NASA augmented and virtual reality expert Jeff Norris, Bloomberg reports, to build AR and VR projects for the company. Norris apparently joined Apple’s augmented reality team earlier this year, Bloomberg says, as a senior manager reporting to former Dolby Labs executive Mike Rockwell.

It’s not clear exactly what Norris will be doing at Apple, but Rockwell’s team is supposedly working on AR glasses that may function like a new version Google Glass, and won’t be revealed until 2018 at the earliest. But that’s not the only bit of AR technology that Apple is working on. Tim Cook has repeatedly talked of AR’s potential, saying last July that the company was “high on AR in the long run,” and confirming this year that he saw it as a “big idea like the smartphone.”

Indeed, Norris’ is one of a wave of experts hired by the company in recent months, including people poached from VR and AR competitors like Oculus and Magic Leap. Earlier this month, a UBS business note indicated that Apple may have as many as 1,000 engineers working on AR technology, while other reports suggested that it may even appear as a standard feature in the next generation of iPhones.

Norris had worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the last 18 years, founding and directing the agency’s Mission Operations Innovation Office, as well as its Ops Lab during that time. Among the projects he worked on at NASA included OnSight — an ambitious program for Microsoft’s HoloLens that used Mars mission data to allow people back on Earth to explore the red planet in virtual and augmented reality. Speaking to The Verge while working for NASA, Norris said that he saw huge potential in both AR and VR tech, describing the programs he worked on as “a new tool in the toolbox of explorers.”

Google Translate and Gboard Improve Indian Languages Support, Google Search Will Include Hindi Dictionary Results

Google on Tuesday announced that the company is introducing improved support for Indian languages in its products. After introducing support for machine-learning based translation for Hindi last month, the search giant has now extended its neural machine translation to 9 more Indian languages. The company has also extended its new translation technique’s support to Chrome browser’s built-in auto-translate functionality. Additionally, it has announced that its Gboard Keyboard app will now support all 22 scheduled Indian languages. Finally, Google Search results will now include results from Hindi dictionary as well.

Coming first to the neural machine translation support, Google has announced that Google Translate will now use this improved technique to translate to and from Indian languages including Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Punjabi, Malayalam, and Kannada. “Neural translation offers a huge improvement over the old phrase-based system, translating full sentences at a time, instead of pieces of a sentence. This change improves the quality of the translation in a single jump than seen in the last ten years combined,” the company said in a press release.

 Google Translate and Gboard Improve Indian Languages Support, Google Search Will Include Hindi Dictionary Results

Google has now extended the Neural Machine translation to Chrome browser’s built-in auto-translate functionality as well in order to make full-page translations more accurate and easier to read. This means that users will be able to browse through websites with content translated from foreign languages to the aforementioned 9 languages. As the new technique has been claimed to be far superior to earlier one, the change is likely to make Web more user-friendly for people in India.

The search giant has extended the neural machine auto-translation to Google Maps as well and users will now be able to read the translated reviews for restaurants, cafes, or hotels among other places through the app in their local language as well.

In Google Search, users will now be able to see Hindi dictionary results from Rajpal & Sons dictionary in collaboration with Oxford University Press, the company said. “This new experience will also support transliteration, allowing users to use their existing keyboards to find meanings in Hindi. So when you’d like to know more about a word, say “Nirdeshak”, you can just type in “Nirdeshak ka matlab” in Search, and you’ll instantly get to see word meanings and dictionary definitions on the search results page, including English translations,” it said.

“The most important aspect of making the web more useful and meaningful for all of India is to make India’s Internet more representative of the India we live in. India today has 234 million Indian language users who are online, compared to 175 million English web users, we expect another 300 million Indian language users to come online in the next four years. With today’s launches, we are taking a huge step forward to bring down the barriers that stop Indian language users to get more out of the Internet and also help the industry to solve for the needs of billions Indians,” Rajan Anandan, vice-president of Google’s India and South East Asia operations was quoted as saying in company’s release.

Google introduced the neural machine translation to Google Translate last year and claimed that the technique makes articles “smoother and easier” to read.

 

Soothe sunburns with cold presses, plenty of water and loose clothing

Excessive exposure to sun can leave you with bad sunburns. But there is help around. Aloe Vera paste, consuming plenty of water to wearing loose clothing are some ways to deal with them.

Sunburn

Choose an aloe vera moisturiser or soy cream to deal with sunburns.

Even if you take precautions, excessive exposure to sun can leave your skin with a burn, a cool shower or use of an Aloe Vera-based moisturiser can give a soothing effect, say experts.Vivek Mehta, dermatologist at Pulastya and Cadle Skin Laser Clinic, and Rohit Batra, dermatologist at Dermaworld Skin and Hair Clinic, have some tips:

1) Soothe your skin with cool showers and cold presses if you feel the stinging sensation on the affected area. Apply a soothing moisturiser on your skin to help trap moisture on your skin to keep it soft and supple. This will avoid the dryness that might cause itching.

2) Choose an aloe vera moisturiser or soy cream which helps soothe the sun-burnt skin. You can also apply hydrocortisone cream which is easily available in the market. Avoid ‘caine’ products such as benzocaine as they can irritate the skin or may cause allergy.

3) Count on aspirin or ibuprofen as it helps reduce swelling, redness and discomfort caused by sunburn. However, do not buy these without consulting your dermatologist.

Have plenty of water to soothe the skin.

4) Consume plenty of water as a sunburn draws fluid to the skin’s surface. With water you are safeguarding your body against dehydration.

5) In case you notice blisters on your skin after sunburn, it means that you have second-degree sunburn. However, there’s no need to worry as it is a natural process and blisters protect the skin underneath from infection during the healing process. You should not pop or pick blisters.

6) Make sure that you wear loose clothing that covers your hands, feet and face, and especially the sunburnt area. Avoid fabrics like nylon, polyester and go for soft cotton and other breathable fabrics.