December 18

How to build the perfect emergency fund

first_imgby: Leslie Tayne, Credit.comJust a few days ago, I was surprised to discover my clothes dryer had completely stopped working. The machine had no other signs of wear and tear and was only a couple years old. To make a long story short, after a quick call and visit from the repairman, I found myself stuck with a $200 bill! Luckily, with the help of my emergency fund, I was able to cover the expense without falling back on credit cards or disrupting my regular take-home pay. It’s like nothing even happened.Unfortunately, many people aren’t adequately prepared to manage paying for an unexpected expense or emergency. According to the Federal Reserve’s 2014 Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking, 47% of Americans say that they wouldn’t be able to cover a $400 emergency expense. That lack of preparedness could lead to maxing out credit cards, taking out expensive short-term loans, or worse. So to help you better manage the unexpected, here’s my guide to putting together the perfect emergency fund.Start smallWhile you should eventually build an emergency fund that can handle more serious emergencies (economic downturn, loss of job, etc), you’re going to want to start by putting together a short-term emergency fund. Your short-term fund is meant to take care of unexpected expenses that, while not severe, can still mean trouble if you aren’t prepared. Things like a car repair, replacing a broken window, or getting a parking ticket are all things that can be covered by your short-term fund. Ideally, you’d want this to range anywhere from $500 to $1,000. continue reading » 13SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

September 16

Biegel brings ‘controlled craziness’ to Wisconsin defense

first_imgWisconsin head football coach Gary Andersen waited just one sentence at the start of his Monday afternoon news conference to single out outside linebacker Vince Biegel.And deservedly so. Biegel had just been tabbed as the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after his seven tackle – four of which were tackles for loss – and three-sack performance against Purdue last Saturday.“Biegel had a tremendous game,” Andersen said in his opening comments of his news conference Monday. “[He] played very, very well. It’s great to see him have such an impact on the game in a positive way. Hopefully that can continue.”Biegel’s performance Saturday was just one example of the promise that the redshirt sophomore has shown in his first season as a starting outside linebacker. After missing the majority of his first season at Wisconsin with a foot injury, Biegel emerged as a potential future talent after last season when he played in all 13 games, recording 25 tackles with two sacks.But this season, Biegel has stepped up his game as the starting outside linebacker for UW. Through nine games this season, Biegel has the most sacks on the team (6.5) and is tied for the team-high in tackles for loss (12). His 39 tackles are also fifth on the team while he has recovered a team-high two fumbles.According to fellow outside linebacker and Biegel’s roommate off the field junior Joe Schobert, the improvement from Biegel this season can be attributed to him simply relaxing on the field.“I think [he’s] just playing more relaxed,” Schobert said. “Last year he had fast feet, always wants to go a hundred miles an hour. I think he’s been way more relaxed this year, diagnosing the play and then reacting to it. And then he can just use his athleticism to make plays.”Biegel has also been the beneficiary of a unique positional coach. Not only does Andersen head the Badgers, he also works with the Badgers’ outside linebackers, including Schobert and Biegel.Biegel admits that Andersen may put more pressure on him, but it has definitely paid off in the long run.“I would definitely say Gary [Andersen] has been more tough on me than other players,” Biegel said. “Coach Andersen is actually my position coach, so having him be my position coach, he’s definitely put a little extra pressure on me. But also he just lets me be myself out there. Lets me kind of go out there and be relaxed and kind of just play my game of football.”However, the pressure that Andersen has been putting on Biegel has made him arguably one of the best players on a Wisconsin defense that ranks in the top five of all major defense categories and is the top defense in the nation in terms of yards per game. This season, Biegel has cemented himself as a consistent playmaker on one of the best defenses in the country.“It’s all a credit to that kid,” Andersen said of Biegel’s improved performance this season. “He’s a big part of that defense now, and he’s a big-time playmaker.”But while Biegel has improved on his technique, pre-snap awareness and overall play this season, one thing has remained a constant throughout this football career, even going back to his Pop Warner days as a kid in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin: his craziness on the field.For Biegel, this season he’s been able to control that craziness on the field, which he attributes to his increased success.“I would kind of say it’s controlled craziness,” Biegel said. “Maybe earlier in my career I wasn’t as controlled, but as the reps and as the more experience I’ve gotten, I’ve kind of been able to control my aggression and control my emotion, which I think is beneficial to me.”Even more so this season than last season, UW defensive coordinator Dave Aranda has seen Biegel’s intensity positively reflect on his teammates. Rather than being too crazy, it’s something that Biegel and the rest of the defense has used to their advantage.“I think it’s a very good thing,” Aranda said of Biegel’s self-proclaimed craziness. “I think it rubs off on our guys in a positive manner. I think they look to him to get big plays. They look to him to bring some juice out on the field, so it’s a much different huddle than what we’ve had in the past.”While this season’s linebackers may not have the name recognition or presumed talent of past linebackers at UW, Biegel certainly thinks their bond on the field makes up for any presumed lack of talent.“We don’t have necessarily the most skilled guys at all the positions as compared to last year, but I think our defense just clicks,” Biegel said. “I don’t like to go at numbers, but having the number one defense in the nation, I think our defense just clicks well with one another. We have great communication from the defensive line all the way through the secondary, and we hope to keep that going the rest of the season.”While Biegel may lead the Badgers in some major defensive categories, he knows his role is simple and one that hopefully can impact the game.“I consider myself a pass rusher, an outside linebacker and a playmaker,” Biegel said. “I expect myself to be that and moving forward the rest of my career.”last_img read more

August 30

Winning Post: Gambling in a time of COVID-19

first_img Winning Post: Third time’s the charm for England’s casinos August 17, 2020 Regulus Partners start the week by looking at hoe the UK gambling industry is adapting to the shake-up caused by the COVID-19 lockdown.It is a paradox of these unusual times that the shuttering of large parts of the licensed gambling industry around the world should be accompanied by widespread expressions of concern about gambling harms. Fears of harm for those gambling in lockdown have led to regulatory tightening in some jurisdictions (e.g. Latvia, Lithuania, Spain and Belgium) and calls for similar actions in others.The situation in Great Britain is illustrative of the issues. There is widespread agreement that a population lockdown presents a number of challenges for harm prevention programmes (see Winning Post 14 March) but so far little agreement on what the correct response should be. UK-focused trade association, the Betting & Gaming Council (the ‘BGC’) has issued a ten-point plan to act as a framework for the activities of its members (or at least, those still operating) at this time.For some, this plan does not go far enough. Parliamentarians and anti-gambling activists have called for gambling advertising (a very broad term where online is concerned) to be banned, for bonuses to be prohibited, for maximum stakes of £2 and maximum daily deposits of £50 to be imposed and for means-testing to be introduced. In this article, we consider how the balance of risk may have changed in recent weeks and – in keeping with the spirit of the times – suggest a truly collaborative approach.The present confinement to home of large swathes of the population seems likely to have all manner of consequences for our health – some good (physical exercise is reported to be on the rise) and some not so good. Online gambling at this time may provide a welcome diversion for some; for others, excessive engagement may contribute to negative health outcomes. Critically, how operators, content providers and even media companies behave toward their customers can shape these outcomes.We know from research that isolation, boredom and anxiety are all factors that can motivate gambling. The British Gambling Prevalence Survey 2010 (the last major household prevalence survey in the jurisdiction to report on such matters) reported that 20% of gamblers (and 30% of those aged 16-24 years) gambled “to escape boredom or fill time”; 22% did so “to relax”; 6% claimed that it helped them when “feeling tense” and 41% were motivated by “a sense of achievement” from winning. The same survey revealed that those diagnosed as ‘problem gamblers’ (DSM-IV classification) were significantly more likely than ‘non problem gamblers’ or ‘at-risk gamblers’ to endorse ‘coping factors’ (i.e. the things that all humans do to deal with the stresses of life) as reasons for gambling.At a time when online is pretty much the only game in town for gambling (as indeed it is for large parts of general retail and leisure), these insights suggest additional reasons for ethical operators to behave with heightened caution and tighter controls. However, this is only part of the story.While online gaming (casino, slots, bingo, poker) may be expected to thrive under lockdown, the vast majority of businesses that offer gambling (terrestrial casinos, bingo clubs, arcades, betting shops, pubs, rails bookies and online sportsbooks) are in a state of suspended animation, unable to ply their trade. Some of these businesses will not survive lockdown, others will struggle to adapt in its aftermath due to altered customer routines and the pressures of economic recession. Regardless of the present fortunes of the online casino, the fact is that – at a population level – the level of gambling participation in Britain has fallen substantially over the last month and may be slow to return (see our previous blog and request our Covid 19 analysis deck for economic and financial details by sector).According to the Health Survey for England 2018, 40% of adults in Great Britain had gambled (excluding National Lottery main draw) within the preceding 12 months. Of these, less than 3% stated that they participated in online gaming. The idea that more widespread use of online casino or bingo sites will offset the withdrawal from pretty much all other forms of gambling is patently absurd (we estimate a 60% decline in the size of the market, including the effects of substitution).It is however harm – or the potential for harm – rather than participation that should concern us (even if some seem unable to distinguish between the two). It is widely accepted that online slots and casino (as distinct from sports betting) products are relatively high risk – both in terms of their structural characteristics (speed of play, repetition) and correlation with gambling disorder (8.5% of those who played such products were diagnosed as ‘problem gamblers’ within the 2018 Health Survey). Present concerns may be considered valid given the structural characteristics of the games being offered, the personal characteristics of some of those who may be playing them (bored, anxious, alone) and the situational risks of playing at home (although this is far more nuanced than commonly understood – as Dr Kahlil Philander suggested in his 2014 study of British gambling data, there are likely to be factors that make online gambling at home less risky).However, we also know from prevalence surveys that gambling disorder is strongly correlated with multivariate engagement (i.e. the more types of gambling an individual engages with, the higher the probability that person will have gambling disorder). We cannot yet know what happens to behaviour when the range of gambling options is narrowed as dramatically and as suddenly as it has; but it seems overly simplistic to assume a uniform and unidirectional increase in risk.Between the two gambling disorder screening instruments used in Great Britain (the DSM-IV and the PGSI), there may be said to be 16 different criteria (three items are common – more or less – to the two screens). Our rough conceptual analysis suggests that – among those who gamble – some of these items may increase, some may decrease while the effect on others seems ambiguous or unclear.For example, endorsement of the diagnostic item ‘escape’ (defined as “gambling to escape life’s difficulties or to cheer up”) may increase for some during lockdown; and the same may be true for tolerance (“spending larger amounts on gambling in order to achieve the desired effect”). However, borrowing, selling items or stealing in order to fund gambling seem likely to decrease (from relatively low levels) as the opportunities to do these things diminish (given that the majority of reported gambling-related thefts appear to be from employers, it seems plausible that we may see a ‘furloughing effect’ in this particular domain – possibly accompanied by increased detection).Gambling more than is affordable or in such a way as to create financial difficulties is likely to be influenced by individual circumstances (loss of income may increase risk for some; reduced household expenditure may reduce it for others). With certain items, it may be difficult to unpick the discrete effects of gambling from the general effects of social distancing (for example, ‘risk to significant relationship’ or employment). ‘Preoccupation’ (“spending a lot of time thinking about gambling”) might also increase for some during lockdown as people regret the loss of previously enjoyable pastimes – such as socialising with friends at the bingo club or watching and betting on football. ‘Criticism of gambling’ and ‘guilt’ (two items on the PGSI which seem likely to be related to one another), may be expected to skyrocket among those exposed to the more puritanical elements of our national press.‘Restriction effects’ constitute a recognised but rarely discussed domain of gambling-related harm. This is a term from economics that describes the harm to consumers of not being able to engage in activities that they enjoy (and which do not negatively affect others). As the US economist, Professor Douglas Walker writes: “A significant cost can occur as a result of government restriction of… gambling. The fact that gambling is not universally available means that the government prevents mutually beneficial voluntary transactions from occurring. Even though gamblers face negative expected values from their activity, it must be the case that they expect to benefit with increased utility if they decide to place bets. When individuals are prevented from making what they see as mutually beneficial, voluntary transactions, they are harmed.”One effect of the current lockdown is that it may serve to highlight through absence the psychosocial benefits of a wide range of leisure activities – including gambling. A critical test of the health of the regulated industry is the extent to which such absence does indeed make the hearts of consumers grow fonder – and, just as importantly, whether and how this is expressed.In a similar way, a massive reduction in participation may help to isolate the role of excessive gambling in causing mental health or financial problems as distinct from excessive gambling being caused by such issues (or simply correlated). In order to understand all of these effects, some effort needs to be made to assess the present constriction in the availability of gambling. We have been presented with an unprecedented natural experiment to understand what happens when the things we do for kicks get taken away.Concerns have been expressed about the risk to children at this time – stuck at home, bored and exposed to the malign influence of the gambling industry. Yet again, automatic claims of increased harm warrant examination.For a start, it seems certain that gambling by minors is likely to have declined even more precipitously in recent weeks than it has done among adults. In ‘normal times’, the most common forms of gambling for 11-16-year-olds are private wagering between friends, playing fruit machines (for example in a seaside arcade), buying National Lottery tickets and playing card games with friends. It seems likely that the closure of schools along with large parts of the leisure industry will have removed at a stroke the overwhelming majority of opportunities for children to gamble.Online gambling has relatively low levels of participation among children (1% or 2% on a past-week basis, depending on survey methodology); and this appears to be entirely facilitated (wittingly or unwittingly) by parents and guardians. Online gambling by minors has declined over the course of the last decade – and since last year we have much tighter age-gating. Moreover, given that concerns about children and online gambling have tended to focus on sports betting (curiously the absence of this since lockdown does not appear to have registered as a risk mitigation factor), it may be that online casino is a particularly marginal pursuit among minors.While it seems plausible that risk of internet use disorder may increase during lockdown, no coherent argument has yet been proposed for why children in large numbers should suddenly take up online gambling if the activity has hitherto held little interest for them. Rather than assuming that extant risks become elevated at this time, it may be more instructive to think about new risks. For example, it seems plausible that the exposure of children to gambling in an esports context (in-game and/or streaming advertising as well as a betting on the events) may accelerate.Survey data tells us that rates of ‘problem gambling’ and ‘at-risk gambling’ among children may also be expected to reduce. To illustrate this, we consider the two most commonly endorsed items in British surveys – ‘illegal acts’ and ‘risk to relationship’. In the 2019 Young People and Gambling Survey, the commission of ‘illegal acts’ was endorsed by 3.8% of those children who claimed to gamble (compared with just 0.2% of adult gamblers in the 2018 Health Survey for England). This is because the questionnaire used in the youth survey defines gambling with money not intended for that purpose (and specifically “dinner money or fare money”) as an illegal act. The second most commonly endorsed item – ‘risk to relationship’ – was endorsed by 2.5% of children (compared with 0.4% of adults) and covers “arguments with family/friends or others” and “missing school”. Given that school appears to play a large part in both youth gambling activity and what the diagnostic instrument considers potentially harmful behaviour, the current lockdown may reasonably be expected to lead to a significant reduction in both.The differences between diagnostic criteria and endorsement rates for children and adults should also prompt some degree of scepticism when considering claims of youth gambling disorder. As Professor Jeffrey Derevensky, one of the world’s leading researchers on youth gambling has observed, the DSM-IV-J (the screening instrument used in the British surveys) is characterised by a number of “scoring errors” which “have resulted in over-estimates” (of ‘problem gambling’)‚ noting that “current screening instruments for youth lack sufficient construct validity” (in other words, they have been adapted from adult surveys rather than designed for children). The suggested equivalence between a child playing a game of cards at school with a portion of his dinner money and an adult stealing in order to play online casino is likely to strike many as distortive.A temptation to map ‘old logic’ wholesale onto vastly altered territory should be avoided. Instead, consideration should be given to what risk factors in particular may have changed. For example, parental gambling may become more visible to minors under current conditions – with potentially long-term negative effects on health. A targeted programme of activity to raise awareness among parents of how their gambling can affect their children may be a suitable response to altered conditions (and long overdue given the apparent connivance by some in underage gambling). It should also be considered whether a fundamental change in the gambling landscape warrants a new approach to understanding and measuring harm.We do need to be particularly cautious where children are concerned – but the precautionary principle applies to new regulatory interventions as well as to changes to the supply of gambling. As Gray, LaPlante and Nelson (2019) state: “In many cases, RG programmes that emerge from conventional wisdom about what should work are applied before evidence is collected, justified by the need to do something to control harmful gambling outcomes…Although it is possible that such RG programmes are useful and help moderate excessive gambling, such an approach risks potential harmful impacts of untested interventions, despite good intentions…The illogical assumption seems to be that, even though the hope and intention is for these programmes to have significant positive effects on human behaviour, they could not possibly have negative effects.” Winning Post: UK gambling feels the ‘Noyes’ with SMF report August 10, 2020 Share StumbleUpon Winning Post: Swedish regulator pushes back on ‘Storebror’ approach to deposit limits August 24, 2020 Related Articles Share Submitlast_img read more

July 20

Highprofile ocean warming paper to get a correction

first_img After a blog post flagged some discrepancies in the study, the authors, from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California, and Princeton University in New Jersey, said they would submit a correction to the journal.The overall conclusion that oceans are trapping more and more heat mirrors other studies and is not inaccurate, but the margin of error in the study is larger than originally thought, said Ralph Keeling, a professor of geosciences at Scripps and co-author of the paper.”These problems do not invalidate the methodology or the new insights into ocean biogeochemistry on which it is based, but they do influence the mean rate of warming we infer, and more importantly, the uncertainties of that calculation,” said Keeling in a statement on RealClimate.org.He added that he accepts “responsibility for these oversights, because it was my role to ensure that details of the measurements were correctly understood and taken up by coauthors.”Scripps corrected a news release on its website, with a statement from Keeling.”Obviously this is difficult but I am glad we are setting it right,” said Laure Resplandy, an associate professor of geosciences at Princeton who was the disputed paper’s lead author, in an email.A spokesperson for Nature said “issues relating to this paper have been brought to Nature’s attention and we are looking into them carefully. We take all concerns related to papers we have published very seriously and will issue an update once further information is available.””Science is complex”The errors were pointed out by British researcher Nic Lewis on the blog of Judith Curry, a former professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences who has questioned the accuracy of some climate models.”Just a few hours of analysis and calculations, based only on published information, was sufficient to uncover apparently serious (but surely inadvertent) errors in the underlying calculations,” Lewis wrote.The study suggested greenhouse gas emissions may need to be cut much faster than anticipated to meet climate targets, because of more aggressive ocean warming calculated in a new model. The team examined changes in atmospheric ocean and carbon dioxide levels to assess how the ocean’s heat content has changed over time.Keeling said the team incorrectly assessed oxygen measurements. Ocean warming likely is still greater than IPCC estimates, but the range of probability is more in line with previous studies.”The more important message is that our study lacks the accuracy to narrow the range of previous estimates of ocean uptake,” Keeling said in an email. He thanked Lewis for pointing out the anomaly.Gavin Schmidt, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said it’s not unheard of for there to be occasional errors in peer-reviewed studies.”The fact is that science is complex, and when you have a lot of different steps from people in different sub-fields, it is understandable that some things slip through the cracks,” Schmidt said. “While it’s initially embarrassing, post-publication review is helpful and ultimately constructive.”In the past, scientific debates about climate science have prompted skeptics to attack mainstream climate science generally. Some climate scientists said they are concerned that could happen again in this case and the outcome wildly misinterpreted.When asked about the response of skeptics, climate scientist Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University in State College said, “We can’t worry about that.””We have to just call it as we see it, do good science, put it out there, defend it and, when necessary, correct it. That’s the legitimate scientific process, and it stands in stark contrast to the tactics employed by the forces of pseudoscience and antiscience,” Mann said.This morning the website Climate Depot, which frequently targets mainstream climate science, sent out an email with the headline, “Skeptic review dismantles study.”Reprinted from Greenwire with permission from E&E News. Copyright 2018. E&E provides essential news for energy and environment professionals at www.eenews.net Read more… Email By Christa Marshall, E&E NewsNov. 14, 2018 , 2:55 PM Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe High-profile ocean warming paper to get a correction Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Daniel Ramirez/Flickr Originally published by E&E NewsScientists behind a major study on ocean warming this month are acknowledging errors in their calculations and say conclusions are not as certain as first reported.The research, published in the journal Nature, said oceans are warming much faster than previously estimated and are taking up more energy than projected by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) [Climatewire, Nov. 1]. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) The ocean stores much of the warming caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases. last_img read more