Best work light for mechanics in 2020

I have quite a few lights hanging in my garage, but no matter how bright they are, they never seem to shine exactly where I need them to. Whether I’m reaching down in an engine bay or hunched inside a fender liner, a little extra illumination can make a miserable car repair job… well, a little less miserable anyway.

There are plenty of options out there that address a lot of different needs. What follows are my top 10 picks for the best work light for mechanics.

Read more: Best headlight restoration kits in 2020   

Harbor Freight

The shop light I found myself reaching for most often is actually one of the cheapest here, this $35 folding unit from Braun (Harbor Freight’s house brand). While its length makes it difficult to throw in a toolbox, the strong magnet on the base means you can just pop it onto any metal surface — like, say, the side of your toolbox. The LED light bar throws off plenty of light output for bigger jobs, while the LEDs on the tip meant I could easily inspect down in the fuel tank of my tractor. I got 2 hours on a charge with the LED work light bar on full blast, so it’s maybe not the best work light for mechanics who need it for longer jobs. But it’s a great, affordable rechargeable LED work light choice for most tasks. And, if you catch it at the right time, you can get it for $27 — before the ubiquitous HF coupon!

Harbor Freight

If you’re looking to spend a little more on a portable rechargeable work light, the $50 Braun 3-In-1 Quick Connect Light Kit comes with replaceable attachments, giving you a more powerful flashlight and a snake light as well. It’s a great portable work light kit, but that means you’ll need to also keep the case and all accessories around. I much prefer the cheaper, integrated lighting option.

Harbor Freight

Another win for Harbor Freight here, with the Ultra Bright portable LED work light and flashlight. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if you’ve ever visited a Harbor Freight, you probably walked out with one of these portable LED flashlight and work light units for free. And, if you’re a frequent shopper, you probably have a half-dozen scattered around your house and garage. Even at the full price of $4, it’s hard to ignore the value here. Whether you want focused or broad LED light, an underhood light, or a powerful flashlight, this will deliver. My only complaint is that the AAA batteries inside are too difficult to replace and the whole thing has a tendency to fly into pieces when dropped on a concrete floor, as mine have been. Repeatedly.

Black Diamond

When I asked for work light suggestions, a number of you indicated you prefer to use headlamps when working on your cars, and I definitely can see why. My choice is the $50

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Not finding life on Venus would be disappointing. But it’s good science at work

Repetition, repetition

The truth is, the story of Venus’s putative phosphine is not a simple case of a sensational finding being shot down upon further scrutiny. In fact, the rush of follow-up research is welcomed; science is doing its thing. This is especially true when it comes to the search for extraterrestrial life—after all, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

“I think this is a perfect example of how the scientific process works,” says Paul Byrne, a planetary scientist at North Carolina State University, who also wasn’t involved in the studies. “It certainly makes sense that there would be other studies that would try and get at this question.”

The first preprint paper to cast doubt on the original was actually written in part by Greaves herself. After failing to secure more time on telescopes to verify her team’s initial finding—the pandemic has made telescope access difficult and in some cases impossible—she and her colleagues turned to an archive of infrared observations made in 2015 and couldn’t find any sign of phosphine. 

This is frustrating, of course, but as Byrne says, “the absence of proof of a given detection is not proof of absence. It just might mean the problem is more complex than we’d like.” Maybe phosphine doesn’t actually exist on Venus, or maybe it varies over time. Or perhaps the archival observations Greaves analyzed didn’t probe deeply enough into the clouds. 

Replicability is actually a common problem when it comes to these kinds of investigations. Our current characterization of methane on Mars, for example, is under intense debate: NASA’s Curiosity rover has a has a history of detecting enormous spikes of methane on the planet, while ESA’s Trace Gas Orbiter, designed to study the gas on Mars with far more sensitive instruments than Curiosity, has found bupkis. The same goes for the detection of water plumes on Europa by the Hubble Space Telescope: subsequent investigations have struggled to find them.

Still processing

Another problem that plagues the phosphine findings is data processing. The two other preprints were written by teams that tried to reprocess the original data used by Greaves and her team, suspecting that the original analysis was flawed. It’s often a challenge to pull signals out of the massive amounts of noise found in telescopic data. Researchers in the original study used a technique called polynomial fitting, which is supposed to remove background noise around the spectral region where phosphine signals should pop up. But as National Geographic reports, the way they went about it might actually have introduced false phosphine signals. 

Both of these new preprints reprocessed the data from scratch, without using Greaves’s method. One focused solely on the ALMA data and failed to find phosphine. The other paper looked at both the ALMA and JCMT data. Researchers found no phosphine signal in the ALMA data and detected a signal in the JCMT set that might be explained by sulfur dioxide gas. 

Moreover, the ALMA observatory recently found an error in its calibration system used

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A Black Biologist Pioneered Animal Intelligence Research, but His Work Was Buried

Charles Henry Turner

Charles Henry Turner
Graphic: Gizmodo (Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Black biologist Charles Henry Turner was doing groundbreaking research into animal cognition at the turn of the 20th century, yet his ideas never gained traction on account of racism and his seemingly radical viewpoint. Many concepts proposed by Turner are now accepted science, and a group of researchers to say it’s long past time to give credit where it’s due—and to avoid the mistakes of the past.

A new Perspectives essay published in Science describes the contributions of biologist Charles H. Turner (1867-1923), an American zoologist whose “early discoveries are forgotten for all the wrong reasons,” according to the paper’s two authors, Hiruni Samadi Galpayage Dona and Lars Chittka, both biologists at Queen Mary University of London.

Turner’s work went against the prevailing scientific discourse of the time, as he explored and entertained the idea that many animal species were capable of complex behaviors involving intelligence, problem solving, and even conscious awareness. Today, we take many of these ideas for granted, but Turner’s research into these matters never got the recognition it deserved.

“It is deplorable that the now-popular field of ‘animal personality’ has taken so little notice of Turner’s trailblazing approach,” they write.

For Turner’s contemporaries, it was a combination of racism and skepticism of his seemingly outlandish theories. His “visionary ideas about animal intelligence did not resonate in the field,” the authors write, “perhaps they were simply too far ahead of the time,” adding that they’re “almost completely unrecognized in the current literature.”

A deeper dive into Turner’s work reveals some truly groundbreaking insights and approaches. Born in Cincinnati in 1867—just two years after the end of the U.S. Civil War—Turner, who earned his Ph.D. in 1907 while at the University of Chicago, devised some innovative experimental approaches to studying animal behavior and cognition. In the decades prior, biologists Charles Darwin and George Wallace discussed animal intelligence, but their work was based predominantly on field observations and inference. Turner, in addition to observing animals in the wild, devised controlled experiments with animals not unlike those commonly done today.

From 1891 to 1917, Turner published over 70 papers (!), including three that appeared in the journal Science. He studied the learning curves of ants, did a comparative anatomy of bird brains (finding similarities with the brains of reptiles), studied honeybee vision, showed that insects (namely silkworm moths) can hear, studied the hunting habits of sand wasps, did maze experiments with cockroaches (in which he claimed the bugs acted with “will”), and documented detouring behavior in wild snakes (he once saw a snake catch a lizard by climbing up a neighboring tree so that it could pounce on its prey from above). He also studied individual variation and intelligence in spiders, as the authors explain:

Contrary to the still-popular view that spider web construction is a prime example of invertebrates’ robotic, repetitive action patterns, Turner reported variation between individuals in adapting their construction to

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As Trump, Biden hammer at swing states, advocates work to dismantle Electoral College

DENVER — As the presidential election between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden focuses increasingly on a few swing states that could determine the winner, millions of Americans are asking why their votes are essentially being taken for granted.

Why does the electoral vote matter more than the popular vote?



Now, a long-running effort to make the nation’s presidential election a “one person, one vote” system is gaining favor among partisan Democrats still angry that Trump won the 2016 presidency despite losing the popular vote by more than 2.8 million votes.

Colorado is the latest state to consider adopting the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which seeks to essentially abolish the Electoral College without going through the near-impossible task of amending the U.S. Constitution. Coloradans are voting on the measure now, and polls show support is evenly split.

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The idea of abolishing the Electoral College has been around for decades, but the current proposal became more popular after Al Gore lost the 2000 election. It hinges on states agreeing to dedicate their electoral votes to whoever wins the overall popular vote for president, rather than dedicating their votes to the candidate who won their individual state.

a small boat in a large room: Alabama Electoral College Delegates vote for Donald Trump inside the Alabama Capitol building on Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, in Montgomery, Alabama.

© Albert Cesare, AP
Alabama Electoral College Delegates vote for Donald Trump inside the Alabama Capitol building on Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, in Montgomery, Alabama.

Unlike most elections in the U.S., the presidency is decided not directly by voters, but by members of the Electoral College, who are assigned based on the results of the popular vote in each state.

If approved by voters, Colorado would join 14 states and Washington, D.C., as members of the compact, which takes effect once states with a total 270 electoral votes sign on. Colorado’s nine electoral votes would take the current total to 196.

Supporters say the measure would force candidates to campaign in states that today are often taken for granted because they vote so reliably Democrat or Republican that they can be safely ignored.

The proposal received new attention after the U.S. Supreme Court in July ruled that Electoral College electors in 32 states are legally obligated to cast their vote for the winner of their state’s vote, rather than selecting someone else.

Clinton’s 2016 loss emboldened Electoral College critics

While the plan’s longtime backers have pushed it in large part on a philosophical basis, some frustrated Democrats have hopped aboard in hopes of avoiding a repeat of the 2000 and 2016 elections, where Republicans George W. Bush and Trump lost the popular vote but still claimed the presidency.

Many of the former 2020 Democratic presidential candidates generally supported either abolishing the Electoral College entirely or just using the compact to make it obsolete. Biden, however, has said he opposes changing the current system.

“The 2016 election was a good reminder of our democracy and what we need to do protect

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76% of US CEOs Will Slash Office Space As Remote Work Dominates

Courtesy of ZeroHedge

The virus pandemic has accelerated more flexible work options for employees, with many companies instructing employees to work remotely through 2021, or in some cases, permanently. As a result, according to a new survey, CEOs have said they will slash office space, a move that could ripple through commercial real estate markets, all the way down into local economies. In collaboration with Deloitte, Fortune surveyed 171 CEOs between Sept. 23 to 30, found 76% of respondents are expected to reduce office space size in the near term. About 28% of them said they would need “a lot less” corporate space.


The survey is an eye-opener for all the empty office buildings in major metro areas as remote work continues to dominate. The prolonged economic downturn and persistent virus pandemic are whipping up a perfect storm where companies must reduce their corporate footprint.

Remote working, continued virus pandemic, social unrest, and a surge in violent crime have contributed to a mass exodus of city dwellers who have escaped to suburbia. Among CEOs surveyed, 40% said remote working has increased productivity. Inversely, 31% of CEOs said remote working decreased productivity.

Corporate America scaling back on office space will continue to pressure certain CMBS tranches that are heavily weighted with office buildings, suggesting as remote working continues, for at least the next 6 to 12 months, building operators could experience slumping rental income, resulting in missed mortgage payments and could send deliquesces soaring.

CMBS Deliquesces Remain Elevated

trepp cmbs_0

The scale-back of corporate space because of remote working will also damage local economies that surround business districts. This will be a mass hit to gas stations, restaurants, and other shops, who depend on commuters, will see less and less traffic for the next few years. In July, we noted remote working would remove some 14 million cars from American highways.

The bad news here is that a commercial real estate crisis looms. 



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NorthStar and Thales Alenia Space begin work on satellites to combat space collisions

MONTREAL (Reuters) – Canada’s NorthStar Earth & Space and Thales Alenia Space said on Tuesday they will begin work on a commercial satellite system to combat the threat of collisions in space.

NorthStar, an information service company, said it has contracted Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between France’s Thales and Italy’s Leonardo, to build the first three satellites of its “Skylark” constellation.

Montreal-based NorthStar said the constellation would be the first commercial service to monitor objects like satellites in space from space, where they can be tracked more precisely than from Earth.

Seattle-based LeoStella LLC will oversee the final assembly of the satellites, which are expected to launch in 2022. A full system of 12 satellites is expected in 2024, said NorthStar co-founder Stewart Bain in interview.

“We are deliberately international because this is an international problem,” Bain said.

While the United States and other governments already collect such data, demand for near real-time information that is commercially available is growing rapidly as experts forecast a “new space” economy worth over $1 trillion a year.

Data from the constellation could be used by groups from insurance companies to commercial satellite operators, Bain said.

The 2009 collision between a spacecraft operated by U.S. communications group Iridium Satellite LLC and a Russian Cosmos-2251 military satellite sent at least 600 pieces of debris off into space and raised fears that other satellites could be struck and damaged.

More recently, some researchers suggested in May that countries should levy an “orbit congestion charge” on satellite operators to tackle the growing concentration of space junk like debris, although others doubted the practicalities of such a fee.

(Reporting By Allison Lampert in Montreal; editing by Richard Pullin)

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Five Ways We Can Work Together To Achieve Inclusive Education For All

Senior Director at Wiley, leading his company’s Education business growth and profitability in Asia.

Growing inequality impacts economic growth and threatens social cohesion. This, in turn, can result in rising social and political tensions and could lead to instability, or worse, conflicts. To achieve a peaceful world, we must tackle discrimination and good education has considerable power to reduce inequality.

Over the past few decades, major progress was made toward eradicating poverty and increasing access to education. The Brookings Institution reported that 2019 marked “the lowest prevalence of extreme poverty ever recorded in human history.” More girls are going to school and with the rising middle class in Asia, more than half the world is now richer.

Despite these improvements, the 2018 World Inequality Report showed that income and wealth inequality has increased in nearly all world regions in recent decades, even before the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic is now inflicting human and economic pain on society at large. As countries implement physical distancing measures, economic growth has stalled and unemployment has surged, but uneducated, unskilled and poor workers are likely to be hurt more severely. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development reported that it’s estimated 1.6 billion students around the world were locked out of school as a result of the pandemic. While some of them were able to find alternative learning opportunities, many remain shut out, especially those from the most marginalized groups who didn’t have access to digital learning resources. Inequality is now being pushed to new extremes.

So, how do we ensure inclusive education for all? In this article, I will discuss five non-exhaustive recommendations.

1. We must tackle poverty.

Children born into poverty arrive in school already disadvantaged by poor access to healthcare and nutrition and are often faced with overcrowded facilities that lack trained and qualified teachers and resources. Those who are born into wealthier families have an opportunity to attend the best possible schools, giving them access to highly skilled teachers and a strong learning and professional network. This tremendous advantage in life explains why a research study from Georgetown University concluded a child’s likelihood of achieving early career success depends more on his or her family’s wealth and social status than on talent. While diversity and inclusion has gained greater importance in the business world, companies should double up and make conscious efforts to include these disadvantaged groups through corporate social responsibility initiatives. 

2. We need more data on those excluded from education.

While many are still missing the opportunity to access a quality education, not much data has been collected or reported on those who are left behind. UNESCO’s 2020 Global Education Monitoring Report found that 41% of countries, representing 13% of the global population, have not had a publicly available household survey to provide disaggregated data on key education indicators. This makes it challenging to target support to those most in need of help. Effective intervention strategy depends on data on inclusion. Companies can back research communities

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Can VR Training Make Remote Work Engaging Again? Part One

Virtual reality (VR) is more than just a toy. This is the argument of PwC’s new report, which investigates the effectiveness of VR for soft, or what should be called human, skills training. While the report has some very intriguing findings around how useful VR is for training compared to other methods, it is clear that there are significant barriers to overcome including cost and a dire lack of content.

In a remote working environment that demands engaging digital content, as well as a compelling substitute for physical human interaction (assuming that we’ll be working alongside our pets and partners for considerably longer than expected), can VR prove itself to be more than just an expensive novelty, or worse, a high-powered procrastination tool?

Start with human skills

Companies have relied on badly photocopied exercise sheets and point and click computer programs for decades, but PwC argues that they just don’t cut the mustard when engagement is key. “In-person or digital methods like online training don’t give learners an opportunity to immerse themselves in the experience the way VR does,” says Scott Likens, PwC’s emerging technology leader. Likens’ emphasis on the immersive, interactive experience of VR is not inconsequential, and VR’s suitability for learning human skills (such as diversity and inclusion training) is clear when directly compared to classroom learning or e-learning.

Ear-marked in the report as a “key driver of success” when learning human skills, the confidence to act on what they had learned in training increased by 275% for employees using VR compared to 198% for classroom-trained employees. The immersive nature of VR could also explain the disparity in training times between methods, with the report pointing out that “even with the time taken for employees to get used to VR” and discounting travel time to a classroom, VR was up to 4 times faster than classroom training and took 2/3rds as long as elearning methods (29 minutes versus 45 minutes for e-learning, and almost 2 hours in a classroom).

While a day in a classroom or two hours doing a video comprehension exercise may not be particularly engaging, Likens explains that VR enables participants to focus more fully: “While working remotely, we have more things distracting us than we would in an office, but VR demands employees’ full attention once they put on the headset.” With many people working from home, however, the logistics of actually getting headsets to people becomes more difficult – Liken’s suggestion that “employers can distribute headsets to workers’ homes and sanitize them after each use, for example, by bathing them in UVC light” seems like it might mitigate the time- and cost-effectiveness of VR – but some are seeing ways around this problem that further showcase the potential of

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Opinion | After the Pandemic, a Revolution in Education and Work Awaits

Welcome to the Times orchestra.

This is already having a big impact on education. “We have started hiring many people with no degrees,’’ explained Kumar. “If you know stuff and can demonstrate that you know stuff and have been upskilling yourself with online training to do the task that we need, you’re hired. We think this structural shift — from degrees to skills — could bridge the digital divide as the cost of undergraduate education has increased by 150 percent over the last 20 years.’’

Infosys still hires lots of engineers. But today Kumar is not looking just for “problem solvers,’’ he says, but “problem-finders,’’ people with diverse interests — art, literature, science, anthropology — who can identify things that people want before people even know they want them.

Steve Jobs was the ultimate problem-finder.

Now so many more people can play at that, because you no longer need to know how to code to generate new software programs. Thanks to artificial intelligence, there is now “no-code software.’’ You just instruct the software to design some code for the application that you’ve imagined or need and, presto, it will spit it out.

“We’re seeing the democratization of software — the consumers can now be the creators,’’ Kumar explained. It shows you how AI will take away jobs of the past, while it creates jobs of the future.

Finally, he argues, in the future, postsecondary education will be a hybrid ecosystem of company platforms, colleges and local schools, whose goal will be to create the opportunity for lifelong “radical reskilling.”

“Radical reskilling means I can take a front-desk hotel clerk and turn him into a cybersecurity technician. I can take an airline counter agent and turn her into a data consultant.”

Today, companies like Infosys, IBM or AT&T are all creating cutting-edge in-house universities — Infosys is building a 100-acre campus in Indianapolis designed to provide their employees and customers not “just-in-case learning’’ — material you might or might not need to master the job at hand — but “just-in-time learning,’’ offering the precise skills needed for the latest task, explained Kumar.

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The Future Of Work Is Taking Shape Before Our Eyes

A workforce whose numbers equal the population of France (66 million) suddenly finds itself working from home in the U.S. as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For comparison, just 4.7 million workers telecommuted to work one year ago.

By almost any measure, the U.S. workplace is undergoing its largest and most sudden transformation since the start of World War II. The same is true in Europe, Asia and beyond. Almost overnight, the world of work has been turned inside out.

By now, professional managers and administrators in many countries have largely completed efforts to get workers “back on their feet.” Among other things, they have established Zoom accounts for their employees, purchased a record number of notebook computers and adjusted workplace regulations so that employees can work from almost anywhere and at any time.

These efforts pale in comparison to the workplace makeovers that are likely coming next. Given that experts including Workplace Analytics expect 25-30% of the workforce to work from home at least part-time after 2021, organizations everywhere are rethinking everything — and with good reason. A recent survey on employee experience from McKinsey & Co. found that employees working remotely “see more positive effects on their daily work, are more engaged, and have a stronger sense of well-being than those in nonremote jobs with little flexibility.”

Good news, right?

Yes and no. The same study also found that more than 80% of respondents say the pandemic is materially affecting their daily work lives. Studies reveal that working from home has added between one and three extra hours of work per day. Another study found that 40% of remote workers experience mental exhaustion from video calls.

What these mixed results suggest is that employers have a rare opportunity to remake the workplace into something more productive, sustainable and humane if they can apply lessons learned from pandemic appropriately.

Again, take working from home.

Prior to the pandemic, working from home was one of the good things about the modern workforce. Study after study reveals that employees who work from home outperform those tethered to the office. A study of examiners who work for the U.S. Patent & Trade Office, for example, found that workers who transitioned from the office to their homes increased their productivity by 4.4%. More recently, a study completed by Prodoscore, a developer of digital dashboard solutions that help organizations measure and monitor workplace productivity, found work-from-home employees outperformed their office counterparts by a whopping 47%.

Given all the recent changes to the workforce, however, many managers will be tempted to make changes to work from home arrangements. Among other things, they will want greater oversight of regulatory compliance, organizational productivity and worker morale. To get it, some may go so far as to outfit employee devices with keylogging or even spyware software. Others will be tempted to schedule more meetings or demand more documentation to make workers accountable. While well-intended, these efforts will reduce output and/or destroy trust if implemented recklessly.

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