These artists found out their work was used to train AI. Now they’re furious

Erin Hanson has spent years developing the vibrant color palette and chunky brushstrokes that define the vivid oil paintings for which she is known. But during a recent interview with her, I showed Hanson my attempts to recreate her style with just a few keystrokes.

Using Stable Diffusion, a popular and publicly available open-source AI image generation tool, I had plugged in a series of prompts to create images in the style of some of her paintings of California poppies on an ocean cliff and a field of lupin.

“That one with the purple flowers and the sunset,” she said via Zoom, peering at one of my attempts, “definitely looks like one of my paintings, you know?”

With Hanson’s guidance, I then tailored another detailed prompt: “Oil painting of crystal light, in the style of Erin Hanson, light and shadows, backlit trees, strong outlines, stained glass, modern impressionist, award-winning, trending on ArtStation, vivid, high-definition, high-resolution.” I fed the prompt to Stable Diffusion; within seconds it produced three images.

“Oh, wow,” she said as we pored over the results, pointing out how similar the trees in one image looked to the ones in her 2021 painting “Crystalline Maples.” “I would put that on my wall,” she soon added.
An image created by CNN’s Rachel Metz with input from artist Erin Hanson, using the AI platform Stable Diffusion. It resembles Hanson’s work, particularly with its colors and simulated brush strokes.
An image created by CNN’s Rachel Metz with input from artist Erin Hanson, using the AI platform Stable Diffusion. It resembles Hanson’s work, particularly with its colors and simulated brush strokes.

Hanson, who’s based in McMinnville, Oregon, is one of many professional artists whose work was included in the data set used to train Stable Diffusion, which was released in August by London-based Stability AI. She’s one of several artists interviewed by CNN Business who were unhappy to learn that pictures of their work were used without someone informing them, asking for consent, or paying for their use.

Once available only to a select group of tech insiders, text-to-image AI systems are becoming increasingly popular and powerful. These systems include Stable Diffusion, from a company that recently raised more than $100 million in funding, and DALL-E, from a company that has raised $1 billion to date.

These tools, which typically offer some free credits before charging, can create all kinds of images with just a few words, including those that are clearly evocative of the works of many, many artists (if not seemingly created by the same artist). Users can invoke those artists with words such as “in the style of” or “by” along with a specific name. And the current uses for these tools can range from personal amusement to more commercial cases.

In just months, millions of people have flocked to text-to-image AI systems and they are already being used to create experimental films, magazine covers and images to illustrate news stories. An image generated with an AI system called Midjourney recently won an art competition at the Colorado State Fair, and caused an uproar among artists.
“Crystalline Maples”, a 2021 oil painting by Erin Hanson.
“Crystalline Maples”, a 2021 oil painting by Erin Hanson.

But as artists like Hanson have discovered that their work is being used to train AI, it raises an even more fundamental concern: that their own art is effectively being used to train a computer program that could one day cut into their livelihoods. Anyone who generates images with systems such as Stable Diffusion or DALL-E can then sell them (the specific terms regarding copyright and ownership of these images varies).

“I don’t want to participate at all in the machine that’s going to cheapen what I do,” said Daniel Danger, an illustrator and print maker who learned a number of his works were used to train Stable Diffusion.
When fine art becomes data

The machines are far from magic. For one of these systems to ingest your words and spit out an image, it must be trained on mountains of data, which may include billions of images scraped from the internet, paired with written descriptions.

Some services, including OpenAI’s DALL-E system, don’t disclose the datasets behind their AI systems. But with Stable Diffusion, Stability AI is clear about its origins. Its core dataset was trained on image and text pairs that were curated for their looks from an even more massive cache of images and text from the internet. The full-size dataset, known as LAION-5B was created by the German AI nonprofit LAION, which stands for “large-scale artificial intelligence open network.”

This practice of scraping images or other content from the internet for dataset training isn’t new, and traditionally falls under what’s known as “fair use” — the legal principle in US copyright law that allows for the use of copyright-protected work in some situations. That’s because those images, many of which may be copyrighted, are being used in a very different way, such as for training a computer to identify cats.

But datasets are getting larger and larger, and training ever-more-powerful AI systems, including, recently, these generative ones that anyone can use to make remarkable looking images in an instant.
A piece by illustrator Daniel Danger that was included in the training data behind the Stable Diffusion AI image generator.
A piece by illustrator Daniel Danger that was included in the training data behind the Stable Diffusion AI image generator.

A few tools let anyone search through the LAION-5B dataset, and a growing number of professional artists are discovering their work is part of it. One of these search tools, built by writer and technologist Andy Baio and programmer Simon Willison, stands out. While it can only be used to search a small fraction of Stable Diffusion’s training data (more than 12 million images), its creators analyzed the art imagery within it and determined that, of the top 25 artists whose work was represented, Hanson was one of just three who is still alive. They found 3,854 images of her art included in just their small sampling.

Stability AI founder and CEO Emad Mostaque told CNN Business via email that art is a tiny fraction of the LAION training data behind Stable Diffusion. “Art makes up much less than 0.1% of the dataset and is only created when deliberately called by the user,” he said.

But that’s slim comfort to some artists.
Angry artists

Danger, whose artwork includes posters for bands like Phish and Primus, is one of several professional artists who told CNN Business they worry that AI image generators could threaten their livelihoods.

He is concerned that the images people produce with AI image generators could replace some of his more “utilitarian” work, which includes media like book covers and illustrations for articles published online.

“Why are we going to pay an artist $1,000 when we can have 1,000 [images] to pick from for free?” he asked. “People are cheap.”
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Tara McPherson, a Pittsburgh-based artist whose work is featured on toys, clothing and in films such as the Oscar-winning “Juno,” is also concerned about the possibility of losing out on some work to AI. She feels disappointed and “taken advantage of” for having her work included in the dataset behind Stable Diffusion without her knowledge, she said.

“How easy is this going to be? How elegant is this art going to become?,” she asked. “Right now it’s a little wonky sometimes but this is just getting started.”

While the concerns are real, the recourse is unclear. Even if AI-generated images have a widespread impact — such as by changing business models — it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re violating artists’ copyrights, according to Zahr Said, a law professor at the University of Washington. And it would be prohibitive to license every single image in a dataset before using it, she said.

“You can actually feel really sympathetic for artistic communities and want to support them and also be like, there’s no way,” she said. “If we did that, it would essentially be saying machine learning is impossible.”

McPherson and Danger mused about the possibility of putting watermarks on their work when posting it online to safeguard the images (or at least make them look less appealing). But McPherson said when she’s seen artist friends put watermarks across their images online it “ruins the art, and the joy of people looking at it and finding inspiration in it.”

If he could, Danger said he would remove his images from datasets used to train AI systems. But removing pictures of an artist’s work from a dataset wouldn’t stop Stable Diffusion from being able to generate images in that artist’s style.
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For starters, the AI model has already been trained. But also, as Mostaque said, specific artistic styles could still be called on by users because of OpenAI’s CLIP model, which was used to train Stable Diffusion to understand connections between words and images.

Christoph Schuhmann, an LAION founder, said via email that his group thinks that truly enabling opting in and out of datasets will only work if all parts of AI models — of which there can be many — respect those choices.

“A unilateral approach to consent handling will not suffice in the AI world; we need a cross-industry system to handle that,” he said.
Offering artists more control

Partners Mathew Dryhurst and Holly Herndon, Berlin-based artists experimenting with AI in their collaborative work, are working to tackle these challenges. Together with two other collaborators, they have launched Spawning, making tools for artists that they hope will let them better understand and control how their online art is used in datasets.

In September, Spawning released a search engine that can comb through the LAION-5B dataset, haveibeentrained.com, and in the coming weeks it intends to offer a way for people to opt out or in to datasets used for training. Over the past month or so, Dryhurst said, he’s been meeting with organizations training large AI models. He wants to get them to agree that if Spawning gathers lists of works from artists who don’t want to be included, they’ll honor those requests.

Dryhurst said Spawning’s goal is to make it clear that consensual data collection benefits everyone. And Mostaque agrees that people should be able to opt out. He told CNN Business that Stability AI is working with numerous groups on ways to “enable more control of database contents by the community” in the future. In a Twitter thread in September, he said Stability is open to contributing to ways that people can opt out of datasets, “such as by supporting Herndon’s work on this with many other projects to come.”

What’s all the fuss about fracking in the UK?

 

The UK’s world of politics plunged deeper into turmoil on Wednesday night after a debate on fracking led to alleged physical altercations between Prime Minister Liz Truss’ aides and lawmakers from her own Conservative Party.

Last month, Truss’ government formally lifted a ban on fracking for shale gas that had been in place for England since 2019, arguing that strengthening the country’s energy supply was an “absolute priority.” The main opposition Labor Party brought forward a motion to restore the ban, but some Conservative members of parliament reported they were bullied, even manhandled, into voting in line with Truss.

But what exactly is fracking, and why is it so contentious? Here’s what you need to know.

What is fracking?

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves drilling into the Earth and injecting water and chemicals at high pressure to break rocks and release the gas trapped inside.
The Cuadrilla fracking site in Preston, in northwestern England.
The Cuadrilla fracking site in Preston, in northwestern England.

Why does the government want to do it?

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, European gas prices have surged to record highs and Britain is subsidizing bills for households and businesses at a predicted cost of more than 100 billion pounds ($110.4 billion).

Britain is heavily reliant on natural gas, which will take years to reduce. Gas heats around 80% of the country’s homes and on some days it can be used to generate almost 50% of the country’s electricity.

The government is seeking to increase domestic gas production, which has been in decline, to reduce its reliance on imports. The industry body Offshore Energies UK says that without new investment, Britain will have to import around 80% of its gas by 2030, up from around 60% now.

How much gas could be produced?

Scientists say this is still unclear. Since only few test wells have been drilled, there are no estimates of proven reserves to confidently predict how much shale gas would be technically and economically viable to extract by fracking.

The government has said that the only way to assess this is to allow drilling to start.

“Lifting the pause… will enable drilling to gather this further data, building an understanding of UK shale gas resources and how we can safely carry out shale gas extraction in the UK,” a statement from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said last month.

Why is it controversial?

Injecting fluids at high pressure can cause tremors in the Earth, while people in the communities affected are also concerned about the impact on the landscape, tourism and agriculture.

Shale gas is also a fossil fuel and campaigners say that extracting more fossil fuels goes against the country’s target to reach net zero emissions by 2050. It also uses a large amount of water and environmental groups have raised fears over possible groundwater contamination.
Fracking has proved hugely unpopular among voters.
Fracking has proved hugely unpopular among voters.

A BEIS public attitude tracker, which uses random sampling, in Autumn 2021 showed opposition to fracking far outweighs support, with just 4% supporting the practice and 45% opposing it.

Which companies are involved?

More than 100 exploration and drilling licenses have been awarded to several companies including Cuadrilla, Third Energy, IGas, Aurora Energy Resources and Ineos.

Cuadrilla, 96% owned by Australia’s AJ Lucas, was the only one of these firms to receive consent to begin fracking.

It found a natural gas resource at its site in northwestern England in 2019, but the rules around tremors meant its operations had to keep stopping, meaning that neither of its two wells could be fully flow-tested.

Which other countries have done it?

Onshore gas fracking is commonplace in the United States, where it has helped to drive down the cost of gas, but the practice remains banned in many European countries, such as Germany and France, while few European countries are believed to have suitable shale gas geology for the technology.

Will it cut energy bills?

Not in the short term and questions remain over how much gas can actually be extracted. Even if large amounts are recovered, the price of this gas would still be subject to global prices.

Former British Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng said in March when he was Business and Energy secretary gas fracking would not lead to lower British gas prices. “With the best will in the world, private companies are not going to sell the shale gas they produce to UK consumers below the market price,” he tweeted.

New UK finance minister rips up Truss’ economic plan in stunning policy reversal

Britain’s new finance minister announced a comprehensive retreat on the UK government’s tax-and-spending plans on Monday in a frantic effort to calm jittery markets and restore the government’s credibility.

Just four days into the job, Jeremy Hunt said he would reverse “almost all” tax measures announced three weeks ago by his predecessor. The stunning reversal would raise £32 billion ($36 billion), he said.

A proposed cut to the basic rate of income tax from April 2023 has been postponed “indefinitely.” And while the government has said it will still guarantee energy prices for households and businesses through this winter, it won’t commit to capping prices beyond next spring.

“No government can control markets, but every government can give certainty about the sustainability of public finances,” Hunt said. “The United Kingdom will always pay its way.”

The moves amount to a gutting of Prime Minister Liz Truss’ flagship “growth plan” and leave her in a perilous political position.

The opposition Labour Party said Hunt’s statement highlighted how the government has made life harder for everyday people, as mortgage rates and other borrowing costs have spiked in recent weeks.

“All the Chancellor’s statement underlines is that the damage has been done,” lawmaker Rachel Reeves tweeted.
Investors show support

The announcement helped ease alarm in financial markets on Monday. UK government bonds rallied and the pound climbed 1.2% to $1.13. Yields on 30-year UK bonds, which move opposite prices, dropped to 4.37% after rising above 5% last week. Ten-year borrowing costs fell below 4%.

Investors still remain on edge, however. While Hunt’s policy announcement could deliver a short term “relief rally,” significant volatility is likely to persist, said Francesco Pesole, a strategist at ING.

On Friday, Truss fired Kwasi Kwarteng, her previous finance minister, and reinstated a big tax hike on corporations. But those moves failed to satisfy investors worried about the state of government finances.

Truss faces serious questions about whether she can hold on to her job after financial markets rejected her controversial economic package, which aimed to boost growth by slashing taxes and ramping up borrowing.

Her government has come under huge pressure from investors and other Conservative Party members since the effort was unveiled in late September. While Truss has walked back many of the measures, including a plan to cut the income tax rate for top earners, it’s failed to revive confidence.

Over the weekend, US President Joe Biden said he thought Truss’ trickle-down economic plan “was a mistake.”

“I disagree with the policy,” he said, adding that it was “up to Great Britain to make that judgment.”

The Treasury said that Hunt met with the governor of the Bank of England and the head of the Debt Management Office on Sunday night to brief them on his plans. He’ll share more information with Parliament later Monday.

Plans that have already started working their way through Parliament, including a cut to a tax on house purchases, will go ahead.

But the government will keep the basic rate of income tax at 20% “until economic conditions allow for it to be cut,” saving £6 billion a year. Other tax-cutting measures, such as slashing dividend taxes and the introduction of a new VAT-free shopping program for non-British visitors to the United Kingdom, have also been ditched.

“A central responsibility for any government is to do what’s necessary for economic stability,” Hunt said.
The energy question

The Treasury will lead a review to examine how to ease the pain of high energy costs beyond April 2023, though its guarantees will remain in place over the next six months.

The government said in September that the typical UK household would pay no more than £2,500 ($2,825) annually for their energy for the next two years.

“Looking beyond April, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor have agreed that it would be irresponsible for the government to continue exposing the public finances to unlimited volatility in international gas prices,” the Treasury said in a statement.

Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank, tweeted that the review of how to support energy bills past April was “long overdue.”

“It was always wrong to promise an untargeted, universal, massively expensive subsidy for two years,” he said. “It may have been the only option in the short run, but worth spending a huge amount to improve it longer term.”

But campaigners worried that people won’t be able to afford their heating bills were more critical, highlighting the difficult decisions faced by policymakers.

“The country was already facing a financial cliff edge in April due to plans to end other support packages,” Simon Francis, coordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, a group of civil society organizations, said in a statement. “This cliff edge has now become even steeper.”

The finance minister’s full medium-term budget will still be delivered on October 31, together with a review of the government’s growth and spending plans by the UK’s fiscal watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility.

Investors are closely watching the bond market Monday after the Bank of England on Friday ended its £65 billion emergency purchase program, which was intended to temporarily help pension funds hit hard by the market tumult.

While the central bank ultimately bought under £20 billion in government debt, the intervention — announced on September 28 — helped provide some reassurance as the bond market churned.

The Bank of England said Monday that the operations “enabled a significant increase in the resilience of the sector.”

The UK just stepped back from the brink. But there’s more trouble ahead

The decision by Jeremy Hunt, the new UK finance minister, to jettison the bulk of Prime Minister Liz Truss’ much-maligned plans to boost growth has come as a huge relief to investors, easing their worries about the sustainability of government finances.

But even if “Trussonomics” has been tossed out and a total market meltdown avoided, the near-term prospects for Britain’s economy look increasingly wobbly.

A recession stretching through the winter looms. Policymakers were facing tough choices even before Truss unleashed financial market chaos. Now, with the government’s credibility tarnished, they’re in an even worse predicament.

“The last month has been like a bad dream, but the situation prior to the last month was not a good dream,” said James Athey, investment director at Abrdn, an asset manager.

The sudden reversal of almost all tax cuts announced just three weeks ago could put financial markets on more stable footing. If borrowing costs had continued to climb, it would have made life harder for millions of households and businesses.
Period residential homes in a south London street, on 6th October 2022, in London, England. (Photo by Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images)

Are you a UK mortgage borrower hit hard by rising interest rates? Tell us your story

The British pound rose as high as $1.14 on Monday, though it dropped below $1.13 on Wednesday. Yields on 30-year UK government bonds, which move opposite prices, have dipped to 4.24% after topping 5% last week.

But concerns about the economy are resurfacing in lieu of angst about the country’s financial markets — though on that front, too, uncertainty remains.

Citing a renewed commitment to controlling the country’s debts, Hunt has said the government will universally cap energy prices only until April. Support beyond then will cost taxpayers “significantly less than planned” and be targeted at those most in need, he said. A fresh spike in energy bills could boost inflation again in the spring.

The government’s ability to ease rising living costs will be limited by its attempts to rein in borrowing and concerns that additional stimulus measures will fan inflation further.

Meanwhile, the Bank of England is expected to keep aggressively hiking interest rates, and the pound is likely to drift downward again as foreign investors favor the safe-haven dollar, hurting businesses that import goods.

Goldman Sachs recently downgraded its economic outlook for the United Kingdom, forecasting “a more significant recession” in which activity contracts by 1% in 2023. It said it sees “additional downside risks to growth” following Hunt’s announcements on Monday.
U-turns and their consequences

The original set of economic plans unveiled by Truss and her previous finance minister, Kwasi Kwarteng, were a controversial bid to reignite a British economy that’s still below its pre-pandemic size. Output shrank by 0.3% in August, while inflation stood at 9.9%, according to the Office for National Statistics. It rose to 10.1% in September, once again touching a 40-year high.

But the gamble by Truss to jumpstart growth — predicated on a huge package of tax cuts that required substantial borrowing — was an epic failure. On Monday, Truss apologized “for the mistakes that have been made” in an interview with the BBC.
Jeremy Hunt leaves 10 Downing Street in London after he was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer following the resignation of Kwasi Kwarteng. Picture date: Friday October 14, 2022. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)

New UK finance minister rips up Truss’ economic plan in stunning policy reversal

Economists are now racing to figure out what Hunt’s reset means for their forecasts. His decision to ditch most tax cuts and to place a time limit on the government’s energy support has muddied the picture for the next year, even as it’s temporarily placated bond traders.

Inflation could rise again in April if support is rolled back and some households see their bills jump. Goldman Sachs warned that inflation could leap to 11.9% year-over-year in April from its current forecast of 7.1% and “stay higher throughout 2023,” depending on what the government decides to do.

“The Chancellor has created some level of stability in the markets, but has created total instability in people’s households,” said Simon Francis, coordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, a group of civil society organizations.

Cuts to public spending, the so-called “austerity” that defined the UK’s policy approach in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, would be politically unpopular and hurt vulnerable sections of society. But Hunt indicated that “very difficult decisions” lie ahead given the need to control public debt loads.

While the finance minister’s changes this week will save the government £32 billion ($36 billion), analysts say the government needs to do more to ensure public finances are on the right track. That will leave little room to spend on economic stimulus programs, weighing on near-term growth.

“If you’ve got a spending squeeze and no ability to stimulate with fiscal easing, then the economy is going to struggle to recover from what we think will be a recession this winter,” said Dean Turner, an economist at UBS Wealth Management.
The fallout continues

At the same time, the Bank of England intends to stay tough on inflation. Governor Andrew Bailey emphasized over the weekend that a “stronger response” may be needed to get a handle on price rises. The central bank also said Tuesday that sales of government bonds bought during the pandemic era will begin on November 1.

That could push up bond yields at a moment when they’re still fragile. A premium from the recent chaos is still built into UK borrowing costs, making it more expensive for households and businesses to take out loans.

The yield on benchmark 10-year UK government bonds has dropped back below its US counterpart. But it remains near 4%, up from 3.5% before Kwarteng unveiled the government’s initial “growth plan” (also known as the “mini-budget”) in September.

“It’s too early to say this ‘mini-budget’ premium is here for the long term, but it’s certainly expected to be here for a little while,” Turner said.

The specter of additional volatility in financial markets still lingers. Hunt’s detailed budget, which will be accompanied by an assessment from the country’s fiscal watchdog, will face huge scrutiny later this month.

And restoring investor confidence in UK assets is expected to be an effort that takes time — especially as questions about Truss’ political future swirl. If she is ousted, that would introduce more doubt about the government’s policy path.

“It takes a while for them to feel comfortable again,” Athey of Abrdn said.

Should financiers continue to shun the United Kingdom, put off by the gloomy growth outlook and questions about the government’s credibility, the pound will continue to weaken. That will make it more expensive for businesses to import the goods they need, fanning inflation and further weighing on economic activity.

Athey’s prediction? Even if the currency isn’t swinging sharply, it will face “steady depreciating pressure” in the coming months.

Home prices are finally falling. But how low will they go?

The US housing market is in the midst of a major shift. After two years of stratospheric price appreciation, home prices have peaked and are on their way back down.

But what homebuyers and homeowners alike want to know is: How much lower will prices go?

The short answer: Prices are likely to drop further, but not by as much as they did during the housing bust. From the 2006 peak to the 2012 trough, national home prices fell by 27%, according to S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices, which measures US home prices.

“It was different in 2008, 2009 because that drop in prices was because of a push from sellers,” said Jeff Tucker, senior economist at Zillow. “Because of foreclosures and short sales there were a lot of extremely motivated sellers who were willing to take a loss on their homes.”

Plus, that housing crash came at a time when the inventory of homes for sale was four times higher than it is now. Current inventory is still substantially lower than pre-pandemic levels, which has increased competition for homes. And that is keeping prices relatively strong.
house for sale STOCK

How much house can I afford?

“I would be surprised to see prices anywhere drop below where they were in 2019,” said Tucker. “There was some overheating in the housing market in 2021 through this spring that pushed prices higher than what the fundamentals would support. Now they are coming down.”

With mortgage rates more than doubling since the start of this year, the calculations for a homebuyer have changed considerably. The monthly principal and interest mortgage payment on the median priced home is up $930 from a year ago, a 73% increase, according to Black Knight, a mortgage data company.
How low will prices go?
Mortgage signing – stock

What will my monthly mortgage payment be?

When you factor in soaring mortgage rates, along with elevated home prices and wages that aren’t increasing as fast, buying a home is less affordable now than it has been in decades, according to Black Knight.

But there may be some relief in sight for buyers.

Economists at Goldman Sachs expect home prices to decline by around 5% to 10% from the peak hit in June.

Wells Fargo has recently forecasted that national median single-family home prices will drop by 5.5% year-over-year by the end of 2023.

Wells Fargo’s economists estimate that the median price for an existing single family home to be $385,000 this year, up 7.8% from last year, but the growth will be a lot less than the 19% year-over-year increase seen in 2021.

The economists anticipate the median home price will fall to $364,000, a decline of 5.5% from this year. They predict prices will rebound and rise again in 2024, with the median price ticking up 3.3% to 376,000 by the end of 2024.

“The primary driver behind the housing market correction thus far has been sharply higher mortgage rates,” the Wells Fargo researchers wrote. “If our forecast for Fed rate cuts is realized, mortgage rates are likely to fall slightly just as cooling inflation pressures boost real income growth. A modest improvement in sales activity should then follow, which will reignite home price appreciation heading into 2024.”
Location, location, location

Ultimately, how much prices fall will depend on where you live.

Unlike the run-up in prices during the pandemic that caused home values in markets across the country to surge, the cooling off will be more regional, said Tucker. The drops will be more deeply felt in places where there were larger gains during the pandemic, many of them in the West and Sunbelt, including cities like Austin, Phoenix and Boise, he said.

“Nationally, we might see a 5% decline from the peak,” Tucker said. “But prices will decline by more in the West and there will be a smaller decline in the Southeast.”

In September, month-over-month home prices dropped in several pandemic hotspots, including Phoenix, down 2.3%; Las Vegas, down 1.9% and Austin, down nearly 1%, according to Zillow.
A “Sale Pending” sign outside a house in Morgan Hill, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022.

US home sales fall for 8th month in a row in September, the longest slump since 2007

And Boise, Idaho, where prices surged nearly 60% during the pandemic, is already seeing annual declines, with prices falling 3.9% year over year in September, according to Zillow.

“A number of metro areas, especially in the West, will see some year-over-year price declines this spring,” said Tucker. “That will be the worst comparison time because that’s when many markets reached their peak.”

Appointments – Manage Your Time Better At Home to Be Effective

What would happen to you if your home life was more organized than it is right now? Can work-life balance be achieved? What are the tools at our disposal? Could scheduling appointments and keeping them at home help us save time and prioritize?

What is the challenge we face? I sometimes find that time spent at home can be the busiest time, especially in the times we live in. Imagine someone working from home, home-schooling children, and sometimes even doing a side hustle. Imagine also the full-time home-based entrepreneur. How do they manage to do all they need to do in a day?. We are living in a time when many entrepreneurs and even company employees have adopted work- at – home culture. This comes with its challenges as the lines become blurred between home and work. These blurred lines and constraints on the limited resource called time result in over-worked, under-rested, burnt-out individuals. Whilst good time management has been encouraged and indeed, embraced in the workplace, I believe more needs to be done in changing the mindset for the elusive work-life balance to be achieved.

What are the tools at our disposal? To manage time effectively at home, there are many interventions one can employ including setting goals for the day, prioritizing wisely, setting a time limit for every task, organizing oneself, and instituting the discipline of appointments. Yes, an appointment at home! We can spend time pontificating on the pros and cons of each intervention, however, I believe we need to focus on appointments and see how this can powerfully change the course of one’s day regardless of whether it’s a workday or weekend. Life is busy as it is without any intrusions. The question is how do you handle the one who announces that they are at the gate. These can be friends, neighbors, a salesman of some product you do not even need. I am not promoting regimentation here but rather a culture of filling your day with what’s important. Everything that we succeed at is because we carefully plan and execute it. I am a firm believer that you cannot manage time if you do not manage yourself thus I implore you to incorporate planning and appointments into your repertoire. I am not talking about something I do not do. I have to achieve many things in a day therefore I set appointments with my work, others, and myself.

Could scheduling appointments and keeping them on the home front help us save time and prioritize? Whereas we have established that it is a normal business practice to set appointments and keep them, we need to abandon the liberal open-door policy of allowing all and sundry to have access to us as and when they please on the home front. Please understand where I am coming from. We each have greatness within us but for us to achieve it we need to culture great habits. Employing the use of appointments at home and seeing only those people you had agreed to see removes non-essential encounters especially during the most productive hours. I know this will vary with culture, geographical region, or even level of affluence, whether you live in a low density or high-density residential area, but doesn’t negate the need to be organized and effective. Controlling access determines how organized you are and how well you will work and rest when the time for scheduled rest comes.

What do we need to do differently? We need to be disciplined and diligent, learn to say no, now is not a good time, let’s make an appointment for next week. What are the benefits of this approach? You are not always fire-fighting to meet deadlines, You are not always tired because you have not taken time out to rest. You have set aside enough time to spend with your loved ones or a loved one. If you are a busy person, I am sure you appreciate what I am saying. Whether it’s time to work uninterrupted, family time, or “me-time”, it takes some kind of order to enjoy it.

I am not saying that those that come unannounced are bad people. No, not at all, they probably are people you enjoy spending time with. Nevertheless, there must be prior communication so that you can attend to your visitor(s) when it is convenient for both you and them. It can be quite disrupting and a whole day can just pass by without achieving anything that you had planned to do.

As we grow older we begin to appreciate that rest and recovery need to be scheduled. The fact that I am relaxing doesn’t mean that I don’t have anything to do. One therefore cannot assume that just because you are at home you are available. Maybe you have scheduled that time to rest. That is important. You need to make an appointment with yourself, spouses need to also set aside time for each other. Parents need to schedule a time to spend with their children. When you have some sort of order in your life you determine who sees you and who you see. It also means that your relationships will be healthy and that makes you a happier person.

In conclusion, I believe that the work-life balance can be achieved. There are many tools at our disposal just like it is in the workplace.I believe we could do more and be happier if we are disciplined enough to make only the commitments we can keep.I am certain that setting appointments and keeping them at home help us save time and prioritize.

How Is Your Worksite Wellness Program Addressing The Biopsychosocial Nature Of Health? (Are You?)

Health is a complex concept. And you do want to understand how to best address it, correct?

I have previously written that health and wellness are two clearly different concepts. As a result, I see the work-site wellness programs of today as not really being wellness programs at all, but really being employee health status management programs. If you accept this premise, this means that as a work site wellness professional you should have a clear understanding about the nature of health. Do you think you do?

Health, like wellness, can have many different definitions. Again, like wellness, there appears to be agreement around the idea that health is a complex concept which has several different determinants. The determinants of health can be classified into several broad categories: policy making, social factors, health services, individual behavior and biology and genetics. Health is often referred to as being a complex bio psycho-social concept.

Breaking the term bio psycho-social down into its component parts suggests the term consists of three major components: biological, psychological and social. So how do these component parts each contribute to an individual’s health?

Biological – The biological and genetic or physical (physiological) determinants of health, as well as individual behaviors, are generally the focus of most work site wellness programs today. Programming often takes the form of health risk identification and measurement (commonly called risk reduction) and disease or condition management strategies. These speak to the biology and genetics of health.

Two common measurement tools used in work site wellness programs today are health risk assessments and bio-metric screenings which are designed to measure and categorize health risks and basic biological body measures respectively. The basic biological measures serve as markers for an individual’s health status. Ideally, these measures should be within what has been determined to be a normal clinical range.

Psychological – It is now generally accepted that our brain and our body in separable. There is an undeniable connection between the mind and the body. While the exact mechanism may not yet be clearly understood, there is agreement cognition, thoughts, attitude and feelings influence our health. Our thoughts and feelings do have a physical impact on our body. They influence our nervous system, our immune system, our hormone system and subsequently our health.

Disease states are strongly influenced both in onset and duration by the way we think and behave. Our emotional responses result in hormone releases which in turn affect our health. It is clear that how a person feels, or their psychological states including a sense of energy, vigor, durability, hardiness, resilience, optimism, high life satisfaction and positive emotions all reflect the psychological connection to physical health, thereby representing the psychological component in bio psycho-social.

Social – The person – environment fit is reflective of the social component in bio psycho-social. The social determinants of health typically refer to the social environment and the physical environment, which are not controllable by the individual, but affect the individual’s environment and health.

Social determinants are complex, integrated, and overlapping social structures and economic systems linked to a lack of opportunity and to a lack of resources to protect, improve, and maintain health. Environmental factors, such as housing conditions, living conditions, social networks, and social support are also key drivers.

Examples of social determinants include:

• Availability of resources to meet daily needs, such as educational and job opportunities, living wages, or healthy food

• Social norms and attitudes

• Exposure to crime, violence, and social disorder

• Socioeconomic conditions, such as poverty

• Social support and social interactions

Social support, social interactions and friendships have been determined by researchers to provide many benefits. They influence many major aspects of our life. They also provide many beneficial life enhancing roles. Social support is critical. In fact, a lack of friends can be deadly.

We lean on social support, social interactions and friendships for:

• Intellectual stimulation

• Emotional support

• Fun activities

• Support for making behavior changes

The skills necessary for making good social support, interactions and friendship are also the skills necessary for success in life. Social support, social interactions and friendships are also great wellness tools for the work-site wellness professional to tap into.

How is your work-site wellness program addressing each component of the bio psycho-social nature of health?

Tips To Help You Find Cute Homecoming Dresses For Your Party

The homecoming party is supposed to be really exciting and a time to have fun. Every girl attending the party must feel confident, unique and be ready to have happy moments. Choosing a cute dress can go a long way in helping you have the best homecoming party ever. It could actually make you the center of attraction in the entire party.

There are tips that could help you choose the best homecoming dresses in a very simple way. These include:

1. Always Search For Your Dress Early

Rushing through the internet can be frustrating if you really need the best homecoming dress for your party. It could actually ruin your party! Go through the magazines and various websites, and even watch celebrity red carpet at least three or two months before the party, and evaluate the options available for you. Further, always budget as early as possible; so that you do not end up missing out on your favorite dress just because you did not have money to pay for it.

2. Know Who You Are

Just because a dress is suitable for one person you had seen somewhere, it does not mean that it will be perfect for you. Always go for your own unique designs that bring out the best in you. You may need to consider your body shape and height, and hence choose the suitable dress. For instance, curvy people should go for the A shape dresses, while slim people may want to consider a sheath style dress. Short people who may finding it difficult to find a sizeable cocktail dress can go for a short dress which is long on them. Professional designers can help you to understand the right type of dress with careful consideration of your body shape and height.

3. Do Not Forget The Shoes And Accessories

It does not make sense to put all your effort in shopping for a perfect dress and then forget all other facts like accessories and shoes. Find jewelry, bag, and shoes to match to your cute homecoming dresses 2014 early in advance. This way, you will achieve that perfect look during the party.

4. Clarify On The Delivery Time

Your dress should be delivered to you a few weeks before the homecoming party. This way, you will have a chance to try it on, and make alterations if need be. If you are shopping for the dress online, it is important to confirm with the vendors about the delivery dates even before you make your orders.

It is not difficult to find perfect and cute homecoming dresses. With little research and following the tips above, you will have a chance to find the best dress that will help you make lasting impressions during the party.