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Monday, October 13, 2014

The Good Wife Watch: The So-Bad-She’s-Good Wife

The Good Wife Watch: The So-Bad-She’s-Good Wife


The Good Wife Watch: The So-Bad-She’s-Good Wife

Posted: 13 Oct 2014 11:21 AM PDT

Brief spoilers for Sunday’s The Good Wife follow:

The Good Wife began its run, just over five years ago, as a political legal drama that dealt heavily with the “Wife” half of its title: would Alicia Florrick stand by her ambitious politician husband, about to mount a return run for state’s attorney, after he’d been disgraced in a sex scandal? The show has covered a lot of ground since then, but with “Oppo Research,” the best episode yet of the young new season, it’s come around to being a different kind of political drama, concerned with whether Alicia can stand her own run for state’s attorney.

And even more fascinating, it’s increasingly interested in investigating the “Good” half of its title.

The Good Wife has long been a morally complex series, dealing with the ethical gymnastics of characters we identify with but can’t always completely support. But the spectacular opening act of “Oppo,” with Alicia’s known and unknown secrets laid out by Steven Pasquale’s consultant, framed this in a new way. First, it asked, going point by point: how would Alicia’s personal and professional life look as viewed, not by sympathetic fans who have followed her story for years, but by an outside audience of voters?

Paced at the show’s typical double-time–with Grace’s friends singing Jesus hymns in the background–the interrogation crisply ran down Alicia’s political vulnerabilities, some she knew about (but maybe underestimated), some she was clueless of. (Say, Zach’s girlfriend’s abortion. Oh, that’s right: The Good Wife just dropped a teen-abortion storyline right into a primetime network drama, like it wasn’t even a thing.) And then of course there are the many professional conflicts we’re aware of, starting with Lemond Bishop, still very much a factor in this season.

The public, we’re told, sees her as “Saint Alicia.” And we the audience–maybe “Saint” is too strong a word, but the perspective of the show pushes us to empathize with her, to see her decisions in a better light. The first thing the oppo scene did was to shock us into a sense of perspective, to remind us that, all along, we’ve been watching the story of a complicated woman who’s motivated by power and security at least as much as by ideals.

The second thing it does is set in motion the rest of the episode, in which Alicia, now taking her potential run seriously, looks to set her house in order. It’s not pretty: her phone call with Zach goes from understandable anger to a brutal cutting-off, and her managing the situation with her brother may be practical, but it’s also callous. None of her actions are totally without justification, nor are they out of character; we’ve seen Alicia turn cold and massage the truth when she needs to in her legal work.

But “Oppo Research” suggests that politics may push her to be even more baldly Machiavellian–to do ugly things for the right reasons, or kinda-ugly things for the kinda-right reasons. To preserve the viability of Saint Alicia, she may need to unleash Sinner Alicia, even if we know that neither is the full picture of her.

A show that started out saying that it’s no easy thing to be a wife is now exploring how it’s no simple thing to be good. And that could just make it better than ever.

Now a quick hail of bullets:

* It’s hard to discuss the antiheroine aspects of The Good Wife without mentioning the return of the Darkness at Noon parody show-within-a-show. I’m probably in a minority among Good Wife fans, but I’ve never been a fan of them. The parody of the widely panned Low Winter Sun by one of TV’s best dramas is punching down, and like most Emperor’s New Clothes arguments–here, the Emperor’s New Dark Antihero Cable Drama–it feels self-congratulatory. But I can’t lie: I laughed at the Talking Dead parody (complete with cameo from The Americans‘ producer Joe Weisberg) and especially the Mystical Elk. Sometimes funny is its own best argument.

* The oppo-research opening scene was so structurally playful and captivating that I originally thought it would take up the entire hour, bottle-episode style–and not to knock the rest of the episode, but I kind of wish it was.

* Mrs. Tuned In and I know the casting patterns of The Good Wife well enough by now that, before Eli opened the door to introduce Alicia’s potential campaign manager, we played a quick round of: “What NYC stage actor will it be?” Sure enough, though you and I might know Pasquale better from Rescue Me (or, sadly, Do No Harm), he’s a Broadway veteran, most recently of The Bridges of Madison County.

* With Homeland and The Good Wife both on the air is fall, both the white- and red-wine protagonist contingents are well-represented. If Madame Secretary wants to stand out, it should give Tea Leoni’s character a taste for rosé.

This Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Could Be a Game Changer

Posted: 13 Oct 2014 11:01 AM PDT

Researchers have overcome a major barrier in the study of Alzheimer’s that could pave the way for breakthroughs in our understanding of the disease, a new report shows—and that new understanding could, in turn, pave the way for drugs that treat or interrupt the progression of the neurodegenerative condition.

For decades, animals have been the stand-ins for studying human disease, and for good reason. Their shorter lifespans mean they can model human conditions in weeks or months, and their cells can be useful for testing promising new drug treatments.

But they haven’t been so helpful in studying Alzheimer’s disease. Two factors contribute to the neurodegenerative condition — the buildup of sticky plaques of the protein amyloid, and the toxic web of another protein, tau, which strangles healthy nerve cells and leaves behind a tangled mess of dead and dying neurons. Despite attempts by scientists to engineer mice who exhibit both factors, they haven’t been able to generate the tau tangles that contribute to the disease.

Now, Dr. Rudolph Tanzi and Dr. Doo Kim at the Mass General Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, have devised a work-around that doesn’t involve animals. They have developed a way to watch the disease progress in a lab dish.

“In this new system that we call ‘Alzheimer’s-in-a-dish,’ we’ve been able to show for the first time that amyloid deposition is sufficient to lead to tangles and subsequent cell death,” said Tanzi in a statement.

MORE: Blood Test for Alzheimer’s

While autopsies showed evidence of both amyloid and tau in the brain, Alzheimer’s experts have been debating for years which came first — do amyloid plaques trigger the formation of tau tangles, or does the presence of tau cause amyloid to get stickier and bunch together in the brain? Tanzi and his colleagues showed definitively for the first time that amyloid is the first step in the Alzheimer’s process, followed by tau tangles. When he blocked the formation of amyloid in the culture with a known amyloid inhibitor, tau tangles never formed.

The disease-in-a-dish model is an emerging way of understanding conditions that either can’t be recapitulated accurately in animals, or diseases that make it difficult to study and test in human patients. In recent years, for example, scientists have successfully recreated the process behind amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, using stem cells from patients and allowing them to develop into the motor neurons that are affected by the disease. The technique led to a breakthrough in understanding that a certain population of nerve cells known as glial cells poison the motor neurons and impede their normal function. Now experts are focusing on finding ways to control the glial cell activity as possible treatment for ALS.

MORE: How Moodiness and Jealousy May Lead to Alzheimer’s

Tanzi and his team are hoping that something similar will come from their model of Alzheimer’s.

While the genes responsible for the inherited form of Alzheimer’s differ slightly from those involved in the more common form that affects people as they age, the end result — the build up of amyloid plaques and tau tangles — are the same. So now that they can see both the clumps of amyloid and the tau tangles, form, they can start to tease apart the processes that link the two processes together.

That will open the way toward finding drugs or other ways of interrupting the process more quickly than they could working with animals. It took six to eight weeks for the cells in the dish to form plaques and then tangles, compared to a year or so in mice. “We can now screen hundreds of thousands of drugs in this system that recapitulates both plaques and tangles…in a matter of months,” Tanzi said. “This was not possible in mouse models.” The system also makes it possible to test these drug compounds at one-tenth the cost of evaluating them in mice, he said. And that means that finding a way to prevent Alzheimer’s may come both faster and cheaper than scientists had expected.

Why Gourmet Food and a Table Full of Kids Don’t Mix

Posted: 13 Oct 2014 10:48 AM PDT

Fine dining with children. It’s a pairing most of us don’t normally like to see together. But the New York Times and Daniel Boulud decided to give it a go by filming six second graders eating a seven-course chef’s tasting menu at Daniel, Boulud’s famed, two-Michelin-starred restaurant. “The basic goal today for the children,” said head chef Boulud, is “to really discover a lot of flavor, a lot of layers, a lot of texture” and to “experience something maybe very unique for them.”

The video is enchanting, as the children take culinary risks, trying out fish eggs and Wagyu steak and adventurously taking bites of new foods while politely exclaiming, “Ooh, this is strange.”

Aspirational parents eager to have a gourmet dining experience with their kids too shared the video all over Facebook.

Since my 7-year-old son is a noted foodie, six different people sent me this video saying something to the effect of “Let’s do this!” But there was one unifying characteristic among the people who enthusiastically sent me the video: None of them had children.

Building a child’s palate, getting him or her ready for a lifetime of culinary education, expanding his horizons beyond organic, gluten-free chicken nuggets and baby carrot sticks are all lofty goals and worthy ambitions in a first-world way. But there was one important part of the video that non-parents may have overlooked: There were no other patrons in the restaurant. It was completely empty aside from the exuberant and loquacious kids and the very attentive wait staff, chef and camera crew. I’m guessing that was no accident.

Why? Because no other person in her right mind wants to shell out $220 per person for a once-in-a-lifetime luxurious meal while listening to a table full of seven and eight-year olds squeal about caviar, “That’s disgusting!” Nor do they want to hear anyone point at her plate and holler, “WHAT IS THAT?!” The most realistic moment of the video came when one little girl nudged her pasta dish and asked, “Why am I eating soap right now?” Even children on their absolute best behavior, like the kids in this video, are still children who are going to get bored, get antsy or get hungry while waiting for the next course.

Here are a few other things notably absent from the video: There were no loud declarations of “Oops!”, no glasses knocked over, no gagging noises heard and no bites taken with the food immediately spit back onto the plate. No one was kicking anyone under the table, nor were any kids sitting sideways in their chairs. No one was whining and no one insisted on washing his hands after each course in order to spend 12 minutes playing with the sink like it was the latest attraction at Dave & Buster’s. It was dining with children in the white-washed bubble of really good editing.

In short: Don’t try this yourselves, fellow parents.

I’m not saying don’t take your children to five-star restaurants. I’m saying don’t take six children (or even two for that matter) to a five-star restaurant, because that’s a recipe for a headache for you, other diners and the wait staff. Remember, there’s no editing in real life and you’re going to be the one Googling how to remove Kobe-beef-in-port-reduction-sauce stains from cashmere when someone’s fork “accidentally” flies across the room.

(I know what kind of table manner horrors my second grader can exhibit. Although, I’m sure your child is a perfect angel, who would never accidentally spill a glass of red wine across four entrees or test out his fork-catapult skills at the table like mine did.)

That said, I’ve taken my son to white table cloth establishments and might even do it again with some parameters detailed below. My son loves food and after his school focused an entire lunch year on “risk taking” at the table, a generous friend invited him to a swanky five-star restaurant for the five-course tasting menu. One kid, one restaurant. That’s doable, right? Well, sort of.

My son was thrilled at the invitation and arrived at the upscale French seafood restaurant’s first seating in a suit and tie, quickly charming the entire staff while ordering a Shirley Temple at the bar and waiting politely for his seat.

He dutifully studied the menu, picking some safe-yet-adventurous variations on the most unobtrusive items such as salmon and steak. The “amuse bouche” was suitably amusing, but as the minutes ticked past, the excitement dimmed. After the first course he was already ogling my phone hoping for a Minecraft fix while waiting for his entree. He lasted a few courses before a few words (read: threats) were necessary to coax him out from under the table where he had retreated after sitting nicely at the table for 90 minutes (roughly a vast eternity of nothingness in 7-year old time.) The arrival of dessert at the two-hour mark got him back on track, but waiting for the check proved too much and he collapsed on the bench seat, exhausted, whining and ready to be carried out of the dining room. I felt exactly the same way.

Would I do it again with one child? Sure, as long as I got the wine pairing and got rid of the whole no-cell-phones-at-the-table rule.

Would I take more than one child to an upscale restaurant? Not for all the wine pairings in the world.

Liberal Group Blames Republicans for Ebola in New ad

Posted: 13 Oct 2014 10:44 AM PDT

A liberal political group just played the Ebola card in the midterm elections.

A new ad by the Agenda Project Action Fund, a liberal outside group, opens with a line uttered by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—”Washington, actually, can cut spending”—and ends with the statement, “Republican cuts kill.”

The rest of the one-minute ad is peppered with clips of Republicans asking for cuts, interspersed with top officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health saying the Ebola outbreak in West Africa could have been better handled if their agencies had more funding. NIH head Francis Collins said in an interview published Sunday that an Ebola vaccine might have been developed by now if it were not for a “10-year slide in research support.”

Erica Payne, the producer of the ad and president of the Agenda Project Action Fund, blamed the Ebola crisis wholly on the Republican Party.

“I think any Republican who attempts to chalk this ad up to politics is a Republican who is too afraid to examine the results of his of her actions and the very real consequences that they have,” she said. “They have developed a governing philosophy that is so fanatically anti-investment that they literally have at their doorstop death. There is no exaggeration in this.

“I think that the blame for the situation that we’re in now with the Ebola crisis is 100% the fault of Republicans and their fanatical anti-government philosophy,” she added. “They did this.”

Conservatives quickly bashed the ad. Erick Erickson, the editor of the conservative website RedState, wrote that the ad “reeks of desperation.”

“It’s a defensive ad that reeks of desperation,” he wrote. “At a time when more and more Americans, including millennials, are concluding government just doesn’t work, it probably won’t be effective.”

The Agenda Project Action Fund says it will spend six figures to run the ad on TV in Kentucky—where McConnell is locked in a tight reelection race—with other potential ad-buys planned in South Dakota, Alaska and North Carolina.

Flight Attendants Sue to Bring Back Electronic Device Ban

Posted: 13 Oct 2014 10:37 AM PDT

The nation’s largest union of flight attendants took the Federal Aviation Administration to court on Friday, arguing that the agency should have upheld a ban on the use of smartphones and tablets during takeoff and landing.

Lawyers for the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA argued that the devices distracted passengers from safety instructions and could fly out of their hands, becoming dangerous projectiles, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The FAA relaxed its ban on personal devices in 2013, enabling passengers to use devices such as iPhones and Kindles at all times of the flight so long as they were switched to “airplane mode.”

“Essentially we want to set the reset button to the way personal electronic devices were handled prior to October 2013,” said attorney Amanda Duré.

Lawyers for the union argue that the FAA violated an existing regulation to stow away all luggage during takeoff and landing. The defense team argues that the regulation only applies to larger items, such as laptops, and never was intended for handheld devices.

[WSJ]

CDC Chief Urges U.S. Hospitals to ‘Think Ebola’

Posted: 13 Oct 2014 10:23 AM PDT

Hospitals across the United States need to increasingly “think Ebola” while the outbreak in West Africa is ongoing, a top health official said Monday, one day after a second diagnosis in the U.S. was confirmed.

“Stopping Ebola is hard, but we are working together to make it easier,” Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a news conference. “Even a single infection is unacceptable.”

Frieden said the health agency has doubled down in Dallas with an even larger team on the ground, helping to track down all health care workers who cared for the first Ebola patient and reiterating the importance of meticulousness in processes like getting in and out of personal protective equipment. Thomas Eric Duncan, who arrived from Liberia on Sept. 20, died last week. A nurse who treated him, identified as Nina Pham, 26, was confirmed Sunday to have Ebola.

Frieden insisted his words were misunderstood on Sunday, when he said there was a “breach in protocol,” and that he wasn’t pointing fingers. “People on the frontlines are protecting us. The enemy here is Ebola, not a person, not a hospital,” he said. “We need to all take responsibility for improving the safety on the front lines. I feel awful a health care worker was infected.”

The CDC told TIME that it will continue over the next days and weeks to press importance of its recommendations for hospitals to be prepared for Ebola, and maintain its offering of webinars and trainings for health workers as well as support for hospitals. One new recommendation is that hospitals have a lead person in charge of making sure procedures are followed carefully.

Why Does Pizza Taste So Delicious? Allow Science to Explain

Posted: 13 Oct 2014 10:18 AM PDT

A few months back, an intrepid team of scientists declared that mozzarella is the best cheese for pizza because it melts, bubbles and browns better than any other varieties. Now, some other scientists from the American Chemical Society have taken an even closer look at the chemistry of everybody’s favorite cheesy food with this new video, part of the organization’s Reactions series.

“Whether it’s a plain cheese, a deep-dish stacked with meats or a thin-crust veggie delight, there’s just something about pizza that makes it delicious,” the video description explains. “There’s a lot of chemistry that goes into everything from dough to sauce to toppings to, of course, cheese.”

In particular, as the video explains, there’s something called the Maillard Reaction at work — and that’s what we all have to thank for the magical taste we encounter in every bite.

What the Vatican Really Said About Homosexuality

Posted: 13 Oct 2014 10:11 AM PDT

The Catholic world and the media were riled Monday by a Vatican document interpreted by many as signaling a softer church stance toward homosexuality, but the inclusive tone of the document is a long way from actual policy change.

At issue are three words most people have never heard of: Relatio post disceptationem. That’s the name of the document the Catholic Church’s Extraordinary Synod of the Bishops released Monday, one week into the Synod’s gathering to discuss the state of the family in the modern world. It translates, “Report After Debate,” and it was read aloud in the Synod hall to kick off the Synod’s second week. One of the report’s 58 sections—the one causing the biggest stir—is titled, “Welcoming homosexual persons.”

“Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community,” the passage begins. “Are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?”

For a Church that has historically linked the word “homosexual” with the word “sin,” the idea of welcoming gays in any capacity can appear to be a significant move. Headlines immediately spoke of a “dramatic shift” and a “more tolerant” stance from the church.

But before rushing to conclusions, everyone, on all sides, should calm down.

First, here’s what the document actually is:

The relatio is a mid-Synod snapshot of 200+ Catholic leaders’ conversations that happened in the Synod hall last week. It is a starting point for conversations as the Synod fathers start small group discussions this week. It is a working text that identifies where bishops need to “deepen or clarify our understanding,” as Cardinal Luis Antonia Tagle put it in Monday’s press briefing. That means that the topic of gays and Catholic life came up in the Synod conversations so far and that it is a topic for continued reflection.

Second, here’s what the document is not:

The relatio is not a proscriptive text. It is not a decree. It is not doctrine, and certainly not a doctrinal shift. It is also not final. “These are not decisions that have been made nor simply points of view,” the document concludes. “The reflections put forward, the fruit of the Synodal dialogue that took place in great freedom and a spirit of reciprocal listening, are intended to raise questions and indicate perspectives that will have to be matured and made clearer by the reflection of the local Churches in the year that separates us from the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of bishops planned for October 2015.”

So, what does all of that mean? Cardinal Tagle perhaps said it best when he said at Monday’s press briefing, with a smile, “The drama continues.”

The relatio reaffirms at several points that marriage is between a man and a woman. Substance on that point is not changing. The Vatican has been repeatedly clear that this Synod will bring no changes to doctrine, or even a final document with new rites. To “welcome gays” does not mean the Church is no longer equating “gay” with “sin.”

Instead, tone—as it has always been with the Francis papacy—is what is on the table. The style that Pope Francis lives is one that starts with a spirit of embrace, of mercy, and not with sin. It begins with figuring out at what points embrace is possible before determining the points at which it is not. That may be one reason why people like top Vatican watcher John Thavis are calling this mid-synod report “an earthquake.”

But it is also important to remember that the Synod on the Family is almost a two-year-long process, and this snapshot is just that, a snapshot of one week in that process. There will be more such snapshot documents in the coming months. The conversation started earlier this year when bishops around the world surveyed their congregations about family life, it kicked off more formally last week with the gathering in Rome, next the bishops will take the conversations back to their communities, next summer there’s the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia (a traditionally conservative American diocese), and then finally next fall there will be the second Synod with even more bishops from around the world with even more discussion.

Looking for revolution can be misleading. It can mar the actual story of what is and what is not happening. Casual Vatican observers—especially those in the United States, where conversations about sexuality have a different trajectory than in the Vatican or in many developing countries—should be careful to not read into the conversation what they want to hear. The interest in a relatio, a relatively obscure document, does however point to another shift: people actually care about what a group of bishops is doing.

That itself, for many, may be a revolution.

Barbara Bush: Why Malala Gives Me Hope

Posted: 13 Oct 2014 09:57 AM PDT

Five years ago, Malala Yousafzai was a twelve-year-old schoolgirl reporting about life under the Taliban after they took control of her home region in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. She described her longing for an education after the Taliban closed her school and commanded women and girls to stay home. “The extremists are afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them,” she wrote. “That is why they are blasting schools every day—because they were and they are afraid of change.”

Malala, who on Friday became the youngest recipient ever of the Nobel Peace Prize, has said what many older, more privileged, and far more powerful people haven’t: education gives power to the powerless. It speaks to the importance and strength of her message that the worst her critics in Pakistan can say is that she’s become a “tool” of the “evil” West.

We are used to international crises dominating the news, but most of them are acute, accompanied by dramatic images of dying or suffering. It’s hard to stir up activism with images of empty classrooms. Nonetheless, the lack of education is among the world’s greatest crises today—especially the lack of education for girls. Though it may not make the news, people die every day from ignorance: without education, basic healthcare can become unobtainable, as can food or work, or basic human rights.

It is well documented that when societies educate girls—as well as boys—and value educated women, all citizens are healthier and more prosperous; indeed, communities with educated women have lower incidence of disease and stronger economies. Even so, much is still left to do to make the importance of education a universally accepted truth. That Malala was shot in the head two years ago by a member of the Taliban as she left school evidences this. She will likely spend the foreseeable future living not in her home nation of Pakistan but in exile in Great Britain.

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Malala has given me hope. I am hopeful because I know that there are many more Malalas out there—young women and men doing everything they can to build better lives for themselves, their families, their communities, and their nations.

I work every day with “rational dreamers”—the passionate, idealistic and educated young people at Global Health Corps. They work “rationally” to foster hope in a dark world, knowing that they must have not only dreams, but also the skills and persistence to accomplish those dreams. People ask me why I’ve focused on giving young people a stake in improving healthcare in Africa and parts of urban America. In my experience with Global Health Corps, I’ve learned that everyone—the old and the young—has something to teach.

The one time I was in Malala Yousafzai’s presence she accepted an award at The Skoll World Forum. Her words echoed those she’s spoken before, wise ones of commitment, dedication and truth. Yet after she climbed the stage, she had to adjust the microphone from that of an adult’s height to her own—that of a teenager.

Malala reminds us that even a teenager can be a teacher, and I hope Malala’s message will be embraced and spread across the globe: that no matter who you are, it is possible to change the world.

Barbara Bush is the CEO and co-founder of Global Health Corps, an organization committed to building the next generation of global health leaders.

The Best Sites for Booking Last-Minute Travel

Posted: 13 Oct 2014 09:55 AM PDT

Many great travel deals can be found by carefully planning in advance. But spur-of-the-moment trips can also be had for cheap if you know where to look.

That’s because hotels, airlines, resorts and more are looking to fill vacant spots at the last minute.

Here are our picks for the best sites to book a great trip on short notice without blowing a crazy amount of money.

Best all around last-minute booking site: Expedia.com

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Expedia

Expedia.com’s last-minute booking page wins for layout as well as price and convenience. Three columns of deals under the headers of Tonight, This Weekend and Next Weekend show you top deals for the destination you select. You can further filter your results to see just flight, just hotels or package deals for both. Destinations include both major U.S. cities and foreign vacation spots.

Clicking on a deal will give you a page showing you pictures plus ratings, reviews and amenities. You will also see, in the case of a hotel, what other rooms are available and their prices as well. Flights work in a similar fashion. Find the destination and deal that appeal to you and you will be shown other flights leading to that destination in case you’re looking for alternatives.

Of course, the best deal is flight + hotel. Just mousing over the options will show you how much money you’ll be saving by booking them together. Just remember that the stated price doesn’t include baggage fees.

Best last-minute hotel: Hotel Tonight

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Hotel Tonight

This isn’t a site, but an app — and it’s a life saver. Need an extra night’s stay but your hotel has no more vacancy? Score a last-minute flight and need a place to stay? The Hotel Tonight app detects your location and shows you all the hotels in your area with vacancy. You can also set it to show you a city you haven’t arrived in yet.

The display shows you pictures of the property, the price, the quality of the hotel and how much you’ll save. Tapping on a specific hotel on the list will give you more images, user reviews and, most importantly, a Need to Know section under the Info tab. This lists the restrictions of that particular deal. Pay attention to limitations like the inability to book a specific type of bed until arrival or warnings about the neighborhood around the hotel.

Price: Free on iTunes and Google Play.

Best last-minute flight: Kayak

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Kayak

Kayak pulls in data on more than 400 airlines and lets you compare multiple travel sites at once. Not only can it direct you to other travel deal sites, but it also shows you the current prices directly from the major airlines’ websites.

The sliders on the sidebar is what makes Kayak really shine. Adjusting the sliders and checking off the options you want will quickly show you the exact deals you’re looking for. You can upgrade or downgrade your seat, choose a different airline or select a new take-off/landing time.

Don’t forget to click on the “More Filters” button in the sidebar to narrow down the price range, layover options and, most importantly, planes with built-in Wi-Fi. Seriously, what did we do on planes before Wi-Fi?

Best last-minute room rental: Airbnb

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Airbnb

Though there’s no explicit LAST MINUTE DEALS CLICK HERE! button on the front of the site, Airbnb is still a great service for finding a last-minute room at a fraction of the cost of even a deeply discounted hotel room. Simply enter your destination and dates (even if it’s tonight) and the site will display all the rooms, apartments and houses that are available to rent by the day. (Note: There is a “Help! I need a place, tonight” search feature in the app for iOS and Android.)

Concerned about the safety of spending the night in someone else’s home? Every listing includes actual user reviews. There’s also a 24/7 hotline if you have any issues with your stay. It’s one of the best ways to find a place quickly and cheaply and to make a new friend along the way courtesy of your gracious hosts.

Pro tip: The best way to save money on last-minute travel plans is to have some flexibility. Can you take a plane with a layover instead of a direct flight? Are you willing to stay in a hotel in a new part of the city? Comfortable sleeping in an extra room of a welcoming host’s house? A little adventure can go a long way in saving you a lot of cash.

This article was written by Dan O’Halloran and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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