Organic Doritos Give Snack Giant a Way Into the New Whole Foods Inc.’s acquisition of Whole Foods is coming at just the right time for Frito-Lay, the snack giant known for Doritos, Ruffles and Funyuns. 

The division of PepsiCo Inc. now has versions of 11 core chip brands without artificial ingredients — including Lay’s, Tostitos and Cheetos — and it’s aiming to break out of the traditional snack aisle and get into organic grocery stores. The lineup, marketed under the name “Simply,” meets all the criteria needed to be sold in Whole Foods, according to PepsiCo executive Jonathan McIntyre.

Simply Organic Doritos

Source: PepsiCo

It’s all part of a push to build a more healthful reputation for Frito-Lay brands, a significant undertaking at a company famous for bright-orange cheese powder. Natural products are the biggest source of growth for the industry right now, said McIntyre, who oversees research and development for PepsiCo’s snacks. And Frito-Lay sees an opportunity to reach new customers — and charge higher prices — by targeting organic-food shoppers.

There’s also more pressure to get a foothold at Whole Foods during a time when Amazon is threatening to upend the supermarket industry. The e-commerce site is using the grocery chain to support its food-delivery business and looks to take market share by cutting prices and integrating online and offline operations. But the big enticement at Whole Foods remains the promise of healthful and wholesome products.

“The notion of clean and simple is very important to a segment of consumers,” Frito-Lay Chief Marketing Officer Jennifer Saenz said in an interview at the division’s headquarters in Plano, Texas. “They’re searching for that.”

Key Ally?

The main question is whether Whole Foods will be an ally in helping Frito-Lay establish good-for-you credibility. So far, the chain hasn’t shown signs of embracing Doritos and similar brands, which some shoppers consider junk food. But Amazon’s takeover of the grocery chain could bring an opportunity to make inroads.

The e-commerce behemoth already sells Frito-Lay’s Simply line on its website, and it’s clearly willing to make changes at Whole Foods. When the acquisition closed on Monday, Amazon immediately slashed prices on many products and began stacking its Echo devices next to groceries.

The old Whole Foods might have turned up its nose at big makers of consumer-packaged goods, but Amazon could have different ideas — especially because smaller suppliers may not be able to meet its more ambitious demands, said Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst Ali Dibadj.

“Amazon’s acquisition makes it much more likely that Whole Foods will carry these better-for-you brands, even if they’re made by large incumbent CPG players,” he said. “The smaller brands just can’t keep up with the spending and velocity required from Amazon anymore. We expect Whole Foods to carry more — and more big brands too.”

Read more: What organic foods do and don’t offer — a QuickTake explainer

PepsiCo declined to discuss its relationship with retailers, but it’s working on several fronts to reach the type of shoppers who frequent Whole Foods. Chief Executive Officer Indra Nooyi has emphasized the importance of better-for-you products and laid out health targets for its food and beverage portfolio.

Along the way, the Purchase, New York-based company is creating new brands, reformulating existing products and acquiring upstart businesses. PepsiCo released an organic version of Gatorade last year to appeal to the natural-food set. Frito-Lay introduced Simply Organic Doritos and Simply Cheetos Puffs White Cheddar Jalapeno this year, and the snack maker plans to continue adding brands to the Simply lineup moving forward.

One of the most daunting challenges is changing Frito-Lay’s reputation. Most people don’t associate its main snack brands with words like natural or organic, Saenz said. That’s why Frito-Lay introduced the Simply name.

On the packaging, the “Simply” appears in capital letters above the brand logos, and labels prominently spell out the lack of artificial ingredients. The company found that shoppers often needed some convincing, Saenz said.

“Some of the feedback we hear often is, ‘An organic Dorito? Really?”’ she said. “We want to make sure that the credibility is coming through loud and clear.”

Frito-Lay needs to push into premium products because its core business is getting squeezed, Bernstein’s Dibadj said. Private-label products are stealing customers at the low end, and the natural brands are attracting well-heeled shoppers.

“All consumer companies right now are trying to figure out how to get into the natural shelf space and the natural home’s pantry,” Dibadj said.

PepsiCo isn’t the only food giant burnishing its nutrition panels. 

Industry Push

Mondelez International Inc. developed a line of crackers and snack bars, called Vea, that have no artificial ingredients or genetically modified organisms. Campbell Soup Co. agreed to pay $700 million for an organic soup and broth company in July. And Kraft Heinz Foods Co. is working to clean up its hot dogs.

PepsiCo’s chief beverage rival, Coca-Cola Co., is reformulating more than 200 products to reduce the sugar in its drinks.

Acquisitions are another way to reach organic shoppers. In 2006, PepsiCo bought Stacy’s Pita Chips, whose products are already in Whole Foods. But until the Simply line came out, the company’s core snacks never met the grocer’s requirements. Frito-Lay has been gradually releasing products under the new banner.

Whole Foods didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

“The challenge is, will Cheetos ever connote ‘good for you’? That’s a difficult premise to work on,” Dibadj said. “But perhaps Cheetos Simply can connote ‘better for you,’ and that might be enough for some consumers.”

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    Top Official Resigns From Trump EPA With Scathing Letter

    In her 40 years working in environmental protection, Elizabeth Betsy Southerland has confronted all manner of environmental threats.

    But even she has her limits. Faced with the stark new environmental policies ushered in byPresident Donald Trump andEnvironmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, Southerland resigned from the agency Monday, whered shed been working as the director of science and technology in the Office of Water.

    Southerland explained her decision in a farewellletter published TuesdaybyPublic Employees for Environmental Responsibility(PEER), a non-profit group for federal resource professionals.

    Today the environmental field is suffering from the temporary triumph of myth over truth, she wrote. The truth is there is NO war on coal, there is NO economic crisis caused by environmental protection, and climate change IS caused by mans activities.

    Southerland joins several other dissenting federal environmental officialswho have publicly chastised the Trump administrations environmental approach, which has been defined thus far largely by reducing federal oversight and overturning landmark Obama-era EPA rulings.

    The truth is there is NO war on coal, there is NO economic crisis caused by environmental protection, and climate change IS caused by mans activities.

    Southerland questioned Pruitts belief that the EPA and federal environmental standards were guilty ofrunning roughshod over states rights.

    Under the new administrations proposals, she noted, states will be forced to take on roles historically performed by the EPA, and theyll have to shoulder that burden just as Trumps proposed budget would cut state funding. Instead of liberating state budgets, Trump is doing the opposite and restricting how they can spend their tax dollars, she said.

    The Presidents FY18 budget proposes cuts to state and tribal funding as draconian as the cuts to EPA, Southerland wrote, while at the same time reassigning a number of EPA responsibilities to the states and tribes.

    If they want to maintain their current level of monitoring, permitting, inspections, and enforcement, states will have to increase taxes and establish new user fees.

    Rather than simply rail against Pruitts leadership, however, Southerlands letter describes what she believes are the major shortcomings in the Trump administrations logic.

    For instance, speaking of the Trump regulation trading policy requiring thattwo regulations be repealed for every new one enacted, Southerland said its more likely to paralyze government than make it more efficient, as Trump believes.

    In addition to prompting costly litigation brought by citizen groups angered that the EPA is ignoring laws, Southerland said regulation tradingalso unnecessarily creates impossible Sophies choice scenarios, where the best choice is often no choice at all.

    Should EPA repeal two existing rules protecting infants from neurotoxins in order to promulgate a new rule protecting adults from a newly discovered liver toxin?

    Should EPA repeal two existing rules protecting infants from neurotoxins in order to promulgate a new rule protecting adults from a newly discovered liver toxin? she asked.

    Faced with such painful choices, the best possible outcome for the American people would be regulatory paralysis where no new rules are released so that existing protections remain in place.

    Despite her discouragement,Southerland said she still has hope for the future and ultimately still trusts in the system:

    It may take a few years and even an environmental disaster, but I am confident that Congress and the courts will eventually restore all the environmental protections repealed by this administration because the majority of the American people recognize that this protection of public health and safety is right and it is just.

    Read more:

    Jerry Lewis, comedy icon and philanthropist, dead at 91

    Jerry Lewis, the rubber-faced, squeaky-voiced comedy legend who starred in movies and musicals and also was known for his unflagging work on behalf of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, died on Sunday, his publicist confirmed. He was 91 years old. 

    Lewis’ publicist confirmed the news to The Associated Press. The Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John Katsilometes first reported Lewis’ death.

    Lewis “passed peacefully at home this morning of natural causes at the age of 91 with his loving family by his side,” manager Mark Rozzano said.

    Lewis had gone through a series of health problems and scares in recent years. In June 2012 he was hospitalized for two nights in New York after collapsing with what was reported to be a low blood sugar problem.

    He was forced to cancel a fund-raising show in Australia due to poor health in June 2011. 

    Lewis had been touring Australia to raise money for the country’s Muscular Dystrophy Foundation, which is separate from the American Muscular Dystrophy Association, where he served as president.

    He announced in 2011 he was retiring as host of the association’s Labor Day Telethon, which he began hosting in 1966.

    MDA would not be the organization it is today if it were not for Jerrys tireless efforts on behalf of his kids. His enthusiasm for finding cures for neuromuscular disease was matched only by his unyielding commitment to see the fight through to the end. Jerrys efforts on the annual MDA Telethon transformed the broadcast into an American tradition each Labor Day weekend for 45 years,” the organization said in a statement. Though we will miss him beyond measure, we suspect that somewhere in heaven, hes already urging the angels to give just one dollar more for my kids.”

    In recent years, Lewis also suffered from a back condition linked to a comedic pratfall from a piano, as well as heart problems. He reportedly had at least two heart attacks.

    The comedian who first gained fame as part of a duo with singer Dean Martin was born Joseph Levitch on March 16, 1926 in Newark, New Jersey.

    His parents were entertainers and young Jerry made his debut at age five on New York’s Catskill Mountains entertainment circuit.

    He began using the professional name Joey Lewis, but later changed it to Jerry, reportedly to avoid confusion with comedian Joe E. Lewis.

    In the summer of 1946, Lewis teamed up with Martin first with a nightclub act, then radio and television appearances. Martin was the suave, debonair singer while Lewis was the zany, boyish sidekick with the huge grin and squeaky voice.

    They went on to make a series of movies together before the partnership ended in 1956 and both launched successful solo careers.

    Lewis became a major comedy star with his first solo film, 1957’s “The Delicate Delinquent,” followed by “Rock-A-Bye Baby” and “The Geisha Boy.” His later films included “The Bellboy,” “Cinderfella,” “The Nutty Professor” and “The King of Comedy.”

    He also appeared in stage musicals and in 1994 made his Broadway debut as the Devil in a revival of “Damn Yankees.”

    Lewis was consistently respected abroad and a perennial favorite of French critics, sometimes to the amusement of fans at home. In 2006 the French Minister of Culture awarded him the Legion d’Honneur, saying he was the ‘French people’s favorite clown.”

    Throughout his career, Lewis worked ceaselessly to raise funds for muscular dystrophy and was even nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

    He was married twice, to Patti Palmer from 1944 until 1980 and to SanDee Pitnick from 1983 until his death. He had five surviving sons from his first marriage (a sixth died) and a daughter from his second.

    Read more:

    Why youll probably want the next Apple Watch

    The next version of the Apple Watch could be a game changer.
    Image: Getty Images

    Apple is getting ready to launch a new version of the Apple Watch that doesn’t need to be paired with an iPhone in order to work, according to Bloomberg. The report, published earlier this month, claims the next version of the watch will include an LTE chip for internet connectivity and suggests the watch’s square casing may receive a radical new design.

    If true, the next-generation Apple Watch’s features could make it the first truly must-have wearable product, finally offering people the right balance of connectivity, usefulness, and fashion credibility that they’ve been asking for.

    The Watch wasn’t a breakout success initially, but over time, Apple has correctly adjusted to consumer sentiment and found a great niche for the product. The first iteration was marketed as a general smartwatch for everyone, but as excitement for the shiny new Apple product wore off, the company pivoted to emphasize health and fitness features, like a built-in GPS and water resistance. That shift led to stronger sales that appeared to put Apple atop the entire wearables market.

    The third soon-to-be-released version of the Watch will likely continue this health and fitness focus that much was clear from the preview of watchOS 4 we saw at WWDC earlier this year. But it could also make the Watch even more useful for everyone in their everyday lives, making it a must-have for all of us in the iEcosystem.

    Connectivity, everywhere

    The most exciting rumor about the next-generation Apple Watch is, without question, standalone internet connectivity. Many market analysts believe that the addition of LTE connections will finally convince consumers that wearables are worth their time (and more importantly, money), giving them the ability to use their devices as more than a glorified extension of their smartphone. The feature could be the key for the market’s growth as it enters a “new phase,” in which sales are projected to double by 2021.

    The new Apple Watch won’t be the first smartwatch to have standalone internet connectivity, however; the Samsung Gear 3 offered a mass-market 4G LTE-connected smartwatch and was launched last year.

    But introducing LTE connectivity to the best-selling device on the market from the most visible company in the world will instantly bring the feature to a wider audience, letting Apple play off its image as an innovator even if Samsung was there first. This happens with the iPhone nearly every product cycle, and the gigantic base of Apple fans eat it up. There’s little reason to believe the Watch would be much different.

    There are some concerns about how functional Apple’s standalone wearable could be in its first iteration. Screen size, battery life, and memory are already concerns for such a small device adding LTE chips and giving it even more processing power could make those problems even worse.

    The Watch won’t ever be used for major tasks, though. It’s more likely to be used when production is secondary, like, say, when wearers’ hands are otherwise occupied. Runners and other exercisers will be relieved to ditch their phones and retain the ability to send texts, download apps, and stream music online. And a more general audience will be interested in boosting productivity, like when they first started using an iPhone.

    LTE-connection will make the Watch all the more attractive to those of us who can’t spend a moment without being connected, which is one of the most important requirements of a gadget these days.

    A fresh new look

    The rumored new form factor for the Watch shouldn’t be taken lightly as a majorly attractive feature that could make it a must-have device. There’s even a rumor that Apple could introduce microLED screen technology with the new Watch, which could make it even brighter and better looking than the current OLED setup.

    Smartwatches have previously fallen in the middle of a strange space between fashion and function, but the scales could be tipping toward looks as a potential determining factor for general consumers. Android Wear devices from major tech companies have largely struggled since the OS was updated earlier this year but fashion companies haven’t been deterred from using the platform, since their customers are worried about looks first, performance second.

    If Apple, a famously design-centric company, begins to really treat its Watch like the fashion plate it has the potential to be, its general appeal could go through the roof as hypebeasts and fashionistas lust after the new form factor.

    That type of sentiment doesn’t apply to most gadgets, where one generation replaces the last because it works better but in fashion, where aesthetics are the most important quality, consumers can justify buying a new model on looks alone. There’s more of an incentive to upgrade to the new redesigned Watch to go along with your Series 2 for Apple fans, too, giving them an opportunity collect them all and cycle between looks.

    Some might be leery of Apple’s movement toward a fitness and fashion focused wearable (Mashable tech editor Pete Pachal chief among them), but the company will find a more receptive general audience by crafting a sexy, always-connected Watch.

    Read more:

    5 Things To Understand About Modern Hate Groups

    Here’s a popular right-wing meme that got spread around before the attack in Charlottesville:

    So, here’s what I want to ask anyone sharing that (or wearing it on a t-shirt — yes, they sell them): When we replace the stick figures with actual bleeding humans, does that change how you feel about it at all? (WARNING: Graphic fucking video):

    It’s not a rhetorical question. I think the answer to that will decide what happens next.


    The Internet Could Have Been The Greatest Anti-Bigotry Tool In History

    Bigotry is never about hating a real person. The target is always a perfectly hateable caricature we invent to avoid glimpsing the true enemy staring back at us from the mirror. It’s a punching bag, a shape drawn around a bull’s-eye. This is why so many racists have a real Black Friend they can hide behind — when they actually get to know one, a whole different part of their brain lights up (“I mean, he’s not even black to me! He’s just Steve!”). Do I have to point out the obvious, that their entire worldview would change if they could somehow get to know every minority the way they know their buddy? How many times have anti-immigration politicians and pundits gotten caught hiring “illegals” themselves? “Well you see, my illegals are honest and do great work. Not like the rapey stick-figures on those T-shirts.”

    Lutz Bachmann/Twitter

    I had secretly been hoping that the internet, social media, and smartphones would make it impossible to not put a real human face on those groups. In a connected world in which I can tell you what my cousin’s coworkers considered eating for lunch yesterday, minorities can’t remain abstractions. I was hoping that over time, smartphones would do to racism what they did to UFOs.

    You remember UFOs, right? For a generation leading up to the 1990s, some fuzzy flying saucer turned up in the news every month. Now, when there are a thousand times more cameras around, the flying saucers have evaporated like smoke — belief in alien visitors plummeted by the mid-2000s. The myth became impossible to preserve in the face of evidence (or lack of it).

    Racism, likewise, is based on a myth — that these people aren’t people at all, that they don’t cry or bleed or want the same things we want, that fixing our discomfort is as simple as making them … go away, somehow. Now we have the technology to see an event like Charlottesville in real-time from half a dozen angles; we can hear the screams, see first-responders desperately trying to resuscitate victims. We can get a mental image of what an ethnic cleansing would really look like — that same chaos, repeated millions of times. That’s the truth behind the edgy frog memes and red-arm bands. Take it in, assholes.

    It would be a wake-up call. That was the dream, anyway.


    Yes, Cameras Do Change Minds

    I’m known as a hopeful optimist, possibly having to do with being a white person who accidentally made a lot of money off of a story he originally wrote as a prank. But it’s not like I just pulled this dream out of my ass — there’s precedent for it.

    The presence of cameras all but eliminated the American public’s tolerance for military casualties, for example — we’ve completely built our foreign policy around it. America lost 100,000 troops in WWI, 400,000 in WWII, and almost 60,000 in Vietnam. That last one was the turning point — a flood of full-color footage of maimed soldiers and screaming civilians turned public opinion against the war overnight. The reality of war didn’t change, but you can bet your ass that seeing it made all of the difference. We haven’t had a comparable war since; Afghanistan saw a tiny fraction of those losses (2,400) and so did Iraq (4,500). Suddenly, soldiers’ lives mattered — the myth of the consequence-free war went the way of the UFO.

    “Why in the hell did you think a horde of screaming Actual Nazis would have their hearts melted by the sight of dying protesters?” you ask. “If anything, they probably get off on it. After all, Americans don’t seem to care about hundreds of thousands of bombed Iraqis.”

    But I’m not talking about the raging Nazis here — it’s only the extreme fringe who’ll walk around in public doing that shit, and some of them try to sheepishly talk their way out of it later. The systemic racism that exists in the world doesn’t emanate from them, it flows from the comfortable indifference of the majority. The most incurable form of bigotry persists specifically because it doesn’t feel like heat coursing through the veins — it feels like nothing at all. I was born in Trump Country and I only met a couple of people who openly called for black genocide, but knew dozens if not hundreds who simply thought society didn’t need changing (and I agreed, at the time). We didn’t want the stick figures to die, we just didn’t think they needed help. What does a stick figure need food stamps for?

    The latter are the ones I thought would be turned in this age of pervasive cameras and personal connections. It’s easy for the comfortable casual racist (who, by the way, hates Nazis) to ignore a headline or pie charts about income inequality. It’s harder to ignore a man bleeding in the driver’s seat of his car while his young daughter and her mother sit helplessly next to him, wailing in anguish. I didn’t think it would change overnight, but over the decades I thought these attitudes would be chiseled away one gut-wrenching video at a time. “Do you see? He’s not a fucking statistic. He bleeds. His family loved him just as much as your family loves you. Look.”


    But The Sword Swings Both Ways

    Hey, did I mention that after years of decline, belief in UFOs has shot back up to its previous highs? The need to believe was always there, so others looking to fill that void simply adapted to the marketplace (“If you think about it, the aliens would have cloaking technology that makes them invisible to cell phones!”).

    Now consider the fact that the Confederate statues the protesters were rallying around in Charlottesville aren’t all 150-year-old relics. New ones are being built all the time (35 Confederate monuments have been added since 2000 in North Carolina alone — lots of them were built in the 1960s as backlash to the civil rights movement). They are, in other words, modern symbols erected by groups looking to change policy today. That’s why there’s a movement to take them down, and a bitter counter-movement to preserve them. It is only about preserving the past to the extent that it’s about making current law conform to it.

    The point is, if racism is a dying relic, it sure as hell doesn’t feel like it. Oh, I’m not surprised that hate groups thrive in this era — a few charismatic sociopaths have always been able to cast a wide umbrella of influence and mass media has just amplified their reach. I mean, you’ve seen their memes. What I had hoped, though, was that society would be better at spotting them, quicker to see through their tricks. I often wonder how average German citizens would have reacted if camera phones had existed back then and somebody had leaked video from inside a concentration camp. “But lots of German citizens did know about the concentration camps!” Sure, but it’s one thing to have a vague concept of “eliminating” Jews, another to actually see a wheelbarrow full of dead children. It would be meaningless to the true zealots, but most people aren’t that.

    And yet …


    Modern Society May Have Cultivated A Population Ripe For Hate

    It’s too easy to think of Nazis as a different species, like they were aliens who invaded from another planet. If you tell me we shouldn’t humanize them, I say that humanizing them actually makes them scarier: They are not only human, but they are your motherfucking neighbors. After the war, German soldiers and officers went back home and got jobs — it’s not like you blow up the mothership and the foot soldiers topple over. Likewise, your brother or uncle or daughter could join a hate group tomorrow and they would still be family. Some of the people reading this have had this exact thing happen.

    Think about it: Even if the worst happens and 20 years from now we’re in an actual shooting war with a new round of Nazis, it’s not like we’ll kill them all. No war ends that way; there’ll be some kind of resolution and the combatants will take off their uniforms and the very next day they’ll be next to you on the subway. If you want to stop that future, you have to start with understanding how Nazis are made, and how regular everyday folks get sucked in. Hate is a prickly shell humans grow around fear, a defense mechanism to replace the terror of the unknown with the cold certainty of rage. You don’t have to feel sorry for them, but hate is like cancer — it’s all about knowing the warning signs and catching it early.

    So, let’s start here: What a human needs, above all else, is to matter. And mattering in 2017 is hard as shit. There are 100 million Americans who neither have jobs nor are looking for one. Of those who do work, only 36 percent say their job has “meaning and significance” (did you know that a low-paying, unstable job is actually more stressful than unemployment?). I guess there used to be pride in building a house or a car, or growing crops — creating something tangible — but now, the machines have those jobs and we’re stuck serving coffee or moving numbers around a spreadsheet, counting down the days until the machines take those jobs, too.

    Our generation has fewer close friends than previous generations and are less likely to have a sexual partner or children of our own. We trust each other less than we ever have. We need to matter, but we don’t have people in our lives reminding us of that, so we compensate. “I matter because I’m not [insert hateable stick figure here].”

    And I can’t emphasize enough how much it doesn’t actually make a difference what goes in those brackets. Reddit’s Trump community The_Donald overlaps strongly with their now-banned “Fat People Hate” community and the anti-woman subreddit TheRedPill. Where you find articles railing on blacks, you’ll find articles demonizing Jews, homosexuals, trans people … hell, go to any right-wing site and notice their bitter loathing of vegans.

    It’s hard for most people to grasp how hate can be both arbitrary and murderous, but that’s how the human mind works. Once you switch into that primitive Us vs. Them survival mode, the rationale becomes totally irrelevant. Remember that one of the world’s oldest and most pervasive prejudices is against left-handed people. Skilled manipulators could pull out endless examples of how inherently dishonest and filthy those lefties were, and they always found an audience. That only sounds ridiculous until you realize how great it must have been to wake up every day and congratulate yourself for using your right hand, a.k.a. the hand you automatically used anyway.

    If you haven’t built anything you can be proud of — be it a house, career, family, or loving circle of friends — then you need to draw your pride from somewhere. Hate groups let you set the pride bar so low that you can swell with pride over the fact that you woke up this morning with a certain color skin and heterosexual urges, as if both were the result of diligent effort on your part. Imagine eating a delicious cheeseburger and congratulating yourself for having accomplished your noble goal of not being vegan.


    But I Still Think The Good Guys Will Win

    If you’ve come to the conclusion that the internet really didn’t change anything because people are people and set in their beliefs, the facts say you’re wrong. For instance, the internet era has been devastating for religion in the U.S.A., with the ranks of nonbelievers more than doubling just since 1990. In that same span, support for gay marriage went from 13 percent to 58 percent. Support for marijuana legalization, from 12 percent to 53 percent. I absolutely believe those abrupt changes happened because many Americans were coming in contact with their first atheists, uncloseted gay people, and admitted pot smokers and finding they weren’t monsters. You can strap somebody to a chair and make them watch a thousand hours of PSAs about how this group or that is “just like us,” but it won’t have the same impact as a single positive encounter with one of them. Dogma dies in the face of such experiences.

    It’s easy to think of the internet as a cesspool of anonymous harassers but it is mostly a constellation of tight-knit communities that overlap with others, bringing them together in unexpected ways. You’ve heard a lot of talk about online “bubbles” of like-minded people getting more and more extreme in the absence of opposition, but the reason we became so much more open-minded on some issues in the first place is that online communities forced us to mingle across demographics. We may all have joined a forum based on our Babylon 5 fandom, but we quickly realized some of the cool people we were talking to were the type we’d never have run into in our real-life neighborhoods (“Wait, you’re posting from Brazil? What time is it there?!?”). When I was a kid, you’d hear about a deadly earthquake in Taiwan and briefly raise an eyebrow over your coffee. “So sad.” Today, you jump online and say, “Wait, did they say Jiji? That’s where Ironheart69 is from! Has anybody heard from her?”

    What I’m hoping is that what we’re seeing now is the reaction to that, the loud rage of a racist realizing his sister is dating a damned Muslim, that his old college roommate turned out to be a trans woman, and that there are black people in horror movies who don’t die. An ideology kicking and screaming as it is dragged out the door, the equivalent of segregationists blocking black children from their schools, knowing full well that theirs was a lost cause.

    Over time, lots of those segregationists realized they were wrong, that their rage and the fear at its core were based on nothing. That will happen again. I think. I hope.

    David Wong is the Executive Editor at Cracked. His new book, WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST READ, is available for preorder now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, iBooks, and Kobo.

    For more from David, check out Some Brief, Friendly Advice About Race And Racism and 7 Reasons We’re Quietly Letting Racists Win.

    Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and check out Donald Trump Finally Embraces The Hitler Comparisons, and other videos you won’t see on the site!

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    Facebook and Instagram get redesigns for readability

    Taking inspiration from line drawings, Reddit and Messenger, Facebook is overhauling the design of the News Feed to make it more legible, clickable and commentable. Specifically, Facebook now makes it much clearer where threads start and end in comments. Meanwhile, Instagram today got a little redesign itself with comment reels now being threaded so you can have sub-conversations in public.

    Facebook periodically updates its design, typically stripping out unnecessary “chrome,” or user interface framing, to create a sleeker, more readable look. There’s more and more white space on Facebook, which could be intended to reduce eye fatigue during long browsing sessions and let your friends’ content pop off the screen more vividly.

    Facebook’s design team writes “we did not want to just ‘fiddle at the edges’, but rather make something that billions of people use every day less frustrating.”

    Both the Facebook and Instagram changes will roll out to all iOS and Android users over the next few weeks.

    Facebook comments

    Facebook is adopting the Messenger bubble style for comments. This will make threading more obvious, but also encourage the rapid-fire conversations people typically have in private messages. Facebook has been trying to make comments feel more alive recently with fast-moving conversations becoming their own chat windows.

    Navigation and like buttons

    Facebook has made its navigation and feedback buttons bigger and easier to recognize with a new unfilled line drawing style. The News Feed, Video, Marketplace, Like, Comment and Share buttons now all feature this look. Meanwhile, Facebook is swapping the classic globe notifications icon for a more standard alerts bell. These could all be less distracting to the eye so you focus on Facebook’s content, not its chrome.

    Other redesigns for legibility include higher contrast text that’s easier to see and circular profile photos that take up less space and feel more human. Link previews are now a little bigger, too, which could get more people clicking and sending referral traffic to other sites. However, Facebook says today’s changes shouldn’t impact the reach or traffic of Pages. The URL domain is now more prominent, appearing above the link’s headline, which could reduce the likelihood that users click fake/hoax sites that mimic popular news publisher URLs.

    Knowing where you are

    Facebook wants to make sure you don’t get lost several layers deep beyond the feed. Now you’ll see a more obvious header with a bigger black back button when you dive into a post from the News Feed. Facebook also says you’ll be able to “See where a link will take you before clicking on it,” though it already had link previews, blurbs and URLs, so we’ve asked for clarification here.

    Design ethics

    As Facebook and Instagram restyle themselves to boost usage, a question arises about design ethics. Is building a better mousetrap beneficial to society? Facebook and Instagram certainly allow communities and friend groups to grow their bonds, but when does fruitful exchange and sentimental entertainment give way to mindless scrolling?

    As former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris discusses in his TED talk, over-optimization for engagement on social networks has created apps that are addictive to the point of being destructive.

    Over the years I’ve repeatedly asked Facebook’s top executives like CPO Chris Cox and VP of News Feed Adam Mosseri about whether the company is doing research into how to prevent or minimize internet addiction that can stem from Facebook’s ad-driven business model, and I’ve never gotten a direct answer that indicates they think it’s a priority.

    They do care about their users’ experience, with Cox telling me “We’re getting to a size where it’s worth really taking a careful look at what are all the things that we can do to make social media the most positive force for good possible.” But you can always have too much of a good thing.

    The execs tell me Facebook wants to make sure all your time spent on its apps is “meaningful”. Yet at some point when people are sitting in the dark alone refreshing the feed over and over, it could be worth surfacing Internet addiction and mental health tips, or encouraging them to connect directly with a friend via messaging.

    Perhaps one day our apps will be redesigned not just to soak up more attention, but to warn us when we’re neglecting everything else.

    Read more:

    Trump Orders Military to Reject New Transgender Recruits

    President Donald Trump ordered the U.S. military on Friday to reject openly transgender people as new recruits but authorized Defense Secretary James Mattis to decide how to handle transgender personnel already serving in the armed forces.

    Trump also ordered the military to stop paying for gender-reassignment surgical procedures on March 23 except to protect the health of someone who has already begun the process of reassigning sex, according to a senior White House official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.

    The Defense Department will have six months to consider how to handle openly transgender people currently serving in the military under a memorandum that Trump signed on Friday, the official said. The memorandum directs the department to consider unit cohesion, applicable law and resources in making the determination, the official said.

    Trump announced July 26 he would ban transgender people from serving “in any capacity” in the U.S. military, reversing President Barack Obama’s policy to let them serve openly and drawing immediate criticism from gay-rights groups, many Democratic lawmakers and even some conservative Republicans..

    That announcement, in a series of early morning tweets, caught Pentagon officials and key members of Congress off-guard, and the Pentagon said it wouldn’t change its policies until it received a formal order from the president.

    Formal Notification

    “There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance,” the office of Joint Chiefs Chairman Joseph Dunford said in a statement after Trump’s July tweets. “In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect.”

    Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said the Defense Department “has received formal guidance” from the White House and “more information will be forthcoming.”

    The White House waited until 6 p.m. on an August Friday, when the media audience is usually low, to announce the formal notification had come in the presidential memorandum. Trump, who often turns the signing of presidential directives into media events, in this case issued the memorandum out of sight.

    Rather than say anything about the formal order in the immediate aftermath, he tweeted about the hurricane dominating media coverage on Friday. 

    “Storm turned Hurricane is getting much bigger and more powerful than projected. Federal Government is on site and ready to respond. Be safe!” Trump said.

    Black Hawk Down

    Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, a wounded Iraq War veteran, blasted the ban in a statement issued ahead of the White House announcement.

    “When I was bleeding to death in my Black Hawk helicopter after I was shot down, I didn’t care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender, black, white or brown,” Duckworth said. “If you are willing to risk your life for our country and you can do the job, you should be able to serve — no matter your gender identity or sexual orientation. Anything else is not just discriminatory, it is disruptive to our military and it is counterproductive to our national security.”

    Trump said in July his concern hinged on the additional medical costs and “disruption” of such troops. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders cited “military readiness and unit cohesion.”

    Care related to gender reassignment costs the Pentagon $2.4 million to $8.4 million annually, the larger number a little more than 0.1 percent of the military’s entire health-care bill, according to a 2016 Rand Corporation study. By contrast, the military spent $84 million on Viagra and other drugs for erectile dysfunction for active-duty troops, eligible family members and retirees in 2014 alone, the Military Times reported.

    Treatment of transgender people has become a flashpoint in the U.S. culture wars as social conservatives lead fights in some states to require that students, and sometimes adults, use school and public restrooms corresponding to their gender at birth. 

    Trump has attempted as a candidate to thread a needle between the two sides. In his campaign, he cultivated evangelical voters while at the same time promising to “fight for” the gay and transgender community.

      Read more:

      Your Pet Can Now Have Its Own Pumpkin Spice Latte, So You Can Be #Basic Together

      As much as our hearts are dreading a bittersweet farewell to the surf and sand, our beloved sweater weather is just around the corner.As we eagerly anticipate the day we can stand in line for our very first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season (lawd help anyone who gets in our way), I have some particularly spicy scoop to offer. Yourpet can now have itsown Pumpkin Spice Latte, so you can be super #basic together all season long.

      Let’s be real, most of uscan’t wait any longer to have a Pumpkin Spice Latte in hand on our walk to work, dammit. Crucial note: Looking chic AF in leather booties, a beanie, and oversized denim shirt while sipping comes with the territory. What fits the autumn aesthetic better than sipping your latte with your furry friend by your side enjoying their own? I’ll tell you: Not much.

      Seriously though, how chill does this pooch look equipped for PSL season?

      The Honest Kitchen

      The Honest Kitchen is debuting a line of Pumpkin Spice Lattesfor dogs and catsin October, so they’re perfectly prepared to slay fall along with their owners. One of the best things about this fall treat for your pet is its health benefits. According to Well And Good, the pumpkin (which is high in fiber) is great for your furry friend’s digestive system.

      You can pour the blend over kibble, or serve to your pet as a delicious drink. Who wouldn’t want to lap some of this up after a long walk? I’ll tell you right now, if I were a pooch, this would hands down be my beverage of choice.

      Here’s how you prepare this holiday treat.

      The Honest Kitchen

      These nourishing pet-friendly lattes come full-circle with pumpkin, goat’s milk, aromatic spices, and honey. Doesn’t that sound oh-so delish? When serving, it’s only appropriate your fur baby drinks his/her beverage out of an adorable pumpkin bowl, because, they work their butts off being cute and freaking deserve it. Your pet will undoubtedly be just as obsessed with pumpkin spice as you are.

      Needless to say, it’s time to start planning out your matching fall sweater game for pictures, like, ASAP. The orange and crimson leaves will be here before you know it. Happy PSL season, y’all.

      The Honest Kitchen

      Read more:

      Donald Trump’s eyeroll of a 2020 campaign ad is as bad as you think it is

      Donald Trump is barely seven months into his scandal-ridden first term as president and he’s already dropped a ludicrous ad that both makes the free press out to be an enemy of the American people and sets the stage for a 2020 reelection campaign.

      Because what we really need is another reason to drink on Monday.

      And this ad … hoo boy.

      It’s just 30 seconds long but, much like the Trump administration, it feels like it exists in a plane beyond our normal concept of time, where everything slows down and each moment feels like a fever dream that stretches into eternity.

      In other words, Donald Trump packed a whoooole lot of intense ideas in a short, half a minute ad. So let’s break it down, everlasting second by everlasting second.

      0:00 – Okay, before we even hit play, please note that the title of the ad is called “Let President Trump Do His Job.” I don’t know who has the power to keep Trump from doing his job, though. No one’s keeping him off the golf course so how can anyone keep him from being president?

      0:01 – Democrats are criticized for being obstructionists with a quick shot of “Cryin'” Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren. Like Mitch McConnell didn’t just spend a year blocking President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination.

      It’s also entertaining that a president so used to criticizing the opposition is now mad that the opposition is also, well, opposing him.

      0:02 – “The media, attacking our president,” screams the ad. Indeed, how dare the free press hold the president accountable? Among those singled out at this point are Anderson Cooper, Joe Scarborough, Chris Hayes, George Stephanopoulos, Chuck Todd, John King, Erin Burnett, Rachel Maddow, and Don Lemon. That’s a lot of media!

      But you know who the ad doesn’t display on screen? Anyone from print or digital journalism. There are no New York Times or Washington Post headlines critical of Trump called out in the ad. These are the publications that are actually making the big scoops that are doing the main damage to the the administration.

      And, yet, the ad focuses on TV figures, which makes a weird sort of Trumpian sense given that this president pretty much reacts to whatever he sees on television.

      0:06 – The ad rolls out shots of Rep. Maxine Waters and Rep. Steny Hoyer, Democrats who have been very vocal in their criticism of Trump, calling them “career politicians” who keep “standing in the way of success” for Trump. For whatever criticism these two lawmakers may deserve, it’s incredibly misplaced here.

      This cannot be stressed enough: the GOP has a majority in both houses and the president is a Republican so if you still can’t get your agenda through, you might want to do a little soul searching.

      0:09 – “But President Trump’s plan is working!” The issue here is: which plan?


      Image: YouTube

      His health care reform? His border wall? The Mueller investigation into Russian involvement in the election? A stable White House staff?

      This is a particular moment where time feels like it slows down to a crawl, the past and future visible from the same fixed point in space, warping around me like a stream around a stone, polishing me down until I am nothing.

      0:10 – There’s a lot of touting of strong economic numbers and we know our president has a way of touting economic milestones that are either misleading or not a result of his work.

      Remember when Trump said jobless numbers were phony until they magically weren’t anymore?

      It’s hard to take anyone that admits this seriously though that doesn’t stop Trump from expecting voters to.

      0:20 – The military is strong! Look at this mighty plane and aircraft carrier. Behold, the power of a man leading a nation to nuclear war via Twitter!

      0:23 – In case you were still wondering how Trump feels about the press, we return to the same collage of TV news anchors with the voiceover proclaiming, “The president’s enemies don’t want him to succeed.”

      Again, Trump is treading on dangerous but familiar ground by proclaiming the press as the enemy and hatching a conspiracy that reaches Nixon-level paranoia. If this ad were two minutes long (God help us), it’d be a soft first step toward a Two-Minute Hate.

      And what better time, really, to release a campaign ad denouncing the free press as the enemy of the people than after a violence-marred weekend involving Nazis who were emboldened by your success and rhetoric?

      0:27 – “Americans are saying ‘Let President Trump do his job’.”

      Well, if you consider abysmally low approval ratings as a way of saying, “Get the hell off Twitter and start doing your damn job,” then, yes, this line of reasoning works.

      If time is really a flat circle, then may it eventually spin fast enough to launch me off into the nethersphere where I can at last be at peace.

      Read more:

      6 Enormous Dick Moves From Big Pharma (You Never Noticed)

      For being the industry that provides us with both life-saving drugs and boner pills, Big Pharma sure gets a lot of hate. But it turns out they’re even better at sucking than we thought, filling their day-to-day lives with lots of little acts of douchebaggery to keep us miserable through all of our waking moments. For example …


      Pfizer Sold Viagra To Millions Of Men Instead Of Treating Their Heart Disease

      Years of toxic masculinity and lazy sitcom jokes have thoroughly convinced men that if their penises don’t work, it’s the end of the world. Fortunately for the 30 million men with erectile dysfunction in the U.S., pharma giant Pfizer can cure what ails you. Just stock up on Viagra, and your little guy will keep going and going and going, right up to the moment you die of heart disease.

      Viagra, the blue pill that lets you drill, might be one of the grandest and most successful acts of bullshit marketing in history. Until about 25 years ago, pharmacy companies were saying that impotence only affected 10-20 million men, and most of them were too old to worry or care about it. But in 1994, researchers Edward Laumann and John Gagnon (who were conveniently on Pfizer’s payroll) put out a study claiming that 30-50 percent of adults were sexually dissatisfied, which seems a lot harder to scientifically quantify than real medical conditions. For all we know, that study only proves that 30-50 percent of men couldn’t resist making a crack about their wives when asked by two dudes how their sex lives were.

      Lying pfucks.

      Laumann and Gagnon later expanded on this study to claim that 43 percent of women and 31 percent of men were not just sexually dissatisfied, but in fact dysfunctional. Pfizer ran with this, using the studies to claim that 30 million American men suffered from a term that everyone is now familiar with: “erectile dysfunction.” That dubious study, combined with urologist Irwin Goldstein (who was also on Pfizer’s payroll) saying that impotence was a major health concern, mean it’s no surprise that Pfizer made a billion dollars off of Viagra in a few months, giving them yet another bulge in their pants to be proud about.

      But the real crime here is that all this focus on regaining strong, lasting erections has obscured the real issue: If you’re having problems with your penis, the problem is rarely about your penis. It probably can be traced to your heart or brain, which we’ve been told are more important organs. Men usually suffer from impotence because of issues related to strokes or heart disease — both of which can be triggered if you’re having marathon sex hopped up on boner pills. In 1998, Pfizer was forced to add warning labels to the famous pill, which solved the problem forever, because everyone reads those. But before they did that, over 130 men died because Pfizer had convinced them to not seek true medical help, and they did so while getting busy. We’re surprised the company didn’t simply commission another study claiming that 30-50 percent of those men’s dying words were “Totally worth it.”


      Painkiller Companies Are Trying To Keep Marijuana Illegal

      Marijuana, to put it in medical terms, is the shit. It’s basically magic if you’re going through chemotherapy, being the only known drug which both reduces nausea and increases appetite. It also reduces pain, helps you sleep, and improves your mood. It also helps you see colors — like, really see colors. Also, just … outer space, man.

      Not everyone is happy about the medical properties of marijuana, though. Pharmaceutical companies are used to selling painkillers and other drugs for large amounts of money, and they don’t want to share their profits with a bunch of stoners. They’re right to be worried, too. States that have legalized medical marijuana see a notable drop in pharmaceutical drug sales, especially painkillers. In those same states, opioid overdoses have dropped by 25 percent. But if you think fewer people dying of drug overdoses is a good thing, you’re never going to get anywhere in the pharmaceutical game.

      In 2016, when eight different states approved measures to legalize marijuana in one form or another, Arizona was one state that resisted.

      Business Insider
      “Arizona: Still slightly cooler than Utah!”

      That might have something to do with Insys Therapeutics, a company which manufactures a painkiller specifically for cancer patients, which poured $500,000 in campaign funds into an organization opposing the measure to legalize pot. Of course, when they were asked about it, they claimed that … oh, they admitted outright that it was because they would make less money. They seemed baffled by the idea that they couldn’t own the painkiller market, since they were owning Congress perfectly fine.

      However, realizing they’re probably next on the list of things Millennials are killing, these companies are taking a page out of Pfizer’s (and Big Tobacco’s) books and paying experts to tell everyone that marijuana is dangerous. Dr. Herbert Kleber of Columbia University has made plenty of appearances on NPR, CNBC, and CBS News, talking out of his ass about how addictive marijuana is and how it will lead to a public health crisis. What they never seem to mention, though, is that he’s been paid by numerous drug companies, including the makers of OxyContin. And if the makers of New Heroin are paying you to say weed is dangerous, you might as well roll that PhD into a big fat blunt and smoke it.


      Purdue Pharma Marketed OxyContin Specifically To Skeezy Doctors

      OxyContin is probably the most widely prescribed drug that will absolutely fuck you up sideways. It will get rid of your pain, along with all your other senses and any connection to the real world. It can also cause nausea, heart failure, death, and worst of all, the hiccups. And as you probably already know by now, it’s as addictive as heroin, with similar withdrawal symptoms, like fever, nausea, panic attacks, and writing terrible poetry. How in the hell did a drug this dangerous manage to get into the hands of so many people? Via doctors, of course.

      OxyContin was made available to the public in 1996, making $45 million in sales in its first year. By 2000, only four years later, it was making an astonishing $1.1 billion for its manufacturer, Purdue Pharma. Coincidentally, in that timespan, there was a massive increase in the number of doctors prescribing OxyContin for everything from back pain to arthritis to stubbed toes to “thought they saw a spider.” That’s because Purdue had an ingenious plan to recruit not just any doctors, but the right kind of doctors. Instead of chasing every Tom, Dick, and Jan wearing a stethoscope, the company started keeping records of thousands of quacks who were already pushing much more painkillers than the average doc. Once they’d found their pill monkeys, it was a simple matter of getting them to switch brands.

      Whether those doctors were sleazy or living somewhere with a high density of people with bad backs didn’t matter to Purdue. For the ones who cared enough to inquire after the addictive properties of the drug, Purdue’s sales reps came up with a pretty inventive solution: They lied. They claimed that the potential for OxyContin addiction was “less than 1 percent,” and even made this a major part of their marketing to physicians. As we now know, the addictive potential of the drug is in truth closer to a hundred million percent, but we’d hate to be splitting hairs.

      In 2007, Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to lying about how safe OxyContin was, paying a $600 million fine for creating a “corporate culture that allowed this product to be misbranded with the intent to defraud and mislead.” This taught the company a valuable lesson for about ten seconds, which is roughly the time it now takes for them to earn that much profit. And if it breaks your heart to know that a company can get away with creating a nationwide health crisis for less than they probably spend on Christmas bonuses, Purdue has precisely the pill for that.


      India Is Flooding The U.S. Market With Counterfeit Medicine That Doesn’t Work

      We do at least have one recourse from the highly expensive drugs that line the mysterious back shelves of the pharmacy: sweet, sweet generic brands. If you can’t afford the big name, you can get something that works almost exactly the same for a fraction of the price, allowing you to stave off liver disease and still afford luxuries like bread. Finally, the free market delivers a solution that works! Also, your generic drugs are probably counterfeit.

      Right now, 40 percent of all generic drugs sold in the United States are made in India, which has its own version of Big Pharma. And the World Health Organization estimates that 20 percent of their drugs are fake. So does that mean that the drugs don’t work, or that they are cheap knockoffs of commercial drugs? Yes.

      Indian law states that while the process of making a drug is patented, the drug itself is not. This means that anyone who reverse-engineers a Viagra, or something less important like cancer drugs, can manufacture it on their own and sell it. Without any decent checks and balances, this means anyone with a chemistry kit can claim they’ve cracked OxyContin and ship it off to the rest of the world. After some of these drugs were finally tested, a number of them (ranging from 12-20 percent) were found to have no active ingredients whatsoever, making them as effective as Styrofoam. They weren’t all floppy boner pills, either. These scams includes fake cancer drugs and antibiotics for sick infants, which is a move so comically evil you’d expect to see it in an episode of Jonny Quest.

      “Actually, that ‘v’ is a typo. Our bad.”

      This lack of oversight is what makes selling fake drugs such a huge industry. Ten percent of the world’s drug trade is made up of counterfeits, and this economy’s growing at an estimated 25 percent per year. The FDA here in the USA is finally starting to crack down on this, springing surprise inspections on Indian plants and fining manufacturer Ranbaxy a whopping $500 million for their lies. Their response was to ask the FDA commissioner to keep letting them sell their fake drugs to the American public. After all, how else were they going to afford that fine?

      There’s an even worse side of this, however. The explosion of drugs has led to a large increase in pollution from pharmaceutical factories. As if regular pollution isn’t bad enough, pharmapollution can lead to increased antibiotic resistance among bacteria, leading to superbugs that can’t be treated easily. So not only are these fake drugs ineffective, but they’re also making real drugs less effective. Why raise the bar when you can just lower the other ones, right?


      An American Nonprofit Institute Harvested Ecuadorian Natives For Profit

      Biopiracy, contrary to what the name conjures, isn’t the act of performing naval raids on Whole Foods shipments. It’s stealing people’s genetic information without their permission. And when we say people, we mean a people, like the time in the early ’90s when the Coriell Medical Institute stole blood from a native Ecuadorian tribe.

      In 1990 and 1991, Coriell partnered with the Maxus Energy Corporation and Harvard University to draw thousands of blood samples from 600 members of the Huaorani tribe in Ecuador, which comes out to “several pints of blood” per person. Under 20 percent of the participants agreed to the procedure, so enjoy lying awake thinking of how a shadowy cabal of rich institutions would obtain the blood of 480 people without their permission. They also helped themselves to some tissue samples, because hey, they were already down in the creepy blood dungeon, so why not?

      Kate Fisher
      “They stole my genetic makeup and I didn’t even get a stupid T-shirt.”

      Regardless of how they got the blood, all of the “participants” were told that their samples would be analyzed for personal medical examinations, and then Coriell did not do that. The samples were instead sold to research labs around the world, including Harvard (which hopefully got a henchman discount). Over the next 22 years, 31 research papers were written about the discoveries made from the Huaorani blood and tissue samples, and not a penny of the deserved royalties ever made it back to the tribe.

      Why did Coriell go to so much trouble? Apparently, there are many scientists around the world who think the Huaorani tribe have very particular genetic mutations which make them immune to diseases like hepatitis. Being able to replicate this immunity would be revolutionary, but scientists still have yet to prove the link, even 25 years after the Great People Harvesting. As for what happened to the Huaorani, we’re not really sure, because almost every fact on their Wikipedia page has “[citation needed]” next to it. That might be a scarier sentence than the one with “blood dungeon” in it.


      Synthes Conducted Secret “Bone Cement” Experiments That Killed Five People

      When you’re creating something that’s intended to cure people, it’s best to make extra-sure that it doesn’t kill them instead. That’s why pharmaceutical drugs go through many rigorous rounds of testing, with control groups and consent forms and all that, to ensure that we’re curing AIDS and not turning it into Super AIDS. Or you could be like Synthes, and not give a fuck and straight-up inject cement into people’s spines.

      Synthes is a medical company that injected cement into people’s spines, because we really can’t say that enough. The product in question was Norian XR, a special kind of cement which apparently could turn into bone if it was injected into a human skeleton. Normally, a product that dangerous and invasive would have to go through expensive medical trials, finding patients desperate enough to try out an experimental new procedure that could potentially kill them. But Synthes decided that due diligence is for suckers, and went ahead with their own illegal trials. After all, how could shoving experimental putty directly into someone’s spine ever go wrong?

      Between 2002 and 2004, Synthes injected cement into an unknown number of patients without their permission, mainly by tricking hospitals into using Norian XR and lying about how safe and legal the concoction was. Some scientists quickly raised warnings about how the drug could potentially cause fatal blood clots, and the FDA requested that Synthes holy shit not do this, but the pharma company gave them both the middle finger and proceeded anyway. The results weren’t good: Five people ended up dying on the operating table as a result of the Norian XR injection, which even Synthes had to admit that was a mixed bag.

      In 2009, the Department of Justice formally accused Synthes of injecting cement into people’s spines Four executives ended up pleading guilty to obscure misdemeanor charges, and amazingly, all of them actually went to jail. Of course, what was waiting for them on the other side wasn’t humility, but fat stacks of cash, as Synthes was later sold to Johnson & Johnson for over $20 billion. Here’s hoping those executives spent every day in prison getting punched right in their spines.

      Also check out 5 Terrible Secrets Big Drug Companies Don’t Want You to Know and 5 Awful Things I Learned About Drugs Working At A Pharmacy.

      Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and check out If Viagra Commercials Were Honest, and other videos you won’t see on the site!

      Follow us on Facebook, and we’ll follow you everywhere.

      Get intimate with our new podcast Cracked Gets Personal. Subscribe for great episodes like The Most Insane Things We Saw In Emergency Medicine and 3 Wild Stories from Inside the Opiate Epidemic, available wherever you get your podcasts.

      Read more:

      This transgender man just gave birth to a healthy newborn son

      Transgender man Trystan Reese and his husband Biff Chaplow live in Portland, Oregon. They have three children, including a newborn sonwho Reesecarried to term.

      Though Reese,34, began hormone replacement therapy about 10 years ago, the couple decided to try for a baby last year. He became pregnant but unfortunately miscarried at six weeks.

      The coupleplanned to wait another year to try again.But Reese learned that there might be complications with restarting and stopping testosterone,so the couple decided to take another shot at having a child sooner rather than later.

      Six months after the couple began trying for a baby again, Reesefound out he was pregnant with Leo.

      “The moment he was born was just like a pure moment of bliss, like the happiest moment of my life,” Chaplow told Fox 19. “Just to see the very beginning of Leo, of his life, was just amazing.”

      WE ARE HEADING HOME!!! Leo has received a clean bill of health (and so has Trystan) so we are happily heading back home to settle into our new life with our newest little addition. 😍😍😍

      Posted by Biff and I on Sunday, July 16, 2017

      Reese has since spoken out about his story as a transgender father, and how the outside world views his body.Reese was nervous going for his six-week ultrasound at an OB/GYN, for instance, but foundthat the office’s fellow patients “wouldn’t even bat an eye that there was a dude with a beard claiming to be pregnant who is here to get bloodwork done.” He says that “doesn’t come magically,” and that he hasn’t faced “an ounce of transphobia” throughout his journey.

      “I think my body is awesome. I feel like it’s a gift to have been born with the body that I did, and I made the necessary changes so that I could keep living in it, both through hormones and through other body modifications,” Reese wrote in a Facebook post, according to the Daily Mail.

      Going forward, Reese wonders ifthe stigma against transgender pregnancies will lessen as society begins to accept trans people’s gender identity. He hopesother trans men who want to become pregnant will build a healthy relationship with their body thatallows them to become fathers.

      “Most trans men dont have the relationships with their body that would allow them to engage in something that still feels so rooted in femininity. It’s something that their mothers did, their sisters did,” Reese said, according to the Daily Mail.“I hope that some of that is social, that it isn’t an inherent part of being transgender. I hope more people will get to the place that I’ve gotten to from the support of the people around me.”

      H/T Daily Mail

      Read more:

      10 Human Foods You Can Safely Give Your Dog

      Before we start, remember it’s always best not to feed your dog human food unless your veterinarian advises you otherwise. But if you are having trouble saying “no” to those adorable little faces, then there is a list of the are healthier things you can feed your dog.
      Via: Sharebly

      • 1


        Via: Baby pedia

        Liver is chock full of vitamins like iron and vitamin A. Just be sure not to give them too much because too much vitamin A can be harmful to them. Eight ounces or less for a medium dog and a half ounce for small dogs is just fine.

      • 2

        Coconut Oil

        Via: All you need is pug

        Adding unsweetened coconut flakes to your dog’s food or a scoop of coconut oil can benefit their skin, fur and provide them with an extra boost of protein

      • 3

        Lean Meat

        Via: Dogster

        Lean meats are packed with protein that provides your dog with energy and they also contain vitamin B and amino acids that help boost energy and their metabolism. Just make sure that you are giving your dog meat that doesn’t have any visible fat on it and stay away from ground meat which is higher in fat. Also, raw chicken bones are OK for dogs while cooked ones can splinter and cause your dog to choke.

      • 4

        Salmon and Tuna

        Via: The Holidog Times

        These fishes contain omega-3 fatty acids that promote a shiny fur coat, improve brain function, and boost immunity.

      • 5

        Yogurt and Cottage Cheese

        Via: Bunk blog

        If your pup needs a boost of calcium putting some unsweetened yogurt that doesn’t contain fruit in their food is always a good way to go. The calcium helps support their teeth and bones.

      • 6


        Via: Reader’s Digest

        Seaweed helps to provide your dog with fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E and chlorophyll which helps to boost your pup’s metabolism.

      • 7


        Via: Reference

        Carrots help keep your dog’s teeth healthy by scraping away plaque when they chomp down on it. It also has lots of vitamins.

      • 8


        Via: Can dogs eat this

        This whole grain helps with digestive issues in older dogs and is an alternative for dogs who have wheat allergies

      • 9


        Via: Care2

        Dog your dog have bad breath? Chop up some parsley and add it to your dog’s food. Not only will it freshen their breath but it will also deliver some potassium and calcium to their system.

      • 10


        Via: American Kennel Club

        Putting a handful of peas in your dog’s food to your dog’s meal will pump it up with phosphorous, as well as vitamin B.

      Read more:

      Trump Rages About Senate Rules In Saturday Morning Tirade

      In a series of caps-lock ridden tweets early Saturday, President Trump appeared to blame the GOPs recent failure to pass a health-care bill on the Senates filibuster rulesdespite the fact that those rules had nothing to do with the bills collapse. The very outdated filibuster rule must go. Budget reconciliation is killing R's in Senate. Mitch M, go to 51 Votes NOW and WIN. IT'S TIME! Trump wrote on Twitter. Republican Senate must get rid of 60 vote NOW! It is killing the R Party, allows 8 Dems to control country. 200 Bills sit in Senate. A JOKE! he wrote. The Senates filibuster rule requires 60 votes to end a filibusteran extended debate meant to delay or block a vote. But even as Trump warned that Senate Republicans look like fools if they dont go to a 51 vote majority, many were quick to point out that the filibuster rule was not to blame for the health-care bills failure. The bill needed only a 51-vote majority to pass, but it still failed.

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      Charlie Gard parents announce death of ‘beautiful boy’ – BBC News

      Media playback is unsupported on your device

      Media captionEleven-month-old Charlie Gard was at the centre of a legal battle over his treatment

      Charlie Gard, the baby at the centre of a legal row over his treatment, has died, a family spokesman has confirmed.

      The 11-month-old was moved to a hospice following a High Court ruling.

      He suffered from an extremely rare genetic condition causing progressive brain damage and muscle weakness.

      His parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, fought a lengthy legal battle with Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) to allow him to be taken to the US for treatment.

      But on Monday they dropped their legal battle after Prof Michio Hirano, the American neurologist who had offered to treat him, said it was too late for it to work.

      In a statement issued on Friday evening, Ms Yates said: “Our beautiful little boy has gone, we are so proud of you Charlie.”

      Prime Minister Theresa May said: “I am deeply saddened by the death of Charlie Gard. My thoughts and prayers are with Charlie’s parents Chris and Connie at this difficult time.”

      Pope Francis tweeted: “I entrust little Charlie to the Father and pray for his parents and all those who loved him.”

      GOSH said it sent its “heartfelt condolences” to Charlie’s parents and loved ones.

      US Vice-President Mike Pence tweeted: “Saddened to hear of the passing of Charlie Gard. Karen & I offer our prayers & condolences to his loving parents during this difficult time.”

      Image copyright EPA
      Image caption Chris Gard and Connie Yates fought a five-month legal battle on behalf of their son

      On Thursday, Ms Yates said the couple had been denied their “final wish” to have more time with him after a High Court judge ruled that he would be moved to a hospice and have his life support withdrawn soon after.

      The couple had wanted to take their son to the US for nucleoside bypass therapy, but specialists at GOSH said the treatment was experimental and that Charlie had irreversible brain damage.

      Hundreds of people – called Charlie’s Army – lent their support to his parents, who raised 1.35m to take him to the US for treatment.

      The couple fought a legal battle for five months, in which judges from the High Court, Supreme Court and the European Court all agreed with doctors that the treatment would not benefit Charlie.

      Charlie’s plight attracted the attention of Pope Francis and US president Donald Trump.

      Image copyright Featureworld
      Image caption Charlie has been in intensive care since October

      Following the European Court ruling, the Pope said he was following the case “with affection and sadness”.

      In a statement released earlier this month, the Vatican said: “For them he prays, hoping that their desire to accompany and care for their own child to the end is not ignored.”

      The US president then offered his support, tweeting: “If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so.”

      After his tweet, Prof Hirano co-signed a letter with other medical experts which suggested unpublished data showed therapy could improve Charlie’s brain condition.

      They claimed that “ideally” the treatment would first be tested on mice but said that, in Charlie’s case, there was no time for such a trial.

      After examining Charlie a couple of weeks ago, Prof Hirano said it was too late for the treatment to work. An MRI scan had shown there was no muscle at all in parts of his body.

      Image copyright Featureworld
      Image caption HIs parents have described him as an “absolute warrior”

      Paying tribute to their son following the end of their legal challenge the couple, both in their 30s and of Bedfont, west London, had described him as an “absolute warrior”.

      On Monday Mr Gard said: “Mummy and Daddy love you so much Charlie, we always have and we always will and we are so sorry that we couldn’t save you.

      “We had the chance but we weren’t allowed to give you that chance. Sweet dreams baby. Sleep tight our beautiful little boy.”

      Image copyright Featureworld

      Timeline of Charlie’s case

      • 3 March 2017: Mr Justice Francis starts to analyse the case at a hearing in the family division of the High Court in London
      • 11 April: He says doctors can stop providing life-support treatment
      • 3 May: Charlie’s parents ask Court of Appeal judges to consider the case
      • 23 May: Three Court of Appeal judges analyse the case
      • 25 May: The Court of Appeal judges dismiss the couple’s appeal
      • 8 June: Charlie’s parents lose their fight in the Supreme Court
      • 20 June: Judges in the European Court of Human Rights start to analyse the case, after lawyers representing Charlie’s parents make written submissions
      • 27 June: Judges in the European Court of Human Rights refuse to intervene
      • 3 July: The Pope and US President Donald Trump offer to intervene
      • 4 July: The Vatican’s children’s hospital in Rome offers to take in Charlie
      • 7 July: Great Ormond Street Hospital applies for a fresh hearing at the High Court
      • 10 July: Charlie’s parents return to the High Court and ask Mr Justice Francis to carry out a fresh analysis of the case. Mr Justice Francis says he will consider any new evidence.
      • 17 July: Dr Michio Hirano, the US neurologist, travels to London to examine Charlie
      • 21 July: Lawyer representing Great Ormond Street says Charlie’s new scan makes for “sad reading”
      • 22 July: Great Ormond Street says doctors and nurses have been subjected to abuse and received threatening messages
      • 24 July: Charlie’s parents say they will end their legal fight for his treatment and let him die
      • 26 July: Deadline set for Charlie’s parents and Great Ormond Street Hospital to agree how and when he will die
      • 27 July: Mr Justice Francis rules Charlie will be moved to a hospice and have his life support withdrawn “soon after” after an agreement to decide his end-of-life care was not reached

      Read more:

      3 Penis Tropes In Hollywood That You Never Noticed

      Hollywood can be a real dick when it comes to wieners, and vice versa. It’s like, they’ll kick ’em, smash ’em, or stick ’em into pies, but actually showing a ding-a-ling on screen would apparently destroy the very fabric of America and plunge the country into a Mad Max-style dystopia. At the same time, though, whenever someone dares to show up to an action movie without a society-ruining baloney pony of their own, Hollywood basically punishes them for it by sticking them with a cliche rape backstory. So, yeah, despite being primarily written by men, movies and TV shows have some pretty cockamamie hang-ups about the human willy, which kind of explains why they also believe that …

      It’s OK To Treat People Like Garbage As Long As They Have Gigantic Schlongs

      I have three younger brothers so I know the difference between innocent teasing and straight-up abuse. Basically, you can jokingly hit people, insult them, give them fake suicide notes from Santa blaming them for his death etc., AS LONG AS the other person is capable and willing to strike back (usually at my face). That’s why I absolutely hate the stock “butt-monkey” TV character whose entire job is to take abuse after abuse without ever doing anything about it. It’s what almost ruined Parks And Recreation for me.

      On the show, Garry Gergich is a low-level government employee/emotional human toilet for his co-workers, one of whom once said that “[his] face is the symbol of failure.” His so-called friends routinely and viciously insult Jerry, delivering slow-mo (but thankfully dingus-free) pies into Terry’s face, and persistently calling poor Larry by the wrong name.

      But the thing is, even the writers of the show felt bad about treating the character this way, so in Season 5, it was revealed that Garry has an incredibly beautiful wife and three equally beautiful daughters, all of whom adore him in a way that you rarely see outside of cults. So it doesn’t matter that Garry’s coworkers once “pranked” him so hard that he suffered a heart attack (I … guess) because he has already won at life. But this wasn’t the writers’ first instinct. Way earlier, in Season 4, they tried to go a different way by revealing that Garry has a gigantic yogurt pistol, one of the biggest that his doctor has ever seen in fact. THIS (“this” being Garry’s beef thermometer) was supposed to make us feel less sorry for the man. It’s cool that people loathe his presence, because his dong could sink a ship.

      A very similar thing happened with Cyril Figgis, a timid, frail comptroller working for a spy agency on Archer. Cyril gets so little respect on the show that him merely offering to help out with a computer problem ends in him taking a shower of shit coming from his coworkers’ mouths. But it’s OK because back in the series’ second episode, we found out that Cyril has a 12-inch tube steak. How does he get an erection without passing out?

      The fact that Cyril is highly-educated and trilingual all came much later. When Archer wanted to make sure we don’t feel too bad for Cyril, they immediately pulled out his massive boink rod and patted it to assure us that whatever abuse we throw his way, he can deflect its impact with his mighty meatsicle.

      This is taken to absurd, creepy lengths in The Hard Times Of RJ Berger, a show about a nerdy 15-year-old boy with a gargantuan wee-wee (aaaaand that should be the fourth government watchlist I was just added to). At the end of the pilot, RJ literally pulls out his mauve member, rubs it, and then asserts his dominance over his bully by putting his pork-sword-stained hands on his face. Now he doesn’t just have dickhandface. He has MEGA dickhandface. That’s, like, the worst kind.

      Then you have Zach Young on Desperate Housewives: a troubled, loser-ish young man who, before disappearing for three seasons, was revealed to be packing a huge todger. The show literally made “having a big Mr. Happy” into the character’s redeeming swan song … his dwan dong. Other examples include Ned Flanders, the hugely junk-ed target of Homer’s abuse on The Simpsons, Chris Griffin from Family Guy, a pimply, unpopular dweeb whose father once confused his trouser snake with a third leg, and David Spade’s character on Just Shoot Me!, an effeminate sycophant largely disliked by his peers … with a dangle-donger you apparently could club a seal to death with.

      In all those shows, it really doesn’t matter what the Rumpleforeskin-blessed characters do or achieve. All that matters are their pink pickles, from which they are supposed to rub out their self-esteem like it’s a magic lamp with a weenie genie in it. And because love muscles are the source of a man’s power in movies and TV shows …

      Only Women And Cowards Kick Wangs, While Real Men Shoot Them

      On account of them being tall, masculine, and quick to respond to insults with the fury of a thousand Uzi-wielding suns, Hollywood doesn’t feel the need to give their tough guys over-sized pricks. But that doesn’t mean they don’t understand their power. That’s why, when a movie or TV hero attacks the shaft, he always goes for the killshot. So in Sin City, we have Bruce Willis shooting the Yellow Bastard TWICE in the boomstick, Marsellus Wallace shotgunning his rapist Zed in the tent pole in Pulp Fiction, Django from Django Unchained castrating a bad guy with his revolver, and Sergeant Stiglitz emptying his gun into a Nazi’s crotch in Inglourious Basterds. That last part sounded way dirtier than I intended it to be.

      The first time I noticed this trend was probably in True Romance when Christian Slater used a gun to circumcise Gary Oldman. But you might say: “Come on, Cezary. All those movies were either written or directed by Quentin Tarantino, and that dude is just insane. Like, he genuinely scares me. I’m not even sure he’s human. I once had this nightmare where flies escape from his mouth as he tells me that I’m going to die in seven days, AND THAT WAS SIX DAYS AGO!” But it’s not just Tarantino.

      You can also find protagonists blowing off villain thingies in John Woo’s The Killer, Chuck Norris flicks, and scores of other action films. And in almost every one of those, it will be a guy doing the blowing. Why? Because, apparently, women prefer to merely injure Private Richard with kicks and punches. Buffy The Vampire Slayer did it. Scully from The X-Files kicked so many guys in their wonder weasels that the only thing her adversaries want to believe is that their crotch pain will end one day. We also saw the same kind of Nutcracker rendition performed by Sandra Bullock’s future cop character in Demolition Man, and by Mary Jane in Spider-Man, and Detective Beckett on Castle. And do you know why? Because it fucking works.

      Go to any self-defense class run by a guy who does a pretty spot-on impression of an industrial-sized refrigerator, and even they will tell you that one-way tickets to Kiek in de Kok are incredibly effective in combat. But movies and TV shows still have trouble thinking of plonker kicks as anything other than feminine, and the stupid part is, it wasn’t always like this. Roger Moore took down the gigantic villain Jaws in TWO movies by kicking him in the drumstick, and no one has ever doubted Moore’s manliness. I will, however, doubt Jaws’ mental prowess, as he probably should’ve taken note after The Spy Who Loved Me to watch out for Moore’s patented “Ultimate Dick Maneuver.”

      Speaking of Bond flicks, let’s talk about Casino Royale and its villain Le Chiffre. Now, I realize that the world has bizarrely decided that Mads Mikkelsen is sexy now, and we all had to have that talk with our partners about wearing a latex Mikkelsen mask during sex, but Le Chiffre came before that. He was supposed to be the opposite of the tough, macho Bond: a small, unsexy, delicate intellectual. And I know this for certain because at the end of the movie, he hits Bond in the canoodle noodle during the famous rope torture scene.

      See, because Le Chiffre didn’t have the balls to do some real damage to Bond’s tallywhacker and instead just slapped the man’s skin flute with a rope, the whole scene became a very unflattering commentary on the man’s masculinity. It shows that Le Chiffre isn’t like Bond. It shows that he is not manly. Because a real man would give his adversary penile lead poisoning, apparently.

      Still, though, it’s actually almost always bad guys who get kicked or punched in the flesh joystick, and that might be why …

      Bad Guys Tend To Suffer From Erectile Dysfunction

      When I finished rewatching Justified for the 10th time last week, I got a sudden urge to go out and drink bourbon like the show’s antagonist Boyd Crowder, despite the fact that I hate bourbon. I mean come on, people, it’s just wood-flavored corn vodka. My point is that I and many people like me are easily influenced by movies and TV shows, and that is why Hollywood often tries to give their bad guys some irredeemable flaw that will make you less likely to identity with and emulate them. One of those flaws is making villain hotdogs not work all that well.

      So in Kick-Ass 2 you have Chris D’Amico, who finds his mother’s S & M gear and becomes a supervillain named The Motherfucker, all while Freud’s body spins at the speed of the light in his grave. All in all, Chris is a wimpy, pitiful bundle of emotional issues and lameness, and YET the studio was still afraid that we’d somehow identify with this character. So they gave him ED … when he was trying to rape someone. It’s played for laughs, but it’s about as hilarious as catching your dad fucking a couch.

      This type of “de-cooling” of villains through their malfunctioning mushroom heads happens disturbingly often. In The Departed, Matt Damon’s Colin Sullivan is a police officer secretly working for the mob, and to make sure gullible kids don’t start infiltrating law enforcement agencies for crime families, the movie makes Sullivan impotent. And although the character might possibly be double-secretly gay, the message is still the same: Crime ruins your sex life. Speaking of “double-secretly,” you all do remember that the president of the stuck-up Omega House from Animal House also had trouble getting it up? So does one of the criminal bodybuilders from Pain And Gain. It didn’t help that he was on a lot of steroids, but that’s not the point. The point is is that if you want vicious, rock-hard erections, be nice to others. Open doors for people, and the boners will follow.

      In all fairness, you can sort of kind of understand the reasoning behind disabling baddy pocket rockets, but some movies take it to ridiculous lengths. In Dr. Strangelove, it’s kind of implied that General Ripper went crazy and triggered a nuclear Holocaust because his one-man unit stopped standing to attention.

      Hollywood will even sometimes tack impotency onto real people if they don’t find them villainous enough, like they did to the bank-robbing outlaw Clyde Barrow in Bonnie And Clyde. The original plan was to make him bisexual in the movie, which he may or may not have been in real life. We don’t know. But the 1967 studio “knew” that that would make him too evil and unlikable for a movie protagonist, so instead the film just gave him erectile dysfunction. That way, we would never find him “cool” because anyone without a working underwear ferret is a pathetic excuse of a man, according to Hollywood.

      And you have to remember that different people have different definitions of “evil,” which is why in the remake of Alfie, Jude Law’s ol’ one-eye stops working as a punishment for him SLEEPING AROUND. But when you get down to it, this really all goes back to my original point: Movies feel that men should crank out all of their self-esteem from their veiny bananas. And, look, obviously it’s OK to be proud of your pecker-related achievements, but only as long as they are actual achievements, like, say, siring a Nobel Peace Prize winner … Or using 50 synonyms for the D-train in one Cracked article, which I just did. I won’t call myself a hero for that, but I also won’t stop you if you want to do it.

      Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a Cracked columnist, interviewer, and editor. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter.

      Desperate for a boner? Someone turned horny goats into pills for your dong!

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      3 Drug Store Shampoos That Are Secretly Ruining Your Hair

      Hair can truly make or break you. Youre either a candidate for LOrals next hair commercial, or you just look ratchet. This is why my professors from college should be glad I took as many bad hair mental health days as I did to skip class once a week in a while. Anytime my hair isnt on point, Im as upset as Kim was when she lost her diamond earring in Bora Bora. 

      Even though our sacred blowouts and keratin treatments are v important to us, theyre expensive AF. Since Im neither rich nor famous, I have to pay for like, rent and shitty wifi so unfortunately, I cant make an appointment every time I get split ends. Thats why I pay more than Im willing to admit on my shampoo and conditioner. But you shouldnt spend hundreds at the salon only to destroy your hair with the shampoo and conditioner you use at home (duh). Some brands we love are actually way harsh and ruin your hair rather than help it, so here are sets you should toss in the trash and sets to use instead.

      Beware Of The Plastics: 

      1. Pantene Pro-V

      Pantene was under fire (figuratively and in a way, literally) last year when one hairdresser in Maryland claimed his clients hair started smoking when he began his usual ombr process. Uh, WTF. He says it was because the client used Pantenes Moisture Renewal Shampoo and Conditioner for over a year. After an amount of research I havent done since college, several Pantene Pro-V shampoo and conditioners contain unhealthy ingredients such as sulfates and long-ass words that end in -cone. Silicones are what make you feel easy, breezy, beautiful with shiny hair, BUT over time they act as plastic coats that cause build up, making your hair look greasy and lifeless. Sulfates cleanse your strands, but too much rips off your hairs natural oils and dry the fuck out of it. Cue why we need sooo many keratin treatments.

      2. Organix

      Not only are all of them not 100% sulfate-free, but some of them also contain salt and silicones. We all know that salt can give us great natural waves, but realistically, how does our hair feel after being in the ocean? Like a fucking haystack. With the combination of the big three no-nos, long-term use of OGX products can leave your hair feeling unmanageable, brittle, and frail. If youve used this after a keratin treatment, you most likely wasted like, $300. Sorry to break it to ya.

      3. TRESemm

      My once go-to shampoo and conditioner has been placed on my shit list. It has been for sometime, honestly. During my visit to the salon for my first ever highlights, my hair dresser scared the shit out of me by telling me my hair took the dye too quickly. When I told her I used TRESemm, she basically said if I want to have hair, period, stop using it. Some of their harsh ingredients (sulfates and salt) take a toll on your poor strands, making it hard to receive coloring and volume after a period of time.

      Sooo, before you say, But Ive been using this shit for months and my hair is perfect, the thing is, you wont see these long-term effects right away. Hence, fucking long-term. Since most of these ingredients are basically in all shampoos, theyre not terrible to use once in awhile or, simply in moderation. But everyones hair is different and reacts differently. So if youre wondering why your keratin treatment isnt lasting as long as it should or youre finding its getting harder to style your hair, Im just saying you should probs check to see if these life-ruiners are in your shampoo. If they are, ditch em for these guys.

      The Greatest Shampoos You Will Ever Meet:

      1. Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Shampoo And Conditioner

      For healthier hair that lasts, this duo works wonders. Its both sulfate- and silicone-free so there are no risky chemicals to harm your hair. Formulated for all hair types, it features a weightless formula that promotes hair growth and prolongs the amount of the times you have to wash your hair for lazy bitches (so like, all of us). Its ingredients include a healthy hair molecule that reinforces the strength of both of your hair and cuticles. This is even waterproof which no longer makes frizzy hair an issue. Ugh, thank god.

      2. Aveeno Pure Renewal Shampoo And Conditioner

      Regardless of your hair type, this is def a clutch choice for a new shampoo and conditioner option. The formula remains sulfate-free and still balances your hair for a natural, healthier, flawless look. Its infused with seaweed extract to provide minerals and protein and happens to be a fab set if your hair is color-treated.

      3. Verb Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner

      These are like, cruelty-proof all around Theyre vegan, as well as gluten-, sulfate-, and silicone-free. So theyre good to animals and good to your hair, win-fucking-win. The ingredients retain your hairs natural moisture, prevent color fading and dryness, and infuse keratin all throughout. So, basically, this stuff is bomb.


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      Busted! President Trump photographed on golf course during vacation that’s not a vacation

      It seems like just yesterday President Trump was making headlines for starting a nuclear war with North Korea. Obviously his “fire and fury” comment is what dominated headlines, but the real purpose of his meeting Tuesday with Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price and acting Director of National Drug Control Policy Richard Baum was to discuss the nation’s opioid abuse crisis.

      On Wednesday, though, the president was in hot water with the press for golfing after tweeting earlier that his 17-day vacation was not a vacation.

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      A rise in pubic hair grooming injuries teaches us to be way more gentle down there

      It might be time to consider going 70’s-style where the sun don’t shine.

      A recent study done by JAMA Dermatology shows that 25.6 percent of adults in the U.S. who groom their pubic hair have experienced injuries as a result of shaving, waxing, or other techniques. More than half of the common injuries were cuts, followed by burns, and rashes.


      Most likely due to unrealistic beauty standards for women, the study shows 85 percent of American women between 18 and 65 keep things trimmed and tidy down there, whereas only 66 percent of American men do the same. Of these numbers, 27 percent of women have experienced an injury compared to 26 percent of men.

      Please be careful. Steady hands, people.

      It may seem like no big thing, but 1.4 percent of people reported seeking medical attention because of these pube-related afflictions. This is an increase from 2002 to 2010, in which there were approximately 11,704 visits to the E.R. because of grooming.

      You know what will never cause you pain? A nice, retro bush. Hair is there for a reason.

      Read more:

      Public Asked To Look Out For These Warning Signs After The Plague Is Found In Two Counties

      Navajo County, Arizona, have issued a public health warning after fleas collected in the county tested positive for the plague. The county made a statement warning residents of the symptoms of bubonic plague, including buboes, fever, and muscle pain.

      Fleas collected in Coconino County, Arizona, also tested positive for Yersinia pestis, which causes three forms of the plague in humans. Navajo County asked people to take protective measures if they are in an area where the plague has been found.

      “Navajo County Health Department is urging the public to take precautions to reduce their risk of exposure to this serious disease,” they wrote on Facebook. “The disease can be transmitted to humans and other animals by the bite of an infected flea or by direct contact with an infected animal.”

      The county also issued advice on how to avoid contracting the disease and what to do if you suspect you already have it. They ask that you report any incidents of sudden die-offs of rodents, rabbits, or prairie dogs, as this could be an indication of the plague.

      The plague is rare in America in recent times, and cases tend to be reported in the west of the country. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

      County officials say you should see your physician immediately if you become ill with the disease. Symptoms of the plague generally appear within two to six days, Navajo County say. They include:

      • fever
      • chills
      • headache
      • weakness
      • muscle pains
      • swollen lymph glands (called “buboes”) in the groin, armpits, or limbs.

      They warn that the disease can spread throughout the bloodstream and infect the lungs if left untreated, but can be cured with antibiotics if diagnosed and treated early.

      The plague is pretty rare in humans in the US, with 96 cases reported between 2000 and 2015. Of these, 12 of the patients died from the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So as long as you are careful and seek treatment when you display symptoms, you should be ok, even if you are in one of the areas where the disease has been found.

      Navajo County noted that extra precautions should be taken if you live in or visit the area. These include not handling dead animals and keeping your pets from roaming loose, so they don’t pick up infected fleas and bring them home.

      You should also take care to use insect repellent if you visit areas where the plague has been found and to avoid exposure to rodents when possible.

      We’ve joined Instagram. Follow us for all the latest incredible pictures and videos from the world of science.

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      India media storm over 10-year-old pregnant rape victim – BBC News

      Image copyright iStock

      A 10-year-old girl who is pregnant and has been refused an abortion is at the centre of a media storm in India. The BBC’s Geeta Pandey travelled to the northern city of Chandigarh to piece together her story.

      “We have seen lots of cases of teenage pregnancies involving 14 to 15-year-olds, but this is the first ever case that I have seen of a 10-year-old,” said Mahavir Singh, of the Chandigarh State Legal Services Authority.

      Mr Singh has been involved in a case which has shocked Chandigarh and the rest of India, that of a 10-year-old girl who became pregnant after allegedly being repeatedly raped by a relative.

      That relative is now in jail, pending trial.

      The girl in question has been described as a happy child who smiles easily. She’s shy and not very talkative. English and mathematics are the favourite subjects of this class six student. She loves to draw and is pretty good at it. She can’t get enough of her favourite cartoon shows Chhoti Anandi (Little Anandi) and Shin Chan. She loves chicken and fish – and ice-cream.

      But on 28 July, India’s Supreme Court rejected a petition – filed on her behalf – to allow her to abort, on the grounds that at 32 weeks, she is too far into her pregnancy. A doctors’ panel had advised the court that a termination at this stage would be “too risky” for the girl, and that the foetus was “doing well”.

      The court order was a huge disappointment for the girl’s family.

      ‘She has no idea what happened’

      Indian law does not allow terminations after 20 weeks unless doctors certify that the mother’s life is in danger.

      But in recent years, the courts have received several petitions, many from child rape survivors, seeking to terminate pregnancies after 20 weeks. In most cases, these pregnancies are discovered late because the children are not aware of their condition.

      Image copyright Getty Images
      Image caption In India, a child under 16 is raped every 155 minutes, a child under 10 every 13 hours

      In the case of this 10-year-old too, the pregnancy was discovered only three weeks ago when she complained of pain in her lower abdomen and her mother took her to a doctor.

      Someone who interacts with the girl on a regular basis says: “She’s very innocent and has no idea what’s happened to her.”

      Her parents also missed the telltale signs, perhaps because she’s “a healthy, chubby child”. Besides, they couldn’t imagine even in their wildest nightmares that their daughter could be pregnant at 10.

      The child has still not been told about her pregnancy and, for those dealing with her, talking to her is like treading on eggshells. She has been told that she has a big stone in her stomach and the bulge is because of that.

      She’s been put on a special diet of eggs, milk, fruit, fish and chicken and she seems to be enjoying the extra attention.

      But in recent days, police, social workers and counsellors have been in and out of her house, and a media circus has grown up outside her home.

      “She might not understand the exact problem, the gravity of the situation, but I think she has some idea now,” a senior official told the BBC.

      Her parents are struggling to deal with the situation. The family is poor and lives in a cramped one-room flat. Her father is a government employee and the mother works as a domestic helper.

      Policewoman Pratibha Kumari, who has investigated the case, describes them as a “very nice family, who are so simple that they didn’t even realise what this man was doing to their daughter”.

      The parents, she says, are understandably distraught. “Her mother has never talked to me without crying. The father says he feels like his daughter has been murdered.”

      The scale of abuse in India

      Image copyright AFP
      • A child under 16 is raped every 155 minutes, a child under 10 every 13 hours
      • More than 10,000 children were raped in 2015
      • 240 million women living in India were married before they turned 18
      • 53.22% of children who participated in a government study reported some form of sexual abuse
      • 50% of abusers are known to the child or are “persons in trust and care-givers”

      Sources: Indian government, Unicef

      What has made their situation worse is that, ever since the news of the rape and pregnancy hit the headlines, they have been hounded by journalists.

      “When the girl’s father came to see me, he told me his biggest problem was the press. He said there were reporters outside his home all the time and his privacy was being infringed upon,” Neil Roberts, chair of the Child Welfare Committee, told the BBC.

      The media attention has meant the girl is likely to get the best medical care and is entitled to claim financial compensation from the government.

      But the unwanted publicity is causing the family immense grief. Many of the reporters went to their house when the father was at work and gained entry claiming to be child workers.

      Since the alleged rapist was the mother’s cousin, some even questioned if she was aware of the abuse and, maybe, even approved of it. “How come she didn’t know that her daughter was pregnant for seven months?” they asked.

      This has been very troubling for the family, and the girl’s father is angry and bitter.

      “I want him to be severely punished. He should get the death penalty or be locked away for the rest of his life in prison. He has admitted to the crime. But he has never said sorry to us,” he tells me in a brief phone conversation.

      Before hanging up on me, he asks: “Why are you advertising my daughter’s case? The press have turned this into a business enterprise.”

      Image copyright Getty Images
      Image caption Campaigners say 50% of abusers are known to the child or are “persons in trust and care-givers”

      His anger is justified – even though there are laws that expressly forbid journalists from revealing identities of rape survivors and child victims of crimes, many people have been able to join the dots and identify the family because the alleged rapist’s name was extensively reported in the Indian press. Now their neighbours and his work colleagues know. Possibly the child’s school friends know too.

      A local journalist, who met the family in the early days, says the parents are worried sick about the girl’s future and the stigma she will face when she grows up. The father has also spoken of his worries over her health.

      Medical tests so far show that her health is “good” though she suffers from “mild anaemia”.

      But there are other concerns. The girl was born with a hole in her heart, which was plugged in 2013. Although doctors say it’s unlikely to interfere with her pregnancy, the fact remains that she is way too young to give birth.

      Every year, 45,000 adult women die during childbirth in India. The risk of pregnant girls under the age of 15 years dying is two-and-a-half times higher than that for women above 20. Doctors say the risk is even higher for someone who is only 10.

      It’s a concern the Supreme Court took on board, but the judges still ruled that the pregnancy could continue.

      So what will happen next?

      Those in the know say the baby is due by the middle of September and the doctors have decided that it will be a Caesarean delivery. In case of any complications, the birth could be earlier.

      Since the girl’s family have said they want nothing to do with the baby, the newborn will be looked after by the child welfare committee until it is put up for adoption.

      Medical experts say the 10-year-old is bound to suffer from mental trauma and will need years of counselling from a child psychologist.

      “We’ve got our fingers crossed for her,” said a child rights worker. “Can a 10-year-old deliver a child? Could it be life threatening for her? We are praying that nothing bad happens to her.”

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      Read more:

      ‘Their beautiful boy.’ Parents of baby Charlie Gard say he has passed away

      It is with a heavy heart and eyes filled with tears that this editor writes this article … baby Charlie Gard has passed away, weeks shy of his first birthday.

      This sweet boy was changing the way people think about life and health care before he ever had the chance to leave the hospital.

      Read more:

      The Upcoming Solar Eclipse May Do 5 Of These Weird Things To Your Body

      On Aug. 21, the moon will pass between the Earth and sun to create an incredibly magical total solar eclipse. Millions of people are preparing to witness the rare occasion, as the last one happened nearly a decade ago. As visually appealing and interesting as this eclipse promises to be, you might be wondering how the solar eclipse affects your body.

      There are many ancient legends about the effects of a total solar eclipse on the human body. While not everything is backed up by science, it’s always interesting to learn about people’s beliefs regarding theintense power of the solar eclipse.

      In astrology, the light of the sun represents life and energy. The sun is most closely associated withthe self, personality, and ego, andwhat it is that makes you unique. It’salso been said to foster creative ability and provide people with the power to meet the challenges of everyday life.

      So, even though you may not think about the sun as much more than that really hot burning ball in the sky that leaves you with wicked sunburns every summer, it’s worth knowing what you can expect when a solar eclipse is about to take place.

      In the name of not being in the dark, here are five weird thingsthe upcoming solar eclipse might do to your body.

      1. You Might Feel Lethargic Or Tired

      According to spiritual research, the totaleclipse of the sun can cause feelings of tiredness or sickness.

      It’s also not advised to make big decisions during this time period because of the impact it can have on your mood.

      2. Pregnancy Is Said To Be Affected

      Pregnant women are sometimes asked to take certain precautions when it comes to a total solar eclipse, as there is a myth that claimschildren can be born with abnormalitiesduring this time.

      Please keep in mind there’s no scientific evidence that this is true, but still, it’s a wildly interesting theory.

      3.You Might Suffer Eye Injuries

      That is, if you decide to look directly at the sun during the eclipse.

      This one is actually backed by science 100 percent, so listen up, guys. Though you’re totally going to want to look up at this amazing sight, it is extremelydangerous tolook at the sun with the naked eye. Doing so can cause permanent damage to the retina, and in the worst case scenario, it can even cause blindness.

      This is why special solar eclipse glasses are sold exclusively for this event.

      (Pro tip:Some libraries are even providing them for free!)

      The only time you should remove these glasses isduring those two minutes or less when the sun is obstructed.

      Oh, and don’t make the mistake of thinkingyour favorite pair of RayBans will cut it. Suck it up and wear the special glasses, friends.

      4. Your Digestion Might Be Disrupted

      Some people believe that the solar eclipse can wreak havoc on your digestion.

      This is why extremely spiritual people choose to avoid meals and practice fasting duringa total solar eclipse.

      5. Your Emotions Might Be Out Of Whack

      Many people believe that the rare occurrence of asolar eclipsehas psychological effects on humans.

      There are reports of increased agitation, unusual dreams, sudden bursts of creativity, and even relationship difficulties during a solar eclipse.

      So, whether you find yourself painting the next Starry Night, or you simply want to hit up your nearest library for some dope eclipse shades, one thing is certain: This infrequent, literally astronomical opportunitywill be a sight to see.

      Read more:

      Tomi Lahren, who hates Obamacare, is still on her parents insurance planthanks to Obamacare

      Tomi Lahren said Saturday that she hates Obamacare. The popular conservative commentator thinks the healthcare law should be repealed, and shes clearly angry that GOP Sen. John McCain cast one of the deciding votesagainst the effort.

      So, theres no way that Lahren would ever actually take advantage of one of Obamacares most popular provisions that allows children up to the age of 26 to stay on their parents healthcare plan, right?

      Well, actually

      During a debate with comedian Chelsea Handler on Saturday at Politicon, this is what Lahren said.

      Luckily, I am 24, so I am still on my parents plan, Lahren said.

      Naturally, Twitter loved the contradiction of Lahren taking advantage of a Democratic program that she rails against whenever she can.

      In short, Lahren believes Obamacare is terrible for this country. But apparently for her, its actually a pretty great perk of the current healthcare system.

      Read more:

      The $37 Billion Supplement Industry Is Barely Regulated And It’s Allowing Dangerous Products To Slip Through The Cracks

      • The $37 billion supplement industry is largely unregulated
      • Some supplements (a category that includes vitamins and herbs) can be dangerous and have been linked with ER visits and death
      • The FDA is currently recalling supplements found to be contaminated with banned drugs and bacteria
      • New supplement companies like Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop continue to advertise their products as healthy despite potential side effects, and some say they target vulnerable consumers

      When Pouya Jamshidi, a resident at Weill Cornell Medical College, delivered his first baby, the doctor on call told him to take the newborn away from its mother.

      The baby, a healthy girl with mocha-pink skin and a powerful set of lungs, was being quarantined.

      In the middle of the pregnancy, her mother had come down with tuberculosis. She’d contracted the contagious lung infection in her teens, and the illness came back despite preventative antibiotics and regular screenings. The cause: a popular herbal supplement called St. John’s wort.

      “The trouble is most people don’t consider it a medication because you don’t need a prescription for it, and so she didn’t tell us,” Jamshidi told Business Insider.

      St. John’s wort is one of the most popular herbal supplements sold in the United States. But in 2000, the National Institutes of Health published a study showing that St. John’s wort could severely curb the effectiveness of several important pharmaceutical drugs — including antibiotics, birth control, and antiretrovirals for infections like HIV — by speeding up their breakdown in the body.

      “It basically overmetabolized the antibiotics so they weren’t in her system in the correct dose,” Jamshidi said.

      The findings on St. John’s wort prompted the US Food and Drug Administration to warn doctors about the herbal remedy. But that did little to stem public sale or consumption of it. Over the past two decades, US poison-control centers have gotten about 275,000 reports — roughly one every 24 minutes — of people who reacted badly to supplements; a third of them were about herbal remedies like St. John’s wort.

      Overdosing on a ‘natural’ supplement

      The FDA defines supplements as products “intended to add further nutritional value to (supplement) the diet.” They aren’t regulated as drugs — only when a supplement is shown to cause significant harm is it called out as unsafe.

      Half of all adult participants in a survey in the mid-2000s said they took at least one supplement every day — almost the same percentage of Americans who took them two decades ago. Yet research has consistently found the pills and powders to be ineffective and sometimes dangerous.

      “Consumers should expect nothing from [supplements] because we don’t have any clear evidence that they’re beneficial, and they should be leery that they could be putting themselves at risk,” S. Bryn Austin, a professor of behavioral sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told Business Insider. “Whether it’s on the bottle or not, there can be ingredients in there that can do harm.”

      Despite many such warnings, the supplement industry’s market is as much as $37 billion a year, according to one estimate. Ads for supplements can be found on internet pop-up windows, on social media, in magazine pages, and on TV. They’re sold in corner health stores, pharmacies, and big grocery conglomerates.

      But supplements do not come with explicit instructions on how much to take — only a suggested dose — or potential drug interactions. Jamshidi’s patient had no idea she was putting her life or that of her baby at risk.

      But she was not alone. Using data from 2004 to 2013, the authors of a 2016 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine estimated that 23,005 emergency-room visits a year were linked to supplements. Between 2000 and 2012, the annual rate of negative reactions to supplements — or “exposures” as they are known in scientific parlance — rose from 3.5 to 9.3 cases per 100,000 people, a 166% increase.

      Over that period, 34 people died as a result of using supplements, according to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Medical Toxicology. Six of the deaths resulted from ephedra, the once popular weight-loss supplement banned by the FDA in 2004, and three people died from homeopathic remedies. One person died after using yohimbe, an herbal supplement used for weight loss and erectile dysfunction. (Certain formulations of it can be prescribed to treat erectile dysfunction.)

      ‘You don’t know what you’re dealing with’

      Jamshidi said he knew many people who took a daily multivitamin and tried herbal formulations now and again when they were feeling tired or unwell and always withheld judgement. But he remembers the moment he became wary of supplements: when the pregnant woman his team was monitoring began coughing up phlegm.

      “She had been an incredibly cooperative patient, super engaged and always showing up on time for her visits, taking all of our instructions carefully — just a really good patient,” Jamshidi said.

      Business Insider / Skye Gould

      When Jamshidi and his team realized their patient’s tuberculosis was back, they asked if she’d started any new medications. She said no, but the next day she arrived at the clinic with a small bottle of St. John’s wort.

      She said she had been taking the herbal remedy for the feelings of depression she experienced after her last pregnancy. Although some small studies initially suggested St. John’s wort could have benefits for people with depressive symptoms, the NIH researchers failed to find enough evidence to support that.

      Jamshidi’s patient had to be isolated to ensure the infection didn’t spread. She spent the last three months of her pregnancy alone.

      “It was miserable — she was isolated for all that time, and then she couldn’t even hold the baby,” Jamshidi said.

      In his opinion, one of the reasons many people end up in emergency rooms after taking supplements is that the quantities of active ingredients in them can vary dramatically. A 2013 study published in the journal BMC Medicine found that doses of ingredients in supplements could even vary from pill to pill — which poses a significant hurdle for doctors trying to treat a negative reaction.

      “There are other medications that can have side effects, but patients come in and tell you the dose, and you can reverse it,” Jamshidi said. “But with supplements, you don’t know what you’re dealing with.”

      ‘Vitamines’ to prevent disease

      By isolating the first “vitamine” in 1912, the Polish chemist Casimir Funk unwittingly unleashed a frenzy among chemists to create or synthesize vitamins in the lab.

      Between 1929 and 1943, 10 Nobel Prizes were awarded for work in vitamin research. By the mid-1950s, scientists had synthesized 12 of the 13 essential vitamins. These were added to foods like bread, cereal, and milk, which were sold as “fortified.” Foods that lost nutrients during processing got these vitamins added back in and were labeled “enriched.”

      When supplements were introduced in the 1930s and 1940s, they were presented as a way to address nutrient deficiencies that caused illnesses like rickets and scurvy. They were also seen as a way to avoid expensive and difficult-to-access medical treatment.

      In recent years, however, a new generation of supplements has emerged targeting primarily middle-class and affluent women. These formulas ooze with the lifestyle trends of 2017: minimalism (“Everything you need and nothing you don’t!”), bright colors, “clean eating,” and personalization.

      The actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s new lineup of $90 monthly vitamin packs — released through her controversial wellness company, Goop — have appealing names like “Why Am I So Effing Tired” and “High School Genes.” They claim to deliver health benefits like energy boosts and metabolism jump-starts.

      “What is different about what Goop offers is that the combinations, the protocols put together, were done by doctors in Goop’s team,” Alejandro Junger, a cardiologist who helped design several of Goop’s multivitamin packs, told Business Insider.

      But a look at the ingredients in “Why Am I So Effing Tired,” which Junger helped design, suggests the formula is not based on rigorous science. The vitamin packets include 12.5 milligrams of vitamin B6 — about 960% of the recommended daily allowance (although on Goop’s label it is listed as 625%) — and ingredients like rosemary extract and Chinese yam, whose effects have never been studied in humans and for which no standard daily allowance exists.


      According to the Mayo Clinic, vitamin B6 is “likely safe” in the recommended daily intake amount: 1.3 milligrams for people ages 19-50. But taking too much of the supplement has been linked with abnormal heart rhythms, decreased muscle tone, and worsened asthma. High doses of B6 can also cause drops in blood pressure, the Mayo Clinic notes, and can interact with drugs like Advil, Motrin, and those prescribed for anxiety and Alzheimer’s.

      “People using any medications should check the package insert and speak with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions,” the Mayo Clinic’s website says.

      Junger declined to comment on specific ingredients in the formula but said that many of them were added to “address the most common nutrient-mineral deficiencies of today: B, C, D, and E vitamins, iodine, magnesium, molybdenum, among others.”

      Other shiny new pills and powders that have materialized in recent months include one called Ritual, which arrives at your doorstep in a white-and-yellow box emblazoned with the words “The future of vitamins is clear.”

      A month’s supply of the glasslike capsules — filled with tiny white beads suspended in oil — costs $30. But the pills don’t differ much more than your standard, cheaper multivitamin — they have similar amounts of magnesium, vitamin K, folate, vitamin B12, iron, boron, vitamin E, and vitamin D.

      VitaMe, another new supplement manufacturer, ships personalized daily packets with names like “Good Hair Day” and “Bridal Boost” in a box resembling a tea-bag dispenser each month for $40.

      Its website says: “Our mission is peak nutrition. Delivered.” But its ingredients don’t differ drastically from those in conventional vitamins either.

      One of Ritual’s supplements. Ritual

      When vitamins can’t save us from ourselves  

      No matter how colorful their packaging or messaging, all these supplements fall prey to the same problem: We simply do not need them to be healthy.

      “We use vitamins as insurance policies against whatever else we might (or might not) be eating, as if by atoning for our other nutritional sins, vitamins can save us from ourselves,” Catherine Price, a science reporter, writes in the book “Vitamania.”

      A large recent review published in the Annals of Internal Medicine looked at 27 trials of vitamins involving more than 400,000 people. The researchers concluded that people who took vitamins did not live longer or have fewer cases of heart disease or cancer than people who did not take them.

      Another long-term study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in May divided nearly 6,000 men into groups and gave them either a placebo or one of four supplements touted for their brain-protecting abilities. The results showed no decreased prevalence of dementia among any of the supplement-taking groups.

      Study after study has also found that many popular supplements can cause harm. A large, long-term study of male smokers found that those who regularly took vitamin A were more likely to get lung cancer than those who didn’t. And a 2007 review of trials of several types of antioxidant supplements put it this way: “Treatment with beta carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E may increase mortality.”

      Risks aside, research has suggested that our bodies are better equipped to process the vitamins and minerals in whole foods than those in pills. When we bite into a juicy peach or a crunchy Brussels sprout, we’re ingesting dozens of nutrients, including phytochemicals like isothiocyanates, as well as carotenoids.

      Austin said that’s why “nutritionists recommend people get their nutrition from whole foods, not things that have been packaged and put into a box.”

      Virtually any registered dietitian, physician, or public health expert is likely to reiterate the advice health professionals have been giving for decades: Eat real food, like fruits and veggies, in moderation, and stay away from processed foods and sugary beverages. Or, in the words of the journalist and food writer Michael Pollan: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

      with wind/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

      Where’s the FDA regulation?

      After spending the last few months of her pregnancy and the first few weeks of her new baby’s life in isolation, Jamshidi’s patient was able to go home and be with her family. Jamshidi said the experience changed the way he thought about supplements for good.

      “I feel very negatively about them, and I didn’t feel this way going into it,” he said.

      Ask Steven Tave, the director of the office of dietary supplement programs at the FDA, why the agency isn’t stopping more similar situations, and he’ll give a simple answer: “We’re doing the best we can.”

      In 1994, Congress passed a controversial law called the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. Tave said that before DSHEA passed, the FDA was starting to regulate supplements more stringently, the way it does pharmaceutical drugs, but getting “pushback from the industry.” The law forced the agency to be more lenient.

      Before a new drug can be sold, the company making it has to apply for FDA approval, and the agency has to conclude that the drug is safe and does what it claims to do.

      “So if the drug says, you know, ‘used to treat cancer,’ then the agency’s reviewers are going to look at it and make a determination that there’s evidence that it does treat cancer,” Tave said.

      New supplements don’t face any burden of proof. The agency can review products that add new dietary ingredients when it gets a notification, Tave said, but it doesn’t “have the authority to stop anything from going to market.”

      When DSHEA was passed, Tave said, the bill still made sense. In 1994, about 600 supplement companies were producing about 4,000 products for a total revenue of about $4 billion. But that market has since ballooned — today, close to 6,000 companies pump out about 75,000 products.

      “We’re regulating that with 26 people and a budget of $5 million,” Tave said.

      Removing a supplement from store shelves comes down to documented emergency-room visits and calls to poison-control centers. Only when a supplement is reported to be unsafe as a result of one of these “adverse events,” as the FDA calls them, is the agency compelled to act.

      “Most of the time, we don’t know a product is on the market until we see something bad about it from an adverse-event report. It’s a very different regime from when we know everything is out there and we know what’s in it,” Tave said, adding: “We don’t want to be reactive. We want to be proactive. But we can’t be.

      ‘Consumers have no way to know’

      Most unsafe supplements have been found to contain ingredients that aren’t listed on their labels — usually, these are pharmaceutical drugs, some of which have been banned by the FDA.

      A study of product recalls published in 2013 in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that of the 274 supplements recalled by the FDA between 2009 and 2012, all contained banned drugs. A 2014 report found that more than two-thirds of the supplements purchased six months after being recalled still contained banned drugs.

      “The products we see today have gone way beyond that sort of core group that they were in 1994,” Tave said. “Now they’re promoted for all sorts of things — some are long term, some are short term, some are chemicals no one’s ever seen before. It’s a much different universe than it was at the time.”

      Austin says three categories of supplements are the “most lawless of the industry”: physical enhancement, weight loss, and sexual performance.

      “Some of these companies won’t identify ingredients that they purposefully put in the products,” she said. “Some weight-loss drugs, for example, that have been pulled from the market — we can still find these in the bottle even though they don’t put it on the label.”

      Tave’s 26-person team, the only government employees looking into these issues, didn’t even have a dedicated office until about a year and a half ago.

      “We’re pretty sure were not aware of everything that’s out there, but we do what we can,” he said. “All we can do is enforce the law.”

      Dangerous supplements continue to seep through the cracks, however.

      In 2016, the world’s largest supplement maker, GNC Holdings Inc., agreed to pay $2.25 million to avoid federal prosecution over allegations that it sold a performance-enhancing supplement that claimed to increase speed, strength, and endurance with an active ingredient called dimethylamylamine, or DMAA. Two soldiers who used the supplement died in 2011, which prompted the Defense Department to remove all products containing DMAA from stores on military bases.

      A recent indictment against USPlabs, the Texas-based company that made the supplement, accused it of falsely claiming the product was made of natural plant extracts when it really contained synthetic stimulants made in China.

      The problems are ongoing. Earlier this year, the FDA recalled several supplements after they were found to contain unapproved new drugs, and two more were recalled after they were found to contain unlisted anabolic steroids. On August 11, just days before this article was published, the FDA recalled another batch of supplements — this time pills manufactured by a company called PharmaTech — because of possible contamination with bacteria that can cause serious respiratory infection.

      “Consumers have no way to know that what’s in the label is what’s actually in the bottle or box,” Austin said. “There are many dubious companies out there that are willing to take a risk with consumers health and their lives.”

      Read more:

      Health Blogger Reveals The Reality Behind Instagram Pics

      While fit models and round booties are taking over Instagram, this blogger is trying to show the world that you shouldn’t believe everything you see online.

      Sara Puhto, a 20-year-old body-positive Finish blogger, shares side-by-side pics revealing how much an angle or sucking your tummy in could change in a pic. In every single one of her pics, you can see a striking difference, making it hard to believe they’re the same girl at the same time. “Nobody’s booty looks round and peachy from all angles,” she writes. With hashtags like body confidence, be kind to yourself, and progress not perfection, Sara is trying to tell the world that beauty starts with self-love and those ‘perfectly fit’ pics online are not what our definition of ‘beauty’ should be. Keep on scrolling to check out some of Sara’s body-positive pics!

      Meet Sara Puhto – a 20-year-old body-positive blogger who is trying to show the world that you shouldn’t believe everything you see online

      To show just that, she took two side by side pics just seconds apart, the only difference was her posture

      “Nobody has abs or a flat tummy 24/7 when they sit down,” she writes

      “The other day I saw an Instagram post by a celebrity who had clearly photoshopped their body to make it look more curvy”

      “The beauty industry strives off our insecurities, and only shows so few body types, please don’t let this make you hate yourself”

      “Clothing sizes have the ability to make us feel bad about ourselves when we’ve gone up a size and feel good when we’ve gone down a size”

      “But I’ve realized that it actually doesn’t matter at all”

      “Just because someone wears a smaller size than you doesn’t make them a better person or a more beautiful person”

      “Clothing size doesn’t define you”

      “You are beautiful no matter what size you wear!”

      “Being you and having confidence is what makes you beautiful”

      “Not what some beauty magazine portrays as beautiful”

      Read more:

      These Two Women Senators Are The Real ‘Mavericks’ Of The GOP Health Care Vote

      Senator John McCain made headlines early Friday morning when he cast an unexpected no vote against the Senate GOPs Health Care Freedom Act (a.k.a. skinny repeal of the Affordable Care Act). His vote was indeed surprising and decisive, and therefore newsworthy. But it was Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins who stood consistently in opposition to these most recent attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement. And without their no votes, McCains would not have mattered.

      Not only did Murkowski and Collins join McCain in voting against the Health Care Freedom Act, they were also the only two Republicans to vote against a motion to proceed on ACA repeal efforts earlier in the week.And they did so, despite men in their own party, in the White House, and on the internetopenly threatening them. To sum it up: yet again, women in the Senate nevertheless persisted.

      Over the last week, Murkowski and Collins have been calledwitches and bitches online. Rep.Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) said that he would challenge them to a duel if they were men, that is. Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) defended President Donald Trumps particular targeting of Sen. Murkowski, telling MSNBCs Ali Velshi that somebody needs to go over there to that Senate and snatch a knot in their ass. (For those who are unfamiliar with the phrase, snatch a knot in their ass means to hit.)

      And its Sen. Murkowski, who represents the deep-red state of Alaska, who arguably has the most to lose from breaking with her party, especially because she has consistently expressed opposition this year to legislation that would defund Planned Parenthood. (Sen. Collins represents the much bluer state of Maine.)

      Dont forget about the two women senators, who were there from the beginning. Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Senators Murkowski and Collins

      This is likely why Murkowski has faced the brunt of President Trumps particular ire. On Wednesday, Trump tweetedthat Murkowski had really let the Republicans, and our country, down.Later that day, the Alaska Dispatch News reported that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had called both Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska)after Tuesdays health care vote to communicate that Murkowskis votehad put Alaskas future with the administration in jeopardy.

      Murkowski who is no stranger to facing opposition, having won her 2010 Senate race through a highly impressive write-in campaignresponded to Trumps needling with aplomb.

      My vote yesterday was from my heart for the people that I represent. And Im gonna continue working hard for Alaskans and just focus on that, she told a reporter who stopped her in the hall to ask about Trumps tweet: I have to focus on my job. I have to focus on what I came here to do.

      To an extent,McCains surprising and deciding vote has overshadowed the political risks Murkowski and Collins took in standing with their values and their constituents even among Democrats in the Senate. Luckily, other women senators have their back.

      HuffPosts Igor Bobic was at the Senate just after Fridays early morning vote.After the vote, Democrats expressed relief over the bills failure. They also sang the praises of McCain.

      Asked whether the Arizona Republican was possibly the only senator, given his long, bipartisan record, who could have bucked his party at such a moment, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) agreed.

      Given his stature, his remarks at the beginning when he came in, it moved everyone, he said. And I think that helped. Hes a hero. Hes a hero of mine.

      Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who stood nearby, interjected with an aside.

      Also, she said. Dont forget about the two women senators, who were there from the beginning.

      Igor Bobic contributed reporting to this piece.

      Read more:

      You will not believe how weird this dude’s leg cramp looks

      Brace yourselves, everyone. You’re about to see something super gross.

      A leg cramp is one of the most painful things a human body can experience. And the worst part is, there’s not much you can do about it you kind of just have to let it pass, while not accidentally making it worse.

      Facbeook user Angel Bermudez posted a video of him experiencing a leg cramp so violent and disgusting that it looks like a baby alien is living in his leg. It’s hard to watch, but also hard to look away from.

      OMG, ow ow ow ow.

      “After the workout. Start to relax and then this happens. Fucken cramp. Look at this shit. Painful yes it was,” he captioned the video.

      Is it just us or can you physically feel his pain through this video?

      Let this be a lesson: stretch after workouts, drink tons of water, eat lots of potassium, and don’t let alien lifeforms take over your body.

      Read more:

      For a brief, beautiful moment, Bing’s homepage featured a penis

      Unsolicited dick pics are really getting out of hand.

      Microsoft’s search engine,, features a fun, new homepage photo everyday. Today was extra fun, as the homepage had a hidden treasure many probably missed upon first glance.

      The photo was an aerial view of a beach in Croatia and if you look closely at the sand, some cheeky beachgoer drew a big ‘ole penis.


      Having some trouble seeing it? Don’t worry, Twitter has your back.

      But Bing did find out, and unfortunately removed the penis.

      This is the current Photoshopped version:


      It seems that the first to publicly discover the phallic drawing was Twitter user Andrew Lyle. Good eye Andrew, good eye.

      Well, R.I.P. sand penis. We hardly knew ye.

      Perhaps the most important question we have about this is who’s still using Bing? AYYYYYYYY!

      Read more:

      The 29 most cringe-worthy lines from Donald Trump’s hyper-political speech to the Boy Scouts

      Washington (CNN)On Monday night, President Donald Trump jetted to West Virginia to address the annual Boy Scout Jamboree. And oh what a speech it was!

      I went through the speech and picked out the 29 oddest, cringiest lines — no easy task given the sheer strangeness of Trump’s speech.
      Here they are — in the rough order Trump said them.
        1. “Boy, you have a lot of people here. The press will say it’s about 200 people. It looks like about 45,000 people. You set a record today. You set a record.”
        The Charleston Gazette estimated 40,000 people in the crowd — which is a lot! Not sure there is a “record” for attendance at a Boy Scout Jamboree. Also worth noting from the Gazette: “Press staff handling the event did not allow local media to bring film equipment into the amphitheater.”
        2. “I said, ‘Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts?’ Right?”
        Trump, apparently. He spent the VAST majority of this speech jabbing at his political foes and recounting his 2016 successes.
        3. “Today, I said we ought to change it from the word ‘swamp’ to the word ‘cesspool’ or, perhaps, to the word ‘sewer.'”
        Remember: “Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts?”
        4. “Many of my top advisers in the White House were Scouts. Ten members of my Cabinet were Scouts. Can you believe that? Ten.”
        One of them is Eagle Scout and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who Trump neither brought along on the trip or mentioned in his speech.
        5. “Some of you here tonight might even have camped out in this yard when Mike was the governor of Indiana, but the scouting was very, very important.”
        Your guess is as good as mine.
        6. “We’re doing a lot with energy.”
        This was part of Trump’s introduction of Boy Scout and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who was in attendance. Apparently, we are “doing a lot” with energy.
        7. “He better get them. Oh, he better — otherwise, I’ll say, ‘Tom, you’re fired.’ I’ll get somebody.”
        This “joke” was directed at Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price who was, awkwardly, standing on stage next to Trump. It came amid Trump’s public effort to force Sessions to resign and less than a week after Trump threatened Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, on health care.
        8. “As the Scout Law says: ‘A Scout is trustworthy, loyal’ — we could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that.”
        Is this about Sessions? Republicans in the Senate on health care? Staffers leaking to reporters? All of the above?
        9. “I’m waving to people back there so small I can’t even see them. Man, this is a lot of people.”
        This has to be a record, right?
        10. “By the way, what do you think the chances are that this incredible, massive crowd, record-setting is going to be shown on television tonight? One percent or zero?”
        As Trump was saying this, CNN was showing shots of the crowd. Also, that crowd was “massive” and “record setting.”
        11. “By the way, just a question, did President Obama ever come to a jamboree?”
        “Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts?”
        12. “I’ll tell you a story that’s very interesting for me when I was young. There was a man named William Levitt — Levittowns, you have some here, you have some in different states.”
        This is my favorite part of the entire Trump speech. He regales a crowd of kids — most of whom are teenagers — about life in New York in the post-World War II age. Nothing like knowing your audience!
        13. “Oh, you’re Boy Scouts, but you know life. You know life. So — look at you.”
        14. “He so badly wanted it, he got bored with this life of yachts and sailing and all of the things he did in the south of France and other places.”
        15. “And in the end he failed, and he failed badly. Lost all of his money.”
        Aim for the stars, kids!
        16. “I saw him at a cocktail party, and it was very sad because the hottest people in New York were at this party.”
        Again, Trump is speaking to a crowd of teenagers. And recounting his glory days in New York City high society — decades before they were even born.
        17. “You have to know whether or not you continue to have the momentum, and if you don’t have it, that’s OK. Because you’re going to go on and you’re going to learn and you’re going to do things that are great.”
        Momentum is the key. Having it is everything. If you don’t have it, though, everything is still going to be great.
        18. “I have to tell you our economy is doing great.”
        For the 80th time: Trump is speaking to tens of thousands of teenagers.
        19. “Do we remember that date? Was that a beautiful date? What a date.”
        He’s talking about Election Day 2016. Because of course he is.
        20. “But do you remember that incredible night with the maps and the Republicans are red and the Democrats are blue, and that map was so red, it was unbelievable, and they didn’t know what to say?”
        ICYMI: Donald Trump won the 2016 election, winning 304 out of a possible 538 electoral votes. That election was 260 days ago.
        21. “And you know we have a tremendous disadvantage in the Electoral College — popular vote is much easier.”
        “Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts?”
        22. “I went to Maine four times because it’s one vote, and we won. But we won — one vote. I went there because I kept hearing we’re at 269.”
        He’s speaking to teenagers gathered for their annual Jamboree in West Virginia. And he’s talking about how Maine splits its two electoral votes by congressional district.
        23. “But then Wisconsin came in. Many, many years — Michigan came in.”
        “Many, many years.”
        24. “Wisconsin hadn’t been won in many, many years by a Republican. But we go to Wisconsin, and we had tremendous crowds. And I’d leave these massive crowds. I’d say, ‘Why are we going to lose this state?'”
        Not sure if you’ve heard but Trump won Wisconsin. He was the first Republican presidential candidate to win the state since Ronald Reagan in 1984.
        25. “So I have to tell you what we did, in all fairness, is an unbelievable tribute to you and all of the other millions and millions of people that came out and voted for Make America Great Again.”
        Most of the people who were in the audience weren’t 18 in 2016 and, therefore, did not vote to Make America Great Again.
        26. “And by the way, under the Trump administration, you’ll be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again when you go shopping. Believe me. ‘Merry Christmas.'”
        Trump gave this speech on July 24.
        27. “They’ve been downplaying that little, beautiful phrase. You’re going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again, folks.”
        First of all, “they.” Second of all, Merry damn Christmas.
        28. “I promise you that you will live scouting’s adventure every single day of your life, and you will win, win, win and help people in doing so.”
        So much winning. You will be bored by all of the winning.
        29. “I’ve known so many great people.”
        The best people. Believe me.

        Read more:

        The danger of high-functioning depression as told by a college student.

        I first saw a psychiatrist for my anxiety and depression as a junior in high school.

        During her evaluation, she asked about my coursework. I told her that I had a 4.0 GPA and had filled my schedule with pre-AP and AP classes. A puzzled look crossed her face. She asked about my involvement in extracurricular activities. As I rattled off the long list of groups and organizations I was a part of, her frown creased further.

        Finally, she set down her pen and looked at me, saying something along the lines of “You seem to be pretty high-functioning, but your anxiety and depression seem pretty severe. Actually, its teens like you who scare me a lot.”

        When we see depression and anxiety in adolescents, we see teens struggling to get by in their day-to-day lives. We see grades dropping, and we see involvement replaced by isolation. But it doesnt always look like this.

        And when we limit our idea of mental illness, at-risk people slip through the cracks.

        We dont see the student with the 4.0 GPA or the student whos active in choir and theater or a member of the National Honor Society or the ambitious teen who takes on leadership roles in a religious youth group.

        Read more:

        6 WTF Poems & Books That Probably Screwed You Up As A Kid

        The great misconception about classic literature is that it represents a quainter, less sexualized time. A time when men were men, women were the property of men, and everyone sort of daintily posed next to harpsichords before dying quiet deaths. But the truth is that literature has always been written by, well, writers, and writers back then were exactly the same kinds of people that they are today. That is, some of them were as violent, racist, and sex-obsessed as any blog-hosting YouTube commenter, and they absolutely put that shit into their work.

        #6. Andrew Marvell Writes About Worms Eating A Dead Lady’s Vagina

        Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” came out between 1649 and 1660. It’s about a guy who’s trying to woo a nice young lady to fall in love with him as soon as possible, ideally before his transfer ticket expires and he gets double charged for his bus fare. The first few lines are:

        Had we but world enough, and time,
        This coyness, Lady, were no crime
        We would sit down and think which way
        To walk and pass our long love’s day.

        Sounds sweet, right? Who doesn’t love planning a mild hike? But wait, what does “while there’s still time” mean? Why did we introduce a ticking clock into this narrative? Maybe the lady in question has some romantically fatal disease, like in a Nicholas Sparks novel.

        The man responsible for 67 percent of your girlfriend’s tears.

        The Insanity:

        Well, the only apparent “disease” she has is the disease of mortality, and we have all vastly underestimated how much Andrew Marvell wants to bone this girl. Displaying a clear understanding of the kind of imagery that gets women in the mood, Marvell follows the traditional death-obsessed poet’s line of “we’ll both eventually die” to its logical conclusion:

        Thy beauty shall no more be found,
        Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
        My echoing song; then worms shall try
        That long preserved virginity,

        The virginity part is symbolic of fleeting life, and Marvell needing to jerk off more regularly.

        No, you’re not misunderstanding the text by applying some perverse 21st-century lens to an innocent 17th-century poem. Andrew Marvell 100 percent just said, “You should let me have sex with you, because hey, eventually worms are going to eat your vagina, and I’m better than worms.” Did they have restraining orders back then? Or is this poem the reason they were invented?

        “Excuse me, constable? Yeah, it’s the ‘marble vault’ guy again.”

        #5. John Donne Compares His Dick To A Flea To Get A Woman To Have Sex With Him

        You might not recognize John Donne by name, but he’s the guy responsible for some of classic literature’s most famous dreary phrases, such as “Death Be Not Proud,” “Ask Not For Whom The Bell Tolls, It Tolls For Thee,” and “No Man Is An Island.” But those works were in the later half of Donne’s life, when he was sick and/or on his deathbed, listening to a whole lot of The Cure. John Donne’s early works were all about weird sex metaphors. “How weird?” you may ask, expositorily. Well, imagine David Cronenberg drawing a hardcore pornography flip book on a stack of missing person fliers.

        The Insanity:

        In “The Comparison,” Donne contrasts the girl he loves with the girl his friend loves, and does so with arguably the grossest lines in the history of classical poetry:

        Rank sweaty froth thy mistress’ brow defiles,
        Like spermatic issue of ripe menstruous boils

        “Thine mudflaps doth sag below for miles.”

        He uses the pus from infected vagina boils to describe his friend’s lady, which, by pretty much any standard, is only slightly more artful than a tired “yo mamma” joke. Also, it doesn’t even rhyme. But perhaps the weirdest thing in Donne’s holster is a poem called “The Flea,” which is about him trying to woo a woman who isn’t feeling it:

        Mark but this flea, and mark in this,
        How little that which thou deniest me is;
        It suck’d me first, and now sucks thee,
        And in this flea our two bloods mingled be.
        Thou know’st that this cannot be said
        A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead;
        Yet this enjoys before it woo,
        And pamper’d swells with one blood made of two;
        And this, alas! is more than we would do.

        “Have you tried talking to women without the fucking hat?”

        Donne, tapping into a longstanding notion of romance, laments that they each let the flea suck on them, when (see if you can follow the complex literary use of metaphor here) they should be sucking on each other. When that ploy somehow doesn’t work, Donne follows it up by noting that the blood-engorged flea is not unlike his swollen boner. You know, a parasite.

        #4. Macbeth Pauses For A Soliloquy About Erectile Dysfunction

        Shakespeare’s Macbeth is considered one of the greatest tragedies ever written (“tragedy” is a term here meaning “a story in which everyone dies”). It’s full of hauntings and insanity and beheadings, which is to say it’s super dope but about as bleak as the fourth season of The Wire. Not a lot of jokes or japes to lighten the mood in Macbeth.

        Though we’d pay good money to see a dramatic reading by Senator Clay Davis.

        The Insanity:

        Except for one inexplicable scene in the middle of the play wherein a drunk doorman delivers a protracted lecture about the horrors of whiskey dick:

        Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes;
        it provokes the desire, but it takes
        away the performance: therefore, much drink
        may be said to be an equivocator with lechery:
        it makes him, and it mars him; it sets
        him on, and it takes him off; it persuades him,
        and disheartens him; makes him stand to, and
        not stand to

        This character does not appear before giving this speech, and after it is finished, he is never seen again. It has absolutely no bearing on the plot, and in fact it hinders the progress of the story by holding up two characters who are busy trying to discover the King’s dead body. Shakespeare shoehorned in a 13-line speech about how alcohol makes you want to bone and cruelly paralyzes your wiener at the last minute.

        “This aside is brought to you by Dr. Jonathan’s Swift Stiff Love Potion.”

        This is a case where we’d like to think if Shakespeare had an editor, they’d have politely suggested, “Hey, maybe we don’t need to bring this whole thing to a screeching halt so this guy can complain about how liquor makes his wiener all floppy?” But then Shakespeare would be all, “I AM WILLIAM FUCKING SHAKESPEARE! You think I need your advice? I’ve invented hundreds of new words, you fartling wiffleshit.”

        Read more:

        North Dakota Pipeline Spills An Estimated 176,000 Gallons Of Oil

        About 150 miles from where thousands have protested for months that the Dakota Access pipeline could threaten a Sioux tribe’s water supply, a pipeline in the western part of North Dakota has spilled more than 130,000 gallons of oil into a creek, state officials said.

        In all, the Belle Fourche pipeline lost 4,200 barrels of crude oil, or more than 176,000 gallons, before operators shut it down, according to state Department of Health spokeswoman Jennifer Skjod. Most of the oil flowed into the Ash Coulee Creek near Belfield, Skjod said.

        It’s unclear what caused the break, according to Wendy Owen, a spokeswoman for Wyoming-based True Companies, which owns the pipeline. A landowner discovered the leak Dec. 5. The company uses monitoring technology designed to detect leaks, but it possibly failed because of “the intermittent nature of the flow” of oil through the pipeline, Owen said.

        A blizzard last week has impeded efforts to assess the spill’s extent and its impact on the environment. The creek is frozen. Officials are investigating when the pipeline, which typically carried 1,000 barrels of oil per day, started to leak.

        “We have no estimate on when or if it will be operational,” Skjod said of the pipleline.

        The Associated Press reported the company has declared 36 other spills since 2006, totaling more than 320,000 gallons of petroleum products. 

        The area is west of where the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies have fought construction on the Dakota Access pipeline, which had been expected to cross under Lake Oahe, a plan that is now on hold. The Sioux have argued that a pipeline rupture could contaminate the water supply and damage sacred lands. 

        The Barack Obama administration announced last week that it would not grant an easement to developer Energy Transfer Partners to build the final section of the Dakota Access pipeline. The developer has expressed confidence that the project will be completed after President-elect Donald Trump takes office. 

        Read more:

        Study Reveals That Women With Big Butts Are Smarter and Healthier

        Via: Elite Daily

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        How Pornography is Changing Millennial Men (Hint, The Sex Is Worse, Much Worse)

        Technically, I live in Los Angeles County. They make a lot of movies here. They make a lot of pornography here, too, though that is changing. A law passed in 2012, Measure B (technically the County of Los Angeles Safer Sex In the Adult Film Industry Act), requires male pornographic actors to wear condoms. It also requires adult film productions to obtain health permits before shooting. Violations of this ordinance will result in civil fines and criminal charges.

        Porn is a big money maker, or at least it was until the internet made its product freely available, and what weve gained in health weve lost in production revenue. Film LA estimates that porn permits in the county have declined 95 percent since Measure B took effect, and most studios are moving their business to Las Vegas.

        I live in LA county, but Im often in Orange County. The parties are different, more laid back, and the beer is cheaper. While sitting on the back of a couch with a friend of a friend, I found myself sucked into that black hole of the house party wherein the subject gradually shifts from good-humored superficiality to stark, surprising seriousness.

        The girl asked me what I thought about porn.

        I shrugged and said it was out there, that I had seen plenty of it in college where clips were shared and discussed and even bookmarked by roommates, but that since college it rarely came up in conversation and, since moving in with my girlfriend, rarely came up on my screen. I laughed. She didnt laugh. Rather, she smiled and took me deeper into her embattled psyche.

        She described for me the awkward conversations and situations shed found herself in with men shed dated in the past few years, their misunderstanding of what she wanted in bed, their condescending attitudes to condoms, their ignorance of foreplay, their roughness – the things they said to her, the way they treated her. I was a few shades short of puzzled until I realized she was genuinely, acutely upset. All it had taken was a few cans of PBR and suddenly I was in a confessional with a girl who loved sex and hated what it had become.

        Im on the farther end of the Millennial spectrum, twenty-eight, and while free porn was available while I was losing my virginity, it was never a factor during those halcyon years. First of all, I lived at home with two siblings and a conservative single mother and limited computer access. Second of all, I tried to spend as little time at home and as much time riding in cars with girls as possible. I was committed to physical and emotional exploration in the real world. But I seem to be one of the last survivors of a twilight sexual ethic.

        Pornography: Everywhere, All the Time

        Browsing through Reddit, surfing down a video comments section, and perusing the general offerings of internet web series, one gets the sense that pornography has jumped from smutty sub-culture to generally acceptable pastime – at least among young males. And thats bled over into the real world. Its not only in your dorm room, its in your American Apparel ads.

        The internet is both a blessing and a curse to our generation. On the one hand, we have an instant connection to everything: information and people alike. There is more free entertainment and oddness than one person can possibly browse in their lifetime, and that is part of its dark charm. But that darkness is vast, and browsers can easily lose themselves in a sea of links.

        It is easier to communicate via text, it is easier to keep in touch online and it has always been easier and will always be easier to passively consume rather than actively pursue.

        The internet is a second world in itself, one which delivers at the click of a button. The stress and disappointments of life cannot compete with it. That may sound excessively dire, but the convenience of this second world has altered men both socially and sexually.

        Japan: Losing Human Sexual Contact

        In 2008, Japans Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare conducted a survey on male-female relations. They found that 17.5 percent of men between the ages of 16-19 had no interest in sex or have an aversion to it, with 11.8 percent of 20-24-year-olds reporting the same. Arguably, these are the ages when men are at their absolute randiest. One young man said that the problem was not that he lacked a sex drive but that having sex with someone is just too much of a bother.

        Virtual sex is much more convenient, and virtual women, pillows stamped with the images of anime characters and sexual Real Dolls, have become popular enough that there is an entire subculture of men dedicated to them – not only in Japan but in America as well.

        Dr. Kunio Kitamura, an obstetrician and gynecologist, has treated young men who complain of erectile dysfunction, a condition that typically affects males over the age of 50. Kitamura reports that the sex they watch online has left them with a bad taste in their mouth for human sexual contact, but their frequent masturbation has satisf[ied] all their sexual needs. They have been absorbed into the second world, with very physical consequences.

        The Retreating Male Libido

        Naomi Wolf, writing in New York Magazine, recalls the warning of Andrea Dworkin, a prominent anti-porn activist in the 1980s. Dworkin feared that easy access to pornography would turn men into monsters. But Wolf has discovered just the opposite.

        What women are experiencing is pornographys gradual mission creep, a Pavlovian buzz (the male, onanistic orgasm) that lowers the value of real, willing but imperfect sexual partners in favor of an endless stream of ever-more-transgressive images of cybersex slaves.

        Is it really so bad as that?

        Pornography Becomes Addictive

        Physical addiction creates chemical changes in the body. Adrenaline, testosterone, epinephrine, these are triggered when a person achieves a high from drugs or alcohol. The same chemicals are triggered during a sexual high. The same reward pathways light up, the same relief is received and, over time, the same stimulus is not enough to satisfy it. The more you put in, the more your body can tolerate.

        The Italian Society of Andrology and Sexual Medicine studied 20,000 men who had begun watching pornography in their early teens. What they found was that by their middle twenties, some of these men had developed sexual anorexia. Sex itself gradually became stripped of enjoyment, their lust secondary to the compulsiveness of the masturbatory act. Moreover, the types of pornography they searched for became more hardcore over time. They built up an immunity to what they saw.

        Rewiring the Brain

        Doctor William Struthers of the University of Illinois at Chicago found that men who fall deeper into the mental habit of fixating on [pornographic images] create neural pathways that set the course for the next time an erotic image is viewed. Over time these neural paths become wider as they are repeatedly traveled with each exposure to pornography. They become the automatic pathway through which interactions with woman are routed.

        In this way, the act of viewing pornography objectifies women into a step in the process of achieving the addictive rush (i.e. orgasm). Porn, writes Struthers, turns sex into masturbation. In these cases, when real sexual relationships occur, there is no reciprocative intimacy, only a compulsive, self-serving need. A point-and-click routine.

        The Italian study posits that, apart from the sheer taboo of it, pornography may be used by young men to counteract feelings of inadequacy or emotional torment they may have experienced. But while it may initially be used as an escape, Struthers further claims that it has lasting psychological and physiological effects. Men who are addicted to porn became controlling, highly introverted, have high anxiety, low self-esteem, depression and experience disassociation from real life.

        Turning Sex into a Product

        In Pornified, Pamela Paul relates similar findings of psychologists at Texas A&M: Pornography gives men the false impression that sex and pleasure are entirely divorced from relationships.

        This is further explored by Robert Weiss, founding director of the Sexual Recovery Institute. He writes,

        All of this, according to Texas A&M, combines to turn sex into a product to consume, something to be obtained (often for free), used and discarded.

        The Internet Is for Porn?

        A popular myth about the internet is that it is anywhere from one-third to 80 percent pornography. In 2011, Forbes dispelled the myth by consulting neuroscientist Ogi Ogas who, along with his colleague Sai Gaddam, amassed the largest collection of online pornography statistics in the world. According to them, a mere four percent of the internet is actually porn.

        That four percent, however, gets a lot of mileage. In 2013, Paint Bottle put together an infographic on porn usage, discovering that porn sites received 450 million visitors per month, which is more than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined.

        In this article, Ive briefly touched on the physical and psychological effects of pornography on young males of the Millennial generation, also known as Generation Y. It is my contention that this generations issue with pornography is the same issue it confronts at every entertainment venue: .

        Outfitted with a mobile arsenal of internet-enabled gadgets, Millennials are exposed to more news, entertainment and titillation than at any point in recorded history. The internet is so bound up into the fabric of day-to-day life that not participating in that abyssal sea of data must be an active choice. But its easy to forget what ones options are when one has infinite options.

        Pornography is an extension of the internet; it does not exist by itself. And accessing pornography requires virtually no effort. There are no tolls, no restrictions and an endlessly updating stream of new content. Like the internet itself, it is a messy, perpetually gushing fountain, pun absolutely intended.

        The question that needs to be asked is not whether porn is good or bad for an individual but how much choice young men have in what they are now being exposed to. The internet is teaching entirely new and passive methods of socialization, entirely passively, and all that is required to learn from it is sitting down and staring at a computer screen for hours on end.

        The Twin Dangers of Addiction and Enculturation

        Human beings are naturally curious, and were most curious about those things that excite us. Its not surprising at all to believe the internet is mostly pornography, because sex is the most basic of the many addictions the internet enables. The danger of its porn is not only that it provides a stimulus without effort but also that that stimulus comes pre-packaged with a misogynistic philosophy.

        The best example of this comes from Adam Savage (of Myth Busters fame) in an episode of The Moth. While trying to teach his son about sex in the age of digital pornography, he explains to his audience that he finally realized this disturbing truth:

        How Pornography Is Changing Millennial Women

        I do not have anything approaching the time and resources to definitively say whether or not the internet hates women, nor to conclude with any certainty that internet pornography is destroying young mens brains. What I can definitely say, however, is that the availability of internet porn has changed us – how we view sex, how we pursue sex, how we have sex. And whenever I hear this notion dismissed, I think back on that party in Orange County, those few cans of PBR, and that friend of a friend sitting on the back of a couch. She really enjoyed sex, but she hadnt felt comfortable having sex with a man in a very long time.

        As Naomi Wolf wrote,

        Im sure to some readers that all sounds quite boring.

        Read more:

        Teenage boys wear skirts to school to protest against ‘no shorts’ policy

        Dozens of pupils at Isca academy in Exeter stage uniform protest after school insists they wear trousers despite heatwave

        Some had borrowed from girlfriends, others from sisters. A few had gone the extra mile and shaved their legs. When the Isca academy in Devon opened on Thursday morning, an estimated 30 boys arrived for lessons, heads held high, in fetching tartan-patterned skirts. The hottest June days since 1976 had led to a bare-legged revolution at the secondary school in Exeter.

        As the temperature soared past 30C earlier this week, the teenage boys had asked their teachers if they could swap their long trousers for shorts. They were told no shorts werent permitted under the schools uniform policy.

        When they protested that the girls were allowed bare legs, the school no doubt joking said the boys were free to wear skirts too if they chose. So on Wednesday, a handful braved the giggles and did so. The scale of the rebellion increased on Thurday, when at least 30 boys opted for the attire.

        Quite refreshing was how one of the boys described the experience, pointing out that if even Royal Ascot had allowed racegoers in the royal enclosure to remove their jackets, then the school ought to relax its dress code. Another said he rather enjoyed the nice breeze his skirt had afforded him.

        A third, tall boy said he was told his short skirt exposed too much hairy leg. Some of the boys visited a shop on their way to Isca the name the Romans gave to Exeter to pick up razors to make sure they did not fall foul of any beauty police.

        Ironically, the temperature had dropped in Exeter to a more manageable 20C, but some boys said they had enjoyed the freedom afforded by the skirts and that they might continue.

        The school said it was prepared to think again in the long term. The headteacher, Aimee Mitchell, said: We recognise that the last few days have been exceptionally hot and we are doing our utmost to enable both students and staff to remain as comfortable as possible.

        Shorts are not currently part of our uniform for boys, and I would not want to make any changes without consulting both students and their families. However, with hotter weather becoming more normal, I would be happy to consider a change for the future.

        It was too late. The revolution was picked up by media organisations across the globe, and Devon county council was forced to help the school out with inquiries. A spokesperson said: About 30 boys arrived at school this morning wearing school skirts. None of the boys have been penalised no one was put in isolation or detention for wearing a skirt.

        The mother of one of the boys who began the protest said she was proud of him. Claire Lambeth, 43, said her son Ryan, 15, had come home earlier in the week complaining about the heat. He said it was unbearable. I spoke to a teacher to ask about shorts and she said it was school policy [that they could not be worn]. I did say this was exceptional weather, but they were having none of it. If girls can wear skirts, why cant boys wear shorts?

        Ryan came up with the idea of wearing a skirt, so that evening we borrowed one. He wore it the next day as did five other boys. Then this morning I didnt expect it to take off like that. The school is being silly really this is exceptional weather. I was very proud of Ryan. I think it was a great idea.

        Another mother said: My 14-year-old son wanted to wear shorts. The headteacher told them: Well, you can wear a skirt if you like but I think she was being sarcastic. However, children tend to take you literally, and because she told them it was OK, there was nothing she could do as long as they were school skirts.

        A third mother said: Children also dont like injustice. The boys see the female teachers in sandals and nice cool skirts and tops while they are wearing long trousers and shoes and the older boys have to wear blazers. They just think its unfair that they cant wear shorts in this heat.

        There were signs that the revolution might be spreading. The Guardian has heard of at least one more school in Wiltshire where one boy turned up in a skirt, although it did not go down quite so well with his friends.

        And schoolboys were not the only ones making controversial dress choices because of the heat. Michael Wood, who works as a porter at Watford general hospital, claimed he was facing disciplinary action from his employers Medirest for rolling his trousers up to try to cool down. A spokesperson for the company declined to comment on the case, but said: The health and safety of our colleagues is always our number one priority.

        What happened to summer school uniforms? Matthew Easter, managing director of the schoolwear supplier Trutex, said they had become less popular for reasons of economy. Its really up to the individual school to decide, but the headteacher is in a difficult position. A decade or so ago, summer wear was more popular, but theres been a change recently to try to make uniforms as economical as possible. Summer uniforms are only worn for a matter of weeks.

        If parents havent bought uniform shorts, then some children may feel disadvantaged, so perhaps the decision in this case is simply down to fairness.

        It may be that the weather will solve the problem for the school. The Exeter-based Met Office situated up the road from the school predicts pleasant, but not searing, temperatures over the coming week.

        Read more:

        5 Things You Learn About Sex As A Sex Therapist

        Sex is great, until it’s not, and then it’s really, really not. Problems in bed can have a huge impact on your whole life. Not that we’d know anything about that. We’re, uh … typing for a friend right now. A distant friend. You probably don’t know them. They’re Canadian. Anyway, for totally not-personal reasons, we found ourselves talking to Amber, a licensed sex therapist. Here’s what she told us about human sex in general …

        #5. Sexual Dysfunction Is Rarely Physical

        If your basement bar closes down early, you might think something physical is going on. It’s probably not. As Amber put it, “A lot of people, they’ll often go to a doctor first for a sexual problem, and they’ll get referred to me. [Sexual dysfunction] can have a whole range of causes, but it’s usually some kind of psychological issue. A big misconception is that people will think there’s something wrong with their body, but that’s rarely the case.”

        Spoiler: The magical sex pills that fix everything are still a fantasy of your spam folder.

        We’ve previously discussed — in what some might call excessive detail — a condition called vaginismus, in which your lube tube holds its breath and refuses to let go. Well, nervous pants parts aren’t just for the ladies. Concerning erectile dysfunction, for example, Amber explains: “It can be that they’re stressed from work, or they’re having an affair, so they feel guilty and have trouble performing.”

        She remembers one particular client who was confused about why all the men with whom she was cheating on her husband seemed to be having difficulty rising to the challenge: “She’d say, ‘I’m starting to get very self-conscious, because these men I bring home, sometimes they have a hard time getting erections, and I don’t know if I’m unattractive or what.’ We figured out that the root of the problem was that she was bringing them into her husband’s house … It’s very difficult to perform under those conditions.”

        “Uh, one more time: How many guns did you say husband has?”

        In other words, you may not need to get a prescription, so much as you need to stop doing literally everything else that you are doing. Good lord, lady.

        On the other end of the spectrum, Amber says, “such a high percentage of the time with premature ejaculation, it’s a psychological thing, usually an anxiety thing — men being really worried about their own performance and getting caught up in their own heads.”

        “Thinking about baseball” won’t result in anything but having to explain why you accidentally called her A-Rod.

        If you’re a generally healthy person, but your peep is on the fritz anyway, you’re probably looking at some time on the couch. Treatment for psychologically-driven sexual dysfunction involves “work[ing] out the root cause of where this anxiety might be coming from and separating that event from future events.”

        Ah, see, we knew it had something to with the future! And our prom date said that “time travelers stole my mojo” was the dumbest excuse they ever heard …

        #4. Sometimes, The Solutions Will Be Physical

        Having sex is like riding a bicycle: You can prepare as much as you want, but the only way to learn is to get out there and do it and fail miserably for a while until you get it right. That’s why treatment for sexual dysfunction will often include a combination of regular counseling sessions as well as practical exercises, some of which sound like medieval torture.

        For premature ejaculation specifically, “there’s the squeeze technique, where they get close to ejaculating and then squeeze the head of the penis really hard. It sounds unpleasant, but it reconditions the body to respond a different way.”

        Added bonus: For you, every bottle now becomes a twist off.

        The squeeze technique is pretty effective, as our absolutely real Canadian friend assures us. But a lot of men are averse to crushing the little soldier’s helmet. For the squeamish, there’s also the “stop-start technique,” which is a hands-free upgrade that involves taking strategically timed breaks from the action. For women with vaginismus, there’s dilation therapy, which involves inserting progressively larger dilators (basically, tiny dildos). You can do breathing exercises until you pass out, but in order to know if they work, you’re gonna have to shove something up there, and you probably don’t want it attached to a person who is definitely judging you. That’s why …

        #3. A Therapist Can Bring Someone In to Have Sex With You

        They’re called surrogate partners.

        “They’re normally used if somebody is having problems working up to touching another person or having trouble with angles or penetration,” Amber says. “They work out positional stuff, how to penetrate someone and where to touch, and they’re helpful for getting immediate feedback as well … Sometimes they’re former sex workers. Not always, but sometimes.”

        As therapy goes, it sure beats the shit out of the ink blot test.

        Amber hasn’t had the pleasure of working with surrogate partners herself. “It’s actually, from what I have seen, more common in the States than [here in] Australia,” she says. But do we look like people who don’t know how to track down some professional sex-havers?! You bet your ass we did it.

        Let’s just say we know a thing or two about it.

        According to Larry, a surrogate partner who worked primarily with “abuse survivors, grieving people, [and] people who never had an orgasm,” therapeutic sex is a whole lot different from a routine booty call. He’s had extensive training, because when it comes to these vulnerable populations, fucking someone wrong can fuck them up. In fact, it may be weeks before you even get naked.

        “The first appointment, I’ll take a sexual history, and then we start with a hand caress. Then she’ll go to her therapist and process that. The next session is what we call face caress, which is when we lean back against each other’s chest, maybe with a pillow in between … and we’ll take turns caressing each other’s faces and talk about what was pleasurable, what was anxiety-inducing. The exercises get more and more intimate … It can last anywhere from eight weeks to sometimes two years.”

        Yup, two years. Sorry, reader who “Just totally had the best idea ever!”

        Taking these microscopic baby steps is necessary for gaining trust and establishing intimacy, something those of us who go around mashing genitals without any supervision are bad at. “In real life,” Larry says, “we move too fast. We have dinner or something and then we want sex.”

        As a result of all this long-term care, a lot of clients become very attached to their surrogates, which is wholeheartedly encouraged. Larry says “it’s normal — there’s love, there’s physical intimacy, I may be their first partner.” He’s maintained relationships with a lot of former clients — but like everything else involved in sex therapy, only within strict parameters. Exchanging Christmas Cards is fine; exchanging bodily fluids is less so. So normal holiday mailing list rules, then.

        #2. Communication Is The Biggest Problem

        Sometimes, the problem doesn’t stem from any one person so much as a relationship itself. “There’s a lot of crossover with relationship therapy,” Amber says. “Sometimes, one will refer to the other. They don’t know how to talk to each other, and they suffer as a result. A lot of people are really afraid to ask for what they want, so they end up being really dissatisfied during sex.”

        It might seem simple enough in the heat of the moment to shout out “Fondle my kneecap, Mr. Belvedere!” And good for you if it does, but some people have problems with their “sexual scripts.” We all share a cultural script that we learn through talking to other people, and from Hollywood and porn. But then we develop another script through our own experiences, and those tend to be quite different.

        “What do you mean ‘What’s with the pumpkin?’ If you’re a virgin, you could’ve just told me.”

        It’s easy to start thinking that your script is the script, tricking you into thinking you know what you’re doing. And why not? Sex should be easy, right? It’s a natural bodily function. Do you need someone to explain to you how to eat and poop every time you do it? Of course not, you’re a very experienced eater and pooper, thank you. But then we get our brains all wrapped up in that function, and it’s a whole different story. Sometimes, you need to wipe the slate entirely clean.

        You already do it with your browser history after porn. Simply start doing it with your brain.

        Uh, do try to find somebody you already love and trust for that one, though. “Can I touch your skin for half an hour?” is possibly the worst pickup line we can imagine.

        #1. People Don’t Know A Lot About Sex

        According to Amber: “Some people orgasm just from having their skin stroked. There’s I think 12-14 different ways a women can orgasm.” Which is about 12-14 more ways than we knew about.

        To be fair, our calculations usually consist of one number.

        For women: “There’s the clitoris, vaginal opening, penetration … nipples, anal, mouth — there are some people who orgasm from either kissing, or if they’re performing oral sex and get really into it, they can orgasm that way as well. It’s amazing how many different ways there are.”

        You can usually spot the guys who’ve managed to inspire that last one.

        Ever wandered into the shampoo aisle of a grocery store and become frozen for choice? You just want something to clean your hair, and suddenly you’re presented with 1756 bizarre concoctions vying for your attention? Well, sex is a bit like that. Adding to the confusion: If we don’t have problems, we’ll still make some up.

        Amber explains: “People come in and say they have premature ejaculation problems, and I’ll ask them how long they last, and they say ‘Only 10 minutes.’ Well, the average is seven minutes. Premature ejaculation is usually anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes.”

        “So get the stopwatch out of the bedroom and stop making this weird for everybody.”

        Explaining how we all got into this sticky mess, Amber points to a culture that discourages sexual exploration. Like any good therapist, she specifically blames your mother. “Parents will do things like see their child masturbating and say ‘That’s dirty, stop doing that.’ A lot of men will have trouble orgasming while they’re masturbating because they feel guilty about it for that reason. A lot of women are shamed for masturbating, so they don’t know what they like sexually. They’ll say ‘Oh, I just do whatever my partner does.’ That can even manifest in things like inability to orgasm altogether.” The crux of her job, she says, is “teaching people to be positive about their sexuality.”

        So that’s the key to a healthy sex life, everyone: Stop feeling bad about that weird, weird shit you like. Even if it’s super weird. Like that one thing you’re into. You know the thing.

        Read more:

        With 1 male left worldwide, northern white rhinos under guard 24 hours

        Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya (CNN)At first glance, Sudan looks like any other northern white rhino: stout and agile, with square lips.

        He grazes under the hot sun, his massive head lowered to the ground, at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in central Kenya.
        When he’s not napping in his enclosure, he waddles around the sprawling savannah, stopping briefly to drink water from a concrete hole.
          But Sudan is not just any rhino. He’s the last known male northern white rhino left in the world.
          For an animal on the verge of extinction, the fate of the subspecies rests on his ability to conceive with the two female northern white rhinos at the conservancy.

          24-hour security


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          Sudan’s female companions, Fatu and Najin, live at the conservancy, where experts are scrambling to ensure the subspecies does not go extinct.
          The animals are under 24-hour protection by armed guards. Rhinos are targeted by poachers, fueled by the belief in Asia that their horns cure various ailments. Experts say the rhino horn is becoming more lucrative than drugs.
          In addition to round-the-clock security, the conservancy has put radio transmitters on the animals and dispatches incognito rangers into neighboring communities to gather intelligence on poaching.
          The conservancy is also raising funds to help equip and train rangers who guard the rhinos.

          On the verge of extinction

          At 42, Sudan is elderly in rhino years. Fatu, 15, is a spring chicken, while Najin is 25.
          Though the three northern white rhinos are physiologically healthy, age might be a factor, says George Paul, the deputy veterinarian at the conservancy.
          “Sudan is currently old and may not be able to naturally mount and mate with a female,” he says.
          In addition, he has a low sperm count, which complicates natural and scientific efforts, experts say.
          Najin could conceive, but her hind legs are so weak, she may be unable to support a mounted male.
          “There has been recorded mating between different pairs over the last few years, but not conceptions,” Paul says. “Based on a recent health examination conducted, both animals have a regular estrus cycle, but no conception has been recorded.”
          And if one is not recorded soon, the beloved animal will go extinct.

          Alternative methods to conceive

          In a race against time, international experts are resorting to science to try to sustain the subspecies.
          The northern white rhino cannot mate with a black rhino, but there is a chance it could mate with a southern white rhino, Paul says. While southern white rhinos are not endangered — Ol Pejeta has 19 — they are a different subspecies from the northern white rhino genetically. Though the offspring would not be 100% northern white rhino, it would be better than nothing, experts say.
          A committee at the conservancy is also looking at various alternative reproduction techniques, including in vitro fertilization.
          “In other countries, success has been achieved with embryo transfer in a different rhino species, thus that, as a technique, can be presupposed to be the most promising,” Paul says. “However, consultations are ongoing amongst different reproductive technique experts on the way forward.”

          Countdown to extinction

          The need to preserve the northern white rhino is dire.
          “Realistically, we are looking at these animals dying in the next decade or so. But hopefully, using artificial methods of reproduction, we might be able to bring them back in the future,” Paul says. “This might mean that it will happen when the current animals are already deceased, but it could happen.”
          The conservancy acquired the northern white rhinos — two males and two females — in 2009 from a zoo in the Czech Republic. Suni, the other male northern white rhino at the conservancy, died last year.
          There are no known northern white rhinos left in the wild. A total of three remain in captivity worldwide — all in Kenya,
          Sudan, the only male left, is in a company of one.

          Read more:

          A comic that accurately sums up depression and anxiety and the uphill battle of living with them

          Sarah Flanigan has been fighting depression since she was 10 years old and anxiety since she was 16. “I wish everyone knew that depression is not something that people can just ‘snap out of,'” she explains. “I mean, if I could ‘snap out of it,’ I would have by now.”

          Depression and anxiety disorders are real illnesses. Mental illnesses are not “in someone’s head,” they’re not something a person can “just get over,” and they affect so many of us over 40 million people in the U.S. alone.

          Despite how common they are, it’s still really difficult to explain to people who may have never experienced a mental illness.

          Enter: cute, clever illustrations that get the job done.

          Nick Seluk, who creates the amazing comics at The Awkward Yeti, heard from reader Sarah Flanigan. She shared her story of depression and anxiety with him. If it could help even one person, she said, it would be worth it.

          Nick turned her story into a fantastic comic that perfectly captures the reality of living with depression and anxiety.

          “I’ve been through and seen depression and anxiety in action, and thought Sarah’s story was so perfectly simple,” he told me. “We all get sick physically and mentally, but we need to be open to talking (and laughing) about [it].”

          I couldn’t agree more, and I think this comic will resonate with a lot of people.

          Simple yet powerful, right?

          “The hardest part of living with depression and anxiety for me is feeling like I have to hide it,” Sarah said. “I’ve always been known as the happy one in my group of friends. Everyone’s always so shocked when I tell them I have depression or they see the self-harm scars.”

          “It’s much harder than it should be to say, ‘Hey, I have depression and I’ve been struggling with self-harm since I was 10 and I just really need your support to get me through tonight,'” Sarah explained.

          Let’s all keep working to make it easier for our friends, family members, and ourselves to get support. Let’s keep talking about it.

          Read more:

          5 Most common types of cancer and their symptoms

          Cancer is a deadly disease that affects an enormous amount of people every year.

          Treatments are touch and go, but detection is really the key so the treatments can be applied as quickly as possible. Here are common forms of cancer and the early warning signs to look for.

          1. Breast Cancer

          This is the most common non-skin type of cancer as 1 out of 8 women have chances of developing it. The main sign is a node in the breast tissue. Pain in the arms is another sign. Men also can get breast cancer and the same node in the breast tissue can be a sign of such as well as nipple discharge.

          Detected early, breast cancer can be treated.

          2. Prostate Cancer

          Located below the bladder, in front of the rectum, prostate glands in part are responsible for semen production. Prostate cancer can be treated when detected early. Diagnosis has helped greatly in successful treatment.
          Men over 50 should especially get a regular prostate check. Usual signs are blood in stool, erectile dysfunction and an ejaculation that is painful. 100 percent recovery can be had if detection is early.

          3. Cervical Cancer

          When cancer cells confine to the surface of the cervix and eventually spread to the uterus, pelvis walls, and lower vagina (eventually reaching the lungs and liver at final stages) thats when cervical cancer takes place. Vaginal bleeding and pelvic pain are common signs while advance stage signs include weight loss, body pain and urine or faeces leakage from the vagina. Those twice as likely to get cervical cancer are women who have had two or more full-term pregnancies and those who had their first full-term pregnancy before 17.

          While some types of sexual behavior may lead to this as well, the most common cause is infection of the cervix with human papillomavirus. A routine Pap test is the ideal way for early detection.

          4. Oral Cancer

          Oral cancer consists of swelling or thickening of lips or bumps that protrude on the lips. Red or white velvety or speckled patches in the mouth can also be a sign as the mouth may start to bleed for seemingly no reason.

          For prevention and detection, regular oral hygiene is highly recommended as well as regular checkups. If you are a smoker you should especially be aware, since their is a higher risk for smokers.

          5. Skin cancer

          Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma are the common types of skin cancer and they usually are easily visible, thus making chances of early detection really good.

          Basically it comes down to melanoma or non melanoma as far as skin cancer goes.

          The non melanoma look like patches on the neck which are translucent. If on the chest it will be reddish brown and as it develops, crusty, bleeding skin will form.

          The melanoma skin cancer will come through in moles, patches and any change in the texture of skin or the color.

          Basically any change in skin appearance should be looked at, even the most little change you should take serious.

          The most important thing is early detection along with regular health checkups in order to catch cancer as quickly as possible so you can start treatment to get rid of it. Keep your health in check and be aware of any changes that take place. Prevention is very important and certainly better than having to go through treatments, especially in the late stages.

          Read more:

          Here are 5 things you may regret at the end of your life, from a nurse who works with the dying.

          You might think watching people die would depress a person. It actually taught her how to live.

          Bronnie Ware spent years as a palliative care nurse, helping patients be as comfortable as possible in the time just before their deaths. She compiled their stories and the most repeated regrets she heard them utter in their final days.

          Do you ever imagine what the final years and months and days of your life will be like?

          Shared originally on her blog, ”
          Inspiration and Chai,” here are the top five regrets, with quotes from her blog as she recorded them.

          Regret #1: I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

          Look at yourself in the mirror. Are you living your best life right now? What’s stopping you?

          Dreaming of living a different life than the one you have now? Image by
          Jorge Royan.

          “This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.” Bronnie Ware

          Regret #2: I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

          This one speaks for itself.

          That desk looks like instant stress before the workday has even started. Image by
          Alan Cleaver/Flickr.

          Regret #3: I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

          What if getting the words out is essential to your growth as a human?

          Feelings aren’t just useless emotions. Expressing them can be the first step to self-actuating and becoming a newer version of yourself. Image by
          Garry Knight/Flickr.

          “Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming.” Bronnie Ware

          Regret #4: I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

          Is there someone you treasure who you haven’t spoken with in much too long?

          They’re so important to us and somehow we think that “life” getting in the way is a good enough reason to go without seeing them. Image by
          Jason Hutchens.

          “Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.” Bronnie Ware

          Regret #5: I wish that I had let myself be happier.

          If you didn’t wake up joyful today, why not? What can you do to change that?

          Who was the last person you giggled ridiculously with? Call them. Right now. Image by
          Adina Voicu.

          “This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.” Bronnie Ware

          Were there any regrets on this list that felt familiar to you? Others that you didn’t see listed?

          These are five universal wake-up calls we all need to be reminded of.
          There’s no shame in tagging all the friends you need to call when you share this.

          Read more:

          Aldi confirms up to 100% horsemeat in beef products

          Supermarket says it is angry with supplier Comigel after tests reveal 30% and 100% horsemeat in withdrawn ready meals

          The environment secretary is due to meet the Food Standards Agency, food suppliers and retailers on Saturday to discuss the horsemeat scandal after Aldi became the latest supermarket to confirm its withdrawn beef products contained up to 100% horsemeat.

          Owen Paterson said it was unacceptable that consumers were mis-sold products, but that the problems originated overseas.

          “We believe that the two particular cases of the frozen burgers from Tesco and the lasagne from Findus are linked to suppliers in Ireland and France respectively. We and the Food Standards Agency are working closely with the authorities in these countries, as well as with Europol, to get to the root of the problem,” he said.

          Paterson said he believed the food was safe but urged consumers to return products to the retailers. “The French authorities are saying they are viewing the issue as a case of fraud rather than food safety. Anyone who has these products in their freezer should return them to retailers as a precaution.”.

          Findus denied reports that the company first knew there was horsemeat in its products last year.

          “Findus want to be absolutely explicit that they were not aware of any issue of contamination with horsemeat last year,” it said in a statement. “They were only made aware of a possible August 2012 date through a letter dated 2 February 2013 from the supplier Comigel. By then Findus was already conducting a full supply chain traceability review and had pro-actively initiated DNA testing.”

          The Metropolitan police said in a statement it was not carrying out a criminal investigation. “Although we have met with the FSA we have not started an investigation and will not do so unless it becomes clear there has been any criminality under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan police service.”

          Aldi said it felt “angry and let down” by its French supplier Comigel after tests on Today’s Special frozen beef lasagne and Today’s Special frozen spaghetti bolognese found they contained between 30% and 100% horsemeat.

          Comigel, which also produced the contaminated Findus beef lasagnes, has blamed its suppliers. Erick Lehagre said he believed his company was buying French beef from a company called Spanghero but it had since told him it had come from Romania.

          A spokesman for Aldi said random tests had shown that the products they had withdrawn contained between 30% and 100% horsemeat.

          “This is completely unacceptable and like other affected companies, we feel angry and let down by our supplier. If the label says beef, our customers expect it to be beef. Suppliers are absolutely clear that they are required to meet our stringent specifications and that we do not tolerate any failure to do so,” he said.

          The company added that it would test the meals for the veterinary drug phenylbutazone, often referred to as bute, but said it was confident the meals were safe.

          Hospitals and education authorities were also checking the food they provide for traces of horsemeat. A spokeswoman for the Local Authority Caterers Association said: “We are as sure as we can be that this is not affecting the school catering area.”

          She said there were strict guidelines around food safety and supplying dinners in schools, including transparency and traceability of ingredient provenance, and this was written into contracts.

          Food businesses have been told to send test results on all their products to the FSA by Friday but Paterson is expected to tell MPs in a statement on Monday that some suppliers have been complaining to departmental officials that they have come under pressure from supermarket suppliers to cut corners.

          As David Cameron indicated that he would have no qualms about eating the sort of processed meat dishes that have been at the heart of the recent scare, authorities insisted there was no evidence that frozen food in general was a risk to human health.

          But the FSA advised consumers who had bought affected beef lines from Findus not to eat them. They had not been tested for the presence of phenylbutazone, which is banned in the human food chain. It can cause a serious blood disorder in rare cases.

          The Guardian has also established that the FSA has been unable to trace all the horses slaughtered in the UK that tested positive for bute last year. The agency has routinely been testing less than 1% of slaughtered horses for the drug, but found four positives in a sample of 82 carcasses in 2012. It carried out a special additional survey on a further 63 horses last year and found 5% of those contained residues, bringing the total of positives to nine.

          The Red Lion abattoir, owned by High Peak Meat Exports, has admitted that two of its slaughtered horses had tested positive for bute “historically” but said this was typical of the industry as a whole and that residue levels were so low as not to be a public health issue. The abattoir is currently under investigation by the FSA for alleged animal welfare abuses, and three of its slaughterers have had their licences to kill horses rescinded. The company said it was the FSA’s responsibility to inspect horses at abattoirs and decide whether they were fit for the human food chain.

          The FSA found six of the horses found to contain bute last year had been exported to France, two were still being traced, and one had been allegedly returned to two owners in the north of England for personal consumption. However the family of one of the owners, in Chorley, Lancashire, told officials they had never received the carcass nor expected to receive it.

          Some companies have told the Guardian they began testing their own products soon after the first cases were reported in Ireland in mid-January. Full details of the testing requirements will be sent to the industry on Monday, although the agency says companies already have enough information to get on with the job and return results by next Friday.

          The agency said evidence of the significant amounts of horsemeat in burgers and lasagne pointed “to either gross negligence or deliberate contamination in the food chain”.

          It said two particular cases of horse DNA in frozen burgers from Tesco and the lasagne from Findus were linked to suppliers in Ireland and France respectively. “We are working closely with the authorities in these countries to get to the root of the problem. Our priority remains to protect UK consumers.”

          Tesco which withdrew burger lines after one of its products made at an Irish plant had 29% equine DNA and withdrew lasagne made by Comigel said it had already begun testing other beef lines at independent laboratories.

          Cow and Gate, one of the UK’s major baby food companies, began testing its 14 lines containing beef in the second half of last month. The results were due soon, it said. The company, part of the French-based multinational Danone, has no production plants in Britain but has factories in France and Spain. It insists it can trace meat back to a specific cow. Heinz said it did not source from Comigel and would be responding to the request for testing.

          “We only source beef for our baby food recipes as whole muscle meat. We are continuing to keep the issue under close review with our suppliers as more information becomes available about the incident and root cause.”

          Baxters and Bird’s Eye were among other companies who said they had begun their own tests. Both said none of their products came from any suppliers so far implicated. The Food and Drink Federation, which represents the interests of the UK food industry, emphasised the “small number” of products where significant levels of horsemeat had been detected so far and said it was “unlikely” the national testing programme would reveal negligence or fraud by other suppliers.

          Meanwhile Findus said it knew there was a potential problem with its lasagnes two days before the products were withdrawn. It was looking into claims by the Labour MP Tom Watson that meat used by Comigel may have been suspect since August last year.

          Labour has claimed the loss of 700 trading standards officers in three years has made this type of consumer fraud more widespread.

          It also points to FSA’s Meat Hygiene Service suffering cuts of 12m in the four years to 2014, with the result that the amount of food checked in laboratories has gone down by as much as 30%.

          Read more:

          Billionaire Bloomberg to fund $5m public health projects in 40 cities worldwide

          Exclusive: Melbourne, Accra and Ulaanbaatar among cities to benefit from funding pledged by former New York mayor to tackle issues from air pollution to obesity

          Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire bte noire of both the sugar industry and the tobacco industry, famously fought for a ban on the sale of large-sized colas and other sweet drinks when he was mayor of New York and lost. Although that is not how he sees it.

          We actually won that battle, he says. I have always thought if we had not been stopped by the court, it would have died as an issue. Nobody would have known about it. But the fact that it kept coming back to the newspapers was a gift in disguise because people started to think, Holy God, maybe full-sugar drinks are bad for me.

          So what happened was consumption of full-sugar drinks around the world has gone down dramatically. If we had won the thing, I think it would have been less.

          Bloomberg did plenty more for public health while mayor of New York, including imposing one of the first bans on smoking in bars and restaurants in 2003. Since then he has widened his sphere of influence, funding successful campaigns through his philanthropic foundation for sugar taxes in Mexico and Philadelphia and for curbs on smoking all over the world.

          Now, appointed last year as the World Health Organisations global ambassador for non-communicable diseases meaning anything that can harm or kill you that is not infectious the eighth richest person in the world, worth an estimated $47.5bn, is taking his philosophy and his cash to 40 cities around the globe.

          His offer, taken up by about 40 cities so far and officially launched on Tuesday, is $5m in assistance from Bloomberg Philanthropies as well as technical support for cities that choose to focus on one of 10 healthy lifestyle issues, including curbing sugary drink consumption, air pollution, promoting exercise and and bans on smoking. They range from affluent Melbourne in Australia to Cali and Medellin in Colombia, Accra in Ghana, Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia, Khatmandu in Nepal and Kampala in Uganda.

          National and state governments collect taxes, but it is city governments that make things happen. 50% of people currently live in cities and that is projected to rise to 70% in the next decade or so. Cities are where the rubber meets the road, Bloomberg told the Guardian. The problems are in the cities and the solutions are in the cities.

          Bloomberg is upbeat, indomitable and an independent thinker. He made his money in global financial services and has been a Democrat, a Republican and an independent at various times. He says he believes the war on sugar and tobacco, of which his foundation must be seen as the main global financial backer, is being won.

          In parts of the world, clearly yes, and particularly on smoking, he said. In Europe nobody would have thought people wouldnt insist on smoking in an Irish bar or pub or an Italian restaurant, but the smoking campaign has really worked, reducing consumption in all of western Europe, north and south America and even in China.

          But there are places where poor people live and they are still smoking and really damaging their lungs and they are going to die young. It is up to us to keep the battle going. Sugar is a little bit less developed but still working.

          His attention is on non-communicable diseases more broadly now that includes air pollution and road traffic accidents as well as cigarettes, alcohol and bad food. Cities in poor countries may argue that they have too many other problems to spend time on sugary drinks, but, says Bloomberg, poverty, ill-health and poor education are all interlinked.

          It will be harder to get the public behind you because they less understand the damage being done to their own health. But thats the challenge. The cities where its easy have probably already addressed the issue, he said.

          Michael Bloomberg and WHO director-general Dr Margaret Chan Photograph: Bloomberg Phlilantropies

          Bloomberg would not suggest it is easy to make the sort of changes he has pushed for in all these years.

          I dont remember anybody objecting to the smoking ban when we put it in, although a lot of people wanted to take my picture and a lot of people gave me one finger waves, he said. If there was an easy solution to a complex problem, we wouldnt have the problem. If you want to make things better, youre going to be doing things that are tough.

          The cities that commit to the Partnership for Healthy Cities can choose between curbing sugary drink consumption, passing laws to make public places smoke-free or banning cigarette advertising, cutting salt in food, using cleaner fuels, encouraging cycling and walking, reducing speeding, increasing seatbelt and helmet use, curbing drink driving or carrying out a survey to collect data on the lifestyle risks the city population runs.

          Cape Town in South Africa was one of the earliest cities to commit and will focus on reducing the intake of sugary drinks. Its mayor, Patricia de Lille, says they are facing an epidemic of type 2 diabetes, caused by obesity. Diabetes is a silent killer, she said. We dont have the luxury to work by trial and error. Unfortunately we have to get it right first time.

          London has also said it wants to be involved, although which issue will be the focus has not yet been revealed. It is a city with which Bloomberg says he has a complex relationship his former wife is British and his daughters hold dual nationality. He has an honorary knighthood from the Queen. He also has an honour from the City of London that he intends one day to cash in.

          I do have the right to drive sheep across London Bridge and before I die, I want to do it one day at rush hour, just to see what happens, he said.

          Read more:

          Am I unreasonable to leave my boyfriend over his lack of basic hygiene?

          When we met, he didnt look after himself. Now, although I have helped him smarten up, he doesnt take care of his nails and hands or do anything about a wart, and this is a complete turn-off for me

          I have been with my boyfriend for 10 months. When we met, he did not look after himself in terms of health and personal grooming, although we get on well and he is a decent and kind person with a successful career. I was tough on him and he has resolved some medical issues including having an operation for a growth and smartened himself up (with a lot of persuading on my part). He has erectile dysfunction, which is OK with me. However, he does not take care of his nails and hands, including a wart, and it is difficult for me to be sexually intimate as I do not want to compromise my health and I find this a turn-off. There were physical and mental-health issues in my family, and I have undergone therapy to challenge codependency and look after my own needs, and this leaves me at times unsure as to whether situations are reasonable. I wish I had split from him at the beginning; perhaps he would have taken my needs more seriously. I am tired of persuading and compromising over such a basic hygiene issue and am thinking of ending it, as he is stuck in his ways.

          When leaving a message on this page, please be sensitive to the fact that you are responding to a real person in the grip of a real-life dilemma, who wrote to Private Lives asking for help, and may well view your comments here. Please consider especially how your words or the tone of your message could be perceived by someone in this situation, and be aware that comments that appear to be disruptive or disrespectful to the individual concerned will be removed.

          If you would like fellow readers to respond to a dilemma of yours, send us an outline of the situation of about 150 words. For advice from Pamela Stephenson Connolly on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns.

          All correspondence should reach us by Wednesday morning. (please dont send attachments).

          Read more:

          Prince Harry and Pippa Middleton: the myth behind the confected romance

          US OK! magazine reckons the two are enjoying candle-lit spaghetti carbonara to a Bruno Mars soundtrack. How did they come up with that story? Plus: how Bill Murray got mixed up with a hedge-funder, the Wu-Tang Clan and a future heist

          A big interplanetary wave to the American version of OK! magazine, which links up with reality around once every six years, before spinning back off into a galaxy of quarterwitted invention and fan fiction. Todays effort falls into the latter category, being the WORLD EXCLUSIVE revelation that Prince Harry and Pippa Middleton are a couple.

          A couple of what, you may be asking but you would only be misunderstanding for comic effect, because the allegation put to OK! readers is that they are dating. It is obviously Lost in Showbizs second favourite unsubstantiated rumour of the week, losing only to news that Will Smiths 17-year-old son Jaden is writing a book of philosophical essays.

          Anyway, back to the confected romance between Prince Williams brother and the Duchess of Cambridges sister. As someone whose mothers twin sister is married to my fathers brother, Lost in Showbiz can tell you two things:

          1. This stuff does occasionally happen.

          2. Its legal; you just cant marry your first cousins. In the case of mine, it never came up. In the case of a gene pool as small as the Windsors, it would be as good as ensuring your child is born with porphyria and/or a vestigial tail.

          But lets get on with the story, because OK! has lovingly constructed an origins myth for the romance. Apparently, Harry and Pippa were caught snogging in a bathroom at the royal wedding and by Kate, of all people. And Im sure you can imagine her scratching away at a locked bathroom door at her own nuptials. Weve all seen it.

          Anyway, Kate is said by OK!s unnamed insider to have taken a dim view. Timing being what it is, our star-crossed lovers were kept apart by various other romantic partners for a few years. But now both are available, things have finally come together. For their first date, Harry lit candles, made spaghetti carbonara, and stuck on music by Adele, Ellie Goulding and Bruno Mars. Unfortunately, Prince William has since let himself into Harrys apartment and found his brother and Pippa in a compromising position. He now joins his wife in disapproval of the blossoming romance.

          I am very much hoping that OK! continues this serial over the next few festive issues, ideally chucking in crowd pleasers like an alien abduction, discovery of an evil twin, and a cursed tiara.

          Bill Murray, the Wu-Tang Clan, the hedge-funder and the heist

          We begin with an explainer, next, as you may well not be familiar with Martin Shkreli. This is because Martin is a member of the absolute lowest caste of celebrities: The Sullied, or the slightly-well-known hedge funders.

          He drew himself to attention back in September when he purchased the rights to a life-saving drug used to treat a parasitic infection, and promptly raised the price of a single pill from $13.50 to $750. I assume he suffers with some kind of raging psychological complaint related to erectile dysfunction, but his office has declined my repeated requests to offer remote analysis. I merely reach out once more.

          In the meantime, do recall that Martin claimed this price hike was necessary for his firm to survive, so it is heartening to find that he is the man who splashed out a reported $2m to be the sole owner of the Wu-Tang Clans new album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. His copyrights over the work will endure 88 years. This is like someone having the sceptre of an Egyptian king, promised the Wu-Tang Clans collegiate overlord RZA, though it may sound to you merely a Damien Hirst-level point about art and value and consumption and the shit you can pull on hedge funders.

          Presumably intending to pull some shit back, Shkreli now announces that he hasnt bothered listening to the album, having delegated this task to some underling.

          But perhaps the shit-pulling remains all on him, for it is now claimed the Wu-Tang Clan have inserted a most unconventional clause in the contract of purchase. To wit: The buying party also agrees that at any time during the stipulated 88-year period, the seller may legally plan and attempt to execute one (1) heist or caper to steal back Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, which, if successful, would return all ownership rights to the seller. Said heist or caper can only be undertaken by currently active members of the Wu-Tang Clan and/or actor Bill Murray, with no legal repercussions.

          Well. Your move, Bill. The world expects.

          Read more:

          Sir Bruce Forsyth: TV legend dies aged 89 – BBC News

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          Media captionHow Brucie entertained us for decades

          Sir Bruce Forsyth, the veteran entertainer and presenter of many successful TV shows, has died aged 89.

          The former Strictly Come Dancing host had been unwell for some time and was in hospital earlier this year after a severe chest infection.

          His long career in showbusiness began when he was aged just 14.

          He became Britain’s best-paid TV star, famous for hosting game shows like The Generation Game, Play Your Cards Right and The Price is Right.

          He also presented BBC One’s Strictly with Tess Daly from 2004 to 2014.

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          Media captionFormer BBC chairman Lord Grade: Sir Bruce “still had twinkle in eye”

          A statement from his manager Ian Wilson said he died “peacefully at his home surrounded by his wife Wilnelia and all his children”.

          “A couple of weeks ago, a friend visited him and asked him what he had been doing these last 18 months. With a twinkle in his eye, he responded, ‘I’ve been very, very busy… being ill!'” he added.

          Sir Bruce’s family thanked “the many people who have sent cards and letters to Bruce wishing him well over his long illness”, adding there would be no further comment at the moment.

          Image copyright Getty Images
          Image caption Sir Bruce was a household name by the 1960s

          Tributes have been paid by his friends and admirers in the showbusiness world. Sir Bruce’s Strictly co-host Tess Daly said she was “heartbroken”.

          “From the moment we met, Bruce and I did nothing but laugh our way through a decade of working together on Strictly Come Dancing and I will never forget his generosity, his brilliant sense of humour and his drive to entertain the audiences he so loved,” she said.

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          Media captionHow Sir Bruce Forsyth wound up Sir Sean Connery – and other stories

          Former Strictly judge Len Goodman also paid tribute, saying: “As long as I can remember there has always been Bruce on our TV.

          “His work ethic, professionalism and charm will be with me forever. Bruce it was nice to see you to see you nice.”

          Strictly presenter Claudia Winkleman, who replaced Sir Bruce after he left the show, tweeted that he was “the King of TV, the Prince of performers and the most generous of people… all toe-tapping twinkle, all kindness, all love….

          “The Bruce you saw really was the man he was. We’ll miss him so much.”

          Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood added: “Extremely sad to hear the news of Bruce’s passing. A true legend and national treasure. He will be deeply missed but always remembered.”

          Former judge Arlene Phillips said the entertainer was an “indestructible titan, tap dancing his way through life”.

          She added: “Working with him on Strictly was personally a joy. His endless teasing of my judging style, particularly with strong sportsmen, was an ongoing joke.

          “His enormous support after I was let go from the Strictly panel meant so much.”

          Sir Bruce Forsyth 1928-2017

          Longest TV career of any male entertainer


          First TV performance, Come and Be Televised


          Last TV performance, Strictly Children in Need Special

          • 5 years The Bruce Forsyth Show

          • 10 years The Generation Game

          • 14 years Play your cards right

          • 2 catchphrases Didn't he do well? Nice to see you, to see you nice.


          In a tweet, Prime Minister Theresa May said the country had “lost a national treasure”, adding: “Like millions of others, for years I watched Sir Bruce dance, sing, joke & laugh. He will be sorely missed.”

          BBC director general Lord Hall described Sir Bruce as “one of the greatest entertainers our country has ever known”.

          Comedian Jimmy Tarbuck added: “He could do it all. He was magnificent and he was a great entertainer. He could dance, he was a very nice pianist, he was good at sketches, he was the greatest moaner in the world on the golf course, and he was a unique friend to me.”

          Image copyright PA
          Image caption Sir Bruce and Lady Forsyth married in 1983

          Former chat show host Sir Michael Parkinson described the entertainer as “funny” and “irrepressible”.

          Sir Michael also praised Sir Bruce’s ability to manage his career, saying: “He was very canny – we only know about the shows he said yes to, what we don’t know are the hundreds of ideas he said, ‘That’s not for me.’ He had the smartness – that’s the sign of a great star.”

          BBC Radio 4 presenter Nicholas Parsons added that he was “devoted” to Sir Bruce.

          “He had great charm, great humour – he was an all-round performer. He was one of the country’s most talented players – a great dancer, great singer and a comedian and also very good actor. The way he ran a game show was exceptional – a unique talent. He was a lovely man.”

          The Beano tweeted a picture of Sir Bruce which appeared in the comic in 2008, describing him as an “entertainment legend”.

          Image copyright Beano/Twitter

          Sir Bruce had not been seen in public recently, due to ill health. He was too frail to attend the funerals of close friends Ronnie Corbett and Sir Terry Wogan last year.

          In 2015, the presenter underwent keyhole surgery after suffering two aneurysms, which were discovered following a fall at his Surrey home.

          Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email

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          59 Percent of Millennials Raised in a Church Have Dropped OutAnd They’re Trying to Tell Us Why

          Only 4 percent of the Millennial Generation are Bible-Based Believers. This means that 96 percent of Millennials likely don’t live out the teachings of the Bible, value the morals of Christianity and probably won’t be found in a church. This author goes deep to explain why.

          By Sam Eaton

          From the depths of my heart, I want to love church.

          I want to be head-over-heals for church like the unshakable Ned Flanders.

          I want to send global, sky-writing airplanes telling the life-change that happens beneath a steeple. I want to install a police microphone on top of my car and cruise the streets screaming to the masses about the magical Utopian community of believers waiting for them just down the street.

          I desperately want to feel this way about church, but I dont. Not even a little bit. In fact, like much of my generation, I feel the complete opposite.

          Turns out I identify more with Maria from The Sound of Music staring out the abbey window, longing to be free.

          It seems all-too-often our churches are actually causing more damage than good, and the statistics are showing a staggering number of millennials have taken note.

          According to this study (and many others like it) church attendance and impressions of the church are the lowest in recent history, and most drastic among millennials described as 22- to 35-year-olds.

          • Only 2 in 10 Americans under 30 believe attending a church is important or worthwhile (an all-time low).
          • 59 percent of millennials raised in a church have dropped out.
          • 35 percent of millennials have an anti-church stance, believing the church does more harm than good.
          • Millennials are the least likely age group of anyone to attend church (by far).

          As I sat in our large churchs annual meeting last month, I looked around for anyone in my age bracket. It was a little like a Titanic search party


          Tuning in and out of the 90-minute state-of-the-church address, I kept wondering to myself, where are my people? And then the scarier question, why I am still here?

          A deep-seated dissatisfaction has been growing in me and, despite my greatest attempts to whack-a-mole it back down, no matter what I do it continues to rise out of my wirey frame.

          [To follow my publicly-chronicled church struggles, check out my other posts The How Can I Help Project and 50 Ways to Serve the Least of These.]

          Despite the steep drop-off in millennials, most churches seem to be continuing on with business as usual. Sure, maybe they add a food truck here or a bowling night there, but no one seems to be reacting with any level of concern that matches these STAGGERING statistics.

          Where is the task-force searching for the lost generation? Where is the introspective reflection necessary when 1/3 of a generation is ANTI-CHURCH?

          The truth is no one has asked me why millennials dont like church. Luckily, as a public school teacher, I am highly skilled at answering questions before theyre asked. Its a gift really.

          So, at the risk of being excommunicated, here is the metaphorical nailing of my own 12 theses to the wooden door of the American, Millennial-less Church.

          1. Nobodys Listening to Us

          Millennials value voice and receptivity above all else. When a church forges ahead without ever asking for our input we get the message loud and clear:Nobody cares what we think. Why then, should we blindly serve an institution that we cannot change or shape?


          • Create regular outlets (forums, surveys, meetings) to discover the needs of young adults both inside AND outside the church.
          • Invite millennials to serve on leadership teams or advisory boards where they can make a difference.
          • Hire a young adults pastor who has the desire and skill-set to connect with millennials.

          2. Were Sick of Hearing About Values & Mission Statements

          Sweet Moses people, give it a rest.

          Of course as an organization its important to be moving in the same direction, but that should easier for Christians than anyone because we already have a leader to follow. Jesus was insanely clear about our purpose on earth:

          Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:30-31)

          Love God. Love Others. Task completed.

          Why does every church need its own mission statement anyway? Arent we all one body of Christ, serving one God? What would happen if the entire American Church came together in our commonalities and used the same, concise mission statement?


          • Stop wasting time on the religious mambo jambo and get back to the heart of the gospel. If you have to explain your mission and values to the church, its overly-religious and much too complicated.
          • Were not impressed with the hours you brag about spending behind closed doors wrestling with Christianese words on a paper. Were impressed with actions and service.

          3. Helping the Poor Isnt a Priority

          My heart is broken for how radically self-centered and utterly American our institution has become.

          Lets clock the number of hours the average church attender spends in church-type activities. Bible studies, meetings, groups, social functions, book clubs, planning meetings, talking about building community, discussing a new mission statement

          Now let’s clock the number of hours spent serving the least of these. Oooooo, awkward.

          If the numbers are not equal please check your Bible for better comprehension (or revisit the universal church mission statement stated above).

          If our lives do not reflect radical compassion for the poor, there is reason to wonder if Christ is in us at all. Radical, David Platt


          • Stop creating more Bible studies and Christian activity. Community happens best in service with a shared purpose.
          • Survey your members asking them what injustice or cause God has placed on their hearts. Then connect people who share similar passions. Create space for them to meet and brainstorm and then sit back and watch what God brings to life.
          • Create group serve dates once a month where anyone can show up and make a difference (and, oh yeah, theyll also meet new people).

          4. Were Tired of You Blaming the Culture

          From Elvis hips to rap music, from Footloose to twerking, every older generation comes to the same conclusion: The world is going to pot faster than the state of Colorado. Were aware of the down-falls of the culturebelieve it or not we are actually living in it too.

          Perhaps its easier to focus on how terrible the world is out there than actually address the mess within.


          • Put the end times rhetoric to rest and focus on real solutions and real impact in our immediate community.
          • Explicitly teach us how our lives should differ from the culture. (If this teaching isnt happening in your life, check out the book Weird: Because Normal Isnt Working by Craig Groeschel)

          5. The You Cant Sit With Us Affect

          There is this life-changing movie all humans must see, regardless of gender. The film is of course the 2004 classic Mean Girls.

          In the film, the most popular girl in school forgets to wear pink on a Wednesday (a cardinal sin), to which Gretchen Weiners screams, YOU CANT SIT WITH US!

          Today, my mom said to me, Church has always felt exclusive and cliquey, like high school. With sadness in her voice she continued, and Ive never been good at that game so I stopped playing.

          The truth is, I share her experience. As do thousands of others.

          Until the church finds a way to be radically kinder and more compassionate than the world at large, we tell outsiders theyre better off on their own. And the truth is, many times they are.


          • Create authentic communities with a shared purpose centered around service.
          • Create and train a team of CONNECT people whose purpose is to seek out the outliers on Sunday mornings or during other events. Explicitly teach people these skills as they do not come naturally to most of the population.
          • Stop placing blame on individuals who struggle to get connected. For some people, especially those that are shy or struggle with anxiety, putting yourself out there even just once might be an overwhelming task. We have to find ways to bridge that gap.

          6. Distrust & Misallocation of Resources

          Over and over weve been told to tithe and give 10 percent of our incomes to the church, but where does that money actually go? Millennials, more than any other generation, dont trust institutions, for we have witnessed over and over how corrupt and self-serving they can be.

          We want pain-staking transparency. We want to see on the church homepage a document where we can track every dollar.

          Why should thousands of our hard-earned dollars go toward a mortgage on a multi-million dollar building that isnt being utilized to serve the community, or to pay for another celebratory bouncy castle when that same cash-money could provide food, clean water and shelter for someone in need?


          • Go out of your way to make all financial records readily accessible. Earn our trust so we can give with confidence.
          • Create an environment of frugality.
          • Move to zero-based budgeting where departments arent allocated certain dollar amounts but are asked to justify each purchase.
          • Challenge church staff to think about the opportunity cost. Could these dollars be used to better serve the kingdom?

          7. We Want to Be Mentored, Not Preached At

          Preaching just doesnt reach our generation like our parents and grandparents. See: millennial church attendance. We have millions of podcasts and Youtube videos of pastors the world over at our fingertips.

          For that reason, the currency of good preaching is at its lowest value in history.

          Millennials crave relationship, to have someone walking beside them through the muck. We are the generation with the highest ever percentage of fatherless homes.

          Were looking for mentors who are authentically invested in our lives and our future. If we dont have real people who actually care about us, why not just listen to a sermon from the couch (with the ecstasy of donuts and sweatpants)?


          • Create a database of adult mentors and young adults looking for someone to walk with them.
          • Ask the older generation to be intentional with the millennials in your church.

          8. We Want to Feel Valued

          Churches tend to rely heavily on their young adults to serve. Youre single, what else do you have to do? In fact, were tapped incessantly to help out. And, at its worst extreme, spiritually manipulated with the cringe-worthy words youre letting your church down.

          Millennials are told by this world from the second we wake up to the second we take a sleeping pill that we arent good enough.

          We desperately need the church to tell us we are enough, exactly the way we are. No conditions or expectations.

          We need a church that sees us and believes in us, that cheers us on and encourages us to chase our big crazy dreams.


          • Return to point #1: listening.
          • Go out of your way to thank the people who are giving so much of their life to the church.

          9. We Want You to Talk to Us About Controversial Issues (Because No One Is)

          People in their 20s and 30s are making the biggest decisions of their entire lives: career, education, relationships, marriage, sex, finances, children, purpose, chemicals, body image.

          We need someone consistently speaking truth into every single one of those areas.

          No, I dont think a sermon-series on sex is appropriate for a sanctuary full of families, but we have to create a place where someone older is showing us a better way because these topics are the teaching millennials are starving for. We dont like how the world is telling us to live, but we never hear from our church either.


          • Create real and relevant space for young adults to learn, grow and be vulnerable.
          • Create an opportunity for young adults to find and connect with mentors.
          • Create a young adults program that transitions high school youth through late adulthood rather than abandoning them in their time of greatest need.
          • Intentionally train young adults in how to live a godly life instead of leaving them to fend for themselves.

          10. The Public Perception

          Its time to focus on changing the public perception of the church within the community. The neighbors, the city and the people around our church buildings should be audibly thankful the congregation is part of their neighborhood. We should be serving the crap out of them.

          We desperately need to be calling the schools and the city, knocking on doors, asking everyone around us how we can make their world better. When the public opinion shows 1/3 millennials are ANTI-CHURCH, we are outright failing at being the aroma of Christ.


          • Call the local government and schools to ask what their needs are. (See: Service Day from #3)
          • Find ways to connect with neighbors within the community.
          • Make your presence known and felt at city events.

          11. Stop Talking About Us (Unless Youre Actually Going to Do Something)

          Words without follow-up are far worse than ignoring us completely. Despite the stereotypes about us, we are listening to phrases being spoken in our general direction. Lip service, however, doesnt cut it. We are scrutinizing every action that follows what you say (because were sick of being ignored and listening to broken promises).


          • Stop speaking in abstract sound bites and make a tangible plan for how to reach millennials.
          • If you want the respect of our generation, under-promise and over-deliver.

          12. Youre Failing to Adapt

          Heres the bottom line, churchyou arent reaching millennials. Enough with the excuses and the blame; we need to accept reality and intentionally move toward this generation that is terrifyingly anti-church.

          The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change. Bill Clinton
          The art of life is a constant readjustment to our surroundings. Kakuzo Okakaura
          Adapt or perish, now as ever, is natures inexorable imperative. H.G. Wells


          • Look at the data and take a risk for goodness sake. We cant keep trying the same things and just wish that millennials magically wander through the door.
          • Admit that youre out of your element with this generation and talk to the millennials you already have before they ask themselves, what I am still doing here.

          You see, church leaders, our generation just isnt interested in playing church anymore, and there are real, possible solutions to filling our congregations with young adults. Its obvious youre not understanding the gravity of the problem at hand and arent nearly as alarmed as you should be about the crossroads were at.

          Youre complacent, irrelevant and approaching extinction. A smattering of mostly older people, doing mostly the same things theyve always done, isnt going to turn to the tide.

          Feel free to write to me off as just another angry, selfy-addicted millennial. Believe me, at this point Im beyond used to being abandoned and ignored.

          The truth is, church, its your move.

          Decide if millennials actually matter to you and let us know. In the meantime, well be over here in our sweatpants listening to podcasts, serving the poor and agreeing with public opinion that perhaps church isnt as important or worthwhile as our parents have lead us to believe.

          About the Author: Sam Eaton is a writer, speaker, and in-progress author whos in love with all things Jesus, laughter, adventure, hilarious dance parties and vulnerability. Sam is also the founder of Recklessly Alive Ministries, a mental health and suicide-prevention ministry sprinting towards a world with zero deaths from suicide. Come hang out with him at

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          Have you seen anyone with a semicolon tattoo? Here’s what it’s about.

          Have you seen anyone with a tattoo like this?

          If not, you may not be looking close enough. They’re popping up…


          Photos by The Semicolon Tattoo Project.

          That’s right: the semicolon. It’s a tattoo that has gained popularity in recent years, but unlike other random or mystifying trends, this one has a serious meaning behind it. (And no, it’s not just the mark of a really committed grammar nerd.)

          My co-worker Parker’s photo of her own semicolon tattoo.

          This mark represents mental health struggles and the importance of suicide prevention.

          Project Semicolon was born from a social media movement in 2013.

          They describe themselves as a “movement dedicated to presenting hope and love to those who are struggling with depression, suicide, addiction, and self-injury. Project Semicolon exists to encourage, love, and inspire.”

          But why a semicolon?

          “A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.”

          Originally created as a day where people were encouraged to draw a semicolon on their bodies and photograph it, it quickly grew into something greater and more permanent. Today, people all over the world are tattooing the mark as a reminder of their struggle, victory, and survival.

          Photos by
          The Semicolon Tattoo Project.

          I spoke with Jenn Brown and Jeremy Jaramillo of
          The Semicolon Tattoo Project, an organization inspired by the semicolon movement. Along with some friends, Jenn and Jeremy saw an opportunity to both help the community and reduce the stigma around mental illness.

          In 2012,
          over 43 million Americans dealt with a mental illness. Mental illness is not uncommon, yet there is a stigma around it that prevents a lot of people from talking about it and that’s a barrier to getting help.

          More conversations that lead to less stigma? Yes please.

          “[The tattoo] is a conversation starter,” explains Jenn. “People ask what it is and we get to tell them the purpose.”

          “I think if you see someone’s tattoo that you’re interested in, that’s fair game to start a conversation with someone you don’t know,” adds Jeremy. “It provides a great opportunity to talk. Tattoos are interesting marks we put on our bodies that are important to us.”

          A woman getting a semicolon tattoo at last year’s event. Photo by
          The Semicolon Tattoo Project.

          Last year, The Semicolon Tattoo Project held an event at several tattoo shops where people could get a semicolon tattoo for a flat rate. “That money was a fundraiser for our crisis center,” said Jenn. In total, over 400 people received semicolon tattoos in one day. Even better, what began as a local event has spread far and wide, and people all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos.

          And it’s not just about the conversation it’s about providing tangible support and help too.

          Jenn and Jeremy work with the
          Agora Crisis Center. Founded in 1970, it’s one of the oldest crisis centers in the country. Through The Semicolon Tattoo Project, they’ve been able to connect even more people with the help they need during times of crisis. (If you need someone to talk to, scroll to the end of the article for the center’s contact information.)

          So next time you see this small punctuation tattoo, remember the words of Upworthy writer Parker Molloy:

          “I recently decided to get a semicolon tattoo. Not because it’s trendy (though, it certainly seems to be at the moment), but because it’s a reminder of the things I’ve overcome in my life. I’ve dealt with anxiety, depression, and gender dysphoria for the better part of my life, and at times, that led me down a path that included self-harm and suicide attempts.
          But here I am, years later, finally fitting the pieces of my life together in a way I never thought they could before. The semicolon (and the message that goes along with it) is a reminder that I’ve faced dark times, but I’m still here.”

          No matter how we get there, the end result is so important: help and support for more people to also be able to say ”
          I’m still here.

          If you want to see more incredible semicolon tattoos, check out nine photos and stories that our readers shared with us!

          Read more:

          Kentucky bill requires spouse consent to husband’s Viagra use

          (CNN)Angered by a new law requiring women receive medical counseling at least 24 hours before an abortion, a Kentucky lawmaker decided she was going to “strike a nerve” with her political opponents — in particular, the men.

          State Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, a Louisville Democrat, has introduced a bill that would require any man seeking a prescription for drugs to treat erectile dysfunction — such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra — to “have two office visits on two different calendar days” before receiving the desired medication.

            Marzian’s House Bill 396 would only allow married men access to the treatments and call on them to “produce a signed and dated letter” demonstrating the consent of their current spouse. They would also have to give a sworn statement — “hand on a Bible” — that the prescription would only be used for sex with their legal partners.

            “As a woman and a pro-choice woman and as an elected official, I am sick and tired of men — mostly white men — legislating personal, private medical decisions,” Marzian, a retired nurse and 22-year statehouse veteran, told CNN. “It’s none of their business.”

            Earlier this month, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin signed into law a bill beefing up the state’s “informed consent” requirement for women seeking an abortion. Previously, patients could listen to a phone recording that listed the potential health risks associated with the procedure. Now, women will have to speak to a medical professional in person or via video teleconference.

            Passage of the new restriction set off a social media campaign against Bevin and anti-abortion lawmakers, and while Marzian concedes her bill will have little practical effect on the new law, she said the measure was written to hit opponents where it hurts.

            “When I put this out here, I thought, you know, I will strike a nerve because what is more sacred to men than their ability to have sexual intercourse?” she said with a laugh. “Let’s regulate that.”

            “I think it illustrates how intrusive it is,” Marzian continued, “how wrong it is, for any type of government, whether it’s state legislature, whether it’s Donald Trump, inserting themselves into personal, private medical decisions.”

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            Shockwaves To The Penis Could Replace Viagra

            Fed up of having to take that little blue pill? How about a shock to the penis instead?

            That may sound like some horrific form of torture, but a new study has found that administering small shockwaves could help, and maybe even curesome cases of erectile dysfunction.

            Although medications like Viagra have long been successfully helping soldiers stand to attention, they dont treat the underlying problem and only work for a matter of hours. While that might be enough to have sex, it means the deed cant be done spontaneously and essentially requires scheduling not exactly everyone’s recipe for a great sex life. But thats what sets this new treatment apart: it actually aims to restore erectile function so that men can have erections naturally.

            Called extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT), it involves delivering a focused beam of acoustic waves to a target area where they interact with tissues and induce a small amount of stress and trauma. That may seem counterintuitive, but this effect triggers a cascade of events that ultimately culminate in the release of chemical signals that facilitate the growth of new blood vessels. So by doing this to the penis, the idea is to improve its blood supply and thus restore the erectile mechanism. And before you start firmly crossing your legs, dont worry the waves delivered are weak and low-intensity, although you might feel a little burning sensation.

            Having already seen positive results from a small pilot study, a group based in Denmark conducted a larger, placebo-controlled study to scrutinize its effects on erectile function. Described in the Scandinavian Journal of Urology, they recruited 112 men ranging in age from 37 to 80 who couldnt have sex either with or without medication.

            They split them into two groups and gave half the treatment and half sham therapy, directed at six positions on the penis, five times over a five-week period. They then assessed the men 5, 12, and 24 weeks after treatment, but after the first stage men in the placebo group were offered the real thing, although they didnt previously know they were being given a placebo.

            Five weeks after treatment, 57 percent of those receiving the shockwaves were able to achieve an erection and have sex without medication, compared to only nine percent in the placebo group. Although this diminished by 24 weeks, positive results were still seen as 19 percent in the active treatment group were still able to have sex without drugs, alongside 23 percent in the group that first received the placebo.

            This study shows a possible cure in some patients, but more research, longer follow-up in the placebo group and an international multi-centre randomized study are needed, the authors conclude. If such studies continue to be supportive, though, this treatment would certainly be welcomed, especially in light of the growing number of cases of diabetes and heart disease, which can lead to erectile dysfunction.

            [H/T: New Scientist]

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