Frances Bean Cobain Celebrates Two Years Sober While Revealing Private Battle With Addiction

Posting a short video she captured while in Hawaii with her boyfriend Matthew Cook, the 25-year-old captioned it:

“I thought I would start this post by using a pure moment in Oahu amongst nature, with my love. This moment is a representation of who I am on February 13th, 2018. It feels significant here, now because it’s my 2nd sober birthday. It’s an interesting and kaleidoscopic decision to share my feelings about something so intimate in a public forum. The fact that I’m sober isn’t really public knowledge, decidedly and deliberately. But I think it’s more important to put aside my fear about being judged or misunderstood or typecast as one specific thing.”

And while she doesn’t go into detail about her addiction, she continued:

“I want to have the capacity to recognize & observe that my journey might be informative, even helpful to other people who are going through something similar or different. It is an everyday battle to be in attendance for all the painful, bazaar, uncomfortable, tragic, fucked up things that have ever happened or will ever happen.”

As you’re probably aware, both Frances’ parents struggled with abusing drugs as Courtney was ordered into rehab in 2005, and her dad sadly passed away by suicide with high traces of heroin and Valium in his system.

She’s so strong for fighting this battle, and we hope she continues to stay on the path of recovery.

Read her full post (below):

I thought I would start this post by using a pure moment in Oahu amongst nature, with my love. This moment is a representation of who I am on February 13th, 2018. It feels significant here, now because it’s my 2nd sober birthday. It’s an interesting and kaleidoscopic decision to share my feelings about something so intimate in a public forum . The fact that I’m sober isn’t really public knowledge, decidedly and deliberately. But I think it’s more important to put aside my fear about being judged or misunderstood or typecast as one specific thing. I want to have the capacity to recognize & observe that my journey might be informative, even helpful to other people who are going through something similar or different. It is an everyday battle to be in attendance for all the painful, bazaar, uncomfortable, tragic, fucked up things that have ever happened or will ever happen. Self destruction and toxic consumption and deliverance from pain is a lot easier to adhere to. Undeniably, for myself and those around me becoming present is the best decision I have ever made. How we treat our bodies directly correlates to how we treat our souls. It’s all interconnected. It has to be. So I’m gonna take today to celebrate my vibrant health and the abundance of happiness, gratitude, awareness, compassion, empathy, strength, fear, loss, wisdom, peace and the myriad of other messy emotions I feel constantly. They inform who I am, what my intentions are, who i want to be and they force me to acknowledge my boundaries/limitations. I claim my mistakes as my own because I believe them to contribute to the dialogue of my higher education in life. I am constantly evolving. The moment I stop my evolution is the moment I disservice myself and ultimately those I love. As cheesy and cornball as it sounds life does get better, if you want it to. I’ll never claim I know something other people don’t. I only know what works for me and seeking to escape my life no longer works for me. Peace, love, empathy (I’m going to reclaim this phrase and define it as something that’s mine, filled with hope and goodness and health, because I want to ) Frances Bean CobainA post shared by Frances Bean Cobain (@space_witch666) on Feb 13, 2018 at 9:31am PST

[Image via Media Punch.]

Read more: http://perezhilton.com/2018-02-14-frances-bean-cobain-addiction-battle-recovery-sober-two-years

A Beginner’s Guide To Sex Toys That Won’t Scar You For Life

Some say maturity is measured by the copious amounts of subtweets blasted on social media about some fucktard, or the continuing decision to chase your birth control with Fireball. What some don’t know is that maturity is actually measured by the futile attempt of not cracking a faint giggle as the sex store saleslady gives you a detailed lecture on how to properly insert a vibrating C-ring onto his bulging erection (lol she said “erection”). Needless to say, my first time purchasing a sex toy was eye-opening.

If you’re already a self-described sex toy aficionado, kudos—you’ve prob faked your way through one too many orgasms in your life while attempting to cover it up with some “let’s get more adventurous” bullshit. But if you’re not so savvy in the whole grown-up toys department, you’re obvs curious. K, so forget what I said—sex toys are great. They’re like that excuse of a best guy friend you secretly lust over while convincing your boyfriend he’s “like a brother” to you—in other words, they’re the backup you crave in times of pure desperation. Think about it: Have you ever heard of a woman being let down by her vibrator? We as a society may be sucking down Tide Pods this year, but we’re well past the point of sex toys being a taboo, so consider this like a Dildos for Dummies if you’re thinking about blessing your life with the art of greater satisfaction. Your vagine can thank me later.

You, in a euphoric state of pure orgasmic bliss when you’re done reading this:

LUBRICANT

This isn’t groundbreaking information, and I fucking realize lube is not a sex “toy”, but the stigma around using lube because you don’t want him to think you’re a “dried up old hag” has been cancelled. Nobody thinks that, and nobody will judge you if you suggest using it, especially while using toys. Using lube is not like, required in the rule book to have a good time, but neither is vodka, and I don’t see you going out dry-as-fuck-sober every weekend. So do yourself a solid and invest in some $10 coconut-flavored (WATER-BASED) lube so you’ll NEVER have to ask yourself “did this fuck seriously just slap his spit onto my clit?” 

And also, this:

VIBRATOR

A woman without a vibrator is like… some metaphor I can’t even think of because it physically pains me to even imagine. Whether you’re regularly scheduling dick appointments or you’re a lone ranger, invest in a fucking vibrator. Like, before you invest in decent health insurance. Vibrators are great for solo seshes or for partner play, because they require little effort for maximum clitoral stimulation and satisfaction and don’t contain a shit ton of fancy features. There’s one battery required for one button containing like, 10 different speeds and double the orgasms. That’s like, some Bill Gates innovative shit.

The We-Vibe is also great for couples and the pleasure is literally in the name: we fucking vibe. One end goes inside to hit the G-spot and one resides directly on the clit. It may look like an IUD-type contraption, but the irony here is after being orgasmically blessed into the holy gates of Heaven, you’ll def want his babies. Jk, kinda.

DIRTY DICE

Remember in , when older bitchy Jenna told her super-hot hockey player bf she wanted to play a game and he thought playing Battleship meant a game of dick, dick, goose, and she def didn’t? Well, with Dirty Dice, you’re both on the same page while playing a game that will 100% end up in sex. You literally have to roll a pair of dice and do what it says #revolutionary. This is perfect for couples who are too prude shy to whip out actual toys to spruce up their sex life, and the anticipation is sure to heighten your sexual senses, so get rolling.

DILDO

Congrats! You’re finally thinking about biting the bullet and actually buying the bullet. I’ll be the first to admit, sex stores don’t exactly market their dildos to be friendly and pleasurable pieces of hardware. Like, wtf is with the round table shrine of sacrificial hard-ons upon entrance? And sure, the last thing you want to see when you open your drawer is a veiny triumphant bastard with silicone balls staring you straight in the face, but don’t be fooled by a dildo’s exterior—most of these handheld devices come equipped with vibrating clit stimulators resembling fuzzy animal ears, and even are named after some adorable AF wildlife, like “fluttering rabbit” or “leaping dolphin” or some shit. Plus, it’s like you’re introducing one new friend to another: Rabbit, meet G-Spot.

BEGINNER BONDAGE KIT

If you ever try to tell me you don’t actually have a fantasy or that you haven’t left the movie theater soaking wet the past two Valentine’s Day weekends, you can politely excuse yourself now. A bondage set is a must-have for beginner sex toy consumers. It’s like the gateway drug that leads to a wonderful world of nipple clamps and butt plugs (shut up, you’re sort of curious). Truthfully, idk how the fuck “introduction” and “S&M” could ever be placed in the same sentence, but it’s apparently a thing. This kit comes with everything you need to amp up the kink: fuzzy cuffs, an eye mask and a faux-leather flogger that allows for any pleasure level from gentle grazing to “whip me harder, Christian!”

C-RING

This shit may or may not have ruined my childhood because upon first glance, I low-key thought it was a Life Saver. Anyway, I will say that this shit takes practice, but it’s well worth it when used correctly. Cock rings are designed mostly for men to basically rubberhead their peen, restricting blood flow and causing increased pressure, which results in the ultimate O. But then a bunch of fems were all, “what about my pleasure?” so voilà—the vibrating cock ring was born. These are great for when he “forgets” to show your clit some love during sex so you’re not forced to basically masturbate while he’s going full throttle. Like I said, desperate times call for desperate fucking measures.

Read more: http://www.betches.com/beginner-sex-toy-guide

5 Crazy Stories From The Early Days Of Disneyland

As we’ve mentioned many times in the past, your favorite purveyor of childhood memories and nostalgia isn’t as wholesome as you like to think. From sidelining Mickey Mouse’s true creator to backstabbing Robin Williams, there are plenty of whimsical cartoon skeletons in Disney’s closet, and we aren’t done airing them all. You can blame our broken childhood, penchant for fun-ruining, or plain old spite, but it’s a drug that we can’t kick. So let us tell you about …

5

The Pirates Of The Caribbean Ride Was (And Might Still Be) Decorated With Real Skeletons

Think fast, what’s your favorite ride at Disneyland, and why are you lying about it not being Pirates of the Caribbean? It might have resulted in Johnny Depp’s career being extended way beyond its natural lifespan, sure, but it’s so cool, what with the waterfalls and the pirates and the cannons and the real desiccated skulls laying everywhere.

Kidding. They aren’t “everywhere” anymore. There are only a few left in the ride … they think.

You see, when the ride was built in 1967, it cost $105 million — a sum that went into making PotC the most in every way possible, from the animatronics to lighting to special effects to puffy shirts. According to a book by former Disney producer Jason Surrell, the only problem they had was finding decorative skeletons that didn’t look like they’d spent the best part of the last century sitting in your grandma’s attic. Utilizing the sort of ingenuity that lands you the job of designing theme park rides, the team hit up some friends at UCLA Medical Center and asked if they wouldn’t mind handing out some medical specimens.

Joe Penniston/FlickrYou know, for the kids.

And it worked! The ride was a smash hit with park patrons, who probably weren’t aware that they were now subject to the dumbest curse imaginable. Over time, the skeletons were replaced with better-looking replicas and given a proper burial. Or at least, most of them were. Maybe. Although it’s hard to say for sure, there’s reason to believe that there are still a few genuine body parts occupying the ride, identifiable thanks to the fact that they look a lot more … discolored than the fakes, and also possess anatomical features that it’s doubtful model makers would have bothered to include.

Harsh Light/FlickrHint: It’s the one that got turned into a freaking bed.

It’s hard to confirm these as real without security attempting to turn you into a human pinata, but the legends might be true about there being a disembodied head at Disneyland, folks. We all just made the mistake of thinking that it was Walt’s.

4

You Could Fly To Disneyland By Helicopter … Until Two Crashed In The Same Year, Killing 44 People

Driving to Disneyland with a car full of children is an experience equal to journeying through the nine circles of Hell, except we don’t remember The Divine Comedy making reference to anyone having to poop at the world’s dirtiest truck stop.

It’s not like the good ol’ days, when tourists were able to beat the crowds entirely and fly straight into the park, courtesy of a frequent helicopter shuttle provided by Los Angeles Airways. Visitors could fly from LAX to a heliport built near the park (and back again) in a little under 20 minutes, all for the princely sum of $4. Alongside luxury and the obligatory cocaine-like ego boost that riding anywhere in a helicopter provides, riders were also able to experience a breathtaking view of the park that few have seen since those halcyon days … albeit for a very good reason.

Disney History InstituteAnd no, sadly it wasn’t something like “awful complimentary peanuts.”

In May 1968, a shuttle carrying 20 passengers and three crew crashed en route to LAX from Disneyland after encountering mechanical difficulties. Whilst flying over the city, witnesses reported that the helicopter started lurching uncontrollably. Although the crew attempted to lighten the load by throwing cargo over the side, their efforts to reduce how badly gravity was trying to screw them were proven to be for naught by the helicopter suddenly nosediving into the ground. Everyone aboard was killed, in what was deemed the then-worst civilian helicopter disaster in U.S. history. Unfortunately, there was about to be competition in that department.

Disney History Institute“Welp, at least this is never, ever happening again.”

In the aftermath of the accident, it was found that a single missing bolt had caused the rotor blades to essentially dismantle themselves in midair. You’d expect such a failure with the needing-to-have-working-rotors-in-order-to-not-kill-a-bunch-of-people machines to cause the fleet to be grounded while they were checked for problems, and they were. It’s too bad that almost immediately after service was resumed, the same freaking thing happened again.

In August 1968, only three months after the first crash, a copter travelling from LAX to Disneyland carrying 18 passengers and three crew dropped out of the sky from a height of 1,500 feet after, you guessed it, the rotor blades separated from the craft. All 21 people aboard were killed in what was probably the then-second-worst civilian helicopter disaster in U.S. history, including the grandchild of the CEO of Los Angeles Airways. The service was grounded again, and the ensuing lawsuits, legal costs, and strike actions shuttered the shuttle — which, let’s face it, was probably just as well at that point.

3

Disneyland Used To Have “Real” Mermaids (Swimming Near Razor-Sharp Propellers)

In building Disneyland, Walt Disney strived for a level of immersion just shy of hallucinogenic. Nothing in the park — nothing — could remind his guests that they were paying crazy amounts of money to ride average-ish fairground rides and cheer as their kids kicked a costumed performer in the groin. This is the same philosophy that resulted in a supervillain-esque tunnel complex being built beneath the park (although we’re not sure where the communal underwear fits into this).

So when the time came to build a mermaid lagoon to drive submarines into, you can bet that Uncle Walt made damn sure that they were the most mermaid-y-acting mermaids money could buy, up to and including their willingness to damn near shear their faces off.

In 1959, Disneyland opened Submarine Voyage, a ride which allowed visitors to experience what it was like to ride in a submarine and journey through the briny depths of the oceans, including seeing sea monsters and mermaids. Of course, we don’t mean real mermaids, because as you know, Disney wouldn’t go into genetic engineering until they created Justin Timberlake in the ’90s. We’re talking about starfish-bra-wearing, fake-tail-clad women who made an easy $45 a week by swimming in the waters of the ride and sunning themselves on a rock, to the delight of onlookers. As it happens, however, the ride’s submarines used real propellers for authenticity, and so the mermaids would frequently have to worry about being sucked into and vaporized by the blasted thing.

Santa Monica PressOn the upside, if the propeller chopped off their legs, they could probably charge extra for the added authenticity.

Being half-naked women having fun in the sun, the mermaids would also have to contend with lecherous dudes jumping the fence and swimming out to them, presumably in the hope of fertilizing their eggs. That is, when they weren’t showering the mermaids in dollars bills and rolls of quarters like dancers at the world’s happiest/weirdest strip joint. The problems with male guests, as well as the general dangers of asking people to swim in a dirty pool of flotsam, jetsam, and razor blades, eventually convinced Disney to call quits on this one and stick to cartoon merfolk.

2

The CIA Advised Walt Disney On Preventing The Government From Meddling With Disney World

Not too long ago, we told you about how Disney World is, legally speaking, a secessionist state outside of the reach of the guvmit and its unfair insistence on rules and stuff. It’s a pretty weird arrangement for what is essentially a high-class Chuck E. Cheese’s, but how did it come to be in the first place? We’re pretty sure that though Walt Disney was an eccentric motherflipper, he had better things to do than host a coup d’etat. Well, that’s partially correct, in that he didn’t have the time — no, he palmed the job off to the CIA, who were more than happy to help. They had experience in this sort of thing, after all.

After he’d finished purchasing the land for their proposed park, Disney was left with more than 40 square miles under his company’s control. Eager to keep as much of that out of the government’s grasping mitts as possible, Disney teamed up with William Donovan (also known as the “Father of the CIA”) and Paul Helliwell (a lawyer who was part of efforts to overthrow Fidel Castro) to help build, lest we remind you, a cartoon-character-filled theme park.

Florida Development CommissionDespot Center was later renamed EPCOT.

So how do you solve a problem like government oversight? Oh, that’s easy: You create two ghost cities (the City of Bay Lake and the City of Lake Buena Vista) and populate them with your own workers, who, in exchange for certain privileges, agree to run the town in whatever way their corporate overlords want. Under this arrangement, Disney gets what it wants (freedom from the state, zero taxation, exemption from environmental regulations, maybe a goat sacrifice or two), and the workers get what they want, i.e. to live next to Disney World and line-cutting privileges at Space Mountain.

There are some pesky issues with this, namely that it violates certain parts of the Constitution and requires that all workers toe the line politically unless they want to be homeless. But that’s a small price to pay for wholesome, family-friendly fun, right?

1

A Former Nazi Interrogator Made The Mosaics In Cinderella’s Castle

As anyone who has ever undergone a midlife change in career knows, that stuff is hard to pull off. There’s all the doubt about whether you did the right thing, the constant line of questioning about why your old place was so bad, and the general confusion that comes from, say, spending 50 years as a coal miner, only to take up fluffing. For Hanns Scharff, however, it was a pretty easy, stress-free decision to move into the illustrious world of designing the mosaics that adorn Disneyland and EPCOT. After all, his previous job was “Nazi interrogator.” And no, we don’t mean that he interrogated Nazis.

During World War II, Scharff served as an interrogator with the Luftwaffe, tasked with dredging information out of captured Allied pilots and other POWs. He only managed to avoid being assigned a shift as a gallows tester at Nuremberg because he was one of those rare interrogators who didn’t like hurting people. He’d only fallen into the job butt-first after his superiors were wiped out in a (non-Disney-related) plane accident, not because of any raging bloodlust. Consequently, he wasn’t totally down on beating people, figuring that there must be a better way, gosh dang it. Even if he was working for the actual Nazis and all.

Scharff found that “better way” in the art of manipulating minds. Instead of strapping pilots to chairs and electrowiring their nuts, Scharff would simply let his newfound friends talk. One of his favorite gambits was to use his extensive intelligence network to build up a complete picture of each pilot and then lord his superior knowledge over them, making sure to get certain pieces of information wrong. His prisoners, desperate to one-up him, would then correct him, not knowing that they’d given him the information that he needed.

Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.If you ever wondered what would happen if Mr. Rogers was in a teleporter accident with Hitler, there you go.

His success rate was also helped by his habit of taking his prisoners on long walks through the local woodland, where they would share cigarettes, frolic, and talk about, like, home and the war and stuff that in a parallel universe lost them the war. Scharff would also arrange other experiences for his guests: dining with high command, visiting the local zoo, enjoying baked goods provided by Scharff’s wife, and so on. It was pretty much how you’d get a toddler to spill war secrets. One prisoner was even afforded the opportunity to fly a Messerschmitt fighter plane, albeit one with little to no fuel and no machine guns. Scharff was kind, but he wasn’t as gullible and easily manipulated as, um, our guys.

Despite being a foot soldier for history’s great evil, Scharff was well-respected by his prisoners, and come the end of the war, he was able to hit up some of his old contacts for advice about moving to the United States. Once there, he discovered his true passion: mosaic art. He established a workshop in New York City. His business booming, he subsequently moved to California, where he was soon contracted to decorate Cinderella’s Castle and EPCOT. It’s all well and good stealing Nazis for NASA, but did they ever make a child smile? We think not.

From Screen to Theme
From Screen to ThemeJust, you know, try not to mention any state secrets near here.

Adam Wears is on Twitter and Facebook, and has a newsletter about depressing history that you should totally subscribe to. It’s really good, honest.

Mermaid tails are actually pretty heavy-duty gear and you do not want to be sucked into a propeller while wearing one.

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Read more: http://www.cracked.com/article_25274_5-crazy-stories-from-early-days-disneyland.html

Mark E Smith, founder and lead singer with the Fall, dies aged 60

Famously fractious singer had been suffering from ill health throughout 2017

Mark E Smith, founder and lead singer with the Fall, dies aged 60

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/jan/24/mark-e-smith-lead-singer-with-the-fall-dies-aged-60

Inside the Two Years That Shook Facebookand the World

One day in late February of 2016, Mark Zuckerberg sent a memo to all of Facebook’s employees to address some troubling behavior in the ranks. His message pertained to some walls at the company’s Menlo Park headquarters where staffers are encouraged to scribble notes and signatures. On at least a couple of occasions, someone had crossed out the words “Black Lives Matter” and replaced them with “All Lives Matter.” Zuckerberg wanted whoever was responsible to cut it out.

“ ‘Black Lives Matter’ doesn’t mean other lives don’t,” he wrote. “We’ve never had rules around what people can write on our walls,” the memo went on. But “crossing out something means silencing speech, or that one person’s speech is more important than another’s.” The defacement, he said, was being investigated.

All around the country at about this time, debates about race and politics were becoming increasingly raw. Donald Trump had just won the South Carolina primary, lashed out at the Pope over immigration, and earned the enthusiastic support of David Duke. Hillary Clinton had just defeated Bernie Sanders in Nevada, only to have an activist from Black Lives Matter interrupt a speech of hers to protest racially charged statements she’d made two decades before. And on Facebook, a popular group called Blacktivist was gaining traction by blasting out messages like “American economy and power were built on forced migration and torture.”

So when Zuckerberg’s admonition circulated, a young contract employee named Benjamin Fearnow decided it might be newsworthy. He took a screenshot on his personal laptop and sent the image to a friend named Michael Nuñez, who worked at the tech-news site Gizmodo. Nuñez promptly published a brief story about Zuckerberg’s memo.

A week later, Fearnow came across something else he thought Nuñez might like to publish. In another internal communication, Facebook had invited its employees to submit potential questions to ask Zuckerberg at an all-hands meeting. One of the most up-voted questions that week was “What responsibility does Facebook have to help prevent President Trump in 2017?” Fearnow took another screenshot, this time with his phone.

Fearnow, a recent graduate of the Columbia Journalism School, worked in Facebook’s New York office on something called Trending Topics, a feed of popular news subjects that popped up when people opened Facebook. The feed was generated by an algorithm but moderated by a team of about 25 people with backgrounds in journalism. If the word “Trump” was trending, as it often was, they used their news judgment to identify which bit of news about the candidate was most important. If The Onion or a hoax site published a spoof that went viral, they had to keep that out. If something like a mass shooting happened, and Facebook’s algorithm was slow to pick up on it, they would inject a story about it into the feed.

March 2018. Subscribe to WIRED.

Jake Rowland/Esto

Facebook prides itself on being a place where people love to work. But Fearnow and his team weren’t the happiest lot. They were contract employees hired through a company called BCforward, and every day was full of little reminders that they weren’t really part of Facebook. Plus, the young journalists knew their jobs were doomed from the start. Tech companies, for the most part, prefer to have as little as possible done by humans—because, it’s often said, they don’t scale. You can’t hire a billion of them, and they prove meddlesome in ways that algorithms don’t. They need bathroom breaks and health insurance, and the most annoying of them sometimes talk to the press. Eventually, everyone assumed, Facebook’s algorithms would be good enough to run the whole project, and the people on Fearnow’s team—who served partly to train those algorithms—would be expendable.

The day after Fearnow took that second screenshot was a Friday. When he woke up after sleeping in, he noticed that he had about 30 meeting notifications from Facebook on his phone. When he replied to say it was his day off, he recalls, he was nonetheless asked to be available in 10 minutes. Soon he was on a video­conference with three Facebook employees, including Sonya Ahuja, the company’s head of investigations. According to his recounting of the meeting, she asked him if he had been in touch with Nuñez. He denied that he had been. Then she told him that she had their messages on Gchat, which Fearnow had assumed weren’t accessible to Facebook. He was fired. “Please shut your laptop and don’t reopen it,” she instructed him.

That same day, Ahuja had another conversation with a second employee at Trending Topics named Ryan Villarreal. Several years before, he and Fearnow had shared an apartment with Nuñez. Villarreal said he hadn’t taken any screenshots, and he certainly hadn’t leaked them. But he had clicked “like” on the story about Black Lives Matter, and he was friends with Nuñez on Facebook. “Do you think leaks are bad?” Ahuja demanded to know, according to Villarreal. He was fired too. The last he heard from his employer was in a letter from BCforward. The company had given him $15 to cover expenses, and it wanted the money back.

The firing of Fearnow and Villarreal set the Trending Topics team on edge—and Nuñez kept digging for dirt. He soon published a story about the internal poll showing Facebookers’ interest in fending off Trump. Then, in early May, he published an article based on conversations with yet a third former Trending Topics employee, under the blaring headline “Former Facebook Workers: We Routinely Suppressed Conservative News.” The piece suggested that Facebook’s Trending team worked like a Fox News fever dream, with a bunch of biased curators “injecting” liberal stories and “blacklisting” conservative ones. Within a few hours the piece popped onto half a dozen highly trafficked tech and politics websites, including Drudge Report and Breitbart News.

The post went viral, but the ensuing battle over Trending Topics did more than just dominate a few news cycles. In ways that are only fully visible now, it set the stage for the most tumultuous two years of Facebook’s existence—triggering a chain of events that would distract and confuse the company while larger disasters began to engulf it.

This is the story of those two years, as they played out inside and around the company. WIRED spoke with 51 current or former Facebook employees for this article, many of whom did not want their names used, for reasons anyone familiar with the story of Fearnow and Villarreal would surely understand. (One current employee asked that a WIRED reporter turn off his phone so the company would have a harder time tracking whether it had been near the phones of anyone from Facebook.)

The stories varied, but most people told the same basic tale: of a company, and a CEO, whose techno-optimism has been crushed as they’ve learned the myriad ways their platform can be used for ill. Of an election that shocked Facebook, even as its fallout put the company under siege. Of a series of external threats, defensive internal calculations, and false starts that delayed Facebook’s reckoning with its impact on global affairs and its users’ minds. And—in the tale’s final chapters—of the company’s earnest attempt to redeem itself.

In that saga, Fearnow plays one of those obscure but crucial roles that history occasionally hands out. He’s the Franz Ferdinand of Facebook—or maybe he’s more like the archduke’s hapless young assassin. Either way, in the rolling disaster that has enveloped Facebook since early 2016, Fearnow’s leaks probably ought to go down as the screenshots heard round the world.

II

By now, the story of Facebook’s all-consuming growth is practically the creation myth of our information era. What began as a way to connect with your friends at Harvard became a way to connect with people at other elite schools, then at all schools, and then everywhere. After that, your Facebook login became a way to log on to other internet sites. Its Messenger app started competing with email and texting. It became the place where you told people you were safe after an earthquake. In some countries like the Philippines, it effectively is the internet.

The furious energy of this big bang emanated, in large part, from a brilliant and simple insight. Humans are social animals. But the internet is a cesspool. That scares people away from identifying themselves and putting personal details online. Solve that problem—make people feel safe to post—and they will share obsessively. Make the resulting database of privately shared information and personal connections available to advertisers, and that platform will become one of the most important media technologies of the early 21st century.

But as powerful as that original insight was, Facebook’s expansion has also been driven by sheer brawn. Zuckerberg has been a determined, even ruthless, steward of the company’s manifest destiny, with an uncanny knack for placing the right bets. In the company’s early days, “move fast and break things” wasn’t just a piece of advice to his developers; it was a philosophy that served to resolve countless delicate trade-offs—many of them involving user privacy—in ways that best favored the platform’s growth. And when it comes to competitors, Zuckerberg has been relentless in either acquiring or sinking any challengers that seem to have the wind at their backs.

Facebook’s Reckoning

Two years that forced the platform to change

by Blanca Myers

March 2016

Facebook suspends Benjamin Fearnow, a journalist-­curator for the platform’s Trending Topics feed, after he leaks to Gizmodo.

May 2016

Gizmodo reports that Trending Topics “routinely suppressed conservative news.” The story sends Facebook scrambling.

July 2016

Rupert Murdoch tells Zuckerberg that Facebook is wreaking havoc on the news industry and threatens to cause trouble.

August 2016

Facebook cuts loose all of its Trending Topics journalists, ceding authority over the feed to engineers in Seattle.

November 2016

Donald Trump wins. Zuckerberg says it’s “pretty crazy” to think fake news on Facebook helped tip the election.

December 2016

Facebook declares war on fake news, hires CNN alum Campbell Brown to shepherd relations with the publishing industry.

September 2017

Facebook announces that a Russian group paid $100,000 for roughly 3,000 ads aimed at US voters.

October 2017

Researcher Jonathan Albright reveals that posts from six Russian propaganda accounts were shared 340 million times.

November 2017

Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch gets pummeled during congressional Intelligence Committee hearings.

January 2018

Facebook begins announcing major changes, aimed to ensure that time on the platform will be “time well spent.”

In fact, it was in besting just such a rival that Facebook came to dominate how we discover and consume news. Back in 2012, the most exciting social network for distributing news online wasn’t Facebook, it was Twitter. The latter’s 140-character posts accelerated the speed at which news could spread, allowing its influence in the news industry to grow much faster than Facebook’s. “Twitter was this massive, massive threat,” says a former Facebook executive heavily involved in the decisionmaking at the time.

So Zuckerberg pursued a strategy he has often deployed against competitors he cannot buy: He copied, then crushed. He adjusted Facebook’s News Feed to fully incorporate news (despite its name, the feed was originally tilted toward personal news) and adjusted the product so that it showed author bylines and headlines. Then Facebook’s emissaries fanned out to talk with journalists and explain how to best reach readers through the platform. By the end of 2013, Facebook had doubled its share of traffic to news sites and had started to push Twitter into a decline. By the middle of 2015, it had surpassed Google as the leader in referring readers to publisher sites and was now referring 13 times as many readers to news publishers as Twitter. That year, Facebook launched Instant Articles, offering publishers the chance to publish directly on the platform. Posts would load faster and look sharper if they agreed, but the publishers would give up an element of control over the content. The publishing industry, which had been reeling for years, largely assented. Facebook now effectively owned the news. “If you could reproduce Twitter inside of Facebook, why would you go to Twitter?” says the former executive. “What they are doing to Snapchat now, they did to Twitter back then.”

It appears that Facebook did not, however, carefully think through the implications of becoming the dominant force in the news industry. Everyone in management cared about quality and accuracy, and they had set up rules, for example, to eliminate pornography and protect copyright. But Facebook hired few journalists and spent little time discussing the big questions that bedevil the media industry. What is fair? What is a fact? How do you signal the difference between news, analysis, satire, and opinion? Facebook has long seemed to think it has immunity from those debates because it is just a technology company—one that has built a “platform for all ideas.”

This notion that Facebook is an open, neutral platform is almost like a religious tenet inside the company. When new recruits come in, they are treated to an orientation lecture by Chris Cox, the company’s chief product officer, who tells them Facebook is an entirely new communications platform for the 21st century, as the telephone was for the 20th. But if anyone inside Facebook is unconvinced by religion, there is also Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act to recommend the idea. This is the section of US law that shelters internet intermediaries from liability for the content their users post. If Facebook were to start creating or editing content on its platform, it would risk losing that immunity—and it’s hard to imagine how Facebook could exist if it were liable for the many billion pieces of content a day that users post on its site.

And so, because of the company’s self-image, as well as its fear of regulation, Facebook tried never to favor one kind of news content over another. But neutrality is a choice in itself. For instance, Facebook decided to present every piece of content that appeared on News Feed—whether it was your dog pictures or a news story—in roughly the same way. This meant that all news stories looked roughly the same as each other, too, whether they were investigations in The Washington Post, gossip in the New York Post, or flat-out lies in the Denver Guardian, an entirely bogus newspaper. Facebook argued that this democratized information. You saw what your friends wanted you to see, not what some editor in a Times Square tower chose. But it’s hard to argue that this wasn’t an editorial decision. It may be one of the biggest ever made.

In any case, Facebook’s move into news set off yet another explosion of ways that people could connect. Now Facebook was the place where publications could connect with their readers—and also where Macedonian teenagers could connect with voters in America, and operatives in Saint Petersburg could connect with audiences of their own choosing in a way that no one at the company had ever seen before.

III

In February of 2016, just as the Trending Topics fiasco was building up steam, Roger ­McNamee became one of the first Facebook insiders to notice strange things happening on the platform. McNamee was an early investor in Facebook who had mentored Zuckerberg through two crucial decisions: to turn down Yahoo’s offer of $1 billion to acquire Facebook in 2006; and to hire a Google executive named Sheryl Sandberg in 2008 to help find a business model. McNamee was no longer in touch with Zuckerberg much, but he was still an investor, and that month he started seeing things related to the Bernie Sanders campaign that worried him. “I’m observing memes ostensibly coming out of a Facebook group associated with the Sanders campaign that couldn’t possibly have been from the Sanders campaign,” he recalls, “and yet they were organized and spreading in such a way that suggested somebody had a budget. And I’m sitting there thinking, ‘That’s really weird. I mean, that’s not good.’ ”

But McNamee didn’t say anything to anyone at Facebook—at least not yet. And the company itself was not picking up on any such worrying signals, save for one blip on its radar: In early 2016, its security team noticed an uptick in Russian actors attempting to steal the credentials of journalists and public figures. Facebook reported this to the FBI. But the company says it never heard back from the government, and that was that.

Instead, Facebook spent the spring of 2016 very busily fending off accusations that it might influence the elections in a completely different way. When Gizmodo published its story about political bias on the Trending Topics team in May, the ­article went off like a bomb in Menlo Park. It quickly reached millions of readers and, in a delicious irony, appeared in the Trending Topics module itself. But the bad press wasn’t what really rattled Facebook—it was the letter from John Thune, a Republican US senator from South Dakota, that followed the story’s publication. Thune chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, which in turn oversees the Federal Trade Commission, an agency that has been especially active in investigating Facebook. The senator wanted Facebook’s answers to the allegations of bias, and he wanted them promptly.

The Thune letter put Facebook on high alert. The company promptly dispatched senior Washington staffers to meet with Thune’s team. Then it sent him a 12-page single-spaced letter explaining that it had conducted a thorough review of Trending Topics and determined that the allegations in the Gizmodo story were largely false.

Facebook decided, too, that it had to extend an olive branch to the entire American right wing, much of which was raging about the company’s supposed perfidy. And so, just over a week after the story ran, Facebook scrambled to invite a group of 17 prominent Republicans out to Menlo Park. The list included television hosts, radio stars, think tankers, and an adviser to the Trump campaign. The point was partly to get feedback. But more than that, the company wanted to make a show of apologizing for its sins, lifting up the back of its shirt, and asking for the lash.

According to a Facebook employee involved in planning the meeting, part of the goal was to bring in a group of conservatives who were certain to fight with one another. They made sure to have libertarians who wouldn’t want to regulate the platform and partisans who would. Another goal, according to the employee, was to make sure the attendees were “bored to death” by a technical presentation after Zuckerberg and Sandberg had addressed the group.

The power went out, and the room got uncomfortably hot. But otherwise the meeting went according to plan. The guests did indeed fight, and they failed to unify in a way that was either threatening or coherent. Some wanted the company to set hiring quotas for conservative employees; others thought that idea was nuts. As often happens when outsiders meet with Facebook, people used the time to try to figure out how they could get more followers for their own pages.

Afterward, Glenn Beck, one of the invitees, wrote an essay about the meeting, praising Zuckerberg. “I asked him if Facebook, now or in the future, would be an open platform for the sharing of all ideas or a curator of content,” Beck wrote. “Without hesitation, with clarity and boldness, Mark said there is only one Facebook and one path forward: ‘We are an open platform.’”

Inside Facebook itself, the backlash around Trending Topics did inspire some genuine soul-searching. But none of it got very far. A quiet internal project, codenamed Hudson, cropped up around this time to determine, according to someone who worked on it, whether News Feed should be modified to better deal with some of the most complex issues facing the product. Does it favor posts that make people angry? Does it favor simple or even false ideas over complex and true ones? Those are hard questions, and the company didn’t have answers to them yet. Ultimately, in late June, Facebook announced a modest change: The algorithm would be revised to favor posts from friends and family. At the same time, Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s News Feed boss, posted a manifesto titled “Building a Better News Feed for You.” People inside Facebook spoke of it as a document roughly resembling the Magna Carta; the company had never spoken before about how News Feed really worked. To outsiders, though, the document came across as boilerplate. It said roughly what you’d expect: that the company was opposed to clickbait but that it wasn’t in the business of favoring certain kinds of viewpoints.

The most important consequence of the Trending Topics controversy, according to nearly a dozen former and current employees, was that Facebook became wary of doing anything that might look like stifling conservative news. It had burned its fingers once and didn’t want to do it again. And so a summer of deeply partisan rancor and calumny began with Facebook eager to stay out of the fray.

IV

Shortly after Mosseri published his guide to News Feed values, Zuckerberg traveled to Sun Valley, Idaho, for an annual conference hosted by billionaire Herb Allen, where moguls in short sleeves and sunglasses cavort and make plans to buy each other’s companies. But Rupert Murdoch broke the mood in a meeting that took place inside his villa. According to numerous accounts of the conversation, Murdoch and Robert Thomson, the CEO of News Corp, explained to Zuckerberg that they had long been unhappy with Facebook and Google. The two tech giants had taken nearly the entire digital ad market and become an existential threat to serious journalism. According to people familiar with the conversation, the two News Corp leaders accused Facebook of making dramatic changes to its core algorithm without adequately consulting its media partners, wreaking havoc according to Zuckerberg’s whims. If Facebook didn’t start offering a better deal to the publishing industry, Thomson and Murdoch conveyed in stark terms, Zuckerberg could expect News Corp executives to become much more public in their denunciations and much more open in their lobbying. They had helped to make things very hard for Google in Europe. And they could do the same for Facebook in the US.

Facebook thought that News Corp was threatening to push for a government antitrust investigation or maybe an inquiry into whether the company deserved its protection from liability as a neutral platform. Inside Facebook, executives believed Murdoch might use his papers and TV stations to amplify critiques of the company. News Corp says that was not at all the case; the company threatened to deploy executives, but not its journalists.

Zuckerberg had reason to take the meeting especially seriously, according to a former Facebook executive, because he had firsthand knowledge of Murdoch’s skill in the dark arts. Back in 2007, Facebook had come under criticism from 49 state attorneys general for failing to protect young Facebook users from sexual predators and inappropriate content. Concerned parents had written to Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal, who opened an investigation, and to The New York Times, which published a story. But according to a former Facebook executive in a position to know, the company believed that many of the Facebook accounts and the predatory behavior the letters referenced were fakes, traceable to News Corp lawyers or others working for Murdoch, who owned Facebook’s biggest competitor, MySpace. “We traced the creation of the Facebook accounts to IP addresses at the Apple store a block away from the MySpace offices in Santa Monica,” the executive says. “Facebook then traced interactions with those accounts to News Corp lawyers. When it comes to Facebook, Murdoch has been playing every angle he can for a long time.” (Both News Corp and its spinoff 21st Century Fox declined to comment.)

Zuckerberg took Murdoch’s threats seriously—he had firsthand knowledge of the older man’s skill in the dark arts.

When Zuckerberg returned from Sun Valley, he told his employees that things had to change. They still weren’t in the news business, but they had to make sure there would be a news business. And they had to communicate better. One of those who got a new to-do list was Andrew Anker, a product manager who’d arrived at Facebook in 2015 after a career in journalism (including a long stint at WIRED in the ’90s). One of his jobs was to help the company think through how publishers could make money on the platform. Shortly after Sun Valley, Anker met with Zuckerberg and asked to hire 60 new people to work on partnerships with the news industry. Before the meeting ended, the request was approved.

But having more people out talking to publishers just drove home how hard it would be to resolve the financial problems Murdoch wanted fixed. News outfits were spending millions to produce stories that Facebook was benefiting from, and Facebook, they felt, was giving too little back in return. Instant Articles, in particular, struck them as a Trojan horse. Publishers complained that they could make more money from stories that loaded on their own mobile web pages than on Facebook Instant. (They often did so, it turned out, in ways that short-changed advertisers, by sneaking in ads that readers were unlikely to see. Facebook didn’t let them get away with that.) Another seemingly irreconcilable difference: Outlets like Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal depended on paywalls to make money, but Instant Articles banned paywalls; Zuckerberg disapproved of them. After all, he would often ask, how exactly do walls and toll booths make the world more open and connected?

The conversations often ended at an impasse, but Facebook was at least becoming more attentive. This newfound appreciation for the concerns of journalists did not, however, extend to the journalists on Facebook’s own Trending Topics team. In late August, everyone on the team was told that their jobs were being eliminated. Simultaneously, authority over the algorithm shifted to a team of engineers based in Seattle. Very quickly the module started to surface lies and fiction. A headline days later read, “Fox News Exposes Traitor Megyn Kelly, Kicks Her Out For Backing Hillary."

V

While Facebook grappled internally with what it was becoming—a company that dominated media but didn’t want to be a media company—Donald Trump’s presidential campaign staff faced no such confusion. To them Facebook’s use was obvious. Twitter was a tool for communicating directly with supporters and yelling at the media. Facebook was the way to run the most effective direct-­marketing political operation in history.

In the summer of 2016, at the top of the general election campaign, Trump’s digital operation might have seemed to be at a major disadvantage. After all, Hillary Clinton’s team was flush with elite talent and got advice from Eric Schmidt, known for running ­Google. Trump’s was run by Brad Parscale, known for setting up the Eric Trump Foundation’s web page. Trump’s social media director was his former caddie. But in 2016, it turned out you didn’t need digital experience running a presidential campaign, you just needed a knack for Facebook.

Over the course of the summer, Trump’s team turned the platform into one of its primary vehicles for fund-­raising. The campaign uploaded its voter files—the names, addresses, voting history, and any other information it had on potential voters—to Facebook. Then, using a tool called Look­alike Audiences, Facebook identified the broad characteristics of, say, people who had signed up for Trump newsletters or bought Trump hats. That allowed the campaign to send ads to people with similar traits. Trump would post simple messages like “This election is being rigged by the media pushing false and unsubstantiated charges, and outright lies, in order to elect Crooked Hillary!” that got hundreds of thousands of likes, comments, and shares. The money rolled in. Clinton’s wonkier messages, meanwhile, resonated less on the platform. Inside Facebook, almost everyone on the executive team wanted Clinton to win; but they knew that Trump was using the platform better. If he was the candidate for Facebook, she was the candidate for LinkedIn.

Trump’s candidacy also proved to be a wonderful tool for a new class of scammers pumping out massively viral and entirely fake stories. Through trial and error, they learned that memes praising the former host of The Apprentice got many more readers than ones praising the former secretary of state. A website called Ending the Fed proclaimed that the Pope had endorsed Trump and got almost a million comments, shares, and reactions on Facebook, according to an analysis by BuzzFeed. Other stories asserted that the former first lady had quietly been selling weapons to ISIS, and that an FBI agent suspected of leaking Clinton’s emails was found dead. Some of the posts came from hyperpartisan Americans. Some came from overseas content mills that were in it purely for the ad dollars. By the end of the campaign, the top fake stories on the platform were generating more engagement than the top real ones.

Even current Facebookers acknowledge now that they missed what should have been obvious signs of people misusing the platform. And looking back, it’s easy to put together a long list of possible explanations for the myopia in Menlo Park about fake news. Management was gun-shy because of the Trending Topics fiasco; taking action against partisan disinformation—or even identifying it as such—might have been seen as another act of political favoritism. Facebook also sold ads against the stories, and sensational garbage was good at pulling people into the platform. Employees’ bonuses can be based largely on whether Facebook hits certain growth and revenue targets, which gives people an extra incentive not to worry too much about things that are otherwise good for engagement. And then there was the ever-present issue of Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. If the company started taking responsibility for fake news, it might have to take responsibility for a lot more. Facebook had plenty of reasons to keep its head in the sand.

Roger McNamee, however, watched carefully as the nonsense spread. First there were the fake stories pushing Bernie Sanders, then he saw ones supporting Brexit, and then helping Trump. By the end of the summer, he had resolved to write an op-ed about the problems on the platform. But he never ran it. “The idea was, look, these are my friends. I really want to help them.” And so on a Sunday evening, nine days before the 2016 election, McNamee emailed a 1,000-word letter to Sandberg and Zuckerberg. “I am really sad about Facebook,” it began. “I got involved with the company more than a decade ago and have taken great pride and joy in the company’s success … until the past few months. Now I am disappointed. I am embarrassed. I am ashamed.”

Eddie Guy

VI

It’s not easy to recognize that the machine you’ve built to bring people together is being used to tear them apart, and Mark Zuckerberg’s initial reaction to Trump’s victory, and Facebook’s possible role in it, was one of peevish dismissal. Executives remember panic the first few days, with the leadership team scurrying back and forth between Zuckerberg’s conference room (called the Aquarium) and Sandberg’s (called Only Good News), trying to figure out what had just happened and whether they would be blamed. Then, at a conference two days after the election, Zuckerberg argued that filter bubbles are worse offline than on Facebook and that social media hardly influences how people vote. “The idea that fake news on Facebook—of which, you know, it’s a very small amount of the content—influenced the election in any way, I think, is a pretty crazy idea,” he said.

Zuckerberg declined to be interviewed for this article, but people who know him well say he likes to form his opinions from data. And in this case he wasn’t without it. Before the interview, his staff had worked up a back-of-the-­envelope calculation showing that fake news was a tiny percentage of the total amount of election-­related content on the platform. But the analysis was just an aggregate look at the percentage of clearly fake stories that appeared across all of Facebook. It didn’t measure their influence or the way fake news affected specific groups. It was a number, but not a particularly meaningful one.

Zuckerberg’s comments did not go over well, even inside Facebook. They seemed clueless and self-absorbed. “What he said was incredibly damaging,” a former executive told WIRED. “We had to really flip him on that. We realized that if we didn’t, the company was going to start heading down this pariah path that Uber was on.”

A week after his “pretty crazy” comment, Zuckerberg flew to Peru to give a talk to world leaders about the ways that connecting more people to the internet, and to Facebook, could reduce global poverty. Right after he landed in Lima, he posted something of a mea culpa. He explained that Facebook did take misinformation seriously, and he presented a vague seven-point plan to tackle it. When a professor at the New School named David Carroll saw Zuckerberg’s post, he took a screenshot. Alongside it on Carroll’s feed ran a headline from a fake CNN with an image of a distressed Donald Trump and the text “DISQUALIFIED; He’s GONE!”

At the conference in Peru, Zuckerberg met with a man who knows a few things about politics: Barack Obama. Media reports portrayed the encounter as one in which the lame-duck president pulled Zuckerberg aside and gave him a “wake-up call” about fake news. But according to someone who was with them in Lima, it was Zuckerberg who called the meeting, and his agenda was merely to convince Obama that, yes, Facebook was serious about dealing with the problem. He truly wanted to thwart misinformation, he said, but it wasn’t an easy issue to solve.

One employee compared Zuckerberg to Lennie in Of Mice and Men—a man with no understanding of his own strength.

Meanwhile, at Facebook, the gears churned. For the first time, insiders really began to question whether they had too much power. One employee told WIRED that, watching Zuckerberg, he was reminded of Lennie in Of Mice and Men, the farm-worker with no understanding of his own strength.

Very soon after the election, a team of employees started working on something called the News Feed Integrity Task Force, inspired by a sense, one of them told WIRED, that hyperpartisan misinformation was “a disease that’s creeping into the entire platform.” The group, which included Mosseri and Anker, began to meet every day, using whiteboards to outline different ways they could respond to the fake-news crisis. Within a few weeks the company announced it would cut off advertising revenue for ad farms and make it easier for users to flag stories they thought false.

In December the company announced that, for the first time, it would introduce fact-checking onto the platform. Facebook didn’t want to check facts itself; instead it would outsource the problem to professionals. If Facebook received enough signals that a story was false, it would automatically be sent to partners, like Snopes, for review. Then, in early January, Facebook announced that it had hired Campbell Brown, a former anchor at CNN. She immediately became the most prominent journalist hired by the company.

Soon Brown was put in charge of something called the Facebook Journalism Project. “We spun it up over the holidays, essentially,” says one person involved in discussions about the project. The aim was to demonstrate that Facebook was thinking hard about its role in the future of journalism—essentially, it was a more public and organized version of the efforts the company had begun after Murdoch’s tongue-lashing. But sheer anxiety was also part of the motivation. “After the election, because Trump won, the media put a ton of attention on fake news and just started hammering us. People started panicking and getting afraid that regulation was coming. So the team looked at what Google had been doing for years with News Lab”—a group inside Alphabet that builds tools for journalists—“and we decided to figure out how we could put together our own packaged program that shows how seriously we take the future of news.”

Facebook was reluctant, however, to issue any mea culpas or action plans with regard to the problem of filter bubbles or Facebook’s noted propensity to serve as a tool for amplifying outrage. Members of the leadership team regarded these as issues that couldn’t be solved, and maybe even shouldn’t be solved. Was Facebook really more at fault for amplifying outrage during the election than, say, Fox News or MSNBC? Sure, you could put stories into people’s feeds that contradicted their political viewpoints, but people would turn away from them, just as surely as they’d flip the dial back if their TV quietly switched them from Sean Hannity to Joy Reid. The problem, as Anker puts it, “is not Facebook. It’s humans.”

VII

Zuckerberg’s “pretty crazy” statement about fake news caught the ear of a lot of people, but one of the most influential was a security researcher named Renée DiResta. For years, she’d been studying how misinformation spreads on the platform. If you joined an antivaccine group on Facebook, she observed, the platform might suggest that you join flat-earth groups or maybe ones devoted to Pizzagate—putting you on a conveyor belt of conspiracy thinking. Zuckerberg’s statement struck her as wildly out of touch. “How can this platform say this thing?” she remembers thinking.

Roger McNamee, meanwhile, was getting steamed at Facebook’s response to his letter. Zuckerberg and Sandberg had written him back promptly, but they hadn’t said anything substantial. Instead he ended up having a months-long, ultimately futile set of email exchanges with Dan Rose, Facebook’s VP for partnerships. McNamee says Rose’s message was polite but also very firm: The company was doing a lot of good work that McNamee couldn’t see, and in any event Facebook was a platform, not a media company.

“And I’m sitting there going, ‘Guys, seriously, I don’t think that’s how it works,’” McNamee says. “You can assert till you’re blue in the face that you’re a platform, but if your users take a different point of view, it doesn’t matter what you assert.”

As the saying goes, heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, and McNamee’s concern soon became a cause—and the beginning of an alliance. In April 2017 he connected with a former Google design ethicist named Tristan Harris when they appeared together on Bloomberg TV. Harris had by then gained a national reputation as the conscience of Silicon Valley. He had been profiled on 60 Minutes and in The Atlantic, and he spoke eloquently about the subtle tricks that social media companies use to foster an addiction to their services. “They can amplify the worst aspects of human nature,” Harris told WIRED this past December. After the TV appearance, McNamee says he called Harris up and asked, “Dude, do you need a wingman?”

The next month, DiResta published an ­article comparing purveyors of disinformation on social media to manipulative high-frequency traders in financial markets. “Social networks enable malicious actors to operate at platform scale, because they were designed for fast information flows and virality,” she wrote. Bots and sock puppets could cheaply “create the illusion of a mass groundswell of grassroots activity,” in much the same way that early, now-illegal trading algorithms could spoof demand for a stock. Harris read the article, was impressed, and emailed her.

The three were soon out talking to anyone who would listen about Facebook’s poisonous effects on American democracy. And before long they found receptive audiences in the media and Congress—groups with their own mounting grievances against the social media giant.

VIII

Even at the best of times, meetings between Facebook and media executives can feel like unhappy family gatherings. The two sides are inextricably bound together, but they don’t like each other all that much. News executives resent that Facebook and Google have captured roughly three-quarters of the digital ad business, leaving the media industry and other platforms, like Twitter, to fight over scraps. Plus they feel like the preferences of Facebook’s algorithm have pushed the industry to publish ever-dumber stories. For years, The New York Times resented that Facebook helped elevate BuzzFeed; now BuzzFeed is angry about being displaced by clickbait.

And then there’s the simple, deep fear and mistrust that Facebook inspires. Every publisher knows that, at best, they are sharecroppers on Facebook’s massive industrial farm. The social network is roughly 200 times more valuable than the Times. And journalists know that the man who owns the farm has the leverage. If Facebook wanted to, it could quietly turn any number of dials that would harm a publisher—by manipulating its traffic, its ad network, or its readers.

Emissaries from Facebook, for their part, find it tiresome to be lectured by people who can’t tell an algorithm from an API. They also know that Facebook didn’t win the digital ad market through luck: It built a better ad product. And in their darkest moments, they wonder: What’s the point? News makes up only about 5 percent of the total content that people see on Facebook globally. The company could let it all go and its shareholders would scarcely notice. And there’s another, deeper problem: Mark Zuckerberg, according to people who know him, prefers to think about the future. He’s less interested in the news industry’s problems right now; he’s interested in the problems five or 20 years from now. The editors of major media companies, on the other hand, are worried about their next quarter—maybe even their next phone call. When they bring lunch back to their desks, they know not to buy green bananas.

This mutual wariness—sharpened almost to enmity in the wake of the election—did not make life easy for Campbell Brown when she started her new job running the nascent Facebook Journalism Project. The first item on her to-do list was to head out on yet another Facebook listening tour with editors and publishers. One editor describes a fairly typical meeting: Brown and Chris Cox, Facebook’s chief product officer, invited a group of media leaders to gather in late January 2017 at Brown’s apartment in Manhattan. Cox, a quiet, suave man, sometimes referred to as “the Ryan Gosling of Facebook Product,” took the brunt of the ensuing abuse. “Basically, a bunch of us just laid into him about how Facebook was destroying journalism, and he graciously absorbed it,” the editor says. “He didn’t much try to defend them. I think the point was really to show up and seem to be listening.” Other meetings were even more tense, with the occasional comment from journalists noting their interest in digital antitrust issues.

As bruising as all this was, Brown’s team became more confident that their efforts were valued within the company when Zuckerberg published a 5,700-word corporate manifesto in February. He had spent the previous three months, according to people who know him, contemplating whether he had created something that did more harm than good. “Are we building the world we all want?” he asked at the beginning of his post, implying that the answer was an obvious no. Amid sweeping remarks about “building a global community,” he emphasized the need to keep people informed and to knock out false news and clickbait. Brown and others at Facebook saw the manifesto as a sign that Zuckerberg understood the company’s profound civic responsibilities. Others saw the document as blandly grandiose, showcasing Zuckerberg’s tendency to suggest that the answer to nearly any problem is for people to use Facebook more.

Shortly after issuing the manifesto, Zuckerberg set off on a carefully scripted listening tour of the country. He began popping into candy shops and dining rooms in red states, camera crew and personal social media team in tow. He wrote an earnest post about what he was learning, and he deflected questions about whether his real goal was to become president. It seemed like a well-­meaning effort to win friends for Facebook. But it soon became clear that Facebook’s biggest problems emanated from places farther away than Ohio.

IX

One of the many things Zuckerberg seemed not to grasp when he wrote his manifesto was that his platform had empowered an enemy far more sophisticated than Macedonian teenagers and assorted low-rent purveyors of bull. As 2017 wore on, however, the company began to realize it had been attacked by a foreign influence operation. “I would draw a real distinction between fake news and the Russia stuff,” says an executive who worked on the company’s response to both. “With the latter there was a moment where everyone said ‘Oh, holy shit, this is like a national security situation.’”

That holy shit moment, though, didn’t come until more than six months after the election. Early in the campaign season, Facebook was aware of familiar attacks emanating from known Russian hackers, such as the group APT28, which is believed to be affiliated with Moscow. They were hacking into accounts outside of Facebook, stealing documents, then creating fake Facebook accounts under the banner of DCLeaks, to get people to discuss what they’d stolen. The company saw no signs of a serious, concerted foreign propaganda campaign, but it also didn’t think to look for one.

During the spring of 2017, the company’s security team began preparing a report about how Russian and other foreign intelligence operations had used the platform. One of its authors was Alex Stamos, head of Facebook’s security team. Stamos was something of an icon in the tech world for having reportedly resigned from his previous job at Yahoo after a conflict over whether to grant a US intelligence agency access to Yahoo servers. According to two people with direct knowledge of the document, he was eager to publish a detailed, specific analysis of what the company had found. But members of the policy and communications team pushed back and cut his report way down. Sources close to the security team suggest the company didn’t want to get caught up in the political whirlwind of the moment. (Sources on the politics and communications teams insist they edited the report down, just because the darn thing was hard to read.)

On April 27, 2017, the day after the Senate announced it was calling then FBI director James Comey to testify about the Russia investigation, Stamos’ report came out. It was titled “Information Operations and Facebook,” and it gave a careful step-by-step explanation of how a foreign adversary could use Facebook to manipulate people. But there were few specific examples or details, and there was no direct mention of Russia. It felt bland and cautious. As Renée DiResta says, “I remember seeing the report come out and thinking, ‘Oh, goodness, is this the best they could do in six months?’”

One month later, a story in Time suggested to Stamos’ team that they might have missed something in their analysis. The article quoted an unnamed senior intelligence official saying that Russian operatives had bought ads on Facebook to target Americans with propaganda. Around the same time, the security team also picked up hints from congressional investigators that made them think an intelligence agency was indeed looking into Russian Facebook ads. Caught off guard, the team members started to dig into the company’s archival ads data themselves.

Eventually, by sorting transactions according to a series of data points—Were ads purchased in rubles? Were they purchased within browsers whose language was set to Russian?—they were able to find a cluster of accounts, funded by a shadowy Russian group called the Internet Research Agency, that had been designed to manipulate political opinion in America. There was, for example, a page called Heart of Texas, which pushed for the secession of the Lone Star State. And there was Blacktivist, which pushed stories about police brutality against black men and women and had more followers than the verified Black Lives Matter page.

Numerous security researchers express consternation that it took Facebook so long to realize how the Russian troll farm was exploiting the platform. After all, the group was well known to Facebook. Executives at the company say they’re embarrassed by how long it took them to find the fake accounts, but they point out that they were never given help by US intelligence agencies. A staffer on the Senate Intelligence Committee likewise voiced exasperation with the company. “It seemed obvious that it was a tactic the Russians would exploit,” the staffer says.

When Facebook finally did find the Russian propaganda on its platform, the discovery set off a crisis, a scramble, and a great deal of confusion. First, due to a miscalculation, word initially spread through the company that the Russian group had spent millions of dollars on ads, when the actual total was in the low six figures. Once that error was resolved, a disagreement broke out over how much to reveal, and to whom. The company could release the data about the ads to the public, release everything to Congress, or release nothing. Much of the argument hinged on questions of user privacy. Members of the security team worried that the legal process involved in handing over private user data, even if it belonged to a Russian troll farm, would open the door for governments to seize data from other Facebook users later on. “There was a real debate internally,” says one executive. “Should we just say ‘Fuck it’ and not worry?” But eventually the company decided it would be crazy to throw legal caution to the wind “just because Rachel Maddow wanted us to.”

Ultimately, a blog post appeared under Stamos’ name in early September announcing that, as far as the company could tell, the Russians had paid Facebook $100,000 for roughly 3,000 ads aimed at influencing American politics around the time of the 2016 election. Every sentence in the post seemed to downplay the substance of these new revelations: The number of ads was small, the expense was small. And Facebook wasn’t going to release them. The public wouldn’t know what they looked like or what they were really aimed at doing.

This didn’t sit at all well with DiResta. She had long felt that Facebook was insufficiently forthcoming, and now it seemed to be flat-out stonewalling. “That was when it went from incompetence to malice,” she says. A couple of weeks later, while waiting at a Walgreens to pick up a prescription for one of her kids, she got a call from a researcher at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism named Jonathan Albright. He had been mapping ecosystems of misinformation since the election, and he had some excellent news. “I found this thing,” he said. Albright had started digging into CrowdTangle, one of the analytics platforms that Facebook uses. And he had discovered that the data from six of the accounts Facebook had shut down were still there, frozen in a state of suspended animation. There were the posts pushing for Texas secession and playing on racial antipathy. And then there were political posts, like one that referred to Clinton as “that murderous anti-American traitor Killary.” Right before the election, the Blacktivist account urged its supporters to stay away from Clinton and instead vote for Jill Stein. Albright downloaded the most recent 500 posts from each of the six groups. He reported that, in total, their posts had been shared more than 340 million times.

Eddie Guy

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To McNamee, the way the Russians used the platform was neither a surprise nor an anomaly. “They find 100 or 1,000 people who are angry and afraid and then use Facebook’s tools to advertise to get people into groups,” he says. “That’s exactly how Facebook was designed to be used.”

McNamee and Harris had first traveled to DC for a day in July to meet with members of Congress. Then, in September, they were joined by DiResta and began spending all their free time counseling senators, representatives, and members of their staffs. The House and Senate Intelligence Committees were about to hold hearings on Russia’s use of social media to interfere in the US election, and McNamee, Harris, and ­DiResta were helping them prepare. One of the early questions they weighed in on was the matter of who should be summoned to testify. Harris recommended that the CEOs of the big tech companies be called in, to create a dramatic scene in which they all stood in a neat row swearing an oath with their right hands in the air, roughly the way tobacco executives had been forced to do a generation earlier. Ultimately, though, it was determined that the general counsels of the three companies—Facebook, Twitter, and Google—should head into the lion’s den.

And so on November 1, Colin Stretch arrived from Facebook to be pummeled. During the hearings themselves, DiResta was sitting on her bed in San Francisco, watching them with her headphones on, trying not to wake up her small children. She listened to the back-and-forth in Washington while chatting on Slack with other security researchers. She watched as Marco Rubio smartly asked whether Facebook even had a policy forbidding foreign governments from running an influence campaign through the platform. The answer was no. Rhode Island senator Jack Reed then asked whether Facebook felt an obligation to individually notify all the users who had seen Russian ads that they had been deceived. The answer again was no. But maybe the most threatening comment came from Dianne Feinstein, the senior senator from Facebook’s home state. “You’ve created these platforms, and now they’re being misused, and you have to be the ones to do something about it,” she declared. “Or we will.”

After the hearings, yet another dam seemed to break, and former Facebook executives started to go public with their criticisms of the company too. On November 8, billionaire entrepreneur Sean Parker, Facebook’s first president, said he now regretted pushing Facebook so hard on the world. “I don’t know if I really understood the consequences of what I was saying,” h

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/inside-facebook-mark-zuckerberg-2-years-of-hell/

Loneliness is killing millions of American men. Heres why.

When I was 7, my best friend’s name was George.

He lived around the corner from me. George was tall and lanky. His elbows always akimbo, his cowlick stellar in its sheer verticality. He had an aquarium. He had a glow-in-the-dark board game. He had the 45 rpm of “Hang On, Sloopy,” and he was a Harry Nilsson fan, just like me. I can still recall his house, and all of the luminous joy it held, perfectly in my mind’s eye — all part of the frozen 7-year-old’s mosaic that exploded into pieces when my parents’ marriage failed.

After my parents split, George and I lived just an hour apart. But our parents weren’t willing to ensure that George and I stayed in regular contact. Once or twice a year, we were allowed a sleepover, and George always came to spend the night on my birthday. His visit was the one gift I asked for.

Then one day it ended. My mother simply said, “no more.” To this day, I don’t know what triggered that choice, but my guess is she was feeling vaguely uncomfortable that two boys, by then around 11 years old, were moving on to things more productive than comic books and sleepovers. I suspect she felt she could no longer sponsor something so … intense. From her perspective, it was unnaturally so.

With that decision, it wasn’t just my friendship with George that died. I lost my understanding of where close male friendships fit into my life.

The topic of male friendships remains largely undiscussed, but for American men, it can be a matter of life and death.

Niobe Way is a professor of applied psychology at New York University and the author of “Deep Secrets: Boys’ Friendships and the Crisis of Connection.” A number of years ago, she started asking teenage boys what their closest friendships meant to them and documenting what they had to say.

It seems that few scholars have thought to ask boys what was happening with their closest friendships because we assumed we already knew. We often confuse what is expected of men (traditional masculinity) with what they actually feel — and given enough time, they confuse the two as well. After a lifetime of being told how men “typically” experience emotion, the answer to the question “what do my closest friends mean to me” is lost to us.

Way’s research shows that boys in early adolescence express deeply fulfilling emotional connection and love for each other, but by the time they reach adulthood, that sense of connection evaporates.

This is a catastrophic loss; a loss we somehow assume men will simply adjust to. They do not. Millions of men are experiencing a sense of deep loss that haunts them even though they are engaged in fully realized romantic relationships, marriages, and families.

This epidemic of male loneliness is more than just melancholy. Research shows us it can actually be lethal.

In an article for the New Republic titled “The Lethality of Loneliness,” Judith Shulevitz writes (emphasis added):

Emotional isolation is ranked as high a risk factor for mortality as smoking. A partial list of the physical diseases thought to be caused by or exacerbated by loneliness would include Alzheimer’s, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and even cancer — tumors can metastasize faster in lonely people.”

Loneliness can also affect the mortality rate more directly. Research also shows that between 1999 and 2010, suicide among men aged 50 and over rose by nearly 50%. The New York Times reports that “the suicide rate for middle-aged men was 27.3 deaths per 100,000, while for women it was 8.1 deaths per 100,000.”

The boys featured in Way’s book express, in their own words, a heartfelt emotional intimacy that many men can recall from their own youth.

Consider this quote from a 15-year-old boy named Justin:

“[My best friend and I] love each other … that’s it, you have this thing that is deep, so deep, it’s within you, you can’t explain it. It’s just a thing that you know that that person is that person and that is all that should be important in our friendship. I guess in life, sometimes two people can really, really understand each other and really have a trust, respect, and love for each other. It just happens, it’s human nature.”

This passionate and loving boy-to-boy connection occurs across class, race, and cultures. It is exclusive to neither white nor black, rich nor poor. It is universal and beautifully evident in the hundreds of interviews that Way conducted. These boys declare freely the love they feel for their closest friends. They use the word “love,” and they seem proud to do so.

But Justin also senses, even as it’s happening, the distancing that occurs as he matures and male intimacy becomes less accepted. He says this in his senior year, reflecting on how his relationships have changed since he was a freshman:

“I don’t know, maybe, not a lot, but I guess that best friends become close friends. So that’s basically the only thing that changed. It’s like best friends become close friends, close friends become general friends and then general friends become acquaintances. So they just, if there’s distance whether it’s, I don’t know, natural or whatever. You can say that, but it just happens that way.”

According to Way, this “natural” distancing is a lot more artificial than it is innate — a result of toxic judgments leveled against boys by their environment and society.

“Boys know by late adolescence that their close male friendships, and even their emotional acuity, put them at risk of being labeled girly, immature, or gay,” Way writes. “Thus, rather than focusing on who they are, they become obsessed with who they are not — they are not girls, little boys nor, in the case of heterosexual boys, are they gay.”

The result? “These boys mature into men who are autonomous, emotionally stoic, and isolated,” as Way puts it. In other words, the pressures of homophobia and toxic masculinity push boys into isolation until they become swept up in the epidemic of male loneliness that haunts the majority of American men.

Photo by Myriam/Pixabay.

It is a heartrending realization that even as men hunger for real connection in male relationships, we have been trained away from embracing it.

Since Americans hold emotional connection as a female trait, many reject it in boys, demanding that they “man up” and adopt a strict regimen of emotional independence and even isolation as proof they are real men. Behind the drumbeat message that real men are stoic and detached is the brutal fist of homophobia, ready to crush any boy who might show too much of the wrong kind of emotions.

We have been trained to choose surface level relationships or no relationships at all, sleepwalking through our lives out of fear that we will not be viewed as real men. We keep the loving natures that once came so naturally to us hidden and locked away. This training runs so deep, we’re no longer even conscious of it. And we pass this training on, men and women alike, to generation after generation of bright eyed, loving little boys.

When I was in my early 30s, I ran into George again.

He was working for a local newspaper and living in an apartment in Houston, where I visited him. To my surprise, he happily split up his comic collection (I had sold mine when I was 16 or so) and gave me half of his huge collection. It was an act of profound generosity, and I’m sure I was effusive in my thanks.

I ran into George again in my 40s. He had married and moved to California. On a business trip, I spent the night at his house. We fell into our old pattern of reading comic books and drawing while his wife hovered, declaring over and over how great it was that I was visiting. The next day I packed up and went home to New York feeling vaguely disconnected but happy.

About two years later, his wife called me, screaming and weeping. George had died.

To this day, I remain shocked. “Why didn’t I connect more” was my first thought. My second was how effusive his wife had been about my visit. So supportive. So happy for “George’s friend” to be there. I was never able to follow up after his death. I don’t even know what killed him, just an illness.

How is this possible? How did I sleepwalk through the chance to reconnect this friendship? I should have cared. I should have given a damn. Why didn’t I? Because somewhere, somehow, I was convinced that close friendships with boys are too painful?

Don’t parents understand? Don’t they know that we love each other? That our children’s hearts can be broken so profoundly that we will never rise to a love like that again?

The loss of my friendship with George set a pattern in my life that I am only now, decades later, finally conscious of.

I have walked past so many friendships. Sleepwalking past men as I went instead from woman to women, looking for everything I had lost. Looking instead in the realm of the romantic, the sexual. A false lead to a false solution. And in doing so, I have missed so many opportunities to live a fuller life.

Way’s work has given me the piece of the puzzle I was never conscious of. That the love I had felt for George and others — Troy, Jack, David, Bruce, and Kyle — was right and good and powerful and could move mountains. I didn’t realize what they were then. But I do now. That the slow withdrawing of those friendships from my life had not been a killing blow. Not quite. And that I’m back in the game of loving my friends. Fiercely.

So know it, guys: I love you all.

This piece was originally published by The Good Men Project and is reprinted here with permission.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/loneliness-is-killing-millions-of-american-men-here-s-why

Teens aren’t slowing down on the Tide Pod challenge, according to the latest horrifying numbers

Image: mashable/lili sams

Brace yourselves: there has been an embarrassing uptick in the number of teens eating Tide Pods.

With a “HIGH ALERT,” the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) shared an urgent press release on the current state of Tide Pod consumption in the United States. 

“Last week, AAPCC reported that during the first two weeks of 2018, the country’s poison control centers handled thirty-nine intentional exposures cases among thirteen to nineteen year olds,” the report read. 

That number didn’t last long, however.  “That number has increased to eighty-six such intentional cases among the same age demographic during the first three weeks of 2018.”

TEENS, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? 

“We cannot stress enough how dangerous this is to the health of individuals—it can lead to seizure, pulmonary edema, respiratory arrest, coma, and even death,” Stephen Kaminski, AAPCC’s CEO and Executive Director, wrote. 

Once again, this is not a joke. Do not eat the Tide pods

This increase comes on the heels of massive efforts from Proctor & Gamble, the producer of Tide Pods, to slow the roll of this horrible trend. They’ve partnered with YouTube to remove videos of kids eating Tide Pods, and Amazon has removed those commenting online about how delicious the forbidden fruit is. Additionally, P&G released a statement to warn consumers and hired New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski to spread the word. 

If you still feel the urge to eat one, or know someone who is going through an unfortunate Tide Pod phase themselves, take a note from AAPCC’s statement and call Poison Help hotline at 1-800-222-1222 or text Poison to 797979. 

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/01/25/tide-pod-eating-numbers-increase/

A mom told her OB she might have postpartum depression. Then they called the cops.

Jessica Porten recently visited her doctor four months after giving birth to her daughter, Kira. She wasn’t feeling quite like herself.

She had been dealing with overwhelming sadness and fits of anger, which she knew was likely stemming from a case of postpartum depression.

In a Facebook post, Porten recounts the story of that appointment.

“I tell them I have a very strong support system at home, so although I would never hurt myself or my baby,” she writes. “I’m having violent thoughts and I need medication and therapy to get through this.”

In other words, she went to her doctor to ask for help for an extremely normal and treatable issue that affects an estimated 1 million women in the U.S. each year in one form or another.

But instead of getting help, as Porten tells it, the office did something pretty unexpected: They called the police.

Because of her admission to “violent thoughts,” staff wanted the police to escort Porten to the ER for evaluation.

The cops, according to Porten, were skeptical of the need for their presence when they arrived and allowed her to drive herself to the hospital.

But the ordeal continued.

“We arrive at the ER and I’m checked in, triaged, blood drawn. I am assigned a security guard to babysit me,” she writes.

She says she waited for over an hour to get a room, all while wrangling her months-old baby. After some brief tests, a lot of waiting, and a super-short interview with a social worker, she was deemed mentally fit enough to be discharged.

Porten and her 4-month-old didn’t leave the hospital until after midnight.

The worst part? Porten never got the help she asked for.

In addition to the undue stress and wasted time, Porten left the hospital without having received any medical help whatsoever.

“Not once during all of this has a doctor laid eyes on me,” she writes. “Not once. Not even before they decided to call the cops on me.”

Porten says that, for all her time and effort, she received some papers and pamphlets and was sent on her way.

“I’m still processing all of the emotions that are coming with being treated this way. I’m not exactly sure what to do here. I will say I am deeply hurt and upset, and above all angry and disgusted and disappointed by how this whole thing went down.”

She also points out that if she had been a woman of color, her ordeal probably would have been even more drawn out and traumatic.

You can read her full story in the now-viral Facebook post below:

#Action4Jessica #4Bills4CAMoms
Please read the latest updates 🤗

I had a really hard time deciding whether I should post…

Posted by Jessica Porten on Friday, January 19, 2018

Postpartum depression is a serious issue — as is the stigma it carries.

Postpartum depression is common. The condition, and even the scary violent thoughts that sometimes accompany it, may even have an important evolutionary purpose. Some argue that new moms are on high alert for danger and that stress can sometimes visually manifest itself in their thoughts.

But, as with most mental health issues, postpartum depression can carry a lot of shame, embarrassment, and guilt for the women affected by it — leading them to ignore their symptoms instead of seeking help. One study even found that countries that don’t recognize postpartum depression by name actually see women more likely to come forward with their symptoms.

Stories like Porten’s show exactly why many women would rather suffer in silence than be poked, prodded, and treated inhumanely. And of course, not getting proper treatment will only make things wore.

It’s time for a different approach.

It may be a common policy to call the police in the interest of the child’s safety. But a policy that better addresses the mother’s concerns and gets her the help she needs, without being shamed, is definitely a better way to go.

To get there, we need to help more honest and brave women feel comfortable coming forward about the aspects of postpartum depression that are hard to talk about. And we all need to better educate ourselves on the complexities of mental health issues and, more importantly, the human beings behind them.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/a-mom-told-her-ob-she-might-have-postpartum-depression-then-they-called-the-cops

Lunar trifecta: Rare ‘super blue blood moon’ will light the sky this week

(CNN)Set your alarms, space fans — if you can drag yourself out of bed on Wednesday, you’re in for a treat.

To prepare you for the lunar triple whammy, here’s your all-you-need-to-know guide.

What is a ‘super blue blood moon’?

    It may sound like the apocalypse is nigh, so let’s break it down by its three parts: “super,” “blue” and “blood.”
    So, a “supermoon” is when a full moon occurs at the same time as its perigee, the closest point of the moon’s orbit with Earth. The result: the moon appears larger than normal and NASA is predicting this one will be 14% brighter than usual.
    Chances are you have used the phrase “once in a blue moon” — but have you ever wondered where it came from? The well-known idiom actually refers to the rare instance when there is a second full moon in a calendar month. The first supermoon of 2018 — which took place on New Year’s Day — was previously described by NASA as the “biggest and brightest” one expected for the entire year.
    Then completing this “lunar trifecta” is the “blood” element. Although it does not have a scientific definition, a “blood moon” occurs during a lunar eclipse when faint red sunbeams peek out around the edges of the Earth, giving it a reddish, copper color.

    Where can I see it?

    Eager stargazers living in North America, Alaska or Hawaii will be able to see the eclipse before sunrise on Wednesday, according to NASA. For those in the Middle East, Asia, eastern Russia, Australia and New Zealand, the “super blue blood moon” will be visible during moonrise on the evening of January 31.
    As long as the weather doesn’t try to ruin things, observers in Alaska, Australia, eastern Asia and Hawaii will be experience the whole phenomenon from start to finish.
    For those living in the US, NASA says the best spots to watch the entire celestial show will be in California and western Canada.
    “Weather permitting, the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii will have a spectacular view of totality from start to finish,” said George Johnston, lunar blogger at NASA, in a press statement. “Unfortunately, eclipse viewing will be more challenging in the eastern time zone. The eclipse begins at 5.51 a.m. ET, as the moon is about to set in the western sky, and the sky is getting lighter in the east.”
    For observers living in New York or Washington D.C., the space agency suggests a 6.45 a.m. ET start for the best viewing.
    “Your best opportunity if you live in the east is to head outside about 6.45 a.m. and get to a high place to watch the start of the eclipse,” Johnston said. “Make sure you have a clear line of sight to the horizon in the west, opposite from where the sun will rise.”
    Where the moon is covered by the Earth’s shadow, known as the period of totality, it will last just over one and a quarter hours, according to EarthSky. And unlike a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse is perfectly safe to watch in the night with the naked eye.
    Unfortunately, the eclipse will not be visible from the European or African continents as they will already be in daylight during these hours.
    But fear not, Virtual Telescope will be streaming the event live for anyone unable to view the eclipse up close.
    There are usually a couple of lunar eclipses each year so if you do miss it this time around, the next one will happen on July 27 — though it won’t be visible in North America. It’ll be a long wait for skywatchers in the US as Johnston predicts the next visible lunar eclipse will be on January 21, 2019.
    Be sure to take your favorite pictures and tag #CNNSpace for a chance to be featured.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/26/world/super-blue-blood-moon-guide-2018-intl/index.html

    6 Popular Workouts That Are A Waste Of Time And Money

    It’s 2018, which means there’s a gluten-free section on every brunch menu and a boutique fitness studio on every other block. Then again, our two main talking points these days are Kylie Jenner’s pregnancy and Oprah Winfrey’s presidency. So like, what a time to be alive. But back to the workout thing, there are actually so many fitness classes you can take, and each one tells you they’ll help you burn calories, get toned, look good, etc. Some of these classes need to be called out on their bullshit, and we’re here to do just that. Here are some workouts that are wasting your time and money.

    1. Aerial Yoga

    Also known as Anti-Gravity yoga, aerial yoga is a popular choice among 22-year-old girls who want to do something active on a Saturday to get a cute Instagram and make themselves feel better about the liter of tequila they’ll be drinking later. If you’ve never heard of this type of workout, picture Cirque Du Soleil meets Lululemon for $38 per session. The idea is to do traditional yoga poses on a cotton hammock hanging from the ceiling. It sounds pretty bizarre, and that’s because it is. We’re not saying this is a total scam, but unless you’re an experienced yogi with a ton of balance and a legit certification, you’re prob not getting anything out of this class. Like, by the time you finally get the hang of it, the class is over and you didn’t get any of the poses right, so you’re wasting your time. If you want a more legit workout, skip the anti-gravity bullshit and go do regular yoga.

    2. Aqua Cycling

    Aqua cycling is another one of those fads that draw in a group of girls who “don’t looove spinning, but would def try it in a pool for the experience.” Honestly, find yourself a different experience. Peddling your legs on a bike underwater will obviously give you a workout, but the burn you feel is more intense than the calories you’re actually burning. Like, there’s a reason people don’t run marathons in swimming pools. Because of the laws of physics it’s clearly harder for your body to move in water, but that doesn’t mean your heart rate is any higher than it would be on land. In fact, you’re moving a lot slower, so the calorie burn doesn’t even compare. Plus, let’s not even get started on the amount of germs in that pool. Do you know how many people already sweat in that water before your 7pm class? Pass.

    3. The Spin Class Arms Segment 

    This isn’t a workout class itself, but it’s a v controversial part of every spin class, so it’s time to address it. If you’ve ever taken a cycling class, you may have noticed that about two thirds of the way through the class, the instructor tells you to peddle slower while you take out two one-pound weights and do a few shoulder raises and arm circles. During this time, you’ve probably thought to yourself, “This fucking hurts! I never knew 90 seconds of one-pound weights could actually tone my arms!” That’s because it won’t. Simply put, this arm segment is bullshit, and it’s not doing anything for you. While your arms are burning from the pulsing exercises and you may be sore tomorrow, a short interval of light weights isn’t actually doing much for your arms, and it only feels that hard because your body is already so exhausted from the intense spinning you’ve been doing. But it  fuck up your back pretty easily, so it has that going for it. You’re better off skipping this part and doing a legit arm workout at the gym another day. Sorry.

    4. Barre

    People might kill us for this, but we’re calling bullshit on most barre classes’ claims. We’re not saying that barre isn’t a good workout at all, but it’s definitely not doing what you think it’s doing. Barre studios promise to create “long, lean muscles” and make your body “toned but not bulky.” If you know anything about the mechanics of the human body, phrases like these are literally nails on a chalkboard. Whether you’re using heavy weights or resistance bands with pulsing movements, your muscles can only do three things: get bigger, get smaller, or stay the same—you can’t make them “longer” or “leaner.” The low-weight, high-volume movements in a barre class can definitely help you get stronger over time, but all the marketing about getting small, pretty muscles is just scientifically impossible. Ballerinas may look that way because of their genetics and restrictive diets, but the barre isn’t giving you that look if you weren’t born with it. Sorry if you already spent $18 on the socks.

    5. The Cardio Class At Your Local Gym

    I know regular gyms offer classes and not all of them are horrible, but chances are, if you’re attending a class called “Cardio Blast” taught by a 63-year-old woman named Gladys, it’s probably not that intense. If you’re attending cardio classes at your gym that make you dance around, squat in place, and do a few step ups, you could probably be spending your time more wisely and burning more calories. Any workout is better than no workout, but if you think this is really more effective than doing HIIT on the treadmill or the rower, or taking a bootcamp-style HIIT class, you should reconsider. I mean, a couple Equinox classes with celebrity trainers may be the exception, but the rest are probably not worth it. If you need to find a partner halfway through class to hold their feet down while they do a few crunches, look elsewhere.

    6. Pole Dancing “Fitness”

    I think somebody made a joke one time about pole dancing being a sport and someone took it too seriously. In case you’ve never heard of this sad phenomenon, people are literally signing up for pole dancing classes thinking they’re getting a legit workout. There are so many problems with this, and I’m not even sure which to point out first. Let’s ignore the moral, ethical, and political issues for now and stick with the actual workout. I’ve never taken this class myself, but I can only imagine the workout you’re getting by soberly spinning around a pole and doing a few booty pops is sub-par, at best. Consider that strippers and burlesque dancers might be good at their jobs because they’re strong, not the other way around. Unless you’re Kate Upton, working out isn’t supposed to be sexy, so please save yourself the time and skip this class. And don’t follow the instructors on Instagram either.

    After some recent commenters pointed out my misinformation on pole fitness, I’d like to update my claims with a few facts. As I mentioned previously, I’ve never done a pole fitness class, and simply stated my thoughts based on some colleagues’ experiences in the class. However, after doing some research of my own into the science behind the workout, it turns out pole can be a v efficient workout if you go to the right class. Personally, I don’t think I would feel any effects of it until I’ve gone a few times and gotten a hang of the moves, so it may not be the best use of my time and money, but it turns out pole dancing can actually be a killer workout that not only tones and strengthens your body, but also improves your balance, flexibility, and coordination.

    Considering you’re only using the pole and your own bodyweight, the amount of core strength you need is insane. Like, all the planking in the world won’t give you this type of ab strength. Plus, it’s super intensive when it comes to both cardio and upper body strength. You’re basically working your arms, shoulders, upper back, and legs in one workout, so it adds up to a legit calorie-burn, too.

    Moral of the story: Pole fitness seems like a really intense workout and I feel bad for misjudging based on some misinformation. Anyone wanna take a class with me?

     

    Read more: http://www.betches.com/popular-workout-classes-that-dont-work

    Nightmare For Patriots Fans: Tom Brady Messed Up His TB12 Diet By Eating A Carrot On Radish Day And Ballooned To 500 Pounds

    If you were rooting for the Patriots to win Super Bowl LII, get ready for some devastating news. Tom Brady broke his strict TB12 diet by eating a carrot on the day he was supposed to eat only radishes, and as a result he’s ballooned up to 500 pounds.

    This is absolutely heartbreaking news for Patriots fans everywhere. It’s hard to imagine Tom Brady’s going to be able to put in a great performance at the Super Bowl when he’s currently too heavy to leave his house.

    Normally, the TB12 dietary system keeps Brady in peak physical condition with a carefully calibrated nutritional regimen. Unfortunately, the Patriots superstar QB decided to celebrate the Pats’ AFC Championship victory over the Jaguars by cheating a little and nibbling a bite of raw carrot on a day that was supposed to be dedicated to eating nothing but radishes. That small portion of carrot completely threw off the TB12 diet’s precise balance of vitamins and minerals, and Brady instantly gained hundreds of pounds of pure body fat.

    If only Brady had adhered more closely to the TB12’s strict dietary schedule! With one bite of carrot on radish day, the four-time Super Bowl MVP has instantly become dangerously overweight, and the Patriots’ odds of winning the Super Bowl have taken a huge nosedive.

    Worst of all, the carrot nutrients, which promote lasting lifelong health if consumed on carrot day, are extremely toxic on radish day. In addition to causing Brady’s massive weight gain, the destabilizing carrot nutrients have also withered the athlete’s muscles and caused them to atrophy, so that just holding a football is an immense struggle for him. In his present carrot-induced morbidly obese, frail state, there’s no way that Brady can lead the Patriots against the Eagles.

    This is basically every Patriots fan’s worst nightmare come true.

    Brady’s team of TB12 trainers and chefs are currently working overtime to try to get him back in playing condition in time for the big game this Sunday. They’ve given him an entire wheelbarrow of avocados to eat, and are furiously rubbing a TB12 vibrating sphere on his leg in hopes of making all the fat vanish and his muscles regrow in time for kickoff. It’ll be tough for Brady to shed the 275 pounds he needs to get back into peak physical condition by this weekend, but if anything can make him healthy in time for the Super Bowl, it’s the trusted and game-tested TB12 Method.

    Read more: http://www.clickhole.com/article/nightmare-patriots-fans-tom-brady-messed-his-tb12–7269

    The Shirk Report Volume 457

    Welcome to the Shirk Report where you will find 20 funny images, 10 interesting articles and 5 entertaining videos from the last 7 days of sifting. Most images found on Reddit; articles from Facebook, Twitter, and email; videos come from everywhere. Any suggestions? Send a note to submit@twistedsifter.com

    20 IMAGES

    Friday!
    Now sit back and relax
    What really happened
    They’re on to us!
    Get healthy or die trying
    Question everything.
    This photo is giving me anxiety
    Okay time to focus
    When your squad has your back even when the odds are stacked against them
    Best shot ever
    From now on I will only measure things by their Llamathrust
    Checkmate flat Earthers
    This
    Mondays
    Consider yourself warned
    Who’s mom is this
    Never mind, found her
    3D aww anyone?
    A little #inspo for the weekend
    Until next week

    10 ARTICLES

    The Stick Is an Unsung Hero of Human Evolution
    50 Years Ago in Photos: A Look Back at 1968
    The Japanese words for “space†could change your view of the world
    How DNA Testing Botched My Family’s Heritage, and Probably Yours, Too
    Beyond the Bitcoin Bubble
    The Strange History of One of the Internet’s First Viral Videos
    Inside One of America’s Last Pencil Factories
    Our Climate Is Changing Rapidly. It’s Time to Talk About Geoengineering.
    Why willpower is overrated
    The Limits of Empathy

    5 VIDEOS + Travis Rice

    TREAT YO SELF THIS WEEKEND

    Read more: http://twistedsifter.com/2018/01/the-shirk-report-volume-457/

    It’s the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech

    For most of modern history, the easiest way to block the spread of an idea was to keep it from being mechanically disseminated. Shutter the news­paper, pressure the broad­cast chief, install an official censor at the publishing house. Or, if push came to shove, hold a loaded gun to the announcer’s head.

    This actually happened once in Turkey. It was the spring of 1960, and a group of military officers had just seized control of the government and the national media, imposing an information blackout to suppress the coordination of any threats to their coup. But inconveniently for the conspirators, a highly anticipated soccer game between Turkey and Scotland was scheduled to take place in the capital two weeks after their takeover. Matches like this were broadcast live on national radio, with an announcer calling the game, play by play. People all across Turkey would huddle around their sets, cheering on the national team.

    Canceling the match was too risky for the junta; doing so might incite a protest. But what if the announcer said something political on live radio? A single remark could tip the country into chaos. So the officers came up with the obvious solution: They kept several guns trained on the announcer for the entire 2 hours and 45 minutes of the live broadcast.

    It was still a risk, but a managed one. After all, there was only one announcer to threaten: a single bottleneck to control of the airwaves.

    Variations on this general playbook for censorship—find the right choke point, then squeeze—were once the norm all around the world. That’s because, until recently, broadcasting and publishing were difficult and expensive affairs, their infrastructures riddled with bottlenecks and concentrated in a few hands.

    But today that playbook is all but obsolete. Whose throat do you squeeze when anyone can set up a Twitter account in seconds, and when almost any event is recorded by smartphone-­wielding mem­­bers of the public? When protests broke out in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014, a single livestreamer named Mustafa Hussein reportedly garnered an audience comparable in size to CNN’s for a short while. If a Bosnian Croat war criminal drinks poison in a courtroom, all of Twitter knows about it in minutes.

    February 2018. Subscribe to WIRED.

    Sean Freeman

    In today’s networked environment, when anyone can broadcast live or post their thoughts to a social network, it would seem that censorship ought to be impossible. This should be the golden age of free speech.

    And sure, it is a golden age of free speech—if you can believe your lying eyes. Is that footage you’re watching real? Was it really filmed where and when it says it was? Is it being shared by alt-right trolls or a swarm of Russian bots? Was it maybe even generated with the help of artificial intelligence? (Yes, there are systems that can create increasingly convincing fake videos.)

    Or let’s say you were the one who posted that video. If so, is anyone even watching it? Or has it been lost in a sea of posts from hundreds of millions of content pro­ducers? Does it play well with Facebook’s algorithm? Is YouTube recommending it?

    Maybe you’re lucky and you’ve hit a jackpot in today’s algorithmic public sphere: an audience that either loves you or hates you. Is your post racking up the likes and shares? Or is it raking in a different kind of “engagement”: Have you received thousands of messages, mentions, notifications, and emails threatening and mocking you? Have you been doxed for your trouble? Have invisible, angry hordes ordered 100 pizzas to your house? Did they call in a SWAT team—men in black arriving, guns drawn, in the middle of dinner?

    Standing there, your hands over your head, you may feel like you’ve run afoul of the awesome power of the state for speaking your mind. But really you just pissed off 4chan. Or entertained them. Either way, congratulations: You’ve found an audience.

    Here’s how this golden age of speech actually works: In the 21st century, the capacity to spread ideas and reach an audience is no longer limited by access to expensive, centralized broadcasting infrastructure. It’s limited instead by one’s ability to garner and distribute attention. And right now, the flow of the world’s attention is structured, to a vast and overwhelming degree, by just a few digital platforms: Facebook, Google (which owns YouTube), and, to a lesser extent, Twitter.

    These companies—which love to hold themselves up as monuments of free expression—have attained a scale unlike anything the world has ever seen; they’ve come to dominate media distribution, and they increasingly stand in for the public sphere itself. But at their core, their business is mundane: They’re ad brokers. To virtually anyone who wants to pay them, they sell the capacity to precisely target our eyeballs. They use massive surveillance of our behavior, online and off, to generate increasingly accurate, automated predictions of what advertisements we are most susceptible to and what content will keep us clicking, tapping, and scrolling down a bottomless feed.

    So what does this algorithmic public sphere tend to feed us? In tech parlance, Facebook and YouTube are “optimized for engagement,” which their defenders will tell you means that they’re just giving us what we want. But there’s nothing natural or inevitable about the specific ways that Facebook and YouTube corral our attention. The patterns, by now, are well known. As Buzzfeed famously reported in November 2016, “top fake election news stories generated more total engagement on Facebook than top election stories from 19 major news outlets combined.”

    Humans are a social species, equipped with few defenses against the natural world beyond our ability to acquire knowledge and stay in groups that work together. We are particularly susceptible to glimmers of novelty, messages of affirmation and belonging, and messages of outrage toward perceived enemies. These kinds of messages are to human community what salt, sugar, and fat are to the human appetite. And Facebook gorges us on them—in what the company’s first president, Sean Parker, recently called “a social-­validation feedback loop.”

    Sure, it is a golden age of free speech—if you can believe your lying eyes.

    There are, moreover, no nutritional labels in this cafeteria. For Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, all speech—whether it’s a breaking news story, a saccharine animal video, an anti-Semitic meme, or a clever advertisement for razors—is but “content,” each post just another slice of pie on the carousel. A personal post looks almost the same as an ad, which looks very similar to a New York Times article, which has much the same visual feel as a fake newspaper created in an afternoon.

    What’s more, all this online speech is no longer public in any traditional sense. Sure, Facebook and Twitter sometimes feel like places where masses of people experience things together simultaneously. But in reality, posts are targeted and delivered privately, screen by screen by screen. Today’s phantom public sphere has been fragmented and submerged into billions of individual capillaries. Yes, mass discourse has become far easier for everyone to participate in—but it has simultaneously become a set of private conversations happening behind your back. Behind everyone’s backs.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but all of this invalidates much of what we think about free speech—conceptually, legally, and ethically.

    The most effective forms of censorship today involve meddling with trust and attention, not muzzling speech itself. As a result, they don’t look much like the old forms of censorship at all. They look like viral or coordinated harassment campaigns, which harness the dynamics of viral outrage to impose an unbearable and disproportionate cost on the act of speaking out. They look like epidemics of disinformation, meant to undercut the credibility of valid information sources. They look like bot-fueled campaigns of trolling and distraction, or piecemeal leaks of hacked materials, meant to swamp the attention of traditional media.

    These tactics usually don’t break any laws or set off any First Amendment alarm bells. But they all serve the same purpose that the old forms of censorship did: They are the best available tools to stop ideas from spreading and gaining purchase. They can also make the big platforms a terrible place to interact with other people.

    Even when the big platforms themselves suspend or boot someone off their networks for violating “community standards”—an act that does look to many people like old-fashioned censorship—it’s not technically an infringement on free speech, even if it is a display of immense platform power. Anyone in the world can still read what the far-right troll Tim “Baked Alaska” Gionet has to say on the internet. What Twitter has denied him, by kicking him off, is attention.

    Many more of the most noble old ideas about free speech simply don’t compute in the age of social media. John Stuart Mill’s notion that a “marketplace of ideas” will elevate the truth is flatly belied by the virality of fake news. And the famous American saying that “the best cure for bad speech is more speech”—a paraphrase of Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis—loses all its meaning when speech is at once mass but also nonpublic. How do you respond to what you cannot see? How can you cure the effects of “bad” speech with more speech when you have no means to target the same audience that received the original message?

    This is not a call for nostalgia. In the past, marginalized voices had a hard time reaching a mass audience at all. They often never made it past the gatekeepers who put out the evening news, who worked and lived within a few blocks of one another in Manhattan and Washington, DC. The best that dissidents could do, often, was to engineer self-sacrificing public spectacles that those gatekeepers would find hard to ignore—as US civil rights leaders did when they sent schoolchildren out to march on the streets of Birmingham, Alabama, drawing out the most naked forms of Southern police brutality for the cameras.

    But back then, every political actor could at least see more or less what everyone else was seeing. Today, even the most powerful elites often cannot effectively convene the right swath of the public to counter viral messages. During the 2016 presidential election, as Joshua Green and Sasha Issenberg reported for Bloomberg, the Trump campaign used so-called dark posts—nonpublic posts targeted at a specific audience—to discourage African Americans from voting in battleground states. The Clinton campaign could scarcely even monitor these messages, let alone directly counter them. Even if Hillary Clinton herself had taken to the evening news, that would not have been a way to reach the affected audience. Because only the Trump campaign and Facebook knew who the audience was.

    It’s important to realize that, in using these dark posts, the Trump campaign wasn’t deviantly weaponizing an innocent tool. It was simply using Facebook exactly as it was designed to be used. The campaign did it cheaply, with Facebook staffers assisting right there in the office, as the tech company does for most large advertisers and political campaigns. Who cares where the speech comes from or what it does, as long as people see the ads? The rest is not Facebook’s department.

    Mark Zuckerberg holds up Facebook’s mission to “connect the world” and “bring the world closer together” as proof of his company’s civic virtue. “In 2016, people had billions of interactions and open discussions on Facebook,” he said proudly in an online video, looking back at the US election. “Candidates had direct channels to communicate with tens of millions of citizens.”

    This idea that more speech—more participation, more connection—constitutes the highest, most unalloyed good is a common refrain in the tech industry. But a historian would recognize this belief as a fallacy on its face. Connectivity is not a pony. Facebook doesn’t just connect democracy-­loving Egyptian dissidents and fans of the videogame Civilization; it brings together white supremacists, who can now assemble far more effectively. It helps connect the efforts of radical Buddhist monks in Myanmar, who now have much more potent tools for spreading incitement to ethnic cleansing—fueling the fastest- growing refugee crisis in the world.

    The freedom of speech is an important democratic value, but it’s not the only one. In the liberal tradition, free speech is usually understood as a vehicle—a necessary condition for achieving certain other societal ideals: for creating a knowledgeable public; for engendering healthy, rational, and informed debate; for holding powerful people and institutions accountable; for keeping communities lively and vibrant. What we are seeing now is that when free speech is treated as an end and not a means, it is all too possible to thwart and distort everything it is supposed to deliver.

    Creating a knowledgeable public requires at least some workable signals that distinguish truth from falsehood. Fostering a healthy, rational, and informed debate in a mass society requires mechanisms that elevate opposing viewpoints, preferably their best versions. To be clear, no public sphere has ever fully achieved these ideal conditions—but at least they were ideals to fail from. Today’s engagement algorithms, by contrast, espouse no ideals about a healthy public sphere.

    The most effective forms of censorship today involve meddling with trust and attention, not muzzling speech.

    Some scientists predict that within the next few years, the number of children struggling with obesity will surpass the number struggling with hunger. Why? When the human condition was marked by hunger and famine, it made perfect sense to crave condensed calories and salt. Now we live in a food glut environment, and we have few genetic, cultural, or psychological defenses against this novel threat to our health. Similarly, we have few defenses against these novel and potent threats to the ideals of democratic speech, even as we drown in more speech than ever.

    The stakes here are not low. In the past, it has taken generations for humans to develop political, cultural, and institutional antibodies to the novelty and upheaval of previous information revolutions. If The Birth of a Nation and Triumph of the Will came out now, they’d flop; but both debuted when film was still in its infancy, and their innovative use of the medium helped fuel the mass revival of the Ku Klux Klan and the rise of Nazism.

    By this point, we’ve already seen enough to recognize that the core business model underlying the Big Tech platforms—harvesting attention with a massive surveillance infrastructure to allow for targeted, mostly automated advertising at very large scale—is far too compatible with authoritarianism, propaganda, misinformation, and polarization. The institutional antibodies that humanity has developed to protect against censorship and propaganda thus far—laws, journalistic codes of ethics, independent watchdogs, mass education—all evolved for a world in which choking a few gatekeepers and threatening a few individuals was an effective means to block speech. They are no longer sufficient.

    But we don’t have to be resigned to the status quo. Facebook is only 13 years old, Twitter 11, and even Google is but 19. At this moment in the evolution of the auto industry, there were still no seat belts, airbags, emission controls, or mandatory crumple zones. The rules and incentive structures underlying how attention and surveillance work on the internet need to change. But in fairness to Facebook and Google and Twitter, while there’s a lot they could do better, the public outcry demanding that they fix all these problems is fundamentally mistaken. There are few solutions to the problems of digital discourse that don’t involve huge trade-offs—and those are not choices for Mark Zuckerberg alone to make. These are deeply political decisions. In the 20th century, the US passed laws that outlawed lead in paint and gasoline, that defined how much privacy a landlord needs to give his tenants, and that determined how much a phone company can surveil its customers. We can decide how we want to handle digital surveillance, attention-­channeling, harassment, data collection, and algorithmic decision­making. We just need to start the discussion. Now.


    The Free Speech Issue

    • “Nice Website. It Would Be a Shame if Something Happened to It.”: Steven Johnson goes inside Cloudflare's decision to let an extremist stronghold burn.
    • Everything You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You: Doug Bock Clark profiles Antifa’s secret weapon against far-right extremists.
    • Please, Silence Your Speech: Alice Gregory visits a startup that wants to neutralize your smartphone—and un-change the world.
    • The Best Hope for Civil Discourse on the Internet … Is on Reddit: Virginia Heffernan submits to Change My View.
    • 6 Tales of Censorship: What it's like to be suspended by Facebook, blocked by Trump, and more, in the subjects’ own words.

    Zeynep Tufekci (@zeynep) is an associate professor at the University of North Carolina and an opinion writer for The New York Times.

    This article appears in the February issue. Subscribe now.

    Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/free-speech-issue-tech-turmoil-new-censorship/

    Secret Pro-Life Meeting With Mike Pence Killed Obamacare FixFor Now

    A bipartisan effort to stabilize the U.S. health-insurance markets collapsed last month after anti-abortion groups appealed directly to Vice President Mike Pence at the 11th hour, The Daily Beast has learned.

    Amid opposition from conservatives in the House of Representatives, a group of pro-life activists met with Pence to lobby the Trump administration against supporting a health-insurance market-stabilization bill on the grounds that it does not contain sufficient language on abortion restrictions, according to sources with direct knowledge of the meeting. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was also in attendance at the Dec. 19 meeting, three of the sources said.

    The next day, key lawmakers involved in crafting the legislation announced they were punting on the issue until 2018.

    A spokeswoman for the vice president confirmed the meeting to The Daily Beast. A spokesman for McConnell did not respond to requests for comment.

    Efforts to pressure Pence, a hardline social conservative and a former lawmaker, are thrusting abortion back onto the national stage in a debate over the future of health care in America, as Republicans deliberate behind closed doors on whether to try to scrap Obamacare again in 2018.

    That effortthough it failed in the Senate several times last yearwas bolstered when the House and Senate passed a sweeping tax-overhaul bill last month. The legislation included a provision that scrapped the Obamacare individual mandate, a measure that required Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty.

    The tax bill passed the Senate due in large part to Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) vote, which was contingent upon the Senate voting at a later date on the bipartisan health-insurance market-stabilization bill that was crafted by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA). Collins has argued that the legislation would mitigate the effects of the individual-mandate repeal, which the Congressional Budget Office said would result in 13 million more Americans without insurance over the next 10 years. Collins also pushed for her bill with Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) that would allocate $10.5 billion for a federal reinsurance pool.

    The Alexander-Murray legislation would restore Obamacare subsidies that the Trump administration cut off in October, and it would give individual states more flexibility to set insurance regulations. The Republican proponents of the bill argue that it would serve as a short-term stabilization measure to transition away from the Affordable Care Act, assuming congressional Republicans can come toor even seekan agreement on a replacement.

    The bill, though, has an unclear path forward. It was thought to have enough support to pass the Senate, but Democrats appear to be backing off the bill, blaming the GOPs elimination of the individual mandate.

    The Republicans want the bill. My question is, with the change in the marketplace that they created with the tax bill, is it still going to work? We dont have the answer, Murray, the co-creator of the compromise bill, told The Daily Beast. The marketplace has changed dramatically. So were looking at it.

    Even before the individual mandate was repealed as part of the tax bill, Alexander-Murray did not pass muster with House Republicans, who last month floated the idea of adding a provision on the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal dollars from being used for abortions. The pro-life activists who met with Pence last month said the absence of such a measure in the Alexander-Murray bill is a major red flag because it means that the subsidies, known as cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments, could be used on health plans that fund abortions.

    Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, wrote in a letter to lawmakers last month that supporting Alexander-Murray is a vote to directly appropriate taxpayer dollars for insurance that includes abortion. Dannenfelser attended the meeting with Pence, which was viewed as critical because President Donald Trump had expressed support for Alexander-Murray in closed-door meetings on Capitol Hill, according to senators who attended those meetings.

    Supporters of the legislation note that Hyde protections already exist under Obamacarethough pro-life activists claim that those are watered downand Republican senators pointed to a recent memo from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services stating that the Trump administration would enforce those existing abortion provisions more strictly than the Obama administration did.

    Moreover, the law itself only lasts through 2019 as a way to give Republicans enough time to come up with an Obamacare replacement. Still, social conservatives are seeking to further codify those protections so that they could outlast the Trump administration.

    Adding Hyde Amendment language would shore up conservative support in the House, where Alexander-Murray has faced stiff opposition from hardliners who argue that the legislation simply props up Obamacare. At the same time, though, such a change to the legislationwhich was already brokered in a way that gave concessions to both sideswould nearly eliminate Democratic support for the bill, tanking it altogether.

    McConnells attendance at the meeting was notable because he, at the urging of Alexander and Collins, delayed a vote on Alexander-Murray until after the holiday recess after initially promising Collins a vote on the bill in December. Republicans were considering adding Alexander-Murray to the government-funding bill before lawmakers left for the holidays, but such a move would have given House Republicans a reason to vote against the short-term funding measure, thereby threatening a government shutdown just three days before Christmas.

    The day after the Pence meeting, Collins and Alexander announced they were urging McConnell to punt on the issue until January.

    But as congressional leaders continue to negotiate a two-year government funding bill and an immigration deal, health care is expected to take a back seat even as talks continue. Lawmakers must come to an agreement on a funding mechanism before Jan. 19 in order to keep the governments lights on.

    Betsy Woodruff contributed reporting.

    Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/secret-pro-life-meeting-with-mike-pence-killed-obamacare-fixfor-now

    50+ Hilarious Conversations That People Overheard In New York And Decided Theyre Too Good Not To Share

    When you live in the city, sometimes it’s impossible to hide your ears from private conversations. A fittingly named Instagram account called Overheard New York joins Overheard L.A., documenting some of the funniest things to be said in the streets.

    “It started out as an accident,” the anonymous creator of the two accounts told VOGUE. He was sitting at Erewhon, a cult L.A. health market, when he couldn’t avoid a “long and absurd conversation between two girls” (it included vegan bistros, tanning, egg freezing, and pit bulls, all at the same time). After he posted the exchange on his personal Instagram page, it quickly became a hit among his contacts. Fast forward by a few similar posts and a screenwriter friend suggested he should create an individual account, dedicated to cataloging the eccentricities of L.A.’s population.

    Eventually, the creator started taking submissions via e-mail and direct messages. “We get about 100 submissions a day.” After West Coast comedy account became viral, he started thinking about New York City. “I think people who follow the L.A. page see 10 percent of themselves, but it feels more like fantasy land. Whereas I think New York feels more real. I think it’s a little more harsh; it has a little bit more of an attitude. I think you would read those posts and think they’re funny and relatable.”

    Scroll down to check out the funny conversations, upvote your favorites and let us know if you think they represent the locals appropriately!

    Read more: http://www.boredpanda.com/overheard-conversations-new-york-overheardnewyork/

    Narcissists Dont Always Suffer From Low Self-Esteem Malignant Ones Are Just Entitled

    Drew Wilson

    It’s a common response I receive when I write articles about narcissists, even malignant narcissists who lack not only empathy but also remorse. “People like that just have low self-esteem!” is the popular claim. We coddle even the most abusive narcissists in our society by perpetuating this myth that all narcissists just have self-esteem issues – and the underlying implication that they just need to be cradled and positively affirmed back to a more empathic place. But do narcissists really suffer from low self-esteem, or does their pathological behavior stem from something deeper and more sinister?

    Perhaps what therapists call “vulnerable narcissists” on the lower end of the spectrum suffer a lack of self-esteem and core sense of self. These types of narcissists are more likely to struggle with a core sense of shame that they project onto others, though they still share a lot in common with more overt narcissists in terms of their general disregard for the welfare of others.

    However, the narcissists that I write about – malignant ones – are much farther on the scale. These types of grandiose narcissists can be sadistic. They take pleasure in tearing others down. They are contemptuous, haughty and engage in bullying. They possess a pathological sense of envy that enables them to sabotage others who inspire that envy. They exploit without remorse or empathy – some of them even drive their victims to suicide. They abuse behind closed doors, often without being held accountable for their actions.  They feel an absurd sense of superiority over others. Some of them even have psychopathic traits that make them overbearingly indifferent and fearlessly bold when it comes to engaging in criminal activity and betrayal.

    Studies show that these toxic types experience positive feelings when seeing sad faces. Millions of survivor accounts from all over the world and even mental health professionals well-versed in the covert abuse they inflict tell us that these types gain pleasure from micromanaging, controlling and overpowering their victims. Malignant narcissists have the cognitive ability to distinguish between right and wrong, but they lack the affective empathy that would enable them to care. Even online trolls who viciously bully, terrorize and threaten others have been shown by research to have psychopathy and narcissism as part of their dark traits.

    So what drives their cruel and callous behavior? It’s not low self-esteem. It’s a deeply ingrained sense of excessive entitlement.

    Malignant narcissists feel entitled to dupe people and to destroy lives. They feel entitled to idealize their victims, then devalue and discard. They feel entitled to manufacturing love triangles to rile their various admirers up for a competition they never asked for. They drain the resources of others and get ahead without working for it. They like keeping their various victims on the back burner. They know how to groom people to become enablers that carry out their dirty work for them. They do not have any sense of remorse for the feelings of others. They’re all about their own agenda.

    This sense of entitlement starts in early childhood. Most alarmingly, children who are taught an excessive sense of entitlement at a young age have been shown by research to develop narcissistic traits in adulthood. Their narcissism did not stem from “lack of parental warmth” as the researchers noted, but rather, parental overvaluation. In other words, not all narcissists are raised by neglectful parents as people often assume – more grandiose narcissists tended to be excessively praised and taught that they were special, unique and better than others.

    It is dangerous to characterize those higher on the spectrum of narcissism as struggling with self-esteem issues. We all are as human beings, to an extent, struggling with self-esteem – but most of us do not chronically violate the rights of others as a result. A truly nefarious narcissist is one who is able to hide behind the guise of low self-esteem and use it as a pity ploy to ensnare you further into his or her toxic web. Excusing their abusive behavior by noting that they have low self-esteem only serves as a dangerous rationalization that dismisses their potential for sadism. It minimizes their capacity to do real harm – without ever batting an eye at the destruction they leave at their wake.

    Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/shahida-arabi/2018/01/narcissists-dont-always-suffer-from-low-self-esteem-malignant-ones-are-just-entitled/

    Stephen King can’t understand why people from Norway would move to the U.S.

    President Trump’s reported comments about preferring immigration from countries such as Norway over certain “s**thole countries” sure made a lot of waves on Thursday. As for people moving from Norway to the United States, author Stephen King just doesn’t understand it:

    Read more: https://twitchy.com/dougp-3137/2018/01/11/stephen-king-cant-understand-why-people-from-norway-would-move-to-the-u-s/

    This Cow Ran Away From Home And Fulfilled Its Dreams By Joining A Wild Bison Herd

    Why did this cow cross the road? We’ll give you a hint: it wasn’t to get to the udder side.

    This domesticated cow escaped her pen and has been spotted roaming Poland’s countryside with a 50-head herd of wild bison.

    Some speculate she was searching for freedom.

    Others say she’s just living her best life.

    The reddish-brown Limousin was first reported last fall by Polish news portal TVN24. She was just a wee calf then and the ornithologist who spotted her assumed she would eventually make a return home. Then last week biologist Rafal Kowalczyk (coincidence?) saw the healthy cow again with the bison roaming the Bialowieza Forest in eastern Poland.

    The bison expert says she appears to be in good health, indicating she is able to find food.

    “Thick fur common to her breed and the mild winter in eastern Poland so far this year have also helped her,” Kowalczyk told the Associated Press

    While it is an exceptional sight, Kowalczyk says it could also be a dangerous one.

    Weighing in at 800 kilograms (over 1,750 pounds), the European buffalo is Europe’s largest mammal. If the cow mates with a bison and gets pregnant, the hybrid calf could be bigger than a normal cow calf and kill her.

    If the cow is able to successfully bring a baby to term, any offspring would contaminate the gene pool of the already endangered bison population.

    The European buffalo was driven nearly to extinction at the beginning of the 20th century when German soldiers and locals hunted them during the First World War. Through careful breeding, the herd has since been restored.

    A “beefalo” baby might hinder progress made to protect the endemic species as well as the survival of Europe’s 8,000-year-old primeval forest.

    It wouldn’t be the first time a cow-buffalo hybrid has wreaked havoc on an ecosystem. Beefalo first intentionally came into existence in the 1960s, when bison were cross-bred with domestic cattle in the southwest US. It was an effort to get the best of both the hardy, delicious bison and the fertile, easily-domesticated cow. 

    As with most ideas, it seemed like a good one at the time.

    After escaping their pens, officials and tribal authorities have reported the beefalo – also called cattalo – is wreaking havoc on the region’s grassland ecosystem, drinking already limited water supplies, and destroying ancient stone ruins (buffalo have a tendency to rub themselves against standing structures).

    At last count, an estimated 600 beefalo were still roaming the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. 

    “While it certainly is not normal for a bison to accept a calf of a different species – we have some members who graze both beef and bison in the same pasture – it’s not unprecedented,” said Jim Matheson, assistant director of the National Bison Association. However, the National Bison Association includes in its code of ethics absolutely no crossbreeding of bison with any other species. 

    Both bison and domesticated cattle are part of the cloven-hooved Bovidae family, along with yak, antelopes, sheep, goats, and muskoxen.

    Nonetheless, Kowalczyk says scientists will try to remove the cow from the herd by summer.

    Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/this-cow-ran-away-from-home-to-join-a-wild-bison-herd/

    Major shift as Trump opens way for Medicaid work requirement

    WASHINGTON– In a major policy shift that could affect millions of low-income people, the Trump administration said Thursday it is offering a path for states that want to seek work requirements on Medicaid recipients.

    Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said work and community involvement can make a positive difference in people’s lives and in their health. Still, the plan probably will face strong political opposition and even legal challenges over concerns people would lose coverage.

    Medicaid is a federal-state collaboration covering more than 70 million people, or about 1 in 5 Americans, and that makes it the largest government health insurance program. It was expanded under President Barack Obama, with an option that has allowed states to cover millions more low-income adults; many have jobs that don’t provide health insurance.

    People are not legally required to hold a job to be on Medicaid, but states traditionally can seek federal waivers to test new ideas for the program.

    The administration’s latest action spells out safeguards that states should consider to obtain federal approval for waivers imposing work requirements on “able-bodied” adults. Technically, those waivers would be “demonstration projects.” In practical terms, they would represent new requirements for beneficiaries in those states.

    The administration said 10 states — mostly conservative ones — have applied for waivers involving work requirements or community involvement. They are: Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin. Advocates for low-income people say they expect Kentucky’s waiver to be approved shortly.

    “Medicaid needs to be more flexible so that states can best address the needs of this population,” Verma said in a statement. “Our fundamental goal is to make a positive and lasting difference in the health and wellness of our beneficiaries.” For close to a year, the administration has signaled an interest in helping states that want to institute work requirements.

    Advocates for low-income people said work has never been a requirement for Medicaid, a program originally intended as a health program for the poor and disabled. It now covers a broad cross-section of people, from many newborns to elderly nursing home residents, and increasingly working adults.

    “It is a very major change in Medicaid that for the first time would allow people to be cut off for not meeting a work requirement, regardless of the hardship they may suffer,” said Judy Solomon of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which advocates for the poor. The Obama administration would have never approved such waivers, she added.

    A study from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found that a surprising number of working-age adults on Medicaid are already employed. Nearly 60 percent work either full time or part time, mainly for employers that don’t offer health insurance. Most who are not working report reasons such as illness, caring for a family member or going to school. Some Medicaid recipients say the coverage has enabled them to get healthy enough to return to work.

    The debate about work requirements doesn’t break neatly along liberal-conservative lines. Kaiser polling last year found that 70 percent of the public support allowing states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients, even as most people in the U.S. were against deep Medicaid cuts sought by congressional Republicans and the Trump administration.

    Thursday’s administration guidance to states spells out safeguards that states should consider in seeking work requirements. These include:

       –exempting pregnant women, disabled people and the elderly.

       –taking into account hardships for people in areas with high employment, or for people caring for children or elderly relatives.

       –allowing people under treatment for substance abuse problems to have their care counted as “community engagement” for purposes of meeting a requirement.

    The administration said states must fully comply with federal disability and civil rights laws, to accommodate disabled people and prevent those who are medically frail from being denied coverage. States should try to align their Medicaid work requirements with similar conditions applying in other programs, such as food stamps.

    “People who participate in activities that increase their education and training are more likely to find sustainable employment, have higher earnings, a better quality of life, and, studies have shown, improved health outcomes,” Verma said.

    Solomon, the advocate for low-income people, said the federal government’s waiver authority doesn’t provide carte blanche to ignore the basic purposes of the program, and promoting work has not been on that list up to now.

    “There’s never been a work requirement in Medicaid, it’s only been in recent years that states have raised the possibility of having one,” she said. “Medicaid is a health program that is supposed to serve people who don’t otherwise have coverage.”

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/01/11/major-shift-as-trump-opens-way-for-medicaid-work-requirement.html

    Doctors want President Trump’s head examined

    (CNN)President Donald Trump is “in excellent health,” White House physician, Dr. Ronny Jackson, said following his physical Friday. But it’s not clear whether any mental health tests were conducted, despite urging from mental health professionals.

    Jackson received an urgent letter from dozens of doctors and health professionals Thursday urging him to perform basic mental health tests on the President.
    While reviews of the past five presidents’ physical exams show only a brief mention of mental health and none of the records includes a readout of the mental health tests, this letter points out that mental evaluations are routine during physicals, particularly for patients who are 66 or older. Trump is 71.
      Medicare guidelines suggest patients in this age range should be evaluated for cognitive and neural health function.
      The White House has dismissed questions about Trump’s mental fitness, calling them “disgraceful and laughable.” They said, prior to the physical, that mental health testing was not something Trump would undergo. It will be up to President Trump what information he shares with the public.
      The letter was written to Jackson, who examined Trump.
      “Without performing an evaluation of this kind, President Trump would be receiving care that is inadequate to the standard care regularly administered to millions of Americans covered by Medicare,” the letter argues. “Equally important, without this evaluation, the American people will not have a clear understanding about the health and well-being of the President, which is essential for Americans to know of any president.”
      While a true mental health evaluation can only happen in person, these experts have noted there is some “increasing concern” that the President may be struggling with some mental health challenges and they recommend the President’s doctor screen Trump for dementia.
      The letter does not explain how these concerns arose.
      Problems these experts say they have observed include rambling speech; episodes of slurred speech; failure to recognize old friends; frequent repetition of the same concepts; decreased fine motor coordination; difficulties reading, listening and comprehending; suspect judgment, planning, problem solving and impulse control; and markedly declining vocabulary in recent years, with overreliance on superlatives, according to the letter.
      The issue of the President’s mental capacity has received significant attention in recent weeks as Michael Wolff’s best-seller, “Fire and Fury,” has raised concerns about the commander in chief.
      Citing people close to the President, Wolff has said the President has begun repeating three stories in conversations in less than 10 minutes, when he used to repeat stories in about a 30-minute window. Wolff told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that “100% of the people around the President believes he’s incapable of carrying out the duties of office.”
      In full damage control, Trump and the White House trashed Wolff and his book as fiction and tabloid garbage while defending the President’s mental fitness.
      “Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart,” Trump said in a tweetstorm earlier this week. He called himself a “very stable genius.”

      See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

      While some experts advise doctors to look for early signs or symptoms of cognitive issues that include problems with memory or language changes, the US Preventive Services Task Force concluded that “the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening for cognitive impairment.”
      Among the medical professionals who wrote the letter, at least 15 made contributions to Democrats, and at least two have donated to Republicans, according to FEC records; however, not all have and many are well known experts in their field, from the United States, Canada and Germany.
      The letter concludes that a mental health evaluation is a must because “the health of the President relies on it — as do American lives and the safety of our nation.”

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/13/health/trump-mental-health-exam/index.html

      Go home, CNN, you’re DRUNK: CNN’s take on Martin Luther King is their dumbest take YET

      DAFUQ? Appears CNN finally figured out that Martin Luther King Jr. was actually a registered Republican so in their desperation to IGNORE that inconvenient tidbit they decided to make him a socialist hero.

      What in the blue Hell are they talking about?

      Read more: https://twitchy.com/samj-3930/2018/01/15/go-home-cnn-youre-drunk-cnns-take-on-martin-luther-king-is-their-dumbest-take-yet/

      Ruth Bader Ginsburg saw Kate McKinnon portray her on ‘SNL.’ Here’s what she thought.

      She’s delighted fans weekly on “Saturday Night Live” for nearly six years and stole the show as Dr. Jillian Holtzmann in 2016’s “Ghostbusters” reboot — clearly, actress and comedian Kate McKinnon has mastered the art of impersonation.

      I mean, which other “SNL” star could flawlessly pull off Hillary Clinton, Justin Bieber, and Jeff Sessions?

      *crickets*

      Exactly!

      And one of McKinnon’s especially hilarious portrayals is Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

      McKinnon’s Ginsburg is spry, unfiltered, and bursting with memorable one-liners.  

      The character even generated a perfectly out there term for the 84-year-old’s fiery takedowns: Gins-burns.”

      It’s a term the realNotorious RBG” has come to love.

      Sitting down with NPR’s Nina Totenberg on January 21 at the Sundance Film Festival, Ginsburg finally answered the years-old ‘SNL’ question.

      “So, what did you think of your portrayal on ‘Saturday Night Live’?” Totenberg asked.

      “I liked the actress that portrayed me,” a smiling Ginsburg answered. “And I would like to say ‘Gins-burn’ sometimes to my colleagues.” The crowd erupted with laughs and cheers.

      You can watch the full exchange below:

      Much to the (likely) consternation of President Trump — who once said Ginsburg’s mind is “shot” and called on her to resign — it sounds like we’ll be hearing many more ‘Gins-burns’ in the months and years ahead.

      The Supreme Court justice — one of only four women in U.S. history to hold the title — just hired a slate of law clerks through 2020, dimming hopes from conservatives that she’d be retiring prior to the next presidential election. Ginsburg previously said she’ll remain on the court as long as her health allows.

      If her rigorous workout routine is any indication, that will be a while!

      Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/ruth-bader-ginsburg-saw-kate-mc-kinnon-portray-her-on-snl-here-s-what-she-thought

      Left-Handed People Less Likely To Believe In God And More Likely To Believe In Ghosts

      People who are left-handed have to deal with a world that’s set up against them.

      Most utensils, seating arrangements, and tools are created with right-handed folks in mind. Relatives of mine who went through Catholic school back in the day got rapped on their knuckles any time they tried to write with their left hands. Since being right-handed was considered “normal” and “correct,” we’ve evolutionarily and socially encouraged right-handedness in potential partners.

      The implications of this aren’t just about access to left-handed scissors, though. Strangely enough, our dominant hand may even indicate what kind of beliefs we hold dear.

      A new study published in a journal on evolutionary psychology suggests a “weak but significant” connection between traits like left-handedness, schizophrenia, and autism to atheism. People who identify as religious tend to have a lower “mutational load” than those who don’t. But there’s a reason that’s the case.

      Throughout history, Western people looking for suitable mates would consider believing in a single moral god to be a sign of mental health and social acceptability. People who believed in a god were more likely to reproduce and thus the result is they have fewer mutations in their genetic code.

      While the study’s findings are interesting, it’s important to note that atheism is increasing in Western societies across the board. Non-religious people make up almost 50 percent of Britain and 22 percent of the United States.

      Read more: http://www.viralnova.com/left-hand-beliefs/

      Why No Gadget Can Prove How Stoned You Are

      If you’ve spent time with marijuana—any time at all, really—you know that the high can be rather unpredictable. It depends on the strain, its level of THC and hundreds of other compounds, and the interaction between all these elements. Oh, and how much you ate that day. And how you took the cannabis. And the position of the North Star at the moment of ingestion.

      OK, maybe not that last one. But as medical and recreational marijuana use spreads across the United States, how on Earth can law enforcement tell if someone they’ve pulled over is too high to be driving, given all these factors? Marijuana is such a confounding drug that scientists and law enforcement are struggling to create an objective standard for marijuana intoxication. (Also, I’ll say this early and only once: For the love of Pete, do not under any circumstances drive stoned.)

      Sure, the cops can take you back to the station and draw a blood sample and determine exactly how much THC is in your system. “It's not a problem of accurately measuring it,” says Marilyn Huestis, coauthor of a new review paper in Trends in Molecular Medicine about cannabis intoxication. “We can accurately measure cannabinoids in blood and urine and sweat and oral fluid. It's interpretation that is the more difficult problem.”

      You see, different people handle marijuana differently. It depends on your genetics, for one. And how often you consume cannabis, because if you take it enough, you can develop a tolerance to it. A dose of cannabis that may knock amateurs on their butts could have zero effect on seasoned users—patients who use marijuana consistently to treat pain, for instance.

      The issue is that THC—what’s thought to be the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana—interacts with the human body in a fundamentally different way than alcohol. “Alcohol is a water-loving, hydrophilic compound,” says Huestis. “Whereas THC is a very fat-loving compound. It's a hydrophobic compound. It goes and stays in the tissues.” The molecule can linger for up to a month, while alcohol clears out right quick.

      But while THC may hang around in tissues, it starts diminishing in the blood quickly—really quickly. “It's 74 percent in the first 30 minutes, and 90 percent by 1.4 hours,” says Huestis. “And the reason that's important is because in the US, the average time to get blood drawn [after arrest] is between 1.4 and 4 hours.” By the time you get to the station to get your blood taken, there may not be much THC left to find. (THC tends to linger longer in the brain because it’s fatty in there. That’s why the effects of marijuana can last longer than THC is detectable in breath or blood.)

      So law enforcement can measure THC, sure enough, but not always immediately. And they’re fully aware that marijuana intoxication is an entirely different beast than drunk driving. “How a drug affects someone might depend on the person, how they used the drug, the type of drug (e.g., for cannabis, you can have varying levels of THC between different products), and how often they use the drug,” California Highway Patrol spokesperson Mike Martis writes in an email to WIRED.

      Accordingly, in California, where recreational marijuana just became legal, the CHP relies on other observable measurements of intoxication. If an officer does field sobriety tests like the classic walk-and-turn maneuver, and suspects someone may be under the influence of drugs, they can request a specialist called a drug recognition evaluator. The DRE administers additional field sobriety tests—analyzing the suspect’s eyes and blood pressure to try to figure out what drug may be in play.

      The CHP says it’s also evaluating the use of oral fluid screening gadgets to assist in these drug investigations. (Which devices exactly, the CHP declines to say.) “However, we want to ensure any technology we use is reliable and accurate before using it out in the field and as evidence in a criminal proceeding,” says Martis.

      Another option would be to test a suspect’s breath with a breathalyzer for THC, which startups like Hound Labs are chasing. While THC sticks around in tissues, it’s no longer present in your breath after about two or three hours. So if a breathalyzer picks up THC, that would suggest the stuff isn’t lingering from a joint smoked last night, but one smoked before the driver got in a car.

      This could be an objective measurement of the presence of THC, but not much more. “We are not measuring impairment, and I want to be really clear about that,” says Mike Lynn, CEO of Hound Labs. “Our breathalyzer is going to provide objective data that potentially confirms what the officer already thinks.” That is, if the driver was doing 25 in a 40 zone and they blow positive for THC, evidence points to them being stoned.

      But you might argue that even using THC to confirm inebriation goes too far. The root of the problem isn’t really about measuring THC, it’s about understanding the galaxy of active compounds in cannabis and their effects on the human body. “If you want to gauge intoxication, pull the driver out and have him drive a simulator on an iPad,” says Kevin McKernan, chief scientific officer at Medicinal Genomics, which does genetic testing of cannabis. “That'll tell ya. The chemistry is too fraught with problems in terms of people's individual genetics and their tolerance levels.”

      Scientists are just beginning to understand the dozens of other compounds in cannabis. CBD, for instance, may dampen the psychoactive effects of THC. So what happens if you get dragged into court after testing positive for THC, but the marijuana you consumed was also a high-CBD strain?

      “It significantly compounds your argument in court with that one,” says Jeff Raber, CEO of the Werc Shop, a cannabis lab. “I saw this much THC, you're intoxicated. Really, well I also had twice as much CBD, doesn't that cancel it out? I don't know, when did you take that CBD? Did you take it afterwards, did you take it before?

      “If you go through all this effort and spend all the time and money and drag people through court and spend taxpayer dollars, we shouldn't be in there with tons of question marks,” Raber says.

      But maybe one day marijuana roadside testing won’t really matter. “I really think we're probably going to see automated cars before we're going to see this problem solved in a scientific sense,” says Raber. Don’t hold your breath, then, for a magical device that tells you you’re stoned.

      Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/why-no-gadget-can-prove-how-stoned-you-are/

      Democrats Score Huge Special Election Upset In Wisconsin GOP Stronghold

      Democrat Patty Schachtner won a special election for a state Senate seat in Wisconsin on Tuesday, scoring a huge upset victory for her party in a district that President Donald Trump handily captured just over a year ago. 

      It was the latest in a string of election victories for Democrats since Trump took office, and a sign of hope for the party that the energy from the base and frustration with the president could lead to more wins in November.

      With every precinct counted, The Washington Post reported that Schachtner, the chief medical examiner for St. Croix County, won by 9 percentage points.

      Republican Sheila Harsdorf had held the seat since 2001, but she left in November to become Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s agriculture secretary. In 2016, Harsdorf won re-election by 26 percentage points, and Trump beat Democratic rival Hillary Clinton by 17 points. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won the district in 2012. 

      “This campaign was about investing in people and revitalizing our area, whether that is making sure that every Wisconsinite has access to affordable health care, funding our public schools, technical colleges and UW campuses, or investing in good-paying jobs right here in Western Wisconsin,” Schachtner said in a statement. “Tonight, voters showed that they share those priorities, and I am deeply grateful for their support.”

      Attorney Adam Jarchow, Schachtner’s GOP opponent, conceded the race Tuesday night. 

      Republicans clearly sensed that this district was vulnerable. The conservative Americans for Prosperity spent at least $50,000 on ads, and the Wisconsin Alliance for Reform and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce threw in another $80,000. 

      On the Democratic side, Greater Wisconsin spent $30,000, and the National Democratic Redistricting Committee spent $10,000. 

      Republicans will still control the state Legislature, with an 18-14 majority and one vacancy in the Senate. 

      Democrats have fared well in other special elections since Trump became president, scoring big wins in Virginia, Alabama, Oklahoma and other places around the country. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which works to elect Democrats to state office, said that, with the win in Wisconsin, there are 34 districts that have flipped from red to blue since Trump’s inauguration.

      Walker is up for re-election this year, and he has built up a formidable political machine in the state. So far, there’s a crowded field of Democrats running to unseat him, but there’s no solid front-runner. 

      The governor tweeted Tuesday night, however, that Republicans needed to acknowledge that 2018 was shaping up to be a tough year. 

      Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) is also running in 2018, and her seat is a prime target for Republicans. Conservative groups have so far spent at least $3.1 million against Baldwin, which is more than what all the other Democratic Senate incumbents on the ballot this year have faced combined (under $550,000), according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

      Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/patty-schactner-wins_us_5a5ec4e2e4b096ecfca88c03

      Twitter troll opens up after Sarah Silverman responds with kindness

      Image: John Salangsang/BFA/REX/Shutterstock

      When a troll called comedian Sarah Silverman the C-word on Twitter, she responded with level-headed kindness, finding out he was in a lot of pain and eventually helping him pay for his medical bills.

      On Dec. 28, Twitter user Jeremy Jamrozy responded rudely to one of Silverman’s tweets where she was trying to reach out to a Trump supporter in the hope of understanding where they were coming from. Instead of ignoring him or responding angrily, she went in a completely different direction, taking the two down a path that eventually led to her helping him take care of his medical expenses.

      Jamrozy, it turns out, has several slipped discs in his spine, and with no insurance and no way to work through the pain, he is unable to cover the costs of fixing it on his own. Along with that, he was dealing with the trauma of an abuse he suffered when he was 8 years old, he told Silverman on Twitter.

      After a series of back-and-forth messages, Silverman asked Jamrozy to go to a support group. He agreed to go, and apologized for being rude.

      The conversation continued and grew friendlier and friendlier throughout the day, with Jamrozy telling Silverman he enjoys her comedy, is amazed by her love for humanity, and that she’s got herself a fan in him.

      As for his back problems, Jamrozy went for a consultation to see what needed to be done to help him get back on his feet. It was not going to be a simple, cheap path to recovery, so Jamrozy started a GoFundMe campaign and Silverman gave him a shout out on her Twitter.

      In an interview with My San Antonio, Jamrozy said Silverman offered to pay for his medical expenses. 

      With donations coming in from people on his GoFundMe, Jamrozy was inspired to spread that money around to other people who need help in the San Antonio area where he lives.

      “I was once a giving and nice person, but too many things destroyed that and I became bitter and hateful,” Jamrozy told My San Antonio. “Then Sarah showed me the way. Don’t get me wrong, I still got a long way to go, but it’s a start.”

      Read more: http://mashable.com/2018/01/06/sarah-silverman-troll/

      Psychiatrist who briefed Dems on Trump afraid restraining the president might look like a coup

      While it seems like everyone in America is reading Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury,” an article in Vox is getting some attention as well. As Twitchy reported, a Yale psychiatry professor and editor of the book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” in December briefed some Democrats in Congress on the president’s mental state despite having not evaluated him in person. That psychiatrist, Bandy X. Lee, was interviewed by Vox, and her answers, published Saturday, tell quite a bit about the person calling Trump dangerous and mentally unfit to serve. For example, Lee, “who has devoted her 20-year career to studying, predicting, and preventing violence,” blames Trump for an increase in gun violence and claims his decision to locate America’s embassy in Jerusalem is “poking a beehive” in the Middle East. But it’s nothing partisan, OK?

      Byron York highlighted a passage in which Lee says physically restraining the president and evaluating him “will really look like a coup, and while we are trying to prevent violence, we don’t wish to incite it through, say, an insurrection.”

      Read more: https://twitchy.com/brettt-3136/2018/01/06/psychiatrist-who-briefed-dems-on-trump-afraid-restraining-the-president-might-look-like-a-coup/

      You can get that $29 battery replacement, regardless of your iPhones health

      Apple hasn’t been super specific when it comes to those $29 iPhone battery replacements. After all, the company would no doubt like to the whole business behind it. What precisely it would take to qualify one’s out-of-warranty handset for the $50 discount hasn’t been spelled out, but it seems to be easier than anticipated. 

      The company had previously mentioned the threshold of “anyone with an iPhone 6 or later whose battery needs to be replaced,” which seemed to apply to the in-house diagnostic tests it was running on handsets, recommending a replacement once the battery drops below 80-percent its initial capacity. The actual bar, however, is apparently quite a bit lower, with the company allowing for replacement regardless of testing.

      The news was first spotted by iGeneration by way of an internal memo, and has since been confirmed by MacRumors. We’ve reached out to Apple as well, and will update as soon as we hear something official. It seems likely the company’s simply looking to cause as little friction as possible, in the wake of bad publicity surrounding its policy of slowing down older handsets to preserve battery.

      Many of its chief competitors jumped on the news — Samsung, HTC, LG and Motorola all issued statements noting that they had not implemented similar policies. iFixit, meanwhile, offered its own $29 battery replacement, which, unlike Apple’s apology offering, is good on phones older than the iPhone 6.

      Apple’s own offering runs through this December. More details are available on Apple’s site, where you can also schedule a trip to the Genius Bar. 

      Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/02/you-can-get-that-29-battery-replacement-regardless-of-your-iphones-health/

      Sessions Ending Obama-Era Policy That Ushered In Legal Weed

      Attorney General Jeff Sessions is rescinding an Obama-era policy that helped states legalize recreational marijuana, throwing a wet blanket on the fledgling industry during what could have been a celebratory week.

      The Justice Department will reverse the so-called Cole and Ogden memos that set out guardrails for federal prosecution of cannabis and allowed legalized marijuana to flourish in states across the U.S., according to two senior agency officials. U.S. attorneys in states where pot is legal will now be able prosecute cases where they see fit, according to the officials, who requested anonymity discussing internal policy.

      Shares of pot companies plunged as news of the policy change surfaced, though many began to rebound after investors weighed the potential impact.

      The change comes at a high point for the weed industry. California, the biggest U.S. state and sixth-largest economy in the world, launched its legal marketplace on Jan. 1. Sales in California alone are expected to reach $3.7 billion in 2018, according to estimates from BDS Analytics. 

      Seven other states and the District of Columbia have also legalized cannabis for adult use. Twenty-one additional states have voted to allow the plant to be used for medicinal purposes. The market is expected to skyrocket from $6 billion in 2016 to $50 billion by 2026, according to Cowen & Co.

      Sessions, a Republican from Alabama, has long been opposed to marijuana, equating it with heroin. But this is the first action he’s taken that deviates significantly from the Obama administration. Many in the industry said the news is unsurprising but disappointing.

      “While dismantling the industry will prove impossible, the move by Sessions will sow more seeds of uncertainty in an industry that already has its fair share of risks and unknowns,” said Chris Walsh, vice president of Marijuana Business Daily. “Businesses could be in for a bumpy ride amid this uncertainty, and we certainly could see some types of regional crackdowns or delays in upcoming medical or recreational cannabis markets.”

      Shares Plummet

      The Bloomberg Intelligence Global Cannabis Competitive Peers Index dropped as much as 24 percent after the Associated Press first reported the Justice Department plan. Most companies in that group are small. Still, there are a few big names that could be hit by the changing policy. 

      Constellation Brands Inc., which sells Corona beer and Svedka vodka in the U.S., got involved in the cannabis industry in October when it acquired a minority investment in Canopy Growth, a Canadian marijuana company. Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. has also made its way into the Green Rush. It fell as much as 5.7 percent after the news, the biggest intraday drop since May. 

      A tightening of enforcement also would be felt in Canada, where the cannabis industry has blossomed. Ontario’s Canopy Growth fell as much as 19 percent to C$29.06 in Toronto, while Aphria Inc. plunged as much as 23 percent to C$16.59. ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF, the first pure-play pot ETF to be listed in the U.S., dropped as much as 9.7 percent, the biggest intraday decline since May.

      Fear and Doubt

      Sessions’s policy may cause investors to think twice before putting their money into the Green Rush, according to Adrian Sedlin, founder of Canndescent, a marijuana cultivation and branded-flower company.

      “Fear, uncertainty and doubt will rip through our industry like a California wildfire because of this,” he said. “Whatever happens longterm, this will retard and limit capital flows into the industry for the foreseeable future.”

      The move is likely to sow confusion among consumers and state officials, and may spark a backlash if state-approved retailers are prosecuted. Sixty-four percent of the U.S. population now wants to make pot legal, according to a Gallup poll released in October.

      But it’s too late to stop the industry from growing, said Laura Bianchi, a partner and director of cannabis, business and corporate transactions and estate planning at Rose Law Group in Scottsdale, Arizona.

      “To undo this industry would be like closing Pandora’s box once it’s been opened,” she said. “It would be a Herculean effort that would undermine another Republican cornerstone, which is the importance of states’ rights.”

      Senators React

      Senator Cory Gardner, a Republican from Colorado, where marijuana is legal, said in a tweet that Sessions’s move contradicts what he told the senator before his confirmation.

      “I am prepared to take all steps necessary, including holding DOJ nominees, until the Attorney General lives up to the commitment he made to me,” Gardner said.

      Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, said Sessions’s actions are an affront to medical patients who need to use the plant as medicine. 

      “Parents should be able to give their sick kids the medicine they need without having to fear that they will be prosecuted,” she said in a statement. “This is about public health, and it’s about reforming our broken criminal justice system that throws too many minorities in prison for completely nonviolent offenses.”

      Still, the federal policy change may not actually hurt business much at all. Entrepreneurs starting marijuana businesses have already been working under risky circumstances. The plant has remained federally illegal, meaning most large companies — including banks — have shied away. Instead, the business has relied on state regulators, many of whom previously said they would defend the industry through any federal crackdown. 

      “We’re not overly concerned that a change in DOJ policy around cannabis will be meaningfully disruptive to legal adult use cannabis states, given the vocal support offered by these state-level AG’s,” said Vivien Azer, a Cowen & Co. analyst who covers the industry.

        Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-04/sessions-said-to-kill-obama-policy-that-ushered-in-legal-weed

        Sexist Troll Attacks Sarah Silverman On Twitter, And Her Unexpected Response Turns Mans Life Upside Down

        Sarah Silverman is known for her rather dark comedy but her heart is full of kindness. Instead of fighting fire with fire and insulting a sexist troll who called her the C-word, she responded with getting to know him and actually improving his life.

        On the 28th of December, Twitter user Jeremy Jamrozy replied rudely to Silverman’s tweets, as she was reaching out to a Trump supporter in the hope of understanding where they were coming from. She didn’t ignore him nor did she got angry. Instead, Sarah took a completely different route, finding the roots of Jeremy’s anger – his health. Scroll down to read the most compassionate act on Twitter, and join me by making a 2018 resolution to be as empathetic as Sarah.

        Sarah Silverman is known for her dark comedy, but that doesn’t mean she has a dark soul

        So when one Twitter user replied rudely to Silverman’s tweets

        Instead of fighting fire with fire, Sarah had a different idea

        Things escalated quickly after her response

        Everything is heading towards a happy ending

        And the internet applauded Silverman’s kindness

        Image credits: Zebra_Park

        Image credits: Azanmi

        Image credits: MichaelDooney_

        Image credits: unbarn

        Image credits: Ellen_2Kool

        Image credits: RoxieDemartin

        Read more: http://www.boredpanda.com/comedian-twitter-response-sarah-silverman/

        As Bitcoin Sinks, Crypto Bros Party Hard on a Blockchain Cruise

        When 600 cryptocurrency enthusiasts set sail from Singapore on Monday night for their second annual Blockchain Cruise, the price of Bitcoin was hovering comfortably above $13,500.

        By the time their 1,020-foot-long ship pulled into Thailand on Wednesday, for an afternoon of bottomless drinks and crypto-focused talks on a sun-soaked private beach, Bitcoin had cratered to $10,000.

        The group of mostly young men, many of whom became wildly rich — at least on paper — as Bitcoin and other digital tokens skyrocketed last year, had in all likelihood just lost millions.

        But if anyone was fazed, they didn’t show it. The party rolled on as the sangria and Red Bull flowed, Bitcoin-themed rap music blared and drones filmed it all from above.

        “Nothing goes up in a straight line,” explained Ronnie Moas, the founder of Miami Beach-based Standpoint Research, who was one of the event’s speakers on Wednesday. In a best-case scenario, he said, Bitcoin could jump to $300,000 in as little as seven years.

        For skeptics of the crypto craze, it’s hard not to see all this as another sign of runaway exuberance — a repeat of the boosterish Las Vegas securitization conference, immortalized in The Big Short, that preceded the subprime mortgage meltdown of 2007. But the steadfast optimism on display at this week’s Blockchain Cruise also carries a warning for anyone betting on a cryptocurrency crash: It’s going to take more than a 50 percent drop in Bitcoin from its Dec. 18 high to drive out the diehards.

        “This is something that you either believe in or not,” said Moas, who has become a crypto-celebrity after issuing stratospheric price forecasts for Bitcoin.

        The cruise’s eclectic list of speakers included Jose Gomez, a former aide to the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez; Kaspar Korjus, the head of Estonia’s e-residency program (which may issue its own cryptocurrency); and Jorg Molt, an early digital currency backer whose claim to hold 250,000 Bitcoins (worth $2.8 billion at the current price) couldn’t be verified.

        But perhaps the biggest draw was John McAfee, the anti-virus software pioneer with a checkered past. In 2012, while living in Belize, McAfee had run-ins with local police for alleged unlicensed drug manufacturing and weapons possession, but was released without charge. At one point, Belize police started a search for him as a person of interest in connection with the murder of his neighbor. McAfee said he was innocent and that he fled Belize because of persecution by corrupt officials.

        He now helps run MGT Capital Investments Inc., a small-cap tech company with a Bitcoin mining business. He has become a cryptocurrency evangelist on Twitter, touting the technology and various tokens to his more than 700,000 followers. Coinsbank, the digital currency exchange and wallet operator that organized the cruise, made him a headline speaker.

        On Wednesday, McAfee blamed the recent market slump on unfounded fear of government intervention. He urged cryptocurrency holders — one of whom sported a “Buy The Dip” t-shirt — to stick with their bets.

        Read more: Bitcoin Fall Extends to 25% as Fears of Crypto Crackdown Linger

        “You cannot force a ban on a distributed system,” McAfee said in an interview after his speech. “It’s like how do you ban smoking weed? You can’t ban it. People will come back.”

        Not every conversation on the Blockchain Cruise revolved around cryptocurrencies. Attendees, unsurprisingly, had plenty to say about blockchain — the distributed ledger technology that underpins Bitcoin — and its potential to improve industries from finance to health care.

        Charity was also a topic raised by speakers including Moas, who urged the audience to donate some of their newfound wealth and help reduce global inequality.

        Many attendees have far more than they need.

        Rowan Hill, a former coal miner in Australia, said he retired by 26 after getting in on the crypto boom early. After the cruise, he’s heading to Japan for a four-week snowboarding trip.

        “A lot of people can’t stand the price swings” in digital currencies, Hill said, donning a fedora and sunglasses as he lounged on the beach. “The average person just sells, and they lose out.”

        Joe Stone, an Australian who invests in digital assets, said market declines are easier to bear in the company of fellow enthusiasts. For many on the cruise, the next stop is another cryptocurrency conference in Bangkok.

        “There’s nowhere I’d rather be,” said Stone, after a late night of mingling at the ship’s cigar bar over whiskeys. “Otherwise I’d just be at my computer.”

        For more on cryptocurrencies, check out the   podcast:

          Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-19/as-bitcoin-sinks-crypto-bros-party-hard-on-a-blockchain-cruise

          Jeff Sessions Marijuana Adviser Wants Doctors to Drug-Test Everyone

          A adviser on marijuana policy to Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to see doctors make drug testing a routine part of primary-care medicine and force some users into treatment against their will, he told The Daily Beast.

          Dr. Robert DuPont was among a small group of drug-policy experts invited to a closed-door meeting with Sessions last month to discuss federal options for dealing with the rapid liberalization of state marijuana laws. California became the sixth state to allow the sale of marijuana for recreational use on Jan. 1.

          DuPont, 81, is one of the most influential drug warriors of the past century. He began his career as a liberal on drug control in the 1970s, calling then for the decriminalization of marijuana possession and launching the first U.S. methadone treatment program for heroin in Washington, D.C. in 1971. By the 1980s, he shifted to the right, popularizing the claim marijuana was a gateway drug.

          At the December 2017 meeting with Sessions, DuPont was slated to present on the effect of marijuana on drugged driving, a topic on which he has proposed some radical ideas.

          A national model bill he helped write in 2010 called on law enforcement to test anyone stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence for all controlled substances, and arresting them if any trace at all shows up in their systemregardless of the amount. While the bill includes an exemption for drivers who consumed a drug pursuant to a prescription, it would not apply to medicinal-marijuana users because doctors are not currently allowed to prescribe pot, only offer a recommendation for its use.

          The bills language makes clear that these people will still face sanction even if they live in a state in which medical marijuana is legal.

          [The] fact that any person charged with violating this subsection is or was legally entitled to consume alcohol or to use a controlled substance, medication, drug, or other impairing substance, shall not constitute a defense against any charge, it reads.

          But even thats not the worst of it.

          The bill includes a section prohibiting the Internal Possession of Chemical or Controlled Substances.

          Any person who provides a bodily fluid sample containing any amount of a chemical or controlled substance… commits an offense punishable in the same manner as if the person otherwise possessed that substance, it reads, adding in a footnote: This provision is not a DUI specific law. Rather, it applies to any person who tests positive for chemical or controlled substances.

          Asked to comment on whether Sessions was aware of DuPonts proposal to penalize drug users who may not even be under the influence behind the wheel, and if he supports it, a Justice Department spokesperson chose to focus on the dangers of driving while intoxicated.

          "The Controlled Substances Act was enacted by Congress to comprehensively restrict and regulate numerous drugs, including marijuana, said DOJ spokeswoman Lauren Ehrsam, in a statement provided to The Daily Beast. Further, the attorney general agrees with the Centers for Disease Control that driving while impaired by marijuana is dangerous as it negatively affects a number of skills required for safe driving.

          Futile for Addicts to Help Themselves

          On closer inspection, DuPonts proposal is part of a plan to expand the use of drug-testing technology to root out users, and the threat of prosecution to compel them into treatment, where they will be tested even more.

          Early last year, The Daily Beast conducted a lengthy interview with DuPont as he was shopping around a radical proposal called the New Paradigm for Long-Term Recoveryto address Americas festering overdose crisis. It would include a massive expansion of drug testing in addiction medicine.

          Drug testing is the technology of addiction medicine, but its underutilized, he said. We want [drug screens] to be routine in all medicine. The health-care sector in general should approach addiction in the same way as diabetes, and that includes monitoring. Doctors already check for things like cholesterol and blood sugar. Why not test for illicit drugs?

          Calling his platform the opposite of harm reduction, DuPont said the goal of his plan is to promote long-term results… and greater accountability in the treatment sector.

          Among other things, he proposed giving doctors the authority to compel suspected substance abusers into treatment against their will. Once in treatment, patients could face as much as five years of monitoring, including random drug tests.

          People dont understand that referral to treatment is futile for an addict on their own, DuPont told The Daily Beast. Right now, the public really thinks that if we provide treatment the addicts will come and get well… thats not true. So lets use the leverage of the criminal-justice system, thats what the programs in the New Paradigm want to do.

          Turning a Profit Off Drug Testing

          DuPont presents his proposal as evidence-based, but its hard to separate his strong promotion of drug testing from his close personal and financial connections to the drug testing industry.

          In the 1970s he was the nations drug czar under Nixon and Ford, and was the first Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, until his increasingly radical views (he called for drug testing all parolees and sending them back to prison if they failed) forced his resignation in 1978.

          After leaving federal service, DuPont joined the former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Pete Bensinger, to cash in on urine testing. The firm they founded, Bensinger, DuPont & Associates, provided drug testing services to some of Americas largest corporations.

          Doctors already check for things like cholesterol and blood sugar, why not test for illicit drugs.
          Dr. Robert DuPont

          In 1991, while running the firm, DuPont introduced the idea of mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients in a policy document published by the Heritage Foundation. DuPont recommended not only testing the adults on public assistance but also their children.

          Later that decade, DuPont co-authored research with the founder of a firm called Psychemedics promoting the companys new hair testing technology.

          In 2000, while he was a shareholder and a paid consultant for the company DuPont testified before a Food & Drug Administration panel on drug testing where he advocated for expanding hair testing into federal workplaces. Dismissing the appearance of a conflict of interest DuPont told the panel: I don't think of myself as an employee or an advocate particularly for Psychemedics, but for drug testing generally.

          The FDA approved the companys first hair follicle test two years later, and today Psychemedics is a multi-million dollar a year business that's in the process of a profitable expansion into South America.

          This is a running theme for DuPont. For instance, Stephen Talpins, an attorney who helped DuPont author his model drugged driving bill, formerly was a vice president at Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc., which makes the SCRAM alcohol and location monitoring system used by many courts.

          Now DuPont is listed as a scientific adviser on the website of global drug-testing startup called CAM International Ventures. That company was founded in 2013 by David Martin, former president of the Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association, and includes among its staff other prominent members of the drug testing industry.

          Still, DuPont rejects the idea that there is any financial motivation behind his fixation drug testing.

          I find it bizarre to think that my interests after all these years were financial, he told The Daily Beast. I just think, there is a financial incentive in drug testing, but the reason Im interested in drug testing is that there is an interest from the disease standpoint.

          With a dozen more states expected to consider legal marijuana measures in 2018, and even Republican lawmakers like Trey Gowdy questioning the federal governments hard stance on the drug, its unlikely even a die hard anti-pot crusader like DuPont can turn back the tide, but that doesnt mean he cant make a few more bucks trying.

          Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/jeff-sessions-marijuana-adviser-wants-doctors-to-drug-test-everyone

          Your Pup’s Fur Only Protects Him So Much. Here’s How Long Dogs Can Stand The Cold.

          Our dogs’ fur is very versatile in how it protects them from both the heat and the cold. But that doesn’t mean their coats can keep them safe in extreme temperatures.

          Just as pets shouldn’t be left out in warm weather (particularly in hot cars) for an extended period of time, they shouldn’t spend too long in freezing temperatures, regardless of their breed. Many assume that dogs and cats do better than people in cold weather because of their fur, but according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, it’s not true. They’re just as susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia, which is why it’s important for owners to know their dogs’ limits.

          So how do you determine your pup’s tolerance to the cold? It all depends on their breed and overall health. Small dogs with shorter hair and thinner coats are more likely to become cold faster than bigger dogs with thicker, longer coats. That’s why booties, sweaters, and coats made for dogs are a good idea.

          “Under 30 degrees, factoring in the wind chill, it’s not going to be safe for any dog to be outside for an extended period of time,” said Dr. Kim Smyth, a staff veterinarian with Petplan insurance. “You can buy yourself a little bit of time with warm weather clothing.” If you aren’t using booties, wipe down your dog’s paws when they come inside and check their pads for redness or swelling.

          Certain conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease can make it harder for dogs to regulate their body temperature. The cold can also make conditions like arthritis worse.

          Besides bundling your pup up, be sure to keep an eye on him for signs of hypothermia. “Shivering would be the first sign … so you want to get these dogs inside, wrap them up in a warm towel or blanket and get them to the vet if you need to,” Smyth said

          Read more: http://www.viralnova.com/cold-dogs/

          Teenager murders his family members on New Year’s Eve, officials say

          A 16-year-old New Jersey boy gunned down his parents, sister and a family friend just before midnight on New Year’s Eve, turning the family home into a bloodbath that his brother and grandfather managed to escape, authorities said Monday.

          The teenager fatally shot his father, mother, sister and a family friend who also lived in the Long Branch, New Jersey home, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said in a statement. Police were called to the home around 11:43 p.m., and the suspect was taken into custody without incident, Gramiccioni said.

          “We are confident that this is a domestic incident that is completely isolated,” Gramiccioni said. “It’s a terribly tragic incident.”

          The boy’s name was not released, but the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office identified the deceased as: Steven Kologi, 44; Linda Kologi, 42; Brittany Kologi, 18; and Mary Schultz, 70. Schultz was identified as a “family acquaintance” by the prosecutor’s office.

          The alleged suspect’s brother and grandfather were also at the home at the time of the shooting but were able to escape unharmed, Gramiccioni said during a Monday news conference.

          The teenager is believed to have used a Century Arms “semi-automatic assault rifle” to gun down his family members and the family friend, authorities said. The gun was legally owned and registered to a family member, Gramiccioni said.

          Gramiccioni declined to comment on the suspect’s motive or a possible mental disability when asked by reporters. He did say the attack was an “isolated” domestic incident.

          “The Kologis were very caring, loving people and always looking to do fun things with their kids,” Walter Montelione, Linda Kologi’s cousin, told WCBS-TV. “He was a good kid. He was a little, you know, slow with learning disabilities, but he knows right from wrong.”

          Brittany Kologi was a freshman at Stockton University in Galloway Township, N.J., where she studied health sciences, a university spokeswoman confirmed to Fox News.

          “We are shocked and saddened by the reports of the death of freshman Brittany Kologi under such tragic circumstances,” Diane D’Amico, a Stockton University spokeswoman said. She added that counseling staff will be on hand for students. 

          Jalen Walls went to school with Brittany Kologi and lives a few blocks away from the home. He told NJ.com that the suspected shooter was cared for by his mother as he required special assistance. 

          “But he was fully functional and comprehended what we were saying,” Walls told the news outlet. 

          Dave Farmer said in a Facebook tribute that he played softball with Steven Kologi and “never had an argument or disagreement since” with him.

          ‘I’m proud to say publicly that I knew and loved this man unconditionally and always told him when we parted, ‘I love you brotha!!!’” Farmer said. 

          The teenager could be charged as an adult, officials said.

          Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Long Branch Police Department have launched a joint investigation into the murders. 

          Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @K_Schallhorn.

          Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/01/01/teenager-murders-his-family-members-on-new-years-eve-officials-say.html

          Nobody gave these kids a chance until one young former inmate followed his dream.

          David Lee Windecher didn’t exactly have the kind of start in life that sets a person up for success.

          He grew up poor after moving to the United States from Argentina in the 1970s, and, he says, “poverty led to my first arrest out of desperation.”

          “It opened the door to the darkest years of my life.”

          At 13, David witnessed his first murder, and the trauma of that moment led to more trouble — joining a gang for protection. He also dropped out of high school, and experienced abuse from police officers and the criminal justice system.

          At one point, David had been arrested 13 times, and spent 8 months in jail — and this was all while he was still a juvenile.

          David looks at a photo of himself in his youth. All images via Upworthy.

          After his last arrest in 1997, David knew he needed to change.

          And it was a vision of himself as a criminal defense attorney that helped drive him to do just that.

          “I would always dream about standing in front of a judge with a client standing next to me, and I would win,” he says. This dream came to him while he was incarcerated — and he took that as a sign for where he was destined to be.

          “This isn’t home for you,” he told himself as he sat in a jail cell.

          So, he set out to find a life that felt like home — a life of supporting incarcerated youth.

          He earned his GED, graduated from college, then set his sights on law school. Out of the 50 law schools he applied to, only one gave him a chance — but that one chance was all he needed.

          Today, David’s a criminal defense attorney and executive director of RED Inc., a nonprofit organization he founded in 2015.

          RED stands for Rehabilitation Enables Dreams, and the organization aims to engineer rehabilitation programs so that youth don’t have to fall into the cycle of going in and out of prison for the rest of their lives.

          RED founder David Windecher walks through a courthouse.

          There are a lot of  factors that set formerly incarcerated youth up for failure, again and again. “I spent enough time behind bars to realize that the judicial system was wronging people because of their status,” David explains. “Whether they were poor, whether they had a substance abuse issue, a mental health disorder, an academic deficiency.”

          “They were limited in resource, they were in a volatile environment — how did you expect them to flourish? It’s impossible.”

          To take on these obstacles, RED pursues their mission in three parts: increasing literacy, reducing poverty, and stopping youth recidivism (which means relapse into criminal behavior).

          When a first-time, nonviolent, youthful offender gets incarcerated, David says, RED’s goal is “to help them get on the straight and narrow before it’s too late.”

          “Without them, I wouldn’t have a second chance,” says Brian, one of the young people in the program.

          RED mentee Andree describes his rehabilitation experience.

          But David takes that a step further. “Most people don’t understand, it’s not their second chance. It’s their first chance — they never even had a first chance.”

          The U.S. has the highest documented incarceration rates in the world — and three quarters of released prisoners go back to jail within 5 years. In Georgia, where RED operates, the incarceration rate is 32% higher than the national average.

          That’s why to improve this grim picture, RED runs workshops on topics like creative writing, money management, and civil rights. They also have events to bring communities together, like flag football games, and they host guest speakers to inspire the youth.

          “Some of the speakers, it was like they were talking about what I was going through,” says Brian. “If they can do it … I can do it.”

          Many young people are skeptical when they first join RED – but over time, their doubts transform into hope.

          “By the end of the year, they’re all saying, wait, it’s over?” David says.

          As long as he’s making a difference in these young people’s lives, David knows he’s making a difference in the larger world. High rates of incarceration and recidivism negatively influence our employment rates, economy, and community safety.

          Graduates of RED’s programs pose for a photo with David on graduation day.

          That means that with every young person he gives hope to, David gives the rest of us some hope, too.

          He began with only a limited chance for success in life. Now, with his help, youth with the same limited opportunities can make positive contributions to our world.

          “We all have a purpose,” he says. “If we don’t carry out our purpose, no one else can.”

          “No one is beyond redemption or hope.”

          Watch David’s story, and RED Inc. in action:

          The CW: Black Lightning RED

          He spent his youth in and out of jail for gang related crimes. Now he wants to stop that cycle for other at-risk kids.

          For more stories about community heroes, tune in to the series premiere of “Black Lightning” on Jan. 16 at 9/8c only on The CW.

          Posted by Upworthy on Thursday, January 11, 2018

          Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/nobody-gave-these-kids-a-chance-until-one-young-former-inmate-followed-his-dream

          Clashes Over the Future of Gene Therapy at the US’ Biggest Biotech Meeting

          For one dizzying, schmooze and booze-filled week every January, thousands of tech execs, VCs, and investment bankers grind their way through a four-day slog of panel sessions, poster presentations, networking meetings, and cocktail-drenched after-hours parties in their industry’s premier orgiastic dealmaking event. And no, we’re not talking about CES.

          On Monday, the Westin St. Francis hotel in downtown San Francisco opened its doors to the 36th annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, the country’s largest biotech convention. Everyone is there either to disrupt or to be disrupted. And while some companies were there to hawk the buzziest in far-future thinking—blockchain-based everything! fully robotic operating rooms!—others came to celebrate the very real, very current progress of a field 30 years in the making: gene therapy. And the promise of a much newer technology, Crispr, to propel the long-standing field forward with even greater momentum.

          After decades of setbacks, gene therapy—a loosely defined umbrella term for any technique that uses genes to treat or prevent disease—is finally here. In December, the field got its very first FDA approval with Luxturna, which corrects a defective gene in a rare, inherited retinal disease. With a half dozen more treatments in late-stage trials and an unusually open-minded FDA commissioner in Washington, the industry is expecting a flurry of new approvals this year.

          Which is going to throw a wrench in the health insurance industry. Because gene therapies are one-time, curative treatments, they break the traditional insurance model, which is designed to make multiple small payments over time. “We recognize that the products in this space create reimbursement challenges to the normal way of doing business,” said Janet Lambert, CEO of the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine, during her presentation Monday on the state of of the cell and gene therapy industry.

          Lambert’s lobbying roadmap for 2018 includes helping insurance companies understand what to do with a new gene therapy like Luxturna, which cures blindness with a single, $850,000 injection into the eye. Ranked by sticker price, it’s the most expensive medicine in America. Spark Therapeutics, the company that makes Luxturna, argues that the six-figure price tag isn’t actually that unreasonable, if you factor in all the costs that patients with the inherited retinal disease would have racked up in a lifetime of seeking better care.

          But because their clinical trial patients haven’t been followed long enough to determine if the treatment benefits are actually durable for a whole lifetime, Spark has received significant pushback from insurers. As a result, the company is already exploring a some creative new pricing models. It announced last week that it’s offering a rebate program based on the treatment’s effectiveness at 30 to 90 days and again at 30 months with one East Coast provider, and is in talks about expanding it to other insurers, Spark CEO Jeffrey Marrazzo said at JPM. He said Spark is also in discussions with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on a multi-year installment plan option. Either of these could soon serve as a model for how gene therapies might be made available to patients without cutting the legs out from under the healthcare system.

          That's a problem the Crispr companies in attendance at JPM don’t have to worry about yet. But they’re hoping gene therapy will have figured it out by the time Crispr-based medicines are patient-ready and FDA-approved. The first trial in humans isn’t expected to launch until later this year. But the Big Three—Editas Medicine, Intellia Therapeutics, and Crispr Therapeutics—had other hurdles to contend with.

          Over the weekend, headlines metastasized across the internet about a new study suggesting Crispr might not work in humans at all. Published on pre-print server bioRxiv by a Stanford scientist who is also a scientific founder of Crispr Therapeutics, the non peer-reviewed study found that up to 79 percent of humans could already be immune to the most common forms of Crispr, called Crispr-Cas9, which come from two strains of Staphylococcus.

          The timing was pretty terrible, and all three companies’ stocks took serious hits Monday morning, even as investors crowded into ballrooms to hear Crispr execs speak. The controversy made for one of the more tense moments of a gene therapy panel, when Sandy Macrae, CEO of rival gene editing tech company Sangamo, which uses zinc-finger nucleases, poked at Crispr Therapeutics chief scientific officer, Bill Lundberg. “That’s why we use human tools to edit humans,” he said.

          The crowd of about a thousand swiftly inhaled. (This is what counts as maximum drama at JPM.) But the Crispr folks swiftly pushed back on the claims that immunity will present a barrier to their pipelines, since none of them use just plain old Cas9 like it’s found in nature. They’re all making proprietary tweaks to the enzyme system that they think will make the immunity issue, well, not an issue at all.

          “We’ve actually done a lot of work ourselves on this specific topic and we don’t see this as a major issue to advancing Crispr-based medicines,” said Editas president and CEO Katrine Bosley. In a presentation to investors on Wednesday, the company revealed their plans to have five medicines in human testing within the next five years. The first diseases Editas is going after include a number of inherited eye disorders. The company is also pursuing a partnership with Juno Therapeutics to use Crispr to engineer T-cells to fight off incurable cancers.

          Immunity to bacterial-based gene editors won’t be an issue for the current crop of gene therapies expected to get approvals in 2018. They represent the tail ends of a long and arduous development pipeline—one that Crispr is only just beginning to enter. It might be another 30 years before anyone is arguing about the insurance implications of one-time, cure-all Crispr meds. But at least by then, there should be some good options.

          Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/clashes-over-the-future-of-gene-therapy-at-the-uss-biggest-biotech-meeting/

          Friends Watch 14-Yr-Old Get Raped in Basement & Stay Silent5 Months Later, Her Parents Discover the Truth

          P.J. was only 14 years old when she met the man who would rape her.

          Growing up in a military family, P.J.’s parents weren’t typically the kind to let their kids hang out with just anybody. But when the teen’s friends invited her to hang out with a military boy who was home for Christmas leave, they were surprisingly fine with it.

          The friends all gathered in P.J.’s house, and in her parents’ basement, with several witnesses, P.J. was raped. Every one of them remained silent about what happened.

          It wasn’t until five months later that P.J. found out that she was pregnant. The truth about what had happened in their basement finally came out when she told her parents.

          They were shocked and furious. They felt guilty, and P.J.’s mother, Angela, admittedly considered taking her daughter to get an abortion.

          “I really thought I would take her to terminate the pregnancy,” Angela explains. “I was pro-life but with exceptions. I didn’t want to do that, but I was always told it was the thing to do in the case of forcible rape. My husband, however, said he couldn’t have anything to do with the death of a child. That it was still a human life. Everywhere we went, friends and religious people were very adamant that we should terminate.”

          Wrestling with the decision that weighed heavy on her heart, Angela was at a loss of how to best care for her daughter. Many of the people closest to her were encouraging her to help P.J. terminate the pregnancy, but her husband, Doug, was encouraging the opposite. She was reminded of her own experience with abortion.

          “In college, I got pregnant and I went to a health clinic. I was 24 weeks, and I had an abortion. My mother forced me to because she didn’t want to be embarrassed by my poor choices. We never spoke about it again. I have never gotten over it.”

          Like any parent, Angela wanted better for her daughter than what she had. She didn’t want P.J. to suffer from

          the same guilt and regret that she was forced to experience every day of her life.

          A friend called Angela and referred her to Trisha, who runs a Birth Right. She begged her to take P.J. there before they made any decisions.

          “Trisha was the first person to say it was going to be okay. She was the first person who actually encouraged us to keep [the baby]. As a woman, even if you’re pro-life, you’re told there’s nothing worse you can do to a rape victim [than tell her to keep her baby]. I’ve been told by everyone, especially the media, that abortion is what you do. Trish gave us Rebecca Kiessling’s pamphlet. We prayed about it and it was the best thing we had ever done. After we left Birth Right, P.J. cried—not because she was upset—but she said she felt relieved and like we were in a safe place. She said she knew Miss Trisha had her best interest at heart. When we heard [the baby’s] heartbeat, it was over for me. This child will be a gift from God. P.J. spent a lot of quiet time reflecting. She had a wisdom I didn’t have. Her strength and wisdom is what got us through.”

          As they pressed forward and prepared for baby James to make his grand entrance into the world, P.J.’s family decided to throw a baby shower. After all, this baby was P.J.’s first child and their first grandchild. While the circumstance was unfortunate, the life of this beautiful baby was completely worth celebrating!

          P.J. gave birth to her son, James, in the fall of 2011. It was an exciting time full of joy and love, but the legalities of this little baby boy meant a long road ahead for P.J. and her family.

          As they moved forward with pressing charges against the man who raped her, they learned some disturbing facts that could severely endanger both P.J. and James.

          Where they lived, there were no laws in place to protect women and their children conceived in rape from their rapist. Something that seems so “obvious,” isn’t actually legislation, which is unbelievable. This man was legally allowed to move forward and seek custody and parental rights.

          In addition to the lack of protection they were up against, the man who raped P.J. had also previously raped another soldier—a male. He was also in the process of being discharged from the Army for illegal drug use.

          The other soldier later recanted his accusation, and the rapist was acquitted of rape. He was convicted of a felony for illegal use of cocaine, but those charges were no punishment for the pain and suffering he put P.J. through.

          Eventually, the rapist’s attempts at getting partial custody of James failed.

          Today, P.J. is a happy mama who spoils James with love and truth. She attends a women’s Bible study once a week, and she prays with James every day, constantly reminding him that he has always been wanted and loved.

          As for their decision not to terminate the pregnancy, Angela couldn’t be more grateful.

          “The minute we laid eyes on this child, we didn’t once equate him to the rapist. He’s just as much a victim. He has healed our family in ways we can’t explain. He is the most amazing gift from God. I don’t even know how to put it in words.”

          **Names have been changed to protect the victims

          Read more: https://faithit.com/teen-raped-parents-basement-told-abort-keeps-baby/

          Why Hillary Clintons former CTO is back in Silicon Valley

          Stephanie Hannon, Strava's chief product officer
          Image: strava

          Stephanie Hannon, 43, didn’t consider herself an athlete until age 39. In 2014, a looming surgery for personal health reasons had encouraged her to start working out. She began with a hike, and like millions of people worldwide, she turned to her smartphone for some help on where to go and downloaded an app called Strava.

          This week, Hannon joined Strava as chief product officer. She’s one of the major hires the company made after growing from a niche community of cyclists in 2009 to tens of millions of athletes worldwide. Now, Hannon wants to expand the tech platform for developers and the company’s relationships with cities. 

          Hannon is quite familiar with building tech products and working with communities. She’s been working at the highest levels of Silicon Valley since the 1990s. She was one of the product managers in the early days Gmail and Google Maps and lived internationally to help expand those products. She later joined Facebook, where she focused on the safety of its one billion people communicating. 

          But she took a brief break from the Valley after she was called about a position on the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2015. For 20 months, Hannon worked as Hillary For America’s chief technology officer and oversaw a team of 80 technologists dedicated to putting the first women president in office. That dream wasn’t realized, but Hannon isn’t giving up yet. 

          During her first day at Strava, Mashable spoke with Hannon to hear about her career in Silicon Valley, her thoughts on the 2016 election, and what she’s working on next. 

          What excites you most about Strava, and had you been familiar with the product and the company before or was it one of those phone calls? 

          I knew about Strava since day one because that entrepreneurship program I told you about, the Mayfield Fellows program [at Stanford University]. The CTO here, Mark Shaw, was in the program as well, and I think I was his mentor. He’s a good friend of mine, so he had worked with the founders of Strava and Kana, and he was the third employee. 

          I knew about Strava for a longtime, and I went on my own quest to get healthy. In 2014, I had a health crisis. I just wanted to say I’m totally fine. I had to have a very invasive surgery, and I wasn’t fit or healthy. So I knew 7 months before surgery if I got healthy, the outcome would be better and my recovery would be much easier.

          For the first time in my life at 39, I went on a hike, and I used Strava from the very beginning to track my hike. I also radically changed my diet. I gave up meat. I gave up alcohol. I gave up a lot of things and went on this personal health quest. I had a 7-hour surgery, and I basically walked right out the door. The next day I walked 2 miles. For me, that was a really motivating moment, and when I got through the surgery, I was like I’ve never been a healthy person so how am I going to keep the motivation going when there’s no surgery moving. 

          So, I went from hiking to triathlons.

          No big deal, just running a triathlon?

          Yeah, I just want to stress that I’m not a great athlete. I think finisher is a great word. When I did a triathlon, my goal was to be a finisher, to make it across the finish line. If you’re a person who doesn’t consider yourself an athlete, carrying my bike into a big pen that says “ATHLETES ONLY,” the first time I walked through, I was like, “Is that really me?” 

          Steph’s triathlon gear

          Image: STEPHANIE HANNON

          That was really exciting and motivating. I did triathlons, Tough Mudders, half-marathons. I went on a personal quest for fitness and when I did that my life radically changed, not just because I was fitter, but for most of my adult life I only slept 3 or 4 hours. 

          I started sleeping 7 or 8 hours, and I would tell everyone about it. Like, “Have you guys heard about sleep?” I was more emotionally balanced and resilient. I was happier and had better relationships. My whole experience going through that had a big impact on me. As I was looking around at companies and met great entrepreneurs and all this cool stuff happening in Silicon Valley with the combination of knowing people here at Strava, combination of my own personal journey to get healthy, and also really believing in the product. 

          At the core of it, I’ve worked on a lot of platforms, Google Maps is a platform, Facebook is a platform, I think the power of a platform and a lot of innovation can happen with partners to Strava or connected devices to Strava.

          I think Strava can be sort of at the center of this connected world. The opportunity is much bigger. Strava is serving tens of millions of athletes, but I think there are more than 700 million athletes in the world, and I think they can all benefit from the product we build.  

          You joined the tech scene in Silicon Valley in 1995. What’s the biggest difference between now and then? 

          An incredible amount has changed in 20 years. I think the speed of development, like what I worked on when I was right out of college, my projects and products probably took a year and a half or two years to build and had a significant hardware component. 

          Now, you work in a consumer web services company or a company that develops mobile apps and you can iterate really fast. You can build and launch things in a week.

          I think the scale and impact has also dramatically changed because of the proliferation of mobile devices and the comfort level of the whole world with social networks and data and how people manage and use their data, like the concept of what we’re able to do at companies like Strava. I couldn’t even conceive of it two decades ago. 

          We could also talk infinitely about diversity in tech. I felt very much unusual when I entered the workforce, but now I’m really happy to say the landscape has changed and I’m trying to encourage more diversity and building diverse teams has become really important to me and that feels more possible now than it did back then. 

          That’s an inspiring way to put it. Diversity in tech is not perfect, but it’s good to hear that it has improved.

          Exactly. We still have so long to go. I know when you’re building an engineering team to put the first women president in office, it’s an unusually good motivation to get a diverse engineering team, but I think we all have to keep working on it. 

          You’ve worked at Google, twice in your career, and between that Facebook. You mentioned they’re relatable in the fact they’re mobile and they can scale fast, but is there anything in particular about the difference between those companies?

          They’re both amazing companies. They’re so radically different. Google has been about organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and usable, which I’ll be able to repeat until the end of time. It was so drilled into us.

          A lot of my time at Google was working on Google Maps. I brought Google Maps to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, and that was an incredible experience because if you didn’t have a good online mapping tool and then you bring it to a country, suddenly they can manage in different ways, do different things with commerce and traffic, and how they look at solving big problems like terrorism or clean water, all this incredible good comes out of bringing maps to these countries.

          Facebook is completely different. It was appealing to me at Facebook a billion people at the time was going there every day to communicate and how do you create a safe space for those people? A lot of what I worked on at Facebook was preventing spam and abuse and giving tools for helping people talk to each other when they were unhappy about content or had bad experiences on the platform. 

          Both are amazing companies. The time I worked at Facebook they didn’t have as much acquisitions, so it felt like we were all unified working on this one product similar to Strava today whereas at Google it was already a big company and there were such massively diverse product lines, but I think across them is a focus on the user or the person or for Strava’s case an athlete and how do you build really compelling, innovative experiences that make their lives better or more efficient? 

          Steph after participating in a half marathon

          Image: stephanie hannon

          Seemed like you had a pretty great life in Silicon Valley at some of the most respected companies. Why would you decide to leave these coveted jobs? 

          It was a surprise call to get the call to interview to be the CTO. At the time I was leading Google’s social impact team and we worked on problems like disaster response. We built tools for the ebola crisis with Doctors Without Borders. We did a lot of philanthropic giving tools, and we also did a lot of Google’s elections work. In 2014, my teams were India and Brazil and we did a whole bunch of experiments in civic engagement. I was sort of immersed in that space of government and elections, and I had friends like Megan Smith, who was the CTO for Obama. 

          When [the Clinton campaign] offered it to me, I was incredibly excited and paranoid because I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into, but I think if someone says, “Do you want to be part of putting the first woman president in the White House?” It was really easy to say that’s something I’ll always feel good about trying to do.

          What was the great challenge you faced as CTO of Clinton’s campaign? 

          I would say the greatest challenge was recruitment. For many engineers, they don’t know what it really means to work inside of a campaign or know what’s possible and then the short speed, incredibly short deadlines and very little time. We had some ideas that were not executable in the time that we had and the staffing we had. The deadlines we had were so rigid. When we were working on Google Maps or Facebook features you might aspire to launch something for St Patricks Day, but if you didn’t, it’s not a huge deal. 

          For the campaign, for the first time ever, we put a real-time caucus app in the hands of every captain in Iowa so that meant we had a real-time dashboard so we could see the results for all areas they came in. You need to build the app, have it be reliable, and train your staff and have everything go well on that night because it’s that night or never.  Dealing with those kind of rigid deadlines with a small amount of resources was my biggest challenge. 

          But you were able to overcome that? Did the project go well?

          Well, I’d like to believe that. We could have a debate about Iowa, but I mean I’m really proud of the team. I could not be more proud of the people who gave up jobs at big companies and big compensations to come on the quest we went on for the 2016 election. I think we did a lot of things great and then there were a lot of things we ran out of time to do. A lot of time as a CTO is with these limited resources, what’s most important. 

          Steph campaigning for Hillary

          Image: wikimedia commons

          As CTO of Clinton’s campaign, how do you think technology impacted the outcome of an election?

          I think technology played a massive role. A lot of modern campaigning is how do you reach the people you want to reach efficiently. Different people are wanting to get their news on Facebook or social media. Some people prefer a newspaper. Some people prefer TV. Some people only need to hear something once. Some people need to hear something multiple times. Some people are only affected when they hear something at night or on the weekend. 

          I think what’s exciting about technology in the modern era is you can reach people in a way that’s very meaningful to them with very personalized messages. I think technology plays a massive role in identifying the most important people to activate and how to activate them and how to measure your success. I hope we can have a positive impact with those technologies in 2018 and 2020 races. 

          Why are you choosing to come back to Silicon Valley and San Francisco? Was there any doubt to packing up your bags and coming back here?

          No, my home has always San Francisco, although I like working in different places. Over my 10 years at Google, I worked in Switzerland and in Australia. I think of San Francisco as home, but I love being abroad and in different places.

          You can imagine the grief of what happened [with the election]. The outcome was big, not only for me, but with the 80 people that I hired. So a lot of the end of the year and into this year was supporting them and helping them find new jobs. Had we won the election I would have been so happy if a bunch of my team ended up in the US Digital Service or different parts of the government, but in the end, these 80 people, we all wanted to find ways to be productive, so there was a lot of that, and then there was time-off. 

          Then I joined Greylock in July of this year, and for me, that was a way to be immersed in the entrepreneurship community, think about what I wanted to do next, and also help advise.   

          How does your time at Greylock compare to Facebook, Google, and Clinton campaign? 

          A lot of it was how I can use my experience building products to help portfolio companies at Greylock in different ways. For some of them, I’d help them hire their first product manager. For some of it, it might be a company in a new phase of growth and the product team needs to figure out how to interact with them. With some of them it was what does the product development phase look like. How do we iterate and use data? How do we think about metrics? How do we recruit? A lot of people were interested in my experience in scaling an engineering team so fast. A lot of my days were meeting with companies and just sort of helping and advising. Some of my days were just talking to companies and figuring out what to do next. 

          Google has a huge market cap. Facebook is worth billions. Strava is significantly smaller. Can Strava even compete with them? 

          I believe there’s space for more vertical, intimate, personal, social networks. I think there’s a set of people that you interact with for passion or love, and it doesn’t always look like your broad social network. I experienced this in the campaign era, sometime people got fatigued on Facebook because they would go there and the content was not something they were excited about. If you are a person who’s an athlete or you’re trying to get inspired or motivated or you’re trying to get a new idea and you want to go to Facebook to look for the content it isn’t easy, but when I go to Strava and look at my feed, it’s exactly what I’m looking for. It’s really easy to figure out which types of friends are which types of athletes and having these different experiences or oh, this person runs where I run so maybe we can connect. Or that bike is a bike I was thinking about buying, so maybe I should talk to them about it.

          From a technological perspective, what’s the most unique or innovative thing that Strava is doing?

          Many pieces add up to what’s appealing to the users and athletes today. I think it’s a good activity tracker and that’s not a small task. It’s doing incredible in biking and running and launched different multi-sport features. The idea is to appeal to all these athletes, to serve all athletes of all types. I think that’s really interesting, and then there’s the social network piece of this is a community and how do you put meaningful and interesting community features to help and support each other? 

          There’s this whole platform piece. We want no matter what device you use or whether you do activities indoor or outdoor, we want you to be able to have that all in one place, and that’s a meaningful technology problem. 

          A lot of my career I worked with cities, and I worked with cities at different capacities. In 2007, I helped launch Google Transit. If you remember back then, we only had driving directions on Google. I worked at Google in the Zurich office and obviously public transit in Europe looks different than in a city like San Francisco or Mountain View. I helped create that transit feed that’s widely adopted today, and then later in my Google career, I worked in projects on urban mobility and how do you take all the anonymized rich data we had to work on things like traffic congestions or infrastructure planning.  There’s a whole Strava Metro piece. Strava is working with more than 130 cities on how they can use the data to make their city better for pedestrians, runners, and cyclists. 

          Image: stephanie hannon/strava screenshot

          There are a lot of companies chasing health and fitness information. In your opinion, what gives Strava a competitive edge to them? 

          Well, I’m going to remind you that I’ve worked here for 20 hours. I think a lot of what makes Strava unique is how well, and first of all early, they were really focused on a type of athlete and a certain experience, and they did that so well they got significant adoption. The learnings from that and being so ruthlessly focused are big. When they moved from cycling to running, they kind of were able to take the lessons but acknowledge that the same way to motivate people doesn’t necessarily look the same. They were able to build on their product and engineering team to build a new feature set. And then from running to multi-sport and from being an activity tracker to a social network. A lot of what makes it special is how powerful the product is. Building on the core user base, but being able to expand. In London, I think we have more runners than cyclists. And then the power of the platform, the vision to be able to serve all athletes is also what makes it special. 

          Do you think Strava is at a disadvantage because it doesn’t make its own hardware, at least not yet?

          I’m optimistic. The fact that we have 300 devices that integrate with the platform and the fact we have 20,000 thirty-party apps built on our open API, I think that’s a strong signal that we’re going to be with all types of athletes and all devices. I don’t think building our own hardware is a necessary part of that. 

          What do you think your biggest challenges in this new role?

          I like to say opportunity. As a user, I think there’s so much to build on. There’s incredible success that Strava’s already had. Any opportunity for a product leader to figure out what to work on because there’s no end of ideas. So I think some of the things I care about is how to be the best at multi-sport and continue to invest in those experiences. We want those people to have great experiences on the product and invest in the platform. 

          A personal thing I feel very strongly about is discovery. I was just in Sydney, Australia over the holidays, and I was standing by the top of a bridge and I was holding my mobile phone. I know Strava has great data about places I can go, but it’s not sourced up in an easy, consumable way, so that’s a massive opportunity.  

          You’ve held a lot of different roles: engineer, product manager, CTO. What’s been the common thread in your career, and how do you see Strava furthering it?

          Where I feel most proud and motivated is technology that makes the world better for people. That looks and feels like different things. In the early days of Gmail, how can we give this version of online email free to very institution in the world and that was a really powerful quest. As we talked about I was obsessed with transit information and then at Facebook I was able to say how do you create a safe space for a billion people to communicate and then at the Hillary campaign I had a quest which I feel really passionate about, and I think a lot of people will lead a better life if this person is elected. 

          Getting behind that was really easy, so in a similar way, when I look at Strava and the benefit of living a healthy active life and the power of data and community can inspire people to do that. We’re having incredible success at Strava, and I hope by me being here we can accelerate it and amplify it and reach more athletes globally. 

          Read more: http://mashable.com/2018/01/04/stephanie-hannon-strava-cto-hillary-clinton-greylock/

          A Completely Hollowed Out 19th Century Building from Above

          Seen here is the completely hollowed out St. Elizabeths Hospital (Center Building) from above. First opened in 1855, JMA Preservation is working with Shalom Baranes Associates (SBA) on the restoration of the National Historic Landmark Center Building at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Southeast, Washington, DC. [source] For those interested, this type of historic restoration is known as facadism.

          According to MTFA Architecture:

          The building was the first Federal psychiatric hospital in the country, with patients arriving beginning in 1855. At its inception, the complex was known as the Government Hospital for the insane. It was constructed in multiple phases following an echelon plan designed by Thomas Story Kirkbride with the ardent support of mental health advocate Dorothea Dix and architect Thomas Ustick Walter, concurrently the Architect of the Capitol. The exterior of the Center Building is firmly set in the Gothic Revival style and is owned by the General Services Administration (GSA).
           
          The building is to become the new headquarters for the Department of Homeland Security. While the exterior core will be restored, the interior is being reconfigured and the historic cruciform section of the building is to be reconstructed. JMA Preservation is responsible for the restoration of the remaining historic materials including the brick, sandstone, and cast iron on the exterior walls. JMA Preservation conducted a thorough paint analysis of the windows, wood trim, and plaster in the cruciform section prior to demolition to inform GSA and SBA with guidelines for reconstructing the interior finishes. JMA Preservation has contributed to final construction documents, specifications, and construction administration for this complex restoration project. [source]

          Read more: http://twistedsifter.com/2017/12/st-elizabeths-hospital-hollowed-out-aerial-washington/

          Bad News, Everybody: Hydrogen Peroxide Is Useless

          OK, so hydrogen peroxide is good for some things, such as creating an uninspired volcano for your school science fair. But what it’s not great at is disinfecting cuts and scrapes.

          When you pour hydrogen peroxide on a wound, that telltale foam is surely the death rattle of a thousand screaming bacteria, right? Well, it turns out it’s nothing but a chemical reaction to the enzyme catalase, which is found in our blood and cells. When hydrogen peroxide meets catalase, it turns into oxygen gas and water, and boom! Medically reassuring fizz ensues.

          Trenten Kelley/flickrFollowed by the medically reassuring stinging and crying … uh, so we’ve heard.

          But after centuries of blindly trusting the stuff, scientists have found that hydrogen peroxide doesn’t prevent bacterial growth or reduce the risk of infection at incision sites. In fact, it may actually slow the healing process. Thanks, brown bottle of lies!

          The alternative? Flush the wound with running tap water or saline, then use a mild soap to clean the surrounding area. Top it off with a thin layer of Vaseline for added moisture and protection. (Antibiotic ointments can lead to swelling and allergic reactions.) And despite the lore that wounds should breathe, they heal best when covered and moist. So slap on a bandage and change it regularly. As for the remaining peroxide in your medicine cabinet … have you ever considered going blonde?

          If you loved this article and want more content like this, support our site with a visit to our Contribution Page. Please and thank you.

          Read more: http://www.cracked.com/article_25404_bad-news-everybody-hydrogen-peroxide-useless.html

          Jake Tapper picks the PERFECT screencap for a piece on Trump’s mental fitness

          As Twitchy reported earlier, lawmakers concerned about President Trump’s mental health invited a Yale psychiatry professor to brief them in December, although Geraldo Rivera says Trump is “sharp, focused, and exactly as he’s been for the last 40 years.”

          Read more: https://twitchy.com/brettt-3136/2018/01/04/jake-tapper-picks-the-perfect-screencap-for-a-piece-on-trumps-mental-fitness/

          Trump Super PAC Gets 12-Year-Old Girl To Interview Roy Moore

          A Trump-supporting super PAC arranged to have a 12-year-old girl interview Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore for a campaign video.

          The girl, Millie March, is well known in the political sphere for her rampant support of Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign, even though she’s not old enough to vote. The super PAC America First Project, a pro-Trump advocacy group founded by former Breitbart staffers, arranged for March talk to Moore for the campaign spot.

          “We decided that we were going to bring Millie to Alabama, after everything that’s happened in this Alabama Senate race up until this point,” says America First Project’s Jennifer Lawrence in the video’s preamble to March’s interviews with Moore and his campaign manager, Rich Hobson. Lawrence adds that the group wanted to bring March to Alabama “to show there is a wide range of people who support Roy Moore.“ 

          Moore has been accused by one woman of sexual assault when she was a teenager and he was in his 30s, and numerous other women have said he pursued and sexually harassed them when they were teens.

          Youtube

          March opens her interview at Alabama GOP headquarters by asking Moore whether he’ll support Trump in building a wall between the United States and Mexico. 

          “I think the military can be used down with the border patrol … and stop illegal aliens coming across the border,” Moore answered. He added: If we need to stop it permanently, we build the wall, and I think it would be not an inexpensive way to do it.”

          March then asked what Moore believes are “the most important issues to the voters of Alabama.” He replied religious liberty, health care, and taxes.

          Multiple women have come forward to accuse Moore of sexually assaulting or harassing them. Leigh Corfman told The Washington Post in November that she was 14 years old when Moore assaulted her. The allegations have led many celebrities and politicians, including some Republicans, to speak out against Moore, and the hashtag, #RightSideOfHistory, encourages voters to not elect Moore.

          Moore has repeatedly denied the allegations against him. President Donald Trump, who also has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault and sexual harassment, has endorsed Moore, saying: “Roy Moore denies it. That’s all I can say.”

          The special election for the Alabama Senate seat is Tuesday. 

          Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-super-pac-girl-roy-moore_us_5a2e9698e4b0a290f05255a9

          This Family Doesn’t Feel Pain, And Now We Know Why

          The Marsilis family are pretty much real-life superheroes. Six members of this Italian family have a rare genetic mutation that causes them to have an extremely low sensitivity to pain, meaning they’ve had broken bones and otherwise painful injuries without barely noticing. On top of this, they can also eat hot chili peppers with ease.

          Scientists have recently been studying this fascinating family in the hopes of understanding the responsible genes and even creating new methods of pain relief. Their findings were published this week in the journal Brain.  

          “The members of this family can burn themselves or experience pain-free bone fractures without feeling any pain. But they have a normal intraepidermal nerve fibre density, which means their nerves are all there, they’re just not working how they should be,” study lead author Dr James Cox of University College London, said in a statement.

          “We’re working to gain a better understanding of exactly why they don’t feel much pain, to see if that could help us find new pain relief treatments.”

          The members of the family endowed with this gene variant include a mother (aged 78), her two daughters (aged 52 and 50) and their children (two boys and one girl, aged 24, 21, and 16). In homage to the family – the only known people with this genetic mutation – the researchers named the condition Marsili syndrome

          Letizia Marsili, the 52-year-old family member with the condition, spoke to BBC News and explained how they have never seen the condition as a negative, although it does have its downsides. For one thing, they often damage the roof of their mouths on hot drinks because they are unaware they are burning themselves. Similarly, her 24-year-old son has extremely delicate ankles due to numerous microfractures acquired while playing soccer.

          For the scientists, the family has proven to be an invaluable tool for understanding the genetics of pain and potentially inspiring a future treatment for chronic pain sufferers. They obtained DNA from each family member and mapped out the protein-coding genes in the genome, eventually identifying the novel point mutation in the ZFHX2 gene. They then bred mice that had the same mutation in the ZFHX2 gene. As you would imagine, these mice also gained a considerable tolerance to pain.

          “By identifying this mutation and clarifying that it contributes to the family’s pain insensitivity, we have opened up a whole new route to drug discovery for pain relief,” said study co-author Professor Anna Maria Aloisi. “With more research to understand exactly how the mutation impacts pain sensitivity, and to see what other genes might be involved, we could identify novel targets for drug development.” 

          Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/this-family-doesnt-feel-pain-thanks-to-rare-gene-mutation/

          Girl has blunt message for Aetna after her brain surgery request was denied

          (CNN)Cara Pressman sobbed in the big red chair in her living room. The 15-year-old tried to absorb the devastating news relayed by her parents: that their insurance company, Aetna, denied her for a minimally invasive brain surgery that could end the seizures that have haunted her since she was 9 years old.

          “When my parents told me, I went kind of blank and started crying,” she said. “I cried for like an hour.”
          Her friends had been lined up to visit her in the hospital for the surgery three days away, on Monday, October 23. Between tears, she texted them that the whole thing was off.
            It was supposed to be a joyous weekend. Cara’s grandparents had come to town to celebrate their 90th birthdays, a jubilant party with more than 100 family and friends crowding her home. The party did go on — just with a lot more stress.
            Cara had multiple complex partial seizures that weekend. When the seizures strike, her body gets cold and shakes, and she zones out for anywhere from 20 seconds to two minutes, typically still aware of her surroundings. Her seizures can be triggered by stress, by being happy, by exerting herself — almost anything. “It’s like having a nightmare but while you’re awake,” she said.
            In the six weeks since the denial, Cara has had more than two dozen seizures affecting her everyday life. Her message to Aetna is blunt: “Considering they’re denying me getting surgery and stopping this thing that’s wrong with my brain, I would probably just say, ‘Screw you.’ ”

            Aetna: We’re looking out for what’s best for patients

            The Pressman family and, separately, Jennifer Rittereiser, a 44-year-old mom who has struggled with seizures since she was 10, approached CNN in recent weeks after they were both denied, by Aetna, for laser ablation surgery, a minimally invasive procedure in which a thin laser is used to heat and destroy lesions in the brain where the seizures are originating.Aetna is the third-largest health insurance provider in the country, providing medical coverage to 23.1 million people.
            Neurologists consider laser ablation, which is performed through a small hole in the skull, to be safer and more precise than traditional brain surgery, where the top portion of the skull is removed in order for doctors to operate. The procedure is less daunting for the patient and parents who make decisions for their children: No one likes the idea of a skull opened and a chunk of brain removed.
            In denying Cara her surgery, Aetna said it considers laser ablation surgery “experimental and investigational for the treatment of epilepsy because the effectiveness of this approach has not been established.”
            “Clinical studies have not proven that this procedures effective for treatment of the member’s condition,” Aetna wrote in its rejection letter.
            The insurance company did approve her for the more invasive and more expensive open brain surgery, called a temporal lobectomy, even though her medical team never sought approval for the procedure.
            The laser surgery is approved by the Food and Drug Administration and is widely recognized within the epilepsy community as an effective treatment alternative to open brain surgery, especially when the location of seizure activity can be pinpointed to a specific part of the brain.
            Dr. Jamie Van Gompel, a neurosurgeon at the Mayo Clinic, disputes Aetna’s assessment. He is not involved in Cara’s care nor Rittereiser’s treatment, but he said Aetna’s assessment is wrong.
            “I would not call it experimental at all,” said Van Gompel, who is leading a clinical trial on the surgery at Mayo as part of a larger national study. “It’s definitely not an experimental procedure. There’ve been thousands of patients treated with it. It’s FDA-approved. There’s a lot of data out there to suggest it’s effective for epilepsy.”
            Van Gompel said a temporal lobectomy carries a much higher risk of serious complications, including the possibility of death. “It’s a big jump to go to a big invasive procedure,” he said.
            Recovery time after open brain surgery can range from six to 12 weeks. By contrast, a patient who undergoes laser ablation can be back to work or at school in less than two weeks. The pain from laser surgery is much less, and extreme headaches are fewer than with open brain surgery, Van Gompel said.
            While laser ablation has not yet undergone large randomized controlled trials, Van Gompel said existing data shows it’s effective more than 50% of the time. He hopes the current clinical trial will show a success rate of 60% to 70% or better in epilepsy patients. Temporal lobectomies, he said, have a slightly better rate, of more than 70%.
            Pressed by CNN for a better explanation on its denial, Aetna stood by its rejection for Cara and Rittereiser, saying it was in the best interest of the patients. But the language was softened slightly.
            “Clinical effectiveness and our members’ safety are the primary criteria we use in determining whether a treatment or service is medically necessary,” Aetna said. “There is currently a limited amount of evidence-based, clinical studies related to laser ablation surgery. As noted by the Epilepsy Foundation, only studies with a very small number of participants have been used to report the effectiveness of this procedure. We consistently evaluate any new studies or additional evidence when developing our clinical policy bulletins, and will continue to do so for this procedure.”
            Contacted for reaction, the Epilepsy Foundation strongly objected to Aetna’s remarks, saying the insurance company took its information out of context. Laser ablation surgery “has emerged as a new minimally invasive surgical option that is best suited for patients with symptomatic localization-related epilepsy,” said Dr. Jacqueline French, the chief science officer with the Epilepsy Foundation.
            “This technology is much less invasive than the alternative, which involves removing a sizeable piece of brain, at a substantially higher monetary and personal cost,” French said. “This path should be available, if the treating epilepsy physician has recommended it, without delay or barriers.”
            Phil Gattone, the president and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation, said insurance denials and other barriers to treatment have become a common battle for thousands of Americans with seizure disorders.
            Gattone knows first-hand the pain of what Cara’s parents are going through. His own son began having seizures when he was 4 and underwent brain surgery in the early 1990s. “It was extremely challenging for our family to make a decision to remove part of our child’s skull and brain for a surgery that we hoped would end the devastation of seizures that were stopping his development,” Gattone said. “We took this leap of faith and made the decision, and it worked out the best for him.”
            But he added that he and his wife wished laser ablation surgery had been available back then. The device used for laser ablation surgery was approved by the FDA nine years ago. “I know that my wife and I would’ve found much more comfort if we had had (laser ablation) as an option,” he said.
            Gattone said people with seizures, their caregivers and their doctors should not be “spending critical time in the midst of a health-care crisis, filing paperwork, making appeals or otherwise going through the motions of administrative paperwork” trying to get approval for a life-changing operation.
            “The Epilepsy Foundation can understand no reason why an insurance company would place any barrier to delay a treatment that may save an individual’s life, promote the development of the young child’s brain or bring about seizure control,” Gattone said.

            Mom who crashed with kid in car gets denied

            Jennifer Rittereiser lost consciousness behind the wheel of her silver SUV while driving with her 7-year-old son, Robert, in April. Her SUV rammed into a car in front of her and struck it again before veering into oncoming traffic. Her vehicle careened down an embankment, flipped over and came to rest on its side amid a tangle of brush. She narrowly missed slamming into a guardrail and several trees.
            Mom and son somehow managed to walk free unharmed.
            “People were amazed,” she said. “They had a helicopter on the way, actually. I am extremely fortunate just from that sense.”
            Rittereiser has battled seizures since she was 10 and has been able to function with an array of medications in the three decades since. For much of her life, she could tell when the seizures might come.
            These weren’t like the seizures depicted in Hollywood movies; she wouldn’t fall to the ground and writhe. She would zone out for a spell. She could understand people and could still function but couldn’t speak back — or if she did, her words were garbled.
            As an executive in the health care industry, Rittereiser has fallen asleep during meetings. When she senses a seizure coming, she rushes to the bathroom to hide until they go away. One time, she says she urinated on herself at her desk without realizing it.
            Rittereiser had a crash in 2014 in which she rear-ended a car after she had a seizure. No one was hurt in that crash, but she stopped driving for more than a year. Her medications were tweaked, and her seizures were largely kept in check, until the crash this April.
            She was soon evaluated by an array of doctors and recommended for laser ablation surgery. After 34 years of struggling with seizures, she thought her ordeal might finally come to an end. Surgery was set for June 16.
            But in late May, Aetna denied the surgery. She fought Aetna’s decision through a lengthy appeals process. Aetna refused to budge.
            “It’s just not right,” Rittereiser said.
            She said she recently went to Aetna’s website to look up the company’s values. She felt nauseated. “Everything in their core values is not being shown in the way I’m being treated. They’re talking about promoting wellness and health and ‘being by your side.’ “
            She paused, contemplating the company’s “by your side” catchphrase, saying it’s “the most ridiculous thing, because they are the biggest barrier to my success and my well-being going forward.
            “It drives me crazy.”

            Dad: ‘You get so angry’

            Julie Pressman stood near an elevator at her doctor’s office when word came that Cara’s surgery had been denied. The mom fell to the floor and wept.
            She called Cara’s father, Robert. He was at the airport picking up his 90-year-old parents for their birthday party. Mom and Dad rallied for their daughter and gathered strength to break the news. That’s when Cara sat in the red chair, crying inconsolably.
            “Telling Cara was horrible,” her mom said. “Horrible.”
            “It’s just so frustrating for us to know there’s a solution out there — a way to fix our daughter — and some bureaucratic machine is preventing this from happening,” Robert Pressman said. “You get so angry, but you don’t know who to take it out on, because there’s no particular person that’s doing it. It’s this big bureaucracy that’s preventing this from happening.”
            Julie and Robert said the most beautiful day of their lives came on August 20, 2002, when Cara popped into the world and met her 2-year-old sister, Lindsey, for the first time. “That was the day we became a family,” Julie said. “Our love for those girls is amazing. How we got this lucky is beyond us.”
            But that luck has been tested. When Cara was 9, she’d complained of extreme headaches for much of the day one evening, and then in the middle of the night, she began seizing uncontrollably. The family had two black Labradors that had gone to her room and barked like crazy to alert her parents. Cara had bitten her tongue, and blood was running down her face when they got to the room.
            It was a terrifying scene. She was rushed off in an ambulance and underwent a battery of tests. Mom, Dad and Cara never thought they’d still be battling seizures six years later — let alone an insurance company. She’s had seizures on the soccer field, during softball games, on stage during plays, in the classroom. Almost everywhere.
            How does she envision a life without seizures?
            “I don’t know,” she said. “I’ve never had a life without seizures.”
            “You will. You will,” her dad told her.
            “I just don’t know when,” she responded.
            Mom: “It will happen, kiddo.”
            Her mother calls Cara a feisty, petite powerhouse with big marble eyes and long eyelashes and a funny wit to match. She’s a naturally gifted athlete, singer and dancer, but her parents feel that her seizures have kept her from reaching her full potential.

            See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

            They long for the day when the seizures are gone. The parents said they have paid $24,000 for insurance with Aetna this year. They’re determined to get Cara laser ablation surgery with or without the insurance company’s help. They will appeal Aetna’s latest rejection — but they’re not optimistic.
            In preparation, they’ve begun exploring raiding their retirement funds to pay the $300,000 out of pocket. “Cara is worth every penny, but man,” her mom said. ” ‘Screw Aetna,’ indeed, to quote my kid.”

            Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/11/health/aetna-surgery-denied-for-girl/index.html

            Macron awards US scientists grants to move to France in defiance of Trump

            Frances president awards millions of euros to 18 American scientists to relocate in effort to counter Donald Trump on the climate change front

            Eighteen climate scientists from the US and elsewhere have hit the jackpot as Frances president, Emmanuel Macron, awarded them millions of euros in grants to relocate to France for the rest of Donald Trumps presidential term.

            The Make Our Planet Great Again grants a nod to Trumps Make America Great Again campaign slogan are part of Macrons efforts to counter Trump on the climate change front. Macron announced a contest for the projects in June, hours after Trump declared he would withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord.

            More than 5,000 people from about 100 countries expressed interest in the grants. Most of the applicants and 13 of the 18 winners were US-based researchers.

            Macrons appeal gave me such a psychological boost, to have that kind of support, to have the head of state saying I value what you do, said winner Camille Parmesan, of the University of Texas at Austin. She will be working at an experimental ecology station in the Pyrenees on how human-made climate change is affecting wildlife.

            In an interview with the Associated Press, Parmesan described funding challenges for climate science in the US and a feeling that you are having to hide what you do.

            Trump has expressed skepticism about global warming and said the Paris accord would hurt US business by requiring a reduction in climate-damaging emissions.

            We will be there to replace US financing of climate research, Macron told the winners in Paris on Monday.

            If we want to prepare for the changes of tomorrow, we need science, he said, promising to put in place a global climate change monitoring system among other climate innovations.

            The research of the winning recipients focuses on pollution, hurricanes and clouds. A new round of the competition will be launched next year, alongside Germany. About 50 projects will be chosen overall, and funded with 60m ($70m) from the state and French research institutes.

            Initially aimed at American researchers, the research grants were expanded to other non-French climate scientists, according to organizers. Candidates need to be known for working on climate issues, have completed a thesis and propose a project that would take between three to five years.

            The time frame would cover Trumps current presidential term.

            Some French researchers have complained that Macron is showering money on foreign scientists at a time when they have been pleading for more support for domestic higher education.

            Macron unveiled the first winners at a startup incubator in Paris called Station F, where Microsoft and smaller tech companies announced projects to finance activities aimed at reducing emissions.

            Mondays event is a prelude to a bigger climate summit Tuesday aimed at giving new impetus to the Paris accord and finding new funding to help governments and businesses meet its goals.

            More than 50 world leaders are expected in Paris for the One Planet Summit, co-hosted by the UN and the World Bank. Trump was not invited.

            Other attendees include Arnold Schwarzenegger, who took a spin on a Parisian electric bike Monday to call attention to health problems caused by pollution.

            The Hollywood star and former California governor argued that Trumps rejection of the Paris climate accord doesnt matter, because companies, scientists and other governments can pick up the slack to reduce global emissions.

            Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/11/macron-awards-grants-to-us-scientists-to-move-to-france-in-defiance-of-trump

            The Dark Side Of Crowdfunding (Nobody Talks About)

            If the worst should ever happen to your health, there’s a good chance that you’ll turn to a crowdfunding website, such as GoFundMe or JustGiving, to fill the gap left by our night-terror-inducing healthcare system. The reason for this is simple: There are no insurance brokers or complicated paperwork, just a group of people desperate to throw their money at good causes for the sheer humanity of it all. That’s not hyperbole, by the way. In little under a decade, crowdfunding campaigns for medical expenses have brought in over $1 billion in donations.

            When such campaigns go viral, the media often reports them as heartwarming stories of human altruism, proof that although the world might appear to be losing its mind, there are still helpers out there. That’s … a good angle.

            It certainly makes us feel better about the fact that these sites are taking a cut of everyone’s donations. There’s a darker narrative, however, which both the media and us are ignoring: the fact that these sites are failing, albeit unintentionally, the vast majority of their users.

            These might seem like wildly different things at face value, but launching a crowdfunding campaign is exactly like launching a new business. It’s not enough to have a donations page for your condition; you need to know how to sell yourself to potential donors (something your mom was pretty good at, or so we’ve heard). When it comes to crowdfunding, that involves providing constant updates, writing good copy, producing and editing video, promoting your campaign everywhere, and a whole other bunch of skills and connections. This isn’t something we dreamt up, by the way. It comes courtesy of Indiegogo, and holy shit, it’s so far beyond the abilities of the average healthy and able-bodied person, never mind someone with a long-term, painful, time-and-energy-consuming medical problem. It isn’t even funny.

            If you’re lacking in marketing ability, your best hope is to accidentally go viral by, say, being so terribly ill that not donating is, strictly speaking, a crime against humanity. And that’s great if you’re suffering from a “faultless” problem like cancer — you know, something that people can see and know isn’t your fault, unlike mental health issues or addiction problems. The internet is good and altruistic and shit, but it’s still judgmental.

            It’s no surprise, then, that only a small number of crowdfunding campaigns succeed — roughly one in three, most of which are perpetual motion machines. When it comes to medical crowdfunding specifically, however, that success rate plummets to … 11 percent, roughly one in ten.

            If you’re fortunate enough to make your goal, the problems don’t end there. Although crowdfunded money can help fight off CLL, TB, and LD, it can also cause a case of the horrific condition known as “IRS.” Often presenting in the form of an unwelcome audit, there are numerous cases of people receiving money from campaigns, only to have more stress piled on afterward when the IRS starts asking for its cut.

            If you’re able to prove where the donations went, it’s incredibly unlikely that you’ll have to pay what they’re asking. It’s just a massive pain in the ass on top of the other bitingly real pains you’re feeling elsewhere.

            If you think the worst thing that can result from receiving mad internet stacks is some mild-to-major inconvenience, think again. If you’re receiving any form of state assistance when you collect your donations, well, you won’t be receiving it for much longer, as these unfortunate welfare recipients found, to their horror. It isn’t like taxes, however, where a couple of forms to declare the donations is enough. If you’re receiving state benefits, you’re categorically not allowed to receive crowdfunded money.

            So how do we solve these problems? Well, we can’t. These aren’t problems that can be fixed with an algorithm update. They’re facts of human psychology, with some legislative fuckiness for good measure. You’re more likely to give money to a campaign with updates, because you can see the effect you’re having (and maybe get some sweet, sweet praise), and the vast majority of us will always choose to give money to someone we perceive as an “innocent” victim over someone with a condition that we perceive to have been self-inflicted (e.g. addiction). If you’re one of those people who can look past facts like these and give selflessly without reward or judgment, that’s great. But you’re likely in the minority, and the minority a successful crowdfunding campaign does not make.

            Our only solution to these problems, therefore, is to focus on fixing our healthcare system, so that we don’t need to beg for medicine money on the internet like something you’d ordinarily expect to find mentioned as a world-building detail in the background of a dystopian epic. That’s what the media should be focusing its energies on. By continuing to focus on the narrative that crowdfunding is a great way to raise money if you’re sick, news outlets are betraying the overwhelming number of people for whom it does not and can never work, as well as everyone else, since they’re investing time and attention on rare acts of goodwill instead of the overwhelming problems with our healthcare system.

            i24News

            We’re not being heartless. These are great headlines to see, especially considering the crazy times we’re living in right now. It’s so, so easy to imagine that the world is a cold, hyper-partisan husk of dirt, and these headlines are proof against that argument. This is not something, however, that we as ordinary people should be celebrating. When the chips are down, the media is capable of doing great things, and they should be trying their damnedest to effect real change when it comes to the healthcare debate that’s raging all the goddamn time, not fawning over viral charity drives and creating the illusion that this is doable for everyone who needs help.

            For every headline that sells the dream about the money that’ll allow you to live your life (or even keep on living) being a simple case of passing the sign-up page …

            Fox40

            … there are nine others like this, which prove that dream is nothing but, well, a dream.

            We can’t help but stress this enough, but we love the fact that there’s an entire industry working to keep people alive — or at least, alive and without an infarction-inducing medical bill to show for it. That’s the dream of an interconnected world. But we also need to face up to the fact that whenever you see a headline espousing the benefits of crowdfunding, it’s selling a lie to nine in every ten people who take them up on that offer. The truth might not be heartwarming, but it sure as hell beats how heartbreaking that fact is.

            Adam Wears is on Twitter and Facebook, and has a newsletter about depressing history that you can subscribe to. It’s really good, honest.

            Why not help your kids put together their own rainy day fund with a Schylling Rubber Piggy Bank? That way, they can’t break it!

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            For more, check out 6 Spectacularly Embarrassing Celebrity Kickstarter Fails and 16 Crowdfund Campaigns That Would Make Our Inner Child Happy.

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            Read more: http://www.cracked.com/article_25197_the-dark-side-crowdfunding-nobody-talks-about.html

            5 Words On Food Labels You Shouldn’t Get Fooled By

            Thanks to the Food Network’s drive for ratings, we have a million fancy terms to describe our meals that barely resemble human speech. We sat down to painstakingly document and explain this lexicon and discovered … that it’s all bullshit. You were right to eat nothing but hot fried garbage this whole time. Or, god forgive you, Arby’s.

            5

            Almost Any Wine Can Be “Award-Winning”

            Due to a sitcom-esque mix-up, you’ve accidentally invited a date and your boss over for dinner tonight. Fortunately, you can impress them both by showing off your elite knowledge of wine. Unfortunately, you don’t actually have an elite knowledge of wine. But that’s OK; you can just pay extra for a bottle with a fancy-looking award label, then bullshit something about mouth feel, right?

            Well, contrary to popular belief, the glamorous awards you see on wine bottle labels don’t mean much at all. Wine competitions don’t function like Olympic events, wherein thousands of hopefuls are whittled down to the best three, then bestowed with rare honors. If you look at the results of the 2017 International Wine Challenge, there were 9,569 “winners.” The majority of wines that enter a competition will walk away with some sort of prize. In one case, it was 70 percent.

            consumer.org.nz Goddamn Millennials, killing the wine industry with their participation trophies.

            According to an anonymous judge, the only way a wine won’t be commended is if it makes someone “retch.” Another said, “A commended wine is one that causes you less than pain.” Wineries will also take awards they won for, say, a 2011 white and slap them on 2017 bottles of red. Or if they somehow failed to “win” anything at all, they’ll add their own suspiciously similar-looking labels.

            It’s all a cheap marketing trick meant to shine up that Shiraz from Nebraska’s fourth-finest winery, but it’s more than consumers who are getting ripped off. The wineries have to pay for the stickers they put on the bottles, so it’s in a competition’s interests to hand out as many awards as possible. Drink what you want, but don’t feel obligated to pay extra for the bottle with the fanciest stickers. After all, you’re not gonna notice the difference between an 87-point bronze and a 91-point silver when you’re pairing it with Kraft Mac and Cheese.

            4

            All Chicken Is Hormone-Free, Regardless Of Whether They Advertise It

            Having hormones in your food is bad, right? We’re pretty sure we read that on the BBC, or maybe it was naturalnewz.biz. Either way, lots of people certainly don’t want hormones in their food, so many meat companies helpfully inform us that they don’t add any.

            Perdue Farms “WON’T make you grow an extra breast and/or testicle. Our competitors, on the other hand …”

            Which is nice, but unnecessary, because the USDA doesn’t allow hormones to be added to chicken or hogs anyway. So when chicken or pork products proudly state “No hormones or steroids added,” they somehow neglect to credit the USDA for giving them that fantastic idea. Then mandating it via federal law.

            They might as well proclaim “No additional anthrax added!” They can’t do that in the first place, and yes, they want a medal for it.

            3

            “No Trans Fat” Might Mean “No, Yeah, There Are Some Trans Fats”

            Trans fats, according to the scientific consensus which will probably change a week from now, are bad for you. They reduce your good cholesterol levels while increasing bad cholesterol levels, in what food scientists call “a real dick move, man.” So it’s good to keep an eye out for “No Trans Fat” labels … Or at least it would be, if foods with those labels truly had no trans fats. Instead, it’s more like a landlord telling you that an apartment has zero cockroaches. None. No cockroaches added. Kind of weird that he mentioned that specifically, right?

            According to federal regulations, companies can use a “No Trans Fats” label as long as it has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. That might not sound like much, but most foods calculate their serving size with sickly elf children in mind. It adds up. Also, the American Heart Association says that people should eat no more than two grams of trans fats per day, so those phantom half grams are a full quarter of your allowance.

            At least there’s a handy trick for identifying hidden trans fats. If a product contains hydrogenated oils, those are trans fats. But since the total comes out to 0.49 grams or less, companies can say there’s none. So you end up with something like this package of butter spread:

            Andrea Donsky We kind of believe it’s not butter.

            It contains both hydrogenated soybean oil and hydrogenated cottonseed oil. Butter your toast with that, and you’re starting your day sucking up the devil of fats.

            2

            “Sushi-Grade Fish” Is Fish — Any Fish

            The term “sushi-grade” is used by some grocery stores and restaurants to indicate the highest-quality fish you could possibly wrap seaweed and rice around. You don’t make fish sticks out of sushi-grade fish. They’ve got diplomas from Harvard Fish School, motherfucker. They should be eating you.

            Your Sushi “If your genitals smell like these fish, you should be PROUD.”

            It’s also a completely meaningless term, as there’s no regulation in the U.S. that determines what can be called sushi-grade. When it comes to beef, the USDA is all over that shit. We got “Prime,” “Choice,” “Select,” and “Standard” — the “miscellaneous quadruped” of meat. Same deal goes with pork and poultry … but not for the chicken of the sea. Or the anything of the sea.

            Any fish can be “sushi-grade.” All it takes is someone with a sharp knife and no oven. Maybe the chef really did pick only the finest fish the market had that day, or maybe the grocery store is reasonably sure that the fish is fresh enough that eating it raw won’t give you parasites. Have fun gambling on that!

            1

            Multigrain Bread Is Nothing But Fancy White Bread

            Wheat bread is healthier than white bread, we all know that. And we’ve told you before how unscrupulous businesses will dye their white bread brown to fool you. But what about multigrain bread? Surely it’s healthy too, right? It has “grain” right there in the name. “Multi” of them! All those grains must be good for you. Otherwise, why would they bother?

            Jongleur100/Wiki Commons “High-quality fiber, high-quality poops. That’s our company promise.”

            Well, it’s a great marketing term, and … oh, that’s it.

            Literally all “multigrain” means is that the bread contains multiple grains, not that any of those grains are necessarily good or healthy. After all, both whole wheat and white bread start out as grain; it’s just that whole wheat has fiber and other healthy properties. Multigrain bread could be decently healthy, or it could be (and probably is) a Frankenstein amalgamation of different processed grains, all of which have no more nutritional value than the slice of cake we call white bread. Those grains sprinkled on top of your loaf make it look nice, but they’re basically disappointing sprinkles.

            This phenomenon is not confined to the bread aisle. For example, a few years ago, Pringles rolled out a line of “healthy” multigrain chips. Their marketing director said they were targeting people 35 and up, who were more interested in counting calories than their younger counterparts. Right after he made his claims to The New York Times, the paper followed up by noting that multigrain Pringles “have about the same amount of sodium and calories as regular Pringles.” “Multigrain” is an industry code word for “edible mulch.”

            Nathan Kamal lives in Oregon and writes there. He co-founded Asymmetry Fiction for all your fiction needs. Did you like this article? Do you want to like Mike Bedard even more? Go ahead and follow him on Twitter, then. Hungry for additional mind-blowing content? See Markos’ Twitter. When E.M. Caris is not writing for Cracked, you can read his food writing over at the spice subscription service allyoucanspice.com. Greg Tuff is hoping to get on the new season of Big Brother Canada, because things are going great … Talk him out of it on Twitter.

            Food is food, but it should still be eaten out of a quality lunchbox from Herschel.

            If you loved this article and want more content like this, support our site with a visit to our Contribution Page. Please and thank you.

            For more, check out The 6 Most Pretentious Dishes Rich People Pay Money For and When Lobster Was Spam: 5 Gourmet FoodsThat Used to be Cheap.

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            Read more: http://www.cracked.com/article_25166_5-words-food-labels-you-shouldnt-get-fooled-by.html

            40+ Things People Dont Realise Youre Doing Because Of Your Depression

            Depression affects millions of us, and while we are slowly opening up about mental health issues and beginning to banish the stigma that surrounds them, it is critically important to keep open the conversation to foster understanding and empathy for those who may be struggling.

            Sarah Schuster is the mental health editor at The Mighty, and she decided to find out how depression manifests itself in ways other people can’t see.

            “While most people imagine depression equals ‘really sad,’ unless you’ve experienced depression yourself, you might not know it goes so much deeper than that,” she writes. “Depression expresses itself in many different ways, some more obvious than others. While some people have a hard time getting out of bed, others might get to work just fine — it’s different for everyone.”

            Asking community members on The Mighty Facebook page the question: “What’s something people don’t realise you’re doing because you live with depression?” The response was eye-opening. Below is a list of some of the things that people had to say. Scroll down to check it out.

            Struggle to get out of bed, sometimes for hours. Then just the thought of taking a shower is exhausting. If I manage to do that, I am ready for a nap. People don’t understand, but anxiety amd depression is exhausting, much like an actual physical fight with a professional boxer.

            Going to bed at 9 pm and sleeping throughout the night until 10 or 11 am. Then getting out of bed is the hard part. Showering is also a struggle. Trying to keep the house tidy. Watching hours upon hours of Netflix but not even interested in what I’m watching because nothing really interests me anymore.

            Agreeing to social plans but canceling last minute. Using an excuse but really you just chickened out. It makes you think that your friends don’t actually want to see you, they just feel bad. Obligation.

            I can deal with depression, I can’t deal with people who say “we all get sad at times, get over it” “I’m depressed too, I get on with my life” depression isn’t the same for everyone. I’m glad some people can cope easier but I can’t.

            I don’t like talking on the phone. I prefer to text. Less pressure there.
            Also being anti-social. Not because I don’t like being around people, but because I’m pretty sure everyone can’t stand me.

            Sometimes I’ll forget to eat all day. I can feel my stomach growling but don’t have the willpower to get up and make something to eat

            Hiding in my phone. Yes, I am addicted to it, but not like other people. I don’t socialize, I play games or browse online stores to distract myself from my negative thoughts. It’s my safe bubble.

            In social situations, some people don’t realize I withdraw or don’t speak much because of depression. Instead, they think I’m being rude or purposefully antisocial.

            Say that I’m tired or don’t feel good all of the time. They don’t realize how much depression can affect you physically as well as emotionally. I have a hard time finding energy when I’m in a depressive cycle. That means I don’t stay on top of stuff & let things slide (like house work) because I use all of my energy for what absolutely has to be done. Then I have none left for anything else. When I’m depressed, we eat out more, my house chores fall behind, & I binge watch TV or read to escape. But the energy, that’s just gone.

            Purposely working on the holidays so I can avoid spending time with family. it’s overwhelming to be around them and to talk about the future and life so I avoid it.

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            People think I’m lazy and a freerider because I haven’t had a job since leaving uni. They don’t realise that I want to work more than anything, but have an endless stream of negativity constantly running through my head that terrifies me out of even printing out an application form.

            I used to live with depression. People didn’t seem to notice it because I was always smiling while talking to them and making jokes which made my personality look bright and joyful, while I was actually dark inside, full of sadness and lost hope.

            Isolating myself, not living up to my potential at work due to lack of interest in anything, making self-deprecating jokes. I’ve said many times before, “I laugh, so that I don’t cry.”
            Unfortunately, it’s all too true

            Being angry, mean or rude to people I love without realizing it in the moment. I realize my actions and words later and feel awful that I had taken out my anger on people who don’t deserve it

            Depression to me was like having an evil person as my puppet master telling me that I will feel no joy, have no desire, have no energy, no appetite, no light. Like something steals your soul. Until you have experienced it, you will not understand it. I wouldn’t wish this feeling on my worst enemy.

            For me, specifically the things I wish people would realise are due to my depression are my apparent “laziness”, virtually not keeping in touch with anyone, bad personal hygiene, and extremely bad reactions to seemingly trivial things.

            Neglecting to do basic things like laundry, not wanting to cook a meal or eat. They think I’m being lazy.

            Fighting day to day with not wanting to give up and trying to show myself my own self worth.

            When I reach out when I’m depressed its cause I am wanting to have someone to tell me I’m not alone. Not cause I want attention.

            I just sit all day, getting up only to use the bathroom. My chair is also my bed. I have a bed, but i just stay in my chair. I don’t sleep well, and I eat very little. The TV is on, but I may or may not be watching. I just sit.

            My house is a huge mess.

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            The struggle to get out of bed and get off the couch is hell. The physical pain that exists. The house always a mess because no one else will or can do anything and I get blamed which all just makes the depression worse. The thinking about what I need to do makes me anxiety paralyzing.
            Not having a job and physically not being able to even look for one after all the rejection.
            People think I’m lazy.
            I know a clean house helps me feel better, helps me socialize, causes peace and calmness, I want to and I try, but I just can’t. I know a job will give me purpose and reduce stress by adding some financial stability to my family. I really want one and perhaps that is why it is so heartbreaking every time those phone calls don’t come.

            I don’t talk much in large groups of people, especially when I first meet them. I withdraw because of my anxiety and depression. People think i am ‘stuck up’. I’m actually scared out of my mind worrying that they don’t like me, or that they think I’m crazy or stupid, by just looking at me…

            I over compensate in my work environment…and I work front line at a Fitness Centre, so I feel the need to portray an ‘extra happy, bubbly personality’. As soon as I walk out the doors at the end of the day, I literally feel myself ‘fall’. It’s exhausting! Then my night is a constant battle in my head fighting my desire to ‘shrink’ and anxieties. Most people that I interact with would NEVER know I live a daily battle of major depressive disorder, PTSD and anxiety. I am a professional at hiding it.

            Cancel plans because of anxiety. Stay home and hardly ever go out. Struggling to get out of bed everyday. It’s exhausting. Getting ready for work is a struggle. There is so much. Been dealing with this for 35 years

            The excessive drinking.
            Most people assume I’m trying to be the “life of the party” or just like drinking in general. I often get praised for it.
            But my issues are much deeper than that.

            People don’t realize that I say sorry before I even think about expressing any opinions because that’s how worthless I feel. I’m apologizing for feeling anything about anything because that’s how little I feel I matter. They don’t just know I feel like apologizing for even breathing in their general direction. I even say I’m sorry before asking to use the bathroom no matter how long I’ve held it. I feel like a burden for biological needs I have no control over.

            That I’m fighting through a wall of separation when I talk to them. That sometimes I blank or delay in answering because I’m still trying to process what they’re saying.

            That when I reach out to them it’s after an agonizing period of trying not to. I don’t want to burden people with my shit, but sometimes I just need to hear someone’s voice.

            That my everyday is marked with extreme fatigue and exhaustion. That everything for me takes much much longer.

            That I am completely envious of people who are full of life and genki af. That I wish my life was nothing but optimism and bliss, that I felt a zest for life and was overflowing with energy. That that is who I really am behind all the junk they have to see and put up with. That I wish I could just ignore it all and have fun.

            Sometimes I’ll go days without speaking to anybody. People tend to believe I’m ignoring them on purpose when really I am just lost within myself. I don’t mean to seem like I’m pushing people away. Some days it’s hard when my thoughts consume me and when I can’t find the motivation to simple things that others do on a daily basis.

            I wake up feeling like I’m a failure. I have to coach myself every morning into telling myself that I’m good at my job, my kids love me, my husband needs me…and if I don’t go to work everything gets shut off… it’s like I can’t move…

            Answering slowly. It makes my brain run slower and I can’t think of the answers to the questions as quickly. Especially when someone is asking what I want to do – I don’t really want anything. I isolate myself so I don’t have to be forced into a situation where I have to respond because it’s exhausting.

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            I push away/cut off everyone that I care about because I can’t bear to be hurt by them! Everyone just thinks I’m mean and anti-social.

            Keeping the house dark is a comfort thing for me. People always point it out, like “No wonder you’re so depressed. You need to let some light in.” Darkness in my living space makes me feel comfortable, almost like I’m not alone, on my bad days. Good days, I’m all about the sunshine!

            Sleeping, anxiety, not eating, feeling worthless, directionless, not wanting to impose my worthless directionless self on other people, being completely exhausted by having to keep the outer mask in place (which is why I’m antisocial– simply being upbeat enough to order coffee at Starbucks will sometimes rinse me for the afternoon).

            I want to talk about it. I want to scream. I want to yell. I want to shout about it! But all I can do is whisper “I’m fine.”

            Overthinking everything and over planning. The need to make everything perfect and everyone happy even if it’s taking all my energy. As if validation from someone else will make it all better. Sometimes I start out on high power then just crash and don’t even enjoy what ive spents weeks/months planning. And none will see me for months after, as I retreat into my safe bubble

            I find that after so many years I just can’t believe in people at all anymore. My vision of myself and the world is so negatively distorted that no matter how much I want to believe when people are nice to me, I can’t.

            People who say I’m not ugly are lying and laughing behind my back. People who act like they like me are just going with the flow and don’t really care.
            Even if they aren’t being mean, they’re just being polite, and it’s not like they care about me personally. Being a part of a group actually means that you’re just one more and don’t individually matter.

            People are not honest, people are always just “polite” – kindness is a lie to look good to others and to feel good about themselves.

            Agonizing over tiny problems for days because I’m too afraid to talk to the person who hurt me. Then being told I need to “get over it” or “calm down” or “stop dwelling”. Yes, I know this is not a big deal. Yea, I know I’m making a mountain out of a molehill. Yes, I know I’m difficult, impossible, frustrating and annoying… but I’m also just trying to get through my day. All I need is that reminder that I’m actually okay, not someone demanding that I BE okay.

            Hiding out in my room for hours at a time watching Netflix or Hulu to distract my mind or taking frequent trips to the bathroom or into another room at social gatherings because social situations sometimes get to me.

            I CAN RELATE TO EVERY COMMENT I HAVE READ WHICH IS SO SAD. SO MANY OF US HURTING AND LIVING WITH THE FEELING WE ARE ALONE. I EVEN FEEL GUILTY TALKING TO MY COUNSLER THINKING SHE IS GETTING SO TIRED OF ME TALKING ABOUT THIS STUFF. I BEAT CANCER A FEW YEARS AGO AND YOU WOULD THINK THAT WOULD HAVE GIVIN ME A NEW LEASE ON LIFE BUT IT ONLY MADE ME MORE DEPRESSED THOSE WHO HAVE HAD TO DEAL WITH DEPRESSION FOR A LONG TIME WILL UNDERSTAND WHY.

            I get obsessive over things. Things like I’m worthless or I’m a bad person or I’m secretly just like the people I hate most. Sometimes I can’t tell if what I am thinking is true or not. I get anxiety at social events. I feel like people hate me or just don’t care about me. I cling to certain people and want them to love me. My brain sometimes goes into overdrive and I can’t turn it off and it causes a downward spiral that is hard to pull out of.

            I don’t tell people because I don’t want to be labeled. I don’t want them to see me as broken and depressed or that I’m just being silly. But at the same time people get upset at me or mad about things but they don’t understand what I have to deal with.

            I listen to music a lot. I read tons and tons of fantasy books. I like watching movies. All of these take me away from reality for a while and puts me into amazing worlds where I know things are going to end happily. I love being in plays and musicals because I get to be someone else entirely and I know how things are going to end and it makes me happier.

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            Running a business not answering the phone for years … still works, though …. cancelling all the jobs that makes it neccessary leaving my home … can‘t leave my cats alone … I am turning into this crazy cat lady … at least I don‘t miss anything – I really enjoy my own company … people empty me .

            Every night I look at all the pictures of dead relatives I have and asking them to please come get me I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m 71 and have been suffering from depression on and off in my life since I was 18. I truly am done.

            I think its hard for people to understand me when i may sound negative because i live with depression. They might question my motivation n even determination to do something but they dont realize its a battle to wake up everyday fighting my own thoughts n suffering from low energy.

            Some very universal themes in all the examples. I remember my days, twenty years ago, before medication and therapy well. Realizing that my feelings were not unique was part of the key; overcoming isolation was another. It cannot be fixed alone.

            I thought I was really bad at hiding my anxiety until one day a friend came to tell me that she wished she lived her life like how I did mine , cause I am always happy and take everything with a pinch of salt. Now I know that I’m an ace at covering up .

            I know what should I do to get rid of depression, but I can’t. I’m in a lake, I know how to swim, but I’m paralyzed. I think that’s it.

            Almost all day every day I am on the internet reading science fiction short stories and going through sites like this for a sort of escape. When there is company I keep to myself more, unless my sister and her family are visiting.

            Going for late night walks by myself. My depression keeps me awake at night and my thoughts can get so overwhelming I feel physically crowded inside. Late night walks help me quiet the screaming in my head.

            I have often been accused of having “no sense of humor”. So wrong. Before depression took over my life I smiled, and laughed, as much as the next person. Now, having lived with depression for over 15 years, the humor I find in a joke, or situation, is rarely visible on my face or heard in my laugh. I feel humor, but it’s just too much effort to express it. I don’t have the energy.

            I feel like a stranger in my own life. Having had surgery, off work, no savings, short term disability behind, water frozen, kitchen full of dirty dishes, but I am alive and taking meds.

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            It’s so comforting to see I’m not alone. Being indecisive, having extreme difficulty making decisions because you can only see and fear all the things that will go wrong. And when/if a decision has been Finally made, the inability to take action and carry it out because of fear and anxiety. Financial problems overwhelming, inadequacy, social fear, losing your temper for no reason, hours of crying fits, safety in your little home, but being so lonely, heartbreak, regret and grief because of loss of dreams, feeling useless & lazy because you cannot complete basic household chores. Eating too much junk or nothing at all because it’s too much trouble. Having a long list of fun things to do in your spare time that you KNOW will make you feel great about yourself, but you just cannot get out of bed to do them – yearning for the days when you could. Just wanting to sleep so you don’t have to FEEL anything. The GUILT of having depression because everyone else seems to have their life together and so should you at this age. But you don’t know how to do it. The guilt you feel because of the Support you DO get from Friends who understand – don’t they have their own lives to live without having to worry about you all the time? Not feeling good enough/worthy of being loved by someone after being rejected. Escaping into your phone or movies/series. Genuinely not wanting to carry on, even/especially after 3 suicide unsuccessful ‘attempts’, because it seems this is as good as it gets and you are just using up Earth’s valuable resources, a waste of space. Feeling like a burden. Depression is a killer.

            People will always tell you “When you’re feeling like that, reach out to someone”. But I don’t want to anymore. Any time that I try to, I’m told I’m too negative, or to get over it, or SOMETHING along the lines of “How dare you have told me this?”. Every time I try to open up to people they either tell me off or just outright block me.
            It’s come to the point where when I hear people say “I care about your happiness”, I interpret it as “I only care about you when you’re happy”. Talking through these kinds of emotions are usually a great help, but how can I get said help if nobody cares enough about me to talk to me about it at all? I’m grateful to have a therapist, but a lot of people don’t have the money or other resources for such help.

            Endless negativity towards yourself and everyone else. Feeling like a continuous failure because you don’t have the energy to do the right things in your life. Constantly telling yourself you’re worthless and people around you will be better off if you’re not there. Panic attacks that happen at night and keep you awake. Wondering if it will ever get over.

            I volunteer for everything from going to pto meetings to baby sitting to cleaning someone else’s house for them. I surround myself with situations and obligations that force me to get out of bed & get out of the house because if I’m not needed, I won’t be wanted..

            I always say I’m going to do something with the guys and when it comes time to do it. I back away. Also sleeping for hours not because I’m lazy but because dealing with all the thoughts in my head from anxiety along with depression is exhausting. Feels like kind of when your in winter and the cold air is blowing and you find it hard to breath. It’s like that daily for me.

            I’ve dealt with depression most my life. Most my symptoms are manageable as long as I’m being mindful of my attitude, thoughts, and behavior. I don’t ignore people and I let them know when I need alone time or if I’m not feeling well. When life gets boring or mundane I remind myself that this is not my last stop and I continue dreaming. These are some of the ways that I manage depression.

            I prefer to be awake through the night because I can just stay in bed without anyone getting mad. I sleep up to 15 hours a day during bad periods. When I’m awake, I live in my head, I often don’t even move.

            Just getting in the bath or making a cup of tea is a major achievement. Having my dog has made me get out of the house at least twice a day, have to take hours to get motivated sometimes though. But if I didn’t have him, I probably wouldn’t leave the house unless it was for work.

            I get very apathetic. And I’ll refuse (read: I can’t) to make any decisions. Even tiny ones like what to eat. I physically won’t be able to make a decision. So if there isn’t someone around to tell me to eat something and what to eat, I won’t eat. If there isn’t someone to tell me to go to sleep, I won’t. It gets to the point where if someone asks me to make a decision or tries to force me to make a decision I’ll just curl up into a ball and cry.

            My sleep patterns are all over the place. I have lots of bad dreams and I’m tired all the time. Work takes a lot of energy, being happy and enthusiastic (I’m a teacher) I crash when I get home. Change makes me anxious. On bad days my hands will shake and I feel anxious and jittery but I don’t know why. I forget my words. If I’m down and someone asks how I’m going I’ll just burst into tears. I’m happiest when I’m too busy to think, but then I wear out and crash. The situation that caused my depression is gone and logically I know I should be fine now, happy now…but I’m still struggling. I lost good habits and picked up some bad habits. I’ll agree to plans and then cancel, I feel like I’m turning into a hermit and if I talk to someone about it they will think I’m weak and get sick of me being down all the time. So, I stay home by myself.

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            I’m 25 but still virgin, no job, no money no boyfriend, I still live with my family, I can’t even graduate from college at my 6th year because I can’t focus anything, I can’t get up from bed, I don’t want to do anything, just sleep and hope to die.

            As i read these, i can totally relate to almost all of them. That constant
            battle royale what you have to fight against your demons. The struggle to eat, to shower, to clean your room/house, go to school/workplace. And the world says that you are lazy is only oil onto the fire. When they say “yeah everyone gets sad”. Well you don’t say? I’m not sad. I’m DEPRESSED. There is a huge difference. Sadness is an emotin when something bad happened. Depression is feeling sad, alone, exhausted or even suicidal etc. My favourite is “you have nothing to be depressed, you have at least half of your life in front of you”. Yea… most people can’t realize the fact depression has multiple reasons, Not just the traumatical one. It can be in your genes because someone was depressed in your family, it can be a random switch from a day to the other just because your neurochemical balance got broken and became a neurochemical imbalance. So you don’t need any reason to be depressed it can just happen. (just like in my case, and in many others’)

            Sometimes i just don’t eat for 2-3 days, then i try to eat normally, then i eat a lot. Same with sleep. Somethimes I’m like an insomniac, then I’m like i have hypersomnia. This cycle is what killing a lot of us.

            That feel when sleep is not just a sleep anymore, more likely a way to escape. But then you realise that when you sleep only the time passes but it’s just like a snap of fingers and you feel the demons again. Then you feel like “please god, i don’t want to wake up tomorrow, please”. The feel when you are in front of the mirror and just screaming/crying and literally begging to yourself to hold on.

            I know how it feels, i feel like I already lost and I’m really afrad if it as well.

            But please, whoever you are, be strong, i know it’s a cliche what you hear always, but we hear that all the time only because it’s our only chance.

            I’m currently feeling some pretty deep depression because of what I’m going through. Between the stress and depression all I can do is sleep because I’m so worn out. In some pretty dark places right now and pushing everyone away. I hope it will end when I face the monster that is trying to kill me at the end of the month. I’ve lost everything in the last 2 years because of this person and their agency. I can relate to just about everyone of these and have lost friends over it. I had one friend tell me that my friends don’t like hanging out with me because I’m negative. Well a chance to loose your life is pretty negative. Just saying.

            People think I’m really flaky. I say I’m busy and I can’t do the thing I said I’d do but I’m busy hiding. That’s depression. The great need to be busy until you’re so totally physically exhausted so you don’t have to be afraid of your own thoughts: that’s anxiety.

            I have tendencies towards a lot of what’s been described here: I wake up sometimes and think: ‘Ugh! How am I going to get up today?’ I have times I want to avoid people, where I become very introverted, where I want to drink every night, where I don’t feel like making any efforts to try to address my difficult financial situation (I can’t find a good job just yet).

            I can’t speak for everyone, but what works for me, and I think will work for some, but certainly not all others, is that I work against these things one at a time, with simple but effective rules: 1. I will not let myself sleep more than 8.5 hours (assuming I’m not recovering from some serious sleep deprivation) 2. I will not let myself buy alcohol at a store or go to a bar until a weekend night. 3. I will require myself to do at least a few job applications, or application follow ups or go to some networking thing at least a few times a week. 4. I will exercise at least for a half hour 5-6 days a week. 5. I will write one more chapter of my novel manuscript today. 6. I will tidy up my room for 10-20 minutes as I play my favorite music. 7. I will enjoy a little indulgent food like dessert but I won’t go crazy on dessert.

            Ask yourself this: can I put my more intelligent self in charge, one simple step at a time?

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            I can’t sleep at night because thoughts of failure run through my head

            I’m always alone until someone in my family needs something. And I’m up all night trying to figure out how to solve everyone else’s problem. After their problem are solved, they’re gone…no thank you, and they may even talk about me behind my back about how they used me again. But If I don’t help, I’m the crazy sister, aunt,etc.. If family does this to you, I’m afraid to meet strangers. No one cares that I’m alone all day at home hiding in the house with burns all over my body, I’ve been told that I’m too depressing to be around, until they need help again. I need to drop my family and find people like me. But where do burn victims hook up? Heaven I guess!

            Everyone here is not alone, This thread is proof of it. There are people out there who can help work through a lot of theses issues, being medication or conversation, relationship or companionship. The point is, It sucks. This disease really sucks. But to help and fix this disease we need to speak up, Most friends and family and doctors won’t know until we tell them. It also helps to push myself daily, to challenge myself, even to scare myself. Maybe to set a time to get up or shower or eat. After awhile it becomes routine. Routines can help move to a better position. Just my 2cents.

            My emotions overwhelm me. I second guess everything I do or don’t do. I feel like no matter what I do it will be wrong. I am constantly exhausted and want to escape into sleep to avoid life. I feel hopeless and helpless and I don’t think anyone understands. I want to scream for help but no one knows how to help me and I feel like they don’t want to hear it and they’re trivializing my struggle. I want to physically cut it out of myself.

            Always having to be around someone. I have a total inability to be alone. I don’t even have to talk to a person…as long as I know they’re physically there, I’m content. Otherwise, depressing thoughts creep in and I end up driving myself crazy. It’s less effort to put on the facade that I’m fine in front of other people, than it is to face myself alone.

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            Sometimes I can’t breathe

            I have anxiety and pretty much think I’m useless all the time & that people don’t actually like me. It’s like My inner monologue is constantly putting me down. Because of this, I can’t handle criticism of any kind. In a work situation it comes across like I’m not listening when taking constructive criticism, or if I’ve made a mistake and I’m being called out on it. It may seem like I’m ignoring criticism but in reality I’m shutting down because i’ve already started to tell myself that I’m useless and I’m scolding myself for messing up.

            I don’t feel like I’m “in me”. I feel like I’m looking on. Like I’m behind something but watching with hypervigilance. I also stress over things way beforehand. “Which door will I go in? Someone’s going to laugh if I get the wrong door”. “Where do I park? I’m going to be in someone’s way”. “When I walk in, everyone’s going to look at me”. It goes on and on. My mind is so chaotic that it is empty, blank. I cannot say things in order or make others understand what I am trying to get across. Words won’t come. When they do they don’t come out right or the thoughts in my head are not the thoughts I am thinking. They think I’m using figures of speech. Once I was telling my therapist that I didn’t feel like I was 46. She went to give me a high five! I meant that I feel emotionally stunted, like I didn’t go past a certain point somewhere along the line. I have PTSD from sexual abuse by one person and physical and verbal abuse from my father. I had it coming at me in every direction it feels like. I feel SO tired all the time, all, the time. No energy to do anything. I have no interest in anything anymore. My apartment isn’t dirty but things pile up. I know, logically I need to get my butt moving but I just can’t. I want to sleep and nap all the time. Facebook is an outlet for me. I have made groups so that I can post

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