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16 May 22:54

It takes a salary of over $110K to afford a typical home in LA

by Elijah Chiland
The median price of a home in Los Angeles County was $545,540 in the first three months of 2018.

72 percent of LA residents can’t afford that

In Los Angeles County, where home prices have now eclipsed the inflated levels reached just prior to the Recession, most residents don’t earn enough to afford a typical home, according to a new report from the California Association of Realtors.

The analysis finds that the median price of a home in LA County was $545,540 in the first three months of 2018. That calculation may be on the conservative side; a recent report from real estate tracker CoreLogic found the median price to be $585,000.

Even given the smaller number, though, it would take an income of $112,930 to comfortably afford the monthly payments of $2,820 that come with a median-priced home. The association finds that only 28 percent of residents earn that much, meaning that homeownership simply isn’t an option for many Angelenos.

In this case, the calculation assumes that buyers are able to put no more than 30 percent of their income toward housing—a common standard for affordability. Some eager home shoppers may be willing to pay more than that, but, of course, the more income monthly payments are likely to eat up, the less likely those buyers will be to obtain a loan.

The affordability estimate also assumes that those in the market for a home can afford to make a 20 percent down payment when purchasing one. Given a median price of $545,540, that’s nearly $110,000 of cash up front.

Since many buyers don’t have that kind of money lying around, they’ll need to make a smaller down payment. That can in turn raise monthly costs—partly because the amount owed on the loan is higher and partly because those buyers will have to pay for private mortgage insurance.

Because of that, the number of LA residents able to comfortably afford a median-priced home may be even less than the report suggests. But it’s not all bad news. The percentage of homeowners able to make those monthly payments has actually risen a bit since the final months of 2017, when median homes were affordable to just a quarter of Angelenos.

Los Angeles is also markedly more affordable than other parts of California, like San Francisco, where only 15 percent of residents earn enough to buy a median-priced ($1.61 million) home. Statewide, typical homes are affordable to 31 percent of residents.

08 May 03:58

Incredible New Oinkster Burger Comes Topped With Two Carne Asada Tacos

by Farley Elliott
The LA Taco Burger

It’s a monthlong collaboration with the folks from LA Taco

It’s already well-documented just how beloved The Oinkster is. With locations in Eagle Rock and Hollywood, the Andre Guerrero-owned restaurant has helped to usher in everything from modern Filipino food to stunt burgers, maintaining its place as a casual neighborhood mainstay along the way. But this time Guerrero and his team may have outdone themselves with a new limited-time burger that comes topped with two fully-dressed carne asada tacos.

The new LA Taco Burger is a collaboration with local site LA Taco, a longstanding publication mostly dedicated to food, counter culture, and local politics. The pair decided to team up to create something truly unique, and it comes just as the site is wrapping up its popular annual Taco Madness tournament. There will also be a signature milkshake available, made with horchata ice cream from local icon Fosselman’s Ice Cream Company.

The massive new LA Taco Burger is available starting today and through the entire month of May at both locations of The Oinkster in Hollywood and Eagle Rock.

24 Apr 13:00

Jersey Shore, Abridged: In a Moment of Vulnerability, a Dick Piercing Is Revealed

by Katie McDonough on The Muse, shared by Clover Hope to Jezebel

In Jersey Shore, Abridged, Jezebel will be recapping the first season, and maybe the entire series, of Jersey Shore in 3 to 5 sentences followed by viewing comprehension questions and therapeutic prompts. This series is in honor of Jersey Shore: Family Vacation and me, for my decision to watch and appreciate Jersey Shore for the first time. Please enjoy.

Season 1, Episode 2

In Episode 2, we spend more time with Danny, the housemates’ employer and landlord; because of this consolidated power over the material conditions of the casts’ lives, he is the villain of the series. As ever, feelings inside the house abound: The Situation and Sammi are locked in a myopic flirtation, attraction by lazy proximity. JWoww and Pauly D are drawn together like the powerful magnets they are, and a night of grinding culminates in Pauly showing JWoww his dick piercing. “No one knows,” he tells her in a conspiratorial whisper. “I know it,” she coos back. Later, Vinny gets pink eye.

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Comprehension questions: Did you notice I forgot to name Sammi in the previous post? The show’s handling of non-housemate women is deeply and consistently cruel. What is the cruelest thing you’ve ever done?


Season 1, Episode 3

It is the morning after and JWoww is conflicted and in denial about hooking up with Pauly D; her shame only grows in the presence of her boyfriend, Tommy, who is visiting from Long Island. Snooki succeeds in her search for belonging, finally finding her place among the housemates. Sammi and Ron, high on early romance, have no idea that they are embarking on a doomed relationship that will stretch, often painfully, through the next eight years. No one, of course, gets to know such things in advance. Angelina leaves.

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Comprehension questions: JWoww chooses, at first, not to tell Tommy about her infidelity. Have you ever lied by omission, and how did you justify it to yourself?


Season 1, Episode 4

Tension permeates the episode, as do various manifestations of the misogyny that sits deep in our culture’s bones. The Situation and Pauly bring two women home, only to treat them with debasing cruelty when sex is taken off the table. The episode ends in a shocking act of violence followed by abrupt cuts to the chaos that follows: the men in the house, having witnessed a man punch Snooki in the face, express horror that anyone could treat a woman with such contempt. Their own contempt, gleefully articulated just an evening before, is left unexamined.

Comprehension questions: What is projection?

23 Apr 14:05

New Dik-dik Is Music to Zoo Wroclaw’s Ears

by Andrew Bleiman

3_DSC09964 Lady G

The months of February and March are traditionally the time of the year when Zoo Wroclaw welcomes new Dik-dik offspring. True to fashion, new mom, Lenonka, welcomed a female calf on February 26.

According to the Zoo’s tradition, newborns are given a music related name.

Because of their shared characteristic of blonde hair, the new Dik-dik is being called “Lady G” (a nod to Lady Gaga).

Zoo management has allowed the keepers a bit of creativity with the selection of names for the new births. As a result, Zoo Wroclaw is proud to relate that they are home to Elvis, Eminem, Lennon, Limahl, Loreen, and now Lady G!

2_DSC09976 Lady G

1_DSC09977 Lady G

4_DSC00006 Ojciec Fedreiko i Matka LeonkaPhoto Credits: Zoo Wroclaw / Image 4: new parents, Federiko and Lenonka / Image 5: new mom, Lenonka / Image 6: dad, Federiko

Kirk’s Dik-diks have made their home at Zoo Wroclaw since 2014. The Zoo’s most known member of the herd is Lady G’s father, Federiko. Keepers state he is almost always in a location within the exhibit that is visible to the public, as if he is guarding the rest of the herd.

Kirk's Dik-dik (Madoqua kirkii) is a small antelope native to Eastern Africa and one of four species of Dik-dik antelope. Dik-diks are herbivores and are typically of a fawn color that aids in camouflaging in savannah habitats.

The unique name is derived from its call. When threatened, Dik-diks lay low. If discovered, they run in a swift zigzag until finding another safe hiding spot. During this time, they are known to emit a call that sounds like “zik-zik” and is intended to raise an alarm.

The lifespan of Kirk's Dik-dik in the wild is typically 5 to 10 years. In captivity, males have been known to live up to 16 to 18 years.

The species is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. They have many natural enemies in the wild: leopards, cheetahs, jackals, baboons, eagles, and pythons.

However, the biggest threat awaits them from the human side. Not only are they hunted for use of their meat and bone, but they are also hunted for the production of leather. It has been said that at least two individual Dik-diks must be slaughtered to produce as little as one pair of leather gloves.

5_DSC00005 Lenonka

6_DSC09996 Federiko

22 Apr 22:36

Rare Baby Fishing Cat Arrives By Cesarean Delivery

by Chris Eastland
Kevespada

cuet

XxFB Fishing Cat Cub 3

A rare Fishing Cat kitten is being hand-reared after he was born by cesarean delivery at Oklahoma City Zoo.

The baby was born on March 31 after his mother, Miri, surpassed her expected due date. The gestation period for Fishing Cats is between 63 and 70 days. Eleven-year-old Miri was five days past her due date and showed no signs of entering labor. The zoo’s veterinary and carnivore teams chose to intervene to ensure that her pregnancy was viable. Although the first-time mother was closely monitored by her caretakers throughout the entire pregnancy, the risks associated with waiting for a natural birth became far too great for Miri and her kitten.

Fishing Cat Cub 13
Fishing Cat Cub 13Photo Credit: Oklahoma City Zoo

This was the first cesarean delivery of a Fishing Cat in the zoo’s history. The entire procedure lasted three hours and consisted of an ultrasound, radiographs, bloodwork, a physical exam and the cesarean delivery, which resulted in the birth of a male kitten. The kitten is the first offspring of Miri and 3-year-old Boon.

For approximately 1 hour after his birth, the kitten, weighing 164 grams (0.4 pounds), needed help breathing. After two days in the animal hospital, the kitten’s health was stable, and his care team decided that he could be introduced to mom Miri.

Unfortunately, when the kitten was placed with Miri, she displayed no signs of maternal care. The veterinary and carnivore teams began hand-rearing the kitten.

Because hand-rearing a Fishing Cat kitten requires around-the-clock care, the staff works in shifts to bottle-feed the kitten every four hours. To provide comfort and warmth, the care team placed two stuffed animals, scented with Miri’s urine, inside his habitat. The kitten has a healthy appetite and is meeting developmental milestones. Once he is weaned from bottle-feeding and begins consuming solid foods exclusively, the care team will move him next to Miri and Boon so he can see and hear his parents.

The zoo participates in the Fishing Cat Species Survival Plan (SSP) through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), a managed breeding effort that promotes the sustainability of this species. The SSP strives to ensure a healthy, genetically diverse and demographically varied population through breeding programs among AZA-accredited zoos. This kitten is the first Fishing Cat born at the Zoo since 1997. Fishing Cats are solitary animals and live an average of 10 to 12 years in human care.

Fishing Cats hunt for fish and other prey from the banks of streams and rivers. Native to the wetlands of India and Indonesia, Fishing Cat populations are declining due to habitat fragmentation and destruction, excessive hunting, and the exotic pet trade. Fishing Cats are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Fishing Cat Cub 9

Fishing Cat Cub 9
Fishing Cat Cub 9

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22 Apr 21:46

Spring Babies Abound at Los Angeles Zoo

by Chris Eastland

4.2 female ocelot kittensOcelot/Los Angeles Zoo 

Spring means lots of new babies at the Los Angeles Zoo!  Guests can now observe two Sichuan Takin calves and two Chacoan Peccary piglets out in their habitats while an Eastern Bongo calf, two Ocelot kittens, and seven Peninsular Pronghorn fawns remain behind the scenes bonding with their mothers for a few more weeks.

2.2 peccary piglet with adult photo by Jamie PhamPeccary/Jamie Pham
3.4 takin calf photo by Jamie PhamTakin/Jamie Pham

"The Zoo does tend to see a rise in animal babies each spring, but there is a lot more thought and careful planning that goes into the process than one might think," said Beth Schaefer, General Curator at the Los Angeles Zoo. "A majority of our offspring this season are all members of Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs which aim to keep the North American populations of these species sustainable while also creating an insurance population, so these animals don't disappear from the planet."  

One insurance population currently thriving at the L.A. Zoo is a breeding group of Peninsular Pronghorn, a species of antelope native to Baja California Sur, Mexico. The Zoo recently welcomed seven Peninsular Pronghorn fawns, born between March 4 and April 8. In 2002, the L.A. Zoo joined the Peninsular Pronghorn Recovery Project in the Vizcaino Desert Biosphere Reserve of Baja California Sur, Mexico because the species’ numbers were dwindling in the wild due to hunting, habitat destruction, and cattle ranching.

On April 4, the L.A. Zoo celebrated the birth of two endangered Chacoan Peccary piglets. These medium-sized animals are found primarily in Paraguay and Bolivia, and they have a strong resemblance to pigs. Chacoan peccaries are social animals that live in small herds of up to 10 individuals, and they are known for their tough snouts and rooting abilities. The L.A. Zoo is currently working with the only conservation project in existence for this endangered species called the Chaco Center for the Conservation and Research (CCCI) and hopes to help care for and breed this species whose numbers are dwindling primarily due to habitat loss and hunting.

More photos and video below.


The L.A. Zoo welcomed two male Sichuan Takin calves, born on March 6 and 9. Takin (pronounced “TAH-kin”), are stocky goat-antelopes native to China’s remote mountain forests with short legs, large hooves with two toes, and a well-developed spur that makes them sure-footed on steep terrain and rocky cliffs. Although they are considered national treasures in China and are protected by law, this vulnerable species continues to be threatened by overhunting, habitat loss, and fragmentation.

On March 13, two female Ocelot kittens were born to first-time parents paired together through an SSP breeding program. Averaging about twice the size of a domestic cat, Ocelots are found in diverse habitats from Arizona and Texas in the U.S. through Mexico, Central America, and much of South America. Nocturnal and secretive, much remains unknown about their biology and habits. The birth of these kittens is a wonderful start to helping secure the future of this species of cat.

On April 6, the L.A. Zoo welcomed a female Eastern Bongo calf, a large antelope found in Kenya. Over the last few years, the Zoo has made breeding this species a priority because of its dwindling numbers in the wild due to logging and poaching.

While the L.A. Zoo welcomes animal babies of many species each spring, it is important to remember that babies grow into adults and contribute an important role in their species. “Babies are cute, and we all love watching them discover the world through their perspective,” said Schaefer. “But, these babies are so much more than just cute. They represent the future of their species, and we’re proud to be able to share their journey with Angelenos and help educate our guests about the incredible biodiversity in our world.” 1.2 pronghorn fawn photo by Jamie Pham
1.2 pronghorn fawn photo by Jamie PhamPronghorn/Jamie Pham
4.1 female ocelot kittensOcelot/Los Angeles Zoo
2.4 peccary piglet photo by Jamie Pham
2.4 peccary piglet photo by Jamie Pham
2.4 peccary piglet photo by Jamie Pham
2.4 peccary piglet photo by Jamie PhamPeccary/Jamie Pham (1,2,3) and Tad Montoya (4)
3.5 takin calf with adult female photo by Jamie Pham
3.5 takin calf with adult female photo by Jamie Pham
3.5 takin calf with adult female photo by Jamie Pham
3.5 takin calf with adult female photo by Jamie Pham
3.5 takin calf with adult female photo by Jamie PhamTakin/Jamie Pham (1,2,3,4) and Tad Montoya (5)


06 Apr 16:58

‘Describe yourself like a male author would’ becomes a hilarious Twitter challenge

by Tiffany Kelly
Man using typewriter with "new twitter challenge: describe yourself like a male author would" tweet

Taking a screengrab of a section in a book and posting it on Twitter has become a common way to point out problematic sentences in literature. It’s what sparked the Ready Player One backlash. Now people—mainly women—are taking that criticism a step further by writing parodies of how a male author would describe them.

It all started last week when writer Gwen C. Katz tweeted a cringe-inducing passage from a male author. This is how he wrote from a woman’s perspective: “I sauntered over, certain he noticed me. I’m hard to miss, I’d like to think—a little tall (but not too tall), a nice set of curves if I do say so myself, pants so impossibly tight that if I had had a credit card in my back pocket you could read the expiration date. The rest of my outfit wasn’t that remarkable, just a few old things I had lying around. You know how it is.”

That’s exactly how all women think, right?? Yeah, not even close. The man in question was apparently trying to prove that men can write from a woman’s perspective in fiction. Katz followed up with a tweet saying that she thinks men “can absolutely write realistic female narrators.” But, clearly, this author needed some feedback from actual women.

The author’s passage was mocked on Twitter over the weekend. And that’s when Whit Reynolds decided to come up with a Twitter challenge: “describe yourself like a male author would.”

The tweet went viral as many women wrote funny descriptions of themselves to mimic the way that the male author described his protagonist.

Hopefully, the man in question (and other authors) learned from this Twitter thread what not to do when describing a woman in fiction. As writer Kate Leth said in a tweet, don’t be scared about writing female characters, just “treat us like people.”

The post ‘Describe yourself like a male author would’ becomes a hilarious Twitter challenge appeared first on .

06 Apr 09:27

Zoo Wroclaw Welcomes First Manatee Calf

by Andrew Bleiman
Kevespada

lil bubbo

1_DSC_2664

Zoo Wroclaw has been preparing for the arrival of their new Manatee calf since this past November, when it was confirmed their female was expecting.

After consultation with other zoos, keepers at Wroclaw installed a special pen in their Manatee pool. They also stocked-up on special milk formula in preparation for the possibility that new mother, Ling, might have difficulty bonding with the calf.

When Ling’s labor began on March 3rd, staff members at Zoo Wroclaw were more than prepared for the new arrival. The little female entered the world at 10:41 a.m., and the Zoo managed to capture the beautiful scene on video.

According to keepers, right after birth, the female measured about 115 cm, and weighed about 20 kg.

The new Manatee calf is the first of her kind to be born at Wroclaw, so her caretakers opted to give her a fitting name—Lavia (from the word Vratislavia).

The Zoo’s prenatal preparations proved beneficial when it became apparent to keepers that Ling was not nursing her new calf as they had hoped. Staff began utilizing the special formula soon after the calf was born.

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4_DSC_2123Photo Credits: ZOO Wroclaw

Manatees are large, fully aquatic, mostly herbivorous marine mammals (also known as “sea cows”). They are found in the shallow, marshy coastal areas and rivers of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico (Trichechus manatus, West Indian manatee), the Amazon basin (T. inunguis, Amazonian manatee), and West Africa (T. senegalensis, West African manatee).

Manatees are classified as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN. Because they are large, slow-moving animals that frequent costal waters, they are vulnerable to hunters seeking their hides, oil, and bones. They are often accidentally hit by motorboats and sometimes become entangled in fishing nets. Due to their threatened status, captive breeding in zoos plays an important role in manatee conservation. According to Zoo Wroclaw, these docile giants live in only 19 zoological gardens in the world, including 10 in Europe.

Each calf born is treasured, and each Manatee birth is a celebrated stepping-stone to the survival of the species.

(More pics below the fold!)

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30 Mar 05:00

The Government-Funded Oil Painting Gravy Train Has Run Dry

by Prachi Gupta on The Slot, shared by Katie McDonough to Jezebel

On Wednesday, Donald Trump signed the very necessary Eliminating Government-Funded Oil-Painting Bill, which will trim the nation’s debt by a fraction of a fraction of a percentage point. Thank god. Trump administration officials, who like to drop thousands of dollars of public money to ride private planes and purchase your great-great-grandmother’s mahogany dining set, can no longer spend federal funds on oil paintings of themselves.

The bill, introduced by Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy, bans federal funds from paying “for the painting of a portrait of an officer or employee of the Federal Government, including the President, the Vice President, a Member of Congress, the head of an executive agency, or the head of an office of the legislative branch.”

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CNN reports that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill will save Americans “less than $500,000 annually, because the CBO expects that fewer than 20 portraits would be purchased with federal funds in most years.”

I, for one, love how stupidly specific this bill is, banishing federal spending on portraits, but leaving room for other forms of state-sponsored art. Perhaps the Trump administration is unknowingly ushering in a bold, new era of abstract art, stately lithographs of Congress, and whimsical India ink sketches of presidential pets—like Marlon Bundo.

I suppose this also means that taxpayers won’t fund a painting of Donald Trump—as is usually the case for presidents, who generally fund their portraits through private donations—a man who 100 percent would hang it above his bed for his mid-coital viewing pleasure.

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Correction: This post previously stated that Sen. Bill Cassidy represents Illinois. He represents Louisiana in the Senate.

30 Jan 21:45

First Female Okapi Calf for L.A. Zoo

by Andrew Bleiman

Female Okapi Calf - Photo By Jamie Pham

The Los Angeles Zoo is excited to announce the birth of its first-ever female Okapi calf.

The calf was born on November 10, 2017 and is the second offspring for 14-year-old mother, Opey, and the first for three-year-old father, Jackson. The couple was paired together as part of an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) program with the goal of increasing the Okapi population, which is rapidly declining in the wild. The yet-to-be-named calf spent the first couple of months, behind the scenes, bonding with mother and familiarizing herself with her new home and the animal care staff.

"I am thrilled to welcome this new Angeleno into the world, and congratulate the staff at the Los Angeles Zoo, and her mom, Opey, on the birth of this Okapi calf," said District 4 Councilmember David Ryu. "This rare and beautiful animal is a testament to the Los Angeles Zoo’s incredible work caring for and fostering endangered animals."

Okapi Mom & Calf - Photo By Tad MotoyamaPhoto Credits: Jamie Pham (Image 1) / Tad Motoyama (2)

The Los Angeles Zoo contributes funds to The Okapi Conservation Project (OCP), a conservation group initiated in 1987 with the objective of eliciting support for the conservation of wild Okapi from individuals, foundations, and zoological institutions managing Okapi around the world. The Okapi is an important flagship species for the rainforest habitat that is rapidly vanishing due to expansion of human settlement, deforestation, and forest degradation. Over the last decade, the wild Okapi population has dropped and there are estimated to be between 10,000 and 50,000 left in the wild. There are currently close to 100 Okapi in U.S. AZA-accredited facilities.

“There was a time not so long ago when having Okapis in a Zoo was extraordinarily rare,” said Josh Sisk, Curator of Mammals at the Los Angeles Zoo. “But, due to Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs being so proactive and being able to breed these animals in Zoos, the captive population is doing extremely well. This is just one example of how important zoos are for helping sustain such an endangered species. By guests being able to see an Okapi in a Zoo, it starts a conversation about how we can save this species and their habitat in the wild.”

Native to central Africa, the Okapi (Okapia johnstoni), also known as the “forest giraffe”, this reclusive species is rarely seen in the wild and was discovered by Europeans in 1901. Because of their naturally shy nature and inclination to live deep in the dense forest, researchers and people passing through the area rarely spot an Okapi in its native habitat. Observing this beautiful animal in a Zoological setting is most likely a person’s only opportunity to get up close to an Okapi in their lifetime.

While some guests may confuse this shy, solitary animal with a zebra due to the brilliant black and white striped patterns on its front and hind legs; it is actually the closest living relative to the giraffe. The markings act as a kind of “follow me” sign so that offspring can stay close to their mothers in the dark central African forests they inhabit. The thick coat that covers most of the Okapi’s body is velvety and very oily. The adult has a 14-18 inch long, prehensile tongue, stands at over six feet tall, and weighs between 400-700 pounds.

Guests can now view the female calf and her mother out in their habitat daily, weather permitting. The female calf brings the Zoo’s Okapi group to four, including mother Opey, father Jackson, and a four-year-old male Okapi born in August 2013 named Berani. Berani was the first calf ever born at the L.A. Zoo since the species was added to the Zoo’s collection in 2005.

25 Jan 22:01

Larry Nassar Sentenced To 40 To 175 Years In Prison

by Lauren Theisen on Deadspin, shared by Julianne Escobedo Shepherd to Jezebel
Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison today by Judge Rosemarie Aquilina for 10 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. The sentence came down following the seventh day of victim impact statements in the Ingham County, Mich., courtroom, after 156 women spoke in open court about the damage done by Nassar’s serial sexual abuse of them, done under the guise of providing them with medical treatment. Nassar, who already is serving time in prison after pleading guilty on child pornography charges, will have this sentenced added on to the 60 years he is currently already serving in federal prison. If he somehow ever gets out, he’ll have to register as a sex offender.

“Your decision to assault was calculated, precise, devious, despicable,” Aquilina said. “You played on everyone’s vulnerability. I’m not vulnerable.”

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“You do not deserve to walk outside a prison again,” she added. “I just signed your death warrant.”

Nassar was a prominent doctor for decades within both USA Gymnastics and the Michigan State athletics department, where he provided medical treatment to collegiate athletes and Olympic champions. Throughout his career, he took advantage of his position to sexually abuse more than a hundred women and young girls, at times even with their parents in the room.

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Despite multiple complaints by victims, nothing was done. Nassar’s abuse lasted for decades, with victims who say they were abused as far back as the early 1990s, and at ages as young as six years old. Even after a criminal investigation by Michigan State police, the abuse continued, and Nassar remained employed.

Nassar was let go by USA Gymnastics in July 2015, and finally fired by Michigan State in September 2016, after reporting by the Indianapolis Star set off a wave of women coming forward speaking out about what Nassar had done.

“There has to be a massive investigation as to why there was inaction, why there was silence,” Judge Aquilina said. “Justice requires more than what I can do on this bench.”

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Today’s sentencing is not expected to be Nassar’s last appearance in a Michigan courtroom. He still is charged with three additional counts of criminal sexual conduct in Eaton County, for which he’s already pleaded guilty. He’s scheduled to be sentenced for those crimes on Jan. 31.

24 Dec 02:47

Qantas names The Boss Baby its No. 1 movie (to watch on a plane)

by Katie Rife

The advent of those little TVs embedded into the back of airplane seats has been a rare act of benevolence by otherwise diabolical commercial airlines, allowing passengers to at least pick which movie or TV show they want playing six inches from their noses while crammed into a pressurized metal tube hurtling through…

Read more...

07 Dec 10:14

The ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy is down to a precious $6 right now

by Christine Erickson
The Lord of the Rings

Even a penny-pincher like Smog couldn’t refuse this deal. Thanks to the Black Friday/Cyber Monday week of discounts, you can pick up the Lord of the Rings trilogies for a mere six bucks on Amazon.

The deal applies to the original theatrical version on Blu-ray, which does not include the hours’ worth of behind-the-scenes interviews and footage that you’ll find in the extended version. But you’ll own all three movies at $2 a piece, which is cheaper than renting. If you’re just looking to satisfy your wanderlust for Middle Earth, this deal really cannot be beat.

Normally listed at $24.98, this discount saves you nearly 80% on an award-winning trilogy and one of the biggest film projects of all time. If $19 off has you eying your shopping cart like Sméagol and the ring, do yourself a favor and grab it now. At that point, it’s for your own safety, really.

Buy it here

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The post The ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy is down to a precious $6 right now appeared first on The Daily Dot.

28 Nov 13:07

The look of violent men

by Claire Downs
Personal essay about the observation of violent men

With a cigarette dangling from his lip, the strange man pointed a gun squarely at my face.

“I’m not afraid of your stupid gun,” I thought, laughing a little and firmly gripping the steering wheel as I sat on Sunset Boulevard. I had lightly honked at him as he swerved out of a gas station parking lot into traffic, narrowly missing my front bumper. And now he had stopped his car, forcing mine to a stop as well. He was turned around in his driver’s seat, waving his weapon at me. Even with the windshields between us, all I could see were his eyes flashing with rage.

A burst. Another burst. Eight bullets total left his gun.

Fiberglass shards from my windshield dusted my shoulders and hair. One bullet punctured and bounced off the headrest beside me. Still, my gaze never left his eyes. I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction. I had seen this look from violent men before.

As quickly as he escalated, he decided it was over. He turned around, kicked his car into high gear, crossed three lanes of traffic, and merged onto the freeway. I never saw him again.

“Do you have ‘beef’ with anybody?” the first officer on the scene asked me as I got out of my car. “No,” I told him, thinking how I wish I could explain away this senseless act of violence as a disagreement with an acquaintance. As a 29-year-old freelance writer in Los Angeles who spends her days rarely leaving her one-bedroom apartment outside of running an errand or going to the gym, I was confident I hadn’t pissed off anyone that much. The only explanation I could come up with was that I had made the grave mistake of driving while female.

I own a Fiat 500—the adorable, J.Lo-marketed, egg-shaped vehicle that was voted “Sexiest Car” by women in 2008. Jalopnik has called it “overtly feminine,” and one man, on a thread on car blog Piston Heads, dared to ask, “Can a Fiat 500 ever be a bloke’s car??” The answer to that question comes in loud and clear whenever my boyfriend drives mine. “People tailgate me, cut me off, and honk twice as often. When they pass me, they’re always surprised it is a man driving the car,” he once told me. But I didn’t buy my Fiat for its gendered sex appeal; I bought it because it was cheap and small enough to parallel park in L.A.

The detectives continued to question me, insisting I wasn’t victimized just because I’m a woman. “He probably just got spooked,” one speculated.

I went home, took a shower, and spent the day watching #MeToo status updates from female friends populate my feeds. Woman after woman testified to the times she had suffered because of the imposition, rage, and domination of men. It wasn’t until two weeks later, when I received a call from a detective, that my suspicions were validated.

The attack was premeditated. Security footage showed the man sitting in the gas station parking lot well before making his move. “He was waiting for someone, someone like you,” the detective said. My feminine car, my skimpy gym clothes, and lack of a male passenger screamed “vulnerable young woman.” There was nothing I could have done differently. To the officer’s dismay, this wasn’t as enlightening a moment for me as it seemed to be for him.

I wasn’t at all surprised.

. . .

The look I had seen on my attacker’s face was very familiar. It’s a look that says, “I’m going to put this bitch back in her place.” It’s the only visual cue we have before a man acts in irrational rage.

I had seen it when I was 18. My high school boyfriend tried to hit me with his car after dropping me off. I had hesitated when he asked if I was cheating on him (I wasn’t). I had seen it four years ago when a man I was dating put his hands on my neck and threatened to kill me during a fight about bills and money. I am the 1 in 4 women who have experienced severe violence by an intimate partner and I am fortunate that neither of those men owned a gun.

I asked Dr. Dewey Cornell, professor of education at the Youth Violence Project at the University of Virginia, if there is a correlation between “a look” man gives and the violent act that follows. Often, the signals of violent actions happen way before an incident occurs, he says, and are usually noticed by family members, friends, and coworkers. In other words, there is already a pattern of anger in the way they handle situations—and then it escalates.

Cornell said when men are distressed over a breakup, for example, they “develop feelings of anger, rejection, humiliation, and desperation that they find intolerable. Our society does little to help them cope and expects men to just get over it on their own. We pay the price when many of these men resort to violence.”

If we need further evidence that men under distress—men who have never had healthy feelings about women—take their rage out on strangers, look no further than mass murderers. Less than a month after my attack, a gunman opened fire on a Texas church, killing more than two dozen people in the worst mass shooting in the state’s history. The shooter, Devin P. Kelley, had a history of domestic violence, which included strangling his wife.

In fact, nine the top 10 most deadly mass shooters in modern America committed violence against women, threatened violence against women, or disparaged women. In Everytown for Gun Safety’s exhaustive study on 156 mass shootings between 2009 and 2016, 54 percent were related to domestic or family violence. Men with a history of domestic violence are five times more likely to murder an intimate partner when a firearm is in the house.

It’s clear: Violence against women starts with men learning that it’s acceptable to hate women. It continues when we dismiss men’s angry outbursts as men being men. And it can end with a look of rage and a gun pointing at a woman’s face like mine.

I can’t prove that the man who shot me hated his mom or his girlfriend. I can’t prove he was upset after being rejected by a female boss. I can’t prove that he was using his hatred about a woman in his life and projecting it onto me.

But I know how I felt. His power was a gun and he carried it around with him to make him feel more like a man. My power was earned in my 29 years of being a woman, of dealing with similarly ridiculous instances of male fragility every single day.

And on that day, I decided that I would not give him the power. I had survived this look twice before, and I thought I’d roll the dice again. I was lucky, thankfully lucky.

The post The look of violent men appeared first on The Daily Dot.

27 Nov 18:00

Olive Garden-loving couple to name their daughter Olivia Garton

by Kevin Pang on The Takeout, shared by Kevin Pang to The A.V. Club

This is a love story. About a bond as eternal as never-ending breadsticks, a relationship as grand as the Tour of Italy, a kiss as luscious as fettuccini Alfredo. It is the story of a couple about to welcome their first child into the world with love and hospitaliano.

Read more...

14 Nov 02:36

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos lovers will actually want to marry this red hot mac & cheese

by Brittni Brown

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos lovers will actually want to marry this red hot mac & cheese

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos lovers will actually want to marry this red hot mac & cheese

One snack food we can’t get enough of is Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. It’s like, regular cheetos were good and then they added that tiny bit of flamin’ kick to create the veritable holy grail of snacks. Yep, they’re just that good. So obviously it’s time to take other foods to the next flamin’ hot level and add Cheetos into our favorite recipes.

If mac & cheese was good before, wait until Flamin’ Hot Cheetos mac & cheese hits your lips. Your life will never be the same again. Watch the video below for the recipe, but be warned, one look and you’ll be running to the nearest grocery store to clear their Cheetos shelf. Trust in Flamin’ Hot Cheetos; they’re going to change your mac & cheese experience forever.

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Mac & Cheese

Active 30 min. Total 1 hour, 20 min.

Ingredients:

16 oz. uncooked large elbow macaroni
4 cups whole milk
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 3/4 cups Cheetos Crunchy Flamin’ Hot Cheese-Flavored Snacks, divided
1/2 cup (4 oz.) unsalted butter, divided
8 oz. pepper Jack cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
8 oz. Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook pasta according to package directions; set aside.
2. Bring milk to a simmer in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium. Remove from heat, and stir in salt, cayenne, black pepper, and 2 cups of the Cheetos. Cover and let stand 30 minutes.
3. Transfer milk mixture to a blender and process on high speed until smooth.
4. Melt 1/4 cup of the butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high. Add milk mixture, and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened, 5 to 6 minutes. Add cheeses, and cook, stirring constantly, until cheeses melt. Add cooked pasta, and stir to combine. Spread mixture in a greased 13- x 9-inch glass baking dish.
5. Place remaining 3/4 cup Cheetos in a ziplock plastic freezer bag. Seal bag, and beat with a rolling pin until roughly crushed.
6. Melt remaining 1/4 cup butter in a skillet over medium-high. Add crushed Cheetos, and cook, stirring occasionally, until crispy and fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Spread evenly over macaroni mixture. Bake in preheated oven until bubbly and heated through, about 20 minutes.

13 Nov 12:06

Why Working Women With Migraines Suffer in Silence

by Libby Watson on Splinter, shared by Joanna Rothkopf to Jezebel
Illustration: Jim Cooke/GMG

I had my first migraine when I was 10, on vacation with my dad at a resort in France. Being with my dad and his wife always meant pretending to cope, which turns out to be good preparation for life as a migraine sufferer. The migraine got serious while I was trying to drink a Coke float. The fake whipped cream on top, which I would under normal circumstances squirt straight into my mouth, revolted me. I threw up a couple hours later, after waking in the dark, crying. I haven’t had a Coke float since.

Since I was 16, I’ve averaged one full-blown migraine a week. It’s often more, and I usually have a headache at least a few days every week. If I catch it early, sometimes ibuprofen or Excedrin and sleep can work. If I don’t, I take Maxalt tablets or Zomig nasal spray, which burns my nose and makes my entire body sensitive to touch and gives me nightmares, but when I wake up, I’m able to sit up and slouch to the living room. The pain is still there, but it no longer has the raging, demonic quality of a migraine. It’s tamed, like a werewolf becoming a regular-ass wolf that still kinda wants to kill you.

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Without prescription medications, I can’t imagine my life. On the rare occasion that I have to suffer through a migraine without them, I spend hours lying on my side in the dark, trying desperately not to move or even breathe, listening to Frasier on Netflix; or sometimes forcing myself to get up and walk around, crying and shivering, trying to make myself throw up through the agony of moving, and get it over with more quickly. My boyfriend can’t even stroke my hair without hurting me.

I’ve tried every class of preventive medication and found none were good enough to make it worth the side effects, which have ranged from feeling sluggish and generally dumb to losing my hair in clumps. I get Botox injections every 12 weeks, which help a bit. I don’t drink alcohol or coffee, but every other trigger that some old guy tells me to avoid seems not to matter. Nevertheless, they persist.

Yet my situation is unimaginably good compared to many, many other women with migraine, because of one key difference: paid leave. I can take a day off when I have a migraine. It sucks, and it makes me a worse journalist—this piece itself has been delayed about two weeks because I’ve had so many migraines—and I feel guilty and anxious every time, but I don’t lose a day’s wages. For millions of women—and migraine affects women at a much higher rate than men—that isn’t the case. They struggle through their work to make ends meet, and they hide their suffering. They go on because they have to.


Migraine is a shockingly common condition, considering how little is known about what causes it (the current thinking is changes in brain chemistry). It is not, as anyone who’s had one will tell you, ‘just a headache.’ It’s a vicious collection of miserable symptoms, which can include nausea and vomiting, obscured vision, tingling in the hands and feet, or even aphasia, the loss of speech. It is often deeply debilitating. Symptoms vary across individuals. Some people don’t even get the characteristic head pain. 37 million Americans suffer from it, with around 2-3 million of those being chronic sufferers, defined as 15 or more headache days a month.

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There’s no mandatory paid sick leave in the U.S.. People with low incomes are less likely to have paid leave, and desperately needing each paycheck makes it harder to take unpaid leave. They’re also less likely to have good insurance, or even any insurance, making it harder to access necessary medications and the care of a neurologist. Migraine is also more prevalent among low-income people: 18 percent of women in the United States suffer from migraines, but 37 percent of women with incomes below $22,500 get migraines.

Depending on the severity of the condition, migraine sufferers may be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), meaning employers have to provide reasonable accommodations like a dark room. But the burden falls on individual migraine sufferers to make sure their employers are following the rules: Do they have the resources, and the mental and physical energy, to take their employer to court if their boss won’t provide a dark room for them? A 2012 decision by the Tenth Court of Appeals ruled that a migraine sufferer working in a doctor’s office was not covered by the ADA because her condition was only aggravated by that particular job—essentially, the court was telling her to get a different job that didn’t cause migraines. That decision didn’t mean migraines were not a disability under the ADA, but it did establish a stricter test for proving that an individual’s migraines are disabling.

Migraine sufferers face a similar problem in applying for Social Security benefits. Migraine is not listed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in its “blue book,” the list of medical conditions that it uses to determine whether applicants for disability payments are eligible. Robert Shapiro, a neurologist at the University of Vermont and a member of the American Migraine Board, told me that migraine sufferers can be eligible for disability payments, but the condition’s absence from the listing means patients have to show that their impairment is comparable to a condition that is listed; this usually means epilepsy.

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The Social Security Administration said in a statement that “Social Security’s medical equivalence rules, specifically as they relate to listing 11.02 pertaining to epilepsy, represent the most appropriate way to evaluate migraine headaches. Although migraine headache is not a listed impairment, we recognize that in some cases, migraine symptoms may persist despite treatment.” The fact migraine isn’t a listed impairment raises the burden on sufferers trying to get disability payments, said Shapiro.

One woman I spoke to has first hand experience with this struggle. It took Jaime Sanders, a mother of three from Fredericksburg, VA, nine years to get full disability coverage for her chronic migraines.

“I can’t call in sick from being a mom.”

Jaime started getting migraines when she was a child, but once she got pregnant with her third child, at age 24, they started coming once a month or so. During her first trimester, she “spent the entire three months with a migraine every single day.” It wasn’t until 2005, when she was 27, that she was diagnosed as having chronic migraines. That’s when she first applied for disability payments from the Social Security Administration.

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Her chronic migraine was at its worst then, she said, when her kids were young. Her husband worked nights, meaning it was up to her to attend parent-teacher conferences, go on field trips, and so on. “I was always the one doing that and I was always doing it with a migraine.”

They denied her “right off the bat.” She appealed, and was denied again. A year later, she tried again, and was denied again. At that point, Jaime turned to a disability law firm, which took her case and got her a hearing before a judge.

That judge, she told me, was “completely unsympathetic” and “very callous.” At one point, the judge asked her why she had her third child if she had migraines, even though, before that pregnancy, her migraines were much less severe, and were manageable with over-the-counter medication—and, of course, having migraines doesn’t disqualify you from motherhood. “All I could do was just kind of stand there,” she told me; “I couldn’t believe he asked me that question.” The judge gave her a partial award, giving her disability from 2007 onwards. It took four years of appeals and another hearing to finally get her awarded disability payments dating back to 2005, and she told me that her depression, anxiety and fibromyalgia also played a role in that decision. Chronic migraine alone wasn’t enough.

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After all those years of fighting, of compiling documentation and attending hearings and being denied over and over again, Jaime gets her payments, but she says they’re “a drop in the bucket.” She told me she receives less than $1000 a month. Her husband, a police officer, earns most of the family’s income. She feels guilty for not being able to contribute more, but “he never makes me feel guilty or makes me feel bad or blames me or anything, which I appreciate, because there are a lot of people who don’t have that support.”

Her migraines are better managed since she started seeing a headache specialist, who put her on a regimen of preventive and abortive medications. But the migraines are still there, more than 15 days a month. She writes about her experience with migraines at her blog, The Migraine Diva. And, through it all, every day, she’s still a mom.

“I’ve always had to push through everything in order to get it done, and it didn’t look like I was sick, but I was in the worst pain ever doing these things. I don’t stop being a mom because my head is killing me. That’s one of the things people just don’t understand, we’re basically forced to push through our pain sometimes, because there’s no other options. I can’t call in sick from being a mom.”


Millions of women who get migraines remain in the workforce. And many of the women I spoke to said they go to work even when they have a migraine. Chelsy, who makes around $17,000 a year working at a history museum in Charleston, SC, says she will “usually try to grin and bear it. It’s hard.” Chelsy said she can go home if others are there to cover her shift, but will sometimes “miss work even though I need the money.”

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Another woman, Allissa, has “had to blackout my office and crawl under my desk and sleep (like George freaking Costanza) until the ocular hallucinations pass.” Grace, a lecturer at City Tech college in New York, said she could cancel a class, but she’s “never done this. I can’t imagine a scenario in which I would at City Tech, since it’s my first semester here, and I don’t want to give them a reason not to keep me around.” She does not have paid leave, and though she can miss a class in an emergency, it’s “highly discouraged.”

​”They last for three days and include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound. ​But the main symptom is excruciating pain concentrated mostly behind my eyes. ​I’m completely bedridden ​for those three days​, unable to complete even household tasks, much less work, as staring at a screen is impossible.​”

Many women with migraine are also primarily responsible for caring for their children or, in some cases, a parent. Patricia, from Las Vegas, looks after her mother, who has Parkinson’s. She also works from home as a transcriptionist. Her mother also has a back injury, so her “pain, affected posture, and lack of balance creates a challenge for her in performing even simple actions like standing to cook herself a meal, or light housecleaning tasks.” And when Patricia has a migraine, she can’t help out; she feels “helpless” at these times. Allissa, a single mom, now has paid sick leave, but often can’t use it for herself and has to save it for when her child is sick.

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It’s not just needing the paycheck that forces these women to work through their pain. Shapiro said there is still a “very high level of stigma towards people with migraines,” particularly from employers, discouraging sufferers from being open with their employers about their condition. A survey of employers in the United Kingdom last year found that only 22 percent thought migraine was an adequate reason to call in sick. Even when employers are understanding, migraine sufferers can still feel anxious about taking time off. Desiree, a grad student from Texas making around $20,000 a year, said that though most of her professors have been understanding, she still feels guilty, “as though people will think I’m faking or making excuses.”

Marie, who lives in Chicago, now works from home but used to work in an office. When she had migraines at the office, she would only leave if “it was absolutely necessary or if a migraine got to the point that it soon wouldn’t be safe for me to drive myself home”:

I worried that my boss would think I was lying or using it as an excuse to get out of work. Besides maybe outwardly shying away from light and loud sounds, there’s no way for me to prove to another person that I am indeed in incredible amounts of pain, and if they don’t suffer from migraines also it can be hard for other people to understand the severity of the situation.

Shapiro said that’s a key problem for migraine sufferers. There aren’t any outward signs of migraine, unless you happen to catch a person mid-vomit. The only way to diagnose migraine is asking people what their symptoms are; there’s no blood test or MRI that will diagnose migraine. It’s also episodic, meaning when you don’t have a migraine, you don’t experience or display any symptoms.

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Worse still, migraine sufferers learn not to display any signs of their illness for fear of being thought weak. According to Shapiro, the expectation about pain is that “if you don’t have crying and wincing and carrying on, that your pain can’t really be there.” But that’s “completely contrary” to how migraine sufferers present themselves; instead, they learn to hide it.

“I almost always try to work through them and ignore my symptoms for as long as possible. This works in a sense but often my work is slower and sloppier than it would be if I were at 100%.”

Research backs that up. A survey by the Migraine Research Foundation found only 42 percent of workers who have had to miss work for migraine tell their bosses the truth about their condition, quite contrary to the notion that people fake migraines to get out of work. Marie, for example, told me she tries not to mention it to her clients because she doesn’t want it to prevent her getting work. Xenia, who lives in London, says she “wasn’t very open about this issue for a long time, because often people don’t really understand the full extent to migraines, they think you’re exaggerating, or lying to get out of work.”

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Part of why migraine isn’t taken seriously might simply be the use of language. The word “headache” is used to denote a minor annoyance—‘this traffic is a real headache,’ for example. Migraines being primarily known as headaches, Shapiro said, “can only devalue one’s sense about whether or not migraine itself is something important.” It’s hard not to notice, too, that migraine isn’t taken seriously and also predominately affects women. Shapiro said migraine was historically seen as a mental condition, “a character flaw, a weakness, typically associated with women.”

America’s private, employer-based health insurance system, and unequal access to adequate and affordable care, also limits many sufferers’ treatment options. Treating severe or chronic migraine requires visiting a neurologist or headache specialist, which costs money. Preventive (daily) and abortive (taken when the migraine hits) medications cost more money. Some treatments that have been shown to be very effective, like Botox injections administered every three months, are several thousand dollars without insurance; if you have insurance with a high deductible, you still might pay hundreds of dollars each time.

So low income women turn to other options. Alissa said her “work insurance over the past couple of years has had high deductibles, so yoga breathing, taking herbs and ibuprofen and putting ice cubes on pressure points is what I do. And crying. A lot.” Patricia said she doesn’t have insurance anymore and can’t access the prescription meds she used to get, so she relies on “massive doses of caffeine” or Excedrin.

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The lack of good insurance and access to specialists can mean over-the-counter painkillers are often the only thing that provides relief, but overusing these can make migraines worse, an effect known as medication overuse headache. It’s a vicious circle, one that’s only made worse by the pressure to work. Grace said she gets through a bottle of 100 extra-strength Excedrin every 3-4 weeks. Reducing or even going cold turkey on these medications will eventually improve migraines caused by overuse, but, in the meantime, the pain will get worse. That is an unappealing enough prospect by itself—how are you supposed to go through that if you have to work, too?


The suffering caused by chronic migraines goes far beyond the crushing head pain, the dizziness, the vomiting. They weigh on every aspect of your life. They stop you from cooking, cleaning, bathing. They stop you from seeing your friends, going to concerts, enjoying a day at the beach. They condemn you to wasting hundreds of hours of life in bed, sleeping or just silently suffering in the dark.

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Sometimes, the migraine doesn’t stop you, because you have no choice. You make the pain worse because you have to pay rent or feed yourself, or just because you feel guilty, because you put it off for three days that week already and it’s still there. No matter how supportive your friends and family, or your employers, are, living with migraines means living with constant guilt, and the fear that other people are judging you. You apologize profusely—“I’m so sorry that I cannot do the thing you need, but my brain is on fire and I can’t see”—and you mean it.

There’s no policy fix for that, but there are policy fixes that would lighten that burden. Mandatory paid sick leave would give migraine sufferers the economic freedom to take a day off when their migraines are at their worst, even if they end up suffering through them some of the time. Adding migraine to the Social Security blue book would help provide some safety net for the most disabled migraine sufferers. Single payer healthcare would help more migraine sufferers gain access to the care they need, including the most appropriate medications and long-term treatment by a neurologist.

These are policy fixes that would help everyone, especially the poor, women, single parents, and people with other chronic illnesses. But the impact for those with migraine, one of the most prevalent debilitating conditions, would be massive. Migraine is a lonely disease—a living nightmare raging inside your head, invisible to everyone else, that makes it painful to just be alive. Millions of women have been gritting their teeth and marching on through their nightmares to get by. It’s long past time to help them out.

13 Nov 05:59

New from Tracy Do: Sante Fe Style and Gorgeous Views in Mt. Washington

by The Eastsider
Kevespada

ugh i went to a party at this house once it's so nice

Sponsored Post

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13 Nov 05:51

The Mad Scientist Behind That Creepy, Viral, Long-Legged Bear Explains Himself

by Jennings Brown on Gizmodo, shared by Whitney Kimball to Jezebel
Screengrab: Amazon

This week, cursed images of an enormous stuffed animal with legs seemingly made to strangle you in your sleep spread across the internet after a Twitter user shared some Amazon reviews of the six-and-a-half-foot Joyfay Giant Teddy Bear. Some shoppers assumed they were ordering a larger version of a childhood teddy, but were disturbed to receive a furry creature with disproportionally long legs.

Posts about the Lovecraftian plushie soon followed from outlets like Boing Boing and Teen Vogue, which described the bear as “nothing short of completely, utterly horrifying.” As one disappointed Amazon customer described the toy:

Hideous! The legs are like 4 feet long making the bear look like a creepy gumby thing. I got this for Valentine’s Day and would have rather had a cheaper more proportional bear...I mean this isn’t even cute.

Who could possibly be behind such a nightmare creature? As it turns out, four scientists—an electrochemist, a photo-chemist, a physicist, and a laser spectroscopist. The co-founders of Joyfay, which sells the bear, were all working on their PhDs at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland when then-photochemistry student Junwei Wang came up with the idea to sell things on Amazon.

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“I was doing an XPS [X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy] experiment, and Junwei came to my lab and tells me that we can maybe start to sell things online and we could actually make more money than we would through this PhD program,” Joyfay co-founder and electrochemist Nikola Matic told Gizmodo. “And while he was working on samples for a photochemical generation of hydrogen, we had two hours to kill since the machine really takes some time so we opened up an Amazon account.”

They listed some items that sold immediately. Soon they began selling “anything and everything online, including these teddy bears,” Matic said. Their business, Joyfay, took off. And once they all graduated around 2014, they stuck with it, and didn’t bother pursuing jobs in the scientific community.

Screenshot: Amazon

But they haven’t abandoned science altogether, according to Matic. “There’s definitely a science behind these giant teddy bears,” he said.

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It comes down to two major factors, one logistical and one psychological. Logistically, if the torso of a giant stuffed animal was bigger, then the cost of shipping USPS would be much more expensive. If they ship a bigger-torsoed bear with FedEx ground, then it would have to be shipped as freight—which is too slow to be included in Amazon Prime. Losing Amazon Prime would hinder sales. But more importantly, Matic explains, they’re just providing the giant bear size that people really want.

“Let me try to convert this into meaningful sentences,” Matic said, attempting to translate his data-driven research into a layman explanation that even a journalist could understand. It begins with why we think teddy bears should have short legs:

Dig deep down and think, “Why is it that anybody buys teddy bears?” There are some answers and they’re quite profound. One of the reasons why people buy teddy bears is because the proportions of the arms and torso and legs are that of a baby. And it’s kind of innate to children to like those kind of proportions. And it’s kind of cute to us. It’s like an axiom: Everybody finds babies to be cute. So normal teddy bears, they maintain these kind of proportions... But in the real world, if you had babies that were that big, they could not walk and they couldn’t hold their head.

So if a giant teddy bear should not have the proportions of a giant baby, then what? Well, when Joyfay first began selling giant bears back in 2011, most of the sales were around Valentine’s Day. Matic shared a Google Trend search that showed that searches for “giant teddy bear” do spike annually around early February.

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“When a boyfriend buys a girlfriend a large teddy bear, then this large teddy bear is kind of a replacement. We have lots of folks, they went to Iraq and they were deployed and they bought their wives or girlfriends a giant teddy bear,” Matic said, explaining that the girlfriend customer base seems to prefer the longer legs.

Screenshot: Amazon

“You conclude that the legs are long,” Matic said referring to my initial email to him, in which I asked why the legs are so long. “Long compared to what? Is it long compared to what you would have in your mind what traditional small teddy bears should be like? People just assume that they’re right because it’s like that. But then again, it has a different function.”

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Whatever that function may be, some reviewers did seem disappointed that the legs were longer than they expected when ordering. But Matic said some of the images posted by customers “kind of misrepresent how it actually looks” because of the unflattering angle. While most Joyfay’s promotional images of the giant teddy bear do show a head-on angle that make the legs appear shorter, Matic showed me one side-angle shot of the bear that he said looks more normal.

Image: Joyfay

See, totally normal.

09 Nov 10:42

This Is What Happens When You Deliver A Baby On Halloween

by James Gould-Bourn

Batman gets all the credit for being an awesome guy, but while he might be good at kicking ass and keeping the world safe, you don’t see him delivering babies, do you? No, but as you can see from these awesome pictures, The Joker clearly has a softer side that the Caped Crusader.

Bruce Wayne’s arch nemesis was recently snapped at Henry County Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, where he helped Brittany Selph deliver her baby girl Oaklyn, and on Halloween no less. OK, so it wasn’t actually The Joker, but it sure did look like him! The man behind the mask was in fact doctor Paul Locus, an obstetrician who happened to be on duty in full Halloween gear when the expectant couple arrived to give birth. Paul offered to remove his outfit but Brittany and her husband Joseph weren’t about to lose the chance to have their daughter delivered by the creepy green-haired villain! “We couldn’t help but laugh, when he walked in the room!” Justin said. “My wife, being the open-minded woman, with a sense of humor, thought it would be hilarious to have such a unique delivery.” The pictures were posted online by a cousin of Brittany’s, and they soon went viral for a very good reason! Would you have your baby delivered by The Joker? Let us know in the comments below!

Giving birth is already a pretty traumatic experience, but how about having The Joker deliver your child?

That’s precisely what happened in Nashville recently when Brittany Selph went to the hospital to give birth

She’d gone into labor on Halloween, and she arrived to find the doctor dressed as Batman’s arch nemesis

“We couldn’t help but laugh, when he walked in the room!” said her husband Justin

The doctor offered to remove his costume but the couple said no way!

“My wife, being the open-minded woman, with a sense of humor, thought it would be hilarious to have such a unique delivery”

Why so serious? These guys certainly weren’t!

Watch The Joker in action below:

The internet thought the whole thing was hilarious

30 Oct 03:04

Langur Babies Debut at Los Angeles Zoo

by Chris Eastland
Kevespada

I! Got! A! Post! On! ZooBorns!

Francois Langur Baby Photo 1 of 5 by Jamie Pham

The Los Angeles Zoo welcomed two bright orange male François’ Langur babies this summer. The first born was on June 23 to eight-year-old mother Vicki Vale and the second on July 12 to five-year-old mother Kim-Ly. The infants recently joined their mothers and 19-year-old father Paak in the outdoor habitat, a dense forest filled with tall trees and plenty of branches for climbing and swinging. The babies will eventually be introduced to the rest of the family on exhibit, 26-year-old female Mei-Chi and two-year-old Tao.

Francois Langur Baby Photo 2 of 5 by Jamie Pham
Francois Langur Mom and Baby Photo 3 of 5 by Jamie PhamPhoto Credit: Jamie Pham

“We’re very excited for guests to be able to observe this blended family in their new group dynamic,” said Roxane Losey, Animal Keeper at the Los Angeles Zoo. “Once the two boys are a little older, they will join their brother Tao and things will probably get a little rough and tumble when they play. These Monkeys are very acrobatic and like to jump and leap from branch to branch.”

The Monkey babies have a long tail, striking eyes, and orange and black fur that will fade to full black over time. François’ Langur infants nurse for close to a year, so they can often be seen in the arms of their mothers. This sometimes proves difficult for mother Vicki Vale who suffered a past injury that left her with limited mobility on her left side. Vicki Vale’s baby has adapted to the unique situation by sometimes hoisting himself onto his mother’s back to leave her hands free when navigating the branches in the habitat. This is not a trait you would find in the wild, as it leaves the baby open to capture by predators or being knocked down by tree branches. 

The babies will also spend time with the other adult female members of the group through a practice called alloparenting. This trait lets young females  gain experience caring for infants and builds bonds within the troop. It also gives mom a break! Sometimes, though, the animals disagree over how to raise the babies or how they interact with each other.

“The whole family will have minor squabbles from time to time, but you will actually see them come to each other and make up, sometimes with a hug,” said Losey. “You won’t see a lot of Monkeys with this hugging behavior, but Francois’ Langurs are a very gentle species.”

Native to southern China and northeastern Vietnam, François’ Langurs feed on shoots, fruits, flowers, and bark collected in the treetops or on the forest floor. François’ Langurs are listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List due to deforestation and illegal capture for use in traditional Asian medicines sold on the black market.

See more photos of the baby Langurs below.

Francois Langur Mom and Baby Photo 4 of 5 by Jamie Pham
Francois Langur Mom and Baby Photo 5 of 5 by Jamie Pham


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23 Oct 19:02

Now you can donate to build a statue for the first cat to fly in space

by Josh Katzowitz
Felicette the space cat

For some reason, the first dog to fly to space and the first monkey to fly to space get so much more press than their feline colleague. You might have heard the names and the stories of Albert the monkey (the first living creature sent to space by NASA in 1949) and Laika the dog (sent by the Russians in 1957).

But you might not know the story of Félicette, who visited space in 1963 and returned to Earth unharmed (unlike either Albert or Laika). She was sent by the French space agency, and as the Huffington Post writes, she flew 97 miles above Earth for 12 minutes with five minutes of weightlessness.

Now, a British man wants to give Félicette her due by building a statue of the feline in Paris, and he’s created a Kickstarter page to make it happen. Matthew Serge Guy’s goal is $52,782, and as of this writing, 126 backers have pledged $13,024.

As Guy wrote on the Kickstarter page, “It’s a shame Félicette story isn’t more widely known. And that the few commemorations she has received are miscredited to Félix (who actually never existed at all). With other animal astronauts having statues and lasting memorials, we think Félicette deserves one too.”

As for what the statue might look like, Guy isn’t sure. But he posted some early sketches to give his potential backers an idea.

Cat rocket statue sketches Photo via Kickstarter

The post Now you can donate to build a statue for the first cat to fly in space appeared first on The Daily Dot.

20 Oct 18:10

Blind Items Revealed #5

by ent lawyer
Kevespada

:-[

March 8, 2017

Someone who recently had sex with this former Downton Abbey star said the sex was in the dark and one position and the actress never made a sound or said a word. The guy said it was kind of creepy. Yeah, not creepy enough to stop though. My guess is the guy had performance issues because of all the drugs he takes and is trying to make himself look better.

Michelle Dockery
20 Oct 17:21

Is it okay to dress up as Disney’s Moana for Halloween if you’re white? Here’s one mom’s take

by Lauren Saccone

Is it okay to dress up as Disney’s Moana for Halloween if you’re white? Here’s one mom’s take

Is it okay to dress up as Disney’s Moana for Halloween if you’re white? Here’s one mom’s take

As Halloween draws nearer, more and more people are thinking about their costumes. But as we ponder the best outfit, it’s important to be aware of a serious Halloween issue: cultural appropriation. And one mom tackled the issue head on when her (white) daughter wanted to go as Moana for Halloween.

An astonishing number of costumes come rife with elements of appropriation (taking elements of a marginalized culture and using them for yourself when you are in a position of privilege). While many of us are mindful of this issue, the problem can be more complicated when it comes to characters our kids love and want to emulate, but who are also of traditionally marginalized races and ethnicities. This mom blogger is speaking out on the topic,

Sachi Feris is a blogger who identifies as white for the site Raising Race Conscious Kids, and often writes of how vital it is to start a dialogue about race at an early age. However, even she had some problems navigating her daughter’s desire to dress up as either Elsa from Frozen or Moana for Halloween. Aware that Moana is a character based on a real culture, she felt she had to tread carefully.

“I had some reservations regarding both costume choices…about cultural appropriation and the power/privilege carried by Whiteness, and about Whiteness and standards of beauty,” Feris wrote. “And so our conversations began: ‘Elsa is an imaginary or made-up character. Moana is based on real history and a real group of people. If we are going to dress up as a real person, we have to make sure we are doing it in a way that is respectful. Otherwise, it is like we are making fun of someone else’s culture.’

Grandma Tala & Moana!! Kicking off our Halloween at @disneyland for Mickeys Halloween Party 🎃#disneyland #mickeyshalloweenparty #moana

A post shared by Jacqui Saldana-Baby Boy Bakery (@babyboybakery) on

The post generated a ton of online discussion. Some parents thought it best to stay clear of any costume that involves a white person dressing up as a person of color, as it invokes a history of offensive practices like black face.

Another commenter had an entirely different perspective:

“Because I am passionate that representation matters in children’s media both so children of color see themselves in art AND because my white Jewish kids should look up to protagonists of color as heroes, I see wanting to dress up as those heroes is a natural extension of the normalization. As long as they aren’t using historically problematic symbols of a culture or race in the costume, I’m good with it.”

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that mean-spirited, disrespectful, or insensitive cultural appropriation has no place in a Halloween costume.

What are your thoughts on this topic?

19 Oct 04:27

Tiny Hedgehog Goes Camping, And His Pics Are The Best Thing You’ll See Today

by Stella
Kevespada

Well!

We know you remember Azuki, the tiny Japanese hedgehog who goes on big adventures. His perky ears, button nose, and delightful roundness is just impossible to forget. Well, Azuki recently traded his cozy dream house in for a set of miniature Coleman camping gear and took a trip to the great outdoors. Equipped with his own tent, kayak, and barbecue, he was all set for success, and pretty much had the time of his life. Just looking at his photos makes us want to get our camp on. It also really, really makes us want a hedgehog. Like, right this second.

Take a ride on the wild side and see the best moments from Azuki’s camping days below, and don’t even try to tell us you’ve ever been as happy as this magnificent little guy.

More info: Instagram

30 Sep 10:10

Tiny Rock Hyrax Triplets Born at Chester Zoo

by Andrew Bleiman
Kevespada

yes

!Rock hyrax triplets born at Chester Zoo (10)

Three baby Rock Hyraxes have made their public debuts at Chester Zoo.  The pocket-sized pups, which are yet to be named or sexed, arrived to mother Dassie and dad Nungu on July 21 weighing just over half a pound (250g) each – no heavier than a bar of soap!

SQUARE Rock hyrax triplets born at Chester Zoo (21)
Rock hyrax triplets born at Chester Zoo (19)Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

Rock Hyraxes may be short in stature but these tiny animals have a surprising genetic link: they are more closely related to Elephants than any other species on Earth. Scientists posit that Hyraxes and Elephants evolved from a single common ancestor.

Rock Hyraxes’ two tusk-like incisor teeth constantly grow, just like the tusks of an Elephant. The two species also have similarly-shaped feet and similar skull structure.  

Small mammals often experience a short pregnancy period, but Rock Hyraxes are different, with their pregnancy lasting more than seven months. The young are well developed when born, just like miniature adults.

David White, Team Manager of small mammals at Chester Zoo said, “Rock Hyraxes have helped conservationists learn so much about the evolution of different animals, and how animals can evolve and adapt to the environments where they live – they really are special little creatures."

In the wild, Rock Hyraxes are known as ‘Rock Rabbits’ or ‘Dassies’ and can be found in large colonies across Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Scientists believe they even have their own form of language, using 20 different vocalizations in particular tones and orders to convey meaning.

More photos below!


As their name suggests, Rock Hyraxes live in rocky terrain, where they use their suction cup-like soles to grip and clamber down steep slopes. Hyraxes don’t drink much water, because they obtain most of the moisture they need from the plants and insects they eat. They have a special eyelid (called a nictitating membrane) for sun and dust protection.  A bulge in each iris acts as a built-in sun visor.

Rock Hyraxes are listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), meaning they are not under threat at this time.

VERT Rock hyrax triplets born at Chester Zoo (23)
Rock hyrax triplets born at Chester Zoo (3)
Rock hyrax triplets born at Chester Zoo (4)
Rock hyrax triplets born at Chester Zoo (13)
Rock hyrax triplets born at Chester Zoo (17)
Rock hyrax triplets born at Chester Zoo (18)
Rock hyrax triplets born at Chester Zoo (20)
Rock hyrax triplets born at Chester Zoo (22)
Rock hyrax triplets born at Chester Zoo (24)

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26 Sep 21:12

White woman who ‘transitioned’ races to Black is back

by Ana Valens

Martina Big, the women who declared she’s “transracial,” is back in the spotlight. The former “model” was first known in Europe for her enormous breast implants, but then stole headlines several months back for undergoing injections to darken her skin. Now, a recent appearance on Maury is giving the world a chance to see just how her racial “transition” is going.

Maury Povich sat down with Big earlier this week, and throughout the interview, Big insisted that she considers herself a Black woman.

“I am Black,” she told Maury’s producer. “That is my race. I can’t wait to go to Africa because I hear the food is tasty!”

Big tried to defend herself, stumbling across her words, but the audience had no room for sympathy. Many were shocked at her statements and visibly offended by her insistence that she could change her race from white to Black, not to mention her complete ignorance of race, racism, and Black culture.

Maury, of course, didn’t let Big off the show without asking some stern questions.

“Everyone who’s watching this, who’s a person of color is going to say it’s not just skin-deep,” Maury told Big during the show, to standing ovations and roaring applause. “Do you think you want to learn about the Black culture, and do you think you can absorb all that?”

“I know, I feel a lot of this stuff,” Big replied.

Maury closed out the show asking Big if she felt like she was offending the Black community by changing her race. Of course, she wasn’t repentant in the slightest.

“I don’t want to offend them,” Big said. “It’s not my intention to offend somebody.”

White people living in blackface made a national splash two years ago when Spokane, Washington’s NAACP president Rachel Dolezal was revealed to be a white woman. Dolezal has since gone on to claim that she faces more oppression than transgender people do because she thinks she’s Black.

While there is much to unpack here with these white women’s assertions, let’s just kept it to science and say both Big and Dolezal somehow missed that unlike with gender, race is not an identity experienced on a neurological level. In other words, no matter what you say, ladies, you’re still white and you’re still deeply offending Black people.

H/T the Root

The post White woman who ‘transitioned’ races to Black is back appeared first on The Daily Dot.

19 Sep 17:19

Snow Leopard Siblings Debut at L.A. Zoo

by Andrew Bleiman
Kevespada

Another one! ^_^

1_LA Zoo Snow Leopard Cubs 8-30-17 by Tad Motoyama

The Los Angeles Zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of two endangered Snow Leopard cubs!

A male and female were born on May 12 and May 13 to a three-year-old mother, Georgina, and a five-year-old father, Fred. The cubs are the first offspring for the adults, who were paired together in July 2015 as a part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP).

The new siblings spent several months behind the scenes bonding with their mother and getting to know the animal care staff. At four months old, the cubs have now gained enough strength and coordination to navigate their outdoor habitat and make their public debut.

“We’re so excited to welcome these cubs,” said Stephanie Zielinski, animal keeper at the Los Angeles Zoo. “There is less known about these beautiful cats than most of the other large cat species due to the extreme habitat Snow Leopards have evolved to live in the wild. This is why it’s such an honor to be able to educate the public and give them the opportunity to observe this elusive species here in Los Angeles.”

The Zoo’s animal care staff began working with the cubs early on, separating the mom for short amounts of time to allow her rest and to help her grow accustomed to animal care staff being around her young. These interactions with the cubs helped animal care staff conduct regular exams, give vaccinations, and eventually lead to an easier transition when introducing the cubs to the outdoor habitat.

2_Snow Leopard Mom & Two Cubs 9-11-17  Photo By Tad Motoyama

3_Snow Leopard Cub Female by Jamie Pham

4_Snow Leopard Cub Male by Jamie PhamPhoto Credits: Los Angeles Zoo / Tad Motoyama (Images: 1,2,5) / Jamie Pham (3,4,6,7)

Snow Leopards in the wild are found in unforgiving environments in the cold, high mountains of Central Asia throughout 12 countries. The habitats range from alpine meadows to treeless, rocky mountains. Due to the high altitudes of its habitat, the animal has evolved to have a large nasal cavity to breathe the thin air and can retain oxygen well. The cats have a thick fur, which allows them to keep warm, and a long tail they can wrap around themselves for added warmth and protection for their ears and face. Their paws have hair cushions that act as snowshoes and also provide protection from sharp rocks. Smoky gray and blurred black markings on the cat’s pale gray or cream-colored coat provide them with handy camouflage in the mountains. Snow Leopards can tolerate extreme temperatures of 104 degrees Fahrenheit down to 40 degrees below zero.

While Snow Leopards have perfectly adapted to the cold, barren landscape of their high-altitude home, human threats have created an uncertain future for the cats. Habitat destruction, prey base depletion, illegal trade, poaching, and conflict with the local people have led to a significant decline with only an estimated population of between 2,000 to 7,000 Snow Leopards left in the wild.

Guests of the Los Angeles Zoo can now visit the cubs, currently weighing in at around 22 pounds each, and see firsthand how energetic and playful they are. The cubs and their mother will transition, on and off exhibit, at various times throughout the day, allowing outdoor time for the adult male Snow Leopard, Fred.

5_LA Zoo Snow Leopard Cub Hiding in the Grass 8-30-17 by Tad Motoyama

6_Snow Leopard Cubs 1st Day on Exhibit by Jamie Pham

7_Snow Leopard Cubs by Jamie Pham

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18 Sep 19:33

A Dadbag That I Made For People Who Want A Dad Bod Without Eating Junk Food

by Albert Pukies

I made the dadbag because I’m desperate to have dad bod but I’m also very concerned about the health risks associated with it. The solution is quite simple, a bumbag with a proper dad belly printed on it. Now I can put on a dad bod whenever I feel like it and even store my valuables in it.

The Dadbag is currently not available to buy, but I’m on the lookout for partners and manufacturers to hopefully go into mass production soon.

More info: thedadbag.com

01 Aug 22:37

Great Job, Internet!: Prehistoric fidget spinner discovered

by Randall Colburn

The world’s fascination with fidget spinners may be dwindling, but that hasn’t stopped the media from debating their peculiarities. Do they really help promote concentration? Are they actually a health hazard? How quickly are they turning our children into literal zombies?

We obsess over them because, well, they’re new. Or at least we think they are. But, as the Book Of Ecclesiastes reminds us, there is no new thing under the sun. Wired’s Arielle Pardes stumbled across what appears to be a fidget spinner dating back to roughly 1800 BC.

This particular spinner, however, featured “animal heads,” marking an evolution of the toy that, based on a cursory Google search, we have yet to exploit.

The image of hyperactive kids in ancient Babylonia seems to have captivated the ...