When Norman Rosenthal moved from Johannesburg to New York City for a psychiatry residency, he found the winters dark and gloomy. It wasn’t until a few years later that he realized the winters might be more than just gloomy. Working in a psychobiology lab in the early ’80s, he tried an observational experiment on an engineer who he knew had bipolar disorder and depression and had had mood swings from mania into sadness for many years. The engineer had kept a log of the changes in his notebooks; it was clear he was typically depressed as the days started to get shorter after the solstice, and then into fall and winter. Rosenthal and his colleagues wondered if light might be able to help, particularly with a stronger exposure than what he’d been getting in office buildings. “We took a rectangular ceiling fixture that had fluorescent lamps in it and rigged it up to stand horizontally,” says Rosenthal. It was a highly primitive light box. Being able to get up close to the source did the trick. With the help of bright lights, the engineer came out of his winter depression, Rosenthal recalls: “It was like watching a law of nature unfolding.”
It is practically common knowledge today that the darkness of winter can make you more depressed than you were before. But back in the ’80s, Rosenthal and his colleagues had to prove it. So they put a notice in the Washington Post, seeking people who had winter mood swings. Twenty-nine fit their criteria and lived close enough to come into their lab for diagnosis and light therapy. In 1984, they published the paper that first described seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. When I spoke to Rosenthal, he was sitting in his office, two large sunlamps bathing him in light.
Who needs a sunlamp? “Many, many more people than you might think,” says Rosenthal. Though SAD is thought to affect a small percentage of the population, people without a clinical diagnosis often aren’t functioning at their full capacity in winter, either, he explains. He knows this because people come into his lamp-illuminated office and feel better. He sees the trend everywhere: A friend in Toronto built a sunroom with large windows, and now it’s their favorite place to hang out. When I lived in (and worked from) a room with a window that was mere feet from a brick wall, my dad mailed me a SAD lamp.
When I spoke to Rosenthal, he was sitting in his office, two large sunlamps bathing him in light.
I turned it on in midday, for indiscriminate amounts of time, in defiance of the instructions (half an hour a day after waking up, sitting a foot away). I couldn’t help it; it was as though my tiny Brooklyn room were suddenly located on a beach. That lamp was pretty large, with kind of stadium-light vibes. While Rosenthal argues for larger lights, as those are the ones that have been used most in studies, the ones in his office are a little bit smaller, a foot-by-a-foot-and-a-half. (He has two.) If you want a large lamp, try Wirecutter’s recommendations; its top pick is the lamp I used previously, and I found it a little less cumbersome when removed from the stand.
But I’ve found that I’m just more likely to keep a smaller lamp sitting out, and therefore, I’m more likely to use it. The Verilux HappyLight, which is the size of an iPad, is what I use today. It sits unassumingly on my windowsill, and is 10,000 lux, which Mayo Clinic psychologist Craig Sawchuk advised me was the most important part. (Most of them are this intensity, but if you get one with a lower intensity, you just need to use it longer to get the same effects.) For me and my inconsistent, nonclinical use of the thing, this is handy. If you’re dedicated to a regular routine and you travel, having an even smaller lamp might be crucial. One company in Sweden made a light therapy system that’s designed around convenience—it comes as earbuds that shine light through your ear canals and, they claim, into your brain. The iPod-like setup is $200, and while there’s a study that suggests they work, it lacks a control group and was funded by the company that makes them. That is also pretty expensive for a light therapy device: Lamps cost as little as $30, and even a very nice, large one can be had for a little over $100.
Despite all the intuitive benefits of light (shining into your eyeballs, at least), whether a sunlamp will be truly helpful for those of us without clinically diagnosed seasonal affective disorder is hard to say. In a pilot study of 54 patients hospitalized for burnout (yes, really), light therapy improved a slew of things: emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and a sense of accomplishment, as the authors write. That said, other small studies on patients with less severe burnout have been inconclusive. And while light therapy didn’t affect the overall depression scores in that pilot study (people with seasonal depression were explicitly screened out) an earlier meta analysis concluded that it might have some positive effects for folks with depression nonetheless.
Like so many things in this world, whether you will benefit from a sunlamp is highly individual. The side effects are minimal, limited to headaches and maybe feeling a little too awake if you use it late in the day (though if you have more than mild mood shifts, check in with a doctor before you experiment). Rosenthal points out that you can basically do your own experiment, using the lamp for a few weeks within a company’s return window. Not a bad deal for having your own personal home star.
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Happy Halloween! Nothing will ever be as spooky as the choices made by members of the entertainment industry during the 1980s. For instance, the video above, which is a 27-minute operetta about a haunted laundromat that somehow stars the great Patti LuPone as a vengeful ghost who emerges from a sinister dryer. She preens like a sudsy Eva Peron! She yells about bleach! She turns somewhat invisible thanks to some cutting-edge effects work! We have the The New Yorker to thank for digging up “Love Cycle: A Soap Operetta,” which was made in 1984 for a PBS series that was to be called Hip Pocket Musicals but never aired, for somewhat obvious reasons.
We also have TheNew Yorker to thank for asking LuPone herself (who believes in ghosts, by the way) about it. “For some reason, I’m haunting this laundromat, and I’m stealing everybody’s socks,” she says. “Yeah, this is a real piece of art.” She is being sarcastic, but she’s also not wrong.
Honestly I've had a hard time with peeps who use they/them despite all my efforts. " Every time they thought of Z, they pictured them with a little pet mouse in their pocket" is a joyful and cute solution.
The question earlier this month about how to get better at using a coworker’s nonbinary pronouns (they/them) attracted hundreds of suggestions in the comments. I’ve compiled some of them here for easy reference (and to share with others if you’d like).
While most of these suggestions are for nonbinary folks, some of them also apply to people switching from he/his/him to she/hers/her and vice versa.
♦ “What I do is I just practice a lot on my own out loud using the correct pronouns. A lot of times in the car or while I am walking the dog (‘This is Alex, they were telling me about the project XYZ”). I also would practice with my husband at home, maybe tell a couple more detailed stories about work than normal (‘Today I was working with Alex on this, and they told me a funny story…’). What helps me most is saying them out loud.”
♦ “It really helped me to read books/listen to podcasts about/by nonbinary people because part of the problem is, it feels ‘wrong’ as we learned not to use pronouns this way. The 57 Bus was one of the first books I read that inspired this, but I also came across this list, which I am working my way through.”
♦ “Look for opportunities to use gender neutral pronouns in reference to other people besides coworker. Like with a dog on the street, think to yourself, ‘Oh they’re so cute!’ ‘they’ve got a scruffy face’ ‘they’re wagging their tail at me!’ Or other people tweeting or other people commenting on places like here! ‘Oh, they’ve got a point.'”
♦ “Here’s what helped me the most: Think of a story/anecdote about you coworker or just something memorable about your coworker. It doesn’t have to be interesting. ‘Lee spilled their coffee today. They had a coffee stain on their sleeve for the rest of the afternoon.’ Act like you’re describing this person or telling a family member the anecdote. Be careful to use they/them pronouns the entire time, even if you have to pause to do so. Repeat it until it the right pronouns come out naturally.”
♦ There is one ‘trick’ I once read about that has always stayed with me. It was a little anecdote about a young person (let’s call them X) who had a good friend (Z) who began to use they/them pronouns, and X’s parent was struggling, at first, to accustom themselves to Z’s change in pronouns. All of a sudden, the parent was getting it right every time, so X asked them how they managed to move so suddenly from struggle to success.
The parent confessed that they used a ‘trick.’ Every time they thought of Z, they pictured them with a little pet mouse in their pocket. This helped the parent get over the stubborn residual associations they had between they/them pronouns and the plural.”
♦ “I’ve used they/them pronouns for several years, and a thing I’ve noticed is that the people who really understand the concept of ‘nonbinary person’ are much better at using the right pronouns for me, because they look at me and see a nonbinary person and then use the right pronoun for the person they see. That’s how gendered language use (and a lot of cultural stuff around gender) works on a subconscious level — we see people, we categorize them, and we speak to them and behave toward them in ways that match the category we’ve put them in. When someone who doesn’t have a ‘nonbinary person’ category sees me — even someone who knows me quite well and is intellectually aware that I’m nonbinary — they’ll categorize me wrong in their head, and then they’ll slip up on pronouns, group me together with people of the gender they think I am, forget that I need an ungendered bathroom, refer to me by gendered parent words when my child is mentioned, and so on. Pronoun use is an important part of respecting your nonbinary colleague, but it’s not the whole of it. You need to see them. You need to make an additional box in your head that says ‘nonbinary person,’ and when you look at your colleague you need to put them in that box. Then you can use the language and behaviors that follow on from being fully aware that you are interacting with a nonbinary person.
…You will also have to develop a lexicon of gender-appropriate behaviors, not just language, for nonbinary people and people whose genders you don’t know. Part of what’s so uncomfortable when you first encounter nonbinary people is that you run into all the ways you unconsciously treat people differently based on perceived gender. The best option in most cases is to lean toward inclusivity, as it benefits binary-gendered people as well. Instead of inviting women to knitting nights and men to golfing days, invite everyone to both, and Chad will knit you a sweater while Sally gives you putting tips. Send a company-wide email saying, ‘We’re going to order loose and fitted company t-shirts from S to 4X, please let me know which you’d like’ rather than assuming you know who will want ‘men’s’ or ‘women’s’ shirts. Hold doors for everyone. Pay everyone fairly! But don’t let inclusivity and generality erase the specific realness of nonbinary identities.
You were taught for a long time that we don’t exist. Retraining your brain is going to take work. But if you put in that work, it will help a ton with treating your colleague respectfully. Once you internalize that your company is a company where at least three genders of people work, you’ll become aware of places where your workplace habits assume only two genders, and you’ll fix them and help your colleague (and other nonbinary colleagues) be more comfortable. Nonbinary people go through life braced for constant, constant misgendering and microaggressions. The absence of those things is tangible, and so wonderful when we encounter it. Even a small inclusive gesture could make your colleague’s day.”
♦ As a nonbinary person, one thing I’ve found I appreciate is when people aren’t thinking about it as ‘just a pronoun,’ but instead are actively learning about what a nonbinary gender means. The way I tell folks is, ‘I use they/them pronouns because nothing else fits. It’s more important to me that you see me as nonbinary than it is to use any particular pronoun. That said, when messing up means you always use feminine pronouns, that tells me you aren’t seeing me as nonbinary.'”
And advice on if you make a mistake:
♦ “If you do make a mistake and someone corrects you, say ‘thank you’ instead of ‘I’m sorry.’ Because the ‘sorry’ will often make the other person feel like they have to respond with ‘It’s okay’ or ‘It’s no big deal’ even when they may not feel that way.”
♦ “A quick correction with a ‘sorry’ or ‘whoops, my mistake’ attached, goes over much better than a long dragged out apology. Basically, don’t make a big deal out of it – all that does is draw attention to the change and the whole point is to move past that change.”
Enter the jade roller: a paint roller–type tool for the face made from solid jade stone that’s been said to decrease puffiness and under-eye circles, and even minimize the look of fine lines. As Maria Tallarico at The Strategist wrote, jade rollers have been used by empresses and members of high society in China since the 17th century, but have recently experienced a boost in popularity in the U.S.
The tool generally features a larger stone for cheeks, jaw and forehead and a smaller stone for under the eyes and around the mouth. To use it, apply gentle pressure while rolling the tool from the center of your face in upward and outward motions.
The gentle massaging motion is supposed to increase circulation and “stimulate the lymphatic system and lymphatic drainage throughout the face,” Jennifer Stoeckert, holistic facialist and creator of Minimal Beauty, told me.
“Whenever there’s stagnant circulation or swelling at all in the face, massage can help that lymph fluid drain into the [proper] channels and away from around your eyes and certain areas where it tends to settle,” she said.
However, she added, “I don’t think you’re going to get the collagen stimulation from a jade roller or massage device that you get from Fraxel on your face, or even microneedling.” (Fraxel treatments use laser technology to treat a broad range of skin damage, from age spots to wrinkles and other signs of aging, while microneedling is a treatment that involves penetrating the skin with tiny needles to help boost collagen.)
“It’s great for acute things like puffiness or redness,” Stoeckert said, noting that the jade stone is cool to the touch, which can be soothing on the skin. Many people, she added, also use the jade roller to help work treatment serums and oils deeper into their skin, while others simply like the ritual aspect of using the tool.
The lymphatic drainage that the roller is meant to stimulate can also help prevent or clear breakouts, Stoeckert said, though Dr. Chwalek was less certain of this claim; she told me she was unaware of a solid connection between acne and lymphatic drainage.
However, she did say that the relaxing properties of using a jade roller could indirectly help breakouts. It’s possible that the massaging motion of the jade roller can, on some level, stimulate certain hormones and have a relaxing effect on one’s well-being and stress levels, which can, in turn, affect acne, Dr. Chwalek explained.
Just be sure to massage gently, as too much pressure could rupture pimples, leading to further inflammation or breakouts. Stoeckert recommended keeping the roller clean by washing it with soapy water after use.
Curiosity about jade rollers got the best of me, so, naturally, I decided to try this seemingly magical beauty tool for myself.
Equipped with a brand new jade roller, I set out to use it every morning for a week, hoping it would result in brighter, less tired-looking skin. (I used this one sold by Minimal Beauty for $19, but other options can run you anywhere from $6.99 to over $60.) I have been plagued with dark under-eye circles since high school and anything that claims to help rid them is on my must-try list.
I woke up on the first morning of the test period excited to give the tool a go. I washed and toned my face then applied my serum or oil ― one of my go-tos is A Complete’s Highly Concentrated Youth Preserve serum― and then began rolling it along my jawline, cheeks and forehead.
Stoeckert recommended using the roller on a clean face, as you don’t want to rub any dirt or makeup deeper into your skin. She also recommended rolling down your neck, too.
“As you drain the face, you want to make sure that all the energy and movement can drain down into the neck and into the lymphatic ducts as well,” she said.
The coolness of the jade felt quite nice on my skin ― it was soothing, as promised. The massaging motion was definitely enjoyable, and I think it helped release tension in my face. (For extra coolness, you can store the roller in the fridge.) While I noticed some very slight redness after rolling the tool over my face, especially on my forehead, it disappeared within seconds.
I didn’t notice my face looking less puffy than it normally does, nor did I see much of a difference in my dark circles, but I did love the feeling of the cold jade under my eyes. Even if I didn’t look more awake, I feltmore awake.
What I liked most about the jade roller was how good it was at working my serum into my face. Generally, after I’ve applied a serum or oil, I’ve always felt like I needed to wait for it to soak in before being able to apply anything else, but after using the jade roller, I was able to apply my moisturizer (I’m currently using Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream) right away.
Overall, there wasn’t a huge difference between my skin on Day 1 and Day 7 (as seen in the photos above ― be nice, that’s what a beauty writer who hates mornings looks like when she rolls out of bed) but I still enjoyed using the jade roller and will probably continue using it, if only for its soothing and relaxing effects.
Stoeckert said that the roller isn’t meant to be be a cure-all.
“One tool or one product or one anything I don’t believe ever cures or fixes anything,” she said. “I’m big into a 360-degree approach ― internal and external ― so the jade tool is a wonderful tool to be part of that approach, as well as understanding how important the lymphatic system is for a glowing complexion and healthy skin.”
All in all, yes, I’d recommend jade rollers, especially if you’re a fan of the ritualistic aspect of sticking to a beauty routine. And in case I haven’t said it enough, the coolness of the jade really did feel great on the skin. For that alone, I’d say it was worth it. And considering there are plenty of affordable options out there, buying a jade roller is a pretty low-stakes investment.
As Dr. Chwalek told me, “I don’t think it will hurt you. And if it’s part of your overall wellness regimen and it makes you feel good, I’d say by all means, go for it.”
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Woman Yelling at a Cat refers to a meme format featuring a screen cap of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cast members Taylor Armstrong and Kyle Richards followed by a picture of a confused-looking cat sitting behind a dinner plate. The format gained significant popularity across the web in mid-June 2019 and the cat was later identified as Smudge the Cat.
I think this woman is bananas. I think we've learned from leftovers stealer guy that I have lax food rules.
It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes:
I am about four months into a new job, and my coworkers have been very nice and easy to work with. However, I am very concerned about the way that they manage food safety. We are going to have a potluck soon and I don’t think I can bring myself to eat anything after witnessing various food-safety related incidents. They also have a tendency to frequently offer leftovers to other departments and guests in our office park, which is making me increasingly worried an unassuming person could get sick.
1. About three weeks into my new job, someone brought a meat/cheese platter to an all-staff meeting. The meeting was postponed to later in the day, so someone left the platter in the conference room for four hours. Then, during the meeting people passed around and ate the visibly sweating and warm meat and cheese. I politely declined each time it was passed to me on account that I had just eaten lunch and I am a vegetarian, but they kept offering the cheese.
2. We had an off-site meeting that had catered sandwiches delivered at 11:30 am. There were a bunch of leftovers but no way for them to be refrigerated. When the meeting ended at 4, I went to throw them away, but my director stopped me. I said they were not safe to eat anymore because we wouldn’t return to the office until 7 pm. He insisted that someone take them to not waste them and ended up dispersing them to other staff and interns. Some of those sandwiches and salads were brought back to the office the next day and shared with other departments.
3. Another higher-up placed raw chicken on the countertops of a break room that is shared with many different companies in my office park. She wiped the juices up with a dry paper towel.
4. Someone brought bagels and cream cheese, and the cream cheese was left out for eight hours a day for three days.
5. When traveling, people left their leftovers in the hot car for five hours and then ate them later in the day.
I am absolutely appalled by the lack of awareness of food safety amongst my peers. I’ve tried politely sharing what I know (I have a ServSafe Manager Certification from a past job), but they laugh it off or argue that food shouldn’t be wasted. I don’t feel comfortable accepting any perishables or honestly unpackaged food based on the incidents I have witnessed.
Aside from being seriously concerned that someone could get seriously ill, between being the only person who declined to participate in an office weight loss challenge (*sigh*) and refusing food offerings, I’m starting to feel like I am alienating myself as a new staff member, or coming across as someone with very weird food behaviors. I’ve even caught myself humoring the idea of scheduling a doctor’s appointment during the potluck so I don’t have to deal with it. I truly have no idea how to handle this.
1. Can you put on your resume that you fired a poor performer?
I’m in a senior leadership role, and when I took over one of the teams in my organization I identified that the direct manager of that team was a great individual contributor but wasn’t really successful in her manager role. I worked with her to figure out her real interests and strengths and helped her to realize that management really wasn’t for her. Then I helped her find a more appropriate role in the organization and hired a great replacement. Happy ending!
I’m applying for a new role in a different organization now, and I want to refer to this as one of my accomplishments, especially because my industry is kind of known for not being good with people (think engineering but not) and I think my strength in that area makes me stand out but it feels wrong to put that on a resume. Should I leave it off or is there a way to say it that won’t feel so *icky*?
I’d leave it off. It’s assumed that as a manager you’ll at times need to coach people out or fire them.
To be clear, actively managing the makeup of your team (which includes not only hiring well but also acting when someone isn’t well matched with their job and managing them out in a respectful way) is a key part of managing well, and a lot of managers are negligent in that area.
But the difference between “handled a normal part of managing with average competence” and “handled a tricky firing with skill and finesse” is hard to to convey on a resume where your space for details in limited, so this is something better saved for an interview.
That’s not to say you couldn’t write something fairly broad like, “Built and managed a high-performing team of seven, including hiring, coaching and developing, and managing out when needed” — but doesn’t really get at what I think you’re trying to convey.
2. I know who our toilet clogger is
For years, there has been a guy on our floor (shared by several departments) who uses ALL the toilet paper every trip to the bathroom. This clogs the toilet beyond what you can even plunge. I mean the bowl is filled with paper, and you have to wait for it to disintegrate in its own time.
No one has done anything official, because we get a lot of outside traffic and it could easily have been a visitor. But I now have firsthand knowledge of who this is, and he is in my department.
What can I do? Put an anonymous “how to wipe yourself” flyer on the stall door? Corner this guy and be like “that was me in the other stall after lunch today; you’re busted, buddy!”? Gossip around the (small) office until he is humiliated into improving his behavior or at least going to another floor? Loudly psychoanalyze the anonymous clogger in the hallway: “Can you imagine being so afraid of your own bodily functions that you need six inches of paper between your hand and your effluvia? I bet that guy wasn’t held enough as a child.” What is there to do? What can any of us do?
If you’re not in management (of people or of the facility), there might be nothing for you to do here. You don’t have to bring this guy to justice. On the other hand, if there’s been a public effort to get this behavior to stop and/or it’s causing real inconvenience to others (it sounds like it might be), you could discreetly bring it to the attention of whoever is unlucky enough to be charged with dealing with this. Not in a “Bob is disgusting” way, but more like, “I know you’ve been trying to figure out the source of our chronic clogs, and I happened to witness it firsthand the other day.”
But no to the anonymous flyers (they don’t work) or humiliating gossip (will make you look unkind) or any kind of vigilante justice (can backfire in ways you don’t anticipate, and just isn’t yours to pursue). If you do anything, bring it to the attention of the person most equipped to address it.
3. My coworker keeps asking for large amounts of money
I started my job in August. Every month since then, my coworker (who sits in my office with me, and it’s a two-person room) has asked me for some money. Now, if this were “Can I borrow €2 for coffee” or so, I’d be fine with it. But it’s significant amounts of money. Once she asked me to transfer her €350 as her rent needed to be paid **today** and she didn’t have it in her account.
Just today, while she has been off sick with a while, I got a message from her: “Hey, you bank with (name of institution), right?” When I told her no, I wasn’t going to give her anything as I have an expensive bill to pay already, she said, “Can’t it wait until Monday for you to pay it?” I found that particularly rude and didn’t respond.
She has also tried it with other coworkers, and has asked a coworker if she could use their car when hers was in the mechanics. However, it’s now making me really uncomfortable to work with her. How can I (gently or otherwise) knock this on the head?
€350! That’s a lot of … audacity.
It sounds like you’ve been telling her no on a case-by-case basis. Try giving her a blanket no: “Jane, please stop asking me for money. I am never going to be able to lend you money, and it’s really uncomfortable having you ask every month.”
If she continues after that, let your boss know this is happening (and that it’s widespread). I’d want to know if I had an employee who was regularly hassling coworkers for money.
4. Should I put voiceover work on my resume?
I currently work as a copy editor for an academic publisher and while I enjoy my role, the publishing cycle is repetitive and having been here over two years I’m editing the same books for the third time running. I think it’s time to move on, as there is no opportunity for upwards progression at my current company.
I’m usually quite confident in my resume-writing skills, but I am wondering whether to include mention of a project I am currently working on, where I ended up doing the voiceover for some digital assets. For context, the company is trying to improve its offerings by producing our content on a digital platform. One of my colleagues is in charge of taking pieces of text and developing them into interactive assets like short videos, infographics, etc. They had a third-party company produce five videos, but the accompanying voiceovers were awful! Knowing I had some experience in acting (prior to my publishing career), my colleague asked if I would lend my voice and I obliged.
Is this the sort of thing I should insert into my resume to show teamwork and adaptability? Or is this something I should only include if it is relevant to the role I am applying for (i.e., an audio book publisher)?
There’s nothing wrong with including it even for roles where it’s not strictly relevant, and you never know where it might end up being relevant in ways you can’t predict from the job ad. But I’d look at it in terms of what you might be bumping to make room for it — if you have much stronger or more relevant qualifications, don’t be afraid to cut it. Or if you already have 10 bullet points of accomplishments for that job, you probably don’t need an eleventh. On the other hand, if your resume isn’t crowded with text and you can keep a pleasing amount of white space even if you add this, it might make sense to.
All that said, I don’t think it’ll show teamwork and adaptability. It’s not that those things weren’t involved, but on a resume it’ll mainly show the ability to do voiceover work.
5. Should I send an email praising my very helpful coworker to her boss?
I started a new job several months ago at a huge company. One of my colleagues (a peer in title, though more experienced than me) has gone above and beyond to help me feel settled, understand processes, and navigate company politics in a candid, respectful way.
I’ve already mentioned to this person how much I appreciate their onboarding help and overall teamwork. Would it be appropriate to take the compliment a step further and let her supervisor know? If so, do you think it’s better to email my colleague and CC her supervisor, or email her supervisor directly (with or without my colleague CC’d)? Is this a thing that’s even done?
I work remotely and am almost never on site, so I can’t mention this feedback to her supervisor in an informal, in-person conversation.
This is indeed a thing that’s done! People pretty much always appreciate it, and it can end up being something that’s mentioned in performance evaluations, etc.
You can do it either way — email her with her boss cc’d or the other way around. Go with whichever feels the most appropriate for the specific message you want to send. (If she were senior to you in role, I might lean toward emailing her with her boss cc’d, but really, either is fine.)
"Kristine Barnett said that Natalia terrorized her family, tried to stab them while they were sleeping, once tried to push her toward an electric fence, and poured bleach in her coffee.
"The media is painting me to be a child abuser but there is no child here," she said.
"Natalia was a woman. She had periods. She had adult teeth. She never grew a single inch, which would happen even with a child with dwarfism. The doctors all confirmed she was suffering a severe psychological illness only diagnosed in adults."
An Indiana couple accused of abandoning an 8-year-old Ukrainian girl they adopted say she was actually a 22-year-old mentally disturbed woman.
After a five-year investigation, Kristine and Michael Barnett were charged last week with neglect of a dependent in Tippecanoe County; both are out on bond.
But Kristine Barnett says her family was scammed in a situation eerily similar to the plot of the horror movie "Orphan," in which a mentally disturbed adult poses as an orphan who's taken in by a vulnerable family.
Fox 59 and the Daily Mail reported that the Barnetts adopted a Ukrainian-born girl named Natalia in 2010. At the time, she was believed to be as young as 6 years old, according to the Daily Mail.
Kristine Barnett said that she and her now ex-husband agreed to an emergency adoption in Florida in 2010. She said they didn't know many details about Natalia's background but were told that her previous adoptive parents gave her up for undisclosed reasons.
Kristine Barnett said that Natalia terrorized her family, tried to stab them while they were sleeping, once tried to push her toward an electric fence, and poured bleach in her coffee.
"The media is painting me to be a child abuser but there is no child here," she said.
"Natalia was a woman. She had periods. She had adult teeth. She never grew a single inch, which would happen even with a child with dwarfism. The doctors all confirmed she was suffering a severe psychological illness only diagnosed in adults."
It's difficult to record Natalia's age accurately without a birth certificate because of her condition
Natalia has a type of dwarfism called spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia, which makes her age difficult to accurately record without a birth certificate. Though she was said to be 6 when the Barnetts adopted her in 2010, NBC News said it saw hospital records showing her age as about 8 in June 2010.
WISH-TV reported that the Barnetts put Natalia in an apartment in Lafayette in July 2013, then moved to Canada the following month. Kristine Barnett told the Daily Mail that she helped her get a Social Security number, apply for an ID, and get food stamps.
It's unclear how Natalia fended for herself in the years she was alone. An unnamed law-enforcement source told WLFI-TV that neighbors "took her under their wing."
Michael Barnett told officers that he and Kristine Barnett paid rent on the apartment but did not provide Natalia extra funds, The Washington Post said.
WISH-TV said it obtained court documents saying Natalia was evicted in May 2014 after not paying rent. She left no forwarding address but was found that September after a school principal grew concerned. Based on medical records, she would have been 12 or 13 at the time, but because the Barnetts had her age changed, she was legally in her mid-20s.
She told officers she had not seen the Barnetts since they moved to Canada, NBC News reported. It is unclear what Natalia is doing now, or whether she is being cared for.
TikTok, the popular Chinese-owned social network, instructs its moderators to censor videos that mention Tiananmen Square, Tibetan independence, or the banned religious group Falun Gong, according to leaked documents detailing the site’s moderation guidelines.
The documents, revealed by the Guardian for the first time, lay out how ByteDance, the Beijing-headquartered technology company that owns TikTok, is advancing Chinese foreign policy aims abroad through the app.
The revelations come amid rising suspicion that discussion of the Hong Kong protests on TikTok is being censored for political reasons: a Washington Post report earlier this month noted that a search on the site for the city-state revealed “barely a hint of unrest in sight”.
The guidelines divide banned material into two categories: some content is marked as a “violation”, which sees it deleted from the site entirely, and can lead to a user being banned from the service. But lesser infringements are marked as “visible to self”, which leaves the content up but limits its distribution through TikTok’s algorithmically-curated feed.
This latter enforcement technique means that it can be unclear to users whether they have posted infringing content, or if their post simply has not been deemed compelling enough to be shared widely by the notoriously unpredictable algorithm.
The bulk of the guidelines covering China are contained in a section governing “hate speech and religion”.
In every case, they are placed in a context designed to make the rules seem general purpose, rather than specific exceptions. A ban on criticism of China’s socialist system, for instance, comes under a general ban of “criticism/attack towards policies, social rules of any country, such as constitutional monarchy, monarchy, parliamentary system, separation of powers, socialism system, etc”.
Another ban covers “demonisation or distortion of local or other countries’ history such as May 1998 riots of Indonesia, Cambodian genocide, Tiananmen Square incidents”.
A more general purpose rule bans “highly controversial topics, such as separatism, religion sects conflicts, conflicts between ethnic groups, for instance exaggerating the Islamic sects conflicts, inciting the independence of Northern Ireland, Republic of Chechnya, Tibet and Taiwan and exaggerating the ethnic conflict between black and white”.
All the above violations result in posts being marked “visible to self”. But posts promoting Falun Gong are marked as a “violation”, since the organisation is categorised as a “group promoting suicide”, alongside the Aum cult that used sarin to launch terrorist attacks on the Tokyo Metro in 1995 and “Momo group”, a hoax conspiracy that went viral earlier this year.
Falun Gong has been suppressed by Beijing since 1999, but an incident in 2001 when five people self-immolated in Tiananmen Square has been used to justify moves against the group since.
Odd rules can be found elsewhere in the guidelines. The service’s policies regarding what it describes as “underage pornography”, for instance, explicitly detail four categories of underage users: an infant or toddler, under one year old; a child, 1-8 years old; an adolescent; and a minor, any person less than 18 years old. However, if it is “unclear” whether a user is under 18, the guidelines explicitly recommend that moderators “treat [the subject] as an adult”.
The service also bans a specific list of 20 “foreign leaders or sensitive figures” including Kim Jong-il, Kim Il-sung, Mahatma Gandhi, Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Kim Jong-un, Shinzo Abe, Park Geun-Hee, Joko Widodo and Narendra Modi. Notably absent from the list is Xi Jinping, the Chinese chairman.
Bytedance said the version of the documents the Guardian has seen was retired in May, before the current protests in Hong Kong began, and that the current guidelines do not reference specific countries or issues.
“In TikTok’s early days we took a blunt approach to minimising conflict on the platform, and our moderation guidelines allowed penalties to be given for things like content that promoted conflict, such as between religious sects or ethnic groups, spanning a number of regions around the world,” the company said. “As TikTok began to take off globally last year, we recognised that this was not the correct approach, and began working to empower local teams that have a nuanced understanding of each market. As we’ve grown we’ve implemented this localised approach across everything from product, to team, topolicy development.
“The old guidelines in question are outdated and no longer in use. Today we take localised approaches, including local moderators, local content and moderation policies, local refinement of global policies, and more. We also consult with a number of independent local committees and are working to scale this at a global level, including forming an independent committee of leading industry organisations and experts to continually assess these policies.
“We also understand the need to be more transparent in communicating the policies that we develop and enforce to maintain a safe and positive app environment. Users gravitate to TikTok because it provides an app experience that fosters their creativity, and we are committed to supporting that across our teams, product, policies, and the way in which we openly communicate with our community.”
The service was launched in 2017, shortly before being merged with an American company, Musical.ly, that ByteDance purchased for a reported $1bn (£800m) in order to boost the growth of the app.
A similar, China-only app, Douyin, launched in 2016, and grew to count one in 10 Chinese people as users by the end of 2017.
TikTok was the most-downloaded item on the iOS App Store worldwide in the first half of 2018, and has remained hugely popular, particularly among its core user base of under-25s, ever since. But that popularity has been expensive: ByteDance has spent a reported $1bn on Facebook advertisements to keep growth high.
An Indiana couple have been charged with felony child neglect after abandoning their 11-year-old daughter in a rented apartment in 2013. But the pair insist the "child" was actually a 22-year-old woman.
In 2010, Kristine Barnett and her now-ex, Michael, adopted an 8-year-old from Ukraine who had come to the United States two years earlier. Because the girl lacked a birth certificate, the Barnetts visited multiple doctors to determine her age, which was determined to be between 8 and 10.
The girl reportedly also had spondyloepiphyseal, a bone-growth disorder that manifests in dwarfism and abnormal skeletal development.
Kristine is the author of The Spark, a memoir about raising her son, Jake, a severely autistic boy who was thought to be incapable of speech or social interaction. Barnett tutored him at home and brought out his incredible mental gifts, and Jake eventually enrolled at Purdue University at the age of 12.
The situation with her daughter was less pleasant: Kristine told WISH-TV the adoption was a "scam"—and that the girl was a "diagnosed psychopath and sociopath" who subtracted more than a decade from her birthday and "made a career of perpetuating her age facade."
She provided the station with a letter, allegedly from a doctor, stating that her daughter had the teeth and secondary sexual characteristics of an adult woman, not a child. The letter also claims that the girl had been committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2012 and diagnosed with sociopathic personality disorder, and began to admit she was over 18.
That same year, the Barnetts appeared in Indiana probate court and had the girl's legal age changed to 22. Also in 2012, Jake's gifts began to draw more public attention, with a segment on 60 Minutes. He was eventuallu accepted to the prestigious Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Ontario.
According to a September 2013 article the Indianapolis Star, the Barnetts moved from Indianapolis to Canada that summer, bringing Jacob and his younger brothers, Wes and Ethan, with them.
The adopted daughter is not mentioned, but according to court records, in July of that year, the Barnetts rented an apartment for her in Lafayette, Indiana, and left her there.
But Michael has told police he always believed that the child was a minor and that his ex-wife had coached her to tell people that she was older.
Michael claimed that he and his wife paid the rent on the apartment but sent their daughter no other financial support and she was ultimately evicted in 2014. It unknown what happened to her after that, but a source in law enforcement told WLFI that neighbors "took her under their wing."
It is unknown where she is currently.
In March 2016, another couple petitioned to become legal guardians for the girl, causing the Barnetts to file an objection, which they withdrew in 2018.
Charges against the Barnetts were filed on September 11 but as of press time neither had been taken into custody.
Who's Getting the Best Head? refers to a Rule 34 image of the brothers from Alvin and the Chipmunks receiving oral sex from The Chipettes, captioned "Who's getting the best head?" The picture grew popular several years after it was first posted as people ironically drafted extensive explanations about who they believed was receiving the best oral sex.
“In 1984, when Ruth Coker Burks was 25 and a young mother living in Arkansas, she would often visit a hospital to care for a friend with cancer.
During one visit, Ruth noticed the nurses would draw straws, afraid to go into one room, its door sealed by a big red bag. She asked why and the nurses told her the patient had AIDS.
On a repeat visit, and seeing the big red bag on the door, Ruth decided to disregard the warnings and sneaked into the room.
In the bed was a skeletal young man, who told Ruth he wanted to see his mother before he died. She left the room and told the nurses, who said, “Honey, his mother’s not coming. He’s been here six weeks. Nobody’s coming!”
Ruth called his mother anyway, who refused to come visit her son, who she described as a "sinner” and already dead to her, and that she wouldn’t even claim his body when he died.
“I went back in his room and when I walked in, he said, “Oh, momma. I knew you’d come”, and then he lifted his hand. And what was I going to do? So I took his hand. I said, “I’m here, honey. I’m here”, Ruth later recounted.
Ruth pulled a chair to his bedside, talked to him
and held his hand until he died 13 hours later.
After finally finding a funeral home that would his body, and paying for the cremation out of her own savings, Ruth buried his ashes on her family’s large plot.
After this first encounter, Ruth cared for other patients. She would take them to appointments, obtain medications, apply for assistance, and even kept supplies of AIDS medications on hand, as some pharmacies would not carry them.
Ruth’s work soon became well known in the city and she received financial assistance from gay bars, "They would twirl up a drag show on Saturday night and here’d come the money. That’s how we’d buy medicine, that’s how we’d pay rent. If it hadn’t been for the drag queens, I don’t know what we would have done”, Ruth said.
Over the next 30 years, Ruth cared for over 1,000 people and buried more than 40 on her family’s plot most of whom were gay men whose families would not claim their ashes.
For this, Ruth has been nicknamed the ‘Cemetery Angel’.”— by Ra-Ey Saley
I've been hearing and reading about how banning flavored vapes is going to cause a mass incarceration problem because 4-5 cartridges is going to be considered attempt to distribute... the banned product comes in packs larger than that...
On Sept. 4, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a ban that will stop the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and other nicotine vaping products. The ban also prohibits marketing vaping as “clean,” “safe” or “healthy.”
In order to speed up the process of creating the ban, Whitmer ordered the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to draft emergency rules banning the products. This allows state agencies to create policies that will act as laws after being authorized, according to the Lansing State Journal. The ban will reportedly be filed in a few weeks, and then retailers will have 30 days to comply.
Rule 2 of the ban states someone found with at least four of the banned products, will be assumed to have intent to sell them, which is prohibited under the ban.
“A person who possesses four or more flavored vapor products, or flavored alternative nicotine products is rebuttably presumed to possess said items with the intent to sell,” the rule reads.
Rule 6 also states a person who violates rule two will be charged with a misdemeanor and could face up to six months in prison and/or a fine of up to $200 per item.
“A person who violates any provision of these rules is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment for not more than six months, or a fine of not more than $200, or both,” the rule reads. “Violations of rule 2 are calculated on a per-item and per-transaction basis and may be punished cumulatively.”
Police officers are not legally allowed to randomly stop and check for contraband, Law professor Gabriel Mendlow wrote in an email to The Daily. However, he said if they can tell someone is smoking a flavored vape, they are allowed to take it and arrest them.
“If a police officer can tell somehow that the product you're vaping is flavored – by smelling it, for example – then the Constitution allows the police officer to seize the product and, in theory, arrest you,” Mendlow said. “But if the only thing a police officer knows is that you're vaping, then she isn’t allowed to force you to let her check whether the product you’re vaping is flavored.”
Mendlow added if someone does wind up in court, the “intent to sell” clause could be rebutted if there is a good explanation for why someone was in possession of the prohibited items, but the prosecutor could argue against this.
“The prosecutor could argue that you possessed more flavored products than someone would possess who intended to use the products personally rather than sell them,” Mendlow said. “Under the emergency rules, there's a rebuttable presumption that anyone who possesses four or more flavored products intends to sell them. This means that if you possess four or more flavored products and you don't offer an innocent explanation, you may be convicted on these facts alone.”
Many University of Michigan students expressed concern regarding how the AAPD would implement the ban and explained vaping has become a common social activity on campus. Due to the soon-to-be illegal nature of the topic, the three students interviewed requested anonymity. They will be referred to as Student 1, Student 2 and Student 3.
Student 1 said she used to vape a lot, but she felt some negative health effects from it and was spending a lot of money, so now she mostly uses other people’s products when she wants to vape. She noted how important vaping is to the social environment at parties and on college campuses.
“I used to vape — I don’t think I was ever as bad as a lot of people were, I wasn’t upset if I didn’t have mine, but if it was there I’d want to hit it,” Student 1 said. “So, I definitely get the addiction, I definitely know a lot of people who were addicted … at this point, unless I’m drunk or at a party or something, I’ve made it just a social thing. I think in those situations, when you’re around it, it’s really hard to not want to do it.”
Student 2 said he considers himself to be addicted. He started vaping in high school before he understood the consequences, and now he said he is having a hard time stopping.
“(I’ve) been doing it for about 3 years now,” Student 2 said. “My friend gave a vape to me to try in high school. I tried it, and I didn’t understand what addiction was before, and now I understand it. I am definitely addicted. I’ve tried to stop multiple times.”
Cozine Welch, an instructor at U-M, said he vapes and enjoys the different flavor options.
“I do own a vape,” Welch said. “Here’s the other thing that gets me about it, right. It’s always this claim that it has to be targeted towards children. I’m not saying that it isn’t, all right, but what I am saying is there’s this assumption that if you’re an adult, you just like nasty stuff. If you’re grown, you don’t want anything that tastes good, you want tobacco. Well, I like mango better than tobacco.”
Student 3 doesn’t think the ban is going to work. He discussed how nicotine is addictive and it’s not easy to quit – even if people want to.
“This is not going to work at all,” Student 3 said. “For some people, they’re just going to stop. So maybe it’ll work for people who don’t do it much, but for people who do it a lot, I’ve already seen my friends starting to smoke cigarettes. So, not everyone can just quit cold turkey, people want a nicotine buzz.”
Student 1 said she knows people who are planning on stocking up on Juul pods before the ban or are considering driving to other states to get them.
“I’ve heard of some people planning to drive to other states to get them, and we’re not that far,” Student 1 said. “But I’ve also heard of other people already finding alternatives, even though they’re not even banned yet, so that’s concerning … just things like chew. I don’t know anyone that’s gone to cigs yet, but people have talked about it.”
Student 2 echoed Student 1 and agreed people are turning to alternatives. He said the next best option for him is cigarettes. Student 2 said his friends have recently quit vaping after hearing the news of people dying from it.
“Some of my friends all live in the same house together and they all had vapes, and they all went cold turkey at the same time a week ago,” Student 2 said. “And they’ve already bought four packs of cigarettes. It’s really bad.”
As a possible alternative to Whitmer’s ban, Student 3 suggested lowering the nicotine levels in vapes in order to make it easier for people to transition off of them.
“I hit it for the first time, and because it’s so strong, it felt amazing,” Student 3 said. “A better solution is to ban products above 2 percent nicotine or something like that. Seriously, in other countries they have Juuls and they’re not allowed to go above 1.8 percent. 5 percent is so much higher than even cigs, so that’s why I think so many people are getting addicted.”
Welch said he does not think the ban is a good solution to the problem. He claimed this ban is punishing people but not acknowledging the root of the problem.
“I think it’s more of a mindset of trying to rid our community of problems with the same approach,” Welch said. “You know, punish everyone, make it so everyone has to face some extreme consequences and then they’ll stop doing it instead of taking into consideration the things that lead to behavior, that cause the behavior. You just want to assume punishment is going to clear everything out.”
Welch compared the ban to previous laws surrounding marijuana and mass incarceration. He said simply seeking to punish people is not the answer.
“History has shown us that punishment for crime has never been a real good deterrent,” Welch said. “It’s never been a consistent deterrent. It’s never deterred in the way we had hoped. Oftentimes, it doesn’t deter at all. If I’m poor, and my stomach is rumbling, I’m just going to find a way not to get caught to eat, I’m not going to say, ‘You know what, I guess I’m just not going to eat today.’ And, you know, it’s so funny because smoking is addictive, nicotine is an addictive chemical, so you’re treating addicts like criminals.”
Student 1 said while she thinks Whitmer’s ban is the right idea and is important, she’s not sure it will achieve its intended goal and keep kids safe.
“I think the only thing, it might stop a few kids from starting,” Student 1 said. “So maybe a couple years ago it would have been good, but I think at the point we’re at, there are already middle schoolers and high schoolers doing this stuff, so I think at this point, anyone who’s already started, it’s just putting them in more danger.”
Speaking from experience as a formerly incarcerated individual, Welch said if college students get caught with four or more flavored nicotine products and are arrested, it could change their lives.
“It will cause their lives to go in a completely different trajectory,” Welch said. “I’m not saying it’s not possible for them to get back on course, but it’s increasingly difficult. Once you’re branded and tagged with that, so many things change. That collegiate life you lived before, all the hopes and dreams you had, are probably not going to be fulfilled.”
Ultimately, Whitmer said in a press release she ordered the ban to keep minors safe and prevent them from using vape products.
“Right now, companies selling vaping products are using candy flavors to hook children on nicotine and misleading claims to promote the belief that these products are safe,” Whitmer said in the release. “That ends today. Our kids deserve leaders who are going to fight to protect them. These bold steps will finally put an end to these irresponsible and deceptive practices and protect Michiganders’ public health.”
More cat hats from Roslyn, I didn't realize the felting is made from their own shed. That's a twist...
Several years ago Ryo Yamazaki was brushing one of his three Scottish Fold cats. A lump of shed had accumulated on the floor and in that moment Yamazaki noticed that it kind of looked like a hat. For a chuckle he decided to mold it into a pointy hat and place it on one of […]
I got the chess article from a link in this one. Sharing for the great chart about causes for unintentional deaths in the US (2017).
I didn’t lead a life of any particular hardship growing up, but as a kid in New York in the 1980s, I did have to do without certain things that many of today’s middle-class parents deem essential — a yard, for example — and my dad tells me he and other neighborhood parents had to hover around the sandbox to swiftly scoop up any crack pipes or other drug paraphernalia we might accidentally unearth.
I wouldn’t have traded it for anything in the world. Most people I know grew up in one suburb or another, and their childhoods always sound awfully boring to me. It’s of course a ridiculous cliché to note that there are a lot of interesting things to do in New York City, but it’s as true for children as it is for adults.
As a little kid, my favorite place was a small museum maintained by the Forbes family that featured, among other things, Malcolm Forbes’ extensive collection of antique children’s toys. My grandma liked to take me uptown to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the suits of armor, and my grandpa took me to the USS Intrepid and told me war stories. As an older kid, I could walk — by myself — to grab a slice or see a movie or visit a friend. I got scammed by chess hustlers in Washington Square and later learned to have fun watching tourists get scammed by chess hustlers. I even learned some chess!
Now the father of a 4-year-old son, I live in Washington, DC, a city that is, mercifully, marginally more affordable than New York, and I wouldn’t want to raise a family any place other than the city.
But unfortunately, families are disappearing from American cities even as city living in general has become fashionable again for those who can afford it.
But it’s also a fundamental economic conundrum. Children cost money. And they take up space. And urban space has become much more expensive — repelling growing families. This suits the proclivities of smug suburbanites just fine, but as someone who grew up in a big city in the 1980s and 1990s when city living was both less fashionable and more affordable, it seems like a tragedy to me.
Cities, at the end of the day, are terrific places to raise kids — as the working class families of color now often being forced out of newly hot urban areas have known for generations. But too many Americans instinctively reject the idea, too many others can’t afford it, and the former all too often prevent us from taking the latter’s problems seriously.
City life obviously isn’t for everyone, and that’s fine. But lots of people like it, and nothing about parenthood fundamentally changes that calculation — except that in much of the country it’s become financially out of reach. Here’s why I do it.
Driving is dangerous. In the city, we do it less.
Apologies for starting on a morbid note, but in a practical sense, by far the leading cause of the death for young people in America is car wrecks. That’s true even though today’s cars are safer than ever, today’s child safety seats are better than ever, and awareness of proper automobile safety is higher than ever. On a per-mile basis, there’s nothing particularly unsafe about American roads. But according to the most recent Centers for Disease Control data, among children younger than 15, traffic-related fatalities were among the top causes of death.
Driving is just inherently dangerous. Cars are really heavy, they move very fast, there are tons of people on the road who may or may not be impaired in various ways, and Americans on average tend to drive a lot.
Every parent I know pays a lot of attention to their children’s safety on a micro level.
But relatively few think about the macro context for their choices or the fact that every additional mile of car travel built into a daily or weekly routine involves meaningful risks to your family’s safety. Of course, cars are also very useful tools — I own one and even drive it some — but building a life where car trips are generally brief and relatively rare compared to walking and using public transit has some major benefits. And that’s especially true with children.
Taking kids out without driving is fun
Children’s curiosity is both insatiable and delightful. My son likes to stop and gawk at different buildings, pets, stores, and pieces of construction equipment. He asks me about the electric scooters grownups use, points out unusual vehicles that he’s spotted and generally engages with the world around him. Sometimes we race for a block.
In a car, that’s really hard. The landscape whizzes by, and for safety reasons, he needs to be in the back seat, and, at the urging of our pediatrician and the US Department of Transportation, even kept facing backward for as long as possible. Modern child automobile safety technology has been an enormous public health triumph, but it comes at the cost of significant physical separation that makes it much more difficult to actually interact with your children. Driving the car, I need to keep my eyes on the road and distraction to a minimum so we don’t all crash and die.
But on foot, on the bus, or on the Metro, we can connect. Strolling around the neighborhood, we can stop and watch a construction crew at work, speculate about where a fire engine is heading, say hi to various dogs, peer into shop windows or do whatever else we want. Freedom is a bit more restricted on transit, but I’m still able to fully engage with him — sitting adjacent to him, talking face-to-face, with no distracting need to pilot the vehicle.
The shorter commute is especially nice because when you’ve got long, weekend afternoons to kill or just want to head out of a clean house in the morning before the kid makes a whole new mess, the journey can be just as much a part of the activity as the destination. A walk up to Target to buy groceries and a new coloring book isn’t just an errand, it’s an adventure where you can easily stop along the way to pet a dog, check out a street musician, and practice matching car brand names to logos. And there are lots of adventures to be had in the city.
Cities are full of stuff to do
As a callow youth, I spent a frightening amount of my daytime hours during the weekends sleeping off hangovers and vaguely trying to muster the willpower to do laundry. This kind of thing you can do just as well in the suburbs, though the city is of course better for getting drunk.
But with a kid, you sort of have to get up and entertain your spawn before they get bored and inflict Octonauts or PJ Masks on the adults. The cool thing about cities is they are full of things to do. One recent weekend when my wife was out of town, my son and I went with various groups of friends to the National Building Museum, a WNBA game, and a brunch-hour children’s musical performance at a hipster cider distillery (don’t ask).
If the weather had been better, we’d have hit up the National Zoo as well. Kids love the Museum of Natural History and the Air & Space Museum, but even the Museum of American History has really cool programming for children. The Hirshhorn Museum, focused on modern art, has a storytime for children as well as an outdoor sculpture garden.
DC parents are particularly blessed to enjoy so many free museums, but the general principle that urban cores excel in cultural amenities holds true all around the country.
This is obvious to anyone who has ever planned a visit anywhere — you generally want to stay downtown because that’s where the stuff is. People tune that out in their ordinary lives because as adults we generally settle into a rhythm of ignoring cultural amenities until we become tourists.
But kids are less jaded than adults and, like permanent tourists, are both easily bored and very accepting of repetition so having a rich range of things to do easily at hand is miraculous. Now, you may ask yourself, given the typical little kid’s pedantic level of knowledge of dinosaurs, is it really necessary to expose your kid to an above-averagequantity of information on this subject? And the answer is, well, no. But it is good for kids to learn things. And failing that, you can always head over to the jungle gym.
Parks are better than lawns
Growing up in Manhattan, we did not have a backyard, though here in DC and most other cities, it’s not impossible to get yourself a little rinky-dink one.
What you’ll find in the city, however, obviously pales in comparison to the grassy vistas of suburbia. To take your kid to play outside in the city, you generally need to go to the park.
But there are some real upsides to this. For starters, a city’s parks department does the upkeep, rather than busy parents needing to carve out lawn care time on top of everything else. Most crucially, not only do you need to take your kid to the park, so does everyone else. Which means that any time the weather is remotely amenable, the park is reliably full of children and parents. That’s a great way for kids to get to know other kids, and also for parents to build relationships and community. That dad you saw at school drop-off or the friend-of-a-friend you met at a birthday party turns out to be at the park, too, so you get to talking.
Parenting can be isolating. But the mix of smaller private spaces and more reliance on public ones can counteract that and build community. And having places for children to go is an asset throughout their lives, especially as they become more independent.
Another cool thing about parks is that you can switch it up. I’ve got about four playgrounds within walking distance that we tend to visit frequently. But sometimes a particular park will go into heavy rotation, or another one will drop out only to be revisited later. But it’s also not unheard-of to make a special trip out of the neighborhood to check out a different playground. Variety is the fundamental upside to dense urban living in a way that’s true at all ages.
The older your kids get, the more autonomy they’ll claim
When I was a preteen, I could walk my little brother to the school we both attended in the morning with no problem. There was no need for a parental chauffeur or to deal with a rigid bus schedule. When I was 15, I started going to high school outside the neighborhood and commuted on the subway like anyone else in Manhattan would.
If I wanted to go to a friend’s house after high school we’d walk or take the M86 across town (the school was on the Upper East Side but most of my friends lived on the Upper West Side) or take the subway downtown. At an age much too young to drive, I could walk to a friend’s house on the weekend, and we could walk together to a movie theater or to get a slice of pizza. Older teens are generally allowed to drive in the United States because life without a car is so impractical, and driving them around everywhere is so annoying. But cars are dangerous (see above), and teenagers are not known for their safe behavior.
Public health experts even want to shift to a system of more gradual licensing, which would save lives at the cost of convenience. Avoiding this tradeoff and letting children of double-digit ages gain graduated access to walking, biking, transit, and taxis in a place where those are the normal modes of getting around is a huge advantage. In DC, little kids and students can even ride free.
For many families, of course, the holy grail of “good schools” is the ultimate driver of flight to the suburbs.
It is, however, worth interrogating why this is. Access to a great educational experience can be a game-changer for a child whose parents have limited economic and educational resources. Parents often seem inclined to take this accurate observation and interpret it backwards: They can develop a kind of paranoia that the children of middle class professionals could have their life prospects crippled by attending a sub-par school.
But how, exactly, would that work? Is being in the top of the class at a blah urban public school really going to be worse for Junior’s Cornell application than being in the middle of the pack at the best school in the best suburb? And if Junior doesn’t get into Cornell, is he going to end up homeless?
I don’t mean to be entirely flip about this. You obviously don’t want to send your kid to a school that’s unsafe or makes her miserable.
Study after study finds that differences in outcomes between schools are dominated by selection effects — schools that enroll kids with high test scores or highly educated parents end up with graduates who do better, but that doesn’t mean the schools themselves are generating better outcomes.
Meanwhile, one thing you do get from schools in a big city is the exact same thing you get with other services — a broader range of choices in terms of exactly which school you want to select.
If you like cities, you’ll still like them with kids
Which is just to say that while raising children changes so much about life, it doesn’t fundamentally change either what you like or the nature of the built environment.
Virtually anything you could say on behalf of city-living as a strategy for a fun-loving single 20-something also applies to life as a boring dad in his late thirties, as an excitable 4-year-old, or as a teenager. If you like walkable neighborhoods; “third spaces” that aren’t shopping malls; cultural amenities; short commutes; and non-chain restaurants, then America’s cities are where those things are found.
Having children may mean less time to enjoy some of those things than you used to have, but that only makes it more valuable to have access to them when you do have the time. And your kids — especially when they’re older and more independent — will likely enjoy them too.
This makes the growing transformation of America’s major cities into mere playgrounds for childless professionals a deeply unfortunate turn of events. But it’s one that’s been made largely inevitable by the growing crisis of housing supply in these cities.
Overall demand for city living has risen, as a joint result of both population growth, the post-1990 fall in crime, and other broad economic trends. But when cities don’t allow that increased demand to generate big increases in the square feet of dwelling space, occupancy naturally shifts to family types that can maximize the number of earners per square foot. That means groups of young roommates, childless couples, and relatively high-earning singles living in one-bedroom condos rather than homes filled with kids who don’t have jobs and can’t pay rent.
Let's go to Union Sq and learn chess. I know literally nothing about how to play chess.
Six years ago, Ambakisye Osayaba made his big move — he quit his part-time city job cleaning Central Park and began playing chess full-time.
Now he earns up to $400 a day, taking on all comers from a 2-by-2-foot fold-out table, chairs and chess board he rolls in a metal shopping granny cart every morning to the southwest strip of Union Square Park.
“It’s the best living I’ve ever made,” said Osayaba, 59, known by the initials T.C., which stand for “teaches chess.”
Osayaba may be the top earner of the dozen players in the park, who have migrated there from Washington Square Park over the last few years because they realized Union Square gets more tourist traffic.
“There’s a reason why he’s called the Bobby Fischer of Union Square,” said one of his regular opponents, Mayer Lasry, 20.
Osayaba charges $3 for a no-wager game. If you want to bet, the winner gets $5. He offers 30-minute lessons for $20. He plays at the park year round, rain or shine.
“People walk by all the time wanting to learn,” said Osayaba. “I tell them, ‘Take a seat’ and before they know it, they’re coming back every day.”
Victor Raso, 28, has been taking lessons from Osayaba five days a week for two years.
“When I first came out I knew the rules but nothing about strategy,” said Raso, a facilities coordinator at the clothing store Express who spends his lunch hour in the park. “I stuck with T.C. because he taught me rather than hustled me.”
The only way to get an appointment with T.C. is to show up at his table. “I threw my phone off the Brooklyn Bridge,” Osayaba said. “You need to give the game your full attention.”
Recently, while playing this reporter (a chess novice), Osayaba dragged his plastic, dog-chewed pieces across the rubber board swiftly, never taking more than a few seconds to make a move. He tapped his fingers while waiting for his opponent’s play.
When it was his turn, he nestled his queen next to a king trapped behind his own pawns. “You should have opened up those pawns,” he said. Osayaba uses his queen and rooks to corner his opponents in 10-minute blitz games. “When he brings his queen out, you’re in trouble,” an onlooker said.
Osayaba claims he once won $600 from a worker at nearby Best Buy. “He came over here like some kind of hot shot, throwing money around,” Osayaba aid. “But I knew he was a fish. He was fresh out of water.”
Over three 20-minute games, the Best Buy chess novice challenged Osayaba to a $100 match, then $300, until finally upping the ante to $600.
“I beat the beak off him. I was hitting him with moves I teach my beginners — like the Queen’s Gambit,” he said.
His highest-profile opponent was American grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura’s girlfriend, Maria De Rosa, who is also a highly ranked champion in Italy.
“Nakamura was acting like a jerk, so I asked her to play instead,” Osayaba said. They played informally at the World Chess Championships last year at South Street Seaport.
Osayaba won the game with the help of the late William Lombardy. “He was singing the moves at me while I played her. So technically, Lombardy beat her,” Osayaba admitted.
Lombardy trained Fischer from the time he was 11 years old through his historic 1972 victory over Boris Spassky.
Lombardy, who died Oct. 13, also taught Osayaba.
“He used to hang out here with us all the time,” he said. “In the summer he’d even sleep out here with us when we’d play all night.”
Osayaba was 10 years old in 1968 when he got a chess set for Christmas. “It was a cheap, plastic set, but I loved it,” said Osayaba, who grew up poor with 17 siblings in a tiny Harlem apartment. He would spend hours after school every day studying strategy with a local librarian. “I was infatuated with being the best,” he said. “And I never stopped.”
Stonks is an intentional misspelling of the word "stocks" which is often associated with a surreal meme featuring the character Meme Man standing in front of a picture representing the stock market followed by the caption "Stonks." The picture began seeing use as a reaction image online in jokes about making poor financial decisions.
Have we already talked about how 5G is going to fuck up weather forcasting? It's looming large in my brain.
If you had a choice between a better, faster cell phone signal and an accurate weather forecast, which would you pick? That’s the question facing federal officials as they decide whether to auction off more of the wireless spectrum or heed meteorologists who say that such a move could throw US weather forecasting into chaos.
On Capitol Hill Thursday, NOAA’s acting chief, Neil Jacobs, said that interference from 5G wireless phones could reduce the accuracy of forecasts by 30 percent. That's equivalent, he said, to the quality of weather predictions four decades ago. “If you look back in time to see when our forecast scale was roughly 30 percent less than today, it was 1980,” Jacobs told the House Subcommittee on the Environment.
That reduction would give coastal residents two or three fewer days to prepare for a hurricane, and it could lead to incorrect predictions of the storms’ final path to land, Jacobs said. “This is really important,” he told ranking committee member Frank Lucas (R-Oklahoma).
In March, the FCC began auctioning off its 24-gigahertz frequency band to wireless carriers, despite the objections of scientists at NOAA, NASA, and the American Meteorological Society. This week, Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) wroteto FCC chair Ajit Pai requesting the commission stop companies from using the 24-GHz band until a solution is found, and to delay any more of the auction.
Jordan Gerth, a research meteorologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, has been studying this issue as part of a group at the American Meteorological Society. He says that while the FCC can switch which regions of the spectrum it allocates to phone companies, forecasters are stuck. That’s because water vapor emits a faint signal in the atmosphere at a frequency (23.8 GHz) that is extremely close to the one sold for next-generation 5G wireless communications (24 GHz). Satellites like NOAA's GOES-R and the European MetOp monitor this frequency to collect data that is fed into prediction models for upcoming storms and weather systems.
“We can’t move away from 23.8 or we would,” Gerth told WIRED. “As far as 5G is concerned, the administration has a priority to put 5G on the spectrum, and they thought this was an OK place to do it. It's just close to where we are sensing the weather.” Gerth says that wireless carriers could turn down the power emitted by 5G cellphone transmitters so they don’t drown out the sensitive sensors on the satellite. NOAA and NASA want to limit the interference noise to a level closer to what is considered acceptable by the European Union and World Meteorological Organization.
NOAA’s Jacobs told the House committee that the number currently proposed by the FCC would result in a 77 percent data loss from the NOAA satellite’s passive microwave sounders. He also said that experts from the two agencies are trying to work out a compromise. “I'm optimistic we can come up with an elegant solution,” he told lawmakers Thursday.
In the meantime, Gerth says this issue probably won’t go away anytime soon. The FCC plans future 5G auctions for the radio frequency bands near ones used to detect rain and snow (36–37 GHz), atmospheric temperature (50.2–50.4 GHz), and clouds and ice (80–90 GHz). “This is not one and done,” Gerth added. “Today it's 23.8, tomorrow it's 36.”
The state department is negotiating with other nations over the interference level, which will be settled at a world radio conference in October. The FCC's 5G auction has reaped nearly $2 billion from both small and large wireless providers and is still underway.
Guys, Bachelor in Paradise is the juiciest garbage gossip and I'm here for it. I hope someone here also loves it and I'm not outing myself too badly.
Oh, hell yes. I said it yesterday and I truly and sincerely mean this: I NEEDED THIS.
When I sign up for Bachelor in Paradise, this is the exact thing that I want. I want to be in my pajamas, forcing my boyfriend to take out his headphones so I can rewind and play him some nonsense. When I turn my TV on to watch Bachelor in Paradise, I want to be in no fewer than three Twitter fights in which I’m speculating wildly about the motivations of some white people on TV. If I’m not half a bottle of wine deep when that show hits 15 minutes in, I’m not getting what I paid for. I’m here for all of this.
Is there anything better than salacious gossip about strangers? Hearing gossip about strangers is better than any drug on Earth. Any of my dear readers could tweet me some bit of gossip about what’s happening at your job and I would be ready with a margarita and a bowl of popcorn being like, “I knew Shane was a piece of shit.” I don’t know the history of Shane and him not giving good schedules to anyone at American Eagle except for his girlfriend, Mia. I don’t know a single person involved, but I am invested. And I’m here for Anneliese’s messy ass trying to guilt Clay because her friend said Clay was picking out baby names the day before they broke up. I’m here for JOHN PAUL JONES violently puking for six full minutes of airtime. And I’m not only here for Blake’s life falling apart in front of our eyes, I’ve bought a house and I’ve taken up residence inside this drama. So, let’s get to it.
Again, the only narrative thrust this entire episode is the Caelynn-Blake-Kristina love triangle. I said it on Twitter while the episode was airing, and I’ll say it again, because I’m from Chicago and I’m just here to fight: Blake did nothing wrong. Was he incredibly messy? OH. YES. DUH. But every single one of his actions is completely understandable and quite frankly, justified. Let’s go to the tape.
With Kristina, they dated, broke up, decided to be friends, but still hooked up every once in a while. They both agree to those facts. Neither of them agreed to monogamy after their breakup and their hooking up seemed pretty sporadic. So, what’s Kristina’s beef, as revealed on this revenge date? He didn’t tell her soon enough that he hooked up with Caelynn.
Ma’am. He’s not your boyfriend. You’re not his boss. Why are you concerned with some shit that is not your business? When you break up with someone, why are you concerned with the comings and goings of his penis? What would him telling you sooner achieve? I’m thoroughly unclear on this.
And listen, y’all. I, too, have been single and a monster. I’ve woken up with a dude and then gone on a date with another dude. I’ve scheduled four first dates in a day. I’ve used OkCupid Locals. But if any dude that I wasn’t exclusive with wanted to know who I was fucking, I would have been fully in my rights to tell him to kick rocks. Should I disclose my sexual-health status and use protection? Absolutely. Should I have told any and all sexual partners when my relationships changed, and I was off the market? Absolutely. I said I was a monster, not completely evil. Any other information is simply not anyone else’s business.
Kristina claims that she wants Blake to be accountable and that she’s looking out for women all across America. She can and should tell Blake if he’s being a jerk so their relationship isn’t affected and to protect her feelings. Is it admirable that she’s trying to help her friend recognize how his actions affect other people? Sure. Something like that is a difficult and tricky conversation that should be approached with a lot of tough love. It’s not something you do on national television after an ATV date.
Then comes Blake’s conversation with Caelynn. Y’all. I’m tired. Let’s take each of Caelynn’s arguments one by one.
1) Blake slept with Kristina the day before he slept with her. • If you have a problem with your sexual partner not being monogamous, you gotta bring that up and leave if your expectations aren’t met.
2) Caelynn thought this experience was going to be different. •I thought the 2016 election was going to be different, but here we are.
3) Blake asked her to lie and she said yes and now she doesn’t feel good about that. •If she didn’t want to, she didn’t have to agree. Once you realize you don’t want to do something you’ve agreed to anymore, you can withdraw consent. “I’m no longer going to lie for you.” Just like that, Caelynn.
4) “Of course I felt this way.” •Ma’am. Men are simple. If you tell them something that gets them what they want, they’re going to believe it.
5) “I haven’t enjoyed myself here.” •That sounds like a personal problem.
Here’s my takeaway for Caelynn and Kristina, who seem to be operating as if they could expect some level of exclusivity or emotional care-taking on Blake’s part: He was just trying to fuck. It also seems like both of them had fallen ill with Cool Girl Syndrome, behaving as if they were the type of women who enjoyed casual sex, both in concept and execution, despite not really being cool with anything that was happening. This isn’t to say they shouldn’t be upset or can’t change their mind about the terms of a relationship as it’s happening. They absolutely should and can. Be angry. More women should get angry. The problem arrives when someone tries to continue Cool Girl Behavior when uncool things are happening. You can change your mind in a FWB relationship and want commitment. You just have to say something. You cannot want to have to hide your relationship. You just have to say something. Expecting someone to give you want you want without an adult conversation about it is a problem, too.
The thing that’s so baffling is, in both cases, Blake seemed ready to own up to his mistakes, valued the friendships and the women’s feelings, and wanted to make amends. He wanted to talk to Caelynn to figure out what he could do to make it right. But Caelynn stormed off.
Again, she has EVERY RIGHT TO. But it’s a little hard for me to sit through a coven of women talking about how callous and heartless Blake is and how he’s a 100 percent bad person when he wanted to at least attempt some sort of repentance. Blake seeks out Caelynn to apologize again and she says, “I want your shit to be fixed and move on.” That’s what he’s trying to do.
So what was Blake’s biggest mistake? He picked two women to have sex with who weren’t on the same page and he didn’t seem to do all he could to get everyone on the same page. Blake is thinking, “We’re all single and we’re all having casual sex. If everyone has a good time in the moment, I’m good.” And honestly, he’s about 90 percent there. Caelynn and Kristina seem like two people who are a little more traditional than most and want a little more information that they’re really entitled to (and both have had very difficult pasts, to say the least). Instead of Blake realizing that, he just made his wee-wee happy first and looked for possible areas of conflict later. He done goofed for sure. Just not as bad as everyone wants to say he did.
So, what else is happening on this godforsaken beach?
The only other major drama is that more than one man is interested in Hannah G. Can we talk about the fact that 23-year-old Hannah G said she had a five-year relationship and is basically single for the first time and she’s having a hard time figuring out what to do? GIRLFRIEND. You’ve been in a serious relationship since you were like … 17 or 18, and now you have multiple men in their late 20s and early 30s trying to kiss you. That’s a lot for anyone to handle. Don’t let Dylan tell you he missed you when you had a six-minute conversation with another man. Get yours.
Then there’s the very minor drama in which Anneliese tries to guilt Clay into admitting that he’s not there for the right reasons. What is happening this week with white women getting into business that isn’t theirs? You can feel bad for your friend that she got dumped, but let Clay self-destruct. If he’s that much of an asshole, what is warning him that you think he’s rude going to do? Tell Nicole if it’s that dire of a situation. Clay tells her, “It sounds like you have one side of the story.” Anneliese just says that she doesn’t want to get involved in anything and then gets involved in something. She starts weeping about it and it doesn’t seem that serious. I need everyone to look up “weaponized white women’s tears” so I can save my word count.
Also, later in the episode, Anneliese writes Chris B a “kissing prescription” and I had to turn off my TV and walk into Lake Michigan.
After a cocktail party where JOHN PAUL JONES pukes his brains out because some woman named Jane (???) gives him an impossibly spicy taco, we don’t get a rose ceremony because Bachelor in Paradise knows we’re hooked. What a week!
Cherv: Re my Prudie (etc) addiction, how can I say no to this: "I’m in the process of writing my will and have allocated 35 percent of my estate to each of my daughters, and 15 percent to each of Diane’s children—both under age 5—to be put into college savings accounts. Laurie is furious that I haven’t given an equal share to “Spot,” her golden retriever puppy, compared with what she calls his “human cousins.”
Laurie compares my grandchildren to her dog, and says Spot deserves as much as his "human cousins."
I'm sure you all follow Paul F Tompkins on Twitter. But if I had to see this, you all have to see this.
We know that famous people are still just people, and that they can have strange hobbies – just like the rest of us can, but we weren’t quite prepared for the creative hobby of the brilliant actor, Jim Broadbent.
Since it began operations in 2010, Uber has grown to the point where it now collects over $45 billion in gross passenger revenue, and it has seized a major share of the urban car service market. But the widespread belief that it is a highly innovative and successful company has no basis in economic reality.
An examination of Uber’s economics suggests that it has no hope of ever earning sustainable urban car service profits in competitive markets. Its costs are simply much higher than the market is willing to pay, as its nine years of massive losses indicate. Uber not only lacks powerful competitive advantages, but it is actually less efficient than the competitors it has been driving out of business.
This is one of those articles where I want to excerpt the entire thing; it’s just so jammed packed with goodies about a company that represents everything I hate about “tech” and Silicon Valley.
In reality, Uber’s platform does not include any technological breakthroughs, and Uber has done nothing to “disrupt” the economics of providing urban car services. What Uber has disrupted is the idea that competitive consumer and capital markets will maximize overall economic welfare by rewarding companies with superior efficiency. Its multibillion dollar subsidies completely distorted marketplace price and service signals, leading to a massive misallocation of resources. Uber’s most important innovation has been to produce staggering levels of private wealth without creating any sustainable benefits for consumers, workers, the cities they serve, or anyone else.
A later section is titled “Uber’s Narratives Directly Copied Libertarian Propaganda”.
In the early 1990s, a coordinated campaign advocating taxi deregulation was conducted by a variety of pro-corporate/libertarian think tanks that all received funding from Charles and David Koch. This campaign pursued the same deregulation that Uber’s investors needed, and used classic political propaganda techniques. It emphasized emotive themes designed to engage tribal loyalties and convert complex issues into black-and-white moral battles where compromise was impossible. There was an emphasis on simple, attractive conclusions designed to obscure the actual objectives of the campaigners, and their lack of sound supporting evidence.
This campaign’s narratives, repeated across dozens of publications, included framing taxi deregulation as a heroic battle for progress, innovation, and economic freedom. Its main claims were that thousands of struggling entrepreneurial drivers had been blocked from job opportunities by the “cab cartel” and the corrupt regulators beholden to them, and that consumers would enjoy the same benefits that airline deregulation had produced. In a word, consumers were promised a free lunch. Taxi deregulation would lead to lower fares, solve the problems of long waits, provide much greater service (especially in neighborhoods where service was poor), and increase jobs and wages for drivers. Of course, no data or analysis of actual taxi economics showing how these wondrous benefits could be produced was included.
Horan reserves a healthy chunk of his criticism for the media, whose unwillingness to critically cover the company — “the press refuses to reconsider its narrative valorizing Uber as a heroic innovator that has created huge benefits for consumers and cities” — has provided a playbook for future investors to exploit for years to come. Blech. What a shitshow.
Listen to the Root of Evil podcast so we can talk about it. Its legitimately CRAZY.
Introducing you to a new podcast coming soon called Root of Evil: The True Story of the Hodel Family and the Black Dahlia. When Elizabeth Short, also known as "The Black Dahlia" was brutally killed in Los Angeles in 1947, it gripped the entire country, and became America's most infamous unsolved murder. The case remains officially open, but many believe Dr. George Hodel to be the killer, thanks to the investigation by Hodel's own son. For the first time ever, using unearthed archival audio and fresh interviews, the Hodels open up to tell their story, and the harrowing legacy of Dr. Hodel that has lasted generations. It turns out that this famous murder is only one of their awful family secrets. Through 8 episodes, sisters Rasha Pecoraro and Yvette Gentile will take a deep dive into their family history to try to figure out what really happened, and where do they all go from here?Subscribe now.