Thursday, March 23, 2017

'Hi Stranger' is the creepiest thing I've watched in a long time

This video was shared on Digg with the headline 'Hi Stranger' Is A Weird, Relaxing And Life-Affirming Video You Need To Watch Right This Second.

IS THIS SOME KIND OF PRANK???? This is the creepiest thing I've EVER watched. The naked humanoid figure, the rubbing of the ground next to him/her, the whispered "I feel like I can really be vulnerable around you", "I just want to sit here and relax with you", "I love looking at you. I want to remember all your shapes."


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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Inspiration! Roundup: Yayoi Kusama, reconciliation, ignorance, and more!

This Week's "I want to go to there":
I want to make things with my hands. Maybe clay things!

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama, 87 year-old Japanese artist is incredible! Her artwork is stunning and her brain is awesome. Read this interview with her in The Guardian (best quote, when they ask her to tell a joke, "I don't know any. But pumpkins have always made me smile: they are the most humorous of vegetables."

Photo by Stig Nygaard

Martin Luther King Jr.'s Biggest Problem

In his Letter from the Birmingham Jail (excerpt here), Martin Luther King Jr. identifies the biggest obstacle facing black people's rights in the United States. It wasn't the overt, violent racists. It was what he called the "white moderate".
"First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can't agree with your methods of direct action;" who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a "more convenient season."

-Martin Luther King Jr. (emphasis added)
Let this be the slap in the face that many of us (white people) need as we try to be allies in battling racial inequality.

Admit Your Prejudices and Grow

For anyone who is terrified to be honest (with themselves or others) about their prejudices, here's some inspiration. A man called into a television program and admitted that he has biases against black people, leading into a really beautiful conversation.

Fitting the Mold

I'm pretty into this photography series, but Julia Busato, documenting women holding a mannequin mold.

Reconciling Canada's 150th Anniversary

Here in Canada, we're getting ready to celebrate our 150th anniversary as a nation, or, more specifically, the 150th anniversary of when this stolen land officially became a country recognized by Britain. Understandably, the much-anticipated 150th anniversary celebrations don't feel particularly celebratory for everyone who lives here.

In a brilliant example of working together, the City of Vancouver has partnered directly with its Indigenous population to make sure the celebration was inclusive. What has resulted is, among other things, dubbing it Canada 150+, as a reminder that this land wasn't empty 151 years ago, and celebrations that feature ceremony and art performances by local First Nations.

Ignorance is rarely the problem.

The challenge is that people don't always care about what you care about. And the reason they don't care isn't that they don't know what you know.

The reason is that they don't believe what you believe.

-Seth Godin
This Good World

If you live in some major cities in the US and want to give your money to socially responsible businesses, check out This Good World, it's like Google Maps, but for businesses that make a difference.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Awesome Award: Margaret Ann Bulkley/James Barry

Dr. James Barry and 'his' servant of 50 years.

Dr. James Barry was either the first female surgeon, or the first transgender surgeon, in the world.

(If you ask me, I think the former is more likely: her transformation into manhood was timed out exactly with her enrolment in university to study medicine, something only allowed for men at the time. Smells like a Shakespearean case of cross-dressing to achieve greatness to me, but heck, maybe it served a dual purpose.)

Born Margaret Ann Bulkley, this young whippersnapper was smart and wanted to enrol in medical school. When her wealthy uncle, artist James Barry, died and left her family a load of cash, it was the perfect chance: she took his name, somehow passed the medical exam required to enter school, and enrolled.

From then on, nobody knew she was a woman until she died. Except, I bet, her servant, who stayed with her for 50 years and provided her with the towels she used to bind her woman-parts every day.

But that's not all! In her disguise, she performed the first-ever Caesarian section on a woman in labour, forever changing the landscape of women's lives and allowing more mothers and babies to survive childbirth!

For this most excellent trickery and outstanding medical accomplishment, I award Dr. Margaret Ann Bulkley/James Barry, The Receptionist's Awesome Award!

(via: The Irish Examiner)

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Cute! Roundup: Turn your back on evil, getting all tucked in, and a pig in a blanket

Sometimes you can't leave, but you really want to disengage yourself from a situation. The situation in question here was the movie Star Trek Beyond. It was very bad. Gertie had the right idea to turn around.


Tucking in for bed.

There's a very small elephant in the room.

I am the bush and the bush is me.

This one is nearly invisible, but the cuteness will sneak up on you!

A pig in a blanket (don't eat it!)

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Singalong! A Better Son/Daughter by Rilo Kiley

There is something incredibly empowering about being able to listen to the song that, in the depths of your depression, broke you down into a sobbing mess every single time you even thought about it, without turning into a puddle of brokenness.

I don't know if anyone else has had this experience, but the song A Better Son/Daughter by Rilo Kiley used to kill me. The lyrics drove directly into the heart of what it was like for me in my depression - feeling hopeless, lost, and empty, but forcing myself to put on a smile and get through each day - that I could barely stand to think about it.

I learned to avoid the song like the plague (but never actually deleted it from my iTunes, because why would I do that? Also a friend that I was secretly in love with put it on a mix CD for me, so I was holding onto that forever), skipping it every single time I heard those first drum beats and doing my best to banish it to the edges of my consciousness. So when it came up on a Spotify playlist today I instinctively skipped ahead - and then I realized something magical: I am not struggling with depression anymore! Or at least, not that particular kind of depression (I am, after all, on antidepressants, so I guess I have to be real about that). I can listen to this song, and while I feel that pull of remembered feelings, they don't crush me. Guys! The feelings didn't crush me!

by Rilo Kiley

Sometimes in the morning I am petrified and can't move
Awake but cannot open my eyes
And the weight is crushing down on my lungs I know I can't breathe
And hope someone will save me this time
And your mother's still calling you insane and high
Swearing it's different this time
And you tell her to give in to the demons that possess her
And that God never blessed her insides
Then you hang up the phone and feel badly for upsetting things
And crawl back into bed to dream of a time
When your heart was open wide and you loved things just because
Like the sick and the dying

And sometimes when you're on, you're really fucking on
And your friends they sing along and they love you
But the lows are so extreme that the good seems fucking cheap
And it teases you for weeks in it's absence
But you'll fight and you'll make it through
You'll fake it if you have to
And you'll show up for work with a smile
You'll be better you'll be smarter
And more grown up and a better daughter
Or son and a real good friend
You'll be awake and you'll be alert
You'll be positive though it hurts
And you'll laugh and embrace all your friends
You'll be a real good listener
You'll be honest, you'll be brave
You'll be handsome, you'll be beautiful
You'll be happy

Your ship may be coming in
You're weak but not giving in
To the cries and the wails of the valley below
Your ship may be coming in
You're weak but not giving in
And you'll fight it you'll go out fighting all of them...

Image Source: Randi Fukunaga, Wikimedia Commons

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Friday, March 17, 2017

Learning! Roundup: Our place in the universe, planning problems, antidepressant yogurt, dark matter, and more

Learning! Roundup: the most detailed map of the universe ever, why things take longer than you expect, probiotics as antidepressants, dark matter, sexism at work, and more!

The Most Detailed Map of the Universe to Date

This stunning video depicts, and explains, what we have mapped so far in the universe, including where we are and where we're going (because we are on the move).

Everything Takes Longer Than You Think

This is a constant source of mini-arguments between my boyfriend and I: he assumes that everything will take WAY LONGER than it does (like that we need a whole afternoon to prepare and cook a lasagna) and I assume everything will take way less time than it will (like we can turn around a lasagna and bring it to a potluck in 45 mins). Turns out that my error is so common there's a name for it: Planning Fallacy.

The nice way of looking at it is that people like me are really optimistic. I suppose the less-nice thing would be to say that we are poor planners or inconsiderate. Sigh. Either way, I'm working on it! In the meantime, if my boyfriend and I both give you estimates of when we'll get something done, it's best to assume reality will fall somewhere in the middle.

This is Why Ladies in Yogurt Commercials Are So Happy

New research shows that mice experiencing anxiety, stress, and depression symptoms were lacking in the probiotic lactobacillus. They even found that symptoms got better just by adding the probiotic back in! Bonus, this probiotic is found in many yogurts!

Of course, this is ONE study, so don't go throwing away your Paxil in favour of Activia, but keep an eye on the research. And in the meantime, there's no harm in adding some yogurt to your diet (unless you're lactose intolerant).

Understanding Dark Matter

A beautiful and simple explanation of (what we know of) dark matter by Astrophysicist Janna Levin.

How to Get Rid of Sweat Stains

Here's an easy guide to scrubbing out sweat stains. Because some of us sweat, okay?

One Secret to Success

When we feel like we're doing well, we sometimes stop putting so much pressure on ourselves to perform. Maybe that's a good thing if you need to relax, but if you need to put in a stellar performance, then you need to stay motivated. Measuring your performance against a higher benchmark, one that shows you are "not there yet" will drive you to work harder.

Sexism and Job Performance

Two coworkers, one male, one female, ran an accidental experiment: they switched email accounts so customers thought they were switched. Suddenly, the man encountered difficulty and questions from the clients he'd never encountered before. Meanwhile, she had the most productive week of her career, because customers trusted and listened to her. More evidence of sexism! The man, Martin R. Schneider, tweeted about it.

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Netflix Ruins Storytelling

(Yes, I realize that this photo is not of Netflix. Let's move on with our lives!)

Netflix is poised to ruin storytelling. FOREVER.

Am I being melodramatic? You tell me: starting next season, Netflix will shoot multiple endings to their original programs, and viewers will get to decide how the story ends.

Okay, so there is an element of cool here: it's Choose Your Own Adventure! Neat!

But my first reaction was a big old "NOOOOOOOO!"

One of the HUGE values of storytelling is the ability to help us see new perspectives and follow an imagined situation to its (potentially unexpected) conclusion. Sometimes we get to see how things magically work out and everyone's dreams come true. Other times we get to see how everything falls apart. Both are important realities to experience, if only vicariously.

Living through a story that someone else wrote, especially one that really grabs you and brings you into its world and characters, is also an important exercise in experiencing something without controlling it. There is much we cannot control in life. We can't make someone forgive us, hire us, or let us win. We can't make things go our way - and we shouldn't be able to do this.

One could argue that because there is so little we can control in life, why not let us live an imaginary life of control through our stories? Why not indulge in the fantasy a little?

Sure, that would be great, once in a while. The problem is that the internet is already doing that for us: we live in a world that is an increasingly powerful echo chamber of our own opinions and perspectives. What we see on Facebook, Google, and Netflix is curated based on what we already like and agree with. It's getting harder and harder to step outside of our own comfort zones and explore a perspective different from our own.

Sometimes it's painful and disappointing, but it is incredibly important for our egos to not be able to control everything and shape each story to fit our worldview.

So don't do it, Netflix! Don't join the ranks of those who are shaping our brains to think that everything will always go the way we want it to! Don't help us curate our experiences to be just what we want and take away our opportunities to experience something wildly outside ourselves! Don't feed into our illusion of control!

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