When Do I Get to Forgive Famous People?

How do you know if it's okay to actually forgive someone? Like a famous person?

When do I get to forgive people?

It's a weird question. I'm pretty sure it's just up to me whether or not I forgive a person or not - it's a pretty personal decision.

Here's the thing though - and I kind of hate even writing this, because I am NOT one of those people who's all "the court of public opinion is killing people!" or "online mob mentalities are destroying art and free speech!!!" - I don't know that I feel confident in my own ability to judge these things anymore. I mean, if someone has harmed me personally, then I know just what to do: forgive them instantly or spend the rest of my life reliving the pain they caused me until it turns me into a crust of a person. But what about a famous person for whom my personal forgiveness is technically meaningless, but who I feel compelled to have an opinion about? There, I am lost.

The latest is this James Gunn thing. When the news broke about his terrible tweets and he got fired from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies I felt... conflicted. After all, the things he tweeted about ten years ago were disgusting and vile, but it didn't seem obvious to me that he was the same person anymore. It seemed more obvious that he had changed his ways.

But I didn't trust my own reading of the situation. I have a bad track record of accepting the apologies of famous men who do terrible things at face value. Case in point: my first reaction to Louis C.K.'s apology was pure gratitude that he was admitting he did bad things.

Then I read some commentary on his apology and realized that I had been duped. I re-read the apology from a lens of "what is he actually saying?" instead of the head over heels, "OMG a powerful man is recognizing he did something wrong? THIS NEVER HAPPENS! THE WORLD IS FIXING ITSELF!!!" lens I originally read it with and realized that I was wrong. I needed to be a little more skeptical when it came to the PR of saying sorry.

It was a good lesson, but it also led to some self-doubt that I haven't recovered from yet so that when I read James Gunn's apology, I didn't really know what to think about it. He doesn't sound super contrite, but he seems very clearly to think he said inappropriate things and to have stopped doing it because it was wrong. This could be enough. Should it be enough? Is it enough?

It seems a lot of people think that since he said those things, EVER, he is blacklisted forever as a Bad Guy. So then, for those people at least, is there no opportunity for forgiveness? Can a person never change and move on? Or has he just not yet met that bar?

I DON'T KNOW!

I don't want them to decide for me, but I want to know all the reasoning behind their stance. What are they seeing that I am missing? Or do we just have different values when it comes to a person's hope for redemption?

Now the cast for Guardians of the Galaxy has come out with a letter defending him and asking for his return to the movie.

So, is this an example of his true character and the fact that the cast knows him and has seen his ways? Or is it like when Lena Dunham defended the guy from her show who was accused of sexual assault and everything blew up in her face?

So maybe the court of public opinion isn't unnecessarily ruining lives and stifling speech, but maybe it is messing with my head quite a bit.


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I Think I Can Listen to Tori Amos Again?

I have recently been able to start listening to sad music again without getting depressed!
Photo by Mohammad Metri.

Recently, I made a really fun discovery that I am still appreciating almost daily: I can now listen to music that used to spiral me into depression without spiralling into depression!!!

Seeing as music is such a pervasively emotional thing, I imagine I am not the only person in the world who has fallen victim to the feelings in a song. Sometimes it was on purpose because the music connected to all my deep, dark feelings and all I could do was lie on the floor in my bedroom listening to those CDs over and over again. (Obviously this was Sarah McLachlan and Tori Amos.) Other times I would suddenly realize that a particular song had grabbed my heart and thrown it into a deep pit, like with the song "Better Sons and Daughters" by Rilo Kiley, and have nothing left to do but stare at the dark, empty hole inside of me. (It's melodramatic, ridiculous, AND it's true. Depression is fun!)

Once I started to work on my depression, I had to more or less banish that music from my life. It was dangerous. It triggered all the depressed thoughts and beliefs that I was trying to change and I was kind of afraid of it, actually.

Then, a little while ago, I decided to try listening to some old Tori Amos.

I felt something, and it was a kind of sadness, but it wasn't overwhelming. It wasn't scary. It didn't pull me down. It was almost like a nostalgic or vicarious experience of sadness. Sort of like how I am told other people like horror movies because they experience a little bit of fear, but it's fun fear because they are actually safe (which is ridiculous because horror movies are ongoing omens of death, but that's for another time). It was sadness, but safe sadness.

Then I wondered, IS THIS HOW OTHER PEOPLE FELT THE WHOLE TIME????? (Serious question to people who have never experienced depression: have you always been able to listen to super depressing music without being pulled right over the edge into overwhelming emotional darkness???)

Either way, I am enjoying the fact that I can listen to this music again without getting completely bummed out. I would say it's fun, but it's very sad music so fun might not be the right word. It's... nice?

Now excuse me while I go hang with Tori.

Giphy.


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Cute! Roundup: MEOWFEST EDITION!!!!

I went to MEOWFEST this weekend!!! What is Meowfest, you ask? OBVIOUSLY it is a festival dedicated to all things feline and it was adorable. My companion got us passes into the CUDDLE ROOM which was full of KITTENS and every picture in here is from that experience!!!

Another super active kitty who just wanted to play!

This little guy was all over the place, playing with everyone at meowfest!

I really bonded with this adorable cat!

cat from the cuddle room at meowfest, so cute!


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Learning! Roundup: Happy Horses, Travel Documents, a New STI, Ritualistic Eating, and More!

Learning roundup: happy horse snorts, travel documents, and more racism in the legal system
Photo by Genevieve Perron-Migneron.

Snorting Horses

You know that adorable snorting sound horses make? Turns out they make it because they are HAPPY! Awwww! Just thinking about happy horses makes me happy!

Travel Docs for Women With Their Own Last Name

Have a husband and child(ren) but didn't change your last name? WELL. Apparently, border agents might just decide your child doesn't belong with you and will chide you that you really should have taken your husband's name. It's stupid, but I guess you should travel with a copy of the birth certificate. (Or, apparently, a note from the father, vouching for you? Which just feels worse to me.)

A New STI

There's a new STI in town, and while this one is just an infection that should be treatable with antibiotics, it is, apparently, on the road to resistance already. Oh, and it usually doesn't present symptoms, but it can lead to infertility in women.

Ritualistic Eating

Apparently, performing small, meaningless rituals while eating actually helps people eat fewer calories. It can be as simple as knocking a pattern on the table, doing a series of hand gestures, or arranging your food in a particular way on your plate before you start eating. It is both strange that this is actually effecting in reducing calorie intake and also reminds me of little rituals people with eating disorders tend to follow.

Sports and Judgements

Hey, look! More evidence of unconscious bias in the legal system! A new study shows that judges give harsher sentences to black defendants after their favourite sports team loses.

Narcissism Wins?

Narcissists, or people who think they are better than everyone else, may be annoying, but they are also successful. So sayeth the science.


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Advice for the Future That We Probably Shouldn't Wait On

Photo by Alex Iby.

Apparently, in 1988 Volkswagon hired Kurt Vonnegut to write a letter to those living 100 years in the future.

He gave seven steps to live in tune with (instead of in dominance over) nature:

1. Reduce and stabilize your population.
2. Stop poisoning the air, the water, and the topsoil.
3. Stop preparing for war and start dealing with your real problems.
4. Teach your kids, and yourselves, too, while you’re at it, how to inhabit a small planet without helping to kill it.
5. Stop thinking science can fix anything if you give it a trillion dollars.
6. Stop thinking your grandchildren will be OK no matter how wasteful or destructive you may be, since they can go to a nice new planet on a spaceship. That is really mean, and stupid.
7. And so on. Or else.

Okay, so I have a confession: I got kind of angry reading that list. This probably seems like a huge overreaction to a collection of very good advice. After all, we are quickly marching directly into a global warming-fueled apocalypse precisely because we have not yet heeded this advice! It is very necessary!

And that's why I got mad!

That advice should not have been for people living in 2088! That is too far away! That advice should have been for people in 1988! Or 1980! He should have written advice for the PAST, not the FUTURE.

I suppose it's possible that in 1988, global disaster seemed far enough away that it was a problem for those living 100 years in the future, not for the next 20 years. I am not sure, I was too young in 1988 to know what kind of environmental panic people were living under, but it's not like it was off everyone's radar.

The other thing that makes me mad is that I don't know what to do with this advice. I would LOVE to stop poisoning the air, water, and topsoil, but mostly I am not able to make those decisions. Sure, I can "vote with my dollars", but that's a tough vote to make when it costs so much more.

So, basically, this is my confession: Kurt Vonnegut's advice for the future is so good, and so relevant right now, that it makes me angry to read it. Is that a reasonable response?

(via Kottke)


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Inspiration! Roundup: Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie Continues to Amaze, Fabric Souls, Twinning with Mom, and More!

This week's "I want to go to there": This seems like just the right amount and kind of weird for me right now.
Think I can take a sip without spilling???
Photo by Thought Catalog.

Chimamanda on the World

This interview with novelist Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie is AH-MAZ-ING! It's not a surprise that this woman is brilliant, but she talks about everything, from the fact that she knows very sexist people who she still likes to a short story she wrote about Melania Trump (that I am now desperate to read).

I will be honest, reading anything by or about Adichie is both inspirational and deflating. She is too incredible.

Fabric Souls

These Markus Åkesson portraits of people covered in fabric are creepy and awesome.

A post shared by Markus Åkesson (@markusakessonvisual) on

Twinning with Mom

Artist Vivek Shraya has recreated photos of her mother from the 70s, and the series is quite stunning.

This Fruit is Glowing

Dennis Wojkiewicz has painted a stunning series of illuminated fruit portraits. It's still life brought to a whole new level. See more on Colossal.


Friends

“Your group of friends are better than any drug or anti-aging supplement, and will do more for you than just about anything.”
-Tara Parker-Pope

(It's true! Friendship is the best thing!)

Books Books Books!

Go visit Elizabeth Sagan's Instagram feed. She creates the coolest art photos using stacks and stacks of books.



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What Kobe Bryant and Justin Trudeau Have in Common

Photo by Mihai Surdu.

Apparently, it was 15 years ago that Kobe Bryant was a basketball legend who got accused of raping a teenage girl. At first, he said that he had never met her. Then he admitted to having sex with her. Then he admitted to strangling her during the course of sex without asking for explicit consent. But, according to him, the whole thing was consensual. His apology statement both affirmed that it was consensual while admitting it wasn't at the same time:

"Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did. After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.”

"I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual." vs. "I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter."

He "truly believes" that it was consensual while understanding that she "feels she did not consent."

I guess he put just enough muddy language in there (I believe, she feels) to avoid the obvious contradiction in those statements. It's kind of ludicrous, actually, and I would like to say that weird twisted logic where an accused sexual assaulter can claim that two different versions of the story are equally valid and get off the hook is a thing of the past, except that the sweet feminist Prime Minister of Canada did the exact same thing when old allegations that he groped a reporter in the year 2000:

“I’ve been reflecting very carefully on what I remember from that incident almost 20 years ago. I do not feel that I acted inappropriately in any way. But I respect the fact that someone else might have experienced that differently... I’m confident that I did not act inappropriately but I think the essence of this [the #metoo movement] is that people can experience interactions differently.”

Again - "I do not feel that I acted inappropriately in any way." vs. "I respect the fact that someone else might have experienced that differently."

He "does not feel he acted inappropriately", but is totally okay that "someone else might have experienced that differently."

DUDE! If you did not act inappropriately, then there would be nothing for her to experience as inappropriate! The sense of inappropriateness comes from HER, not from YOU, that's consent 101, for pete's sake. THAT is the "essence" of this whole #metoo thing! If she says it was inappropriate, then IT WAS INAPPROPRIATE. Done. You were wrong.

ALSO! Don't try to distance yourself from it by saying "someone else" instead of "SHE" - this not some hypothetical random person who may go off on a wild interpretation of your behaviour but a specific person who has specifically said that you groped her inappropriately.

UGH!

So today is the day I learned that my Super Feminist Prime Minister is also a sleaze who uses the exact same jumbled arguments as the dude who raped a teenager and went on to have an awesome basketball career.

That's fun.


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Cute! Roundup: A Family of Cat Love, Ugly-Cute Batfish, Opossum Families, and More!

Gertie may be a lot of things, but one thing she is often NOT is a lady. And I love it.

Cute! Roundup of cute things like cats and red-lipped batfish and opossums and more cats!

OTHER CUTENESS:

Family cat love.

The red-lipped batfish definitely falls into the category of so ugly it's cute.

This yawn gives me life!

A family of opossums!

This Buzzfeed list of 99 cat-related tweets truly made my day.


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Singalong! The Gross, Gross Man by Bif Naked

I just happened to be indulging in some old school teen angst with Bif Naked's old tunes at the same time as my friend posted on Facebook about getting barked at by a bunch of guys while walking down the street. Then I remember that dear Bificus wrote a poem about this in 1994.

Sorry, it's not a song. I'm sure we can all deal.


THE GROSS, GROSS MAN
by Bif Naked

He keeps looking at me with his groping, watching eyeballs… gross! we women, we are supposed to just drop our eyes and be quiet. just don't look at the gross, gross man and hope he quits ogling

Believe it or not, i want to flip him the bird ya know?

But i don't, cuz we women don't. once i gave the finger to a bunch of construction dudes, but they were yelling really bad stuff about my "cookie." it just got 'em all riled up, and then they yelled, "dyke!" and i had pms so i cried all the way home

Gross, gross man still gawking as i sit here writing... what's he thinking? gee, maybe i'll invite him up to my sex den and he can fondle my boobies... yeah, right!

Stupid gross man, quit staring! gosh, he won't let up. it makes me feel really uncomfortable i wish i could just crawl under a rock! 'cuz we women are supposed to just feel bad about ourselves… like we're doing something wrong. i'm not! i swear! being "we women" sucks! fuck you!


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Learning! Roundup: Less Nutritious Rice, Imbalanced Sentences, Scary Velvet Ants, Out of Body Experiences, and More!

Learning! Roundup: less healthy rice, flying spiders, imbalanced sentencing for black people and women, and more
Photo by rawpixel

Climate Change Leads to Less Nutritious Food

One more thing to worry about in our post-apocalyptic future: rising CO2 levels lead to decreased nutritional value in rice. If you think, "oh that's not such a big deal", then you aren't one of the billions of people whose diet relies on rice. This is a major problem, not only for the countries whose cuisine is rice-based but also poor people all over the world who can only afford to eat rice.

Sentence Imbalance

A new Harvard Law study has shown that judges who are appointed by Republican presidents give longer sentences to black people and shorter sentences to women. To be clear, neither are fair situations. Also, I am not clear on how black women fit into this assessment. Do they get lighter sentences for being female, longer ones for being black, or do the judges just split the difference?

Beware the Velvet Ant

Just so you know, the scariest insect may not be a scorpion or black widow, but an ant. The female velvet ant has a sting so painful it's called the "cow killer" and no predators. No one dares stand before her, so we probably shouldn't either.

Open Plan Offices Take Another Hit

Research never seems to bode well for the open-plan office. A new study shows that people who work in open-plan offices, intended to help people interact more, actually talk less and email more.

Keep Your Family Doctor (If You Have One)

If you have a family doctor, keep them. People who keep seeing the same doctor actually live longer. Unfortunately, this is another hit to lower-income people who may have a harder time finding a doctor to call their own.

A Predisposition to Leave Your Body

I find out of body experiences (OBEs) fascinating! We know that some people have the experience of leaving their bodies, but not what they actually are or how they actually come to be. New research hasn't helped answer those questions, but it has found that patients with anxiety and depression are more likely to experience an OBE. Hey, that's me!

Flying Spiders

A few days after my boyfriend told me about how he was sitting on a mountainside and saw a spider float/fly in front of him, tethered to nothing, and thought, "well, we're all going to die now, spiders are flying," I read this article about how spiders fly on the electricity in the air.


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Action Items: Things to Do To Help Fight Evil and Save the World

Action Items are notes from the "Let's Save the World" committee meetings in my head. A collection of some news items and articles that may fire up a desire for action, and then at least one suggested action item to follow up. It won't be comprehensive of every single thing in the world and all the ways to fix it, but it will be something, and something is better than nothing.


Some of the Things That Are Happening:

It's pow-wow season! You know what that means: settlers trying to take inappropriate photos of Indigenous people in their regalia. Here is an open letter from one Indigenous woman to the woman who didn't listen when she said, "no."

ACTION ITEM: If you want to take a picture of ANYONE (but especially an Indigenous person in regalia), first look and listen for hints of whether it's an appropriate action, THEN ask permission, and THEN respect their answer! If you notice someone else taking inappropriate photos, say, "Hey, I don't think we're supposed to take photos of this right now."

+++

A congressman named Jim Jordan used to be an assistant coach at Ohio State University, where the team doctor was sexually assaulting the players. When it came out that Jordan knew about the assaults at the time, instead of expressing regret that he hadn't acted differently at the time, he accused the victims of lying.

ACTION ITEM: Study up on what to do if someone ever discloses a sexual assault to you. Here is a guide for what to do if a friend or loved one shares what happened to them and you aren't their boss. Ask your company about their reporting, investigation, and disclosure procedures. If your workplace doesn't have a policy and procedure in place, help make one. Hey look, here's a template.

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The CEO of feminist apparel company Feminist Apparel (creative naming) has been discovered to be a sexual abuser. This wouldn't necessarily be the end of the world - if the stories are true, he was a dude who did things he thought dudes did (dance up on girls at a club without their consent and target the really drunk girl to make out with at parties), until he finally woke up and learned that this is not okay. Then he started a feminist clothing company to help fight against his old ways. Personally, I think that's a bit misguided and also kind of cool. Except that he tried to erase that story from his company's history, and then when it came out and his employees (mostly female) got upset, he pretended he was going to step down and then locked them out of their email accounts and fired them without severance.

ACTION ITEM: If you like to shop for snarky feminist stuff online, check out this list of feminist shops created by (gasp!) women! (Your call if you want to support Lena Dunham's shop, which is included in this list.)

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Here is an incredibly frustrating video of a man harassing a young woman for wearing a Puerto Rico shirt while she asks a cop for help and he ignores her.

ACTION ITEM: This is sort of a "right place at the right time" thing, but maybe if you notice something like this, step in. If you don't feel safe talking to the harasser, but there is a cop around, ask them why they aren't helping. Practice in your mind what you might say. Maybe, "Hey, this looks like an unsafe situation and I'm worried, can you do something?"

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Pregnant women held in detention in the United States were abused, shackled around their bellies, and not offered health care as they miscarried. Seriously.

ACTION ITEM: Send this news story to anyone you know who is both pro life and supports Trump.


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Here's Something I Could Have Done Differently

Photo by Sydney Rae.

The other night I was at a theatre industry awards show. All in all, it was an awesome evening. I love the opportunity to get together with my entire community and celebrate. I always cry some tears of joy/overwhelm a few times in the night, and this one did not disappoint.

I also, for about 30 seconds, sat, frozen, staring at my lap like a deer in the headlights.

Why?

Because during one of the speeches, while the recipient was talking about how excited he was that the younger generations are uprooting racism, sexism, and other prejudiced ways of being, another man stood up and started shouting back at him.

I do not know exactly what he was saying, but his point seemed to be that he, and his values, were being left out of the equation.

He was also sitting right behind me and was the husband of a friend of mine.

The recipient on stage handled the whole thing with grace, and fairly quickly (or maybe a million years later), the yeller sat down and the recipient was able to finish his speech.

Meanwhile, I went into body-lockdown, avoided eye contact, and waited for the moment to end.

I have been thinking over that moment ever since.

I can't decide if I wish I had acted differently or not.

What would a true ally do? What would a person whose brain didn't go into panic-freeze mode do? What would a brave and compassionate person do? Heck, what would Jesus do? (He was pretty cool under pressure AND he had a penchant for allyship, after all.)

Would it have been better if I had the presence of mind to think about how unfair this was to the award recipient on stage? If I had been brave enough to stand up and tell the yelling man to sit down? Would that have helped the situation, or would that have just devolved into one more yelling person? Would that have made the whole thing worse for my friend, his wife, who was probably already mortified?

I don't know.

Here's what I do know: my brain has returned to that moment many times over the past few days, not because I need to feel bad about what happened, but to practice.

My brain has practiced being present for a moment like that and understanding the various perspectives on what is happening.

My brain has practiced what it might be like to stand up and say something, and what I might say if I were to do that.

My brain has practiced different reactions to that moment, and now I feel that if (or when) something like that happens again, I will be better prepared. Not necessarily to jump in and be some kind of not-necessarily-called-for hero, but to actually be present in the moment, to assess what is actually needed, and to have the language to step in, if that is the right thing to do.

So that's kind of cool.


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Inspiration! Roundup: Famous to Whom?, Gravity, the River of Life, and More!

This Week's "I want to go to there": Magic in the skies.
Photo by Adam Dutton.

Famous to Whom?

This poem by Naomi Shihab Nye is grabbing my heart right now:

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.

The idea you carry close to your bosom
is famous to your bosom.

The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.

I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.


RIGHT???!?!?!?!?? Straight to the guts!

Gravity

Infinite Flow is a dance company that works with dancers with mixed abilities, and their work is STUNNING.


The River of Life
"The man who, in old age, can see his life in this way, will not suffer from the fear of death, since the things he cares for will continue. And if, with the decay of vitality, weariness increases, the thought of rest will not be unwelcome. I should wish to die while still at work, knowing that others will carry on what I can no longer do and content in the thought that what was possible has been done."
-Bertrand Russell (more here)
Here is what I like about this: it lets go of the notion that you have to "finish" some work in your life in order for it to be worthwhile. The work is not yours, but you are a part of the work. You contribute what you can and then know that someone else will pick up where you left off and carry it much farther than you ever could.

Song Charts

Artist Katrina McHugh has made the most lovely series of art infographics describing the lyrics of pop songs.


Do Not Be Daunted

Artist Grace D. Chin made a beautiful print reminding us all of this most vital quote from the Talmud. It's a good reminder with the seeming abundance of grief in the world these days:



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Daria: A Retrospective of Detachment

Apparently, Daria, like everything else awesome from the 90's, is being dug out of its grave and forced into a reboot.

Like most Old Dames of the millennial generation (you know, those of us who are technically millennials, but grew up without the internet so are basically the elders of the generation, telling harrowing tales of dial-up and rotary phones to our more youthful counterparts), I am not into the idea. Daria was a perfect reflection of its era and now that we actually live in a sick, sad world, I just don't see it working.

So I thought we could celebrate/mourn with a retrospective on some of Daria's finest moments. The retrospective will be made up of gifs because, you know, old media/new media. It's deep, y'all. (All gifs from Giphy.)











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Talk Friendly to Me

Photo by Zoltan Tasi.

Have you tried saying nice things to yourself?

It's really hard. I taught myself how to do it when I was working through my depression, but honestly, I have let the skill slip in recent years. I just came across the best idea on how to approach it, though.

On this subreddit I frequent, TrollX Chromosomes (it's a wonderful place if you like snarky feminist memes), someone posted this:

"Inside my head I usually feel like there's two best friends living in there, and for a few years now they've had a really good relationship. When negative thoughts start, it's usually one of them saying it - and the other hugs and comforts her.
-katiecharm

Isn't that just beautiful?

The other night I tried it. I was trying to sleep and my brain kept going over some work I didn't get done that day. I imagined a second person in there saying, "You worked hard today and have lots of time tomorrow. You did good. You can rest now." Then she gave my brain a hug.

It worked! The little obsessive monster side of my brain felt like it was heard and I relaxed and went to sleep.

I love this little hack. One of the hardest things about being nice to yourself when you are feeling down or negative is that, well, you're feeling down or negative. Having an imagined "other" inside of you (who is really just another part of you) makes it easier to let those comforting words come out.


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Cute! Roundup: Fierce Baby Turtles, Friendship, Gorillas, Cats in Boxes, and More!

Every time I hang with Gertie, I either take twenty pictures of her or spend the whole time trying not to take twenty pictures of her. This time I took the twenty.


OTHER CUTENESS:

This baby turtle is small but FIERCE!

The best of all friendships.

It's a baby mountain gorilla, and it's ADORABLE!

A while ago, when everyone was doing the disappearing trick in front of their dogs, I assumed it would never work on a cat because they wouldn't notice. I was wrong!

A very calming video. (Or just skip to the end for the best part.)

A very fun and cute series of photos of cats high on catnip.


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Singalong! Turn Back Time by Cher

There's so much to love about this song! I love that it's a song about love gone wrong where the singer is taking responsibility for their past misdeed. I love that you can sing about turning back time and imagine being Hermione Granger with a time turner. I love that Cher rides a canon in the video.


TURN BACK TIME
by Cher

If I could turn back time
If I could find a way
I'd take back those words that've hurt you and you'd stay

I don't know why I did the things I did
I don't know why I said the things I said
Pride's like a knife, it can cut deep inside
Words are like weapons, they wound sometimes

I didn't really mean to hurt you
I didn't wanna see you go
I know I made you cry, but baby

If I could turn back time, if I could find a way
I'd take back those words that've hurt you, you'd stay
If I could reach the stars, I'd give 'em all to you
Then you'd love me, love me, like you used to do
If I could turn back time

My world was shattered, I was torn apart
Like someone took a knife and drove it deep in my heart
When you walked out that door I swore that I didn't care
But I lost everything, darlin', then and there

Too strong to tell you I was sorry
Too proud to tell you I was wrong
I know that I was blind and darlin'

If I could turn back time, if I could find a way
I'd take back those words that've hurt you and you'd stay
If I could reach the stars, I'd give 'em all to you
Then you'd love me, love me, like you used to do

If I could turn back time
(If I could turn back time)
If I could turn back time
(If I could turn back time)
If I could turn back time
Oh, baby

I didn't really mean to hurt you
I didn't wanna see you go
I know I made you cry, but

If I could turn back time, if I could find a way
I'd take back those words that hurt you
If I could reach the stars, I'd give 'em all to you
Then you'd love me, love me, like you used to do
If I could turn back time, if I could find a way
And maybe, maybe, maybe you'd stay
If I could reach the stars

Giphy


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Learning! Roundup: Inspired to Believe, Mice in the Trolley Problem, Incepting Happiness, Asylum Seekers, and More!

A roundup of interesting research from the past week! Inspiration leads to more belief in God, the trolley problem is worse than we thought, and more.
Does this inspire you? Maybe you will also believe in God!
Photo by Greg Rakozy.

Inspiration to Believe

It looks like a belief in God is related to how often a person feels inspired in their daily life. The more often you feel inspired, the more likely you are to believe in God - whether you expect God to be warm and loving or controlling.

The Trolley Problem Revisited

The Trolley Problem is a common one in psych research and armchair academia alike: if you could save a trolley full of people by pushing on man onto the tracks to stop the train, would you sacrifice one for the many? While responses vary depending on the context and how people are asked, generally most people claim they wouldn't be able to physically push someone to their death, even to save others. Well, a new study is getting us closer to the idea that we might actually be more ruthless than that. This one was mice and shocks, but it showed that most people diverted a shock to one mouse in order to save five the pain.

Stress and Eyesight

Apparently, it's already known that loss of eyesight can cause stress (which isn't much of a surprise), but a new study shows that persistent stress can cause the loss of eyesight and worsen other eye conditions.

Happiness Inception

Memory is a pretty wobbly thing - it takes very little suggestion for us to think that we remember something that never actually happened or modify a memory that did. So some researchers thought it would be interesting to see if they could reduce people's experience of anxiety by implanting positive autobiographical memories. And it worked!

Asylum Seekers Benefit Economies

Know someone who thinks that immigration and asylum-seeking is bad for their local economy? Now you can use science to tell them they are wrong! A new study shows that "migrant shocks" in Europe, where very large numbers of people unexpectedly flow into a country, are ultimately GOOD for the economy.

Last Name Status

Just the other night I was at an art gallery with my partner. We talked about Salvador Dali and Emily Carr and I realized that I was calling one by their last name and the other by their full name. Obviously, it was Ms. Carr who was referred to by her full name. I wondered why, and we surmised that it's because "Carr" would be awkward to say all on its own. Turns out, it could be the patriarchy! A new study shows that, across all fields, people are twice as likely to refer to a male professional by only his last name, and that this is bad because we judge people who go by just their last name as more important. Well, shoot.


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What Does It Mean to Do Nothing? Can We Try It Together?

How little activity do you need to be doing for it to count as nothing?
Photo by Pim Chu.

I am currently obsessed with the notion of doing nothing.

There is a dance show in Vancouver this week called I Miss Doing Nothing and since I got to interview one of the dancers for an article about the show I can't stop thinking about doing nothing.

I want to do nothing. But what actually counts as doing nothing?

I went backpacking last weekend. That is doing something, some would say a pretty aggressive something. After all, we carried tents and camp stoves and spare socks up a mountain, set up camp, cook food and hang it in a tree (because of bears), all before climbing back down. It was certainly a lot of work.

But we also spent a lot of time in suspended, nothing-like activities: the repetetive motion of walking along a trail that never seems to end; sitting and looking at the mountains; literally watching multiple pots of water boil. There is a lot of stillness, or mindless repetition, in backpacking that feels kind of like doing nothing.

We climbed a mountain, which is sort of an accomplishment, but also kind of meaningless. We didn't keep track of the time (except how long we hiked for because you need to know when you're getting close). We have nothing to show for it except photos and memories. Did that count as doing nothing? Or was it too much effort to be nothing?

I remember an episode of Seinfeld where Jerry asks Elaine what she did last night, and she says, "nothing." He replies, "I know nothing, but what did you actually do?", to which she replies that she was sitting and staring at a wall all evening. Literally doing nothing.

But even then, if you wanted to be difficult about it, you could say that she was doing something: sitting, looking, breathing, blinking, swallowing. Being a not-dead creature means that you are technically always doing something. So doing nothing is probably not about total inactivity.

Possible definitions of doing nothing:

Something that...

...relies on little or no active brain engagement.

...nobody else is relying on you for, or maybe doesn't even impact other people at all.

...has no time pressure associated with it.

...allows you to disappear for a little while.

...has no goal attached to it or quality standard to meet.

...is generally obligation-free.

Perhaps it's like a diagnostic manual and you need at least three of those conditions to be doing nothing? Or is one vital to have an activity count as nothing?


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On Having Something to Look Forward To

Photo by Gaelle Marcel.

I recently read a piece of financial advice that it's easier to avoid frivolous spending if you have something to look forward to spending that money on in the future.

Makes sense - denying yourself now is a lot easier if it's for a concrete purpose.

At first, I read that and thought, "Man! We should all have something to look forward to! All the time! Wouldn't that just make life better overall? Let's look forward to things!"

I was pretty convinced of this and started drafting up a post all about that idea: have something to look forward to and that way it's easier and more fun to get through the sloggy bits of life.

Then I realized that constantly thinking about some future reward sounds like something that the most miserable people do: working for the weekend, gritting their teeth through existence for that upcoming holiday, biding time until they can get out of whatever is going on right now so that they can experience a brief moment of happiness before returning to the slog of life.

That does not sound like a pleasant way to live, and there is actually research that shows we are happier when we are "in the moment", even when that moment involves doing something we don't really like. Trying to distract ourselves from a temporary unpleasant experience may work wonders (my boyfriend successfully distracted me from how badly I had to pee on a road trip by getting me to rap Lose Yourself by Eminem), but otherwise, science says we're better off being present with ourselves.

BUT, having things in the future that you are excited about is pretty darn great. It is fun to anticipate a vacation, concert, or visit from an out of town friend.

So here is a compromise: don't use future happiness to ignore or avoid your present reality, but to augment it. Set yourself little reminders of that exciting upcoming event so that you can occasionally get excited all over again, because it's fun!

Whether you place a physical reminder somewhere that you will come across later in the day or a phone alert, it's pretty great to suddenly be reminded that you have something exciting on the way.

Bonus points if you are able to share that excitement with someone else! Then it multiplies!


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Inspiration! Roundup: Intentional Art, Animals in Period Costumes, Writing Advice, and Getting Better

This Week's "I want to to go to there": I am pretty obsessed with stillness right now. I want to go be still!
Photo by Paul Morris.

Intentional

There is something very satisfying about Pawel Norbert's illustration series Intentional, playing with realistic strips of paint.

A post shared by Pawel Nolbert (@hellocolor) on

100 Useful Things

Speaking of satisfying, how about this simple website, sharing items that are useful? It just feels good to look at.

They Think They're People

Artist Bill Mayer's series of paintings featuring plants and animals dressed in period costumes are so charming and creepy, I love them!

Advice on Happiness

Listen, I am a bit skeptical to take advice on how to be happy from a Richie McRich Kid like Richard Branson, especially when he starts it off saying he's not happy because he's rich but is rich because he's happy. But also, he has a point. Not that being happy will help you get rich, but that happiness not a result of wealth or other trappings.

"So many people get caught up in doing what they think will make them happy but, in my opinion, this is where they fail. Happiness is not about doing, it’s about being. In order to be happy, you need to think consciously about it. Don’t forget the to-do list, but remember to write a to-be list too."

How to Write a Good Story

A quick hit of advice from Kurt Vonnegut on how to write a good short story. I am starting to try to write more narrative and so I certainly appreciate the advice!

Getting Better

I love this Joan Crawford quote: "I wish I could tell you it gets better, but it doesn't get better. You get better."



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Action Items: Things to Do to Help Fight Evil and Save the World

Action Items are notes from the "Let's Save the World" committee meetings in my head. A collection of some news items and articles that may fire up a desire for action, and then at least one suggested action item to follow up. It won't be comprehensive of every single thing in the world and all the ways to fix it, but it will be something, and something is better than nothing.


Some of the Things That Are Happening:

A US Court has decided that students in Detroit do not have the right to access literacy. They have the right to go to school, and those schools have to be open, but they don't have the teach them anything. WT(actual)F?

Prime Minister Trudeau was accused of providing unwanted groping to a reporter 18 years ago. His response? "I don't remember it being a negative experience, but hey, she's entitled to her opinion." Of course, you don't remember it being negative! You were getting yours! Ugh.

To nobody's surprise, it turns out that gymnastics has a major sexual harassment and assault problem. The solution that is being considered? Not to increase safeguards or punishment for perpetrators, but to ban leotards. Because the problem is that the girls look too darn sexy.

Another Indigenous man was shot in Canada by a white man, and that white man got off with zero charges. Their defence was that his "military training" kicked in and he shot instead of calling the cops when someone was stealing his car. If our military is training soldiers to run off and deal with situations on their own, shooting people in the back, then we might need to retrain.

Listen, I know there is some drama about the whole "breast is best" thing here in North America, but the movement began because Big Formula was using very sneaky marketing practices to trick low-income women into thinking that their breastmilk wasn't good enough and they had to spend their non-existent money on formula. This is especially bad in developing countries where there isn't clean drinking water, and the US not only just voted against a UN World Health movement to encourage breastfeeding but bullied other countries into following suit.

There has been an ongoing saga in Canada around a show called SLĀV, a musical piece created by white artists with mostly white performers using African American slave songs and acting out things like cotton picking. It was protested, has finally been cancelled, and the show creators are doubling down on their defence of the work.

YES! In Iran it's against the law for women to dance in the streets, and these incredible dancers aren't having it! You go girls!

Action Item:

I kind of want to say "just don't be a jerk" this week, but that seems insufficient.

Let's all send Justin Trudeau a quick note about consent and sexual assault. He seems to have missed the memo that intention doesn't matter - it's the recipient's interpretation that matters. Here is how to reach him.


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Cute! Roundup: Puppy Offerings, Little Baby Casts, Baby Goats, and More!

Isn't she just the sweetest? YES, YES SHE IS!


OTHER CUTENESS:

A puppy's greatest offering.

This little one gets the littlest casts! Too sweet. Get better soon!

All I want is to live in a massive garden I don't have to care for that is home to baby goats like this.

It's a hedgehog's birthday!!!!

If I fits I sits, but what if I don't fits?


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Singalong! Cheated Hearts by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

This song is one of the ones that I call a "heart clencher", because every time I hear it, it grabs my heart and I grab it right back and sing from that place deep inside that feels all the feelings. It's glorious.


CHEATED HEARTS
by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Cheated by the opposite of love
Held on high from up, up, up above
Kept my high from the second one
Kept my eye on the first one

Now, take these rings and stow them safe away
I'll wear them on another rainy day
Take these rings and stow them safe away
I'll wear them on another rainy day
Take these rings and stow them safe away
I'll wear them on another rainy day
Take these rings and stow them safe away
I'll wear them on another rainy day

Well I'm
Taka-taka-taka-taka-takin' it off
And she's
Taka-taka-taka-taka-takin' it off
And he's
Taka-taka-taka-taka-takin' it off
And we're
Taka-taka-taka-taka-takin' it off

Sometimes, I think that I'm bigger than the sound
Well, I think that I'm bigger than the sound
Well, I think that I'm bigger than the sound
Well, I think that I'm bigger than the sound

She'll take on high
She'll take on high

Well sometimes, I think that I'm bigger than the sound
Well, I think that I'm bigger than the sound
Well, I think that I'm bigger than the sound
Well, I think that I'm bigger than the sound

Cheated by the opposite of love
Held on high from up, up, up above
Kept my high from the second one
Kept my eye on the first one

Now, take these rings and stow them safe away
I'll wear them on another rainy day
Take these rings and stow them safe away
I'll wear them on another rainy day
Take these rings and stow them safe away
I'll wear them on another rainy day
Take these rings and stow them safe away
I'll wear them on another rainy day

Photo by Rockland. CC.



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Learning! Roundup: Robot Eye Surgeons, Health Effects of Separating Kids from Parents, Sext Etiquette, and More!

Could this be your next surgeon?
Photo by Franck V.

Robo-Surgeons

A robot has performed eye surgery for the first time! And it worked!

Health Effects of Separating Children from Parents

There are many reasons why separating children from their parents is cruel and evil. One is the negative health impact on the children, including regressed development, poor sleep, and self-harm.

Ambiguity

New research shows that people who are more comfortable with ambiguity are also most likely to trust other people. Makes sense - trust is basically accepting an unknown outcome.

Sext Etiquette

This may be unsurprising, given our current #metoo conversations, but a study has shown that we perceive the appropriateness of unsolicited sexy texts differently based on the gender of the sender. Men who send unsolicited sexual messages are seen as less appropriate than women who do it. Makes sense given everything we know about traditional gender roles and each party's feeling of safety therein.

The Stanford Prison Experiment

Turns out that the Stanford Prison Experiment was basically a sham. It has been criticized in the past, but new reports have shown that the guards (who Zimbardo claimed just naturally fell into their authoritarian roles) were coached in cruelty and that the famous prisoner freak-out was a performance.


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