Loneliness is killing millions of American men. Heres why.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Myriam/Pixabay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So know it, guys: I love you all.

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

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

Why Cokes Non-Binary Super Bowl Moment Mattered

There was a controversial four-letter word aired during last nights Super Bowlnot the kind that gets you in trouble with the FCC, but the kind that advances LGBT media representation in a small but still significant way.

The word was them.

In one tiny moment of Coca-Colas The Wonder of Us advertisement, a non-binary personsomeone who doesnt identify as either male or femaleappeared and the ads voiceover used the singular, gender-neutral pronoun them to refer to, well, them. It was a fleeting moment but eagle-eyed watchers noticed both the use of the they pronoun and the rainbow lanyard draped around the non-binary persons neck. The shout-out to LGBT viewers was as crystal clear as it was quick.

Theres a Coke for he and she and her and me and them, the ad declared, as a diverse array of soda slurping faces flashed across the screen. Theres a different Coke for all of us.

To be clear, this advertisement was Cokes marketing department at its finest : Making the experience of drinking their carbonated elixirs seem somehow synonymous with the fact of being human. This non-binary moment comes from a company that has implored us to taste the feeling, as if pure emotion is something that can be ingested. That messaging works, tooand even a hardened cynic like me has a fridge full of Coca-Cola Vanilla Zero that I am convinced can wash away all my sorrow even though I know nothing can.

So, as Matt Kemper wrote for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in his own analysis of the ad, it is good to remember this is still about a company trying to build brand, win friends, and sell drinks. Capitalism is still capitalism with all of its attendant problems.

Still given the severe underrepresentationindeed, the near invisibility of non-binary people in the media, the importance of 100 million people hearingthem used as a gender-neutral, third-person pronoun cannot be overstated. People from all swaths of society watch the Super Bowl, including an audience that might never have been exposed to a transgender or gender non-conforming person in real life. These are the sort of baby steps that change the media landscape, little by little.

LGBT viewers were quick to notice the them across social media. LGBT media advocacy group GLAAD, in particular, unleashed a stream of heart and crying emojis in response to the ad, which also featured a same-sex couple.

If Coca-Cola itself didnt have LGBT-friendly policies, the ad would seem like a crass attempt to exploit diversity to sell sodaand some particularly critical viewers will say that it already does just that. But its worth noting that the company has a perfect 100 score on the Human Rights Campaigns Corporate Equality Index. The score indicates the company offers transgender-inclusive health insurance coverage and includes gender identity in its equal employment opportunity policy.

But less important than the actual corporate vehicle for the non-binary moment is the moment itself, which comes after years of tedious debate over the use of they as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun. Despite the Associated Press style guide allowing gender-neutral singular pronouns and Merriam-Websters veritable social media rampage of late reminding people that there are centuries of precedent for using they as a singular pronounthere is still widespread resistance to the usage, even in liberal circles.

In fact, last May, a New York Times op-ed misgendered non-binary actor Asia Kate Dillon, who appears in the Showtime series Billions. In a follow-up column, then-public editor for the Times Liz Spayd explained that opinion editors, who generally follow the style and usage guidelines of the newsroom, were under the impression that they could not be used as a singular pronoun. As I wrote at the time, the editors took someone elses identity in[to] their hands and reshaped it to fit the demands of a style guide. One of the first and certainly the most prominent non-binary person to appear on television couldnt even be granted the dignity of the four letters that best describe their identity.

And if The New York Times has this much trouble with they, you can imagine how the far-right media feels about non-binary people adopting the pronoun as their own. Mocking pronoun choices by transgender people is practically a pastime among that crowd.

But non-binary people arent going anywhere. An unweighted 36 percent of the thousands of respondents to the 2015 U.S. Trans Survey identified as non-binary. If thats anything close to indicative of the ratio of binary transgender people to non-binary people, that means there are hundreds of thousands of American adults who dont identify as either male or female. And market research, as Broadly has previously reported, suggests that Generation Z is especially likely to embrace non-binary identification. Fifty six percent of 13-to-20-year-olds told the J. Walter Thompson Innovation Group that they knew someone who used they as their pronoun.

To whatever extent the inclusion of a non-binary person was motivated by an attempt to capture millennial beverage buyers, the net effect is the same: Super Bowl viewers, even the socially conservative ones who might not be keen on transgender rights, heard the use of a pronoun that is only going to grow more common in the coming years.

Judging by the rate at which young people now feel comfortable identifying as LGBT and gender non-conforming, including a non-binary person in a widely-watched TV advertisement will one day be unexceptional, barely worthy of note. At some point, those four letters will be about as normal to overhear as he or she.

But last night, they mattered.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/why-cokes-non-binary-super-bowl-moment-mattered

This Swedish fitness trend combines running with picking up litter

Image: Getty Images

Forget about Hygge, Lagom, and Ikea’s attempt to start a twin duvet revolution. There’s a new Scandinavian trend in town. 

This trend encourages people to pick up litter while out running. So, it’s not just good for your health, it’s also good for the environment. 

It’s called ‘plogging’—a portmanteau of jogging and the Swedish plocka upp, meaning ‘pick up.’ 

So hot is this new trend that fitness app Lifesum is allowing its users to log and track their plogging activity as a workout. 

Plogging combines going for a run with intermittent squatting or lunging (to collect rubbish), which actually sounds like a pretty satisfying workout. According to Lifesum, a typical user will burn 288 calories in 30 minutes of plogging, which is more or less the same as what’s burned off while jogging.  

As with all fitness trends, there are plenty of #plogging pics on Instagram, offering a glimpse of what this trend looks like IRL. Ploggers take plastic bags along with them so they can store the collected litter they find along their route.

Swedish fitness app Lifesum claims it’s the first health app to allows its 25 million users to log their plogging activity. Those using the health app can log plogging as a fitness activity, in the same way that they would log running or walking, and the app will estimate how many calories have been burned. 

Image: lifesum / rachel thompson

Lifesum has also teamed up with the non-profit Keep America Beautiful to provide an online resource for ploggers who want to log the rubbish they’ve collected. 

Mike Rosen, senior vice president at Keep America Beautiful, thinks plogging is a great way to encourage people to make a difference in their local environment. 

“Plogging is brilliant because it is simple and fun, while empowering everyone to help create cleaner, greener and more beautiful communities,” Rosen said in a statement. “All you need is running gear and a bag for trash or recyclables, and you are not only improving your own health, but your local community too.”

Plog away!

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/02/13/plogging-fitness-trend/

Sen. Tammy Duckworth will be the first sitting senator to give birth

BTW

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) is pregnant, and she’ll be the first sitting senator to give birth, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Tuesday.

Duckworth, 49, is expecting to give birth to her second child—a girl—in late April. Only 10 members of Congress have given birth while in office, and all of them were serving in the House at the time. Duckworth will be the first senator to have a baby while serving in the chamber.

“You’ve got to keep working,” she told the Chicago Tribune. “But I’m healthy. I’m well-monitored, and the doctors say I’m doing just fine.”

Duckworth, a retired lieutenant colonel who served 23 years in the Illinois Army National Guard, lost both her legs when her Black Hawk helicopter was shot down in Iraq in 2004. She served two terms in the House for Illinois’ 8th Congressional District and became the second female U.S. senator elected in the state in 2016. 

Duckworth had her first daughter, 3-year-old Abigail, while she was serving in the House.

Drawing from her experiences with Abigail, Duckworth has advocated for airports to provide places for breastfeeding mothers to pump milk; for the military to give personnel bonding time with their babies; and for students to have access to on-campus child care.

She is a sponsor or co-sponsor of multiple bills concerning infant and parent health, including affordable child care and paid parental leave, the Sun-Times reported. It is unclear how much time Duckworth will take for her own maternity leave after the birth of her second child.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who identifies as a feminist, made waves last week when she announced she’ll be taking six weeks of maternity leave when she has a baby in June.

Duckworth told the Tribune “it’s about damn time” a woman will give birth while serving in the Senate.

“I can’t believe it took until 2018,” she said. “It says something about the inequality of representation that exists in our country.”

H/T Chicago Sun-Times

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/irl/tammy-duckworth-pregnant/

Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Transhumanism Is Dominating Sci-Fi TV

The future belongs to those who can afford it. This may be virtually true in today’s world, where surviving retirement can feel impossible, but it’s also the literal premise of Altered Carbon, Netflix’s new prestige sci-fi series. Based on Richard K. Morgan’s novel of same name, the neo-noir is set several hundred years in the future, when human consciousness has been digitized into microchip-like “stacks” constantly being swapped into and out of various bodies, or “sleeves.”

This technology, along with innovations like human cloning and artificial intelligence, has given society a quantum leap, but it’s also sent socioeconomic stratification into overdrive, creating dire new realities for the poor and incarcerated while simultaneously producing an elite upper-class. Called “Mets”—short for “Methuselahs”—the members of Altered Carbon’s 0.001 percent have achieved virtual immortality thanks to vaults of their own cloned sleeves and cloud backups full of their stacks. It’s either dystopia or utopia, depending on one’s bank account.

Whatever your views on the show’s plot, in which a former rebel supersoldier named Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman), on ice in a stack prison, is revived and hired by a Met to solve the murder of his last sleeve, Altered Carbon’s best quality is its worldbuilding. In the 25th century, transhumanism—the belief that human beings are destined to transcend their mortal flesh through technology—has reached its full potential, and some of its end results are not pretty, at all.

But Altered Carbon is only the latest bit of transhumanism to hit TV recently. From Black Mirror’s cookies and Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams’ mind-invading telepaths and alien bodysnatchers to Star Trek: Discovery’s surgical espionage and Travelerstime-jumping consciousness, the classic tropes of body-hopping, body-swapping, and otherwise commandeering has exploded in an era on the brink, one in which longevity technology is accelerating more rapidly than ever, all while most people still trying to survive regular threats to basic corporeal health and safety.

These tropes have enjoyed a healthy existence in sci-fi and horror for decades, but now more than ever transhumanism is ubiquitous in pop culture, asking us to consider the ethical, personal, political, and economic implications of an ideology with a goal—implementing technology in the human body to prolong and improve life—that is already beginning to take shape.

The Birth of Transhumanism

A crucial fact to remember about transhumanism and the philosophies it inspired, including the ones modeled by Altered Carbon’s Mets, is that its conception was heavily rooted in eugenics. Though earlier thinkers had already produced work one could call transhumanist today, the term wasn’t coined until 1951, by Julian Huxley, a noted evolutionary biologist (and brother to Brave New World author Aldous Huxley). Julian Huxley believed strongly in the fundamentally exclusionary theory that society would improve immensely if only its “best” members were allowed to procreate. In the speech in which he first used the word “transhumanism,” he claimed that in order for humans to “transcend the tentative fumblings of our ancestors,” society ought to enact “a concerted policy … to prevent the present flood of population-increase from wrecking all our hopes for a better world.”

While he didn’t necessarily believe the criteria for what constituted “best” should be drawn along racial or economic lines, the ideology Huxley promoted was inherently elitist. It also allowed for virtually as many interpretations as there are people, and plenty of those people, particularly those in power—especially in Huxley’s time, but also in the fictional future of Altered Carbon—did and do believe “best” means “white, straight, financially successful, and at least nominally Christian.” As a result, the concept he named ended up being primarily conceptualized in its infancy by white men of privilege.

This, of course, didn’t remain the main interpretation of transhumanism for long. In the years following Huxley’s coinage, humans made profound leaps in technological innovation, first in computers and then in AI, which allowed more people to envision the possibilities of one day being able to transcend their organic limitations. The basic concept was easily repurposed by those whose oppression has always been tied to physical violence—notably people of color, LGBTQ people, and women.

By the early 1980s, scholars like Natasha Vita-More and Donna Haraway had revamped the concept with manifestos that argued transhumanism ought to be about “diversity” and “multiplicity,” about breaking down constructs like gender, race, and ability in favor of a more fluid, “chimeric” alternative in which each person can be many seemingly contradictory things at once—including human and machine. (As WIRED’s Julie Muncy explains in her review of the first season, Altered Carbon touches upon but never really takes a stance on this dimension of a post-corporeal world.)

The Future, Revisited

As Silicon Valley boomed, so did transhumanism. Millionaire investors have poured endless cash into anti-aging research, machine intelligence companies, and virtual reality; meanwhile, the possibility of extended or superhuman life has veered even further into becoming the exclusive purview of the extremely rich (and, more often than not, extremely white and extremely male). In 1993, mathematician and science-fiction writer Vernor Vinge pegged the arrival of the singularity—the moment at which technology, particularly AI, supersedes human intelligence and either eliminates humanity or fuses with it, allowing people to finally become “post-human”—at around 2030; by 2005 futurist Ray Kurzweil was agreeing with Vinge in his now-seminal book The Singularity is Near. (The Verge has a solid timeline of transhumanist thought here.)

Today, working organs are being 3D-printed. Nanites, while a few years off, are definitely on the horizon. And the technologies that fuel nightmare fodder like Black Mirror are becoming realities almost daily, which gives the overwhelming impression to laypeople that the Singularity, while perhaps still technically far off, is imminent.

Add privatized healthcare, police brutality, immigration, sexual assault, and plenty more extremely real threats to people’s physical bodies—not to mention the exponential growth of the TV industry itself—and you’ve got the perfect cocktail for a flood of transhumanist sci-fi shows that give form to anxieties viewers have about both wanting to escape the physical confines of their blood-bag existences and being absolutely, justifiably terrified of what could go wrong when they actually do.

But however uncomfortable it may be, that dilemma is not accidental. It has become necessary to understanding and surviving our current techno-political moment. Whether enjoying the ecstasy of possibility in Altered Carbon’s disembodied immortality or writhing in the agony of imagining eternity as a digital copy of one’s own consciousness, the roller coaster of emotions these shows elicit ought to be a major signal to audiences that now is the time to be thinking about the cost of pursuing technological immortality. If stacks and sleeves are indeed our inevitable future, the moral quandary won’t lie in the body-swapping itself—it’ll be reckoning with who gets to do it and why.

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/altered-carbon-transhumanism-tv/

What If Youre The Narcissist?

Thought.is

One of the most popular questions I receive from survivors of narcissistic abuse is, “But what if the narcissist? How would I know?” Chances are, if you’re even able to self-reflect on this question, you probably a narcissist. Narcissists, after all, lack empathy and are unable to even own up to their abusive behavior most of the time unless it serves them in some way. And even the most self-aware narcissists do not have a problem with their narcissism; they see it as a sign of their superiority, whereas are obviously seeing it as a source of concern.

However, let’s take this one step further and examine why this question is so powerful – and what may be going on when you ask it.

The effects of projection and trauma.

This is a common question among survivors because narcissists have a way of projecting their own malignant traits onto their victims throughout the abuse cycle, accusing them of having the same motives and behaviors as them. It is quite easy for a malignant person to point the finger at the person he or she is abusing and say, “You’re the abuser, not me!” It’s a speedy route to escape accountability and it diminishes the victim, thus killing two birds with one stone. Victims of any form of emotional abuse are programmed to self-destruct and blame themselves for the abuse. When they’ve been mistreated and later discarded, this familiar sick accusation still resounds in a victim’s mind long after the relationship is over. What if are the ones who are narcissists? Unfortunately, they mistake their self-doubt for reality and are gaslit into believing that perhaps they were the problem all along, when in reality, the blame of the abuse should always fall on the abuser.

We translate our human flaws into reasons for being abused.

It’s quite easy for non-narcissistic people to attribute the blame of someone else’s actions onto themselves because we are all human and have flaws. While the narcissist refuses to own up to his or her abuse, we as the victims tend to look within. We’re introspective to a fault and so we search for something we may have done to provoke the abuse or cause it. This is especially true for those of us who have an internal locus of control – what personality psychologists call a tendency to attribute external events to ourselves. We think we have more control over other people’s behavior than we actually do. We start to hyperfocus on our flaws and start to wonder if we could’ve been or . Stop right there. You are already enough and have always been. Being flawed does not give anyone the right to abuse you.

We reacted in some way to the abuse, so we equate our reactions to the abuse to the actions of the abuser.

Since we are human, we will inevitably react in ways that may be uncharacteristic, especially if we’ve been abused for quite some time. When we’ve been traumatized for so long, it takes a toll. When victims look at their reactions to chronic abuse, it’s important to remember that there is no such thing as a “perfect victim.” Any sane person would eventually maladaptively react to the chronic violence and toxic stress a pathological person puts them through. The fact that you’re even feeling guilty or ashamed for reacting to someone mistreating you? This is evidence of your empathy, a trait that narcissists lack. The key is not to engage in self-blame, but to use that energy towards getting out of the relationship rather than focusing on how you’ve reacted to abuse in the past.

Some people do in fact have what are called “narcissistic fleas,” a residual effect of the abuse they suffered.

This is especially true for childhood abuse survivors of narcissistic parents. You may find that you have one or two traits that you have to work to overcome due to growing up with this form of toxic influence. Children of narcissists may be sensitive to criticism or be overly reactive due to what they experienced. Or, survivors of a narcissistic partner might find themselves acting like their narcissistic partner as a defense mechanism. You might be suffering from what therapists call “Narcissistic Victim Syndrome.”

While it’s important to do the inner work necessary for healing, just keep in mind that these “fleas” are not indicative of your character. They are not symptoms of a full-fledged personality disorder with hardwired behavioral patterns. They are temporary and they can be addressed.

If you find yourself asking if you’re the narcissist, ask yourself the following:

Do I have empathy for others? Do I consider the feelings of others? Do I make an effort to change my behavior if I think it’s in any way harmful? Am I able to look at myself and my behavior honestly? Chances are, if you’ve said yes to these questions, your concern about being a narcissist stems moreso from all of the reasons stated above rather than an actual character disorder. That being said, always seek the support of a mental health professional for an official diagnosis or treatment to help with trauma.

Like anyone who has ever been traumatized, you’ve been affected. Yet the journey to recovery means that we get to unravel this process in a healthy way and actually acknowledge our vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Unlike malignant narcissists on the high end of the spectrum, victims of narcissistic abuse are willing to evolve – and that, perhaps, makes the biggest difference of all.

Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/shahida-arabi/2018/01/what-if-youre-the-narcissist/

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

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

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

Some speculate she was searching for freedom.

Others say she’s just living her best life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Crazy Stories From The Early Days Of Disneyland

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

5

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

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

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

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

Joe Penniston/FlickrYou know, for the kids.

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

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

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

4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3

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

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

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

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

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

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

2

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

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

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

Florida Development CommissionDespot Center was later renamed EPCOT.

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

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

1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Get the Vaccine,” Health Professionals Urge Parents After 30 Children Die From Flu

Vaccinations have forever been a controversial topic among the parenting community.

While anti-vaxxers argue that children’s immune systems can ward off most infections naturally, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) “recommends getting 29 doses of 9 vaccines (plus a yearly flu shot after six months old) for kids aged 0 to six.”

This flu season, in particular, the CDC warns, is one in which the importance of the flu shot should not be ignored.

Ranking among the most severe flu season experts have seen in years, influenza activity has spread rapidly across every state except Hawaii. According to the CDC’s weekly flu report released on January 13th, 14,401 new cases were confirmed, bringing the season total of laboratory-confirmed cases to a whopping 74,562.

And those numbers do not even reflect all cases, as many people do not visit a physician when ill.

Ten children also reportedly died in the week of the 13th, bringing the season’s death toll to thirty.

Influenza and pneumonia accounted for 8.2% of all deaths that occurred that week according to the National Center for Health Statistics, which is far above what is considered normal for this period.

“Hopefully we’re at the peak now, but until we see it go down for a couple of weeks we won’t know that we have reached peak yet,” said head of CDC’s Domestic Flu Surveillance team, Lynnette Brammer. “Some areas of the country may have, but I think some areas are probably still going up.”

A big part of the problem is that the dominant strain this season has been H3N2, which is the virus strain associated with more deaths, especially in those who already have existing health conditions.

“We want to continue to emphasize that there’s still a lot of flu activity to come, people that haven’t been vaccinated should still get the vaccine,” urged Brammer.

She says those at particularly high risk include “the elderly, children under 2, pregnant women, and people with chronic health problems.”

“There’s no question that the people who got their flu shots this year got less sick than the people who didn’t,” said the Chairman of Emergency Medicine at Staten Island University Hospital, Dr. Brahim Ardolic. “The sickest people are still clearly the ones who did not get their flu shots.”

“This is one of those flu seasons they’re gonna be comparing other flu seasons to,” he added. “This is the year where those chickens came home to roost.”

Read more: https://faithit.com/health-professionals-urge-parents-30-children-die-flu/

DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

Don Lanes widow says he was afraid of getting fined if he did not ensure his round was covered

DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

Don Lanes widow says he was afraid of getting fined if he did not ensure his round was covered

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/feb/05/courier-who-was-fined-for-day-off-to-see-doctor-dies-from-diabetes