The Speculum Finally Gets a Modern Redesign

It was afternoon in the San Francisco headquarters of Frog, the design firm best known for its hand in creating the iconic look of products like Apple's original Macintosh computers. Hailey Stewart, one of Frog's industrial designers, had scattered an array of prototypes on a table. On one end, you could see cylinders of foam that looked almost like skinny vibrators, with handles that stuck out at different angles and sketches of levers and screw mechanisms. And on the other, the common speculum—the device used in routine gynecological exams to inspect the cervix. Stewart picked one up and cranked it open. "You're literally in the stirrups with that sound"—the device made a loud, painful sounding click—"and it's like, excuse my language, but what the fuck?"

Most of the designers in the room had never seen a speculum before. Some (the men) had never considered the contents of a pelvic examination—stripping off your clothes, laying on an examination table, and strapping your feet into stirrups, while a doctor pries you open with a cold, metal gadget. But Stewart hadn't gathered her colleagues just to explain what happens to women at their annual exams. She had a greater goal in mind.

For the past several months, mostly during down time and on weekends, Stewart and interaction designer Sahana Kumar had been studying this device. They'd wrenched it open and closed, studied the curve of the bills, read endlessly about its history. And now, she told the rest of the designers at Frog, they had taken on what was turning into a particularly ambitious project: redesigning the speculum for the 21st century.

The current design of the speculum, fashioned by American physician James Marion Sims, dates back to the 1840s. The device had two pewter blades to separate the vaginal walls, and hinged open and closed with a screw mechanism. Sims, sometimes called the "father of modern gynecology," used the speculum to pioneer treatments for fistula and other complications from childbirth. But his experiments were often conducted on slave women, without the use of anesthesia. So to say that the speculum was not designed with patient comfort in mind would be an egregious understatement.

And yet, the speculum today looks almost identical to the one Sims used more than 150 years ago. The most noticeable difference between the original Sims device and the one you can find in gynecological offices today is that instead of pewter, modern specula are made of stainless steel or plastic.

That the speculum is old is not, on its face, a problem. It's that the design is neither optimal for patients nor physicians. Doctors have to stretch the speculum's bills wide in order to see as far back as the cervix, and even then, it's not always possible to get a good look inside. (Some specula come with built-in lights, but the problem has more to do with tissue falling in than the darkness of the vaginal canal.) All of that pressure causes discomfort; one review of the medical literature found that some women even avoid the gynecologist because of the dreaded device.

Mercy Asiedu

In 2014, the American College of Physicians went so far as to recommend against pelvic exams, citing the "harms, fear, anxiety, embarrassment, pain, and discomfort" associated with speculum examinations. Those side effects impact gynecologists, too. "The more comfortable a patient is, the faster they can do their job, the more patients they can see," says Stewart. "There's actual monetary value to [patient] comfort."

It’s not that nobody’s tried to change things. In 2005, a San Francisco-based company patented the design for an inflatable speculum called FemSpec. The device was made out of polyurethane, the same material used to make condoms; a physician could insert it like a tampon and inflate it like a tiny balloon. It debuted to some fanfare, but ultimately flopped. As an article in The Chicago Times pointed out, most women never even got to experience the new speculum "because it is so new on the market that most doctors aren't using it."

"With a speculum, you just shove it in and expand it as wide as you want to get the visualization you want. With this, you have to put it in and gently move it around, kind of like a joystick." — Biomedical engineer Mercy Asiedu

Other do-overs have focused on more modest improvements. A prototype called the Lotus, created by a student at the Pratt Institute, kept the bill shape but curved it slightly for a more ergonomic insertion. The design also included a rotating handle to open the speculum bills vertically, and a hidden lever mechanism to prevent pinching. It seemed promising, but after appearing in a student showcase last year, it never turned into anything real.

In Oregon, a group called Ceek Women's Health has begun clinical trials for a series of new devices—including a sleeve, a speculum with narrower bills, and a speculum that patients can self-insert. Their goal is to create a variety of specula to serve a variety of patients, rather than recreating another one-size-fits-all tool. "For women who have a lot of tissue, women who have had more than two vaginal births or a high BMI, for women with a history of trauma or rape, for post-menopausal women who have vaginal atrophy—there isn't any product to address their needs," says Fahti Khosrow, Ceek's co-founder and CEO. Give physicians a whole new toolkit, she says, and they can better serve their patients.

Perhaps the most promising new design comes from Duke University, where researchers are testing a device that could circumvent the speculum altogether. Mercy Asiedu, a doctoral candidate in biomedical engineering at Duke, designed a tampon-sized device with a 2 megapixel camera attached to the end. "The speculum was originally designed for a physician to view the cervix from outside the body," Asiedu says, "but with current technology, you can easily view the cervix from inside the body."

Asiedu tested her prototype in a pilot study with 15 volunteers this year, the results of which were published in the journal PLOS One in May. Every single patient said the smaller device provided a better experience than the speculum.

The Duke study looked at patient satisfaction, and Asiedu acknowledges that physicians may offer more criticism of the device. The design emphasized comfort, modesty, and patient empowerment, not necessarily ease of use for physicians. "With a speculum, you just shove it in and expand it as wide as you want to get the visualization you want," Asiedu says. "With this, you have to put it in and gently move it around, kind of like a joystick."

When Stewart and her team set off to redesign the speculum, they knew what they were up against. Plus, Stewart says, "I hadn't even seen a speculum."

So before they started researching or sketching ideas out, Stewart and Kumar listed the things that had bothered them in gynecological exams. There was the noise (like a can opener), the temperature (freezing cold), the feeling inside (as if someone was stretching your insides like a rubber band). When they acquired a set of specula, one plastic and one metal, they realized they needed to change the aesthetics too. These things looked like medieval torture devices.

First, Stewart explored how to silence that ratcheting sound. She and Fran Wang, a mechanical engineer at Frog, investigated new types of opening mechanisms. No concept was too bizarre. What if, like a pufferfish, they used saline to inflate the device from the inside? Or what if they used air, blowing it up like an air mattress? They looked for inspiration in nature (cobra hoods), in machining (milling chucks), and in everyday objects (bicycle pumps); they studied how a tripod clamps open and shut, how ski bindings clip in and out, searching for ideas that might replace the old-fashioned screw mechanism.

Frog

Next, they considered new materials. Instead of constructing the device out of plastic or metal, they decided to cover the whole thing in autoclavable silicone—a material that wouldn't feel cold, could be easily sterilized, and would make insertion more comfortable. "On the metal speculum, there are pokey bits," says Wang. "Those shouldn't go near your delicate body parts! Having all of that covered in silicon, it prevents tissue from getting damaged. And also when you look at it, it's nicer."

They experimented with using three prongs instead of two, opening the device into a triangle shape. They tried shrinking the device to the size of a tampon, or borrowing design language from the vibrator industry. They put the device's handle at different angles, ranging from 90 degrees to 120 degrees, to find most ergonomic position for physicians. And then they 3-D printed a few different prototypes and put them in the hands of OB/GYNs and medical providers.

"The one they were really excited about was the one that opened up using three bills, rather than just two," says Stewart. The triangle-shaped opening gave physicians the same field of view without having to open the bills as wide, making the process less "stretchy" for patients. OB/GYNs also liked the device's handle at 110 degrees, which enough extra space between the physician's hand and the patient's body to eliminate the "last scooch" down the examination table. The silicon covering was a big hit, too. A button unlocks or locks the speculum with one hand, freeing up the other hand; a push handle eliminates the need for screws. Even more comforting, the speculum was totally silent.

Conferring with OB/GYNs made one thing very clear, though: The project wouldn't succeed with redesigned hardware alone. Stewart wondered why she felt more comfortable getting a bikini wax than she did seeing the gynecologist once a year, and the answer boiled down to the environment. One felt cold, clinical, and scary; the other, relaxing and personal, even if it was more physically painful. If they wanted to redesign the speculum, they had to redesign the entire experience.

Half a year later, the project has turned into something of a coup d'état on the modern pelvic exam. There's the speculum itself, still in development with the insight from several OB/GYNs who have signed on to help. There's a list of guidelines for physicians, which include simple but meaningful tips like giving patients somewhere to hang their clothes and explaining the components of the exam. "It's never going to be perfect," says Kumar. "So how do we at least prepare people emotionally for how it's going to be, and make them feel like they got some value out of it at the end?"

There's also a mock-up of an app, which would let patients fill out forms, ask questions, or follow a guided meditation before the exam. Kumar invented a gear kit—a stress ball, socks to cover your feet in the stirrups—to improve patient comfort, alongside the new speculum. The team also added Rachel Hobart, a visual designer at Frog, to help brand the experience. The result is called Yona.

For now, the Yona project is still an early-stage design concept. Stewart and Wang are still hashing out new speculum prototypes, while Kumar and Hobart refine the app and experience. They're working with their board of physicians to fine-tune the idea, to negotiate what's feasible and what isn't. And collectively, they're searching for partners who may have similar goals, like the tech-savvy healthcare service One Medical, who can bring Yona from concept into reality.

The trickiest part, it seems, is developing something that physicians will actually adopt. It's not lost on the Frog designers that other prototypes have failed after physicians bristled at the idea of investing in something new, either financially (the cost of purchasing a new device) or mentally (the time it takes to learn how to use a new device). Gynecologists have been using the speculum for over a century, and so far, it's worked. Why change now? "You could create the most beautiful, most unique, most user-friendly device, but if a doctor doesn't want to learn how to use it, your patient's never going to see it," Stewart says.

But Wang says that's mostly a matter of getting the product out there, showing physicians how great it can be for them and for their patients. She knows the traditional speculum works fine for most gynecologists. "It passes, but it's not great," says Wang. "But we're working on making it better. When you give [physicians] the option to choose a better one or a worse one, then they're going to choose the better one. But they might not know that until they get that option."

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/the-speculum-finally-gets-a-modern-redesign/

Della Reese, Music Icon And ‘Touched By An Angel’ Star, Dead At 86

Della Reese, a music legend known for her beloved character on “Touched by an Angel,” has died at the age of 86.

Reese’s costar Roma Downey sent People a statement confirming that Reese had died in her California home on Sunday.

Harry Langdon via Getty Images
Della Reese in 1990

“On behalf of her husband, Franklin Lett, and all her friends and family, I share with you the news that our beloved Della Reese has passed away peacefully at her California home last evening surrounded by love. She was an incredible wife, mother, grandmother, friend, and pastor, as well as an award-winning actress and singer. Through her life and work she touched and inspired the lives of millions of people,” Downey said in the statement.

“She was a mother to me and I had the privilege of working with her side by side for so many years on “Touched By an Angel,” she continued. “I know heaven has a brand new angel this day. Della Reese will be forever in our hearts. Rest In Peace, sweet angel. We love you.”

Downey also shared a version of the statement on Instagram.

Born Delloreese Patricia Early, the star is survived by her husband and four children.

The vocalist, born in Detroit, began performing at just 13 with Mahalia Jackson’s gospel group. Reese later formed her own group, the Meditation Singers, but eventually branched out into a solo jazz career. Reese is best known for her 1957 top 20 hit “And That Reminds Me,” as well as “Not One Minute More,” “And Now” and “Don’t You Know?”

She began her onscreen career in the 1960s when she had guest spots on “The Love Boat,” “Sanford and Son” and “The Young and the Restless.” In 1968, she became the first black woman to co-host “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.” She also hosted a short-lived variety series, “Della.” Her most well-known role, however, was as the heaven-sent angel Tess on “Touched By an Angel.” The show ran from 1994 to 2003.  

Reese experienced a series of health issues throughout her career. In 1979, she had a brain aneurysm during a taping of “The Tonight Show” and went on to have two brain surgeries. In 2002, she collapsed on the set of “Touched by an Angel” and later announced that she had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

A cause of death was not immediately available.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/della-reese-dead-dies-touched-by-an-angel_us_5a131948e4b0aa32975cc2de

As We Rethink Old Harassers, Lets Talk About Clarence Thomas

Long suppressed talk about the sexual predation of men, in Hollywood, politics, business, the news industry, professional sports and life in general has swept across the country, exposing decades of dirty laundry and putting an entire nation of men on notice and on edge.

The discussion in which the nation is engaged almost daily at this point, has exposed the rank hypocrisy of a right-wing Christianity that would sooner see a child molester stalking the well of the United States Senate than free its captive base to support a Democrat, and which still stands foursquare behind braggadocious predator-in-chief Donald Trump.

It has put on display the Republican Partys radical lack of moral conviction as its leaders rush to condemn the gross, decade-old antics of now Sen. Al Franken, who has at least apologized for his past misbehavior, while they smirk from behind the cameras at Fox News where they are surrounded by anchor women in the required uniform of tight sweaters, mini-skirts, and four-inch heels. Among the Republicans ripping Franken for kissing a woman without her consent and snapping a juvenile groping picture in 2006: the great hypocrite Trump himself, of the I just kiss beautiful women and grab em by the pussy un-humble brag of 2005.

The national moment of self-reflection on the culture that produces such entitled men has compelled the left to indulge in its favorite ritual: curling into the fetal position as it self-flagellates over the eternal sins of the Clintons. Its as if theyve forgotten that the former president who left office 17 years ago indeed paid a price, including years of forensic investigation culminating in impeachment for his illicit affair with a 24-year-old White House intern.

Well if we are getting about the business of re-examining the past indecency of powerful men, wed be remiss not to include the moment in 1991 when a woman was not believed and her alleged abuser was elevated to the highest court in the land, where he remains 26 years later.

The late Andrew Breitbart, who took down Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner by having his minions troll Weiners Twitter account in search of his vices, and having found them, waved the lurid visual evidence before the world, once said he was inspired to become a conservative because of Clarence Thomas, whom he viewed as a persecuted man. Breitbart cloaked his savage politics in alleged concern for a beleaguered black man, saying of Thomas critics: [t]hese white, privileged men knew that by taking this conservative, religious man and asking him if he rented pornography, the mere exposure of that would hurt I was so pissed off. You guys are just trying to ruin him. You dont have anything.

Not anything, that is, except the word of Anita Hill, an African-American woman who risked national humiliation and ruin to publicly tell her story of repeated sexual harassment at the hands of Thomas, her onetime boss at the U.S. Department of Education and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.

Its hard to see Thomas, who wrote off his Yale degree as worthless because of affirmative action yet retreated to the language of lynching to disparage his accuser and her supporters, as much of a victim. Particularly when most Americans, and most African Americans, took his side against Anita Hill and against prominent civil rights and womens rights organizations who were unanimous in their opposition to his elevation to the seat once occupied by the great Thurgood Marshall. Democrats including then-Sen. Joe Biden, took Thomas side against Hill, tooeven refusing to allow witnesses who could corroborate her account to testify at Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

Instead, we were treated to a bipartisan spectacle of the old men of the United States Senate lecturing Professor Hill from the dais; scowling at her as she was forced to recount in mortifying detail how Thomas pushed her to date him and taunted her with disgusting jokes and insinuations at work that included graphic tales of pubic hair and Coke cans.

Again, most Americans chose not to believe Hill, who was castigated as a liar, a temptress, and a race-traitor trying to keep a black man off the Supreme Court. Never mind that the American Bar Association had delivered a mixed verdict on whether he was even qualified for a lifetime appointment of such grandeur. I can personally recall knock-down, drag out arguments with black colleagues and relatives who were defending Thomas, and demanding a West Indian gypsy cab driver in the Bronx pull over and let me out of his car after he called Hill a whore.

Having been placed on the court anyway, Thomas became the silent justice; voting in lockstep with the late Antonin Scalia and authoring precious little worth remembering for posterity save for his serial attacks on labor rights, womens rights and the voting rights of fellow African Americans. Needless to say, many black men and women who sided with Thomas against Anita Hill soon came to bitterly regret it.

When Weiners political career went up in flames, he was in the midst of exposing Justice Thomas with regular rants on the House floor for his ostentatious habit of consorting with major Republican donors who might have business before his court, often with Scalia at his side.

Thomas chummy ways with the rich and well-heeled, and his wifes clear conflicts of interest as a paid crusader against Obamacare despite it coming imminently before the court, presaged the age of corruption we find ourselves in today, with Donald Trump and his extended family of kakistocrats blundering their way around Washington and the worlds capitols in search of grubby gain. In many ways, the banality with which Americans dismissed Thomas alleged sexual misconduct, his disparagement of his victim, and his ethical flexibility were a portent of the Trump era to come.

And like Trump, and unlike Bill Clinton, Thomas sits in power still; with the authority to make life and death decisions over the fate of those facing capital punishment, those needing health care, and most ironically, over the rights and liberties of women.

As happened with Trump, Thomas elevation despite the shocking allegations against him ignited women to action. In 1992, a record number of women ran for federal office, increasing the number of female United States senators from just two to six, prompting the media to declare it the year of the woman. Among those newly elected senators was Barbara Boxer, who as a House member had helped lead a march with six of her female colleagues to the Senate to demand that Hills allegations against Thomas be taken seriously and that his confirmation be delayed.

Ironically, the wave of elected women, including the first black woman senator, Carole Mosely Braun, in 1992 helped carry Bill Clinton, himself accused of sexual indiscretions and misconduct as governor of Arkansas, into the White House. When Bill Bennett and the self-righteous, self-appointed moral majority in the conservative movement announced the death of outrage after Clinton failed to be taken down by his affair with Monica Lewinsky, they perhaps forgot that outrage died first with the shaming and dismissal of Anita Hill.

Or maybe they didnt forget because they never really cared. Who, after all, was Anita Hill to them but some black woman trying to keep a good, conservative Christian off the high court. Its an echo of todays advent of rank hypocrisy, when Roy Moores accusers are accused of trying to keep a good, conservative Christian out of the Senate. Or when the right wing furrows its collective brow at the predatory men of Hollywooddiscarded by Democrats without a second thoughtwhile they vow to die on the desiccated moral hill of Donald J. Trump.

Indeed, we need to continue to talk about predacious men. That needs to include the sexual raptors armed with immense power right nowbeginning with the president of the United States and the high courts scandalized associate justice, Clarence Thomas.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/as-we-rethink-old-harassers-lets-talk-about-clarence-thomas

Sephora Hit With Lawsuit After Woman Claims She Got Herpes From One Of Their Testers!

Let this be a warning to shoppers!

A California woman is suing Sephora after she says she contracted herpes from using one of their lipstick tester samples in 2015, this according to

The unnamed woman is suing for emotional distress from her “incurable lifelong affliction.”

Sephora hasn’t commented on the lawsuit, although a spokesperson did share a statement with Fashionista:

“While it is our policy not to comment on litigation, the health and safety of our clients is our foremost priority. We take product hygiene very seriously and we are dedicated to following best practices in our stores.”

Yikes!

May this be a reminder to stay away from the communal testers…

Read more: http://perezhilton.com/cocoperez/2017-10-31-sephora-herpes-scandal-tester-lawsuit-california

Aisling Bea: My fathers death has given me a love of men, of their vulnerability and tenderness

The comedians father killed himself when she was three. She was plagued by the fact he made no mention of her or her sister in the letter he left. Then, 30 years after his death, a box arrived

My father died when I was three years old and my sister was three months. For years, we thought he had died of some sort of back injury a story that we had never really investigated because we were just too busy with the Spice Girls and which one we were (I was a Geri/Mel B mix FYI). Then, on the 10th anniversary of his death, my mother sat us down and explained the concept of suicide. Sure, we knew about suicide. At 13, I had already known of too many young men from our town who had taken their own lives. Spoken about as inexplicable sadnesses for the families, spoken about but never really talked about terrible tragedy nobody knows why he did it. What we had not known until that day, was that our father had, 10 years beforehand, also taken his own life.

When I was growing up, I idolised my father. I thought his ghost followed me around the house. I had been told how he adored me, how I was funny, just like him. Because of our lovely Catholic upbringing, I secretly assumed that he would eventually come back, like our good friend Jesus.

My mother, being the wonder woman that she is, never held his death against him. When she looked into his coffin, she felt she saw the face of the man she had married: his stress lines had gone, he seemed free of the sadness that had been dogging him of late. But it was still tough for her to talk about. She didnt want to have to explain to a stranger in the middle of a party how he was not defined by his ending, but how loved he was, how cherished the charismatic, handsome vet in a small town had been. She didnt want his whole person being judged.

Once she had told us, I did not want to talk about him. Ever again. I now hated him. He had not been taken from us, he had left. His suicide felt like the opposite of parenting. Abandonment. Selfishness. Taking us for granted.

I didnt care that he had not been in his right mind, because if I had been important enough to him I would have put him back into his right mind before he did it. I didnt care that he had been in chronic pain and that men in Ireland dont talk about their feelings, so instead die of sadness. I didnt want him at peace. I wanted him struggling, but alive, so he could meet my boyfriends and give them a hard time, like in American movies. I wanted him to come to pick me up from discos, so my mother didnt have to go out alone in her pyjamas at night to get me.

I look like him. For all of my teens and early 20s, I smothered my face in fake tan and bleached my hair blond so that elderly relatives would stop looking at me like I was the ghost of Christmas past whenever I did something funny. You look so like your father, they would say. And as much as people might think a teenage girl wants to be told that she looks like a dead man, she doesnt.

Aisling
Aisling Bea with her father. Photograph: Aisling Bea

And then there was the letter.

My mother gave us the letter to read the day she told us, but, in it, he didnt mention my sister or me.

I had not been adored. He had forgotten we existed. I didnt believe it at first. When I was 15, I took the letter out of my mothers Filofax and used the photocopying machine at my summer job to make a copy so I could really examine it. Like a CSI detective, I stared at it, desperate to see if there had been a trace of the start of an A anywhere.

I would often fantasise that, if I ever killed myself, I would write a letter to every single person I had ever met, explaining why I was doing it. Every. Single. Person. Right down to the lad I struck up a conversation with once in a chip shop and the girl I met at summer camp when I was 12. No one would be left thinking: Why? I would be very non-selfish about it. When Facebook came in, I thought: Well, this will save me a fortune on stamps.

Sometimes, in my less lucid moments, I was convinced that he had left a secret note for me somewhere. Maybe, on my 16th no, 18th no, 21st no, 30th birthday, a letter would arrive, like in Back to the Future. Aisling, I wanted to wait until you were old enough to understand. I was secretly a spy. That is why I did it. I love you. I love your sister, too. PS Heaven is real, your philosophy essay is wrong and I am totally still watching over you. Stop shoplifting.

This summer was the 30th anniversary of his death. In that time, a few things have happened that have radically changed how I feel.

Three years ago, Robin Williams took his own life. He was my comedy hero, my TV dad he had always reminded my mother of my father and his death spurred me to finally start opening up. I had always found it so hard to talk about. I think I had been afraid that if I ever did, my soul would fall out of my mouth and I would never get it back in again.

Last year, I watched Grayson Perrys documentary All Man. It featured a woman whose son had ended his life. She thought that he probably hadnt wanted to die for ever, just on that day, when he had been in so much pain. A lightbulb moment it had never occurred to me that maybe suicide had seemed like the best option in that hour. In my head, my father had taken a clear decision, as my parent, to opt out for ever.

My father had always seemed like an adult making adult decisions, but I suddenly found myself at almost his age, still feeling like a giant child. I looked at some of my male friends gorgeous idiots doing their gorgeous, idiotic best to bring up little daughters, just like he would have been.

Finally, just after my 30th birthday, a box turned up.

The miserable people he had worked for had found a box of his things filed away and rang my mother (30 years later) wondering whether she wanted them or whether they should just throw them in the bin.

She waited for us to fly home and we opened it together three little women staring into an almost-abandoned cardboard box.

Now, most of the box was horse ultrasounds which, Ill be honest, I am not into. But there was also his handwriting around the edges and, then, underneath the horse X-rays and files, there were the photographs.

Any child who has lost a parent probably knows every single photograph in existence of that parent. I had pored over them all, trying to put together the person he might have been.

The photos in the box had been collected from his desk after he had died. We had never seen them before. They were nearly all of me. He had had all of these photos stuck on his desk. I was probably the last thing he looked at before he died.

My fathers death has given me a lot. It has given me a lifelong love of women, of their grittiness and hardness traits that we are not supposed to value as feminine. It has also given me a love of men, of their vulnerability and tenderness traits that we do not foster as masculine or allow ourselves to associate with masculinity.

To Daddy, here is my note to you:

Im sad you killed yourself, because I really think that, if you could see the life you left behind, you would regret it. You didnt get to see the Berlin wall fall or Ireland qualify for Italia 90. You didnt get to see all the encyclopedias that you bought for us to one day use at university get squashed into a CD and subsequently the internet. You have never got to hear your younger daughters voice it annoys me sometimes, but it has also said some of the most amazing things when drunk. I think you would have been proud to watch your daughter do standup at the O2 and sad to see my mother watching it on her own. Then again, if you hadnt died, I probably wouldnt have been mad enough to become a clown for a living. I am your daughter and I am really fucking funny, just like you. But, unlike you, Im going to stop being it for five minutes and write our story in the hope that it may help someone who didnt get to have a box turn up, or who may not feel in their right mind right now and needs a reminder to find hope.
Aisling

In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/nov/04/aisling-bea-my-fathers-death-has-given-me-a-love-of-men-of-their-vulnerability-and-tenderness

If Youre Getting a Butt or Boob Job, Avoid Injectable Silicone, Warns FDA

On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration released a dire warning: Dont even think about using injectable silicone for cosmetic surgeries to pump your butt or boobs.

Beware of any one offers to increase the size of any part of your body, or change the shape of your body, by injecting dermal fillers, a PSA-style video released by the FDA states. These procedures can lead to serious health consequences, and even death.

Traditionally, a breast or buttocks enhancement usually requires the surgeon to take some fat from another part of your body to the location you desire to be fuller. Given cultural norms that celebrateindeed, fetishizelarger, fuller breasts and buttocks, its no surprise that these two augmentations are the top cosmetic surgeries in America, with rates for butt enhancement skyrocketing in recent years, no small thanks to celebrities like Kim Kardashian. Theyre costly, too: The average butt lift clocks in at $4,571, while the average boob lift rings in at $3,719. Recovery time lasts several days to a few weeks.

That makes injectable silicone an attractive option for many people seeking alternatives to plastic surgery boutiques. Its a lot cheapermost customers buy fillers on the Internet, with prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to about one grand total. While injectable dermal fillers have been approved by the FDA as medical devices for facial cosmetic surgeries (easing out wrinkles in the cheeks, plumping lips up), they are not approved for large-scale body contouringwhat butt and boob lifts would fall under.

When most people hear the term silicone, they're probably thinking of the suction cup looking inserts that many women get for breast implants, meant to bump up cup size.

But injectable silicone is very different, and theres no real uniform definition of what it exactly is, especially for silicone that's not medical grade. It can take the form of aircraft lubricant, tire sealant, window caulk, mineral oil, methylacrylates, petroleum jelly, or other substances, according to a 2012 study that found transgender women dealing with an HIV/AIDS epidemic partially due to these injections. Because many of these cosmetic surgeries are often done without a medically trained individual or someone looking to work under the table, the injections are often unsupervised and rely on litersyes, litersof silicone being put in the breast or buttocks without sterilization, often at so-called pumping parties, which allows transgender women to attain the curves most associated with being female without the judgment and stigma that comes with being transgender. According to the University of California, San Francisco, rates of transgender women who use injectable silicone are somewhere in the 20% to 50% range.

The fact that injectable silicone is a liquid is a huge problem as well. Liquids move, unlike the silicone cups that are slipped in boobs for an implant. Thats what makes injectable silicone particularly dangerous: The liquid can easily slip into the bloodstream and move. Its a permanent liquid, too, which means that it can plug vessels that lead to other parts of the body, like the lungs, heart, or brain. If silicone obstructs the flow of blood, a person is at risk of not just a stroke, but potentially, death.

Whats more, theres a fundamental difference in the constitution of fat and injectable silicone within the body. FDA-approved silicone is designed to stay put where its placed in the body; fat naturally, stubbornly stays in place, as anyone with a potbelly knows. Both silicone cups and fat are pliable and soft. Injectable silicone, however, can become hard and gravel-like, which means not only are you dealing with the risk of wandering liquids floating off to places that they shouldnt be, you're also dealing with a final product that gets chunky and gravelly.

Thats not to say that injectable silicone treatments havent worked in the past. But cheap options have their costs, and one major one is that it can take a few tries after the initial injection to get the desired effect. Plus, side effects don't always show up immediately: Injectable silicone has the unpredictable quality of being able to travel at any time.

Heres the scary thing though. While you might personally know about the dangers of injectable silicone going into your body, your surgeon might try to cut costs and use it during a procedure. Of course, that makes anesthesized humans are unable to watch their surgeon switch into Dr. Jekyll mode and dump some silicone into you to save money.

The other, more worrisome, implication is the role silicone injections have in surgeries for transgender individuals who are transitioning, primarily for individuals who are born men who are becoming women. Theyre put in an especially dangerous position because of high murder rates and high poverty rates. For a vulnerable population desperate to have its members fit into traditional constructs of femininity to literally survive, injectable silicone is a risk worth taking.

Which has us back to the FDA warning: Botched surgeries are on the rise and have become increasingly common, with unsuspecting patients either suffering from serious injuries or dying. The FDA is aware of cases where patients have received injectable silicone for body contouring purposes, such as gluteal or breast enhancement (butt fillers or breast fillers), by unqualified providers posing as doctors or licensed healthcare practitioners in non-clinical settings such as residential homes or hotels, an official alert said. The FDA is aware that some injectors have falsely told consumers they were receiving an FDA-approved dermal filler, but consumers were instead injected with silicone.

The scientific literature has been following the worrying epidemic of silicone injectable-induced embolisms and death for a few years now (with some experts putting the death rate from silicone injectables at about 25% of patients who get the procedure), but the fact that the FDA has come out to warn about it explicitly means that not only are consumers at risk but that shoddy practitioners have become ubiquitous enough to involve not just the FDA, but federal officials investigating for criminal activity.

And thats the crux of why the FDA has issued this warning only now. While getting a boob or a butt job has lost some of the stigma it used to have, the fact that patients are at risk are so vulnerablethey sometimes dont even know theyre getting injected with something that can clog their veins and kill them, and transgender patients often dont have anywhere else to turn and are willing to just take the life or death risk of a makeshift hotel operating roommakes this a warning thats not so funny so much as frightening.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/if-youre-getting-a-butt-or-boob-job-avoid-injectable-silicone-warns-fda

Get Rid of Capitalism? Millennials Are Ready to Talk About It

One of the hottest tickets in New York City this weekend was a discussion on whether to overthrow capitalism.

The first run of tickets to “Capitalism: A Debate” sold out in a day. So the organizers, a pair of magazines with clear ideological affiliations, socialist and libertarian , found a larger venue: Cooper Union’s 960-capacity Great Hall, the site of an 1860 antislavery speech by Abraham Lincoln. The event sold out once again, this time in eight hours.

The crowd waiting in a long line to get inside on Friday night was mostly young and mostly male. Asher Kaplan and Gabriel Gutierrez, both 24, hoped the event would be a real-life version of the humorous, anarchic political debates on social media. “So much of this stuff is a battle that’s waged online,” said Gutierrez, who identifies, along with Kaplan, as a “leftist,” if not quite a socialist.

These days, among young people, socialism is “both a political identity and a culture,” Kaplan said. And it looks increasingly attractive.

Young Americans have soured on capitalism. In a Harvard University poll conducted last year, 51 percent of 18-to-29 year-olds in the U.S. said they opposed capitalism; only 42 percent expressed support. Among Americans of all ages, by contrast, a Gallup survey last year found that 60 percent held positive views of capitalism.

A poll released last month found American millennials closely split on the question of what type of society they would prefer to live in: 44 percent picked a socialist country, 42 percent a capitalist one. The poll, conducted by YouGov and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, found that 59 percent of Americans across all age groups preferred to live under capitalism.

“I’ve seen the failings of modern-day capitalism,” said Grayson SussmanSquires, an 18-year-old student at Wesleyan University who had turned up for the capitalism debate. To him and many of his peers, he said, the notion of well-functioning capitalist order is something recounted only by older people. He was 10 when the financial crisis hit, old to enough to watch his older siblings struggle to get jobs out of college. In high school, SussmanSquires said, he volunteered for the presidential campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist. “It spoke to me in a way nothing had before,” he said.

Although debate attendees leaned left, several expressed the desire to have their views challenged by the pro-capitalist side. “It’s very easy to exist in a social group where everyone has the same political vibe,” Kaplan said.

“I’m immersed in one side of the debate,” said Thomas Doscher, 26, a labor organizer who is studying for his LSATs. “I want to hear the other side.”

The debate pitted two socialist stalwarts, Jacobin founder Bhaskar Sunkara and New York University professor Vivek Chibber, against the defenders of capitalism, Katherine Mangu-Ward, Reason’s editor in chief, and Nick Gillespie, the editor in chief of Reason.com and Reason TV.

And it was the attempt to rebuff criticism of capitalism that mostly riled up the crowd.

Chibber argued that the problem with capitalism is the power it has over workers. With the weakening of U.S. labor unions, “we have a complete despotism of the employers,” he said, leading to stagnant wages. When Mangu-Ward countered that Americans aren’t coerced on the job, the crowd erupted in laughter. “Every morning you wake up and you have a decision about whether or not you’re going to go to work,” she insisted, and the audience laughed again.

Sunkara summed up his argument for socialism as a society that helped people tackle the necessities of life—food, housing, education, health care, childcare. “Wherever we end up, it won’t be a utopia,” he said. “It will still be a place where you might get your heart broken,” or feel lonely, or get indigestion.

Mangu-Ward replied: “Capitalism kind of [fixes] those things, actually.” There’s the app Tinder to find dates, and Pepto Bismol to cure your upset stomach. “Those are the gifts of capitalism,” she said.

The arguments stayed mostly abstract. Sunkara and Chibber insisted their idea of democratic socialism shouldn’t be confused with the communist dictatorships that killed millions of people in the 20th century. Mangu-Ward and Gillespie likewise insisted on defending a capitalist ideal, not the current, corrupt reality. “Neither Nick nor I are fans of big business,” she said. “We’re not fans of crony capitalism.”

Talking theory left little time to wrestle with concrete problems, such as inequality or climate change. That frustrated Nathaniel Granor, a 31-year-old from Brooklyn who said he was worried about millions of people being put out of work by automation such as driverless vehicles.

“It didn't touch on what I feel is the heart of the matter,” Granor said. Both capitalism and socialism might ideally be ways to improve the world, he concluded, but both can fall short when applied in the real world. 

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-06/get-rid-of-capitalism-millennials-are-ready-to-talk-about-it

    Insectageddon: farming is more catastrophic than climate breakdown | George Monbiot

    The shocking collapse of insect populations hints at a global ecological meltdown, writes Guardian columnist George Monbiot

    Which of these would you name as the worlds most pressing environmental issue? Climate breakdown, air pollution, water loss, plastic waste or urban expansion? My answer is none of the above. Almost incredibly, I believe that climate breakdown takes third place, behind two issues that receive only a fraction of the attention.

    This is not to downgrade the danger presented by global heating on the contrary, it presents an existential threat. It is simply that I have come to realise that two other issues have such huge and immediate impacts that they push even this great predicament into third place.

    One is industrial fishing, which, all over the blue planet, is now causing systemic ecological collapse. The other is the erasure of non-human life from the land by farming.

    And perhaps not only non-human life. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, at current rates of soil loss, driven largely by poor farming practice, we have just 60 years of harvests left. And this is before the Global Land Outlook report, published in September, found that productivity is already declining on 20% of the worlds cropland.

    The impact on wildlife of changes in farming practice (and the expansion of the farmed area) is so rapid and severe that it is hard to get your head round the scale of what is happening. A study published this week in the journal Plos One reveals that flying insects surveyed on nature reserves in Germany have declined by 76% in 27 years. The most likely cause of this Insectageddon is that the land surrounding those reserves has become hostile to them: the volume of pesticides and the destruction of habitat have turned farmland into a wildlife desert.

    It is remarkable that we need to rely on a study in Germany to see what is likely to have been happening worldwide: long-term surveys of this kind simply do not exist elsewhere. This failure reflects distorted priorities in the funding of science. There is no end of grants for research on how to kill insects, but hardly any money for discovering what the impacts of this killing might be. Instead, the work has been left as in the German case to recordings by amateur naturalists.

    But anyone of my generation (ie in the second bloom of youth) can see and feel the change. We remember the moth snowstorm that filled the headlight beams of our parents cars on summer nights (memorialised in Michael McCarthys lovely book of that name). Every year I collected dozens of species of caterpillars and watched them grow and pupate and hatch. This year I tried to find some caterpillars for my children to raise. I spent the whole summer looking and, aside from the cabbage whites on our broccoli plants, found nothing in the wild but one garden tiger larva. Yes, one caterpillar in one year. I could scarcely believe what I was seeing or rather, not seeing.

    Insects, of course, are critical to the survival of the rest of the living world. Knowing what we now know, there is nothing surprising about the calamitous decline of insect-eating birds. Those flying insects not just bees and hoverflies but species of many different families are the pollinators without which a vast tract of the plant kingdom, both wild and cultivated, cannot survive. The wonders of the living planet are vanishing before our eyes.

    Well, I hear you say, we have to feed the world. Yes, but not this way. As a UN report published in March explained, the notion that pesticide use is essential for feeding a growing population is a myth. A recent study in Nature Plants reveals that most farms would increase production if they cut their use of pesticides. A study in the journal Arthropod-Plant Interactions shows that the more neonicotinoid pesticides were used to treat rapeseed crops, the more their yield declines. Why? Because the pesticides harm or kill the pollinators on which the crop depends.

    Farmers and governments have been comprehensively conned by the global pesticide industry. It has ensured its products should not be properly regulated or even, in real-world conditions, properly assessed. A massive media onslaught by this industry has bamboozled us all about its utility and its impacts on the health of both human beings and the natural world.

    The profits of these companies depend on ecocide. Do we allow them to hold the world to ransom, or do we acknowledge that the survival of the living world is more important than returns to their shareholders? At the moment, shareholder value comes first. And it will count for nothing when we have lost the living systems on which our survival depends.

    To save ourselves and the rest of the living world, heres what we need to do:

    1 We need a global treaty to regulate pesticides, and put the manufacturers back in their box.

    2 We need environmental impact assessments for the farming and fishing industries. It is amazing that, while these sectors present the greatest threats to the living world, they are, uniquely in many nations, not subject to such oversight.

    3 We need firm rules based on the outcomes of these assessments, obliging those who use the land to protect and restore the ecosystems on which we all depend.

    4 We need to reduce the amount of land used by farming, while sustaining the production of food. The most obvious way is greatly to reduce our use of livestock: many of the crops we grow and all of the grazing land we use are deployed to feed them. One study in Britain suggests that, if we stopped using animal products, everyone in Britain could be fed on just 3m of our 18.5m hectares of current farmland (or on 7m hectares if all our farming were organic). This would allow us to create huge wildlife and soil refuges: an investment against a terrifying future.

    5 We should stop using land that should be growing food for people to grow maize for biogas and fuel for cars.

    Then, at least, nature and people would have some respite from the global onslaught. And, I hope, a chance of getting through the century.

    George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/20/insectageddon-farming-catastrophe-climate-breakdown-insect-populations

    The 7 Psychotic Things Your Favorite Celebs Do To Stay Healthy

    Look, I’ve tried a lot of bizarre diets and weird beauty hacks in my day. From Paleo, to Atkins, to low-carb to high-carb to Keto to vegan to juicing to brothing to counting calories and exercising, I’ve done it all, and most betches can say the same. Can you blame us? We’re bored and practically willing to do anything to avoid regular exercise and a well-balanced diet. With that being said, there are certain lines we just won’t cross. Like, sometimes you just know that a certain ingredient doesn’t belong in your body or on your skin, and there are no further questions, no matter how many times Jennifer Aniston endorsed it. Celebrities are obviously insane, and some of them go to v dramatic lengths to stay healthy. Here’s some of the craziest shit they do.

    1. Kate Upton Takes Wheatgrass Shots In her Eyeballs

    This news just came out, and it’s honestly what prompted me to do more research on these weird celebrity health habits. Why the fuck would anyone put wheatgrass shots in their eyes, you may be wondering? Apparently it’s supposed to hydrate your eyes, and Kate swears by it. “I wear contacts, and the wheatgrass really works,” she said in an interview. “It basically hydrates your eyeballs. It’s like flushing out your eye.”

    2. Miley Cyrus Spreads Avocado On Her Face

    A couple years ago, Miley posted a pic on Instagram with the caption, “The avocado obsesh is mad real.” I mean, we obviously agree with that statement (cue my 500 avocado toast orders), but like, not on our faces. The picture shows the avocado spread all over her face like guac, and it literally has chunks in it. I’m gonna vom. I really don’t care if it makes your skin smooth or clear or whatever, it’s gross. Can we stick with a mud mask next time?

    3. Reese Witherspoon Eats 10 Jars Of Baby Food Everyday

    I’m literally trying not to gag while thinking about this diet. Baby food is meant for babies, just like dog food is meant for dogs (although I wouldn’t be surprised if that were a new weight loss trend at this point.) I mean, relatively speaking, I guess this isn’t the most inedible diet ever, but baby food is just mushed up fruits and veggies, so why don’t you just eat fruits and vegetables instead? Or like, a smoothie? Reese, you make no sense to me.

    4. Gwyneth Paltrow Sprays Silver On Her Airplane Seat

    No, you didn’t read that wrong. Queen of wellness and Goop guru Gwyneth sprays her airplane seat with literal silver before a flight. Apparently this spray is sold by naturopathic medicine brands, and it’s made with potassium, distilled water, and actual silver. People say it fights off bacteria and viruses. IDK. Let’s keep in mind this is done by the woman who gets her vagina steamed, so you do you, Gwyneth.

    5. Kourtney Kardashian Drinks Avocado & Sugar For Breakfast

    We’ve already talked about the health benefits of Kourtney Kardashian’s daily lemon water, but I think it’s time to talk about what the fuck this girl actually eats for breakfast, because it’s alarming. Kourtney literally blends an avocado with sugar and drinks it as a smoothie, and like, sometimes eats with a spoon. Is this healthy? Is it good? Is anyone else getting hazing PTSD from the concoctions you had to drink as a pledge? So many questions, and I’d like some answers.

    6. Madonna Bathes In Basil

    This situation actually sounds kind of relaxing, but it’s also super weird. Madonna reportedly takes a basil bath on the reg, which literally consists of a bathtub filled with herbs. Basil is supposed to be an anti-inflammatory agent, so it can help combat stress and muscle pain and apparently make you look amazing. I mean, this sounds time-consuming and annoying, but if this is why Madonna looks so good at age 60, I can get down with a basil bath every now and then. But like, does the basil get stuck in the drain at the end? I need to know.

    7. January Jones Eats Her Own Placenta

    Um, was this cleared by a doctor?! January Jones once told reporters that she eats her own placenta in capsule form everyday. She claims “your placenta gets dehydrated and made into vitamins,” which is still not a reason to eat it, if you ask me. She says she recommends it to all moms, but whether or not anyone wants to take her new mommy tip is questionable. I’m really not over this. Your own placenta?! Really? I can’t. Whatever, I’m getting cheese fries.

    Read more: http://www.betches.com/psychotic-things-kourtney-kardashian-reese-witherspoon-and-other-celebs-do-to-stay-healthy

    How Many Calories You Really Burn At SoulCycle, Barre & Other Workout Classes

    Ever since Lady Gaga replaced her personal trainer for her own SoulCycle bike and we started shopping at Bandier instead of Lululemon, there’s been a shift in the world of working out. Boutique fitness is trendier than ever, and betches across the world are drinking the organic sugar-free Kool-Aid. I mean, there’s a Barry’s Bootcamp open in Milan, so you know this shit has gone global. Workout classes are the new jog in the park, but are they really worth the price tag? We’ve been dying to know how many calories we actually burn in these classes, so we did some digging and the results are in. Keep in mind that everyone’s bodies are different so it’s hard to give you a straightforward number, here’s how many calories you (approximately) burn in your go-to classes:

    1. Spin

    Spin classes have surprisingly been around for decades, but they didn’t really get big until SoulCycle developed a cult following the size of China’s population and was then followed by Flywheel, Peloton, Swerve, and a few other wannabes. A lot of these studios tell people they can burn up to 1,000 calories in a class, but that’s ambitious, even if you’re like, really pretty athletic. If you’re working as hard as the teacher is telling you to work, you’re probably burning around 500 calories in a 45-minute class. This obviously varies depending on the person, the class, and how much effort you’re putting in, but just think logically. Like, if I’m drenched and crippled by the end of a spin class, I know I burned a shit ton of calories. I mean, It’s like I have ESPN or something. Can I take all these free bananas now?

    2. Circuit Training & HIIT

    Circuit-style classes are becoming more and more popular recently, and it’s not just because girls have realized they’ll look good if they step off the treadmill and start lifting some weights. HIIT classes are short and effective, because the class is scientifically built to make you work in short, intense intervals that are meant to spike your heart rate and keep your body burning calories for a day after the workout. The scientific term for it is called EPOC, and the results are dope. So, even if you’re only burning like, 300-400 calories in a 40-minute HIIT class, your body is put in a calorie-burning mode, which can last up to 36 hours, depending on how hard you worked. Thank you, science.

    3. Barre & Pilates

    Barre and pilates classes are obv different in many ways, but they’re both focused on muscle toning and pulsing movements, so we’re grouping them together for convenience reasons. Basically, whether you’re on a pilates reformer or doing pulsing squats with a bouncy ball in between your legs, you’re doing resistance training, which means you’re damaging your muscles in class. Afterwards, the muscle fibers repair themselves, which makes your muscles grow and your body get toned AF. So, these classes usually burn only 200-300 calories, but the point of them is to spike your metabolic rate and strengthen your muscles, so don’t freak out if you’re not soaked and exhausted by the end of class—you’re getting more long-term results that are not just about the amount of calories you burn in class.

    4. Boxing

    Boxing has had a trendy revival lately, so we’ve been dying to know what’s so damn life-changing about these classes. Gotham Gym and The Dogpound have always been packed with celebs like Gigi Hadid, Shay Mitchell, and Karlie Kloss, but now new studios like Rumble and Shadowbox are taking over the NYC fitness scene, and it’s not just because the trainers literally look like the strong versions of Victoria’s Secret models. Boutique boxing studios incorporate traditional boxing drills in their classes, but they also usually have HIIT and strength training segments built into the class. With the cardio of boxing and the effects of weightlifting combined, these classes can burn anywhere from 500-800 calories. It’s also a cheaper form of therapy if you’re particularly angry at the moment. Just saying.

    5. Hot Yoga

    We know there are a lot of different types of yoga classes out there, but we can’t sit here and dissect the caloric differences between Vinyasa, Bikram, and Ashtanga (pretty sure that’s the name of a bomb sushi restaurant, though). We’re talking about hot yoga because people tend to think they’re burning a million calories due to the yoga poses being done at such a high temperature. While it’s true that hot yoga classes take place in rooms set at over 100 degrees, the extra heat just makes your body lose extra water, not fat. If you’re taking a rigorous yoga class, you could technically burn up to 400 calories, but most probably clock in at around 200. Basically, the “hot” part doesn’t mean more calories burned, it just means one more day that you can’t rely on dry shampoo again. Kind of a bummer.

    6. Dance Cardio

    Although Zumba hit its peak in 2009 and pretty much died since then, there are a lot of types of dance-based workouts that burn a ton of calories. Again, everyone’s bodies are so different, but if you’re really jumping around and kicking your legs in the air for an hour straight, you can probably burn up to 500-600 calories. 305Fitness in NYC claims you’ll burn 800 in a class, but that’s probably a stretch, unless you’re that annoying person in the front row who does the absolute most the entire time (you know the one). Most dance cardio classes take breaks and have active rest periods, so it’s obviously not as intense as spin or boxing. But then again, a workout is a workout, so if you’d rather dance than peddle on a bike until your quads feel like they’re literally on fire, we totally get it. Do the dance class. 

    Read more: http://www.betches.com/how-many-calories-you-burn-in-workout-classes