Guys Reveal What Having Blue Balls Really Feels Like And TBH, It Doesn’t Sound Great

I’m sure you are all wondering what blue balls feels like. Not a day goes by where I don’t stop and think about it. I’ll be having lunch, going on a hike, in the middle of a deep, meaningful conversation with my friends, doing a science experiment (?), or involved in charity work, and I’ll think, “I hope not a single man on this Earth is suffering from the pain that is blue balls today.”In fact, maybe health care should  the pain associated with blue balls, if it does not already. I’m sure it is part of the current administration’s health care plan, though. Out with covering birth control and pre-existing conditions! Let’s cover Viagra and blue balls instead!

Anyway, because there isn’t much science or literature out there specifically surrounding “blue balls,” it’s mostly treated as an urban legend and negotiation tactic widely used since The Garden of Eden. And now, lucky for you and me, a bunch of dudes took to a Reddit thread to talk about what having blue balls actually feels like. Because there’s nothing like a bunch of bros being bros, bro-ing out and talking about their balls hurting. I love the internet.

So here are said guys revealing what having blue balls really feels like. I hope they will all be OK! 🙁

This Guy Says Blue Balls Feels Like Intense Soreness


Intense soreness and tenderness on the most sensitive area of the body. So it’s not exactly pleasant.


This Gentleman Says It Feel Like You Have To Pee And Poop

Usually it feels like a pressure in your bladder area, which is from your prostate being swollen (slightly) due to sexual stimulus and from all of your sexual organ muscles tensing up in anticipation of release.

It kind of feels like a cross between REALLY having to pee, and REALLY having to poop. Your testicles can/usually become swollen and are extremely tender to the touch as well until 5-15 minutes after release.

It’s like you’re at the starting line of a race. You’re all hunkered down with your feet in the starting blocks, coiled up and ready to explode out of your pose…except you just sit there waiting.



He Says It Feels Like You Are Going To Explode

It’s legitimately painful, it feels like you are about to burst but can’t easily relieve yourself.


This Bro Finds It’s A Lot Like Getting Kicked In The Nuts

It feels just like getting kicked in the nuts, but the pain lasts longer.


Side note: Cool Reddit username, my dude.

He Says Blue Balls Makes Him Wanna Jerk Off

you just wanna jerk off on the entire world


Please don’t do that.

He Explains It’s Like Your Balls Are In A Death Grip

George Rudy/Shutterstock

It’s like when your balls are being squeezed without actually being squeezed and that feeling flows out of just your balls and into your entire body. Usually it is also accompanied by a lump in your throat caused by your mind being so salty that you didn’t get to make sweet sweet love to her ’til the end for some ridiculous reason.


This Guy Reminds You Not To Use Blue Balls To Pressure People Into Sex

It’s like a constant throbbing pain in the balls that can vary by intensity, but it’s easily remedied by orgasm so masturbation can do the trick. It should never be used to try and coerce someone into a sexual act.


So remember, like this man said, if a guy is pressuring you into any sexual act because he has blue balls, then let him un-blue himself. A man’s balls are not your business unless you want them to be.

And if he wants to whine about it, direct him to this thread, thank you very much!

Check out the entire Gen Why series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.

Check out the “Best of Elite Daily” stream in the Bustle App for more stories just like this!

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Trump Finally Tweeted About Puerto Rico But People Are Pissed About What He Said

On Monday night, Sept. 25, President Donald Trump used his Twitter account to speak about Puerto Rico, the U.S. territory where a population of nearly 3.5 million people is facing months without power as a result of Hurricanes Maria and Irma. The president compared recovery efforts on the island to those in Texas and Florida, while also highlighting Puerto Rico’s “massive debt.” Here’s what Trump’s tweets about Puerto Rico said:

Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble…

…It’s [sic] old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the Island was destroyed, with billions of dollars…

…owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with. Food, water and medical are top priorities – and doing well. #FEMA

The president’s thoughts on Twitter, which were expressed in a series of three separate tweets, drew criticism from a number of different sources. One reporter, Danny Rivero of Fusion, noted,

For some reason it feels icky to mention the Wall Street debt owed by the people who’s lives you are charged with saving.

Another reporter, Steven Dennis of , added,

I haven’t seen a single news report saying food, water and medical care on Puerto Rico “doing well.”

Trump’s mention of Puerto Rico’s debt was also addressed by Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital. During a phone interview on CNN’s , Mayor Cruz said,

These are two different topics. You don’t put debt above people, you put people above debt.

After the interview aired, President Trump thanked the mayor for “kind words” and said food and water were on their way to the island.

Here are the president’s tweets from the night before:

The criticism Trump received for pointing out the island’s debt at a time that it’s experiencing a humanitarian crisis is compounded by the Puerto Rico-related criticism the president had been receiving before he sent those tweets on Monday night.

 reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted,

Multiple POTUS tweets this weekend about NFL and “rocket man.” Puerto Rico is enduring an enormous crisis

CNN’s  also highlighted the disparity between the amount of attention given to the NFL by the president’s Twitter account compared to other major issues:

The , meanwhile, ran a headline that read: “Trump ignores Puerto Rico’s devastation to tweet about the NFL.”

The gap between the frequency of Trump’s comments about NFL players protests in sports and comments (or lack thereof) about hurricane victims in Puerto Rico gave way to the perception that the president was more focused on stoking a culture war than helping the millions of Americans in need.

There was an even more damning wave of criticism that accused the Trump administration of not caring much about Puerto’s Rico’s crisis at all. Hillary Clinton told one radio show,

I’m not sure he knows that Puerto Ricans are American citizens.

During an appearance on MSNBC on Monday night, the former secretary of state added,

He doesn’t think that has any political relevance and it’s certainly not personally important. He clearly doesn’t want to talk about Puerto Rico, more than 3.5 million American citizens, along with the U.S. Virgin Islands. Not interested, doesn’t say a word about it.

An interview with Puerto Rico’s Gov. Ricardo Rosello, however, contradicted the perception that the federal government has not been trying hard enough to respond to the island’s needs. Gov. Rosello told PBS,

First of all, we are very grateful for the administration. They have responded quickly.

The president has been very attentive to the situation, personally calling me several times. FEMA and the FEMA director have been here in Puerto Rico twice. As a matter of fact, they were here with us today, making sure that all the resources in FEMA were working in conjunction with the central government.

We have been working together. We have been getting results.

In any event, the president has still drawn criticism for not doing enough to rally sentiment behind concern for Puerto Rico, while also drawing blame to an already sensitive topic: protests in sports.

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The 16 Most Insane Things Happening Right Now (10/3/17)

Everywhere you look, the news is trying to force you to binge on it. No reasonable person can be expected to keep up with all the headlines while maintaining their sanity, so we have taken it upon ourselves to quickly summarize the most important and/or ridiculous headlines from the last week (or so).


Sources: CBS News, TV Guide



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This anti-bullying PSA acts out online comments in real life. It’s an uncomfortable watch.

Bullying is just as wrong when it happens online as it is in person. So why does one seem to be so much more acceptable than the other?

A new anti-bullying campaign and PSA called “In Real Life,” spearheaded by Monica Lewinsky, takes actual insults people have said online and brings them into the physical world. While actors portray the bullies and their victims in the video, the reactions of unsuspecting onlookers are genuine.

A collection of actual insults people posted online that were acted out in person as part of the In Real Life PSA. Screenshot from In Real Life/YouTube.

The PSA opens with a pleasant scene that quickly turns jarring. Two men are sitting together in a coffee shop, when a stranger walks up to their table. “Gay people are sick, and you should just kill yourselves!” he tells them.

This kind of interaction is not something you see that often in the real world (though it does happen). On the internet, however, that type of comment from a stranger isn’t just normal, it’s actually kind of tame.

Later in the video, a woman gets screamed at for being a “fat bitch” and a Muslim woman gets called a “terrorist.” In all of the scenarios, bystanders — who were not involved in the social experiment — look on with horror.

Screenshot from In Real Life/YouTube.

A number of studies show why people who wouldn’t bully someone to their face feel emboldened to do it online.

Anonymity, the ability to say or do whatever you want with little or no consequence for your actions, plays a role, but it’s far from the only reason people engage in cyberbullying. The performative nature of online harassment also encourages others to pile on the target, whether they have a stake in the conversation or not. Mob mentality dictates that the more people go in on the target, the less any single person might feel responsible for negative outcomes. More than anything else, though, the barrier of the internet between bully and victim creates an empathy gap.

On the internet, regular people — your neighbors, coworkers, friends, acquaintances, and even family members — are all susceptible to becoming bullies, making it that much more important to think critically about the effects of our actions and behaviors online.

Screenshot from In Real Life/YouTube.

Online harassment is so much more than being “just the way the internet is.”

“One thing people don’t necessarily realize about being threatened or dog-piled online is how much it can undermine your real-world sense of safety,” author Sady Doyle explains in a Twitter direct message. Doyle has experienced escalating bullying and harassment online for years, especially during the 2016 election season, in response to her writing on Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Threats of physical violence and stalking across online platforms became normal to Doyle. Once an influential Twitter user took aim at her, to win that account’s approval, their followers would engage in a game of one-upmanship harassment. Doyle began to worry more and more about how it would end. Scheduled book readings brought on a new sort of anxiety, as she feared that any of her online tormentors would be able to easily confront her in person. Thankfully, it never happened.

“I think that lost sense of safety is really what the impact is,” she writes. “There’s mental health stuff, obviously — anyone with a tendency to depression, which I have, will internalize certain mean comments and play them back in a low moment — but it’s mostly the realization that there are people out there that want to hurt you, or your loved ones, and that you can’t necessarily recognize those people on sight, that is so damaging.”

People shouldn’t have to live in fear, and that’s why campaigns like “In Real Life” are so important.

“It’s a stark and shocking mirror to people to rethink how we behave online versus the ways that we would behave in person,” Lewinsky told People magazine about the project.

Saying that while “there are probably hundreds of thousands, if not millions” of insults that have been written about her online and in print, personal confrontations were much, much less common. “When you are with someone, when you see someone face to face, you are reminded of their humanity.”

Lewinsky’s powerful 2015 TED Talk on “The Price of Shame” helped establish her as a major voice in anti-bullying activism. Photo by Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez/AFP/Getty Images.

Unlike Doyle, you probably don’t have to worry about online harassers showing up at scheduled appearances, and unlike Lewinsky, you probably aren’t an internationally known political lightning rod of the late ’90s. Even so, the lessons contained in this video — not to say things online that you wouldn’t say to someone’s face, to remember that real people are on the receiving end of every online comment, and more — are applicable to all of us. Online bullying isn’t the exact same thing as the physical playground-style bullying we’ve heard about all of our lives, but its effects on the target’s sense of well-being is every bit as real.

Whether you’ve been the bully, the bullied, or just a bystander, there are lessons we can learn from this powerful PSA, which you can watch below.

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It’s no longer felony to knowingly infect others with HIV in California

Knowingly exposing others to HIV without disclosing your status is no longer a felony in California—which is being heralded as a victory for sex workers’ rights activists and LGBTQ organizations for easing the stigma in being HIV-positive.

Senate Bill 239 was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) on Friday, after it was passed early last month. Starting Jan. 1, 2018, exposing another person to HIV without their knowledge or consent is a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to six months in county jail. Previously, doing so was a felony with up to eight years in prison if charged and convicted.

According to the Washington Post, arrests under the former law were rarely handed down to people who maliciously infected others with HIV. Instead, sex workers facing a solicitation conviction were regularly charged with infecting others with HIV during mandatory testing.

“If you are a sex worker and you solicit someone and you’re HIV positive, you’re guilty of a felony before any contact occurs,” co-sponsor and state Sen. Scott Wiener (D) said, the Post reports. “These laws are so draconian that you can be convicted of a felony and sent to state prison even if you engage in behavior that creates zero risk of HIV infection.”

The bill’s changes stem partly from ongoing research: The Center for Disease Control recently declared that people on HIV medication can’t transmit the virus through sex.

“The most effective way to reduce HIV infections is to destigmatize HIV,” Wiener said, CNN reports. “To make people comfortable talking about their infection, get tested, get into treatment.”

Republicans aren’t happy about the law, with conservatives in both the state government and right-wing media harshly condemning its passing. National Review’s Wesley J. Smith called California “radical” and “accepting of dysfunctional and anti-social behavior.”

“To knowingly decide that one’s own desires matter more than the right of a partner to decide yes or no to potentially risky behavior, or to potentially risk the blood supply, deserves more than a slap on the wrist,” Smith wrote. “Leave it to California to make a declining and decadent culture even more declining and decadent.”

Meanwhile, for LGBTQ rights group, the bill’s signing is a huge victory across the state. Equality California praised the law as a step forward in fighting discrimination against people with HIV.

“This is an important bill that modernizes California’s HIV laws,” Equality California executive director Rick Zbur said to CNN. “It will really advance public health and reduce stigma and discrimination that people living with HIV have suffered.”

H/T the Washington Post

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This Amazing Moment Between A Husband And Wife Will Have You Reaching For Tissues

Those of us who’ve never had any issues with hearing take a lot of everyday noises for granted.

If you’re in a relationship, you probably don’t think much about what it sounds like to kiss your partner. But for one deaf woman, it meant the world to finally be able to hear it. After receiving a cochlear implant, she visited her doctor to make sure the device was working as it was supposed to.

She was understandably overwhelmed by all the sounds around her…but one of the most emotional moments was being able to hear what it sounded like to kiss her husband. Get some tissues ready, folks!

(via Daily Mail)

I’m so happy for this lady. I can’t begin to imagine how incredible this experience was for her.

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The Psychological Reason Watching Horror Movies Can Be Good For Your Mental Health


A weird thing about me is that I LOVE horror movies and I suffer from anxiety. If I see a centipede in my apartment, I’ll be awake all night, fearful that it will somehow make it’s way to my bed. When I worry about something, it’s like I can’t turn my brain off.

So, over the years I’ve fielded questions from well-meaning family and friends who don’t understand why I consume so much horror. I love scary movies, I read all the creepypasta I can get my hands on, I’m obsessed with Stephen King, and I even like to visit scary locations like famously haunted hotels. It seems to go against common sense. If I have a hard enough time with my real life worries, why am I inserting new (fictional) fears into my life? I’ve never known the scientific reason, I just know I love being scared. It’s my favorite form of entertainment.

Well, it turns out there’s a scientific reason horror tends to be relaxing for me and other people with anxiety. One social scientist, Dr. Mathias Clasen, has been studying horror films and mental health since 2001. He explains, “there’s psychological distance when we watch a horror film. We know it’s not real—or at least, some parts of our brain know it isn’t real… The genre allows us to voluntarily — and under controlled circumstances — get experience with negative emotion.”

Experiencing anxiety while knowing, objectively, that we are “safe” gives us practice fact-checking whether our worries are real. The fun is in feeling the psychological and physiological effects of fear while knowing there isn’t any actual danger.

Personally, I find the highs and lows of a horror movie to be relaxing. My anxiety may be heightened at the climax of the plot, but by the time everything is over it almost feels like a post-workout glow. I’m more relaxed than I was when the movie started, or maybe just tired from the dose of adrenaline. Other people who suffer from anxiety have noticed this same effect, and say that horror movies can serve as self-care for them.

Next time you’ve had a particularly stressful week, find a scary movie on Netflix (here’s some streaming right now) and see if it works for you.

👻 You can read 101 of the scariest (and shortest!) true stories in our new collection, , available here. 👻

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The long, hard road to legal birth control

The Trump administration recently announced a rule that would roll back an Obamacare mandate that requires employers to cover birth control in health insurance plans. This is just one of the administration’s many efforts to threaten or diminish women’s access to contraception.

Even though women still battle for affordable birth control today, not long ago, selling birth control was illegal in many U.S. states. It took four people, multiple arrests, three clinic shut-downs, and a wave of government backlash before the birth control pill was created and ready for wide distribution.

In the early 1900s, activists Margaret Sanger and Katherine McCormick were champions of the radical idea that women could enjoy sex without reproductive consequences. While the two women defied taboos and worked tirelessly against legal restrictions, pioneering endocrinologist Gregory Pincus and gynecologist John Rock joined the women to create a future where sex wasn’t synonymous with getting pregnant.

The invention of the pill led to opportunity, democracy, and massive changes to sexual, medical, and basic human dynamics. Here’s a brief history of the creation of birth control, the “magical pill” that changed the reality of sex and choice for women forever.

Photo via lookcatalog/Flickr

When was birth control invented?

Women have been using “birth control” for centuries—early 19th-century American devices like the “womb veil” preceded the rubber diaphragm and cervical cap, which were popular in the mid-1800s. So, the concept of blocking the cervix to prevent pregnancy isn’t new by any means, but giving women widespread access to medication is.

Before the pill was even manufactured, Sanger tried to create a cultural space in which the pill could be accepted. After being indicted for a series of essays on birth control that breached obscenity laws, Sanger fled the country to avoid trial. Shortly after returning to the states, Sanger coined the term “birth control” and opened the first women’s birth control clinic in October 1916 in Brooklyn. The clinic was only open for nine days before it was shut down by an undercover policewoman. It reopened again, then was shut down again. In November 1916, it was shut down for a third time resulting in a series of arrests for Sanger.

Five years after the first clinic was opened, Sanger founded the American Birth Control League in 1921. It is now known as Planned Parenthood and has been helping to provide access to vital healthcare ever since.

Though Sanger obviously had a large hand in the pill coming to fruition, identifying one person as the sole creator of the first birth control pill is controversial. Three men also studied the movement in the 1950s: A chemist in Mexico City named Carl Djerassi, endocrinologist Gregory Pincus, and gynecologist John Rock.


Djerassi was the one who created the chemical solution for the pill first—coupling the ovulation-controlling hormone progesterone with the steroid norethindrone—but Pincus and Rock were able to test, produce, and distribute their own version around the same time.

In 1951, Sanger met Pincus at a dinner party and she later persuaded him to start researching how a birth control contraceptive could be created. Pincus and Rock conducted their first test of synthetic progesterone on 50 women in 1954, some of which did not give their consent for the test or have any knowledge of what was being tested on them, causing later controversy. For example, one of the trials forced a group of “hospitalized schizophrenics to participate in an experiment whose long-term side effects were unknown.”

Photo via the New York Times/Wikimedia Commons

Kitty Marion holding copies of the Birth Control review in 1915

In 1956, Pincus and Rock moved their tests to Puerto Rico, where the birth control laws were less strict than the U.S. and the two could have little to no limitations with their testing methods. Pincus went on record with the media shortly after, saying the pair created the first birth control pill. However, this was before they had worked out several severe side effects. Regardless, news spread fast and thousands of women wrote to their doctors asking for a prescription.

When did birth control become legal?

The birth control pill was approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA) in 1960. Since there was so much publicity when Pincus jumped the gun, the FDA approved the birth control pill, but on one condition: It had to be labeled explicitly as a solution to menstrual disorders, not as a contraceptive. Three years later, the pill was finally approved for contraceptive use.

Photo via the Science Museum, London/Wellcome Images via Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY)

The pill was far from perfect, though. According to Planned Parenthood, the first brand, Enovid, had more hormones than necessary to be effective, containing 10,000 micrograms of progestin and 150 micrograms of estrogen, which stop ovulation. By comparison, birth control pills today contain between 50 to 150 micrograms of progestin and 20 to 50 micrograms of estrogen. The larger dosage of the first FDA-approved birth control pills causes heart problems, blood clots, and strokes for many women, often leading to lawsuits. A lower dosage significantly decreased the risk of harm, but as with any medication, there are still some risks associated with birth control today.


What is birth control like now?

You might be surprised to learn that the pill is Americans’ most common form of birth control.

According to a 2012 survey from the Guttmacher Institute, nearly 62 percent of women in the U.S. in their “reproductive age” currently use a contraceptive method. Some 5.7 million women rely on the male condom as a birth control method, likely because the condom also protects against sexually transmitted infections, something the birth control pill can’t prevent. According to the same survey, the millions of women who take the birth control pill rely on its added benefits, like managing acne, severe menstrual pain, irregular periods, and endometriosis.

Photo via Nate Grigg/Flickr

Other contraceptive options like the birth control patch, implant, shot, or vaginal ring have become increasingly popular. The implanted intrauterine device (IUD) has gained massive popularity over the last year—after Trump was elected in 2016, Planned Parenthood reportedly saw a 900 percent increase in the number of patients seeking IUDs. Still, the pill reigns supreme in the world of contraception use. As the conversation about birth control accessibility continues and women seek viable solutions to an age-old problem, the same fight Sanger fought rages on.

Still, the pill reigns supreme in the world of contraception use. As the conversation about birth control accessibility continues and women seek viable solutions to an age-old problem, the same fight Sanger fought rages on.

Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus Announces Cancer Diagnosis With Plea For Universal Health Care

On Thursday, Sept. 28,  star Julia Louis-Dreyfus announced she has cancer with a statement posted to Twitter. The actress wrote in the statement, which she also signed, that “1 in 8 women get breast cancer. Today, I’m the one.” The statement was posted just after 1 p.m. ET.

She added in her statement that there is “good news” about the diagnosis, saying,

The good news is that I have the most glorious group of supportive and caring family and friends, and fantastic insurance through my union.

Then, her statement took on a more political theme as Louis-Dreyfus explained the “bad news” about her breast cancer announcement. She wrote,

The bad news is that not all women are so lucky, so let’s fight all cancers and make universal health care a reality.

Louis-Dreyfus’ news comes as Congress continues to battle it out over a health care policy. Republicans have been attempting to make good on their goal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare) since the spring. Thus far, their attempts have been major fails. The latest attempt was made in the Senate over the past two weeks with the Graham-Cassidy Amendment. That amendment is heading towards failure as Senators Susan Collins, John McCain, and Rand Paul have said they would vote against it. With that, it does not have enough votes to pass.

The Senate has until Sept. 30 to vote on a health care plan with a simple majority. After Sept. 30, they’d need over 60 votes to pass a bill. Since Republicans can’t even drum up 51 votes this time around, it does not look like their attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare will be succeeding any time soon.

Meanwhile, many Democrats have recently been pushing for universal health care, which is what Louis-Dreyfus says she wants to be a reality. Most recently, a handful of Democratic senators, led by Bernie Sanders, have proposed and supported Medicare for All, a health care plan that would provide universal health care coverage (i.e. health care for everyone, automatically).

Many fans are applauding Louis-Dreyfus for making her cancer announcement be about more than just herself.

Louis-Dreyfus’ cancer announcement comes just after she made history at the Emmy Awards on Sept. 17.

On that Sunday night, the actress won her sixth award in a row for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her incredible portrayal of Selina Meyer on HBO’s . This win broke Candice Bergen’s record of Emmy wins for the same category (Bergen won five awards for her portrayal of the titular character in ).

This was Louis-Dreyfus’ eighth Emmy award in total, which ties Cloris Leachman’s eight wins. Backstage at the awards, she said that these historic distinctions made her feel “numb.” She said, according to ,

I’m just incredibly honored and amazed this has happened to me. It’s all very baffling and a sh*t-ton of good luck.

Just as her  character is, obviously, political, Louis-Dreyfus has not backed away from talking about politics.

She has repeatedly criticized President Donald Trump, and this plea for universal health care is a further knock against him — he supports the GOP’s attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare and definitely does not want universal health care as part of that plan.

During the Screen Actors Guild Awards this past January, for instance, she took her time accepting her award for best actress in a comedy series to also take a shot at Trump, who had just been inaugurated as president — and had just introduced a travel ban on immigrants from Muslim-majority countries. She explained that she is the daughter of an immigrant as her father fled religious persecution in France from the Nazis; she called Trump’s travel ban “un-American.”

And just to kick it all off, Louis-Dreyfus went on to just totally make fun of Trump for the inauguration crowd size scandal. Check it out:

Still, back in April, Louis-Dreyfus said that “not in a million years” would she consider running for office. But, clearly, that doesn’t mean she’s not using her voice. It’s inspiring to see someone take such an emotional, personal moment and instead turn it to the people less privileged than her, pointing to a possible solution that could help millions of Americans. We wish her all the best with this breast cancer diagnosis.

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Scientists Looked At Bee Brains To Understand What Makes Them Such Good Navigators

Scientists have taken a closer look at the incredible capability of bees to find a direct route home even after flying kilometers in adverse conditions. The research focused on nocturnal rainforest bees.

The researchers, publishing in Current Biology, looked at bee brains and discovered that they have neurons dedicated to measuring speed and distance covered during flight and other neurons that act as a compass. These use information stored from polarized light to work out the insect’s location.

“We show how ‘speed neurons’ and ‘direction neurons’ work separately, but also how they likely cooperate to generate a memory that the bee uses to fly straight home after its nightly tours of the rainforest,” co-author Stanley Heinze, from Lund University in Sweden, said in a statement.

Many animals use a path integration method to find a direct way home. It’s like the dead reckoning used in navigation. If you know where you’ve been you can work out where you are and how to get back to base in a straight line.

The researchers monitored bees’ neurons while they performed virtual flights. This allowed the team to create a computer model of how the bees’ brains were working.

“We then built a robot and tested our model in reality. We sent it out on a random route and the model of the bee’s navigation system that we implemented in the robot allowed it to find the direct path back to its starting point,” explained Heinze.

Bees continue to be absolutely fascinating. Their brains are the size of a grain of rice and have 100,000 times fewer neurons than the average human, yet they are capable of complex flight paths to and from their hives. Still, over the last few years, we have discovered that these skills can be disrupted by human activity.

“After all, we know that pesticides are detrimental to the bees’ sense of direction, which means that fewer of them will be able to return to their hive after pollinating plants in our modern agricultural landscapes. Meanwhile, the majority of food production in the world is dependent on bees pollinating crop plants. Understanding the details of the bee’s internal navigation system may therefore prove crucial when trying to design strategies to avoid disrupting them,” Heinze continued.

Many fruits, vegetables, and herbs that are staples of our diets wouldn’t exist without the hard work of bees. Keeping them safe and healthy is in everybody’s interest.  

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