Hayley Mills Sets a New Parent Trap: Review of Party Face

Theres something wrong with Mollie Maes (Gina Costigan) new kitchen, here in an aspiration-tinged suburb of Dublin. Her mother Carmel (Hayley Mills) notes how modern it looks, but so sleek it might be more suited to an autopsy than entertaining.

There is also a large chunk bashed in on one of the side surfaces. Damage, hidden and in plain sight, is the theme of Isobel Mahons all-female play Party Face, directed by Amanda Bearse, at New York City Center. Whos wearing what party face to get through the evening ahead that will excavate secrets around childhood, marriage, and mental health?

If Mills is most famous as a child starof Pollyanna, The Parent Trap, and Whistle Down The Windhere she is a mother whose status-obsessed shallowness and criticism of her children has, without her knowing, undermined their relationships. Sure, the love is still there, but it hasand Carmel is too willfully blithe to recognize itmeant that when Mollie needed her most, Carmel was lacking.

Mahons comedy, which feels slight but charming, is one of contrasts. This should be a simple, sparkly party of nibblessalt and vinegar crisps, wine, and the likethat Mollie is throwing to celebrate her new extension, instead of the recrimination and bitching session it becomes. Jeff Ridenours design is so sleek and attractive that he will give you your own design ideas. We are sitting above Mollie Maes extension and its tasteful furniture, with neatly potted plants marking the new outdoor patio. Unseen is the piece of topiary of a penis and balls. Very edgy.

It isnt just a critical mother whos come to Mollie Maes party. There is also the status-obsessed, competitively thin, and beautifully dressed neighbor Chloe (Allison Jean White), Maeve (Brenda Meaney), Mollie Maes sister, dressed in her pinstripe work duds, and thensuddenly at the end of act one, as a water leak brings chaosin bursts Bernie (Klea Blackhurst).

Bernie is the key to the mystery of where Mollie Mae has been and what is wrong with her, which includes both the physical injury we can see and the psychological injury she makes no effort to hide. The shame in the room is felt by Carmel; she is desperate no one find out what happened to Mollie Mae, and Mahon deftly sketches both the comedy and drama of the fallout of revelations and private pain. Carmel would rather talk about delicious savory tartlets, not her daughters dysfunction, and certainly not her own ghostly grief.

The play errs on the side of mild rather than biting; it feels a gentle, rather than searing, deconstruction of a family crisis. Mills is a low-level nightmare mom: not a monster, not wantonly cruel, but damaged herself. For her, nothing is right with Mollie Maeher clothes, her demeanor, how she has handled a failing marriage; all is subject to criticism. Her casual lording over Mollie Mae is so well-practiced she doesnt realize she is doing it, and her daughters know well enough how to avoid the minefields around it.

Costigans excellent performance is the layered heart of the play. She is, she lets us know, a stranger not only in this newly renovated home, but also a stranger in her own life. The collapse of her marriage has left her feeling shorn of identity. That is both terrifying and liberating for her, and Costigan expresses the bluntness, fear, and resistance to falling apart that Mahon gives her character.

Meaney is also great as the protective Maeve, not willing to natter away like Carmel and Chloe about fixtures, fittings, carbs, the right wines and snacks, the best diets. Instead, she scorns by magnificent eyeroll and sarcasm.

Maeve and Chloe are also linked by a secret, and White plays both kittenish antagonist, trying to extract secrets and confessions using sing-songy innocent inquiry (which isnt fooling anyone), and also a lonely housewife desperate to keep up and keep ahead of her peers. A surprising vulnerability blooms in the cracks.

Bernie, meanwhile, wraps everything in cling filmshoes, bowls of crisps, cushions, and for comically prolonged periodsbut, as the craziest people often are (at least in fictional dramas), she is also the pieces accidental seer. By the end, everyones party faces turn out to be the most unnecessary masks, and that missing chunk of kitchen, expensive as it was, begins to look like the best kind of design trend.

Party Face is at Stage II, New York City Center, 131 West 55th Street, NYC, until April 8. Book here.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/hayley-mills-sets-a-new-parent-trap-review-of-party-face

‘Grace and Frankie’ raises an interesting question: Where are all the sex toys for seniors?

The struggle is real.
Image: vicky leta/mashable

It isn’t every day you see a sex toy on a billboard, and it’s even more rare you’ll see one in the hands of a person in their seventies.

But thanks to Grace and Frankie, the Netflix sitcom starring Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, that’s exactly what people saw when the show’s third season premiered last year. The series, which centers around two friends who face many challenges while trying to create a vibrator for seniors, has brought to light an interesting real-life question: Where are all the sex toys for older people?

Last season followed the unlikely roommates as they conceptualized, prototyped, and focus-grouped the “Ménage à Moi.” It’s a vibrator made for and — perhaps more importantly — marketed to older women, particularly those who have a hard time using traditional models because of their arthritis. 

Their fictional creation has a soft grip gel sleeve, is lightweight, can be easily repositioned, and even features glow-in-the-dark control buttons. Sounds ideal — except no such thing exists in the real world. 

There’s no question about it, Grace and Frankie (which returns to Netflix for a fourth season on Jan. 19) is in uncharted sex-positive territory. While sex toys have made a fleeting appearance in other popular TV shows, basing a major series storyline around them is on another level. And having the sex toy be the brainchild of postmenopausal women who talk openly about their experiences developing and using it? Well, that’s pretty subversive. 

A missed opportunity

Senior sexuality is often used as an ageist punchline — even in some of the most “progressive” of shows. The most recent season of Broad City, for example, featured an older woman named Garol shopping for a comically large dildo. 

But beyond jokes, there’s a persistent lack of representation of older adults in sexual scenarios. It’s almost enough to make you think that older people have lost their interest in sex, which is a generalization that’s simply not true

​According to a 2017 survey conducted by the sex toy company TENGA, the​ average baby boomer reported masturbating an average of 3.3 times a week (compared to 6.3 for millennials and 4.6 times for Gen X-ers.) ​A​ 2010 study conducted by AARP found that 28 percent of older adults had sexual intercourse at least once a week, and 85 percent of these men and 61 percent of the women agreed sex is important to their overall quality of life.

“In our society and culture, we see sexuality displayed by a lot of very young people. But sexuality most certainly doesn’t turn off,”  said Lisa Lawless, a psychotherapist and owner of a boutique sex toy business and online resource center. “We have customers well into their eighties, and even their nineties.”

But often, she notes, they don’t know quite where to start.

This is why advocates of a less ageist, more sex-positive culture say they’re hopeful Grace and Frankie can serve as a pivotal moment for making senior sexuality a more mainstream topic. 

Grace and Frankie inspect their creation.

Image: Courtesy of netflix

Emily Ferry is the prop master on Grace and Frankie, and she scoured both the web and brick-and-mortar stores to find inspirations for the Ménage à Moi vibrator that would eventually appear on the show.

“There was nothing that I could find that was aimed at older women,” said Ferry, estimating that her team charged 40 vibrators to the production studio as part of their research. “There were some items that [would make] someone say, ‘This would be good for older women,’ but there was nothing that had been manufactured with the older woman in mind.”

A baby boomer herself, Ferry says that many women she’s spoken with in her peer group have expressed an interest in buying a real-life version of the product. “I want one of those, how do I get one of those?” they ask her.

It’s easy to understand why Ferry’s peers are having a hard time: There really aren’t many sex toys specifically marketed to older users. Until now, this is something that demographic has been forced to navigate for themselves.

Senior sex ed

Watching Joan Price give a webinar on sex toys for seniors, it’s easy to imagine that she was equally adept in two of her earlier careers: a high school English teacher and physical fitness instructor. She speaks breezily about the sex toys she recommends for seniors, talking for over an hour straight. It’s clear she’s perfectly comfortable holding a rabbit vibrator up to her face to demonstrate size. Her curly grey hair bobs as she earnestly impersonates different styles of buzzing vibration pattern. In one taped presentation, she wears a silver clitoris ring and t-shirt emblazoned with a Magic Wand design under the words “Knowledge is power” that she shows off proudly.

“Sex toys are a gift to seniors,” the 74-year-old award-winning author tells Mashable. 

“So many things change as we age, or our medical conditions can get in the way. There are so many things going on, but for every problem there is a solution.”

Joan Price teaching one of her webinars.

Image: Mashable 

Price has been blogging about sex from a senior’s perspective for the past 13 years. It’s a job she kind of fell into after meeting her “great love” Robert, an artist and teacher, at age 57. Their sexual relationship inspired her to publish her first book, “Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty.” Touring the country and checking her inbox, she found she was among the lucky ones. 

While she was having great partnered sex, many of her peers were not. She decided she was going to help. She has since written two more books about sexual pleasure for older adults and has reviewed over 100 sex toys from the senior perspective. She also travels to sex-positive feminist stores like the Pleasure Chest, Tool Shed, and Smitten Kitten to hold workshops and help educate retail staff on this topic.

The criteria Price uses to determine whether or not a sex toy might be especially appealing to those in her age group are wide-ranging. She asks herself: Does it give off vibrations strong enough for those who are finding they now need extra sensation? Is it ergonomic? Lightweight? Can it go for long periods of time without overheating or running out of charge, seeing as arousal now takes longer? Can the controls be easily identified without having to reach for reading glasses? If it’s insertable, will it be an appropriate size for those who are now more likely to experience vaginal soreness and decreased elasticity?

Lawless also acknowledges that the seniors who call her customer service line with trepidation about buying these products — often for the first time — have distinct preferences and inquiries. Take USB chargers, for instance, which can be confusing to those who are less tech-savvy. And if a USB charger seems intimidating, forget the whole new world of WiFi-enabled teledildonic toys.

Designing with older people in mind

Despite the specific needs of older adults, both Lawless and Price are hesitant to say a hypothetical sex toy specifically built for and marketed to older adults (like the Ménage à Moi) is wholly necessary. After all, they tell Mashable, there are already ergonomically-designed vibrators on the market that do meet many of the physical needs of, say, an arthritic older person. 

Are glow-in-the-dark control buttons really a make-or-break feature? What about instruction manuals printed in a larger font size? It’s hard to say for sure. But regardless, this Grace and Frankie plot point does reflect how older adults are notably underrepresented in the booming adult product market. Online, where most people shop for their pleasure products, it’s rare you’ll stumble across photos of older models or language in product descriptions that address their particular concerns.

The fictional Ménage à Moi vibrator.

Image: Courtesy of netflix

Among the companies that are consciously working to address and court this demographic is Tantus, which has been actively creating sex toys with disabled users in mind for years. There’s also the Fiera pre-intimacy vibrator for generating arousal, whose creators told Mic it’s made with seniors in mind. 

And then there’s Hot Octopuss’ “guybrator” products like the PULSE III, which does not require the penis to be erect for use. This can be of significant benefit to older people who may have issues with erectile function. In an email to Mashable, Hot Octopuss founder Adam Lewis said the technological basis for this product came from “a medical device that was used in hospitals to allow men with spinal cord injuries and severe erectile dysfunction to ejaculate.” 

“As a company we feel strongly that the industry needs to change its approach to aging and sex (and disability and sex, which is a different but associated debate),” he adds.

To reflect the fact that the products can address issues somewhat more common in older adults, the company consciously includes older stock models than you’d typically see on other sites and photos of people in wheelchairs.

But for the most part, this isn’t an area too many companies seem comfortable approaching just yet. For example, one sex toy designer did chuckle when I made the hypothetical suggestion of sex toys specifically made and marketed for older users. 

This mentality can be seen clearly when perusing online shops for products known to assist aging people and those with mobility issues, like sex furniture. You still only see young, able-bodied models. 

Lawless also thinks there are other products that may have been designed with older adults specifically in mind, but that don’t necessarily market to them specifically. These include electrostimulation vibrators, clitoral pumps and suctions (like the Womanizer), and hollow dildos — though she notes the latter product can be exceedingly large and not necessarily compatible with older vagina owners’ limitations. 

“Even though the marketing doesn’t show people with wrinkles — and yes I absolutely, earnestly, think it should — many retailers and manufacturers are very interested in the demographic,” Price tells Mashable. “Which, of course makes sense, business-wise. But it also makes sense because all of their young [customers], if they’re lucky, will get old.”

For all the “ick factor” she says she still sees when the topic of older adult sexuality comes up, Price notes that she’s begun to see a slow shift.

“We’re not done achieving what I want to achieve here, but at least I’m not seen as an oddity as an advocate for ageless sexuality,” she says. “I still get the ‘Come on, stop it,’ from some people. But I don’t stop.”

“We have the right to sexual pleasure lifelong,” she adds.

While it’ll certainly be interesting to see where the next season of Grace and Frankie takes the fictional sextech duo, many people are even more eager to see if the Ménage à Moi can become something more than “just seen on TV.”

Read more: http://mashable.com/2018/01/19/sex-toys-for-seniors-grace-and-frankie-sextech/

6 Signs That Disney Is Trying To Take Over The World

Proven fact: About 40 percent of all your happy memories have been brought to you by the Walt Disney Company. With almost a century’s worth of wholesome entertainment, Disney has become one of the most powerful — and more importantly, most beloved — brands in existence. But behind the happy Technicolor facade, the Mouse is cooking up megalomaniac schemes even their own copyrighted supervillains would admire. Between constantly developing invasive technologies, assimilating competitors, and squashing governments like Jiminy Crickets, soon Disney will rule all media with a white-gloved iron fist. The Micktatorship is coming, and it might not be as magical as we’d like.

6

They Won’t Stop Spying On Your Children

As surprising as it is to adults who still wear Minnie Mouse sweaters, Disney’s target market remains to be children. Kids are the most prized commercial demographic of them all, embodying the holy marketing trinity of being impulsive, easily manipulated, and clumsy. That’s why we’ve created additional protections, laws, and regulations that specify that kids can’t receive the same invasive spying us adults are subjected to. But the petty laws of man have no sway over the House of Mouse, which is constantly being accused of illegally and aggressively mining minor’s private information like it’s booger-covered gold.

Disney.wikia.comThe name is cute. Less cute is the fact that they probably know Hannah’s Social Security number, too.

In the past, Disney used illegal internet trackers called “zombie cookies,” so called because they keep following you everywhere, pop back up after being destroyed, and we were collectively bored of them by the early 2010s. It did so through a widget company called Clearspring Technologies, which clearly picked its name based on how good it would sound during Senate hearings. At the request of their clients, Clearspring stalked children’s internet surfing and harvested “viewing habits, gender, age, race, education level, geographic location, sexual preference, what the users like to read, home address, phone number, health condition, and more,” which is enough info to make Disney more on the ball than an uncomfortable percentage of actual parents.

Then, in 2017, Disney itself got sued when it was discovered that 42 of their most popular apps targeted at children were in clear violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), containing malicious trackers which Disney used to sell private info to advertisers. Disney countered by saying they “look forward” to going to court, as “the complaint is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of COPPA principles” — the misunderstanding being that they think Disney gives a fuck about COPPA or principles.

Linda72/PixabayThey dont maintain a pool of voters to not get their way.

But why limit yourself to stalking kids on the internet when technology now allows you to physically track children around like they’re wayward house cats? In 2013, Disney introduced the MyMagic+ band to Disney World Orlando — a colorful microchipped wristband that serves as a visitor’s ticket, room key, and even digital wallet. Not only that, but the bands also allow the visitors to have a much more personalized interaction with the park, as they can recommend rides with short queues, tell Goofy it’s your birthday, and let you know which princesses have the fewest divorced dads circling them. And while children might be blown away by the kind of magic that lets the animatronic seagull from The Little Mermaid address them by name, that’s only because Disney is constantly slurping up all the information that the band collects, mostly without parental permission.

Though the bands were a massive success, Disney has chosen not to expand the trackers to their other resorts, acknowledging that the tech is a bit outdated. Instead, the company is experimenting with smartphone apps, which can achieve everything the tracking band does. And smartphones stay in kid’s pockets long after they’ve left a park. Speaking of which …

5

Their Theme Parks Are Practically Running The Cities Around Them

In order to keep on the right side of the law (but the wrong side of morality), Disney has obtained a lot more political sway than you might expect from a cartoon kingdom. But Disney also has real little kingdoms dotted all over the world: its resorts. And with these fiefdoms come the usual politics, like war, corruption, and the occasional peasant uprising.

The two great hospitality monoliths in the U.S. are a) casinos and b) Disney resorts. And the Mouse despises gambling, as it goes against the Disney values of having adults spend all their money and free time on taking their kids to see Moana for the 17th time. The company won’t even allow casinos on its ships, despite gambling being the most popular cruise pastime besides contracting gonorrhea.

Disney Cruise LineUntil Goofy learns to run a craps table, I want no part of this.

So how does Disney fight this greedy industry of empty pockets and jumbo shrimps? By being the champion of the people, of course. In 2017, Disney spent $650,000 lobbying to change the Florida constitution. If successful, Floridians would have to go vote on whether they approve of any new casinos being built in the state. A victory for democracy, surely, allowing the people to decide how far they want to live from a row of soiled slot stools.

But Disney isn’t interested in getting its locals the rights to vote; it wants to control exactly when, how, and what they can vote on. Only a year prior, Disney was exposed for aggressively lobbying to prevent Floridians from being able to vote on a healthcare measure that would cost the corporation money. And during the 2012 election, the corporation spent $2.5 million on getting right-wing politicians in power, many of whom were anti-casino and all of whom were pro-Disney-tax-cuts. The result? An amazing drop in crime … only around Disney resorts, with a slight increase everywhere else, as cops are busy arresting teens for smoking pot near Space Mountain instead of investigating gun violence. At this point, Disney essentially owns Central Florida like it’s the only steel mill in town. It even boasts being responsible for getting 1 out of every 50 Floridians a job — mostly in local government, it seems.

Florida Development CommissionAnd more importantly, Florida welcomes their money …”

On the other coast, Anaheim, California — locally referred to as “Disneyheim” — suffers from the same overlord issues. Disneyland is nestled inside Anaheim Resort District, its own little perfectly landscaped utopia … paid for mostly by the city itself. Since settling there, Disney has managed to finagle over a billion dollars in tax exemptions, subsidies, and other incentives by bribing city officials — or as they called it after the ’70s, donations and “personal friendships.” That’s a billion dollars Anaheim couldn’t spend on its citizens, who are suffering from a serious crime and homelessness epidemic among those not lucky enough to live in the shadow of the giant mouse ears.

But the times are a-changing. During the 2016 election, the people of Anaheim backed a decidedly anti-Disney council majority, which has already dealt the corporation a few heavy blows, like blocking a $300 million proposal for the city to build a streetcar network which would mostly make it easier to bus tourists to Disneyland. Soon, Disney might have to start actually paying for their own boondoggles. Which reminds us …

4

Disney Will Invest Billions In Things Nobody Cares About

Did you know that Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been having terrible ratings? Since its first episode, the weird superhero-adjacent TV show has only been able to hang on to one-sixth of its viewership. So despite a generally well-received fourth season, ABC decided to cancel the money pit. That was a decision Disney, which owns ABC (of course), respectfully disagreed with, forcing the network to keep losing money on its mediocre Marvel property. There isn’t a clear-cut reason Disney would pull rank on a failing TV show. It can’t be the money, because Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. isn’t making any. That’s what Star Wars spinoffs are for.

Marvel TelevisionPictured: The Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. cast … probably. Were trusting Google on this one.

But it’s important to remember that Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the only Marvel show on terrestrial TV that Disney owns (all the others are Fox’s, and more on that later). Therefore, it’s the only thing keeping the franchise warm for your Netflix-illiterate mom and dad in the 2.5 weeks between new Marvel movies. To that effect, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is less a show than a really expensive advertisement, or a disease vector keeping Marvel Fever’s nerd mortality rate at its peak.

But propping up a dying series for the hell of it is nothing compared to the financial sinkhole that is Pandora — The World Of Avatar. Based on a very profitable movie people forgot existed five minutes after leaving theaters, Disney spent five years and half a billion dollars making a boring blue planet come to life. Of course, this was under the assumption that Avatar would still be relevant today, before James Cameron postponed the sequels by a decade and Disney realized that half of its visitors wouldn’t have been alive yet to be disappointed by the first movie. So the finished product was less an Avatar cash-in and more a generic weird alien jungle. Disney even decided not to include any of the movie’s memorable cast, like Retired Guile, Snagglepuss Smurfette, or Man.

20th Century FoxAt least they didnt try to adapt this into the worlds creepiest FastPass.

When Pandora finally opened in May 2017, early reviews were great, but the novelty is quickly wearing off. Yet despite the public responding with a resounding “meh,” Disney greenlit the construction of two additional attractions and a themed restaurant in the area. Because it doesn’t matter what we think. Pandora Land is happening because Disney wants it to happen. Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is staying because Disney wants it to stay. You will think what Disney lets you think. You will go where Disney lets you go. And you will only know the sweet freedom of death when Disney lets you die. Which will happen only after you visit Pandora. Now only $99 for a one-day pass.

3

Disney’s Video Game Division Was A Tornado Of Hubris

While it might seem that Disney can make anything happen (which sounded a lot less ominous a few paragraphs ago), it does have one white whale it’s failed to spear: video games. After years of letting others profit from its licenses, in 2007, Disney finally decided to cut out the middleman and start up its own game company. To that end, it started snatching up developers like they were part of a Steam sale, expecting to simply ride into the industry on a wave of talent and money. There was only one issue: Disney don’t game.

Virgin Interactive EntertainmentAs anyone who broke a controller over their video games can angrily attest.

When it comes to generating massive profits from movies, TV, theme parks, or toys, Disney has turned itself into such a fine-tuned predictor that it might as well be staffed by precogs. But they didn’t have the same auto-success formula when it came to video games, which meant they would have to take a few risks — a word that hadn’t been uttered at Disney since they recklessly decided to start making movies in color. To make things even more complicated for their developers, they mixed their hesitation with their tradition of being difficult to please, disregarding the fact that they were now just jerking themselves off and couldn’t settle on which hand to use.

As a result, Disney had set their new branch up to fail. They bought gaming studios known for making innovation-heavy indie darlings and had them make family friendly puzzlers, then switch mid-development to mobile games, then to free-to-play, stopping short of telling them to develop new IPs for the burgeoning cup-and-ball platform.

Square EnixSpoilers for the next Kingdom Hearts game.

After a string of flops and even more cancellations, Disney did the only natural thing a company with billions in profits, a talented group of developers, and all the time in the world to get it right can do: They shut it all down. By 2016, Disney had sunk all the companies it had bought. It even shuttered LucasArts, firing everyone and just keeping the name (because it meant something before Disney got its hands on it). It went back to selling its licenses to real game companies, so they at least stand a chance of making a decent game and the corporation can go back to bossing them around without any risk.

Which brings us to our next scheme …

2

Disney Is Using Star Wars To Extort The Media

Were you looking forward to The Last Jedi? Did you book the tickets months in advance? Did you flood your Facebook feed with Finn/Poe ship memes? Are you going to see it twice? Thrice? You’re in the theater right now, aren’t you? Well, good news! Disney noticed your love and devotion to Star Wars, and decided to use it to bully movie theaters and journalists into doing their bidding. Who ever said fandom doesn’t have power?

Because of Star Wars‘ unparalleled popularity and rabid fandom, Disney realized it could get the most out of its franchise by holding it ransom. For the privilege of screening The Last Jedi, Disney handed movie theaters a strict list of demands as if it was waiting for the pizzas and helicopter to arrive. Among the most stringent were its demand that every theater fork over 65 percent of its ticket profits to Disney, the biggest cut theaters have ever seen. Venues also had to promise to show the movie for four weeks without interruption, or else be fined another 5 percent in “Pay us, we’re Disney” tax.

LucasfilmAt least they backed off the demands for themed soda fountains.

While a four-week mandate and a mobster-level taste of the action doesn’t deter anyplace with a couple of IMAX screens and backroom full of lightsaber-colored M&Ms to shill (they’re nothing but regular M&Ms with the brown ones picked out), such demands are ruinous for small-town theaters that only have a single screen. Many of them had no choice but to not screen The Last Jedi, as it would have to count on everyone and their cattle seeing the movie several times in a row to turn a profit. So if you had to leave your moisture farm and travel several parsecs to get some porg action, you know who to blame.

But movie theaters aren’t the only ones suffering from the tyrannical yoke of the Empire’s distributors. Disney also tried to use Star Wars to quiet dissent among the rabble-rousers, i.e. journalists. Remember Disney’s shady dealings with the city of Anaheim from two bathroom breaks ago? It was The LA Times that broke that story, running a whole series exposing Disney’s corruption. As a response, Disney decided to punish the paper by banning its reviewers from attending screenings of The Last Jedi. When confronted about this, Disney reps simply stated that they would not play nice with a paper which “showed a complete disregard for basic journalistic standards,” specifically the part that warns that snitches get stitches.

LucasfilmAnd you do not want to get shanked with one of these.

It took almost the whole of film journalism to temporarily grow a backbone and refuse to review the movie for Disney to back down from its petty tyranny. Because at this point, nothing less than a whole industry can still stand up against the Mouse. And Disney has found a way to fix that, too.

1

Disney Can’t Stop Buying Up Other Companies

Like bossy kindergartners wearing princess dresses, Disney tries to control everything: the press, entire cities, even our children. But that is nothing compared to the zeal with which the corporation is taking over all of the entertainment industry. In the last decade, Disney has already vacuumed up Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm, creating a near monopoly on the concept of arrested development. And they might soon own that show too, as Disney is laying siege to its last remaining rival titan of pop culture: 21st Century Fox. Since 2017, Disney and Fox have engaged in on-again, off-again talks about one evil monolith being taken over the other evil monolith’s TV and movie departments, leaving Fox with only its two greatest tentpoles: sports bloopers and fearmongering.

Pixar… And with Pixar, theyve got a pretty strong foothold in that, too.

By absorbing Fox, Disney would obtain the last piece of a puzzle that looks like Goofy throwing a guy wearing a Wolverine shirt over a barrel, as 21st Century Fox owns literally every scrap of Marvel (X-Men and Fantastic Four) and Star Wars (A New Hope) that Disney hasn’t devoured already. Also, did we mention Fox owns Avatar and its upcoming sequels? We’re running seriously low on red string and thumbtacks over here.

ESPNAt least they dont control sports yet (except yes, of course they do).

While owning all of Marvel and Star Wars would do wonders for Bob Iger’s OCD, Fox has something a lot more valuable which Disney wants: TV shows. Buying Fox means getting their gloves on the entire back catalog of The Simpsons, Futurama, Family Guy, and more. With Fox and Pixar in its pocket, Disney would basically own most of Western animation, leaving anti-Disney people with few things to binge on besides South Park and old anime — otherwise known as a 4chan Friday night.

Studio GhibliExcept not all anime, because guess who distributes the good stuff.

And so we finally arrive at Disney’s next big step in entertainment world domination: streaming. As a business model, streaming relies on “nostalgia programming,” which is coincidentally also the term for how Disney brainwashed us into giving a crap about The Lion King, even though we haven’t seen the movie in 25 years. By 2019, Disney will have removed all of its content from Netflix so it can start its own streaming service. And between its half-dozen geek movie franchises, Fox’s TV shows, and its own century’s worth of content, it will without a doubt blow all the competition out of the water.

But this isn’t the only way Disney intends to burrow itself into the digital age. For years now, the corporation has been quietly dominating the under-12s internet with what is now called the Disney Digital Network, a string of Disney-only blogs that look like if China’s propaganda arm was run by BuzzFeed. Now it’s ready to go after the real internet prize: YouTube commenters. In 2014, it bought Maker Studios, which hosted a network of over 60,000 YouTube channels, including massively popular ones like Epic Rap Battles Of History. Disney then gutted and absorbed the studio into its new network, assimilating its 1,000 most worshiped streamers into the Disney brand, luring their massive Gen Z viewership to the Disney side of the internet like some weird reverse pedophile ring.

Which, if you’re keeping count, only leaves social media, surely a platform too chaotic and under-performing for Disney to bother with, right? Wrong. Disney has already shown a great interest in acquiring Twitter, the favorite social media app of comedians and Nazis. And the app has been struggling for a while now, and will most likely be sold off to the highest bidder. Which will be Disney. It will always be Disney. It’s only a matter of time before every moment you goof off at work, every minute you sit on the toilet scrolling through your phone, every weekend you waste binging on a show you’ve seen a million times before, you’ll get it in the face by the squiggly D.

There is no escape.

Cedric Voets really wished he’d gone on the teacup ride one last time before writing this article. You can find more of his commie ravings on Twitter.

We know you want a pair of those darn Mouse ears. Here’s a 12-pack.

If you loved this article and want more content like this, support our site with a visit to our Contribution Page. Please and thank you.

Read more: http://www.cracked.com/article_25410_6-signs-that-disney-trying-to-take-over-world.html

Bayeux Tapestry to be displayed in UK

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Bayeux Tapestry is 70m (230ft) long

The Bayeux Tapestry is set to be displayed in the UK after France agreed it could leave its shores for the first time in 950 years, the BBC understands.

French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to announce the loan during his visit to the UK on Thursday.

He has said the tapestry – which depicts the Norman Conquest of England – would not be transferred before 2020.

The Times said the loan was subject to the outcome of tests to make sure the 11th Century artwork was safe to move.

The tapestry tells the story of the future William I’s conquest of England, culminating in the Battle of Hastings and the defeat of Harold in 1066.

It is on permanent display at a museum in the town of Bayeux, in Normandy, and has very rarely been moved.

However, President Macron is expected to announce the proposed loan at a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May in the UK this week.

The Times said the agreement was made after “months of talks between culture department officials in London and Paris” but it has not yet been decided where in the UK the tapestry will be displayed.

What are the origins of the tapestry?

Historians have long debated the origins of the tapestry, which is 70m (230ft) long and 50cm high.

The earliest written reference to it is an inventory from Bayeux Cathedral in 1476, but little is known about how or why it was created.

According to Reading Museum, which houses a replica of the tapestry, it was “probably commissioned” in the 1070s by the half-brother of William the Conqueror – the Bishop Odo of Bayeux.

Some say it was created by teams of nuns across England – not France – possibly in Canterbury, Kent.

In 2012, a PhD researcher at the University of Manchester said the artwork’s needlework was “consistent throughout”, suggesting one group of specialist embroiderers worked on it, in the same place at the same time.

What does it depict?

The tapestry shows the events leading up to the Norman takeover of England.

It starts with Edward the Confessor, who became king in 1042, on the throne and tells the story of his death and the questions over who was the rightful heir.

In 1066, on the day of Edward’s funeral, his brother-in-law Harold was crowned king.

News of his appointment reached France and William of Normandy, who claimed he should be king as Edward had promised him the throne of England.

Image caption Harold is crowned king after the death of Edward the Confessor

On 14 October 1066, William I and King Harold II came to loggerheads at the Battle of Hastings – one of the most famous battles in English history.

It is likely both sides had between 5,000 and 7,000 men each when they met in battle at a hilltop near Hastings.

Thousands of soldiers were killed in a day of a fighting, which ended in King Harold II’s death.

It was a turning point in history as it ended the Anglo-Saxons’s long reign of more than 600 years.

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Where has it been exhibited?

Image caption The tapestry shows King Harold being killed by an arrow in his eye

Napoleon put the tapestry on display in Paris in 1804, while he was planning an invasion of England.

It was then exhibited in Paris for the second time in 1944, during World War II, before it was returned to Bayeux.

Mr Macron’s offer comes after previous attempts to bring the tapestry to Britain failed.

One request is thought to have been made ahead of the Queen’s Coronation in 1953, while another was made for the 900th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, in 1966.

Some have suggested the tapestry could be relocated to the British Museum if it gets the go ahead to come to the UK.

Dr Michael Lewis of the museum told the Victoria Derbyshire programme 1066 was a date “we all know” from being at school so it would be “amazing” if children could go and see the tapestry.

“For the wider public, people will be amazed about how long it is, and it definitely has a real impact when you see this work of art,” he added.

Can it be moved?

Tests will decide if the tapestry can be moved safely and get to the UK in one piece.

BBC History magazine’s Dr David Musgrove says its size, age and obvious fragility makes moving it a concern.

But he told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme moving it would also present an opportunity to conduct some interesting historical research on its dyes and fabrics.

What are the myths and legends of the tapestry?

The story that Harold was killed by an arrow in the eye is thought to have come from the tapestry. However, earlier sources dispute this and claim he was hacked to death by four Norman knights.

Dr Levi Roach, a medieval historian at the University of Exeter, said the tapestry was confiscated for military use, for covering weapons, during the French Revolution, before a lawyer saved it.

Should we give them something in return?

Tom Tugenhadt, chair of the foreign affairs select committee, said the UK should “definitely” consider it.

“This is an opportunity for us to cement the relationship,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today.

“One of the interesting items we might perhaps think about lending… is the Rosetta stone, which was discovered in Egypt.”

According to the British Museum, it is likely that the stone was found by Napoleon Bonaparte’s soldiers while on a mission to threaten Britain’s hold on India.

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Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42713552

While You Were Offline: And the Real Fake News Award Goes To…

Maybe it's just us, but it seems as though everyone was on pins and needles last week. Between the looming shutdown of the US government, fretting over President Trump praising anti-abortion efforts, and everyone wondering just why Ja Rule was a trending topic on Twitter (no, really, why?), there was a lot of cause for unease—and that feeling spread. Still, it’s not all worrying; at least Superman found his red trunks again. There is good in the world. And then there’s also all of this, too.

The Real Fake News Awards

What Happened: It took some time, but the president finally got around to releasing his Fake News Awards last week. It was not a smooth rollout.

What Really Happened: Remember earlier this month when Trump said he was going to hand out awards for the media he found to be the most dishonest in their reporting? No? That's OK. A lot has happened since then. Here's a refresher.

Though you shouldn't have forgotten about the awards, they were a big deal.

You see? Even President Trump says that the “importance” of the awards is “far greater than anyone could have anticipated.” Well, last Wednesday he made good on his promise. Kind of.

The problem—well, one of the problems, let’s be honest—was that the link didn’t work, which Twitter was very happy to note.

And when the link eventually did work, it wasn’t as if the reaction improved much. For one thing, people were upset that the awards were hosted by the official Republican Party site, and not the White House’s.

And then there’s the actual “awards” themselves, which turned out to be … not exactly awards?

Sure, the stunt got a lot of media coverage, but when the president fails at fact-checking his own declarations of Fake News, everything really starts to look like it's happening in the Upside Down—or Irony Land.

The Takeaway: An event with a big build-up that was undone by a site that wouldn’t load when everyone wanted to see it, and then disappointed others when it eventually did show up. What was that about history repeating itself?

Trump's Checkup

What Happened: Is Donald Trump fit to hold the Oval Office? Medically speaking, yes—unless you listen to some medical experts who don’t work for the President of the United States.

What Really Happened: Every year, the President of the United States undergoes a physical to make sure that he’s, you know, up to the job of being the leader of the free world. Given what has become known of his diet, many wondered if the White House was going to quietly skip the annual tradition of publicly announcing the results. And yet…

…The results of the physical, as announced during a lengthy press conference, were surprising to many.

Oh, don’t worry; there were definitely conspiracy theories abounding about some of the results.

Still, as it turned out, it wasn’t just conspiracy theorists who were calling shenanigans. Many medical professionals read the results and suggested he has heart disease and is overweight. But that’s not what the White House says, and a couple of days after the official release of the results, the president happily shared the exercise regime that allowed him to be so healthy.

We sense a workout video in the making!

The Takeaway: Can anyone make an argument that those height and weight statistics are accurate?

Turns Out, Sex and Politics Is Still an Amazingly Potent Combination

What Happened: Last week another political scandal grabbed everyone's attention—and this one had a porn star.

What Really Happened: Given the metabolism of the news cycle, you would've been forgiven for thinking that the revelation that Donald Trump’s lawyer paid adult actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about an alleged affair would be a one-day story at best. Turns out, not so much.

While people wondered who had the story early—a surprising number were apparently chasing this down before the 2016 election—it turned out that one outlet definitely had the dirt all along: In Touch magazine, which had an on-the-record interview with Daniels—one that provided plenty more details to keep this story alive.

As it turns out, other people had noticed a similarity, as the In Touch piece revealed.

What else?

That’s not the only new detail that came out last week, either.

And then there’s the question of where the money came from. But don't worry, that also got answered in an appropriately forehead-slapping moment.

The Takeaway: Maybe there’s a way this can be spun into a win by the president?

The Opinion Pages

What Happened: It’s hard for the Forgotten Men and Women of America to earn that title when the New York Times can’t help but promote them at every given opportunity.

What Really Happened: It's about to be the one-year anniversary of the Trump presidency, which means it’s time to look around and take stock of what's happened, what changes have been brought by the current administration, and reflect.

Or, you know, there’s that option. The Times replaced it’s editorial page on Thursday with letters from those who voted for Trump and didn’t regret it, arguing that it did so "in the spirit of open debate." It’s fair to say that a lot of people didn’t agree.

There’s something to be said for exposing people to opinions and outlooks that they wouldn’t normally see. However, the common consensus was this didn’t do that. Was there anything to learn from these letters, though?

OK, maybe not.

For those wondering, the Times did try for balance, following up the letters from Trump voters who love Trump with letters from Trump voters who aren’t so sure anymore. It’s a start, right?

The Takeaway: If nothing else, always remember… it could be worse.

I Don’t Know What’s Happened to the Kids Today

What Happened: You’re only as young as you feel, although science would like you to know that you might be younger than you think.

What Really Happened: Good news for those criticized for never growing up: Scientists are now saying that adolescence lasts until your mid-20s. Hey, collective grown children that constitute the internet, how do you feel about this news?

…That seems about right.

The Takeaway: If only there was some way to blame millennials for all of this, what with their avocado toast and their not buying houses…

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/real-fake-news-award/

40+ Things People Dont Realise Youre Doing Because Of Your Depression

Depression affects millions of us, and while we are slowly opening up about mental health issues and beginning to banish the stigma that surrounds them, it is critically important to keep open the conversation to foster understanding and empathy for those who may be struggling.

Sarah Schuster is the mental health editor at The Mighty, and she decided to find out how depression manifests itself in ways other people can’t see.

“While most people imagine depression equals ‘really sad,’ unless you’ve experienced depression yourself, you might not know it goes so much deeper than that,” she writes. “Depression expresses itself in many different ways, some more obvious than others. While some people have a hard time getting out of bed, others might get to work just fine — it’s different for everyone.”

Asking community members on The Mighty Facebook page the question: “What’s something people don’t realise you’re doing because you live with depression?” The response was eye-opening. Below is a list of some of the things that people had to say. Scroll down to check it out.

Struggle to get out of bed, sometimes for hours. Then just the thought of taking a shower is exhausting. If I manage to do that, I am ready for a nap. People don’t understand, but anxiety amd depression is exhausting, much like an actual physical fight with a professional boxer.

Going to bed at 9 pm and sleeping throughout the night until 10 or 11 am. Then getting out of bed is the hard part. Showering is also a struggle. Trying to keep the house tidy. Watching hours upon hours of Netflix but not even interested in what I’m watching because nothing really interests me anymore.

Agreeing to social plans but canceling last minute. Using an excuse but really you just chickened out. It makes you think that your friends don’t actually want to see you, they just feel bad. Obligation.

I can deal with depression, I can’t deal with people who say “we all get sad at times, get over it” “I’m depressed too, I get on with my life” depression isn’t the same for everyone. I’m glad some people can cope easier but I can’t.

I don’t like talking on the phone. I prefer to text. Less pressure there.
Also being anti-social. Not because I don’t like being around people, but because I’m pretty sure everyone can’t stand me.

Sometimes I’ll forget to eat all day. I can feel my stomach growling but don’t have the willpower to get up and make something to eat

Hiding in my phone. Yes, I am addicted to it, but not like other people. I don’t socialize, I play games or browse online stores to distract myself from my negative thoughts. It’s my safe bubble.

In social situations, some people don’t realize I withdraw or don’t speak much because of depression. Instead, they think I’m being rude or purposefully antisocial.

Say that I’m tired or don’t feel good all of the time. They don’t realize how much depression can affect you physically as well as emotionally. I have a hard time finding energy when I’m in a depressive cycle. That means I don’t stay on top of stuff & let things slide (like house work) because I use all of my energy for what absolutely has to be done. Then I have none left for anything else. When I’m depressed, we eat out more, my house chores fall behind, & I binge watch TV or read to escape. But the energy, that’s just gone.

Purposely working on the holidays so I can avoid spending time with family. it’s overwhelming to be around them and to talk about the future and life so I avoid it.

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People think I’m lazy and a freerider because I haven’t had a job since leaving uni. They don’t realise that I want to work more than anything, but have an endless stream of negativity constantly running through my head that terrifies me out of even printing out an application form.

I used to live with depression. People didn’t seem to notice it because I was always smiling while talking to them and making jokes which made my personality look bright and joyful, while I was actually dark inside, full of sadness and lost hope.

Isolating myself, not living up to my potential at work due to lack of interest in anything, making self-deprecating jokes. I’ve said many times before, “I laugh, so that I don’t cry.”
Unfortunately, it’s all too true

Being angry, mean or rude to people I love without realizing it in the moment. I realize my actions and words later and feel awful that I had taken out my anger on people who don’t deserve it

Depression to me was like having an evil person as my puppet master telling me that I will feel no joy, have no desire, have no energy, no appetite, no light. Like something steals your soul. Until you have experienced it, you will not understand it. I wouldn’t wish this feeling on my worst enemy.

For me, specifically the things I wish people would realise are due to my depression are my apparent “laziness”, virtually not keeping in touch with anyone, bad personal hygiene, and extremely bad reactions to seemingly trivial things.

Neglecting to do basic things like laundry, not wanting to cook a meal or eat. They think I’m being lazy.

Fighting day to day with not wanting to give up and trying to show myself my own self worth.

When I reach out when I’m depressed its cause I am wanting to have someone to tell me I’m not alone. Not cause I want attention.

I just sit all day, getting up only to use the bathroom. My chair is also my bed. I have a bed, but i just stay in my chair. I don’t sleep well, and I eat very little. The TV is on, but I may or may not be watching. I just sit.

My house is a huge mess.

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The struggle to get out of bed and get off the couch is hell. The physical pain that exists. The house always a mess because no one else will or can do anything and I get blamed which all just makes the depression worse. The thinking about what I need to do makes me anxiety paralyzing.
Not having a job and physically not being able to even look for one after all the rejection.
People think I’m lazy.
I know a clean house helps me feel better, helps me socialize, causes peace and calmness, I want to and I try, but I just can’t. I know a job will give me purpose and reduce stress by adding some financial stability to my family. I really want one and perhaps that is why it is so heartbreaking every time those phone calls don’t come.

I don’t talk much in large groups of people, especially when I first meet them. I withdraw because of my anxiety and depression. People think i am ‘stuck up’. I’m actually scared out of my mind worrying that they don’t like me, or that they think I’m crazy or stupid, by just looking at me…

I over compensate in my work environment…and I work front line at a Fitness Centre, so I feel the need to portray an ‘extra happy, bubbly personality’. As soon as I walk out the doors at the end of the day, I literally feel myself ‘fall’. It’s exhausting! Then my night is a constant battle in my head fighting my desire to ‘shrink’ and anxieties. Most people that I interact with would NEVER know I live a daily battle of major depressive disorder, PTSD and anxiety. I am a professional at hiding it.

Cancel plans because of anxiety. Stay home and hardly ever go out. Struggling to get out of bed everyday. It’s exhausting. Getting ready for work is a struggle. There is so much. Been dealing with this for 35 years

The excessive drinking.
Most people assume I’m trying to be the “life of the party” or just like drinking in general. I often get praised for it.
But my issues are much deeper than that.

People don’t realize that I say sorry before I even think about expressing any opinions because that’s how worthless I feel. I’m apologizing for feeling anything about anything because that’s how little I feel I matter. They don’t just know I feel like apologizing for even breathing in their general direction. I even say I’m sorry before asking to use the bathroom no matter how long I’ve held it. I feel like a burden for biological needs I have no control over.

That I’m fighting through a wall of separation when I talk to them. That sometimes I blank or delay in answering because I’m still trying to process what they’re saying.

That when I reach out to them it’s after an agonizing period of trying not to. I don’t want to burden people with my shit, but sometimes I just need to hear someone’s voice.

That my everyday is marked with extreme fatigue and exhaustion. That everything for me takes much much longer.

That I am completely envious of people who are full of life and genki af. That I wish my life was nothing but optimism and bliss, that I felt a zest for life and was overflowing with energy. That that is who I really am behind all the junk they have to see and put up with. That I wish I could just ignore it all and have fun.

Sometimes I’ll go days without speaking to anybody. People tend to believe I’m ignoring them on purpose when really I am just lost within myself. I don’t mean to seem like I’m pushing people away. Some days it’s hard when my thoughts consume me and when I can’t find the motivation to simple things that others do on a daily basis.

I wake up feeling like I’m a failure. I have to coach myself every morning into telling myself that I’m good at my job, my kids love me, my husband needs me…and if I don’t go to work everything gets shut off… it’s like I can’t move…

Answering slowly. It makes my brain run slower and I can’t think of the answers to the questions as quickly. Especially when someone is asking what I want to do – I don’t really want anything. I isolate myself so I don’t have to be forced into a situation where I have to respond because it’s exhausting.

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I push away/cut off everyone that I care about because I can’t bear to be hurt by them! Everyone just thinks I’m mean and anti-social.

Keeping the house dark is a comfort thing for me. People always point it out, like “No wonder you’re so depressed. You need to let some light in.” Darkness in my living space makes me feel comfortable, almost like I’m not alone, on my bad days. Good days, I’m all about the sunshine!

Sleeping, anxiety, not eating, feeling worthless, directionless, not wanting to impose my worthless directionless self on other people, being completely exhausted by having to keep the outer mask in place (which is why I’m antisocial– simply being upbeat enough to order coffee at Starbucks will sometimes rinse me for the afternoon).

I want to talk about it. I want to scream. I want to yell. I want to shout about it! But all I can do is whisper “I’m fine.”

Overthinking everything and over planning. The need to make everything perfect and everyone happy even if it’s taking all my energy. As if validation from someone else will make it all better. Sometimes I start out on high power then just crash and don’t even enjoy what ive spents weeks/months planning. And none will see me for months after, as I retreat into my safe bubble

I find that after so many years I just can’t believe in people at all anymore. My vision of myself and the world is so negatively distorted that no matter how much I want to believe when people are nice to me, I can’t.

People who say I’m not ugly are lying and laughing behind my back. People who act like they like me are just going with the flow and don’t really care.
Even if they aren’t being mean, they’re just being polite, and it’s not like they care about me personally. Being a part of a group actually means that you’re just one more and don’t individually matter.

People are not honest, people are always just “polite” – kindness is a lie to look good to others and to feel good about themselves.

Agonizing over tiny problems for days because I’m too afraid to talk to the person who hurt me. Then being told I need to “get over it” or “calm down” or “stop dwelling”. Yes, I know this is not a big deal. Yea, I know I’m making a mountain out of a molehill. Yes, I know I’m difficult, impossible, frustrating and annoying… but I’m also just trying to get through my day. All I need is that reminder that I’m actually okay, not someone demanding that I BE okay.

Hiding out in my room for hours at a time watching Netflix or Hulu to distract my mind or taking frequent trips to the bathroom or into another room at social gatherings because social situations sometimes get to me.

I CAN RELATE TO EVERY COMMENT I HAVE READ WHICH IS SO SAD. SO MANY OF US HURTING AND LIVING WITH THE FEELING WE ARE ALONE. I EVEN FEEL GUILTY TALKING TO MY COUNSLER THINKING SHE IS GETTING SO TIRED OF ME TALKING ABOUT THIS STUFF. I BEAT CANCER A FEW YEARS AGO AND YOU WOULD THINK THAT WOULD HAVE GIVIN ME A NEW LEASE ON LIFE BUT IT ONLY MADE ME MORE DEPRESSED THOSE WHO HAVE HAD TO DEAL WITH DEPRESSION FOR A LONG TIME WILL UNDERSTAND WHY.

I get obsessive over things. Things like I’m worthless or I’m a bad person or I’m secretly just like the people I hate most. Sometimes I can’t tell if what I am thinking is true or not. I get anxiety at social events. I feel like people hate me or just don’t care about me. I cling to certain people and want them to love me. My brain sometimes goes into overdrive and I can’t turn it off and it causes a downward spiral that is hard to pull out of.

I don’t tell people because I don’t want to be labeled. I don’t want them to see me as broken and depressed or that I’m just being silly. But at the same time people get upset at me or mad about things but they don’t understand what I have to deal with.

I listen to music a lot. I read tons and tons of fantasy books. I like watching movies. All of these take me away from reality for a while and puts me into amazing worlds where I know things are going to end happily. I love being in plays and musicals because I get to be someone else entirely and I know how things are going to end and it makes me happier.

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Running a business not answering the phone for years … still works, though …. cancelling all the jobs that makes it neccessary leaving my home … can‘t leave my cats alone … I am turning into this crazy cat lady … at least I don‘t miss anything – I really enjoy my own company … people empty me .

Every night I look at all the pictures of dead relatives I have and asking them to please come get me I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m 71 and have been suffering from depression on and off in my life since I was 18. I truly am done.

I think its hard for people to understand me when i may sound negative because i live with depression. They might question my motivation n even determination to do something but they dont realize its a battle to wake up everyday fighting my own thoughts n suffering from low energy.

Some very universal themes in all the examples. I remember my days, twenty years ago, before medication and therapy well. Realizing that my feelings were not unique was part of the key; overcoming isolation was another. It cannot be fixed alone.

I thought I was really bad at hiding my anxiety until one day a friend came to tell me that she wished she lived her life like how I did mine , cause I am always happy and take everything with a pinch of salt. Now I know that I’m an ace at covering up .

I know what should I do to get rid of depression, but I can’t. I’m in a lake, I know how to swim, but I’m paralyzed. I think that’s it.

Almost all day every day I am on the internet reading science fiction short stories and going through sites like this for a sort of escape. When there is company I keep to myself more, unless my sister and her family are visiting.

Going for late night walks by myself. My depression keeps me awake at night and my thoughts can get so overwhelming I feel physically crowded inside. Late night walks help me quiet the screaming in my head.

I have often been accused of having “no sense of humor”. So wrong. Before depression took over my life I smiled, and laughed, as much as the next person. Now, having lived with depression for over 15 years, the humor I find in a joke, or situation, is rarely visible on my face or heard in my laugh. I feel humor, but it’s just too much effort to express it. I don’t have the energy.

I feel like a stranger in my own life. Having had surgery, off work, no savings, short term disability behind, water frozen, kitchen full of dirty dishes, but I am alive and taking meds.

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It’s so comforting to see I’m not alone. Being indecisive, having extreme difficulty making decisions because you can only see and fear all the things that will go wrong. And when/if a decision has been Finally made, the inability to take action and carry it out because of fear and anxiety. Financial problems overwhelming, inadequacy, social fear, losing your temper for no reason, hours of crying fits, safety in your little home, but being so lonely, heartbreak, regret and grief because of loss of dreams, feeling useless & lazy because you cannot complete basic household chores. Eating too much junk or nothing at all because it’s too much trouble. Having a long list of fun things to do in your spare time that you KNOW will make you feel great about yourself, but you just cannot get out of bed to do them – yearning for the days when you could. Just wanting to sleep so you don’t have to FEEL anything. The GUILT of having depression because everyone else seems to have their life together and so should you at this age. But you don’t know how to do it. The guilt you feel because of the Support you DO get from Friends who understand – don’t they have their own lives to live without having to worry about you all the time? Not feeling good enough/worthy of being loved by someone after being rejected. Escaping into your phone or movies/series. Genuinely not wanting to carry on, even/especially after 3 suicide unsuccessful ‘attempts’, because it seems this is as good as it gets and you are just using up Earth’s valuable resources, a waste of space. Feeling like a burden. Depression is a killer.

People will always tell you “When you’re feeling like that, reach out to someone”. But I don’t want to anymore. Any time that I try to, I’m told I’m too negative, or to get over it, or SOMETHING along the lines of “How dare you have told me this?”. Every time I try to open up to people they either tell me off or just outright block me.
It’s come to the point where when I hear people say “I care about your happiness”, I interpret it as “I only care about you when you’re happy”. Talking through these kinds of emotions are usually a great help, but how can I get said help if nobody cares enough about me to talk to me about it at all? I’m grateful to have a therapist, but a lot of people don’t have the money or other resources for such help.

Endless negativity towards yourself and everyone else. Feeling like a continuous failure because you don’t have the energy to do the right things in your life. Constantly telling yourself you’re worthless and people around you will be better off if you’re not there. Panic attacks that happen at night and keep you awake. Wondering if it will ever get over.

I volunteer for everything from going to pto meetings to baby sitting to cleaning someone else’s house for them. I surround myself with situations and obligations that force me to get out of bed & get out of the house because if I’m not needed, I won’t be wanted..

I always say I’m going to do something with the guys and when it comes time to do it. I back away. Also sleeping for hours not because I’m lazy but because dealing with all the thoughts in my head from anxiety along with depression is exhausting. Feels like kind of when your in winter and the cold air is blowing and you find it hard to breath. It’s like that daily for me.

I’ve dealt with depression most my life. Most my symptoms are manageable as long as I’m being mindful of my attitude, thoughts, and behavior. I don’t ignore people and I let them know when I need alone time or if I’m not feeling well. When life gets boring or mundane I remind myself that this is not my last stop and I continue dreaming. These are some of the ways that I manage depression.

I prefer to be awake through the night because I can just stay in bed without anyone getting mad. I sleep up to 15 hours a day during bad periods. When I’m awake, I live in my head, I often don’t even move.

Just getting in the bath or making a cup of tea is a major achievement. Having my dog has made me get out of the house at least twice a day, have to take hours to get motivated sometimes though. But if I didn’t have him, I probably wouldn’t leave the house unless it was for work.

I get very apathetic. And I’ll refuse (read: I can’t) to make any decisions. Even tiny ones like what to eat. I physically won’t be able to make a decision. So if there isn’t someone around to tell me to eat something and what to eat, I won’t eat. If there isn’t someone to tell me to go to sleep, I won’t. It gets to the point where if someone asks me to make a decision or tries to force me to make a decision I’ll just curl up into a ball and cry.

My sleep patterns are all over the place. I have lots of bad dreams and I’m tired all the time. Work takes a lot of energy, being happy and enthusiastic (I’m a teacher) I crash when I get home. Change makes me anxious. On bad days my hands will shake and I feel anxious and jittery but I don’t know why. I forget my words. If I’m down and someone asks how I’m going I’ll just burst into tears. I’m happiest when I’m too busy to think, but then I wear out and crash. The situation that caused my depression is gone and logically I know I should be fine now, happy now…but I’m still struggling. I lost good habits and picked up some bad habits. I’ll agree to plans and then cancel, I feel like I’m turning into a hermit and if I talk to someone about it they will think I’m weak and get sick of me being down all the time. So, I stay home by myself.

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I’m 25 but still virgin, no job, no money no boyfriend, I still live with my family, I can’t even graduate from college at my 6th year because I can’t focus anything, I can’t get up from bed, I don’t want to do anything, just sleep and hope to die.

As i read these, i can totally relate to almost all of them. That constant
battle royale what you have to fight against your demons. The struggle to eat, to shower, to clean your room/house, go to school/workplace. And the world says that you are lazy is only oil onto the fire. When they say “yeah everyone gets sad”. Well you don’t say? I’m not sad. I’m DEPRESSED. There is a huge difference. Sadness is an emotin when something bad happened. Depression is feeling sad, alone, exhausted or even suicidal etc. My favourite is “you have nothing to be depressed, you have at least half of your life in front of you”. Yea… most people can’t realize the fact depression has multiple reasons, Not just the traumatical one. It can be in your genes because someone was depressed in your family, it can be a random switch from a day to the other just because your neurochemical balance got broken and became a neurochemical imbalance. So you don’t need any reason to be depressed it can just happen. (just like in my case, and in many others’)

Sometimes i just don’t eat for 2-3 days, then i try to eat normally, then i eat a lot. Same with sleep. Somethimes I’m like an insomniac, then I’m like i have hypersomnia. This cycle is what killing a lot of us.

That feel when sleep is not just a sleep anymore, more likely a way to escape. But then you realise that when you sleep only the time passes but it’s just like a snap of fingers and you feel the demons again. Then you feel like “please god, i don’t want to wake up tomorrow, please”. The feel when you are in front of the mirror and just screaming/crying and literally begging to yourself to hold on.

I know how it feels, i feel like I already lost and I’m really afrad if it as well.

But please, whoever you are, be strong, i know it’s a cliche what you hear always, but we hear that all the time only because it’s our only chance.

I’m currently feeling some pretty deep depression because of what I’m going through. Between the stress and depression all I can do is sleep because I’m so worn out. In some pretty dark places right now and pushing everyone away. I hope it will end when I face the monster that is trying to kill me at the end of the month. I’ve lost everything in the last 2 years because of this person and their agency. I can relate to just about everyone of these and have lost friends over it. I had one friend tell me that my friends don’t like hanging out with me because I’m negative. Well a chance to loose your life is pretty negative. Just saying.

People think I’m really flaky. I say I’m busy and I can’t do the thing I said I’d do but I’m busy hiding. That’s depression. The great need to be busy until you’re so totally physically exhausted so you don’t have to be afraid of your own thoughts: that’s anxiety.

I have tendencies towards a lot of what’s been described here: I wake up sometimes and think: ‘Ugh! How am I going to get up today?’ I have times I want to avoid people, where I become very introverted, where I want to drink every night, where I don’t feel like making any efforts to try to address my difficult financial situation (I can’t find a good job just yet).

I can’t speak for everyone, but what works for me, and I think will work for some, but certainly not all others, is that I work against these things one at a time, with simple but effective rules: 1. I will not let myself sleep more than 8.5 hours (assuming I’m not recovering from some serious sleep deprivation) 2. I will not let myself buy alcohol at a store or go to a bar until a weekend night. 3. I will require myself to do at least a few job applications, or application follow ups or go to some networking thing at least a few times a week. 4. I will exercise at least for a half hour 5-6 days a week. 5. I will write one more chapter of my novel manuscript today. 6. I will tidy up my room for 10-20 minutes as I play my favorite music. 7. I will enjoy a little indulgent food like dessert but I won’t go crazy on dessert.

Ask yourself this: can I put my more intelligent self in charge, one simple step at a time?

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I can’t sleep at night because thoughts of failure run through my head

I’m always alone until someone in my family needs something. And I’m up all night trying to figure out how to solve everyone else’s problem. After their problem are solved, they’re gone…no thank you, and they may even talk about me behind my back about how they used me again. But If I don’t help, I’m the crazy sister, aunt,etc.. If family does this to you, I’m afraid to meet strangers. No one cares that I’m alone all day at home hiding in the house with burns all over my body, I’ve been told that I’m too depressing to be around, until they need help again. I need to drop my family and find people like me. But where do burn victims hook up? Heaven I guess!

Everyone here is not alone, This thread is proof of it. There are people out there who can help work through a lot of theses issues, being medication or conversation, relationship or companionship. The point is, It sucks. This disease really sucks. But to help and fix this disease we need to speak up, Most friends and family and doctors won’t know until we tell them. It also helps to push myself daily, to challenge myself, even to scare myself. Maybe to set a time to get up or shower or eat. After awhile it becomes routine. Routines can help move to a better position. Just my 2cents.

My emotions overwhelm me. I second guess everything I do or don’t do. I feel like no matter what I do it will be wrong. I am constantly exhausted and want to escape into sleep to avoid life. I feel hopeless and helpless and I don’t think anyone understands. I want to scream for help but no one knows how to help me and I feel like they don’t want to hear it and they’re trivializing my struggle. I want to physically cut it out of myself.

Always having to be around someone. I have a total inability to be alone. I don’t even have to talk to a person…as long as I know they’re physically there, I’m content. Otherwise, depressing thoughts creep in and I end up driving myself crazy. It’s less effort to put on the facade that I’m fine in front of other people, than it is to face myself alone.

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Sometimes I can’t breathe

I have anxiety and pretty much think I’m useless all the time & that people don’t actually like me. It’s like My inner monologue is constantly putting me down. Because of this, I can’t handle criticism of any kind. In a work situation it comes across like I’m not listening when taking constructive criticism, or if I’ve made a mistake and I’m being called out on it. It may seem like I’m ignoring criticism but in reality I’m shutting down because i’ve already started to tell myself that I’m useless and I’m scolding myself for messing up.

I don’t feel like I’m “in me”. I feel like I’m looking on. Like I’m behind something but watching with hypervigilance. I also stress over things way beforehand. “Which door will I go in? Someone’s going to laugh if I get the wrong door”. “Where do I park? I’m going to be in someone’s way”. “When I walk in, everyone’s going to look at me”. It goes on and on. My mind is so chaotic that it is empty, blank. I cannot say things in order or make others understand what I am trying to get across. Words won’t come. When they do they don’t come out right or the thoughts in my head are not the thoughts I am thinking. They think I’m using figures of speech. Once I was telling my therapist that I didn’t feel like I was 46. She went to give me a high five! I meant that I feel emotionally stunted, like I didn’t go past a certain point somewhere along the line. I have PTSD from sexual abuse by one person and physical and verbal abuse from my father. I had it coming at me in every direction it feels like. I feel SO tired all the time, all, the time. No energy to do anything. I have no interest in anything anymore. My apartment isn’t dirty but things pile up. I know, logically I need to get my butt moving but I just can’t. I want to sleep and nap all the time. Facebook is an outlet for me. I have made groups so that I can post

Read more: http://www.boredpanda.com/people-share-what-is-like-to-live-with-depression/

Sessions’ DOJ Charged A White Supremacist With Terrorism. They Just Didn’t Tell Anyone.

WASHINGTON ― Usually, when the FBI arrests a terrorist and the Justice Department charges them, it’s a big deal. Combatting terrorism is one of the Justice Department’s top priorities, and terror cases are a great way for federal prosecutors and agents to make names and build careers. The press and the public are very interested. Officials will typically blast out a press release, and, if it’s a big takedown, might even hold a press conference. 

The Justice Department didn’t do any of that when federal prosecutors unsealed terrorism charges last week against Taylor Michael Wilson. The 26-year-old white supremacist from St. Charles, Missouri, allegedly breached a secure area of an Amtrak train on Oct. 22 while armed with a gun and plenty of backup ammunition. He set off the emergency brake, sending passengers lunging as the train cars went “completely black.”

The attempted terrorist attack took place aboard an Amtrak train that started off in California and was making its way through a part of Nebraska so remote that it took an hour for the nearest deputy to arrive on the scene. Wilson was found in the second engine of the train, “playing with the controls,” according to the FBI affidavit.

As passengers waited in dark train cars that smelled of burning rubber, Amtrak workers kept the man pinned down. “I’m the conductor, bitch,” Wilson allegedly said to Amtrak personnel while subdued. They say Wilson had tried to reach for his front waistband, where he was storing a fully loaded handgun.

Furnas County Sheriffs Office
Taylor Michael Wilson.

The incident received little national coverage at the time, perhaps in large part because law enforcement officials didn’t initially treat it as a terrorism case. A subsequent FBI investigation, however, painted a disturbing portrait of an individual who escalated his radical activity in recent years as he built up a massive gun stash, even hiding weapons and extremist propaganda in a secret compartment behind his refrigerator.

In a court affidavit, the FBI agent who investigated the attempted terrorist attack said he’d learned that Wilson traveled with an “alt-right Neo Nazi group” to the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in August; may have helped vandalize restaurants with “whites only” stickers; pointed a gun at a black woman during a road rage incident; and spoke of “killing black people” during recent protests against police violence in St. Louis. 

But even when the federal terrorism charges were unsealed against Wilson last week, the case didn’t get a ton of national pickup. One key reason: The Justice Department didn’t tell anyone.

There was no press release on the case out of Justice Department headquarters in Washington, nor from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Nebraska. The reporter who broke the story of the terrorism charges on Thursday evening, Lori Pilger of the Lincoln Journal Star, told HuffPost that she spotted the unsealed case when checking the federal court docket online.

On its face, the lack of attention the Wilson case received from Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department could read as a brazen political decision by Trump administration officials to obscure a terrorism case that doesn’t fit into their broader agenda. Why would they want to highlight a terrorism charge against an alleged neo-Nazi who attended a violent alt-right event that President Donald Trump insisted included “very fine people”?

But the lack of attention the Wilson case has received actually reflects the priorities embedded in a system built up by U.S. lawmakers and law enforcement officials over the years: a U.S. criminal code and federal law enforcement apparatus that treats domestic terrorism as a second-class threat.

Many in the law enforcement community acknowledge that’s a problem.

“This type of a crime certainly, from a perspective of seriousness and the potential for injuring or even killing large numbers of people, is very much on par with other terrorism crimes that we’ve seen in the United States and elsewhere which are motivated by the Islamist extremist ideologies such as that promoted by ISIS,” Mary McCord, a Justice Department veteran who headed DOJ’s National Security Division until last spring, told HuffPost.

Alex Wong via Getty Images
Mary McCord formerly headed up the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

“If this alleged crime had been committed by someone who at the time of arrest or elsewhere said that he was pledging Bay’ah [allegiance] to [ISIS leader Abu Bakr al] Baghdadi or doing this for reasons motivated by ISIS, or al Qaeda, or some other Islamist extremist organization, that would be considered an international terrorist offense,” McCord said. That would mean the National Security Division would’ve been closely involved. There would have been a national press release.

Because it was considered a domestic terrorism case, the Wilson investigation apparently was hardly a blip on the National Security Division’s radar. Attorneys at DOJ headquarters in Washington typically play a minimal role in domestic terrorist investigations, and court filings in the case against Wilson don’t indicate any involvement from the National Security Division. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nebraska told HuffPost the case was handled “solely” by federal prosecutors in Nebraska.

The spokesman, Joe Jeanette, had a simple answer for why his office didn’t send out a press release: the criminal chief, who normally sends out information on new cases, was off at the time the Wilson case was unsealed.

McCord doesn’t think that the lack of a press release alone indicated that anyone in the U.S. Attorney’s Office was not taking the crime seriously, and said the affidavit showed that the FBI got involved in the case pretty quickly and did the work they needed to do. But broadly speaking, she worries that the Justice Department isn’t putting the same sort of institutional emphasis on domestic terrorism cases as they do with terrorism cases involving Islamic extremists.

“I think that domestic terrorism should be put on the same moral plane as international terrorism,” McCord said. “When the reason for a crime of violence is in order to influence a civilian population, or influence actions of the government … it certainly has the same level of seriousness and should be taken just as seriously as international terrorism.”

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Neo Nazis, white supremacists, and members of the alt-right marched on the campus of the University of Virginia in August.

A close review of how the Wilson case unfolded indicates that, at virtually every step along the way, the investigation into the 26-year-old was handled differently than it would have been if authorities had any suspicion Wilson was inspired by any foreign terrorist organization, like the self-described Islamic State.

At the time of Wilson’s arrest, local authorities took a full day to inform the FBI, indicating they likely did not consider the incident a terrorist event at first. Wilson was found carrying business cards for the National Socialist Movement (America’s neo-Nazi party) and the Covenant Nation Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is based on the belief that “White people are part of the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel.” He was charged only with felony criminal mischief and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony on the local level. There were questions about his mental health, but Wilson was deemed competent to proceed.

Remarkably, Wilson was released by local authorities on a partially secured bond on Dec. 11. By the time of his release, the FBI was aware of Wilson’s extremist views, his involvement in two potential hate crimes, and his extensive weapons cache. But they hadn’t yet obtained or executed a search warrant on his home. Wilson spent nearly two weeks out of custody until he was eventually arrested by federal authorities on Dec. 23, several days after federal agents executed their search warrant on an apartment he shared with his cousin.

In international terrorism investigations, federal agents often zero in on what friends and family members knew about a suspect’s path of radicalization. Wilson’s family, according to an affidavit from the FBI agent Monte Czaplewski, evidently knew a lot. His cousin, who cooperated with authorities, said Wilson had joined a neo-Nazi group he’d found online; traveled to Charlottesville with a shield and bulletproof vest; built up a weapons stash of more than 20 guns; and expressed an “interest in ‘killing black people’ and other people of color, especially during the protests in St. Louis.” The cousin believed Wilson was “serious about killing black people.”

Wilson’s parents, Michael D. Wilson and Ann S. Wilson, may have misled investigators about their son. They allegedly told agents that they didn’t know where Wilson resided, only that he lived “in an apartment somewhere” in the St. Louis region, even though he lived in a residence owned by Wilson’s mother. They claimed they never heard of the National Socialist Movement and that they never knew their son to be involved with white supremacists, but both parents refused to “discuss any discussions they had with Taylor Wilson regarding race relations.”

Later, when agents were executing their search warrant on Wilson’s home, his father Michael showed up. The FBI affidavit said it was “evident” that he “had knowledge of both the existence and location” of Wilson’s firearms, and gave 15 guns to FBI agents after he consulted with his attorney. One of the weapons was fully automatic, while another was converted to a short rifle, both potential violations of the law. 

Many Americans are surprised to learn that the U.S. lacks a domestic terrorism statute that broadly outlaws and attaches criminal penalties to acts of violence committed for a political cause. The only reason a federal terrorism charge was even available against Wilson is because of his particular target: Attacks on trains are explicitly outlawed and labeled as terrorism in federal law. Other statutes spell out specific criminal acts of terrorism like hijacking an airplane, setting off certain bombs or killing government officials. But while the U.S. code defines domestic terrorism, there’s no federal law that outlaws all types of politically motivated violence.

The lack of a domestic terrorism statute has long frustrated some federal officials. After Dylann Roof murdered nine churchgoers in Charleston in 2015, former Attorney General Eric Holder pointed out the double standard in an interview with HuffPost.

“With a different set of circumstances, and if you had dialed in religion there, Islam, that would be called an act of terror,” he said. Other federal officials, like former FBI Director James Comey, danced around using the word terrorism in cases like the Charleston church massacre because it didn’t fit any explicit federal terrorism statute.

Pacific Press via Getty Images
 Neo-Nazis, white supremacists and others in the alt-right gathered in Charlottesville in August.

While there’s no indication that politics explicitly played a role in the lack of a press release in the Wilson case, it certainly doesn’t fit the mold of the type of prosecution that Sessions and his Justice Department would seek to promote.

Under Trump, DOJ press releases have placed a big emphasis on immigration: there’s been a big spike in press releases that use the term “alien,” lots of releases about “sanctuary cities,” and headlines about the “return to the rule of law.” Sessions, The Washington Post reported in November, also takes a keen interest in the lineage of terror suspects during briefings with Justice Department officials, even when they tell the attorney general that a suspect is a U.S. citizen. Some DOJ officials think that indicates Sessions’ “innate suspicion about people from certain ethnic and religious backgrounds,” the Post reported. 

NICHOLAS KAMM via Getty Images
President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Reading the affidavit, even Wilson appears to have been surprised by the way his case was handled, and how little attention the attack received when it first happened.

In a jail phone call shortly after his arrest, Wilson seemed surprised that the media account of the incident that his mother recounted didn’t have much detail, only saying that a man with a gun pushed the emergency button of the train.

“That’s it?” he asked. His mother admonished him, reminding him the call was being recorded.

Ryan Reilly is HuffPost’s senior justice reporter, covering criminal justice, federal law enforcement and legal affairs. Have a tip? Reach him at ryan.reilly@huffpost.com or on Signal at (202) 527-9261.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jeff-sessions-domestic-terrorism-white-supremacist_us_5a510cc2e4b01e1a4b157ae9

In Contraceptive Tech, the Apps Guess Is as Good as Yours

Last year, a small Swedish startup made waves with what it called the world's first form of "digital contraception." The company's product, a smartphone app called Natural Cycles, pairs with a thermometer to track women's basal temperature every day, then uses that data to make predictions about ovulation. Rather than curbing ovulation, like an oral contraceptive, Natural Cycles gives women either a red light or a green light on unprotected sex depending on when they're most likely to be ovulating. The app promised a 21st-century update to contraception—one that used algorithms, not hormones; one that lived on an iPhone, not inside of a woman's body.

That promise is now under investigation, after a hospital in Stockholm reported last week that 37 out of 668 women seeking abortions since September had used Natural Cycles as their primary form of contraception.

That's just one hospital, in one city. The app reportedly counts over half a million subscribers across 160 countries. Chances are, more than just a few dozen women in Stockholm have been failed by the app and others like it.

The report from Stockholm is interesting because last year, Natural Cycles became the first app to be certified as a contraceptive in Europe. It raised millions of dollars in investments during a moment when interest in consumer health technology is staggeringly high. So the fact that women are reporting unwanted pregnancies from Natural Cycles already, not even a year after its certification, is not just alarming. It's a miner's canary for a much larger constellation of contraceptive technology.

The Algorithm Method

Before there was Natural Cycles, there was Clue, Ovia, Kindara, and dozens of other apps for charting one's fertility. Some of these apps look like digital calendars of menstruation: They provide a space on a woman's smartphone to log periods and track cycles over time. Others use period tracking, as well as data like basal temperature, to predict ovulation and suggest windows of peak fertility (for women trying to get pregnant) or low fertility (for women trying to avoid pregnancy).

"All these apps are really souped-up rhythm methods."

Reproductive clinician Mary Jane Minkin, also known as Madame Ovary.

It's true that ovulation is cyclical, and tracking data over time can help a woman predict when she's most likely to conceive. At best, apps like Natural Cycles give women space to log their own bodily rhythms and understand when they're most likely to get pregnant. At worst, they take folkloric advice about how to not get pregnant and make it seem more credible by dressing it up as a smartphone app.

"All these apps are really souped-up rhythm methods," says Mary Jane Minkin, a practicing gynecologist and reproductive clinician at the Yale University School of Medicine. "The term for the technique was known for years as 'Vatican roulette.' And the old joke was: 'What do you call women who use the rhythm method? Mothers.'"

Even still, it's not hard to find reasons why women would find a cycle-tracking app appealing. The burdens of contraception are high, and fall largely on women. Hormonal options can wreak havoc on the body, causing all kinds of unpleasant side effects. Without insurance, birth control pills are expensive, and often out of reach for young or low-income women. IUDs can be painful, condoms can be uncomfortable, emergency contraception can be fallible. So it's forgivable that a natural method—something that requires little more than monitoring your own body and downloading an app—seems appealing. Consider the group of women New York Magazine once called "the pull-out generation"—young females fed up with hormonal birth control and interested in understanding their bodies more deeply. Those women gave rise to an ecosystem of apps that claimed to hold all the information—and not just information, but technology, right there on your smartphone—needed to master one's own body.

It's an age-old impulse. Women have practiced "natural" family planning methods for as long as women have been fertile, as a way to avoid pregnancy when contraception wasn't attainable or easy to use. Today, the same methods are just dressed up with technology. Natural Cycles doesn't just follow the days of your period, but your temperature too! Other apps look at hormone levels, or vaginal mucus. Pair all that with an inviting design and a tab that cites research studies, and you've got something that looks more like science and less like folklore. When a technological solution is presented to us, we're more willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.

Quantified Fertility

Natural family planning, and apps that support the method, do have some credibility. Last September, Natural Cycles was the focus of a major study on natural contraceptive methods. The study followed 22,785 women through a total of 224,563 menstrual cycles and found that the app was 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy during "perfect use," and 93 percent effective during "imperfect use"—roughly on par with hormonal birth control and barrier methods like condoms.

With any gadget or app that relies on self-reported data, the margin for human error is extremely high.

The study results were followed by a surge of $30 million in Series B funding for Natural Cycles. But much of the hype surrounded the success from "perfect use," rather than "typical use." The expectation that women will reliably input data, or even collect that data accurately, on a daily basis in the app seems unlikely. Moreover, the app relies on slight variations in temperature to predict ovulation, but is still finding ways to take into account the many factors that can affect a woman's temperature—sleeping habits, sickness, mood. The app can suggest when a woman is most likely to be ovulating, but cannot accurately warn when ovulation comes a few days early. And, with any gadget or app that relies on self-reported data, the margin for human error is extremely high.

Minkin says the collected data in these apps can be tremendously useful for women who are hoping to get pregnant. But using them as contraception "depends on your acceptance of risk." The exact day of ovulation can be unpredictable—even with a log of past cycles, temperature measurements, and hormone levels—and that can make it difficult to know which days are safe to have unprotected sex. "Very few people consistently ovulate every cycle on day 14," says Minkin. "If you happen to ovulate on day 12 and you've had sex two days earlier, those sperm are going to be around. All you need is one guy hanging around and you're pregnant."

In a statement to WIRED, a spokesperson from Natural Cycles wrote that "no contraception is 100 percent effective, and unwanted pregnancies are an unfortunate risk with any contraception." The goal of the app, the spokesperson said, is to provide greater contraceptive choice to women who wouldn't otherwise be using contraception at all. "At first sight, the numbers [of unintended pregnancies] mentioned in the media are not surprising given the popularity of the app and are in line with our efficacy rates. We have initiated an internal investigation with our clinical department in order to confirm this. As our user base increases, so will the amount of unintended pregnancies coming from Natural Cycles app users, which is an inevitable reality."

For any type of birth control, "typical use failures are significantly higher for any method that involves timely intervention from the user," says Aparna Sridhar, an obstetrics and gynecology clinician at UCLA. That's why IUDs are less likely to fail than a birth control pill, and a birth control pill is less likely to fail than a natural planning method.

More information can certainly be useful: Women who track their menstrual cycles, basal temperature, or hormonal levels over time might have a clearer picture of their fertility than women who don't, and mapping out the expected days of ovulation can decrease the likelihood of conception. But as with so many health-focused apps, wearables, and devices, that information can only go so far. Relying solely on a smartphone app to prevent pregnancy might be like wearing a Fitbit to prevent a heart attack. The data can offer valuable information. But information alone can't change the outcome.

Correction appended 11-19-2018 at 2:15 PM EST: This story was updated to include a statement from Natural Cycles.

High-Tech Hype

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/natural-cycles-contraceptive-apps/

I Am Slowly Growing Into The Best Version Of Myself

Unsplash / Luis Reynoso

I am slowly learning to distribute my love instead of holding back. I am giving out more compliments. I am reaching out to more friends. I am letting and become a common part of my vocabulary. I am no longer letting my fear of looking overly attached or obsessive stop me from showing kindness, because my loved ones deserve to feel valued.

I am slowly learning to pay closer attention to the little things in life. Instead of counting down the days until my next vacation and neglecting the now, I am searching for tiny things to get excited about so that I am not always looking forward to tomorrow. I am trying my best to enjoy Monday through Thursday instead of eternally waiting to reach Friday. Instead of always wishing for something that hasn’t yet come. 

I am slowly learning to be more appreciative of my surroundings. I am slowly learning to stop complaining as a default. I am slowly resisting my urges to whine about how cold I am or how tired I am or how stressed I am when I want to fill a silence. I am training my brain to search for the silver lining instead. To push the negatives to the back of my mind and keep the positives at the forefront. 

I am slowly learning how to deal with my emotions in a nontoxic way. Instead of reaching for my phone to send angered rants that I am going to be embarrassed about as soon as I calm down, I force myself to breathe. To relax. To consider what I am going to say before I speak. Instead of reaching for a wineglass when I want to forget about my problems, I force myself to sit with my problems. Think about them. Deal with them while sober.  

I am slowly learning to take better care of my mental health instead of letting my sanity rot. I am slowly learning to speak out when I have something to say instead of remaining silent to avoid conflict. I am slowly learning that my feelings deserve to be expressed, that my emotions deserve to be felt. I am slowly learning that my thoughts matter. 

I am slowly learning to treat myself the way I treat those surrounding me. I have stopped bombarding myself with insults about my appearance. I have stopped comparing myself to everyone else and feeling like I come up short. I have stopped acting like I am a burden to those who love me. I have stopped punishing myself just for existing.

I am slowly growing into the best version of myself. A version that is happy. That is confident. That loves herself and her universe. I am bound to have missteps along the way to self-fulfillment, but I am determined to treat myself better. I am serious about pursuing personal growth. I am slowly going to become a version of myself that makes me feel like I am worth it. 

Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/holly-riordan/2017/12/i-am-slowly-growing-into-the-best-version-of-myself/

SERIOUSLY!? City of Seattle’s response to reports about new soda tax proves prog pols FAILED Econ-101

The city of Seattle had a new soda tax kick in on January 1st, and it’s quite a doozy:

Read more: https://twitchy.com/dougp-3137/2018/01/06/seriously-city-of-seattles-response-to-reports-about-new-soda-tax-proves-prog-pols-failed-econ-101/