With This DNA Dating App, You Swab, Then Swipe For Love

Christopher Plata doesn’t have time or patience for bad dates anymore. The 30 year-old nursing student has been trying for years to meet Mr. Right—first on Grindr and Compatible Partners (eHarmony’s queer subsidiary), and more recently on Bumble—and has yet to find someone with whom he shares a real connection. “I’ve really been through the wringer,” he says. So in December, while he was attending Houston’s Day For Night music festival, he stopped by a booth hawking cheek swabs, and handed over a few thousand cheek cells in the name of love.

The booth belonged to Pheramor, a Houston-based online dating startup that claims to use your DNA as the secret sauce in its matchmaking formulation. The company launched today in its home metropolis, with plans to soon expand to other US cities. Its app, which is available for iOS and Android, is a sort of 23andMe meets Tinder meets monogamists.

Of course, sexual chemistry isn’t just about deoxyribonucleic acid. And so in addition to the 11 “attraction genes” Pheramor uses to suss out biological compatibility, the company also encourages users to connect its app with all their social media profiles, to be data-mined for personality traits and mutual interests.

It works like this: For $19.99 (plus a $10 monthly membership fee), Pheramor will ship you a kit to swab your cheeks, which you then send back for sequencing. The company will combine that information with personality traits and interests gleaned from your profile to populate your app with a carousel of genetically and socially optimized potential mates in your area. To discourage mindless swiping, each match shows up as a blurred photo with a score of your compatibility, between 0 and 100.

For some 40 million Americans like Plata, who have yet to find lasting love online, it’s a tantalizing prospect. But the science behind genetic attraction is shaky ground to build a relationship on, let alone a commercial enterprise. Sure, it might sound more solid than all the mushy behavioral psychology smoke and mirrors you get from most dating apps. It’s biology, after all! But experts say that’s just a nice hook—to satisfy a cultural desire for objectivity, even in our romantic pursuits. Love, even in 2018, can’t be reduced to your genes.

Attraction is a complicated bit of calculus. You’ve got your socioeconomic factors plus race and culture and politics and religion multiplied by what sorts of relationships you had with your parents and siblings growing up. But is there a part of the equation that is purely biological?

Pheramor—and some biologists stretching back two decades—say yes. According to them, it all comes down to pheromones. On its website, the company explains that people are more likely to be attracted to one another the more different their DNA is. “The way species can ‘sense’ how different the DNA is in a potential mate is through smelling their pheromones,” states the site’s science section.

That is a lovely story. “But the reality is that there’s no scientific evidence for something called a pheromone,” says Richard Doty, who studies smell and taste at the University of Pennsylvania. Bacteria is the single biggest determinant of body odor, he notes, and preferences for smells are to a large degree learned, subject to cultural differences.“The notion that there are these magical genes that are somehow associated with smells that permeate the environment and dictate our attraction to people is total nonsense. If human pheromones actually elicited the kinds of behaviors we see in other mammals the subways of New York City would be in a constant state of mayhem with people hopping all over each other.”

In a 2015 review of the scientific literature on pheromones published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, University of Oxford zoologist Tristram Wyatt came to much the same conclusion. “Pheromones have really caught the public imagination, particularly in association with sex or desire,” he says. “But the bottom line is that for the present it’s still true to say that no human pheromone has ever been robustly demonstrated, and certainly not chemically identified.”

So if they don’t exist, how did wind of human pheromones reach the public in the first place? It comes down to a few popular studies, which Pheramor also touts on its website. The most famous are the “Sweaty T-Shirt Experiments.” Conducted by a Swiss evolutionary biologist named Claus Wedekind in the mid-90s, the studies involved a handful of college students with unshaved armpits wearing cotton t-shirts for a few days in a row, then handing them over to other college students to sniff and rate on intensity and pleasantness. It found that women who were not on the pill were more likely to select the shirts of men who had the greatest genetic difference in a certain area of chromosome six—one that codes for something called the major histocompatibility complex, or MHC.

MHC proteins are responsible for helping the immune system recognize invaders, and the idea of linking these immune system genes with sexual attraction goes all the way back to 1976. Scientists at Memorial Sloan Kettering found that male mice tended to choose female partners with the most dissimilar MHC genes, which the researchers guessed were detected through scent. The leap to the T-shirt tests, then, was that since humans also chose partners with greater MHC gene variety, they must also be using smell, even if unconsciously.

It’s a selection of these MHC genes, 11 of them, that Pheramor is comparing when it looks at its users’ DNA. When I asked co-founder and CEO Asma Mirza which pheromones those genes were connected to, she demurred. “We don’t really look at the pheromones, that’s something that gets confusing for people,” she said. “I’m a chemist and I can tell you that pheromones are a big black box. We know they exist and that somehow these 11 genes are linked to them, but we don’t know how. That’s why we’re swabbing cheeks, not armpits.”

To be fair, a series of unrelated papers published in the mid-2000s have provided further evidence that women can detect differences in the MHC genotypes of males according to smell, even though no scientist has yet been able to pin down what exactly those olfactory cues are. And on account of costs, no one has yet screened entire genomes, to see if the “opposites attract” maxim applies beyond this one little area of one little chromosome. So for now, the MHC remains the top contender for genetic attraction.

But experts like Wyatt say the science behind matching you with someone who has different immune system genes remains theoretical. He cites the International HapMap project, which mapped genetic variations from thousands of people around the globe, including many husbands and wives. When two different research groups went to look at MHC differences between couples, one found an effect, and one didn’t. “You’d expect things to be more clear-cut if this really was a dominant way people choose partners,” Wyatt says.

Even if the science is murky, people are still eager for anything that could give them an edge in the digital dating pool. Pheramor is launching with about 3,000 users in Houston, with plans to begin expanding to Austin next month and Boston later this year. While the DNA stuff might be a draw for some, many others are attracted to the ease of not having to fill out a million questions or set up another generic profile. Instead, Pheramor’s technology will autopopulate one for you, based on all your likes and posts and hashtags on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. It will even help you choose the most statistically successful kinds of selfies.

You can still manually edit the profile, if, like Mirza experienced, some outdated information comes up. “When I connected mine it said my favorite movie was Big Fat Liar, which I must have posted in high school,” she says. “It was pretty embarrassing, there were a lot of things I deleted.” But the idea is that your cyberfootprint on social media, which for some people is already a decade old, has way more data points than any personality test you could ever take.

And Pheramor is only going to be collecting more. In a few months the company will roll out a new feature called Second Date, which will track users locations and know if they meet up with one of their matches. The app will then push out a survey to see how the date went. If both parties answer positively, it will suggest that you go out again. The feature will also let Pheramor know if you liked that sort of person, so it can serve you more profiles of similar folks. "We're trying to use sociological data to make this a better experience," says Mirza.

That’s the part that gives people like Luke Stark pause. The Dartmouth digital technology sociologist cautions how apps like Tinder and perhaps Pheramor take advantage of the fact that people can’t see or feel their data, so they’re easily lured into giving it away. “The broader privacy concern with something like this is that the public doesn’t yet realize all the behavioral data they’re providing voluntarily can be used to build these personality profiles that can then be sold,” he says. “At this point personality tests and social media data are functionally the same.”

While Pheramor’s privacy policy reserves the right to sell user information to third parties, Mirza says that’s just to protect themselves legally. The only organization they sell data to, she says, is a large cancer registry. You see, those same immune genes purportedly responsible for attraction also determine whether or not someone can be a blood stem cell donor for people suffering from disorders like leukemia, lymphoma, and sickle cell disease. Pheramor gives all its users the option to consent to being part of the registry. “What’s cooler than fighting heartbreak and cancer at the same time?” she says. Judging by the science so far, our bet's on curing cancer first.

Genetic Genies

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/with-this-dna-dating-app-you-swab-then-swipe-for-love/

5 Awesome Sci-Fi Movie Technologies That’d Suck In Real Life

Why are we still driving non-flying cars to our non-space workplaces while fantasizing about our merely two-boobed prostitutes? Where are all the snazzy gadgets and awesome technologies movies promised us? In many cases, they’re right here. We just don’t use them because, well, they kinda suck. Like how …


Controlling Computers With Hand Gestures Is Awful

In Minority Report, Tom Cruise plays a future cop who tries to warn everyone that Max von Sydow is evil, but no one will believe him, even though he’s clearly Max von Sydow. But what most people remember best are the scenes wherein Cruise controls his futuristic crime lab computer by waving his arms around.

How cool is that? Instead of having to say “enhance” and then clicking a boring old mouse, Cruise picks up files and videos from the air itself, and explores them using simple gestures. Soon, other movies were jumping in on this hot futuristic action. From Iron Man 2

Marvel Studios

… to Prometheus

20th Century FoxSpoilers: This movie will show up a lot in this article.

… to Star Trek: Discovery.

CBS Television StudiosThank you in advance for the 100 comments about how this one’s not a movie.

Why We’re Not Using This Today:

As everyone who has ever owned a Kinect knows, this crap gets old fast. The biggest issue is that your arms get tired very quickly if you hold them up for even a short period of time. If you make that a long time, the feeling gets absolutely excruciating. Engineers actually identified this problem in the ’80s, and even gave it a name: the “gorilla arm” effect. You know, because your arms get “sore, cramped, and oversized,” and you end up looking and feeling like a gorilla. Not even a cool sci-fi cyborg gorilla like in Congo.

Take another look at that Minority Report scene. When Cruise goes to shake Colin Farrell’s hand, he accidentally moves a bunch of files he’s working on. That would happen all the time. Imagine you’re holding 350 slides that took you five hours to organize and you suddenly get an itch on your butt:

20th Century FoxOr any other activity where you might be shaking your hand while staring at your screen …

Any interface that lies flat and gives you a wide range of control — even if you only move your hands a few inches — would beat this thing … hands down. If only we had something like that!


Sci-Fi Holograms Are Inferior To 2D Images In Almost Every Way

If somebody in a sci-fi movie needs to look at something important, a paltry two dimensions simply will not do. They need holograms for absolutely everything, even when audio alone would do the job. Like in Star Wars, when R2-D2 shows Leia’s holographic recording to a horned up Luke:

LucasfilmWhile Obi-Wan silently screams on the inside.

Here it is again in The Last Starfighter:

Universal Pictures

And here’s a dude’s head popping out of a monitor on Star Trek: Discovery:

CBS Television Studios

Hell, even the highly advanced race of spacefaring giants who created mankind love holograms! From Prometheus:

20th Century FoxYou need to adjust the tracking on your Space Voldemort.

Why We’re Not Using This Today:

You may have noticed something about the holograms above: They A) look like crap, B) are completely pointless, or C) both. That pretty much sums up holograms in the real world, too. Remember that time Tupac’s blue ghost crashed a Snoop Dogg performance? And remember how the company responsible went bankrupt soon thereafter? Turns out there isn’t much real use for blurry, semi-transparent 3D projections that cause eye strain if you look at them for too long.

Even the nicest example is so fuzzy and transparent that it’s not clear why you would bother with it over a 2D video feed. In the 2017 Ghost In The Shell, a hologram is used to reconstruct a murder scene, but it’s so imprecise (red tint, kinda blurry, semi-transparent) that it’s hard to think of a use for it other than making up for the investigator’s chronic lack of imagination.

Paramount Pictures“Ohhh, that’s what tables look like. OK, I’m good.”

In Prometheus (again!), the Weyland Corporation’s holograms don’t have a tint, but they’re so transparent that everyone on the crew probably ended up with a migraine anyway.

20th Century Fox“Oh, I thought it was the script causing that.”

If you absolutely need to communicate visual information over a vast distance, why would you choose this technology? Think of the bandwidth charges! We already know the future doesn’t have Net Neutrality.


Nobody Likes Video Calls (Except In The Movies)

With the possible exception of flying cars and sex-bots, no technology shows up in sci-fi movies as often as video calls. Whether they’re discussing something of galaxy-shattering importance or reminding their spouse to buy eggs, everybody in the future does everything via video calls. We see it in …

Marvel StudioGuardians Of The Galaxy

Warner Bros. PicturesDemolition Man

TriStar PicturesTotal Recall (the good one)

Columbia PicturesTotal Recall (the Colin Farrell one)

Paramount PicturesStar Trek Into Darkness

… and like a million other movies. We’ll stop now, or we’ll be here all day.

Why We’re Not Using This Today:

We are! Video calling is finally a reality! And it sucks. Seriously, unless it’s for Twitch streaming, nobody uses it. And it’s easy to see why.

You can take voice calls in almost any situation where you can talk, but if you take a video call, you have to look like a decently dressed, reasonably groomed human being. Plus, you have to make sure you didn’t leave something like, say, a giant pink dildo visible in the background. Which has happened. On the BBC.

And yet sci-fi characters love this technology so much that they’ll literally risk their lives to use it. In 2017’s Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets, right as the characters are leaving a planet’s orbit, the face of their boss pops up smack dab in the middle of their ship’s front viewport. That could kill you while you’re driving a car, let alone piloting a spaceship.

EuropaCorp“Just called to remind you that driving and Skyping is illegal. Also, you’re fired.”


Super Advanced Robots Always Have Needlessly Terrible Vision

One of the coolest types of shots is when we go inside a robot’s head to see the way they look at the world. Like in the Terminator movies, in which Arnold Schwarzenegger sees everything through a badass red filter, with a bunch of important-looking numbers and text readouts:

TriStar PicturesWhy isn’t the text in Austrian, though?

Or the recent RoboCop remake, where the Robo-Vision (that’s the official name, look it up) shows everything in an old-timey reddish sepia tone, with, again, added text and data prompts:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer“08 threats and 15 cliches detected.”

Why We’re Not Using This Today:

Look at any decent first-person shooting game. The status bars and prompts are always minimal and in the corners of the screen. If they took up 30 percent of your monitor, like in the examples above, the developers would have angry nerds with actual guns outside their houses. All those big letters and numbers are covering up important visual information, allowing AmishTeabaggz42069 to sneak up and shoot you in the head. And what are they even there for? Terminators have computers for brains. Why do they need to see the data they themselves are processing?

On top of that, the obligatory red tint makes these killer robots effectively colorblind, and prevents them from easily distinguishing between, say, blood and other liquids, which you’d think would be important in their line of work. At the other end of the spectrum, we have medical robots like Baymax from Big Hero 6, whose internal HUD looks like this:

Walt Disney Pictures“Slack-jawed and dumb-looking … perfectly healthy for a teen boy.”

All those widgets are probably helpful for a robot that patches up humans, but that blue tint … isn’t. Baymax needs to see his patients as accurately as possible, not just to identify any physical symptoms, but also to make treatment easier. It’s been demonstrated that blue light hinders injections, since it’s harder to find a vein under the patient’s skin.

Meanwhile, in Chappie, the law-enforcing robots that patrol the streets are all apparently equipped with crappy late ’90s webcams. Imagine trying to shoot the correct criminal if this was what you saw:

Columbia PicturesCan robots get motion sickness?

To be fair, all these examples are still an improvement over 1973’s Westworld, wherein the highly advanced Yul Brynner robot, whose sole purpose is to shoot people in gunfights, can’t even tell a fork from a spoon.

Metro-Goldwyn-MayerSporks make their heads explode.


Computer Screens In Science Fiction Movies Are Worse Than The Ones We Have Today

In sci-fi movies, computer screens are elaborate displays of carefully matched colors and captivating animations (even when no one’s using them). They’re all packed with graphs and numbers and all sorts of doubtlessly essential information. Marvel at the snazzy monitors in 2009’s Star Trek

Paramount Pictures

… and Avatar

20th Century Fox

… and naturally, good ol’ Prometheus:

20th Century Fox

Why We’re Not Using This Today:

We lose ten minutes of work time every time a pigeon lands outside our window. If you had to do your job next to a bunch of huge screens that kept looping through colorful graphics, you’d probably get quite distracted. And if your own screen insisted on performing a lovely animation every time you updated some data or asked for an analysis, you’d probably start daydreaming about Microsoft Excel for the first time in your life.

In almost every sense, these sci-fi screens are a huge step backwards compared to what we have now. Nearly all of them have low contrast (making it harder to read things at a glance) and a grand total of four colors, all of which are usually variations of blue and green. The Avengers:

Marvel StudiosThis would look better if they were all playing Galaga.

Mars (a National Geographic miniseries):

National Geographic


20th Century PicturesLast time, we promise!

Not only does this mean that you run out of ways to highlight important stuff quickly, but the preponderance of blue and lack of red tones can even be dangerous. See, when your eyes have adapted to a dark environment, light of any color except red will disrupt that adaptation. This is called the Purkinje effect. That’s why interfaces for things like submarines and airplanes use a lot of red, which allows, for example, pilots flying at night to clearly see both the screen and the view outside their cockpit. But on the other hand, blue looks neater, so that’s a fair tradeoff.

These sci-fi screens fail at the most basic function of a user interface: conveying information quickly and easily. Everything important is hidden in dense blocks of tiny text and numbers scattered around the screen. The only way the following screenshots make sense is if the characters have superhuman vision or magnifying glasses:

Marvel StudiosThe Avengers

Paramount PicturesStar Trek Beyond

20th Century PicturesAvatar

For comparison, here is a real-life NASA mission control room:


Note the lack of flashy animated visualizations. The multiple high-contrast colors. The text that is readable when you’re at the intended distance. And Earth has yet to be attacked by alien invaders. Coincidence? We don’t think so.

Prometheus isn’t a bad movie, but please make sure you’ve seen Alien before watching Prometheus. We talk about that movie a lot on this site too.

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Read more: http://www.cracked.com/article_25385_5-awesome-sci-fi-movie-technologies-thatd-suck-in-real-life.html

“This Flu Is Serious Business,” Wife Warns After Husband Loses Legs & 9 Fingers to Septic Shock

As countless reports have reflected, a fatal flu season is upon us.

From a mom who lost her perfectly healthy 27-year-old daughter to a father who lost his vibrant 7-year-old two days after she complained of a sore throat, parents across America are grieving the loss of children taken too soon by 2018’s deadly strain of influenza. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported in mid-January that the death toll for children had reached thirty this flu season, and that number is steadily rising.

But this unrelenting virus is not only targeting youth. Fifty-one-year-old Brian Herndon recently lost both his feet and nine fingers after going into septic shock from flu complications.

“One minute you’ve got the flu and the next minute you’re septic,” the Texas father told WFAA via Skype on Sunday.

On January 4, Brian was diagnosed with the flu; the next day, he came down with pneumonia and went into septic shock.

According to Medical News Today, septic shock “occurs when an overwhelming infection leads to life-threatening low blood pressure.” When blood pressure drops, blood flow is reduced to the vital organs which can lead to organ failure, other serious injury, and even death.

Septic shock is “most common in people who are already affected by illnesses that weaken the immune system”—but similar to many cases reported in recent months, Brian had no preexisting medical problems that would have made him more prone to such severe complications.


“He had a 104.7 temperature right away,” said his wife Jaye. “And then he had trouble breathing. We didn’t wait, we went to the ER. It was that quick.”

After blood clots developed in his extremities, the father of two was forced to have his lower legs amputated and will need to get prosthetics.

Jaye posted the following update on the family’s GoFundMe page:

“Brian has been facing all kinds of complications due to flu, pneumonia, septic shock, and multi organ failure. As of today Brian will need prosthetics for both legs, below the knee. He will also need special hand work as parts of every finger have been removed. While this is a challenging complication, we can do this together. Our amount needed is rapidly growing but your help makes a huge difference. Every dollar will help show love to an amazing man! Funds will be used for prosthetics and his medical care. Thank you!!”

After her husband’s near brush with death, Jaye is on a mission to make others aware of just how pressing it is to catch flu symptoms early on.

“This flu is serious business,” she urged. “People need to pay attention to it. Do not send your kids to school with a fever. We have to help each other out. Not everyone’s body deals with the flu-like maybe yours does.”


Though Brian’s case is certainly tragic, it’s not the worst case scenario that flu victims have seen this season. The Star-Telegram reported that there have been “54 flu-related deaths in Dallas County since Oct. 1, and at least 23 in Tarrant County.”

In spite of Brian’s critical condition, the Herndon’s deep-seated Christian faith has helped them remain positive and hopeful for his full recovery.


“He’s a man of faith, and we’re all just trusting God to carry him through and bring us to that new normal,” says Jaye.

If you’d like to join in helping the Herndon family financially, you may donate to their GoFundMe page here

Read Next On FaithIt
Mom Sends Summer Warning to Parents After Daughter Wakes Up Nearly Paralyzed

Read more: https://faithit.com/husband-amputates-legs-fingers-septic-shock-flu-warning/

This YouTuber Is Being Called Out For Triggering Peoples Eating Disorders, And Its All Kinds Of Fucked Up

Sarah’s Day YouTube

YouTube has become a breeding ground for health and fitness accounts, due to the onset of a social obsession surrounding what kind of foods people are eating. Millions and millions of views are garnered on the platform with titles like “What A Model In NYC Eats In A Day” or “What I Eat In A Day (How I Lost 20 Pounds)” and fan bases are filled with impressionable young women and men who take to heart what these YouTubers with no real credentials have to say about nutrition, and health.

As with all forms of social media, when you take an influencer, and you give them a platform, they have power over people. The audiences of these influencers trust them, and they follow them because they lead desirable lives. But what happens when someone with questionable habits is seen as someone others must emulate? What happens when someone who may have an unhealthy obsession with food, starts to showcase their lives and, in turn their controversial behavior, to those who are willing and ready to learn from them?

Introduce Sarah’s Day, otherwise known as Sezzy by her fans. Women especially are drawn to the YouTube star because she is the ultimate definition of “life goals.” On the outside, she is an aggressively fit, beautiful blonde, who has an attractive boyfriend, a little cottage by the beach, a pink bike she roams around town on, picking up organic groceries from markets and so on. She is Pinterest in human form, and that appeals to many millennials who are obsessed with the aesthetic nature of creating a desirable lifestyle that can be captured and shared with hundreds of people.

Doing it for the feeling 🙌🏼 It's time sissys! Tomorrow we commence week 1 of Sweat it to Shred it my eight week active lifestyle challenge!! I took this picture a few months ago on the day that I tested and approved the final workout of my guide. I remember feeling so fit, healthy and energetic. I was honestly at a point that I've never been to before with my body. I don't even mean aesthetically though. I mean being ridiculously fit! I remember meeting Kurt and training with him for the first time at my local gym. I did my week 6 Sweaty Shredder workout and he came up to me afterwards telling me how he was impressed I could smash out such a functional, fat burning workout with just my body weight and no equipment. I sort of shrugged it off and thought he was just being nice, but looking back now I realise how fit I was! After a month off the gym, and giving my body time to rest and recover… I don't feel guilty or discouraged… I feel excited. Excited to reach this point of functional fitness again! So sissys, I'm calling on you🙋🏼who wants to do it with me!? #week1 #sweatittoshredit #sezzysweat #sezzysquad p.s guide link in my bio 💗

A post shared by Sarah (@sarahs_day) on

But people are starting to see that there are some major holes in Sarah’s platform. If you watch the progression of her videos, you can quite literally see the fitness YouTuber delving deeper and deeper into an infatuation with clean eating, pretty food, and the need to be as holistic as possible. To those who have studied the psychology of disordered eating, Sarah raises red flags.

The YouTuber clearly doesn’t have a healthy relationship with food or exercise. She is constantly starting and stopping new diets, “comeback” challenges where she laments over gaining a few pounds and puts herself through an intense and extreme regime of exercise and clean eating, considers fruit to be a “naughty” treat, is almost always talking about food, or some new health food product she likes, and so on. She recently lost her period for months on end, an extreme sign that her body was not performing well, despite her “balanced” healthy lifestyle. When she was forced to use antibiotics for a parasite, and a staph infection, she was emotional on her platform, denouncing Western medicine and worrying about what the pills would do to her progress.

And that is okay. A lot of people struggle with health. A lot of people struggle with developing their habits and working on having a positive relationship with food. However, those people are not guiding others. Those people do not hold the kind of platform Sarah does, they do not influence the amount of people Sarah does. And if you don’t think that matters — you are completely wrong. Because comments like this are popping up everywhere on Sarah’s platforms, and it is heartbreaking.

Young women, taking everything their branded, uneducated idol is promoting, and becoming sick. Mentally obsessed. Physically ill. It’s, for lack of a better word, fucked up.

This. Is. Not. Okay. And it happens all too often. Disordered eating is triggering. An overt obsession with holistic medicine could lead a young mind away from the medicine they need, causing a normally easily treated problem into a disaster. Promoting elimination diets like Paleo to a 14 year old who is just starting to develop their relationship with health and food and balance, is harming.

Do you think that YouTubers should be demonetized if they promote unhealthy behaviour? Do you think that people like Sarah deserve a platform, even if it means it may mentally manipulate her audience in a potentially destructive way? Is it, in turn, the responsibility of the watcher to take what these YouTubers say with a grain of salt? Is that even possible when YouTubers are celebrities, and mentors, to these young audiences?

Where do you stand on this issue?

Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/january-nelson/2018/02/this-youtuber-is-being-called-out-for-triggering-peoples-eating-disorders-and-its-all-kinds-of-fucked-up/

Remember This Week: Its the Beginning of the End of the NRAs Reign of Terror

Shun the NRA. Shun the assault weapons manufacturers. Shame and vote out the politicians who take their money and do their bidding. Thats the strategy that activists for firearms sanity have finally seized on, after decades of losing to the most bloodthirsty lobby in America.

The rise of the Parkland students, and their #NeverAgain movement following the slaughter of 17 of their classmates and teachers by a 19-year-old former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County Florida, presents the most existential threat to the gun lobby in my lifetime. These kids, aged 15 to 18, have spoken more clearly, more forcefully, and more effectively than any activists or politicians, who for decades have pleaded for laws prohibiting the amassing of personal military-style arsenals by American gun fetishists.

What these young people have is special. They are too hurt and shocked and angry to be told to calm down. They are too social-media savvy to be fazed by bots and trolls and insane conspiracy theories. They were born in the post-9/11 age and are too fearless to be made to back down by bullies like the NRAs resident Cruella de Ville Dana Loesch and her fellow travelers on the right. And they can easily spot the BS of a president, who has to hold a palm card to remind him to care when he speaks to them about their terrifying experiences.

And what they are demanding is so rational its impossible to argue against it: an end to the ability of a teenager who cant legally purchase Sudafed, rent a car or buy a beer to obtain a weapon of war, and to turn his anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts into mass slaughter.

The statistics are damning. Since 1966, when a gunman turned the clock tower at the University of Texas into a snipers nest, killing 17 people before police killed him, 1,077 Americans have been murdered in mass shootings, including 162 children and teenagers. According to The Washington Post, which examined 150 mass killings in which one or more gunmen participated and four or more people died, 167 of the 292 guns used by 153 mass murderers were obtained legally, and only 49 illegally (the sources of the rest are unknown).

The problem is not illegal guns. Its the ones that are perfectly lawful to obtain. And by the way, mass shootings represent a fraction of the overall gun deaths that are unique to America, which lost more than 1.5 million lives to gun homicides and suicides between 1968 and 2015 more than have perished in all the wars America has been involved in combined.

And the gun lobby aims to keep the cash registers ringing. With gun sales on the decline, particularly without the black bogie man President Obama to send the war games in the woods militia ranks soaring, they are constantly looking for new ways to terrify existing gun owners into hoarding even more.

The problem is not illegal guns. Its the ones that are perfectly lawful to obtain.

With each new tragedy the gun lobby pushes for more concealed carry, more open carry, campus carry, guns in bars and churches, preventing bans on guns that are undetectable by metal detectors, legalizing silencers and armor piercing bullets whose purposes is solely human extermination, and arming teachers; all in the name of expanding firearm sales. And they stand firmly in the way of any law that would take weapons of mass death out of the hands of abusers, suspected terrorists, and even the insane.

After a gunman used a Glock 17 and Ruger P89 9mm pistol to shoot 50 people, killing 23 inside Lubys Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas in 1991, both the U.S. House and Democratic Governor Ann Richards fought for measures that would have outlawed the kind of weapons used in the killings. The Texas and national gun lobbies fought back, defeating the measures and replacing them with increased support for concealed carry. Richards vetoed one of the new, bloody bills. Her successor, Gov. George W. Bush, signed it.

After an armed security guard a proverbial good guy with a gun proved powerless to prevent two students from Columbine High School in Colorado from slaughtering 13 of their classmates before killing themselves in 1999, the Denver Posts David Olinger wrote this:

They stashed enough firepower under long black coats and in duffel bags to shoot at hundreds of classmates. Concealed in the coat Dylan Klebold wore to school on April 20 was an assault weapon banned from manufacture in 1994, a crude, menacing pistol made to fire 36 rounds without reloading. Eric Harris brought a new, short-barreled rifle that fired 10 rounds at a clip, the maximum allowed by the assault-weapons law.

Each carried a shotgun, sawed off at both ends to render it half its original length, short enough to hide like a handgun and wield like a Capone-era street sweeper.

All four of these guns had been sold from Colorado gun-show tables in 1998 by private sellers who took no names, required no signature, called nobody for a background check. Robyn Anderson, an 18-year-old Columbine High senior, bought three on a weekend shopping spree with her 17-year-old companions. Klebold and Harris supplied the cash, she the driver's license. The assault weapon, a TEC-DC9, was sold at a different gun show to Mark Manes, a young man who later resold it for $500 to the killers – and then sold them a fresh supply of ammunition on April 19, 1999.

At that time, the question was how to close this gun show loophole." The NRA and its fellow gun lobbyists went to work on politicians fearful of being washed out in the 2000 elections and saw to it that nothing was done.

After another gunman carried four guns including an AR-15 (the assassins weapon of choice) and 6,000 rounds of ammunition and murdered 12 people at a Batman: The Dark Knight Rises screening in Aurora, Colorado in 2012, injuring 70, the NRA made sure nothing was done.

After a gunman killed 32 of his classmates at Virginia Tech in 2007, the NRA made sure nothing was done.

After a teenager slaughtered 20 six- and seven-year-olds and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut 11 days before Christmas in 2012, the NRA made sure nothing was done.

After a racist gunman murdered nine black parishioners during Bible study inside historic Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina in June of 2015, the NRA made sure nothing was done.

After the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando left 49 young people dead and 58 injured in June 2016, Marco Rubio used the tragedy to launch his reelection campaign, and then he and his fellow Republicans, under the direction of the NRA, made sure nothing was done.

As the young people of an earlier time led their parents and grandparents and an unwilling nation to moral improvement during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s, these children are leading us.

After gunman turned a hotel room on the Vegas strip into a snipers roost like the one in Texas 51 years earlier, raining more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition onto a crowd of country music concertgoers, killing 58 people and wounding a breathtaking 851 more, the NRA made sure nothing was done. When it was revealed that the gunman tricked out his semi-automatic rifles with bump stocks to allow them to fire like machine guns, the NRA opposed outlawing the accessory, even after hinting they might grow a conscience and support a ban.

Indeed, all the NRA and even more extreme lobbying groups like Gun Owners of America have done after each of these tragedies is to push for more guns in more places, more permission for gun owners to kill fellow human beings by ensuring they can get away with it via laws like Stand Your Ground, more extremism allied to right wing media, neo-Confederate lunatics and even Russia, and more blood money in the hands of Republican politicians.

Currently, the NRA is on record opposing restoring 21 the age of majority at this countrys founding as the minimum legal age to buy the kind of assault weapon used to mow down 17 children and teachers at Marjory Stone Douglas High School something that now even the A+ rated governor of Florida, Rick Scott, is calling for. The 21-year-old minimum age to buy a handgun (but notably not a rifle, including an assault rifle) became the law of the land in 1968 following the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert Kennedy that year and the murder of President John F. Kennedy five years before. At the time, the NRA which was still primarily a sportsmans organization supported it, as it had supported the public disarming of the Black Panthers in California under the Mulford Act signed into law by then-governor Ronald Reagan in 1967.

Well, the children of Parkland, in 2018, have finally said enough. As the young people of an earlier time led their parents and grandparents and an unwilling nation to moral improvement during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s, these children are leading us. And we are proud to so honorably led.

These children are united and determined. And they can win. Indeed already, the quarantining of the gun lobby has begun.

This week, the mayor pro tem of Dallas invited the NRA to find a new location for their bloody convention, and warned that if they do show up in his city, there will be protests. Governor Scott and Nevada Attorney General Paul Laxalt, both staunch pro-gun Republicans, wont even publicly admit they plan to attend a sign of how toxic the NRA has already become.

The Parkland students have called for a March 24 march on Washington. The march for our lives has already attracted millions of dollars in pledges and support from Hollywood titans like George and Amal Clooney and Oprah Winfrey. The march could put millions of people, young and not-so young, in the streets all over the country. School districts should be warned that punishing students for walking out in support of the movement will only make it stronger.

On Friday, First National Bank of Omaha, the largest privately owned credit card company in the U.S., along with Enterprise, Alamo and National car rental agencies, ended their partnerships with the NRA, which offered discounts and perks to their members.

This is only the beginning.

The forces of rationality finally sense an opening. The gun lobby is weak and cleaving to extremists. The Parkland children are strong and declaring that they no longer want to be a generation practicing active shooter drills and afraid to go to school.

Parents are standing up and refusing to sacrifice their children so the gun lobby can stuff more money into their pockets. Their kids may be too young to vote, but they arent.

And no, we dont want are schools to be armed camps, with the lunch lady and the math teacher expected to be prepared to kill a former student who arrives ready to murder and to die

If our politicians dont have the courage to do what is right, what is moral and what makes sense, by stopping the legal sale of these weapons, the American majority will change the politicians. If Wayne LaPierre doesnt understand that the next generation and the next will be unavailable to him and his vile philosophy, he needs a quick lesson in demographic math. One way or another, the NRA and its extremist ideology are on a path to extinction.

And good riddance to them in advance.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/remember-this-week-its-the-beginning-of-the-end-of-the-nras-reign-of-terror

For the first time in its history, the Gerber spokesbaby is a child with Down syndrome

(CNN)This cutie with a contagious smile is 18-month-old Lucas Warren and on Wednesday he made history: He’s the first child with Down syndrome to become Gerber’s “Spokesbaby of the year” in its 91-year history.

Lucas is from Dalton, Georgia. Gerber picked him from more than 140,000 entries to its photo search contest. The initiative to find the “Gerber Baby” began soon after the company was founded in 1927, when it put out a call looking for a baby to feature in its ads.
The title means Lucas’ parents will get a $50,000 prize and Lucas will appear on Gerber’s social media channels and will be featured in Gerber ads through the year.
    “We hope this opportunity sheds light on the special needs community and educates people that with acceptance and support, individuals with special needs have the potential to change the world — just like our Lucas,” his mom said.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2018/02/07/health/first-gerber-baby-down-syndrome-trnd/index.html

    U.S. Olympic Skater Alexa Scimeca Knierim Opens Up About Relying on God During Serious Illness

    While winning a medal would certainly be a dream come true for figure-skating couple Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim, their victory has already been won, just by making it to the Winter Olympics this year.

    The star American Christian athletes have won two National titles in their career and were selected as alternates in the Sochi Olympics. Coming in 7th place at the World Championships in 2015, the Knierims also raised the bar for U.S. skating duos overall, as that’s the top finish an American team has achieved since 2011.

    But after overcoming a rare gastrointestinal disease that threatened both her life and her ability to ever skate again, Alexa now has a bigger goal than simply chasing gold.

    “This competition’s very meaningful for us,” Alexa told PEOPLE. “We’ve kind of been lacking the joy and lightheartedness of life for about two years now, from all the struggles we’ve been through, so being here together, Chris and I are kind of just enjoying it.”

    In an interview last year, the Knierims opened up to PEOPLE about the debilitating gastrointestinal condition that surfaced in spring of 2016.

    “In April of 2016 I started feeling very sick at a competition, it was the last one of the year, and issues continued to develop all the way through August of 2016 when I was finally diagnosed and had immediate surgery in my abdomen,” said Alexa. “I ended up having three surgeries and we had to withdraw from all of our events for the first half of the year. My life, our life, changed drastically in that time period—life was on hold and we weren’t really sure what life would be for the two of us.”

    At 5’2,” she dropped to a dangerous 80 pounds.

    “I lost all of my muscle, and my body mechanics when I started getting back into working out were like next to none,” she shared. “The very first time I stepped back on the ice after my surgeries, Chris had to hold me up because my body was not capable of standing on its own.”

    But that didn’t stop this 26-year-old fighter fueled by faith from coming back stronger than ever.

    “If you’ve never known down, you’ll never appreciate up,” she wrote in an Instagram post last year. “4 months ago, it was nearly impossible for me to ‘get up’ out of bed. 4 months ago, brushing my teeth was more challenging than any long program I’d ever performed. 4 months ago, when my body was at its weakest, my faith was at its strongest. When you’re faced with a challenge and you find yourself down–no matter how you might’ve gotten there–you have [sic] always have 2 choices: give up and lay there, or get up and fight for what you want.

    “Eyes up. Rise up. GET UP!”

    And with her supportive hubby and mighty God by her side, that’s exactly what Alexa did.

    Though the couple only placed 4th in their free skate in South Korea on Sunday afternoon, they refuse to allow the let-down steal their joy. Following Thursday’s program where they landed a season’s best score, 4th place certainly wasn’t what they hoped for, but Alexa’s health battle has provided them with a bigger vision and greater gratitude for simply performing than ever before.

    “Today wasn’t a brilliant skate by any means, but we’re just so happy to be here,” said Alexa. “We’ve already won by being able to step on the ice.”

    Shortly after the free skate, Alexa and Chris opened up to reporters about the role their faith has played in strengthening them throughout this journey:

    “It’s the reason I was able to get back on the ice because I stopped worrying and stopped trying to control life, because I couldn’t,” Alexa explained. “In the moment, you know, I was so sick and didn’t really know where things were going to go for me, whether it was skating or life in general. So I finally just threw my hands up and said like, ‘You lead the way,’ and it’s my testimony and I stay true to it.”

    She shares that the games are no longer about her, but rather about shining God’s handiwork on the platform she’s been given:

    “And even here at the Games, it’s no longer about me. I have fans out there who know that I am a true believer in the Lord and I’m trying my best to shine his light and let people know that it’s okay to promote him and do things for him, because in the Christian life that’s kind of what we’re supposed to.”

    Chris wholeheartedly agreed with his wife’s grounded perspective, saying, “We both share the same thing. I think it’s played out in her a little stronger than me because of the situation she was put in.”

    As discussed in James, Alexa beautifully exemplifies the blessing that trials bring to our lives by fortifying our faith:

    “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”–James 1:2-4

    She views the Olympics as her platform to “glorify God,” adding that “I’m here living my dream, and if that’s the way that I have to go about it, I’ll keep doing it.”

    Read Next On FaithIt
    Shot Twice and Pinned Against the Guardrail, This Woman Needed a Hero–And That’s Just What God Gave Her 

    Read more: https://faithit.com/alexa-scimeca-knierim-chris-knierim-overcome-disease-winter-olympics-faith-god/

    Why I Take It Personally When People Talk About Banning Abortion After 20 Weeks

    On Dec. 16, 2011, my 27th birthday, my husband and I excitedly went in for our big mid-pregnancy ultrasound, happily expecting to find out if the twins I was carrying were boys or girls.

    We invited my parents, planning to go out for a celebratory birthday lunch afterward. Twin ultrasounds take a while, as I well knew at that point, but this one really began to drag on.

    As I sat, belly covered in jelly on a table in that darkened ultrasound room, I heard the tech say, “I’m going to go get the doctor. I see some problems with Baby B’s head and spine.” 

    My jelly-covered belly began heaving with sobs that I tried to stifle as the maternal-fetal medicine expert arrived and attempted to get a better look at Baby B.

    As she examined the baby’s “lemon-shaped” head and looked at her spine, she saw the unmistakable signs of myelomeningocele spina bifida, the most severe type of the neural tube defect.

    That day, sitting on that table, I had no idea what myelomeningocele spina bifida meant for Baby B, the twin on top, whose head so frequently found itself resting on the outside of my ribs, stretching my skin so taut I could cup her skull in my hands.

    I didn’t know if the doctor was telling us our baby would live or die. I didn’t know if she would walk or talk. I didn’t know if it would affect her twin sister, Baby A, the twin on the bottom, deep inside my pelvis, whose hiccups I often felt in my crotch.

    I was led, still sobbing, into another room, the light blinding after the dark of the ultrasonography suite. Genetic counselors were brought in. My obstetrician came in to tell us she had looked at the scans with the maternal-fetal medicine expert, saw me sobbing and gave me a big hug. She explained the situation and promised to call me the next day, a Saturday, when we had had some time to process and might have more questions.

    We went out for a very awkward birthday lunch. When we got home, I collapsed into bed, hugging my belly as I cried, and slipped away for a tear-stained nap.

    The biggest thing I learned that day is that the ultrasound between 18 and 22 weeks of a pregnancy isn’t just the happy day when you get to find out if your baby is a boy or a girl. It’s also the point that can turn a very much wanted pregnancy into heartbreak. It’s the point where, peering at fuzzy images on a black-and-white screen, doctors can finally see the anatomical information that reveals something severely wrong with a baby. It’s the point where genetic counselors are brought in and “options” must be discussed.

    Because of the worst birthday of my life, I take it a little bit personally when I see legislators and columnists like David Brooks talking about banning abortion access at the 20-week mark. For us ― and for many other sobbing women with jelly-covered bellies ― 20 weeks was the exact point at which options became painfully necessary. 

    In the end, our baby’s diagnosis was manageable, and we decided to continue the pregnancy. Her twin sister disqualified us from the amazing fetal surgeries now being performed to correct spina bifida defects in utero, and we had to wait 15 more weeks to see what those fuzzy sonograms really meant.

    Our baby was born with a large portion of her spine exposed, her head enlarged by fluid trapped there as a result of her spinal cord being pulled down and blocking her cerebral spinal fluid from flowing in and out of her skull as freely as it should.

    Courtesy of Sarah Orsborn
    Twins together for the last time until after one has spinal surgery.

    I did not get to hold her on the day she was born. She was placed into an incubator, and I held her hand and told her I loved her before she was whisked away by a transport team to a nearby children’s hospital where she would have her spinal defect surgically closed within 24 hours of her birth, just as we had begun planning for after that fateful diagnosis day.

    I understand that abortion opponents like to use cases like mine to support their bans. After all, didn’t I decide to continue my pregnancy after the diagnosis?

    I feel lucky that our diagnosis was manageable, that we had and continue to have access to great health insurance to get me and my daughter the health care we needed then and still need today. I feel lucky that my partner was able to take paid time off work for the two months after the birth that the babies and I needed care following a complicated delivery.

    I know that any number of factors could have made our choice a much different one, and I will fight for everyone to have access to the care they need to make the right choice for them.

    Twenty weeks should not mark the end of a pregnant person’s options. Abortion, fetal surgery, plans for care for special needs, further testing ― all can become necessary because of the things revealed on an 18- to 22-week ultrasound. I look back on my sobbing self that day and feel love and compassion for that new mom faced with heartbreaking news, already having to make tough choices for a baby who isn’t even born yet.

    I also feel nothing but love and compassion for anyone else making the choice to terminate after 20 weeks, whether because of a lack of access to providers, lack of insurance coverage, lack of funds for care or travel, or any other reason. Every pregnant person deserves access to a full range of care, not a cruel ban arbitrarily imposed by legislators who will never know what it feels like to be sitting on that table.

    Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/banning-abortion-after-20-weeks_us_5a749db7e4b01ce33eb278b4

    Why We’re Terrible At Taking Care Of Our Mental Health

    Monty Python once taught us the following neuroscience: “The human brain is like an enormous fish. It is flat, and slimy, and has gills through which it can see.” That obvious bullshit is obvious bullshit. It’s also not much sillier than our own daily treatment of our brains. We know the human brain needs calm, care, and interaction with other humans. So why don’t we give that to our gilled head-fish?

    On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt sits down with Jason Pargin (aka David Wong) to rediscover brains and the humans carrying them around. They’ll get into why this is the era of bombarding our minds with Snapchats, sleeplessness, and incomplete friendships. They’ll explore the fundamental feedback loops that make us seek out bad habits. And they’ll pick out how you can be aware of your own mental health needs, even if our wider culture wants to trick you into forgetting all about them.


    7 Creepy Ways Corporations Are Turning You Into an Addict (Cracked)

    5 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Own Life (Without Knowing It) (Cracked)

    Is Mental Health Declining in the U.S.? (Scientific American Mind)

    Why is Facebook admitting that social networks can be bad for our health? (Recode)

    Big tech’s bid to control FOIA (Columbia Journalism Review)

    This Is the Data Snapchat Doesn’t Want You to See (The Daily Beast)

    All that smartphone time may be making teens unhappy (UPI)

    Here’s what Rogue One’s Princess Leia looked like without the CGI (SyFy Wire)

    Teens’ night-time use of social media ‘risks harming mental health’ (The Guardian)

    Tackling the Internet’s Central Villain: The Advertising Business (The New York Times)

    How Social Isolation Is Killing Us (New York Times/The Upshot)

    Wendy’s is installing self-order kiosks so it can get rid of human workers-and it’s not alone (Splinter)

    Sideshow Bob stepping on rakes

    The fight over Fight Club (RogerEbert.com)

    “You want to know something? We are still in the Dark Ages. The Dark Ages–they haven’t ended yet.” — Kurt Vonnegut, Deadeye Dick

    Join us for our next LIVE Cracked Podcast! It’s happening Saturday, February 10th at 7pm. Alex Schmidt is joined by guests Dan Hopper, Amy Nicholson, and Dave Schilling for tales of the most secretly terrifying movies of all time. Tickets are $7 and available HERE.

    Read more: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/why-were-terrible-at-taking-care-our-mental-health