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- 11/20/18--03:00: _5 steps to release ...
- 11/20/18--03:08: _Andrew Zimmern: ...
- 11/20/18--03:36: _Are public parks an...
- 11/20/18--04:00: _This campaign is fi...
- 11/20/18--04:12: _FAANG fail: Faceboo...
- 11/20/18--04:40: _All the damage from...
- 11/20/18--05:30: _Secret sings to end...
- 11/20/18--05:30: _We should boycott t...
- 11/20/18--05:43: _5 easy things you c...
- 11/20/18--06:20: _Why would Amazon wa...
- 11/20/18--06:45: _The “Presiden...
- 11/20/18--07:25: _Ivanka Trump had a ...
- 11/20/18--07:47: _What makes life mea...
- 11/20/18--09:16: _Washington Post CEO...
- 11/20/18--09:21: _CDC: Don’t ea...
- 11/20/18--22:40: _Facebook has found ...
- 11/20/18--23:00: _Why celebrities and...
- 11/20/18--23:00: _Why it’s impo...
- 11/20/18--23:30: _Cornell has an epic...
- 11/21/18--00:00: _This is what you...
- 11/20/18--03:00: 5 steps to release yourself from being a slave to PowerPoint
- 11/20/18--03:08: Andrew Zimmern: “Bizarre Foods” had a cultural insensitivity problem
- 11/20/18--03:36: Are public parks an unalloyed good? Not always.
- 11/20/18--04:00: This campaign is fighting the California wildfires with fire emojis
- 11/20/18--04:12: FAANG fail: Facebook stock has lost 40% of its value since July
- Sign UNICEF’s global petition asking leaders to commit to fulfilling the rights of every child now and for future generations.
- An average of 47 American children and teens are shot every single day, according to Everytown, and gun violence is now the second leading cause of death for American children. That’s too much. Sign up for message alerts from Everytown for Gun Safety here to start getting involved.
- Christmas shop for a good cause with UNICEF’s Inspired Gifts, which donates vital supplies to children in need around the world. It’s not iPads or board games, but immunizations, healthy food, and clean water. Buy one for everyone on your list and see if anyone dares to complain.
- Did you know that every year 15 million girls are married off (often without choice) before they turn 18? These girls are routinely denied their rights to health, education, and, perhaps most important of all, opportunity. Girls Not Brides is a global partnership of more than 450 civil society organizations committed to ending child marriage so girls can choose their own destinies. Help the cause by signing the petition asking the United States to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to end child marriage at girlsnotbrides.org/take-action.
- There are some 14,000 migrant children in U.S. government custody, and Amnesty International, along with American Immigration Council, American Immigration Lawyers Association, and the Dilley Pro Bono Project, are calling for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release the hundreds of families in prolonged detention at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. Sign the petition here.
- 11/20/18--07:47: What makes life meaningful? More Americans say money than faith
- Talk to your healthcare provider
- Write down what you ate in the week before you started to get sick
- Report your illness to the health department
- Assist public health investigators by answering questions about your illness
- 11/20/18--22:40: Facebook has found its fall guy for its Definers scandal
- 11/20/18--23:00: Why celebrities and athletes are going gaga for this massage gadget
- 11/20/18--23:00: Why it’s impossible to find your Lyft or Uber at the airport
- 11/21/18--00:00: This is what you’re getting wrong about your pursuit of happiness
- Hell: The world of suffering. When trapped here we feel hopeless and helpless. The delusion in this world is that we’re powerless to end the suffering.
- Hunger: The world of desire. People who live in this world are restless and have persistent yearning. The delusion in this world is that you have to get what you want to be happy.
- Animality: The world of instinct. This world revolves around the present moment and satisfaction of our physical needs. The delusion is that happiness and pleasure are the same.
- Anger: The world of ego. In this world, we are driven by a need to always be viewed in a positive light, which often causes us to feel contemptuous and jealous of others. The delusion in this world is that happiness comes from being better than everyone else.
- Tranquility: The world of serenity. People who live in this world find comfort in the status quo, and shun variety and trying new things. The delusion is that to be happy we must avoid pain.
- Rapture: The world of joy. This world feels exhilarating and full, but it’s hedonistic. The delusion is that happiness is dependent on specific attachments, such as money or things.
- Learning: The world of mastery. In this world, you feel a relentless drive to learn and accomplish something that creates value and meaning. The delusion comes when you think happiness comes only through accomplishment.
- Realization: The world of self-improvement. Here, you’re obsessed with self-examination and personal growth, but it can lead to self-absorption. The delusion is that you think you need to grow to be happy.
- Compassion: The world of love. In this world, fulfillment comes from caring as much about the happiness of others as we do our own. While this sounds good, the delusion is that you believe in order to be happy, you must help others become happy, and that can foster resentment.
- Enlightenment: The world of awe. The 10th world is the true path to happiness. We remain in a continual state of wonder at the sublime order and beauty of the universe.
PowerPoint, for all its flaws and despite its bad rep, is still a pretty good tool when used to do what it was designed to do: create visuals to accompany spoken words and support our presentations.
But many of us don’t use PowerPoint that way. Instead of seeing presentation slides as something that supports us, we see the presentation as about the slides, and we play a supporting role.
It’s easy to fall into this trap–especially if you dislike public speaking, you’re happy to shift the attention away from you. Creating busy, text-dense, bullet-pointed monstrosities is actually easier because you don’t need to think too much. Just throw everything you think you want to say on the slides, hope the audience focuses on them, and let slides do the heavy lifting.
Assess your dependency
This is when you need to ask yourself several questions.
Why are you presenting and does this really give your audience a good experience?
Is playing second fiddle to your slides really the best way to get your message across?
Will deferring to the slides show your unique value as a professional and showcase what value you add through your words, through your passion, and in your interaction with the audience?
Or does it just show that you are someone who can use PowerPoint?
The presentation is not about the slides. It’s about the messages that you want to convey to your audience, in order to change them. Presentations should be about the presenter, so ensure the audience focuses on you.
Doing this forces you to get better as a presenter, to up your game. It requires you to become a better communicator. It also leads to a better experience for your audience, with more engagement. You must concentrate more on your audience than on the slides, and vice versa.
To break free from using PowerPoint as a crutch and as an excuse for not engaging with your audience, try these simple strategies.
Master the B key
An incredibly easy way to instantly shift the focus back to you is to press the B key in a presentation. It works in any presentation using PowerPoint or Keynote. The screen will go black (B is for black, so you can guess what the W key does). The audience suddenly has nothing to look at on the screen and their attention will turn to you. Press any key after this and the slides will reappear. Use this in any presentation when you see their attention wander.
Know your material
Through enough practice and rehearsal, you should become so familiar with your content that you can give the talk in your sleep–or if your laptop dies. This doesn’t mean you should be memorizing the slides. Remember, they are secondary to your main message.
Your storyline, structure, and key messages are all you need to know because they are what matters most. The more you get connected with your presentation’s structure and key points, the more you’ll see that slides become less necessary. You need to get comfortable with the ideas you want to get across, not what’s written on the slides. Be spontaneous for the rest of your presentation.
Be more visual
With fewer words on your slides, you won’t be as tempted to let them speak for you. That frees you up to look at the audience rather than staring at the slides. Think carefully about the words you will choose, reduce them to essential thoughts, and increase the font size. Add more images to turn each slide into something that your audience can grasp quickly, so they can turn their attention back to you and what you are saying. Plus it’s just kind to your audience to not force them to sit through text-heavy slides using size 10 font.
Tell more stories
Storytelling makes your presentations more powerful because human brains are wired to hear stories. We remember the story better than words and data. Storytelling also builds empathy and trust between the audience and speaker.
Most importantly, you don’t need slides to tell a story. The value of stories comes from you, from your words, voice, and gestures. You tell stories to your friends, family, and coworkers every day in normal conversation and you don’t rely on slides for that, so why should your presentation be any different? Case in point, Amazon banned PowerPoint in meetings to focus on stories.
Ditch the slides entirely
Do all of the above and you’ll reduce your use of slides. But why assume that you need slides in a business meeting at all? If you can rely on the strength of your words and ideas, let those persuade your audience and drop the PowerPoint. Use a whiteboard to sketch out ideas piece by piece, and maybe use a few handouts for any supporting data or figures. Your audience will thank you. There are very few people out there who think the world doesn’t have enough PowerPoint.
Show PowerPoint who’s the boss. Take back control of your presentations and reduce your dependency on slides. You’ll become a better and more confident presenter, and your audience will be happier and come away from your talks feeling like they actually learned something.
It’s always strange to interview the interviewer. But Andrew Zimmern, the creator and host of Bizarre Foods, was a willing subject during the day we spent together at the Minnesota State Fair last Labor Day weekend.
Over countless sausages and loose meat amalgamations–plus one potentially radioactive ice cream sandwich wrapped in cotton candy–I asked him about everything from battling alcohol and drug addiction during his cooking career, to the exoticism of the early days of his show, to opening his new restaurant–Lucky Cricket–which opened this week. Zimmern was remarkably frank about his own cultural insensitivity in the first seasons of his show, but he contends that it can be his place, as a white guy in the middle of Minnesota, to bring Chinese food to Middle America.
We condensed the interview, filmed over the course of six hours, into 14 minutes. Watch it on your lunch break.
Children suffer higher rates of obesity when they grow up in urban areas without a park in easy reach. Because low-income neighborhoods have fewer green spaces, poorer children are most likely to face other health problems, too, including asthma due to poor air quality.
But access to green space is not the only ingredient in creating healthy communities, my research on urban landscapes shows. Parks are good for people only if people use them.
And that’s a question of design.
What is a park?
The first truly public park–a green space paid for by public funds, on publicly owned land and intended to serve the public–was Birkenhead Park, near Liverpool, England. Designed by Joseph Paxton to improve the health of the poor, it opened in 1847 to a crowd of 10,000.
When landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted visited Birkenhead in 1850, he was inspired to bring the idea home to “democratic America.”
In 1857, he and architect Calvert Vaux won the competition to create Central Park in New York City. Their now iconic design–750 acres of grassy lawns, trees and winding paths–came to define what Americans and Europeans alike have come to expect from a great urban park.
Olmsted would eventually design over 100 big, green parks, from Montreal and Buffalo to Louisville and beyond.
As cities commissioned ever more parks, an entire profession grew up around them.
Landscape architects built parks in big cities worldwide, each modified slightly to reflect local culture.
Americans, in particular, embraced sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois’s belief that green space would “restore the bodies, minds, and spirits of urban dwellers weakened by the city’s punishing environment.”
Parks are not neutral
Public parks can work their magic only if they give what people they need. That differs from population to population.
Scholars, historians, feminists and African-American leaders have observed that people perceive and use green spaces differently depending on their community’s historical experience and cultural standards.
Freeway Park, opened in 1974 in Seattle, is a densely wooded urban landscape nestled between two highways. The park is seen by many as intimate and lush. But some women feel unsafe walking alone there because, they say, they can’t see who is approaching or coming up behind them.
Meanwhile, African-Americans in the South may feel unwelcome in parks named after Confederate generals and featuring large Confederate statues. Generally speaking, black people are underrepresented as visitors to the U.S. National Park system, a statistic experts attribute to the historic legacy of segregation in public spaces.
Similar segregated use shows up with New York’s High Line park. The park, first opened in 2009, runs through the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, which is home to several public housing projects.
Nearly one-third of the area’s residents are people of color. High Line visitors, on the other hand, are overwhelmingly white.
In community forums, locals say they don’t perceive the park–a repurposed elevated railway–as having been built for them. If they don’t see people who look like them using it, they may stay away.
In other words, the mere existence of a park does not ensure that a community benefits from it.
Designed for easy access
This fact has given rise to new kinds of parks–ones uniquely designed for local communities.
In 1967, the firm of Zion Breen Richardson Associates created the “pocket park” concept with Paley Park in New York City. Small and privately owned, but opened to the public during the work day, this park occupies just one-tenth of an acre and is surrounded on three sides by tall buildings.
Many downtown districts are now speckled with these tiny, often hidden, parks. There’s nothing grand about them, but for workers needing a break, they offer much-needed respite.
More recently, when designers began work on San Francisco’s shorefront India Basin Park, the landscape architects on the team realized that access points had to be a design priority. Certain nearby residents–namely, those living in the predominantly black Hunters Point neighborhood – would struggle to use the park, despite its proximity. A shoreline road built decades ago had cut their upland community off from the water’s edge.
Rehabilitated walkways from Hunter’s Point to the waterfront, then, will inform the design of the park, which will be developed over the next 15 years. The planned paths, stairways, and crosswalks should offer their own type of “green” landscape, one that meets the needs of the current residents and is historically appropriate in hilly San Francisco.
Latino residents in southside Wenatchee, Washington, have also been teaming with designers to develop a new design that might attract more neighbors to their underused local park, the Kiwanis Methow Park.
Drawing on Mexican influence, the transformed park will feature a “kiosko” pavilion that hosts mariachi music, dances, and culturally significant celebrations.
Context-specific design crosses international borders in other ways.
In a shantytown outside Lima, Peru, residents teamed up with the University of Washington to build a school garden that is also open to the public.
During school hours, the outdoor classroom teaches local students about local plants, including some that are edible. Other times, it doubles as a quiet place of respite for community members in this sprawling, dense and noisy neighborhood.
Frederick Law Olmsted and W.E.B. Du Bois were right: Cities need parks. But designers have come a long way over the last century in learning that green spaces can only help cities when residents embrace them.
Thaisa Way is professor of landscape architecture and history at Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
Imagine, in your mind, the fire emoji: the signifier of all things hot on the Internet. But you know what else is fire right now? California, and in a terribly literal way, as the state continues to suffer from devastating wildfires that have left dozens dead, hundreds missing, and tens of thousands displaced from their homes.
A new charity movement on Twitter hopes to harness the power of that digital fire to assist those hurt by the real one. Starting last week, hundreds of people who tweeted messages containing the fire emoji began receiving replies from other users with the hashtag #FightFireWithFire and a link to donate to a Crowdrise page seeking $10,000 for the California Community Foundation.
Here’s one example:
Miami-based ad agency Alma DDB designed the pro bono campaign, which it hopes will go viral. As the message on the Crowdrise page reads: “We know fire is on your mind because the fire emoji is one of the most used emojis on the Internet. We want to turn your use of the fire emoji into a donation to fight the California Fires.”
But wait, they also spell it out in emoji.
Alma creative director Gabriel Ferrer says his team came up with the idea after tracking emoji trends and realizing that the fire icon is used about 65 million times a day. “We just thought that might be a very interesting way to reach people and create that awareness,” he says.
The goal is to continue to keep victims, firefighters, and aid workers in mind by resetting social media’s short-lived attention span. “Yes, these sneakers are fire, this sports highlight is fire, this album is fire, but you know, there’s still a real fire out there,” says Ferrer, summarizing what he hopes will be the continuing train of thought, inspired by different kinds of shareable images and videos like the one below.
At the same time, there have been some hiccups. Alma DDB’s volunteer crew initially created @The_FireEmoji, a Twitter handle to personify the icon and tweet directly at people using that same symbol, which is an easy thing to search for. Although the effort was for charity, the rapid volley of one-way messaging seems to have tripped a Twitter alarm, and the handle got disabled for several days. Technically, the group could have paid Twitter to target that message to a similar set of users, but Alma wanted the campaign to be free and more authentic.
By Monday, @The_FireEmoji appeared to be active again. But Ferrer and a handful of colleagues have since been tweeting people directly, including celebrities whose retweets would broaden their impact.
Alma DDB and Ferrer are no stranger to making things go viral. In 2016, Ferrer helped the agency architect “Help Kenya, not Kanye,” a fundraiser in opposition to musician Kanye West’s claim that he was $53 million in debt (or at least short that much, given what he wanted to accomplish artistically). To prove his neediness, West has made the offhand comment that he deserved it more than schools in Africa. Alma’s effort raised more than $10,000 for One Kid One World, a charity that works with impoverished school kids in Kenya. They even wrote a rap about their success.
As of press time, the #FightFireWithFire campaign has raised over $1,000, and the donations are steadily rolling in.
Tech stocks are taking a beating, all of them. The heavy-hitters, as represented by the FAANG acronym (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google), have fallen dramatically.
Put together, the collective value of these stocks has dropped over $1 trillion since its earlier peaks, according to CNBC.
Of the lot, Facebook stocks have been hit the hardest. This morning, the price hit a new low of $126.85, which is more than 40% below its high in July of $218.62. In total, Facebook’s value has dropped by over $253 billion.
As the social network continues to grapple with scandals over data privacy, the spread of disinformation, and faulty metrics, analysts and advertisers have continued to hammer away at the company. “Now we know Facebook will do whatever it takes to make money. They have absolutely no morals,” said Rishad Tobaccowala, chief growth officer for the Publicis Groupe to the New York Times.
It remains to be seen whether this is just a blip or a sign of continued tough times for both Wall Street and tech. For Facebook, it’s not just a market problem but reflective of an internal struggle. Following the most recent revelations about the company’s inability to fix its platform while allegedly waging a secret PR war against those critical of it, this could be the beginning of a big shift. Now, investors will wait to see if the company can rebound–or at least stop the bleeding.
As firefighters continue to battle the Camp Fire in Northern California, NASA shared its view of the damage and it’s pretty grim. The fire has become the most destructive in California’s history.
The map comes courtesy of the Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which used aperture radar images from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites operated by the European Space Agency. They created the map by comparing before-and-after satellite images of a 48 x 48 mile stretch of Northern California.
The changes in the map reveal the extent of the fire’s damage, outlined in red on the left. A close-up view of damage to the town of Paradise is inset on right, outlined in white. The color variation from yellow to red indicates increasingly more significant changes in the ground surface.
As you can see, the damage is extensive. The Camp Fire has killed at least 79 people, and while heavy rain this week could help put out the remaining fires, the recovery is just beginning.
If you’re looking to help, here are 19 things you can do for victims of the California fires right now.
The newest ad for Secret deodorant builds on the fantastic 2016 spot “Raise,” by having some no-nonsense fun at the expense of the gender wage gap. Here, in an ad created by Wieden+Kennedy, the message is in music video form, starring Sophia Bush and Samira Wiley, soccer legend Abby Wambach, and Olympic gold medalist and WNBA champion Swin Cash. The tune’s name seemed to been inspired by Ladies Get Paid, whose founders Claire Wasserman and Ashley Louise also appear in the ad.
This is all great. Any time a brand and major corporation puts their marketing muscle behind an issue like this, it’s a good thing. Secret has also partnered with Ladies Get Paid and women’s coworking space the Wing to provide resources to women pushing for pay equality, such as a salary negotiation toolkit, and, through December, the brand and Ladies Get Paid are hosting workshops at The Wing coworking locations around the U.S. to help women navigate the current unequal pay climate and advocate for progress.
But any time a brand or company advocates for an issue in its marketing, it also (rightly) invites scrutiny into its own practices. Remember how male State Street’s board looked in the shadow of Fearless Girl? Not to mention parent company State Street Corporation’s payout of $5m in October 2017 to settle unequal pay allegations. Still, that shouldn’t scare brands away from taking a stand.
For Secret, even though parent P&G has been very active in recent years promoting equality in management positions and equal pay, according to U.K. government research, it still has plenty of work to do. The Gender Pay Gap Service reports that as of 2017, women’s mean hourly pay rate at P&G in the U.K. was 18.9% lower than men’s and women’s median hourly rate was 29.8% lower than men’s. Which is…uh, nothing to sing about.
P&G has not yet responded to a request for comment but I’ll update the story if that changes.
UPDATE: P&G spokesperson sent the following comment, “P&G is committed to fair pay and we regularly conduct audits to confirm that we pay equitably for similar roles and similar performance, regardless of gender. Our most recent U.S. audit revealed no pay gap between women and men with similar roles and performance at P&G.”
On Monday, Women’s March founder Teresa Shook publicly called for the organization’s leadership to step down and let others “restore faith” in the movement. It was the latest blow in what has become a barrage of criticism.
“Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour, and Carmen Perez of Women’s March, Inc. have steered the Movement away from its true course,” Shook wrote on Facebook.“I have waited, hoping they would right the ship. But they have not. In opposition to our Unity Principles, they have allowed anti-Semitism, anti-LBGTQIA sentiment, and hateful, racist rhetoric to become a part of the platform by their refusal to separate themselves from groups that espouse these racist, hateful beliefs.”
She wasn’t alone. Alyssa Milano, Debra Messing, and a bevy of religious leaders and activists condemned what has baffled many: the cochairs’ unwillingness to denounce Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, whose shocking speeches cochair Tamika Mallory has attended.
To paraphrase Obama: How hard is it to say anti-Semites are bad?
A track record of deflection and hypocritical stances
Previously, Sarsour claimed anti-Semitism is “different than anti-black racism or Islamophobia because it’s not systemic.” More recently, she insinuated Jews are still too traumatized by the Holocaust to possess a clear idea of what constitutes anti-Semitism. You’re just being triggered, she Sarsour-splains.
Sarsour repeatedly issued non-apologies that deflected her involvement. Even when it came to addressing Farrakhan, she responded poorly:
“Instead of coming together [after the Tree of Life shooting] as a country to call out white supremacy and the violence being inspired by this administration–the deflection went to a black man who has no institutional power,” wrote Sarsour of Farrakhan. “This is a feature of white supremacy.”
She seems to essentially be saying, “There are bigger fish to fry, so why take issue with us?”
Last week, newly elected Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) came under fire after reports surfaced that she supported a boycott on Israeli goods. Sarsour, in defense of Omar, was quick to lay blame at the feet of the right wing and “folks who masquerade as progressives but always choose their allegiance to Israel over their commitment to democracy and free speech.”
Accusations of dual allegiance is one of many tropes yielded over Jews. It’s old, tired, and has been used to downplay the Jewish community for centuries.
But should people be surprised? Sarsour has a history of misplaced blame. When the Women’s March Twitter account wished a happy birthday to Assata Shaku, one of the FBI’s most wanted terrorists, it raised eyebrows.
“Shakur is a cop-killer fugitive in Cuba,” responded CNN’s Jake Tapper. “This, ugly sentiments from @lsarsour & @dykemarchchi Any progressives out there condemning this?”
Sarsour’s response? That Tapper joined “the ranks of the alt-right” to target her online.
By Sarsour’s logic, a cop killer can be hailed as a progressive activist, but “a Zionist cannot be a feminist.” It’s absurd. It’s the same logic, I assume, that had Mallory defend Bill Cosby but protest Kavanaugh?
“I’m not 100% sure about all the allegations, and I definitely feel an element of conspiracy in the mix,” Mallory wrote last summer, alongside a photo of the disgraced comedian headed to court with Cosby Show actress Keshia Knight Pulliam. “People who know me are very clear that I believe in loyalty . . . I’m talking about the loyalty that stands with a person who has stood with you, even if you are headed down to the police station to turn them in for murder, rape, or any other disgusting act.”
Women quickly responded, wondering why she chose to stand with the accuser instead of the countless victims who came forward?
Granted, the Women’s March has tried: It repeatedly condemns anti-Semitism and claims its leadership in no way supports the discrimination of Jews. It even raised money for Jewish causes. But such sentiments fall flat when Sarsour harbors a near obsession with criticizing Jewish support of Israel without ever offering the same critical eye to other countries, many of which decline basic human rights to women and LGBTQ citizens.
She defends Hamas actions without taking aim at its policies: Homosexuality is illegal under Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip, punishable by death. Meanwhile, she asks that Muslims not “humanize” Israelis.
And yet it is Sarsour who stresses, “Anyone who wants to call themselves an activist cannot be selective.”
For others (myself included), it’s hard to dismiss the image of Mallory clapping for a man who calls Jews termites and spews anti-homosexual rhetoric.
The splintering of a movement
Already, many Women’s March chapters and affiliated groups pulled away from participating in the March. Earlier this month, the think tank for the Social Democratic Party of Germany withdrew its Human Rights Award to the Women’s March. There’s even a Change.org petition (that has exceeded its goal of 5,000 signatures) urging its leaders to step down and give it a chance to survive.
In its place, women launched their own independent marches. Some decided their time and money was better spent supporting organizations with clearer, more defined goals. Planned Parenthood, Emerge, and She Should Run are just a few that ran impressive campaigns in the last year.
Does that mean we should admit defeat and simply shrug off the Women’s March?
The Women’s March gathered over 3 million supporters in its inaugural event. That’s not a number we should easily dismiss.
Remember, these controversial women did not create the Women’s March. It started with a Facebook post that went viral. These women helped organize the marches, but they do not own it. This belongs to women across the globe. Divisive leaders oblivious to their own blind spots can and should be replaced. Only with their resignation can we support and participate in such a movement.
Back when I interviewed co-chair Bob Bland in 2016, she spoke of the March as an inclusive space championing the voices of those who felt they have been harassed or put on the sidelines as as result of the last election cycle.
“We want them to know that we are there for them collectively,” she explained. “We will show that we are powerful, our lives have meaning, and that we do make a difference, and we will make a difference by coming together.”
That’s great. Now how about we get some leaders who actually believe that?
Today is a good day to feel blue and for once it’s not because of the news cycle, but for a good cause. On this date way back in 1959, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. It is also the date in 1989 when the UN General assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Now, November 20 marks World Children’s Day and people are going blue to show their support for giving every child a childhood.
To mark the occasion, Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown, the youngest UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, teamed up with a few other UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors including Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson, YouTube star Lilly Singh, singer-songwriter Dua Lipa, and the Blue Man Group to stand up for children everywhere.
If you want to get involved, too, here are five things you can do right now to help improve the lives of children in the United States and around the world:
Amazon may be looking to buy the 22 regional sports networks that Disney is picking up from 21st Century Fox.
Citing unnamed sources, CNBC’s David Faber reports that Amazon has joined the first round of bidding alongside Sinclair Broadcast Group, Tegna, the New York Yankees, and several equity firms. (The YES Network, which airs Yankee games, is among the stations on the auction block, and may still be sold separately.) The U.S. Department of Justice has forced Disney to auction off the channels as a condition of acquiring Fox’s entertainment assets.
I reached out to Amazon for comment and will update if I hear back.
Although it’s early in the process, Amazon’s alleged interest is noteworthy as the company tries to build à la carte TV through Amazon Channels. That service allows Prime members to add premium channels such as HBO and Starz through a single app and billing system, and Amazon says it’s seen “millions” of these add-on subscriptions so far. Bringing in live sports could give Amazon a big advantage over rivals like Roku and Apple, which are reportedly working on similar à la carte plans. It could also accelerate the collapse of traditional pay-TV bundles, which are becoming more dependent on sports to keep subscribers around.
That said, CNBC wasn’t able to learn what Amazon and others bid. “New Fox,” the company left over after Disney takes control of the entertainment assets, is an apparent favorite to reacquire the channels and could still enter the running in the next bidding round.
The shock of Election Night 2016 pushed a lot of Americans into looking at reality in new ways. Previously oblivious folks became politically active for the first time ever. One man retreated into an elaborate, self-imposed total news blackout. A lot of people purchased the novel 1984.
Comedian Laurie Kilmartin, meanwhile, began to document The New Normal as if it were occurring from a different part of the multiverse–specifically, the part where Hillary Clinton had been elected president. Two years on, she is still doing it.
But Kilmartin’s rendering of President Hillary Clinton has been no liberal fantasia. Rather than channeling the day-to-day doings of an administration that would never be, Kilmartin used her conceit to attribute Donald Trump’s most egregious moments to the fictional first female president. Kilmartin’s Twitter creation is a photo-negative timeline of Donald Trump’s presidency that imagines Clinton doing exactly what he does. The unspoken part of each tweet is the media and the rest of the world reacting to her trying to get away with it.
The comic first started chronicling her bizarro world version of America right after Trump’s inauguration.
Fact check: President Hillary Clinton overstates crowd size at her inaugural. https://t.co/zpYLDTNqie
— Laurie Kilmartin (@anylaurie16) January 22, 2017
At the time, Kilmartin–an author and veteran TV writer who’s currently working on Conan–could have only imagined how relatively tame and quaint Trump’s crowd-size lies would soon seem.
Chelsea Clinton takes job advising her mother President Hillary Clinton https://t.co/RNWczqfVXY
— Laurie Kilmartin (@anylaurie16) March 30, 2017
JUST IN: President Hillary Clinton is using campaign & DNC funds to pay Benghazi probe legal bills https://t.co/P6M4pbqbkU
— Laurie Kilmartin (@anylaurie16) September 19, 2017
President Hillary Clinton's schedule is heavy on "executive time"—i.e., time for television, Twitter and phone calls with friends https://t.co/kZw6Ws4Y7e
— Laurie Kilmartin (@anylaurie16) January 8, 2018
Going down the rabbit hole of Kilmartin’s tweets reveals anew what a farce it is that Trump appears unencumbered by truth or consequences.
President Hillary Clinton accused Republicans who did not clap during her State of the Union address of being treasonous https://t.co/IawjMThqJB
— Laurie Kilmartin (@anylaurie16) February 6, 2018
President Hillary Clinton “rarely if ever reads the President’s Daily Brief,” as reading is not her “preferred style of learning.” https://t.co/wxkqh1lqWT
— Laurie Kilmartin (@anylaurie16) February 9, 2018
After President Hillary Clinton's 29 year old male "emotional crutch" resigned last week, she started a trade war with several European allies.
— Laurie Kilmartin (@anylaurie16) March 4, 2018
Lawyers for President Hillary Clinton are trying to stop @60Minutes from airing an interview with male porn star Storm Daniels, who alleges the two had an affair.
— Laurie Kilmartin (@anylaurie16) March 11, 2018
Looking at this administration through the prism of Hillary Clinton headlines also offers a reflection of our own biases. Hillary Clinton inspired a unique kind of ire in the people who opposed her, so just imagine the apocalyptic rage haters would be spewing if these Trumpian headlines had actually been attributed to her in real life. The anti-Hillary bile would be the most combustible, but you can sub in any liberal female politician and imagine a response that’s almost as apoplectic. (Hi, Speaker Pelosi.)
The echo you’re hearing right now is all the phantom conservative outrage Donald Trump’s actions somehow still never seems to stir up.
Two years after his election, as women overwhelmingly succeeded in the midterms, this thread is a stark reminder of the gulf separating standards of acceptable behavior between men and women–even the Sliding Doors versions of those women. Have a look below at some more of our favorite examples from Kilmartin’s collection.
Questions surrounded the immigration status of President Hillary Clinton's in-laws, who came here from Slovenia after their son Melon became Mrs. Clinton's 3rd husband.
— Laurie Kilmartin (@anylaurie16) March 4, 2018
The gift shop at Clinton Tower (President Hillary Clinton’s luxury skyscraper on Fifth Ave) is illegally selling mugs emblazoned with the presidential seal.
— Laurie Kilmartin (@anylaurie16) March 7, 2018
Chelsea Clinton refused to comment on the 19 men who allege that her mother, President Hillary Clinton, acted inappropriately toward them. Chelsea called the question "inappropriate."
— Laurie Kilmartin (@anylaurie16) March 11, 2018
Aides told President Hillary Clinton if she vetoed the omnibus (thus shutting down the government), then spent the weekend at her private resort, the optics would be bad. She said “fuck that,” signed the bill and took Marine One to her resort.
— Laurie Kilmartin (@anylaurie16) March 24, 2018
President Hillary Clinton, whose company Clinton Org owns hotels all over the world, suggested Kim Jong Un allow hotel construction along North Korea’s beaches. (It is unclear if Mrs. Clinton was pitching her company, which is currently being run by Hillary Clinton Jr.)
— Laurie Kilmartin (@anylaurie16) June 12, 2018
Around midnight, President Hillary Clinton sent an all caps tweet to Iran, threatening war. It is unclear what Iran did to trigger Mrs Clinton’s ire.
— Laurie Kilmartin (@anylaurie16) July 23, 2018
Today, President Hillary Clinton is at Clinton Resort and Day Spa in Virginia, marking the 159th day at one of her day spas and 210th day at a Clinton property since taking office.
— Laurie Kilmartin (@anylaurie16) October 15, 2018
President Hillary Clinton, whose family makes millions in hotel fees from the Saudi Royal family, has accepted the Saudi Royal family's explanation- that journalist Jamal Khashoggi died during a fistfight with 15 associates of the Saudi Royal family.
— Laurie Kilmartin (@anylaurie16) October 20, 2018
News yesterday that senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump had used a personal email account to do government business didn’t come as a complete shock. It was, however, ironic. Who can forget the giant stink her father, President Donald Trump, made about Hillary Clinton using a personal email server for her work as Secretary of State?
How can Hillary run the economy when she can't even send emails without putting entire nation at risk?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 21, 2016
It’s doubly ironic because Ivanka Trump had a lot to say about proper email practices in her 2010 bookThe Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work and Life. The excerpt below, in which Trump talks about the importance of understanding how emails can come back to haunt you, says it all:
The U.S. may need to listen to a little more Notorious B.I.G. Despite his clear warnings about mo’ money meaning mo’ problems, a new Pew Research Center survey reveals that Americans find more meaning in money than in friends, faith, or even health.
To figure out where Americans find meaning, Pew researchers sent out two surveys: One asked 4,729 U.S. adults to choose from 15 potentially meaningful options, and the other had 4,867 U.S. adults describe what they found meaningful in their own words.
Across both surveys, they found that Americans find meaning in their own family. (Keep that in mind when Uncle Bob insists on recounting his favorite moments from Piers Morgan’s Twitter feed over the Thanksgiving turkey.) After family, one-third of Americans start talking about their career or job, and nearly a quarter mention finances or money, and the two are quite clearly intertwined.
Much further down the list are things like faith, friends, activities like travel, and even health. Of course, a money-making career makes it easier to ensure life’s necessities are covered. Once home, food, and health insurance are taken care of, it’s easier to pursue meaningful things like wellness trends, wellness retreats, and friendships where you talk about wellness trends. According to Pew’s research, Americans with high levels of household income and higher education are more likely to mention friendship, good health, stability, and travel as sources of meaning in their lives.
Broken down by income, 25% of Americans who earn at least $75,000 a year mention their friendships as a source of meaning, compared with 14% of Americans who earn less than $30,000 each year. Similarly, 23% of higher-income U.S. adults mention good health, compared with 10% of lower-income Americans. And among those with a college degree, 11% mention travel and a sense of security as things that make their lives fulfilling, compared with 3% and 2% for those with a high school diploma or less.
Take a look and perhaps you’ll have something to discuss over Thanksgiving dinner other than politics and the Notorious B.I.G.
Washington Post CEO and Publisher Fred Ryan called on Congress to take action over the killing of Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi after President Trump issued a statement Tuesday highlighting arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the country’s importance to the oil trade.
“An innocent man, brutally slain, deserves better, as does the cause of truth and justice and human rights,” Ryan wrote. “In this failure of leadership from President Trump, it now falls to Congress to stand up for America’s true values and lasting interests.”
The CIA has reportedly concluded that Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month. Trump, in a somewhat unusual statement that begins with the sentence “The world is a very dangerous place!” implicitly questioned that assessment and pointed to misdeeds by Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival.
“King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi,” Trump said. “Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”
Trump also announced Saudi plans to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States, including $110 billion on arms, and the country’s role in fighting terrorism and supplying the world with petroleum.
“After the United States, Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing nation in the world,” he said. “They have worked closely with us and have been very responsive to my requests to keeping oil prices at reasonable levels – so important for the world.”
As Trump points out in his statement, the U.S. has sanctioned 17 Saudis allegedly linked to Khashoggi’s killing. Saudi’s chief prosecutor has also said he’s seeking the death penalty for five people allegedly involved in the killing, with 11 people charged altogether.
The CDC issued a food safety alert today warning Americans not to eat romaine lettuce–and warning restaurants not to serve it–after the salad favorite was linked to an outbreak of Escherichia coli in 11 states. As the agency investigates the outbreak, it said anyone with romaine lettuce in their house should throw it away, even if no one has gotten sick from it.
So far, 32 cases of E. coli infection have been reported, and 13 people have been hospitalized. The outbreak is mostly concentrated around the Northeast, Midwest, and California, but the CDC says everyone should heed the warning until more information becomes available. Canadian health officials have also reported E. coli infections with the same DNA fingerprint.
The warning applies to all types of romaine lettuce, including full heads and that kind you get in those prepackaged bags.
Symptoms of an E. coli infection vary from person to person, but most often include severe stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, and sometimes a mild fever. Infections are often mild, but can sometimes be life-threatening. Most people start to feel symptoms about three or four days after exposure, but they can show up anywhere from one to 10 days.
If you feel like you may be infected, the CDC requests that you do the following:
Irrespective of all the people on Twitter making funny puns like “lettuce romaine calm,” this is pretty serious stuff. You can read the full safety alert here.
Outbreak Alert: Do not eat any romaine lettuce, including whole heads and hearts, chopped, organic and salad mixes with romaine until we learn more. If you don’t know if it’s romaine or can’t confirm the source, don’t eat it. https://t.co/NrFOIxG8hxpic.twitter.com/FuzkHv4bd3
— CDC (@CDCgov) November 20, 2018
And that fall guy just happens to be someone who is already leaving the company. Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s outgoing head of communications and public policy, has stepped forward to take the blame for the Definers scandal–the last scandal Facebook could squeeze in before the Thanksgiving holidays.
The Definers scandal saw Facebook hire the Washington, D.C., opposition research firm of the same name to link anti-Facebook groups to the left-wing billionaire financier George Soros, who also happens to be Jewish, sparking accusations that Facebook was directly involved in anti-Semitism campaigns. Definers, under Facebook’s command, also reportedly tried to disperse criticism of rival Apple by seeding negative stories about the company to the press.
TechCrunch obtained an internal memo written by Schrage, who in June had previously announced his departure from the company in the wake of the Cambridge Analytic scandal. In the memo, Schrage says that he “knew and approved of the decision to hire Definers and similar firms. I should have known of the decision to expand their mandate . . . I regret my own failure here.”
The full memo is below, followed by an internal comment on the memo by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg:
Internal Facebook Memo by Elliot Schrage
Many of you have raised questions about our relationship with the Definers consulting firm. We’ve been looking into this and though it is close to a holiday for many of you I wanted to share an update on what we’ve learned and where things stand:
Why did we hire Definers?
We hired Definers in 2017 as part of our efforts to diversify our DC advisors after the election. Like many companies, we needed to broaden our outreach. We also faced growing pressure from competitors in tech, telcos and media companies that want government to regulate us.
This pressure became particularly acute in September 2017 after we released details of Russian interference on our service. We hired firms associated with both Republicans and Democrats — Definers was one of the Republican-affiliated firms.
What did we ask them to do and what did they do?
While we’re continuing to review our relationship with Definers, we know the following: We asked Definers to do what public relations firms typically do to support a company — sending us press clippings, conducting research, writing messaging documents, and reaching out to reporters.
Some of this work is being characterized as opposition research, but I believe it would be irresponsible and unprofessional for us not to understand the backgrounds and potential conflicts of interest of our critics. This work can be used internally to inform our messaging and where appropriate it can be shared with reporters. This work is also useful to help respond to unfair claims where Facebook has been singled out for criticism, and to positively distinguish us from competitors.
As the pressure on Facebook built throughout the year, the Communications team used Definers more and more. At Sheryl’s request, we’re going through all the work they did, but we have learned that as the engagement expanded, more people worked with them on more projects and the relationship was less centrally managed.
Did we ask them to do work on George Soros?
Yes. In January 2018, investor and philanthropist George Soros attacked Facebook in a speech at Davos, calling us a “menace to society.” We had not heard such criticism from him before and wanted to determine if he had any financial motivation. Definers researched this using public information.
Later, when the “Freedom from Facebook” campaign emerged as a so-called grassroots coalition, the team asked Definers to help understand the groups behind them. They learned that George Soros was funding several of the coalition members. They prepared documents and distributed these to the press to show that this was not simply a spontaneous grassroots movement.
Did we ask them to do work on our competitors?
Yes. As I indicated above, Definers helped us respond to unfair claims where Facebook was been [sic] singled out for criticism. They also helped positively distinguish us from competitors.
Did we ask them to distribute or create fake news?
Who knew about this work, and who signed off on it?
Responsibility for these decisions rests with leadership of the Communications team. That’s me. Mark and Sheryl relied on me to manage this without controversy.
I knew and approved of the decision to hire Definers and similar firms. I should have known of the decision to expand their mandate. Over the past decade, I built a management system that relies on the teams to escalate issues if they are uncomfortable about any project, the value it will provide or the risks that it creates. That system failed here and I’m sorry I let you all down. I regret my own failure here.
Why have we stopped working with them?
Mark has asked us to reevaluate how we work with communications consultants. It’s not about Definers. It is about us, not them.
Mark has made clear that because Facebook is a mission driven company, he wants to hold us to a higher standard. He is uncomfortable relying on any outside firm to make decisions about how to make our case about our mission, policies, competitors and critics until he can become comfortable with our management, oversight and escalation.
Where are we now?
Many people across the company feel uncomfortable finding out about this work. Many people on the Communications team feel under attack from the press and even from their colleagues. I’m deeply disappointed that so much internal discussion and finger pointing has become public. This is a serious threat to our culture and ability to work together in difficult times.
Our culture has long been to move fast and take risks. Many times we have moved too quickly and we always learn and keep trying to do our best. This will be no exception.
What happens next?
Our legal team continues to review our work with Definers to understand what happened. Mark and Sheryl have also asked Nick Clegg to review all our work with communications consultants and propose principles and management processes to guide the team’s work going forward. We all want to ensure that we, our advisors and consultants better reflect Facebook’s values and culture.
And here’s Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s written reply:
Comment on the Memo from Sheryl Sandberg
Thank you for sharing this, Elliot.
I want to be clear that I oversee our Comms team and take full responsibility for their work and the PR firms who work with us. I truly believe we have a world class Comms team and I want to acknowledge the enormous pressure the team has faced over the past year.
When I read the story in New York Times last week, I didn’t remember a firm called Definers. I asked our team to look into the work Definers did for us and to double-check whether anything had crossed my desk. Some of their work was incorporated into materials presented to me and I received a small number of emails where Definers was referenced.
I also want to emphasize that it was never anyone’s intention to play into an anti-Semitic narrative against Mr. Soros or anyone else. Being Jewish is a core part of who I am and our company stands firmly against hate. The idea that our work has been interpreted as anti-Semitic is abhorrent to me — and deeply personal.
I know this has been a distraction at a time when you’re all working hard to close out the year — and I am sorry. As I said at the All Hands, I believe so deeply in the work we do and feel so grateful to all of you for doing so much every day. Thanksgiving seems like the right time to say a big thank you once again.
Perhaps you’ve seen it lauded by celebrities such as Chelsea Handler or Diddy. Or, maybe you spotted it on the Maroon 5 world tour (courtesy of Adam Levine’s Instagram). Or when when DJ Khaled needed some self-care time by the beach. If you’re a sports fan, you may have noticed Kyrie Irving take a time-out during the 2017 NBA Finals to use what looked like a splashy egg beater.
It’s the Theragun, the wildly popular mechanical massage tool celebrated by both A-listers and the rest (provided we can afford the $599 price tag). Celebrities, it should be noted, are not paid for their endorsement: They genuinely can’t get enough of the jackhammer recovery gadget.
“Yes, the Theragun works!” model Ashley Graham wrote on her Instagram stories. “I use it on my traps and sciatic nerve also. This is not a paid promotion, I just wanna feel good.”
Created in 2008 by a Los Angeles chiropractor, Jason S. Wersland, Theragun is a cordless handheld device that provides deep tissue myofacial release by way of 16mm amplitude combined with 2,400 percussions per minute. Fans swear it can do do what their old Brookstone gadgets never could: treat muscle and joint pain, relieve tension, flush out lactic acids, and loosen tight knots. It’s essentially an industrial-grade motor in the palm of one’s hands.
“The ergonomics of the product is such that it can easily balance in your hand,” Wersland tells Fast Company.“It doesn’t require pressure. So you’re allowing the torque in the machine that’s inherent to the product do the work for you–not your hand pushing on the body.”
Of course, the fact that it looks like the robotic version of a woodpecker adds its popularity. It’s a peculiar-looking gadget that, when in action, draws attention (if not mesmerizes audiences). As Wersland explains, “So much of what we do now is on [Instagram] because it’s a perfect product to use on social media. It really shows how it’s moving the body–it’s visually appealing to people.”
Besides Hollywood and the sports industry, it’s also been adopted by the greater medical community. Theragun claims hundreds of physical therapists worldwide now use the products on patients. In fact, Theragun is part of seven scientific studies to better understand its uses and effects on the body.
Apart from reimagining self-massage, Wersland boasts ambitious sights for his creation. He thinks it might even take a bite of the pharmaceuticals industry.
“I would love for this to be something that replaces Advil,” says Wersland, noting, “I know that’s super bold. But I think most of the time people are taking those [medications] for musculoskeletal pain that they could address quickly. [A Theragun] could tie them over until they can get to a physical therapist, trainer, or a massage therapist–someone that can help them further. This allows people to kind of bridge that space.”
You’ve stepped off the plane, you’ve gotten your stuff at the baggage claim, and you’re ready to hop in a Lyft and get where you’re going. Where should the driver pick you up?
Airports across the country each have a different system–and vastly different signage–to indicate ride-share pickup points, adding another point of stress to the already stressful ordeal of flying during the holidays. Some are conveniently located right outside the baggage claim; others require following unclear signs through what feels like half the terminal.
Why every airport is different
Even though ride-sharing companies quickly became a viable alternative to grabbing a taxi at the airport, companies like Uber and Lyft originally operated without permits and were banned at many airports. While drop-offs were generally fine, pickups were illegal, and drivers could get a ticket for using the normal pickup zones. So drivers ended up negotiating with passengers to find workable spots or they’d pretend to be their customer’s friend to avoid detection. It didn’t take long for airports to realize Lyft and Uber weren’t going away. So they rushed to reach deals and identify pickup points with the car-share companies. One problem: They didn’t think through how they might standardize the experience, including signage, from one airport to the next.
At San Francisco’s SFO, even the online instructions for getting a car are confusing, and differ for each terminal and each type of ride. At New York City’s La Guardia airport, many passengers have to take a shuttle to an entirely different location to catch an Uber. In Las Vegas, the pickup is located in a parking structure. At Chicago’s O’Hare, there is only a single ride-share pickup point in the entire five-terminal airport. And the signs differ just as dramatically: Some combine a typical symbol for a taxi with a symbol for a phone, while others just rely on “Uber” and “Lyft” as shorthand.
LAX leads the charge toward standardization (sort of)
Airports can’t do much to standardize where they have pickup spots; they’re limited by existing infrastructure. But they can do a better job helping riders find their way.
The Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), the city government agency that oversees L.A.’s airports, plans to adopt new signage that could ease confusion around ride-sharing at the city’s main airport, LAX, and, perhaps, beyond.
At LAX, pickups are especially confusing because they’re on the departures level only; passengers have to go back up to the ticketing level to catch their ride. The new signs use a new symbol, which has a car and a GPS location marker inside of a phone, to identify the pickup point, with the words “Ride App Pickup” next to it (in case the symbol’s intent isn’t crystal clear). The signs also explicitly tell passengers to go up to the departure level. That message is repeated through an additional reminder in your Uber app.
The new system was developed by Los Angeles World Airports in collaboration with the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE). The two organizations solicited input from more than a dozen American airports as well as a few ride-share apps. The collective tapped designer Mies Hora, the founder and president of consultancy Ultimate Symbol, which creates digital reference guides to widely used public symbols, to design the new emblem. Mora has written exhaustive reference books for designers on symbols, helping to build communications standards around the world.
LAX is the first airport to adopt the new signage, and the AAAE hopes that more American airports will follow in the coming months. Then, hopefully, grabbing a Lyft at the airport won’t be such a pain.
It’s been called the “Sistine Chapel for worshipping birds” by the National Audubon Society–a mural at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology so enormous in scale and ambitious in scope, birders and non-birders alike are struck by its sheer size and breadth. Not to mention, it took two and a half years to create.
The Wall of Birds is just one science-based mural by artist Jane Kim, and a new book by the same name, written by her and her partner Thayer Walker, delves into the work that went into making the massive piece, which stretches 100 feet by 40 feet and is comprised of some 270 life-sized and scientifically accurate bird species and their relatives.
“Neither of us are ornithologists, neither of us are scientists,” says Walker. “We knew we weren’t just going to write another ornithological tome.”
The result, published by Harper Design, features reflections on life learned from years spent studying the various feathered species. Migration and gender dynamics are just a couple of the themes that emerge in this perfectly timed mediation on art, nature, and the human condition.
How The Wall of Birds mural came together confirms one of life’s great lessons as well: that great things happen with hard work and a little bit of luck. After earning a degree from the Rhode Island School of Design and doing some work as a decorative painter, Kim was pursuing a new path in science illustration and studying as an intern at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology when John W. Fitzpatrick, the director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, happened across an article in National Geographic about Kim’s mural work.
“I proposed the mural concept over the years to a number of talented artists, but I always got the same response: great idea, but too big a project for any one person to tackle,” Fitzpatrick writes in the book’s foreword. He immediately asked if he could show the intern a giant bare wall painted a drab olive green.
“He opened his arms and just said, ‘I’ve always envisioned a mural here,'” says Kim. “It was quite a dream come true.”
It would then take Kim two and a half years to complete the project. During the process, her sketches of birds were submitted to a team of experts for accuracy review, then redone, before a final black-and-white charcoal sketch was used to create scale life-size renderings. She then did a quick computer color comp to make a concept sketch with color, before finally putting paintbrush to wall.
“I was required to paint this bird for the first time in color on the wall,” says Kim.
To ensure she was getting accurate colors and a uniform palette, Kim created what she calls her Avian Pantone chart with colors like Finch Feet (a peachy mauve), Albatross Light (a light grayish blue) and Saddle-Billed Stork Legs (dark gray). The most frequent color used was Cassowary Neck, a kind of soft ocean blue. “It’s in every single living bird that is painted on that wall,” she says. The mural also includes extinct species that are painted in a ghostly gray scale.
The Wall of Birds also exists as an online interactive, allowing readers everywhere to see the work and learn more about the various species, but it’s the book that has allowed Kim and Walker to explore deeper themes about nature and humanity.
“We wanted to share something different that you couldn’t get out of the interactive, that you couldn’t get if you visited the wall yourself.” Along with the technical process reflections in the book, there are poignant essays about birds and the natural world that have become central to the couple’s larger body of work.
Since finishing the mural, the husband-and-wife duo embarked on new a new trajectory that included opening Ink Dwell, a creative studio that “creates art that explores the wonder of the natural world.” Along with design work for clients like North Face, the couple also designs educational books, takes on public and private commissions, and contributes work to magazines.
Perhaps their most interesting project is The Migrating Mural, which is a series of public art installations featuring wildlife along migration corridors shared with humans. Their Monarch project features murals in Arkansas, Florida, Utah, and California. The murals reveal nature in unexpected and beautiful ways, and on a giant scale.
Like The Wall of Birds project, the migrating murals have a sort of deeper purpose than education. “I think it’s a beautiful way for people to start finding connections,” says Kim. “Not only are we trying to tell a story about the butterfly, but we’re trying to connect human beings.”
“It’s a concept we want to continue for the next 30 years,” adds Walker, and undoubtedly one at the core of Ink Dwell’s mission.
“These are stories of diversity, of science, of connection,” he says. “Science is strangely controversial these days, so the more we can communicate these ideas and put them in the mainstream, I think the better chance we have as a species.”
In the final chapter of The Wall of Birds (each chapter is devoted to the species of a given continent) titled “North America: The American Dream,” Kim and Walker reflect on the enormous migration patterns of many “American” birds.
“We asked what makes North American birds special,” says Kim. “We discovered the thing that makes them remarkable is their long migrations. These really are the great migrators.”
The pair hopes that these sorts of examples of life in the natural world can offer access points of discussions about people of all backgrounds.
“The birds are doing these great migrations for opportunity, they are doing them to have a better place to bear their young, and they’re celebrated for it,” he says. “And they add a lot of beauty and a lot of color to our country.”
If asked what we truly want in life, most of us would say we want to be happy. How to achieve that, however, isn’t so clear. The U.S. founding fathers may have identified the pursuit of happiness as an unalienable right, but most of our beliefs about how to pursue happiness are wrong, says Alex Lickerman, coauthor of The Ten Worlds: The New Psychology of Happiness.
“There’s been an explosion of ideas of how to pursue happiness since the 1990s with Martin Seligman’s positive psychology movement,” he says. “The research about what makes people happy isn’t wrong, but it works at the edges of what it means to be happy or unhappy. Everybody has some idea about what they need to be happy, yet we have a hard time creating happiness that endures. That’s because most of us are pursuing it in the wrong ways due to our core delusions.”
Pursuing happiness requires a deeper understanding about your life tendencies, says The Ten Worlds coauthor Ash ElDifrawi. In their book, he and Lickerman identify 10 core beliefs about happiness. While you can move in and out of the beliefs, most of us gravitate toward one of them as being our truth, and we live in that “world.” Nine are delusions, while one is the true source of happiness. See if you recognize yourself, or take the authors’ free assessment.
Understanding your world
We all have a world in which we spend the most time; it tends to be where most of our beliefs are the most stirred up, says ElDifrawi. “You can move from one to another, but you tend to have one that’s your resting point,” he says. “Bringing your belief into awareness can help you gain control of your life. It can help you understand the necessary first step to address why you believe what you do, and why those beliefs are erroneous.”
ElDifrawi says he lives in the world of tranquility. “I work hard at avoiding pain, and it can manifest itself where decisions can be paralyzing,” he says. “I create inner anxiety about making a wrong choice, thinking my happiness is jeopardized on one decision. Now that I understand, it helps to free me up. I know my happiness isn’t fleeting, which helps me make decisions in a more rational way.”
Lickerman says he lives in the world of learning. “Even though intellectually I know this type of happiness comes from building and creating value, the delusion is that I have to accomplish or experience something to be happy, and that’s temporary,” he says. “Each world has a ceiling to your happiness. Understanding it gives you power over it. You can shine a light and not be driven unconsciously.”
While Lickerman and ElDifrawi call the worlds “delusions,” they can make you happy. “For example, freeing yourself from pain will make you happy,” says Lickerman. “The delusions come when you expect the happiness they make to be permanent. Having perspective is helpful. In the 10th world, happiness is permanent.”
Many of us have inherent skepticism about enlightenment, but it isn’t mystical or religious, says Lickerman.
“If you actually allow yourself to hope, imagine, or strive for it, you can discover your most enlightened self,” he says. “Figure out what triggers emotion in you. Not everybody is made sad by the same things, or not in awe of the same experience or thoughts. What we’re arguing is a way of experiencing a more expansive self-environment, unleashing life conditions and incredibly transcendent joy. This is a better way to think about happiness: Examine your beliefs, and stir them up by understanding and taking control of them.”