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T (1655 posts)
The Internet may be worshipped for all of the following things: crowd wisdom, missed connections, videos of baby elephants in a baby pool...none of them are what this stop-everything-and-watch-now talk, given by Web pioneer Jim Gilliam, is about. Gilliam went to college as a born-again Christian who had an affinity for computer programming. But, by his first spring break, he couldn't breathe. Not in a metaphorical way; he wasn't anxious. Gilliam had cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He told his story—how he fought the cancer, twice, and found a network of activists through his work—this week at Personal Democracy Forum. There was a standing ovation, and (warning) tears. So, just press play for a reminder of what having faith really means. After watching, we've only got one more thing to say: amen.
(via The Hairpin)
When it comes to listening to the issues of the people we care about, we so often try to say the right thing and end up saying the wrong thing. Or we worry that we're going to say the wrong thing, and say nothing (my specialty). But those days are now at an end. I'm just going to slap a magnet on everybody in the world, regardless of whether I know what his or her problems are:
A friend of mine recently handed me one of these. I hugged him so hard his head went wobbly. Then I said, "Can you give me nine more?"
"It's a magnet," he said. "How many refrigerators do you have?"
I said, "I'm at a point where I need to stick these puppies up even places they don't actually stick."
Back at home, with the help of Scotch tape, I posted them in every place in my house where I need the Invisible God of Encouragement to tell me that I wasn't alone and that I could, if I reached deep, keep going. Yes, I could make some kind of gluey pasta dinner (forgot to defrost the chicken) while hard-boiling eggs for tomorrow's lunch (husband ate the lunch meat) while sitting on hold with computer support (screen went black) while watching my 5-year-old try to dry his sopping wet sneakers (failed to buy a backup pair even though his school has a tennis-shoes-only policy) with a tiny plastic fan that is supposed to blow bubbles out of his bubble-making water gun.
Snap quiz: Your friend tells you she's participating in a fundraiser and asks you to donate money to her cause. You've got the funds, and you adore the friend. In which situation would you be more likely to pony up?
(a) Your friend is training for her first marathon with a group that raises money for cancer research.
(b) Your friend is hosting a masquerade charity ball to raise money for a children's after-school program.
[Find out which option most people choose, after the jump.]
Last week, we started our weekly public gratitude journal here on Life Lift, and even though we're not sure how seven days just flew by, it's that time again. Today, we're feeling happy about...
Twenty years ago this month, Thelma & Louise entered the public imagination—two ladies on the run in a beat-up, now-iconic Thunderbird. Looking back, Thelma & Louise, in that it redefined who women were supposed to be. Gee, the film showed us, women can drink and smoke and drive fast and end up in the predicament usually reserved for heroic, handsome cowboys—boxed in a canyon with no way out.
In 1991, there was much debate over whether or not the film was sexist, if the male characters were cookie-cutter, if the film was trying to say that all men messed up all women, all the time. Even then, as a teenager, I thought that seemed a little dopey. Nobody thought that male outlaw movies were anti-police.
Then again, I was growing up with single mother who worked 10 hours a day. We needed Thelma and Louise. We needed to be Thelma and Louisa—peeling out of our driveway in order to make it to school on time (for once), sloshing a mug of Mom's instant coffee all over our legs.
With the advent of DVDs, the director Ridley Scott was able to showcase another ending for the movie. Instead of Thelma and Louise holding hands, soaring gloriously off into the thin, blue air of the unknown, a helicopter descends, and Harvey Keitel rushes to the edge of the canyon to look down at the destroyed car—and women—below. He then picks up a Polaroid that fell out of the Thunderbird, a picture of the two outlaws at the beginning of their trip, made up and dressed up and smiling.
This brings up so many icky questions. For example, how did the photograph happen to flutter back so conveniently? Why are "happier times" in the movies signified by women wearing a fresh, glossy coating of lipstick? More to the point, Dana Steven's insightful essay in Slate concludes that "ending with the horrified Keitel at the cliff's edge would have made Thelma & Louise into a head-shaking reflection on the terrible fate society visits on women." Further she adds, "choosing to end instead with the heroines' shining-eyed farewell, followed by the freeze-frame of that eternally buoyant car, allows Thelma & Louise to dwell forever at that odd moment in movie history when women won the right to be just as crazy as men."
Meandering around on YouTube, I found several alternate alternate endings to Scott's choice that users had created. After the jump, see what one adds onto the newly released Keitel-helicopter finale...
Do deadlines make you feel like you're unwillingly starring in an action movie and you have to choose between the red wire and the green wire while a giant clock menacingly ticks off seconds? Well, what if instead of controlling a bomb, those wires were connected to something that would release colorful balloons and confetti from the ceiling and shower everyone around you with joy just in the nick of time?
That second option is the idea behind the Twitter feed Kickstarter Hero (@ksr_hero), brainchild of Kickstarter developer Tieg Zaharia. Kickstarter is a site where you can back creative projects ranging from the functional (an incredibly simple smartphone stand) to the whimsical (an inter-species dance performance) to the downright inspired (this vertical garden is a recent favorite). Projects only get funded if 100 percent of their request is pledged by backers, so Kickstarter Hero catalogs the ones that need a little extra boost—"anything that may have fallen through the cracks," Zaharia says—and calls attention to them before their fast-approaching deadlines. There's a built-in thrill to helping someone make their creative idea into a reality, but getting to feel like Keanu Reeves in Speed while you do it? Well, we think that's worth at least $5.
For all of the recording innovations jazz and country guitar legend Les Paul introduced in his lifetime, here's one he probably never saw coming. Paul passed away in 2009, but he would've been 96 today. In his honor, some musical wizards at Google have turned their logo into a guitar that you can actually strum with your mouse. Not only that, but you can record your song too. With apologies to Mr. Paul: my rendition of "Mary Had a Little Lamb."
Even those people who are tone deaf and so lacking in rhythm as to be unable to find the beat in a Katy Perry song have taken comfort that in a planet-wide dance-off, they'd outlast most other species on earth.
That admittedly and pitiably small consolation just went "Oh! Oh! Oh!" and shot across the sky-y-y-y. This was made clear in an article on the research of neurobiologists Aniruddh Patel and John Iversen in the Brain special issue of Discover magazine. Patel explains to Discover that our sense of rhythm may have evolved from the brain development that allowed us to learn to speak. Therefore, Patel says, the only other animals that can boogie to a beat would be those that are advanced in "vocal learning," or the ability to mimic the sounds of others: parrots, an Asian elephant and Snowball the sulfur-crested cockatoo, a YouTube phenom whose dance moves and habits were studied by Patel and his team.
In their experiments with Snowball, the bird was videotaped reacting to music that was sped up and slowed down under a variety of circumstances (in isolation, with verbal encouragement, with another person). The videos showed that Snowball can not only synchronize his moves to different tempos, but can do it when no one else is in the room (although he danced the most when he had a human partner). This cockatoo loves mainstream pop like Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga, and he's a huge fan of the Backstreet Boys (wonder if he knows they're on tour this summer? I'd love to see him get pulled up on stage to lead the crowd in a dance to "Everybody").
What about the salsa-dancing retriever, you are undoubtedly wondering? When I shared this video with my husband, an enthusiastic freestyle dancer, he dropped the phone. Patel tells Discover that he suspects booty-shaking pets like this are reacting to cues from their human trainers, instead of innately responding to the beat. So for now, in this species-wide dance-off, the cockatoo is the true champion—at least from a scientific perspective.
But the story isn't over yet! Patel and Discover are looking for other examples of animals that can dance to a beat. If you have a video of an animal grooving in time to music, please send it to them at firstname.lastname@example.org.