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Here Are The Most-Googled Brands In Each State

Sun, 2014-09-21 14:56
Wisconsinites love their PBR and tech giants such as Microsoft, Google and Yahoo reign supreme on the West Coast, at least according to America's Internet search histories.

This map, created by finance company Direct Capital, shows the most-Googled brand in each state. The company analyzed Google Trends' per capita search data for some of the top 200 consumer brands and displayed the most popular company in each state.

Check it out here:

Many of the most-Googled brands in each state are headquartered in that state, such as Home Depot in Georgia, Target in Minnesota and McDonald's in Illinois.

The map can provide hints about the companies' sway on the culture, job market and consumption habits in each state.

A Gay Dad Takes On Laurie Higgins Of The Illinois Family Institute

Sun, 2014-09-21 08:46
By Rob Watson | The Next Family

Laurie Higgins is a Christian grandmother with a limited professional background (according to her bio). She has worked as “cultural analyst” for The Illinois “Family” Institute for six years, and before that was employed in the “writing center” for a high school. I am not exactly sure what the job qualifications are to be a “cultural analyst” but whatever they are, they have not won Ms. Higgins many friends. The Illinois “Family” Institute is one of 23 hate groups in Illinois tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Consider Ms. Higgins dubious honors: She is listed at #764 in the Encyclopedia of American Loons. There, she is described as “an unrepentant, hate-filled bigot.” Q Salt Lake anointed her as “Creep of the Week” for the week of Dec. 4, 2013. The website Reasonable Conversation nominates her for “Human Excommunication.” The blog site Skepacabra defined her in a three-part article as a “Crazy Bitch.” (Skepacabra was referring mostly to Laurie Higgins alleged stalker-like attempts to get atheist Herman Mehta, known throughout the blogging community as the Friendly Atheist, fired from his teaching job for expressing his opinions.)

Her reputation is earned through her own actions and statements, in 2010, for example, she stated that McDonalds is “hell bent on using its resources to promote subversive moral, social, and political views about homosexuality to our children.” It “hoists high the rainbow colors of the homosexual movement that points to the substitution of the worship of man for the worship of God and leads to depravity and destruction.” McDonalds had run an ad in France depicting a young gay man.

This week she publicly explored a new potential avocation—that of theoretical teen book author. J.K. Rowling has nothing to worry about. Ms. Higgins listed out a series of plotlines she proposes Illinois librarians consider having on their book shelves to enhance public intellectual discourse, and because, in her opinion, it will quench some deep unmet thirst within kids in LGBT families like mine.

I googled the plotlines to see if any of these books, or something close to them, actually exist for discussion. It appears that they are only in the frantic mind of Ms. Higgins. Based on the reactions of all I’ve asked, the general hope is that they stay there.

Here is Ms. Higgins proposal, in her exact words: “If librarians really cared about the full and free exchange of ideas and if they really believed that “book-banning” is dangerous to society, they would direct their rage and ridicule at the powerful publishing companies, professionally-recognized review journals, and their own profession, all of which do far more book-banning than does a handful of powerless parents seeking to have a picture book moved… Next year, will the Schaumburg librarians display photos of empty shelves where books that challenge Leftist assumptions about the nature and morality of homosexuality should be (you know, pro-heterosexuality/pro-heteronormativity books)?

Will they ask for young adult (YA) novels about teens who feel sadness and resentment about being intentionally deprived of a mother or father and who seek to find their missing biological parents?

Will they ask for dark, angsty novels about teens who are damaged by the promiscuity of their “gay” “fathers” who hold sexual monogamy in disdain?

Will they ask for novels about young adults who are consumed by a sense of loss and bitterness that their politically correct and foolish parents allowed them during the entirety of their childhood to cross-dress, change their names, and take medication to prevent puberty, thus deforming their bodies?

Will they ask for novels about teens who suffer because of the harrowing fights and serial “marriages” of their lesbian mothers?

Will they ask for picture books that show the joy a little birdie experiences when after the West Nile virus deaths of her two daddies, she’s finally adopted by a daddy and mommy?

Surely, there are some teens and children who will identify with such stories.”

As a gay dad, and a parent at the helm of one of the families Ms. Higgins targets, I feel compelled to respond.

Dear Ms. Higgins,

Thank you for concern over the possible reading material available for the kids in families like mine. Reading is an absolutely vital part of a child’s education. Getting my sons to do it, and finding the books in which they have interest, can be a challenge.

I would say “thank you” for trying to help, but your intent was not to help. It was to apply your very warped and misguided perception of what LGBT families must be like, but universally, in reality, are not. Instead of that thank you note, I thought I would give you some Insight into our actual lives and show you where you have severely missed the mark.

The plots you outlined only exist in your mind of fanciful perversion. You speculate that your plot ideas might have a market since “surely some teens and children will identify with such stories.”

I am pleased to tell you that, no, in fact, none of the hundred-some kids I know from LGBT families would relate. I specifically tested them on my own sons (in terms they could understand.) My eleven year old commented, “those sound like the dumbest books ever,” while my twelve year old looked me in the eye and just said simply, “what is wrong with her?”

I asked them to develop a few ideas for the books that they would like to read about families like ours, and these are what they came up with:

A dad and a papa and their two sons find a trunk with some wizard robes, and when they put them on they are transported to a land where they fight a dragon and find a lost treasure.

A girl and her mom are trapped at the bottom of the ocean to deal with enormous sea creatures, while the girl’s other mother is the head scientist in the ship above trying to help them.

Two brothers are stolen by pirates and hit the seven seas while their fathers search after them with the old pirate map that is left behind in their bedroom.

I believe my sons have a better sense of “good books” than you do. Theirs sound like a lot more fun.

More importantly, they reflect the real dynamics of LGBT families where parents and kids are focused on the happenings in our current lives, not focused on the procreation process that brought the kids into being. I suspect heterosexual families are essentially the same. Their dinner discussions do not start with dad sharing, yet again, how he impregnated mom. Even when we do discuss that aspect of our lives, we are not ashamed of having adopted our kids. They are not ashamed or regretful for being adopted. You need to stop attempting to shame families like mine for the beautiful bonds we have created from situations that were otherwise dire.

The book plots my sons imagined recognize that each person is uniquely individual, and no two personalities exactly alike. Your point of view boils each person down to being solely identified by genitalia. Your mono-vision conflict against your boogey man “The Left”, and its underling “Homosexual Activists” blinds you. I have to note that of all the characteristics you list in your plots from promiscuous gay dads, serial marrying lesbian moms and dying parents, none are accurate descriptions of the real parents I know in LGBT families. The same sex parents I know have stepped up in some of the most super-human situations imaginable, and have accomplished heroic things on behalf of their children. Our families are beautiful, and if you can’t respect that fact, the least you can do is not to spread ignorance about us.

Your plots and point of view imply a foundation assumption that simply does not exist. You hypothesize that for kids in LGBT families, there exists a mother/father family alternative in the wings that have either been robbed of these kids, or are sitting available should they be called upon. Again, in 100% of the families I know, this is not the case. A possible exception could be perceived in cases where the children’s lives were saved by being taken from an existing mother and father who were incapable of keeping them safe. I would not consider such parents as being “robbed” or “sitting available,” however.

That is the case with each of my sons. Both were born to drug addict parents and were exposed to drugs in the womb. All the parents were given the opportunity to show they could responsibly care for my sons, but each failed. At least one of the birth parents was life-threateningly violent. The two birth fathers each spent significant time in prison. All four of the parents have multiple children with multiple partners—in total my sons have twelve birth siblings in the world – none of which are in the custody of their biological parents.

If you think I somehow beat out an eligible mom/dad combo for the adoption of each of my sons, that did not happen either. There are plenty of children in my sons’ situation to go around. The fact is, most heterosexual couples find other ways to start a family, and see our way as an act of desperation were they to do it. I remember when I was talking to a family friend when I first got my oldest son. Born 6 weeks early, my son was 4 lbs and slept on my chest in a sling. She had just finished declaring how adorable he was and then segued into a story about how her sister had “almost” adopted recently. “Really?” I asked. “What happened?”

“It wasn’t right,” she explained. “It turns out the child was ethnic and had drug exposure. You know…” her voice trailed off as she looked at my son whom she had just been fawning over — my son, the beautiful Mexican heroin-exposed infant asleep on my chest. “Oh my God…” she said quietly as the realization hit her. My beautiful baby was just like the one who “would not work out” in her own family.

If you do not believe me about the reality of these fantasy parents of whom you think kids of LGBT families have been deprived, you only have to look as far as the case of the two incredible Iowa moms who lost their baby boy back to the birth mother when she changed her mind. The baby ended up dying a month later at the hands of the teen birth father.

The imaginary land of removed moms and dads is as far fetched as your plot concoctions. Also far fetched is your evil implication that my sons would be somehow relieved to be assigned to a mom/dad family after the death of my partner and me. Should my death occur, my children would be devastated and would not feel solace from being assigned to any new parents same sex, or opposite sex. Your suggestion otherwise is sociopathic.

The meanness and vitriol with which you attack gay families may have an additional unintended consequence that you may want to also consider.

You are a grandmother with a number of grand children, and I assume the number of that clan will grow exponentially over time. The odds of at least one of those kids being gay are high. That may lead to a plot line, more likely to be true to life than any you have suggested, that goes something like this:

The grandson of a highly visible homophobic “cultural analyst” discovers he is gay. He tries desperately to hide his sexuality from his angry grandmother, which leads him to a crisis of faith, depression, drug experimentation and suicidal thoughts. Finally, he can hide it no more and has to tell her….

How that storyline will end will be up to you. Will you hold to your irrational hatred and dogmatic theories? Will you look to see that your beloved grandson is the same as he has always been, and continues to be worthy of your love? Will you reject him or celebrate him?

In your story, you will get to pick the part you ultimately play. You will be the one who decides if you are the prodigal hero, or the unrepentant villain. Choose wisely, a villain’s life rarely ends well.

For LGBT families, you are currently playing the proverbial bad guy, minion of the Dark Force, maniacal Devil’s henchman. Like in any good story, though, you can change.

Nothing concludes a tale better than an affirming resolution with a former evil-doer’s redemption. Do it. Re-write the book. Give us a happy ending.

Rob Watson writes for The Next Family and lives with his husband and kids in Santa Cruz, California.

More on The Next Family:

10 Things You Should Never Say To A Gay Parent

I Was A Gay Kid

To The Homophobic Parents Caught Throwing Their Son Out

Mysterious Fireball Spotted Over The Rockies Was Actually A Russian Spy Satellite, Experts Say

Sun, 2014-09-21 08:40
A mysterious fireball that was spotted moving across the night sky and breaking apart above the Rocky Mountains earlier this month left observers totally baffled.

Some speculated that the blazing object may have been pieces from a meteor or other celestial body, but the science just didn't seem to add up. If it was indeed a meteor, it would have burned too quickly and wouldn't have been seen across such a large area, according to the American Meteor Society.

So what exactly was this fiery object?

Military experts say the so-called "fireball" -- which was spotted in the skies at around 10:30 p.m. MDT on Sept. 2 over Colorado and Wyoming, and possibly as far as New Mexico, South Dakota and Montana -- was likely a piece of a Russian spy satellite that fell from orbit.

Charles Vick, an aerospace analyst with the military information website, told the Associated Press that it was probably debris from Russia's Cosmos 2495 reconnaissance satellite.

Fireball over Rockies was Russian spy satellite, experts say

— CBC News (@CBCNews) September 18, 2014

Cosmos 2495 was a photoreconnaissance satellite designed to take high-resolution images of ground targets, according to It was reportedly launched in May.

The U.S. Strategic Command, a branch of the Department of Defense, confirmed that the satellite re-entered Earth's atmosphere and was removed from their catalog of orbiting satellites in September.

The Russian Defense Ministry has denied any connection with the fireball. Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov says Russia's military satellites have all been operating normally.

"One can only guess what condition the representatives of the so-called American Meteor Society must be in to have identified a [fireball] at that high altitude as a Russian military satellite," he told RIA Novosti.

There are an estimated 98 operating spy satellites currently in orbit, the AP reports. Of these, almost 40 are said to be from the U.S. and just three are from Russia.

Bishop Blase Cupich Named By Pope Francis To Be Next Archbishop Of Chicago

Sat, 2014-09-20 08:03
(RNS) Pope Francis on Saturday will name Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane, Wash., a prelate closely identified with the Catholic Church’s progressive wing, to be the next archbishop of Chicago, according to news reports and multiple church sources.

It is the pontiff’s most important U.S. appointment to date and one that could upend decades of conservative dominance of the American hierarchy.

Cupich, 65, will succeed Cardinal Francis George, a doctrinal and cultural conservative who has headed one of the American church’s pre-eminent dioceses since 1997. In that time he became a vocal leader among the bishops and earned a reputation as a feisty culture warrior in line with the Vatican of the late St. John Paul II and retired Pope Benedict XVI.

That track record won him fans on the Catholic right, but George was seen as out of step with Francis’ desire for more pastoral bishops who are less focused on picking fights over sex and more involved in promoting the church’s social justice teachings and sticking close to the poor.

Cupich, who will now be in line to get a cardinal’s red hat, would seem to fit that bill.

Named by Pope Benedict XVI to head the Diocese of Spokane in September 2010, Cupich (pronounced “SOUP-itch”) has steadily staked out positions that align him with Catholics who want the church to engage the world rather than rail against the forces of secularism.

In March 2012, for example, in the midst of the bishops’ nasty battle with the Obama administration over religious freedom and the employer mandate to provide free contraception coverage, Cupich wrote an essay in America magazine titled “Staying Civil.”

In that column, Cupich called for dialogue with the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services rather than constant confrontation, and said the crisis was a chance to find “common ground.”

“While the outrage to the H.H.S. decision was understandable, in the long run threats and condemnations have a limited impact,” he wrote.

The phrase “common ground” also resonated because it was associated with the approach of George’s predecessor in Chicago, the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, who embodied the hopes of a more progressive church — hopes that seemed to end with George.

George is 77 and has been battling a recurrence of bladder cancer, and he said he expected a successor to be named sometime this fall, though not this quickly. All bishops are required to offer their resignations at age 75.

Word that George’s replacement was to be named began circulating Friday evening and seemed confirmed when the archdiocese announced a press conference at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, but without revealing the topic.

While Cupich had been seen as a long shot to replace George, his name also began surfacing Friday night and was confirmed by multiple church sources and first reported by The Associated Press.

Cupich is a Nebraska native who was educated in Rome and served in a number of church posts before he was first appointed a bishop as head of the Diocese of Rapid City, S.D.

As head of the Spokane diocese, which covers the eastern half of Washington state, Cupich was known for reaching out to a largely unchurched population and for promoting the church’s social justice teachings in a region suffering from the effects of the recession.

Cupich also gained notice in 2012 by adopting a moderate line when Washington voters went to the polls to vote in a referendum to legalize same-sex marriage.

In a pastoral letter read from all the pulpits in the diocese, Cupich defended the church’s position against same-sex marriage but he called for a respectful debate and he forcefully condemned any attempt “to incite hostility towards homosexual persons or promote an agenda that is hateful and disrespectful of their human dignity.”

“It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action,” Cupich wrote. “Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church’s pastors wherever it occurs.”

Cupich also frequently praised the new approach of Pope Francis, who was elected in March of 2013, echoing his call for a more collaborative church and a greater attention to the church’s social justice teaching.

In June this year, Cupich was a featured speaker at a Washington, D.C., seminar sponsored by Catholic University of America convened to question whether one could be a good Catholic and espouse libertarian economic ideas.

The event was headlined by Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, one of Francis’ closest advisers, and in his talk Cupich echoed the cardinal’s powerful denunciation of libertarianism’s effects.

Growing inequality, Cupich said, is creating “a powder keg that is as dangerous as the environmental crisis the world is facing today.”

Cupich said political leaders cannot wage this debate “from the 30,000-foot level of ideas” but must take into account the real-life implications of policies as they play out on the ground.

“Reality,” he said, quoting Francis, “is greater than ideas.”

The move to Chicago will be a big change for Cupich in many ways. He is leaving a diocese of 90,000 Catholics and 82 parishes to take charge of a sprawling and storied archdiocese with more than 350 parishes and 2.2 million Catholics.

Tennis Coach Hopes Chicago Center Will Become A National Hub For Minority Players

Fri, 2014-09-19 16:28
When 33-year-old Kamau Murray first told his parents he wanted to buy out and take over the Chicago tennis center where he himself took up the sport, going so far in the sport as to earn a full-ride college scholarship, they thought he had lost his mind.

But they helped him along the way anyway and today, the gamble has proven fruitful. Murray's program, XS Tennis, occupies a facility in the city's Kenwood neighborhood on the city's South Side and has gradually outgrown its humble five-court space since Murray took over in 2008.

That's because the facility plays host to hundreds of Chicago Public Schools students learning the sport, in addition to collegiate teams and Murray's star pupil, 18-year-old Taylor Townsend, the fast-rising star who captured the nation's eye when she made an impressive Grand Slam debut at the French Open and defeated a player ranked twentieth in the world. Then ranked 205th in the world, Townsend has since risen to 108th over the course of less than four months.

XS Tennis is now recognized as the Midwest's largest minority-owned tennis club.

With all of that happening in a crowded space, not to mention his lease expiring and the building going up for sale, Murray is now working to expand his mission to offer youth on the South Side of Chicago access to the sport he loves through the building of a new $9.8 million 112,000-square-foot, 27-court tennis village to house the expanded program.

"I'm trying to salvage opportunities on the South Side. It was not intended to become this big, but now it's just too good to stop," Murray recently told HuffPost. "If I let it close, there would not be a single place south of Roosevelt [Road] to play tennis in Chicago. I don't think that's fair. That's how it is in the rest of the country, but now how it will be in my city."

The new tennis village, which will be located on the former site of the Robert Taylor Homes in the Washington Park neighborhood, is already very much on the way to becoming reality, despite facing some initial skepticism from outsiders.

The land has been purchased, the zoning has been finalized and tennis legend Billie Jean King has lent her support to the effort. Murray is now working to raise the last $1 million needed before breaking ground on the facility.

(Story continues below.)

Billie Jean King (center) with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Murray at the May 2014 announcement of the new tennis village. (XS Tennis/Facebook)

All of that flies in the face of critics who, like Murray's parents before, questioned the coach's plan to build a giant tennis center focused on minority players where one of the nation's most notorious public housing failures once stood. Some have suggested he focus, instead, on moving his facility to a wealthy part of the Chicago area, a tony suburb like Winnetka or Burr Ridge. But Murray is determined to stay put.

"People think I'm crazy putting tennis courts [there]," Murray explained. "We'd make a lot more money in the suburbs, but the access will be here. Our focus needs to be on creating opportunities for all types of kids."

Others have pointed out that as many as a dozen other tennis programs have tried what Murray is working to accomplish and, largely due to financial issues, come up short.

Of course, Townsend's success has also been helpful in silencing the critics. She splits her training time between Chicago, where she began playing and first met Murray at the age of 6, and Washington, D.C., where she trains with former Wimbledon runner-up Zina Garrison.

Taylor Townsend, who spends part of the year training at XS Tennis and was born and raised in Chicago, faced off with Serena Williams at the U.S. Open last month. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Ranked number one in the world in the junior division in 2012, Townsend burst onto the Grand Slam scene this year, reaching the third round in the French Open and also earning wild-card berths to participate in both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, where she lost to Serena Williams, the tournament's eventual winner, in the first round last month.

Another statistics also serve to quiet the critics: a total of 22 XS Tennis players have earned full-ride college scholarships and the organization's free in-school tennis programs serves 2,000 CPS students annually.

Murray compared the impact of his pupil's success to that of the Jackie Robinson West youth baseball team, who earlier this year won the U.S. championship at the Little League World Series. Given his program's growth, he hopes other minority tennis clubs across the country will duplicate the model he's created and spread additional access to the sport to black neighborhoods.

"Taylor is a living, breathing example of what is possible if you have access," he said. "And she should not be the last kid to make it out of the city of Chicago [in tennis]."

Besides easing the worries of potential investors, Townsend's rise has also had a major impact on the other young players training at the center.

"Her success makes other minority kids believe in the process they're going through and believe that even if there's not a lot of success early on, they can see what's possible," he said. "They can say, 'Wow, I'm OK with the process. I'm OK with not waking up and being a champion.' It's about showing up every day and putting the work in."

Evanston Township Ceases to Exist

Fri, 2014-09-19 14:44
Until May 1, taxpayers in Evanston supported two governments -- the city of Evanston and Evanston Township.

Evanston became a case study in government consolidation when voters decided in March that one Evanston government was enough and dissolved the township as a legal entity.

The Better Government Association examined the causes and effects of the Evanston Township dissolution. Illinois has by far the most government taxing bodies per capita of any state in the nation, and township governments have become prime targets for reformers who say they duplicate services of county and municipal governments at great cost to taxpayers. Townships also are notorious havens for patronage hiring.

Voters in Evanston decided in March to consolidate the 157-year-old township into the city government to save taxpayer money.

It marked only the fourth time in Illinois history, and the first time since 1932, that voters decided to dissolve a township.

But Evanston taxpayers might not have been given the chance to vote were it not for the efforts of the Evanston City Council and a local state lawmaker, who teamed to battle the powerful political influence of township officials both locally and across the state.

It was an arduous process that required two voter referendums, passage of narrowly focused legislation in Springfield, and the blessing of both local lawmakers and the powerful leaders of the General Assembly.

Read the rest of the BGA's take on this government consolidation on Reboot Illinois.

The vote to eliminate the Evanston Township was a show of democracy in action in Illinois. David Melton, executive director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, said he wants to make campaign funding more democratic:

Public opinion research shows that most Americans believe there is a serious problem with money in elections. But they're cynical about the chances of cleansing politics of big money. And with the current U.S. Supreme Court majority equating campaign contributions with free speech, efforts to reduce the impact of big money by simply trying to impose caps on big donations aren't likely to succeed anyway (at least not in the absence of a constitutional amendment, which is not likely to happen anytime soon).

What does Melton suggest as a solution?

The Top 25 Universities To Work For In 2014-15

Fri, 2014-09-19 13:29
"Clean campus, gentle and gracious people...and interesting work," are all things found by employees at Brigham Young University (in addition to shockingly sober undergrads).

Employee review website Glassdoor ranked BYU the best college to work for, bringing the Mormon university in Utah up from the number three spot last year. Carnegie Mellon University falls closed behind in second, with employees saying the Pittsburgh-based institution school fosters a "good work-life balance," and is one where "hard work is rewarded."

The Glassdoor rankings, released Friday, were based directly on employee feedback. Employees ranked their satisfaction with their workplace from one to five, with one being the least satisfied and five being the most. BYU scored an average of 4.4 while Carnegie Mellon, Clemson, Princeton and Cornell universities scored 4.3.

The top ten is a diverse mix of public, private and Ivy League schools. Positive employee feedback tended to focus on the beauty and safety of campuses as well as the support, resources and flexibility provided by the schools and fellow staff.

Check out the top 25 in the graphic below:

20 Photographs By Teens You'd Have To See To Believe

Fri, 2014-09-19 13:14
Whether you're posting the occasional selfie to Instagram or mastering the art of dog portraits, it's a good time to be a young photographer. And now, Flickr's spotlighting the power of young peoples' photography with its first annual 20 Under 20 celebration.

The 20 nominees, hailing everywhere from Australia to Germany, will have their work displayed during a gala event at NYC's Milk Studios on Oct. 1. You can vote for the three Audience Choice Awards by tweeting "#Flickr20u20" along with the name of the photographers you think should win #mostcreative, #besttechnique and #strongestportfolio.

Scroll down for a sampling of photographs taken by the 20 talented young artists.

1. Evan Atwood

This photo, titled "Battle," shows Evan's love of self-portraits and his flair for the cinematic.

2. Rachel Baran

Rachel expresses herself through "conceptual self-portraits," like this one above, which she called "Wild youth."

3. Olivia Bee

This photo, titled "Sunrise Dream" shows Olivia's ability to transform everyday settings into mystical dreamlands.

4. Alex Benetel

Alex's photographs are filled with beautiful oddities, like the one above, which she called, "Once and for all, they abandoned what they knew."

5. Oliver Charles

Oliver's photos are surreal, sometimes dark, images of the natural world.

6. Alex Currie

Alex's photos are often confrontational, creating an instant connection with the viewer.

7. Silvia Grav

Silvia's photos are tinted to perfection in ways that Instagram will only ever be dream of.

8. Zev Hoover

Fifteen-year-old Zev captures the sometimes-terrifying-vastness of the world with a sense of humor.

9. Katharina Jung

Katharina's "guided by a beatin' heart" proves that landscape shots are anything but boring.

10. Lissy Laricchia

This photo, titled "Seeing Clear," turns an average hallway into a dreamland.

11. Brian Oldham

Brian's beautifully surreal photographs will make you do a double take.

12. Laurence Philomene

Laurence has already won the Curator's Choice Award for her ethereal pictures.

13. Greg Ponthus

Greg's photographs capture the vulnerability of the people around him.

14. Berta Vicente Salas

Berta uses photographs to explore the beauty she encounters, whether she's above land or underwater.

15. Nicholas Scarpinato

This photograph, called "The Helpers," is artful yet melancholy.

16. Alex Stoddard

Alex's dramatic shots have a dark magic about them.

17. David Uzochukwu

Also the EyeEm 2014 Photographer of the Year, David often works in surreal self-portraits.

18. Chrissie White

Chrisse loves taking magical shots of the natural world.

19. Vanessa and Wilson, i.e. Wiissa

This duo, Vanessa and Wilson, collaborate to create colorful '70s themed photographs.

20. Lauren Withrow

Lauren was first inspired by the landscapes of her native state, Texas.

Follow HuffPost Teen on Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Pheed |

WATCH: Calling All Introverts! It's Okay If You're Not A Social Butterfly. In Fact It Could Be A Good Thing

Fri, 2014-09-19 12:08
Why does the world seem to celebrate schmoozers, and what might we be missing when we assume quieter people have nothing worth saying? This persuasive talk from author (and self-proclaimed introvert) Susan Cain will leave you questioning your assumptions about what makes a good leader, and you may see the people in your life a bit differently - yourself included.

We want to know what you think. Join the discussion by posting a comment below or tweeting #TEDWeekends. Interested in blogging for a future edition of TED Weekends? Email us at
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Do You Remember? A Micro History Of 'The Happiest-Sounding Song In The World'

Fri, 2014-09-19 11:58
"Do you remember?" is a lyric from the classic Earth, Wind & Fire hit, "September," that is practically impossible to forget. But just in case fans wanted to know more about the wedding staple as it enters its 36th year this fall, the song's co-writer, Allee Willis, spoke to NPR's "Morning Edition" on Friday, and gave something of a mini history of what she called "the happiest-sounding song in the world."

"As a white Jewish girl getting a break, you could not get better than Earth, Wind & Fire," Willis recalled to Dan Charnas for NPR.

As Willis noted, singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams revealed during his tearful interview with Oprah Winfrey in April that Earth, Wind & Fire was among his biggest influences. The "Happy" creator played his inspiration track for Winfrey's audience on his iPad: It was "September."

Willis, who also co-wrote the theme song for "Friends" -- "I'll Be There for You," performed by The Rembrandts -- recalled the one part of "September" that didn't fill her with joy: bandleader Maurice White's nonsense lyric, "Ba-dee-ya."

White's response to the word being gibberish: "Who the fuck cares?"

"September" (which, despite its name, was actually released in November of 1978), went on to sell more than a million copies for the Chicago-based band, peaking at No. 8 on the Billboard chart.

As for the specific date mentioned in the song, Willis said the 21st day of September has no special significance.

Still, it's something we all remember.

Listen to full interview at NPR:

Illinois Has 21 of the Best High-Poverty High Schools in the Country

Fri, 2014-09-19 10:10
Illinois had 16 schools in Newsweek's new rankings of the top 500 high schools in the country. But in a different list that focused on low-income students, Illinois placed: 21 high schools in the Top 500.

The magazine's "absolute" list of the 500 best public high schools in the country based on students' college readiness, graduation rates and how many students from those schools were college-bound. Illinois had 16 high schools on that list, and Northside College Preparatory High School was No. 3 among all high schools in the country.

The second list focuses on schools with high percentages of low-income students. Newsweek said the second list was part of an effort to "overcome the obstacles posed by socio-economic inequality."

From Newsweek:

It will come as no surprise that this list is dominated by schools in areas with high average income and low racial diversity. So we produced a second list that takes into consideration how well schools serve students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds -- measured by the percentage of students qualifying for free school lunches. There is almost no overlap in the top 10 schools on each list. Thomas Jefferson was in 14th place in the second list, while the top school serving low-income students, Emma Lazarus High School in New York, was 21st on the absolute list.

Northside College Preparatory High School was named the No. 7 best school in the country when its percentage of low-income students (35.9 percent) was taken into account. There were 20 other Illinois high schools on this list.

Here are seven schools that made it in the top 500 in Newsweek's list for schools with high poverty rates.

494. Dunlap High School

424. Prosser Career Academy High Shool

374. Devry Advantage Academy High School

339. Wheeling High School

330. Elverado High School

288. Lindblom Math and Science Academy

270. Wheaton North High School

See 14 more Illinois schools that made the list at Reboot Illinois to find out if your school was among the top 21 in the state.

NEXT ARTICLE: Newsweek's top 16 Illinois high schools
Chicago vs downstate: What's the difference?
Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner debate in Chicago Tribune "forum"
Cartoon: Cry baby, cry
How poverty, test scores and per-student spending are related

The Fittest Colleges in America 2014

Fri, 2014-09-19 09:59
College. Some say it's the best four years of your life, others say you won't remember most of it, but only one thing is for sure -- college is the first big pillar of adult independence. Heading off to school is the initial opportunity for young adults to get out on their own and start making those big decisions that will lay the foundation for their future.

Click Here to see the Complete List of America's Fittest Colleges 2014

If students want to prepare for a long healthy life, or that epic co-ed pool party, they'll need to make exercise a habit and adopt a healthy diet. Surviving solely on late night pizza runs and kegs of beer might be the easier option, but it certainly isn't the healthiest. And skipping multiple trips to the gym due to intense hangovers won't bring the greatest results, either.

Luckily, the first major choice students make is in selecting their college, and it's clear some campuses offer a better shot at fitness success than others.

Everything from amenities offered at the campus gym to the climate of the area can affect the fitness of a campus. Professional dietary advice, proximity to outdoor recreation and campus-wide programs all contribute to the well-being of the campus population, too. For our ranking, we considered those factors and others: the number, success and involvement of sports programs (both varsity and intramural), the quality of athletic facilities, the healthfulness of campus dining options, quality of life ratings and, this year, we did something different. While other lists leave off the military schools, as ours did last year, this year we let the military institutions duke it out with the other four year universities up for consideration.

We also broadened the scope of colleges considered this year, looking at data on more than 100 of America's top colleges and universities. Read on to see which colleges are the fittest in America.

Click Here to see the Original Story on The Active Times

-- The Editors, The Active Times

More Content from The Active Times:
Freshman 15: 8 Tips for Avoiding Weight Gain at College
8 Tips for Eating Healthy on Campus from a Top Nutritionist
10 Workouts That Are More Effective Than You Probably Think
6 Worthless Exercises You Probably Do
The 10 Best College Towns for Cyclists

American Man Confesses He Killed Girlfriend's Mother At Bali Hotel, Police Say

Fri, 2014-09-19 07:53
BALI, Indonesia (AP) — An American man has confessed that he killed his girlfriend's mother in a luxury hotel on Indonesia's Bali island, and the girlfriend has acknowledged helping him stuff the body into a suitcase, police said Friday.

Heather Mack, 19, and her boyfriend Tommy Schaefer, 21, both from Chicago, were arrested in Bali on Aug. 13, a day after the body of Sheila von Wiese-Mack was found in a suitcase inside the trunk of a taxi at the St. Regis Bali Resort. "Schaefer confessed to killing von Wiese-Mack during police interrogation," police chief Col. Djoko Heru Utomo told The Associated Press. "He was hurt and offended by the victim's words in an argument with him. That is the motive for the murder."

He said Mack, who is three months' pregnant, admitted in a separate interrogation that she helped Schaefer stuff her mother's body into a suitcase.

Utomo said Schaefer and Mack were accompanied by their Indonesian and U.S. lawyers during the interrogations.

Attempts to reach the Indonesian lawyers were not immediately successful.

The couple has yet to be formally charged. Utomo said officers hoped to complete their investigation and file their case with prosecutors before the couple's detention period ends in mid-October.

Police say they have interviewed dozens of witnesses, including the taxi driver and hotel employees, and some had reported an argument among the three over who should pay for the rooms. Security camera video showed the victim having an argument with Schaefer in the hotel lobby.

Police have said the couple hired the taxi and placed the suitcase inside the trunk. They then told the taxi driver that they were going to check out of the hotel and would return. After they didn't show up, hotel security guards who found blood on the suitcase suggested that the driver take the taxi to the police station, where officers opened the suitcase and discovered the body.

Von Wiese-Mack was the widow of highly regarded jazz and classical composer James L. Mack, who died in 2006 at age 76.

Von Wiese-Mack was a member of a century-old Chicago book club called the Caxton Club. She had varied interests including Asian literature and Wagnerian opera, according to a May 2013 profile of her in the club's publication, Caxtonian.

New Economic Reports Bolster Quinn Illinois 'Comeback' Claim

Thu, 2014-09-18 20:12
A new Illinois jobs report has just improved Governor Pat Quinn's chances of keeping his.

The Illinois unemployment rate fell in August for the sixth consecutive month to 6.7 percent while employers created +13,800 jobs, a new government labor survey says.

According to preliminary data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the drop from 9.2 percent one year ago marks the largest year-over-year decline since 1984.

The last time the rate was lower than 6.7 was in July 2008 when it was 6.6. Also, there are +40,600 more jobs than one year ago.

"Five months of job creation coupled with increased help-wanted advertising indicate a bit of momentum as we head into the Fall," IDES Director Jay Rowell said.

Since 1976, the monthly Illinois rate has averaged 0.6 points higher than the national rate. August marks the second consecutive month that the state rate has hit that benchmark. Illinois last did so in Spring, 2012.

The unemployment rate also is in line with other economic indicators.

First-time jobless claims have been trending lower for the past four years and in August, the number of monthly claims was at its lowest level since 1998, according Rowell.

Moreover, Illinois' jobs chief says that numbers from the independent Conference Board's Help Wanted OnLine Index show that Illinois employers in August advertised for nearly 225,900 jobs and 84 percent sought full-time work.

August job growth came from Leisure and Hospitality (+5,000); Trade, Transportation and Utilities (+4,300); and Professional and Business Services (+3,300).

The new unemployment report comes as Quinn is battling for reelection against Republican businessman Bruce Rauner who has made Illinois' economy a central issue, arguing that Quinn's polices have retarded economic growth and job creation.

But the fresh employment numbers will undoubtedly boost the governor's claim that Illinois is "making a comeback", a Quinn theme that had been derided earlier this summer by Republicans and some media pundits. But it now appears to have some economic justification.

Whether the improving Illinois jobs picture is enough to alter the current negative narrative held by many voters that the Illinois economy is "struggling" remains an open question.

And despite the good job news, Rauner found room to criticize Quinn.

"It's always good news when more Illinoisans are working. Unfortunately, we still have a huge ways to go to get out of the massive hole that's been dug in our state by the Quinn-Madigan-Blagojevich machine," Rauner said in a statement. "We need to put our economy on jet fuel, and under Pat Quinn it's struggling along on leaded gas".

But job growth is not the only good economic news Quinn has had to bolster his Illinois "comeback" mantra.

According to a new study from the moving company United Van Lines, Chicago leads the nation as the most popular city in the country for moves, followed by Washington, Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, Dallas, Phoenix and New York.

From the four-month period of May through August 2014, 65.2 percent of those engaged in a Chicago move were arriving rather than leaving the city, a turnaround from last year when the numbers were just the opposite.

Both the new jobs data and the Chicago arrival statistics give Quinn some bragging rights on the campaign trail and give his Illinois comeback claim some renewed credibility.

Meanwhile, his critics may be the ones left struggling.

Chicago Won't Have A Barack Obama High After All

Thu, 2014-09-18 17:46
Chicago has dropped plans to name an already controversial new high school after President Barack Obama.

The Chicago Board of Education decided that the proposed selective-enrollment institution would not be called Barack Obama College Preparatory High School as planned due to a district policy against naming public schools after a living person, according to the New York Daily News.

But the dropping of Obama's name may really indicate that Mayor Rahm Emanuel's attempt to gin up good will with the city's black community has backfired.

"[Emanuel] should work harder to make sure there is a grocery store in Jeffery Plaza," Chicago Alderman Leslie Hairston told the Sun-Times in May, referring to a South Side retail strip. "He needs to put the same type of energy and effort [into that] that he is putting into building a school named after the President from my ward."

The proposed school has generated controversy ever since Emanuel announced building plans in April -- the day after three existing public schools were essentially shuttered. The college prep school would soak up $60 million in tax increment financing money, which is effectively the mayor's discretionary "slush" fund drawn from property taxes.

Critics who don't want to see the president's connection to the South Side eroded were also unhappy with the location. Rather than put the school on the South Side -- community leaders suggested spots that were of significance to the first family, including the Kenwood neighborhood where they have their permanent home or the South Shore neighborhood where Michelle Obama grew up -- the city slated it for a North Side lot that's within walking distance of another selective-enrollment high school.

Neighbors living near the proposed site argue that the mayor's office should have solicited more community input before locating a school where it will eat up precious park space and add to existing congestion.

In fact, the school could yet be relocated as plans have not been finalized.

"Over the last few months, my team has listened to questions and concerns from the community, ranging from location of the building to the naming of the school," Emanuel said in a statement Thursday. "We take that community input seriously, which is why -- as we continue to look for a thoughtful way to honor President Obama -- we will look for other possible names for this future school."

Though several high schools have already been named after the president, Obama High would have been the first one in his home state of Illinois. Chicago is considered a favorite to house the eventual Barack Obama Presidential Library.

The Chicago Tribune notes there are plenty of other things that have also been named for the 44th president: a species of spider, a baby tiger, a French wine and an extinct lizard.

A Good Evening Spoiled

Thu, 2014-09-18 16:51
A few weeks ago, my oldest child walked out the front door and headed straight for eighth grade. He wore a Chicago Black Hawks t-shirt, but I remember when he sported Lightning McQueen as he headed towards his first day of kindergarten. I also remember that I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I had agonized over the decision to send my child to a Chicago Public School. This fall, as my son entered his last year of elementary school, I took note that I no longer the same fear I did all those years ago.

I can still remember lying awake at night thinking "holy crap, I'm going to end up sending my little guy to a CPS neighborhood school." A neighborhood school which, eight years ago, did not have a good reputation... although it has a great one now. Eight years ago, I also had a 3-year-old and was pregnant with my third. I watched that third child, my youngest, also head off to school this year. For her, it was second grade. I sometimes wonder if her pre-natal exposure to CPS had any effect on her gestational development, like with BPFs, or second hand smoke, or raw fish. The cortisol coursing through my body as I sent her big brother to kindergarten had to be off the charts. Of my three kids, my youngest is the most standardized test phobic, seems the most lost among large class sizes, and has been the most negatively impacted by the longer, unfunded school day. Is there fetal CPS syndrome? I think there might be.

Eight years ago, my "first day of school" feeling was fear, but that changed. Some years as my kids headed out the door in September, I was positively gleeful. Those "yippee!" first days of school were the ones that put a humane end to long hot summers filled with sibling arguing, antagonizing and having some kid put their feet in the exact spot that made the other kids go ballistic. If you have spent summers with kids who excel at pushing each other's buttons, who say and/or do the precise thing that is sure to piss each other off, then you understand why the first day of school can bring about a feeling joy. While not my finest hour as a parent, I do recall one summer telling my kids that they were lucky they were my children, because if they were my roommates, I would have kicked them out. So, yes, on more than one first day of school, I was ecstatic at the prospect of peace and quiet once again being mine.

This year, the feeling I had as my kids went back to school was a feeling of anxious hope. Two anxious hopes really. First and foremost, I anxiously hoped that my kids would have great teachers. As is, was and always will be the case, a teacher can make or break a year for a kid. A gifted teacher can bring about enthusiasm and a love of learning. A crummy teacher can bring about dread and turn kids off to school completely. My second anxious hope is that my kids get little to no homework.

There isn't a situation going on in my home that a nightly dose of homework can't make worse. Just bringing up the word "homework" with kids is like mentioning a former lover to your current partner. No matter how innocently or casually it's brought up, it's never well received. "You just had to mention homework didn't you? I was in a great mood until you brought that up!" To paraphrase Twain, homework is a good evening spoiled.

Last year my youngest daughter, then in first grade, liked to write and illustrate her own books during what should have been her down time. One night instead of filling in a bunch of blanks on a double sided worksheet, she wrote and illustrated "Superman vs. Elsa: Strength or Ice Powers?" When I asked her if she had started her homework, she wailed "I have stories in my head that need to get out!" A few nights later she wrote a follow up "The Avengers vs. Disney Princesses: This Could Be Close." Those gems, those "stories that need to get out" will never be handed in nor graded, and therefore are considered a superfluous use of "down time'. My daughter agonized over homework. Not because it was hard, but because after seven hours of school, more schoolwork was just so tedious. Plus, she's got these stories that need to get out, and homework stands in the way of their release.

My middle child willingly, dutifully, does her homework, but it exacts a toll on her. She trains three hours a day as a competitive gymnast. After seven hours of school, she immediately attacks her homework so that she can finish it all before heading to the gym. She has little time for much else, and frequently worries that she won't get her homework done. Because she is a straight A student, she gives the impression that it all comes easy to her, but it doesn't. She could really use some free time after school to do nothing, to be a kid while she still is one. I guess she could quit gymnastics, but why should she have to quit an after school interest in order to accommodate homework? It's after school! Why can't a kid do seven hours of school and then be free to do sports, or music, or PLAY, or whatever else they want to do in the evenings without having school infiltrate that time as well? Just because a kid does the homework without complaining doesn't mean it's benefiting them, and it doesn't mean it isn't causing some sort of stress either.

My oldest kid doesn't write books, and he isn't on a sports team, but he does follow current events, scientific discoveries and politics, more closely than most adults I know. During his "downtime" he likes to read up on what's happening in the world and discuss those topics, trying to learn even more. His feeling on homework? He doesn't see why he needs to do it since he knows the material, does well on tests and actively participates in class. From his perspective, he is giving what he's got seven hours a day in school. Why should he have to do more in the evenings when that time should be his own? It's not about the homework being difficult for him. It isn't. It's not about it being overly time consuming. It's not. It's a matter of principle. The school makes him do what they want him to do all day long. When he leaves, he'd like his time away from school to be his own. I think he makes a valid point. However, since a percentage of his grades are linked to homework, last year we battled it out most nights, me making him do his homework so his grades wouldn't suffer. I would have rather been discussing politics with him, getting an insight as to how my thirteen year old son viewed what was happening in the world, but after fighting about homework, neither one of us felt much like talking.

So, as another school year begins, I am anxiously hoping. Anxiously hoping that little if any homework muscles it's way into my home, commandeering time and energy away from my family. Along those lines, I also anxiously hope that the overseeing of three separate science fair projects this year won't drive me to drink and that the overseeing just one history fair project won't drive me to drink more. Homework. Yep. It's a good evening spoiled.

'Misconception' Reveals The Dark, Misleading World Of Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Thu, 2014-09-18 16:20
Some women looking for abortions are being misdirected to "clinics" that have no intention of providing them with such a service.

"Misconception," a short documentary from Vice News, looks at the phenomenon of "crisis pregnancy centers" (CPCs) -- organizations staffed by anti-abortion groups, usually religiously-based, that encourage women to follow through with their pregnancies, even if they have already decided to terminate.

Some crisis centers provide factually incorrect advice about the process of abortion and its aftermath, others use religious rhetoric to shame women for their choices. Many such centers receive government funding through federal grants or state programs. Vice estimates that in 2014, CPCs could now outnumber abortion clinics 5 to 1.

The film, produced by Allison Yarrow and Claire Ward, investigates the deceptive practices these "clinics" use. Misrepresenting themselves as abortion providers using manipulative tactics like engineering their pages to show up in online searches for "pregnancy symptoms" or situating themselves next to abortion clinics, CPCs reel women in under false pretenses. Often, as shown in the film, these clinics refuse to provide abortion pricing information over the phone, often only revealing that the procedure is not offered there after subjecting women to a "counseling session" and sonogram.

The idea for the documentary came from Yarrow's field reporting for a Newsweek feature, "The Abortion War's Special Ops," which follows anti-abortion activist Lila Rose and pro-abortion rights activist Katie Stack. Stack, who was herself referred to a crisis pregnancy center following an unplanned pregnancy, founded The Crisis Project, which investigates the "medical misinformation, emotional manipulation and religious doctrine" that CPCs commonly use.

In "Misconception," host Fazeelat Aslam attends the pro-life March For Life in Washington D.C., meets with a young woman in Texas who found herself at a crisis pregnancy center after searching for access to an abortion, and goes undercover with Stack to another CPC. Posing as Stack's aunt, Aslam films a counseling session in which Stack is advised against abortion.

"[Abortion] could never be safe, because it's so totally unnatural," an anonymous "counselor" tells Stack and Aslam. "Your body is meant to keep that baby, not to have someone put an instrument in and rip it out."

The film also features hidden camera footage from Stack's visits to other CPCs around the country, revealing some of the shocking things CPC workers have said to her.

"If people die due to an abortion, later on a lot of times they're finding parts of the fetus in like the lungs or the heart," one "counselor" says. (Hint: this is not true.)

Yarrow believes that "honest, well-run" crisis pregnancy centers have their place, but that the misrepresentation of their mission is unacceptable.

"Centers should reveal up front that they do not offer abortion services and that their counseling is inspired by an anti-abortion position and religious morals," she told The Huffington Post in an email. "We are all entitled to our own positions on abortion, but I bet many people disagree with taxpayer-funded deception."

Stack and other anti-CPC activists are pushing for CPCs to disclose that they do not provide abortions, so that women directed to these places are fully aware of the resources available to them. Raising awareness of this issue is working: organizations like Google have taken a stand, removing deceptive ads for CPCs from their search results.

"The best way to combat crisis pregnancy center deception is to know where these centers are located in your own hometown, and to inform other men and women in your community where they are and what they do," Yarrow told HuffPost. "Insist that your legislators support bills that require centers to adhere to truth in advertising standards."

Watch the full film above, and find out more about The Crisis Project here.

8 Ways to up Your Cocktail Game

Thu, 2014-09-18 15:39
National Drinks | Elyse Inamine

"Garnishes are an expression of a bartender's style," says Shinya Yamao of New York's Piora.

"My garnishes are very simple, but they act as a sub-ingredient for the cocktail," says Yamao, who stopped by TT HQ to show us how he cuts and arranges his twists on the twist.

Here, a few more inspirations for our next cocktail at home:

① Spice sachet. Billy Sunday, Chicago: Think of this as potpourri for your Harvey Wallbanger. Alex Bachman throws juniper, yarrow, lavender, star anise, vanilla, mace and cedar in a burlap swatch and clips it to the coupe to evoke Galliano's aroma.

② Watermelon spheres with mint and citrus. Piora, New York City: Yamao gets meta with a garnish on a garnish--the balled watermelon is topped with a mint sprig and lemon and lime tassels for his rye-bolstered Wear and Tear.

Drink Juleps All Year Long, No Mint Required

③ Orange slice. Piora: All you need is a sharp knife and nimble fingers for this delicately scored garnish.

④ Infused strawberries. Bourbon Steak, Los Angeles: How do you enhance whisky without compromising its flavor? By torching strawberries that have been macerated in crème de cacao, then slipping them under a glass to infuse them with the lingering smoke.

What to Sip Now: Late Summer Wines

⑤ Lemon slice. Piora: Yamao carefully cuts around the pith of a lemon slice to perch on the glass' lip.

⑥ Scored orange peel. Three Dots and a Dash, Chicago: "By scoring the citrus before carving off a swath, the peel retains its oils, which contribute to the cocktail's fragrance," says Paul McGee. Plus, the texture mimics the bar's decorative carved wood tikis.

Savor the Last Sips of Summer with a Refreshing Shrub

⑦ Lemon barrette. The Brooklynite, San Antonio: Local bartenders compete in informal "Garnish Wars." This triangular bad boy was Jeret Peña's winning move.

⑧ Beet rosette. Pouring Ribbons, New York City: The golden beet garnish serves as a visual contrast for the burgundy-hued Action Bronson and echoes the rose-infused whiskey it's made with.

Drink the best gin, vodka, and spirits from California wine country
When IPL Met Lager: An easy-to-love mix of two beer styles

Read more and live deliciously at

Riot Fest Music Festival 2014: Up Close (Photos)

Thu, 2014-09-18 14:53
This past weekend Riot Fest took over Chicago's Humboldt Park in celebration of their 10th year anniversary. The festival, which originated in Chicago, is known for their punk, rock, and more alternative lineups each year. This year, in celebration of their 10th year anniversary, 10 bands performed their classic albums in their entirety. This included: The Offspring performing Smash, Weezer performing the Blue Album, and The Descendents performing Milo Goes to College, Jane's Addiction performing Nothing's Shocking, Slayer performing Reign in Blood, Samhain performing Initium, NOFX performing Punk in Drublic, Naked Raygun performing Throb Throb, The Get Up Kids performing Something to Write Home About, and Cheap Trick performing Heaven Tonight.

In addition to these bands, the line up was heavily stacked with other genre-fitting performances, ranging from older bands like The Cure and The Buzzcocks, to SoCal punk rock staples Social Distortion, to South African group Die Antwoord, all the way to indie rock staples The National. Although Friday was filled with heavy rain and mud, the weather cleared up for Saturday and Sunday, but left Humboldt Park in a state of what seemed would be never ending mud.

All words and photographs by Lindsey Best.

Riot Fest, Day 1:

The Offspring

Stiff Little Fingers

Riot Fest, Day 2:

The National

The Afghan Whigs

The Buzzcocks

Die Antwoord

The Descendents


Wu-Tang Clan

The Orwells

The Pizza Underground


Paul Weller


Tokyo Police Club

Riot Fest, Day 3:

The Cure


Patti Smith

Social Distortion

Billy Bragg

Hot Snakes

Kurt Vile

Naked Raygun


Tegan and Sara

So You Have Health Insurance -- Now What?

Thu, 2014-09-18 14:45
More than half a million Illinoisans signed up for health insurance during the first open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). That's half a million people who now can rest easy knowing they're not a broken bone away from bankruptcy. And while thousands more Illinoisans still need to get covered, the newly insured should know how to best use their insurance.

I know the ACA has worked for my patients. Carlos, a 45-year-old single father of two, was working two jobs so he could put his kids through school. Neither of the jobs offered health insurance and Carlos couldn't afford private health insurance, which would have drained thousands of dollars from his savings every year. He had a strong family history of cardiac disease and diabetes but had no idea he was a heart attack away from losing everything. Because of the ACA, Carlos was able to qualify for Medicaid. Once he got coverage, he was able to get testing that showed he had nearly 80 percent blockage in his heart arteries. He was able to get treatment and, as a result, he will be able to continue to work and ensure his kids have a solid future.

ACA insurance plans cover preventive care like back-to-school immunizations and physicals. But your insurance only helps if you actually use it. Prevention reaps large dividends.

Maria, a mother of three with a strong family history of breast cancer, feared getting a mammogram even though screening was offered prior to ACA. Finding a doctor she could call her own made the difference. Thanks to the ACA she was ultimately able to get a mammogram and was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. If it hadn't been for the ACA, her family would have endured suffering and the system medical costs that were avoidable.

If you haven't had insurance in a while (or ever), you should utilize your new ACA benefits by finding a doctor covered by your health plan. Call your insurance company or visit its website, call your doctor's office to make sure your insurance is accepted, or look up local doctors' reviews and book an appointment online through websites like If you're enrolled in Medicaid, talk to your clinic, discuss the issue with patient navigators that are part of community-based organizations or talk to your public health community.

The Chicago Department of Public Health is working closely with community partners and Accountable Care entities through the Enroll Chicago initiative to ensure that prevention and public health opportunities are encouraged and simple to understand and access. This is an important strategy of Healthy Chicago, the city's first comprehensive public health agenda introduced by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2011.

For emergencies, your insurance company can't charge you more even if the hospital isn't in your network. You also can obtain a referral from your clinic prior to going to the emergency room to minimize costs.

For those still uninsured, the next open enrollment period begins on November 15, but you may not have to wait until then. People who experience a life change such as getting married or divorced, having a baby or adopting, moving or people who lose their current coverage may be eligible for a special enrollment period. If you think you qualify, visit immediately to learn more about your options. Or, prepare for the next open enrollment period with resources to estimate how much financial help you might qualify for or where you can find a free, trained professional to help you sign up.

Also, Illinoisans eligible for Medicaid can enroll any time at These resources make getting started that much easier - there is just no excuse to wait. Enrolling in health insurance is just the first step in taking care of your health. You owe it to your friends and family to take care of yourself.