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You'll Never Admit It, But You're Only Pretending To Like These 23 Things

Fri, 2014-07-11 10:50
One of the most popular and often-quoted mantras is "Honesty is the best policy." But what if you get so busy trying to be nice and cordial that you're not even honest with yourself? It happens. All your life, you've been nodding your head in agreement and saying you like to do things or go places, when you really just don't.

A recent Quora thread had people list things they (and most people) pretend so hard to like. We took some of their answers and added our own to create a master list of all the things you are only fake enjoying. So, take a look at this list, realize all the things in life you're lying to yourself (and others) about, and wonder just what you're going to do about it.

Don't get us wrong, seeing different places is great, but getting to them is another issue. Packing, airplanes, buses, cabs, etc. And deep down, you really don't like getting ripped off, being constantly stressed out, getting lost and then coming home to an empty bank account.

Uncomfortable clothes, long lines, sweat sandwiches, $20 drinks, all just to be seen by people. No thanks.

You get along great with the new people most of the time, but you can't shake that feeling that they are totally judging you. That's because they are.

You're afraid to be the one who speaks up during the "running conversation" and say that you actually dread tying up your sneakers and getting going on that run. Be brave though, because you're definitely not the only one thinking that.

Sure, those paint smears on that canvas are "open to interpretation." But how much time have you spent "interpreting" what they mean?

It was fun for about the first 10 minutes, but then you really got tired of about 50 people you've never even met telling you how "grown up" you've become. And don't even get us started on the "What are you doing with your life?" questions.

Look to your left. There's someone drinking green juice. Look to your right. Same thing. So you go ahead and pay $10 to sip a blended kale salad. You know you really hate it when you start using it as an alcohol mixer.

What's your favorite Shakespeare play? You may say "Hamlet," but you know that the real answer is "none."

Running around to attend family obligations, spending way too much money and fighting through crowds at the mall. 'Tis the season to be miserable and deal with this annual hassle.

Sure, you spend a good portion of your workday bookmarking recipes that you absolutely cannot wait to attack in your kitchen once the day is done. And then what happens when you get home? Yeah, that's what we thought. You order takeout.

You've burned your hand twice trying to rush around the kitchen to get everything perfect, and all you can think the whole time your guests are eating is if they are lying about it tasting "really good."

Yeah, you act like you really enjoy watching "Cosmos," but you know the whole time you were desperately wanting to change the channel to "Pawn Stars."

You forced yourself to almost finish "Infinite Jest" just to sound intelligent around all your other friends who also pretended to actually finish the book.

You do yoga about five days a week, but most of the time you have no idea what position the instructor is asking you to contort your body into, and you don't understand how everyone around you always seems to be so much better at this than you.

Yes, you grit your teeth and smile when your friend's kid jumps all over you and screams in your ear. After all, according to your friend, it's "so adorable." It's really not.

Don't get us wrong, we know you absolutely love the feeling wine provides. But can you really tell the difference between a Cab or a Merlot?

Do you really love ingesting something that makes you wince and feel like fire is burning through your entire body? Again, you love the feeling, but you would probably be grateful if there were a less painful way of getting very drunk really fast.

You have probably thought one or all of these three questions as you swallow an oyster:
1. Why are these so expensive if they are so small?
2. Why do people like these so much when all they just taste like is salt and ocean?
3. Why am I eating these when I really think they are nasty?

Everyone tries to act so pumped about teamwork and getting things done together, but think back to all those times you had to do a group project in high school and college. There was always that one person who ended up doing all the work. Who who was that one person? You, of course.

Your life is pretty much a mess but your best friend just got engaged, got a raise and just found the house of her dreams. You're so happy for her. Yes, you're happy, but mostly envious.

We don't know about you, but after a certain act, cuddling is kind of the last thing we want to do. We're hot and we've had enough touching for the moment. Also, who actually likes sleeping while hugging someone? Every time you attempt this act, you wake up on completely opposite sides of the bed anyway.

Your friend: What do you think of these shoes?
You: They are absolutely hideous and I would never wear them.

That's what you wish you could say in a situation like that. But you know you can't.

Oh, the irony! While you wish you could be honest about your friend's sartorial choices, you actually hate when other people tell you the truth about yourself. Because the truth hurts. And that's a pain you would like to avoid at all costs.

Every State in the USA, Ranked By Its Food and Drink

Fri, 2014-07-11 10:44

During America Week, a parlor game emerged among our editors, in which we discussed what state we'd want to eat and drink in for the rest of our lives if we couldn't move anywhere else. And, in order to prove each other wrong, we began to research, then really research, and then began to get deep into some weird food forums, and, at the end of it all, we realized we needed to do the most research possible and turn this into a story.

So here is what we did: we ranked states by the food/drink available in that state, focusing on four key questions: 1) What did they produce (beef, oranges, ugh, sorghum?), 2) What iconic items were they known for (key lime pie? onion burgers?), 3) What is their beer/wine/spirits production like (great breweries/wineries?), and finally 4) What is the food/drink scene like in their cities? Weighing all those factors, here is our by-no-means-scientific ranking. If you disagree and want to tell us how stupid our faces are, well, that's what Internet commenting forums are all about:

50. South Dakota
When you Google "South Dakota and food," an image of a hungry child crying comes up, and then the computer goes black.

49. North Dakota
This could have been at 50. We flipped a coin.

48. Utah
You pride yourself on your secret "fry sauce," which is just the same ketchup and mayo hybrid one finds at burger joints everywhere. But at least you have really arcane liquor laws!

47. Iowa
Your most iconic food is meat that a person was too lazy to pack together.

46. Delaware
Putting aside the false rumors that you actually have BLUE HENS, Dogfish Head is the only thing keeping you out of the Dakota zone.

45. West Virginia
Does moonshine count as food? No? Oh.

44. Wyoming

43. Nebraska
Your football team is named after corn preparation. So that's something?

42. New Hampshire
Everyone is too busy planning out which NASCAR T-shirt they're going to wear to vote in the primaries two years from now to cook... all those apples lying around rotting in their yards next to all those old Paul Tsongas campaign signs.

41. Indiana
Hoosiers pride themselves on a shrimp cocktail at this one steakhouse that has, like, really spicy cocktail sauce! Try the famous pork tenderloin sandwiches! Are you asleep yet? When you wake up, someone probably will have taken you to a [INSERT LITERALLY ANY FAST-FOOD CHAIN].

More: The unofficial comfort foods of every state in America

40. Montana
It has some sneakily good breweries and unfettered access to freshly ground bison meat. But still... Montana. A rich man's Wyoming, one might say.

39. Idaho
Have you ever bitten into a potato fresh out of the ground? Us neither, but it's probably better or something?

38. Alaska
When you're not eating wolves that Sarah Palin shot out of a helicopter, we will admit that your fresh salmon and crab legs are not without their charms.

37. Arkansas
If someone in South Dakota moved here, they would be in foodie heaven. But Arkansas lacks the dominant iconic Southern foods of literally all their neighbors to the South. They do have pretty good cheese dip and possum pie, though.

36. Kansas
EDITOR'S NOTE: We have made the grave error of suggesting that Oklahoma Joe's is in Missouri and not Kansas, and we apologize. YOU HAVE GREAT BBQ! YOU'RE BACK, KANSAS.

35. Rhode Island
You've got frozen lemonade, grilled pizzas, serviceable Italian food, and Narragansett. Which would be fine, if you didn't also have the worst of all styles of clam chowder.

34. Arizona
Allegedly inventing the chimichanga and deciding to deep-fry a burrito definitely counts for something. Phoenix has AT LEAST one solid restaurant amidst all the chains (Pizzeria Bianco!). If you happen to be a minority, drop Arizona 13 spots.

33. New Mexico
We don't blame you for putting that green chile all over everything: it's quite tasty, but that's only going to take you so far, friends.

32. Virginia
Virginia is for lovers, country ham aficionados, and wishing that BBQ you're eating had come from North Carolina.

31. Connecticut
If you didn't have one incredible pizza town, a corridor of somewhat adorable steamed cheeseburger joints, and pretty good Jamaican food in Hartford, you -- like Darien-native Topher Grace -- would be, AT BEST, in the middle 30s.

30. Nevada
On the one hand, you have Las Vegas, in which every single food and drink that Bacchus could ever imagine is available, thanks to its status as Famous Chef Heaven, a place where well-known chefs inevitably go once their aversion to selling out has died. On the other hand, like the chefs themselves, all that food/booze is flown in from Not-Nevada. Sorry, Carrot Top.

29. Oklahoma
You can spend a lot of time on food sites reading about people debating Oklahoma's signature dish. Is it the onion burger? BBQ? Fried catfish? Or what? And just the fact that people aren't quite sure (look, it is the damn onion burger, okay?!), is enough to keep OK from moving anywhere farther down the road. Also, don't you think it's saying something that Oklahoma Joe's isn't actually in Oklahoma?

28. Ohio
Birthplace of Wendy's and corporate home of White Castle! Now that's a double threat. Other than that, you've got a rather questionable style of chili and several restaurants from Iron Chef Michael Symon (also host of ABC's The Chew!). Also noteworthy: Cleveland has some serious beer game, and the state turns out some impressive ice cream from the likes of Jeni's and Graeter's.

27. Vermont
If the goal of life was to eat cheddar cheese and maple syrup while drinking delicious craft beers that kind of taste like apricots, Vermont would be number one. But since the goal of life is actually to acquire a reality television show and then your own line of stylish, yet practical dish towels, Vermont is only 27.

26. New Jersey
Despite all the negative PR brought on by its citizenry, New Jersey is actually something of a poor man's New York, particularly when it comes to Italian food. Which trumps being a poor man's Wyoming.

See how the other 25 states ranked -- including which state is #1 for food/drink -- all on!

More from Thrillist:

33 of the Best, Most Iconic American Foods

The single best item at every US fast-food chain

Follow Thrillist on Twitter:

16 People We've All Gotten Dinner With

Fri, 2014-07-11 10:02
Going out to dinner with your people can be a nice change of pace from eating macaroni and cheese at home, but it never fails that the friends you normally cherish outside of a restaurant quickly turn into one or more of the unsavory characters described below.

1. The person who refuses to have an opinion (until a decision is made)
He or she doesn't have a taste for anything in particular and doesn't care where you go to eat... until you choose Olive Garden and endure a temper tantrum about the farce of American-style Italian food and the perils of carbohydrate consumption.

2. The person who won't try anything new
Getting a bite at that cool new restaurant that opened? Forget about it. There's always one person who would rather eat at Giordano's for the rest of his or her life rather than venture out of his or her comfort zone.

3. The person who ruins appetizers
Your table will have unanimously decided on getting the chicken quesadillas, and you'll be imagining that first bite when...

"Oh wait. Can we get it without tomatoes, pico de gallo, guacamole and sour cream?"

You subdue yourself enough to keep from flipping the table over, but the one who ruins appetizers decides to add insult to injury: "We can just get it on the side or something."

Real talk: Ingredients on the side are not the same as ingredients on the food item. There's a psychological difference that impacts the taste. Picky appetizer people ruin meals (and lives).

4. The person who wants to share dessert
"Want to split the cookie sundae?"


NO!!!!!!!!!!!!! We all know each dessert sharer is not going to get an equal portion, and you probably got a salad just so you'd have room for dessert. If you're not able to consume a full dessert on your own, you don't need dessert at all.

5. The person who gets embarrassingly upset about the server's behavior
Five minutes will have passed since you ordered drinks, and suddenly, your partner in crime is questioning the server's credentials and threatening to talk to the manager.

6. The person who needs too many condiments (and freaks out when they're forgotten)
"Can I get maple syrup for my fries and a side of balsamic dressing for my sandwich?"

Ten minutes after the food arrives.


7. The person who gets skeptical about splitting the bill with two credit cards because he or she doesn't want to pay
So you forgot to ask for separate checks, and neither of you has any cash. You take out your card and tell your fellow diner you'll ask the server to split it when...

"I don't know if they can do that. I don't know... Maybe we should just put it on one card. I could always just pay you back?"

8. The person who will "get the next one"
A rare breed that survives from the bartering days, the person who will "get the next one" likes to order four cocktails, two appetizers, the surf 'n turf and the chocolate soufflé and then spring their "get the next one" shenanigans on you once the bill comes.

9. The person who somehow forgot to bring his or her wallet

10. The person who's literally eating all of your fries
It started innocently with a, "I'm stealing a fry, hehe," but now this person is taking handfuls of fries at a time because suddenly, their quinoa seems a lot less appetizing than it did before.

11. The person who's offering you the gross stuff on his or her plate
"Want my turnips?"

The turnips? No. You don't want them for a reason, and I feel the same way.

12. The person who's sharing a bite of his or her food, but they're putting it on your plate next to some food item(s) you don't want it to touch

13. The person who's seriously too picky to eat out
"I just have a question about the menu... who supplies your Parmesan cheese? Do local farms provide your meat? Is your entire kitchen gluten free? Where are your vegan alternatives? What does 'medium well' mean to you? Has the restaurant had any health code violations in the past 90 days?"

14. The person who under-tips
I don't what you've heard about this person, but you can't get a dollar out of them to contribute to the tip your server deserves.

15. The person who snatches the bill and determines what everyone else owes
No one elected this person your table's comptroller, yet here they are hogging the bill, trying to impress everyone with their basic computation skills. Ironically, someone else is always paying for this individual, too.

16. The person who insists on sitting at a booth or table
Whenever the restaurant has 50 open tables, it's inevitable that you'll be dining with someone who plainly refuses to sit anywhere but in a booth. It's even worse when you see several spacious booths perfectly suited for your group, but one naysayer (who will have to use the restroom at some point during the meal) will complain about being "trapped on the inside" and insist on sitting at a table. And let's not even mention people who unilaterally refuse to eat inside May through October.

What Life in Chicago and Nairobi Taught Me About Stress

Fri, 2014-07-11 09:42
NPR News has been doing an awesome series on stress in America. (Check it out, here.)

It's been particularly interesting for me to listen to right now because my own level of stress is the lowest it's been in years. Having spent time in some of the most stressful places on earth, I now live with my family in an incredibly peaceful setting. I feel lucky and grateful to be in such a good place and it's especially humbling to consider that good fortune in the context of an American society that seems almost perfectly engineered to stress out its citizenry.

As a nation of immigrants and migrants, we're a people -- voluntarily or involuntarily -- separated from our support systems and families of origin. And we've built that dynamic into our national identity: we move from place to place, in pursuit of education and opportunity, leaving behind what is familiar.

Our minimal social safety net, along with our expensive, largely private health care system and the absence of any kind of readily available public child care means that many of us face life's most daunting tasks -- those of raising children and caring for the sick -- alone. We're stressed by how much it all costs, how much of our energy it requires and how easily the arrangements we do make can fall apart because our circumstances allow us so little room for error.

I saw this dynamic played out, time and time again, in Chicago, where lives lived in neighborhoods with little economic infrastructure sometimes collapse under a cascade of bad luck and bad choices. I remember one mom, enrolled in a welfare-to-work program I was writing about, who left her baby with a relative while she took job-skill training classes. The elderly caregiver accidentally burned the baby with too-hot bath water, setting off a series of escalating catastrophes. First, the young woman got kicked out of the training program for a series of unexcused absences while caring for her injured son. Then, she lost some of her benefits because she was no longer taking the classes. From there, things just got worse.

Many of the women I wrote about in the Mathare and Kibera slums of Nairobi had similar stories, though they had access to even fewer basic resources. Having left behind their rural villages for the dim promise of urban prosperity, they had little to fall back on when trouble arose. And trouble always arose. Families migrating to cities around the globe find themselves facing this same kind of "American" stress: the boot-kick to the gut you get when you can't quite manage to pull yourself up by the bootstrap.

Scientists are only now coming to realize the impact that all of this has on us: the way one crisis exhausts us, then leaves us vulnerable to making mistakes that lead to further crises. We understand, increasingly, that the so-called cycle of poverty is, at least in part, a physical phenomenon, a manifestation of stress.

Weirdly, our bodies don't seem to be particularly good at making distinctions between the different types and levels of stress. So the millionaire, cash-poor and slightly over-extended after the purchase of another vacation home, experiences some of the same physical and mental symptoms as the single, working mom who is scraping together rent money and falling behind on her utility bills. Morally, ethically, and intellectually, this is, of course, preposterous. But the anxiously elevated heartbeats keeping each of them awake at night don't have moral, ethical and intellectual dimensions. We have to add those elements, consciously using our brains to consider them. We count on the millionaire to have enough self-awareness to recognize that his worries are not the stuff of life and death, while we apply our compassion to policy measures, like earned income tax credits and the low income home energy assistance program, meant to give a helping hand to the struggling mom.

I wonder, though, if our brains can be counted on to deliver self-awareness and compassion in reliable doses.

Keeping up, online and through my networks of friends, with recent events in both nearby Chicago and far-away Kenya, I have frequent reality checks on just how good I have it, here in a prosperous Wisconsin small town. And, even still, I find myself thinking it "stressful" to have kids playing in simultaneous Little League games in two different parks. Or to have to take a conference call during an afternoon otherwise devoted to hanging out with my kids. I should, of course, know better and, yes, I am frequently appalled by my own selfishness.

The opportunities of my life have afforded me tremendous perspective on my own privilege, which, while not exactly the same thing as wisdom - still very much searching for that, alas -- is a great means for examining and dealing with my own stress.

First and foremost, I know enough to take a step back and acknowledge that I have never, ever had it "hard." Probably never will. I am in no way more or less deserving of the lucky breaks that have put me in this position, but I am here, nonetheless.

Second, though my feelings of stress are real -- I have a business to run and children to raise, and responsibilities that have consequences -- so, too, are the tools I have to deal with them. There's no merit in suffering when I can use the resources at my disposal to make things easier. If it's within my means to make a problem go away, by hiring help or streamlining a process, I do. I am learning to let go of the guilt associated with outsourcing and self-care.

Third and finally, I am rebuilding the village that my modern lifestyle had dismantled. I don't live near my parents or grandparents; I don't have siblings as a part of my daily life. But I have friends and neighbors from across the generations who can offer their wisdom, insight and support when I need it. They've helped me though the polar vortex, a couple of tornado warnings and any number of other near-disasters of my own making.

There's no question that life is stressful, but, for most of us lucky enough to be reading here, our stresses are not the life-and-death struggles of urban war zones and developing world slums. We worry about our health, that of our family, about money and our kids' futures. But we don't have to let these worries isolate us. We can find, even within our darkest troubles, opportunities to connect with one another.

And when we have done that, when we find ourselves with a moment to breathe a little easier, perhaps we can set ourselves to the task of making the world just a little bit better for those who are not so lucky.

Have a $50,000 Wedding on a $3,000 Budget: 8 Great Secrets to a Hip and Affordable Wedding

Fri, 2014-07-11 09:11
Pick up any wedding magazine these days and you will surely think that you need to find a money tree to shake to be able to afford a nice wedding. How about Mr. and Mrs. Kanye West? If you have a spare $14-$20 million, sure you can have a wedding of the century. Let's be honest though. How many of us can afford something as grand, and is it even necessary?

Does the sound of a "budget" wedding make you cringe? For me, it conjures up images of dollies, chocolate covered almonds, bubbles, and food that should be used as doorstops instead of being consumed by humans.

I was recently married in November, in what I consider my dream wedding. We had an ocean view, beautiful music, amazing food, and a signature drink to knock your socks off. I will let you in on a little secret... we had all of that and more for 70 people for a jaw-dropping $3,000. Yes, you read that right. Just $3,000.

You simply don't need to bankrupt yourself or your parents to have a hip and affordable wedding. Actually, it's quite silly to do so, even if you have the money. Think of all the things you could do with $50,000:

● Feed many small nations
● Down payment for a new house
● Pay off your student loans
● Take a round-the-world trip of a lifetime
● Start a new business
● ...and so much more

Your wedding should be about your marriage and not about the wedding, but I do understand the pressures to create an amazing event. After all, it should be one of the best days in your life.

Ready, Set, Let's Get Wed:

Rule number one to bring your wedding in on budget is to actually have a budget! This shouldn't come as a shock to you, but you would be surprised at the amount of people that simply forget this important step. Know your numbers -- know what you can spend, and where it is coming from, where it is going, and be as detailed as possible.

The Eight Great Ideas:

1. Location, Location, Location -- You are no stranger to those words in real estate, but this is where you can save massive amounts of money for your wedding. Does a friend have a killer backyard you could borrow? Are you friends with a restaurant owner and you could use the space on their day off? Do you have a special skill or talent that you could barter for a free or reduced cost wedding venue. Look at who and what is around you and I guarantee you can find an amazing venue for next to nothing.

Price Tag: $0

2. The Dress -- Girls, this one is for you. I know that when you pick up your copy of Martha Stewart weddings you drool with desire over the designer gowns. Pish Posh! You can do just as good, without the crazy price tag. Look for a dress hanging on the rack that fits you. Offer a cash payment to drop the price even lower.

Another great idea is to either rent your dress, or if you have a friend that wore a killer dress, ask if you can buy it from her. You would be amazed at what a little altering can do!

Price Tag: $500

3. Vacation on My Mind 0- Do you suffer from wanderlust -- an endless desire to travel? If you are like my husband and me, skip the wedding gifts that you will probably return anyway, and register for something super special. We used honeymoonwishes for our wedding honeymoon registry, and were able to go on an amazing trip to Paris instead of receiving the traditional household gifts. You can register for a trip anywhere in the world and give your guests a special code to login and make a contribution. The money gets deposited in a banking or savings account that you specify in a matter of days.

Price Tag: $0

4. Ready For My Close Up -- Pictures is another place where you are likely to demolish your budget if you don't be careful. However, with the advances in technology and the amazing cameras on cellphones, you have no excuses anymore.

Companies like Eversnap are your wedding budget's best friend. Guests can snap pictures all night long and upload them to your custom site. You can have the advantage of many different photographers. Then, hire a professional photographer for a few hours to fill in and round out your pictures.

Price Tag: $250-$500

5. Let's Eat -- Ah, back to the stale food. Not at our wedding, and you shouldn't suffer as well. Don't be afraid to go against the grain here. We hired an amazing wood burning pizza truck to make gourmet pizzas at half the price of a caterer, but double the hip factor. To round this out we had an amazing neighbor who made all the gourmet appetizers at cost. Honestly, if you put your mind to it, you can be both inventive and budget conscious without your guests even knowing. Trust me, their bellies will thank you!

Price Tag: $700

6. Twistin' The Night Away -- I promise that you don't need to spend thousands on a band or a DJ to have an awesome dance party at your wedding. Here's what you need: good speakers, a mixing deck if you can get access to it, and an IPod loaded with some great dance songs. Pay a friend to be your DJ. The important focus should be on your guests having a good time, and after a few cocktails, they won't notice if you had a six-piece band or a great playlist.

Price Tag: $100

7. Let's Accentuate -- Everyone loves the smell of fresh flowers at a wedding, but gone are the days of needing a flower to cover every service at your wedding. Think of flowers and decor as "accentuaters," not the main feature. One of the best secrets is to set aside some money and go to a local flower shop, flower mart, or even the local grocery store the day of your wedding. You may not get exactly what you have your heart set on, but I guarantee you will have plenty of options at a fraction of the price. Plus, if you choose a great backyard for a wedding the chances are you won't need many flowers all.

Some of the best wedding accessories such as candles, candle holders, and vases can be found at the 99-Cent store. I swear by it! No one would even know that you only spent $50 and were able to adorn every table with sweet smelling candles and funky vases.

Price Tag: $250

8. Put a Ring on It -- Yes, I know, this is where I may lose you. Wedding rings are the symbol of marriage and they come in every shape and size. Some shinier than others. Being creative with your cash doesn't stop here. There are so many deals and opportunities to get a "good" ring for decent price.

If you've been paying attention at all the last few years, the price of gold is very high. Right now it is jumping up and down around $1300 per ounce! What does this mean to you? If you have any old gold jewelry laying around this is your lucky day. Gather up all your pieces and take them to a reputable jewelry store and ask them how much you could get for your pieces. Chances are you might be able to sell your old pieces, if you care to part with them, and have enough money to get a shiny new ring. Maybe even the whole wedding set.

Price Tag: $500-$1000

It is quite possible to stun your guests with a hip and stylish wedding that is affordable at the same time. There are no prizes for the most money spent on a wedding. You won't get your picture in a fancy magazine either. All you are left with is an empty bank account. Hopefully with these simple strategies you can start imagining your wedding, with all the glitz and glamour, at a fraction the price.

Hobby Lobby Wants To Control Which Bathroom A Transgender Woman Can Use, Too

Fri, 2014-07-11 08:14

Meggan Sommerville

In the days after the Supreme Court handed Hobby Lobby a sweeping victory in its fight to not provide employee health insurance that covers certain kinds of birth control, many customers came into the store in Aurora, Illinois, where Meggan Sommerville works, and offered their congratulations.

Hobby Lobby is a chain of craft stores whose founder says he tries to run the company in accordance with his Christian principles. Sommerville has worked there for 16 years. She loves her job and the store, which she said pays a good wage and carries supplies that she’s used for many of her own crafting projects.

Still, the congratulations from customers were hard to swallow. "I'd smile and nod and say, 'Yes, it's a victory for the company,' and then I'd push my real feelings down and not think about it anymore."

Sommerville is a transgender woman, and back in 2011, she filed a complaint against Hobby Lobby with the Illinois Department of Human Rights after the company refused to allow her to use the women's bathroom either as a customer or an employee.

She was never given an explanation. But Sommerville said she sees a connection with Hobby Lobby's argument that Christian principles should excuse it from covering some contraceptives.

"I don't believe that any company has the right to deny access to appropriate medical care, same as the reason why I don't believe that they have the right to deny me access to the washroom," she said in a recent phone call with The Huffington Post. "No company has the right to dictate what is decided between me and my doctor."

Sommerville transitioned to living as a woman in 2010. For the most part, colleagues and management were supportive, trying their best to use her new name and the right pronoun. That summer, she formally changed her name in court and received a new Social Security card and driver's license. A month later, Hobby Lobby provided her with a new name tag that finally matched how she saw herself.

But management refused to budge on one issue: They insisted that Sommerville continue to use the men's restroom. According to Sommerville, she was told she would only be allowed to use the women's restroom if she provided proof that she had undergone genital reconstructive surgery. Neither the state of Illinois nor the federal government require this surgery for a person to legally change his or her gender.

"I was devastated," Sommerville said. "I just want to be treated like all the other women. To do anything else diminishes who I am in the eyes of customers and employees."

Going to the bathroom became an embarrassing ordeal, where she was constantly worried about outing herself to customers or colleagues who didn't know her history. "There have been a few times when a customer has come in and I have essentially been trapped in the stall while I wait for the person to leave," she said. "The stories of trans women that have come under attack are always on my mind when I am forced to use the men's room. At the very least, I don't want to make a scene."

Sommerville's human rights complaint alleges that the company discriminated against her and "subjected her to unequal terms and conditions due to her gender identity." Through a representative, Hobby Lobby declined to comment on her case, which is still awaiting a ruling from the Illinois Human Rights Commission.

Hobby Lobby has not argued that religious principles influenced its refusal to allow Sommerville to use the women's bathroom. But her lawyer, Jacob Meister, pointed to a recent article on how Hobby Lobby, its executives and affiliated companies are pouring millions of dollars into organizations and causes that seek to advance conservative Christian values and oppose lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

"I think the facts speak for themselves. Hobby Lobby has very actively sought to impose what it believes the law should be wherever possible, and it has thrown a lot of money behind these efforts," Meister said.

"I have absolutely no possible explanation for why they would so flagrantly ignore what's very clear in Illinois law," Meister continued. "Meggan is a female, she's been full-time for many years, and they will not allow her to use the women's restroom, which is something that is afforded to every female employee that they have except for Meggan, every female customer they have except for transgender folk."

In the weeks since the Supreme Court's June 30 ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, LGBT advocates and legal experts have picked over Justice Samuel Alito Jr.'s majority opinion, trying to gauge whether it gives corporations or institutions with religious affiliations carte blanche to discriminate against LGBT individuals.

Ilona Turner, legal director at the Transgender Law Center, said she thinks that it does not. Still, she said, "I could imagine that employers will attempt nonetheless to try to push the boundaries of that decision, to argue that their religious values give them a right to discriminate."

Sommerville's issue is one of the most common faced by transgender people in the workplace, Turner said. While religion is not often mentioned explicitly in connection with lawsuits arising from similar scenarios, it is often "in the background," she said.

Last year, California passed a law allowing transgender students to use facilities and participate in programs in accordance with their gender identity. That has fueled fears among conservative Christian groups that the rest of the states would soon follow.

After Phoenix, Arizona, passed a similar law in February 2013, Joseph LaRue, a lawyer with the Alliance Defending Freedom, a national Christian legal organization, wrote a blog post calling the measure "appalling" and arguing that it "provided voyeurs and other sexual predators easy access to the places where children and women are most vulnerable." According to Salon, the Alliance Defending Freedom is one of the groups heavily funded by Hobby Lobby profits.

Sommerville, a Christian herself, hopes that her human rights complaint may help change the culture at Hobby Lobby, at least on this particular issue. "I think any time somebody stands up for their rights to be respected, to be treated equally, it can make a change."

Eat Well, Illinois!

Fri, 2014-07-11 08:07
A few weeks ago, we shared with you the 30 top-rated restaurants in the biggest metropolitan areas of the state, and you said you wanted to hear about some restaurants in downstate Illinois. Here are 30 more of the top-rated restaurants within the moderate price range ($$) in six of the biggest communities in southern Illinois, based on Yelp reviews.
Metro East St. Louis
Cleveland-Heath (Edwardsville)
Type: American

Rating: four-and-a-half stars

Sample review: " I started with their Deviled Eggs app, seasoned with just the right amount of hot sauce, parmesan, and paprika. Next I chose their Beet Salad. Mixed beautifully with baby beets, grilled scallions, sesame yogurt, pistachio, and candied lemon. (Yes, pistachio!) It all worked to create great flavors."
Peel Wood Fired Pizza (Edwardsville)
Type: Pizza

Rating: four stars

Sample review: "We went twice. Ordered maple bourbon wings, Caribbean wings and the brie pizza. The second time we got Alfredo wings, Thai wings and a BBQ pineapple pizza. Both times everything was great. The pizza is a little limp in the middle but otherwise good.  The brie pizza was clearly the stand out."
Sushi Tatsu (Fairview Heights)
Type: Sushi

Rating: four-and-a-half stars

Sample review: "Don't be turned off by the exterior. The sushi there is great and the quantity and quality is top notch. This will be our go to sushi spot from now on."
The Egg & I (O'Fallon)
Type: Breakfast & Brunch

Rating: four stars

Sample review: "Had the corn beef hash. Awesome! Served very hot. Take your time eating this. Had my eggs basted & they were perfect. They have Apple Butter for my English The Jalapeño sauce is great alternative to Tabasco."
Osaka Sushi Cafe (Granite City)
Type: Sushi, Japanese

Rating: four stars

Sample review: "The rolls are well prepared, you can tell the chef/owner has been making sushi for a very long time. The place is small and cozy, the service isn't very fast, but the wait in 100% worth it. Fresh fish, good Miso soup, great ginger dressing on the salad."
Quad Cities
Lemongrass Cafe (Moline)
Type: Asian fusion

Rating: four-and-a-half stars

Sample review: " I always get the tom yum with shrimps, and the gra pow which is a minced chicken stir fried with basil and veggies, then topped with this super crispy fried egg. The cool part is, the yolk still runs though the edges are so crispy. The gra pow is really hot!! My mouth will burn and stomach will be on fire each time! So good!!"
Blue Cat Brewpub (Rock Island)
Type: Pub

Rating: four stars

Sample review: "The food here is really great. The cheese dip in particular is delicious and very unique. The menu is big and has a lot of creative offerings. So I definitely recommend coming here for dinner. However, their beer is just awful. We've tried almost every kind, on several different visits, and without fail they have all been flat, warm, and completely unlike whatever style they claim to be."
Osaka Buffet (Moline)
Type: Japanese

Rating: four stars

Sample review: "Osaka Buffet has so many choices for sushi, it is phenomenal for the price you pay to eat here. They even have sashimi! The fish is really fresh and delicious, unlike other buffets that have poor, sketchy sushi."
La Rancherita (Rock Island)
Type: Mexican

Rating: four stars

Sample review: "The service staff is quick, the food is good and the prices are reasonable. This isn't Americanized Mexican food, rather this is more authentic."
Cafe Fresh (Moline)
Type: Sandwiches

Rating: four stars

Sample review: "The food was very good. We ordered the strawberries berry salad. It came with grilled chicken, cranberries, cashews, but I didn't find one strawberries in the salad. Also asked for tomatoes on just one and neither of them had tomatoes on them. Over all it was a good salad though."
Ephesus (Bloomingotn)
Type: Turkish

Rating: four-and-a-half stars

Sample review: " I tried their Soslu Patlican, a cold appetizer made out of eggplants and the Lahana Dolmasi for dinner (cabbage stuffed with lamb, beef, and rice). The appetizer was delicious with their pita bread. Their Turkish tea is also great. It's served hot, unsweetened and has a wonderful spiced aroma/taste."
Thai House (Bloomington)
Type: Thai

Rating: four stars

Sample review: "The Thai red curry chicken that comes with noodle was really awesome! Fried wonton was not so great so would not order that again.  No biggie. Gyoza was very good!!!! Definitely will go back."
Destihl Restaurant & Brew Works (Normal)
Type: American, Brewery

Rating: four stars

Sample review: "My fiance and I ordered the pretzels to start off, and man oh man were they good pretzels.  I know, pretzels sound like a weird thing to get at a restaurant but I was really satisfied with them. I ordered the jumbalaya for my entree and it was good, too.  Not my favorite dish ever but definitely well done in my opinion.  She got the steak salad and really loved it."
Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano (Bloomington)
Type: Italian

Rating: four stars

Sample review: "The food is great, but the soup spoons are to die for. So many reviewers focus on the food. That's too bad because Biaggi's has the best soup spoons around. Their spoons just don't get the attention that they deserve."

Lucca Grill (Bloomington)
Type: Pizza

Rating: four stars

Sample review: "Classic Bloomington Normal restaurant and bar. Seating downstairs or up and lots of nostalgia on the walls to look at. Italian theme and great appetizers, stuffed ravioli, antipasto plate. Thin crust pizza is the best you will find anywhere."
Il Forno
Type: Italian

Rating: four-and-a-half stars

Sample review: "Best pizza in Decatur, by FAR.  Everything is fresh, authentic Italian toppings, and can't beat a pizza crust from a wood oven.  Forget other midwest "pizza" joints in town and go straight to Il Forno."
Fuji Japanese Steakhouse
Type: Sushi bar

Rating: four stars

Sample review: "The ONLY place you should be eating Sushi at in Decatur, IL.  Service is a bit slow but overall the staff is very nice. The sushi is fresh and portions are great! The lunch specials are really good and definitely try the Ramen noodle soups, those are excellent and very filling!"
Beach House
Type: Seafood

Rating: four stars

Sample review: "Most of the dishes are dressed up versions of American classics, but are much improved by the use of fresh, highest quality ingredients. The seafood menu is extensive and delicious. Truly gourmet seafood options are available (in addition to the standard options, such as tilapia, salmon, and crab cakes)."
Jasmine Thai Restaurant & Sushi Bar
Type: Sushi bar

Rating: four stars

Sample review: "Peaceful dining environment with a lovely water feature. Fresh rolls were crisp cool and tasty. Both dishes were cooked to order and served piping hot.  Ingredients were fresh and colorful."
Paco's Sol Bistro
Type: American

Rating: three-and-a-half stars

Sample review: "My "go to" meal is the shrimp tortilla (chipotle-glazed shrimp, avocado spread, jack cheese, corn salsa) which is wonderful. The chicken wrap is good, but it has gotten a little heavy on spice the past few times I have tried it so I have shied away from it as of late. I absolutely LOVE the chipotle glaze they put on their burgers. Also, their chips, salsa, and guac are awesome!"
The Wine Tap
Type: Wine bar

Rating: four-and-a-half stars

Sample review: "I think you've got to get the baked brie if you find yourself there. Good pastry/bread crust with a small wheel of brie inside.  Add honey, nuts and dried fruit and it becomes amazing."
Type: American

Rating: four stars

Sample review: "Though it's an overused term, there really is something for everyone. Pumpkin patches, apple orchards, berry fields... and a tractor trailer to pull you around the sprawling property in charming fashion. And just when you think you've experienced it all, the smells of home-cooked comfort food beckon you to one of the two restaurants on the property. The best part of our meal? The housemade biscuits with Eckert's own apple butter! Seriously - I couldn't put them down."
Tavern on Main
Type: Bar

Rating: four stars

Sample review: "Lunch buffet is $9 and consists of soups, salads, pastas, pizza, and desserts. The soups were okay (I tried the corn chowder and the tomato bisque)...they were nothing to write home about, but the pizza really hit the spot. They are thin crust, and they put out a medley of offerings from veggie to sausage to cheese to pepperoni."
Korean Garden Grill
Type: Korean

Rating: four-and-a-half stars

Sample review: "We had Yaki Mandu, Fried Korean Dumplings for an appetizer.  They were served with two slices of cooked, seasoned tofu, seasoned zucchini, and kimchi on the side. Entrees were bulgogi (beef) and dak bulgogi (chicken).  Everything was served fresh and hot and very prompt.  The owner also served us a kimchi pancake since it was our first visit.  Everyone working there seemed interested in making sure we enjoyed ourselves."
Papa Vito's
Type: Pizza

Rating: four stars

Sample review: "Such a good place to get an excellent pizza.  The service is the only thing that keeps this place from getting a full five stars from me.  And I don't think that's a reflection on the wait staff, rather they always seem to be incredibly busy.  We always tend to have to wait for drinks.  But, the pizza always comes to our table piping hot, and good, hot pizza is why we're there."
Monical's Pizza
Type: Pizza

Rating: three-and-a-half stars

Sample review: "Unique thin crust pizza is what Monicals is all about. Get a salad with their French dressing or their light French dressing. But watch our-- it's and Unbelievably addictive flavor."
Buffalo Wild Wings
Type: Sports bar

Rating: three stars

Sample review: "Buffalo Wild Wings is THE PLACE to eat in Danville. I love going here with my friends to enjoy great tasting wings and beer. "
Red Lobster
Type: Seafood

Rating: four-and-a-half stars

Sample review: "We eat here a few times a year and almost never disappointed. I ordered the tilapia and my wife got 3 types of shrimp.  our food was cooked to order with fast and courteous service. My wife didnt care for her coconut shrimp but i loved it (and ate it all off of her plate to prove the point)."
Deluxe Restaurant
Type: American

Rating: two-and-a-half stars

Sample review: "The food was passable.  I have chili and a philly steak sandwich, both were average.  Good portion sizes and reasonable prices."
Garfield's Restaurant and Pub
Type: Salad

Rating: two stars

Sample review: "Typical chain restaurant.  Food is good, nothing spectacular.  Restaurant is clean and management interacts with the guests."
NEXT ARTICLE: Let's eat: What's your favorite restaurant in Illinois? (Part I)

  1. Safest hospitals in Illinois

  2. Weird place names in Illinois

  3. Why we need to commit again to redistricting reform

  4. Illinois fireworks displays by county

  5. Want to tell your elected officials what you think about the state of government in Illinois? Use our Sound Off tool. 

Just How Much Of A Pro Traveler Are You? (QUIZ)

Fri, 2014-07-11 07:00
Traveling to the airport, navigating security lines, actually taking the flight you came for... all of these steps require a full-on education on the endless dos and dont's that go hand in hand with traveling in, to and from the U.S.

From what you can bring in your carry-on to figuring out which countries you do or don't need a visa to get into, this quiz will test just how much of a globe-trotting pro you really are. Summer travel is still going strong (we hope) -- this is the refresher you need so that you don't knock heads with TSA.

Quiz widget by

Democracy: No Longer for Sale?

Thu, 2014-07-10 19:52
Ah, 1961. The year -- certain aspects of it, anyway -- are almost impossible to remember. "Whites only" bathrooms, for instance.

U.S. Rep. John Lewis, legendary civil rights leader and crosser of lines, recently tweeted an ancient mugshot memorializing his arrest that year for using a "whites only" bathroom in Mississippi and, in the process, amping up outrage against Jim Crow segregation in the South and intensifying the civil rights movement's global resonance.

He was charged with disorderly conduct and spent 37 days at the Parchman Penitentiary. How difficult it is to fathom such smug, legally sanctified certainty. It all seems so long ago . . . those days when the people who ran things were so wrong.

I say this facetiously, of course.

The emergence of this mugshot from 53 years ago, and the memories of a long-gone era that unavoidably accompany it, somehow speaks volumes to the numerous movements for change that are simmering today. One reason is because the civil rights movement of the 1960s was actually successful. It turned the country around. It undid every last legal and moral justification that held together a whites-only Old South, and it seriously undermined much of the legally ensconced racism of the North.

No, it didn't end racism per se, which regrouped "legally" around a bloated prison-industrial complex, but it woke the nation up and created an enduring legacy of nonviolent, human-rights-based change. It set a standard for what's possible, at the same time exposing the vicious hatred, masquerading as moral sanctity, which held together the existing social order.

Perhaps what it also established was the legitimacy and necessity of nonviolent revolution -- a cognizance of the never-ending need to stand up against social wrong, to keep demanding change, to keep evolving.

Also: The moral value of the civil rights movement and the courageous actions of John Lewis and innumerable others, often at great personal hardship, sometimes at the cost of their lives, was not confined to one particular issue. An extraordinary antiwar movement emerged in the '60s, followed by a women's rights movement, a gay rights movement and an environmental movement. The civil rights struggle laid the groundwork for all of them. They're all connected -- which implies that a common core value underlies all these movements.

A few days ago, Jim Hightower, in an interview with Bill Moyers, said: "There is a growing rebellion and an increasing awareness among different groups fighting different battles that they are connected. . . . People are beginning to get together and see their common interest."

Certainly there are endless ways to attempt to describe this underlying value, but usually these attempts lack a pragmatic component. How does "getting together" actually unify and strengthen, rather than scatter, a given movement for social change?

This question -- this void -- hasn't been something I've devoted much conscious attention to, but when I began reading about the remarkable success in recent months and weeks of the "SuperPAC to end all SuperPACs," which has just raised $12 million to engage head on with the influence big money has in the U.S. political system, I felt like I'd found an answer I didn't know I'd been seeking.

Money has the potential to commodify everything we value. It eats the human commons. Not only is its heedless pursuit wrecking the planet, it is devouring all that remains of American democracy. And without democracy -- without a core sense of public empowerment -- every social change movement would collapse. Not only does corporate money wield an outrageous, and growing, influence on the political system at all levels, but even more ominously, public acceptance of this fact -- that Big Money rules -- gnaws away the belief that change is possible. We're drifting dangerously toward becoming Spectator Nation. This is a social coffin.

Pushing back against this possibility is MaydayPAC, founded by Harvard Law School professor, author and long-time activist Lawrence Lessig. He and his co-conspirators, urging people to "embrace the irony" of raising money to fight big money, have devised a remarkable, multi-stage, long-term political action plan aimed at winning key congressional races in 2014 and 2016, revving up national momentum and producing, by 2017, national legislation reforming the way elections are funded.

Such reform would, in one way or another -- through matching grants or vouchers --"produce a radical change in the range and nature of 'relevant funders' to congressional campaigns. If implemented effectively, candidates for Congress could run winning campaigns without being dependent upon large contributors," according to the MaydayPAC website.

What a stunning idea: devising a system that magnifies the giving power of the little guy -- or a hundred million little guys -- and allows women and men who embrace their beliefs, on reducing military funding, let us say, to run for office free of any dependence on corporate money and the interests of the military-industrial complex.

In 1961, bathrooms for white people commanded an outrageous, "this is the way things are" inevitability, which the civil rights movement obliterated. Could corporate ownership of democracy come to be seen, in the not too distant future, as no less outrageous and absurd?

- - -
Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound (Xenos Press), is still available. Contact him at or visit his website at


Crumbs Could Rise Again Thanks To Reality TV Star

Thu, 2014-07-10 17:49
The Crumbs cupcake chain isn't getting swept off the table just yet.

Just days after announcing it was shuttering virtually all of its stores, CEO and General Counsel Edward Slezak has told the Associated Press that "various interested parties" could give the business an opportunity to restructure and rise again.

One such interested party is Marcus Lemonis, star of CNBC's business turnaround show "The Profit" and the chairman and CEO of Camping World and Good Sam Enterprises. Lemonis told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday that he has already made moves to stabilize the company as a "prelude to an acquisition."

“The company has limited cash, and we are trying to come up with a situation that allows the company to remain viable,” Lemonis told the LAT. “We are in the final stages of working on a plan to get the stores reopened and people rehired.”

Lemonis, who is working with an investment group, told the New York Daily News that the plan is "not fully baked yet" but could include expanding the brand's offerings beyond just cupcakes to include "sweets and snacks."

Crumbs was founded by a husband-and-wife team in 2003. If the New York City-based company does close, more than 60 stores across the U.S. could be affected.

Did You Miss The Polar Vortex? Don't Worry, It'll Be Back This Summer

Thu, 2014-07-10 17:30
The polar vortex is expected to return to the continental United States later this month, apparently at the behest of liberals who invented it just to convince everyone climate change is real (according to Rush Limbaugh, at least).

The National Weather Service predicts that temperatures will drop to unseasonable lows across the Midwest and even as far as the East Coast.

Temperatures in the Midwest are expected to be quite pleasant, dropping about 20 degrees. The anticipated 10-degree dip in New York and Washington will also be a welcome break for most people.

Chicago's most revered meteorologist says that this change in temperatures isn't actually caused by the polar vortex, but it does bear a striking resemblance to the phenomenon many people became familiar with last winter. Several factors may be coinciding to create this reprieve from the heat, including tropical storm Neoguri, which is brewing off the coast of Japan. Wunderground meteorologist Jeff Masters explains that the storm is "causing a ripple effect in the jet stream over western North America, where a strong ridge of high pressure will develop, and over the Midwestern U.S., where a strong trough of low pressure will form." This will push cool air over the U.S. via the Great Lakes region, not unlike what happened last January.

The winter polar vortex has actually helped keep things a bit cooler in some parts of the country this spring and summer. Large bodies of water like the oceans or the Great Lakes help regulate temperatures along their shores, and Lake Michigan's temperature remains below average. This has kept cities such as Chicago slightly colder than usual this summer.

2014 continues to be a fascinating year for weather. With an El Niño coming soon, there's a distinct possibility that in the next several months temperatures will rise again.

How Hard Is Life in Illinois?

Thu, 2014-07-10 16:03

Do you think life where you live is hard? Or would you consider it pretty easy living? How would the county you live in compare to the other counties in Illinois?

What about the other counties in the United States?

The New York Times recently published an interactive map ranking 3,135 counties across the United States on ease of life based on median household income, education, unemployment rate, disability rate, life expectancy and obesity rate.

We broke down the top 25 and bottom 25 Illinois counties and mapped them out for you so you can find out for yourself if you live in one of the counties in Illinois where life is either hardest or easiest.

Switching gears, as a reminder with July flying by, here are 17 events around the state of Illinois that you should check out this month, including some county fairs from some of the counties listed in the link above. So get out there and explore the state.

Twitter Says The National Guard Isn't The Key To #FixingChicago

Thu, 2014-07-10 16:02
Gun violence in Chicago left over a dozen people dead and more than 60 others wounded over the Fourth of July weekend. Amid now-familiar calls to bring in the National Guard to help the city stop the bloodshed, hundreds of others have something else in mind.

It wasn't long after Washington, D.C.-based columnist and commentator Roland Martin's "Send the National Guard to Chicago" piece was published on The Daily Beast before Twitter users took to the hashtag #FixingChicago (and later #FixChicago) to offer their own alternative visions for how to combat the shootings, which have particularly plagued Chicago's predominantly minority west and south sides. Activist and writer Mikki Kendall initiated the hashtag.

#FixingChicago looks like keeping schools, clinics, transit and ER's open.

— Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) July 9, 2014

#FixingChicago looks like job programs, access to quality low cost grocery options, health and dental care.

— Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) July 9, 2014

#FixingChicago looks like affordable housing, transit options, & quality educational options for low income families.

— Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) July 9, 2014

#FixingChicago looks like a minimum wage that is a living wage so low income parents don't need two jobs just to survive.

— Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) July 9, 2014

Many others quickly followed suit:

#FixingChicago means looking at citizens of the city as human beings and not just abstract, nameless, faceless figures.

— Britt Julious (@britticisms) July 9, 2014

#FixingChicago means people in Chicago need to stop accepting that certain parts of the city as bad and hopeless.

— kevin house (@kevin_house) July 10, 2014

#FixingChicago means offering more affordable decent housing with in-community grocery stores with affordable fresh food

— JP Fairfield™ (@isitis) July 9, 2014

#FixingChicago means building community gardens and teaching people how to grow their own healthy food

— KeshRue (@KeshRue) July 10, 2014

#FixingChicago means crime prevention that doesn't just mean locking up more kids.

— Kenzo Shibata (@KenzoShibata) July 9, 2014

#FixingChicago means "jobs are up" matters as much as "crime is down"

— Brandon Wall (@Walldo) July 9, 2014

#fixingchicago redistribute tax $ equally to each school. Build new schools, provide funding to more teachers of color. Reduce cost of needs

— Ife (@FreedomLVRFilms) July 10, 2014

#FixingChicago means stop slashing funding towards special education programs and allow mentally challenged individuals to excel.

— Notorious LIV (@GracingTheWorld) July 10, 2014

The media can help in #FixingChicago by not glorifying the gun violence to the point that it is synonymous with Chicago.

— Janel Bailey (@janelatwork) July 9, 2014

How about any developer who wants to use a downtown TIF has to first build in Englewood, Roseland or Washington Heights? #FixingChicago

— Scott Smith (@ourmaninchicago) July 10, 2014

#FixingChicago means investigating the pipeline of illegal guns back to the suppliers. No Black owned firearm manufacturers exists.

— Jerry G! (@JerryLEADS) July 9, 2014

#fixingchicago means we stop giving $100,000,000 to private institutions to build sport arenas and give it to students to get an education.

— Mushroom Man (@AndyNorgate) July 10, 2014

A new mayor would be only a small part of #FixingChicago, but probably a necessary one.

— Joe Macaré (@joemacare) July 9, 2014

#FixingChicago includes ensuring the integrity of our PD aligns with public safety and not with profiling or harassment.

— Kyle Urbashich (@kyleurb) July 9, 2014

#FixingChicago means being our own advocates for social change. Time to put the marching boots back on. More to it than banning guns. #pocbf

— Black FreeThinkers (@BlkFreeThinkers) July 9, 2014

#fixingchicago spread resources across all 50 wards. Develop tiny home communities to create affordable housing across city.

— Windy City Times (@WindyCityTimes1) July 9, 2014

Go back 2 decades when these kids are are being shot were born, then find out what was missing or different! History lesson 4 #FixingChicago

— Rookie (@Rookie_Chi) July 10, 2014

#fixingchicago WON'T happen if they "reopen closed prisons" because structural inequality still isn't being addressed.

— Stewart Scott (@godjustchillout) July 10, 2014

The hashtag campaign recalls the efforts of Chicago hip-hop artist Chance the Rapper, who pushed a #SaveChicago hashtag over Twitter to promote peace over last Memorial Day weekend. The city ended up going a rare 42 hours without any shooting incidents, though the streak ended with a series of shootings that wounded 12 people over a period of 10 hours.

Twitter activism has had a big impact in the past. Shortly after her racism scandal broke, celebrity chef Paula Deen's #PaulasBestDishes hashtag was taken over by Twitter users, contributing to her very public downfall. Juror B37 in the George Zimmerman trial also arguably has Black Twitter to thank for losing her book deal with agent Sharlene Martin, who was inundated with angry messages until plans were canceled.

Drive-By Compliments Make Strangers Smile From Ear To Ear

Thu, 2014-07-10 15:22
Sometimes all you need to make your day better is a gentle reminder that you are awesome, have beautiful hair, a lovely dog, cool pants or that "red is your color."

Luckily Blake Grigsby has a car, a megaphone and plenty of compliments to dole out to the random strangers he drives by.

Watch the clip above to see how one simple compliment can make a person smile from ear to ear.

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Anti-Obamacare Ads May Have Totally Backfired

Thu, 2014-07-10 14:57
The hundreds of millions of dollars spent on anti-Obamacare ads may have inadvertently encouraged enrollment, a Brookings Institution study released Wednesday found.

In a state-by-state look at spending on ads attacking the Affordable Care Act, Brookings found that increased ad spending per capita was tied to declining enrollment in red states but linked with increasing enrollment in blue states.

“This implies that anti-ACA ads may unintentionally increase the public awareness about the existence of a governmentally subsidized service and its benefits for the uninsured,” wrote Brookings Institution fellow Niam Yaraghi, noting that anti-Obamacare ads may have encouraged people to sign up by making them think it might be a limited-time offer.

“In the states where more anti-ACA ads are aired, residents were on average more likely to believe that Congress will repeal the ACA in the near future,” he said. “People who believe that subsidized health insurance may soon disappear could have a greater willingness to take advantage of this one time opportunity.”

The study found that anti-Obamacare spending was highest in Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina, four states expected to have especially competitive Senate midterm elections. Spending on these ads, The Hill noted, is likely a GOP tactic to rally opposition to the ACA in order to benefit their candidates at the polls.

Of the more than $445 million spent on ads mentioning Obamacare, negative ads outspent positive ones 15-to-1, a Kantar Media CMAG report found in May.

This Music Video Captures The Heartbreak Of Campus Shootings In America

Thu, 2014-07-10 14:48
Music can intertwine with life in poignant ways, and the music video for "Elysium" from the British band Bear's Den is a powerful example.

When filmmaker James Marcus Haney traveled to Seattle in early June to shoot the video -- and to spend time with his college-aged younger brother, Turner -- he aimed to capture the rawness of youth by filming Turner and his circle of friends.

"I wanted to document the actions and emotions of people at this age -- the highs, the lows, the noteworthy and the mundane," Haney said in an interview with NPR. "I wanted to get inside what it feels like to be a teenager today. On a personal level, I wanted to freeze the last remnants of youth still left in my brother -- to record him in this tender, fleeting age of early college years."

However, no one expected what happened next.

During the filming process, on June 5th, former janitor Aaron Ybarra, 26, opened fire at Seattle Pacific University, killing one student and wounding two others, according to police.

The deceased victim, Paul Lee, was a friend of Turner's.

Despite the tragedy, Turner and his comrades decided to help his brother finish the project as tribute to Lee.

The result is raw and heartbreaking. In the video, Haney shows the moment the students learn about the shooting on a news broadcast, huddled around a television at a house party.

The song itself gained another layer of meaning for all involved in the video.

"In his dorm room, [Turner] played the song 'Elysium' over and over," Haney told NPR. "A few of the other kids played it a lot too, and sent it around. While in the midst of a dormitory full of very broken and lost students, I couldn't stop listening to the song either — it took on a whole new weight and meaning."

Fox News Attempts To Get People Scared About Gender-Neutral Bathrooms, Fails Completely

Thu, 2014-07-10 13:34
"Fox and Friends" is not happy about Illinois State University's decision to designate some of its bathrooms gender-neutral, but it just couldn't get its viewers to share the sentiment on Thursday.

The university is re-labeling some of its single-stall "family" bathrooms to be "gender-neutral."

Host Steve Doocy ventured outside of the Fox News studio with a mock-up of what the new signs for the bathrooms will look like and try to prove the point in the chyron: "Are New Gender Signs Just Too Confusing?"

But the answer, according to fans gathered on the sidewalk, was a resounding no. Doocy asked a kid what the sign looked like it was for, and the kid replied, "Maybe a family restroom."

Doocy later asked if "all-gender" bathrooms made sense. "Restrooms for both genders," another fan said, nodding her head. The Fox News host appeared momentarily stumped, and then awkwardly claimed that the figure in the middle "has thrown some people." The group, however, wasn't thrown at all.

Back in the studio, there was more awkward silence as co-host Brian Kilmeade responded to the fans' reactions. Watch the segment in the clip above.

This Cat-And-Dog Friendship Will Make You Want To Hug Your Human Friends

Thu, 2014-07-10 10:41
Reddit user Akslfak couldn't have predicted how well these two rescues -- one corgi mix and one toothy cat -- would get along, but do they ever. Seriously, every pet owner probably dreams of having pets who like each other this much.

The cat has already made the viral rounds for her weirdo smile, signing autographs for charity last summer. But we encourage you to check out Akslfak's Tumblr, which chronicles the lives of these furry friends, because in that household, "fighting like cats and dogs" takes on a totally new meaning.

Meet Tycho.

And this is Refurb.

Refurb is missing one leg.

According to Akslfak, she was crushed by a horse as a kitten and needed surgery.

But that's okay, because she's got her bestie, Tycho.

And an owner who seems pretty awesome.

Yep, these guys have some good times together...

Whether they're running...

Sharing their toys...

Jumping out of nowhere...

Or doing whatever this is.

Sometimes Tycho's just all like, "Hi, let me bite you because I love you."

And Refurb will be all like, "Just you wait."

Because Refurb gives Tycho a run for his money, despite her lack of leg.

These guys go together like peanut butter and jelly. Like Thelma and Louise. Like Ben and Jerry.

Or, you know, like two animals who really like each other.


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The Whimsical Way Medical Students Learn About The Body

Thu, 2014-07-10 10:29
We already knew doctors have strong stomachs. We just didn't know how strong.

It turns out that medical education has a long and rich history of using food metaphors to describe body parts, diseases, symptoms, and everything else that students have to memorize. For instance, pus from a liver abscess looks a lot like anchovy sauce, and a particularly aggressive form of lung cancer is called "oat cell carcinoma" for its appearance under the microscope.

Dr. Ritu Lakhtakia, M.D., Ph.D., head of the Department of Pathology at the College of Medicine at Sultan Qaboos University, compiled these medical-foodie terms in a recently published article for the journal Medical Humanities in an effort to preserve a dying tradition. Because she herself was once a med student, toiling away to memorize facts and pictures, Lakhtakia has fond memories about how culinary imagery made study time a bit more fun.

"They make memorization of difficult facts child's play," said Lakhtakia about food metaphors in an email to the Huffington Post. "They also introduce medical graduates across the world to cuisines they are unfamiliar with."

For instance, one of the tell-tale symptoms of von Recklinghausen’s disease are cafe au lait marks on the skin. Certain fungal skin infections produce skin scrapes that look like spaghetti and meatballs under a microscope.

Unfortunately, said Lakhtakia, the tradition is dying away in favor of what she called "more direct (and less picturesque)" language. The metaphors are also becoming unnecessary because of technological advancement. Take, for example, the task of estimating tumor size.

"Long before scale measurements came into vogue, a three-dimensional estimate of the size of tumors could be easily documented by being compared with peanuts or walnuts (if larger, lemons or oranges come in handy for sizing!)," Lakhtakia wrote in the article.

Lakhtakia is not sure why food metaphors are so prevalent in medicine, but she guesses that the universality of food gave teachers a common base with students from which to explain difficult medical concepts. And of course, there is another reason: doctors and researchers eat while working.

"A part of this curious tradition may owe its origins to practising physicians and researchers catching up on their meals in clinical side rooms or operating theatre offices, or with an inevitably cold platter eaten with eyes glued to a microscope," she wrote in her article. "It is a wonder that, in the midst of the smells and sights of human affliction, a physician has the stomach to think of food at all!"

A wonder indeed. In honor of this quirky, stomach-churning medical tradition, Huffington Post's own Alissa Scheller whimsically illustrated just a few of the metaphors Lakhtakia included in her articles. Be warned: links to the real thing are included in each caption, so click or tap at your own peril!

"An apple shape versus a pear shape contrasts the habitus depending on the predominant fat distribution on the body." - Dr. Ritu Lakhtakia, Medical Humanities.

"The biconcavity of the red blood cell easily evokes craving for a doughnut." - Dr. Ritu Lakhtakia, Medical Humanities.

"Rather dramatic and visible reddish-purple birthmarks (vascular anomalies) on the skin are colloquially called port wine stain." - Dr. Ritu Lakhtakia, Medical Humanities.

"The delightful high that a bar of chocolate promises is negated by its likeness to chocolate cyst of the ovary, an endometriotic cyst containing dark-brown fluid from repeated cycles of endometrial proliferation and shedding with haemorrhage." - Dr. Ritu Lakhtakia, Medical Humanities.

"The pout displayed by the rheumatic mitral valve, with its narrowed opening, thickened lips and commissural fusion is mirrored in a fish mouth." - Dr. Ritu Lakhtakia, Medical Humanities.

"First-year medical students are inevitably taught that the kidney is bean shaped (lovers of red meat may conversely call the bean kidney-shaped)" - Dr. Ritu Lakhtakia, Medical Humanities.

17 Slogans That Frankly Make More Sense Than the Real Ones, Pt. 5

Thu, 2014-07-10 10:29

Companies spend millions of dollars to make their products look ideal to consumers. But what if they stripped all of that away and told the truth? That's where Honest Slogans comes into play. I've been maintaining the website since its inception in late 2011, and I've shared many of them right here on The Huffington Post for the past few months (part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4). I've been creating new ones on a weekly basis, and below are some new examples of what truth in advertising would actually look like.