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My Q and A With Chrona's Ben Bronsther on the Sleep Tracker You Can Rest Your Head On

Wed, 2015-06-03 08:13
Ben Bronsther is the co-founder of Ultradia and a creator of Chrona, a memory-foam insert that goes inside your pillowcase and tracks your sleep based on the movements of your head and torso. In answer to my questions, he shared his insights on our collective national sleep deprivation, the possibilities and limits of wearable sleep technology, and what he learned in the process of developing Chrona.

Why did you see a need for Chrona? What inspired you to create the product?

People are not sleeping well, and that is personally and professionally taxing. In fact, sleep-deprived American workers are estimated to cost $63 billion a year in terms of lost productivity. In a climate like this, where nearly one third of the workforce is reporting an average sleep duration of six hours or less, we saw the need for a new sleep-optimization system.

Chrona was inspired by the facts above, emerging sleep research and the rise (and shortcomings) of activity trackers. We realized that most people do not want to wear a plastic bracelet to sleep, and that even for those who do, many were not capitalizing on the collected data. So we set out to create a wearable-free sleep-optimization solution that was as comfortable as it was effective, and three years, 10 engineers and six iterations later, Chrona was born.

What did you consider when designing a product to make our pillows "smart"?

When designing Chrona, we considered the fact that in our increasingly busy lives many people can no longer afford a full night's sleep. We realized that while we may not be able to make people sleep longer, we could help people sleep better without spending more time in bed. What was important to us was that Chrona improved your sleep while you sleep, and that it was comfortable and unobtrusive.

Describe your Kickstarter campaign. What level of interest did you get? What did people have to say about Chrona?

What a lot of people might not know is that Kickstarter is more than just a platform on which to fundraise; it is also one of the best places to cultivate press, find partners and learn what your customers really want. After our campaign launched, it was not long before industry players -- both large and small -- started to reach out with potential partnership opportunities. Even better, the feedback from our supporters led us to make some changes to the system in order to satisfy what was clearly desired. For example, our system was originally supposed to be battery-operated; now it is rechargeable. And as per requests, we have implemented a power-nap feature. Features like these and the gentle, vibrating alarm were always viewed as secondary to us, but Kickstarter helped us realize that these were important to our customers. Ultimately 833 backers came together to help us reach 190 percent of our funding goal; almost all of them pre-ordered their own Chrona.

Did you have a target demographic in mind when creating Chrona?

Yes, when creating Chrona, we had young, upwardly mobile professionals in mind. But we have learned that interest is much more far-reaching. In fact, it seems that the overwhelming interest in Chrona stems from both young people and those aged 45 to 60. Clearly a lot of people are not satisfied with their current quality of sleep, and we would like to change that. For the time being, we will continue to market towards professional young people. They seem very receptive to our tech and brand.

What do you see as the future of the sleep-tech business?

Chrona is the foundation of a much larger vision for Ultradia. Our sensor-sheet framework combined with the self-optimizing machine learning algorithm we developed allow us to easily implement additional sensors as we move forward. We have plans to transform Chrona into a powerful home polysomnography (PSG) device. In fact, we already hold a patent on the methodology for measuring EEG data via a sensor sheet, though I should say that for now we are focused on the consumer space. Prediction for the future of the sleep-tech business? The work we and others are doing has the potential to fundamentally change the way we understand and approach sleep, sleep-disorder diagnoses and sleep-disorder treatment. I think at-home PSG devices will largely replace, or at least evolve the role of, traditional sleep labs. Also, we believe there could be applications for other states of unconsciousness, namely anesthesia and coma monitoring and treatment.

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Could a Baltimore Happen in Chicago?

Wed, 2015-06-03 07:42
Recently we have witnessed the unfortunate sequence of legitimate and responsible protest actions being hijacked by those who use the crowd effect of many marchers as a cover for their criminal activities of looting and burning. This same juxtaposition occurred 50 years ago this summer in Chicago and there are some lessons to be learned - so history does not need to repeat itself.

It was clear that Chicago was in for a long hot summer when on May 22, 1965 the board of education reappointed superintendent of schools, Benjamin Willis - and in so doing, violated assurances that leaders of the civil rights movement had received that Willis would retire. Nightly marches from Buckingham fountain to city hall and the board of education soon followed - in some cases marchers were arrested for blocking traffic. During the third weekend in July, Martin Luther King arrived in Chicago and led a march of more than one thousand participants.

By far the most noteworthy marches were those led each evening by the comedian, Dick Gregory. On August 1 and 2 his group decided to march to the home neighborhood of Mayor Daley. A crowd of over one thousand neighbors gathered and the police, in order to avoid a major confrontation, ordered the 50 marchers to leave or be arrested. Gregory and most of his followers were arrested.

Soon thereafter on August 12 riots broke out on the west side when an undermanned fire truck killed a black women. At the height of the riot a police car was sent to the headquarters of the Coordinating Council of Community Organizations to bring the convener and civil rights activist, Al Raby to the troubled streets.

While any riot is lamentable, by comparison to the turmoil that occurred in the Watts section of Los Angles at the same time, matters in Chicago were quickly brought under control, largely due to the actions of the police and the leaders of the civil rights movement.

So what are some guidelines that might insure that protests and the actions of today's civil rights movement are not compromised by unlawful elements? Certainly, a network that pulls together churches, community groups and activist organizations can help organize and focus the demonstrations. And leaders who are known to public officials make it possible to have conversations and coordinate responses when actions on the street turn "ugly". A riot weakens the influence of the civil rights movement - Raby spoke to the rioters, telling them that they were hurting the efforts of those who had been working so hard to correct the injustices.

The big challenge today is the need for the police, who are seen as part of the problem, to play their important role in monitoring and protecting those marching and demonstrating. During the high drama events of the 1960s the actions of the Chicago police were very constructive - preventing Gregory and his marchers from being mobbed by the hecklers and protecting those of us who marched to the Chicago Lawn neighborhood during the summer of 1966 when King was in town to protest housing discrimination. On the march I joined we were soon on the receiving end of rocks and bottles and the police wisely diverted our march back to a safer neighborhood.[1]

A Presidential task force has just released its report on 21st Century Policing. This report makes important recommendations: "Community and police jointly share responsibility for civil dialogue and interaction. Law enforcement agencies should work with community residents to identity problems and collaborate on implementing solutions that produce meaningful results for the community." It is encouraging to note the number of efforts underway around the country to foster better relations between police departments and the communities they serve.

Chicago need not become another Baltimore.

[1] A Decisive Decade: An Insider's View of the Chicago Civil Rights Movement During the 1960s, Southern Illinois University Press, 2013.

Robert B. McKersie is the author of A Decisive Decade: Inside the Chicago Civil Rights Movement During the 1960s, published by Southern Illinois University Press. He is Professor Emeritus at the MIT Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, MA.

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Chicago Bus Crashes Into Several Vehicles Downtown

Tue, 2015-06-02 19:02
CHICAGO (AP) — Authorities say a collision between a Chicago Transit Authority bus and several other vehicles left one person dead and at least eight others injured.

The accident occurred around 6 p.m. Tuesday in the city's downtown business district. Authorities say the articulated bus was turning onto Michigan Avenue when it collided with at least three other vehicles. The bus went onto the sidewalk, and at one point a pedestrian was pinned underneath.

Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said nine people, including two who were critically injured, were taken to a nearby hospital.

The Cook County medical examiner's office later said a female patient had died. The victim wasn't identified.

Authorities say the driver was the only person on board the bus at the time of the crash.

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Pig Taken Into Police Custody Is Spared Death Penalty

Tue, 2015-06-02 18:58
A pig who was hauled off in a cop car last week is getting a life sentence -- as a pet!

Photo: Shelby Township Police Department

The death penalty isn't on the table for this charming animal, who famously went on a frolic through a Michigan neighborhood last week. The pig escaped her yard and menaced a neighbor before a "decorative ball" captured her attention, giving https://m.facebook.com/ShelbyTwpPolice" target="_hplink">Shelby Township police an opportunity for capture.

The fugitive pig pooped in the police cruiser before being returned to her owner, Brian Davis, whose intentions were, worryingly, not immediately made known.

Stop worrying. "The pig is a pet now," Davis tells The Huffington Post. "We can't eat a famous pig."

Photo: Shelby Township Police Department

Indeed, the pig, whose name is Pig Pig, was once intended for dinner. Davis says he bought her about eight months ago, "to harvest the meat."

He kept Pig Pig at his home, and before long, his three dogs had grew attached to her. Then Davis fell in love with her, too.

This isn't a story where a guy loves a pig and gives up meat altogether. Instead, over time, Pig Pig became Davis' dinner buddy. The two began eating barbecue together, in fact. (Davis says Pig Pig doesn't know she's eating her friends, who he describes as "delicious.")

And for a while, Davis got to letting his unexpected pet into the house.

"I had to stop that when she started pooping," he says. "Like in the cop car."

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If you have been following our piggy story, you will get a kick out of this. Officer Treworgy just sent me this "post arrest" video of the "perp". You can hear Tree say something like " yup, that's in my police car"..... Almost like he's trying to convince himself that there is actually a pig in the back of his patrol car. Lol!

Posted by Shelby Township Police Department on Friday, May 29, 2015



Yes, Davis is "very happy" about how things turned out last week.

He's grateful that the cops caught Pig Pig so quickly, and that no one got hurt, merely exhausted. After Pig Pig got home from her brush with the law, "she totally crashed out on the front yard," Davis says. Then she woke up and snacked on hotdogs and hamburgers.

Despite happy endings for all involved -- except for whomever cleaned out the cruiser -- Davis is planning to build stronger fences to keep Pig Pig from making another run for it.

"I want to keep her safe," he says. "I'm sure she'd love to go on another adventure."

Photo: Brian Davis

Get in touch at arin.greenwood@huffingtonpost.com if you have an animal story to share!




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DJ Rebootly Mixes Bruce Rauner Into a Hip-Hop Track

Tue, 2015-06-02 18:43
Gov. Bruce Rauner spared no words in his May 31 press conference lamenting the impasse over the Illinois budget.

"We are destroying the middle class of Illinois under the leadership of Speaker (Michael Madigan) and (Senate) President (John Cullerton)," he said in a press conference outside his office.

Cullerton was equally as hard on Rauner, accusing the governor abandoning the budget process and continuing "to run campaigns instead of the state."

Radogno ripped Democrats for being against any idea other than raising taxes.

And all four claim they are acting on behalf of the middle class. Here, in two minutes, is everything you need to know to understand why things have ground to a halt in Springfield. The threat of a state government shutdown in some form becomes all the more real as we approach the end of the current fiscal year on June 30. The statements below give no cause for hope.

Watch the two-minute drill at Reboot Illinois to see what Rauner and other political leaders said June 1.

For a more musical run-down of Rauner's remarks, check out this hip-hop track arranged by DJ Rebootly:



Sign up for our daily email to stay up to date with Illinois politics.

NEXT ARTICLE: 11 Most Endangered Historic Sites in Illinois in 2015

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An Open Letter to Caitlyn Jenner

Tue, 2015-06-02 17:34
Where do I begin? As the mother of gender non-conforming children, I just do not know where to begin.

Thank you just doesn't seem to be enough. But it's a start.

Thank you for having the courage to be who you have always felt you were meant to be. Thank you for breaking the gender norms that so many were too afraid to break.

Thank you for paving the way for my children to be who they truly feel they were meant to be. Because of you, my children will not have to live a lie. Because of you, my children will struggle less. Because of you, my children will be happier.

Thank you for showing the world that this is real. It really is possible to be born into the wrong body. It is possible to live an entire life too afraid to be who you feel you were really meant to be.

Thank you for being the world's most awesome athlete. Thank you for being a sex symbol. Thank you for being such a man's man. It just makes your transition all the more amazing.

Thank you for giving my children a voice. Thank you for putting my mind at ease. Before you, I was terrified at what the future held for my children. Now I know they will be okay.

Thank you for doing all of this so publicly. It had to be a difficult decision to make. But as I mother I can't thank you enough for making it.

Thank you to your family for being supportive. Thank you for showing the realness of it all. It's a very hard thing to come to terms with a family member struggling with gender issues. No matter who you are.

Thank you for starting this conversation.

I now have a person my children can look up to. I have a person my children can look at and think, I can be whoever it is I feel I was meant to be.

Thank you for single-handedly paving the way for my children and children everywhere. Thank you for being a new type of role model. Thank you for having the courage to do all of this.

A man transitioning into a woman is not the end of the world. It's just the beginning.

Thank you for being Caitlyn.

Eileen O'Connor is an amazingly talented woman, wife, and mother living on the mean streets of Chicago's south side with her equally adorable family.

Follow her blog No Wire Hangers, Ever
Check her out on Facebook

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5 Tips For Moms Re-Entering The Work Force

Tue, 2015-06-02 16:20
One of my interns recently returned from the Peace Corp in Botswana, and told an interesting story about how mothers there who needed to work could just drop their kids off with whomever in their village was home and able to keep a vigilant eye on them. There were no worries about paying for childcare, no nanny-cams needed. Not so easy in the Western world. Back to the U.S., the stresses of a modern-day mom who wants to re-enter the workforce are many: They range from expensive childcare options to the decision about when, how and at what level to re-engage in the workforce.

Here are the big questions and some simple steps to figure out what's right for you:

1. Full-Time Or Part-Time? Sometimes your financial situation dictates this decision. But if you need to work full-time, many jobs now offer flex-time or hybrid part-time options. And it doesn't hurt to ask an employer for flexibility after getting an offer. Of course, some career tracks rarely have the option of part-time work, which brings me to your next consideration.

2. What's Your Focus? If you were in a high-demand job, perhaps you'd now like something with better work-life balance. Changing careers can be intimidating and often requires additional skill sets. Do some research on jobs that fit your interests. Don't be afraid to pick up a book like Your Dream Career for Dummies or talk to people in a field you're interested in. Try the parenting forums -- a great way to get answers to career questions. Also investigate online or continuing education courses that would boost your resume.

3. Freelance or Start Your Own Business Freelancing and entrepreneurship are the new normal in today's "gig economy," so don't be afraid to try. From consulting to crafting, you can leverage your experience from a previous career, passion or create your own niche. I opened a coworking, meeting and event space after my second son was born in order to be my own boss, have flexibility and be around others.

4. What to Do With the Kids?Deciding to go back to work means finding childcare. First, determine your comfort level, and of course what fits the budget. Would you prefer daycare or a full-time nanny? Would a nanny share work for you? If you're freelancing or working remotely, you could hire a nanny to watch the kids while you work at home. Or maybe it would be more productive to get out of the house to work for a few hours while you head to a café or coworking space. If you do choose that route, look for options near home so you can maximize time away.

5. Network, Network, Network! Reconnect with your old contacts, and don't be afraid to ask friends and family to put you in touch with their contacts or keep you in mind for available positions. Use LinkedIn, volunteer and join organizations and networking groups in your field. Take small steps to get yourself back in the mix, and you'll be able to take off from there.

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Rahm's 'Roseland to Ravenswood'

Tue, 2015-06-02 16:14
Cassie didn't hear Mayor Rahm speak about the shootings from Roseland to Ravenswood because there are no televisions on the street.

In a grey spring rain, walking head down pushing her shopping cart home right past the Mayor's house, Cassie missed the Mayor envisioning a Chicago where a child shot down in Roseland, to the south, will be mourned in Ravenswood, to the north. A city where the slaughter of a child touches every corner of the town.

Chicago was built on parishes and neighborhoods. Boundaries that stuck till they were changed, won or lost. An expressway slapped in over a neighborhood could change a boundary. But how do you break the boundaries to enable a shared mourning? What has to change?

There is of course no one answer to a systemic problem. But are their tiny clues Cassie sees as she makes her daily walk across the city?


Blaming the Victim

Cassie, the shuffling skeleton of the streets, pushes her cart across Grace Street north towards the Sulzer Library. If you were to ask her about shared mourning, she wouldn't answer. If you were to ask if you could help feed her, find her a roof, she wouldn't answer either. Cassie walks.

She passes a tiny street scene. A small group of rosy-cheeked blonde boys have taken sticks and are digging up clumps of tired grass on someone's yard. The kind of thing a little boy might do if no parent told them no.

The mother, a few doors down, stands against a fence chatting with another woman, ignoring the boys. The lawn owner steps outside, yells at the boys to stop. They do, but the mother then screeches at the lawn owner,

"Why are you yelling, Roger? I don't like the way you talk, Roger"

"The kids were digging up the lawn."

"The parkway is public property, Roger! And I don't like the way you talk, Roger." As if use of the name makes the absurdity of the conflict meaningful.

Cassie watches the lawn owner retreat. Baffled with the thought that he should be blamed for stopping kids from digging up grass in front of his house. The angry Mother seizes hard her victory. She's shown him. She blames him.

And Cassie walks.

This time directly in front of Mayor Rahm's house. Man with a dog approaches another man. And the dog like a bullet lunges for the other man's ankle. Saliva growl bark and ready to chomp till the other man calling on reflexes from decades earlier, kicks hard at the snout and the dog goes down whimpering. Then the owner screams, much to the amusement of the officers parked outside Mayor Rahm's house, the owner screams, "You monster! Look what you did to my dog! This is all your fault!" Once again, a tiny shred of blaming the victim nurtured by the same cold rain that falls on Cassie's bony shoulders.

Like rusty iron pellets embedded in the fabric of the street, the little moments of blaming the victim germinate and begin to grow. Cassie keeps walking. Down a street where pretty much everyone is different than she. Watching how blaming the victim begins.

Fear of the Other

Cassie winds her way north and west as the houses and the lots get a bit larger. Feeling, but not seeing because her eyes went bad years ago, the quiet stares of the parents on the porch steps, the scattered shouts of the kids. She makes out, 'what's wrong with that old lady?'

That cloudy eyed desolation ramping up as she senses a line along the sidewalk. People lining up for a Wednesday night meal at a food pantry. The closer she gets to the line, the harder the quiet stares from the porches of the big houses. Fear of the other like a mushroom cloud just waiting to explode.


Finally the Entitlement

Then Cassie turns a corner into an alley to avoid it all. There is a child on the roof of a garage and he shouts down at Cassie, "Hey crazy lady! Get away from my garage!

The boy, in fact, lives a block away. The garage belongs not to his parents, but to people his parents don't even know. But as the boy said, it's his. All that he sees, touches and walks on is his. Entitled, it has always been this way across all his eight short years. And it always will be.

So, the Mayor's Vision?

It's a walk of countless miles. 'Blaming the Victim, Fear of The Other, and Finally the Entitlement,' all standing in the way. All beginning with tiny moments, glimpses of street scenes that flash in an instant and then disappear: as they grow. Invisibly growing.

As Cassie keeps walking.

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Summer Is Here. Are You Happy Now?

Tue, 2015-06-02 15:56
SUMMER SUMMER SUMMER SUMMER!

Okay, let's calm down. Yes, summer is here, and it is awesome -- but there's a lot left to go, so save your energy. And let's not forget the one thing that truly sucks about summer. We never think of it as we're coming out of winter and spring because LOOK, THERE'S SUMMER, HERE IT COMES! Beaches! Shorts! And then that first humid 85-degree day hits … and the one con of summer becomes apparent.



Remember this feeling next year. Have fun doing all these awesome summer things. But remember the sweating.

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Passing the Vehicle Safety Improvement Act Could Prevent Major Auto Recalls

Tue, 2015-06-02 15:03

Rep. Pallone and I present a defective Takata airbag and shrapnel during press conference today. Angelina Sujata (far left, in white), was struck in the chest and injured with shrapnel from a Takata airbag three years ago.


Members of Congress, Victim of Takata Airbag Failure, Consumer Advocates Support Legislation

On Tuesday, June 2, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade will hold a hearing on the Takata airbag recall.

While it is important to fully understand the cause of the Takata airbag failure, there are steps Congress can take immediately to enhance auto safety and oversight. That should begin with the enactment of H.R. 1181, the Vehicle Safety Improvement Act - legislation I introduced in my role as Commerce, Trade and Manufacturing Subcommittee Ranking Member with Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone (NJ-06), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (CO-01) and other Committee Democrats earlier this year.

Pallone, DeGette, Angelina Sujata (a victim of Takata's defective airbags), consumer advocates and I held a press conference in advance of the hearing to make clear that Congress can help prevent another year of recalls like 2014 - which set all-time records. Please see their quotes below:

"I am glad that the Committee is refocusing on the Takata recall, but the analysis has taken too long - we need action. The Vehicle Safety Improvement Act would increase auto safety reporting, oversight, and accountability and help reduce the likelihood of another Takata-like failure. We should advance the bill to the floor and pass it without delay. The American people can't afford to wait."

-Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-9)

"Air bags are meant to save lives, not take lives. Yet, a supposed safety feature has become a safety hazard in more than 40 million vehicles. The safety of automobile passengers must be a top priority in Congress. And while oversight is important, it's time for legislative action, starting with the Vehicle Safety Improvement Act."

-Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6)

"Whenever any of us gets behind the wheel of a car, we need to trust that our car, and every vehicle on the road around us, is safe. The Vehicle Safety Improvement Act helps restore a culture of safety among automakers, parts suppliers, and federal regulators. We can't eliminate every single car accident, but we can help to prevent unnecessary ones. And that will keep us all safer."

-Congresswoman Diana DeGette (CO-1)

"I've experienced firsthand the pain that a lack of reporting and sufficient oversight can cause related to a vehicle defect. Airbags are supposed to save you, not hurt you. I am hopeful, though, that lessons can be learned from the tragedies that stemmed from defective airbags and vehicles and that the Vehicle Safety Improvement Act of 2015 can help to create this much needed change."

-Angelina Sujata, victim of defective Takata airbag


"This year's record number of recalls clearly signals that reforming the current process needs to be a legislative priority. AAA applauds the leadership demonstrated by Representatives Pallone, Schakowsky, and DeGette by introducing legislation that will help provide NHTSA with the tools and accountability measures to ensure that vehicle safety is managed in a timely and efficient manner. Providing consumers with improved, easy to access and understandable information will help restore motorists trust with the recall system."

- Avery Ash, Director of Federal Relations, AAA

"For years, NHTSA's ability to be tough regulators has been hampered because of starvation budgets and paltry penalties for industry shenanigans at the expense of safety. This federal agency has one of the most important public health and safety missions in government. Every single person in the United States is affected by the actions of NHTSA. We have seen what happens when this agency is a lap dog instead of a watch dog. This legislation changes that and puts consumers in the driver's seat."

-Joan Claybrook, President Emeritus, Public Citizen and former NHTSA Administrator

"Congress passed the TREAD Act in 2000 to prevent mass vehicle defects in the wake of Firestone tires on Ford Explorers that killed over 300 people in rollover crashes. Yet more mass vehicle defects have come down the road since then including Toyota unintended acceleration, Jeep fuel tanks, GM ignition switches and Takata airbag inflators. Unless Congress moves now to pass H.R. 1181, more mass vehicle defects will occur killing hundreds of Americans."

-Clarence Ditlow, Center for Auto Safety

"Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety strongly urges the House Energy and Commerce Committee to act now to advance H.R.1181. This bill includes commonsense and cost-effective solutions to problems revealed in numerous congressional committee hearings examining government missteps and auto industry cover-upson deadly vehicle safety defects. Many of these same problems were pinpointed in investigations on the Toyota sudden acceleration fiasco in 2007. Eight years later, safety defects due to faulty GM ignition switches and exploding Takata airbags have caused more than 100 deaths and 200 injuries and left millions of consumers driving cars subject to a recall notice. This legislation is long overdue and we can't afford any more delays."

-Jackie Gillan, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

"HR 1181 gives NHTSA the power and resources it needs to actually carry out its lifesaving mission. Passing this bill will save lives and significantly improve America's public health and safety. Setting it aside will lead to unnecessary deaths and injuriesand leave families without the lifesaving protections they need and deserve. Consumers should not be left in the dark about life-or-death defects."

-Jack Gillis, Director of Public Affairs, Consumer Federation of America & author, The Car Book

"NCL supports this long overdue legislation to strengthen our ability to keep consumers safe on our highways and roads. The transparency, higher fines, and making NHTSA more responsive more quickly are all crucially important and will help save lives and prevent injuries."

-Sally Greenberg, Executive Director, National Consumers League

"Whether you are renting a car from a rental car company, or buying a new or used car, or getting a loaner, from a dealer, it should be safe."

-Rosemary Shahan, President, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS)

"Millions of U.S. cars have been recalled for safety defects. Yet it's perfectly legal for auto dealers to sell used cars to consumers before they are repaired. This dangerous gap in federal law is one of many addressed by Reps. Schakowsky and Pallone in the Vehicle Safety Improvement Act of 2015, which the House should take up without delay."

-William Wallace, Policy Analyst, Consumers Union

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Judgy-Wudgy Was a Mom

Tue, 2015-06-02 14:04
When I first started having kids, I wanted to be perfect. I wanted my little angels to be well-dressed and well-behaved. I wanted my house to be clean. I wanted them to eat healthy. I wanted to be present in their lives. I wanted everything that every first-time mom wants. Somewhere around my third child, I realized there's no such thing as perfect.

I'm a slow learner.

But coming to this realization hasn't stopped me from judging other moms. I think it's just a coping mechanism I use to feel better about myself. I judge. There, I said it. I see you. I judge you. I always assumed everyone did this. Isn't that why it's always so important to make a good first impression?

When I am driving down the street and see a mom on the verge of losing her sanity, I think, relax, mamasita. Take a chill pill. Why you gotta get all cray cray like that?

But 10 minutes later, when I pull in my driveway, I'm the lunatic yelling and being judged by the mom driving by me. It's just how the world works. Judge or be judged. It's called being human. It's called being a mom.

When I see supermom over there with her perfectly-coiffed hair, with all of her kids in matching outfits, I judge. I get it, girl, you're amazing. I'm so freaking happy for you.

When I see the mom who hasn't showered in three days, yelling at her kids, I judge. C'mon girl, get that sh@% together.

When I see the mom who lets her kids eat cookies for breakfast, I judge. Wake up girl, give that kid a piece of fruit.

When I see the mom who only lets her kids eat organic treats, I judge. Calm down, girl, a little junk food isn't going to kill them.

Everyone's been judging lately about THE MOM at THE PARK on THE PHONE.

I have to admit, when I see a mom at the park on her phone, I judge away. I think, geez, you can't put that thing down for 30 seconds to play with your kids? Those poor children. So neglected. But then I lose my train of thought because my phone beeps and I have to answer a text.

But my texts are super important. Normally, it's someone alerting me that a celebrity has died and wants to know if I had them in my Celebrity Death Pool. Sorry, honey, that skinned knee is going to have to wait. Mama got some points.

Judge away.

Mostly everything I do on my phone is totally irrelevant. I can take notes/write blogs from my phone, but I hardly ever do. I do, however, do a lot of sh#%-talking from my phone and I text endless nonsense to friends who are at other parks ignoring their kids. It's just what I do. It's who I am. It's how I survive.

Judge me.

Sometimes, I consciously leave my phone at home so I can be present in the lives of my family. But most of the time, I don't. I usually bring it so I can be present in the lives of my Facebook family.

Nothing is worse than coming home to 10 missed text messages. I can't even reply to many of them because the moment has passed and my reply would be irrelevant. And I have strict rules about irrelevant replies.

I judge people on how they reply to a group text.

Sometimes, the other person I'm texting is actually at the park with me. My bestie Shelly could be over by the swings, but I'm way over by the slides. What am I supposed to do? Walk over there? Hell no. I text her. If it's really urgent, I call her.

Does Shelly judge?

Is there always someone judging me? Probably. But I'm too knee-deep in Facebook statuses to even notice. When there is a lull in my phone time, I look around to see what else is going on. Sometimes, I see a mom playing with her kids. Then I feel this unfamiliar pang of guilt. Then I judge.

Wow, she's a good mom. She probably never yells at her kids. They probably really love her.

So then I put that phone on vibrate (just in case) and go look for my kids. I'm going to play with them. We're going to laugh and frolic and swing. We're going to create some happy freaking memories. Then they'll know how much I love them. And most importantly, people will judge me for being a great mom.

The only problem is, my kids left 10 minutes ago. But I didn't notice. Because I was on my phone.

Eileen O'Connor is an amazingly talented woman, wife, and mother living on the mean streets of Chicago's south side with her equally adorable family.

Follow her blog No Wire Hangers, Ever
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Rauner and Madigan Have the Power to Sink or Save Illinois

Tue, 2015-06-02 13:06
In the matter of one hour Friday afternoon, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner emerged from his bunker and broke his silence of the past few weeks to say he was "cautiously optimistic" an agreement could be reached with the Democrats after a meeting with all four legislative leaders. And then, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan let it be known he wasn't budging.

By the time lawmakers shut down the spring legislative session on Sunday, Michael Madigan had compared Rauner's approach to that of Rod Blagojevich, Senate President John Cullerton said Rauner was holding the state budget hostage and Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said it all comes down to one issue: "The Democrats only want another tax increase."

Rauner, meanwhile, vowed to not back down against "insiders" who "will not give up their power easily."

"The insiders in Springfield, who make their money from the government, are at war with the people of the state," Rauner said Sunday evening. "The taxpayers, the homeowners, the schoolchildren and their parents, small business owners. Those are the folks who are suffering in Illinois."

We stand at the brink of an abyss the likes of which we have never seen in Illinois.

Continue reading Madeleine Doubek and Matt Dietrich's editorial at Reboot Illinois.

While the two sides are disagreeing politically on how to run the best government for Illinoisans, Rauner, Madigan and their colleagues have surprisingly similar stated goals in the work: champion the middle class. But they also are questioning their opponents' motives. Find out what's going on at Reboot Illinois.


NEXT ARTICLE: Best of the best: The top 10 hospitals in Illinois

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Rauner and Madigan have the power to sink or save Illinois

Tue, 2015-06-02 13:06
Editorial

In the matter of one hour Friday afternoon, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner emerged from his bunker and broke his silence of the past few weeks to say he was "cautiously optimistic" an agreement could be reached with the Democrats after a meeting with all four legislative leaders. And then, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan let it be known he wasn't budging.

By the time lawmakers shut down the spring legislative session on Sunday, Michael Madigan had compared Rauner's approach to that of Rod Blagojevich, Senate President John Cullerton said Rauner was holding the state budget hostage and Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said it all comes down to one issue: "The Democrats only want another tax increase."

Rauner, meanwhile, vowed to not back down against "insiders" who "will not give up their power easily."

"The insiders in Springfield, who make their money from the government, are at war with the people of the state," Rauner said Sunday evening. "The taxpayers, the homeowners, the schoolchildren and their parents, small business owners. Those are the folks who are suffering in Illinois."

We stand at the brink of an abyss the likes of which we have never seen in Illinois.

Continue reading Madeleine Doubek and Matt Dietrich's editorial at Reboot Illinois.

While the two sides are disagreeing politically on how to run the best government for Illinoisans, Rauner, Madigan and their colleagues have surprisingly similar stated goals in the work: champion the middle class. But they also are questioning their opponents' motives. Find out what's going on at Reboot Illinois.


NEXT ARTICLE: Best of the best: The top 10 hospitals in Illinois

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Constitution Rock

Tue, 2015-06-02 11:44
Social studies teachers at Chicago's Darwin Elementary School probably had a blast last month preparing their seventh and eighth-grade students for the state-mandated constitution test.

Let's face it. In this town, test prep material practically writes itself.

I can hear the questions now...

"If former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett refuses to answer federal prosecutors' questions about the $20 million no-bid SUPES contract, she's asserting her rights under which amendment to the U.S. Constitution?"

"As you know, under the Illinois Constitution, the state has the primary responsibility for financing your public education. Why, then, does your music teacher need to apply annually for dozens of private grants just to have money for basic instruments for your classes?"

Like so many CPS teachers, Darwin's music teacher, Joe Panganiban (known to his students as Mr. P), continues to be asked to make bricks from straw, because the state continues to shirk its "primary responsibility" to fund public education.

A few years ago, shortly after Darwin's principal decided to bring music back to the school's curriculum, the newly-hired Panganiban spent hundreds of night and weekend hours applying for outside grants in an effort to get his kids some of the tools they needed for a modest band program.

Panganiban had some early success, winning a $30,000 VH1 grant for band instruments. He also partnered with Little Kids Rock to secure a generous donation of ukuleles.

And Darwin students embraced their new music program the same way friends of Rahm Emanuel and Bruce Rauner recently embraced their First Amendment right to shower their chosen candidates with tens of millions of dollars in "free speech" campaign contributions.

Aliayanna Francois, a seventh-grade Darwin student, understands the importance of passing the constitution test, but she told me that her once-a-week music class with Mr. P continues to be the highlight of her school week. Jaslim Landaverde, a Darwin eighth-grader, echoed her friend's sentiments, saying her "Friday music class is what I look forward to on Monday."

Francois and Landaverde are also grateful that Mr. P gave them the opportunity to get together after school to perform with Odd Squad, one of two Darwin rock bands, and to take their musical show on the road. Panganiban spent months helping to organize The Evolution of Rock: Darwin Elementary Invitational 2015, last Sunday's four-hour showcase of CPS grade school rock bands.


(Photo and design credit: Adam Shortlidge)



Panganiban worked with like-minded music teachers across the city to give kids a chance to plug in and rock out at a big-time Chicago music venue. These kids didn't need to know that musical heavyweights like Jimmy Cliff and Jason Isbell had performed on that same Concord Music Hall stage in recent months to understand that their own chance to shine under Concord's bright lights was a big deal.

Francois, Landaverde and their Odd Squad bandmates closed the show with a powerhouse version of Uptown Funk, which also featured some tight choreography. The girls told me they hope to continue performing in high school, but they don't know whether their high schools will have music programs like Darwin's.


(Francois works the crowd as Landaverde looks on. Photo credit: Maggie O'Brien)

Francois knows that a lot of CPS schools simply don't have music programs. She said that "it's very annoying to know that kids don't have music classes, because music is a part of life."

And sadly, in 2015, it's motivated teachers like Panganiban who now find themselves taking "primary responsibility" for doing what our leaders in Springfield should have been doing for decades.

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Introducing What's Working: Purpose + Profit

Tue, 2015-06-02 10:18
The shift in the way an increasing number of businesses see their role in the world has been one of the most exciting, promising and desperately needed developments of the past few years. More and more companies are moving beyond the obsession with quarterly earnings and short-term gain toward a very different vision. As Unilever CEO Paul Polman has said, "Business must make a bigger difference to global challenges by leveraging its scale, influence, expertise and resources to drive transformational change at a systemic level." A sense of purpose has come to be seen, rightly, as a value that not only has a place in business but is essential to long-term success.

That's why today I'm delighted to announce What's Working: Purpose + Profit, a new platform, sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers, that's putting a spotlight on the ways businesses are working toward solutions and widening the lens of their concern in ways that benefit not only the bottom line but their employees, their communities and the world at large. Purpose + Profit will feature stories, insights and tips from leaders in the world of business and thinkers who are driving change, with an emphasis on what's working in entrepreneurship, B-corporations -- that is, benefit corporations, a class of corporations that strive to have a positive impact on society -- and impact investing.

There's no better time to put a spotlight on all that's happening in this arena. We are at the beginning of a new era for purpose-driven businesses, having come a long way even since 2011, when Michael Porter and Mark Kramer wrote in the Harvard Business Review that "most companies remain stuck in a 'social responsibility' mind-set in which societal issues are at the periphery, not the core." The solution, they continued, "lies in the principle of shared value, which involves creating economic value in a way that also creates value for society by addressing its needs and challenges."

This win-win scenario is at the heart of Purpose + Profit. For more and more companies, shared value has moved from the periphery to the core, as companies see that what's good for the bottom line can also be good for the world, and vice versa.

As this understanding gains momentum across the business world, it's hard to overstate the significance, given the long-entrenched belief that profit and purpose must, by definition, be mutually exclusive. As Jennifer Anderson, CEO of Sustrana LLC, writes:

One of the major challenges for companies with a social impact is to overcome a long-held bias in the investor community that having any sort of positive societal impact will eliminate some profit potential. This was so much the case when we started out that we had people advise us not to mention our certified B-Corp status, lest it be seen as a detractor for an investor.

As Purpose + Profit will show, that bias is fading. The rise of the idea of shared value is affecting businesses in many ways, from how leaders think to how companies set goals and try to achieve them. As Making Money Matter author G. Benjamin Bingham writes:

To lead an organization takes inner fire. If inspired by greed, the fire will burn out quickly. If inspired by a desire to do good, the fire will last because it will spread to other employees, investors and community stakeholders. Greed isolates and creates a chilly work environment, while altruism leads to collaborative, lasting relationships.

Perhaps most importantly, stories of what's working in the business world can inspire copycat solutions. As PwC's Shannon Schuyler writes in a post laying out Purpose + Profit's mission:

Our vision is to inspire a community of change-makers and provide a consistent way to highlight the stories of the people and trends positively disrupting the market, serving as catalysts for change and developing solutions that are working to solve some of society's biggest problems. By focusing on the positive and on the solutions that are working, we can start to change the dialogue and tone of media and constructively shape conversations with our friends, colleagues and networks. We can help celebrate those who are redefining how we scale and replicate seismic positive change. We can give them a voice and a platform to share their ideas and news.

We kick off today with contributions from a range of CEOs, authors and other business leaders with perspectives on some of the ways businesses are making a difference and how they can continue to do so. There's G. Benjamin Bingham on how B-corps have set a new standard for all businesses, SoapBox CEO David Simnick on how businesses can give back while strengthening the bottom line, RSF Social Finance President and CEO Don Shaffer on how to become an impact investor, The B Corp Handbook author Ryan Honeyman on how B-corps are engaging employees and transforming business at the same time, and Jennifer Anderson on the benefits and challenges of social entrepreneurship.

So please welcome What's Working: Purpose + Profit, where we'll be featuring many more voices as the week goes on and expanding the conversation as more and more companies and business leaders join this movement. As always, please use the comments section to let us know what you think.

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Jimmy Fallon Reviews Hilarious Books You Won't Believe Actually Exist

Tue, 2015-06-02 10:16
Soranus' Gynecology sounds like a it might be a tough read.

In their latest edition of "Do Not Read" on Monday, Jimmy Fallon and sidekick Steve Higgins reviewed a few hilarious books that really aren't meant to be hilarious. You may not believe they exist but you can find them all on Amazon apparently.

Are you struggling to co-exist with the fancy plants in your home? Then Living With Fancy Plants may be the key to saving your relationship.

But hurry up and grab your copy, because Fallon is adding that and others to his "Do Not Read" list.

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This Comic Strip Nails Why Poor Americans Aren't Just 'Asking For Handouts'

Tue, 2015-06-02 08:28
America's poor don't have it easy.

They're subjected to a range of false stereotypes: They're accused of being lazy and of abusing drugs, among others. Researcher Paul C. Gorski examined these perceptions in his 2013 book, “Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty: Strategies for Erasing the Opportunity Gap,” and found these notions aren't based in reality.

"A vast majority of these stereotypes are just plain inaccurate," Gorski wrote, the Washington Post noted. "In fact, some are truer of wealthy people than poor people."

In a country that ranks near the bottom when it comes to income inequality amongst developed nations, these harmful stereotypes don't do much in helping vulnerable Americans shape a better future for themselves.

In a post published on The Wireless, "On A Plate: A Short Story About Privilege" by Toby Morris challenges many of these damaging ideas by exemplifying how a person born into poverty faces setbacks at various stages of their life their well-off peers don't need to overcome.

The New Zealand-based artist tells the the story of Paula -- who was born into poverty and attends an overcrowded and underfunded school -- and compares it to major life events experienced by Richard -- her wealthier counterpart who goes to a school with plenty of resources and less stressed teachers.

The story ends with an adult Richard attributing his success to simple hard work.

"I'm sick of people asking for handouts," he says. "No one ever handed me anything on a plate."

Morris' story serves as all the more reason to kick these backwards stereotypes to the curb.









(Artwork courtesy of Toby Morris)

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Northwestern Student Drops Complaint Against Professor In Laura Kipnis Case

Mon, 2015-06-01 21:27
A Northwestern University graduate student who filed a Title IX complaint against the school's faculty senate head for discussing a controversial essay withdrew it over the weekend.

Stephen Eisenman, an art professor and faculty senate president at the school in Evanston, Illinois, was named in the complaint for publicly discussing the school's investigation into film professor Laura Kipnis, who wrote an essay arguing against Northwestern's ban on sex between professors and students. The student who filed the complaint suspended her grievance against Eisenman a week ago, and officially withdrew it on Sunday.

The Title IX complaints against Eisenman and Kipnis, which Northwestern is required to investigate under federal gender-equity law, sparked alarm in higher education, with concern that official investigations may compromise academic freedom.

"I don't blame any students who brought charges against me," Eisenman told The Huffington Post on Monday. "They're just students, they're learning, they're smart, they're trying things out, they make mistakes." He continued: "I do hold responsible the administrators overseeing Title IX. It was well within their prerogative to examine the charge and to determine it was without merit."

The student filed a complaint against Kipnis over her February essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education that critiqued student-faculty dating policies. The student complained the article misrepresented a lawsuit involving a philosophy professor. The complaint sparked a Title IX investigation into Kipnis by the university, and she chose Eisenman as a support person in the case. Kipnis was cleared of the charges on Friday.

The student filed an additional complaint against Eisenman for discussing the case, without using anyone's name, at a faculty senate meeting in May. One faculty member was said to have responded to Eisenman's description by saying the situation was out of "Stalinist Russia."

The student's complaint against Eisenman contended he was obligated not to discuss the case against Kipnis. The Department of Philosophy subsequently voted to ask whether Eisenman should step down for violating confidentiality, according to emails obtained by The Huffington Post.

But after Kipnis made her Title IX investigation public in another essay on Friday, and was then cleared, the student decided to withdraw her complaint against Eisenman.

The student, who didn't want her name publicly revealed, said part of the reason she withdrew her complaint against Eisenman was that investigators had begun to probe the case without getting her full statement.

"I cannot continue to be so naive as to hope that internal complaint processes can safely be made use of in good faith. It's clear that they cannot," the student wrote in withdrawing her complaint on Sunday.

Eisenman and Kipnis both maintained confidentiality had not been broken.

"I just thought this is getting absurd," Kipnis told HuffPost. "It started out absurd, and it's getting more absurd."

"The effect isn't trivial," said Eisenman. "Because bringing a charge against a professor [under Title IX] suggests that they may have done something profoundly bad."

Eisenman said he believes Title IX is essential, but the law's protections must "be treated with respect." He said he worries that unfounded investigations weaken the law. "This makes it much more [susceptible to] attacks with from the right," he said.

Northwestern said in a statement that it followed the law. The school declined to discuss specifics of either complaint.

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The Art of Noticing

Mon, 2015-06-01 18:01
This summer, my kids are 2, 4 and 6 years old. This summer, instead of signing up the olders for so many things that sound amazing but force me to drag my youngest to everywhere they have to be, we are going to chill out. This summer, I am going to notice my children as they notice the world in the timeframe of summer -- when the days are long and the schedule is gone.

We aren't going to rush anywhere; we're going to ride bikes whenever we can, whenever they want, whenever I want -- to the pool, the library, the grocery store, the ice cream store. We're going to slow down or, more honestly, I am going to slow down to their speed. There is no camp or class or lesson that is as important to me as what comes when my children go outside to play. Neighborhood kids come over and, soon, a group of kids are playing and creating something that could last all afternoon. They didn't need a camp counselor or any tools or toys but what they scavenged from all of the houses on our block -- a collective garage thrifting, if you will, including the sweet fifth grader whom they begged to lead their troop of Lost Boys and Girls. Fifth grade girls are the best Peter Pan-ers out there: they mingle between the grown-up world, but they play with children as if they will stay child-like forever. They are a mother of young children's best friend.



I took this picture on one of the first warmer-than-65-degree days in Chicagoland. This summer, I plan on spending a lot of time doing what this picture illustrates for me. If you're from a moderate climate, let me first explain something: When you get the first warmish day in Chicagoland, you try to do everything summer-y in that one day because you are overly excited.

On this day, these children started remembering our go-tos for summertime. "Can we go to the lake? Have a picnic with our friends? Go swimming? Put up the water slide bounce house? Get an ice cream?" Not one of the things they asked for involved rushing to a designated class at a designated time. We did the Day One Version of Summer on this day: the sprinkler with our friends, which resulted in muddy puddles in our backyard, which led to this photo, which made me realize how I'd like to spend summer with my kids.

Two of the three in this picture are so fully in the moment that their faces are blurred. They're a wonderful mess, of course -- wet and muddy in clothes that I didn't even know we owned and that don't quite fit. And the baby, well, look at him. He's all, "I don't even know why I'm happy, but I am! And I'm holding my sister's shoes! And I'm so happy about it!"

This summer, I plan on putting on the sprinkler even if it means working to find the hose that's buried under snow shovels and tangling that sucker to get it to where we need it to go. I plan on working to find swimsuits day after day. I plan on having so much fun in proverbial small mud puddles. I will be holding someone's shoes or coat or towel or little toy that they HAD to bring with them.

I plan on getting dirty. I plan on having my thighs touch, a swim suit that doesn't hide every last flaw because burqas are really not my style, and being OK with having all of that on display when I'm at the pool or at the beach. I plan on having fun just because I am noticing the others having fun around me. I'm going to notice what brings them joy and see if I can find the same there. I'm going to notice who I'm around when I feel my best. I'm going to keep moving each day, sweating, too. I'm going to notice when we need a day to ourselves.

I plan on saying yes to every sort of thing that is equivalent to noticing how mud feels underneath our feet on the first nice day in spring. I plan not to wait for "the right time" to get out the sprinkler or the water slide bounce house or any other thing that involves a little work on the front end, but all free play, or what in any decade pre-1990 we just called "play," on the back end. I plan to notice all of the amazing things that summer is when you're 2. And also when you're 4. And when you're 6 as well.

They can make fun out of mud puddles of the smallest circumference if left to their own devices. They make you notice things that you'd otherwise miss. They, when given the chance to be and do as they please without rushing, shoot more life into any scenario -- more laughing, more crying, more seeing, more doing, more breathing, more moving, which means when you are with them, you, too, get more life, you notice more life, you are more alive. Exhausted at times, certainly, but that is just the price of living fully.

For us, this is going to be the summer of noticing all that they do and all that they teach us to notice because they haven't yet forgotten how to notice life. I'll notice that this is the only summer I get with them at these ages at this time doing these things.

This is the class I am signing my family up for this summer: The Art of Noticing. It's follow-up courses are The Art of Finding Joy, The Art of Being Grateful and Boredom is for Boring People. The Art of Noticing is the pre-req, though, so we are starting there. Its bullet points on the class outline are Life is Not A Race, They're Only Little Once and Yelling "Hurry Up!" Everyday Is Annoying to Everyone. And -- surprise! -- the youngest amongst us is usually the professor.

I'll take pictures of those moments when I notice the joie de vivre they bring to the whole wide world so that I can borrow it when I need to. For all of the seasons to come.

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This Is What An Honest Commercial For Rec Leagues Would Look Like

Mon, 2015-06-01 15:59
Can't tell if you're competitive ... or you just have rage issues.

So you play in a rec league. Who doesn't these days? What's your game -- Dodgeball? Kickball? Inner Tube Water Polo? Maybe you're just there to have a good time and meet people. Or maybe you're trying to relive your high-school athlete glory days.

Whatever reason you're there, CollegeHumor has absolutely nailed the rec-league culture in this new video. You've got the guy who uses the league as a way to express his rage issues. There's the girl who only participates for the Instagram photos. And, of course, there are the people who go simply to drink at the bar afterwards. (So, basically everyone.)

Whether this sounds like you or not, admit it: these definitely are the types of people you "rec" with.

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