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Lena Dunham's New Advice Series Is The Hip Dear Abby You've Always Needed

Wed, 2014-09-24 12:13
Lena Dunham's dishing out advice in a new Youtube series, "Ask Lena" and it's predictably awesome.

Each and every episode is worth watching, if not for the great advice, than for the quirky anecdotes. Lena dances with her dog, places awkward, imaginary phone calls to her grandma and concludes episodes with lines like, "I don't care if you think I'm fat." (Can we get that on a bumper sticker?)

Here's the very best advice we learned from "Ask Lena"...

1. On being confident in your body:

"Confidence comes from being happy with my habits, feeling like I can be proud of my life… That doesn’t mean losing 30 pounds, that means taking care of myself and treating myself like precious cargo."

Lena adds that, after being lots of different weights and sizes, she's learned that being comfortable in your body in the biggest turn-on:

2. On whether you can be a feminist while wearing booty shorts. (You totally can.):

"A huge part of being a feminist is giving other women the freedom to makes choices you might not necessarily make yourself. Just like we should accept women who cover up for reasons of shyness or modesty or religious beliefs... We have to allow for the women who want to walk down the street in booty shorts."

Any questions? Watch the whole thing:

3. On how to stop dating people who are bad for you:

"You have to love yourself to love someone whose going to love you. Let’s take a moment to think about whether that made sense. An attraction to nice people is truly something that comes when you have an attraction to yourself."

Lena recalls the unsavory gentlemen she used to date during a less self-actualized time in her life:

4. On dealing with a mental illness:

Lena has spoken openly about her struggles with mental illness, and she urges one of her fans to seek medical help for her OCD: "There's so much stigma around mental illness in our society, and you probably feel like you're supposed to muscle through this and tough it out. If you had diabetes, you wouldn't say, I don't think I should be allowed to have insulin. In order to tame the beast enough that you can analyze it, you need to go talk to someone who can help you...

5. On feeling sympathy, not anger, towards the people who used to bully you:

Lena tells a fan who fantasizes about telling off her high school bully that, "If you're happy with your own current situation, which I hope you are, you're going to feel a pity for people who felt the need to... cut you down to size... A lot of people hurt other people because they don’t think that they matter."

6. On having better sex:

One fan says that her insecurities about sex have been ruining her sex life, and Dunham says she totally relates: "I don't even think I thought about whether I was enjoying sex until I was 25 because I was so worried about whether other people were enjoying sex with me that it never would have occurred to me that it's an act I was supposed to receive any pleasure from."

Now, she knows that, "Having good sex takes two people who want to make other people feel good." Lena recalls the years of unsatisfying sex that it took for her to reach this understanding:

7. On not staying in a relationship with somebody you don't thoroughly enjoy (for both your sakes):

Lena tells Jonathan, her male fan who wrote in about his "unfunny" girlfriend, to "Examine why you’re with a person who doesn’t make you laugh."

Lena suggests that Jonathan stop stringing his girlfriend along and set her free to find somebody who loves her and her sense of humor:

8. On writing about your own life experiences:

Lena recalls feeling insecure about writing her personal experiences, but says she's learned to stop doubting herself: "By sharing your own stories, you’re essentially performing a kind of activism that’s very important, especially as a woman right now in America. By sharing things that are close to you, you will connect to other people who feel alone in the world."

9. On being comfortable with your mortality:

"Thinking about death every single day can actually make you feel more connected to your life.... I was just lying in bed the other day pretending that I was on the verge of dying and looking out the window and thinking 'What if this is the last moment I ever existed?' And I kind of felt cool about it."

10. On feeling jealous of a friend:

"All the time you spend being jealous of other people is time you’re not spending focusing on your own vision for yourself and pushing yourself forward. Make a fatty To-Do list and hit that shit hard. I guarantee you when you feel excited about your own pursuits… you’re going to be too narcissistic to even worry about what [your friend] is up to."

If you want more of Lena's unfiltered advice, check out her book, Not That Kind Of Girl, which hits bookstores on September 30. The collection of personal essays promises more of her wisdom, insight and most delightfully embarrassing confessions.

It's Time for Illinois Voters to Get Involved

Wed, 2014-09-24 11:37
There are 41 days to the Illinois statewide elections -- plenty of time for voters who haven't been paying attention yet to get themselves educated on the candidates and their positions on the issues. But there are only two weeks to get registered to vote.

Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek explains how Illinois voters can learn a thing or two about political engagement from Scottish voters, 85 percent of whom turned up at the polls during last week's independence referendum.

85 percent. Isn't that something? Something to aspire to achieve in Illinois. A bit more than half of the state's registered, eligible voters participated in the last similar election in 2010.

If you haven't registered to vote yet or updated your registration if you've moved, you can do so through October 7th, 2014 at the Illinois State Board of Elections website or most county clerks' offices.

And why not? You and everyone you know who's eligible ought to get registered, get educated and get out and vote. We all should get a say in our future in Illinois. There's a lot to weigh.

See what Reboot Illinois will be doing in the coming weeks to help you stay up to date on all the latest campaign news.

And all statewide candidates are making their fair share of campaign news. But Rich Miller of the Capitol Fax blog says Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner should step up his campaign game. Miller says Rauner should have been running campaign ads all summer, when Quinn didn't have the money to do the same. Maybe Rauner should have taken a few days off to recuperate when he was sick last week. Miller said "You gotta be ready for everything in this game and Rauner obviously wasn't. Rauner may look upon himself as a cut-throat businessman, but business ain't got nothing on Illinois politics, baby."

Artist Recreates Iconic Photographs With John Malkovich, And It's Fantastic

Wed, 2014-09-24 11:20
It's hard being John Malkovich. Harder still when John Malkovich is off doing his best Madonna, then throwing on a quick Andy Warhol, Einstein and Marilyn Monroe before ending the day as Salvador Dalí.

Indeed, the only one capable of such a feat, as evidenced by American portrait photographer Sandro Miller's latest project, may be Malkovich himself. In an interesting collaboration, the two artists teamed up to recreate some of history's most iconic portraits, naming the resulting body of work "Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich: Homage to Photographic Masters."

"Eighteen months ago I flew to France to see John, armed with a package of 30 iconic images by 28 master photographers, and to tell him about my idea for a new project," Miller explained in a release emailed to The Huffington Post. "After consuming two bottles of wine with John, I showed him my idea and he fell in love."

Miller said he and a team of experts spent the next eight months dissecting every last detail of the photos, an effort to ensure the project honored -- not mocked -- the original photographers.

"My biggest fear was that people wouldn’t take this project seriously. I didn’t want these to be a parody," Miller said in the statement. "I was serious about paying homage to these photographers and photographs that changed my perspective on photography. These images inspired me throughout my career and developed me into the photographer I am today ... This is my way of saying thank you to the masters that created these amazing images."

In addition to serving as the model, Malkovich was "very involved" behind the scenes, says Miller. The actor often applied his own makeup -- a process that took "at least two hours per shot" -- and made his own wax nose for the Picasso and Salvador Dalí photos.

The full series will debut at Chicago's Catherine Edelman Gallery on Nov. 7 and run through January 31, 2015. Several special releases are planned for the project, too: cultural review magazine 7-Post will publish an exclusive interview with Malkovich on the series in its on October 3 issue, and the French newspaper Liberation will also run an interview on the project.

View photos from "Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich: Homage to Photographic Masters," below:

CEOs Get Paid Too Much, According to Pretty Much Everyone in the World

Wed, 2014-09-24 09:49

Rumblings of discontent about executive wages, the 1 Percent, and wealth gaps know no borders. And neither does fierce debate about income inequality in general. But until now, it's been relatively unclear how much people think CEOs should really make compared to other workers on a global scale.

In their recent research, scheduled to be published in a forthcoming issue Perspectives on Psychological Science, Chulalongkorn University's Sorapop Kiatpongsan and Harvard Business School's Michael Norton investigate "what size gaps people desire" and whether those gaps are at all consistent among people from different countries and backgrounds.

It turns out that most people, regardless of nationality or set of beliefs, share similar sentiments about how much CEOs should be paid -- and, for the most part, these estimates are markedly lower than the amounts company leaders actually earn.

Using data from the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) from December 2012, in which respondents were asked to both "estimate how much a chairman of a national company (CEO), a cabinet minister in a national government, and an unskilled factory worker actually earn" and how much each person should earn, the researchers calculated the median ratios for the full sample and for 40 countries separately.

For the countries combined, the ideal pay ratio for CEOs to unskilled workers was 4.6 to 1; the estimated ratio was about double, at 10 to 1. But there were some differences country to country. People in Denmark, for example, estimated the ratio to be 3.7 to 1, with an ideal ratio being 2 to 1. In South Korea, the estimated gap was much larger at 41.7 to 1. The ideal gap in Taiwan was particularly high, at 20 to 1. This is what the breakdown looks like, country by country:

And how does this compare with how much CEOs really earn? Here's the data for 16 countries where the data is available; as Kiatpongsan and Norton note, it "includes the estimated and ideal data from [the other chart], but both are so much smaller than the actual pay ratios that they are nearly invisible":

My colleague Walter Frick and I calculated the ideal wages for average workers if CEO compensation remained the same, based on the same 2012 average CEO pay data used by the researchers. Even workers in the country with the largest desired ratio difference (Australia at 8.3 to 1) would be hypothetically making over $500,000 a year, while those in countries that emphasized the need for a smaller gap (Denmark, Sweden, and Norway at around 2 to 1) would earn over a million (note: the ISSP and AFL-CIO numbers do not align perfectly, so there is a slight difference between the wages of unskilled and average workers):

Taken together, these numbers say a lot, even if the latter chart isn't exactly based on real life. Importantly, though, it's not just the starkness of the data that's striking -- it's the thinking behind them. While the estimated pay ratios Kiatpongsan and Norton found did differ based on, say, political leanings, the ideal pay ratios were similar across the board:

Note, for example, that respondents who "strongly agreed" that differences in income were too large estimated a much larger pay gap between CEOs and unskilled workers (12.5:1) than respondents who "strongly disagreed" (6.7:1; Table 2). Yet, the ideal ratios for both groups were strikingly similar (4.7:1 and 4.8:1), suggesting that whether people agree or disagree that current pay gaps are too large, they agree that ideal gaps should be smaller.

When it comes to other beliefs -- ranging from the importance of working hard or having a lot of job responsibility -- differences among people didn't result in major shifts in how much CEOs should get paid, either.

"My coauthor and I were most surprised by the extraordinary consensus across the many different countries in the survey," Norton says. "Despite enormous differences in culture, income, religion, and other factors, respondents in every country surveyed showed a universal desire for smaller gaps in pay between the rich and poor than the current level in their countries."

We're currently far past the late Peter Drucker's warning that any CEO-to-worker ratio larger than 20:1 would "increase employee resentment and decrease morale." Twenty years ago it had already hit 40 to 1, and it was around 400 to 1 at the time of his death in 2005. But this new research makes clear that, one, it's mindbogglingly difficult for ordinary people to even guess at the actual differences between the top and the bottom; and, two, most are in agreement on what that difference should be.

"The lack of awareness of the gap in CEO to unskilled worker pay -- which in the U.S. people estimate to be 30 to 1 but is in fact 350 to 1 -- likely reduces citizens' desire to take action to decrease that gap," says Norton. Though he notes some movement on that front, including an unsuccessful vote in Switzerland to cap the ratio at 12 to 1 in 2013 and recent protests by fast food workers in the U.S.

He also emphasizes that "many of the heated debates about whether CEO pay should be capped or the minimum wage increased are debates based on an extreme lack of knowledge about the true state of affairs. In other words, both liberals and conservatives fail to accurately estimate the actual current gaps in our pay. Our hope is that presenting the data to all sides might force people to examine their assumptions about whether some people are making more than they would like, and others less."

This post was originally published in the Harvard Business Review.

Gretchen Gavett is an associate editor at the Harvard Business Review.

17 Numbers That Will Make You Realize Just How Pathetic The Federal Minimum Wage Is

Wed, 2014-09-24 07:44
If you have a job that pays the federal minimum wage, an hour of your work is worth $7.25, before taxes. Activists and lawmakers from around the country say this amount and slightly higher state-based rates don't offer workers enough to pay for life's basics. President Barack Obama and his administration have called for Congress to raise the federal minimum wage, but Republicans have resisted a proposal to raise the federal minimum to $10.10 an hour over three years, claiming businesses can't afford to pay workers more. A wage hike would lead to devastating job losses, they say, and would do nothing to increase job opportunities or address poverty.

A Congressional Budget Office study calls those arguments into question.

As the debate continues in Congress and in states, here are 17 numbers to help you understand what it means to be making the federal minimum wage, and why it's long past time for an increase:


The number of months since the last minimum wage increase, in July 2009.


The number of months between each of the last three minimum wage increases, to $5.85 in July 2007, then to $6.55 in July 2008, and finally to the current $7.25 minimum in July 2009.


The number of states -- not including Washington, D.C. -- that have raised the minimum wage above the federal rate. The highest state minimum wage is in Washington state, at $9.32 an hour -- still below the proposed federal minimum.


The purchasing power the federal minimum wage has lost to inflation since the last time it was raised, according to Pew data from 2013. The left-leaning National Employment Law Project reports that the real value of the minimum wage peaked in 1968, when its $1.60-an-hour rate would have been worth close to $10.50 in today's economy.


What the minimum wage would have been in 2012 if it had kept up with worker productivity since the late-1940s, according to a study published last year.


The number of hourly workers who were making the federal minimum wage in 2013, according to Pew. About 50.4 percent of these workers were ages 16 to 24, and just under a quarter were teenagers. About 64 percent of them worked part time.

An additional 1.8 million tipped employees, full-time students, disabled workers and others holding jobs exempted from federal minimum wage requirements earned wages of less than $7.25 an hour. The federal minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13 per hour.


The number of workers who would see an increase in wages if the federal minimum were to be increased to $10.10 over three years. According to the Economic Policy Institute, 88 percent of them are older than 20 and a third are over 40. National Employment Law Project says two-thirds of all low-wage workers were employed by large, highly profitable corporations.


The number of people who would have been lifted out of poverty under the plan to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 over three years, according to a study published late last year.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that around 500,000 jobs may be eliminated if the minimum wage was raised to $10.10, though other estimates have suggested the impact would be significantly smaller.

Protesters rally for better wages at a Wendy's restaurant in Detroit on Dec. 5, 2013.
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)


The weekly take-home pay for a 40-hour-a-week minimum-wage employee, after Social Security and Medicare taxes. That adds up to $13,926.38 per year, or just over $1,150 per month. The commonly cited minimum wage annual salary for a 40-hour-a-week worker is $15,080 -- before taxes.


The average monthly apartment rental price in the United States in the second quarter of 2014, according to real estate data firm Reis Inc. This is almost as much as you'd make in a month on a single minimum-wage income, which is one reason why minimum-wage workers typically can't afford to be the primary breadwinners of their families.


The average price of a one-bedroom rental in Benton County, Iowa, the cheapest U.S. zip code, according to Find The Best. After paying for rent, a single, full-time minimum-wage employee would have less than $750 to spend on everything else for the rest of the month.

Low-wage workers rally on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 28, to urge Congress to raise the minimum wage. (AP Photo)


The average a household pays for basic gas and electricity per month, according to an analysis of the spending habits of users across the nation in 2011. Utility prices have since risen in many places.


The average U.S. price for a gallon of gasoline , as of the last week of September. If a car has a 15-gallon tank, it would cost around $50 to fill up. That's about a full day's pay on minimum wage.

On top of gas, drivers must pay for car insurance, which according to a 2011 report came out to a nationwide average of around $800 a year. Premiums have increased in many places since, with estimates of average rates as high $1,500 a year. That would be more than a month's salary for a minimum-wage earner.


The price of the cheapest monthly pass for the SEPTA public transportation system in Philadelphia, one of the largest U.S. cities without state or local laws raising the minimum wage above the federal standard. A minimum-wage earner who relies on public transportation to get to work in Philadelphia would spend more than $1,000 each year on these passes, from annual pay of around $14,000.

Activists in Pennsylvania have been pushing for a minimum-wage increase to $10.10, but state lawmakers didn't consider a bill last legislative session. This year, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed an executive order raising the minimum wage for city contractors to more than $10 an hour, but the measure doesn't affect other employees.


The estimated amount a low-income, single-parent family will spend on food, clothing, child care and miscellaneous needs during the first year of a baby's life, according to 2013 data compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The overall cost is significantly larger when housing, transportation and health care expenses are included. These numbers help explain why second sources of income (from other family members or individuals) and assistance programs are vital to low-wage and minimum-wage earners.


The number of hours a federal minimum wage worker would have to log to match the compensation package offered to Walmart CEO Doug McMillon for fiscal 2014, before taxes. McMillon was offered $25.6 million earlier this year, most of it in stock awards tied to performance -- a 168 percent increase from the prior year. USA Today reported this year that former Walmart CEO Mike Duke stepped down in January with $140.1 million in deferred compensation in retirement funds, vested shares and stock options.

Walmart, the largest private employer in the U.S., announced this year that it wouldn't oppose a hike to the federal minimum wage, so long as the proposal didn't specifically call out the company's business practices. Walmart's president noted at the time that only 5,000 of the company's 1 million or so U.S. hourly employees currently make the federal minimum wage, though many more make less than the $10.10 rate proposed in Congress.

Doug McMillon, president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., listens during the U.S.-Africa Business Forum in Washington on Aug. 5. (Drew Angerer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)


The percentage of Americans who support raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, according to a recent survey by the left-leaning Public Policy Polling. Polls have consistently shown strong support for increasing the federal minimum wage, with a survey released in June showing 71 percent of respondents favor raising the rate generally. A Gallup poll released in November found that 76 percent of Americans would vote to raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour in a hypothetical national referendum. Even Republicans -- including former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney -- and small business owners want to see the minimum wage increased.

7 Ways You May Be Sabotaging Your Retirement

Wed, 2014-09-24 06:34
OK, nobody is expecting to have the kind of retirement that our parents had. But there are some things we are doing now that may actually hurt our retirement later. Here are a few of them:

Collecting Social Security early.
We understand that the reason someone applies for Social Security at 62 instead of 66 is most likely because they need the money. Unfortunately, starting benefits early means that monthly payments are reduced by 25 percent -- and that's for life. Well, not exactly, says retirement guru Bob Rosenblatt, who runs the Help With Aging website.

There's a little-known provision that gives Social Security early dippers a limited window for do-overs. If you apply for the do-over provision (called a withdrawal of benefits application) within the first 12 months of getting checks and then repay what you received thus far, there are no penalties. They don't even charge you interest on the money you received, which makes this tantamount to an interest-free loan. So if you find a job within those first 12 months of collecting benefits, it behooves you to try and withdraw from collecting Social Security benefits -- and then apply again when you are older. It's one withdrawal per lifetime. And if you can wait beyond age 66, you can maximize your benefits, growing them by up to 8 percent a year until you are 70.

Rosenblatt says of the do-over provision, "It’s something that should be more widely known, especially in these days of economic insecurity for so many older workers."

Not getting your company's 401(k) full match.
This is akin to turning away free money. The most common 401(k) match is 50 cents for every dollar contributed up to 6 percent of your pay; 24 percent of 401(k) plans use this match formula, according to U.S. News and World Report. Whatever it is, it's free money and you should never turn down free money. Rosenblatt encourages people to find other areas in which to skimp so that they can fully fund their 401(k).

Paying for your kids' college instead of funding your retirement.
This one is hard for a lot of families, but the prevailing wisdom is "retirement comes first."

The reason is this: Your child has more options when it comes to college than you do for retirement. Your student can apply for financial aid, scholarships and take out a loan if necessary. Another option to cut college costs is to start at a community college and then transfer those credits to a four-year school. Retirees? It's your pension, your Social Security and your retirement savings. If you outlive your money, then what?

There are no loans that you can take out to fund your retirement, but there are many loans your child can take out to fund his/her education, notes financial wizard Suze Orman.

Downsizing to a less-expensive home and banking some cash.
This is a tricky one, timing-wise, and something worth discussing with a financial adviser. But two problems with this plan come to mind.

Problem one relates to paying for college. When your child applies for financial aid, the majority of schools will not consider the equity in your home as an asset. In other words, colleges don't expect people to sell their houses in order to pay for their kid's college education, said Lynn O'Shaughnessy, a nationally recognized college adviser and author. But if you sell that house and bank some of the windfall, it becomes fair game for schools to ask you to use it to pay college expenses. So while your money may be safe as it exists as equity in your house, colleges may have other ideas about your plan to bank that money for use in your golden years.

Problem two involves long-term nursing care. We are a nation who gives lip service to thinking long-term care insurance is a good idea (two-thirds of us told a Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll that "most people" should buy it), yet just 8 percent of us actually have.

So should we need extended nursing home care, who will pay for it? Under the government's spend-down policy, any dough you have sitting around in a bank account must be used before Medicaid kicks in. Medicaid covers some long-term care benefits, but only after a person’s assets have been depleted. Federal law does protect spouses of nursing home residents from losing all of their income and assets to pay for nursing home care for their spouse. But by and large, the money is less tappable when it remains as equity in your home than liquidated in a joint savings account.

Thinking free is a four-letter word.
Everyone groans when AARP sends them an invitation to become a member on their 50th birthday. Fine, toss it away if you have something against age-based discounts. But for those of us who would like to enjoy more and spend less, those age-based discounts are great opportunities to save money on hotel rooms, car rentals, restaurants, stores and attractions when you travel. Many local restaurants will just knock something off the bill when you ask. Even Banana Republic gives discounts; they vary store-by-store in amount and age eligibility and when offered, but generally amount to about 10 percent.

While saving a few dollars may not seem like a retirement sabotage, it does speak to a mindset that could do you in later. Learning to accept help is a pillar of successful aging. Plus those few dollars add up, so why not say yes when the movie ticket seller asks if you want to a senior discount?

Not embracing the sharing culture.
Peer-to-peer services may be the millennials' greatest gift to our culture. But some boomers just haven't gotten the memo; they remain distrustful of sharing. It's a shame, actually. Sharing is how people are now able to afford travel. They house-swap, rent rooms in strangers' private homes, rent out people's apartments for short-term stays. There are many social sites that will connect travelers -- especially those going solo -- to help them save money. Sites like Couchsurfing and Airbnb have led the way. The biggest attraction of these arrangements is that rates tend to be far below what area hotels charge. Some landlords even throw in a ride from/to the airport.

Hubber has been challenging the traditional car rental model by matching up privately owned cars with vacationers. If you know you are going out of town for a week, it will match you up with someone visiting your city who wants to rent your car. It's cheaper for them and extra money for you.

Sharing a car with another family also makes sense in some circles. If your car sits unused for days, consider sharing it with the people next door. Or forgo car ownership altogether and consider a service like Zipcar, which lets you rent a car by the hour or day as you need it and then drop it off in a reserved parking spot. No car payments and the price of gas and insurance is included. You won't be paying for watching your car in the driveway. Rates in Los Angeles start at $9 an hour after initial one-time set up costs of about $100.

Not seeing untapped income prospects right under your nose.
If your grown kids are out of the house, why are you still keeping their bedrooms empty? Renting to a local college student or new-to-the-area job transfer could put a little extra cash in your kitty. It might even be nice to have someone in the house with you again if you're by your lonesome. A guest house that gets used once or twice a year is a waste of potential income. If you don't want a permanent tenant but are willing to deal with someone once a month, try listing it on AirBnB.

Lydia Davis: Reading 'Goodbye Louise'

Wed, 2014-09-24 06:29

"Linda, Lyidia, Lindon, Lyda..." The acclaimed American short story writer Lydia Davis reads an ongoing piece of writing -- 'a false autobiography' -- of mistakes made about her name and profession. It's funny!

In this video Lydia Davis (b. 1947) reads "Goodbye Louise, Or Who I Am," a self-invented genre, which has not yet been included in any book. It is an ongoing piece of writing which Davis calls "a false autobiography" because it is supposed to collect information about her, but the information is wrong. The piece takes it's title from a conversation Lydia Davis had with a person who were supposed to know her name, but at the end of the conversation the person said: "Goodbye Louise", the writer explains.

Lydia Davis is regarded as "the master of form largely of her own invention." She has written a number of collections of short stories and one novel. When Lydia Davis received the Man Booker International Prize in 2013 the chairman of the judges said her "writings fling their lithe arms wide to embrace many a kind. Just how to categorise them? They have been called stories but could equally be miniatures, anecdotes, essays, jokes, parables, fables, texts, aphorisms or even apophthegms, prayers or simply observations."

Besides being a writer Lydia Davis is also an acclaimed translator of writers like Proust, Flaubert and Maurice Blanchot.

American writer Jonathan Franzen has characterized Lydia Davis in this way: "She is the shorter Proust among us. She has the sensitivity to track the stuff that is so evanescent it flies right by the rest of us. But as it does so it leaves enough of a trace that when you read her you do it with a sense of recognition."

Lydia Davis read 'Goodbye Louise, Or Who I Am' at the Louisiana Literature festival 22. August 2014, at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark.

Cameras: Klaus Elmer & Nikolaj Jungersen

Edit: Kamilla Bruus.

Produced by Christian Lund

Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.

Supported by Nordea-fonden

People's Climate March Signs Speak Volumes

Tue, 2014-09-23 16:18
Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of joining around 400,000 people in New York to express the urgent need for meaningful climate action. From my vantage point with the NRDC contingent, the incredibly diverse and festive group had a great deal to say. Since a picture speaks a thousand words, check out this fun slideshow featuring some of my favorite protest signs. Thanks everyone who jammed the streets as part of the LARGEST CLIMATE MARCH EVER! Let's keep up the pressure, especially in the upcoming election cycle and leading up to Paris 2015.

A few fun facts about Illinois' candidates for governor

Tue, 2014-09-23 14:35
When voting for governor, Illinoisans must be well aware of the candidates' views on policy matters such as whether or not they want to raise taxes, how they plan to keep the budget balanced and if they support raising the state's minimum wage. Voters should also learn about the candidates' ideological views before heading to the voting booth Nov. 4: Which candidate's views most closely resembles their own on the role of government? Has one or both been accused of any kind of corruption?

But getting to know the candidates as human beings with families and interests and hobbies can shed light on the kind of governor they might turn out to be as well. Here are some fun facts about Illinois gubernatorial candidates Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican Bruce Rauner:

Quinn was the captain of his high school cross country team

Rauner is in a motorcycle club called The American Flyers

Quinn attended Georgetown University for his undergraduate degree and Northwestern University for his law degree

Rauner attended Dartmouth College for his undergraduate degree and Harvard University for his M.B.A.

Quinn likes to play basketball

Rauner's favorite song is "What a Wonderful World," by Louis Armstrong

Find out more fun facts about Quinn and Rauner at Reboot Illinois, including which one holds baseball season tickets and which one had a dairy-farmer grandfather.

If You Love Your Dive Bar, Then Kill It!

Tue, 2014-09-23 14:33
We catch a lot of flak for introducing readers to classic, hidden, and out of the way watering holes around the country. Many readers have admonished us for alerting tourists to their favorite bars, insisting that now the places will be crowded with gawking yokels drawn to the spot because of our article (flattering, actually).

Snake and Jake's Christmas Club Lounge in New Orleans.

A commenter on our article about New Orleans' Snake & Jake's Christmas Club Lounge simply told us to knock it off and keep these finds to ourselves.

But here's the honest truth: dive bars, classic and new, are disappearing at a blinding rate in the United States, and if you honestly love your favorite neighborhood watering hole, then you'll do everything necessary to save it - you'll even be willing to kill it.

What do we mean by "kill" it?

Simply this: you've got to be willing to tell others about it, publicize, and otherwise open it up to the gawking yokels you despise so much. Sure, it will "kill" the vibe that brought you there in the first place, but it may keep the bar around longer.

In a recent Newsweek article, writer Alexander Nazaryan makes clear the plight of the dive bar in today's major cities. Simply put, they are closing across the United States. In fact, he says we're facing an "epidemic" of closings. Laura Holson paints a similar picture about New York's dive bars in a New York Times article.

The epidemic they discuss is, unfortunately, an almost natural progression. Most of these old, broken down bars are built in the less desirable neighborhoods of America's cities. Over time, drawn by the low rent prices, these areas start attracting more trendy establishments willing to take a chance.

Then, young families and professionals begin moving in. Little by little the once decrepit section of town faces full-blown gentrification - it becomes the hot place to relocate.

And so the lonely holdout of skid row - the neighborhood dive - finds itself surrounded by galleries, coffee shops and cafes. And then the rent skyrockets. And they are forced to close.

But is this true for all old dives?

The answer is no.

It's doubtful McSorley's will ever close (but never say never).

McSorley's Old Ale House in Manhattan's Bowery will probably never close. Neither will Chicago's Green Mill or Oakland's Heinold's First and Last Chance.


Simple: because they are destinations, not just bars.

Each of these is in area guidebooks (and not just ours). They are recommended to visitors by friends who've visited. They are noted to tourists when they check into their hotels. They are, in short, NOT hidden or out of the way.

And that, we think, is the secret to saving these places: to not hide them, but to celebrate them.

That's why we wrote our book in the first place. That's why we travel as often as possible to find these places and tell you about them. We want people to go to them because we want to keep them open. We believe that as they become more popular it will likewise become more difficult for landlords and others to force them to close.

Sure, you might not like the tourists who wander in on occasion, but you'd probably like it less if the place simply vanished forever, replaced by an upscale fashion boutique or chain restaurant.

So if you want to save your bar from closing, help it out and tell people about it.

Rahm Emanuel Urges Illinois Lawmakers To Decriminalize Marijuana

Tue, 2014-09-23 13:20
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday urged Illinois lawmakers to decriminalize the possession of less than 15 grams of marijuana. He also pushed for a statewide penalty reduction from felony to misdemeanor for those caught with 1 gram or less of a controlled substance.

“It doesn’t make sense that one arrest for a very small amount of a controlled substance can lead to a lifetime of struggles, sending people in and out of prison and putting up barriers to get a job or finding a place to live. We need action from Springfield," Emanuel said in a statement, per the Chicago Tribune.

The mayor testified Tuesday at a legislative hearing before the House-Senate Joint Criminal Reform Committee, which is looking for ways to ease overcrowding in the state's prisons and jails and to reduce racial disparities in sentencing which disproportionately affect blacks and Latinos.

To push for softer pot penalties is also part of a strategy to get lawmakers to strengthen penalties for gun crimes, Chicago news outlet WGN reports. Emanuel has faced consistent criticism for the rate of gun violence in Chicago since he became mayor in 2011.

Emanuel has previously argued that easing up on drug arrests frees up police to tackle gun crimes and other, more pressing issues.

In 2012, Emanuel successfully lobbied the Chicago City Council to pass an ordinance decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana within the city limits.

Two years on, however, the ordinance giving Chicago police the discretion to issue $250 to $500 tickets for possession of 15 grams or less of pot is considered a failure. Arrests for marijuana possession actually increased, despite police having an option to ticket offenders, and the city collected just $67,256 of the $310,755 in fines levied in the first year of the program, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Illinois currently has a pilot program in place for legal medical marijuana use.

End the Algae Assault: Great Lakes Mayors Should Push for Clean Power Plan and Clean Water Protection Rule

Tue, 2014-09-23 12:05

The nation was greeted last month with the distressing news that nearly a half-million Americans were robbed of access to drinking water by toxic algae blooms near Toledo. It is amazing, spooky and utterly unacceptable for the citizens of a civilized nation to be deprived of safe and sufficient water because of pollution and inadequate infrastructure—especially when they are  perched at the edge of the Great Lakes; the world’s largest source of surface fresh water, and 95% of the fresh water in the USA.

In an important Op-Ed in The Blade Bill Stowe, CEO of the Des Moines, Iowa Water Works, makes clear that the issue is not unique to Toledo and northern Ohio. Algae explosions are clogging inland waterways and lakes throughout the nation. Numerous cities in America are in imminent danger of experiencing the same problem of poisoned water. As Mr. Stowe makes clear, the only reason Des Moines has not gone through the same crisis, is that his city pulls drinking water from two rivers, and is able to alternate between the two, when one or the other is dangerously contaminated. Note: both rivers have been rendered undrinkable by algae, just not at the same time. He thinks it is only a matter of time before both are impacted at once. Sobering stuff.

Here in Chicago, we also must take note.

We cannot complacently imagine that we are protected by the fact that Lake Michigan is deeper and thus less prone to poisoned conditions than Lake Erie. The City wisely chose to up its testing in the wake of Toledo’s troubles—especially as other parts of “our Lake” are being similarly degraded. Check out the series of articles in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s investigating algae blooms crippling Green Bay  and it’s clear that there is very real work to be done in our neck of the woods too. Stowe’s Toledo op-ed is a clarion call for aggressive action to deal with both the water and carbon pollution issues fueling the algae blooms. And he hopes that Ohio and Iowa will lead on both issues.

I hope that will happen—but the City of Chicago should step in right away regardless.

Rahm Emanuel is convening a summit of regional mayors to discuss water quality in the Great Lakes. I hope they will focus on the twin terrors at the heart of this algae assault: water pollution and climate change. With the Great Lakes on the front lines in both fights, this summit is an opportunity for the Mayor to galvanize support for fixes on both issues being debated nationally right now that would go a long way to stemming the algae assault:

  • We are seeing decades-old predictions from climate science coming to pass in the region with serious economic, health and quality of life implications. And if their algae predictions come to pass, it’s going to be a lot worse. Mayor Emanuel must lead the Mayors to aggressively support President Obama’s historic Clean Power Plan to slash carbon emissions. Their voices are necessary and will be powerful.

  • We need to make it harder to pollute America’s waters. Ohio has waged a veritable war on wetlands, which is problematic since they actually help filter the fertilizer that fuels these algae blooms out of runoff. Now is the time for the Mayors to support the important Clean Water Protection Rule (also known as Waters of the US) which would return legal protections to streams, wetlands and headwaters—ending a source of pollution flowing into our larger bodies of water like the Great Lakes.

It is time to get serious about stopping climate change, making our cities more resilient, and protecting clean water. Otherwise, Toledo’s troubles will soon be our own.

"What Lurks Below" image by Milosh Kosanovich

This post originally appeared on NRDC's Switchboard blog.

Aaron Neville, Michael McDonald Join All-Star Lineup For Mavis Staples Tribute Concert

Tue, 2014-09-23 11:02
CHICAGO (AP) — Mavis Staples is getting the tribute treatment.

An all-star lineup of musicians including Gregg Allman, Aaron Neville, Taj Mahal, Eric Church, Michael McDonald, Patty Griffin and more will salute Staples during the I'll Take You There - Celebrating 75 Years of Mavis Staples tribute concert Nov. 19 in Chicago. Staples has had one of music's most powerful careers as a member of The Staple Singers and as a solo artist, connecting the gospel music of her upbringing to social issues and causes. Resulting soul music anthems like "I'll Take You There" helped define the civil rights era.

The 75-year-old singer also will perform during the tribute, which will be recorded for release later. Tickets go on sale at 11 a.m. EDT Monday through Ticketmaster and the Auditorium Theatre.



Now That You're Officially Allowed to Eat Fall Foods, Go Master These 5 Staples

Tue, 2014-09-23 09:58
Fall is here.

I'm never more excited for a season. It means I can finally wear black without being ridiculed, bring out my turtlenecks in typical German 1980s fashion, and relish those smells from the vendors who manage Nuts 4 Nuts on Manhattan street corners. It's the perfect time for exploring restaurants that serve up hot dishes like curries, soups and warm homemade pasta, or curling up a with a book and a nice chai latte in a local cafe.

But there's also no better season to explore the ultimate cooking destination of your own kitchen. It's time to dust off those baking pans that have hibernated during summer. It's time to search for your yiayia's avgolemono recipe, or call up your bubbe for instructions on how to make her family-famous matzo ball soup. Here's to fantasizing about savory meats, spices like nutmeg and cinnamon, crisp fruits, and hot drinks that are not just for your caffeine fix -- they're an absolute necessity as you traipse the streets while arctic air blasts your face.

Not a cook? Fine. But you might want to learn how to make a proper mac and cheese or try your hand at baking -- before it's too late and you have to speed to Boston Market to buy a dilapidated apple pie and sub-par side.

1. The ultimate comfort food: macaroni and cheese

From chicken pot pies to Ma's meatloaf (yes, even Will Ferrell in Wedding Crashers was addicted to this motherly meal), fall is the perfect time to start perfecting comfort food. Mac and cheese is definitely a must-know recipe for the season, and with these super easy instructions, you can't go wrong. How could you possibly not want to learn how to create the ultimate cheesy dish? Odds are you probably have most of this stuff congregating in your cupboards or pantry anyway, so go to town and savor this golden goodness. It is the ultimate fall entrée or side dish.

Photo courtesy of Flickr/psharpley

2. In a fight for the season's sweetest taste, the winner is pumpkin.

Pumpkin is the omnipresent sight, smell and taste of fall. There is no better time to experiment with savory or sweet dishes that revolve around the flavor. Obviously, pumpkin pie is a timeless staple and perfect for beginners, but what about throwing pumpkin in a stir-fry?

Or making it the highlight of your weekly pasta night?

At the very least, dump that Starbucks pumpkin spice latte -- the only pumpkin-like thing about it is the shape you'll slowly morph into if you consume several per week. Or... just make your own.

Photo courtesy of Flickr/36940459@N06

3. Slow-cooked seasoned meat will warm your soul.

Yes, come fall, meat is usually what's for dinner. From pot roasts to pork tenderloin, folks around the country are turning up their ovens and firing up the grills. Heartwarming sustenance is here to stay for the next several months. While I don't eat meat on the regular, I embrace the wonderful scents and tastes of slow-cooked brisket or lamb infused with garlic. Try to buy grass-fed, organic and/or local meat, and serve up your table with these hearty staples.

Photo courtesy of Flickr/blueant

4. Roasted root veggies are perfect as a side or on their own.

Of course, what better accompaniment for a meat dish than vegetables? Fall is the time for root vegetables -- they're hearty as well, packed with nutrients and take on bold flavors. Load up carrots, quartered onions, and celery alongside a baking meatloaf, or make plenty of side dishes with sweet potatoes, squash, parsnips, and even Brussels sprouts. Also, check out this chart to find the perfect produce for your next seasonal adventure.

5. Warm booze... because.

Time to pull out those spices and your saucepan. Who doesn't enjoy a warm alcoholic beverage while sitting in front of the first fire of the season (or in my case, lighting a candle that smells of cinnamon and pretending I can feel the lone flame)? Spiked hot cider, mulled wine, and my personal favorite -- a hot toddy -- are fall and winter highlights that will keep you warm and buzzed as you watch that marathon of your favorite Netflix show.

Now, stop eating that box of Kraft mac and cheese and drinking boxed wine. It's time to shake your way to the kitchen and start baking. After all, 'tis the season!

Chef Jeff Mauro and Singer Phillip Phillips at the Food Network in Conert

Tue, 2014-09-23 07:47
Gearing up for Tuesday night's Dinner Party, I headed to the Food Network in Concert at Ravinia last Saturday. In a very fun and off-the-cuff interview, I met with funny man, Jeff Mauro, host of "The Sandwich King" and "The Kitchen," and Phillip Phillips whose platinum album, "The World from the Side of the Moon" sold 9 Million copies after he won the 11th season of American Idol. His second album, "Behind the Light," was released this May.

Although seemingly an unlikely pair, around noon Mauro and Phillips did a cooking demonstration together, where Mauro did the demonstration and Phillips noted that he got a grill for this birthday. Just after they mixed it up on stage, I joined the two of them on a back balcony for an outside, completely unscripted interview (below).

In our chat, we talk about their pawnshop connection, the pressure and stress of competing on reality TV shows, and how much of the shows are reality and how much are scripted. Also, in the spirit of fun competition, I give Mauro and Phillips a friendly food and lifestyle quiz, and their answers have me and the entire crew in stitches. Be sure to catch Phillips' hilarious favorite expression at the end and Mauro's surprise rendition of an apropos tune sung for Phillips who was enjoying his 26th birthday.

Enjoy this hilarious interview with these now good buddies recorded right before Mauro headed off to a book signing, Phillips prepared to perform, opening that night for John Mayer, and I set out to try samplings from over 50 well-respected chefs and 100+ wineries scattered among the beuaitful Ravinia grounds amidst a day full of music, food and wine.

The Joffrey Ballet Soars in Ambitious Triple Bill: <em>Stories in Motion</em>

Mon, 2014-09-22 22:59

The Joffrey Ballet's extraordinary mixed bill, Stories in Motion, exploded onstage at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago this past weekend: three ballets that trace a timeline of the infiltration of Modernism in ballet -- from George Balanchine's final work for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in 1929, to Antony Tudor's 1936 distillation of sexual mores in Edwardian England, and Yuri Possokhov's high-tech riff on rape and arson set against the backdrop of an ancient Japanese warrior culture.

With the ink barely dry on the Surrealist Manifesto, Balanchine recounted the biblical allegory of the Prodigal Son against vivid, Fauvist backdrops and introduced a Greek chorus of comic thugs, very effectively and menacingly danced by the male corps. The strapping Alberto Velazquez tore up the stage in the title role on Saturday night, utterly convincing as the youthful rebel who succumbs to a Siren, then returns home a wretched mendicant. The supremely athletic Christine Rocas was most bewitching when wrapped around Velazquez: locking him inside her leg lifted in attitude devant, and slithering provocatively down his body in a backbend while gripping her ankles. But Rocas never ventured into the territory of the strange and sinister, as other great interpreters of the role have done; she appeared about as sinister as an NFL cheerleader. And a slight slip of technique was visible as she repeatedly sacrificed turnout at the hip in search of higher leg extensions to the side.

While the final scene of the ballet contains no formal dance movements whatsoever (unusual for Balanchine), anyone who ever had a father could not fail to be intensely moved at the sight of Velazquez hoisting his limp and broken body into his Father's arms. Whereupon the Father -- portrayed with great dignity and reserve by Artistic Director Ashley Wheater -- wrapped his cloak around his son's near-naked body and carried him solemnly toward the house.

Tissues emerged to dab at eyes during intermission, and were needed again once the curtain rose on Tudor's Lilac Garden, as hay fever threatened. The stage was cloaked in dark, sheer drops painted with abstractions of flowering bushes so thick that we sensed the oppressive perfume of lilacs. We have gatecrashed a garden party of well-bred folk of the Downton Abbey era (Season One) during which the aristocratic Caroline and The Man She Must Marry (presumably a wealthy man chosen to buttress her family's dwindling fortune) have several anguished, clandestine encounters: she with Her Lover and he with An Episode in His Past. These interludes keep getting interrupted, however, by nosy party guests who drag the two couples back to the formalities of social dance.

Tudor employed a minimal range of classical ballet movement for the legs, with precise and delicate footwork -- one impassioned duet consists merely of a series of sissonne jumps that change directions -- but he defied classical tradition in his use of the arms, which are expressive in a naturalistic manner. His default position of the arms is very low, almost pinned to the side of the body in a stance that conveys vulnerability -- in contrast to the generous, open and slightly rounded classical carriage of the arms. The heights of sexual fervor are expressed twice in Lilac Garden, when each of the two male leads -- very finely danced by Miguel Angel Blanco and Dylan Gutierrez on Saturday night -- upends his partner, her pointes momentarily shooting skyward.

Tudor dancers do not emote; through their steps, through changes in body tension, through gesture and touch they reveal desire, pain and conflict to the audience even as they seek to conceal those emotions from one another. The Joffrey gives the most exquisite performance of this understated, interior masterpiece that Ballet to the People has ever witnessed, with a fine interpretation of Ernest Chausson's Poème delivered by the Chicago Philharmonic and solo violinist David Perry. Victoria Jaiani is transcendent as Caroline, while the lovely and musical April Daly strikes a contrast as her spunky rival.

Leaping forward into the internet age -- signaled by stunning video projections and the anarchic use of upper- and lower-case in the ballet's title -- RAkU plays fast and loose with the story of the 1950 burning of Kyoto's Temple of the Golden Pavilion by a mentally unhinged monk. Not unlike the preceding pieces, this is highly stylized costume drama, though primitive and erotically charged in a different way. The cinematic score by Shinji Eshima, like the choreography, has moments of restrained, hypnotic beauty, and of oneness with nature (cue the sound of crickets). Then all hell breaks loose: kimonos are whipped off bodies by invisible wires; a quartet of stomping samurai slash the air with swords; their leader, the commanding Fabrice Calmels, troops off to fight in distant lands, leaving his princess bride -- once again, the luminous Victoria Jaiani, this time in heroic mode -- to be stalked and raped by a mad monk (Temur Suluashvili, in a heartstopping performance) who then torches the temple.

The gang of four return, this time with a casket bearing the ashes of the princess' husband, and proceed to rape her, too. (An unforeseen plot twist: weren't these warriors loyal to her husband barely five minutes ago? But this narrative defies logic, as do the librettos of many classic ballets.) In her grief and torment, the princess flings her husband's ashes over her body and toys with suicide, wielding her husband's sword. It's a wonder she doesn't expire, but the Philharmonic keeps playing, Buddhist monks start chanting, snow starts falling, and the princess-who-won't-die signals her descent into madness by repeatedly raising a sickled foot (in ballet terms, the ultimate sign that Modernism has triumphed) then either falls asleep or dies (unclear).

Possokhov's inventiveness flags as he repeats phrases -- notably the cruel flinging of the princess' broken body into the air during the gang rape. And there was not much choreographic distinction between the intimate bedroom pas de deux of the princess and her husband and the first rape scene. Possokhov's treatment of sexual violence was more original and compelling in his 2013 Rite of Spring for San Francisco Ballet.

The visual splendor of RAkU is undeniable, however, anchored by the breathtaking scenery and projection design by Alexander Nichols and mouthwatering costume designs by Mark Zappone. The references to a more or less imaginary ancient Japanese warrior culture follow longstanding ballet tradition that imagines an India full of Hindu temple dancers who bare their midriffs in bikini tops (La Bayadère), and a Russia under siege by monstrous Oriental despots (The Firebird). The hunky samurai of RAkU fight in long flowing silk skirts slit alluringly on the side of the hip, revealing vast swathes of vulnerable anatomy. The demented monk frequently assumes the plank position and other yoga poses, but also soars thrillingly in strings of double sauts de basque that remind us that not only is this ballet, it is RUSSIAN ballet. Political correctness aside, this is entertainment of a very high order, which the artists of the Joffrey deliver impeccably.

Photos by Cheryl Mann:
1. Alberto Velazquez in Balanchine's Prodigal Son
2. Alberto Velazquez & Christine Rocas as the Siren in Balanchine's Prodigal Son
3. Alberto Velazquez & Ashley Wheater as the Father in Balanchine's Prodigal Son
4. Victoria Jaiani as Caroline & Dylan Gutierrez as Her Lover in Tudor's Lilac Garden
5. April Daly as An Episode in His Past & Miguel Angel Blanco as The Man She Must Marry in Tudor's Lilac Garden
6. Dylan Gutierrez, Victoria Jaiani, Miguel Angel Blanco, April Daly in Tudor's Lilac Garden
7. Fabrice Calmels as the Samurai & Victoria Jaiani as the Princess in Possokhov's RAkU
8. Temur Suluashvili as the Monk in Possokhov's RAkU
9. Victoria Jaiani (right) & Warrior ensemble in Possokhov's RAkU
10. Victoria Jaiani in Possokhov's RAkU

Marijuana Tax Revenue May Top $3 Billion A Year With Legalization

Mon, 2014-09-22 18:40
Money may not grow on trees, but it apparently does grow on marijuana plants. If all 50 states legalized cannabis today, they'd be collectively raking in more than $3 billion a year in taxes.

That's according to NerdWallet, a personal finance site, which forecasts a total $3.1 billion annual windfall for state governments that legalize the popular plant.

California would gain the most from legalization. NerdWallet projects the Golden State would generate more than $519 million per year, which the website points out would almost fund the entire 2013 budget for California's Department of Parks and Recreation. New York would be second, with $248 million, NerdWallet said. Seven additional states would bring in $100 million or more from legalization, and 25 others would stand to make at least $20 million per year.

NerdWallet's estimate assumed a flat, 15 percent excise tax on marijuana -- the same as Colorado's excise tax on recreational marijuana sales. NerdWallet added state and local sales taxes to that figure.

The site didn't subtract medical marijuana tax revenues in the 23 states that allow medicinal use of cannabis. The post-prohibition forecast also failed to calculate reduced government spending on law enforcement. In 2010, Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron estimated more than $8 billion in annual savings in law enforcement costs if marijuana were legalized.

To estimate marijuana sales in each state, NerdWallet used the widely cited Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Surveys on Drug Use and Health to find the number of marijuana consumers aged 25 and older. NerdWallet calculated the approximate number of pot users in each state, and applied the percentage to the U.S. population. It estimated the total U.S. marijuana market at $14 billion, as projected by Miron.

Of course, tax rates in states may vary wildly from NerdWallet's 15 percent assumption. And estimating a marketplace for a substance that has been banned and stigmatized may be fraught. In Colorado, where recreational marijuana is legal, recreational marijuana tax revenue has been far lower than predicted.

Still, recent studies have projected that the U.S. marijuana industry may reach $8 billion to to $10 billion in sales by 2018.

In 2012, Colorado and Washington state legalized recreational marijuana. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use. In November, Oregon and Alaska voters will cast ballots on the legalization of recreational marijuana, voters in Florida will decide on a medical marijuana ballot measure, and Washington, D.C., voters will consider legalizing recreational marijuana possession and use.

Take a look at NerdWallet's map of the United States below to see tax revenues your state might expect from legal, regulated marijuana:

Pastor Gets Rival Gang Members To Put Down Guns And Pick Up Basketballs, And The NBA Notices

Mon, 2014-09-22 17:43
A midday basketball game on Chicago's South Side brought together an unlikely group of people Saturday. Churchgoers, NBA stars, community leaders and gang members all gathered for the third annual Chicago Peace League Basketball Tournament.

"At first nobody wanted to work with us. Everyone thought it was going to be a disaster," the tournament's organizer, Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina church, told The Huffington Post. The tournament is the culminating event for St. Sabina's Peace Basketball League, which brings in members from factions of The Black Disciples, Killa Ward, The Black P. Stones, The Gangster Disciples and other local gangs. Members play alongside one another as teammates, working toward a common goal of peace.

Pfleger and his congregation are among Chicago's most active anti-violence activists, with St. Sabina holding weekly peace walks and vigils for victims of gun violence. During one of the weekly Friday night vigils in 2012, Pfleger decided to bring a peace-oriented basketball league to the neighborhood.

"One particular night we were out walking with our church folk, and Isiah Thomas happened to be out with us," Pfleger said. The NBA Hall of Famer and Chicago native told Pfleger, "Hey, I'm in," and the Chicago Peace Basketball league was born.

Chicago Bulls star Joakim Noah also participates in the tournament, Pfleger said. Noah volunteered as a coach for Saturday's game and has done outreach over the years with members of the league. Other NBA players also showed up Saturday to help coach or support the players; Noah's Bulls teammates Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson, as well as Chicago natives Jabari Parker of the Milwaukee Bucks and Will Bynum of the Detroit Pistons, were among them. NBA referees also volunteered for the games.

“The NBA players talk about how [the men] can build peace in the community,” Pfleger said. "Basketball has tremendous power because it helps build relationships, and the ball became the driving force, not gang divisions."

Despite a crowded facility packed with rival gang members (or those at risk of being recruited into gangs), Pleger said there's never been an incident in three years of hosting the league or the high-profile tournament. In fact, Plfeger said the surrounding community in St. Sabina's Auburn-Gresham neighborhood has seen a "drastic" drop in violence since the league began.

"We’ve seen the relationships improve," he said.

“Around the area of St. Sabina, kids see it as a place of safety, a sanctuary,” Thomas told

For each game during the two 12-week league sessions, Pfleger says there are speakers who talk to the young men about everything from conflict resolution to money management to self-esteem, and that players also share meals together.

"In the past three years, hundreds [of participants] have gone through and got GEDs, about six are off to college. Others are going to city colleges," Pfleger said. "A guy who got shot last year this fall went off to Alabama State."

Pfleger also said St. Sabina has even hired some of the players and has helped others find jobs. Members from the church find out what the young men need, be it jobs, social services or education.

“My consistent belief is 95 percent of these men just want an option," Pfleger said. "Five percent may just want to be shooters, want to be gangster. But the rest? Give them an education, get them a job."

A 30-year-old participant named Charles, who played the game wearing an electronic ankle monitor, told the Sun-Times, “I was in a state of shock playing with these guys, because we spend all this time trying to hurt each other." Charles, who told the paper he's no longer active in a gang but was involved before going to jail, added, “This was more than a feel-good moment. It’s bringing us closer.”

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This College Student Is Trying To Eliminate Small Talk One Big Question At A Time

Mon, 2014-09-22 17:17
Kalina Silverman thought she was alone. She was wrong.

As a freshman at Northwestern University, Silverman had a tough time adjusting to life on the Evanston, Illinois campus. While writing an article for her journalism class about her experience, she asked the class of 2016 on Facebook if they had similar experiences, and the stories came flooding in.

"It made me realize that everyone goes through tough stuff and they just don't talk about it," Silverman, now 20, told The Huffington Post in an interview. "Then the next year I was having a really deep conversation with one of my friends and said 'Wow, I wish every conversation could be like this,' and he said how much he hated small talk. Immediately the idea of 'Big Talk' popped into my mind and it grew from there."

Silverman began her project called "Big Talk" where she approaches strangers on the street and films their responses to bigger life questions, like "What do you want to do before you die?" She hopes that by labeling it "Big Talk" the concept won't seem as intimidating as it initially sounds.

"My dream for the whole concept is for it to become a social movement where people want to have big talk in every day life," she said. "I'd love to have discussions or groups to talk about these things. I want it to inspire people to go up to strangers and start asking these kind of questions when they meet them."

Her social experiment raked in some seriously emotional responses. Watch the video above to see the seriously emotional responses her social experiment raked in.

Top 8 Liberal Arts Colleges in Illinois, Ranked by <i>U.S. News and World Report</i>

Mon, 2014-09-22 16:52
Though it's too late for this year's first-time college students to make use of U.S. News and World Report's college rankings, the list comes just in time for high school students are who are just starting to think about colleges. As part of their national rankings of colleges and universities around the country, eight colleges in Illinois were listed among the top liberal arts colleges in the country.

U.S. News and World Report breaks down its rankings in to four different categories: National Universities, Regional Universities, National Liberal Arts Colleges and Regional Colleges. Here's a description on how the four categories are separated:

Schools are categorized by their mission, which is derived from the breakdown of types of higher education institutions as refined by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 2010. The Carnegie classification, which is used extensively by higher education researchers, has been the basis of the Best Colleges ranking category system since our first rankings were published in 1983.

The U.S. Department of Education and many higher education associations use the system to organize their data and to determine colleges' eligibility for grant money. In short, the Carnegie categories are the accepted standard in higher education. The category names we use are our own -- National Universities, National Liberal Arts Colleges, Regional Universities and Regional Colleges -- but their definitions rely on the Carnegie principles.

National Universities offer a full range of undergraduate majors, plus master's and doctoral programs, and emphasize faculty research. National Liberal Arts Colleges focus almost exclusively on undergraduate education. They award at least 50 percent of their degrees in the arts and sciences.

Regional Universities offer a broad scope of undergraduate degrees and some master's degree programs but few, if any, doctoral programs. Regional Colleges focus on undergraduate education but grant fewer than 50 percent of their degrees in liberal arts disciplines; this category also includes schools that have small bachelor's degree programs but primarily grant two-year associate degrees.

Illinois didn't do as well on national liberal arts colleges rankings as the city of Claremont, Calif. did... Claremont had five of the top 35 liberal arts colleges. But Illinois still had a strong showing with eight colleges ranked. Those eight Illinois liberal arts colleges are below, with their national rank in parenthesis and their location and enrollment listed:

8. Monmouth College (tie 165th)
Monmouth, Ill.

Total enrollment: 1,256

7. Illinois College (tie 155th)
Jacksonville, Ill.

Total enrollment: 1,028

6. Principia College (tie 139th)
Elsah, Ill.

Total enrollment: 480

5. Lake Forest College (tie 120th)
Lake Forest, Ill.

Total enrollment: 1,622

See the top four Illinois liberal arts colleges according to U.S. News and World Report at Reboot Illinois.

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