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29 Animals Who Look Like You Feel After The Office Holiday Party

Tue, 2014-12-16 15:40
They just HAD to have it on a weeknight didn't they?!

When the end of the year rolls around, the company holiday party is primetime for embarrassing dancing, awkward hookups and drunken conversations with your boss. If the morning after has you feeling less than professional, take some solace in the fact that these 29 animals totally feel your pain.

Ugh, what the heck happened last night?

Via Imgur

What time is it? ... What day is it?

Via Imgur

Oh right, the holiday party ... sheesh ...

Via Imgur

Where did I sleep?

Via Imgur

Must have gotten locked out of the house last night. The birds are laughing at me.

Via Imgur

I need water. All the water.

Via Reddit/Chino1285

Hold on, ugh ...

Via Imgur

Whose house is this? I don't remember stairs.

Via Imgur

Is this even my couch? Don't care. Sleep.

Via Imgur

My eyes ... So red ...

Via Imgur

Had some serious beer goggles last night.

Via Imgur

Ugh, did I make out with that cat from HR?

Via Imgur/mattavino

Oh no, did I really tell my boss off?

Via Imgur

At least tell me I didn't dance like an idiot.

Via Imgur

You know what'd be great? You grabbing me some Ibuprofen.

Via Imgur


Via Imgur

Remember that thing we said we'd do today? Ehhh, not happening.

Via Imgur

Really not sure if this is worth having been crowned the champions of flip cup.

Via Reddit/Husky_in_TX

I think I just need to eat something and go back to sleep ... Or both. At the same time.

Via Imgur

Just need a quick drink of wa-- Ugh. Nevermind.

Via Reddit/sickwiththejillness

It only hurts 'cuz we stopped drinking. Grab a cup...

Via Imgur

No, no, you gotta cleanse your body with something healthy, like a salad.

Via Reddit/drunk_bird

The goat's right. The goat's totally right. How'd I get in this tree?

Via Imgur

You guys go ahead and get food. As for me ... naayyyyyyyy.

Via Reddit/heyredditheyreddit

Wait, you guys let me wear this around the party the whole night?

Via Imgur

How did I end up naked in a box?

Via Reddit/elocinardnassac

Hey at least you weren't like Barry, who wouldn't leave the keg 'til it was done.

Via Imgur

Maybe I should just take a day off...

Via Imgur

... Or ten.

Via Imgur

A Terrible Crime Is Being Committed, And It's You Not Watching This 'True Detective' Christmas Parody

Tue, 2014-12-16 15:36
Some people would love Cohle for Christmas...

The first season of "True Detective" is all said and done, and the place where the Louisiana State Police Detectives Rust Cohle and Martin Hart once stood is now an empty void. But you better watch out, you better not cry, and you better not pout, because Santa Clause has case to solve. And he's doing it "True Detective" style.

And just like Rust, you probably won't understand anything he's saying. You'll say you do, but we all know you have no idea. Hopefully this parody made by the good folks at Heck Bender will yule tide you over until season two starts.

Stop Saying Yoga Isn't Exercise

Tue, 2014-12-16 14:57
Professional athletes of all stripes say that incorporating yoga into their training is a great way to stay limber, flexible and build strength in muscles that might otherwise go ignored.

But a new meta-analysis published Monday in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology suggests that practicing breathing-based (or asana) yoga could also be a way to protect cardiovascular health. That puts yoga, an ancient spiritual practice that incorporates mind and body, in a class of activities that include walking and biking as a way to avoid weight gain, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.

The meta-analysis authors are excited about the finding because yoga is a relatively accessible exercise to ease into for the elderly, those with joint or muscle pain or those with weak hearts.

“Yoga has the potential to be a cost-effective treatment and prevention strategy given its low cost, lack of expensive equipment or technology, potential greater adherence and health-related quality of life improvements, and possible accessibility to larger segments of the population,” they wrote in a press release about the study.

The authors analyzed 32 randomized, controlled trials (the gold standard of experimentation because they have control groups) and found that yoga helped participants lose weight (an average of about five pounds), lower their blood pressure, cholesterol levels and their heart rate as compared to control groups that did no exercise at all. The improved levels were particularly noticeable for participants who already happened to be taking statins or lipid-lowering drugs because of pre-existing coronary heart disease.

However, yoga was not shown to improve measures related to diabetes, like fasting blood glucose or glycosylated hemoglobin levels. Also, when compared to control groups who did other forms of exercise, yoga was not associated with any statistically significant health benefits.

The bottom line: research suggests that yoga is comparable to aerobic exercise when it comes to improving cardiovascular health, although researchers aren’t exactly sure why. Nor are they sure exactly how much yoga is enough to stimulate these benefits, or how yoga’s risks and benefits compare to practices like regular exercise and medication.

But the research on yoga and heart health is enough, said senior author prof. Miriam Hunink of Harvard School of Public Health and Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, to conclude that the ancient practice is “potentially very useful, and in my view worth pursuing as a risk improvement practice.”

In a post for the American Heart Association, M. Mala Cunningham, Ph.D., counseling psychologist and founder of Cardiac Yoga, suggested that the calming psychological aspects of yoga could have a particularly beneficial effect on people who have suffered a heart attack or other heart event in the past.

"The acute emotional stress of such an event certainly has a significant and adverse effect on the heart," Cunningham said to AHA. "That’s where yoga can be a tremendous benefit to manage the stress."

"All these things come into play when you’ve got a potentially chronic disease to manage for the rest of your life,” she concluded.

5 Things Millennials Should Consider Before Buying a Home

Tue, 2014-12-16 14:11
Owning your own home was always the cornerstone of the American Dream, but buying seems to have become unattainable for post-recession millennials. By not purchasing property, however, millennials may lose out on some of the advantages of home ownership.

Just slightly more than one-third of millennial adults are currently homeowners, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The tide among this age group, born roughly between 1982 and the early 2000s, is beginning to turn however, according to the National Association of Realtors. The association found that one-third of homebuyers during the first quarter of 2014 were in this age bracket. If you're a millennial looking to settle down, here are five factors to consider.

1. The costs of ownership

When you rent, your costs are fairly straightforward: security deposit, rent, renters insurance, any utilities not included in the rent and possibly Internet, cable and phone. However, homeownership costs are much different.

"I'm thinking a lot of millennials are going to be really surprised at cost of ownership," says Dana Twight, certified financial planner at Twight Financial Education, based in Seattle. "If you're struggling to make a mortgage payment and you have to pay to have your furnace fixed ... then you have to pay off student loan debt, and at that point you're like, I don't have an emergency fund anymore."

Homeownership expenses start with the mortgage and include much more:

  • Mortgage: If you finance your home, your main monthly payment will be your mortgage, which goes toward both the principal and interest on the loan. The mortgage rate will determine the interest you pay. The rate you can get will depend heavily on your personal finances, lender and current market conditions.

    One benefit of a mortgage is it's often set at a fixed rate, so your payment will never change, unlike renting where you're subject to more price fluctuations.

  • Hidden Fees: You might end up with some hidden fees at closing, says Twight. "Sometimes the lender will throw in a 1% fee for something, so you need to give yourself enough time to review your agreement. There are things in there that may add up and increase the cost of the loan."

  • Utilities: You'll incur charges for utilities or services you may not be used to, such as water or trash pickup in addition to gas, electric, cable, Internet and phone.

  • Insurance: If your down payment is less than 20% of the value of the home, you'll have the additional cost of private mortgage insurance (PMI) to pay your lender each month.

    You'll also need homeowners insurance. The cost for this coverage will vary according to the age of your home, your credit risk and other factors. You'll also have to pay extra for hazard insurance if you live in earthquake, tsunami or volcano zones. Those in flood-prone areas will have to get federal flood insurance.

  • Maintenance: Maintenance and repairs for plumbing, appliances and the like that your landlord used to cover are now your responsibility. Depending on where you purchase, you may also have homeowners association or condo dues, too.

  • Property taxes: Your property taxes will also vary according the value of your home and where you live. Even if you think you're in a low-tax area, you need to factor into your overall budget the strong possibility that those taxes will increase.

2. What equity can do for you that rent can't

Unlike renting, homeownership enables you to build equity in your home and create financial security. Home equity is your share of the value in your home, which builds as the home appreciates. Building home equity is an investment and can make it easier for you to get a more desirable second home. It can also be used as collateral for loans you may want in the future, such as for a business or property renovations.

"You are building wealth," says Anthony Humpage, CEO of Tigrent Inc./Rich Dad Education. "While the cash outflows of home purchase make a home purchase a liability (since you have to pay out cash every month) property ownership combined with a low, fixed-rate mortgage offers you a real hedge against future inflation."

3. Short term vs. long-term commitment

Ask yourself if you're ready to make a long-term commitment of home ownership and consider how long you're planning to stay in the area.

"Many of us aren't ready to commit to one location for more than a few years," says Ryan Donovan, a Vermont-based real estate agent who is also a millennial. He adds if you plan to stay in a location less than five years, home ownership may not make sense.

The five-year time horizon is especially needed if you want to see a return on your investment in the house, including the purchase, broker fees, closing costs as well as any renovations and general upkeep.

"Many people are unsure about what their living situation might look like, given expanding family size or job uncertainty, so renting is often the smarter decision," says Philip Lang, co-founder of Suitey, a New York-based tech-focused brokerage.

4. What your priorities are now - and how they may change

Figuring out your priorities for your lifestyle and family is one of the best ways to figure out if buying is right for you.

"If a family purchases a home, it's good to have an understanding of why you're buying the house in the first place. Are you keeping up with Joneses? It is because your family always owned real estate? What are your job prospects?" asks Twight.

Melinda Kibler, a millennial and certified financial planner with Palisades Hudson Financial Group in Florida, says rental properties may offer a set of amenities that home ownership doesn't. "If a buyer enjoys amenities that a rental apartment building offers, such as a gym, pool, or concierge service, they must attach a price to this and factor it into the value, versus purchasing a home where they may lose these amenities," she said.

Buying may be a good option, for example, for those who have children or plan to do so in order to have a fixed location for public school boundaries. "Schools tend to drive many real estate markets, and you tend to see a strong correlation between school achievement and a high percentage of home ownership," says Tim Proschold, a real estate broker and sales manager for California-based Sereno Group Real Estate.

Overall, you need to consider the "X-factor" in the area where you'd like to live, says Adam Walden, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate based in Florida. "Every neighborhood is different. It is important to understand the factors that tie in with value," he says. "In some places, it may be a premium to have a large back yard, while in others it is important to have an abundance of amenities."

5. Your current credit and debt situation

Even if the desire for home ownership is strong, your financial situation may not be.

Twenty percent of all recent homebuyers delayed home purchases due to outstanding debt, the National Association of Realtors found earlier this year. For 20% of millennial buyers who took their time saving for a down payment, 56% said student loan debt was their biggest obstacle.

Your credit score and existing debt will affect your mortgage and insurance rates, or may affect your ability to get a mortgage loan altogether. Consider taking steps to increase your credit score before purchasing a home to get the best rates and working to lower your debt to secure better rates and to lower your overall monthly costs.

Millennials may not idealize the traditional house and white picket fence as other generations have, but it doesn't mean homeownership is out of reach. Even if your credit score isn't up to snuff or the costs seem too high right now, you can get your finances into better shape before you try to buy your first home.

What Teens Don't Know Can Hurt Them (and Their Futures) -- Why STD Testing Is Critical

Tue, 2014-12-16 13:55
Nearly 20 million new sexually-transmitted diseases are estimated to occur every year in this country, half among young people between the ages of 15 to 24. As parents, health care providers and policy makers, this isn't something we can ignore.

CDC's latest national STD report, released today, makes it clear that young people continue to bear the brunt of America's STD epidemic, revealing far higher rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea than any other age group. These two infections alone accounted for more than 1.1 million diagnoses in young men and women aged 15-24 in 2013 -- and we know this represents only about half of the chlamydia infections and a third of gonorrhea infections that actually occurred.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are not only preventable, they are also curable. However, many infections go undetected or simply ignored, in part because they often have few or no symptoms. But if left untreated, STDs can do irreparable harm. As a result of undiagnosed STDs, like chlamydia and gonorrhea, every year more than 24,000 American women become infertile, silently stealing a young woman's chance to become pregnant.

It doesn't have to be this way. Health care providers can quickly and easily diagnose most STDs through a physical exam, a urine sample or a simple cotton swab. Once diagnosed, both chlamydia and gonorrhea can be treated and cured with antibiotics.

And, once cured, the STD can't be passed on to anyone else. This means that diagnosing infections -- and diagnosing them early -- is key to protecting the health of the individual and their partner. It is also a key factor in preventing new infections and stopping the STD epidemic in its tracks.

That's why all sexually-active young women under the age of 25 should get screened for chlamydia and gonorrhea every year. Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go to ensure these recommendations are fully realized -- it's estimated that only 40 percent of sexually active young women are screened for chlamydia as advised.

To increase testing, CDC works to ensure that health departments, health care providers, and young people themselves have the information and resources they need. But we all need to do more to ensure young people can and do access affordable, confidential STD prevention and treatment services. For example:

  • Parents can make sure teens have the information they need to protect themselves and are seeing a doctor who provides appropriate health care. Honest and open communication between parents and their teenage son or daughter about sex, relationships, and STD prevention can have a strong influence on a young person's risk behaviors.

  • STD screening should be a standard part of the physician's checklist for young people. Don't wait for your patients to ask for a test, or assume that a young person is not sexually active. CDC provides tips and guidance to help health care providers open up the lines of communication with young people about sex and STDs.

  • We all need to break the silence that surrounds STDs in our communities -- we should talk about STDs without shame or stigma and help young people understand STD screening is a routine, essential part of taking care of themselves and protecting their future health.

We can remove the barriers that are preventing young Americans from taking advantage of STD testing and treatment services, and protect their health. We can't afford to leave another generation vulnerable to the potentially damaging effects of STDs -- not when the solution is so simple.

Holiday Quandaries for a Man of Mustache

Tue, 2014-12-16 12:53
At the holiday times, people of Mustached American descent -- real men of brawn, feline hatred, and power tools -- are often at a loss for words as to all of this holiday gift giving fuss.

Not to undermine, attack nor in any way conduct a "war on Christmas" as FOX News has suggested is the case with the United States government. It goes without saying that a holiday season should exist from September through January built around December 25 -- the day the world comes together as one to celebrate the birth of Santa Claus, a dynamic man of beard.

But why the roid-rage dose of commercialism during this time of year? Why on earth must we shower gifts upon our friends, children, spouses or Peruvian midwives who give birth to our out-of-wedlock spawns? It makes no sense to the Mustached American community.

Retailers far and wide speak about the need for gift giving. The National Retail Federation - which sadly has no relation to the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances - noted an early sales to lift to retail spending in November, with an increase of 0.6 percent seasonally-adjusted over October and 3.2 percent unadjusted over November 2013.

Huzzah! Just like Billy Dee Williams reminded us about how often Colt 45 won, capitalism wins every time! There are big sales and small sales, savvy deals and savvier shoppers. Even online customized e-tailer CafePress is suggesting we should be more thoughtful with our gifting, saying that gift cards "suck" and that we should deliver gifts with more heart.

There are various analysis' of the shopping patterns of men versus women as well. According to a new survey of nearly 1,400 mammals by, "girls are cheap." The site's study shows that nearly half of women surveyed plan to spend less than $100 on gifts for their significant other, while 44 percent of men reported a willingness to spend between $100 and $300 on a gift for their significant other, with 40 percent saying they would spend less than $100.

In the end, does any of this matter to people of facial hair? I mean, when your facial hair gives you the power to impregnate someone with a mere fist-bump while walking down the street, who cares about presents?

Of course it doesn't matter, because Mustached Americans have all we need resting atop our lips and just south of the nasal unitry.

But hey, if you've bought into the spirit and really want to demonstrate your deep respect for a man of mustache, you can always search the interwebs for helpful suggestions.

In Santa we trust.

7 of the Best Cities to Live in Illinois

Tue, 2014-12-16 12:18
Illinois cities are as diverse as they are many. There are all kinds of different places to live in the state with varying municipal cultures -- all the way from small, rural towns to the third-biggest city in the country. But out of all these options, which are really the best?

AreaVibes, a website that calculates a city's livability score using a "unique algorithm" that measures education, cost of living, crime, amenities, employment, housing and weather, ranked the top 100 cities to live in Illinois and we've listed the 25 best.

But are these really the best or most livable cities in Illinois? Perhaps, if you can afford to live in these towns, the majority of which have failing or below-average grades when it comes to cost of living.

While it's quite expensive to live in these cities - and impracticable for many families -- another common denominator is the sub-par weather, but then again, this is Illinois.

Here are the seven of the best Illinois cities to live in, according to AreaVibes.

25. Barrington (Pop: 10,739)

Livability: 83
  • Amenities: A+

  • Cost of Living: F

  • Crime: A+

  • Education: A+

  • Employment: A

  • Housing: A+

  • Weather: D+

24. Highland (Pop: 9,434)

Livability: 84
  • Amenities: B+

  • Cost of Living: A

  • Crime: A+

  • Education: A

  • Employment: C+

  • Housing: C+

  • Weather: C+

23. Trout Valley (Pop: 584)

Livability: 84
  • Amenities: B+

  • Cost of Living: D

  • Crime: A+

  • Education: A+

  • Employment: A+

  • Housing: A

  • Weather: D+

22. Burr Ridge (Pop: 10,590)

Livability: 84
  • Amenities: A

  • Cost of Living: F

  • Crime: A+

  • Education: A+

  • Employment: A+

  • Housing: A+

  • Weather: C

21. Northfield (Pop: 5,234)

Livability: 84
  • Amenities: A

  • Cost of Living: F

  • Crime: A+

  • Education: A+

  • Employment: A

  • Housing: A+

  • Weather: D+

20. Glen Ellyn (Pop: 27,503)

Livability: 84
  • Amenities: A+

  • Cost of Living: F

  • Crime: A+

  • Education: A

  • Employment: A

  • Housing: A

  • Weather: D+

19. Elmhurst (Pop: 44,385)

Livability: 84
  • Amenities: A+

  • Cost of Living: F

  • Crime: A+

  • Education: A

  • Employment: A

  • Housing: A

  • Weather: D+

Check out Reboot Illinois to see a breakdown of 18 of the best-ranked cities in Illinois and a chart with all 100 cities.

Sign up for our daily email to stay up to date on all things Illinois politics.

NEXT ARTICLE: Illinois' 25 most dangerous cities
Illinois has more top 25 violent neighborhoods than any other state
More than 1,500 Illinois workers will be laid off in the coming months
Do you live in one of the 50 safest cities in Illinois?
Are these really the 10 best cities in Illinois?

Furious Chicago Bears Fan Vents With 'A Very Angry Bears Fan Christmas'

Tue, 2014-12-16 12:04
He won't win any awards for his angelic singing voice, but Bears fan Phil Guay certainly gets credit for venting his anger creatively.

On Sunday, just prior to the Bears' loss Monday -- their third in a row and their ninth of the season -- Guay uploaded to YouTube this Christmas carol collection parody, titled "A Very Angry Bears Fan Christmas."

The compendium includes such gems as "Cutler the Would-Be QB," a riff on "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," and an ode to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (not "Jeffries") sung to the tune of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing."

But perhaps the highlight is the refrain from Guay's "Deck the Halls" cover, which explains that these tongue-in-cheek carols are a means for Guay to "save his mind":

Keep this up and we'll draft second,
Fail fail fail fail fail, fail fail fail fail.

Every game we watch the wreckage,
Fail fail fail fail fail, fail fail fail fail.

As fans, we wear our Bears apparel,
Fail fail fail fail fail, fail fail fail fail.

To save my mind I sing these carols,
Fail fail fail fail fail, fail fail fail fail.

Sorry, Guay. There's always next year. At least you can make this holiday season special by gathering the family by the fire and burning Jay Cutler jerseys.


Public recordings of police officers will be legal in Illinois after all

Tue, 2014-12-16 11:50
Rumors can run rampant on social media. One recent prominent rumor borne out of this year's Illinois General Assembly veto session in Springfield would have people believe that a new law would prohibit Illinoisans from recording police officers in public. The newly proposed law, awaiting Gov. Pat Quinn's signature, would do just the opposite. It would overturn a previous law that made the recording of any law enforcement officer a felony.

I'm not sure how this caught fire and spread so quickly on Facebook and Twitter, because the whole point of the eavesdropping law revision was to remove language that made it a felony for any citizen to record a law enforcement officer on duty. It was that portion of the eavesdropping law that made it both unconstitutional and absurdly antiquated.

The new eavesdropping bill came after a decision in March from the Illinois Supreme Court that said the current law -- which dates back to 1963 -- was unconstitutional. Really, this goes back to 2010, when the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois took up the cause of various groups trying to monitor police actions for evidence of misconduct. They soon learned that in Illinois, the second you point a smartphone camera at a law enforcement officer on duty, you are committing a felony.

Find out what this would have meant for other high-profile police recording cases in the past and what it will mean for Illinois going forward at Reboot Illinois.

More changes are in the works for Illinois. Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner has planned to "shake up" his gubernatorial inauguration in January.

Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek writes:

Republican Rauner's chief spokesman Mike Schrimpf noted in his release that the majority of events are free and open to the public, though tickets are required for many activities.

Looks like Rauner's shaking up inaugural activities, too. An inaugural concert at the Prairie Captital Convention Center will replace the traditional Inaugural Ball. Bummer. I was looking forward to seeing Rauner and First Lady-to-be Diana shaking up themselves on a ballroom dance floor. Maybe they'll jump off the stage and crowdsurf instead?

Read more about the festivities you are apparently invited to at Reboot Illinois.

NEXT ARTICLE: Gov. Quinn's lame-duck appointments sullying his reputation

The 23 Best Songs Of 2014

Tue, 2014-12-16 09:39
23. "No Black Person Is Ugly" by Lil B

Lil B has always managed to acquire some of the best beats in hip-hop, but it is #rare that the rawest rapper alive's unfiltered stream of consciousness permits him to really focus in on his flow and subject matter. "No Black Person Is Ugly" is Lil B's most purposeful and uplifting song, carefully delivering nuggets of truth like, "Never been racist so I understand if you wanted / Try to change places / I've seen the other side and I know that's amazin' / Life is amazin'." #TYBG. -- Ryan Kristobak

22. "Take Me Away" by Bleachers ft. Grimes

Short and sweet, "Take Me Away" is bizarre: A synth-heavy freak pop song fueled by Jack Antonoff's and Grimes' mismatching styles. Antonoff's an unabashed fan of grandiose hooks and Grimes has mastered dark, ADD-style electronica. The combined effect makes this song, off Bleachers' first album "Strange Desire," sound like something so comfortable and otherworldly all at once. -- Jessica Goodman

21. "Stolen Dance" by Milky Chance

German duo Milky Chance came out of nowhere, but the infectious combination of minimal electronic beats and indie strums in “Stolen Dance” provide the perfect closing number for any night out celebrating life with friends. -- RK

20. "Yayo" by Snootie Wild

Sometimes “bad” rap songs are just the best. Snootie Wild’s “Yayo” says very little, but when he rhymes “burritos” with “torpedo,” it’s hard not to love it for what it is: a turn-up anthem. -- RK

19. “Trap Queen” by Fetty Wap

Fetty Wap, the New Jersey-based artist whose over-the-top “Trap Queen” clocked in some serious internet time this summer, had a no-nonsense debut. His four-minute after-hours party mixes melody rap with, yes, trap to leave you screaming one message at 4 a.m.: “I’m like hey wassup hello!” -- JG

18. "Down On My Luck" by Vic Mensa

Even in his relatively brief discography, Vic Mensa has proven his ability to flow overtop a wide variety of genres infused with hip-hop. “Down On My Luck” furthers that trend with some dance-floor-ready action. Spitting dizzying stabs that circle around a four-on-the-floor beat, the young MC’s mesmerizing cut proves that he is one of Chicago's, and hip-hop’s, best kept secrets (but for only a little while longer). -- RK

17. “Gunshot” by Lykke Li

On the surface, “Gunshot” is the peppiest track off Lykke Li’s heartbreak-addled album, but violent lines like, “I’m longing for your poison like a cancer for its prey/ I shot an arrow in your heart where you waited in the rain" make it the soundtrack to a revenge plan we’d never actually have the guts to execute. -- JG

16. “Octahate” by Ryn Weaver

Ryn Weaver made her own little dent in the Internet in June, when she uploaded “Octahate,” produced by Benny Blanco and Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos, to Soundcloud. It gained 1 million listens in two weeks and became one of the most talked about tracks of the year. Weaver’s voice is subtle and imperfect, catching delicate lyrics and sharp house beats to make something so new seem so familiar. -- JG

15. "We Dem Boyz" by Wiz Khalifa

Few songs can rile an entire bar with a single chord, but “We Dem Boyz” became a war cry for, well, boys who go bananas. Now it’s got a Grammy nomination, inspires Karen Gillan to dance with John Cho and has, like, eight Red Bulls worth of energy. -- JG

14. “Steal My Girl” by One Direction

One Direction’s greatest new track -- on an album of straight-up surprise hits -- starts as a power ballad, hell bent on waxing poetic over “my girl.” Everyone wants to steal her! There are a couple billion in the whole wide world! Find another one! If we can forget for just a second that they sing about women “belonging” to men, it’s really the only song to sing at karaoke. -- JG

13. “True Love” by Tobias Jesso Jr.

It’s not included on Tobias Jesso Jr.’s full album, "Goon," due out next March, but, wow, “True Love” is so sad and simple. It’s like looking at your eighth grade diary and actually relating. Jesso Jr. has written what, on the surface, seems like the year’s easiest track, but, let's face it, we could never build silence into lyrics like, “Everyday just trying to get by/ No time to cry, no he can't afford to/ And she waits through everything/ Anything for you.” Nope, not if our betrothed’s life depended on it. -- JG

12. "Waking Light" by Beck

“Waking Light” is the sum of all of Beck’s “Morning Phase”: it has piano, strings, guitar and soaring vocals. The final note of Beck’s dream, the last minutes of night, the haze is finally broken with a closing guitar solo — after seven or eight years away from his guitar do to a spinal injury, this is a particularly powerful ending. It is with hope that Beck sings, “When the memory leaves you / Somewhere you can’t make it home / When the morning comes to meet you / Fill your eyes with waking light.” Beck is ready to embrace the new day, are you? -- RK

11. "Stay With Me" by Sam Smith ft. Mary J. Blige

Sam Smith’s “In The Lonely Hour” was a very sad album, and nothing hit deeper than Smith’s desperation for human contact in “Stay with Me.” The search for love isn’t always easy, and sometimes it just sucks, and when that story is told by the harmonies of Smith and Mary J. Blige, you’re going to shed a few tears even if you’re loved one is sitting right next to you. -- RK

10. "i" by Kendrick Lamar

All ears have been to the ground since murmurs of Kendrick’s follow-up to “Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City” legitimately took form. While many were disappointed with the mainstream appeal of “i,” Kendrick brought out a classic soul sample to match his call to action. “I love myself” is a message that couldn’t have come at a more important time for black youth, and all those marginalized by the unjust powers that be. “I” proves that Kendrick is ready to change the world. -- RK

9. "Chandelier" by Sia

Sia has written for many of pop’s biggest stars, but “Chandelier” finally gives her the opportunity shine like she deserves. A semi-insight into her own life examining the dangers of unchecked drinking and partying, there is a certain intensity to Sia that sets her apart from her many peers. “Chandelier” also features one of the most intriguing vocal progressions of the year in its chorus, a line that will be stuck in our head for years to come. -- RK

8. “Can’t Do Without You” by Caribou

The first single from Caribou’s sixth album is a postponed present. Ninety seconds in, the entire song morphs from a slow beating ballad into a psychedelic dance track before transforming again into a completely elated, thrashing surprise. -- JG

7. "Never Catch Me" by Flying Lotus ft. Kendrick Lamar

Beside Kendrick Lamar proving that he is capable of surfing the most un-rappable of beats, “Never Catch Me” is one of the most electrifying instrumentals of 2014. The song opens with a jazzy groove as Lamar calmly croons “I can see the darkness in me and it’s quite amazing / Life and death is no mystery and I wanna taste it.” Then, with little warning, the song breaks into a light-speed, laser-filled bass solo that has listener’s asking, “Did I eat mushrooms earlier?" -- RK

6. "Turn Down For What" by DJ Snake and Lil Jon

Make way for the song of the year. Though it came out last December, Lil Jon and DJ Snake's masterpiece became the anthem to frat parties, club life, your office's holiday party and, uh, the internet. In a horrible year for news, "Turn Down For What" was the song we needed to collectively say, "Ughhhhhhh." -- JG

5. "17 New Years" by Polyenso

Polyenso might be the most promising rising act in music today. “17 New Years” is nothing short of a perfect blend of R&B, indie and pop, and its chorus has listener’s singing along before they finish their first play through. Feeling as refreshing as it does familiar, “17 New Years” proves that, even at such a young age, Polyenso wants to consistently experiment and take risks. But more importantly it proves that their evolution is on the right course. -- RK

4. "0 to 100/The Catch Up" by Drake

Very few phrases were uttered as often as “Zero to one hundred, real quick” was in 2014. Even without releasing an album, Drake managed to come out on top of hip-hop in 2014, and “0 to 100” shows him at his best. Mixing boasts like Stephen Curry comparisons in his ever-growing tone of confidence with self-examinations like “know yourself, know your worth.” And to top it all off, the song’s beat is so hot, that Diddy was willing to fight months after its release. -- RK

3. “Tuesday” by ILoveMakonnen Ft. Drake

Has there ever been a song that made you love a random weekday this much? Of course not, but there’s more to Makonnen than this breakout song about getting effed up on a Tuesday. The Atlanta-based rapper rose to fame and earned a Grammy nod within six months, and this isn’t even the best track on his EP, "I Love Makonnen." The club went up and Makonnen’s still rising. -- JG

2. “Two Weeks” by FKA Twigs

The first single from Twigs' stellar debut album, "LP1," "Two Weeks" is a perfect combination of sexy and weird. No one else has brought us lyrics like this -- "Feel your body closin', I can rip it open/ Suck me up, I'm healin' for the shit you're dealin'" -- with a beat that makes us wish we could dance like the star delivering its message. She's made her self vulnerable, and we're grateful. -- JG

1. "Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)" by Run The Jewels

Run The Jewels is at its most merciless on “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck),” leaving no chambers unloaded on the corrupt politicians, manipulative clergy, prison profiteers, money-sucking corporations. Trading vicious line after line, Killer Mike and El-P demonstrate in full that no one is as lyrically adroit and pissed off as them, while Zach De La Rocha provides his most blazing verse in recent years, closing out the track with an unmistakable declaration of war, “The only thing that close quicker than our caskets be the factories." Run The Jewels has had enough of these “dog-fuck political agendas,” and with a “grin and a gun,” they are ready to give the “slavers of men and women” in this world a hearty serving of their “anarchist’s cookbook." -- RK

Listen to the songs here:

Check out HuffPost's best albums of 2014 here.

The Most Exciting Health Stories Of 2014

Tue, 2014-12-16 06:12
While 2014 will forever be known as the year of the world's biggest Ebola outbreak -- and the first cases of Ebola contracted in the United States -- the virus is just one of several impactful changes in our medical and personal health landscape. From cancer research breakthroughs to innovative food policies to strides in the search for an HIV vaccine, we're quite a bit further in our understanding of medicine than we were last year.

Thanks to research in 2014...

Your Fitness Tracker Data Could Lead To The Next Big Medical Discovery

Your FitBit, Jawbone and other personal tracking devices and apps are logging every step you take, every bite you eat and every hour you sleep.

All of that data is a potential treasure trove for health researchers, which is why University of California, San Francisco and the American Heart Association are inviting people from all over the world to plug their apps and devices into the Health eHeart platform. The hope is that people who track their health data can provide scientists with powerful, real-world and real-time insights that they can then use to make observations and associations between things like exercise, diet and heart disease.

Dr. Elliott Antman, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and president of the American Heart Association, called the big data push unprecedented and said it could pave the way for how big clinical research projects are conducted in the future.

"This dwarfs even the largest studies that we could do in a conventional randomized trial," Antman over the phone to HuffPost. "This platform allows us to gather information in a free-living population, as opposed to the artificial atmosphere of a medical clinic."

The best observational, longitudinal studies involve cohorts of tens of thousands of participants, but the Health eHeart study has the potential to synthesize data from up to one million users.

A Single Donor Transformed Mental Health Research Funding Forever

The deaths of high-profile and beloved people like actor Robin Williams kept depression, suicide and mental health at the forefront of the news in 2014. There's no doubt that losing Williams and others sparked important conversations like HuffPost's Stronger Together series, where people share how mental illness has affected their lives.

And just as the death of one person has opened up a broader conversation about depression, a single donation may have done the same for research. Philanthropist and businessman Ted Stanley announced in July the donation of $650 million to the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, which will finance research to find and treat the genetic roots of mental illness, reported NPR. The gift was inspired by Stanley's son, who has bipolar disorder.

The New York Times noted that the donation "comes at a time when basic research into mental illness is sputtering, and many drug makers have all but abandoned the search for new treatments." For that reason, Dr. Ken Duckworth, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, called the donation a "game changer" and a "long-term play that will pay-off" in an email to HuffPost.

Cancer Patients Can Use Their Own Immune Systems To Fight Tumors

Cancer patients are unlocking the power of their own immune systems to shrink their tumors with immunotherapy drugs -- a class of medicine that can either train your immune cells to recognize and attack cancer, or boost your immune system with man-made immune proteins. The Food and Drug Administration approved the first such immunotherapy drug, called Keytruda, for patients with advanced melanoma who are no longer responding to other drugs. Keytruda is just one of several immunotherapy drugs being developed to combat a wide variety of cancers.

"These drugs represent a groundbreaking advance in the treatment of cancer," said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society to HuffPost. "This probably is the most important breakthrough [cancer] news of 2014."

Sequencing Cancer Tumor Genes Reveals Better Ways To Treat Patients

But researchers are also excited about the promise that genomic sequencing holds for the treatment of cancer. Scientists in several different institutions are working on ways to analyze the genes of cancer tumors to see how they differ from a patient's healthy tissue. Identifying what makes tumors tick could help doctors match patients with clinical trials or medicines that can best shrink tumors or stop them from growing, all the while doing as little damage as possible to the healthy tissue.

Genomic testing ushers in a new era of personalized cancer care, or the notion that what may be best for one patient may not work for another patient -- even if they technically have the same kinds of cancer. To Dr. Norman Edelman, Senior Scientific Advisor for the American Lung Association, genomic analysis of cancer tumors is at the "very top of the list" for important medical breakthroughs of 2014.

"Now we know that a significant percentage of lung cancers -- it may be as much as 10 percent -- have genetic abnormalities that can be detected," said Edelman. "More importantly, we have drugs to deal with it. " Editor's note: genetic abnormalities play a role in five to ten percent of all cancers.]

We're Getting Closer To Defeating Polio For Good

There are three different types of Polio, a devastating, highly infectious viral disease that can cause death and permanent paralysis. Type 2 poliovirus appears to have been gone since 1999, and the world has now gone two years without encountering a case of Type 3 poliovirus, says Dr. Walter Orenstein, Associate Director of Emory Vaccine Center and the president-elect of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

"While that's still too short a time to be certain, it gives great encouragement to the principle that two of the three polio types may be eradicated," said Orenstein to HuffPost. Cases of Type 1 poliovirus are mostly concentrated in countries like Pakistan, which had 276 cases this year, and Afghanistan, which had 24 cases.

"We're marching closer and closer to polio eradication," said Orenstein. Societies can prevent polio with widespread vaccination campaigns, and the U.S. eradicated the disease in 1979.

Smoking Rates Are Lower Than Ever

The numbers are in. Rates of cigarette smoking are continuing to decline in the U.S. and dropped to under 20 percent in 2013 -- the lowest rate since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention started keep track of smoking rates in 1965. The CDC report, which chronicled the drop in smoking rates between 2005 and 2013, was released Nov. 2014. It also noted that while some people still smoke, they're smoking less cigarettes.

Edelman said the drop signaled several important and positive cultural changes around smoking in the U.S.

"Keep trying to quit -- the evidence suggests that if you keep trying enough times, you will be able to quit, and quitting is very important for your health," said Edelman. "Also, if you continue to smoke, you'll be among a smaller and smaller group of people who do it."

A Vaccine For HIV Is Within Reach

Vaccines that were able to protect monkey from contracting SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus, a disease analogous to HIV in humans) are looking especially promising as a potential vaccine for HIV, according to Harvard Medical School professor Todd Allen, Ph.D.

Researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health may soon begin a preliminary human trial based on research they completed injecting monkeys with long-lasting AIDS drugs, reported the New York Times. Check out HuffPost's story on the biggest HIV/AIDS research breakthroughs of 2014 for more information.

A National Food Policy Could Include Nutrition And Environment And Human Rights Too

Food thought leaders like Mark Bittman (of The New York Times), Michael Pollan (author of The Omnivore's Dilemma) are calling on President Barack Obama to create a national food policy to manage the U.S. agriculture industry, improve conditions for farm laborers and protect widespread access to healthy food.

Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist of University of California, San Francisco (and the professor behind the viral "Is Sugar Toxic?" YouTube video) called this movement one of the biggest pieces of news from a nutritional public health perspective in an email to HuffPost.

In a Nov. 7 op-ed for the Washington Post, Bittman and Pollan called for Obama to create, via executive order, a national food policy that would streamline the eight different federal agencies that oversee various aspects of the American food system and guarantee the right "every American to eat food that is healthy, green, fair and affordable."

It's an outsized, but much needed, vision of the future. Consider this: When a government-appointed group of nutrition experts decided to gather information on how food choices impact the environment (a first), Congress came out against the council's interest in the environment and directed the Obama administration to ignore their concerns when they issue new national dietary guidelines in 2015, reports NPR.

An Ebola Vaccine (Or Two) Is In Clinical Trials

Orenstein also expressed hope in two highly promising Ebola vaccines that are currently in phase 1 clinical trials. Both of them are two different viruses that have an Ebola gene inserted in them, to induce immunity in the deadly disease. However, one of them was temporarily suspended Dec. 11 over concerns that it caused mild joint pain in the hands and feet of study participants.

But that's to be expected, said Orenstein.

"What looks like very promising animal data may not be borne out in the clinical trial," he told HuffPost. Ebola has infected 17,942 people and killed at least 6,388, according to the most recent situation report from the World Health Organization. The epidemic, which mostly affects countries in West Africa, reportedly started with a single case in Dec. 2013.

The Battle To Boost Opportunity

Tue, 2014-12-16 00:39
Of all the issues raised by the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, perhaps the most intractable is the challenge of restoring opportunity to the high-poverty, high-crime, racially segregated neighborhoods where police and minority communities often collide most sharply.

With Just 40 Gun Murders In Australia In 2012, Sydney Hostage Crisis Looms Large

Mon, 2014-12-15 19:13
Australia was rocked by a rare episode of gun violence on Tuesday, when a tense hostage siege in Sydney came to an end after police pushed into a downtown cafe and exchanged gunfire with the suspect. The gunman, reportedly armed with a pump-action shotgun, was killed by police, who entered the store after gunfire was heard inside. Two hostages also died, though it was unclear whether they were killed by the hostage-taker or by police who sought to free them.

The battle at the Lindt Chocolat Cafe in the heart of Sydney initially looked more complicated than a "damaged goods individual" with a gun, as the gunman's former lawyer recently described him. There were reports of possible explosives, an ominous display of a flag with an inscription of the Islamic declaration of faith, and rumors that the gunman may have ties to other terror suspects.

Some of the early suspicions appear to have been debunked. However, Australia is nevertheless reeling from something the country seldom sees: people killed by guns.

"We have lost some of our own in an attack we never thought we would see here in our own city," New South Wales Premier Mike Baird said at a news conference Tuesday.

In 2012, Australia saw 40 murders by firearm, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This was a five-year high. Australia's gun homicide rate for the year was .20 per 100,000 residents, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, or UNODC.

Compare that to the United States, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, saw 11,622 homicides by firearm in 2012. The U.S. gun homicide rate for the year was 2.2 per 100,000 residents, according to UNODC.

Australia and the U.S. have drastically different relationships with guns and gun control, and Australia has historically had substantially less gun violence. In 1996, a shooting spree claimed 35 lives in Port Arthur, Tasmania, leading to an ambitious package of gun control legislation. It banned all automatic and semi-automatic weapons, imposed strict licensing, background check and waiting-period rules for new purchases, and implemented a massive gun buyback program.

There hasn't been another mass shooting since. The number of homicides by firearm has fallen over the past 15 years. Still, recent reports suggest gun ownership is becoming more commonplace and the market for illegally imported or stolen weapons is growing, leading to disturbing outbreaks of gun violence -- though not necessarily deaths -- in certain areas.

Tuesday's hostage crisis in Sydney showed the two nations still respond to gun violence quite differently. Before full details of the siege had even been released, Australian politicians were rushing to make statements championing the nation's steadfast resolve in the face of the violence. Media in Australia and around the world blanketed the airwaves with minute-by-minute updates. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott called the ordeal "profoundly shocking." On Tuesday afternoon, flags at government buildings in Australia were flown at half mast and residents lay flowers near the cite of the standoff in a makeshift tribute to the victims.

Meanwhile, more than 9,000 miles away, in the Philadelphia suburbs, a manhunt was ongoing Monday night for a gunman accused of killing six people in a spree of three shootings. The motive appears personal, with authorities saying the suspect is related to all of the victims.

Still, the Pennsylvania violence has so far played out without much notice from elected officials or international media. Perhaps that's not surprising. If U.S. leaders and the world turned their attention to American gun violence every time people were shot to death, there would be little time to focus on much else.

Chicago Community Reels After Teen Fatally Shot While Defending Twin During Robbery

Mon, 2014-12-15 17:47
Bail was denied on Monday to the teen charged in the shooting death of a 15-year-old Chicago boy who was gunned down while protecting his twin brother during a mugging. As the community comes to grips with the tragedy, those who knew the slain boy are denouncing the system responsible for neighborhood safety.

On Saturday afternoon, identical twins Demario and Demacio Bailey were walking to a basketball game at their school in the neighborhood of Englewood when four teens approached the pair and demanded they give up their belongings. A struggle ensued. "Get off my brother," Demario yelled at the mugger accosting Demacio, according to a police report cited by the Chicago Sun-Times. "He doesn't have anything!"

One of the assailants then pulled a gun and fired. Demacio fled, but returned to find his brother had been shot in the chest, per the Chicago Tribune.

Killed just three days shy of his 16th birthday, Demario is remembered as an exemplary brother, student and community member.

“Demario was just a model student,” Demario’s advisor, Rachel Terry, told The Huffington Post. “He came to school for one purpose, which was learning. He and his brother were inseparable but competed with each other for good marks, GPA. ... They were the type of students that every teacher wants.”

Demario's worst demerit was chewing gum freshman year, according to Terry.

"In addition to mourning this loss, [Demacio] will also be forced to live with the horrible memory of watching his brother be murdered in front of him," Dr. Garland Thomas-McDavid, the principal at Johnson College Prep, the twins' school, said in a statement emailed to The Huffington Post.

Thomas-McDavid expressed frustration over the violence facing children in the community.

"The apologies are not enough, and after all the fanfare is over, someone still has to put their baby in the ground," she wrote in her statement.

"I believe I speak for every mother who lives on the south side of this city in saying we don’t mind if it takes martial law to get this in order," she added. "Demario did not deserve to die three days from his sixteenth birthday."

Later clarifying her position on martial law, the principal wrote:

"The existing structures who are responsible for overseeing the well-being of our children when they are traveling the streets are ineffective. Multiple children are being victimized daily, and I think we should use whatever means are necessary to stop this. ... Why is it that there are communities in the city where children are safe every day all day, but on the south and west sides, we are comfortable allowing children to be killed in droves? Our children are worth saving and protecting and if it's not a priority to the powers that be, then bring someone else in here who won't make excuses. A life is a life. A child is a child."

Johnson Assistant Principal Ebonie Durham told HuffPost that the mood at school Monday was somber. She said police are still too few and far between in the area, adding that she wants answers from lawmakers and community leaders: “What are you doing to stop this?”

Terry told HuffPost that Johnson, a selective-enrollment high school, pays out it its own budget for increased security. She said calls for more law enforcement in the area have yielded nothing.

“I haven’t seen anything change,” Terry said.

Keontay Thompson, an older student and friend of the twins, said the area where Demario was killed is know to be dangerous and poorly monitored. “We always have to stick together,” he said of walking with the twins in that area, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Carlos Johnson, 17, appeared before a judge Monday and was charged as an adult with first-degree murder, robbery with a firearm and attempted robbery with a firearm, local outlet WGN reports. Two 17-year-olds and a 16-year-old were also charged with murder, reports the Sun-Times.

The school has organized a fundraiser to help the family with funeral costs.

Sexual Assault Statistics Can Be Confusing, But They're Not The Point

Mon, 2014-12-15 15:10
One in 4. One in 5. One in 10. One in 40.

There are a lot of statistics that get thrown around about how many women are sexually assaulted on campus, and last week the U.S. Department of Justice added more data to the mix. Called the National Crime Victimization Survey, the new survey from the DOJ looks at sexual assault among women ages 18 to 24.

The DOJ found that women in this age group who were not college students were slightly more likely to experience sexual violence than collegiate women. In response, some cheered the new data as debunking a "myth" that collegiate women are more likely to be assaulted than women who are not students, saying that assault is not as frequent of an occurrence on campus as advocates make it out to be.

But because the data we have on sexual assault comes from such different sources, it's hard to say that one survey could really debunk another stat from a different one. And in the end, every study has its own unique flaws.

What Did The New DOJ Survey Find?

There were three big takeaways in the report:

  • The survey reaffirmed that females ages 18 to 24 are the demographic most likely to experience sexual violence, and most of the time it's at the hands of someone they know.

  • Non-students reported a higher rate of sexual assault than college students, but only at a 1.2 times greater rate.

  • College students are less likely to report a sexual assault than those not in college: The survey found about 80 percent of college students said they did not report an assault that occurred, compared to about 67 percent of non-students surveyed.

This survey is one of three regular government-backed studies that measure sexual violence among women. The other two are the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NIPSV), published by the Centers for Disease Control, and the Campus Sexual Assault (CSA) study, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The three surveys differ in important ways when it comes to how rape and sexual assault questions are asked and victimization is measured, the new NCVS report notes. One key difference is that NCVS measures the rate of victimization for certain crimes, while the NISVS and CSA are presented as surveys about public health -- meaning women might not report an assault to the NCVS if they didn't feel it was a "crime."

Indeed, the NISVS uses a broader definition of sexual violence, like incidents where the victim was unable to provide consent due to drug or alcohol use, and the CSA includes a look at unwanted sexual contact due to force and incapacitation.

"The NISVS and CSA collect data on incidents of unwanted sexual contact that may not rise to a level of criminal behavior, and respondents may not report incidents to the NCVS that they do not consider to be criminal," the NCVS report states.

No, The DOJ Didn't Just Prove The Campus Rape Epidemic Is Overblown

After the DOJ numbers came out, certain outlets said the data "challenged" or "debunked" the notion that college students are more likely to be assaulted than non-students.

However, data in previous NCVS studies has already found that women who are not students are more likely to experience sexual assault than women who are students.

And each study is different. The NCVC, for example, counts respondents as students whether they're a 18-year-old living on campus or an adult taking classes online, as ThinkProgress notes. In contrast, the CSA only collects data from students on large college campuses, the NISVS doesn't distinguish by student status in its data.

It's also important to remember NCVS doesn't look at incapacitated rape, as Libby Nelson points out at Vox. Studies have found that incapacitated rape, that is "sex when one person was too drunk or drugged to legally consent," is more common than rape under a threat of force, Vox reports.

The NCVS Also Has Critics

Oklahoma State University professor John Foubert, who researches sexual violence, called the NCVS study released this week a "sideshow."

"Over the years, I've grown to distrust NCVS," Foubert, who is also president of the advocacy group One In Four, told The Huffington Post. Foubert said the study's methodology, which includes telephone calls, can leave the data open to errors because researchers might not talk to every person living in a certain household.

"Plus, even if there are more women outside than inside college who experience rape, so what? There is still a lot of rape out there," he said.

Foubert added that the NCVS doesn't go through any peer review. The survey is vulnerable to how people respond, and does not include any analysis afterward to remove false positives, he said.

Indeed, the National Research Council recommended in 2013 that NCVS stop looking at sexual assault altogether, and create a separate study on sex crimes.

So Why Do I Keep Hearing About 1 in 5 Women Being Raped In College?

The stat that 1 in 5 college women will experience sexual violence in college is perhaps the most oft-repeated note about campus rape. Pundits have been trying to disprove the statistic for 20 years, with little success outside of right-wing media. (There are mainstream critics of that data point, too, just not very many of them.)

Data in campus sexual assault surveys continues to hover around 1 in 5. Campus-based surveys at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Princeton University both pegged the sexual assault rate at 1 in 6. A University of Oregon survey this year concluded 10 percent of women had been raped, and 35 percent had at least one forcible sexual encounter.

A separate 2000 study apart from the NCVS, but also from the Justice Department, found 5 percent of college women are victims of rape or attempted rape in a year, and suggested that between one-fourth and one-fifth of female students experience sexual assault during their collegiate career.

Foubert noted there are several studies backing up the 1 in 4 to 1 in 5 rates. The first, in 1987, polled 6,000 students on 32 college campuses and found 1 in 4 women had experienced attempted or completed rape by the time they graduated, though the assaults didn't necessarily happen in college. Since then, there were several replications of the finding, including both the 2000 and 2006 versions of the "Sexual Victimization of College Women" studies, which arrived at 1 in 4 female students experiencing attempted or completed sexual assault.

One In Four's name, according to Foubert, is not about one study: It's about a body of research.

There's also a growing effort to get colleges to conduct campus climate surveys, so that each school get can an idea of what's happening on their own campus, rather than sorting through the myriad of statistics being disputed. President Barack Obama is suggesting colleges do them, and a bipartisan Senate bill, the Campus Accountability & Safety Act, would require schools to conduct such surveys.

Finally, And Perhaps Most Critically, The Statistics Are Not The Main Reason For New Efforts To Address Rape On Campus

Stories saying the 1 in 5 statistic has been debunked often also mention that that figure is fueling a movement to address campus sexual assault. It's not. For one, the statistic has been around for a while, but 2013 and 2014 have seen unprecedented levels of effort to address the issue.

The president did not launch a task force based on statistics. Lawmakers did not create bipartisan bills because of statistics. The media did not start reporting on sexual assault because of some data set. The statistic makes for a nice talking point to back up why a U.S. senator or state lawmaker would spend so much energy on an issue, but it's not the reason campus sexual assault became such a hot topic in 2013 and again in 2014.

The reason this issue has gotten so much attention, rather, is because students started speaking out and criticizing how their colleges and universities handled their sexual assault cases. Rarely did they mention any national statistics. Their focus was on soft punishments, disparaging comments college officials made to survivors, fraternities making rape jokes, and alleged retaliation for criticizing their schools on these issues. Some rape survivors said they ended up in psych wards and dropped out of school when they sought help from their institution.

"These are real people we're talking about, not numbers," said Lisa Maatz, a top policy adviser at the American Association of University Women. "The statistics tell a story, but every rape survivor has his or her own story."

The focus on campus sexual assault was never about statistics. It is about students who said they were wronged by their schools after they were raped -- in some cases saying that was worse than the assault itself.

Guy Leaves Very Specific Note To Stop Christmas Carolers From Showing Up At His House

Mon, 2014-12-15 14:45
Listen, this guy's just sayin', if you come to his house to carol, he may not have pants on.

Joking or not, this is the perfect note to leave on your door if you want to avoid Christmas carolers this holiday season. It's thoughtful, it's thorough and it gives a small glimpse into the life of a guy who just wants a Christmas without being bombarded by singing strangers. Unless you're coming to his barbecues.

H/T Above Average

Karen Lewis on #BlackLivesMatter, Politics and Getting Back in the Mix

Mon, 2014-12-15 14:37
In Karen Lewis' first full-length interview since illness forced her out of the race to replace Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, she talks about protests, politics and her little known career as as a stand-up comedian.

Berkshire: Chicago, like many cities, is seeing big protests over police brutality. I'm wondering if you see any connection between these protests and the discontent over school closures in the city's poor neighborhoods that continues to simmer today.

Karen Lewis: We don't really like to talk about race and class, but they underpin both of these issues. I'm 61 years old, which means I went through the original Civil Rights Movement -- it's not just history to me. But I also know from history that the extra-judicial killing of Black men is nothing new in our society. The difference is that we have social media, we have recordings, and so you have a movement of people demanding accountability. What's been really interesting to me is that you see the same concepts emerging whether we're talking about policing or education: compliance, obedience and a loss of dignity. I'm going to tell you what to do and if you don't do it, I'll just take your life. The same with schools: if you don't do what I tell you to do, I'll just take your school. To me, this is a very interesting co-mingling of what justice really looks like and it's very different for different people.

Berkshire: I just finished reading Dana Goldstein's terrific book The Teacher Wars, and one of the things that really stands out is the extent to which today's education reform movement starts from the point of view that there's nothing we can do about poverty per se. What do you say to that?

Lewis: You have to reframe the question to ask "why not?" Some of these people act as though poverty and wealth inequality just occur naturally, and that we just need to sit back and wait for the invisible hand to work its magic. Well, you look around Chicago and you see that hand isn't invisible, in fact it's perfectly visible, and it's slapping people left and right. This, by the way, is why I think the fight for $15 an hour for low-wage workers is so important, and why I believe that teachers have to get involved in organizations that work for social and economic justice. Even Mayor Emanuel has capitulated on the wage issue. Funny how a re-election campaign can do that.

Berkshire: The Chicagoland version of the invisible hand always seems to end up in the cash register. For example, the Chicago Tribune recently ran a devastating investigative series on how risky bond deals are costing the Chicago public schools a fortune, even as these deals enrich Mayor Emanuel's allies.

Lewis: And now they're getting ready to do the same thing again with the pre-K program. People need to understand who the players are here. Because we don't have the ability to elect a school board, the president of our school board is a bankster. He is unrepentant about these toxic swap deals that were made, and argues that, well, they were good deals at the time. Well these deals may be great when the stock market is up, but because of the crash in 2008 we owe tons of money to banks, tons of money to pensions. And so now you have the same people who got us into this saying "you have to give up your pensions so we can balance the budget." No one says that maybe the banks shouldn't get paid. The problem is that as long as the mayor controls the school board, there is nothing we can do.

Berkshire: Speaking of Rahm Emanuel, the mayoral election is in February and it's really heating up. You told the Sun Times recently that you plan to be out front as a supporter of Jesus Chuy Garcia. What's your role going to be?

Lewis: I'm going to be fully engaged in working for Chuy. When I had my exploratory committee and was planning on running, Chuy was on that committee and gave me lots of really wonderful advice. Now it's my turn to help him. I'm going to do what I can to help him fundraise, to introduce him to people in other communities, to try to help him build a coalition of working-class people that can push back against privatization, inequality and neo-liberalism -- everything the current administration stands for. If people really believe that their vote matters and that they can change things, then Rahm Emanuel's $20 million war chest won't matter.

Berkshire: I see journalists and pundits make the claim again and again that you were elected to run the Chicago Teachers Union because you represented a more confrontational approach. They completely miss the point that you just made about trying to build a broad coalition of people to change the direction of the city and its schools.

Lewis: I was elected because I started talking about things that no one ever talks about. Typically during teacher union campaign season, what you hear is "I can get you a better raise than the last person." I've been in the system for 25 years -- 26 now actually -- and that's the way it's always been. What I kept saying was that we need to build alliances with our natural allies, who are the parents. Once we start building alliances with parents, then we stop blaming each other. Right now the system has us blaming them for not doing their jobs and not preparing their kids for school, and has them blaming us for being lazy or not doing what we need to do. Building alliances makes a difference because you're stronger, because people can't just pick you off. I've always talked about trying to recreate the strength of the union by sharing it with other folks who lack power. Now there are people who still don't believe in that vision. They're convinced that if we just enforced the contract, all of our woes would end. Well, that's crazy. It's not just enforcing the contract, it's about building a political force. That's how we change the laws that govern what happens in our classrooms.

Berkshire: You're known for your, ahem, gently persuasive way of convincing people to get involved in politics, including running for office. What's your secret sauce?

Lewis: I just keep saying "you need to step up" until finally they get so tired of hearing me say it that they do. Several of our members are now running for city council, which I'm so happy about. That was one of the reasons why I was considering running for mayor. I told all these other people they needed to step up, so I needed to step up. Everywhere I went people kept saying: "Run for mayor! Run for mayor!" And I was like what? I don't want to run for mayor. My husband said no, and I finally sat down and talked to him and said "Baby, I think I want to do this." And he said if you want to do it, go ahead, because I don't ever want you thinking that I stopped you from doing what you thought you really needed to do. Once I had that conversation with him that's when I decided to run. And if I hadn't had an aggressive, malignant brain tumor that's what I would be doing. Unfortunately my body had different plans.

Berkshire: I wish I could share the audio of this interview, because I think your supporters, and all of the people who were so concerned after news of your illness broke, would feel really relieved if they could hear how good you sound. In fact, you sound just like Karen Lewis!

Lewis: When people see me or talk to me they feel so much better. I'm incredibly fortunate in that tumor was caught fairly early and it was close to the surface, so I have no physical impediments other than being very tired. The radiation and chemo really takes it out of you.

Berkshire: Now I have to ask you about something I read recently. Is it true that you once aspired to be a stand-up comic?

Lewis: What do you mean aspired to be? I was working! This was the period after I flunked out of medical school but before I went to teach. I was working on comedy and doing open mics. I specialized in observational comedy, you know, checking out the irony in the world, fully filled with sarcasm -- just like how I am for real.

Berkshire: In other words we really are sisters separated at birth.

Lewis: See -- I told you.

Would the real Pat Quinn please stand up?

Mon, 2014-12-15 13:55
Please bear with me as I make a long wind-up for a simple pitch. The pitch is: I've always thought Pat Quinn was a pretty decent guy. Honest, sincere, well-meaning and not self-aggrandizing. Lately, though, Quinn has given me reason to wonder.

And now the wind-up.

In Illinois, the lieutenant governor, for all practical purposes, has no duties. None. A governor can assign duties to his/her second-in-command, but they rarely do. So it was that Pat Quinn, serving as "lite gov" to Rod Blagojevich (a man who, we would learn from FBI recordings in 2010, hated being governor after 2006) decided he would devote much of his time to honoring military service members from Illinois...

Lately, though, Quinn's actions haven't squared with those of the guy from [before].

First came Quinn's refusal to concede defeat to Bruce Rauner on election night. Then, when he did concede the next day, he wasn't exactly gracious. He didn't even acknowledge his opponent by name.

Then came word that Quinn intended to appoint his campaign manager, Lou Bertuca, as head of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority. Bertuca, 30, has no experience in finance or sports facilities management...

Then, late last week, came word that Quinn had appointed 51 people to various state boards and commissions. The action came a month to the day before Rauner is scheduled to be sworn into office...

I really hope all this is not a prelude to what could be one of the biggest, most audacious and most outrageous lame-duck acts by a governor in Illinois history.

Read the rest, including how Quinn's recent actions might a clue to what he plans to do with the vacant office of late Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, at Reboot Illinois.

While Quinn must deal with how to handle the empty seat of the comptroller, many Illinoisans are still mourning Topinka's death. Rich Miller of Capitol Fax says he will miss the government official who many remember as to-the-point and efficient.

In a matter of seconds, we lost not only one of our state's strongest voices for financial prudence, its most consistently successful female statewide elected official, its most pro-union, pro-gay rights Republican, but also its most human politician.

Read the rest of Miller's memories of Topinka at Reboot Illinois.

NEXT ARTICLE: No shortage of advice for lame duck Quinn on comptroller appointment

It's Been a Long Time Coming, But Permanent Change Is Within Our Grasp

Mon, 2014-12-15 13:05
On Saturday, the entire world watched. They watched as tens of thousands marched peacefully in the nation's capital. They watched as both old and young, Black and White, and Americans from all stripes joined the families of Eric Garner, Michael Brown Jr., Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, John Crawford III, Amadou Diallo and Trayvon Martin. People around the world watched as similar demonstrations were held in New York, Boston and elsewhere to demand reform. It is clear, that despite distortions and distractions, there is a strong determination among many diverse Americans that policing must be dealt with in this country. And it appears the international community agrees. Justice cannot be reserved merely for the privileged; justice for all is what we want and we want it now. Thankfully, we are closer than perhaps ever before.

About three and a half months ago, I stood over the casket of Michael Brown Jr. and delivered a eulogy as his parents and loved ones prepared to bury the 18-year-old. A few weeks prior to that, I eulogized police chokehold victim Eric Garner as his wife, six children and grandchildren prepared to do the same. At the time, possible federal intervention and legislative action were a wish and dream of the activists involved. Today, it is within our grasp. If we do not get distracted or deterred, substantive change and police accountability will prevail. It is our job to remain focused and firm in our resolve. In the words of the late great Sam Cooke, it's been a long time coming, but a change is gonna come.

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver introduced a House bill last week that would require police officers to wear body cameras. The Senate recently passed the 'Death in Custody Reporting Act' -- bipartisan legislation which requires states to report to the Department of Justice how many individuals die each year while in police custody or during the course of an arrest. While these and other actions are being implemented on the federal level, we will continue to monitor the Justice Department's investigation of the Eric Garner and Michael Brown Jr. cases. Make no mistake: we will continue to keep the pressure on to push towards what is right. But we can take a moment to acknowledge the fact that today, police reform is within reach.

As I often state, progress never happens overnight. It takes the unified dedication of many through consistent, organized and peaceful work. Many years went by before the Civil Rights Act was passed, but folks did not give up. Today, we must remain as determined as ever, and we cannot succumb to desperate attempts to demonize and divide us. Those who wish to see us fail and keep the status quo will do anything to stop the movement -- that is expected. As Raw Story highlighted in a piece, Fox News deceptively edited my anti-violence speech to include a chant for 'dead cops'. It is disgusting, outrageous, despicable and pathetic. But it is not surprising. To me, it simply reaffirms the notion that we are on the right side of this equation and we are making a real impact. We must continue together.

In 10 or 25 years from now, it won't matter who got the most publicity or the most applause at a rally. All that will matter is the fact that police across the country will know that if they use deadly force, they cannot depend on local friendly prosecutors to walk them through a grand jury with no risk of a fair investigation. All that will matter will be the implementation of a process where state attorney generals handle police-involved shooting deaths of unarmed civilians, rather than local prosecutors and grand juries. All that will matter will be the idea that young men and women of color can walk down the street or drive in their car without fearing for their lives from those hired to protect them.

Let us not give in to pettiness and emotion, for true change is at our doorstep. You could see on the faces of those marching and chanting on Saturday, and you can see it in Washington as our elected officials are taking steps to reform a system that has failed far too many for too long. We've seen support around the world as peaceful protests have been held in as far away places as Japan and India. You can literally feel it in the air -- permanent change is on the horizon. Now we must seize it, and this moment, as we record history together.

For it's been a long time coming.

9 Reasons Why No One Compares To Figure Skater Surya Bonaly

Mon, 2014-12-15 11:56
French-born figure skater Surya Bonaly has always been in a league of her own.

At the height of her career, the five-time European champion was often criticized by judges and journalists for having an unusual style not like that of her competitors. But it was that same factor that made her a fan favorite you could not take your eyes off of, for fear of missing one of her signature backflips.

On Monday, Bonaly — who still skates in shows all over the world and also coaches a new generation of aspiring champions — turned 41. In honor of the skating star’s birthday, we give you nine reasons why Bonaly has always stood out from the crowd.

1. She has the best trademark move in all of figure skating.
Bonaly was well-known for not only being one of the few female skaters to perform a backflip, but also for landing it on one foot — not to mention performing the illegal (in Olympic-eligible competition) move while competing in the Olympic Games in 1998, her last of three Olympic appearances. She is recognized as the only skater, male or female, to land a one-foot backflip.

2. Her competitive record is up there with the greats'.
In addition to placing second at the World Championships for three consecutive years (1993-1995), winning a world junior title in 1991 and placing as high as fourth place (just missing a medal) at the Olympic Games in 1994, Bonaly won the European Championships five times. The only female skaters to top that number, winning six each, were figure skating legends Sonja Henie and Katarina Witt.

3. Her jumping ambitions were practically unmatched.
She’s one of the few female skaters to even attempt a quadruple jump in competition, trying it as early as 1989, just one year after the first quad jump to be landed by a male skater was ratified. Bonaly’s attempts were never ratified by skating officials; it wasn’t until 2002 that any female skater was credited with successfully landing a quad.

4. She was a trailblazer for black figure skaters.
Bonaly, who told The Root’s Keli Goff she was inspired by American figure skater Debi Thomas, remains one of a relatively small number of black skaters who have excelled at the sport’s highest level. Did her race affect her career? Bonaly told Goff this year that “if I’d been white, I would have had more [endorsement] contracts and been bigger.”

Bonaly at the 2000 Winter Goodwill Games in Lake Placid, New York. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

5. She had a mysterious origin story.
When Bonaly first came on the competitive figure skating scene, it was said that she was born on the French-controlled island of Réunion, off the coast of Madagascar, abandoned by her biological parents and discovered on a beach. That later turned out to be a rumor cooked up by French skating federation officials to make her seem more exotic and drum up publicity.

6. Her costumes were always in a class of their own.
Bonaly’s dresses throughout her career were always just a touch glitzier and a tad sparklier than those of her rivals, often featuring bold, bright and unusual colors while other skaters stuck to softer pastels or other more traditional colors. They were high-end costumes, too — in the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France, Bonaly wore dresses by couture designer Christian Lacroix. Her on-ice look also attracted headlines because Bonaly typically refused to wear tights on her legs, a look preferred by judges. It is rumored that skating tights matching black skaters’ skin tone were not available.

Bonaly at the 1998 European figure skating championships, at Assago Filaforum in Milan. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

7. She’s not afraid to express her beliefs.
Many top athletes tiptoe around questions about contentious social and political issues, but Bonaly isn’t one of them. A vegetarian and an animal advocate, she has taken part in many ads for PETA, urging people not to wear fur and to speak out about seal hunting. In another outspoken moment, Bonaly famously removed her silver medal from her neck during the medal ceremony at the World Championships in 1994 because she was disappointed in placing second and believed she should have won.

8. Her musical choices have never disappointed.
Throughout her career, Bonaly has always brought a wide range of music to the ice, everything from the Spice Girls to frenzied folk music.

9. She’s still at it — at the age of 41.
It’s been more than 16 years since Bonaly last competed in the Olympics, but she's still about as busy as ever. Here’s Bonaly skating in a show two years ago, still landing the triple jumps and backflips she is known for.