“Go to Google Images right now,” says photographer Mihaela Noroc, “and search ‘beautiful women’.”
I do as she tells me. Millions of results come back.
“What do you see?” she asks. “Very sexualised images, right?”
Yes. Many of the women in the top pictures are wearing high heels and revealing clothes, and most fit into the same physical mould – young, slim, blonde, perfect skin.
“So beauty all the time is like that,” Mihaela says. “Objectifying women, treating them in a very sexualised way, which is unfortunate.
“Women are not like that. We have our stories, our struggles, our power, but we just need to be represented, because young women, they see only images like this every day, so they need to have more confidence that they can look the way they look and be considered beautiful.
“But,” she adds, “Google is us, because we are all influencing these images.”
Mihaela has just released her first photography book, Atlas of Beauty, which features 500 of her own portraits of women.
The Romanian photographer’s definition of beauty, however, appears to be that there is no definition. The women are a variety of ages, professions and backgrounds.
“People are interested in my pictures because they portray people around us, everyday people around the street,” Mihaela explains.
“Usually when we talk about beauty and women, we have this very high, unachievable way of portraying them.
“So my pictures are very natural and simple. And this is, weirdly, a surprise. Because usually we are not seen like that.”
Each of the book’s 500 portraits has a caption with information about where it was taken, and, in many cases, the subject.
The locations are varied, to put it mildly. They include Nepal, Tibet, Ethiopia, Italy, Myanmar (also known as Burma), North Korea, Germany, Mexico, India, Afghanistan, the UK, the US, and the Amazon rainforest.
Some locations, however, proved more problematic than others.
“I approach women I want to photograph on the street. I explain what my project is about. Sometimes I get yes as an answer, sometimes I get no, that really depends on the country I’m in,” she explains.
“When you go to a more conservative society, a woman is going to have a lot of pressure from society to be a certain way, and her day-to-day life is carefully watched by somebody else.
“So she’s not going to accept being photographed very easily, maybe she’s going to need permission from the male part of her family.
“In other parts of the world they are extremely careful because there might be issues concerning their safety, like in Colombia. Because they had Pablo Escobar and the mafia for so many years.
“So they say ‘OK, so you’re going to take my picture but I’m probably going to be kidnapped after that because you’re part of the mafia and you’re not who you’re saying you are’.”
She adds: “If somebody were to start this project just with men, it would be much easier, because they don’t have to ask permission from their wives, sisters or mothers.”
Mihaela says she occasionally puts pictures through Photoshop, but not for the reasons you might think.
“When you take a picture, it’s usually raw, and that means it’s very blank, like a painting, you don’t have the colours you had in the reality.
“So I try to make it as vibrant and colourful as it was in the original place. But I’m not making anyone skinnier or anything like that, never, because that’s very painful.
“Because I also suffered as a woman growing up from all kinds of difficulties, I wanted to be skinnier, look a certain way, and that was also related to the fake images I saw in day-to-day life.”
It’s safe to say Mihaela’s photography book is quite different tonally to, say, Kim Kardashian’s 2015 book of selfies.
“These days, the bloggers, the famous people of our planet have set this unachievable and fake beauty standard, and it’s very difficult for us as women to relate to that,” she says.
“Kim Kardashian has 100 million followers on her Instagram page and I have 200,000, so imagine the difference – it’s astonishing. But slowly, slowly, I think the message of natural and simple beauty will be spread around the world.”
So what’s the best piece of advice Mihaela could give to anyone keen to get into photography? Buy a good quality camera? Learn about lenses and angles?
“Buy good shoes,” she laughs, “because you’re going to walk and explore a lot.”
The instinct is to look for answers, but the truth is that questions that teach us most. It can also be that the rhetorical questions—the ones that don’t even seem to have answers—that push and push the hardest. Who do you think you are? What does all this mean? Why? Why? Why?
The right question at the right time can change the course of a life, can still a turbulent mind, or heal an angry heart. While every situation can generate its own, there are twelve questions, I think, that deserve to be asked not just once but many times over the course of a lifetime, some even many times over the course of the day. I have gathered them from some of the wisest philosophers, most incisive thinkers, greatest leaders and most awesome badasses that ever lived. I’m not saying I know the answer to any of them, but I can say there is value in letting them challenge you. If you let them. If you let them do their work on you—and let them change you.
Start now by asking:
Who Do You Spend Time With? Goethe would say “Tell me who you spend time with and I will tell you who you are.” Who we know and what we do that influences more than any other factor, who we will become. Because what you do puts you around people, and the people you’re around affects what you do. Think about your friends and colleagues: do they inspire you, validate you, or drag you down? We seem to understand that a young kid who spends time with kids who don’t want to go anywhere in life, probably isn’t going to go anywhere in life. What we understand less is that an adult who spends time with other adults who tolerate crappy jobs, or unhappy lifestyles is going to find themselves making similar choices. Same goes for what you read, what you watch, what you think about. Your life comes to resemble its environment (Ben Hardy calls this the proximity effect). So choose your surroundings wisely.
Is This In My Control? Epictetus says that the chief task of the philosopher is to make the distinction between what is in their control and what is not—what is up to us and what is not up to us? We waste incredible amounts of time on the latter and leave so many opportunities on the table by mislabeling the former. Our actions, our thoughts, our feelings, these are up to us. Other people, the weather, external events, these are not. But here’s where it comes full circle: our responses to other people, the weather, external events are in our control. Making this distinction will make you happier, make you stronger and make you more successful if only because it concentrates your resources in the places where they matter.
What Does Your Ideal Day Look Like? If you don’t know what your ideal day looks like, how are you ever going to make decisions or plans for ensuring that you actually get to experience them on a regular basis? It’s important to take an inventory of the most enjoyable and satisfying days of your life. What did you do? Why did you like them? Now be sure that your job, personal life, even the place you’ve chosen to live takes you towards these, not away from them. If you don’t want an office, don’t set up an office. I run my company remotely. If you enjoy being in harness and that’s what makes you feel good, then you’ll probably need something that has a lot of responsibilities and set requirements. If you enjoy influence more than material success, then make sure you pick something that allows for that. If you’re a quiet person, then you need a lifestyle that will let you be quiet—not one that forces you to be constantly not yourself. If you thrive on attention and collaboration, then pick accordingly. If you want to live in the same place for a long time, maybe buy a house. If you don’t—God, please don’t. And on and on and on.
To Be Or To Do? One of the best strategists of the last century, John Boyd, would ask the promising young acolytes under him: “To be or to do? Which way will you go?” That is, will you choose to fall in love with the image of how success looks like or you focus on a higher purpose? Will you pick obsessing over your title, number of fans, size of paycheck or on real, tangible accomplishment? He said that in life there is a roll call and it sorts people by their answer to this question, the doers and those who simply pretend. Which will you be? Which have you been?
If I Am Not For Me, Who Is? If I Am Only For Me, Who Am I? The alternative translation of that last part is “If I am only only for me, what am I?” The answer is “the worst.” The question comes from Hillel the Elder (also happens to be a favorite quote of Reid Hoffman, the venture capitalist). It doesn’t make you a bad person to want to be remembered. To want to make it to the top. To provide for yourself and your family. But if this is all you want it is a problem. There is a balance. Think of someone like General George Marshall, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for the Marshall Plan, who had the same traits that everyone has— ego, self-interest, pride, dignity, ambition—but they were “tempered by a sense of humility and selflessness.” When he was practically offered the command of the troops on D-Day he told President Roosevelt: “The decision is yours, Mr. President; my wishes have nothing to do with the matter.” It came to be that Eisenhower led the invasion and performed with excellence, Marshall’s opportunity to change history came soon after—winning the peace prize and saving Europe as Secretary of State.
What Am I Missing By Choosing To Worry or Be Afraid? As Gavin de Becker writes in The Gift of Fear, “When you worry, ask yourself, ‘What am I choosing to not see right now?’ What important things are you missing because you chose worry over introspection, alertness or wisdom?” Another way of putting it: Does getting upset provide you with more options? Obstacles in life make us emotional, but the only way we’ll survive or overcome them is by keeping those distracting emotions in check—if we can keep steady no matter what happens, no matter how much external events may fluctuate. The Greeks had a word for this: apatheia. It’s the kind of calm equanimity that comes with the absence of irrational or extreme emotions. And so when you find yourself indulging in those emotions, one way to get yourself back on track is simply by reminding yourself of the cost they incur: That you’re missing something by being nervous, scared, or anxious. That you’re taking your eye off the ball to do it. Can you afford that? Probably not.
Am I Doing My Job? The three-word command from Bill Belichick, Nick Saban, Sean Payton, Jason Garrett: Do Your Job. The last thing the great John Wooden would say to his players in the locker room before a game was, “Well, I’ve done my job.” So the question is: Are you doing yours? Do you even know what that job is? It’s important to remember that we can be very busy—exhaustingly busy—and still not be doing our job. We can be caught up in the things that don’t matter, we can be interfering and encroaching on someone else’s job, we can be just plain procrastinating. All these things keep us working—but not on the job that actually matters.
What Is The Most Important Thing? If you don’t know what the most important thing is to you, how do you know if you’re putting it first? How do you know if you’re taking the right steps to get it. Maybe the most important thing to you is family. Awesome, so that’s your priority. What it means is that not only do you have to start measuring yourself by family-related metrics, but you have to stop comparing yourself to people with different priorities. Maybe money is the most important thing to you. That’s perfectly fine. Know that and own it—as Michael Lewis writes, the problem is the lying to yourself. You have to know and own whatever it is. Only then can you understand what matters and what doesn’t. Only then can you say no—can you opt out of stupid races that don’t matter, or exist. Only then is it easy to ignore “successful” people, because most of the time they aren’t—at least relative to you, and often even to themselves. Only then you can develop the quiet confidence that Seneca calledeuthymia—“the belief that you’re on the right path and not led astray by the many tracks which cross yours of people who are hopelessly lost.”
Who Is This For? If you’re making something, selling something, trying to reach people you have to be able to answer this question. It is shocking how many entrepreneurs, writers, salesman, even politicians never bother to stop and go: Who the hell is my audience here? The result is that the message is out of tune or the wrong group is targeted (and failure usually follows). Every creative must stop and really think about who their audience is. What do these people want? What do they need? What value am I offering them? Don’t try to get lucky. Don’t follow your hunch. Get it right. Ask the question, make sure the answer is clear.
Does This Actually Matter? The reason that wise people never let the very real fact of their mortality slip too far from their mind (memento mori) is because it helps them ask this question: Given the shortness of life, does this thing I’m thinking about, worrying about, fighting about, throwing myself into even fucking matter? Sadly, the answer is usually no. We want to ask ourselves this question before we throw good time after bad, before we waste more life than we have to. “You could leave life right now,” Marcus Aurelius reminded himself, “Let that determine what you do and say and think.” In light of that, does this thing you’re so worked up about actually matter? As Stephen Colbert, a man who has experienced unimaginable tragedy has recounted, “Momentary disappointments can be seen,’ as my mother used to say when we had a heart-breaker, ‘in the light of eternity. This moment is nothing in the light of eternity,’ and that opens you up to the next moment if you don’t put too much weight on the moment where you are failing right now.”
Will This Be Alive Time or Dead Time? Early on in my career I had a pivotal conversation with author Robert Greene. I was working full-time at a really good job but planning my next move, saving my money and thinking about what I might do next. I told him I wanted to write a book one day, but I wasn’t sure what, how or when or what about. He told me, Ryan, there are two types of time: Dead time—where we are just waiting and Alive time—where we are learning and active and leveraging. And then he left it there with me to decide which I would choose.Alive time or Dead Time?So let that question catch you the next time you find yourself sitting on your hands or goofing off as you wait. Let it jolt you back into line. Pick up a book, pick up a pen and get back to work. Resist the temptation to get distracted with silly politics or wanderlust. Make the most of every moment as you prepare for the next move or the next event. If you want to be productive, be fully alive.
Is This Who I Want To Be?Our mind has the cunning ability to make the distinction between what we do and who we are. The problem is that this is complete nonsense. You can’t be a good person if your actions are consistently bad. You can’t be a hardworking person if you take every shortcut you can. It doesn’t matter that you say you love someone, it only matters if you show that you love them. Remember Cheryl Strayed’s line: “In your twenties you’re in the process of becoming who you are, so you might as well not be an asshole.” This is true for life itself. You are what you do—so ask yourself whenever you’re doing something: Is this reflective of the person I want to be? That I see myself to be? How we do anything is how we do everything. It is who we are. So ask this question about every action, thought and word. Because it adds up in a way that no amount of self-image or belief ever will.
Last question. Sort of. It comes from the great Viktor Frankl, the psychotherapist who survived the Auschwitz and wrote many beautiful books. He tried, as best he could, to try to address that perennial question that every philosopher and hungry young person has struggled with: What is the meaning of life? Frankl struggled with this question too, surely the horrors of a concentration camp and the loss of one’s entire existence will do that to you. But he found that the answer was simple, though there was a problem how the question was posed. You see, he said, it is not us who get to demand of the world, “What is the meaning of life?” Rather, he said, life is demanding that we answer the question with the actions and decisions we make. That we create meaning in our choices and our beliefs. I think we create it in doing our best to challenge ourselves with the questions above:
What am I for?
What is my job?
Who do I want to be?
What’s up to me?
What does a good day look like?
Some are simpler than others, sure, but the answers rarely are—and the act of asking is the most important thing.
Hey, did you know that your thoughts can make brain tumors grow faster? Your mind is made of meat that is arranged in precisely such a way as to not know it is meat. This is why so much of your personality is dictated by seemingly random nonsense you’re not even aware of. Such as …
Whispering: Hey, David Wong’s new novel — the third in the NYT bestselling John Dies At The End series — is FINALLY OUT NOW.
Your Fear Of Germs Determines Your Politics (And Maybe Everything Else)
This is going to be one of those “Now that you see it, you can’t unsee it” situations. It sounds ridiculous at first, then starts to become grossly obvious the more you look around. We referenced a study a while back in which scientists could get people to be less racist merely by washing their hands first. At the time, that seemed to me like one of those oddball results, like the one that found you can make a person smarter by having them wear a lab coat. But no, it turns out it was but a glimpse into the dark, swirling demon lurking within the soul of humanity: our primitive fear of germs.
The theory says that over the centuries, certain people and groups evolved with a higher paranoia toward infections, due to living in regions/climates where that sort of thing was more of a threat. Meeting another tribe thus meant encountering diseases you had no immunity to, and to this day, their descendants will instinctively be more untrustworthy of other cultures and tightly regulate “unclean” behavior. In groups, they form societies that are fiercely nationalistic and insist on flamboyant outward displays of such (like, say, Confederate flags on pickup trucks) to signal to one another that they’re “safe.” They also enforce strict sexual morality (to prevent the spread of STDs). Over time, they tend to gravitate toward dictatorships, submitting to the strongman promising to protect them from the contaminated outside world.
But wait, there’s more! A recent study found that belief in a vengeful god tends to make people more cooperative toward strangers. This, they theorize, helped primitive societies expand, overcoming the natural mistrust they had for one another. Now open up your Bible and count the number of times God punishes a society of unbelievers by unleashing a plague. (“We must cooperate under the same rules, or else we both will get infected!”)
Now check out how we remain obsessed with the concept of an apocalyptic world-ending plague to this day, even though such a thing would be all but impossible in reality. (Note how everyone shat their pants at the mere mention of the word “Ebola.”) In pop culture, it usually comes in the form of post-apocalyptic fiction like The Walking Dead. You know, that show in which our heroic tribe of survivors continually runs from the infected, until they meet another tribe and find out they can’t trust them? A show that exploded in popularity right when America was in the middle of a panic about globalization?
That’s right, the fear of germs dominates our entire culture from the ground up, but people still don’t think twice about eating at buffets. THAT SNEEZE GUARD ISN’T GUARDING SHIT.
Lead Destroys Your Sense Of Morality (And Lithium Might Improve It)
Hey, remember how in Batman Begins, the villains’ plan was to release a fear toxin in Gotham City that would turn the populace into a violent, mindless horde? And how Batman had a flock of bats he could summon when he needed them, but then completely forgot about in future movies? Well, that first one really happened! Only the effect was global and happened over the course of decades. What follows may be one of the most terrifying cautionary tales in the history of technology, and we still don’t fully grasp the scale of how badly we may have fucked up here.
The unpronounceable chemical Tetraethyllead is the “lead” they’re leaving out of “unleaded” gasoline. When cars were new back in the 1920s, they added it to fuel to help prevent engine wear. They already knew lead did weird things to the human brain at the time (studies had already shown that people getting water from lead pipes were more likely to commit murder), and that these engines would be releasing tiny particles of it into the air everyone breathed. But honestly, how many people would be buying these “automobiles,” anyway?
More than half a century and hundreds of millions of cars later, governments finally started cracking down on lead emissions because they suspected they were, unsurprisingly, messing with people’s brains. As we touched on here, in one city and country after another, as unleaded fuel was banned, the violent crime rate started dropping. A lot.
“Wait,” you say from your mad scientist lab, “is it possible to do the opposite? Is there a chemical that keeps that part of the brain healthy?” Sure! In fact, it’s already happened. You know how some people take lithium as a treatment for bipolar disorder? Well, lithium also occurs naturally in the environment, and places that happen to have more of it in their drinking water have less violent crime. Oh, and their suicide rates are up to 40 percent lower. Holy shit!
So yes, we should start adding lithium to the water supply to create world peace. I mean, I don’t want it in my water. Other people’s.
OK, well, there surely are other explanations. Maybe outgoing kids tend to eat different diets, and that changes their gut microbes? Because they’re eating … adventurous party food, I guess? Or maybe they have different hormones or something, and that changes their digestion? Really, anything is better than believing that, for instance, the decision to ask your current partner out on a date was truly made by a pulsing ooze of microscopic blobs swimming in your shit.
You probably want to dismiss this whole thing. You may even feel a knee-jerk urge to dismiss it out of hand, and not devote any further thought to it. An urge that you can feel … in your gut? Nice try, shit.
You Have Probably Brainwashed Yourself Into A Completely False Idea Of Who You Are
Here’s an important question almost no one thinks to ask: Do cult leaders believe what they’re saying? After all, L. Ron Hubbard clearly knew his new religion was a scam at first — he borrowed its mythology from his own sci-fi stories, which he wrote to make a quick buck. But by all accounts, he later spent endless hours “auditing” himself to try to purge his soul of the evil alien spirits — you know, the ones he had invented years earlier. It’s almost as if by repeating his ludicrous lies, he indoctrinated himself.
That, it appears, is exactly what happened. And almost every deranged cult leader in history followed that exact path. Do you remember that weird terror attack that happened in Tokyo in 1995? A Japanese doomsday cult unleashed nerve gas on a subway, killing a dozen people (which would have been thousands if they hadn’t fucked up the release of the gas). The cult was led by a guy named Shoko Asahara, who had been a small-time con artist going back to his teenage years, running a number of scams which he eventually expanded into lucrative businesses. He sold snake oil cures out of an acupuncture shop for a while, then started putting ads in sci-fi magazines offering to teach mind powers like telepathy and levitation — for a reasonable fee, of course. In less than a decade, he went from telling silly lies to get cash from gullible dupes to unleashing nerve gas in order to trigger Armageddon, believing that he and his followers would then ascend to inherit the Earth.
That’s weird, right? That garden-variety shitheads wind up joining their own cults in suicide pacts to fulfill some “prophecy” that they themselves wrote late at night over a bottle of wine? But that, my friends, is the magic of the human brain. Not only can it be reprogrammed by anyone who knows the method, but it can also reprogram itself, unintentionally, without realizing it. But that could never happen to you and me, right? Haha. Ha.
You lie to yourself, then you believe the lie, then you make others believe the lie which you now believe is true. It’s lies all the way down. This is why if you go to a primitive tribe without access to mirrors or clear reflective surfaces of water and show them a reflection of their own faces, they freak the fuck out. (“They were paralyzed; after the first startled response — covering their mouths and ducking their heads — they stood transfixed …”) Living their lives without a clear reflection as a reference, they each had built up in their minds an idea of what they surely must look like. Maybe they always secretly assumed they were among the most attractive, despite their public shows of humility. Then bam, the disgusting reality was suddenly staring back at them. “That’s what I look like?”
Well, if you had a magic mirror that could reflect back upon you exactly how others see your attitudes, mannerisms, emotions, habits, etc, it would be the same, only about a hundred times stronger. A hand clasped over your mouth, feeling sick, staring at the “reflection” of a total stranger. Anyway, buy my book. Oh, wait, one more thing …
This piece was written by the people who run the Cracked Store to tell you about products that are being sold there.
If you love taking things apart and then reassembling them into a hodgepodge of calamity like Sid from Toy Story, then you might be interested in this Arduino Enthusiast E-Book Bundle. Arduino is an opportunity to take your inner Frankensteinian tendencies into the electrical realm, and this collection will guide you through that process.
What Is Arduino?
Arduino is a microcontroller, which is just another term for a simplified computer on a single integrated circuit. Think of it like a digital brain that you can program. It takes a variety of electrical inputs through an array of digital and analog pins, so you can make use of optical sensors, buttons, motors, and other electrical components. Writing code to process input data and control mechanical parts is done with a simple free editor, and compiling it onto the device is as easy as plugging in a USB cable and hitting play. Becoming the hero AND the villain of your own science fiction film has never been so easy.
Why is it so popular in the maker community?
Arduino is hardly the only single-board microcontroller out there, but what makes it stand out is its accessibility. Arduino assumes that you aren’t trapped in a time vortex in 1996 and that you already own a computer. This allows it to stay cheap and avoid a complex operating system setup. Arduino also lends itself well to larger-scale projects needing multiple interfaces, which would be otherwise infeasible with more expensive boards. That said, we do apologize to all of those poor souls who were accidentally trapped in the Portal of Ceaseless Screams and No Computers on their way to see Space Jam. You are not forgotten.
What can you build with it?
What CAN’T you build with it, you jock?
Sorry. You didn’t deserve that. You’re a pal.
With such an open-ended platform, you’re really only limited by your imagination. You can take sensor input from almost anything to create interactive systems with real-time data monitoring, mechanical movement, and wireless communication, or just keep it simple with hobby electronics projects.
The Arduino Enthusiast E-Book Bundle includes eight comprehensive books filled with interesting projects that tackle topics like wearable’s, robotics, and smartphone communication. Here’s the full reading list:
— Arduino Wearable Projects – $35.99 Value
— Arduino Electronics Blueprints – $35.99 Value
— Arduino Development Cookbook – $35.99 Value
— Internet of Things with Arduino Blueprints – $31.99 Value
This is a story of blooming love and betrayal, about children coming of age, of conscience and the sociopaths who lack it; it is a story about trust and how true love empowers and heals us. In the end, it is a story about humanity and the eternal struggle between good and evil.
Nyla and Junaid are classmates learning about the world around them and in the process discovering themselves. They must endure and survive a path fraught with confusion and peril if they hope to emerge victorious, though not necessarily unscathed. They will learn of innocence and its loss, about how budding love can be snuffed out if not cared for and its formidable power when nurtured and protected. They will become closely acquainted with evil, with its insidious presence in plain sight and how it mangles and corrupts those it touches. They will have to confront and defeat it if they can. If you think you recognize some of the characters described herein, it is only because the human experience around the world and in the different cultures is not unique, and we all share some of the same burdens and the joys of similar emotions and trials as we go about learning to find ourselves.
The setting is the foothills of the Margalla Mountain range, a part of the lesser Himalayas, north of Islamabad in Pakistan, during the 1990s.
Author Fouad Azim has written Becoming, an emotionally gripping novel about young love in the1990’s Pakistan which will enthrall readers.
Becoming tells the story of classmates Nyla and Junaid. Junaid is a shy young man who comes out of his shell once he falls in love with the intelligent and independent Nyla. Their fledgling romance is threatened by the jealousy of Jahal, an emotionally unstable boy who is determined to break them up. Nyla and Junaid must overcome Jahal’s wicked actions and other obstacles to discover true love.
This book is a unique coming-of-age novel about young love in a land far away from the United States, which is still a universal story. Junaid’s sensitivity and devotion to Nyla is admirable and makes him a relatable protagonist. Nyla is a strong character that isn’t just a passive love interest for Junaid. She’s a self-sufficient young woman that is brave throughout Becoming as she fights the cultural traditions that try to keep her from Junaid. Jahal is the perfect antagonist as the psychologically disturbed villain of the novel. Though he commits horrific acts, Azim’s writing doesn’t limit him to a one-dimensional monster. Jahal is more of a wounded soul than a soulless anti-hero.
Azim’s writing is evocative and poignant. The hills and caves of Pakistan are described so vividly that readers can imagine they are in the rugged terrain of the South Asian countryside. He also easily captures the complicated social lives of teenagers and how fraught young relationships can be in Becoming’s dialogue. Though there are some cultural differences between Western and Eastern culture in the book, the universal themes of the novel comes through to the readers. Azim also expertly handles sweet romance and dangerous drama throughout the novel. This story has exciting and suspenseful moments which will leave readers wanting more.
Becoming would be best for fans of the Kite Runner and Khaled Housseni. The novels both have similar stories about friendships in South Asian countries and both authors write masterfully about love. This book would also be good for fans of historical fiction, especially of fiction set in countries outside America. The novel would be perfect for readers of all ages. Becoming could would be great for young Pakistani or South Asian culture in general will learn a lot from this book as well. Fouad Azim’s novel shows how love can conquer hate, making Becoming an unforgettable novel which all readers will love.
Labor Day weekend has come and gone (RIP, my liver), and that means school is back in session. Tis the season for leggings disguised as pants, waiting to buy your books until halfway through the semester, and sorority rush aka the most soul-sucking, Spanx-up-your-ass, I-will-cunt-punt-a-bitch-if-I-hear-that-song-one-more-time kind of season.
Whether you’re gearing up to rush for the first time or gearing up to judge the shit out of new freshmen’s last season Kate Spade welcome an entire new class to the chapter, you’re probably well aware of the popularity contest and social hierarchy that is every sorority on campus. And if you’re not, do you even go here? I mean, think about it—everything about rush is purely physical. You only get one fake five-minute convo about your college major, a quick tour, and maybe some Minute Maid lemonade, so really, your decision comes down to square footage of the house and which girl probably has the hottest brother. But when all is said and done, you chose a sorority that was totally “you” and that will determine your social status for however long you shall live. So listen up, because whether you know it or you don’t, your sorority speaks much more about you than three random letters stitched into ugly fabric on basically everything you own, and I’m about to tell you how, so get cozy. Also you should know that in my greek prime, I thrived off of being Campus Gossip royalty, so your generous discussion of blatant hatred in the comments only makes me smarter/better/faster/stronger. Deep down, y’all know this shit’s about to hit close to home, so bye.
Me not pretending to care:
Gamma Phi Beta
When I think of GPhis, I think about the horror that is probably sitting through “It’s a Small World” on mushrooms, except with much more pressed pastel linen and much less diversity. Gamma Phis are like your stereotypical half-a-virgin movie sorority, and also the reason I had to schedule an immediate therapy session after rush, mostly because when I accidentally clapped, they looked at me like I just fucking retweeted Trump. Why? Because they motherfucking snap their fingers. They’re like that girl in class who reminds the teacher that you had homework due three minutes before class is dismissed. Idk. Look, I’m not saying anything bad about them, but all they really care about is school, and their mom, and their friends. Oh, and did I mention they snap?
Delta Delta Delta
Nobody puts triple the “D” in TriDelt like this group of closet hoes. These girls are the secret freaks of the greek system who mask their hoeish-ness by taking on weird “hobbies” they’re into, like Burning Man and on Netflix. You never know what you’re gonna get with TriDelts, considering every chapter ranges between everything from Green Peace Vegans to homey-hopping frat row. Regardless, a TriDelt’s open-leg policy scores them unlimited access to date parties, formals and HPV, so like, live it up.
Kappa Alpha Theta
There are the type of girls who say they like your vintage skirt from the ‘80s and actually mean it, and then there are Thetas. Generally all-around, they’re smart, cleaned up and classy af. Everything matches from their caramel highlights to their $60 pedicures. But their façade doesn’t come easy. Deep down, everyone knows it’s better to be in The Plastics Theta hating life than to not be in it at all. Beyond the white canvas tote bags and the lavish recruitment center pieces, Ashley just got her ass handed to her in the passive-aggressive email about why her vest was disgusting and goes against all dress code violations. But you know what they say, “A girl should be three things… Classy, Fabulous & Theta.” —Probably Marilyn Monroe
Kappa Kappa Gamma
Kappas are the all-around American girls next door who will eventually go on to marry a sweet, loaded Jewish man and live in her own fairy tale with three half-Jewish children. I only say that because Charlotte from was a Kappa and you can’t make this shit up. Kappas are one of the OG sororities that have been around for like centuries, so consider them the older, classier group of the bunch. But whatever you do, don’t mistake them for lame. Kappas are like the Jennifer Lawrences of the greek system, and I don’t see Jennifer Lawrence going sober to any bougie event. Get you a girl who thrives off Sunday brunch, but can also spend an entire weekend binge-watching a marathon on ABC Family. Get you a Kappa.
Alpha Delta Pi
I’m not here to judge, but that’s mostly because TotalFratMove.com already did it for me. There’s a reason these girls are called AD-proof, and that’s because they can outdrink anyone in the entire greek system. You’ll always see the same group of them at a Sig Ep rager, but the good thing is, they’ll unknowingly always be your ally when you’re waiting for your own sisters to arrive, because 1) they’re never not obliterated and 2) they’ll never not offer you a handle pull. ADPis are the drunk girls in the bathroom sporting last night’s eye makeup who will always compliment your new boobs or eyebrows, so really I have no problem here. Four for you ADPis, you go ADPis.
Alpha Chi Omega
AChiOs may look intimidating from the outside, but that’s only because they are. They had like, 12 founding sisters who you know just sat around watching Bravo while talking shit on every sorority, and prob their own, but their philanthropy serves women of domestic violence, so you know they can fuck some shit up. Like I literally called out sick during Greek Week because of the sheer murderous volume of that fucking AAAAA-CHIIIIII-OOOOOO chant that still haunts me when I sleep. But being competitive also means getting what you want, so if it were me, don’t even bother asking Dillon from ATO to formal if an AChiO might have dibs. She’ll go full Rihanna on your ass faster than you can say Michael Kors.
Remember that girl in college who claimed she wanted to really make a difference in the world and you were all like, “That’s awesome! How?” and she tells you she’s thinking of taking on the event planning industry? Gee wow, Tiffany for Prez 2020. Alpha Phis know how to have a good time, but they also know how to get away with doing the bare minimum—same. Their list of college Comm courses consist of Tourism 101, Brunching For Mass Basics, and Popular Culture. And yeah, that’s textbook lingo for “pop culture,” and it also may or may not have been a class I barely passed took. Once graduated, she’ll be plastering her “glamorous” LA lifestyle all over Instagram while working in public relations, aka the front desk morning bagel-getter.
Zeta Tau Alpha
On the west coast, ZTAs are all the girls who decided to rush for the sole purpose of boosting their resumes and taking a leadership role rather than being sexually active in the greek system, but on the east coast, Zetas are so much more than that. If you’ve seen Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” music video, or just anything she’s ever been in, just think of Zetas as a group of powerful, always-involved, mostly white girls, who will deny that to their grave, exactly kinda like Taylor Swift. Zetas are overly committed to fundraising and their philanthropy, but probably to distract people from their true identity—that being the Regina Georges in sheep’s clothing. Also like Taylor Swift.
When it comes to DGs, dumb shit like GPA, extracurricular activities and part-time work experience are at the bottom food chain. These are the girls who scored white M3 series for their 16th birthdays and paid for overpriced gifts for their littles with daddy’s tuition money. They spend a stupid amount of time, and dollars, on Dry Bar blowouts and Kendra Scott statement necklaces, while their claim to fame is knowing all the words to Nicki Minaj’s verse in “Monster.” Oh, and it’s no coincidence “Dirty Girls” worship their sacred anchors because, like, nothing goes down faster than an anchor. You didn’t hear it from me.
It’s hard to think of a dish as elemental as scrambled eggs. The only requirements for the original two-ingredient recipe (if you don’t count seasoning) are fat for cooking and eggs. Though plenty of ways exist to make them more ambitious, with fancy ingredients and elegant presentations, it seems impossible to think of a way to change them beyond the three-step process of cracking, whisking, and pouring into a hot pan.
The San Francisco-based chef has earned Michelin stars and a James Beard award for his fine-dining restaurant, Coi. He is a co-founder of Locol, the California fast-food spot whose mission statement is to save the world by offering well-sourced, affordable burgers, soft serve, and coffee in underserved neighborhoods.
Patterson is likewise on a mission to give home cooks a point of view in their own cooking. In a cookbook just out this month, (Riverhead Books), he has teamed up with perfumer Mandy Aftel to teach readers to be confident in their flavor combinations, rather than blindly relying on recipes. (Patterson compares this to the way people unthinkingly follow GPS directions in their car.)
Patterson’s goal is for home cooks to cook without recipes. “Chefs make multiple decisions simultaneously when they’re creating dishes. This book allows people to make their own recipes. Much of that is functional: determining you want acid in a dish, and then deciding from options like Champagne vinegar, or balsamic, or citrus. Brown sugar or honey or a juice if you want sweetness. Once you get a sense of what works for you, you gain confidence.”
“There are a million recipes out there, but hardly any that explain why you’re mixing this with that, or that empower you. This book is about the ‘whys,’ about knowing what your flavor target is, and how to hit it,” says Patterson. “If you like spicy foods, high acid foods, dishes with that rich umami flavor, then get a handle on the ingredients that push that forward.”
Take sweet potatoes, he says. One of his favorite dishes in the book is for a soy-glazed version. Using three ingredients (sweet potatoes that are roasted, plus melted butter and dark soy sauce), Patterson transforms a staple side dish into one with sophisticated layers of dark, sweet, and salty flavors. “It will change your Thanksgiving,” predicts Patterson.
To lead cooks to a place of understanding, Patterson takes time out in to point out the power of some ingredients to undo the wrong direction a recipe might go in. In the book’s final chapter, “The Seven Dials,” Patterson highlights the seven kinds of flavor adjustments (salt, sweet, sour, bitter, umami, fat, and heat) you can make to a dish. There are “Sweet Rules”: If you’ve added too much salt to a dish, a hit of sugar can alleviate that. So can a hit of a tangy ingredient, such as a squeeze of lemon juice. (Under “Sour Rules” you learn that sour balances almost every other flavor.) From “Fat Rules,” you confirm that fat, like a knob of butter, fixes and balances just about everything.
It was this kind of experimentation that led Patterson to his most trailblazing recipe, a transformation of scrambled eggs. The background: He had always cooked his eggs in a non-stick pan. When his eco-conscious wife took issue with the hormone-disrupting problems associated with Teflon, he cooked his eggs in cast iron pans and soon found the egg remnants cumbersome to clean.
Patterson had a “eureka” moment: Why not try cooking the beaten eggs in boiling water? Eggs are poached all the time; these would just be beaten first. Experimentation taught him that eggs wouldn’t stick to the bottom of the pan if you add them to a mini-whirlpool of simmering water.
In the meantime, the intense heat of the water bath would cause the air bubbles in the eggs to expand, while simultaneously setting the protein. The resulting eggs are terrifically light, fluffy, and tender, like an expertly made omelet. It also lends itself to any number of toppings, from a drizzle of olive oil to a wedge of goat cheese, even gravy. We like the way butter melts into it.
Boiled Scrambled Eggs
4 large eggs, as fresh as possible Salt and freshly ground pepper Unsalted butter
In a bowl, beat the eggs until well-blended, about 30 seconds. ( For lighter scrambled eggs, crack each egg into a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl; a little bit of the watery egg white will drip out. Discard it, rinse the strainer, and set over your sink.)
In a medium pot of water, heat four or more inches of water to a low boil over medium heat. Add a few large pinches of salt.
Stir the water to create a whirlpool, then pour in the eggs. Cover and count to 20. Uncover: The eggs should be floating on the surface in ribbons. Carefully pour the eggs into the strainer and let drain, gently tapping the strainer against the side to shake off any extra water. Divide the eggs between plates. (Tester’s note: Blot off any excess water from the plate with a paper towel.) Season the eggs with salt and pepper and a hunk of butter and serve with toast.
Yeesh, the Make-A-Wish Foundation is not looking too good right now.
The nonprofit organization usually does an excellent job of making sick kids happy, but earlier this week a clerical error really threw a wrench into things for them. Instead of sending Spider-Man to visit a terminally ill child, they arranged for a completely healthy child to meet with a superhero named Terminally Ill Spiderman.
Its an understandable mistake, but it still ruined an afternoon for healthy 8-year-old Michael Cooper, who heard a feeble knocking at his door announcing the unexpected arrival of a gaunt and shivering Terminally Ill Spider-Man. The incredibly unwell wall-crawler declared that he was on his way to hospice but needed to stop at Michaels house to use the bathroom. The superhero asked Michael to help pull his mask up so he could vomit into the toilet without getting his costume filthy, and after retching up blood for several minutes, he asked to lie down on Michaels bed to regain his energy while huffing from an oxygen tank.
In a half-conscious delirium, the dying web-slinger gave Michael a pair of toy web-shooters and asked if he could count on the boy to help fight the Green Goblin, since Spider-Man was no longer physically able. Terminally Ill Spider-Man explained that he couldnt climb buildings anymore because his skin was very brittle, and trying to cling to a wall would make his fingertips rip off.
The waning superhero then offered to autograph one of Michaels Spider-Man comic books, but the boy had to turn him down because he wasnt really a huge Marvel fan and didnt own any, so Spider-Man instead shakily wrote, To my favorite sidekick! Spider-Man, on a copy of Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, ruining its cover.
Terminally Ill Spider-Man was exhausted from all that interaction, so he then slept for 15 hours, his labored wheezing audible throughout the house. At one point the wheezing stopped entirely, and Michael thought that Spider-Man had died, but then the masked vigilante abruptly woke up in a coughing fit and asked Michael to empty his urine bag.
In the morning, Terminally Ill Spider-Man still wasnt feeling up to walking, so Make-A-Wish sent over an ambulance, and two paramedics carried the ailing superhero away on a stretcher.
Overall, this debacle is a real black eye for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Not only did they force an 8-year-old child to confront human mortality way earlier than necessary, but they also wasted resources that could have sent a healthy Spider-Man to visit a child who was actually dying. Make-A-Wish really needs to iron out the kinks in its operations so this kind of embarrassing mixup doesnt happen again.
Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) tried to pull a fast one on America, putting crucial health care legislation up for a vote in the early hours of July 28. Unfortunately for McConnell and other supporters of the so-called “Skinny Repeal” bill, it was struck down in a dramatic moment with 51 senators voting against it.
“Trumpcare,” at least in its current form, was dead.
Joining 48 Democratic and Independent “no” votes were three Republicans: Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine), and in a dramatic last minute pivot, John McCain (Arizona).
From left, Murkowski, McCain, and Collins. Photos by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.
Though Murkowski and Collins have maintained their opposition to the bill from the start, McCain has been getting what miiiiiiight be seen as a disproportionate amount of credit for killing it.
John McCain is basically Jesus, taking the fall for killing Trumpcare so the Republican conference could be saved. https://t.co/aLffLIS9u7
Watching a man getting more credit than women for the same amount of work seemed a bit familiar to many Twitter users, who were quick to make sure Murkowski and Collins get the place in history they deserve.
After all, it was McCain’s “yes” vote earlier in the week that led the Senate to the precipice in the first place while Collins and Murkowski were steadfast in their opposition. Collins and Murkowski spent the days in between the two votes getting threats from members within their own party while McCain received praise from the president himself.
McCain’s decisive “no” vote on Friday places him solidly on the right side of history, protecting health care for millions of Americans, but watching him place his two votes was a bit like watching someone light a house on fire, help others put it out, and then get all the credit.
Giving McCain the credit for defeating this repeal when female Senators Murkowski & Collins were early NOs is EVERY WORK MEETING EVER.
In many ways, Collins and Murkowski’s votes were tougher than McCain’s. While Collins isn’t up for re-election until 2020 and Murkowski until 2022, it’s likely that they’ll both seek it, meaning that this vote could come to define them for better or for worse. Additionally, President Donald Trump threatened to retaliate against Murkowski if she voted against the bill. McCain, on the other hand, now 80 years old and recently diagnosed with brain cancer, has probably run his last campaign.
Add in the fact that separate House Republicans appear to have half-jokingly threatened Murkowskiand Collins in the past week, and it’s clear that the senators won’t exactly be seen as popular with certain segments of the party moving forward.
Beyond McCain, Collins, Murkowski, and the other 48 “no” votes, it’s important to remember the real heroes of the health care fight: regular people doing extraordinary things.
Activists played a huge role in shutting down the effort to gut the Affordable Care Act that shouldn’t go overlooked.
It’s important to recognise that Collins and Murkowski stood in opposition to the bill. More important to commend the activism against it.
The ACLU shared some stunning numbers from its push to stop the bill, noting that 89,000 supporters e-mailed members of Congress, made nearly 19,000 phone calls, and attended hundreds of in-person events.
To save the ACA, ACLU activists sent 89k emails to Congress made almost 19k phone calls attended 536 @PeoplePower events nationwide