The Invisible War Zone: 5 Ways Children Of Narcissistic Parents Self-Destruct In Adulthood

“Adverse childhood experiences are the single greatest unaddressed public health threat facing our nation today.” – Dr. Robert Block, MD, former President of the American Academy of Pediatrics
God & Man

Much of society associates the terms “trauma” and “PTSD” with war veterans. Yet we forget about the children who grow up in war zones at home, who suffer psychological scarring at vulnerable developmental stages of their lives. Neglect, mistreatment, abandonment and/or any form of sexual, emotional and physical abuse (such as the type imposed by toxic, narcissistic parents) have been proven by research such as the Adverse Childhood Experiences study to leave an impact that is destructive and long-lasting.

As trauma expert Bessel van Der Kolk, author of notes, our brains can literally be rewired for fear when it comes to childhood abuse. Studies have confirmed that parental verbal aggression has an impact on key areas of the brain related to learning, memory, decision-making and emotional regulation (Choi et. al, 2009; Teicher, 2009). Childhood trauma can affect our impulse control, increase our likelihood of substance abuse, shape the way we examine our environment for threats, and leaves us exposed to a plethora of health problems in adulthood (Bremner, 2006; Shin et. al, 2006).

According to researchers, early childhood trauma can affect our brains in the following ways:

  • Our amygdala, which controls our fight/flight response, emotional regulation, and our moods, becomes hyperactive and enlarged as a result of trauma. We can become extremely emotionally responsive and hypervigilant to potential threats in our environment due to trauma.
  • Our hippocampus, the part of our brain that deals with learning and memory, shrinks. This makes integrating traumatic memories a lot less effective. The traumatic impact of those memories remain a great deal more impactful.
  • Trauma can inhibit the prefrontal cortex, the center of our executive functioning, decision making and judgment. This can affect our ability to regulate our emotional responses as well as plan, focus and organize.

The good news is, healing can help to mitigate some of these effects. Brains can also be rewired in the other direction – meditation, for example, has been shown by studies to produce the opposite effects in the same areas of the brain that trauma affects. Yet the brains and psyches of children are so malleable that the effects of chronic emotional/verbal abuse, let alone physical abuse, leaves a frightening mark beyond childhood. It creates the potential for complex trauma to develop, especially when one is later re-violated in adulthood.

Without proper intervention, support, validation and protective factors, this form of violence has the potential to shift the course of one’s life-course trajectory.

Here are five ways having toxic parents can shape you as an adult:

1. Your life resembles a reenactment of old traumas.

Freud dubbed it “repetition compulsion,” psychologists refer to it as the effects of childhood “conditioning” or “trauma reenactment” and survivors call it, “Oh God, not this again.” The trauma repetition cycle is real. It’s destructive. And it’s birthed in the ashes of a violent childhood.

Ever wonder why some people always seem to be drawn to toxic people, yet perceive more stable individuals as “boring”? They may have a history of childhood trauma.

For childhood abuse survivors, chaos becomes a new “normal” as they become accustomed to highly stimulating environments which shape their nervous system and their psyche. Their fight for survival in childhood leaves a void in adulthood that is often filled with similar struggles.

Chaos becomes our new normal.

What we have to remember is that narcissistic parents aren’t all that different from narcissistic abusers in relationships. They love-bomb (excessively flatter and praise) their children when they need something from them, they triangulate them with other siblings by pitting them against each other and they devalue them with hypercriticism, rage attacks, verbal and emotional abuse.

They engage in intermittent reinforcement as well – withdrawing affection at critical periods while also giving their children crumbs to make them hope that they’ll receive the love they always desired.

As children, our bodies become so addicted to the crazymaking effects of emotional abuse that we find ourselves more intensely attached to partners who tend to replicate a similar chaotic effect on our bodies as our narcissistic parents.

We feel biochemically attracted to those who resemble our early childhood predators because they mirror the severe highs and lows our bodies went through in childhood. When love-bombing turns into devaluation, our body becomes biochemically bonded to our abusers.

This biochemical addiction leaves us reeling.

In the realm of relationships in adulthood, there are all sorts of chemicals being released when we’re in a bond with a predator. They create a very powerful attachment that’s actually strengthened by intermittent cruelty and affection, pleasure and punishment.

Dopamine, oxytocin, adrenaline, cortisol and our serotonin levels are being affected; these are involved in attachment, trust, fear, and stress. In fact, children who have endured maltreatment tend to have lower oxytocin levels due to the abuse, which leads to a greater number of indiscriminate relationships in adulthood (Bellis and Zisk, 2014).

There’s also a psychological component to this addiction.

When we are the children of narcissistic parents, emotionally abusive people fit the profile of what our subconscious has been primed to seek. Yet they often come disguised as our saviors.

Complex trauma survivors, as trauma expert Dr. Judith Herman notes, are in a ‘repeated search for a rescuer.’

“Many abused children cling to the hope that growing up will bring escape and freedom. But the personality formed in the environment of coercive control is not well adapted to adult life. The survivor is left with fundamental problems in basic trust, autonomy, and initiative. She {or he} approaches the task of early adulthood―establishing independence and intimacy―burdened by major impairments in self-care, in cognition and in memory, in identity, and in the capacity to form stable relationships. She {or he} is still a prisoner of childhood; attempting to create a new life, she re-encounters the trauma.”
Judith Lewis Herman, 

Love-Bombing Pulls Us In And Keeps Us Trapped In Loveless Relationships

The children of narcissists are drawn to narcissists in adulthood to fill a void. They are looking for the validation they never received in childhood and narcissists, on the onset, present us with a lot of it in the love-bombing stage when they are “grooming” us into believing that we’re the perfect partners for them. We crave their excessive praise because we lacked the unconditional positive regard we deserved in childhood but never received.

As children, we learned to associate betrayal with love, and were conditioned to see mistreatment as a form of connection. In fact, it was the only form of connection offered to us. Survivors of narcissistic parents have an extra layer of healing to undergo. Not only do we have to unlearn all of the unhealthy belief systems, we also have to clear our bodies and our minds of its familiarity with toxicity.

When the fears from our childhood are finally removed, we meet peace and stability with resistance; our bodies and our minds have to readjust to baseline levels of safety and security before we find healthy relationships appealing.

“The drive to complete and heal trauma is as powerful and tenacious as the symptoms it creates. The urge to resolve trauma through re-enactment can be severe and compulsive. We are inextricably drawn into situations that replicate the original trauma in both obvious and nonobvious ways…Re-enactments may be acted out in intimate relationships, work situations…adults, on a larger developmental scale, will re-enact traumas in our daily lives.” Peter A. Levine,

For example, a daughter who is unloved by her abusive father may end up with emotionally unavailable – or even sociopathic – partners in adulthood due to an instilled sense of unworthiness. To her, cruelty is all too familiar and abusers feed on her resilience and ability to ‘bounce back’ from abusive incidents. She is used to taking a caretaking role – catering to someone else’s needs while neglecting her own. She has been subconsciously “programmed” to seek dangerous people because they are the “normal” that causes her to associate relationships with torment.

Survivors who are abused as children can later get married to and have children with abusive partners as adults, investing time, energy and resources into people who ultimately seek to destroy them. I have read countless letters from survivors who have been raised by toxic parents and ended up in long-term abusive marriages.

If these wounds are not addressed and the cycle is never disrupted, the first eighteen years of life can literally affect the of your life.

2. Verbal and emotional abuse has conditioned you towards self-destruction and self-sabotage.

Narcissistic parents subject their children to hypercriticism, cruel punishment and a callous disregard for their basic needs as human beings. In order to survive, children of narcissists have to depend on their caretakers for food and shelter – which means they have to play by the rules of their toxic parents if they want to live. This creates what Dr. Seltzer calls maladaptive “survival programs” that we carry onto adulthood – habits like people-pleasing, sacrificing one’s needs to take care of others, feeling “selfish” when pursuing our goals and dimming our light so we don’t become noticeable enough to be targeted.

“You may have internalized early in your life that your needs were not as important as others’ needs were. Lack of empathy from a parent or caretaker, neglect, blame, criticism, failure to accept you as you are and appreciate your qualities and other such experiences have shaped your belief that others’ needs should come before your own.” Nina W. Brown,

A lack of safety and security in the crucial developmental stages of life can create destructive, insecure attachment styles when we are adults, causing us to gravitate towards people who will fail to meet our needs and disappoint us, time and time again.

It can also drive children of narcissists to sabotage themselves, due to the put-downs experienced during a time when the brain is highly susceptible to the harmful effects of trauma. In response to psychological violence, children of narcissistic parents develop a sense of toxic shame, self-blame and an unyielding inner critic that makes them feel as if they’re not worthy of the amazing things life has to offer.

Children of narcissists may be convinced they’re not good enough, or they may go in the other direction: they may become overachieving perfectionists in an effort to prove themselves. Either way, they are lacking self-validation and an internal sense of stability that can only come from healthy self-love.

3. Addictions and dissociation become default coping mechanisms.

Trauma can affect the reward centers of our brain, making us more susceptible to substance abuse or other addictions (Bellis and Zisk, 2014). When we’ve been traumatized at such a young age, dissociation, a survival mechanism which detaches us from our experiences, our bodies and the world – can become a way of life. Depending on the severity of the trauma, survivors of childhood abuse may also struggle with addictive behavior as adults.

“The human brain is a social organ that is shaped by experience, and that is shaped in order to respond to the experience that you’re having. So particularly earlier in life, if you’re in a constant state of terror; your brain is shaped to be on alert for danger, and to try to make those terrible feelings go away. The brain gets very confused. And that leads to problems with excessive anger, excessive shutting down, and doing things like taking drugs to make yourself feel better.

These things are almost always the result of having a brain that is set to feel in danger and fear.  As you grow up an get a more stable brain, these early traumatic events can still cause changes that make you hyper-alert to danger, and hypo-alert to the pleasures of everyday life…

If you’re an adult and life’s been good to you, and then something bad happens, that sort of injures a little piece of the whole structure. But toxic stress in childhood from abandonment or chronic violence has pervasive effects on the capacity to pay attention, to learn, to see where other people are coming from, and it really creates havoc with the whole social environment.

And it leads to criminality, and drug addiction, and chronic illness, and people going to prison, and repetition of the trauma on the next generation.”Dr. Van der Kolk,Childhood Trauma Leads to Brains Wired for Fear

This addictive behavior is not just limited to alcohol or hard drugs; it can range from gambling to sex addiction to unhealthy relationships or even self-harm. Survivors of toxic parents can overeat or undereat as a way to regain control and agency over their bodies; they may develop eating disorders, a penchant for risky sexual behavior or other compulsive behaviors to soothe their unresolved grief.

It’s not necessarily about the specific addiction, but the fact that the addiction provides a convenient escape from the day-to-day realities of immense pain, depression, anxiety and rage that often lie in the aftermath of unresolved childhood wounding.

4. Suicidal ideation is devastatingly common and pervasive among childhood abuse survivors.

Suicidality increases as ACEs score (Adverse Childhood Experiences score) increases and so does the risk of developing chronic health problems in adulthood.

When one has been traumatized as a child and then later re-victimized multiple times in adulthood, a pervasive sense of hopelessness and perceived burdensomeness can result. Survivors of chronic, complex trauma are especially at risk for suicidal ideation and self-harm as adults, because they have witnessed time and time again the cycle repeating itself. In fact, survivors who have four or more adverse childhood experiences are twelve times more likely to be suicidal.

This learned helplessness lends itself to belief systems that cause survivors to feel as if nothing will change. They may feel “defective” or different from others because of the immense adversity they experienced. The future may look bleak if a survivor has not been properly validated or gotten the professional support needed in order to heal.

5. There are disparate inner parts that develop which seem out of alignment with your adult self.

While many people have heard of the “inner child,” fewer people address the fact that there can be inner parts that can develop as a result of chronic abuse. Some of these parts are those we’ve hidden, sublimated or minimized in an attempt to mitigate the risk of being abused – for example, when victims of abuse shy away from the limelight to avoid being punished or criticized for their success.

Then there are “parts” which are defensive responses to the trauma itself. These parts manifest in self-sabotaging ways, but they are actually misguided attempts to protect us. Complex trauma survivors may be so protective of sharing who they really are with the world that they close themselves off from the people who might really “see” and appreciate them. This ruins the possibility of authentic connection or vulnerability with others. This defensive strategy may have been a survival mechanism they developed when younger to avoid the threat of being harmed by a violent parent. It served them as helpless children, but it can cause them to shut out the possibility of intimacy with others as adults.

That being said, there are many ways in which self-sabotage can present itself depending on context and even the type of abuse endured. For example, a male complex trauma survivor may find himself developing a hypermasculine side to himself to ward off memories of sexual abuse. The daughter of a hypercritical narcissistic mother may develop an inner part that is overly angry and defensive to criticism, whether constructive or destructive.

Whether they stemmed from childhood or adult traumas, these ‘parts’ have much to tell us. Silencing or repressing them only makes them stronger in their resolve to protect us – so instead, we have to listen to what they want us to know. Integrating these parts in a healthy manner requires that we learn what they are trying to protect us from and find alternative ways to create a sense of safety in the world moving forward.

Cutting the Emotional Umbilical Cord

The children of narcissistic parents can begin their healing journey by working with a trauma-informed professional to navigate their triggers, process their traumas and learn more about healthier boundaries. Using mind-body healing techniques can also be helpful to supplement therapy; trauma-focused yoga and meditation have been scientifically proven to help heal parts of the brain affected by early childhood trauma. A daily exercise regimen is also a great way to replace the unhealthy biochemical addiction we developed to toxicity. It’s a natural way to release endorphins and gives us that “rush” of feel-good chemicals inviting toxic people into our lives.

There are tremendous benefits from going No Contact or Low Contact with toxic parents as we heal. Minimum contact with a narcissistic parent along with strong boundaries can help us to detox from the effects of their cruelty and in essence learn how to breathe fresher air. Grieving our complex emotions is also necessary to recovery, as we are likely to feel a very powerful bond to our parents despite the abuse (and in fact to the abuse) we endured. Seek positive role models, especially of the gender of your toxic parent, that can help remodel what you are looking for in an intimate relationship.

Address subconscious behavior patterns by bringing the true beliefs underlying them to the surface. Many children of narcissistic parents are trained to believe in their unworthiness; it’s time to start rewriting these narratives. Use positive affirmations, journaling, and speak directly to any repressed inner parts that may be sabotaging your success. It is only when you feel truly worthy of respectful, compassionate love on a subconscious level, that you will be able to run in the other direction when you encounter toxicity.

Despite the challenges on their journey, childhood abuse survivors of narcissistic parents have incredible potential to lead victorious lives. They can channel their adversity into freedom, peace, and joy. They have tremendous resilience, an extraordinary ability to adapt and a knowledge of coping mechanisms that will serve them well as they begin to heal.

To learn more about narcissistic abuse and the effects of childhood trauma, be sure to also read:

by Pete Walker

By Karyl McBride

by Bessel Van der Kolk

by Patrick Carnes

by Peg Streep

by Susan Forward and Craig Buick

by Nina W. Brown

References
Bremner, J. D. (2006). Traumatic stress: effects on the brain. , (4), 445–461.
Bellis, M. D., & Zisk, A. (2014). The Biological Effects of Childhood Trauma. (2), 185-222. doi:10.1016/j.chc.2014.01.002
Brown, N. W. (2008). Children of the self-absorbed: A grown-up’s guide to getting over narcissistic parents. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.
Choi, J., Jeong, B., Rohan, M. L., Polcari, A. M., & Teicher, M. H. (2009). Preliminary Evidence for White Matter Tract Abnormalities in Young Adults Exposed to Parental Verbal Abuse. Biological Psychiatry, 65(3), 227-234. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2008.06.022
Harris, N. B. (2014, September). How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
Herman, Judith Lewis. . Basic Books, 1997.
Levine, P. A. (1997). . Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Lazar, S. W., Kerr, C. E., Wasserman, R. H., Gray, J. R., Greve, D. N., Treadway, M. T., . . . Fischl, B. (2005). Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness.  (17), 1893-1897. doi:10.1097/01.wnr.0000186598.66243.19
Schulte, B. (2015, May 26). Harvard neuroscientist: Meditation not only reduces stress, here’s how it changes your brain. The Washington Post. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
Shin, L. M., Rauch, S. L., & Pittman, R. K. (2006). Amygdala, Medial Prefrontal Cortex, and Hippocampal Function in PTSD.  (1), 67-79. doi:10.1196/annals.1364.007
Seltzer, L. F. (2011, January 07). The “Programming” of Self-Sabotage (Pt 3 of 5). Retrieved November 15, 2017.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2017, September 5). Adverse Childhood Experiences. Retrieved October 10, 2017.
Teicher, M. (2006). Sticks, Stones, and Hurtful Words: Relative Effects of Various Forms of Childhood Maltreatment. American Journal of Psychiatry, 163(6), 993. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.163.6.993
Van der Kolk, B. (2015). . NY, NY: Penguin Books.
Van der Kolk, Bessel. Childhood Trauma Leads to Brains Wired for Fear. 3 Feb. 2015. Accessed 15 Nov. 2017

Want more writing like this? Read the book 

“Shahida Arabi is ahead of our time. I couldn’t have been in a darker place in my life when I found this book, after suffering at the hands of an abuser who was also a narcissist. This book gives you hope above all else, and it’s easily relateable if you have gone through abuse. Arabi is a talented, strong, real force of nature kind of writer. I have learned, survived and thrived in the time that I have made this purchase.” – Desiree

Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/shahida-arabi/2017/11/the-invisible-war-zone-5-ways-children-of-narcissistic-parents-self-destruct-in-adulthood/

EWW! White House Has A Problem With Cockroaches, Ants And Mice

President Donald Trump has complained repeatedly about leaks in the White House, but it looks like he also has a problem with bugs. 

And mice. 

A list of White House work orders from the past two years ― including the final year of the Obama administration ― obtained by NBC Washington reveals a vermin problem at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., including mice in the Situation Room. 

“They are old buildings,” former GSA Inspector General Brian Miller told the station. “Any of us who have old houses know old houses need a lot of work.”

Other work orders include four reports of cockroach infestations, mice in the White House Navy Mess food service area, among other places, and ants in the chief of staff’s office.

I removed a lot by killing them,” the notes on that latter work order read.

Other orders are for routine repairs, painting, unclogging toilets and moving around furniture.

In one instance, then-press secretary Sean Spicer wanted a safe removed and a “skinny 3-4 foot banquet table” added in its place.” He also asked for a “coin display case for his challenge coins.” 

But it’s the insects and mice that are getting all the attention. 

There are multiple requests for “bug lights,” including one for the office of White House aide Kellyanne Conway and a work order to exterminate “cockroaches in the dining room.” 

Vermin have been an ongoing problem at the White House for decades. 

“For two or three months now I’ve been telling them to get rid of the mice,” President Jimmy Carter wrote in a 1977 diary entry, according to MSNBC. “They still seem to be growing in numbers, and I am determined either to fire somebody or get the mice cleared out ― or both.”

And in Real Life at the White House: Two Hundred Years of Daily Life at America’s Most Famous Residence, authors Claire and John Whitcomb described the residence during the administration of Grover Cleveland, who served two non-consecutive terms at the end of the 19th century: 

When the outside of the house was hosed down during a cleaning, a shower of spiders blanketed the ground. That evening, the white columns were black with them as they crawled back from whence they came. And then there were the cockroaches. One staff member said, ‘I didn’t know there were so many species of cockroaches as I got acquainted with my daily work.’”

That book also describes first lady Frances Folsom Cleveland’s pet canary almost being eaten by a rat that had gotten into its cage.

TriggerPhoto via Getty Images
Work order records show the White House has an ongoing problem with vermin. 

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/white-house-bugs-mice_us_5a20d02be4b03c44072c6d8b

Charmer Boy Gypsy Girl by Victor Harrington

Story Summary:

The essence and meaning of transcendent love between two people—the kernel of human existence—is often found in the crucible of war. Such was the love between Bosko, a Serbian boy, and Admira, a Bosnian girl, who were caught in one of the most barbaric and brutal periods of the last century: the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Amazon Link – http://amzn.to/2AdQOCr

Indie Reader Review:

CHARMER BOY GYPSY GIRL is a novel about enduring love in impossible circumstances. Bosko is a handsome and charming Orthodox Serb. Admira is a Muslim Bosnian with gypsy blood running through her veins. In spite of their religious and ethnic differences, when they meet at a New Year’s Eve party and share a kiss they know that it’s fate. As Yugoslavia begins to splinter and lines are drawn between ethnic groups, the couple will have to fight to stay together — and alive.

CHARMER BOY GYPSY GIRL is meticulously crafted, drawing on ample historical details to bring to life one of the most horrifying events of the 20th century: the siege of Sarajevo. Based on the real-life love story of Bosko Brkic and Admira Ismic whose heart-wrenching tale captivated the world in the 1990s, Victor Harrington’s novel is a powerful reminder that love can prevail in even the most brutal conditions.

While it is a love story, CHARMER BOY GYPSY GIRL is also very much a stark examination of the cruelty of war. In its pages, we see the best and the worst of humanity. As Sarajevo is under attack, life comes a matter of day-to-day survival. Serbs and Bosnians are pitted against each other, but Bosko and Admira refuse to let their love become another casualty. Rather than allowing their relationship to dominate the narrative, Harrington uses it to contrast their grim surroundings, highlighting the senselessness of war and the resilience of the human spirit.

Superbly written and well-researched, CHARMER BOY GYPSY GIRL portrays one of the most ruthless periods of modern history in haunting prose. Harrington does not hold back in his depiction of the ethnic cleansing that took place during this tumultuous time and reminds us through Bosko’s friend, Matko, of our responsibility to safeguard life. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” says Matko; these words remain relevant today.

Ultimately, CHARMER BOY GYPSY GIRL is a tribute to that most powerful of emotions which rules us all: love. Admira and Bosko are vivid characters who stick with you long after the final page has been read, almost as if they are begging you to remember that, in the end, love must triumph over hate.

~Christine-Marie Liwag Dixon for IndieReader

CHARMER BOY GYPSY GIRL, an epic story of love and survival

Author Bio:

Author Victor Harrington has the quintessential writer’s family history. The adventure began in 1850 when Edward, an Englishman in the British Army, fell in love with a Muslim princess whose family lived in Agra. Victor’s American paternal great-grand-mother was the daughter of a Presbyterian pastor from New England. The author was born in India in 1958, and his family immigrated to Canada in the late 1960s.
For Victor, New York remains a city that creates its own temporal distortion where a writer can observe, for a moment, the many worlds past, present, and future that make up the space-time continuum of his city.
Charmer Boy, Gypsy Girl is Victor Harrington’s first novel, and he has recently completed his second.

Mythbuster Adam Savage Has Made a Bag, and It’s Beautiful

Adam Savage is clearly overjoyed about his new bag. I met up with the gear-obsessed designer, former Mythbusters host, and Tested.com editor in chief at his workshop in San Francisco to see his latest creation. He's designed his first carryall utility bag and launched a new brand, Savage Industries, to market it. With the same childlike glee he exudes on camera, Savage flipped the thing around on the workbench, opening and closing it, zipping and unzipping, as he pointed out all the features.

Yes, the bag is white. It only comes in white, at least for now.

It's constructed almost entirely out of upcycled cloth from boat sails, so each bag has some unique quirks, and every specimen comes off the production line with a broken-in look. The handles are held together by magnets instead of snaps or velcro, which, if you've fiddled with those types of closures on your own bag, is a welcome innovation. You just bring the handles near one another and they jump together with a satisfying clonk. Also clever: The straps are stiff enough that the clasped handle stays propped upright like a little pup tent frame. Unzip and pry open the bag, and it holds its shape in that configuration too, thanks to a pair of spring steel inserts that run around the lip and keep the mouth agape like the jaw of a whale shark.

There's a pocket inside to hold your notebooks (Savage adores Tom Sachs Ten Bullets notebooks, though he says his pocket is brand-agnostic) and, via a stack of horizontal loops, your pens and pencils. On the Kevlar-reinforced bottom, there are strips of velcro. This detail hints at accessories to come, like some padded bays for camera equipment or a waterproof bucket-like insert for toting a 12-pack.

Savage Industries

Savage designed it so it could carry absolutely everything he needs for a day, from tools to books to lunch. He says he drew inspiration from two places: First is the old tool case he used when employed as a model-builder at Industrial Light & Magic. It too had the clamshell top that flopped open for full access to the goods inside. He's tried to find something like it on the market, but he was disappointed enough in the options to just build his own version. The other inspiration is the purse given to Apollo astronauts on the missions to the moon. Called the Temporary Stowage Bag or, colloquially, the McDivitt Purse, this tote was mostly forgotten until Neil Armstrong's widow discovered it while going through her recently deceased husband's belongings. Savage borrowed a few elements from the NASA design—the simple shape, the steel closure, and the near-total absence of pigment.

None More White

Yes, the bag is white. It only comes in white, at least for now. It's striking, but it seems impractical for something that's bound to soak up dirt and grime and oil. Savage sells me on it. It will develop a patina, and patinas are cool. Also, you can't find tools at the bottom of a black bag, he says. He certainly didn't want to make something that fell in line with the current fashion trend of "tactical" and "urban camo" that seems to dominate bags and accessories. A white bag stands out as unique. It isn't hyper-masculine like the ubiquitous Cordura messenger. Rather, it's almost feminine, or at least nonbinary.

Savage has been sewing since he was in middle school (he regularly makes his own costumes) but for this project the heavy lifting and stitching was done by Mafia, a company also based in San Francisco that makes a whole line of gorgeous bags primarily out of recycled sailcloth. Mafia has produced a few hundred Savage bags for this first run, and each one gets Mafia's standard lifetime warranty.

The bags are available on Savage's website. Each costs $225. Once the first run sells out, they'll go on backorder until Mafia can catch up. Each one will be hand-numbered for extra collector cred.

So this is a new brand, this Savage Industries. There's more to come, Adam says: a smaller version of this bag and a larger one too, though the big version will still be sized to meet FAA regulations for carry-ons. What else? He wouldn't say, beyond these bags and the accessories that will Velcro into them. Whatever arrives next, I just hope it comes in white.

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/savage-industries-bag/

Charles Manson, Imprisoned Mass-Murdering Cult Leader, Dies

Charles Manson, the imprisoned wild-eyed cult leader who masterminded the 1969 murders of actress Sharon Tate and six other people in Los Angeles, has died. He was 83.

Manson died of natural causes at 8:13pm Pacific time on Nov. 19 at Kern County Hospital, according to a statement from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He was serving a life sentence at a state prison in California.

A career criminal, Manson persuaded a drug-induced flock of followers — the so-called Manson family — that he was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ and that they would survive and rule the world after a racial apocalypse he called “Helter Skelter.” The name came from a Beatles song he viewed as prophetic.

Manson’s followers may have killed more than two dozen people by some reports, but criminal trials against him and his group focused on the savage killing spree that became known as the Tate-LaBianca murders.

With a focus on killing Hollywood celebrities, Manson ordered followers Charles “Tex” Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia “Katie” Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian to invade a Los Angeles home on Aug. 9, 1969, and kill its occupants.

Death Toll

In addition to Tate, the 26-year-old pregnant wife of film director Roman Polanski, those killed from multiple stabbings and gunshots were writer and actor Wojciech “Voytek” Frykowski and his partner, the coffee bean heiress Abigail Folger; celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring and Steven Parent, a friend of Tate’s gardener. Polanski was in London working on a film.

Kasabian acted as the lookout and became the star witness against Manson, whose role in the killings was discovered by police while investigating other crimes. She was offered immunity for her testimony.

The killing of Tate, who starred in films such as “Valley of the Dolls,” was particularly gruesome. She was stabbed in the stomach by Atkins despite pleas to spare her unborn child, whose delivery date was near. Atkins used Tate’s blood to write the word “pig” on the front door.

The next night, Manson took Watson, Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten to the home of supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, who were also murdered.

The trio stayed in the house for a while, eating food from the LaBianca’s refrigerator and playing with the couple’s dogs.

Intended Victims

Atkins told fellow prisoners that the Manson family planned to kill other Hollywood stars to help trigger the racial apocalypse Manson predicted. She died in a women’s prison in 2009.

Manson’s trial began in June 1970. After a trial characterized by the giggling and grimaces of the defendants, Manson was convicted of first-degree murder in January 1971.

He was sentenced to death. California’s supreme court later ruled capital punishment illegal, and he was re-sentenced to life imprisonment. Manson, who carved a swastika into his forehead while in prison, was denied parole more than a dozen times.

“There’s no murder in a holy war,” he told Charlie Rose in a 1986 interview on “CBS News Nightwatch,” referring to Tate’s slaying.

Charles Maddox, whose crazed deeds would spawn a series of books, movies and documentaries, was born Nov. 12, 1934, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Kathleen Maddox, a 16-year-old alcoholic prostitute and Walker Scott. After her marriage to William Manson, Charles was given his step-father’s last name.

Career Criminal

He made a living through crime, spending half of the first 32 years of his life behind bars. Manson was put in jail for armed robbery, arson, burglary, assault, mail theft, drug possession, forgery, credit-card fraud, receiving stolen property, pimping, grand theft auto and numerous parole violations.

After his release from prison in 1967, he became a cult guru in the San Francisco area as a prophet of the apocalypse and tried to pursue a career in music.

He was befriended by Dennis Wilson, the drummer in the Beach Boys band. Through this association, Manson got an opportunity to audition for record producer Terry Melcher, the son of singer and actress Doris Day. Melcher, who had rejected Manson’s bid to make a record, was the previous occupant of the Los Angeles house Polanski and Tate had rented, which was the site of the first murders.

In 1955, Manson married Rosalie Willis and had a son Charles Manson, Jr., who committed suicide in 1993. After their divorce, he married Leona Stevens and had a second son, Charles Luther Manson. He had a third son, Valentine Manson, with Manson family member Mary Brunner.

“The name Manson has become a metaphor for evil, and evil has its allure,” the prosecutor of the Tate-La Bianca case, Vincent Bugliosi, co-wrote in the best-selling book on the Manson case, “Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders.” “Some people have the same fascination for Jack the Ripper and Hitler.”

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-20/charles-manson-jailed-mass-murdering-cult-leader-dies-at-83

    Is this what real beauty looks like?

    Image copyright Mihaela Noroc
    Image caption Mihaela took these photographs in Kathmandu in Nepal (left) and Reykjavik, Iceland

    “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.

    Image copyright Mihaela Noroc
    Image caption L-R: Portraits taken in Germany, Italy and France

    “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.

    Image copyright Mihaela Noroc, India
    Image caption Pushkar, India: “I was happy to see women have joined public forces all over the world,” Mihaela says

    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.

    Image copyright Mihaela Noroc
    Image caption Mihaela took these photographs in Colombia (left) and Milan, Italy
    Image copyright Mihaela Noroc
    Image caption Captain Berenice Torres is a helicopter pilot for the Mexican Federal Police

    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.

    Image copyright Mihaela Noroc
    Image caption Sisters Abby and Angela were photographed in New York
    Image copyright Mihaela Noroc
    Image caption A guide at a military museum in Pyongyang, North Korea

    “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.”

    Image copyright Mihaela Noroc
    Image caption Left: Pokhara, Nepal. Right: “This is what shopping looks like for many people around the world,” Mihaela says of her portrait taken in Nampan, Myanmar

    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.”

    Image copyright Mihaela Noroc
    Image caption Idomeni Refugee Camp, Greece: This woman and her daughters fled the war in Syria

    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.”

    Image copyright Mihaela Noroc
    Image caption L-R: Portraits taken at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, Omo Valley in Ethiopia and Delphi, Greece

    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?

    Not exactly.

    “Buy good shoes,” she laughs, “because you’re going to walk and explore a lot.”

    Image copyright Mihaela Noroc
    Image caption Lisa was backpacking through Berlin when Mihaela met her

    Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

    Related Topics

    Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-41736574

    12 Questions That Will Change Your Life

    42andpointless

    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 called euthymia—“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.

    Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/ryan-holiday/2017/09/12-questions-that-will-change-your-life/

    4 Creepy Things That Secretly Control Your Personality

    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.

    4

    Your Fear Of Germs Determines Your Politics (And Maybe Everything Else)

    Go listen to literally anyone talk about the dangers of foreigners, minorities, or gays, and count the seconds until they either compare them to a disease or simply accuse them all of having/spreading diseases.

    The Guardian

    Buzzfeed

    Liberty GB

    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.

    Hey, did you know Hitler’s rise occurred right after the Spanish flu ravaged Europe? And that he was comparing the Jews to disease pretty much from Day One?

    Experts say that the rise of democracy and progressive ideas in general can be attributed to science conquering many of the infectious diseases that were dominating our decision-making up to then. Still, those habits are passed down through both genes and culture (particularly in warmer climates), and it’s easy to see it today. You can hook conservatives and liberals up to a brain scan, and the conservatives react more strongly to disgusting images, even if they insist that stuff doesn’t bother them. Other studies show that right-wingers tend to be more obsessive-compulsive, feeling a unending urge to purge their surroundings of disorder.

    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.

    3

    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.

    Lead, as it turns out, permanently destroys cells in the brain’s prefrontal cortex, the part responsible for “emotional regulation, impulse control, attention, verbal reasoning, and mental flexibility.” You know, the part you think of as your morality, or soul. Lead kills that. Multiple studies on this keep turning up the same horrifying result.

    “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.

    2

    Your Moods May Be Controlled By Your Shit

    There are about 40 trillion microbes in your intestines. That’s far more cells than make up your actual body. If they were people, they’d populate 5,400 Earths. The point is, your body’s shit factory houses an entire galactic federations’ worth of beings, and to an extent that science does not yet fully understand, it appears that they’re the ones running the show. When scientists dug through the turds of dozens of kids, they found that “children with the most genetically diverse types of gut bacteria more frequently exhibited behaviors related with positive mood, curiosity, sociability and impulsivity.” Different gut bacteria = different personalities.

    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.

    Well too bad. Another study found that eating “probiotic” fermented foods decreased social anxiety. Another bunch of researchers found they could make someone give more to charity if they fed them eggs first. An experiment on mice was able to reverse goddamned autism symptoms by adding in a single species of gut bacteria. Someone else followed up by doing fecal transplants on autistic children to fix gastrointestinal issues, and found that it appeared their neurological symptoms improved along the way. Here’s a giant summary of dozens of studies on the “Your shit is controlling your brain” theory which you and your shit can peruse together.

    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.

    1

    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.

    OK, let’s now think about all of the little self-deceptions we pile up through the day — like how nearly everyone thinks they’re an above-average driver, even though that’s obviously impossible. Well, you remember George Costanza’s rule that the key to lying is making yourself believe it? There’s a theory that humans evolved self-deception specifically because it helps us deceive others. In order to survive, you need other humans to cooperate with you. In order to make sure they do that, you need to be able to convince them you’re great. In order to convincingly tell that outrageous lie, you need to make yourself belief you’re great.

    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 …

    You can now get rid of the ads on Cracked and also help keep us from having to put up paywalls by throwing us a small wad of sweaty internet cash. If you like what we do and want us to keep doing it, or just feel bad about blocking the ads for 5,000 straight visits, here you go. It costs less than dirt. I mean it’s literally less than this actual bag of dirt you can buy. Thanks for your support, either way.

    Love Cracked? Want exclusive content? Prefer an ad-free experience? We’ve got you covered. Sign up for our Subscription Service for all that and more.

    For more from David Wong, check out 6 Reasons Good People Turn Into Monsters and Your Brain Needs Silence (And Probably Isn’t Getting It).

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    Read more: http://www.cracked.com/blog/4-creepy-things-that-secretly-control-your-personality/

    Become A Mad (Tech) Scientist With Arduino, Hack The Planet

    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

    — Arduino by Example – $31.99 Value

    — Arduino iOS Blueprints – $27.99 Value

    — Arduino Robotic Projects – $26.99 Value

    — Arduino Android Blueprints – $26.99 Value

    So go pick it up. You’ll be building ROBOTS. The most we can do is put together a hot dog that doesn’t fall apart when you pick it up. The Arduino Enthusiast E-Book Bundle is available in our store for 88 percent off the usual cost, just $29.

    Only Cracked Alumni make it into the revered Doctors Association. So grab your Thesaurus and buckle up. It’s gonna be a bumpy night.

    Continue your brain workouts by checking out Become A Cracked Scholar With These Learning Bundles.

    Read more: http://www.cracked.com/blog/become-mad-tech-scientist-with-arduino-hack-planet/

    Becoming by Fouad Azim

    Story Summary

    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.

    http://amzn.to/2xwmgHB

    Pacific Book Review

    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.

    http://www.pacificbookreview.com/becoming/