Town adds 4TB of sugar to tap water

12 Nov

This soda will leave you less sticky than the sugar water in Pecos County, Texas.

A town in Texas is adding sugar to the tap water in an effort to get more residents to drink water.

They’re adding four tablespoons of sugar for every 8 oz. of water. To compare, a can of Coke has 3 tablespoons in 12 oz.

Can you imagine showering in this sugar water??

When the country was “great”

7 Nov

To the people that really think it’s the end of the world and to the people who have said something like “I hope we can get back to being great again someday”:

When were we really great? Was it when we were repressing homosexuals? Or African-Americans? Or women? Or Native Americans? I mean come on! We have a tried and true history of being just downright awful! You want it to be great “again”? I don’t.

“Hope is that stubborn thing inside us that exists despite all the evidence to the contrary – that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting.” – President Barack Obama, Victory Speech 2012

This is a borrowed post, from many people on my Facebook feed. I’m not sure where it came from originally. 

New smart phone app exciting and terrifying

24 Aug

Screenshot of a sample Glympse.

A new smart phone application, Glympse (for iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows), is a location sharing software that goes farther than Foursquare or Facebook Places. Instead of simply checking into a location, with this app, you send another person permission to track your movement for a specified period of time (5 minutes to 4 hours).

Some people say this improves transparency – you can prove to someone you’re really stuck in traffic on your way to a business meeting. Or it could be a novelty, like sharing your travels with friends.

But I fear the temptation to abuse this app may outweigh the benefits of transparency.

When my parents were together, my father used to force my mother to account for every single minute in her day. She had to inform him when she was leaving the house, when she arrived at her destination, when she estimated she was halfway through her errand, when she was leaving her destination, and when she arrived home. He had the trips clocked to the minute. “It usually takes you six minutes to get to the grocery store, but you didn’t call for eight minutes. Where were you for the extra two??”

Yes, really that bad.

I don’t know what he thought she could be doing in those extra two minutes that was so horrendous. It was so much pressure that she’d call him when we hit traffic or an extra red light so he would know why the timing would be off.  And because both of my parents worked from home, they didn’t have anyone asking questions about why this was going on all day.

So my first thought when I heard about Glympse was, “Now controlling partners will be able to manipulate people into letting them see where they’re at, AT ALL TIMES.” I can’t even imagine what sort of lectures the family would have endured if my father had been able to track where we were at all times. I bet letting a Glympse expire and not sending a new invitation would just be a mess.

So while I see the value of Gympse as a tool for transparency, I also see it as a tool for control. New revelations in technology are very exciting, but this one has the potential to be terrifying.

A lesson in biology for Todd Akin

20 Aug

Todd Akin (R-Missouri) has come under fire for some strange comments on how he thinks biology works for rape victims. Apparently, if it was a “legitimate rape,” you’d have no possibility of becoming pregnant because your body wouldn’t let it happen.

Now, ducks’ bodies do work like that. If a lady duck gets raped, she has trick cervices and things to prevent contraception. Maybe Akin saw too many duck face photos on Facebook and got confused.

In reality, over 30,000 pregnancies per year are the result of rape. (And who knows how many more would be, if not for Plan B and other emergency solutions.)

He has sort of retracted the statement, saying he misspoke – but he hasn’t corrected what he said.

Evidently, there is a long history of Republican candidates who have made up similar things – everything from sperm-fighting secretions to arousal being a prerequisite to fertility to traumatized women can’t have babies. (All of these ideas have been debunked many times by medical societies, such as the American Fertility Society and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists… and many, many more.) Or maybe there’s no medical reason, but a statistical improbability. (It’s actually about a 5 percent chance — the same as your chance of getting a cold or flu after exposure.)

People are making this into an abortion argument. But before we can discuss any of that (no matter which side of the fence you sit on), it’s important to know the biological facts of rape and pregnancy. Maybe it’s been too long since politicians have taken a personal health course — we should get them all in a room together and teach a seminar on reproductive health, middle school style.

Until that can happen, it’s extremely important to rock the vote this November. Get yourself registered.

Horrifying Reddit thread important for discussing rape

9 Aug

Trigger warning.

Photo credit Andrea Rose

I’ve been trying to figure out how to talk about this Reddit thread for a while now. In the thread, rapists talk about why they raped. (Some survivors talk about their experiences too, and it’s also terrifying, but hearing from rapists isn’t as common.)

The explanations are simple. Scary simple. Like:

  • Mixed messages (she wasn’t into it… but didn’t say no)
  • Peer pressure (drunk friends pressured drunk guy into raping drunk girl)
  • Because he could (she was unconscious or too scared to say no)
  • Biology/”I can’t help it” (she’s there for the taking, consent doesn’t matter when you have an urge)
  • Bad influences (it’s society’s fault, the rapist is the real victim here)

But one post really stands out. In a throwaway account (since deleted, but the post remains), a man talks about his days as a serial rapist in college. (For other “highlights,” see Jezebel’s post)

He describes himself as a student leader, community volunteer, and popular guy. He says he is tall and muscular – over 200 pounds. He says girls liked him.  He goes on to describe a systematic targeting of women. He says he would purposefully go for “damaged” girls who were average looking, self  conscious, and about half his weight. He would go on a date in public first, then persuade her to come over for the second date. During that date in his dorm room, he would start escalating physical contact over a period of a couple hours, despite any signals from her. He would premeditate what he was going to do when she got there.

 “The girls usually didn’t know how to respond. Some of them were into it, and those nights were usually consensual and boring sex, sometimes followed up by a few more nightly visits before getting the boot. However, the great nights were the ones who squirmed, ones who didn’t want to give in.”


This guy says he’s married now, to a woman who knew him in college but wasn’t raped by him. He says in a later post that he’s almost raped again, but has been stopped by friends. He says he feels remorse sometimes, but he takes solace in the fact that he was never told “no” by his dates.

A comment from Jezebel:

I’ve had several heated conversations with men who take women’s fear of sexual assault so personally, but I think this Reddit thread really validates that fear. Of course, not all men are rapists, but sussing out who is (or who could be) and who isn’t is hardly a simple task.

This really gets to the heart of the topic: what in the heck should we be learning from this? Don’t be a woman? Don’t go on dates? Don’t watch movies with guys who are popular and smart?

One 2009 study reported serial attackers can target someone just based on how they move. It came down to confidence: does the person move like she is aware of her surroundings and calm? Or does she look passive and docile – even frightened? Just like the guy on Reddit, serial attackers have an eerie ability to read for vulnerability.

And this is where the conversation usually devolves into blaming women for getting into situations where they are raped.

“This is what I was wearing. Tell me I asked for it – I dare you.”

Every woman knows how to “reduce her risk,” as if her body is an object that must be protected from thieves. She knows how to hold her keys to make a weapon, not to get drunk, not to wear short skirts or show her cleavage, to always meet in a public place the first time, etc etc.

But those things are just victim blaming.

The one thing consistent in all of the rapist’s stories is: they never heard “no”.

So simple. They never heard “NO”! In a weird double-negative way, not hearing “no” meant consent to them.

I think it’s time to re-educate our population on what consent is – what it looks like to give/receive consent, what counts as consent, and how to ask for it.


I really like this image. Basically, anything besides YES means no. I think that’s beautiful.

So it’s time to reprogram our peers, partners, kids, siblings, parents — that only YES means yes. Any response other than YES means you need to stop. If everyone asked for consent, and waited for a YES, we’d have a lot less rapes from misunderstandings or people taking advantage of not hearing “no”.

THIS needs to be the new standard. Say it with me: “Only YES! means yes.”

Gloria Steinem on feminism in the 2010s

1 Aug

Gloria Steinham

This was published a couple years ago, but still so relevant.

You can call it, in general, a sexual caste system. Or you can be more specific and say we’ve demonstrated—at least in this country—that women can do what men can do, but we haven’t demonstrated that men can do what women can do. Probably the largest number of women are afflicted by having two jobs, and that has many solutions. We have to stop being the only democracy in the world without nationalized child care. Men are as loving and as nurturing as women and can be equal parents. We need job patterns that allow parents to have adjustable work time. Even though we should understand that everything is connected—sex, race, class and sexuality—there is still not enough a deep enough understanding.

Click here to read the whole thing.

“Best” of the Northland should be called “Most Popular”

26 Jul

I submitted the following letter to the editor to the sponsors of the Best of the Northland contest sponsors: Liberty Tribune, Gladstone Dispatch, and Kearney Courier. I doubt they will publish it, as the moderators of the BOTN Facebook page (likely the same people in charge of the opinion sections of those papers, all owned by one media company) haven’t exactly been open to my concerns.

So, here’s my letter.

Dear Editor,

Yesterday, I saw the results of the Best of the Northland, and I’m disappointed. In several categories, national chains were the first place winners – and sometimes the only winners. Not even a specific location, but the chain in general.

It does a huge disservice to our Northland community to say Starbucks or Jiffy Lube is the best we have to offer in those categories. If you go to any city, you know what you’re getting if you go to a chain, but that’s not what makes a community really unique.

I’m a journalism student, and I believe the media should be a resource (for locals and tourists) to showcase the hidden gems in our community – truly the best of the northland, not the most popular. After all, Wal-Mart is the most popular grocery store, but are they the best?

I know so many passionate, friendly, fantastic small business owners in the Northland, and it breaks my heart to see conglomerates like Starbucks and Jiffy Lube chosen as the best over these hard-working Americans.

Andi Enns
Presentation Coordinator, Northland Business Women’s Forum
Parkville, Mo.