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FIFA assures fans rainbow colors are allowed at World Cup

2023-03-19 06:14:02

FIFA assures fans rainbow colors are allowed at World Cup

FIFA has assured fans that LGBTQ+ rainbow colors are allowed in Qatar's World Cup stadiums. This was announced following an exchange with the Football Association of Wales which tweeted, "FIFA has confirmed that fans with Rainbow Wall bucket hats and rainbow flags will be allowed entry to the stadium for @Cymru’s match against Iran on Friday." Confirmation also comes via The Independent(Opens in a new tab) which said FIFA told World Cup federations that the rainbow flag will "not be prohibited."

FIFA assures fans rainbow colors are allowed at World Cup(图1)

SEE ALSO: Protests sweep through 2022 FIFA World Cup

The confirmation from FIFA follows a series of incidents in which fans wearing rainbow flag clothing were denied entry to the stadium because of their attire. A U.S. journalist was told(Opens in a new tab) he had to change his rainbow flag T-shirt; former Welsh footballer Laura McAllister(Opens in a new tab) and FAW members(Opens in a new tab) were forced to remove their rainbow bucket hats.

Homosexuality is illegal and punishable by imprisonment(Opens in a new tab) in Qatar, which is one of the many reasons(Opens in a new tab) the country is a controversial choice as World Cup host But despite assurances from World Cup officials that LGBTQ+ expression would be allowed, it's clear this hasn't always been enforced. In addition to denial of entry for LGBTQ+ clothing, FIFA said it would penalize teams that wear LGBTQ+ armbands, which prompted seven European teams to remove the bands from their uniforms. FIFA has been criticized for failing to follow up on its promises that the World Cup is welcome to everyone.

As the first week of the World Cup comes to a close, the question remains: Can we expect to see more rainbow-colored expression in the stadiums? Or will there be more empty promises?

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  • Good morning, Cuthbert! A year later, rush hours still on for TikToks favourite goose.

    Good morning, Cuthbert! A year later, rush hours still on for TikToks favourite goose.

    Time really does fly when you're having fun on the farm.


    One farm that's brought us a lot of joy over the past strange year is Caenhill Countryside Centre, whose team is celebrating one year since their iconic morning 'rush hour' video went viral on TikTok and Twitter. If you're not familiar with Caenhill farm, Chris Franklin the farmer, and Cuthbert the goose, allow me to explain.

    SEE ALSO: Meet Cuthbert, the goose that laid the golden TikTok

    Located in Devizes, Wiltshire in the southwest of England, Caenhill found internet fame last year after the world fell in love with its morning video posts. These videos don't show 'rush hour' in the typical sense of the phrase — there's no traffic jams or packed train carriages. Instead, you'll see Chris unbolt the door to his barn prompting a flurry of myriad different animals hurtling towards him. The undeniable star of the show, Cuthbert the goose, still features regularly, and Smudge and Socks the cats, Ken the Rooster, Dotty the sheep are just a few of the regular fixtures that rush hour fans look out for in these delightful videos.

    "Who's going to be first out today?" is a frequently asked question.

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    Caenhill Countryside Centre(Opens in a new tab) is an educational farm and charity for children and young people. It aims to teach youngsters about the countryside and caring for animals. This peaceful corner of rural Wiltshire and all the animals that call it home are broadcast daily to viewers all over the world. The farm started six years ago with a little lamb called Dotty, and over the years the family of farm animals — many of which are rescued animals — has grown.

    Exactly one year ago to the day, I was idly scrolling through TikTok on my phone when I stumbled upon the most wonderful, joyful video I'd ever seen on the app. I shared the video on Twitter(Opens in a new tab) just before going to bed and when I woke up and looked at my phone, I wasn't sure quite what had hit it. That video ended up getting retweeted nearly 35K times, garnering 145K likes, and racking up an enormous 2.4 million views.

    View this post on Instagram
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    I hadn't realised a whole year had passed until I received an email from Chris which began with his signature 'rush hour' salutation: "Greetings and Good Morning and in some cases goodnight." In short, this was the best email I'd received all year. "My daughter Kara reminded me that it was the rush hour on 28 July 2019 that you retweeted which went viral. 2.4M views!" Chris wrote.

    To celebrate this special anniversary, Chris told me he planned to do a special rush hour to mark the occasion. He ended up doing two rush hours — a mini one featuring newcomer Dive the gosling (!!!) and a standard rush hour featuring everyone's favourite stars of the show.

    "It's like a carnival this morning," Chris' mellifluous voice beamed out. It really is.

    It would be remiss of me not to post the mini rush hour featuring goslings and ducklings, so here's another little treat for you:

    I interviewed Chris, the farmer behind the videos, last summer in the days following the viral video. He'd started the week with just a few hundred Twitter(Opens in a new tab) followers, but that number grew rapidly to 19.9K followers in a matter of days. That number, one year later, now stands at nearly 75K followers. Over on TikTok(Opens in a new tab), the farm has been seeing enormous gains too with 164.6K followers.

    A lot can change in a year — and 2020 is certainly demonstrating that fact to each and every one of us. So, how are things going down on the farm? Firstly, Cuthbert is doing well, but he isn't on "rush hour duties" at present. "He had a fight with two other geese that left him unsteady," Chris told me. "Hopefully in time he will return to lead the team. At the moment his son Benedict the goose and Caroline's goose called Giggle lead the way along with Bumblebee the sheep and our emus Del and Rodney."

    In the email, Chris reflected on the changes that have occurred over the past year since the farm became TikTok famous, putting the charity on the map. It was difficult to adapt to the newfound attention at first, Chris told me. But they've since adjusted and are now receiving funds to support their community work(Opens in a new tab) via sponsored shoutouts in videos and virtual tours of the farm. "This has kept us going through lockdown," he told me. Chris has enlisted the help of his daughter Kara and her 30-month-old son, Casey, who's known on the internet as Farmer Casey. Chris also works alongside French artist Caroline Le Bourgeois(Opens in a new tab), who makes many video appearances.

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    Along with their burgeoning follower counts, the number of animals on the farm has also grown over the past year. The farm now has a YouTube presence(Opens in a new tab) too, posting live videos every day at 6 a.m. Caroline also vlogs about her work at the farm(Opens in a new tab) from a separate account. Kara writes the farm blog(Opens in a new tab) over on the Caenhill website, for people wanting to stay up to date with the farm's news.

    One day I hope to visit this special farm that has brought the internet a huge amount of joy over the past year — at a time when many of us need it the most. Until then, I'll catch you at rush hour.

  • Rite Aid surveilled customers using facial recognition tech with links to China

    Rite Aid surveilled customers using facial recognition tech with links to China

    The next time you pop into your local drugstore to grab a gallon of milk, remember there’s a chance the store is secretly analyzing your face.


    A new report from Reuters(Opens in a new tab) uncovered facial recognition cameras throughout dozens of Rite Aid locations in largely low-income, non-white neighborhoods in New York and Los Angeles. Furthermore, the investigation also discovered that the facial recognition firm has ties to the Chinese government.

    According to the report(Opens in a new tab), Rite Aid has rolled out hundreds of facial recognition systems in its stores across the U.S. since around 2012, making it “one of the largest rollouts of such technology among retailers in the country.”

    Rite Aid utilized its facial recognition technology to match customers faces with facial recognition scans of those “previously observed engaging in potential criminal activity.” When a match was made with a current customer, store security would be alerted. Security would then check the facial images and, if they determined the images correctly matched up, the customer would be asked to leave.

    Reuters discovered these surveillance cameras in 33 out of 75 Rite Aid stores in Manhattan and central L.A. In some cases, the report said, store security even went over how the system worked with Reuters reporters.

    “Most were about half a foot long, rectangular and labeled either by their model, “iHD23,” or by a serial number including the vendor’s initials, “DC,” says the report.

    The investigation found that the cameras were three times more likely to be installed at Rite Aid stores in poorer areas than in richer ones. Stores in majority Black or Latino neighborhoods were more than three times as likely to have facial recognition cameras installed.

    Rite Aid first worked with a facial recognition company called FaceFirst. The report details a number of cases where the technology displayed racial bias. The facial recognition technology would often match two completely different people, whose only similarity appeared to be skin color.

    Previous studies have found facial recognition tech often misidentified people of color. Some big tech companies, such as IBM and Microsoft, have pulled its own facial recognition technology from law enforcement, citing these issues.

    In 2018, Rite Aid began working with a different facial recognition firm called DeepCam. While the company’s technology appears to be far superior to the previous vendor, there is another issue. As the report points out, DeepCam is closely linked to a facial recognition firm in China called Shenzhen Shenmu Information Technology.

    One of the co-founders of DeepCam is the chairman of the Chinese-base company. In fact, Shenzhen Shenmu uses the domain name One of its largest investors is the Chinese government.

    The U.S. government has placed bans and restrictions China-based companies from doing business in the U.S. over data privacy issues. Chinese phone giant Huawei is a perfect example.

    However, even U.S.-based companies with strong connections to Chinese companies haven’t been able to escape data privacy concerns. Donald Trump’s reelection campaign recently ran ads against TikTok, citing data concerns stemming from their China-based parent company ByteDance. The Trump administration has even floated the idea of banning the app from the U.S. over these concerns.

    As for Rite Aid, the drugstore chain informed Reuters(Opens in a new tab) that it had shut off all its facial recognition cameras and will no longer be using these systems in-stores. The company cited “a larger industry conversation” on the “increasing uncertainty around the technology’s utility” as its reason for ending its facial recognition program.

  • 4 ways to save money and get free stuff

    4 ways to save money and get free stuff

    We all want to save money, but let's face it: sometimes, it just doesn’t seem possible. When your income has been reduced due to Covid-19, your housing costs are through the roof, and food costs are on the rise, finding ways to save money for loftier goals can be a real challenge.


    Don’t be discouraged. If you really can’t eliminate anything in your budget, you will need to do a bit of work to reduce the cost of certain items. In addition, you can find creative ways to get stuff you would normally buy for free.

    To help in the process, try some of these tips on saving money and getting free stuff.

    Shop around for better deals

    If you pay monthly fees on bank accounts and credit cards, it might be worth a second look at the terms of your agreement. See if you could be paying lower fees, getting more free perks or earning more interest with another product or another bank altogether. If you are unsure, ask your bank to direct you to the best product based on your history.

    Phone, internet, and television companies are constantly trying to get you to switch your services. Even if you have to pay a fee to break a contract, you might still be able to save some money by switching providers. Shop around once a year to see what deals are on offer and call up your company to see what they can do to match or beat the competition. You will probably walk away with a better deal and a few extra bucks in your wallet.

    One of the reasons we like shopping online so much is that is provides an easy way to comparison shop and get the best deal. There are several online aggregator sites that do all of the work for you like, and If you want to get the best deal on your purchases and keep more of your hard earned money in your pocket, try using these sites to your advantage.

    Sell your stuff online

    If the prospect of getting a raise at work is not looking good, you can find other avenues to make money. What about getting rid of things you don’t need? We all have more stuff than we know what to do with — whether clothes, equipment, or tchotchkes.

    Canada’s second-hand economy is still growing despite the pandemic. Buying used goods is appealing for many reasons, including environmental sustainability and cost-effectiveness. The old adage, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, really does apply here. With some patience, you can make some money on pretty much any item you no longer need or are willing to part with for a certain price.

    These social commerce sites aren’t just good for getting rid of your stuff. In the process, you can find some great deals for yourself. You can buy all sorts, including items that people are literally giving away for free — just as a way of cleaning house.

    Kijiji Canada, an online classified advertising service for buying, selling and trading goods and services recommends these options for contactless transactions(Opens in a new tab) for sellers or minimizing in-person contact to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

    Sign up for free customer rewards programs

    Customer rewards programs are designed to keep you happy and loyal. We’ve already talked about how shopping around for better deals is a great way of getting better prices. Loyalty programs help to combat that by giving you free stuff. Nowadays, most big retailers and service providers have their own version. It’s worth checking out what they offer and which can provide you with the most savings and rewards.

    Get a rewards credit card and earn points on every purchase you make on it. Most credit cards give you a variety of ways to use your points, including: shopping online, cash back, gift cards, discounts on airfare and hotels, charitable donations, and paying off your balance.

    With a travel rewards program, you earn points whenever you shop at a retail partner location. Those points can generally be used for in-store discounts, cash vouchers, and a variety of rewards, including travel, merchandise, events, and attractions.

    Food costs are skyrocketing these days so any way we can find to reduce our bill at the checkout is a bonus. Grocery store loyalty programs not only give you alerts on sales so you can stock up when prices are lower, they also give you points that can be redeemed on your next grocery bill.

    Bill payments apps, like Paytm(Opens in a new tab), are a great way to earn free stuff without spending a single dime. Yeah, you heard right. You can download the app for free and begin earning points right away just for registering. Then, every time you pay a bill through the app(Opens in a new tab), you’ll earn more points that can be redeemed for discounted e-gift cards towards great brands like Best Buy, Esso, Instacart, Amazon, and You might as well earn free stuff for something you have to do anyway — like pay your bills. 

    Paytm has made it super easy for you to do just that — pay everything from rent and property taxes to phone and internet bills — by giving you multiple bill payment methods, including Amex, Visa debit, Mastercard credit, bank account, and Paytm cash. That could mean being able to pay your rent using your credit card and building your credit score, if you can’t find the money in this month’s budget. 

    Invest your money

    Once you have put some of these other tips into practice, you will start to see some room in your budget open up. That’s when you can really start to save and earn free stuff. What do we mean by that? It’s simple. It takes money to make money. So, once you start putting your savings into smart investments, you can really start to increase your earnings.

    Plan to put money into your investments each month and you should be able to watch your savings grow year-over-year with some exceptions. As a long-term strategy, investing is the best way to grow your wealth. It’s kind of like free money for the taking.

    Saving money and earning free stuff is possible at any stage of your life and no matter your current income. Put these tips into play and before long, you’ll be enjoying all the perks that saving and spending money can offer.

  • Congressman complains that Googles CEO should fix his dads Gmail spam filter

    Congressman complains that Googles CEO should fix his dads Gmail spam filter

    Gifted one-on-one time with four of the most powerful tech executives in the world, Republican Congressman Greg Steube of Florida decided to grill Google CEO Sundar Pichai about Gmail's spam folders.


    We've all had issues with spam folders, but Steube suggested to Pichai that his campaign emails getting sent to spam was part of a nefarious anti-conservative plot.

    Pichai and three other major tech CEOs —Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, and Apple's Tim Cook — testified before the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust, commercial, and administrative law on Wednesday.

    After first complaining(Opens in a new tab) about not being able to Google the far-right website Gateway Pundit, Steube spent much of his allotted five minutes on Gmail's spam folder.

    Steube claimed that when he transitioned from state politics to Congress, suddenly people couldn't get his campaign emails.

    "My parents, who have a Gmail account, aren't getting my campaign emails," he told Pichai. "My supporters, just last week, one of my supporters called me and said, 'Hey, I just want you to know this, that my Gmail account suddenly is taking your campaign emails that I've received for almost 10 years and suddenly they're going to spam and junk folders."

    Not taking a moment to actually ask a question, Steube quickly pivoted from troubleshooting his parents' email to alleging a plot against conservatives.

    "This is — appears — to only be happening to conservative Republicans," Steube said. "I don't see anything in the news, or anything in the press, or other members on the other side of the aisle talking about their campaign emails getting thrown into junk folders in Gmail. So my question is: Why is this only happening to Republicans?"

    Pichai, for his part, calmly shot down the idea that there was a conspiracy against Republican emails.

    "We are focused on what users want and users have indicated they want us to organize personal emails — emails they receive from friends and family — separately," the Google CEO said. "All we have done is, we have a tabbed organization, and the primary tab has email from friends and family, and the secondary tab has other notifications."

    Steube, seemingly not understanding that perhaps his campaign email was pushed to a different tab because it wasn't from a personal account, questioned why his own father wouldn't get a campaign email if family messages go to the primary tab.

    "Well, it was my father who was not receiving now my campaign emails. So clearly that familial thing that you're talking about didn't apply to my emails," Steube said.

    Pichai responded by explaining that Gmail's systems likely had no way of knowing his father was related to the candidate in a campaign email.

    The Markup actually investigated how Gmail sorts political messages(Opens in a new tab) in February. Its review found that just 11 percent landed on the primary tab, while half went to "promotions," and about 40 percent went to "spam."

    "We found that Gmail often puts political email into the Promotions folder, which it says is for marketing," The Markup reporter Adrianne Jeffries wrote on Twitter. "But there was no partisan pattern."

    For what it's worth, the representative who spoke after Steube, Florida Democrat Val Demings, noted Republicans definitely weren't alone in their spam folder woes.

    "Just for the record, I'm a Democrat from Florida, and I've heard complaints about my emails going into spam as well," Demings said.

  • #ChallengeAccepted is messy as hell, but we have bigger things to worry about

    #ChallengeAccepted is messy as hell, but we have bigger things to worry about

    Much like the internet itself, I am old and exhausted, and I’ve seen too much to really get worked up about whether people want to post attractive black-and-white pictures of themselves. If you’ve been within 10 feet of your phone in the last few days, you may be experiencing the same #challenge fatigue.


    You’ve no doubt noticed that your Instagram timeline has been inundated with black-and-white photos in which your friends and various celebrities look casually stunning. They’re captioned with the bland but intriguing hashtag #ChallengeAccepted. Sometimes they talk about empowering women, and almost always they tag a few other people to take the challenge, too.

    In the comments, the person’s friends typically lift them up and tell them how amazing/gorgeous/inspiring they are. In that sense, sure, it’s empowering, but beyond that why are we doing this and who is it helping? It turns out to be a rather thorny question. The lack of a clear answer ended up spawning a deeply exhausting fight, which is just about the last thing anyone needs right now.

    How did we get here? Well, if you, like me, clicked through on #ChallengeAccepted when it first arose to try to figure out what the actual challenge was, you were met obvious explanation. There’s a lot of #womensupportingwomen and spreading the love, but no concrete connection to a more specific cause than “women” and no indication of how posting a flattering picture of yourself is useful to womankind.

    For a brief time, it appeared as if it had originated as a movement to raise awareness of femicide in Turkey, and a number of tweets and Instagram posts went viral in a secondary effort to raise awareness of the raising of awareness. (I know, it’s a lot.) As the New York Times(Opens in a new tab) eventually uncovered, it turns out there's no great rationale for the mountain of selfies that continue to pile up as we speak. This challenge had already happened once on a smaller scale in 2016 to spread cancer awareness, and it just kind of came back — as often happens in the endless cycle of internet tail-eating.

    Predictably, things got sloppy after a day or so of the challenge going wide. As people began to search for meaning in the meme, the educational commenting phase began in earnest, which only made the whole thing more viral. Problematic women like Ivanka Trump joined in(Opens in a new tab) — and got immediately slammed. Some who’d shared their pics in turn began posting updates (sometimes only in Stories) and then updates to those updates when they learned their first update was off base. A mildly shame-y discourse simmered in the group chats: “Did you see X posted a pic? This whole thing is so pointless lol.”

    And, yeah, it IS basically a useless sweep of vanity that’s devoid of any actual feminism. #ChallengeAccepted may be the most vague viral internet challenge to date, but it’s one of literally hundreds to clog our timelines in recent years. They were fun at first, but, as Mel Magazine wisely pointed(Opens in a new tab) out on Wednesday morning, they’ve become so abundant and such a part of daily internet life, that the word challenge itself has lost all meaning.

    In many ways, #ChallengeAccepted and the subsequent backlash is similar to what happened in early June with the Blackout Tuesday effort. People posted black squares on their timeline to raise awareness of Black Lives Matter. It was seemingly a simple act of allyship — even easier than digging through your camera roll for the perfect picture of you to post — and it spread like wildfire. But it got messy fast.

    It soon became clear that Blackout Tuesday was not actually started by a racial justice organization but was instead an initiative that had bled over from the music industry. The biggest issue was that the flood of black squares hashtagged #BlackLivesMatter ultimately made it harder for people to find necessary information about the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests.

    The important difference with #challengeaccepted, though, is that it’s basically a victimless trend. (In fact, whether it was meant to or not, it did end up giving attention to femicide in Turkey, even while others argued using the hashtag was silencing those voices.) In its best light, it was a chance for a certain segment of women to feel better about themselves for a brief moment. And that’s OK! If you want to post a picture of yourself looking good, you should. Quar has left so many of us feeling more alone and isolated than ever, and the desire to be seen and appreciated is a real one. It’s nothing fundamentally more complex than “felt cute, might delete later.”

    The error many committed, obviously, was conflating the need to be seen with the desire to be seen as doing good. That’s this challenge at its worst: An empty gesture of performative allyship. And, yes, that’s deeply and rightly irritating to those who need allies to put in the work offline to help raise awareness of their cause — and that includes many women that this challenge was supposedly trying to empower.

    But those are the two most extreme viewpoints.

    We’re living through a years-long nightmare and we’re all exhausted and doing our very best to get through this. We have a lot of vital fights to fight in the months ahead — a pandemic, an election, and now demon sperm on top of it all. There are many reasons to battle with and harshly judge your close friends and distant Facebook enemies, but black-and-white selfies are not chief among them. There is no benefit to expending our few remaining shreds of bandwidth on scolding people for not properly handling a vague Instagram hashtag.

    So here’s your gentle reminder that you’re under no legal obligation to engage, in the challenge or in schooling other people about why they shouldn't be doing it. If you really want to wade in, assess why you feel the need to and if doing so will actually help anyone. But you can also just swipe out of Instagram and go sign a petition or make a donation or learn something new about an issue that’s important to you. (Mashable has a very helpful guide on how to be an effective ally, if you want to start right now.) You don’t even have to tell anyone you’re doing it!

    All of this performative selfie allyship and subsequent bickering is petty and tiring, and the end result is to drive us down deeper into our individual tunnels of numbness. So the next time you see all your friends jumping on a hashtag bandwagon, take a deep breath and then just… don’t.

    Then take the little pile of energy you’ve saved and turn your attention to taking the actual #2020challenge: Doing the work to fight for real change.

  • Need an easy self-care routine? The Home Depot has up to 40% off select massage chairs

    Need an easy self-care routine? The Home Depot has up to 40% off select massage chairs

    The following content is brought to you by Mashable partners. If you buy a product featured here, we may earn an affiliate commission or other compensation. TL;DR: Save up to 40% off select massage chairs at The Home Depot(Opens in a new tab).


    Social media overflows with inspirational self-care quotes and well-meaning reminders to take better care of yourself, but what if you’re not drawn to meditation or breaking out a coloring book?

    One idea: Studies(Opens in a new tab) have found massage can help with reducing stress, managing anxiety, relieving muscle tension, and improving sleep. A massage chair can bring all those benefits right to your living room — on your schedule.

    Save up to 40% off select massage chairs at The Home Depot(Opens in a new tab) and kick back with some extra TLC for your muscles. Try these on for size:

    Osaki OS-Aster(Opens in a new tab) ($1,449, normally $2,499)

    Osaki OS-Aster Credit: Osaki

    The Osaki OS-Aster(Opens in a new tab) ($1,449, normally $2,499) requires only 10 inches to fully recline, and it features an S, L-type backrest track to hug the curves of your body. The roller system massages from your neck all the way down to your upper hamstrings.

    Osaki OS-7200H(Opens in a new tab) ($2,099, normally $3,358.88)

    Osaki OS-7200H Credit: OSAKI

    With built-in speakers, ambient blue LED lights, and a computer body scan to self-adjust to your shape, the Osaki OS-7200H(Opens in a new tab) ($2,099, normally $3,358.88) delivers an immersive massage for body and mind. It features quad-style rollers and 51 air bags to target important muscle groups, such as neck, shoulders, lumbar, and calves.

    Osaki OS-4000CS(Opens in a new tab) ($1,849, normally $2,999)

    Osaki OS-4000CS Credit: osaki

    Choose between six massage styles, including rolling, kneading, tapping, shiatsu, and combined kneading/tapping or kneading/shiatsu, on the Osaki OS-4000CS(Opens in a new tab) ($1,849, normally $2,999). This plush chair also has heating pads around the lumbar to soothe away pain and a foot massage function to relieve sore feet.

    Titan Pro Jupiter XL Series(Opens in a new tab) ($2,499, normally $3,225.81)

    Titan Pro Jupiter XL Series Credit: Titan

    Stretch out in the Titan Pro Jupiter XL Series(Opens in a new tab) ($2,499, normally $3,225.81), designed for people up to six-feet and six-inches tall, or anyone who wants some extra room to unwind. Get full-body attention, including a head massager for your scalp and neck and dual-action foot massager at the base.

    Osaki OS-Pro Yamato(Opens in a new tab) ($2,399, normally $3,409.09)

    Osaki OS-Pro Yamato Credit: OSAKI

    Available in black, brown, or contrast cream and black faux leather, the Osaki OS-Pro Yamato(Opens in a new tab) ($2,399, normally $3,409.09) has a sleek aesthetic and stylish quilting details. Take your pick from 10 pre-set functions, such as Thai, deep tissue, full body, and recovery.

    (Opens in a new tab)
    Credit: OSAKI
    Save up to 40% off select massage chairs at The Home Depot (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab)

  • Dr. Fauci has the perfect reaction to Rep. Jim Jordans wild questioning

    Dr. Fauci has the perfect reaction to Rep. Jim Jordans wild questioning

    We should all know this by now: Being in a crowd, especially indoors without a mask, is dangerous during the coronavirus pandemic.


    Still, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan — the relentlessly pro-Trump Ohio Republican infamous for his alleged role(Opens in a new tab) in a massive sexual abuse scandal at Ohio State — decided to press Dr. Anthony Fauci on this idea on Friday. The nation's top health official appeared before a House panel(Opens in a new tab) on the coronavirus response.

    It went so far that Fauci eventually literally waved off the congressman.

    In his questioning, Jordan wondered why church services were discouraged even as Black Lives Matter protests — which are outdoors, typically involve mass mask-wearing, and have not been shown to significantly spread COVID(Opens in a new tab) — continued across the country. Jordan seemed intent on getting Fauci to discourage protests or make a political statement of some sort.

    "Well, I'm not going to opine on limiting anything. I'm telling you what the danger is," Fauci said to Jordan. "You can make your own conclusion about that. You should stay away from crowds no matter where the crowds are."

    But Jordan wouldn't let up. Speaking with a public health official who's been doing this sort of work for decades, Jordan insisted over and over and over, trying to corner Fauci into coming out for or against the recent protests. Fauci, time and again, simply told Jordan that crowds — particularly without masks — could help increase the spread of the virus.

    Right as Jordan's time expired, the congressman stuck to his same point. Fauci had a perfect reaction.

    Via Giphy(opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    It sure seems like Fauci had enough. And who could blame him for waving off Jordan?

    There is still so much we don't know about this virus. But we do know being indoors, sans masks, talking loudly, singing, or breathing heavily for extended periods of time is (Opens in a new tab)really(Opens in a new tab) dangerous(Opens in a new tab). That's why health experts say bars, churches, and gyms are hotspots, not because the experts are out to get conservatives. On the contrary, they're trying to save lives.

  • The Fight is an invigorating reminder that freedom is an uphill battle

    The Fight is an invigorating reminder that freedom is an uphill battle

    We are in the middle of a war.


    Not a specific war and not even a specific "we" — for most of its history, humanity has been fighting with or for something. It is a byproduct of civilization's very existence. We fight against each other, on behalf of each other, and then we gather ourselves in victory or defeat, summoning strength for the next one.

    Magnolia Pictures and Topic Studios' The Fight centers on four major civil rights cases, but also on this constant battle and the American Civil Liberties Union's decision to take up its mantle — no matter who it has to defend.

    Directed by Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, and Eli Despres, The Fight follows ACLU attorneys Brigitte Amiri, Lee Gelernt, Dale Ho, Joshua Block and Chase Strangio as they battle for reproductive rights, immigration rights, voter rights, and LGBTQ+ rights, respectively. These are just four of the over 130 cases filed against the Trump administration in its four years of power.

    The clients include a transgender soldier, separated migrant families, a young woman who was raped and denied her constitutional abortion rights, and voters being targeted by a flawed system. The timelines vary, but each case carries immense weight in 2020.

    Laid out side-by-side, these cases illustrate the constant uphill battle of civil rights in the Trump era. The administration makes a shocking decision like banning visitors from Muslim countries or removing transgender people from the military; then, after immediate backlash, they roll it back slightly — limiting which countries are banned, or allowing trans people to serve but not enlist. An overall rollback in civil liberties ends up feeling like a victory because things were almost worse.

    In "The Fight," ACLU lawyers defend voter rights, immigration rights, LGBTA+ rights, and reproductive rights. The ACLU believes in legal defense for all, which has led to contention in the past. Credit: sabrina lantos / magnolia pictures / topic studios

    Though The Fight follows issues with an overall progressive stance, the film does not hide the ACLU's sometimes contentious stance of fighting for all legal rights, including those of the white nationalists whose 2017 march on Charlottesville led to the death of Heather Heyers. Defense attorneys, by profession, do not always represent clients whose ideology they support. But the ACLU does choose its clients from a wide pool of applicants. The organization's credo is that everyone has legal rights, so hate speech is but a form of free speech.

    There is always someone to defend, a hill to crest, a chance to do better.

    False equivalence has pervaded the Trump presidency, from his campaign announcement to whatever his latest tweet is. It's tough as a viewer to treat every ideology equally when there is a clear faction inflicting or invoking harm against innocent people, when an administration openly and consistently rejects facts, experts, legal precedent, and the constitution of the United States.

    The film mostly avoids reckoning with this, except in the Charlottesville case, which does not give a satisfying conclusion. The Fight hits differently as the nation enters its third month of protests and uprising following the deaths of George Floyd and too many others — and closes in on three months from a critical election in constant danger of being delegitimized. Advocacy and activism are more crucial than ever, yet their efficacy feels jeopardized. The conversations about Charlottesville feel inadequate and frustrating, but the outcomes of most of these cases provide some hope.

    But that's the thing about the fight: It's never-ending. There is always someone to defend, a hill to crest, a chance to do better. There is always a reason to march, to amplify, to vote.

    "We’re not going to be able to stop this thing," Ho says toward the end of the film, after winning a case he briefly thought was lost. He's referring to the machination at work, "the power of federal government and massive political vehicle" on Trump's side. “It’s not going to be lawyers and courts. It’s going to be people who turn this ship around."

    The Fight is now available on iTunes(Opens in a new tab), Amazon(Opens in a new tab), Google Play(Opens in a new tab), and more.

  • How to GIF YouTube videos in 10 simple steps

    How to GIF YouTube videos in 10 simple steps

    So you're watching a fun video on YouTube. Neat, good for you.


    You've seen a moment you really like, and you want to convert that fun little moment from YouTube into a GIF. I get it, pal, GIFs can be fun.

    Don't be embarrassed if you don't know where to start. Creating an animated GIF from YouTube is easy and I've broken the process down into 10 very simple steps.

    OK then, let's do it.

    1. Pull up your YouTube video and copy the link

    For demonstration purposes, I'm choosing the "Instagram" sketch from Netflix's(Opens in a new tab) hilariously bonkers, truly wonderful sketch show I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson.

    Why? Because I love that show and it is very GIF-able.

    2. Go to in a new tab) and create an account

    You don't need a fancy GIF maker or Photoshop to create a GIF from a YouTube video. You just a Giphy account.

    I'm assuming here that if you're looking for tips to make a GIF, you do not have a Giphy account. So go ahead and make one. You must have an account to make GIFs on Giphy, which wasn't the case in the past. It's simple: You just need an email address and a password. There are other GIF converters out there, but using Giphy is going to be the easiest path and will leave you with a quality GIF.

    3. On, click the "create" icon right beside "Upload in the righthand corner.

    It looks like this:

    GIPHY create button. Credit: Screenshot / Giphy

    4. Paste your YouTube link into the blank space under the title "Add Any URL"

    Below is what that'll look like. You can also make GIFs from Vimeo, Giphy, or from videos you have on your computer.

    GIPHY gif maker. Credit: Screenshot / giphy

    5. Once you paste your link, Giphy will automatically take you to a GIF-maker tool. In this tool you can select the time and duration of your GIF.

    So here's where the fun starts. You just have to locate the part of the video you'd like to turn into a GIF, then select the length of the loop. (Note: It may be helpful to toggle around with the timing on YouTube then move the Giphy time-selection tool to where you want it.)

    For my demonstration, for instance, I really wanted the moment when Vanessa Bayer's character said, "I hope nobody gulps us," because I find that phrase to be very funny.

    On YouTube, I saw that line started around 1:21, so on Giphy, I jumped straight there.

    The moment I wanted to capture in gif form. Credit: YouTube / Screenshot / Netflix

    6. Cut the GIF to your exact length then hit "Continue to Decorate"

    So, after jumping to 1:21 in the video, I found a 1.9 second duration that perfectly captured Bayer's line-delivery while also removing a camera cut that made the loop look weird. Here's what the page will look like.

    Hope nobody gulps us. Credit: giphy / screenshot

    7. Add captions or any other decoration

    For my GIF, I wanted the line: "Hope nobody gulps us." You can play around with filters, animations, fonts, and drawing but I'm keeping it simple here.

    I chose a simple "caption" text and yellow font. Here's what that looks like.

    ITSYL gulp sketch. Credit: Giphy / Screenshot

    8. Scroll down and hit "Continue to Upload" at the bottom right of the page

    Here's the button:

    Upload giphy. Credit: Giphy / Screenshot

    9. Upload your GIF

    The "Upload to Giphy" be in the bottom right part of your screen. You can also add relevant tags if you want to make your creation easier to find for others. I put "ITSYL" and "gulp" for mine because why not?

    The button you're looking for. Credit: giphy / screenshot

    10. Save the image

    Right click on the image, and hit "save image as." You can choose a name for it and bam, your GIF is downloaded. You can use that downloaded GIF image anywhere you would normally use a regular image. Giphy also gives you lots of options to share it on all sorts of platforms like Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, Instagram, and others.

    OK, then there it is. You have a GIF. Hope that helps. Here's mine.

    Via Giphy(opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    It's worth noting Giphy is far from the only tool to make GIFs, it just happens to be my favorite. But here are few other tools to make GIFs out of YouTube videos (and other things) that you can try.

    • You can just add "GIF" before the word YouTube in a link. Here's a tutorial(Opens in a new tab) on how this works, but if you take any YouTube video and write the word "GIF" into the URL(Opens in a new tab), it takes you to a GIF editor. It doesn't get much easier than that. If writing GIF into a URL confuses you, the same tool can be found at in a new tab).

    • Giphy also has a Mac app called Giphy Capture(Opens in a new tab), which allows you to screen capture anything and make a GIF out of it. It's a super useful tool if you want to make GIFs that aren't simple YouTube links.

    • GIFRun is a tool(Opens in a new tab) that will let you make a GIF out of just about anything, including TikTok.

    • Imgflip has a GIF maker(Opens in a new tab) that's slightly more complicated than some of the other options. But it does allow you to play around but more, giving you the ability to change the width the of the video and the frame rate.

    • The aptly named Make A GIF allows you to(Opens in a new tab), well, make a GIF. It has an easy to use YouTube-to-GIF tab as well as other options, like Facebook-to-GIF and uploading a GIF.

  • Egyptians call out Elon Musk for spreading a ridiculous pyramids conspiracy theory

    Egyptians call out Elon Musk for spreading a ridiculous pyramids conspiracy theory

    Sheesh, can't a billionaire CEO tweet out a racially insensitive conspiracy theory in peace?


    We are of course talking about Elon Musk, who loves to post wild shit in a way that makes it unclear as to whether he's joking or not. Experts on ancient Egypt weren't so tickled by his latest proclamation.

    On Thursday, Musk tweeted, out of the blue: "Aliens built the pyramids obv." The claim that aliens built the pyramids is a conspiracy theory that spreads on YouTube and Reddit.

    On Saturday, Rania al-Mashat, Egypt's Minister of International Co-operation, quote tweeted Musk with a seriously gentle rebuke and an invitation for Musk to visit Egypt and see the pyramids for himself.

    "I follow your work with a lot of admiration. I invite you & Space X to explore the writings about how the pyramids were built and also to check out the tombs of the pyramid builders. Mr. Musk, we are waiting for you."

    As Egypt Today reports(Opens in a new tab), "acclaimed Egyptologist" Zahi Hawass also sought to set the record straight. The scientist posted a video on YouTube asserting the obvious: "What you said about the pyramids is completely hallucination, the pyramids are built by Egyptians."

    Aside from the scientific nonsense, some Twitter users pointed out the racist overtones of the conspiracy theory. South African comedian Yaaseen Barnes quote tweeted Musk's aliens tweet with the assessment "It's easier for white people to believe that aliens built the pyramids than for their minds to even comprehend the idea that Africans did."

    Musk added to his aliens Twitter thread the day after he originally posted. On Friday morning, he tweeted some fun pyramid facts and asserted humans made them. Later that day, he tweeted a link to the real history of the pyramids.

    It's possible he was just showing appreciation for how out-of-this-world the pyramids are in his weird Elon way.

    Musk is a renowned Twitter troll who even went to court to defend his right to troll. But even if Musk was just joking, it's irresponsible for him to spread science-undermining theories to his devoted followers in a time where conspiracy theories run rampant.(Opens in a new tab)

Random articles


  • Is fake Martin Scorsese film Goncharov the internets best shared delusion?

    Is fake Martin Scorsese film Goncharov the internets best shared delusion?

    I think we, as a society, can all agree that every mafia movie pales in comparison to Martin Scorsese's 1973 film Goncharov. It's the blueprint. It defined a genre. It also never existed(Opens in a new tab).


    Instead, Goncharov is an entirely made up film, communally created by users on Tumblr which then seeped into the posting and meme ecosystems of other sites like Twitter, TikTok, and Reddit. You might have scrolled right by a Goncharov praise post, not knowing that what you had just read was a deeply rich piece of Tumblr lore. I don't blame you for skipping yet another film opinion, but Goncharov is special. 

    SEE ALSO: Oh no. There's another 'Bambi' live action in the works. And it's a horror film.

    The universe of Scorsese's Goncharov is still growing, too. The fake cult favorite film has now been reported on by numerous outlets, including Polygon(Opens in a new tab), NBC(Opens in a new tab), BuzzFeed(Opens in a new tab), and even The New York Times(Opens in a new tab). The official Tumblr Twitter account has acknowledged the film in several posts (spot Robert DeNiro as the titular Goncharov in the account's profile picture), and Ryan Reynolds posted about his favorite Goncharov line(Opens in a new tab) on his new Tumblr account.

    At this point, it's hard to parse what's real and what's fake — a shared internet joke, communal delusion, or the greatest experiment in community fiction writing ever known to man? Whatever it is, the Goncharov meme has gone about as far as one could possibly take it. But what's more true to the essence of a "cult movie" than one that's entirely made up by a bunch of anonymous Tumblr users and turned into a meme? in a new tab)

    If you're new to the Goncharov fandom or have some internet FOMO, here's a super shallow dive into the Goncharovian Lore:

    Goncharov's birth

    The meme's origin is linked to old Tumblr lore, lining up perfectly with the social media platform's rejuvenation inspired by the revival of 2014 Tumblr aesthetics and users' apparent exodus from Twitter back to Tumblr. 

    Some users linked Goncharov to an old image of a sneaker(Opens in a new tab) posted by Tumblr user "zootycoon(Opens in a new tab)",  which was embroidered with a label that read, "The greatest mafia movie ever made. Martin Scorsese presents: Goncharov" and was accompanied by a confusing caption about an ad for a nonexistent movie. Fact check! That's an edited picture. Goncharov's true origin is as mysterious as its main character…

    A year of subtle Goncharov posting culminated in this week's surge in content, starting with a fan-edited poster:

    ballooning well beyond memes(Opens in a new tab) into fan posts, mood boards(Opens in a new tab), fake trailers(Opens in a new tab), a title score(Opens in a new tab), and even entire scenes of storyboarding and scripting. The so-called "Gonch-posting" continued, and there's even an official Goncharov Lore Google Doc(Opens in a new tab) where you can watch the writing live. 

    Goncharov becomes our unlikely mafia hero

    Scorsese's Goncharov was immediately labeled as the preeminent mafia movie, in the same realm as The Godfather or Goodfellas, and subjected to the same critical film analysis. 

    In this tale, users tell the story of our main character Goncharov (that's his last name, by the way. His first name is another layer of lore(Opens in a new tab).), a former Russian mob guy who has given up the dark life to settle down with his wife Katya. While in Naples, he is forced back into organized crime and meets a new rival named Andrey aka "The Banker." There's also "sad boy" Mario, and later "Ice Pick Joe" (an American guy named Joe who kills people with an ice pick and wears an eye patch). Lastly, there's Sofia, who forms a close (romantic) bond with Katya.

    SEE ALSO: Tumblr will allow nudity again. Bring on the female-presenting nipples.

    Goncharov is canonically played by Robert De Niro, by the way, and a young Al Pacino is sometimes Mario and sometimes Andrey (depending on who you ask). in a new tab)

    Goncharov fandom divided between the bridge scene and the bus scene

    The "resurgence" of Goncharov content also meant a deep analysis of its best scenes, characters, and hidden meanings — all created on the spot by Tumblr users and reframed as real analysis, even linking to fake film critics and academic journals. 

    There's a bridge scene, where something big happens and a clocktower is chiming, and a boat scene, in which Katya almost dies and Sofia is there and fruit is involved.

    Katya tries to shoot Goncharov, reciting the famous line, "if we were truly in love, I wouldn't have missed." And at some point, there are sexually-charged anchovies and other fish. Main themes include: Being a Girlboss, Escaping the Cycle of Violence, and Sacrificial Love. It also passes the Bechdel Test. in a new tab)

    Goncharov even briefly made its way onto the film review site Letterboxd (let me add it to my top 4 cowards).

    Goncharov is also gay

    Duh. In what universe would Tumblr collectively write a 1970s Scorsese mafia flick and not make it a gay love story? In fact, the subtle, read-between-the-lines romances of Goncharov and Katya have even inspired a suite of fanfiction tags on the site Archive of Our Own(Opens in a new tab) in a new tab)

    Our main character's flame is, of course, his rival Andrey — talk about some great enemies-to-lovers storytelling. Just go ahead and check out this in-depth (fake) analysis of the iconic cigarette lighting scene(Opens in a new tab). Ugh, the tension. There's also a second romance between Katya and Sofia. Something for everyone in Goncharov!

    Goncharov director speaks out on controversy

    Some users have now brought to light that Scorsese might not be the actual director(Opens in a new tab), but for now, we are ignoring that. Scorsese is our guy. 

    Taking to TikTok through the account of his daughter Francesca Scorsese(Opens in a new tab), he finally broke his silence, in a reply to a fellow TikTok user asking if Scorsese had seen the Goncharov hype. "I made that film years ago," he texted his daughter. There it is folks. Goncharov is Scorsese canon. 

    Goncharov was real. It was real to me(Opens in a new tab).

  • Shani Silver is tired of the narrative around singlehood. Read an extract from her book A Single Rev

    Shani Silver is tired of the narrative around singlehood. Read an extract from her book A Single Revolution.

    Shani Silver is tired of the same one-note conversations about singlehood. She wants to reframe the way people feel about being unattached.


    Being single means different things to different people. For many, it can be a state of liberation and empowerment, an opportunity to get to know your true self, and to understand what your wants and needs are. Being single is not synonymous with not wanting a relationship, it's not synonymous with hating dating, it's not a rejection of romantic partnership. And yet, our society's outdated and negative views on singlehood still persist, fuelling the stigma attached to the state of simply being on your own.

    With her podcast A Single Serving(Opens in a new tab), Silver has built a community(Opens in a new tab) of likeminded individuals who want to celebrate singlehood and change the way our culture thinks and talks about single life.

    The writer and podcaster has written a book, A Single Revolution(Opens in a new tab), that aims to challenge the thinking that being single means you need to change who you are in order to find a partner. The book gets to the core of what single people really need: the freedom to feel good about their way of life.

    You can read an excerpt from the first chapter of A Single Revolution below. The book is available to purchase via Amazon.(Opens in a new tab)

    Being single isn't a wrong way to be. This is a very basic and essential concept that single women need to understand, because its inverse is the very thing that keeps us hating our singlehood and repeating behaviors that contribute to our own misery. I don't blame us for feeling wrong; it's the only way society has ever told us single women are allowed to feel. Everything created for or about single women pertains to dating, love, sex, and finding partnership, and literally nothing else.

    Dating app, after dating app, after dating app, after dating app. Dating show, after competitive dating show, after instant-marriage show where someone gets hitched to an actual stranger, and so on. Honestly, whoever greenlights these things needs a good kick in the teeth.

    SEE ALSO: The history of the single positivity movement goes back further than you think

    Charming coffee mugs and wine glasses attempt to turn solitude into quips and jokes, suggesting that "you're not drinking alone if the cat is home." As if being alone, drinking wine alone, or owning a cat are even remotely sad truths. Really? Is that all they've got to make fun of us with? Good things? Sounds like lazy writing to me.

    The world spins singlehood as sad and wrong in any number of ways, and if it ever does spin being single as right, it paints singlehood as a permanent choice that a woman has to make, drawing a line in the sand and firmly declaring herself as someone who has "sworn off dating" to be "single by choice." That's the only way singlehood is depicted with even a shred of positivity, when you essentially commit yourself to it instead of a partner.

    But what if that's not what you want? What if you want a relationship but don't think you should be unhappy until you find one? Who said single women have to choose either misery or permanence? It's possible, and allowed, to love your singlehood and want a relationship at the same time. I live that way every day.

    Shani Silver's 'A Single Revolution' wants to change the conversation around singlehood. Credit: SHANI SILVER / MASHABLE COMPOSITE

    If everything in our culture ever made for single women pertains to dating and finding love, then seriously, what are we supposed to think about our singlehood? If the focal point of all conversations about single women is "finding someone," what does that tell us about what the world thinks matters most? What does that say about what should matter most to us?

    These messages also appear passively in the ways single women are portrayed. Think about the stories we tell about single women and the ways we've been raised in society to think about ourselves, as reflected back to us by how television, movies, songs, and endless artforms choose to style us. We're either the sad and desperate single, the hot mess, the pathetic friend, or the crazy old lady. The only happy endings we're allowed involve partnership. Even female superheroes have love interests (that they never get to keep, for some reason). There is a societal aversion to telling stories about happy single women who are doing great in life. The message single women receive in return is this: Single is wrong. Fix your singleness by finding a partner, or else you're wrong.

    Things that happen to single people aren't inherently less important than things that happen to people in couples, but the way we celebrate them is completely unbalanced.

    What about the ways coupled people are celebrated? What messages do those celebratory effusements communicate to single women? Notice the reaction when a single woman tells her family she just bought her first house, and then the reaction when her sister tells them she just got engaged. What's the more exciting news, in the family's eyes? Why is something a person worked for less worthy of celebrating than something a person found? We take each other out to dinner to celebrate new jobs with guaranteed salaries and benefits, but we throw multi-thousand-dollar weddings that ignore the statistical likelihood of a lasting marriage based on the current global divorce rate. Things that happen to single people aren't inherently less important than things that happen to people in couples, but the way we celebrate them is completely unbalanced. I'm just saying.

    I know there's no celebration in singlehood. None that comes from outside of ourselves, anyway. Even when we accomplish things, there's always a film on top of it, like it needs a good Windexing. It's the notion that our accomplishments don't mean as much because we don't have "someone to share them with." Everything couples get to experience is communicated to us as good and precious. Singles, on the other hand, are digging through a digital dumpster, looking for the thing coupled people have that lets their life accomplishments finally matter.

    Shani Silver, the author of 'A Single Revolution' Credit: shani silver

    The difficulty gets deeper, doesn't it? It gets more direct. And it often comes from people we love.

    "How are you single? Are you dating? How are you dating? I bet you haven't tried this yet. Try this! This will fix your singleness. How have you not found someone yet? I can't believe you're still single."

    What in the toasty hell are we supposed to do with these questions and suggestions? These constant micro-intrusions into our personal lives? I think they're actually less about someone trying to help us and more about some- one trying to feel helpful. Do they really care? How can our singlehood possibly affect others so much that it's always their first question when we sit down to dinner? Our single- hood doesn't actually affect anyone else at all. They're just approaching it as if it’s a wrong state, because that’s what they've been taught, too. Can you imagine the reverse?

    "How are you married? How happy is your marriage? Have you tried therapy? Try this kind of therapy, it will fix your unhappy marriage. I can't believe someone married you."

    SEE ALSO: It's time to reclaim singledom as a symbol of power

    We never say such things to married people, because we've been taught that couplehood is sacred, protected, and right. Singlehood is appropriate for invasive small talk, but couplehood is none of our business. It's a completely illogical imbalance of respect. You don't become more worthy of respect simply because you’re in a couple. You're not suddenly more human or more adult, but society doesn't understand that yet. A huge benefit in changing the way we think and feel about our own singlehood is that we stop letting society get away with this garbage.

    These messages take root. When all we're shown is how prized couplehood is, and how shameful or "lesser" single- hood is, of course we're going to have a low opinion of our own singlehood.

    The biggest problem with the opinions of singlehood that we develop over our lifetimes is they don't belong to us. If we've never questioned where our opinions come from, we're likely to passively think being single is wrong. Entertaining the idea that single isn't actually the wrong way to be becomes a radical act. If you're miserable and consumed by the feeling you need to "find someone," there's a way out of that feeling that doesn't involve anyone else. It involves getting fucking radical.

    We're taught to seek the life state where people will finally think we're "done," so we can be treated as whole, valid human beings instead of lesser sacks of sadness who should totally go talk to that guy at the other end of the bar, he's so cute! (Always said loud enough for the guy to hear, of course.) I know it can feel uncomfortable to go against the broadly accepted notions and opinions surrounding singlehood. But do you feel "comfortable" with the way you think about your singlehood now? It always feels weird to think and act differently from the norm, but I can tell you the feelings of validity and worthiness you'll find on the other side are worth it.

    We aren't less than other people. We aren't a lower status or class than people in couples. If you've never heard anyone say this to you before, I wish I was there to give you a hug and go to lunch with you, and we could split any appetizers you want. I know it can take time to get used to new ideas, so please be patient with and kind to yourself. The fact that singlehood isn't wrong is a new thing to hear, but it has always been true.

    A Single Revolution by Shani Silver is out now via Amazon.(Opens in a new tab)

  • ChatGPT could be writing a lot of Valentine’s Day cards this year

    ChatGPT could be writing a lot of Valentine’s Day cards this year

    There's a good chance your Valentine's Day card this year will be written with a little help from ChatGPT.

    ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence chatbot, is basically inescapable at the moment. Now, this takeover has gotten to the point where it's seeping into our collective love lives. Tinder users already began enlisting the platform to write messages to potential matches. New data suggests people will be using AI chatbots like ChatGPT(Opens in a new tab) to craft the ideal Valentine's Day note.

    Research from McAfee(Opens in a new tab) polled 5,100 individuals about their romantic lives. Amongst the discoveries comes the revelation that 42 percent of men surveyed in the United States said they will be using AI to write Valentine's messages this year. Less than one-fifth of women said they would do so.

    SEE ALSO: Everything you need to know about ChatGPT

    Personal motives vary in the survey results. Some want to use ChatGPT out of laziness, others out of apprehension. 32 percent said that the tool would help them feel more confident; 20 percent said it would enhance efficiency and that they simply don't have the time to do it themselves. In fact, the survey showed that 10 percent of people said: "I don’t believe my love interest or partner would know and it would be quick and easy."

    Meanwhile, 24 percent say they don't know what their partner would want to hear and, therefore, something like ChatGPT could take that stress away(Opens in a new tab).

    Perhaps more alarmingly (if that's possible), many of those polled weren't able to tell whether a love note was the work of a human or ChatGPT. 37 percent of respondents said there was no clear way to distinguish this; 39 percent incorrectly guessed that an AI-written love note was penned by a human.

    Many of those polled weren't able to tell whether a love note was the work of a human or ChatGPT.

    Digital culture has already changed the landscape of dating, with the influx of apps, etiquette, and the ensuing new ground to navigate online. With AI, there's potential for even more technologically-driven changes when it comes to love and romance.


    This also isn't the first time AI-powered tools have swooped in for the Hallmark-occasion that is already Valentine's Day. In 2021, CopyAI, an AI copywriting assistant, launched a free Valentine's Day card generator(Opens in a new tab), guaranteeing users could "type a sentence about your relationship and get a Valentine's Day card that your significant other will love."

    Still, despite the proven demand for AI tools like ChatGPT for this purpose, people aren't thrilled at the prospect of receiving an AI Valentine's Day card. Somewhat unsurprisingly, 50 percent of McAfee survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: "I would be hurt or offended if I found out my Valentine’s message was written by a machine / Artificial Intelligence."

    That may seem contradictory, given the amount of people set to use it for this purpose anyway. All of the data just reflects a new reality: that AI is being leaned on for creative assistance in unexpected ways, even if that means people will receive apparently genuinely declarations of love courtesy of a chatbot. It could be worth giving your card an extra scan next week.

  • The science that proves making your tea in the microwave is a truly appalling act

    The science that proves making your tea in the microwave is a truly appalling act

    If you've ever had a furious debate about the ungodly act of microwaving your cup of tea and how "it's the same" as boiling the kettle, you're about to lose — not only to Britain but to science.


    Researchers have explained the process your zapped cuppa goes through in a new study(Opens in a new tab) published in the American Institute of Physics' peer-reviewed online journal AIP Advances, and why you might not be getting the best results from making it this way over the traditional kettle/stove method.

    The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, looked at how heating liquid works in a microwave, and how the electric field that acts as a warming source causes the liquid to end up different temperatures at the top and bottom of the cup. A good cup of tea is all about getting uniform temperature throughout your water and, though many scholars have studied uniformity and how to solve it within the microwave itself(Opens in a new tab), these researchers have offered up a different possible solution (more on that later).

    Typically, the study describes, if you're warming a liquid like water on the stove or within a kettle, the heating source warms the container from below. This is when a process called convection happens, when the liquid at the bottom of the container warms up, diminishes in density, and moves to the top, letting the remaining cooler liquid to get access to the sweet, sweet heating source below. This results in even, uniform temperature throughout the container.

    But if you're throwing your cup of water in the microwave for 90 seconds, like the researchers did, the device's electric field heats it from all angles, not just from below, so while the top part of the cup's water may be sitting at boiling point, the bottom may not. "Because the entire glass itself is also warming up, the convection process does not occur, and the liquid at the top of the container ends up being much hotter than the liquid at the bottom," reads the study.

    So, your microwaved cup of tea is hotter at the top than the bottom. Let's take a 30-second mournful-staring-at-the-floor break.

    OK, so you've got a cup full of disparately warmed, microwaved water, and while I'd personally just cast this back into the fiery chasm from whence it came, if you do use it you should be aware that this is going to affect the way your tea develops. Though you might have palmed this off as something only your snobbiest friend thinks, the temperature of your water when brewing tea is really important, which is why making sure it's uniform is vital to a good cup — the water is needed for the dried tea leaves to expand, unfurl, and start brewing.

    According to the UK Tea Academy's white paper on water(Opens in a new tab) (yeah, they're hardcore, they write papers about tea water), different teas need their own specific water temperatures to brew properly. "This is because the bitter components in tea (caffeine and polyphenols) are extremely soluble in boiling and very hot water," reads the paper. "When we brew tea in boiling water or water at approx. 90 – 95ºC, more of the bitter tasting ingredients are drawn out quickly into the water, giving a robust, sometimes quite aggressive brew. This can be fine for strong black teas, dark oolongs, and fermented ‘dark teas’, but when brewing more delicate teas such as white, yellow, green and the greener jade oolongs, the bitter components can easily overwhelm the subtle sweet and aromatic character of the tea."

    SEE ALSO: Your definitive guide to the best biscuits for dunking in tea

    Notably, the Academy wrote that teas steeped in cold or iced water release fewer of their bitter ingredients and more of the sweet, so it doesn't always have to be hot stuff. But whatever tea you're making, all of this inevitably gets thrown off balance when your cup of water is not the same temperature all the way through, say, if you warm the water in the microwave and dunk a teabag in it as opposed to pouring kettle-boiled water over the tea in a pot or bag. You've got a small window for perfect brewing temperature, whether you're making green tea (70°C), oolong tea (90°C) or black tea (95-98°C). So if the water goes from hot to less hot levels in the cup, it will brew differently — and when you start jiggling the teabag around the temperature can change too, so it might be less warm than you need it to be.

    Interestingly, the researchers came up with a possible solution by designing a glass with a seven-centimeter metallic silver lid that's meant to redistribute the electric field, conducting the heating away from the top of the cup. This means heating happens from the bottom of the cup upwards, and effectively simulates the convection process.

    "The experimental results show that when the modified glass cup with 7 cm metal coating is used to heat water in a microwave oven, the temperature difference between the upper and lower parts of the water is reduced from 7.8 °C to 0.5 °C," reads the study. "The modified glass cup is placed in the center of the ceramic plate, far away from the cavity wall, and there is no spark ignition."

    So, no microwave fires (yay!) and the temperatures at the top and bottom of the cup were more similar than they would have been without the metal lid. Pretty neat. Probably wouldn't touch the metal straight away, though.

    The metallic silver lid in the microwave experiment. Credit: aip advances

    Whether or not this becomes an actual device people can buy and pop on the top of their cups remains to be seen, but if it does, some form of it could be an option for those who opt for the microwaved cuppa and still want a well-developed brew. Until then, however, just know that your tea might be brewing weirdly if you zap it, and with what you paid for the lid, you probably could have bought a rapid boil kettle.

    Look, microwavers, I get it, it's quicker. And if you want something to come back at your opinionated, traditionally-made tea drinker pals, a food scientist from the University of Newcastle in Australia reckons microwaving your cup of tea is the key to getting more health benefits from the beverage (note: health, not taste, benefits). 

    I'll be sticking to my kettle method, but you do you.

    Just know Britain is judging you.

    Related Video: Meet my pet yeast and all its bread children

  • Steve Bannon indicted for defrauding donors to the We Build the Wall GoFundMe campaign

    Steve Bannon indicted for defrauding donors to the We Build the Wall GoFundMe campaign

    Steve Bannon, the rightwing figure who previously served as President Donald Trump's White House chief strategist, was indicted Thursday by federal prosecutors in New York.


    Bannon and three others have been charged with defrauding people who donated to the viral "We Build the Wall" campaign on GoFundMe. CNN's Jim Sciutto reported that Bannon has been arrested. He was reportedly arrested on a boat of the coast of Westbrook, Connecticut.

    Prosectors allege in the indictment(Opens in a new tab) that despite assuring donors that Brian Kolfage — the founder and public face of We Build the Wall — would not receive a cent, the defendants secretly worked to funnel thousands of dollars to Kolfage to support a "lavish lifestyle."

    "The defendants allegedly engaged in fraud when they misrepresented the true use of donated funds," Inspector-in-Charge Philip R. Bartlett said in a statement(Opens in a new tab). "As alleged, not only did they lie to donors, they schemed to hide their misappropriation of funds by creating sham invoices and accounts to launder donations and cover up their crimes, showing no regard for the law or the truth. This case should serve as a warning to other fraudsters that no one is above the law, not even a disabled war veteran or a millionaire political strategist.”

    NBC News previously reported(Opens in a new tab) in January on some of the shadowy elements of the GoFundMe campaign, noting that it appeared to be an effort to harvest emails. Also in January, GoFundMe offered to refund anyone who had donated to the campaign.

    "GoFundMe has a zero tolerance policy for fraudulent behavior and we have been cooperating with law enforcement officials throughout their investigation," GoFundMe spokesperson Bobby Whithorne told Mashable in an email. "Protecting GoFundMe donors is our highest priority and we took measures to do just that."

    Bannon was taken into custody by agents from the U.S. Postal Service on Thursday morning.

    Bannon has a long history of working in rightwing circles. For years, he headed up Breitbart, the far-right news source that backed Trump's rise. Bannon jumped on to lead Trump's campaign just a few months away from the election, helping him secure the presidency. Bannon has fashioned himself as a rightwing intellectual and reportedly had plans to push Trump to reshape(Opens in a new tab) the globe via nationalist ideals. He was, however, ultimately ousted from the White House after repeated clashes(Opens in a new tab) with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.

    But Bannon's influence still permeates throughout the administration. His ally, Michael Pack, was in June confirmed as the new new CEO of the US Agency for Global Media, which oversees the state-run outlets Voice of America, Middle East Broadcasting, Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Open Technology Fund.

    "We are going hard on the charge," Bannon told Vox at the time(Opens in a new tab). "Pack’s over there to clean house."

    The Trump administration issued a statement on Thursday claiming the president does not know anyone involved in the scheme. That is, however, demonstrably false. He's had plenty of public interactions with a number of the individuals involved in the GoFundMe campaign, some of which CNN's Kaitlan Collins named here:

    This story is developing...

  • Cambridge Dictionarys 2021 word of the year will come as no surprise to anyone

    Cambridge Dictionarys 2021 word of the year will come as no surprise to anyone

    Cambridge Dictionary has announced its word of the year for 2021, and it probably won't come as much of a shock.


    This year the word is "perseverance", defined by the dictionary as a "continued effort to do or achieve something, even when this is difficult or takes a long time." According to a press release sent to Mashable, the word has been looked up 243,000 times globally in 2021.

    Perseverance was chosen by the dictionary for a couple of reasons. On the one hand it follows on from their word of the year for 2020(Opens in a new tab), "quarantine", drawing attention to the continued global struggle brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, not to mention other looming threats like climate change, with has been thrown into even starker relief recently via a huge report from the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and speeches and commitments made during COP26.

    SEE ALSO: Collins Dictionary names 'lockdown' the word of the year, as if any of us needed a reminder

    Meanwhile, the word is also the name of NASA's Perseverance rover, the little robot which landed on Mars back in February and is currently trundling around the red planet looking for signs of microbial life.

    "Just as it takes perseverance to land a rover on Mars, it takes perseverance to face the challenges and disruption to our lives from COVID-19, climate disasters, political instability and conflict," said Wendalyn Nichols, Cambridge Dictionary publishing manager. "We appreciated that connection, and we think Cambridge Dictionary users do, too."

    Well, we don't know about appreciated, but perseverance certainly seems fitting.

  • 22 best tweets of the week, including meat cubes, important jeans, and Lorde

    22 best tweets of the week, including meat cubes, important jeans, and Lorde

    Have you heard that new Lorde song(Opens in a new tab)? What do you think? I like it. Sure, it's a little different than what we've come to expect from her, but I enjoyed it. Really looking forward to the whole album dropping.


    Anyway, yep, another week in the books. It's Friday, baby. So why don't you queue up "Solar Power," crack your knuckles, and read some good tweets we rounded up. After all, the weekend is coming and we all deserve a nice laugh.

    So here they are, our 22 favorite tweets of the week.

    1. Love a meat cube park

    2. RUDE and I am not 32 yet

    3. Feels like they don't even really appreciate it

    4. Truly a gorgeous vessel

    5. Yikes, tough but fair assessment of...everything

    6. This is very true and I'm glad Jessica Biel recognizes this fact

    7. All facts, no fluff

    8. A reckoning is upon us

    9. Obligatory dril tweet

    10. And another

    11. More Lorde and an old meme resurfaces

    12. Good opinion, in my opinion

    13. Otherwise known as the Online Experience

    14. Cow

    15. Fauci's silence on this matter speaks volumes

    16. A pandemic vibe

    17. *Extreme Mare of Easttown voice* Leauki of Asgard

    18. I've been thinking about this for a while now

    19. "Do you like drums?" ... "Not Really."

    20. The first fact is obviously related to the other

    21. Fireworks illegal in Pasadena

    22. And finally, this

  • Who is Vecna in Stranger Things and why is the internet talking about them?

    Who is Vecna in Stranger Things and why is the internet talking about them?

    The first seven episodes of Stranger Things Season 4 were released on Netflix on Friday (May 27), and the internet is abuzz with hot takes, memes, and predictions about the final two episodes that are scheduled to drop in July. That means that for the next few weeks, prepare to see the name "Vecna" all over your social media feeds.


    With tens of thousands of tweets, Vecna is already the breakout star of the season. So, who is Vecna? And why is the internet so obsessed with it? Let's talk about it.

    Mild Spoilers ahead.

    SEE ALSO: The escapism of 'Stranger Things' Season 4 just hits different in 2022

    Who is Vecna?

    The Vecna the internet speaks of. Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

    Vecna is to Stranger Things 4 what the Demogorgon was to Season 1. In other words, he's the big, scary monster wreaking havoc on Hawkins.

    Vecna lives in the Upside Down and preys on people's past traumas and guilt. The monster curses its victims, making them relive their trauma in progressively more gruesome ways until it violently kills them. (And we mean, like, really violently.) Vecna slaughters its targets by levitating them in the air, breaking all their bones, and making their eyes and skull implode. And like its predecessors (the Demogorgon, the Mind Flayer), Vecna is named by the Party after a Dungeons & Dragons character.

    In the final episode of Stranger Things 4 Volume 1, it's revealed that Vecna isn't native to the Upside Down, but was banished there by Eleven after he gruesomely massacred the Hawkins National Lab. Vecna was the original child studied by Dr. Brenner and the son of Victor Creel. He's the infamous Number One, but had his powers blocked and worked as an aide in the Hawkins National Lab. He befriended Eleven at the lab and not knowing Vecna was evil, Eleven restored his powers resulting in the massacre and his expulsion to the Upside Down.

    Before coming to the Hawkins National Lab, Venca had a classic villain origin story — he became obsessed with black widows, tortured his family, and brutally killed his mother and sister pinning it on his father.

    One/Vecna had his powers blocked and was working as an aide at Hawkins National Lab where he befriended Eleven. Not knowing that One was evil, Eleven restored his powers which he used to gruesomely massacre the entire lab. Eleven banished One/Vecna to the Upside Down where he's been attacking the Hawkins teens from.

    Vecna notably targets Max (Sadie Sink), and the Hawkins gang discovers that the only way for her to avoid being killed by his curse is to play Max her favorite song, which happens to be "Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)" by Kate Bush. As a result of its inclusion in the show, the 1985 track has skyrocketed in popularity and currently sits at No. 2 on Spotify's top 50 U.S. chart(Opens in a new tab) and No. 4 on its top 200 global chart.(Opens in a new tab)

    Max's obsession with "Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)" sparked a larger conversation on social media about discovering music through a television show. Some gatekeepers stuck up their nose at people finding the track through Stranger Things, while others celebrated the iconic song beguiling a new generation.

    While the ending of Episode 4 — in which Max runs from Vecna in the Upside Down trying to reach a portal to the real world while listening to "Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)" — is the standout scene of the season, it hasn't been Vecna's only viral moment. Vecna's weakness unsurprisingly became an opportunity for viewers to share what song would save their life.

    "What's your Vecna song?"

    "What's your Vecna song?" is now the pop-culture-savvy way to ask for someone's favorite song.

    What song would save you?

  • How to download TikTok videos

    How to download TikTok videos

    Love a TikTok so much that you want to keep it on your phone and treasure it forever? You can do that with the save video function.


    Save video allows you to save your favorite TikToks to your phone's photo library. Downloading TikTok videos allows you to have access to a TikTok regardless if the user deletes it or if TikTok takes it down. Downloading a TikTok video can also streamline sharing a TikTok with your more offline friends who may not have the app.

    Unfortunately you can't save all TikToks, the user who posts a TikTok has to allow downloads for their video. If the "Save video" option doesn't come up, that means the TikTok user doesn't have downloads turned on for their account.

    But, you could always screen record the TikTok instead.

    To save a TikTok, follow the steps below.

    How to Download a TikTok video:

    1. Open the TikTok app

    2. Navigate to the video you want to save

    3. Tap the white arrow on the left side of the screen

    Tap the arrow to view sharing options for the TikTok. Credit: screenshot: tiktok

    4. Tap the upside down arrow that says "Save Video" to save the video

    Downloads are on, so you can save the video by tapping "Save video." Credit: screenshot: TikTok

  • SoulCycles at-home bike is great for Soul diehards

    SoulCycles at-home bike is great for Soul diehards

    This is going to sound obvious but I'm going to say it anyway: SoulCycle's at-home spinning bike would be great if you absolutely love SoulCycle.


    But you've got to understand that people who love SoulCycle capital-L Love SoulCycle. It's been compared(Opens in a new tab) to a cult(Opens in a new tab) more than once. There's a reason. Soul, which is a part of the larger fitness company the Equinox Group, is a particular brand of spinning.

    You know what I mean if you've ever been to a studio class — you know, back when that was a reasonable thing to do. There's impossibly loud music, a dark room, scented candles, coordinated movements, and an instructor who both guides your ride and (typically) proselytizes through a mix of spiritual talk/therapy-ish advice/motivational quotes.

    In short: If that's your bag — if that's what you think about when you think about spinning – the SoulCycle at-home bike does a pretty good job of delivering. I tested it out for about two weeks, trying out its different features. The simple report: It's a really nice, if quite pricey, spinning bike. The product will never be exactly like the in-studio offering, but the company clearly tried to capture that feeling for their in-home product.

    But now we have to talk about the elephant in the room: Peloton. The pandemic has rocketed Peloton's popularity(Opens in a new tab), with scores of people looking for a great workout without leaving home. It's kinda-sorta the standard for at-home spinning.

    And full disclosure: I'm one of those recent Peloton buyers – my fiancée and I purchased a Peloton, which happened to arrive about two weeks before I got to test out SoulCycle's at-home bike. To be clear, our purchase wasn't out of some massive loyalty to Peloton. In fact, we'd never ridden a real one and my fiancée was previously a regular attendee of Soul classes. We simply live in a small NYC apartment and wanted a way to workout at home. We eventually purchased the Peloton after doing research and feeling more comfortable buying an expensive product from a company solely focused on the at-home experience.

    On to the obvious question(Opens in a new tab): Which do I like better? After riding the SoulCycle for a few weeks, I'd say it's a really good product, but, in my opinion, Peloton does lots of things about ten percent better. Its pedaling is smoother, the bike is sturdier, and it's easier to adjust settings between multiple riders. Peloton's user interface is better, its backlog of classes is far more robust, and its filming style/instruction is better geared to the at-home rider versus a person in the studio. I'd also argue Peloton gives you a harder workout compared to SoulCycle because its focus is on material, numerical goals compared.

    Phew, OK, that's out of the way. This is a SoulCycle review, after all, even if the Peloton comparisons are inevitable. While I've shared the gist of my impression of the SoulCycle bike, let's dig a bit deeper.

    My mini spin studio in my one-bedroom apartment. Not pictured: Me standing on my bed to take this photo. Credit: Tim Marcin / Mashable

    As close as you'll get to a SoulCycle studio without being there

    I rode the SoulCycle bike nearly every day since getting it, testing out a dozen or so rides. Rides came in a range of difficulty and lasted from 20 to 90 minutes. The difficulty isn't really about how hard the pedaling is, but rather the level of choreography. If you've done a studio Soul class, then you know it's full of movements: tapping your butt back, dipping, pushups, hands in and out, etc. It can be a lot, so if you're brand new to that style of riding, it's easiest to dip your toes before diving headlong into the dancing.

    But that actually might the SoulCycle bike's best selling point. Soul has its own brand of cycling, and if it appeals to you, there's nothing else like it.

    Peloton, for instance, focuses intently on your pedal strokes, there's constant direction from the instructor regarding your speed and resistance, and each ride has a "output" score to let you know how hard you worked. I personally enjoy that and have found the constant numbers a useful motivation tool. However, that's not for everyone! There are some Peloton instructors who borrow from Soul a bit, but there it is still nothing like SoulCycle. Not even close. Peloton is more about cycling, whereas Soul is its own brand of spinning and dancing.

    A quick GIF of what a class looks like. Credit: Soulcycle

    And to be clear: I'm not criticizing SoulCycle. The experience can be really fun. For instance, I thoroughly enjoyed my local studio's Emo Night ride with my favorite instructor (shouts to Sam Bilinkas(Opens in a new tab)) before the pandemic hit. And, in a post vaccine world, I could see myself going back despite owning an at-home bike.

    SoulCycle's at-home bike is clearly aimed at those Soul diehards. It's still a great workout and they really did their damndest to create the studio vibe at home.

    For instance:

    • The rides are filmed cinematically. The camera angle changes and scans through a small room of riders.

    • The lighting in the room shifts and changes, perhaps not as often a real Soul ride, but enough to give you that vibe.

    • Rather than focus on numbers, Soul at home, as in studio, focuses on staying on beat with the music. The goal is some form of collective movement. It's supposed to be a workout together, even if through a screen. This can be really helpful if you want to really lose yourself in the ride and forget you're riding at all.

    • You're going to spend a lot of the class out of the saddle. That's a hallmark of SoulCycle and the at-home experience is no different. Your ass is up and you're likely struggling to keep up with the choreo while keeping the pedals turning.

    • The classes hit every beat you get in studio. Different instructors create different vibes — you'll settle into who you like — but they definitely try to keep you motivated and inspired. You're going to get that proselytizing.

    • The instructor is on a raised platform, surround by candles and there's a (very small) class. That feels pretty true to an in-person ride.

    I contest Peloton (and maybe other bikes I haven't tried) give you a better workout. It pushes you to go harder, to chase down your previous performances. But, to be honest, some days I was just really tired. Daily riding, coupled with work and a pandemic, left me drained. It was kind of nice that SoulCycle allowed me to ride without seeing, in dire numeric terms, how much worse my performance was. Some days getting on the bike is about all you can manage and that's fine. That's something that Soul clearly wanted to drill home.

    The bike itself

    Let's get this out of the way: The bike ain't cheap. It starts at $2,500(Opens in a new tab), which does not include the $40 per month you'll need to pay for the Variis membership that powers the classes. To be fair, that membership comes(Opens in a new tab) with lots of other useful workouts and classes you can do at home, but we're talking about the bike here. And now through November 30 there's a holiday bundle(Opens in a new tab) that will throw-in a Theragun massager, weights, a mat, and a candle for free.

    For comparison's sake, the first-generation Peloton(Opens in a new tab) — the one I have — starts at $1895 and does a fair number of things better. The newest Peloton, which added features like a rotating screen, more speakers, and auto-adjusting resistance starts at $2,495.

    As a now frequent at-home cycler, here are a few takeaways about the bike:

    • The ride is great. There's no comparison between the magnetic(Opens in a new tab) resistance to a cheap alternative that uses a brake pad, well there's simply no comparison. It's just much better (and it should be, considering the price). There's a little bit more feedback — almost like you're powering a fan — than the smoother ride of a Peloton or some other spinning bikes. The feedback can be nice on lower resistance settings, but after lots of rides on both, I prefer a smoother ride overall.

    • The bike looks pretty good. It's mostly matte-black with a touch of gray design around the flywheel. There's certainly uglier workout equipment.

    • The bike's footprint is pretty small. I live in a one-bedroom New York apartment and there was no trouble fitting it.

    • The resistance wheel is easy to adjust and smooth, but inexact. You're instructed to give a turn here or a touch there. But there is no exact way to know what you're set at.

    • The bike is a bit louder than you might expect. The flywheel itself whirs a bit and the bike can creak with your movement. That being said, we have a downstairs neighbor and got no complaints, so it is by no means wildly noisy. The speakers are solid and my bluetooth headphones connected with ease, which I had to use because I love loud music and we have neighbors.

    • Still overall the bike is pretty sturdy and it's adjustable to work comfortably with most body types. The adjustments are made with classic, pin-goes-in-hole knobs. It's fine, but (sorry to bring up Peloton again) I prefer the Peloton system, which uses a vice-grip of sorts that allows you close at any spot, not just at assigned pinholes.

    • The screen is large and has a clear image. This is pretty much the standard for a good at-home bike, but it's worth mentioning.

    • The user experience on the screen is mostly fine but has janky moments. It would lag at times and it's not always super-easy to search through classes to find what you're looking forward. These problems just shouldn't exist with something so expensive.

    • I had an instance where the WiFi connection kicked during a live ride (despite my phone remaining connected) and you often have to pedal for a bit to reconnect the device that tracks your riding stats. Every once in a while the status bar or volume displays wouldn't swipe in and out of view despite my efforts. These are minor inconveniences, but they exist.

    • Unlike Peloton, the SoulCycle at-home bike has an option to do a non-instructed free ride where you can stream TV. Right now, it's limited to Disney Plus and Netflix. I found this to be a fun feature for cooling down or taking a relaxing ride. You can pedal along leisurely while watching The Office for the 1,000th time. I have really fast internet but the stream would still sometimes be a little blurry, but it wasn't awful.

    In short: It's a really good machine. It's pretty sleek looking, although I'd argue it has a bit bulkier profile than the Peloton. I can't tell you how to spend $2,500 — that's a lot of cash — but if you were a Soul person in the Before Times, then you will not be disappointed by this bike. It's effectively the same, which means it's quite nice.

    What's lacking

    SoulCycle is new to the at-home game. The brand's whole thing — the reason it's been compared to a cult — is the vibe at the workouts, the communal feeling that inspires people to come back again and again. You can take a spinning class anywhere but a SoulCycle class, for better or worse depending on your taste, is distinct.

    SoulCycle retrofitted an at-home product to its studio offering, whereas something like Peloton built its product to primarily be used in the home.

    That in mind, SoulCycle's at-home product has some hiccups. Try as you might, at-home will never fully be in-studio. That's not Soul's fault but it's just a fact.

    Peloton, for instance, has focused its spinning on the person at home. Instructors call out milestone rides and give specific numbers to hit. The screen displays your speed and resistance compared to what the instructor asked for, and the app tracks your personal-record rides.

    Soul, on the other had, displays your speed and power but there are no specific benchmarks to hit. I like having benchmarks to chase, others might not. The instructors at SoulCycle are good. But I found them often talking to the riders in the room, rather than me at home. Peloton instructors talk right to the camera, the shot zoomed into them so it's like they're talking directly to you. SoulCycle often tries to place to you in the studio, the camera sweeping around, the instructor developing rapport with the riders in the room. That's all well and good, but to be honest I didn't much care about that riders in the room or feeling like I was in the middle row.

    A sample of what an at-home Soul Cycle homescreen looks like. Credit: Soulcycle

    SoulCycle's product is incredibly new, which means the library of classes is only a few hundred deep. Peloton, for instance, has thousands and thousands of classes that range from five to ninety minutes long. And while you can filter at-home SoulCycle rides by music type, instructor, and difficulty, I missed being able to see what kind of ride I was signing up for. Soul classes are titled new-agey things "Just Feel It" or "Stay Present." I often found myself wondering OK but what does that mean? Is it an interval ride, a climb?

    Live Soul rides had a few hiccups as well. While riding at an assigned time, the studio live-streamed to your bike, is pretty neat, they're not super frequent(Opens in a new tab). And the experience isn't finely tuned just yet. Again, the instructors sometimes focused more on the people they could see than the hundreds out in the internet ether. One live class I took, the instructor started the class by tiredly putting his shoes on, facing away from the camera. Another class ended before the 45-minute mark it was supposed to close, so I had to sit around and wait a few minutes for the stream to automatically end in order for it to be saved to my profile.

    Here's a picture of my ride in the middle of a live class. Excuse the blurriness, it was a fast picture during a long, tiring ride. Credit: Tim Marcin / Mashable

    Peloton also really sells its leaderboard system, which stacks you up against every other rider in the class. SoulCycle lets you see how many people are taking the class, but you're not competing. That's a huge plus for some, a drawback for others. To be fair, these were not huge problems, but were nonetheless hiccups on a very expensive bike.

    The TL;DR

    The SoulCycle at-home bike is a good, if pricey, product that might be indispensable for the true Soul diehards out there. I enjoyed riding the bike. Ultimately, I felt that if I'm going to pony up that much cash, then the Peloton is better at too many things to justify buying the SoulCycle bike. But that might be more a question of what you want out of a ride, then anything the Soul bike does wrong.