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Airbnb freshens up home categories and adds host setup tools

2023-03-19 06:18:33 author:dointy.com
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Airbnb freshens up home categories and adds host setup tools

Airbnb is prioritizing the vital expansion of its accommodation categories and the experience of hosts, both existing and new.

Airbnb freshens up home categories and adds host setup tools(图1)

A fresh batch of features, announced today as part of the company's winter release(Opens in a new tab), include additional building types, namely Hanoks — traditional Korean homes constructed of natural materials — and new categories including "trending", "top of the world" (homes around 10,000 feet above sea level), and "play" (houses with basketball courts, game rooms, miniature golf, and water slides). These extra categories will allow hosts and their homes to be discovered more easily, while also allowing guests to "find hidden gems", as Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk puts it.

"From a business perspective, it's helping us to better utilize our inventory. It's a way to help make sure that all the homes are getting a fair share of bookings," he tells Mashable. "And from a community perspective, this can be a driver of the economy, Spreading tourism over a broader, geographic footprint and allowing more communities to benefit from from tourism."

The most significant of these updates is "adapted", a new category for homes with wheelchair access and verified step-free paths into the home, bedroom, and bathroom. Accuracy on these listings is important, and Airbnb worked with spatial data company Matterport(Opens in a new tab) for the scanning process of these homes. "It's always been very important to us to be inclusive," says Blecharczyk.

New categories in AirBnb. Credit: AirBnb.

Amongst the company's other updates is expanded AirCover for hosts and the introduction of Airbnb Setup, a new way to get people started transforming their homes into accommodation on the platform. This is especially important, Blecharczyk tells Mashable, "in this time of economic uncertainty".

"We know that hosting is really important economically to a lot of people on the platform. We also know there's a lot of other people out there who probably could benefit from the extra income," he said in a Zoom interview, saying that the company recognizes the "great deal of trust" it takes to place a home on Airbnb.

The setup feature will streamline this process, incorporating guidance from Superhosts(Opens in a new tab), Airbnb's top-rated and most-experienced hosts. First time users can chat with a designated Superhost over audio, video, or messaging. This is intended to ease any anxiety and cater to any uncertainty. There are already 1,500 Superhosts in over 80 countries signed up to the program already. Blecharczyk says they are eager to share their knowledge, noting that, "Hospitality is inherently about sharing information and welcoming people."

The new 'Hanok' category platforms global housing. Credit: AirBnb.

New hosts can also select to house experienced guests for the first stay, which would mean a guest with at least three stays and a good track record. The company has also expanded its top-to-bottom damage protection for hosts, primarily tripling it from $1 million to $3 million, while also expanding protection to include cars and boats.

First-time hosts have new options. Credit: Airbnb

"[AirCover] is something that every host qualifies for and I think it's really an example of how we continue to kind of lead the industry," Blecharczyk says. "We want to continue to innovate in terms of how we can build confidence in, people hosting."

The new updates to AirBnb — Setup, AirCover, and its expanded categories — will begin rolling out worldwide next week.

When asked about Airbnb's growth in relation to the current economy, Blecharczyk recalls how the company grew and adapted during the pandemic, something that Airbnb's CEO Brian Chesky spoke to Mashable about last year. Blecharczyk echoed Chesky's sentiments, saying this time is "actually an opportunity for Airbnb to really show our unique value propositions," citing their range of price points and additional offerings as examples.

"Whatever happens in the future from an economic standpoint, people still are going to want to travel," he says.

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    (图1)

    The scene unfolded outside the White House shortly after 6:30 p.m. ET on Monday. What had been a peaceful protest in Lafayette Park descended into chaos as police officers turned violent and deployed tear gas and flash-bangs. A short time later Trump spoke to the nation(Opens in a new tab) from the Rose Garden, where he threatened to invoke the Insurrection Act, which would allow him to use(Opens in a new tab) the U.S. military to stop riots and protests across the country.

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    Demonstrators kneel in front of law enforcement during a protest in downtown Washington, DC. Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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    Donald Trump Jr. tweet bunker Credit: Mashable screenshot

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    US President Donald Trump holds up a bible in front of St John's Episcopal church after walking across Lafayette Park from the White House in Washington, DC on June 1, 2020. - US President Donald Trump was due to make a televised address to the nation on Monday after days of anti-racism protests against police brutality that have erupted into violence. The White House announced that the president would make remarks imminently after he has been criticized for not publicly addressing in the crisis in recent days. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) / ALTERNATE CROP (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images) Credit: AFP via Getty Images
    US President Donald Trump holds up a Bible outside of St John's Episcopal church across Lafayette Park in Washington, DC on June 1, 2020. - US President Donald Trump was due to make a televised address to the nation on Monday after days of anti-racism protests against police brutality that have erupted into violence. The White House announced that the president would make remarks imminently after he has been criticized for not publicly addressing in the crisis in recent days. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images) Credit: AFP via Getty Images

    If you'd like to help support protesters fighting for justice for George Floyd, here is a helpful resource.

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  • Seth Rogen has a blunt method of tackling All Lives Matter commenters on Instagram

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  • Grindr has removed its controversial ethnicity filters

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    (图1)

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    In order to make change, we must first understand how we got here. Here are 11 racial justice documentaries you can stream right now to learn more.

    1. LA ’92(Opens in a new tab)

    Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin’s 2017 documentary would be chilling enough without its 2020 context. It recounts the stories of Rodney King, who was brutally beaten by police officers, and Latasha Harlins, a teenager who was fatally shot in a convenience store. King’s attackers were found not guilty despite damning video evidence, and in the days after, fires, riots, and looting ravaged Los Angeles. The film frames the 1992 unrest with footage of the 1965 Watts riots, highlighting the disturbing parallels.

    Where to watch: Netflix(Opens in a new tab)

    2. 13th(Opens in a new tab)

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    Where to watch: Netflix(Opens in a new tab) or YouTube(Opens in a new tab)

    3. 3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets(Opens in a new tab)

    Marc Silver’s 2015 documentary recounts the 2012 death of teenager Jordan Davis, who was shot multiple times in a parking lot while listening to music with friends. His attacker was found guilty of first-degree murder, but only after a mistrial and extensive media coverage, which the film follows along with Davis’ friends, family, and trial proceedings.

    Where to watch: HBO(Opens in a new tab)

    4. I Am Not Your Negro(Opens in a new tab)

    From the civil rights movement to Black Lives Matter to representation in Hollywood, I Am Not Your Negro examines the modern Black experience in America through the last writings of James Baldwin and his correspondences with Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Medgar Evers.

    Where to watch: Amazon(Opens in a new tab)

    5. Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland(Opens in a new tab)

    When 28-year-old Sandra Bland was arrested for a traffic violation and subsequently found hanged in her jail cell days later, a two-year legal ordeal began. Filmmakers Kate Davis and David Heilbroner document the family’s battle with law enforcement while sharing Bland’s own video blogs and history of activism. Though her death was ruled a suicide, it remains surrounded by questions and the undeniable fact that it can’t be undone.

    Where to watch: HBO(Opens in a new tab)

    6. Baltimore Rising(Opens in a new tab)

    The Wire’s Sonja Sohn documents protests and unrest in Baltimore after Freddie Gray died due to injuries sustained after an arrest. While the six officers who arrested Gray await a verdict, the eyes of the nation fall on Baltimore, where lines of division become clearer than ever.

    Where to watch: HBO(Opens in a new tab)

    7. Whose Streets?(Opens in a new tab)

    Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis direct this 2017 documentary about the death of Michael Brown and subsequent uprising in Ferguson, Missouri. The officer who shot Brown was not indicted, and eventually cleared of all charges and ruled to have been acting in self defense.

    Where to watch: Hulu(Opens in a new tab)

    8. True Justice: Bryan Stevenson's Fight for Equality(Opens in a new tab)

    Director Peter Kunhardt spotlights Alabama attorney Bryan Stevenson (also the subject of Warner Bros.’ Just Mercy, streaming for free(Opens in a new tab) for the month of June), who has made it his life’s mission to highlight and combat racial inequality in the U.S. justice system. Stevenson regularly advocates for clients who are socially or economically disadvantaged or already unfairly affected by incarceration. In interviews, he himself outlines the United States’ history of racist legal inequality and his own efforts to challenge it.

    Where to watch: HBO(Opens in a new tab)

    9. Time: The Kalief Browder Story(Opens in a new tab)

    This six-episode docuseries recounts how 16-year-old Kalief Browder was accused of stealing a backpack, but went on to spend three years in prison because his family couldn’t afford his bail and the system had no place for him. Browder spent two of his three years in solitary confinement on Rikers Island without ever being convicted of a crime, and died by suicide two years after his release. Each episode focuses on a different aspect of the incarceration, from the system to the witness to Rikers itself to what life looked like for Browder after his release.

    Where to watch: Netflix(Opens in a new tab)

    10. Teach Us All(Opens in a new tab)

    Decades after the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education, Sonia Lowman’s documentary covers how segregation, though illegal, persists in the American school system through demographic inequality, specifically in Little Rock, New York City, and Los Angeles.

    Where to watch: Netflix(Opens in a new tab)

    11. (Opens in a new tab)Strong Island(Opens in a new tab)

    Strong Island is director Yance Ford's examination of his own family and the murder of his brother William. William Ford was unarmed when he was shot by a white employee at an auto shop and dead before even reaching a hospital. His shooter was not indicted, and Ford's film examines the family's ongoing pain over 20 years after justice failed William.

    Where to watch: Netflix(Opens in a new tab)

  • Wyatt Cenacs police-focused Problem Areas is now streaming for free on YouTube

    Wyatt Cenacs police-focused Problem Areas is now streaming for free on YouTube

    The first season of the HBO show Wyatt Cenac's Problem Areas is now available to watch for free on YouTube(Opens in a new tab).

    (图1)

    While Cenac brings a healthy dose of his comedic talents to this show, it's still a very serious series talking about very serious topics. The ten-episode season primarily tackles policing in America, from murders of people of color by law enforcement officers, to the infrastructures that facilitate these oft-repeated heartbreaking and rage-inducing instances of police brutality and abuse of power.

    As people are coming together to voice their dissent against countless injustices perpetrated by police forces of the United States and police forces around the world, Problem Areas is a great source of information about the realities of what's going on.

    Cenac talks to all kinds of sources across this poignant season of television, from community activists to politicians to police themselves. It gives a well-rounded look not only at specific issues like the murder of Philando Castile by a police officer in Minnesota, but also shows how these different perspectives feed into the conversations around these broader topics.

    The first episode of the show is a great entry point into the conversation, beginning with conversations around the murder of Castile and how police are trained.

    This is a moment in history where information and context are paramount to understanding these huge demonstrations and the systems that these demonstrators are up against. For those privileged enough to not experience these issues firsthand, or to feel like they don't need to give it their attention, this show may be a great, easily digestible starting point.

    You cannot watch Problem Areas and feel like you can ignore what's going on in the world. It begins with a list of headlines about police murdering black people for absolutely no reason other than a false perception of threat. Cenac points out that these things keep happening over and over and over.

    That first episode aired over two years ago. To see that we're still seeing this time and time again, that people continue to fear for their lives and lose their lives to police officers, that the streets are packed with people right now who won't let the police get away with their abuses, is to understand how these discussions about and illumination of these detrimental systems is still so important.

    The cliché would be to say that Problem Areas is more relevant than ever. The sad thing is it's not. It was just as relevant at the time it first aired. Its points were relevant long before it ever aired, long before Cenac was born. It continues to be relevant and will likely continue to be relevant long after we're all dead, unless the systems in place are ripped out from their roots and replaced with something else entirely that doesn't rely on violence, oppression, and racism to impact its communities.

  • How to blur peoples faces in protest photos — and why you should do it

    How to blur peoples faces in protest photos — and why you should do it

    With mass protests taking place across the United States and abroad, social media safety is more important than ever.

    (图1)

    Enormous crowds of people are gathering in cities around the country to protest racism and police brutality in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, last week. Photos and videos of these protests serve the very important purpose of documenting these actions as well as exposing police mistreatment of protestors. Posting them publicly, however, comes with its own risks.

    For the safety of those involved, if you're going to take photos at protests, you should consider blurring or pixelating the faces of those protesting before sharing them with the world.

    Thankfully, there are some easy ways to make this happen.

    Why you should blur photos

    In a word: Retaliation. It's no secret that the federal government likes to surveil anti-racism protests through social media. The Intercept(Opens in a new tab) and Vice(Opens in a new tab) both reported on government monitoring of protest movements through social media after the killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland, respectively.

    Buzzfeed News(Opens in a new tab) reported Tuesday that the DEA has been granted authority to collect intelligence on protestors during this current wave of uprisings, too. This is all to say that anyone who shows up to a protest and has their face photographed is at risk of being tracked down by authorities if they feel so inclined.

    Since the entire point of these protests is to end the unjust treatment of minorities by police, and end systemic racism more generally, it stands to reason that you should do what you can to protect those you photograph. You can still demonstrate the enormity of the moment without putting people exercising their First Amendment rights in harm's way.

    How to blur photos

    The good news is this isn't so tough to do on your own, even if you aren't a Photoshop wizard. A cursory Google search reveals plenty of free websites that can do it automatically or give you the tools to do it manually in a hurry. Facepixelizer(Opens in a new tab) is just one I found that seems to work pretty well. Encrypted messaging app Signal is also adding a blur tool.

    The fine folks over at Motherboard(Opens in a new tab) recommended Image Scrubber(Opens in a new tab), developed by Everest Pipkin, for covering up faces in protest photos. Image Scrubber is great because, aside from letting you easily and manually blur out faces on either a computer or a phone, it scrubs metadata from photos, too. Photos you take contain hidden data such as the date, time, and potentially even location in which they were snapped. It's possible(Opens in a new tab) for someone to get that information if they really want it.

    Load a photo into Image Scrubber and the first thing it does is list this data in plain text form. It also gives you the option to nuke it from your scrubbed photo. To test it out, I put a photo of my family's cat Max into the tool. Here is Max staring blankly into the distance, generally unaware of the world around him, as usual.

    Max, unscrubbed. Credit: barb perry

    After about two seconds of painting over Max's face with Image Scrubber's Microsoft Paint-like tools, the cat can no longer be recognized. It doesn't look professional, but it doesn't have to.

    Max, scrubbed. Credit: alex perry / mashable

    It only takes a few seconds to rid a photo of valuable metadata and blur out a face. Given the intensity of police response to these protests after less than a week, it can't hurt to do this with any photos you plan on sharing on your social feeds.

    Even if everyone at a protest is acting well within their rights, they can still face retaliation. We've seen peaceful protestors get tear gassed(Opens in a new tab) for the sake of a presidential photo op just this week. It can't hurt to go the extra mile to protect strangers you photograph.

  • The Iraqi man who threw his shoes at George W. Bush is a Twitter hero for todays protesters

    The Iraqi man who threw his shoes at George W. Bush is a Twitter hero for todays protesters

    "Hope you know you're an actual icon and we love you," wrote Twitter user @StreaamLightsup to Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi. "This video is my daily dose of serotonin."

    (图1)

    The video was one many Americans know on sight — when al-Zaidi threw his shoes at former President Bush in 2008.

    @StreaamLightsup's tweet is just one of many praising al-Zaidi, who often issues charming responses of support. He's using the platform, where he has more than 56,000 followers, to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and the protesters calling out police brutality in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

    The shoeing incident(Opens in a new tab), as it's referred to on Wikipedia, occurred at a press conference at Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's palace. The Iraq War had dragged on for five years at that point and ravaged the country. As al-Zaidi later explained in an op-ed in The Guardian(Opens in a new tab), his duties as a journalist required him to report on daily tragedies. He would enter ruined homes, hear the screams of orphans — and he pledged to seek vengeance.

    When he saw his opportunity to do so that day, he took it.

    "This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog," al-Zaidi yelled as he threw the first show. "This is from the widows, the orphans, and those who were killed in Iraq," he added as he threw the second.

    Al-Zaidi spent nine months(Opens in a new tab) in jail for the act, where he said he was tortured. In his Guardian essay, al-Zaidi explained that he threw the shoe to defend his country. "When I threw the shoe in the face of the criminal, George Bush, I wanted to express my rejection of his lies, his occupation of my country, my rejection of his killing my people," al-Zaidi wrote.

    In the piece, al-Zaidi denied being a hero — but over a decade after "the shoe," his legacy as a hero has blossomed on social media. "Dude who threw the shoe at George W. Bush has done more for the betterment of America than most of its politicians and a huge segment of its actual populace," wrote another user on Twitter, @thankfulreact69(Opens in a new tab). "Absolute king shit."

    It's a sentiment many on social media share, especially after al-Zaidi publicly threw his support towards the current protests. Additionally, al-Zaidi has dedicated his freedom watch to Floyd.

    "We stand in solidarity with these protest[ers] because they are oppressed," said al-Zaidi in an interview with Mashable. He said he'd been aware of the protests since George Floyd's death, and knew they would escalate. "We in Iraq have suffered from American power and authority since the occupation of the US military in 2003 so all the support, sympathy, and solidarity with them."

    Not only are police inciting violence(Opens in a new tab) on peaceful protesters, but they're also targeting journalists(Opens in a new tab). As a journalist himself, al-Zaidi said he stands in solidarity with them, and that the police are violating their rights.

    He also said he knew from the beginning of Trump's presidency that he was spiteful of journalists. "Who[ever] hates journalists hates the truth," he said. "And Trump is the most untruthful person, so he is hostile to journalists because they convey the truth and he wants… the journalists to convey his lies."

    SEE ALSO: Facebook engineer resigns in protest of Zuckerberg's bankrupt morality

    Al-Zaidi pointed out that when protests erupted in Iraq(Opens in a new tab) last year, it didn't get nearly the same attention as the current U.S. protests. "In Iraq seven months ago we had demonstrations and more than 700 demonstrators were martyred by the Iraqi police without the world moving," he said.

    Regardless, al-Zaidi isn't hesitant to show his solidarity with demonstrators in the US and around the world. In fact, he sees his fame as a responsibility to do so. "Since people listen to your words," he said, "you must [show] solidarity with the people and the oppressed wherever they are. When there were demonstrations in America, solidarity with them [is] everywhere in the world."

    Al-Zaidi's advice to young protestors and activists is to keep peaceful demonstrations. "The peaceful weapon does not belong to the arrogant, dictatorial, and oppressive states of freedom," he said. "Instead, it has weapons, prisons, police, and media."

    Peaceful "weapons," al-Zaidi continued, are the best and longest-lasting weapons. "The authorities do not possess and do not want" these peaceful methods, he said, "so keep the peace as much as possible until your revolution triumphs."

  • K-pop fans are flooding QAnon hashtags with memes and fancams

    K-pop fans are flooding QAnon hashtags with memes and fancams

    K-pop stans are legion and cannot be stopped.

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    Just about a week after overwhelming a Dallas police "snitch" app with memes and fancams, K-pop fans are now flooding QAnon hashtags with fancams, videos, and memes. It's beautiful.

    After the hacker group Anonymous called for spamming QAnon hashtags, K-pop stans rushed in to do their part.

    If you don't know anything about K-pop — Korean pop bands — just know they have massive amounts of fans who hold the power to make literally everything go viral. The most notable band is BTS, whom you must have heard of.

    But, in the wake of mass protests against racism and police brutality, those fans have channeled their power for good. They've done the nearly unthinkable: stopped tweeting about their faves to ensure Black Lives Matter hashtags rose to the top of trending. And again, they also spammed a Dallas police department app aimed at identifying protesters with such force that it took down the app.

    And if you don't know anything about QAnon. Well, bless your good fortune. But basically, it's a very (Opens in a new tab)powerful, pro-Trump(Opens in a new tab), absolutely bonkers, winding conspiracy theory — the seeds of which were planted by a Reddit user nicknamed Q — that the president is actually in control of a plan to up-end the so-called "deep state" and expose(Opens in a new tab) countless powerful pedophiles.

    If you search common QAnon hashtags on Twitter, like #qanon and #WWG1WGA — which stands for "where we go one, we go all" — there is some typical conspiracy nonsense but also lots and lots of K-pop stuff.

    It just goes to show you: QAnon might be a powerful online conspiracy, but K-pop stans are a powerful online force with the ability to overwhelm conversations and change the dialogue.

    Of course in the wrong hands, this sort of power can be really dangerous, considering it's the sort of tactic employed by Russian bots(Opens in a new tab) during the 2016 election cycle.

  • These moments from CNNs Sesame Street town hall on racism will give you hope

    These moments from CNNs Sesame Street town hall on racism will give you hope

    On Saturday morning, CNN hosted a joint town hall for kids and families with Sesame Street, called Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism(Opens in a new tab).

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    Racism and police brutality are difficult subjects to broach with adults, let alone children. But given the global protests, these issues are — and should be — impossible to ignore. This goes for children, who see what's going on either through media or their parents. In order to adequately explain these complex issues, it's necessary to talk about them even if it's uncomfortable.

    But how do you talk to children about something as ugly as racism without ruining their innocence? Guests like Beverly Daniel Tatum, author of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?(Opens in a new tab), fielded questions like these from children, parents, and Sesame Street characters. Here are some of the highlights:

    Children may be wondering why people are out in the streets at all. Elmo's dad Louie explained that it's an effort to end racism:

    Eight-year-old Xavier said that his nana marched in the 1960s, and asked why we still need to "do this again and again." A lot of us adults wonder the same thing. Sesame Street cast members Roscoe Orman (as Gordon Robinson) and Sonia Manzano (as Maria) discussed the importance of protesting:

    Keedron Bryant, the 12-year-old who went viral for his powerful song "I Just Want to Live,"(Opens in a new tab) visited Sesame Street to discuss the song:

    Some moments of the special were heartbreaking, like 9-year-old Saniya asking what to do when she encountered racism:

    The finale was especially touching. CNN hosts Van Jones and Erica Hill along with Sesame Street characters pledged to do better. "We can do better, we must do better, we will do better," Jones, Hill, Big Bird, and Elmo said in union:

    The town hall didn't dive deep into these issues; there's only so much that can be said in an hour. Hopefully, though, there will be more town halls like this one — and more importantly, hopefully this encourages parents to have these difficult conversations with their children.

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  • Snowboarding analyst slams Olympic judges in viral rant over Ayumu Hiranos triple cork scores

    Snowboarding analyst slams Olympic judges in viral rant over Ayumu Hiranos triple cork scores

    Japanese snowboarder Ayumu Hirano made history today, becoming the first person to ever land a triple cork on the halfpipe at the Winter Olympics. Executed during his second run in the Men's halfpipe final, Hirano's practically perfect performance had NBC's snowboarding analyst in raptures, confidently predicting a score of 98. 

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    But in a highly controversial decision, the judges only granted Hirano a 91.75, leaving him in second place at the end of the run.

    "Uhh, what?" commentator Todd Richards exclaimed when Hirano's score was announced. "What? Is there a mistake? How did that — wait a minute. There's no way. There's no way! A 91.75?"

    A former U.S. Olympian and seven-time Winter X Games medalist, Richards has served as a snowboarding commentator at NBC Sports for the past three Winter Olympics. So it's safe to say he probably knows what he's talking about.

    "As far as I’m concerned, the judges just grenaded all their credibility(Opens in a new tab)," Richards continued. "That run — I’ve been doing this for so long. So long. I know what a good run looks like. I know the ingredients of a winning run. I know when I see the best run that’s ever been done in the halfpipe. Try to tell me where you’re deducting from this run. It’s unbelievable that this is even happening — it’s a travesty, to be completely honest with you. I am irate right now."

    SEE ALSO: Yuzuru Hanyu didn't land the first ever quadruple axel at the Olympics, but Twitter still loves him

    Hirano's historic triple cork wasn't the only impressive element in his extremely clean run, so it's hard to know why his score wasn't as high as Richards expected. Video of Richards' disbelief quickly went viral(Opens in a new tab), with everyone from fans to casual observers to a few other snowboarders(Opens in a new tab) all decrying the judge's call — as well as enjoying the passionate commentary.

    Hirano later landed another triple cork in his third run, earning a gold-winning score of 96.00 and restoring some justice to the world of snowboarding. But getting a score of 98 on his road to victory would have no doubt made the 23-year-old's first Olympic gold much sweeter.

    "I did what I wanted to do right at the end — I wasn't able to accept the second run's score," said Hirano after his gold-winning run(Opens in a new tab). "But I managed to express my anger well at the end."

  • The year of Be(ing)Real

    The year of Be(ing)Real

    At the beginning of the year, if you saw ⚠️ pop up on your screen you were probably anticipating an emergency alert. Now, it means something totally different in the public consciousness: You have two minutes to take a photo. 

    Over the course of 2022, BeReal, the photo-sharing app that gives you a minuscule window to take a photo from both your front and back cameras, charmed social media users jaded by Instagram and TikTok with its simplicity and aim for authenticity. Even after surpassing 53 million downloads(Opens in a new tab), achieving the mainstream mark of approval (a Saturday Night Live sketch), becoming Apple's top iPhone app(Opens in a new tab) of the year, and being cloned by its competitors, it hasn't made any major updates, which is refreshing in an age when every social media platform is trying to be everything for every user. 

    SEE ALSO: BeReal is what 'casual Instagram' wants to be

    Much like Wordle, BeReal had everyone jumping on the bandwagon. Just glance around social media when its daily notification randomly strikes, and you can see the scope of the app's popularity. But as the novelty begins to fade, will BeReal last into the new year?

    As much as I delighted in seeing the mundanities of my friends' days, I stopped using the app at the end of October due to its overwhelming number of daily notifications. Not only does it alert you when it's time to post, but it also sends you notifications every time one of your friends posts late, inundating you with notifications for the rest of the day. I assumed that most of my peers would also gravitate away from the platform, but for a relatively simple app, people are coming back every day for different reasons. 

    While its intended purpose is for users to post within the 2-minute window, you can still post later in the day. You just can't see other people's photos until you post. Once BeReal started really gaining traction among Gen Z and millennial users this summer, I saw a shift in how people were using it. As more people joined the platform and BeReal circles became bigger, some users started taking their BeReals during the highlight of their day, rather than limiting themselves to the designated posting time. The change in the way people began posting on BeReal changed the "spontaneous" appeal of the app and sparked conversation that instead of a place for being real, BeReal was turning into every platform that came before it: A destination for showing the best version of yourself — a place to be fake.

    Used this way, BeReals, much like the 0.5 selfie, became fodder for photo dumps on Instagram and TikTok. BeReals became the new version of the selfie, with people clamoring to get memorable BeReals at concerts and with celebrities. It became a new way to go viral on other, more monetizable platforms. 

    SEE ALSO: BeReal is what 'casual Instagram' wants to be

    The most obvious reason to use BeReal is the community of the app and seeing what your friends are doing throughout the day. But one of its main features users keep returning to is "Memories." Similar to Snapchat, BeReal saves your previous posts to Memories and you can scroll back and see what you were doing every day that you posted. If you decide, like many, to use the app specifically for Memories, you can curate your posts to what you want to remember about each day and store all those moments together in one place. This application of BeReal is reminiscent of the app 1 Second Everyday

    Memories serves as a cool way to look back on your years, reflecting on all of the small moments you might have forgotten — especially when your camera roll is often cluttered with stuff like homework assignments, screenshots you sent a friend, and random photos.

    So while BeReal's initial charm might be waning, it's transforming into something else entirely: a new form of journaling in the modern age. With 2023 right around the corner, it's never too late to start.

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  • How BDSM helped me deal with sexual trauma

    How BDSM helped me deal with sexual trauma

    When we’re asked what looking after our mental health looks like, most of us recite the same answer by rote. Talking therapy, medication for those who need it, and then that nebulous concept of "self care," which nowadays means anything from journaling to eating well to buying expensive candles. But the reality is that no one’s mental health journey is going to look the same. Each person’s brain, trauma, and way of navigating the world is different and, as a result, individuals have long adopted more personalised ways of staying on top of their mental health, whether it’s exercise for stress or ice cold baths for anxiety. But for some, mental healing can come from a more unexpected place: the latex and leather of BDSM.

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    While I never thought it would work out this way, this has even been the case for me. Following a sexual assault in 2018 which happened on a busy street, one I still often pass, I found myself withdrawing from sex – feeling hugely disconnected from my body and partners, swallowing down the feeling of not wanting to be touched, counting down the time until any sexual encounter would stop in my head and sometimes crying uncontrollably afterwards. Even now, there are still times when I find intimacy so tough that I dissociate. For anyone who’s not sure what "dissociation" means in this context, let me explain. Basically, when I’m supposed to be "enjoying the moment" something bizarre occurs in my brain – it feels like I’ve extricated myself from my body and am floating, passively watching everything happening from the foot of the bed.  

    SEE ALSO: How do you have sex after sexual assault? 

    At the time, I never really wanted to talk about my experience in a formal way, but it would often come out as a jagged, hot-teared confession after one too many drinks. Probably, therapy would have been the answer (isn’t it always?) but I started looking for alternative solutions. Inspired by teenage years spent on Tumblr and a summer spent living and working in Berlin, where sex clubs were everywhere, I thought BDSM might be worth a shot. It was a whole culture celebrating around sex, one where all shame was left at the door and pleasure reigned supreme – what if it could help me work through some of baggage, I wondered. And as you’ve probably worked out by the title of this article, it was.  

    It was the fact that BDSM often involves a lot of up-front negotiations where you talk through and agree upon specific scenes or acts.

    But the bit that helped me? Well, it wasn’t even the sex. Instead, it was the fact that BDSM often involves a lot of up-front negotiations where you talk through and agree upon specific scenes or acts. In practice, this means that a) you spend a lot of time talking and b) you kind of know how everything is going to pan out before you even get started. This proved to be a major relief to me after the shock and trauma of what had happened to me previously. It was also a way to begin to slowly trust someone, knowing that we basically had a verbal contract in place, instead of having to dive-in to intimacy. According to my partners at the time, I could never "let go" during sex so it was a huge relief that BDSM presented a judgement-free space of calm and control – even if, as a sub, I was supposedly the one giving up control.

    Stripping away BDSM misconceptions

    Admittedly, it’s a stereotype that if you’ve suffered from trauma you might gravitate towards BDSM – particularly when you look at depictions of kink in pop culture. Whether it’s the sexual assault that dominatrix Tiffany experiences in Netflix’s Bonding or the childhood abuse that Christian Grey mentions in Fifty Shades of Grey, TV and film writers are more than a little complicit in spreading the preconception, via clunky dialogue, that you’ve got to have suffered trauma to be into kink. But does this have any rooting in real life? Well, away from our screens, research has found a link between child abuse(Opens in a new tab) and developing an interest in sadism or masochism later in life. It’s important to remember though that the research here is scant and the link is far from definitive. However, if it does exist, we need to interrogate the ways that we talk and think about this correlation. Rather than viewing a tendency towards BDSM as a "perversion" of "normal" sexuality, what if we saw BDSM rituals as a form of harm reduction, a coping mechanism, or even a type of therapy? 

    "While participating in BDSM, I was able to look deep within, learn about exactly what I enjoy and what I want, and communicate these things openly and frankly to my partners."

    And while BDSM might be particularly associated with people who have been through a specific type of trauma, it can be helpful to people of many varied experiences. This is the case of Prish, a 25-year-old non-binary person who gravitated towards kink after a childhood where their boundaries and needs weren’t listened to or respected. Having struggled with codependent relationships as a result, it was through BDSM that they were able to connect with their desires and learn how to communicate them. "While participating in BDSM, I was able to look deep within, learn about exactly what I enjoy and what I want, and communicate these things openly and frankly to my partners," they explain. "When these needs were listened to and respected, and when my pleasure was centred by the people who were domming me, this was incredibly healing." Ultimately, being able to express what they wanted sexually has had a much wider positive impact. "I felt more empowered than I’d ever felt in my whole life; like I finally had some control over getting what made me happy — and I was able to expand this into other aspects of my life."

    SEE ALSO: What is Shibari or Kinbaku? Everything you need to know about BDSM rope play.

    Here, we can see that BDSM is far from the tool of self-destruction that it’s often depicted as in the media. Instead, it can be a way of working through intimate struggles, both sexual and emotional, with people you trust. While for some, it can be a life-long practice, for others it can be something to dip in and out of or to only turn to in a time of need. And different scenes can have different emotional impacts. This is the case for 24-year-old Hannah who, reeling from a serious breakup, staged a life-changing kink encounter. After being involved in BDSM for several years, she began speaking to someone she knew from the scene – and they were able to act out a long-held fantasy of hers. "One thing he’d done and I’d always wanted to try was sexual hunting: think predator/prey play but IRL. We met up for a drink beforehand to discuss boundaries and then the date rolled around for us to do the deed," Hannah explains.

    On the day of the planned encounter, Hannah and her play partner met up in a forest and she was given a "head start" as part of the scenario. This, as she explains, was where an emotional transformation began. "I felt such an exhilarating rush from being chased, like I was running away from my problems," she says. "It was like I was stepping out of my skin and my sadness." As per their agreement, Hannah was then "caught" and they both had sex – leading her to an emotional breakthrough. "He asked me what my ex would think if he knew I was doing this and in that moment, I knew I didn’t care anymore. It was so cleansing and cathartic and it gave me the space and sexual confidence to move on with my life — I’ll always be grateful for it." 

    Both Prish and Hananh’s experiences focus on the emotional aspect of BDSM, its use as a tool that allowed them to reframe negative experiences and mindsets and reclaim power. While this is their personal experience, there’s even a fledgling line of research(Opens in a new tab) that backs it up, looking at how individuals are using kink as a form of trauma recovery. And it’s not too much of a stretch to see how BDSM sometimes mimics techniques seen in talking therapy – Gestalt therapy may even include "role playing" sessions, after all. But while we know that BDSM might be helpful to some people, is there a way to seek it as part of a recognised mental health treatment plan?

    How BDSM can be therapeutic

    Well, we’re a long way off from seeing BDSM listed as a fully-funded alternative therapy on the NHS website. However, some work has actually already started among mental health professionals willing to explore kink and the role it plays in people’s lives and emotional states. There are more and more kink-positive and BDSM-informed therapists out there and, excitingly, there’s even a growing number of BDSM therapists who combine traditional talking therapy with BDSM sessions. Among these is the conscious kink facilitator and qualified counsellor Divine Theratrix, who offers potential clients the option of  integrative talking therapy, somatic healing sessions and animal play classes in order to allow individuals to "get out of their head and into their body in playful and tactile ways."

    The beauty of BDSM is that it’s always been about connecting our physical and emotional selves.

    Also going by the name Lara, Divine Theratrix was first inspired to use BDSM as a tool in her work after thinking about how the mind impacts the body. "In addition to being trained as a traditional integrative therapist, I embarked on further studies into the relatively new field of somatic psychology and became convinced that touch could be a missing piece for some people on a journey of trauma healing," she explains. Somatic psychology focuses on how the body impacts the mind, and has been explored practically through somatic therapies which focus on the body. These techniques focus on regulation of your nervous system (which can become stuck in fight or flight responses) and on creating bodily awareness, and are particularly useful for people with trauma or PTSD.

    Obviously, there are plenty of different physical aspects to BDSM and you might not have thought before about how these might impact your brain, but they do. Take one of the most commonly known parts of BDSM: impact play, where your skin is hit with a hand, paddle or whip. While it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, scientists have shown that it has a positive impact on kinksters’ mental health – individuals may have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol after a kink session(Opens in a new tab)

    But if we step aside from all this technical stuff, the beauty of BDSM is that it’s always been about connecting our physical and emotional selves. Whether it’s the feel of latex on the skin or the psychological thrill of power play, kink connects us to our bodies, our instincts and allows us to fully embody our emotions. As Lara puts it: "When the mind and body work together, the learning tends to be more impactful."

  • YouTube is cracking down on abortion misinformation

    YouTube is cracking down on abortion misinformation

    YouTube announced on Twitter today that it will be removing content(Opens in a new tab) that includes instructions for unsafe abortion methods or false claims about abortion safety.

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    Claims will be evaluated against the company's existing misinformation policy(Opens in a new tab), which prohibits content that is manipulated or misattributed, promotes "dangerous remedies, cures, or substances" or "contradict[s] expert consensus on certain safe medical practices."

    SEE ALSO: How to help abortion funds and reproductive justice networks

    "Like all of our policies on health/medical topics, we rely on published guidance from health authorities," YouTube said in a tweet. "We prioritize connecting people to content from authoritative sources on health topics, and we continuously review our policies & products as real world events unfold."

    In an effort to provide users with access to authoritative sources, the platform will also begin displaying information panels under certain videos or search results related to abortion. These panels, which it has also implemented for topics like COVID-19, provide context and information from local and global health authorities.

    YouTube was criticized for its handling of abortion-related content as recently as April 2022, when a nearly 40-minute video framed as an investigative documentary from major creators the LaBrant Family compared abortion to the horrors of the Holocaust(Opens in a new tab). The video, which was made in collaboration with anti-abortion group Live Action and included interviews with only pro-life doctors and women, was criticized for its one-sided portrayal of the issue to the family's more than 13.1 million subscribers.

    Though YouTube demonetized the video, it is still available to watch on the site and, with 4.3 million views, is the platform's 15th most-watched video about abortion according to a YouTube search conducted today. Currently, an information panel underneath it citing the National Library of Medicine reads, "An abortion is a procedure to end a pregnancy. It uses medicine or surgery to remove the embryo or fetus and placenta from the uterus. The procedure is done by a licensed healthcare professional."

    YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki told Fortune(Opens in a new tab) in June that her personal views on abortion were that "women should have a choice when they become a mother... reproductive rights are human rights.” But when it comes to YouTube and "running a company that really focuses on free speech, we want to make sure that we’re enabling a broad set of opinions, that everyone has a right to express their point of view provided they meet our community guidelines.”(Opens in a new tab)

  • The Queen of Basketball director tells Biden bring Brittney Griner home during Oscars speech

    The Queen of Basketball director tells Biden bring Brittney Griner home during Oscars speech

    When Ben Proudfoot won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short for directing The Queen of Basketball — a documentary about Lusia "Lucy" Harris' accomplishments in the sport — he gave a shout out to current WNBA player Brittney Griner.

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    "If there is anyone out there that still doubts whether there is an audience for female athletes, let this academy award be the answer. Lucy Harris is not here tonight because she passed away before this film was nominated. But her family is here tonight so I'd ask you to please give your recognition to them," Proudfoot said of Harris, who was the first and only woman to be drafted into the NBA in 1977, during his acceptance speech. "And one last thing: President Biden, bring Brittney Griner home. Thank you. Long live the queen."

    Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and player for the Phoenix Mercury, was arrested on allegations of smuggling narcotics at a Moscow airport on Feb. 17, according to Russian authorities and CNN(Opens in a new tab). An official from the U.S. embassy in Moscow told CNN that Griner — an openly queer Black woman, which are two identities marginalized in Russia — is currently "in good condition." She faces up to a decade in prison in Russia.

    There's no current conditional terms to her release by the Russian government, meaning she is not currently publicly being considered a hostage. Griner's agent and the WNBA said they support her and are prioritizing her(Opens in a new tab) "swift and safe return to the United States." Russia's war in Ukraine only further complicates the issue.

    Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said(Opens in a new tab): "There’s only so much I can say given the privacy considerations at this point. Whenever an American is detained anywhere in the world, we of course stand ready to provide every possible assistance, and that includes in Russia."

    We'll see if Proudfoot's pressure at the Oscars has any impact on bringing Griner back.

  • Dads genius Zoom Halloween costume for his daughter is scary good

    Dads genius Zoom Halloween costume for his daughter is scary good

    We've already found the perfect 2020 Halloween decoration, but now, thanks to one extremely crafty dad, we've found the perfect 2020 Halloween costume, too.

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    If you're searching for a terrifying 2020-themed Halloween look we can think of no better costume than a Zoom meeting. This has been the year of Zoom fatigue and way too many video meetings that could have been emails. So why not pay tribute to the painful form of WFH communication with a costume?

    Still not convinced? Let this "killer" Zoom meeting costume that Greg Dietzenbach(Opens in a new tab) — a 42-year-old creative director for a creative design agency in Dubuque, Iowa — created for his 12-year-old daughter, Ada, convince you.

    The homemade Zoom costume depicts a virtual meeting with nine people (er, people and monsters) on the call. But here's the catch: Eight of the Zoom "attendees" are actually Dietzenbach's daughter. The center square, which is the hole for her head, shows her wearing the costume in real-time, but the really Halloween-y characters — the Invisible Man, Creature (Black Lagoon), Wolf Man, "Frank," Drac, Mummy, and Blair — are her as well. Dietzenbach took some photos of his daughter and edited them to make the Zoom squares.

    "Fortunately, I work for a company that builds corporate environments and museums so I had a large format printer at my disposal. I recreated the Zoom interface (adding subtle jokes like 666 Participants and instead of "End Meeting for All" it says "End Life") in Adobe Illustrator and transformed photos of my daughter into monsters using an iPad drawing app called Procreate," Dietzenbach told Mashable in an email. And instead of "Share Screen" the button reads "Share Scream."

    Dietzenbach explained that it took approximately an hour and a half to create each monster, but said that the best part of making the costume was the monster face photo shoot he had with his daughter.

    "All of the costumes were found by raiding the kids' dress-up box and closets. If I couldn't find something I just drew it, like Drac's necklace and Frank's bolts," he said. After manipulating the photos he placed everything on a foam board and hot-glued some straps to the back.

    You'll notice that top middle Zoom square, labeled "Next Victim", isn't Ada. That's the space where anyone admiring the impressive Zoom costume will see an image of themselves. To make that illusion happen, Dietzenbach taped an iPad with a front-facing camera to the back of the board and enabled a mirror app to achieve "a clean display of the victim."

    You can see how Dietzenbach created the elaborate costume in the video above, but before you take on this ambitious project yourself just know that this wasn't his first costume-making session. He does this for his son and daughter every year.

    "My kids challenge me every year to make a unique costume. Building a transforming sock robot for my son almost broke my brain, so this year I wanted to make it a lot simpler," Dietzenbach said.

    "Due to COVID-19 we didn't even know if our town would have trick-or-treating this year. Social distancing has made my kids Zoom experts, it's how they attended school and see family and friends. It felt like it was a costume idea worth exploring," he explained. "2020 has been tough, it's nice to know we'll be giving some joy to others (at a safe distance of course)."

    Some of Dietzenbach's greatest past costume hits include the aforementioned transforming sock robot(Opens in a new tab), front doors in the neighborhood(Opens in a new tab), and more. You can check out some highlights below and see all of Dietzenbach's creative Halloween costumes here(Opens in a new tab).

    "They are all a labor of love," Dietzenbach said. "I've become known for my homemade costumes with family and friends and people tell me they look forward to seeing them every year, but I really do it for my kids."

  • Rage applying: The latest TikTok job trend pushing for a change

    Rage applying: The latest TikTok job trend pushing for a change

    TikTok is the birthplace of many a professional trend. There's the phenomenon of quiet quitting(Opens in a new tab) and the eradication of the girlboss(Opens in a new tab). Even the great resignation gained momentum on the social media app.

    In the same vein, a new occupational fad has emerged thanks to TikTok, once again shaping professional trajectories and influencing the younger workforce in particular: rage applying. Its meaning is somewhat unmistakable. Rage applying is the process of angrily sending out your CV to a bunch of open positions with higher salaries and better perks than the job you currently hold.

    This trend fits into a larger movement, that of people becoming disillusioned with workplace conditions and seeking happier environments through which a living can be earned.

    TikTokker and career coach Chelsea Stokes posted about rage applying back in early 2022. Credit: Screenshot: TikTok / @chelseastokes_.

    On TikTok, rage applying is being popularized as an alternative to quiet quitting(Opens in a new tab) — the highly-discussed(Opens in a new tab) workplace trend encouraging people to do the bare minimum at work without outright resigning. Rage applying appears to be a sort of evolution of this practice, a next (but not completely committal) step in configuring what you're worth and making sure your job reflects this value, without leaving yourself completely without an income.

    In a video, TikTokker @redweez tells followers(Opens in a new tab), "I got mad at work and rage applied to like 15 jobs and then I got a job that gave me a $25,000 raise and it's a great place to work. So keep rage applying. It'll happen." In another, creator @hrmanifesto says(Opens in a new tab), "Today was another boring day at work. I spent half of it rage applying again."

    TikTok has made the concept of rage applying funny, as it so often does with trends, but rage applying does imply a widespread and deep dissatisfaction with jobs, one that appears to have resulted in altogether exits from employees. While some buzzwords that emerge from TikTok are just that and nothing more, rage applying seems to be a realistic occurrence. Of course, the concept itself, of suddenly applying for a new job in a moment of discontent, existed before the term was even coined but it's a habit many are dipping into now more than ever.

    Rage applying shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Unlike previous professional crazes, such as the infamous antiwork movement(Opens in a new tab) that began on Reddit(Opens in a new tab), this trend offers an alternative. It isn't exactly a revolution against work; rather, it's a push to find a job that suits your needs as much as possible.

    According to a 2022 report from Gallup(Opens in a new tab), an analytics and advisory company, employee engagement is stagnant worldwide, with only 21 percent of employees truly engaged in their work and 33 percent thriving in their overall wellbeing. Meanwhile, the report also states that stress among workers is at an all-time high — 44 percent of employees said they had experienced a lot of stress the previous day. In fact, according to Gallup, employees are actually more stressed than they were in 2020, the year the COVID pandemic hit and the workplace encountered a major, holistic shift.

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    Notably, the trend in name and practice is rage applying, not rage quitting, and Gallup found that 45 percent of employees surveyed said it was a good time to find a job. So, the practice becomes an empowering move to determine possibilities and collect advantageous information that doesn't completely leave one without a job.

    TikTokker "HRManifesto" speaks to her followers about toxic workplace scenarios – and has covered rage applying. Credit: Screenshot: TikTok / @hrmanifesto.

    Critics of the trend, however, argue that the sentiment of rage applying — anger and negativity — are root problems that require systemic and sustainable change. TikTok career coach Kristen Zavo says(Opens in a new tab), "While it may feel empowering, just to spite your boss, rage applying to jobs can come back to haunt you, potentially landing you in an even worse job." She instead recommends processing the rage in a safe space, later applying more intentionally to jobs that you desire.

    Still, others say that the tactic landed them jobs with higher pay and distinctively better circumstances: comments on a TikTok by @chelseastokes_(Opens in a new tab) read, "I ended up getting a job with a 20 percent raise," "I did this and got a job that pays me over 10k/year more," and "That’s how I got my current job. And it changed my life for the better."

    Perhaps rage applying, then, can sow the seeds for a healthier work life. One without any rage to begin with. This underscores the Gen-Z-TikTok-fuelled ambition for work. If this generation has anything to say, it's that work isn't just the route to a paycheck. Happiness can fit in the picture somewhere.

  • 12 best tweets of the week, including Taco Bell, adult baby diaper driver, and Bingus

    12 best tweets of the week, including Taco Bell, adult baby diaper driver, and Bingus

    Wow, another week in the ol' logbook. Five workdays in the dust, never to be seen again.

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    You frankly love to see it.

    The weekend is here and so is fall(Opens in a new tab) — yes, summer is officially gone, even if the planet is heading into a perpetual heatwave.

    So, anyway, it's weekend time. To celebrate, per usual, we collected some of our favorite tweets of the week that'll hopefully make you laugh.

    Here they are, the 12 best tweets of the week.

    1. Let me be 100 percent clear on the matter: No Bingus

    2. Obligatory dril tweet

    3. The people have voted and decided it is an average ocean

    4. Honestly, this would be the perfect amount of followers. Just post burger and live in peace.

    5. Everyone be quiet. Hush up. Focus. Now listen: Kevin Lasagna(Opens in a new tab).

    6. This tweet is too loud and it is rude to me, personally

    7. The passage of time, what a concept

    8. This is perhaps the greatest idea of our time and Taco Bell should implement it immediately

    9. This room kicks ass and we all know it

    10. Another dril tweet for your viewing pleasure

    11. Ladies and gentleman, esteemed colleagues, the joker

    12. And finally, in honor of fall being upon us, this

  • Find perfect, last-minute holiday gifts at Walmart

    Find perfect, last-minute holiday gifts at Walmart

    Holiday shopping feels like something you have forever to do — until right about now. If you’ve waited until the last-minute, we’re totally with you. Fortunately, there's still plenty of time to avoid handing out a stack of gift cards.

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    For those of us who work well under pressure and kind of enjoy staying up late wrapping gifts, Walmart still has an abundance of thoughtful items for everyone on your list, from your siblings to your co-workers.

    Here are some ideas for getting through your checklist like you started thinking about this weeks ago.

    Turn up the fun with a party speaker

    Have a neighbor who brings everyone together? This Bluetooth, rechargeable wireless party speaker — with a snazzy LED light show — is perfect for playing holiday tunes or launching into a sing-along with a jack for plugging in a guitar or a karaoke microphone.

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    onn. Large Party Speaker with LED Lighting ($129) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab)

    Make an avid reader’s ‘Wish’ come true

    We all get a little sappy and nostalgic around this time of year. Indulge a writerly friend with Nicholas Sparks’s latest — a winter spin on a beach book set during the holidays. Prepare to cozy up with hot cocoa and have your heart strings tugged.

    (Opens in a new tab)
    Credit: Walmart
    Nicholas Sparks, The Wish (Hardcover) ($14) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab)

    Give a partridge in a pear tree (or close enough)

    Is your niece or a nephew fascinated by nature? For some DIY forest school vibes, this bird feeder kit arrives ready to hang and has everything they need to attract finely feathered songbirds, including a 2.5-pound bag of bird food.

    (Opens in a new tab)
    Credit: Pennington
    Pennington Gray Metal Hopper Wild Bird Seed Bird Feeder Kit, with Feed and Suet ($24.97) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab)

    Slam dunk a gift for your sports-loving sibling

    This over-the-door backboard has crowd sound effects (for when you’re not there to cheer them on) and a digital scoreboard (for some serious sibling rivalry after present opening). The hoop folds up so it’s not banging holes into walls when you’re sitting the bench.

    (Opens in a new tab)
    Credit: Walmart
    Majik Slam Dunk Basketball ($12.97) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab)

    Rest easy with a great gift

    Give the gift of a good night's sleep, thanks to this ultra-cozy comforter set. Made from soft jersey, this set will have your giftee peacefully snoozing in no time.

    (Opens in a new tab)
    Credit: Walmart
    Gap Home T-Shirt Soft Jersey Reversible Organic Cotton Blend Comforter Set, Full/Queen, Blue, 3-Pieces ($54.98) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab)

    Surprise a co-worker with a Grogu plant

    Whether your team is still working from home or back in the office, everyone should have some form of calming plant on their desk. Thankfully, this Mandalorian-themed Chia Pet grows way faster than the wait between seasons.

    (Opens in a new tab)
    Credit: Walmart
    The Child (The Mandalorian) Chia Pet - Decorative Pottery Planter ($29.99) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab)

    Make your holiday sugar rush count

    Who doesn't love cotton candy? Bring this childhood fav home for the holidays (and anytime), thanks to this festively-styled cotton candy maker. Perfect for your sweetie.

    (Opens in a new tab)
    BELLA Cotton Candy Maker, Red & White ($24.98, originally $39.99) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab)

  • Quordle today: Here are the answers and hints for October 2

    Quordle today: Here are the answers and hints for October 2

    It's Sunday, a day synonymous with tranquility and relaxation. But how relaxing can it really be if the daily Quordle is twisting your brain in knots?

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    If it's a little too challenging, you've come to the right place for hints. There aren't just hints here, but the whole Quordle solution. Scroll to the bottom of this page, and there it is. But are you sure you need all four answers? Maybe you just need a strategy guide. Either way, scroll down, and you'll get what you need.

    What is Quordle?

    Quordle is a five-letter word guessing game similar to Wordle, except each guess applies letters to four words at the same time. You get nine guesses instead of six to correctly guess all four words. It looks like playing four Wordle games at the same time, and that is essentially what it is. But it's not nearly as intimidating as it sounds.

    Is Quordle harder than Wordle?

    Yes, though not diabolically so.

    Where did Quordle come from?

    Amid the Wordle boom of late 2021 and early 2022, when everyone was learning to love free, in-browser, once-a-day word guessing games, creator Freddie Meyer says he took inspiration from one of the first big Wordle variations, Dordle — the one where you essentially play two Wordles at once. He took things up a notch, and released Quordle on January 30(Opens in a new tab). Meyer's creation was covered in The Guardian(Opens in a new tab) six days later, and now, according to Meyer, it attracts millions of daily users. Today, Meyer earns modest revenue(Opens in a new tab) from Patreon, where dedicated Quordle fans can donate to keep their favorite puzzle game running. 

    How is Quordle pronounced?

    “Kwordle.” It should rhyme with “Wordle,” and definitely should not be pronounced exactly like "curdle.”

    Is Quordle strategy different from Wordle?

    Yes and no.

    Your starting strategy should be the same as with Wordle. In fact, if you have a favorite Wordle opening word, there’s no reason to change that here. We suggest something rich in vowels, featuring common letters like C, R, and N. But you do you.

    After your first guess, however, you’ll notice things getting out of control if you play Quordle exactly like Wordle.

    What should I do in Quordle that I don’t do in Wordle?

    Solving a Wordle puzzle can famously come down to a series of single letter-change variations. If you’ve narrowed it down to “-IGHT,” you could guess “MIGHT” “NIGHT” “LIGHT” and “SIGHT” and one of those will probably be the solution — though this is also a famous way to end up losing in Wordle, particularly if you play on “hard mode.” In Quordle, however, this sort of single-letter winnowing is a deadly trap, and it hints at the important strategic difference between Wordle and Quordle: In Quordle, you can't afford to waste guesses unless you're eliminating as many letters as possible at all times. 

    Guessing a completely random word that you already know isn't the solution, just to eliminate three or four possible letters you haven’t tried yet, is thought of as a desperate, latch-ditch move in Wordle. In Quordle, however, it's a normal part of the player's strategic toolset.

    Is there a way to get the answer faster?

    In my experience Quordle can be a slow game, sometimes dragging out longer than it would take to play Wordle four times. But a sort of blunt-force guessing approach can speed things up. The following strategy also works with Wordle if you only want the solution, and don’t care about having the fewest possible guesses:

    Try starting with a series of words that puts all the vowels (including Y) on the board, along with some other common letters. We've had good luck with the three words: “NOTES,” “ACRID,” and “LUMPY.” YouTuber DougMansLand(Opens in a new tab) suggests four words: “CANOE,” “SKIRT,” “PLUMB,” and “FUDGY.”

    Most of the alphabet is now eliminated, and you’ll only have the ability to make one or two wrong guesses if you use this strategy. But in most cases you’ll have all the information you need to guess the remaining words without any wrong guesses.

    If strategy isn't helping, and you're still stumped, here are some hints:

    Are there any double or triple letters in today’s Quordle words?

    One letter occurs twice in one word.

    Are any rare letters being used in today’s Quordle like Q or Z?

    No.

    What do today’s Quordle words start with?

    H, B, S, and S.

    What are the answers for today’s Quordle?

    Are you sure you want to know?

    There’s still time to turn back.

    OK, you asked for it. The answers are:

    1. HEDGE

    2. BEGIN

    3. STUNG

    4. SPINY