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Quordle today: Here are the answers and hints for November 15

2023-03-19 06:19:19

Quordle today: Here are the answers and hints for November 15

Welcome to Tuesday. You're probably pretty good a Quordle by now, but that doesn't mean there isn't the occasional hiccup, like today's which is a bit tricky.

Quordle today: Here are the answers and hints for November 15(图1)

If Quordle is a little too challenging today, 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 word has a letter occurring twice.

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

A Q snuck in there.

What do today’s Quordle words start with?

W, P, F, and E.

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. WHACK

  2. PRINT

  3. FREED

  4. EQUIP

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    "There is no technical solution that can create an unbiased risk assessment tool."

    AI Now(Opens in a new tab) is a research and policy organization, founded in 2017 and based at New York University, which explores the "social implications of artificial intelligence." In a 2019 paper(Opens in a new tab) focusing on civil rights violations' effect on predictive policing, AI Now highlighted 13 jurisdictions in the U.S. that developed predictive policing models "while under government commission investigations or federal court monitored settlements, consent decrees, or memoranda of agreement stemming from corrupt, racially biased, or otherwise illegal policing practices."

    In other words, the data being fed into the systems was itself the product of racial bias.

    "Given that these algorithms are trained on inherently biased policing data, and deployed within contexts that are in many ways racist at a systemic level — there is no technical solution that can create an unbiased risk assessment tool," explained AI Now(Opens in a new tab) Technology Fellow Varoon Mathur(Opens in a new tab) over email. "In essence, the very design and conception of these assessment tools seek to strengthen such systems further, which leads them to be irrevocably biased towards already marginalized populations."

    The bias inherent in risk assessment tools has become especially dire during the coronavirus pandemic. As officials decide which prisoners to release early(Opens in a new tab) in an effort to prevent prison outbreaks, algorithms predicting inmates' recidivism rates have the potential to decide who lives and who dies.

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    Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal, left, is sworn in before a June Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on incarceration during COVID-19. Credit: ERIN SCOTT / getty

    The Partnership on AI(Opens in a new tab), a San Francisco-based organization founded in late 2016, works to (among other goals) "advance public understanding of AI." Alice Xiang(Opens in a new tab), the Partnership on AI's head of fairness, transparency, and accountability research, explained over email that there is reason to be concerned about bias in risk assessment tools — especially now.

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    A wrench in the machine

    Back in 2018, if you decided to go to some popular malls in Orange County, California, just using their parking lots could've put you on local police's radar. The mall's owner, the Irvine Company, unbeknownst to you, at the time worked with Vigilant Solutions(Opens in a new tab) — a private surveillance company that sells data to law enforcement.

    As you drove into the parking lot, an automated license plate reader (ALPR) would log the arrival of your car. It stored your arrival and departure times, and added that information to an ever-growing database that was in turn shared with Vigilant Solutions, and made available to police. The Irvine Company collected ALPR data until July 2018, when the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a nonprofit digital rights group, called it out over the practice.(Opens in a new tab)

    An ALPR mounted to a police car. Credit: Suzanne Kreiter / getty

    Even as the Irvine Company stopped collecting license plate data to give to police, ALPRs are still scattered throughout various California cities. If you drive around Huntington Beach, for example, you pass more ALPRs — some of which are also owned by Vigilant Solutions according to the EFF's Atlas of Surveillance(Opens in a new tab) — which may be sharing your location data(Opens in a new tab) with ICE. The majority of California law enforcement agencies use ALPRs — often fixed to light poles or on vehicles — and several do so without following state law meant to protect individuals' privacy, according to a February report(Opens in a new tab) by the state's auditor.

    An innocent trip around town may contribute to a form of algorithm-supported mass surveillance that is taking over the United States, claiming real-life victims in the process.

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    No one, except the police, had done anything wrong.

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    ALPR systems, which are designed to rapidly read every single license plate that passes through their field of vision, depend on(Opens in a new tab) algorithms and machine learning to translate the captured images into machine-readable characters. And, according to Kate Rose(Opens in a new tab), a security researcher and founder of the pro-privacy fashion line Adversarial Fashion(Opens in a new tab), they make tons of mistakes.

    "The specificity on these systems is low because they're meant to ingest thousands of plates a minute at high speeds, so they can read in things like billboards or even picket fences by accident," she wrote over email.

    The threats posed by ALPRs, according to Rose, are multifaceted.

    "In addition to using this data to stalk and terrorize members of our community," she wrote, "this data is detailed and sensitive for every person whose car is logged, creating a highly detailed map of everywhere your car has been seen, with locations and date and timestamps."

    So Rose decided to do something about it. She designed and released a line of clothing that, via the patterns printed on it, tricks ALPRs into reading shirts and dresses as license plates. This, in effect, injects "junk" data into the system.

    In other words, simply wearing one of her designs is part anti-surveillance protest, and part privacy activism.

    Polluting the surveillance stream. Credit: adversarial fashion

    "I hope that by seeing how easily ALPRs can be fooled with just a t-shirt, that people can gain a greater understanding of how these systems work and why oversight and regulation are needed to protect the public," Rose explained. "ALPRs are one of the systems that we consider 'safety dependent' systems like for enforcing certain traffic safety laws and collecting tolls. So it's our duty to point out where they can and likely already are subject to errors and exploitation."

    "People will just sort of go along with surveillance culture until others push back."

    As more and more companies begin to sell inexpensive software(Opens in a new tab) that can turn anyone's camera into an ALPR for $5 a month(Opens in a new tab), the need for ALPR regulation and oversight has only grown.

    Thankfully, there are many ways to fight back — and you don't need to launch your own fashion line to do so. Rose recommended finding out what surveillance tech is being used in your community(Opens in a new tab). You can also contact your local ACLU chapter(Opens in a new tab) to find out what privacy efforts they are currently involved in, and don't be afraid to contact your legislator(Opens in a new tab).

    In general, Rose said that if an algorithm-powered surveillance state isn't your thing, you shouldn't be afraid to speak up, and continue speaking up.

    "Take a stand if your neighborhood or HOA tries to implement license plate readers to track residents and their guests, and single out others as undesirable or outsiders," Rose insisted. "People will just sort of go along with surveillance culture until others push back and remind them that not only is it not normal and very invasive, it's not as effective as building a culture of trust and support between neighbors." 

    What's in a face

    Your own face is being used against you.

    Facial recognition is a biased technology that fuels the oppression of ethnic(Opens in a new tab) minorities, and directly contributes to the arrest of innocent people in the U.S. And, without their knowledge, millions of people have played an unwitting role in making that happen.

    At issue are the datasets which are the life blood of facial-recognition algorithms. To train their systems, researchers and corporations need millions of photos of people's faces from which their programs can learn. So those same researchers and corporations look to where we all look these days: the internet. Much like Clearview AI notoriously scraped Facebook for user photos to power its proprietary facial-recognition software, researchers across the globe have scraped photo-sharing sites and live-video streams to provide the raw material needed for the development of their algorithms.

    Adam Harvey(Opens in a new tab), a Berlin-based privacy and computer vision researcher and artist, put it succinctly.

    "[If] you limit Artificial Intelligence information supply chains," he explained over email, "you limit the growth of surveillance technologies."

    Harvey, along with his collaborator Jules LaPlace, created and maintain MegaPixels(Opens in a new tab) — "an art and research project that investigates the origins and endpoints of biometric datasets created 'in the wild.'"

    The datasets featured on MegaPixels demonstrate the distinctly opaque manner in which your face might end up a key element in oppressive facial-recognition algorithms.

    In late 2014, the now-shuttered San Francisco laundromat and open-mic venue Brainwash Cafe (this author used to wash his clothes there) streamed video of its patrons to the web. Stanford facial-recognition researchers saw this as an opportunity, and used the livestream video(Opens in a new tab) to both "train and validate their algorithm’s effectiveness."

    The resulting dataset, dubbed the Brainwash dataset(Opens in a new tab), contains 11,917 images with "91146 labeled people(Opens in a new tab)." As Harvey and LaPlace note in MegaPixels(Opens in a new tab), that dataset has been used by researchers at the Chinese National University of Defense Technology(Opens in a new tab), and "also appears in a 2018 research paper(Opens in a new tab) affiliated with Megvii (Face++)... who has provided surveillance technology(Opens in a new tab) to monitor Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang." Megvii was blacklisted(Opens in a new tab) in the United States(Opens in a new tab) in October 2019 due to human rights violations.

    "It's possible that you're already contributing to surveillance technology right now."

    While you may not have visited that particular laundromat in 2014, you may have at some point used the photo-sharing site Flickr. In 2016, researchers at the University of Washington published a dataset of 4,753,320 faces taken from 3,311,471 photos uploaded to Flickr with a Creative Commons license. Dubbed Megaface(Opens in a new tab), the dataset has been used by hundreds(Opens in a new tab) of companies and organizations around the globe to train facial-recognition algorithms.

    There are scores of datasets(Opens in a new tab) like these two, comprised of non-consensually obtained images of unwitting people going about their daily lives, that feed the ever-growing field of facial-recognition technology.

    "[Since] there are too few rules regulating data collection, it's possible that you're already contributing to surveillance technology right now for both domestic and foreign commercial and governmental organizations," explained Harvey. "Everyone should realize that unless better restrictions are put in place, their biometric data will continue to be exploited for commercial and military purposes."

    But people are fighting back, and, in some cases like Harvey and LaPlace, even winning — albeit incrementally.

    Fight for the Future(Opens in a new tab) is one group doing just that. A self-described collection of artists, activists, technologists, and engineers, Fight for the Future is actively working to ban facial-recognition tech(Opens in a new tab), guarantee net neutrality(Opens in a new tab), and disrupt Amazon's surveillance relationship(Opens in a new tab) with police.

    "Facial recognition is a uniquely dangerous form of surveillance," Evan Greer, Fight for the Future's Deputy Director, explained over email. "In a world where more and more of our daily movements and activities are caught on camera, facial recognition enables that vast trove of footage to be weaponized for surveillance –– not for public safety but for public control."

    Greer cited two specific examples — a successful campaign to ban facial recognition from U.S. concert venues and live music festivals, and convincing 60 colleges and universities to commit to not using the technology on their campuses — to show that the battle against facial-recognition tech is a winnable one.

    "Like nuclear or biological weapons, facial recognition poses such a profound threat to the future of human society that any potential benefits are far outweighed by the inevitable harms," emphasized Greer.

    Fight for the Future isn't alone in its battle against facial-recognition enabled oppression. Likely thanks in part to Harvey and LaPlace's work exposing the Brainwash dataset, it is no longer being distributed(Opens in a new tab). Another dataset of surveillance footage, dubbed the Duke MTMC dataset(Opens in a new tab) and obtained without consent on the campus of Duke University, was removed after a 2019 (Opens in a new tab)Financial Times (Opens in a new tab)article(Opens in a new tab) highlighted that people around the world were using it to train their algorithms to track and identify pedestrians from surveillance footage.

    "After the publication of the Financial Times article [the author of the Duke MTMC dataset] not only removed the dataset's website, but also facilitated removal on GitHub repositories where it is more difficult to control," explained Harvey. "Duke University then made a public statement to the student body and the author made a formal apology. I think he was honestly unaware of the problem and acted swiftly upon realizing what happened to his dataset."

    "An algorithm without data is useless."

    Thankfully, you needn't be a full-time privacy activist to help push back against the growth of this dangerous tech. As Greer explained, making your stance on the matter loud and clear — directly to your elected officials — is fundamental to the fight against facial-recognition technology.

    "[The] reality is that there will always be shady firms willing to do whatever the worst thing you can do with technology is and sell it to whoever will buy it –– unless there's a law that says you can't," she wrote. "There's legislation that's been introduced in the House and Senate to ban law enforcement use of facial recognition. Everyone should tell their elected officials to support it."

    On a more fundamental level, fighting against facial-recognition tech also requires us to recognize our part in its creation.

    Harvey highlighted a comment made by the president and CEO of In-Q-Tel(Opens in a new tab), a private investment firm that works to provide technology insights to the CIA, in an episode of the Intelligence Matters(Opens in a new tab) podcast(Opens in a new tab): "an algorithm without data is useless."

    The data we create, like the photos we post online, is being used against us. It's going to take our collective action to change that.

    Read more from Algorithms:

    • Algorithms control your online life. Here's how to reduce their influence.

    • It's almost impossible to avoid triggering content on TikTok

    • We can only forecast the weather this far into the future

    • The algorithms defining sexuality suck. There's a better way.

    CORRECTION: Sept. 4, 2020, 5:13 p.m. PDT This post has been updated to reflect that the Irvine Company stopped collecting ALPR data in July 2018, after being criticized for the practice by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

  • A beginners guide to TikTok

    A beginners guide to TikTok

    It's 2020. Why aren't you on TikTok yet?


    OK, there are some very valid reasons to avoid using the app, including the extensive user data collection that nearly every social media app employs. But if you're getting your TikTok content as reposts of tweets on Instagram meme accounts, it might be time to go straight to the source and download the TikTok app yourself.

    Here's a handy guide on how to use TikTok for anyone just getting started on the social media platform.

    Make an account

    You can find the TikTok app on the App Store(Opens in a new tab) and on Google Play(Opens in a new tab).

    The first thing you'll see when you open TikTok is its infamous For You Page.

    You don't really need an account to use TikTok, but if you want to be able to mold your For You Page to start showing you content, well, for you, you'll have to make an account. Until then, the landing page will just show you the most popular videos at the moment.

    To make an account, go to the "Me" tab in the far bottom right corner of the screen. There, TikTok will prompt you to sign up with your phone or email. You can also link your account through Facebook, Apple, Google, Twitter, and Instagram.

    You'll want to make an account if you want to experience a more personalized For You Page. Credit: screenshot via tiktok
    You can connect your account to other social media accounts you might have. Credit: screenshot via tiktok

    Once you create your account, you're on your way to becoming a TikTok influencer. The app will assign you a generated username, such as user9876543, but you can change your username, profile photo, bio, and link your TikTok account to your other social accounts under "Edit Profile" in the "Me" tab.

    The For You Page

    Now that you're an official TikTok user, let's go back to the For You Page.

    As you engage with the video clips on the page more, it'll shape to your interests over time. The more you like, share, comment, or linger on a certain kind of TikTok video, the more of that content the app will show you.

    Your For You Page will probably be pretty generic for your first few days on the platform. To get to the content that appeals to your niche interests, you'll have to either specifically search out the kind of content you like in the search bar under the "Discover" tab, or swipe through the For You Page and engage with the videos you enjoy.

    Related Video: Is TikTok secretly a dating app?

    TikTok kept the details of its For You Page under wraps until this year, when it released information about it in an effort to be more transparent(Opens in a new tab) after the U.S. government raised concerns over the app's privacy. According to TikTok, the For You Page first shows content to a small group of users. If they interact favorably — liking, sharing, commenting, or even watching the video in its entirety instead of just swiping — the app will show that video to a larger group. If that group interacts favorably, the app will show the video to an even larger group. That continues until the video is certifiably viral.

    Liking, Commenting, and Sharing

    To interact with a TikTok video you like that you want to see more of, engage with the icons on the right hand side of the screen. The icons are relatively intuitive. From top to bottom, they're "Follow," "Like," "Comment," "Share," and "Sound."

    You can engage with a video on your For You Page using the menu on the right of the screen. Credit: tiktok / bellapoarch

    If you want to see more content from a specific TikTok creator, hit that follow button. If you just want to show your support, like a video. If you want to share a TikTok video with friends, tap "Share."

    When you tap "Share" the app will prompt you to either send it to your mutuals — someone you follow who follows you back — through TikTok's internal DM feature, copy the link, or share it directly with your followers on your linked social media accounts (like Instagram and Twitter).

    You can also save the video directly to your phone, use the effect yourself, duet the video (more about that in a moment), or bookmark it to your Favorites. If you'd like to avoid seeing duets of a certain video, tap "Not Interested." You can also report a TikTok video if you don't think it adheres to the app's Community Guidelines(Opens in a new tab).

    Users can share the video either through the DM feature or directly to other social media linked to the account. Credit: tiktok / bellapoarch


    One of the app's most popular features is "Duets," which is exactly what it sounds like. It's kind of like Twitter's quote tweet feature, which allows you to build on already existing content.

    In this duet, for example, the creator showed off their drawings of Poarch's expressions from the original video.

    TikTok users can duet others' videos, like quote tweeting. Credit: tiktok / bellapoarch

    To duet a video, tap "Share" and then tap "Duet." Some creators opt to turn off duets, though, so this feature won't be available for every video.

    Songs and sounds

    Songs are the lifeblood of TikTok. They've inspired memes, boosted artists' careers, and sparked a slew of copyright claims.

    If you particularly like one song or sound effect you've come across and want to see more, tap the spinning wheel in the bottom right corner of the screen or the banner running across the bottom. That'll take you to another page with details about the sound, the option to bookmark it to your favorites, and a grid of all the videos that use the sound.

    You can use the sound yourself by tapping "Use this sound" at the bottom of the screen.

    You can view other videos that use certain sounds. Credit: screenshot via tiktok

    Creating your own videos

    TikTok's "Create" feature allows you to record and edit your videos in the app. You can also upload your own pre-edited videos, but using a sound or a popular song that's already in the app is the best way to avoid copyright strikes. (A user can upload their own sounds as long as it's their own.)

    Many of the songs that end up going viral on TikTok are copyrighted, and they're usually uploaded to the app's extensive sound library. User content that infringes on other users' copyrights may be taken down, per TikTok's Intellectual Property Policy(Opens in a new tab), which is why you might see videos with no sound at all.

    The in-app recording feature is hands free, which is why dance videos flourish. Unlike when making an Instagram story or a Snap, you don't need to hold down the record button throughout the video. Users can select whether they want to record a 15-second or 60-second video clip on the lowest part of the screen, and can select either 3-second or 10-second self-timer option to get situated before recording.

    The star icon on the right of the screen lets users opt to turn on the beauty filter, which smooths and brightens the subject's face. Users can also choose from a variety filters similar to the photo editing app VSCO, which can be found by tapping "Filters" under the beauty filter.

    To access the many, many effects TikTok has, from Face Zoom (the effect Poarch(Opens in a new tab), the creator featured above, uses in her videos) to the Color Customizer, tap "Effects" in the bottom left corner of your screen.

    You can upload your own videos, or you can record and edit within the app. Credit: screenshot / tiktok
    Beauty filter will brighten and smooth your face. Credit: screenshot / tiktok
    Color customizer allows users to play with colors. Credit: screenshot via tiktok
    Users can also use preset filters like VSCO's. Credit: screenshot via tiktok

    Best practices

    Like any online community, TikTok has a whole unspoken etiquette around creating and sharing videos.

    For one, if you're going to duet someone, tag them so they can get their credit, too. TikTok users can duet videos and remove the original content creator's tag, which is largely frowned upon because it builds on the original creator's work without recognizing their effort. Some creators opt to turn off duets, especially if their content tends to be more controversial. In that case, TikTok users may screen record the original video and repost it with their reactions — if you choose to turn off your duets, be ready to receive criticism anyway.

    TikTok users also use certain hashtags to get more visibility for their videos, even if the tags aren't related to the content. Some add the tag #fyp, which represents "For You Page," because they believe it'll make their video go viral. Whether or not it works is unclear. If you see a TikTok about cooking tagged with trending hashtags like #GoSkate or #NBAThundersticks, it's unlikely that it has anything to do with roller skating or the NBA — it's just the user trying to be seen by a wider audience.

    Finally, TikTok users are pushing for a wider use of closed captions and subtitles on videos to make content more accessible for the hearing impaired. TikTok doesn't have an automatic closed captioning feature yet, so the community is placing the onus on creators to add them to their videos. You can add subtitles to your video by tapping "Text" on the banner at the bottom of the screen in the edit studio. From there, you can tap and drag the text around the screen, set fonts and colors, and set the duration of time you want the text to appear.

    Now that you have the tools and know how to use TikTok, go out and make some videos!

  • 8 ideas for a (fun and safe) indoor Labor Day weekend

    8 ideas for a (fun and safe) indoor Labor Day weekend

    Labor Day — like the rest of the past several months — looks different in 2020.


    Sending off a not-so-fun, anxiety-ridden (for me, at least) summer isn't an easy feat when...we can't still have the fun we had in the Before Times. Given the long weekend, however, officials are worried about a spike in coronavirus cases(Opens in a new tab).

    If you insist on celebrating the symbolic end to 2020's outdoor fun, there are precautions you can take(Opens in a new tab) — but let's be real, the safest option is to just stay home. And it doesn't have to be a downer, either. Here are eight ideas to celebrate Labor Day weekend inside:

    1. Watch a concert

    View this post on Instagram
    (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab)

    Endless Summer(Opens in a new tab), a two-day virtual concert series by Bumble, The Surf Lodge, and Governors Ball, kicks off Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET. The first night features artists Tones and I with sounds by Oli Benz, while Sunday night (also beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET) features Gary Clark Jr. with sounds by Blackillac. The event is free — RSVP here(Opens in a new tab), or just check it out on YouTube(Opens in a new tab).

    2. Watch an opera

    Perhaps opera is more your speed? The Metropolitan Opera has you covered. You can stream the Gershwins' Porgy and Bess(Opens in a new tab) for free throughout Labor Day weekend. Feel super cultured and stay safe while you're doing it.

    3. DIY BBQ

    If you, like me, live in an apartment building, there's a good chance you don't have a grill. If you're craving burgers or hot dogs like the warm-blooded American you are, you can cook burgers in a cast iron skillet(Opens in a new tab), and there are several ways to cook hot dogs without a grill(Opens in a new tab), including cast iron. Maintain all the flavor, no grill required.

    4. Online shop

    Malls may be open in your area, but let's face it: Not only is online shopping safer, but you can also do it from bed. There are tons of deals abound, and luckily Mashable rounded up the best Labor Day sales so you don't have to look too far.

    5. Attend a drive-in movie

    OK, OK, maybe this is cheating a bit — but if you're staying in your car, you're technically staying inside! One Google search can let you know whether a drive-in is in your area; in my case as a New Yorker, both Queens(Opens in a new tab) and Brooklyn(Opens in a new tab) have drive-ins.

    SEE ALSO: 25 Labor Day sales on fitness gear to help build your dream home gym

    6. Finish that annoying home project you've been neglecting

    Need to organize your junk drawer? Go through your clothes to donate to charity? Give your tub the deep clean it deserves? You have the time — just do it.

    7. Visit a museum — virtually

    From the Picasso Museum(Opens in a new tab) in Barcelona to the Museum of Broken Relationships(Opens in a new tab) in Los Angeles, museums are "opening" their doors to virtual guests. TimeOut rounded up a list here(Opens in a new tab), though if you Google you may find even more options. If you prefer an app, DailyArt(Opens in a new tab) serves you one piece of fine art every day, with a short story about it to boot.

    8. Learn the history of Labor Day

    This may sound boring, but hear me out: The history of Labor Day(Opens in a new tab) is embedded in the overall labor movement. The movement isn't just responsible for Labor Day — it's why you have a weekend in the first place! And the power of organized labor was seen just in recent days with the NBA strike(Opens in a new tab).

    This Labor Day may have the pandemic looming over it, but that doesn't mean it has to suck. Even if you stay in bed reading or watching Netflix, you can be confident you're staying safe and curbing the spread.

  • Kirk Herbstreit sobs on ESPNs College GameDay while talking about racism in America

    Kirk Herbstreit sobs on ESPNs College GameDay while talking about racism in America

    You can see it in his face: ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit didn't want to cry on camera. But he couldn't help himself.


    As the College GameDay host talked about racism in America, he couldn't help but sob.

    College football returned on Saturday(Opens in a new tab), even with much of the season in question because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. College GameDay is usually a raucous, fun show that travels to different colleges, but Saturday's episode was more somber and focused on the anxious state of the nation.

    Herbstreit said he spoke with Stanford coach David Shaw, who is Black, who cited a powerful Ben Franklin quote: "Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are."

    Herbstreit then called on white folks to feel empathy and compassion for the Black community — and to act on those feelings.

    "The Black community is hurting. If you've listened... How do you listen to these stories and not feel pain and not want to help?" Herbstreit said on air before breaking down in tears. “Wearing a hoodie. Putting your hands at 10 and 2. 'Oh god, I’d better watch out because I’m wearing Nike gear.' Like, what? What are we talking about? You can't relate to that if you're white, but you can listen and you can try to help. Because this is not OK. It's just not."

    Herbstreit added while crying: "We gotta be better, man. We gotta like lock arm-in-arm and be together."

    It was a moving moment from Herbstreit, who is one of the most famous faces in college football. People on Twitter were quick to praise the strong emotion he showed on national TV. His ESPN colleague Maria Taylor could even be seen wiping away tears in the background.

  • Drum battle between Dave Grohl and 10-year-old Nandi Bushell took an adorable turn

    Drum battle between Dave Grohl and 10-year-old Nandi Bushell took an adorable turn

    In his latest play in the ongoing rock battle with Nandi Bushell, Dave Grohl improvised a superhero theme song for the viral kid drummer.


    Bushell, who is 10 years old, has 156,000 subscribers on YouTube and appeared on Ellen(Opens in a new tab) last year. Collectively, her videos have more than 18 million views. In August, the viral sensation challenged Grohl to a virtual drum off, calling on the "Rock Gods of old" to empower her beats. To kick off the battle, she covered the Foo Fighters' "Everlong."

    Grohl, who received "at least a hundred texts" telling him to respond to Nandi's challenge, borrowed his 11-year-old daughter Harper's drum kit to face off his opponent. He hadn't played "Everlong" on the drums since he recorded the song in 1997, he said.

    "You are an incredible drummer, I'm really flattered..." Grohl said in his response video. "So today, I'm gonna give you something you may not have heard before."

    Then he launched into a drum cover of the song "Dead End Friends" by Them Crooked Vultures and challenged Nandi to duet him.

    Bushell mastered the cover in less than a week, posting her duet to Twitter. The video already has 1.4 million views.

    "The Rock Gods of old are happy!" Bushell captioned the video.

    Grohl would not be one-upped though. For Round 2 of this virtual rock battle, he donned another of his endless supply of flannel shirts and wrote Bushell a theme song "off the top of his head." With his daughters (The Grohlettes) on background vocals, he exalts her ability to play any song and predicts that she'll "save the world with rock and roll."

    "Number one supergirl, best drummer in the world," Grohl sings, with The Grohlettes following. "Always right on time, hero wunderkind."

    The personalized theme song rendered Bushell speechless. In a reaction video she posted to YouTube on Monday, an enthralled Bushell yells, "He wrote a song about me!"

    "We should cover it," she adds after thanking Grohl. "All the instruments! All the instruments, we're gonna cover. Let's get started!"

    There's one thing for sure: Nandi Bushell does not back down from a challenge. We're bound to see an incredible response from her soon.

  • Stephen Colberts election website shows you how to vote state-by-state

    Stephen Colberts election website shows you how to vote state-by-state

    This year's U.S. presidential election in November is going to be a colossal one, and more than anything, Stephen Colbert just really wants you to vote.


    But with the rules slightly varying state-by-state, it can be confusing to know exactly how to do it.

    So, in the lead-up to Election Day on Nov. 3, the CBS host and his Late Show team have launched a website and video series called "Better Know a Ballot,"(Opens in a new tab) with easy-to-follow voter information for each state. All you have to do is click on your state for details explaining how to register to vote, request an absentee ballot, or how to vote in person.

    "I wanted to make things easier for anyone who should be voting, which is everyone," said Colbert on Tuesday, launching the project on his show. The Late Show host will also be posting an individual video for every state explaining how to vote early, easily, and safely.

    SEE ALSO: Google says its Autocomplete feature will stay neutral in the 2020 election

    There are eight videos up already for the states who will receive their ballots the soonest, including Arkansas and Minnesota, but The Late Show team will be adding to the website over the next few days, so if you don't see information for your state straight away, sit tight.

    Click on your state for easy-to-follow info on voting. Credit: mashable screenshot /

    "Folks, we're just 49 days from the election and I don't have to tell you that this is in an important one. THIS IS AN IMPORTANT ONE," he said on Tuesday's Late Show.

    "And it's not just important to vote, it's important to have a plan for how you're going to vote because COVID will make this election unlike anything before it. And if that wasn't enough, the rules regarding how to vote vary drastically from state to state."

    Here's the segment explaining the project:

    Colbert isn't the only late night show host urging Americans to vote, with Trevor Noah and The Daily Show hiding a PSA to register to vote inside a full-page legal ad in the New York Times, which was primarily meant to troll the president.

    With only weeks remaining before Election Day, we're sure to see the late night shows really ramp things up.

Random articles


  • Mothers Day can be hard. This campaign shows solidarity and compassion for people on the day.

    Mothers Day can be hard. This campaign shows solidarity and compassion for people on the day.

    Blinking back tears while you walk through the card aisle. Forcing a smile when your friend tells you she's pregnant. Scrolling past endless Mother's Day posts on Instagram and feeling the pain of each passing year. Quietly hitting the 'opt-out' button when asked if you'd prefer not to receive Mother's Day emails.


    These are the Mother's Day stories we don't share on social media.

    A new campaign is breaking the stigma of unspoken Mother's Day struggles in an effort to encourage solidarity and compassion around this time.

    Women's social network Peanut is behind the posters, which will appear across London, UK, from March 14 through to UK Mother’s Day on March 27.

    The campaign was inspired by the real-life Mother’s Day experiences shared by Peanut’s community. Hundreds of women shared their stories of dealing with grief, loss, fertility issues, and the challenges of motherhood.

    Credit: Peanut

    Some of the posters are aimed at mums who are finding motherhood challenging, who are experiencing prenatal or postpartum depression, and who are carrying the invisible load of parenting.

    Credit: Peanut

    The posters are aimed at anyone who finds Mother's Day triggering or upsetting — due to grief, or strained relationships with parents.

    "I lost my mom a few years ago to cancer. Mother’s Day reminds me of all the times I missed her, especially when I had my own daughter and I was struggling with mental health and had no one to turn to. No one to talk to, no one to adore my little one. So it's very hard, always," Warda from London told Peanut.

    SEE ALSO: Meet the online community for women going through menopause

    Michelle Kennedy, Peanut’s founder and CEO, said in a statement that the campaign aims to shine a light on the struggles in women's lives that carry a stigma and to help normalise conversations that can make people feel less alone.

    "Absence of community during women’s life stages, such as fertility, pregnancy, motherhood and menopause, means that these topics have a social taboo leading to feelings of isolation, loneliness and depression," said Kennedy.

    Credit: Peanut

    Some of the campaign posters speak to people who want children and are having difficulties conceiving or who have experienced baby loss.

    Hollie from Plymouth, told Peanut: "When we were desperately trying to conceive I found it hard seeing pics of all the other mums with their babies celebrating the day, praying it would be me one day."

    Credit: Peanut

    "Because I have lost seven children now through miscarriage, Mother’s Day reminds me how they aren’t here and something is missing. I have two living children and they are my world, but it doesn’t stop me thinking about the ones I have lost," Anne-Marie from Tunbridge Wells told Peanut.

    Credit: Peanut

    The other campaign posters include the following lines:

    • To the woman who’s had a long day being pregnant, you’re not alone.

    • To the woman trying to embrace her pregnancy body, you’re not alone.

    • To the woman struggling to love her post-baby body, you’re not alone.

    • To the woman who feels like she doesn’t belong to herself, you’re not alone.

    • To the woman fighting a battle that no one knows about, you’re not alone. 

    As Peanut founder Kennedy said, "No one should have to suffer in silence, especially on Mother’s Day."

  • Our year in grief

    Our year in grief

    None of us were prepared for the loss of life as we knew it — practically overnight — back in March. But some of us who'd experienced it before knew what to call the impenetrable fog of surreality that suddenly fell, that void of absence — the hollow stasis severing you from the world just right outside your window.


    It was grief.

    To those fortunate enough to have avoided profound grief prior to the pandemic, it brings me no joy to welcome you to this most solemn of clubs(Opens in a new tab), as universal as it is alienating.

    Grief is the type of thing you cannot know until you yourself suffer a loss so cataclysmic that it takes a part of you with it. Grief is an isolation so deep it separates your very being from the realm of reality, leaving you unreachable even when not technically alone. Grief knows no rules, defying the laws of physics itself, warping time-space so moments of distress last lifetimes while events from only days prior to your loss feel as though they happened in a different timeline, to a different person altogether. Grief comes in waves, the bouts of raw, skin-crawling agony interspersed with a deathly unfeeling, both jarringly juxtaposed against the unavoidable normalities of everyday life.

    In mourning, the world stops. But it also shambles on like it always has. Everything has changed. Nothing has changed.

    In mourning, the world stops. But it also shambles on like it always has.

    You still wake up each morning, clock into work, pay the bills, feed the kids, buy the groceries. As your body navigates existence on autopilot, you pretend the salivating gargoyle of mortality is not breathing down your neck every waking moment of every day everywhere you go. You get so good at pretending you start believing the lie yourself — until it all catches up, denial caves in, and you’re back in that festering agony. The cycle restarts.

    No one on Earth escaped the incalculable, ever-mounting toll of losses that defined 2020. If you’re unsure what you’ve been experiencing is grief, though, there are some telltale signs for identifying the singular state of unreality that only bereaved minds comprehend.

    In The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion’s acclaimed memoir on the death of her husband, she describes the bouts of irrational “disordered thinking” that accompany grief, as a brain struggles to process an unfathomable truth. She panics after reading her husband’s obituaries, because it means, “I had allowed other people to think he was dead. I had allowed him to be buried alive.” She finds herself incapable of getting rid of his shoes because, “how could he come back if he had no shoes?"

    The role of magical thinking in processing grief helps explain so much of the absurdly illogical behaviors we’ve seen in ourselves, others, and even government leaders in the highest offices.

    In part, magical thinking was why you didn’t really listen to the increasingly urgent warnings from epidemiologists about the devastating outbreak of a novel coronavirus in China back in December 2019 — why you still refused to take its inevitable arrival on our shores seriously, despite the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic(Opens in a new tab) in March.

    "This is fine. This is good." Credit: bob al-greene / mashable

    It’s why you continued traveling the world(Opens in a new tab), calling everyone else suckers for not taking advantage of cheap flights. It’s why, even after America’s borders closed and quarantine orders began, you told yourself this was a good thing, actually, because you’d finally have time to garden or write that novel. (Did you know Shakespeare wrote King Lear in quarantine(Opens in a new tab)?) It’s why you stock-piled on everything from canned food to toilet paper, because if you had access to 30 to 40 rolls of Charmin at all times, then you’d be safe, the virus couldn’t get you. It’s why you kept attending weekly Zoom happy hours and lackluster drive-thru holiday celebrations, forcing a smile onto your face to convince yourself as much as others that this was enough, that these poor approximations didn’t just make things worse(Opens in a new tab) by reminding you of all the basic human needs we could no longer fulfill.

    It’s why you wanted to believe people (like the president of the United States(Opens in a new tab)) who said these fears were overblown, that COVID-19 would magically go away by the end of April(Opens in a new tab). It’s why, despite knowing better than to trust Trump, you still needed to believe hydroxychloroquine was effective(Opens in a new tab), if only to justify the bigger risks you were taking as lockdown fatigue settled in(Opens in a new tab). It’s why, despite pleas from experts, you went on spring break(Opens in a new tab) or home for the holidays(Opens in a new tab) anyway, because family was “worth the risk” and if we stop celebrating traditions then doesn’t the virus win?

    It’s why you fell for at least one of the endless pieces of viral misinformation on social media, more willing to believe false conspiracy theories claiming rampant false-positive tests(Opens in a new tab), a mass-orchestrated ”plandemic” tied to 5G(Opens in a new tab), or Bill Gates’ master plan to inject us with microchips(Opens in a new tab) — because that was less terrifying than the equally unbelievable reality of America’s astronomical death toll(Opens in a new tab). It’s why you still worry about getting the vaccine, even though you know you need to. It’s why you exploded in rage, needing to blame it all on China, or the WHO, or Dr. Fauci, or your governor, clueless celebrities(Opens in a new tab), idiotic influencers(Opens in a new tab), an unmasked family minding their own business at a lake(Opens in a new tab), innocent grocery store clerks politely asking you to wear a mask.

    Unacknowledged grief can make monsters of us all. Loss refuses to be ignored. One way or another, regardless of whether you even know it’s what’s happening, grief always finds a way to escape despite being buried deep inside your mind.

    Related Video: How people around the world are dealing with coronavirus lockdown

    The endless stages of grief in 2020

    In 2020, we were not “together alone,” like all those sentimental COVID ads insisted. We were alone, even when together.

    Because the incontrovertible truth is that, over the past year, on both personal and collective scales, we all suffered varying degrees of almost every category of grief defined by psychology experts(Opens in a new tab):

    • The collective grief of an ongoing global tragedy (and its undetermined but inevitable onslaught of repercussions that will outlast the virus(Opens in a new tab)) with no certain end in sight

    • The absent, masked, delayed, or inhibited grief of those still insisting it’s all a hoax — even on their deathbeds(Opens in a new tab)

    • The anticipatory grief of the pandemic’s unpredictable losses, exemplified by the anxiety-ridden 10 to 14 days that follow a loved one’s positive diagnosis

    • The disenfranchised grief of a daily death toll equivalent to one 9/11 a day(Opens in a new tab), which continues to go all but ignored by our own president(Opens in a new tab)

    • The so-called “exaggerated” grief leading to surges in substance abuse and/or exacerbated mental health struggles and disorders

    • The misplaced rage of distorted grief that’s further endangered victims of domestic violence

    • The dysfunctional nature of complicated grief making even basic mundane tasks like cleaning the house feel insurmountable

    • The chronic grief of an unending litany of losses you can’t process properly(Opens in a new tab) because COVID-19 deprives us of even the mourning rituals(Opens in a new tab) that are essential to healing

    • And, of course, the cumulative grief of suffering devastating blow after devastating blow, one after the other, without stop — encapsulated most viscerally by the cruelty of a virus that leaves behind lone survivors(Opens in a new tab) of entire families ravaged by it(Opens in a new tab)

    As of this writing, the virus has robbed around 313,000 Americans(Opens in a new tab) — along with an average of nine people from each “kinship network”(Opens in a new tab) suffering long-term emotional trauma(Opens in a new tab) — of life itself. But acute experiences of grief are by no means limited to death alone. The multiplicity of the interconnected losses we suffered in 2020 are often just as painful as the passing of a loved one.

    In COVID times, you are denied even mourning. Credit: bob al-greene / MASHABLE

    The unprecedented and unparalleled nexus of so-called “ambiguous losses” caused by the pandemic led Robert Neimeyer, director of the Portland Institute for Loss and Transition, to describe grief in the era of coronavirus as a category all its own. “We’re talking about grieving a living loss — one that keeps going and going,” he told the Associated Press(Opens in a new tab).

    Aside from the more clear-cut loss of lives, the ever-ballooning crises of unemployment and eviction rates during the pandemic(Opens in a new tab) tell of the untold losses that millions of other Americans are suffering from different kinds of debilitating casualties. The loss of identity, safety, autonomy, expectation, and dignity that often follow joblessness and homelessness can be equally shattering, made only worse by the fact that they’re lesser-discussed and more stigmatized forms of bereavement(Opens in a new tab).

    You don’t need to have been a victim of the recession(Opens in a new tab) to share in the ubiquity of trauma from 2020’s all-encompassing loss of normalcy, predictability, control, justice, or trust either. Kids were deprived of childhoods, a whole generation of youth robbed of milestones like prom or going to college or graduating, the elderly fortunate enough to have survived apocalyptic nursing homes(Opens in a new tab) were denied their last years of life.

    You could be one of the thousands of survivors with “long haul” COVID, grieving the unexpected loss of your health for the foreseeable future with an unknowable variety of long-term complications(Opens in a new tab). Perhaps you are on the other side of the bereavement coin(Opens in a new tab), a healthcare worker(Opens in a new tab) or the loved one of someone dying of the virus who can’t even properly care for them. You are left in the impossible circumstance of grieving the impending loss of your loved one who might be on just the other side of a hospital door. But your only responsible choice is to leave them to die alone so you can protect yourself and other loved ones from exposure.

    Or maybe your grief is more maddeningly internalized, that masochistic form of bereavement rendering lockdown more unlivable than it already is: a loss of belief in yourself. Because you never wrote your King Lear. Your pandemic garden is now rotted and weed-infested. You mourn the person you thought you were, someone who’d be strong enough to persevere in the face of adversity with productivity.

    But it turns out you’re not that special. You’re like everyone else, just as incapacitated by a globe-crushing pandemic. For some reason this feels like a personal failure, rather than a comforting universality of simply being human.

    The grief of diseases no vaccine can cure

    Incredulously, the losses of 2020 were not contained to the coronavirus’ immediate after effects, either. Nothing was immune to the boundless scope of our year in grief. From playing wholesome video games to the mere enjoyment of celebrity(Opens in a new tab), the pandemic of grief(Opens in a new tab) that was 2020 infected everything else the virus itself didn't directly touch.

    There were also the communal losses of so many titanic legends, their deaths (unrelated to COVID-19) devastating in a normal year but unthinkable in one so dark that we could spare the extinguishing of their lights: Kobe and Gianna Bryant, John Lewis, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Chadwick Boseman, Little Richard, Alex Trebek.

    That's not to mention the irreplaceable lives senselessly stolen by such a cacophony of injustices that the entire world joined America’s chorus in saying their names on the streets.

    That’s not to mention the irreplaceable lives senselessly stolen by such a cacophony of injustices that the entire world joined America’s chorus in saying their names on the streets: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castile — and the ever-expanding list of others whose(Opens in a new tab) names we can’t stop chanting.

    Meanwhile, no matter which side of the political chasm you’re on, most of us experienced an irreparable loss of faith in our government as it failed at every possible turn to protect its citizens in our greatest time of need. Somehow, our dear leaders found a way to disabuse us of every last remaining vestiges of hope we’d clung onto that the richest nation in the world could not possibly leave its people to languish in death, decay, and poverty. But they did, struggling to provide anything more than an insulting grand total of about $1,800(Opens in a new tab) to survive a year-long pandemic and greatest economic recession since the Great Depression.

    I’m by no means surprised, but sometimes the sheer horror of it sinks in. We’ve all been left to fend for ourselves in a global pandemic, as the people we voted for on both the federal(Opens in a new tab) and state level wash their hands of caring to instead plan indoor soirées celebrating(Opens in a new tab) all that hard work they didn't complete to save us. It’s a loss of faith in not only our current system, but the very foundation of those truths we allegedly held to be self-evident.

    This profound grief is more than a loss of faith in just our country, leaders, and institutions, though. You can’t come out of 2020 without at least questioning your trust in literally each and every single fucking pillar of modern human society. It’s a grief that mostly manifests as red hot rage, as you think of all the spectacular failures of our technological marvel of a digital age.

    Far from delivering on its promises of utopian advancements, the tech industry punished us in 2020 instead. From infecting essential workers(Opens in a new tab) in their warehouses to infecting people’s minds(Opens in a new tab) from the comfort and isolation of their own homes, we paid for the privilege of this technocratic death state by making tech billionaires richer during the pandemic than they were before(Opens in a new tab). Despite knowing for years of the real-life consequences of misinformation’s viral spread on social media, companies like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter only started making mealy-mouthed attempts to stop it in 2020(Opens in a new tab), when it was already far too late. Tech monopolies, so busy innovating their awesome future filled with “disruptive” innovations like unstoppable robotic delivery dogs(Opens in a new tab) and self-driving homicidal cars(Opens in a new tab), never bothered to safeguard humanity against the worst impulses that their inventions exacerbate (maybe because it’s embedded into their whole business model(Opens in a new tab)).

    Tech did not save us in 2020. It killed us. Credit: bob al-greene / mashable

    Grieving the nauseating false idealism of the tech industry is only the top layer of that especially pus-filled 2020 wound. Beneath the rotting flesh of our loss of faith in tech is the bone-deep loss of faith in people themselves.

    How many of us grieved loved ones — fathers, mothers, grandparents, brothers, sisters, lifelong friends — lost to the global pandemic of misinformation(Opens in a new tab)? The number of people swallowed by the black hole of social media-fueled conspiracy was so large this year that the worst of it was voted into goddamn Congress. In 2020, we gave not one but two(Opens in a new tab) Qanon believers(Opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab) the power to influence our governmental policies for determining the survival of our democracy, recovery from the pandemic, and larger issues of catastrophic climate change.

    Watching a loved one succumb to the alternate dimensions of collective delusions(Opens in a new tab) is that living loss Neimeyer talked about, a grief for something both gone but still ongoing. Obviously, loved ones lost to 2020 misinformation are not dead. But the people you thought you knew all those years don’t feel very alive anymore. You’ve effectively lost them, but are not allowed to grieve them. Instead, you must face the desire to try and help them escape the noxious tangle of lies they’ve been ensnared in. When you reach out a hand to help, though, it only ever seems to come back empty. You yearn for the love you shared before this labyrinthian hellscape of a year. Yet you know that, like so many other losses from 2020, even if you can pull them back, it won’t ever really be the same.

    If you survived 2020 without losing or severely damaging a significant relationship, one way or another, then consider yourself lucky. It’s not just a loss of individual people, either. The crippling toll of separation, even for introverts(Opens in a new tab), escalated social anxiety and disorders for some folks so much that they’re left unsure of whether they’ll be able to be around people up close like in the before times.

    We have been drowning in a world so subsumed by omnipresent grief that we didn’t know to call it anything other than a “new normal.”

    Like fish who don’t know they’re swimming in water(Opens in a new tab), we have been drowning in a world so subsumed by omnipresent grief that we didn’t know to call it anything other than a “new normal.” Nothing about this is normal. Failing to name grief only gives it more power, alienating us from not only each other but our own selves, denying us the awareness and collective mourning that helps us cope.

    One of the hardest parts of grief is reconciling with the permanence of your loss. That might sound contradictory to the hope we now feel after finally seeing the first people in the world get vaccinated(Opens in a new tab). At last, a glimmer of light at the end of the ever-darkening tunnel.

    But sometimes, that glimmer looks so far out in the distance that it only serves as a reminder of how far away the outside world still remains. It makes you wonder what kind of world even awaits us on the other side, if it’ll be at all recognizable, or something we want to live in.

    The trauma of everything we lost in 2020 cannot be cured by a vaccine.

    Like the grief I felt after my sister died suddenly four years ago, I know that eventually the rawness of this gaping wound will scab over and heal. Still, the scars of absence always remain. Mourning is not forever, but the loss of life, livelihood, normalcy, safety, dignity, certainly, and sanity we just experienced on such a massive scale is uncharted territory. It’s hard to not feel even more prolonged, anticipatory grief over the countless crises we can already see on the horizon of the post-pandemic world.

    The thing about grief people often fail to understand is how, eventually, you start to mourn the loss of grief itself. As time passes, as you settle more into stages of acceptance, the shape of your loss — of your loved one or missing part of you that’s gone forever — erodes too. Memories of them, of the way it was, start to fade along with the pain.

    You are shocked to realize you fear losing the grief itself — the visceral, tangible, living agony — most of all. Because once that’s gone, there will be nothing left but an empty hole where the people and things you loved used to be. You are terrified of rupturing the magical thinking that kept the permanence of loss at bay.

    We can’t go back to something that’s gone forever

    As the promise of a return to the world as it used to be rises, a new kind of grief comes with it. In the back of your mind, you worry that maybe you’ve been too successful at adapting to pandemic life, dreading the expectation that we can resume normal life as if nothing ever happened. Are the new selves we’ve had to become over this past year equipped to handle “normal” anymore? Do we even want to be?

    What if I can't go back? What if I don't want to? Credit: bob al-greene / mashable

    At this moment, as I only scratch the surface of all our losses and grievances in 2020, I am too angry to accept any pressure to just move on. I want justice, repercussions for the people and systems who failed us when we needed them most. I need retribution, recognition of everything that cannot be recovered. I seek revolution, because all those things 2020 robbed me of made me lose every ounce of trust in the “normal” world that got us here in the first place.

    But I know we won’t get any of that. Just like surviving the pandemic, learning to live with the aftermath of its innumerable traumas will be our individual burden to bear too.

    Personally and intellectually, I know we will recover from this. Human beings have been surviving collective grief throughout history. Most applicable to our current situation, the world did indeed come back from the 1918 Spanish Flu, though the public’s desire to forget rather than address the trauma of such losses made the residual experience of grief that much worse, according to STAT(Opens in a new tab). On the more drastic side of wide-scale historic grieving, Jewish people survived century after century of persecution, and it’s by no coincidence that their traditions are often grounded in reconciling with those traumas, honoring their collective losses. Black people around the world from the African diaspora also continue to transform the incalculable losses of all that was stolen from them in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade into a culture of art so powerful (from music to poetry to dance) that its impact often far surpasses anything from people in the white-dominated societies that still oppress them.

    I am done pretending that we can put a neat little bow on this ever-expanding monstrosity of loss that is 2020.

    Yet, despite knowing all that — the implacability of the human spirit in overcoming even the most severe cases of collective grief — I’m still not ready to concede to optimism yet. I am done pretending that we can put a neat little bow on this ever-expanding monstrosity of loss that is 2020.

    At the height of my grief after my sister died, I resented nothing more than the false platitudes people like to say to comfort themselves more than the bereaved. So I won’t do that. Psychology and grief counseling experts say that one of the best things you can do is try to make meaning out of grief. I found that one to actually be true in my previous experience.

    For now, I will sit here with my grief in the same room I’ve inhabited for almost 24 hours a day, seven days a week, over the past nine months. I will continue to let my grief reveal its shape to me, teach me the language for naming its every contour. Hopefully one day I will learn how to befriend my grief. Then maybe after that, I’ll know how to let go of the strange comforts found in mourning.

    Like all mortal things, grief dies too. Our only choice now is in how we lay it to rest.

    If you want to talk to someone or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, text the Crisis Text Line(Opens in a new tab) at 741-741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline(Opens in a new tab) at 1-800-273-8255. For international resources, this list(Opens in a new tab) is a good place to start.

  • The harsh history behind the internets favorite sea shanty

    The harsh history behind the internets favorite sea shanty

    It's easy to see why "Soon May the Wellerman Come" became TikTok's first viral hit of 2021. This jaunty 19th century earworm, sung so earnestly by a postman with a thick Scottish brogue(Opens in a new tab), is perfect for remixing with multiple layers(Opens in a new tab). Though musicologists will tell you it's technically a ballad, "Wellerman" fits our concept of a sea shanty as snugly as a cable-knit sweater. And shanties are perfect music for pandemic times(Opens in a new tab). We've spent months in isolation, yearning for the day when this ship of weirdness will reach the port of normalcy.


    But at the risk of raining on the internet's fun, the cheeriness of the tune is deceptive. "Wellerman" reveals a harsh history of exploitation and cruelty, hiding in plain sight in the lyrics. For example, the original singers' awaited "sugar and tea and rum" not because they loved candy, caffeine, and booze, but because they generally didn't get actual money: This was their pay packet. And as hilarious as "tonguing" sounds to us, it describes(Opens in a new tab) one of the worst jobs ever invented — stripping the blubber out of a rotting whale carcass.

    No wonder they wanted to take their leave and go.

    The right whale, or the whale right now

    ''South Sea Whale Fishery,' painted in 1836 — when the Wellerman company was most active. Credit: Print Collector / Getty Images

    It's hard to believe, in our everything-is-archived world, that such a catchy tune as "Wellerman" might easily have been lost forever. The song hails from New Zealand, likely some time in the 1830s. We only have it because a 1960s musician named Neil Colquhoun was in the habit of recording old folk tunes; this was one he heard from a man in his 80s, who'd learned it from his uncle.

    Colquhoun first published the song in 1965; by sheer coincidence, this was the same year New Zealand banned whaling. Thus ended a horrific form of hunting that began in 1791, when British ships bringing convicts to Australia started harpooning whales near New Zealand on their way home. (New Zealand's original settlers, the Maori, generally used whales that had been washed ashore rather than hunting them.)

    Whale oil was a foul-smelling thing, but its usefulness in lamps, candles, soap, food and industrial lubricants outweighed the odor. Whale bone was a sturdy material that could be thinly sliced and was used in brushes, corsets and especially umbrellas, before steel was a thing. In short, there was money in them thar whales.

    An illustration for an 1845 book shows all the ways whale oil was used. Credit: SSPL via Getty Images

    Anyone who has read Herman Melville's Moby-Dick (1851), or was forced to read it at school, has learned that whale oil was as "rare as the milk of queens." They also learned that whalers could literally be driven mad or drowned in pursuit of their giant quarry, and that New Zealand — mentioned a dozen times in Melville's book — was one of the centers of this global trade.

    Here in the 1830s, dozens of lonely whaling station teams hunted southern right whales, which could yield 75 barrels of whale oil each. The prices varied wildly from place to place, but in the U.S. that much whale oil could net you at least $150,000 in today's money, not counting the whale bone. That might help explain why the Billy o' Tea, the ship in the verses of "Wellerman," spent two weeks looking for a right whale and more than 40 days trying to kill the thing.

    The Billy o' Tea — a "Billy" is a pot used for heating water — appears to be a fictional ship. The listener is left to wonder whether this is a whaler's tall tale or, like Moby-Dick, a metaphor for human hubris. Can a captain really spend 40 days getting pulled around by a whale his crew harpooned, losing four other vessels in the process? Melville's Captain Ahab might have something to say about that.

    When the Wellerman came

    An engraving of life aboard a whaling ship, circa 1850 Credit: fotosearch / Getty Images

    So who was the Wellerman in the song, then, who arrives like a deus ex machina to supply the Billy o' Tea? Why, he was literally the man from Weller — as in Weller Bros., one of the earliest whaling and trading companies to make a fortune in New Zealand and Australia. Mellville actually worked on one of their ships in 1842(Opens in a new tab), meaning that for one brief moment the author of Moby-Dick was a Weller man.

    Company founder Joseph Weller was an expat Brit, a wealthy landowner from Kent. He took his family to Australia in the hope it would improve his health; he had a lifelong struggle with tuberculosis. On arrival, Weller and his three sons got into the trading game, and in 1831 they founded remote Otago whaling station on New Zealand's south island. If there was any particular location for a group of shanty singers to be doing the hated tonguing, it was Otago.

    The Wellers were doing a brisk trade, bringing in about 300 right whales per season and employing 80 people. But for as little as they paid in actual wages, they also paid a high personal price. In 1832 a Maori raiding party burned down Otago station for reasons unknown — possibly because the Wellers hadn't consulted the locals before blundering onto their land — and holding Joseph's son Edward hostage until dad paid up.

    Joseph rebuilt Otago in 1833, but lost his battle with tuberculosis there in 1835; his body was shipped back to Sydney in a cask of rum. (Presumably that was one cask not later used to pay his employees.)

    Edward Weller left Otago in 1840, never to return. The number of right whales began to decline. The Weller company went bankrupt shortly afterwards. Otago continued as a supply station for other whaling companies, which had started to shift focus to more lucrative and long-distance hunts for sperm whales. Edward reportedly(Opens in a new tab) died in a flood in New South Wales in 1893.

    SEE ALSO: Watch hundreds of people sing a sea shanty together, virtually

    What was left of their greedy, invasive, abusive, whale-slaughtering enterprise? Merely a song, invented by their roughneck employees, passed down generation to generation. "Wellerman" was recorded a dozen times(Opens in a new tab) since Colquhoun captured the song — most recently by The Longest Johns(Opens in a new tab), whose version inspired the TikTok perfomance. No doubt the Wellers would be delighted to know their name has been immortalized on a global network where songs are shared and re-sung.

    But context is key. So the next time you hit play on a version of "Wellerman," take a moment to remember the gruesome whale oil business it describes. Perhaps one day shanties will be sung about modern-day oil companies that are even more damaging to the environment; a rapidly warming planet would certainly be better off if they would take their leave and go.

  • In the bathroom at a party edits started as a meme. Now theyre beloved by internet wallflowers.

    In the bathroom at a party edits started as a meme. Now theyre beloved by internet wallflowers.

    Ever wanted to enjoy the sensation of being in the bathroom at a crowded house party from the comfort of your own home? Check out "but you're in the bathroom at a party" edits.


    In the bathroom at a party edits are versions of songs that sounds muffled and far away to replicate the way loud music sounds when you're a couple rooms over.

    You can look up any popular song with "in the bathroom at a party" on YouTube and find the mellowed out version. Take "Watermelon Sugar" by Harry Styles as an example, the YouTube results yield "Harry Styles watermelon sugar but you're making out in the bathroom at a party(Opens in a new tab)," "Harry Styles Watermelon Sugar but you are in a bathroom at a party(Opens in a new tab)," and "harry styles - watermelon sugar (bathroom party)(Opens in a new tab)." Each video features a stylized bathroom as the thumbnail.

    SEE ALSO: What does a memory sound like? TikTok remembers.

    These videos allow you to occupy the sacred space that is the secluded bathroom at a party: your friends are all a couple of rooms over, you can hear the music bumping, but for a moment you're alone. Like the bathroom does at a party, these edits provide you with a breather from the chaos of life. The edits allow you to listen to your favorite club songs but with a more chilled out feeling. Even the most upbeat, overwhelming songs become the perfect background noise to listen to while studying, working, relaxing, or sleeping. They are the edgy cousin to low-fi beats to chill out and study to. 

    Lennon Mitchell, the 20 year-old behind the popular YouTube channel "pain hours," tells Mashable that it takes 10 to 30 minutes to make an edit depending on the video length. "To achieve the sound you cut out the high end frequencies of the song and put in a lot of reverb," said Mitchell. 

    It’s not just the sound of the edits that creates a specific ambience. The artwork for these edits is all the same: an image of a generic empty bathroom bathed in bright colored monochromatic light. When you put on one of these videos the empty bathroom welcomes you into a liminal space. 

    What began as a meme is now a mainstay of the internet(Opens in a new tab). In 2017 an edit of Childish Gambino's "Redbone" titled, "What Redbone would sound like while you're making out in the bathroom of a house party" went viral on Twitter. It quickly became a popular meme with each subsequent edits more bizarre than the last like, "What Redbone would sound like if it was played in a manhole(Opens in a new tab)" and "What Redbone would sound like if it was sung by Carl Wheezer.(Opens in a new tab)" 

    By 2018, very specific edits of songs were no longer a joke, but a beloved niche corner of the internet. Edits like "Tyler the Creator - Boredom but its Played on a 1988 Sony Boombox on a Rainy Day(Opens in a new tab)" and "mr. brightside from another room(Opens in a new tab)" found an audience of lonely, pensive people. The comments of these videos are filled with remarks like, "Never knew I would come across a video this specific that's such a necessity to my life wow," and "This makes me feel oddly left out and nostalgic? Memories of crying at school dances and sitting alone in the bathroom."

    But the most popular of the specific edit of songs trend is in the bathroom at a party edits. They thrived on the internet for years and unsurprisingly gained popularity during the period of time when we all longed to be at a crowded party: quarantine.

    Mitchell’s videos typically feature a handful of popular songs from a given year. In a time when nostalgia became a main cultural force(Opens in a new tab) these videos thrived. Not only could you imagine you were at a crowded party, but you could transport yourself to the year of the before times of your choosing with popular songs from that era. The most popular video on Mitchell's channel is "you’re in the bathroom at a 2013 party(Opens in a new tab)" which has 3.8 million views.

    There's "even what 2020 parties would have sounded like and you were in a bathroom."(Opens in a new tab) Here people got to experience the year they missed out on by listening to 2020 chart toppers like "Mood" and "Dynamite." The comments read, "Lets pretend the pandemic didn't exist" and "this made me nostalgic for the parties we could never have."

    "I love listening to these edits because they give me a feeling I can’t describe," explained Mitchell. "Millions of people can relate to that nostalgia."

  • TikTok has turned against resin artists in the name of sustainability

    TikTok has turned against resin artists in the name of sustainability

    In Mashable’s series Wasted, we dig into the myriad ways we’re trashing our planet. Because it’s time to sober up.


    TikTok is turning against the viral resin art it made popular, but the backlash is opening up a larger conversation about who's responsible for the environmental crisis.

    When social distancing regulations and stay-at-home orders confined a majority of the world to their homes last year, DIY projects of all kinds grew in popularity during this pandemic. Many turned to crafting to ease anxiety(Opens in a new tab), which also provided a sense of productivity(Opens in a new tab) and accomplishment during and otherwise languishing year. In the midst of a job losses and economic standstill, some were able to monetize their skills.

    Resin is a gorgeous medium, and the process of creating art using it is ripe for viral content. From keychains to figurines to rolling trays, epoxy resin can be used to make any and all knick-knacks, and rake in views in the process. The swirling glitter, mesmerizing pours, and stunning finished product — often recorded and posted in multiple parts for more traffic to the artist's account — is a niche of its own on TikTok. The hashtag #resin has a staggering 8.8 billion views, with #resinart and #resinpour following at 5.4 billion and 1.7 billion views, respectively.

    Thanks to the medium's popularity, the marketplace Etsy is oversaturated with resin art. TikTok users started voicing concerns that the art's materials are ultimately contributing to excess waste, since these pieces aren't biodegradable. Videos of resin pours, which were once received with wonder, are now peppered with comments denouncing the medium(Opens in a new tab) as "unnecessary and bad for the environment." Some are already finding resin clutter at thrift shops.

    @narrativefoil(Opens in a new tab)


    ♬ insidious - Joseph Bishara(Opens in a new tab)
    @crusty_dusty_moth(Opens in a new tab)

    GUYS ITS HAPPENING #resin(Opens in a new tab) #thrifting(Opens in a new tab) #resincrafts(Opens in a new tab) #resinart(Opens in a new tab) #resinartist(Opens in a new tab) #smallbuisness(Opens in a new tab) #resinbusiness(Opens in a new tab) #thriftstore(Opens in a new tab) #smallbuisnesscheck(Opens in a new tab)

    ♬ original sound - Sam(Opens in a new tab)

    Epoxy resin, which is essentially plastic, is an ideal medium because it's more durable and lightweight than clay, glass, or metal, and it stays transparent as it hardens, which is why it's so popular for momentos. It's the most widely used type of resin in crafting because it's less likely to yellow over time like fiberglass resin, and it's more resistant to moisture damage than polyurethane resin.

    But resin doesn't break down and it's toxic before it fully cures. Amid its growing popularity as an art form over the last year, environmental activists are questioning whether the craft is worth it. Alaina Wood, an environmental planner based in Tennessee who primarily works with solid waste disposal, is especially concerned with the disposal of uncured resin. In a TikTok posted in January, she explained that uncured resin is a hazardous waste(Opens in a new tab), and businesses should not dispose of it at household hazardous waste facilities because they're commercial generators, not residential ones.

    @thegarbagequeen(Opens in a new tab)

    #stitch(Opens in a new tab) with @juulpodsleftthechat It’s 2021 and I’m back with my garbage and recycling ✨hot takes✨ #resin(Opens in a new tab) #resinwaste(Opens in a new tab) #hazardouswaste(Opens in a new tab)

    ♬ original sound - Alaina(Opens in a new tab)

    "I am not one to judge any artist's medium choice, but I do worry that because resin crafts have become popular lately, we will eventually see a lot more resin in landfills than we typically do," Wood told Mashable.

    She added that she still sees TikTok creators making resin crafts without the proper safety gear — uncured epoxy resin must be handled in a well-ventilated room while wearing a mask and gloves — and because of that, she worries that those creators aren't following the proper disposal protocols, either. Uncured resin is toxic to marine life and can leech into sewer systems(Opens in a new tab). Cured resin can be tossed out in regular trash, but it can't be recycled like other consumer plastics.

    "I hope that people aren't immediately throwing away resin crafts, but it is naïve to think resin crafts won't eventually be thrown out," Wood continued.

    While some environmentalists raised concerns about resin art over the last year, general backlash against the material ramped up on TikTok in the past few months. In the name of sustainability, TikTok users have started speaking out against resin art as a blight on local ecosystems by posting videos and berating artists themselves. Yume Cafe, an online shop that sells lipsticks, keychains, and resin-encased Pokémon cards, was a recent target of the anti-resin backlash.

    @yumecafecrafts(Opens in a new tab)

    Reply to @widerguy

    ♬ Crying, Woman - Authentic Sound Effects(Opens in a new tab)

    In response to a comment describing her art as "literal shit," Yume Cafe posted another video demolding a glittering resin-encased Pokémon Vulpix card. Countless resin artists have posted videos of their crafts with positive feedback, but for whatever reason, Yume Cafe's video of demolding that particular card received a flood of comments decrying resin as environmentally unsound. Though other TikTok users assured Yume Cafe that the product was beautiful, the comments directed at the account were largely critical for a few days after the video went viral. The video, which now has more than three million views, became a proxy for a larger discussion of personal environmental responsibility.

    How could activists attack small businesses and independent artists for sustainability practices when massive corporations, which produce far more waste in one day than said artists could produce in a lifetime, are rarely held accountable for contributing to the environmental crisis?

    "There will always be something new to hate on the internet."

    "It's a moot point to argue with people like that in my opinion," Yume Cafe told Mashable. She preferred to not share her real name. "It would just be a constant back and forth. There's others that'll do the arguing for me...There will always be something new to hate on the internet."

    She noted that she "got a relatively late start" in the resin crafting business — Yume Cafe opened in January — and credited that viral video with boosting her sales. Given the "unfortunate circumstances" that the pandemic caused, she's glad others have taken up crafting as well.

    The backlash against resin art parallels the backlash against plastic straws: It's well-intentioned, but it may not be the best use of time or energy. Plastic straws, like most single-use consumer plastic, aren't biodegradable and can't be recycled. They are, however, a boon to those with disabilities since paper and metal alternatives can be choking hazards, and drinking without a straw may not be an option.

    Banning plastic straws led to Starbucks switching to sippy cup-style plastic lids, which were thicker and heavier than their previous ones. The lids are recyclable, but as the Guardian noted, only 9 percent of the world's plastic is actually recycled(Opens in a new tab). Likewise, the push against resin art is questionable when it targets small businesses over corporations like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestle, which are the three largest producers of plastic waste in the world(Opens in a new tab).

    Kape, a TikTok creator and digital artist, has shifted her stance on resin art. She's known for her viral resin apocalypse series, which imagines a dystopian future in which few resources survive an environmental apocalypse except resin art. In one video, she jokes, "POV: it's 1000 years in the future and your mother is making you finish your dinner of resin pyramids and ashtrays."(Opens in a new tab) In another, her character finds a rare "real life flower,"(Opens in a new tab) but is intercepted by "the resin police." She even referenced a monument of internet history in a POV video, in which the resin police "are trying to figure out why someone would fill a jar with cream colored resin and has some random small rainbow and blue horse inside(Opens in a new tab)."

    (It's an unfortunate, but hilarious nod to infamous the My Little Pony cum jar(Opens in a new tab).)

    Kape told Mashable that her series isn't meant to bash resin artists themselves, but to make a lighthearted comment on pollution in general. A few videos in, she decided to change her pace.

    "Some things aren't very useful and [it] seems bad that someone would create something useless that will never decompose," Kape explained. That being said, as her videos grew in popularity, she noticed some viewers used them to justify bashing resin artists. "I find attacking artists or even anyone to be very rude. I take responsibility in people attacking them tho bc [sic] of my series. That's why I wanted to shift the series to the bigger picture of pollution and give some fictional context to why resin is important to the story."

    She eventually posted another video asking her viewers to stop attacking resin artists in the name of sustainability.

    @meowtownpolice(Opens in a new tab)

    you don't need to be rude to them on behalf of my creation #resinpocalypse(Opens in a new tab) #resin(Opens in a new tab) #resinart(Opens in a new tab)

    ♬ original sound - Kape(Opens in a new tab)

    Leaving negative comments on an artist's post is unlikely to convince them to change their ways, and is ultimately less helpful to the environmental cause when compared to actions against the world's top polluters. That same energy could be directed toward petitioning local governments to allocate more of its budget towards sustainability efforts, volunteering for community clean up projects, and calling for corporations to reduce waste. Still, environmental experts like Wood want to sway artists to consider more sustainable materials in addition to environmental conservation efforts.

    "I highly encourage artists to be mindful of the materials they use in their art and the way they dispose of them," Wood said. "For example, acrylic paints are also petroleum-based and must be disposed of differently than regular trash. Overall, I want to encourage artists to find more sustainable alternatives to both acrylic paint, epoxy resins, and so on if they have the means to do so."

    By doing so, we can avoid making the resin police a reality.

  • The crying Northwestern kid is back. And hes all grown up.

    The crying Northwestern kid is back. And hes all grown up.

    It's always a kick to see memes grow up. Remember "Success Kid" resurfacing(Opens in a new tab) as a teenager?


    Well, we've got another instance of a kid, once a meme, now all grown up. Back in 2017 there was a very expressive, very sad kid who was sobbing as Northwestern basketball lost to Gonzaga in the men's NCAA basketball tournament, otherwise known as March Madness. He became known as(Opens in a new tab) Crying Northwestern Kid.

    Crying no more. Credit: Corey Perrine/Getty Images

    Well Crying Northwestern Kid is actually named John Phillips, son of Jim Phillips, who was Northwestern's athletic director back in 2017. Phillips is now the commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). The Phillips duo was spotted at a NCAA tournament game featuring the ACC's University of Pittsburgh. And Crying Northwestern Kid is all grown up. Well, he's not like grown up but he's definitely not the 12-year-old he once was. Crazy how time works.

    The Athletic confirmed it was, indeed, John Phillips once again at the NCAA tournament.

    Sporting News published an article(Opens in a new tab) on Phillips on Wednesday. He's now a freshman at Harvard and wrote about becoming a meme in his admissions essay. He reflected on the passion that led to him becoming a meme.

    "As the dust settled, they knew this wasn’t something I was ashamed of," Phillips told Sporting News. "It was just something that happened. That's how passionate I was, and it just happened to get picked up by TV."

    A few years later and the TV cameras spotted him again, but this time, no tears.

  • The best travel apps you dont already know about: Plan, eat, navigate, and find activities

    The best travel apps you dont already know about: Plan, eat, navigate, and find activities

    Traveling takes a lot of planning, but it also takes a certain degree of spontaneity. Too much planning, and you're stripping yourself of the opportunity to stumble upon something great by chance. Too much spontaneity, and you'll find yourself missing out on interesting adventures that require you to plan ahead. The perfect collection of travel apps will help you balance both.


    SEE ALSO: The best travel sites to help you plan the perfect trip

    We've curated a collection of the best travel apps to help you do just that. Our list will help you plan your trip, explore local hidden gems, navigate cities, and connect with people — all while keeping your wallet happy and your body healthy. Don't expect to see super-obvious, super-famous apps you already know, though; the Ubers, Lyfts, and Wazes of the world didn't make the list because we know you're looking for discoveries.

    Best for planning

    1. PackPoint

    Free for iOS(Opens in a new tab), Android(Opens in a new tab). In-app purchases available.

    Never forget your phone charger again. Credit: SCREENSHOTS / MASHABLE COMPOSITE

    Hate making lists, but hate forgetting things even more? You might want to look into PackPoint. The app customizes packing lists based on weather forecasts and a questionnaire about your trip — where you're going, when you're going, what you're doing, etc.

    You can get all these features with the free app; but with a $2.99 in-app purchase, you'll also get to create custom activities and save their complimentary items for when you return to the app in the future.

    2. Hopper

    Free for iOS(Opens in a new tab), Android(Opens in a new tab).

    Your wallet will like Hopper. Credit: SCREENSHOTS / MASHABLE COMPOSITE

    Travel planning is stressful, especially when it comes with an expensive price tag. It gets a teeny bit easier, though, when you make it a habit to plan trips around your budget. Hopper can help you with that.

    The app watches billions of hotel and flight prices every day and draws on historical data to generate a color-coded calendar based on forecasted prices. What really makes Hopper stands out from its competitors, though, is the fact that it helps keep specific flights and hotels under your watch. Enable push notifications, and the app will tell you when it's the best time to book and alert you just before prices rise or right after they fall.

    3. Wanderlog

    Free for iOS(Opens in a new tab), Android(Opens in a new tab). In-app purchases available.

    Credit: Screenshot / Rizwana Zafer

    Wanderlog is an all-in-one travel planning app: from finding flights and reservations to selecting road trip routes and coordinating with friends, this app lets you plan your entire trip in one place. Not only does Wanderlog allow you to customize your own trips, but it also includes handy travel guides from users all over the world to make planning easier. While the app is free, users can opt to pay $40/year for Wanderlog Pro, which includes additional features like offline access, flight deals, and route optimization.

    Best for your body

    4. Timeshifter

    Free for i(Opens in a new tab)O(Opens in a new tab)S(Opens in a new tab), Android(Opens in a new tab). In-app purchases available.

    Jet lag is the worst. Maybe Timeshifter can help. Credit: SCREENSHOTS / MASHABLE COMPOSITE

    Here's a fact: You're lying if you say you enjoy jet lag. It makes you sleepy when you're supposed to be awake and throws your entire trip out of sync. Timeshifter is the one app I wish I had known about before I took a 16-hour flight home to visit my family earlier this year. Astronauts use it, elite athletes use it, and maybe you should check it out, too.

    The app was developed by scientists based on sleep and circadian neuroscience. It offers advice about when you should expose yourself to bright lights, when you should avoid caffeine, and when you should nap. The best part? It takes into account your habits, routines, and sleep patterns as it devises a personalized jet lag plan for you. A simple timeline detailing the plan makes it all the easier to follow. The downside? You only get one free plan. After that, it's $9.99 per plan or $24.99 for a year of unlimited plans.

    5. Flush

    Free for iOS(Opens in a new tab), Android(Opens in a new tab).

    This app will help you take care of your bathroom emergencies. Credit: SCREENSHOTS / MASHABLE COMPOSITE

    Listen, shitting your pants is not a good look. Download this public bathroom finder right this second before you ruin your perfectly-planned vacation outfit. You can thank me later.

    But seriously, Flush is as self-explanatory as apps get. Just open it, enable location services or type in your location — and voila, all the public bathrooms near you are listed and pinned on a map, along with logos that indicate whether they are free and disability-accessible. You can even add new public bathrooms to the app if you're feeling like an extra good Samaritan. Who knows? You could save someone from embarrassing themselves.

    Best for managing your money

    6. Trail Wallet

    Free for iOS(Opens in a new tab). In-app purchases available.

    Feel free to throw your receipts away. Credit: SCREENSHOTS / MASHABLE COMPOSITE

    Budgeting is difficult enough, let alone budgeting in a foreign currency. Many apps try to help with personal finance, but only a few offer features that help convert budgets and spending back-and-forth between local and foreign currencies with ease. Trail Wallet is among the few that does.

    Trail Wallet is built by full-time travelers and road-tested by thousands of travelers, and it's probably the most intuitive and user-friendly app of its kind — at least among the ones I've tested. A cartoon assistant sets you up and walks you through the app, kind of like a video game. Once you're in, you can set a daily budget and track your spending by the week and by categories. It makes converting currency easy, too — all you have to do is tap your screen while you're in the app's dashboard. You can also switch between currencies as you document your spending. You can track your first 25 transactions for free; after that, it takes a $4.99 one-time purchase for unlimited tracking.

    This app is iOS only, so Android users can try the free app Trabee Wallet(Opens in a new tab). It's similar to Trail Wallet, albeit slightly less user-friendly. If you want the app to automatically convert between currencies, though, you'll have to upgrade to the pro version for $1.99.

    7. GlobeTips

    Free for iOS(Opens in a new tab).

    You won't have to worry about being a shitty tipper while traveling. Credit: SCREENSHOTS / MASHABLE COMPOSITE

    Different countries have different tipping customs. No one likes to spend extra money tipping when they don't have to, or worse — not tipping when they're supposed to. GlobeTips can help with navigating different tipping norms across countries.

    Once you select a country, you have the option to either manually enter the bill amount or let the app's bill recognition technology do it for you. Use the sliding scale to adjust tip percentages based on the app's suggestion, and it will calculate and display both the tip and your total. Splitting the bill? The app will calculate that, too. You can also customize the app so that it's set to include or exclude taxes in its tip calculation.

    You can peep at tipping basics for each country on the free version, but you'll have to upgrade the app for $4.99 if you want to read the tip guide in full. This app is for iOS users only, however. Sorry Android heads, you'll just have to Google.

    Best for local experiences

    8. Airbnb

    Free for iOS(Opens in a new tab), Android(Opens in a new tab).

    Airbnb isn't just for short-term rentals. Credit: Screenshots / Mashable composite

    You probably already use Airbnb to book short-term rentals for your trips. But did you know you can use it to book experiences and activities with locals, too?

    With Airbnb Experiences, you can learn to roll pasta from scratch with a grandma in Italy or make mole with an indigenous cook in Mexico. You can go on a music history and culture tour with a DJ in Cuba, or adventure in the desert with a local from Oman. The app offers more than 3,000 cooking experiences in 75 countries; 1000-plus animal experiences guided by biologists, conservationists, and animal lovers; and over 500 multi-day, all-inclusive trips led by locals. The options are abundant, really.

    9. Eatwith

    Free for iOS(Opens in a new tab) and Android(Opens in a new tab).

    You might have better luck avoiding bad food with Eatwith Credit: SCREENSHOTS / MASHABLE COMPOSITE

    If we're being honest, half of traveling is just experiencing the local cuisine. And there's nothing more disappointing than when you're expecting good food but end up at a tourist trap. Well, eating with locals is one way to avoid that.

    Eatwith hand-picks locals from more than 130 countries to host dinner parties, food tours, and cooking classes. You can take a paella cooking class in someone's private garden, dine in a London tube train, or enjoy a gourmet dinner at a Michelin chef's kitchen. Want to keep your belly happy? It might not be a bad idea to look into one of the 5000-plus dining experience Eatwith offers.

    10. Meetup

    Free for iOS(Opens in a new tab) and Android(Opens in a new tab). In-app purchases available.

    Meetup will help you find people who share similar interests wherever you are. Credit: SCREENSHOTS / MASHABLE COMPOSITE

    Great minds think alike, and they get together with the help of Meetup. Maybe you're looking for a fellow photographer to capture the beauty of the city you're visiting, maybe you want to join in on a protest while you're around, or maybe you're just looking for an open mic or a stand-up show for fun. In any case, Meetup will help facilitate that.

    The platform is all about connecting people with similar interests. It has more than 44 million users and more than 333,000 meetup groups, so you're bound to find something. Once you find a group that interests you, you can request to become a member and attend its events. The app is free unless you're trying to organize groups and events yourself — in which case you'll have to pay for a subscription starting at $9.99. What better way to experience a city than connecting with locals?

    11. Culture Trip

    Free for iOS(Opens in a new tab) and Android(Opens in a new tab).

    Culture Trip is great for discovering hidden gems. Credit: SCREENSHOTS / MASHABLE COMPOSITE

    Think of Culture Trip as a hybrid between a city guide publisher and a digital media company. With the app, you'll get to explore a city's personality, culture, offerings, and intricacies through original video series, stories, and listicles like "New York City Hacks Even Locals Don't Know," "The 10 Best Kept Secrets in Amsterdam," and "The 8 Best Boutique Hotels in Tokyo." The app is great for if you want to experience a city beyond the obvious tourist attractions. The best part? it's all free.

    12. Too Good To Go

    Free for iOS(Opens in a new tab), Android(Opens in a new tab).

    Credit: Screenshot / Rizwana

    While indulging in local cuisine is one of the best parts about traveling, food expenses can add up quickly. Too Good To Go allows you to buy a variety of surplus food from local restaurants at a reduced price. Now available in 17 countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Germany, the app lets you save on food so you could put that money towards other travel-related expenses. Plus, you’ll also be reducing food waste at the same time: it’s too good to pass up. 

    13. Bandsintown

    Free for iOS(Opens in a new tab), Android(Opens in a new tab).

    Credit: Screenshot / Rizwana Zafer

    Thanks to Bandsintown, you could find and purchase tickets for local concerts while traveling. The coolest feature of the app is that you could sync to other music apps like Spotify, catering your concert feed to your personal musical interests. Bandsintown also gives you the option to explore hotels and rentals near concert venues, making concert-hopping a breeze.

    Best for navigation

    14. Citymapper

    Free for iOS(Opens in a new tab) and Android(Opens in a new tab).

    Unlike most navigation app, Citymapper is designed for public transit commuters. Credit: SCREENSHOTS / MASHABLE COMPOSITE

    Sometimes, the best way to experience a city is through its public transportation system. It's a cost-efficient way to surround yourself with locals and get a feel for the city's daily hustle and bustle. Alas, many navigation apps are built and designed around driving; Citymapper is not one of them.

    Citymapper's interface looks similar to most other navigation apps, but it's laced with simple, thoughtful touches that make a big difference for public transportation commuters. Once you select a city, the app will direct you to a local map where you can easily view built-in public transit maps, schedules for transportation nearby, and alerts of route changes, tardiness, etc.

    The maps in this app are also built specifically to reflect the nuances of, and differences between, each city's public transportation offerings. Citymapper's version of New York City, for example, includes information about the subway, buses, shared bikes, trains, ferries, and PATH (which connects New York and New Jersey); in Hong Kong, it offers information also about trams, minibusses, and what locals call the "red van."

    For now though, Citymapper is only available in 41 major cities. While users can vote and help decide which maps the app should develop next, those who are road-tripping or traveling to places outside of City Mapper's coverage will probably have an easier time using something like Google(Opens in a new tab) Maps(Opens in a new tab).

    15. AllTrails

    Free for iOS(Opens in a new tab) and Android(Opens in a new tab). In-app purchases available.

    For the outdoor junkies. Credit: Screenshots / Mashable Composite

    AllTrails is for travelers who love the great outdoors. The app offers access to more than 100,000 trail maps alongside a filtering feature that lets you sort them by difficulty, distance, elevation, activity type, attractions, accessibility, traffic, and user rating. Looking for an easy, dog-friendly trail for bird-watching? AllTrails can help you with that. An off-road driving trail that passes a waterfall, a wheelchair-friendly camping trail near a river, a running trail with beautiful wildflowers? Check, check, and check. The app also features a GPS-tracking function that keeps tabs on your location, progress, pace, elevation, and speed. Hate the wilderness? It's still a great way to explore nearby parks.

    You'll get all the features we just mentioned with the free app. But if you're an avid outdoor junkie looking to navigate trails offline, receive off-route notifications, or share real-time location with safety contacts, you'll have to upgrade to the pro version for $29.99 a year or $59.99 for three years.

    16. Omio

    Free for iOS(Opens in a new tab), Android(Opens in a new tab).

    Credit: Screenshot / Rizwana Zafer

    Have you ever misplaced your travel tickets right before you’re supposed to board a flight? With Omio, losing your lousy paper tickets can be a thing of the past. Omio lets you book and keeps track of all your tickets, whether they’re for flights, buses, or trains, in one place. The app also offers international customer support, and exclusive offers for saving on transportation, and is available in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

    17. Rome2rio

    Free for iOS(Opens in a new tab), Android(Opens in a new tab).

    Credit: Screenshot / Rizwana Zafer

    Available in 160 countries, Rome2rio is a must for avid travelers. Not only does the app show you the best ticket options to get from point A to point B, but it also allows you to access your ticket information offline and search for hotel accommodations across cities. While most travel apps require a specific city in the search query for directions, Rome2rio allows users to enter small landmarks and locations for route searches instead, making traveling in unknown areas much easier.

    Best for connecting

    18. Google Translate

    Free for iOS(Opens in a new tab) and Android(Opens in a new tab).

    Google Translate does so much more than text-to-text translation. Credit: SCREENSHOTS / MASHABLE COMPOSITE

    Google Translate may be helpful for lazy students looking to cheat their way out of Spanish class, but it's helpful for travelers heading to places where they don't speak the language, too.

    The app supports 103 languages for basic text translation and 59 languages for offline text translation. What really comes in handy when you're traveling, though, is the instant camera and conversation translation features. Point your camera at a sign, and the app will detect and translate the text for you as long as it's within the 90 languages it supports. Speaking to a taxi driver or an Airbnb host? Use the bilingual conversation feature to communicate with them on the fly; it supports 43 languages.

    The app is free with no strings attached. So just download it, and you're ready to go.

    19. Wifi Finder + Map

    Free for iOS(Opens in a new tab). In-app purchases available.

    Your messaging apps are useless without the internet, anyway. Credit: SCREENSHOTS / MASHABLE COMPOSITE

    We could be recommending a number of messaging apps you already know about here, but what you really need is internet access. Sure, apps like Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, iMessage, FaceTime, and WeChat can connect you with friends and family abroad for free; but they're all useless without the internet. Wifi Finder + Map, which draws information from a crowdsourced database about Wifi locations and speed, can help solve that problem.

    As soon as you open the app, you'll see all the WiFi spots near you. They come with labels based on their locations — hotel, cafe, restaurant, bars, etc. — which you can use to filter through based on your needs. What differentiates this app from other WiFi locators, though, is the fact that it shows you how quickly each network responds to what you're trying to do — e-mailing, web-browsing, gaming, streaming, or video-chatting. To access and use the finder without internet though, you'll have to purchase a subscription for $7.99 a year or $4.49 for three months.

    WiFi Finder + Map is currently available only on the App Store. Android users can try WiFi Map(Opens in a new tab), although it does not offer the same speed analysis as Wifi Finder + Map.

  • The 11 best tweets of the week, including hummingbird feet, beer, and Melinda Gates

    The 11 best tweets of the week, including hummingbird feet, beer, and Melinda Gates

    It's Friday, May 7, 2021 and no...that doesn't feel right? It's May 7?


    I could've sworn it was March 2020. Maybe it is. Who knows? Anyway, it's Friday, baby! How 'bout that?

    To celebrate the end of the week, we collected some of the tweets that made us laugh in the past seven days. Why? Because it's nice to laugh, that's why.

    Let's get to it. Here they are, our 12 favorite tweets of the week.

    1. Oh this one's a banger

    2. You know what — and I say this with great love in my heart for the humble em dash — this one really hit me where it hurts and for that reason I am including it

    3. Sus!

    4. A PERFECT story and perhaps the best day of this guy's life

    5. OK, I wouldn't call this one funny, per se, but it is important

    6. Perfect

    7. Obligatory dril tweet

    8. Brilliant, and potentially frightening, idea

    9. I just...

    10. Again, must say, I just...

    11. And finally, yes, this is my own tweet from last Friday but let's all take this energy into the weekend, friends

  • The cartoon gorilla that taught a generation to not click download

    The cartoon gorilla that taught a generation to not click download

    Before Siri and Alexa, there was Bonzi. In the early 2000s, a purple, talking gorilla named BonziBuddy was billed as a free virtual assistant, ready for all your internet needs. It could talk, search for you, sing, send emails — and anyone with a computer could download it for free.


    Turns out, that was the big problem. Bonzi wasn’t your friend; it was malware, and it was released at the perfect time. Following the burst of the dot com bubble, investors pulled their money from the web and online companies needed a new way to profit. In response, the internet turned into an advertising ecosystem, with pop-up ads taking over browsers. At the same time, new users were flocking to the internet without any idea what was safe to click on and download. Cute virtual assistants, like Microsoft Bob and Clippy, were designed to fill in those knowledge gaps, becoming your friendly guides to the internet.

    It was all a perfect stage for Bonzi. When that purple gorilla popped up on your screen, it would've seemed just like all the other virtual assistants out there already. Kids, grandparents, and office employees were all downloading BonziBuddy with abandon — until it all imploded. Behind the facade of that friendly gorilla, Bonzi Software, the company responsible for BonziBuddy, was collecting private information and contacts from the unsuspecting internet users who downloaded it — and bombarding them with ads and pop-ups that Bonzi would profit from.

    In the third episode of Kernel Panic, we explore the rise and fall of one the friendliest-looking pieces of malware of all time. It’s the story of how one seemingly harmless ape preyed on early internet users and then paid the price, teaching all of us how much we had to lose from so-called “free” downloads.

  • In praise of taking yourself seriously on dating apps

    In praise of taking yourself seriously on dating apps

    One sentence that's guaranteed to make me swipe hard left is this: "I'm looking for someone who doesn't take themselves too seriously."


    Sincerest apologies to anyone with this line in their dating app profile, but if you want my advice, you should probably reconsider immediately. Your intentions were of course in the right place, but to many well-seasoned daters, this highly prevalent statement is a major red flag.

    To me, this line means a number of things. It reads as code speak for "I'll make offensive jokes and say 'ugh, chill' when you don't laugh." Another possible subtext is "I won't put labels on our relationship and I'll call you a psycho if you ask me to." And what's that? I'm getting a strong whiff of "I'm emotionally unavailable."

    In my experience, no good has ever come of saying "don't take yourself too seriously" in an in-person, real-life interaction. It's a little like telling someone to "calm down" in an argument — one surefire way to have the exact opposite effect of the desired outcome.

    Credit: mashable / hinge screenshot

    But hey, that's just my opinion. When I asked the good people of Twitter how they felt about this popular sentence on Hinge profiles, and whether they would respond to someone with it in their profile, the reaction was pretty interesting. With 569 people responding to the survey, 55.9 percent stated it'd be a hard pass if they spotted that line on someone's profile. 24.1 percent said they'd give them a chance, and 20 percent said they wouldn't care. Franki Cookney, sex and relationships journalist, described this line(Opens in a new tab) as "100 percent code for 'I do not give a fuck about your opinion'." As journalist Rosie Spinks put it in response to the poll(Opens in a new tab): "Translation: I don't want to deal with your emotions or anything hard because I am emotionally avoidant. I regard it as a deal breaker."

    SEE ALSO: How to set boundaries in the early stages of dating

    In the replies to my tweet, some said they associate this line with people who "cancel on you 3 times in row then tell you to 'chill out,'" while others associated it with gaslighting, offensive jokes, toxic behaviour, and a refusal to take the relationship seriously.

    Writing about the Seriously Phenomenon in Harpy(Opens in a new tab) magazine(Opens in a new tab), Althaea Sandover mused about the patriarchal connotations of straight men stipulating they're looking for women who don't take themselves "too seriously." "These Seriously Bros want a certain idealised woman; one who isn't 'stuck up' or 'high maintenance.' They want a woman who doesn't think too highly of herself to ever date guys like them," wrote Sandover.

    Straight male daters have pointed out(Opens in a new tab) that this line is very prevalent in women's profiles, too, which suggests it really might be time for everyone to retire this hackneyed phrase.

    "While you may be tempted...this line is overused."

    Logan Ury, director of relationship science at Hinge, knows all too well just how much use this phrase is getting. "Your Hinge profile is your opportunity to make a great first impression. You want to stand out and show people who you really are," Ury told Mashable. "While you may be tempted to write 'I want someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously,' this line is overused."

    "That means people will scroll past it. Instead, write specific, original responses that show us who you are. For example, 'I’m looking for someone who loves puns and singing during car rides as much as I do,'" Ury added.

    Credit: mashable / hinge screenshot

    Aside from being overused and somewhat loaded in its meaning, this line just doesn't make sense to me. Have you ever come away from an interaction and been like, "I like her! She doesn't take herself seriously!" I certainly haven't.

    It's a very admirable quality to believe in yourself, to back yourself fully and — dare I say —seriously. Nothing is sexier than someone with (justified, empirically-backed) confidence in their own ability, talent, and aspirations (not to be confused with arrogance, delusion, and baseless confidence).

    Above all else, recognising your worth is honestly vital when you're in the dating game. In order to be seriously considered as a partner by someone, you must take yourself seriously first. In a dating context, taking yourself seriously means knowing what you want and asking for it, and not settling for a nebulous, no-labels situationship if that isn't what you're looking for. Taking yourself seriously also translates as setting boundaries and maintaining them.

    Daters, if you're looking for someone who'll laugh at your jokes even when they're not funny: just come out and say it. You might actually find someone willing to do that. But if you want to be taken seriously in the 2020 dating stakes, I'd recommend ditching the aforementioned tired line.

    To bastardise a famous RuPaul line: If you can't take yourself seriously, how in the hell are you going to take somebody else seriously?