Missing Children: Learn the Risks and How to Help Bring Kids Home

missing children

Learn the most common reasons children go missing and how to help bring them to safety. National Missing Children’s Day is May 25. Almost exactly four years ago, on a sunny June day in a beautiful Atlantic beach town, I thought my life was ending. My son, Raymond, who was just a few weeks from his third birthday, disappeared on a crowded boardwalk. We’d just gotten off the Jolly Trolley at the boardwalk — Raymond, his two older sisters, my husband and I. For less than a minute, my husband and I took our eyes off the kids while we discussed where we wanted to eat dinner. Less than a minute. How many times have you taken your eyes off your child in a public place for a few seconds? You dig through your purse at the grocery store. You text your spouse. You crane your neck, searching for the        …read more

5 Less Flashy Endangered Species That Need Our Help

endangered species

We’re rooting for pandas as they make their big comeback, but here are five lesser-known endangered species that need our support too. In sixth grade science class, I was assigned a report on an endangered species. The idea was simple: each student would research an animal and report on why it was endangered and why it was important to save them. In practice, students competed over a handful of very popular animals, scarcely even bothering to look at the rest of the list. I was on Team Giant Panda, and our teacher eventually relented and let a whopping three of us tackle the majestic black-and-white creature. The details I learned about giant pandas stunned me and stayed with me. The experience also left me with questions about how we interact with endangered animals: Are the animals who need the most help getting the most attention? An endangered species is a        …read more

It's Not Just Millennials: Why We Love (And Love to Hate) Pink

color connotations

It’s the color that divides us, but why? Growing up, I told anyone who would listen that my favorite color was green. It wasn’t untrue. I’ve always been obsessed with color, and the color green appealed to me on a fundamental level because there was so much of it outside. But claiming green was also about something else: the color connotations of pink were too much for me. As a little girl growing up in the ’90s, surrounded by Barbies and My Little Ponies, it was important to me to reject the color pink. By asserting that I didn’t care for pink, even at the age of seven, I tried to tell the world I was not that sort of girl. In a perfect example of internalized misogyny, I understand pink to be the color of “girly girls,” of Barbie Dream Houses, of blush and lipstick and weakness. I couldn’t        …read more

5 Obscure Religions Practiced Today

world religions

Beyond the world religions you’ve heard of, here are some lesser-known belief systems that might surprise you. While more than half of the human population follows one of three world religions — Christianity, Islam or Hinduism — there are thousands of religions in practice today. World religions like Buddhism, Judaism and Chinese folk religion are well-known and account for a significant portion of the population. But what about some of the lesser-known religions? What are they all about? Take a look at five obscure religions currently in practice. 1. Servants of the Light Founded in 1965 by W. E. Butler, a British occultist, Servants of the Light is part of a long line of organizations and groups that believe in the teachings of mystical Qabalah (very similar to Kabbalah, which Madonna has been known to practice). Basically, Servants of the Light espouses that humans can harness psychic powers and accurately        …read more

Intuition Is Key to Innovation in Creative Business

creative business

Kim Chestney, founder of CREATE! Festival, says a thriving creative business depends on intuition. In 2017 roughly 3.5 million people in the United States were employed in the Creative Industries by over 674,000 businesses, ranging from museums and symphonies to design and advertising firms — and this is an extremely conservative approach to documenting those currently employed in creative fields. In contrast, the political and economic juggernaut Walmart employed only 2.3 million people globally in that same year. Still, why should we care about the Creative Industries at all? Because as we move from the information age into an age of imagination, creative businesses and artist entrepreneurs may become the driving force behind an automated and mostly digital economy. And the key to harnessing this power comes down to our intuition. At least that’s how Kim Chestney, the founding director of Pittsburgh’s CREATE! Festival and recent addition to the advisory council        …read more

Why Does My Cat Look Like That? Adventures in Cat Genetics!

cat facts

Impress your friends with these cat facts based on genetics research. I come from a whole family of cat people. A month after moving into my first solo apartment, I walked into my local Humane Society and scooped up an orange-and-white kitten, a male, out of a pile of otherwise all female kittens who looked just like him. When I told people the story, more than one responded with “I thought all orange cats were boys!” I was soon fielding questions about Jonah’s (yeah, that’s my cat’s name) family of origin. I thought I was pretty knowledgeable of cat facts, but there was an area of feline culture where I was severely lacking: genetics. A little digging plunged me into a fascinating world of cat genetics. It turns out that cats, especially their coat colors, have been used as an example to teach genetics for years. And because cats are        …read more

4 Strange Rituals Practiced around the World

strange rituals

From sky burials to infant dropping, these strange rituals may shock you. Throughout the world, many countries have long been known for their strange rituals and traditions. Whether it’s simply a peculiar marriage custom or a bizarre funeral rite, cultural rituals vary widely from place to place. Assembled below are some of the most bizarre traditions and rituals from around the world. 1. Sky Burials, or Celestial Funerals (Tibet) Though “sky burial” may sound like some form of elaborate ceremony involving a helicopter or plane, it’s actually a practice involving the exposure of a corpse to natural elements (typically in an elevated location on a picturesque mountainside) until the corpse has been eaten by vultures and condors. Referred to as jhator (“giving alms to the birds’), the custom stems from Vajrayana Buddhism, which teaches the transmigration of spirits. According to jhator, because life is inherently connected to nature, bodies are        …read more

A Closer Look at Media Representations of Jewish People

media representation

How Jews have been presented in film and TV, and why media representation matters. In an episode of Master of None, the characters talk about media representation of Indian people and other marginalized groups. Their conclusion is that there have been great strides recently, if you’re Black or gay. Now, growing up Jewish in the Midwest, I spent a good portion of my life looking at how we were represented. That is, not too well. There are three basic problem areas in media representation of marginalized groups: invisibility, conformity and stereotypes. Let’s look at how these have affected Jews through TV and movie history. 1. Invisibility One problem area in media representation is what I call invisibility. This is the erasure, through omission, of a culture or race. The whole point here is to hide something uncomfortable. I remember the hullaballoo created when Ellen had a lesbian kiss. It was        …read more

12 Times We Set Aside Differences and Showed Human Decency in 2017

human decency

Last year, division dominated our newsfeeds. But there was so much human decency to be found. Take a look. The year 2017 was turbulent both in America and abroad. After the most divisive election in modern history, our newsfeeds were dominated by heated (and often hostile) debates about everything from economics to social issues. As the year came to a close, it was easy to feel disheartened because it seemed we were divided beyond repair. But not so fast! Although these divisions were deep and painful, there were multiple occasions in 2017 that people of all backgrounds, races and political leanings came together to display extraordinary acts of kindness and respect. Here’s a look back at some of the most beautiful, inspiring displays of human decency and unity in 2017. 1. Joe Biden comforted Meghan McCain, whose dad is battling brain cancer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiXa9RsY0kc Former Vice President Joe Biden lost his        …read more

Communal Living Is Back — For Some, It Never Went Away

Communal living opportunities are popping up nationwide, appealing to everyone from singles in their 20s to retired couples. Sky Blue loves communal living. And, yes, that’s his real name. “My parents were hippies,” says Blue, 37. And he appears to be following in their footsteps, quite literally. Blue’s parents met at Twin Oaks Intentional Community, a 350-acre piece of land stretching a mile up from the South Anna River in Virginia. The community currently houses about 90 adults and 15 children. Ages range from newborn to 80 years old. Here’s where it gets unconventional: they share everything, from clothing to the residences, which house 10 to 20 each, to their 18 vehicles. They also share income, which goes to a collective. They’re all dedicated completely to communal living. “In some respects, it’s like a 100-person family,” Blue said. These strangers-turned-families who live in intentional communities are popping up throughout the        …read more