For Your Enjoyment #45

More than a year in the making, our new adventure jumpsuit was inspired by one of our customer favorites, the REI Co-op Sahara Convertible pants. They’re comfortable and attractive, with a zip-off design that takes them from pants to shorts. But why stop there? Why not four zippers per leg for even more adjustability? For that matter, why even stop at pants? We asked ourselves: What would the world look like if you could have a single piece of hyperlight, super-breathable and ultra-warm apparel? .... “The cape is my favorite feature. There have been so many times I’ve been snowboarding and going for a big drop, and I thought ‘I left my cape at home,’” Adam said. Plus, the cape doubles as a bib for those messy camp meals.

- REI's April Fools' product is SO GOOD (video above)

Dubbed “Project Sage Hopper” by the WWGD team responsible for evaluating the viability of Wyoming’s habitat for Australian marsupials, it has been in the planning stages for 3 years. The goal is two-fold: Create new and interesting wildlife viewing opportunities for tourists, and in several years, potentially provide additional hunting opportunities. “Antilopine means ‘antelope-like, so we are interested to see how these kangaroos adapt to Wyoming’s wild landscapes,” WMI Director Matt Kauffman said. “If they start migrating, we’ll be tracking their movements, looking to see how they learn to exploit the sage steppe and the mountains, where they ‘hopover,’ those sorts of things.”

- Another great April Fools' story (read a response from the news outlet here)

During a speech on Thursday, President Trump revealed a striking ignorance of one of the pillars of his country’s educational system. In the course of promoting his infrastructure plan, he, a bit perplexingly, dismissed the country’s community colleges, suggesting he doesn’t know what purpose they serve. “We do not know what a ‘community college’ means,” he told the crowd in an Ohio training facility for construction apprentices, moments after expressing nostalgia for the vocational schools that flourished when he was growing up—schools that offered hands-on training in fields such as welding and cosmetology.

- Just stop

“It doesn’t matter what era we live in — visibility is so important because … little queer kids need to see flamey people like me and Jonathan [Van Ness],” Kressley said. “It’s okay to be any kind of person you want to be; it’s okay to be who you are. I think that’s why it’s important that it’s back.”

- The original cast of "Queer Eye" on the new reboot (which I may or may not have binge-watched in one sitting)

"Tomi the bear was forced to live in a cramped concrete enclosure outside a restaurant in Albania where he was fed beer and white bread as an attraction for tourists," Claire LaFrance, communications director for Four Paws, told The Dodo. His rescuers believe that Tomi was in that terrible little cage ever since he was a baby. "We assume that Tomi was caught in the wild as a cub and had been living in the squalid conditions for roughly two years before we rescued him," LaFrance said. Even though he could glimpse that there was a world outside his cage, all poor Tomi could really sense was the cold concrete floor and the bars around him. But people were determined to make sure Tomi got to experience much more than that. For the past few years, people from Four Paws have been working with governments across eastern Europe to coordinate the release of bears like Tomi, who have been stolen from the wild and exploited for entertainment. Gradually, these bear rescuers have been able to bring more and more bears to their sanctuary in Kosovo — Bear Sanctuary Prishtina — which was recently expanded so it could provide a home for even more rescued bears.

- Read more about Tomi and and other rescued bears over here and here (warning: you may shed a few tears of happiness) 

For decade after decade, generation after generation, [National Geographic] reinforced and reflected racial stereotypes that its white American readers were accustomed to and with which they were largely comfortable. Flick through back issues and you see a magazine almost entirely at ease with this colonial mindset. Had that all begun to change in the 1960s, during the era of civil rights and decolonisation, there would be no need for a “race issue” in 2018. But it didn’t. ...The decision to confront its past could, perhaps, be explained away as a strategically savvy attempt by a famous brand to reposition itself for the new America that demographic forecasting tells us is coming, no matter what Trump and the “alt-right” do. But what is happening at Nat Geo feels like more than that. “We are at a moment of some reckoning in our society,” said [editor in chief, Susan] Goldberg in a recent PBS interview. She is right.

- "For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist. To Rise Above Our Past, We Must Acknowledge It."

[The Hazelton, PA annual festival] Funfest, in Sally Yale’s eyes, became too scary. Too uncomfortable. To be honest … too brown. “You just know if you go to a public event, you know you are going to be outnumbered,” Sally Yale says. “You know you’re going to be the minority, and do you want to go?” For Yale, the answer was no. “We joke about it and say we are in the minority now,” says Bob Sacco, a bartender at A&L Lounge, a tavern on a street now mainly filled with Latino-owned storefronts. “They took over the city. We joke about it all the time, but it’s more than a joke.”

- (Not-so) White America 

 ‘Two cats + feral toms = 24 kittens in one year, and that is with us ACTIVELY trying to trap/neuter/release. If we hadn’t? CATPOCALYPSE.’

- This couple went from having 0 cats to 24 rescued kittens.

[San Francisco's] Japantown (J-Town) is not as picturesque as the tourist magnet of Chinatown, that’s several big hills east of here – but it has its own story to tell. The Japanese moved to this area after the 1906 earthquake, when the areas where they then lived burned down. J-Town has had to weather two other cataclysms: the internment of its 5,000 inhabitants during the second world war and an urban renewal scheme in the 1960s that saw most of its original buildings bulldozed. “My family was displaced by the scheme,” says Richard Hashimoto, the current head of the Japantown Merchants’ Association. “Many never came back. We went from 36 [city] blocks to nine. And, with the current tech-driven real-estate boom in the city, the mom-and-pop businesses that did make it have another struggle.” ... “Persistence is our story,” Hashimoto says. “The challenge for our small family businesses is both with rising real-estate costs and seeing if the next generation will will carry on the business.”

- SF's Japantown: its history, its culture and its future

"Overall very good first impressions. Sturdy built, totally winter-ready and waterproof. Only comes in brown but that’s actually a plus for me."

- The internets' #rateaspecies is really good

Claire’s Stores Inc., the fashion accessories chain where legions of preteens got their ears pierced, is preparing to file for bankruptcy in the coming weeks, according to people with knowledge of the plans.

- NOOOOO, NOT MY CHILDHOOD

The same industry — composed of reality television and gossip blogs — that aided and exploited [Paris] Hilton's rise also eroded her celebrity. The Simple Life was, in fact, remarkably simple, a narrative playing up a caricature of Hilton that operated in a bubble apart from the real world. And while she was able to parlay that reality television persona into a lucrative fragrance and fashion brand (and a forever-iconic pop single, if not a full-fledged pop career), she didn’t keep up with the changes of the reality-celebrity landscape. Instead, a new generation of reality personalities — from Real Housewives and Kardashians to Sur servers — figured out how to turn themselves into brands whose "real” lives were integral to their shows. Gossip blogs and social media feuds became parts of the plot, demanding a constant stream of content and convincing performances of authenticity. But Hilton only got caught being "real" (usually through an arrest, or friend feud) outside of her reality productions, and seemed unwilling to embrace the scandals of her own making as part of her brand or her onscreen narrative. The public soon grew bored. By the time Kim Kardashian appeared on the scene, Hilton had become an emblem of a quaint past where mystery could still work as PR strategy, rather than a part of the media future where nothing is private and everything — if you look at it the right way — is content.

- "Why Paris Hilton Disappeared" - This BuzzFeed article is a surprisingly good read

Similar to the rise of Cardi B, the way [Tiffany] Haddish presents herself is simply too loud, too black and too woman. A potpourri of all three. Or how Mo’Nique “had a point,” but the way she said it wasn’t sitting right with some folks. Haddish is the latest black woman accused of “cooning,” “skinnin’ and grinnin’” and “shuckin’ and jivin’.” So, I have to ask, if Haddish is doing the Nae Nae for the white gaze, who is your respectability politics boogie for? At a time when it is trendy to be “unapologetically black,” there’s something about the way certain “blackness” is excluded that doesn’t quite curl all the way over. You can’t be unapologetic with an asterisk. Blackness encompasses an immeasurable index of idiosyncrasies, and its fluidity is what makes it worthy of endearment. Haddish’s presentation of blackness is just as dope and valid as Angela Rye’s.

- "It's Hot to Be Unapologetically Black...Unless"

Simon would later describe The Wire in different ways: as “Greek tragedy for the new millennium,” with sclerotic institutions playing the role of callous, indifferent gods; as a story about “the triumph of capitalism over human value”; and as a chronicle of “the decline of the American empire”. On Homicide: Life on the Street, NBC executives would repeatedly ask the writers: “Where are the victories?” The Wire avoided victories, preferring to show corruption, failure and decay. In this show, reformers would be thwarted, crooks rewarded and ordinary people ground down by the system. The Wire was as much journalism as entertainment – a form of protest television. The most frequent question asked in this writers’ room was: “What are we saying?”

- The Wire: 10 years later 

Lifestyle vintners have also left their mark on Napa’s landscape. Most refer to themselves with straight faces as “farmers,” even as “environmentalists,” while more trees are cut on surrounding mountainsides for yet more vineyards. They loudly praise the valley’s exemplary past and glorious future while exploiting its present. For instance, a prominent computer-boom beneficiary named Mike Davis has spent more millions on his sprawling new winery than will likely ever be recovered through wine sales. Since the Napa Valley floor is all planted, only the hillsides are available for new vineyards. And Davis is bent on scraping out a vineyard high on Howell Mountain that would adversely affect a precious wildlife preserve, one of the state’s most biologically rich remnants. 

- Rich people are ruining wine

[T]hese efforts to create warriors out of teachers as a means of addressing school shootings are wrongheaded. I used to be in the Marines, and now I'm a classroom teacher. From these experiences, there is one thing I know to be true: Responding effectively to an active-shooter situation is one of the toughest challenges for a marksman out there. To train teachers for this role would be an enormous task—and policymakers who think otherwise aren’t being realistic. ...Over the course of my time in the Marines, I trained on various heavy machine guns for the purpose of convoy operations, and consider myself to be proficient with a firearm. But none of the skills I learned would truly transfer into an active-shooter situation. Furthermore, as a teacher, I know that most of my day is spent alone in a classroom with my students. Efficient communication—the type forged in the military and necessary for neutralizing an active shooter—cannot occur when teachers spend the day cut off from other teachers in separate rooms. Had I wanted to continue carrying a firearm at work, I would’ve stayed in the service or chosen a different profession after my enlistment. Having worked with high-school students for several years now, I understand that my ability to be effective as a teacher is predicated on the existence of an environment conducive to learning and trust building. This environment will not exist in a schoolhouse where teachers double as armed guards.

- Teachers are not soldiers

Once in front of the portraits, most museum goers did one of three things: They held up their mobile phone to take a picture of the painting; they turned around to snap a selfie with the painting as backdrop; or they posed next to the portraits for a companion to take a souvenir shot (making the Obamas’ Smithsonian portraits into the world’s most expensive life-size cardboard cutouts). What hardly anyone did was this: Raise their eyes from their mobile phone and use their allotted time to gaze up at the arresting, symbol-laden canvases.

- As someone who struggles with balancing documentation with the act of being present, this was worth a quick read 

In a nostalgic twist, Smashing Pumpkins announced this 2018 [reunion] tour with a video featuring the original "Siamese Dream" album cover stars, Ali Laenger and LySandra Roberts, who are now adults. Besides making any '90s kid feel positively ancient (after all, the women were just tiny kids back then) it was also a stark reminder that time doesn't stand still. The classic rock phenomenon — bands touring with a negligible amount of original members — long ago started trickling down into other, younger genres. That Smashing Pumpkins would be on a victory lap without all original members isn't out of the ordinary. It's just a tough bit of historical revisionism to swallow.

- The Smashing Pumpkins are almost reunited - and that's the problem

A jeweller by trade, [Michel] Birkenwald has become one of London’s most enthusiastic engineers of infrastructure for animals. He founded and self-financed Barnes Hedgehogs around four years ago. The group drills the holes for free and generally advocates for the welfare of wild hedgehogs. Once Birkenwald has crafted a passage, he usually affixes a sign reading “Hedgehog Highway,” with the creature’s spiky silhouette. Even with a diamond drill tip, the work can be slow going. Victorian bricks are tough, and it can take upwards of an hour to carve a shape roughly the size of a CD—the smallest circumference that can comfortably accommodate the girth of “a porky hedgehog,” says Emily Wilson, of another advocacy group, Hedgehog Streets. Whatever Birkenwald lacks in academic credentials—he doesn’t have much background in environmental science or zoology—he makes up for in earnestness. “I am just an average guy who decided to help one of our most adorable mammals,” he says. 

- Hedgehog Highways!

Our most revered institutions hold themselves to an ethical standard that does not allow accepting money from wealthy drug dealers – however tempting the prospect or worthwhile the project. They refuse to become philanthropic money launderers, cleansing dirty reputations by selling prestigious naming rights. There is one notable exception to this institutional honor code: the Sackler family. The Sacklers have made a fortune from OxyContin, the painkiller blamed for sparking the deadly opioid crisis. They are world renowned donors – despite also being world class drug pushers, responsible for almost as many deaths last year as the drug cartels in Mexico.

What do we do about the Sackler family's drug history? Also: this

Park rangers reassured the Ackleys they'd seen a family of bears, an explanation [Claudia] Ackley didn't much care for. She says she filed the lawsuit because people are "totally vulnerable to these things" due to the state's failure to recognize the Bigfoot threat. "The lawsuit alleges the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the state Natural Resources Agency have been derelict in their duty by not acknowledging the existence of the Sasquatch species, despite a mountain of documented and scientific evidence. It has had a chilling effect on the study of the Sasquatch, considered illegitimate and relegated to the category of 'paranormal research.'"

- Safety first! Also, note to self: go squatchin' one of these days.

Researchers long thought humans were the only critters out there that could see in three dimensions. Known as stereopsis, the trick takes a lot of processing power—and scientists didn’t think many animals had enough brains to do it. But that idea has slowly changed overtime. During the late 20th century, scientists found that macaques, cats, horses, owls and toads have this superpower. And surprisingly, so does the tiny-brained praying mantises. Now, as Ed Yong reports for the Atlantic, researchers equipped praying mantises with tiny goggles to figure out how stereopsis works in a critter with so few neurons. And it’s unlike anything else yet seen in the animal kingdom. They published their work this week in the journal Current Biology.

- Praying mantis goggles!