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Category Archives: Personal Empowerment

"The Farting Sex Tourist" Is Both Deep and Deeply Silly – PopMatters

Posted: February 25, 2017 at 3:11 pm

Season 1, Episode 4 – “The Farting Sex Tourist” Drew Barrymore, Timothy Olyphant, Liv Hewson (Netflix)

It might sound strange to say that an episode called The Farting Sex Tourist is touching, but thats fitting for a show that finds its best rhythms when its subverting genre tropes and questioning the role of normalcy. There are still some elements of Santa Clarita Diet that dont blend well, and some aspects that still require explanation, but the show, like its protagonist Sheila (Drew Barrymore), has found its groove and zeroed in on some of the most compelling eccentricities of the premise.

The Farting Sex Tourist explores the benefits and limits of pursuing your deepest impulses with little regard for those around you, as well as wrestling with ideas about changing family dynamics and personal transformation. By slowing down and letting the premise breath, the show shades in its zombie as both personal empowerment and personal destruction metaphor with wit and wisdom, whilst progressing the overall narrative arc and giving Barrymore more to do than ever before.

The episode opens with Sheila happily chipping away at the body in her freezer. She puts some fingers and an ear into a blender and makes herself a bloody smoothie, smiling cherubically as Good Morning by The Puppini Sisters blasts in the background. Its clearly a subversive image, hammering home the violence behind the show as well as the kind of bouncy positivity that makes up most sitcoms; its both funny and appropriately chilly, raising the stakes while emphasizing the shows oddball tone.

The action quickly transitions to Sheila powerwalking through a comfortably upper-middle-class suburban street with her friends Lisa (Mary Elizabeth Ellis) and Alondra (Joy Osmanski), whove both noticed her new-found radiance. Shes beaming; shes a woman renewed and reinvigorated. When her friends ask about her new lease on life, she mentions her high protein diet (thankfully skipping the gory details of her morning shake) and her unbridled willingness to throw herself into the world.

Gone are the days when shed get in her own way or let fear push her off course, and she encourages her friends to follow in her footsteps, to live the full Oprah. Its funny to link the modern self-help movement with the ancient cultural narratives of zombie-ism (both, after all, are about achieving some kind of new state of being); it offers Barrymore plenty of opportunities to funnel her unrelenting sunniness. Shes so good at demonstrating Sheilas blithe, inhuman joy, and has a genuinely funny physicality as she marches around town, both inspiring and intimidating her neighbors. Lisa invites Sheila to her son, Erics (Skyler Gisondo) science fair, and in return, Sheila encourages Lisa to go after a work opportunity and advises Alondra to attend a John Legend concert.

Meanwhile, Joel (Timothy Olyphant) is marching around California for very different reasons; hes on a fact-finding mission, exploring occult stores to gain some information about zombies. The show always does a good job of showing how ridiculous the Hammonds lives have become; part of that is revealing the ignorance of the occult shop workers. For them, and for the occultists in the community, zombies are iconographic or hearsay, a way of turning their cultural anxieties into manageable narratives, rather than a real-world/day-to-day reality. After being offered a look at zombie porn, Joel nearly gives up, but sees two paintings on the wall that mirror Sheilas journey, including an illustration of a man throwing up a small fleshy ball similar to the one that Sheila found in her vomit.

Before Joel can show his wife the potential clues, however, hes interrupted by his neighbor, Rick (Richard T. Jones), who wants to take a look at their new car because hes recently become a father and needs to trade his motorbike in for something more practical. Luckily, Sheila notices a piece of scalp from the person she killed in the previous episode stuck to the truck and eats it before its discovered. Olyphant takes the limelight for a minute with a perfectly strange piece of physical comedy, as he shakes his hips in order to distract Rick. When he says, Look, I couldnt do this before, as he moves from side to side, his childish excitement is both funny and absurd, a combination that Olyphant hits hard throughout the show.

Theyre called to Abbys (Liv Hewson) school to talk about her frequent absences, and the way that shes corrupted their star pupil Eric by encouraging him to ditch too. The principal, Novak, played by the always reliably strange Thomas Lennon, and his not-particularly-subtle suggestions that Abby is a mess are funny, especially when Barrymore matches his energy and frustration. She takes exception to the idea that Abby is both less remarkable than Eric and some kind of delinquent; however, the principle will accept no criticism of Eric, his choices as principal, or the school in general. Both Novak and Abby are both edgy and wired as they face off, whilst Joel tries to calm them both down, painfully aware of the bloody consequences of Sheila losing her temper. Eventually, he gets his wife to leave the office, but not before she vaguely, and bizarrely, threatens her new nemesis.

When they get home, Joel questions a despondent Abby about her behavior, but Sheila encourages her to pursue her dream of being a poet. She even suggests that her daughter leaves school in order to focus on her art full time, a suggestion that horrifies her husband, and prompts him to tell her that he thinks their family wont survive her recently discovered liberalism and dedication to living in the now. She asks if he wants her to stop being who she was always meant to be in a scene thats both touching and sad, and brings up a lot of interesting and complex questions. Chiefly, the episode attempts to work out how much of a person remains after their worldview has completely changed, and if it actually matters if you love them enough.

Frightened that she might lose everything, Sheila runs next door to speak to Eric, the closest thing that she has to a zombie expert. He explains that part of whats made her outlook so sunny now is her lack of impulse control. Every story hes read about zombies says the same thing; they lose control in order to appease their basest desires. Barrymore sells the characters heartache at learning that she may one day hurt her family by proxy of honoring her nature, but lets her performance be warmed by a certain hopefulness that she can tussle with her essential desires. Its a beautifully pitched sequence, with both actors coming to play, as well as grounding the potential sadness in their futures.

In the meantime, Joel convinces Abby to talk about both her feelings and her school absences with the help of a grilled cheese sandwich. As different as their teenage years were, and will presumably continue to be, father and daughter find some common ground; her mother is the undead, and his was capable of making service workers cry. This further strengthens the idea that the writers are using the concept of the zombie to explore family dynamics and personal responsibility.

Remembering that he expunged his teenage angst and, its strongly suggested, his negative feelings towards his mother, by riding a motorbike, he borrows Ricks and takes his daughter to the top of a hill, an area that he used to take Sheila when they were in high school. He looks around and explains that it was once just open space, not occupied by the houses now built into the hills. Abby makes the point that just because its different doesnt mean it isnt beautiful, or that it doesnt still hold the texture and memories of her parents courtship. This obviously has metaphorical value, but also allows Abby and Joel to truly express their confusion and fears as they shout their anxieties at each other. Its a moving and graceful sequence that avoids being heavy-handed.

At Erics science presentation, Sheila encourages Lisa to grasp all the opportunities that her work has to offer before coming up against the principal again, who refuses to apologies for their earlier interaction. She follows him out of the room, and the episode suggests that hes going to be her next meal. Before she gets to him, however, shes interrupted by Joel, who tells her that he wants her to live her best life, and that hell support her. He repeats his daughters observations that when things change they can become more beautiful rather than less, and reaffirms the fact that hes loved Sheila since he was a teenager, and will continue to do so through this new, fraught transition.

Its hardly revelatory to say that Barrymore is good at portraying a romantic lead, but shes both lovely and relatable here. Somehow, she manages to convey the idea shes hearing something for the first as well as hundredth time, being told something that shes known for years and yet is only just discovering. Instead of killing the principal, she threatens him, saying that shell put his house up for sale without his knowledge and rezone his property so its classed as a horse farm.

And just like that, the Hammonds leave hand in hand, their world changed but their family solidified. The next day, they have to make a quick getaway as they realise that Sheilas neighbourly advice has backfired in a variety of ways, including Rick purchasing an expensive car and Alondra booking three weekends worth of John Legend concert tickets. Despite that, everything seems okay, until their nosey neighbour Dan (Ricardo Chavira), sprays ant repellent on their garden and stumbles upon a severed finger. The moment offers both a mini-cliffhanger, and a nice capper to a truly fantastic episode. Its funny and insightful, both deepening the mythology of the show and reconfiguring it to be incredibly personal for these characters. The Farting Sex Tourist is a delicious mix of funny and sincere, and suggests that Santa Clarita Diet has real space and depth to tell a special, spiky story.


Jay has a BA in English Literature and Film Studies from Roehampton University and an MA in Film and Screen Cultures from the same institution. His debut novel Until There Was You was released last year and the follow-up, The Restart Project, is forthcoming, both with Less Than Three Press. You can read his television rants on Twitter or his website.

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Viewpoints: The case for expanding Empowerment Scholarship Accounts –

Posted: at 3:11 pm

Jonathan Butcher, AZ I See It 5:46 p.m. MT Feb. 24, 2017

The Arizona Legislature is training its sights on the plan to broaden eligibility for Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, a school-choice program created six years ago for disabled children. Wochit

Lanae Enriquez and her daughter, Addison.(Photo: Courtesy of Lanae Enriquez)

Two children, born a decade apart, can teach their parents the same lesson. For Lanae Enriquez, her stepsons young life and her daughters bright potential emphasize the value of a quality education starting from day one.

Arizona lawmakers are considering legislation that would give every Arizona child the chance to have this opportunity, regardless of their ZIP code or parents paychecks.

Lanae traces her stepsons current struggles in high school back to his being passed along from year to year in elementary school. He is doing all he can to keep up with his classes now, she says.

We have kept on top of him more (in recent months), so its brought his grades up, Lanae says. Its really concerning because now, I have to think, Do I want that for my daughter? Lanae says, whose daughter, Addison, turns 5 in March.

Lawmakers are considering giving all families access to a flexible learning option that has only been available to certain students since 2011: Education Savings Accounts. With these accounts, the state deposits a portion of a childs funding from the state formula into a private bank account that parents use to buy educational products and services for their children.

The accounts are distinct from other educational options because parents can choose multiple learning services simultaneously for their child. Some parents may choose to hire a personal tutor for their student to help them in math, while others may combine online classes, private schoolingand public school extracurricular activities.

GABRIEL: ESAs are Arizona’s best innovation

Arizona pioneered the accounts in 2011 for children with special needs, expanding access to the accounts over time to help children with challenges like those assigned to failing schools, children adopted from the state foster care system, and students on Native American reservations.

Research from EdChoice finds that one-third of participants are making multiple educational choices with the accounts sometimes, but not always, including a new school. A survey of participating families in 2013 found that 71 percent of participants reported being very satisfied with their childs account. No parent reported any level of dissatisfaction.

Parents and students can’t wait for the state to straighten out its complex school funding formula. They need options now.(Photo: Michael Schennum/The Republic)

Lanae is one of thousands of Arizonans who are well-acquainted with choosing how and where their child learns when an assigned school is not the right fit. She moved her stepson to a new district school as he wrestled with his studies. Some 200,000 Arizona parents choose charter schools. Scholarship organizations awarded 60,000 scholarships to eligible students this year to attend K-12 private schools. Thousands more move across district lines to choose a different traditional public school.

Lanae considered a charter school for Addison, but the charter schools in their area fill seats using a lottery. These lotteries conjure images of gymnasiums full of nervous parents holding a ticket that may determine their childs academic success or failure. Lanae wants more than just to hope that my child gets in, she says.

DIAZ: Why school choice is an illusion

All parents want their child to succeed from her first day of kindergarten to when she is handed a high-school diploma. If their child is struggling in a local school, some Arizonans can find public schools across town or charter schools with seats available.

But others may not have these options. And for all of us, life happens: Lanae is expecting a baby and had to leave work now that she is well into her pregnancy. Addison was attending a private Montessori school, but times are tight for her family.

Its heartbreaking for us as parents that she is not eligible for an education savings account now, Lanae says, because the account would allow Addison to remain at the Montessori school.

The accounts can help families cross the income divide. Average accounts for mainstream students are worth $5,600, according to legislative analysts. A survey of Arizona private schools finds that about half of private schools have tuition at or below this level, making this option a possibility for more families. Approximately 85 percent of private schools in the state provide tuition assistance to help cover the rest.

Families that want more than just a new school can use the account to buy an online class or even pay for a college class before the child graduates high school. A child with a visual impairment could use their account to buy braille materials to help with schoolwork.

ROBB:Universal vouchers make school choice pretty cheap

All Arizonans care about education. Last year, voters chose to add $3.5 billion to public schools over the next decade. Fiscal analysts report that the education savings accounts awarded to children with special needs save the state $1,400 per student. Arizonas dizzying funding formula also creates a cost savings for students transferring from certain other public schools and creates a cost savings for districts in expenses like transportation and food service.

Lawmakers have worked for more than 15 years at simplifying the states funding formula to make sure resources are used to improve student learning. But a $10 billion education budget has proved hard to steer.

Parents and children like Lanae and Addison cannot wait for a better funding system when Addison can have a chance to succeed now with an education savings account. The same is true for traditional and charter public schools. Ideas to give these schools more flexibility and to help teachers challenge students should not be in a holding pattern while we adjust how tax dollars flow to schools.

For Lanae, and for thousands of parents who want their children to dream big, its not about the money. I would love to have her in the best school that I possibly could. Someplace that could nurture her talents and talents that we dont even know that she has, Lanae says.

Jonathan Butcher is education director at the Goldwater Institute and senior fellow at the Beacon Center of Tennessee.

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Apple Music just released an album made on an iPhone … – Computerworld

Posted: at 3:11 pm

Appleholic, (noun), pl-hlk: An imaginative person who thinks about what Apple is doing, why and where it is going. Delivering popular Apple-related news, advice and entertainment since 1999.

Apple continues to create tools that let creative people be creative, with a new album release recorded on an iPhone, edited on GarageBand and made available through Apple Music proving the value of the end-to-end creative ecosystem the company has built.

Grammy-nominated artist, Steve Lacy (also in a band called The Internet), just released a new album project (Steve Lacy’s Demo) through Apple Music. The entire project was recorded on an iPhone, edited using Apples consumer-friendly GarageBand, and made its debut on Apple Music this week.

You can hear it here.

I think the release underlines Apples historical commitment to providing creative tools for the rest of us. The complexity of the music helps demonstrate the potential of these tools for unique self-expression.

Lacy spoke with Beats 1 anchor, Matt Wilkinson, about the project and why he chose to work with an iPhone. While he built some drum riffs in Ableton, Lacy pulled all the recordings together in GarageBand. The artist likes that he can record ideas and build new hooks in his hotel room when hes on tour.

The hook on the first track was recorded in a hotel room in Australia, he said, I will record anywhere I get an idea, he said. So shout out to GarageBand for being so mobile and such a good way to get my ideas out.

While its a neat story in technology terms, Lacy is also passionate about the potential for self-expression locked inside devices hundreds of millions of iPhone users already possess. In the right hands these devices are tools for personal empowerment.

To give the message to kids that like, you dont have to be limited to use this equipment to get these ideas out. Cos you know you have like, I feel like theres a lot of kids, or just people in general who are like, I cant do this because I dont have this. You know what Im saying? Yeah, when you have an iPhone, work with what you have. Cos if you have the ideas, its going to comprehend you know what Im saying?

Lacy is one of a new breed of completely digitally savvy artists. He was eight-years old when the iPhone first appeared and five when Apple shipped the first version of GarageBand.

I started making beats on my iPhone because I wasnt about the excuse of oh I dont have this, so Im just not gonna do it, he says.

So I went to this Guitar Center convention and bought this piece called the iRigwhich was $20. Initially I got it just to plug my guitar in my phone and see what apps have cool guitar effects. Then I got this app called Akai MPCand thats where I started chopping all my drums up and doing all my samples, strictly off the iPhone, he said.

Then I made a little more money, got a laptop, and made beats and songs off my laptop, but I still went back to this method. It was just raw and its home, you know?”

Lacy isnt the first artist to record an album completely on an iPhone other artists to have done so include One Like Son and Dan Tedesco. Damon Albarn famously recorded Gorrilaz fourth studio album, The FaIl, on an iPad.

It is all the same worth noting that Lacys album makes its debut during the same month veteran music industry title, Billboard, used a picture taken using an iPhone as the image on its front cover.

Events like these testify to the raw creative power available to every iPhone user.

Ten years since the introduction of the iPhone, these ‘computers for the rest of us’ reflect Steve Jobs’ life’s work, from his summer job at HP to the potential for powerful creative expression you hold in your pocket, today.

I cant help but reflect that the fact millions worldwide now have access to these creative tools can be seen as a fitting tribute to Apples Steve Jobs, who would have been 62-years old today.

Google+?If you use social media and happen to be a Google+ user, why not joinAppleHolic’s Kool Aid Corner communityand join the conversation as we pursue the spirit of the New Model Apple?

Got a story?Drop me a line via Twitter. I’d like it if you chose to follow me there so I can let you know when fresh items are published here first on Computerworld.

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Pushing past barriers: Program aims to foster empowering female relationships – Grand Forks Herald

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Transitioning from a credit analyst to a commercial banker with Wells Fargo allowed Hanstad to view the monthly events in a new light.

“I’d moved to Fargo and started this new position and suddenly Women Connect became an opportunity to network with a large group of businesswomen,” Hanstad says.

But she wanted an even deeper connection with the women she would meet each month in the large group setting.

That connection came in the form of a program called PUSH, which stands for “Pursue Dreams, Unite Women, Shatter Barriers, Have Heart.”

The program is the brainchild of Carrie Carney and Chelsea Monda, two young professionals in the community who met through a mutual friend to discuss women’s empowerment programs.

More than a year ago, Carney, marketing director at Eventide, and Monda, a senior client consultant at Sundog, began meeting monthly at a local coffee shop to share expertise and ideas for creating a network of women gathering in a smaller setting.

In January 2016, PUSH officially launched at the Women Connect event and soon after, Carney and Monda began receiving requests from women who wanted to be placed in a group.

Hanstad was one of those requesters. She reached out to Carney for the email addresses of individuals who’d expressed interest in a group, and eventually her group grew to include nine women.

“It was like we were long-lost friends,” she says. “We all just got along so well and have connected to one another … some of my very best friends in Fargo are people I met through this PUSH group.”

Hanstad’s experience is common, Carney and Monda say. The placement of women in the groups is entirely random, and the ideal size for a group is eight people. The idea of being placed randomly eliminates any preconceived notions so new relationships can be established, Monda says.

Since the program launched last year, 35 groups have been created with more than 200 women participating in them. Additionally, the PUSH Facebook group has nearly 400 members.

Once a group is formed, members are provided with rules of engagement. Monda says the rules are a guideline for helping the group begin developing relationships among the members and not actually rules.

Beyond the initial phrase of providing contact information and guidelines, Monda says PUSH groups are mostly self-managed and become a great outlet for women who want to achieve personal or professional goals.

Carney and Monda have each set and achieved a number of goals since they formed their PUSH group. “I’ve reached some goals I wouldn’t have without this group,” Carney says. For example, Monda set a goal to train for and run a 5K, and her PUSH group held her accountable to that goal. Carney changed jobs and used her PUSH group as a sounding board for issues associated with her new role.

Even though PUSH is a sub-committee of Women Connect, you don’t have to be a Chamber member to be in a group, Carney says.

Women interested in joining can request to start a new group or be placed in an existing one.

“So many women are going out of their comfort zones and being placed randomly, but they have nothing to lose and everything to gain,” Carney says.

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar conducts DSN Prog online – Daily Excelsior

Posted: at 3:11 pm

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, Feb 22: Founder of The Art of Living Sri Sri Ravi Shankar conducted Dynamism in Self and Nation (DSN) Programme earlier known as Divya Samaj Nirman online, which was attended by 8000 plus people across 100 locations pan India and Russia. From AOL centres in Punjab to remotest corners in Tripura and Assam, from Latur in Maharashtra to Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh and from Jammu to Kanyakumari, the people connected virtually to learn powerful combination of Yoga, group processes and deep spiritual knowledge to break through personal barriers and create personal empowerment spanned over 4 days with Sri Sri with the message Be all that you can be! Be the Movers and Shakers of the World. Change the world with your smile. Dont let the world change your smile, do commitment to contribute to the society to build a better country. Approximately 100 centres across India and Russia had organized The Art of Livings signature DSN Programme with Sr Sri Ravi Shanker. This is the first time Sri Sri Ravi Shanker is conducting this type of programme online since the inception of The Art of Living connecting India virtually online through webcast. In Jammu Region, people from all walks of life and background and religion including AOL faculty members connecting humanity through the power of breath, yoga and spirituality joined at Gian Mandir, Trikuta Nagar. The said programme was locally assisted by Swami Gunatit ji from Art of Living International Centre, Bangalore and organised by other senior faculty members of AOL Chapter along with dedicated team of volunteers, said Ajay Kapoor, State Media Coordinator of Art of Living. The Art of Living DSN course is a rigorous and transformational course, designed by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Through a powerful combination of Padma Sadhana, special meditations, breathing techniques, group processes, and deep spiritual knowledge, the DSN course empowers participants to break through personal inhibitions and barriers of all kinds, Kapoor added. Ajay Kapoor also briefed about various benefits of DSN course.

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Bloomfield Company Uses Disney Princesses To Promote Female Empowerment –

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Bloomfield Company Uses Disney Princesses To Promote Female Empowerment
Martha Peralta, the owner of Bloomfield entertainment company Bella Princess, said that she recently revamped her company's programs to use princess-related imagery to advocate for female empowerment and channel girls' potential for personal growth..

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Impact 100 members tour remodeled STEP Training Center – TCPalm

Posted: February 22, 2017 at 4:05 am

Jamie Jackson, Your Newsweekly contributor Published 11:36 a.m. ET Feb. 21, 2017 | Updated 15 hours ago

United Against Poverty Executive Director Annabel Robertson (center) accepts a plaque from Carolyn Antenem and Suzanne Bertman (at left) of Impact 100. Joining Robertson are Success Training for Employment Program (STEP) staff Ron Browning (right of Robertson), April McCoy and Canieria Gardner.(Photo: CONTRIBUTED BY DAN LAMSON)

VERO BEACH United Against Poverty of Indian River County recently hosted an open house for Impact 100 members on Feb. 8, at the nonprofit organizations UP Center, located at 2746 U.S. 1 in Vero Beach.

Impact 100 members learned about the Success Training for Employment Program (STEP), which received a $100,000 grant in April 2016 for a project entitled Jump Start Job Opportunities. The Impact 100 grant provided funding to remodel the STEP classroom, underwrite an online job-mentoring platform and to publish the STEP curriculum workbooks, which were written by United Against Poverty staff.

The classroom remodeling project included building permanent walls, carpeting, 20 computer stations equipped with new computers, worktables and seating. Since remodeling the classroom in late 2016, STEP has experienced much greater interest in program enrollment.

Our first STEP class since the renovation enrolled 26 students and had a waiting list of 30, explained Annabel Robertson, United Against Poverty executive director for Indian River County. We know that the increased interest in this program is due to the professional training environment that was made possible through the Impact 100 grant and our programs success in 2016.

In 2016, 100 STEP participants were employed at 60 local employers with a $2.4 million annualized wage impact in the community.

With the classroom remodeling behind them, United Against Poverty is currently working with a professional editor and graphic designer to prepare STEP workbooks for publishing in late spring 2017.

United Against Poverty, formerly Harvest Food & Outreach Center, was founded in 2003 by Austin and Ginny Hunt in Vero Beach. The nonprofit, a 501(c)(3) organization, provides programs that inspire and empower people living in poverty to lift themselves and their families to economic self-sufficiency.

Services include crisis care, case management, transformative education, food and household subsidy, employment training and placement, personal empowerment training and active referrals to other collaborative social service providers. For more information, visit

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Teaching Our Kids Real from Fake – Huffington Post

Posted: at 4:05 am

My 8-year-old daughter recently became frustrated as she struggled with an assignment that asked her to memorize the location and spelling of all 50 states.

Why do I even need to memorize this? she complained. I can just Google the location and spelling of any state whenever I need it.

I paused for a moment, not entirely sure how to answer the question. She was right. She could Google this information; but there is a greater value to knowing the whereabouts of Americas 50 states. Would she know, instinctively, when it was worth the effort to Google something like the location of a state?

I replied, Anna, what if someone told you that Montana was located next to North Dakota. Would you believe them and simply take what they were saying as truth? Are you going to Google (i.e., doubt) anything anyone ever says to you?

She stared back at me, understanding that relying on Google to determine all facts from fiction quickly goes awry. Google is useful for some things, but isnt practical for all matters.

The question of course goes deeper than something as simple and easily answerable as geography. It becomes much trickier when we are asked to discern real from fake in areas as fuzzy as public sentiment, portrayals of historical events, and conclusions reached by a confluence of research studies.

iStock from Getty Images

How do I help my daughter to ask meaningful questions, seek multiple sources of truth, and acknowledge the real answer, ambiguous as it may be?

I suppose the conundrum is better phrased this way: How will my daughter know when a simple Google search is sufficient? When will she need to seek multiple sources and doubt even her own understanding?

At Yale University, my undergraduate alma mater, there was a popular slogan that read, Yale doesnt teach you what to think; Yale teaches you how to think.

That premise is critical in todays media environment, because rather than accepting what we are told, we need to teach our children to think critically about how to process the information that they hear.

Early Foundations of Knowledge

If we prioritize our childrens ability think critically, then we need to embed the proper building blocks in their earliest education. While they may seem pass and pedestrian, the basics of literacy and memorization are as paramount as ever.

At Istation, the education technology company where I work, we believe that the fundamentals of critical thinking begin with literacy. With the foundations of reading comes logic, memorization, conceptual thinking, and imagination.

UNESCO writes in its Education for All Global Monitoring Report, it is widely reckoned that, in modern societies, literacy skills are fundamental to informed decision-making, personal empowerment, active and passive participation in local and global social community (Stromquist, 2005, p. 12).

Alongside literacy come the basics of memorization. Memorizing the location of all 50 states may not count as true critical thinking, but it forms a building block of knowledge that allows far more challenging questions to be asked. Even the skill of memorization frees up other parts of the brain for more advanced processing.

The Guardian suggests that memorising facts and lists can build the foundations for higher thinking and problem solving. Effectively, we can draw on what we have memorized to create and grapple with more complex topics. For example, my daughter can use her knowledge of the geographical location of the states to begin to estimate if it would take longer to drive from Dallas, Texas, to Denver, Colorado, or to Portland, Maine.

Once one can read and retain knowledge, one begins to gain the skill of writing. Writing allows a person to express her own thoughts on a topic. We become more than just consumers of information; we become organizers of thoughts and ideas. If our writing resonates with others, we gain the important skill of influence.

iStock by Getty Images

For my 8-year-old, most truths remain simple. Eight times eight is 64, and Austin is the state capital of Texas.

As adults, real meaning and authentic truth become much more challenging to discern. What I hope for my daughter and for our nations children is that they learn how to think critically about the information that is given to them; that they understand the limitations of Google; and that they can embrace a narrative that is not one-sided but multi-dimensional.

In our family, we fully embrace the basics of reading and memorization. We read not just from one author, or one publication, or one geography, but try to embrace both our historical narratives and current events through the lens of multiple sources.

For my daughter, I will continue to encourage what may seem like basic skills of reading and memorization. It is not that I want or expect her to consider that a complete education; quite to the contrary: it is through the building blocks of reading and memorization that we begin to be able to question greater truths, recognize inconsistencies, compare disparate ideas and pursue deeper meaning.

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Shaking The Fear Of Breastfeeding In Public | The Huffington Post – Huffington Post UK

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Breastfeeding out and about gets a pretty bad image in the news. All we tend to hear about are stories of mums being asked to leave shops, restaurants, swimming pools, libraries, public transport and so on. BUT let’s just consider for a moment why these stories make headlines. News events a) don’t happen all the time b) are pretty much always negative and c) need to have a sensationalist angle to keep the readers interested. How many members of the general public would sit down and read an article about the millions of women who happily feed their babies in public with no issues whatsoever? Hmmmm. Exactly!

So, here are my top tips for shaking off any fear and confidently breastfeeding anywhere you wish:

1. Follow your heart – if breastfeeding feels right for you and your baby, then listen to that inner voice chiming away and go for it. You are nourishing and mothering your child in the way you have chosen to and that remains relevant wherever you happen to find yourselves.

2. Look around – the vast majority of people around the country will either not notice, not care (in the nicest possible way!), may smile at you, or even say something encouraging. You may be very pleasantly surprised!

3. Prepare a comeback – If you’re worried about any potential negativity, it may help to mentally prepare how you would respond. Remember that when anyone is being rude, it is a reflection of who they are, not of who you are or of what you are doing. Try disarming them by flashing your biggest smile, thanking them for their perspective and if it really warrants it, maybe offering up a little sarcasm such as “your comment almost affected me”. As they realise their ill-informed comment has not affected you (at least not on your steely exterior!), they will either back down or continuing trying to antagonise you. By maintaining your positive stance, you will show that you have the upper hand and you will be buzzing with a sense of personal empowerment afterwards.

4. Know your rights – you are protected by law to breastfeed anywhere in public where you personally have the right to be. If anyone in a position of authority such as a caf manager tries to tell you otherwise, you can accurately tell them that they can be prosecuted for their actions. True.

5. Think clothes – some mums feel happy to breastfeed by lifting their breast out over the top of their vest top, shirt or dress. However, for others, this can be a personal step too far. If you’re concerned about having flesh on show, just take a moment to think about how your clothes will work for feeding. Aside from the obvious clothes marketed for breastfeeding, you will also find that many “normal” clothes work too. When I was breastfeeding, I used to live in stretchy vests and then any normal top of mine over the top. I’d pull down the vest, unclip my bra and then lift up my top. Tada! Nothing on show. For some great breastfeeding style inspiration check out @FeedinStyle on Instagram and The Baby Show at London’s ExCeL next month.

6. To Cover or Not to Cover – it’s entirely up to you. Some mums feel that using a breastfeeding cover draws in attention rather than deflects from it, can be an additional hassle to use and creates a rather stifling and dark environment for the baby. That said, they are absolutely right for some mums who may otherwise choose not to breastfeed if they weren’t able to use one. They may be particularly useful if a baby is very distractible, takes a while to latch, or if a mum is worried about a very fast let-down and passers-by getting a surprise spray!

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Shaking The Fear Of Breastfeeding In Public | The Huffington Post – Huffington Post UK

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OUR VIEW: On Presidents Day, we celebrate the good ones – East Oregonian (subscription)

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President George Washington delivers his inaugural address in the Senate Chamber of Old Federal Hall in New York on April 30, 1789.

Presidential biographers will tell you there are flaws in all of their subjects. But at certain moments, when the chips were down such as the nations birth, the Civil War, World War II the right leader showed up to meet an enormous challenge.

While the scourge of terrorism still threatens America, the abiding enemy of a large share of Americans is change economic and cultural that threatens livelihoods and personal values. In the face of that, its not always clear that current national leaders have a program of substance. Instead, they win by channeling the anger and fear of the disaffected voters.

But that is not leadership. And that is what makes this a dispiriting time.

Disappointment with current elected leaders is disappointment with our times as much as it is about the people in question.

Many years ago, on George Washingtons or Abraham Lincolns birthday, it was traditional for elementary schools to hold programs honoring those hallowed presidents. These days we have Presidents Day.

In many ways, we are more in need of some discussion of Washington and Lincoln than we were in the 1950s. And its not the children who need to hear about the virtues of those great men. Its the adults. Especially the adults who make and administer our laws.

We need to discuss Washington and Lincoln not because they dwarf the presidents we have known in our lifetimes. We need to talk about them because they rose to their tasks at two of the most difficult moments the nation ever faced.

Looking backward, the rise of Washington and Lincoln seems inevitable. The preeminent Washington scholar, James Thomas Flexner, titled his one-volume biography The Indispensable Man.

Oregon U.S. Sen. Mark Hatfield made a similar point about Lincoln, whose life the senator studied in some depth. Lincoln did not feel that he chose his place in history, but rather that history had chosen him, Hatfield said. Clearly no other individual could have brought so much good out of the seemingly infinite seas of madness and blood with which he was forced to deal.

Washington, unique in American history for winning his two terms with unanimous votes by the Electoral College, was widely ridiculed and disliked at the end of his presidency. He faced an armed uprising in 1791. Some blamed his policies for economic disruptions in the nations early years. Washington was a slave owner. He sided with Alexander Hamilton vs. Thomas Jefferson, a conflict that gave rise to continuing ripples of political partisanship that still trouble us today.

Despite his imperfections, with the wisdom of time and a degree of looking backward with rose-tinted glasses, Washington is now justly celebrated for having done most things right.

As the Miller Center at the University of Virginia notes, he tolerated dissent, vicious attacks on his reputation and name, and a divisive press all in the interest of freedom. There is little reason to suggest that Washington, unlike so many of his successors, ever sought to use his office for personal empowerment or gain.

The men including Washington who crafted our system of government understood and explicitly dealt with concerns that presidents could become too important. It is inevitable the top elected job in a great nation becomes the focus for blame and credit. But in the U.S. system of government, the president is a public employee, not the personification of the nation, as was the case in the European monarchy we left behind. The presidency is important but our nation is infinitely more so.

Presidents Day is good time to celebrate the good ones, who manage to govern in ways that promote peace and prosperity. But its also an opportunity to thank even the mediocre and lackluster ones, who often sacrifice health and reputation in efforts to serve the country.

Finally, Presidents Day is a good symbol for the fact that they are only small parts of who we as a nation we give 1/365th of 2017 to honoring them, and many of the remaining days to thinking little of them. This is as it should be.

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OUR VIEW: On Presidents Day, we celebrate the good ones – East Oregonian (subscription)

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