Here’s What It’s Like For A Woman To Send a Job Rejection To A Man

I run a science site, From Quarks to Quasars. Like most science sites, we post articles about the latest developments in science news and research. Recently, we put out an ad on looking for part-time, freelance science writers. We … Continue reading

What We Can Learn From Stella, The Pit Bull Who Is Terrified Of Pineapples

stella pit bull scared pineapple

stella pit bull scared pineapple

So my dog is internet famous.

About a month ago I was driving to the store to pick up some chips and soda to take to a friend’s house. What I got instead was Stella. She’s a pit bull. At the time, she was a half-starved, terrified dog that was covered in fleas, worms, and cuts. Oh, and she also had conjunctivitis.

I can’t say exactly what her life was like before I came along, but I have a pretty good idea.

When I found her, she was skittering alongside the road trying to hide in a ditch. I slowly pulled the car over, took a few steps towards her, and beckoned. She promptly crouched down, started to shake in fear, and urinated.

But her tail was wagging ever so slightly.

She seemed caught between desperately wanting attention and fearing what might happen if she actually got it. After a little bit of time, and a lot bit of coaxing, she eventually approached me. We made friends for a bit, she sniffed around my shoes, I managed to get her into the car, and that, it would seem, was that.

Except, of course, the story doesn’t really end when the dog finds a happy home.

Stella, it seems, had never been inside a house before. Of course, I don’t know this for certain, but it seems rather likely, based on the way that she barked at herself in the TV, barked at herself in the mirror, barked at herself in the stove…yeah, she pretty much barked at anything shiny (and generally failed to interact with normal, everyday objects in a way that normal everyday dogs do).

But she was slowly starting to figure things out. Things were going great. Then the pineapple happened.

A few days ago, I returned home from the store with groceries in one hand and my laptop and car keys in the other. As if that wasn’t enough to try and maneuver, I had two super excited dogs bouncing about trying to get my attention.

And in case you aren’t already aware, trying to unpack groceries with a pit bull (Stella) glued to your side and a miniature pinscher (Guinness) wobbling about underfoot isn’t a terribly good life choice. So I sent the dogs to play outside while I took care of everything.

I let them back in once I was finished, and I settled in on the couch to get some work done. It wasn’t too long before I heard Stella barking, which is something that she never does unless she wants attention. I got up to see what she was barking at, only to discover her staring fixedly at the counter and barking at (seemingly) nothing. I thought that she might be barking at a fly, or maybe a treat. Anyways, it looked kind of funny. So I grabbed my camera and, well, you can see what happened from there…

Usually, when Stella is scared of something, I crouch down with whatever the item is and show it to her. She waddles over tentatively, gives it a sniff or two, and then goes on her merry way. For some reason, this didn’t work with the pineapple. Apparently, pineapples are all the horribleness.

Once it became apparent that she was going to bark until the pineapple met its demise, I turned off the camera so that I could help her deal with her utter (and totally absurd) terror. I had to call Guinness over and let him sniff the pineapple before Stella would even go near it. Guinness, if you are wondering, is 18 pounds. Stella is about 50.

I sat by the pineapple petting Guinness for a bit, and eventually Stella got jealous enough to overcome her fear.

Just like she did the first night that I met her, she tentatively approached, hoping that it was okay. And it was.

Afterwards, I watched the video and uploaded it on Youtube for my friends to see. From there,  Jezebel, Mashable,Daily Mail, Huffington Post, Metro, uproxx, distractify…pretty much everyone posted it.

Currently, it has more than 300,000 views on Youtube and another 360,000 on Yahoo. Now I know that this isn’t an unfathomable number of views, some wouldn’t even really call it viral. But I think it’s enough to say that my dog is internet famous.

And honestly, I am kind of surprised. I mean, yes, it’s amusing. But what I find most amusing is that, a month ago, she was wandering the streets, covered in cuts, uninating on herself when someone approached her. Now, she is quietly sleeping on the couch, snuggling her chew toy, completely oblivious to her fame. So this video resonates with me on a much deeper level.

Because the story doesn’t end when a dog finds a good home.

Ultimately, that night I found Stella, she wasn’t alone. Not really. There are a million more animals out there who still need someone. In fact, there’s more than a million. About 2.7 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs—about one every 11 seconds—are put down in U.S. shelters each year.

Please, take a moment to let that sink in. By the time you finish reading this sentence, another lonely animal will have passed from this world because she couldn’t find a home. Consider how many we lost in the time that it took you to read this article.

Now it’s impossible to determine how many stray dogs and cats live in the United States, but estimates for cats alone range up to 70 million.

So I’d like to leave you with this simple point. If you liked this video, then please take some meaning from it. Because this matters. Get your pet spayed or neutered. Stop breeding. Hell, take that message from this even if you didn’t like the video.

*Please feel free to take this post and reuse it or share it on your own blogs/websites/social media.

Guinness and Stella

Guinness and Stella

Kids Who Die, by Langston Hughes

We need these words. We need empathy. We need vigils. We need speeches and poems and singers of songs. We need an end to apathy.

Welcome to infinitefreetime dot com

This is for the kids who die,
Black and white,
For kids will die certainly.
The old and rich will live on awhile,
As always,
Eating blood and gold,
Letting kids die.

Kids will die in the swamps of Mississippi
Organizing sharecroppers
Kids will die in the streets of Chicago
Organizing workers
Kids will die in the orange groves of California
Telling others to get together
Whites and Filipinos,
Negroes and Mexicans,
All kinds of kids will die
Who don’t believe in lies, and bribes, and contentment
And a lousy peace.

Of course, the wise and the learned
Who pen editorials in the papers,
And the gentlemen with Dr. in front of their names
White and black,
Who make surveys and write books
Will live on weaving words to smother the kids who die,
And the sleazy courts,
And the bribe-reaching police,
And the blood-loving generals,
And the money-loving preachers

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Hope Fatigue: Thoughts on Ferguson

Image credit: Marcus Yam ‏@yamphoto

Image credit: Marcus Yam (‏@yamphoto) on Twitter

“After a night of rioting in Ferguson following the announcement of the Grand Jury decision, I’ve seen a lot of anger and sadness.  I’m angry and sad too.  But there’s something else I’ve seen, and I’ve seen it following every disheartening piece of news about America and the world for a while, that I feel needs to be fought.  I’ve seen a lot of what I’m calling ‘hope fatigue.’

People who write that they don’t know what to do, only they feel like we’ll never move forward in this country.  Friends who write that they feel like giving up.”

My friend Stephanie wrote the text quoted above in this post.

It’s a response to Ferguson.

Well, maybe more than Ferguson. It’s a response to  what we’re all feeling. And I think it’s simply beautiful. Well, maybe more than beautiful. It’s something that we all need to hear. Please give it a read, and consider posting it when you see people commenting about how lost they feel, about how alone they are, about how they are forgotten.

…people like to pretend change doesn’t take lifetimes.  It does, and it always has.

READ: Hope Fatigue

Diamonds: A Modest Proposal

value of diamond

I left my camera in China, so I had to take a photo on my computer…my bad

About 15 years ago, I went to my dad and said that I wanted a diamond ring. No idea why I wanted one, but there we are. When I mentioned the ring, Dad responded by telling me that diamonds are very precious and expensive–that they are only given on very special occasions to very special people–that they are more than just a gift, they are a sign and a symbol of something very important (or something along those lines; I’m abbreviating…it was 15 years ago, after all),

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Sallie Mae or Welcome to Student Loan Slavery or Making Deals with the Devil or Sadness 101:

I wrote this because I think people need to know how Sallie Mae operates, and I wrote this because I want people to see that the system is broken. But mostly, I wrote this because, as much as I need … Continue reading

God, Religion, SB 2861, and LGBTQ Discrimination in Mississippi: An Open Letter to Rep. Joey Hood

“What we’re trying to do, gentlemen, is just protect the religious freedom of Mississippians.” 

Mississippi Rep. Joey Hood, as quoted in this article.


Mr. Hood,* how can you say that your goal is to protect religious freedom as you pass a bill (SB 2681) which stipulates that “In God We trust” will be added to the state seal? You realize, of course, that this seriously undermines your statements about your desire to protect religious freedom for all of Mississippi’s citizens? After all, if you genuinely cared about religious freedom, then you would recognize that not all Mississippians believe in God (not the Christian God, not the Muslim God, not any God), and you would work to ensure that these individuals are represented by their state.

What I am getting at here, Mr. Hood, is that there are many atheists in your state.

I happen to be one of them, and I can tell you that this bill does nothing to protect my religious freedom. In fact, let me be honest with you, it makes me feel like an outsider in my own state. In God we trust? Who is this “we” that you speak of? It certainly isn’t me. But of course, you must have known that not everyone in Mississippi believes in religion. It’s 2014. Surely, you must have known.

And yet, you had the audacity to put such language in a bill that is meant to secure religious freedom? How do you justify such actions?

I realize that a majority of individuals in Mississippi may support such language being added into our seal, as a majority of people are religious; however, the majority’s demands do not always need to be met. Indeed, the United States is founded upon the ideal that all citizens will be free from persecution. To that extent, the government should ensure that the minority is not tyrannized by the majority or made to feel like “others” in their own culture. How do you think that this state sponsored endorsement of religion makes non-religious individuals feel?

I can tell you—it makes us painfully aware of the fact that we are the minority. Moreover, it cultivates an atmosphere of hostility. I have been told, time and time again, that I am immoral, that I am going to hell, that I am blind, indeed, that I am un-American, and all because I do not believe in God.

This bill is not going to make anything easier for me.

And of course, I have read the Constitution. I know that, “separation of church and state,” does not actually appear in this document. But I also know that a government that endorses religion is not truly concerned with equal representation for all its citizens; it is not truly concerned with an individual’s ability to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. Such a government is, in fact, an unfit, broken travesty. It is a government that favors certain groups of individuals above others.

And Mr. Hood, we haven’t even gotten to the ways in which this bill endorses discrimination.

Let us be honest. We exist in a culture. And in culture, nothing occurs in a vacuum. In recent years, our country has moved towards granting full equality to individuals who are LGBTQ. Currently, 17 states recognize marriage between individuals who are the same gender. The United States Supreme Court recently ruled in Windsor v. United States that Section 3 of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that denies legally married same-sex couples over 1,100 protections and responsibilities of marriage, is unconstitutional.

That’s an awful lot of protections and responsibilities. So you can see that recognition of marriage is of the utmost importance for Mississippi residents (for things like power of attorney, health insurance, tax breaks, inheritance rights etc.).

In recent months, the news has been speckled with reports about Christians (or religious individuals, but let’s be honest, Christians) being attacked for refusing to do business with gay couples. In relation to one such case, Fox News asserted that, “in today’s America – gay rights trump religious rights.”

Yet, marriage between individuals of the same gender is banned in Mississippi. This is extremely concerning, as Mississippi uses marriage as the basis for determining a number of different benefits. Moreover, in Mississippi, same sex couples do not have hospital visitation rights. In Mississippi, landlords can discriminate against individuals based on gender and sexual orientation. In Mississippi, employers can discriminate against individuals based on gender and sexual orientation.

What’s more, in Mississippi, individuals of the same gender cannot adopt a child together. Considering that Mississippi has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the Union, one would think that those in government would be concerned with ensuring that there are as many happy, healthy homes as possible. Sadly, this is not the case. Although there is no evidence that same sex relationships cause any harm to children (or to any one else in society), Mississippi still will not allow same sex couples to adopt. What possible justification is there for this besides bigotry, ignorance, and religious intolerance?

The aforementioned is not a rhetorical question, Mr. Hood. As a representative of the state of Mississippi, you should be able to justify the laws of your state, or you should be working to change them.

Given all of the aforementioned, it seems that gay rights do not, in fact, trump the rights of religious people. Religious people can marry. They can adopt. They cannot be fired because of their religion, but they can fire people for being LGBTQ. They cannot be denied housing because of their religion, but they can deny people housing because they are LGBTQ. Indeed, in Mississippi, the government openly acknowledges, “in God we trust.”

In short, Mr. Hood, Mississippi is a haven for the religious individual. It is, in many ways, hell on Earth for those who are LGBTQ.

However, in recent weeks, certain areas of Mississippi have been working against the discriminatory legislation in the state. I am proud to say that my own town, Hattiesburg, recently passed a referendum acknowledging the basic dignity and worth of all LGBTQ individuals.

And in the midst of this conversation, Mississippi passes a bill–not to secure rights for LGBTQ People–to secure rights for religious individuals.

Are we truly to suspect that this bill is not a direct response to the conversation currently taking place about LGBTQ people in our country and in our state? Are we truly to believe that this bill is about securing religious freedom when (as I have already clearly articulated) the freedoms of religious individuals are not at all infringed on in our state? Indeed, are we to believe that you were truly concerned about religious freedom and that your only goal was to secure their rights, despite the fact that LGBTQ people in Mississippi are denied access to a number of the most basic and fundamental protections?

Isn’t it far more likely that you are directly responding to the recent advancements in the freedoms and protections given to LGBTQ individuals in our nation, and trying to work against these advancements? In a state where LGBTQ people already have next to no security, where the government and its representatives have already boldly shown (though constitutional amendments aimed at denying LGBTQ individuals’ rights) that they are determined to keep LGBTQ people second class citizens, isn’t it more likely that this bill was really meant to ensure that religious individuals have the right to deny LGBTQ people service?

I fail to see how you could be so overwhelmingly concerned with protecting religious freedom and simultaneously care so very little (indeed, not care at all) about the LGBTQ and non-religious individuals in your state. Such a position reeks of bigotry and prejudice. Even giving you the benefit of the doubt (that this really isn’t just an attack on LGBTQ people, but a genuine effort to secure religious freedom), let me tell you this:

There are many individuals in our society who are underrepresented and denied access to employment, housing, education, and health care. Mississippi has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates and worst education systems in the U.S. The poverty level in Mississippi is nearly 10% higher than the national average. I suggest you focus on some of these issues instead. Because there are a lot of individuals who need your help, who need to know that you are going to bat for them.

You are in a unique and privileged position. Mr. Hood, you have the ability to enact real change. I hope you do better in the future.

*Joey Hood is not actually my representative; however, my representative, Toby Barker, voted against this bill. Hence, the letter to Mr. Hood. I encourage all individuals to contact Mr. Hood (and other Mississippi representatives who voted in favor of this bill) regarding this issue.