If painful memories of your high school years potentially stick with us well into adulthood, what does that say about our culture's relationship to this thing called "popularity"? That's the question asked by Mitch Prinstein in a new book called Popular: The Power of Likability in a Status-Obsessed World, a study of how we, all the way down to our DNA, want to be viewed positively by our peers but how we go about it - through being liked, needed, amusing or feared - affects our own health and happiness and that of the society we model from it. Prinstein has been studying the relationship between peer dynamics and mental health for more than two decades and is currently the John Van Seters Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and the Director of Clinical Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and believes our need to become popular is biologically determined. explaining: "We need to feel included; it's part of our human nature, literally." He adds, "People walk around feeling that their appearance is based more on who they were when they were 16 than it is their current objective physical appearance now. That's true for self-esteem and that's true for our relationships. We now know that each interaction and every single relationship we have, whether it's a fleeting experience with a passerby or a deep enduring relationship, every single social interaction is being filtered through our memories and experiences when we were in adolescence. It's those experiences that decide how we respond internally and inadvertently in every social interaction we have. I think that gives popularity tremendous power." The good news is Prinstein says recognizing that is half the battle saying, "If we do realize it, if we recognize, "Gee, I'm responding to this as if I'm still in my high school and I'm 16, rather than giving all the information in front of me today in my 40s," then that becomes the problem. Simply being aware of it, challenging our perceptions, challenging our reactions." (Salon.com)
When You Don't Lock Up Your Guns...
In Tennessee, 19-year-old Lucinda Luna is dead after she was accidentally shot by her boyfriend with a gun her father gave him as a graduation gift. It seems the boyfriend, 18-year-old Brennan Fields, had taken apart the pistol and put it back together without realizing there was still a live round in the chamber. Fields was reportedly playing with the gun when it fired and the bullet struck Luna in the stomach while she was lying on a couch across the room from him. Luna died early the following day at an area hospital. No charges are expected to be filed against Fields. A Shelby County Sheriff's Office spokesperson says, "It's just a real tragedy." A friend of Luna's said Fields is experienced with firearms, owning several and frequenting a gun range adding, "He's not going to get over this for a long time." Could have been worse. Two of Fields' friends and a toddler were also in the room when Luna was shot. (Commercial Appeal)
Trump Helping Subsidize Deported Immigrants...Quite Unexpectedly
Don't expect President Trump to have a lot of love for Mexican attorney Antonio Battaglia. Battaglia is launching "Donald Trump" toilet paper later this year - with 30 percent of the profits going toward financing programs that support migrants and Mexicans deported from the U.S. A photograph of the prototype packaging shows a cartoon version of Trump giving a thumbs-up, alongside the slogan "softness without borders." Battaglia says the idea is in retaliation over Trumps "insulting" comments about Mexicans as he announced his candidacy for the presidency in June 2015. He says, "It annoyed me and I started to look for a way to do something that would have an impact. Not in a mocking tone or as revenge, but in a positive way." Battaglia hopes to begin selling the paper in September, but says making money from the project is "secondary." "What I want is that it is useful to help migrants and the deported." (Huffington Post)
You Must Be This High to Ride...And Have All Your Fingers?
On Memorial Day, Reno resident Mike Alt and his two friends were at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, California when he says he faced what he claims was discrimination. As Alt was getting strapped in to the Medusa roller coaster, he says two ride operators asked him to get off. Their reason was he didn't have three full fingers on each hand. He was told he didn't have the grip strength to hold on so therefore had to get off the ride. Alt, who is 27, was born with Amniotic Band Syndrome, so he is missing parts of his fingers. However, he says grip strength has never been an issue. He's played various competitive sports and lifts weights. In fact, he's ridden roller coasters countless times in the past, even at Six Flags, with no problem. He said he never even thought twice about his disability when visiting amusement parks. Once asked to step off Medusa, Alt was told he couldn't ride two additional attractions because of the same reason. After the removal, Alt and his friends left the park voluntarily and received full refunds. In a statement, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Communications Manager Nancy Chan, said: "To ensure their safety and the safety of others, guests with certain disabilities are prohibited from riding certain rides and attractions. Our accessibility policy includes ride manufacturers' guidelines and the requirements of the federal American Disabilities Act. Guests who meet these requirements have the option of holding their hands up in the air. This guest was offered the use of a safety harness to ride the coaster in question, Medusa, but he refused." Alt says he declined the special harness because he believed it was an "inappropriate requirement," since he says his own grip strength was good enough. (2News)
America's Worst Employers?
Our friends over at 24/7 Wall St., have produced a list of the worst US companies to work. In all fairness, we should point out that the sole source of their data is the website Glassdoor where employees can write reviews of their U.S. employers and give them a rating out of five. Of course from what we can tell, there's little done to differentiate legitimate reviews from those of disgruntled angry employees who may not be fair in their evaluations. That being said, the 10 companies that fared worst:
Kraft Heinz Company: 2.4
The Fresh Market: 2.4
Forever 21: 2.5
Xerox: 2.6 (24/7 Wall St.)
Captain Ballet Dancer - NYC's Newest Hero
There's a new hero in New York City - and he actually wears tights for a living. Gray Davis is a 31-year-old dancer with the American Ballet Theater and he sprang into action after a homeless man was pushed onto subway tracks on Saturday night. Davis jumped onto the tracks and lifted the unconscious 58-year-old man to safety before swinging himself back up. Police say a 23-year-old woman who fled the scene on foot was arrested in connection with the assault at the 72nd Street Broadway-Seventh Avenue station. Davis, who was not dancing that night due to a herniated disk injury, was on his way home with wife and fellow dancer Cassandra Trenary after her performance in The Golden Cockerel. When the man was pushed onto the tracks after an argument Davis said, "at first I waited for somebody else to jump down there. People were screaming to get help. But nobody jumped down. So I jumped down." Davis, who is scheduled to return to the stage Monday night as a pirate in Le Corsaire, says the platform was a lot higher than he expected and added, "Luckily, I'm a ballet dancer, so I swung my leg up." (New York Times)
What the WHAT?
There's a dirty little secret about hanging out at the International Space Station that NASA is finally talking about. It seems the cost of transporting water up there is so cost-prohibitive - about $48,000 per liter - that NASA engineers had to find cheaper ways of taking H20 into space. Fortunately for science, someone figured out how to do it. Unfortunately for the astronauts, it's turning their own pee into drinking water. According to "America's Secret Space Heroes," a documentary series airing on the Smithsonian Channel, NASA scientists created a distillery that turns an astronaut's whiz into drinking water. The end result is what she calls "good clean urine distillate" that gets put into a water processor for further filtration before the astronauts actually consume it. (Huffington Post)