Renowned climber Hayden Kennedy, 27, (left) killed himself following the death of his girlfriend Inge Perkins, 23, in an avalanche in Montana on Saturday. (Inge Perkins/Instagram)
Just two weeks before renowned climber Hayden Kennedy killed himself following the death of his girlfriend in an avalanche in Montana, he wrote on a climbing blog that he had watched too many friends die in the mountains over the last few years.
“I’ve realized something painful. It’s not just the memorable summits and crux moves that are fleeting. Friends and climbing partners are fleeting, too,” he wrote for the “Evening Sends” blog. “This is the painful reality of our sport, and I’m unsure what to make of it. Climbing is either a beautiful gift or a curse.”
In this undated photo provided by Louis Arevalo, Inge Perkins climbs Cowboy King (5.13c) in Wild Iris, Wyo. Gallatin County sheriff’s officials say Perkins was skiing with her boyfriend Hayden Kennedy on Imp Peak on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, when they triggered an avalanche in a steep, narrow gulley. Perkins, was buried by the 150-foot-wide slide. Kennedy, who was partially buried, pulled himself free and hiked out for help after he couldn’t find his girlfriend. (Louis Arevalo via AP) (Louis Arevalo)
Gallatin County sheriff’s officials say Kennedy, 27, and Inge Perkins, 23, were skiing on Imp Peak in the southern Madison Range on Saturday when they triggered an avalanche in a steep, narrow gulley at about 10,000 feet above sea level.
Perkins, also an accomplished mountain climber, was buried by the 150-foot-wide slide. Kennedy hiked out after he couldn’t find his girlfriend.
The area had received a foot of snow since Oct. 1, which was on top of about four feet of dense snow that had fallen over the previous two weeks, according to the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center.
Kennedy, who had recently moved to Bozeman, was found dead in his home Sunday with a note detailing where to find Perkins’ body.
In this undated photo provided by Louis Arevalo, Inge Perkins poses for a photo. Gallatin County sheriff’s officials say Perkins was skiing with her boyfriend Hayden Kennedy on Imp Peak on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, when they triggered an avalanche in a steep, narrow gulley. Perkins, was buried by the 150-foot-wide slide. Kennedy, who was partially buried, pulled himself free and hiked out for help after he couldn’t find his girlfriend. Kennedy was found dead in a home Sunday as search teams prepared to recover Perkins’ body. (Louis Arevalo via AP) (Louis Arevalo)
Doug Chabot, director of the avalanche center, said Kennedy did not call 911 to report the slide.
“It all came out in this incredibly detailed and well-thought-out note,” he said. “He basically left nothing to chance in finding Inge.”
Chabot said the note included GPS coordinates and details about the route Kennedy and Perkins were skiing. Kennedy also left an avalanche probe and a shovel in the debris to mark the site, allowing searchers to find the body within an hour of arriving.
Perkins had an avalanche transceiver in her backpack, but it was turned off, Chabot said. It’s unclear if Kennedy was carrying a similar unit.
In a statement released Tuesday, Kennedy’s parents described their son as “an uncensored soul whose accomplishments as a mountaineer were always secondary to his deep friendships and mindfulness.”
“Hayden survived the avalanche but not the unbearable loss of his partner in life,” they wrote.
In this undated photo provided by Louis Arevalo, Inge Perkins puts on her shoes before casting off on Cowboy King in Wild Iris, Wyo. Gallatin County sheriff’s officials say Perkins was skiing with her boyfriend Hayden Kennedy on Imp Peak on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, when they triggered an avalanche in a steep, narrow gulley. Perkins, was buried by the 150-foot-wide slide. Kennedy, who was partially buried, pulled himself free and hiked out for help after he couldn’t find his girlfriend. (Louis Arevalo via AP) (Louis Arevalo)
Kennedy, who grew up in Carbondale, Colorado, had been working on his EMT certification while Perkins completed a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and education at Montana State University.
Kennedy was perhaps best known for climbing the Southeast Ridge in Patagonia’s Cerro Torre in 2012 and removing many of the bolts placed by controversial Italian climber Cesare Maestri more than 40 years earlier.
Afterward, he and his climbing partner were accosted by locals and detained by police. But Kennedy’s father, Michael Kennedy, who was editor of Climbing Magazine for more than two decades, beamed with pride.
“You made a courageous first step in restoring Cerro Torre to its rightful place as one of the most demanding and inaccessible summits in the world,” the elder Kennedy wrote in an open letter to his son that was published in Alpinist Magazine in 2012. “I never would have had the guts to take that step myself, even in my best days.”
Michael Kennedy, an accomplished mountaineer in his own right, also wrote to his son about losing multiple friends to the sport.
“An awareness of mortality prompts us to focus on what’s important: developing a strong community of family and friends,” he wrote.
The concept of zero is so deeply engrained in our culture that it is hard to imagine not having it. Yet most ancient cultures never came up with the idea, greatly to the detriment of their mathematical development. We don’t know exactly when the idea first appeared, but re-analysis of a nearly 2,000-year-old Indian manuscript has taken us closer to this crucial point.
The Bakhshali manuscript is written on pieces of birch bark and was found buried in a field outside the village of Bakhshali, Pakistan, in 1881. It has been housed in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, since 1902. It contains hundreds of zero symbols, and clearly represents one of the oldest surviving references to this concept. However, its age has been in doubt, with estimates based on writing style placing it around the year 800.
Testing of three samples in the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit revealed that the manuscript, rather than having a single origin, was created in pieces centuries apart. The earliest measured section dates to somewhere between 224 and 383 AD, while additions were made in 680-779 and 885-993 AD. The last date roughly aligns with other examples we have of the dot symbol, which gradually evolved into our 0, being used to indicate absence. However, the earlier dates are well outside expectations.
The fact the manuscript remained in use for so long, and was expanded at least twice centuries later, indicates its status, probably as a training manual. It is filled with examples of practical arithmetic and algebra. Oxford’s Professor Marcus du Sautoy told The Guardian: “There’s a lot of ‘If someone buys this and sells this how much have they got left?’”
“Today we take it for granted that the concept of zero is used across the globe and is a key building block of the digital world. But the creation of zero as a number in its own right, which evolved from the placeholder dot symbol found in the Bakhshali manuscript, was one of the greatest breakthroughs in the history of mathematics,” du Sautoy said in a statement. “We now know that it was as early as the 3rd century that mathematicians in India planted the seed of the idea that would later become so fundamental to the modern world. The findings show how vibrant mathematics have been in the Indian sub-continent for centuries.”
Both the Babylonians and Mayans had symbols for nothing, but it was only when the Indians developed the idea that its mathematical power was realized. Even then, the placeholding dot took centuries to evolve into the concept that zero could be a number.
Arab traders spread the idea from India, but it faced considerable resistance upon its arrival in Europe, even facing attempts to ban it as heresy.
Silicon Valley tech companies are teaming up with the Trump administration on a new initiative to push science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in our schools. The new STEM initiative, which Trump will be signing as a memorandum today, will ask the Department of Education to allocate $200 million of its grant funds toward coding and STEM education.
The impetus for this new initiative is train the workers of tomorrow for the growing demand of computer-science jobs. It should also help improve the woeful state of STEM education in this country. According data from the American Institute of Physics, less than 40 percent of graduating high school seniors have taken a physics course. (The White House reports that only 60 percent of high schools even offer physics as a course.) As for computer science, less than half of U.S. high schools offer coding courses.
“Our country is facing a challenge that it hasn’t had to address in two generations: reworking the education system to keep pace with advancing technology,” Microsoft president Brad Smith said in a statement today. “In the 1950s, the race to space drove schools to start teaching physics. Today, it’s all about computer science.”
On Tuesday, Trump’s daughter Ivanka will head to Detroit to announce private sector commitments to this program. Representatives from Amazon, Facebook, Google, GM, and Quicken Loans will be in attendance, among others.
This STEM education effort comes at an interesting time. Many tech leaders recently criticized Trump for his move to end DACA and decision to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military. Earlier this year, many of these same executives served on the Trump administration’s technology council. While Trump dissolved two related councils (members resigned following Trump’s response to the Charlottesville, Virginia, incident), his administration still hopes to work with industry tech leaders to modernize our government, and now, help bring our education system into the 21st century, too.
Robots are the next step in using technology to explore sexuality.
Humanity has a huge impact on our planet but predicting the long-term effects of our actions is not exactly simple. An important question scientists have been asking is could our activities trigger a mass extinction?
According to Professor Daniel Rothman, a geophysicist at MIT, if 310 gigatons of carbon were added to the oceans this would first lead to an unstable environment, and then to a mass extinction. This amount is predicted to enter the world’s water reservoir by 2100. The research is published in Science Advances.
“This is not saying that disaster occurs the next day,” Rothman clarified in a statement. “It’s saying that, if left unchecked, the carbon cycle would move into a realm which would be no longer stable, and would behave in a way that would be difficult to predict. In the geologic past, this type of behavior is associated with mass extinction.”
The theory looked at changes in carbon over long and short timescales. Over long timescales, extinction could happen if carbon cycle changes occur faster than the planet can adapt to them. Over short timescales, however, extinction will depend on how big the change is. Rothman was capable of putting a “carbon threshold” on how much carbon the oceans can take in. According to the theory, it might take up to 10,000 years for the full disaster to play out, but Rothman thinks that by 2100 we will be reaching, or moving past, the carbon threshold for catastrophe.
There have been five mass extinctions throughout the history of our planet, and Rothman wanted to know if a sixth was likely based on the data we have today and what we have been doing since the industrial revolution.
“How can you really compare these great events in the geologic past, which occur over such vast timescales, to what’s going on today, which is centuries at the longest? So I sat down one summer day and tried to think about how one might go about this systematically,” Rothman added. “It became evident that there was a characteristic rate of change that the system basically didn’t like to go past. Then it became a question of figuring out what it meant.”
Once the limit is breached, the carbon cycle breaks. Plants can’t take the extra carbon dioxide in and carbon no longer sinks to the bottom of the ocean, where it normally gets buried over time. The best case scenario for 2100 sees humans adding 300 gigatons of carbon to the ocean with more than 500 gigatons being added in the worst.
Those committed to electing Democratic women to office worried Hillary Clintons loss would repel female candidates. But then the sun came up
Election night 2016 was devastating for Democratic women who had hoped to elect the first female president. But it was doubly so for the organizers committed to electing Democratic women to office. They worried Hillary Clintons loss to a man who boasted on tape about grabbing women would repel female candidates from entering politics. But then the sun came up.
It really started immediately, said Andrea Steele, the president and founder of Emerge America, a national organization that recruits and trains Democratic women to run for office. The next day our phone began to ring and it didnt stop. Emails poured in. Women all over the country woke up and decided to take some action.
Since the 8 November election, Emerge America has reported an 87% increase in applications to its training programs.
Emilys List, an organization dedicated to helping elect pro-choice Democratic women, said more than 16,000 women have expressed interest in running for office since the election, while that number was 920 during the entire 2016 election cycle. Similarly She Should Run, a nonpartisan organization that trains female candidates, said 15,000 women inquired about running in an election,compared to about 900 during the same period last year.
Donald Trumps election has led to a surge in political activism among Democratic women, according to a June survey of college-educated voters by Politico, American University and Loyola Marymount. But so far, the survey found, that energy hasnt totally translated yet into more women wanting to run for office.
Jennifer Lawless, a professor of government at American University and the co-author of the study, said backlash to Trump may have planted a seed but that it could take several more election cycles for that seed to bloom.
Organizers agree that political parity is still years away. But even so, theyre optimistic the interest will usher in another year of the woman.
We look at this not just as our crop of candidates for 2018, because theyre not all going to run right away, Emilys List president Stephanie Schriock told reporters earlier this summer. This is an extraordinary pipeline of future candidates for the next decade.
The Guardian spoke with a handful of candidates who are putting their names on the ballot for the first time from school board to congress, and asked what drove them to run.
Elissa Slotkin, congressional candidate for Michigans eighth district
A few months into the Trump presidency, Elissa Slotkin was still on the fence about running. And then her congressman Mike Bishop voted for the House Republican healthcare bill.
Slotkin said she was shocked that he would cast such a consequential vote without at least holding a town hall and hearing from the constituents.
Too many politicians in Congress have forgotten that they are public servants, that they are voted in by people and that their one responsibility their one job is to improve the lives of their constituents, Slotkin said. It just seemed like a hell of a lot of people who had forgotten that.
Slotkin, a former intelligence official, worked at the Pentagon, the state department and the CIA during the Bush and Obama administrations. As a Middle East analyst at the CIA, she served three tours in Iraq.
During her 15 years working in intelligence and defense, she said no one ever asked her party affiliation. And thats the approach shes taking to her campaign.
Voters are surprised that she is openly critical of the national Democratic party, but she reminds them that her job was to give frank assessments of a controversial war to two presidents with very different perspectives.
I think they take that as a sign that I still understand how to speak truth to power, she said.
Throughout her career, Slotkin said she was often one of the few women in the room or in the combat zone where she deployed.
I have really worked hard to be in some instances twice as competent and twice as capable, she said. But Ive always found that if you know your stuff and youre willing to put yourself out there then people respect that and your gender means less than your competence.
Jena Griswold, candidate for Colorado secretary of state
After the election, Jena Griswold watched in horror as Trump claimed without any basis that millions of people had voted illegally, costing him the popular vote. And then he convened an election integrity commission to prove it.
Griswold, a former voting rights lawyer for Obamas 2012 campaign, decided she couldnt stay on the sidelines.
We saw firsthand how our election could be affected, she said, referring to the conclusion by the intelligence community that Russia interfered in the US election, which Trump has repeatedly doubted.
And now this commission should have us all on high alert. We need secretaries of state who will stand up and say: No, were not going to roll back our democratic institutions on false allegations.
She noted that after the commission started requesting voter data, hundreds of Colorado residents canceled their voter registrations, and that county elections offices reported a flood of calls from voters concerned about their data privacy.
Our democracy requires participating and when people are taking themselves out of voter rolls, were decreasing participation, she said.
Before launching her campaign, Griswold spent hours mulling the decision with fellow female politicians. Griswold had questions about what to expect from running at such a young age and though she felt qualified to do the job, this would be her first campaign.
Eventually, she said, a mentor told her: If youre excited about this, you should run. Maybe not having run for office before will be a benefit.
At just 32, Griswold is running her first campaign and pitching her youth as an asset.
Younger people are being turned off by how our politics work, she said. I understand that. And as a younger person running, I have innovative ideas and a fresh perspective on how to change that.
January Contreras, candidate for Arizona attorney general
For most of her career, January Contreras has disregarded the calls to run for office, choosing instead to serve in other ways. That is, until now.
It became clear that were at this very important crossroads, Contreras said of her decision to run. I decided to step forward and give Arizona a choice that they can trust.
Contreras said special interests have been pulling the strings for too long and that, if elected, she intends to shift the focus of the attorney generals office back to fighting for working families and small businesses.
I came into the race feeling like I have to fight hard for all of these people in vulnerable positions because I know the choices they have to make, she said.
But what I have been surprised by since starting the campaign is that there are a lot of people who have a good home, have a job but are afraid of their government.
Though shes a political novice, Contreras has a lengthy resume with a record of public service.
She worked as an assistant attorney general in the office she now hopes to run, an ombudsman with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services and a senior advisor to Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano. In 2013, she founded the nonprofit Arizona Legal Women and Youth Service, which provides no-cost legal services to survivors of sex and labor trafficking and vulnerable children.
Contreras said she has been fortunate to work for and with female leaders throughout most of her career, like Napolitano, who was one of Arizonas four female governors.
Seeing other women step up to run for office has been inspiring, Contreras said. If we achieve getting more women elected, well see more work across the aisle and more problem-solving because lets face it, moms get stuff done.
Kim Schrier, congressional candidate for Washingtons eighth district
Kim Schrier spent election day on the phone pleading with voters in Florida to turn out for Hillary Clinton. Hours later the state would fall to Trump, along with the rest of the south and a large swath of the midwest.
The election was a real wake-up call for me, said Schrier, a pediatrician in Washington state. It felt like the world changed overnight.
The next morning, her eight-year-old son asked if they were going to have to move to another country.
I knew right away that this was one of those times when youre called upon to stand up and protect everything you love, she said.
The idea of leaving her practice where she has worked for the last 16 years to seek elective office would have sounded absurd a year ago, she said. But as she watched Republicans lead the effort to repeal Obamacare, Schrier saw an opportunity.
As a pediatrician in Washington [DC] I could serve all the children of the country far more than I could serve one ear infection at a time in my office, she said.
The final straw was when her congressman, Dave Reichert, refused to hold town halls with his constituents as the healthcare debate raged in the capital. In a campaign video, Schrier announced her candidacy next to an empty chair meant to symbolize Reicherts reluctance to meet with voters.
If elected, Schrier said she would naturally gravitate toward issues involving healthcare and science. She noted that there are currently no female doctors serving in Congress.
I think having a woman doctor at the table is an important perspective, especially during discussions of womens health and reproductive rights, she said.
Mikie Sherrill, congressional candidate for New Jerseys 11th district
When Mikie Sherrill told her family she was considering running for Congress, the former Navy pilot expected to be called crazy. Instead, they wholeheartedly agreed.
Now the Democrat is running to take on Trump and the districts nine-term Republican senator, Rodney Frelinghuysen.
I started this campaign because I was really disturbed by Trumps attack on the institutions of our democracy, Sherrill said, adding that Trumps equivocating response to the deadly violence in Charlottesville have brought his presidency into sharp relief.
I think now there is a feeling things have come to a head and this is simply not who we are as a country.
As a US Navy pilot, Sherrill spent nine years flying helicopters in Europe and the Middle East. After leaving the Navy, Sherrill attended law school at Georgetown University and later became a federal prosecutor with the US attorneys office in New Jersey.
During the 2016 election, Sherrill said she was especially appalled by Trumps treatment of Gold Star families and his disregard for Senator John McCain of Arizona, who spent more than five years in captivity during the Vietnam war.
Sherrill said she is encouraged but not surprised that so many veterans are running for office.
Veterans at one time in their life have signed up to serve their country, Sherrill said. Whats happening to this country now is a grave concern to a lot of people but veterans in particular feel the need to get engaged and help protect this country and the institutions of our government.
Sherrill said knowing she is joining a fleet of Democratic women around the country in seeking office in 2018 has been empowering.
Ive always found being a woman to be a double-edged sword, Sherrill said. Ive run into corners where Ive experienced some veiled sexism and some not so veiled sexism. But after this election the women are so engaged and that support has really gotten my campaign to where it is.
Olivia Scott, candidate for Charlotte school board – district three
Olivia Scott thought she was too young, too inexperienced, too soft-spoken for politics. The thought of running had crossed her mind but she quickly dismissed it as afar-fetched dream. But then Trump won and that equation changed.
I thought, if he can win the presidency I can definitely win a seat on the school board, Scott said.
At just 25, Scott said shes running for school board to try to change the trajectory for young students in Charlotte, where children born into poverty have little chance of escaping it.
As an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Scott studied English with a concentration in childrens studies. She now works as a director-in-training at a five-star child care center in Charlotte and is a volunteer with the local Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
Scott said she is the right person to serve on the District 3 school board because she attended a similar school growing up. As a student, Scott said she was acutely aware of the disparities between school districts.
I couldnt figure out why the schools I went to were so depressing on the inside or why students I went to school with didnt always succeed, she said.
Scott has a three tier platform that she believes will help address some of the obstacles that exist, especially for the poor African American students in her district, including improving communication skills and boosting test scores in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Being young can seem like an obstacle sometimes, but its also an opportunity, she said.
I get a lot of How old are you again? she said. Most people are extremely supportive. When I introduce myself to millennials, a lot of them are impressed and ask how they can get involved.
Hala Ayala, candidate for Virginia House of Delegates district 51
Like so many women, she marched and now shes running.
Hala Ayala has been active in Democratic politics for more than a decade, but it wasnt until after she helped organize a contingent of Virginia women of the Womens March on Washington that she saw her name on the ballot.
We woke up the next day and I dont even know if this is clinically correct but we had political depression, she said. But then I went to the march and the experience, marching with these women, it really energized me and inspired me to take the next step.
For years, Ayala has worked to promote women in politics and civic life. She revived her county chapter of the National Organization for Women and serves on Governor Terry McAuliffes Council on Women.
As a single mother of two, one of whom was born with a serious medical condition, Ayala relied on welfare and Medicaid for support. At one point, she worked as a cashier at the local gas station before enrolling in a training program that put her on a path to a career in cyber security.
Ayala recently left her job as a cyber security specialist with the Department of Homeland Security to join a record number of women to seek a seat in the Virginia legislature. The decision was not without risks and she said she still occasionally wonders if it was the right decision for her family.
There is a lot of sacrifices that we make to run for office and those are not taken lightly, she said.
So far this risk has been rewarding. In June, Ayala won her primary. She is now among 31 Democratic women running for currently Republican-held seats in the Virginia House of Delegates.
This article was amended on 4 September to clarify that Hala Ayala has a son and a daughter, not two boys. The son was born with but does not currently have a medical condition. In addition, 31 not 10 Democratic women are running for currently Republican-held seats in the Virginia House of Delegates.
It’s been five days since Hurricane Harvey crashed into Texas and Louisiana, leaving thousands displaced and at least 30 dead.
While the aftermath of such a catastrophic natural disaster is horrifying, there’s something bittersweet about the way it brings humanity together. In the face of death and the wake of tragedy, we somehow have a greater capacity to tear down the walls built up by religion, race and socioeconomic status, and see people for who they really are: human.
Sons, daughters, mothers and fathers. Simply neighbors—in need of our help.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” ~Galatians 6:2
Amidst the rising racial division that has plagued our country in recent months, one such story is shining a ray of hope for this kind of unity.
Among the Houston residents who have gone out on their own to offer assistance to hurricane victims is professional MMA fighter, Derrick Lewis. Alongside the rescue crews, Lewis has served as one of the selfless volunteers wading through the treacherous floodwaters of Houston to help in any way that he can.
The UFC fighter, known as the “The Black Beast,” showed a softer side of his bad boy persona when he encountered a stranded hurricane victim who was clutching a Confederate flag, an item that has long symbolized racism in America.
“I picked up one guy and his family, his wife―he just kept apologizing to me, because all he really had was his clothes, and he wanted to take his Confederate flag,” said Lewis. “He wanted to take that with him, and he just apologized and said, ‘Man, I’ll sit in the back of your truck, man. I don’t want to have my flag inside of your truck like this.’”
But Lewis’ response left the ashamed man speechless.
“I said, ‘Man, I’m not worried about that,’’’ Lewis explained.
Clearly embarrassed by her husband’s unwillingness to leave behind his precious flag, she kept hitting him saying, “You should have just left it.”
Unshaken by the man’s actions, Lewis again reassured the couple that he was not offended.
“I don’t care about that,” Lewis told MMA Junkie. “I live in Texas. It ain’t nothing new. I’ve been living in the South all my life, and it ain’t nothing I hadn’t seen before or discussed about. I don’t care about that type of stuff. I just wanted to help him.”
“I’ve always been that type of guy that I like to help people more than I like to help myself and so I just seized the opportunity,” he added.
And what does he want in return?
This Good Samaritan just has one modest request…
“Just send me some Popeyes,” he playfully remarked. “Give me that 12-piece.”
With the police and firefighters making public news announcements that they were only going to help in “life-or-death situations,” Lewis knew he couldn’t be a passive bystander.
To him, the satisfaction of helping those in need far outweighs his successes in the UFC ring.
This is the United Nations, the center of global diplomacy. Countries from all over the world gather here to bicker about their differences and get nothing accomplished. This may seem like a huge waste of time, but it’s actually much better than the alternative, which is World War III.
Yes, it would be very bad. Every human would die, and the Earth would become a radioactive cinder. World War III is one of the worst things that could happen.
No, it would be very bad. Every human would die, and the Earth would become a radioactive cinder. World War III is one of the worst things that could happen.
You are the U.N. secretary-general, the director of the United Nations. This is you.
Running the United Nations is a challenging job, but you know how important your work is. Without your tireless diplomatic efforts, World War III could erupt at any moment.
This is the start of a new day, and it’s bound to be a stressful one. You have just enough time for a soothing chamomile tea before you talk to world leaders and try to delay nuclear holocaust a little bit longer.
Soon the weight of the world will be on your shoulders, but right now, for one brief moment, you can revive your spirits with the calming taste of chamomile.
The second you swallow the tea your bowels seize up in knots. Number one and number two are stirring through your guts like a pair of incestuous pythons, angrily slamming against the walls of your intestine and bladder. What the hell did you just drink?
Oh no. You wanted to make chamomile tea, but must have grabbed the wrong box. You have to find a bathroom, fast.
Maybe you should do a little diplomacy first though, before you visit the toilet. You’ve already left the world unattended while you had your tea, and there’s no telling what mischief the countries are getting themselves into.
Diplomacy can wait five minutes. You desperately waddle straight to the bathroom.
While you’re in the bathroom, World War III occurs, and a nuclear shockwave obliterates New York City, which is where the United Nations headquarters is. You are instantly killed without even realizing there’s a problem. Soon every other city on Earth is also erased by nuclear hellfire.
Within minutes, a global population of billions is reduced to millions. The survivors struggle on for several decades, their numbers continually dwindling due to radiation sickness and famine caused by nuclear winter. The few that survive are often infertile from constant background irradiation.
Fifty years after World War III, fewer than 100,000 humans remain alive on the face of the Earth, surviving in scattered hunter-gatherer tribes. They eke out a tough existence on the toxic husk of the Earth, but even those hardened nomad bands are slowly killed off by the inhospitable wasteland.
Five hundred years after World War III, only two humans are left on Earth, a mother and her son. They live on the outskirts of the radioactive ruin of what was once called Cincinnati, eating cockroaches to survive. She dies of cancer when the boy is 10 years old. He lives the rest of his life alone on a dead planet, making up imaginary friends to keep himself company. He dies at the age of 49 from an untreated tooth infection.
This tragic fate befell humanity because you couldn’t hold in your feces for a few minutes before using the bathroom. It didn’t have to be this way.
You visit the conference room where ambassadors hang out to argue with each other. “Good morning, Mr. Secretary-General,” the diplomats greet you in unison.
Your stomach is rumbling like a blender full of rocks. You really need to wrap up this diplomacy stuff, pronto.
You deliver a long and eloquent speech on the importance of diplomacy, ignoring the furious writhing of your intestine. Unfortunately, you take too long. As soon as your finish speaking, your colon erupts in a geyser of shit. Liquid rivers of warm dung flow down your pant leg, over your shoes, and spread across the floor like the Exxon Valdez spill.
“Hey, the secretary-general just shit his pants!” screams the Belgian ambassador.
“Whoa, what a loser!” shouts the Japanese ambassador. “We used to respect him, but he can’t even keep his crap inside his body where it belongs.”
“All these years, we’ve listened to him when he told us that World War III would be bad,” says the Chilean ambassador. “But now that we know he’s actually an idiot who shits his pants, what if that means World War III would be good?”
Excited murmurs start to fill the room. “Yeah, World War III!” “The Big War!” “World War III would be good!” “Nukes nukes nukes nukes!”
The ambassadors ignore your desperate pleas and phone their home countries to tell them to start World War III. It doesn’t take long before a nuclear shockwave reduces the United Nations to radioactive ash, and you with it.
The French ambassador clears his throat. “Yes, we are about to go to war with our hated enemy England.”
Uh-oh, he’s lifting weights. This is a traditional form of diplomatic saber rattling that countries use to show their power. If he’s doing exercise at the United Nations, that means armed conflict could erupt between France and England at any second.
“The arrogant and imperialistic British have been hogging Stonehenge all for themselves. Why do they get to own Stonehenge? They didn’t even build Stonehenge, it was druids a long time ago. France should get a turn owning Stonehenge. If not, we have no choice but to start World War III.”
The diplomats watch you in puzzled silence as you struggle to control your spastic bowels. After a few perilous seconds you manage to resist defecating, for at least a little bit longer.
The English ambassador scoffs disdainfully. “How dare the devious French try to take our Stonehenge, when they’ve been selfishly hoarding the Eiffel Tower all to themselves for years. If France wants to do World War III, England welcomes the chance to best them in a contest of nukes. After we win, we’ll bring the Eiffel Tower to London where it belongs.”
With your blessing, England and France begin lobbing nuclear weapons at each other, destroying both Stonehenge and the Eiffel Tower, as well as all their cities and buildings and people.
The destruction of two countries would be bad enough, but England and France were both NATO signatories. As soon as they went to war, that invoked Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which declares that an attack against one NATO member is an attack against all and must be responded to with military action. All the other NATO members fulfill their obligations to defend England and France from England and France by bombing England and France. Attacking England and France invokes Article 5 of NATO again, which forces all the NATO nations to start bombing all the NATO nations that attacked England and France, including themselves.
You are killed in a nuclear explosion when the United States retaliates against the United States by bombing the United States.
Knowing that your bowels could evacuate the entire frozen package of hot dogs you ate this morning at any moment, you have to propose a peace treaty between England and France on how to equitably divide Stonehenge and the Eiffel Tower, and pronto!
The British ambassador falls silent for a long moment, then takes a nude photo of the queen out of his briefcase. “This photo of the queen’s glorious bare body is one of England’s most treasured possessions,” he says gravely, handing it to the French ambassador. “England will not trade it for anything less precious than the Eiffel Tower.”
The French ambassador examines the photo for a few seconds. “She looks pretty good for her age,” he says with utter solemnity.
The British ambassador nods. “Yeah, she’s in her nineties. Not bad at all.”
The two ambassadors shake hands, signaling a new era of peace between their countries. Now that you’ve averted war, nothing stops you from running to the bathroom.
“The Mona Lisa is one of France’s most valued treasures,” says the French ambassador in a hushed and reverent tone. “We stole that painting from the Italians, and it’s ours now. Until now, we’ve had a policy to never paint on the Mona Lisa, but we would break that rule in exchange for Stonehenge.”
“Manchester United rules!” shouts the English ambassador. “They kick the ball very well. We’d be honored to have Mona Lisa become a fan of Manchester.”
The two ambassadors shake hands, signaling a new era of peace between their countries. Now that you’ve averted war, nothing stops you from running to the bathroom.
You sprint toward the toilets, using every ounce of willpower to contain the furious contents of your twitching asshole. The door of the U.N.’s bathroom beckons to you like a lighthouse in a storm.
You stride triumphantly toward the toilets, ready to drop your pants and destroy the plumbing. There’s no time to spare either, because shit is ramming against your sphincter like Vikings at the castle gates.
There are four stalls in this bathroom. Which one do you want to use?
Wow, you just offended a Nobel Prize winner, and you still have a runaway brown train chugging down your colon, next stop sphincter junction. And without your guidance, World War III could break out in the general assembly at any time. Better make this quick!
Which stall do you want to use?
You open the door to the first stall, and a young woman sitting on the toilet shrieks in alarm.
“Excuse me, this stall is occupied!” screams Malala Yousafzai. “What the fucking hell is wrong with you? Can’t a Nobel Prize winner take a dump in peace?”
“Well, fucking knock next time! Now get lost, so I can finish up in here and get back to a conference on the importance of women’s education in the developing world.”
The Dalai Lama is sitting on the toilet. “Suffering must be our teacher, not our master,” he says while smiling at you benevolently. There is a quiet continuous sound of trickling urine.
“You are filled with sorrow,” says the Dalai Lama. “Instead, be joyous, for the world’s beauty is all around you!” Urine continues to steadily trickle.
“Our needs and wants are roadblocks on the path to nirvana.” The sound of urine slows down to intermittent spurts, and eventually stops entirely. Five quiet seconds pass as the Dalai Lama smiles at you. Then suddenly urine starts pouring again twice as loud as before.
You drop your pants and seat your bare ass on the Dalai Lama’s naked thighs. In response, the Buddhist spiritual leader calmly takes a can of mace out of his robes and pepper-sprays you in the eyes.
The world is a painful blur. You try to fumble your way to the sinks to wash the pepper spray from your stinging eyes, but instead accidentally wander out of the bathroom into the U.N.’s hallway, right in front of an elementary school tour group.
There are shocked gasps and giggles from the students as you waddle around with your fallen pants, reluctantly shitting a breadcrumb trail of turds behind you.
Police handcuff you and throw you in the back of a squad car. You face some pretty serious charges. Shitting in front of minors will get you put on the sex offender registry, which will get you fired from your job at the United Nations and make it impossible to ever get employed again.
However, you’re never charged for your crimes. On your way to the police station, World War III happens, and you’re disintegrated by a nuclear explosion.
Former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi is sitting on the toilet. “Occupied,” says the brutal tyrant. “My bad, I should have locked the door.”
“No, they only killed one of my body doubles,” says Gaddafi. “I was at the United Nations for a diplomatic summit when my government was overthrown, so I decided to lay low and live in the bathroom here.”
“Sure, help yourself,” says Gaddafi as he stands and pulls up his pants. “Heads up, though, I just dropped a monster deuce, and this toilet is completely clogged. Sorry about that.”
The odor from the toilet is absolutely horrendous. Gaddafi’s dump smells like a combination of dog sweat and spoiled cheesecake. You flick the handle a few times, but it doesn’t flush. You definitely do not want to sit on top of that mess, but you need a toilet and you’re getting desperate.
You sit down on top of the steaming dung and defecate. It’s pretty gross feeling the polluted Gaddafi-water splash up against your ass cheeks, but at least you get rid of your diarrhea.
You have succeeded in using the toilet for five minutes without World War III breaking out, so congratulations! Technically, you win! On the downside, you get all kinds of weird diseases from exposure to Gaddafi’s shit, which is to be expected from someone who slept with thousands of prostitutes and sex slaves over four decades. A few hours after using the bathroom you start hemorrhaging blood from your anus and then die. After your death, there’s nobody around to prevent World War III, and humanity is eradicated by nuclear warfare.
If you’re okay with this, you can quit now and consider this a victory, but maybe there’s a way to take a shit and also prevent World War III from happening at all.
You open the door and find Bill Gates sitting on the toilet, but not actually defecating. The toilet lid is down, and Bill Gate’s pants are up.
The billionaire philanthropist is lost in thought and doesn’t notice you enter.
“Oh, hello, Secretary-General,” says Bill Gates. “No, I don’t need to use the bathroom. I just came here to think about all the strides the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has made in the fight against malaria. The bathroom is one of my favorite quiet places to think about doing charity.”
“Sure, of course you can use this toilet,” says Bill Gates. “Unfortunately, not everyone on Earth has a toilet. And other unfortunate people have malaria, a serious and sometimes deadly disease spread by mosquitoes. There are over 200 million cases of malaria each year. It’s an enduring problem that I hope to fix in my lifetime.”
“Oh right, you need to use the toilet,” says Bill Gates. “I forgot because I was talking about malaria, a serious disease endemic in tropical climates. Combating malaria will require a threefold approach: 1) reducing mosquito populations by eliminating standing water sources and employing judicious use of pesticides; 2) developing effective drugs and vaccines to protect at-risk populations from malaria; 3) employing barriers such as mosquito nets to prevent contact between humans and mosquitos.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. I will get off the toilet immediately so you can use it,” says Bill Gates while remaining seated on the toilet. “Diarrhea is also one of the symptoms of malaria, a serious disease that is sometimes fatal. Other symptoms of malaria include fever and vomiting. Over half a million people die each year from malaria, a grim annual toll that is too often ignored in the Western world.
“The good news is that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has made huge strides against malaria, reducing deaths by 20 percent since the year 2000. Our scientists have made promising breakthroughs experimenting with recombinant protein-based vaccines, and we intend to keep funding grants to pursue that area of research.
“Eradicating malaria is a long-term goal, but an attainable one, that will require ongoing cooperation between government health departments and NGOs. By the way, didn’t you say you needed to use the toilet? Sorry, I got distracted talking about malaria.”
Bill Gates stands up and gestures at the toilet. “It’s all yours.”
You shit your pants because you let Bill Gates ramble on about malaria for too long. There’s no way you can conduct diplomacy like this. None of the ambassadors will take you seriously if you have sopping-wet shit legs. You have no choice but to go shopping for a new pair of pants.
You and your befouled pants squeeze onto a packed subway train. The other straphangers give you disgusted looks and inch away.
In your worst nightmares you never dreamed that you, the secretary-general of the world’s most esteemed diplomatic institution, could become a social pariah stinking up a train car. You pray the subway gets to your stop quickly so you can reach Macy’s and buy clean pants as soon as possible.
You’re traveling through a tunnel when the subway comes to a screeching halt. The lights flicker, and the car shakes as the ground trembles.
The train conductor’s voice crackles over the intercom. “Sorry passengers, this train is experiencing service delays because World War III just happened on the surface and everyone up there is dead. Thank you for your patience.”
You climb a service ladder to the street level and behold the grim aftermath of World War III. Charred corpses litter the streets amidst burning rubble. This is the exact kind of situation you tried to warn people about when you said World War III would be bad.
Fortunately, you managed to survive doomsday and become a nomadic scavenger. You spend the rest of your grueling life searching through the radioactive ruins of civilization for canned food and bugs to eat. However, in all your decades of wandering the nuclear wasteland, you never find a clean pair of pants.
“Don’t worry, I’ll squish it!” shouts Bill Gates. He runs out to the United Nations parking lot, hops into his car, and drives into your car at 90 mph, totaling both vehicles.
Bill Gates dizzily climbs out of the wreckage of his car. He has a long gash bleeding on his forehead where it hit the steering wheel. “I don’t see the mosquito,” he shouts out in warning. “I think it got away. Don’t let it bite you, or you might get malaria!”
You’ve successfully tricked Bill Gates into leaving the toilet.
You drop your pants and lower yourself down. The ring of the toilet seat feels cool and refreshing on your buttocks.
Just as you prepare to tense your colon and expel all the filth within, there is a loud commotion from outside the bathroom. You hear angry shouting. Someone screams, “If World War III is what you want, then World War III is what you’re gonna get!”
You will see him in your dreams. You will see him along a very busy street, during your busiest days, and even when you are with your friends in the middle of a party. You will always take some time to think of him every single day, and will keep on hoping that it is not yet over. You will hope and try harder, even if you fail and after you have let him go.
Because, just like earthquakes, the aftershocks of loving someone too much can be stronger than the initial destruction.
Sometimes, it will be painful and at times it will be beautiful. There will be times when you are genuinely happy, but there will also be times when you will miss him so much, despite him not doing everything to keep you.
You will certainly move on. You will love someone again and try to search for another happy ending to your story, but you will always find yourself coming back to those memories and the feelings of happiness that you had with them.
Yet, aftermaths can also make you realize that it’s over and that only the aftereffects remain. You cannot hold on to that little piece of hope and expect to see him right at the end of the tunnel, waiting for you. Because if loving someone too much is the right thing to do, then why were you left behind? Why did you have to suffer the loss of someone you loved so much?
You can love someone too much, but that may mean the chapter after the happily ever after ending will be about you standing up on your own, and continuing to write your own story. It is not all about the aftermath anymore, but it is about you and him who both tried. And although you failed, you are willing to start loving again.
Because we all deserve to be happy, no matter how much we have hurt or loved someone deeply.
Joel Osteen presides over a megachurch near downtown Houston that seats almost 17,000. The famed televangelist canceled service on Sunday amid Hurricane Harvey—and hasn’t re-opened. Now he’s being criticized on Twitter for keeping the venue shuttered despite rampant flooding and community displacement.
On Sunday the Lakewood Church tweeted a list of Houston-area shelters, including, as KTNV notes, numerous other nearby churches. Lakewood did not suffer flooding, but adjacent streets were closed off due to storm conditions. The church was formerly the Compaq Center, which housed the NBA’s Houston Rockets from 1975-2003.
A church spokesman told the New York Post that the church would be superfluous as an emergency shelter, because the nearby convention center has all of the requisite infrastructure already in place. But the decision to not outfit the Lakewood Church as a shelter has drawn national outrage, topping Twitter’s Monday evening U.S. trending topics.
Osteen announced relief efforts Monday evening during the online backlash, with Lakewood pledging to coordinate volunteers and raise funds. As TMZ notes, Osteen has not as of Monday evening personally donated to relief efforts in Texas.
“We have never closed our doors. We will continue to be a distribution center to those in need. We are prepared to house people once shelters reach capacity. Lakewood will be a value to the community in the aftermath of this storm.”