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7 lessons for 2017, so we don't make the same big mistakes we made in 2016.

Everything was supposed to get better after 2016.

2017, or so we thought. Photo by Alice Popkorn/Flickr.

When the history books are written, we believed this year would stand apart as uniquely awful. Annus horribilis. The year from hell. Bad things happened to good people. Great people passed away. Hurricanes raged. Fires burned. "Independence Day: Resurgence" failed to capture the magic of the original.


But we hoped, prayed, and frankly, assumed, that on December 31, the sky would open up, angelic choirs would sing, and we would be ushered naked and weeping into the 2017 utopia of our dreams.

Yet, in 2016's final, cruelest twist: It's pretty clear that ain't gonna happen now. At least for a lot of us.

True, Donald Trump's supporters are cracking beers, cueing up old DVR'ed episodes of "Celebrity Apprentice," and settling in for four years of the greatering again of America.

But those people whose lives and values came under threat in the election — Muslims, women, immigrants, people of color, among others — are preparing for a much harder road ahead.

It's easy to look back on all this and feel hopeless and helpless. For so many people around the world, the relief expected at the end of the year won't deliver itself. The thing is, we're not hopeless and helpless. We never were, and we aren't now. The idea that 2016 was simply fated to be horrendous is a myth — one that's more than a little self-serving. And if you look between the cracks, it wasn't all bad.

Indeed, while many of us spent 2016 sitting on our respective couches tweeting about this supposedly inevitably terrible, no good, death trap of a year, others were out working to change the specific, real-life things they thought were bad. And they did! Sometimes for the better, sometimes for worse, but they stopped complaining about how horrible 2016 was, packed their bags, got in the streets, and showed up.

The real lesson of 2016? We can't count on the stuff we don't like to just change on its own.

2016 is almost wrapped, and while it might be too late for a do-over, it's not too late to learn, memorize, and internalize these seven lessons to make sure we don't repeat the same mistakes in 2017.

1. We need to show up and vote.

Yep. This is happening. Photo by Jim Watson/Getty Images.

Say what you want about Donald Trump (I certainly have) — but his victory in November's election shocked the world — including, seemingly, many members of his own staff. After stumbling through three debates, launching feuds with private citizens, and nearly imploding over a leaked "Access Hollywood" tape, his campaign was disorganized, rudderless, and trailing in the polls in nearly every key state.

How did he pull it off? Trump's supporters wanted change, and they showed up and votedin the places where it counted (for what it's worth, nearly 3 million more Hillary Clinton voters showed up nationwide — but had the unfortunate luck to live in the wrong states).

Amid Trump's stunning upset, however, progressives managed to let loose a small ray of hope. In North Carolina, voters showed up and voted to reject a vicious anti-LGBTQ law by firing Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed it.

North Carolina Governor-elect Roy Cooper. Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images.

The groundwork for McCrory's defeat was laid way back in 2013, before the law even passed, by William Barber's Moral Mondays movement, which spent countless hours mobilizing citizens across class, gender, and racial lines to demand economic and social justice. Those citizens marched, organized, showed up, and — three years later, amid the horror of 2016 — won.

2. We need to show up in person.  

Protesters at Standing Rock. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

This lesson wasn't lost on the thousands of people who showed up in person at an isolated Indian reservation in the Dakotas to fight the construction of an oil pipeline on sovereign land and, after months of dedicated protest, won a major concession from the U.S. government.

Nor was it lost on thousands of women in Iceland, who showed up in person to walk off the job in protest of unequal pay and got the world's attention.

Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images.

Nor was it lost on the hundreds of Americans who showed up in person to rally behind their fellow citizens as hate incidents rose around the country.

A man stood outside a mosque in Dallas holding a sign saying, "You Belong." After an incident where a stranger threatened to light a female student's hijab on fire, students at the University of Michigan showed up to shield Muslim classmates who were praying. Students at the University of Kansas offered to walk their classmates of color to class. In Allen, Texas, a stranger left signs of support outside a local mosque. Churches across America are gearing up to protect immigrant families from abuse.

3. We need to not show up when showing up would mean compromising our values.

Spike Lee. Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images.

Back in January, director Spike Lee and actor Jada Pinkett Smith announced they would be boycotting the Oscars after no actors of color were nominated in acting categories for the second straight year. Thousands of Twitter users showed up in support with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.

In response, the academy ... actually made changes. The organization announced it would expand its board and review members' voting qualifications every 10 years, with the goal of expanding the number of women members and members of color by 2020.

4. We need to show up and do the things we really don't want to do that make us uncomfortable or even embarrassed — for the greater good.

Do you think Barack Obama wanted to make nice, shake hands, and have his picture taken with Donald Trump?

We're all so incredibly happy. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

After the guy questioned Obama's citizenship, savaged his character, and called his 2012 election victory a lie? President Obama could have told Trump to screw off until January — and he would have been more than justified. But he sucked it up and has been giving the guy free presidenting lessons ever since. Not because he wants to — because God knows he almost definitely doesn't — but because he knows America needs its president to have at least a ballpark understanding of what they're doing. That's showing up.

Do you think Mitt Romney wanted to beg Donald Trump — a man he accused of "trickle-down racism" — for a position in his cabinet?

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Do you think Romney wanted to suck up to Trump for a week and take back all the things he said that he almost surely still believes are true? Do you think he wanted to become a demeaning meme? Of course not. But he did it anyway because he's a dedicated public servant who knows his experience at the State Department would be a critical asset to an administration staffed with policy neophytes with wacky ideas. He probably knew that, in all likelihood, Trump wouldn't nominate him. He probably figured there was a chance the whole charade was concocted to humiliate him.

But he showed up and embarrassed himself on the ludicrously off chance Trump might really give him the job, putting an actual decent, thoughtful, qualified person in charge of one of the most important levers of U.S. foreign policy.

That's really showing up.  

5. We need to show up to experiences that burst our filter bubbles.

Photo by Steve Pope.

Showing up at "Hamilton," probably wasn't what you'd expect from Vice President-elect Mike Pence. As a congressman and governor, Pence was notorious for advancing anti-LGBTQ legislation and likely expected that sitting down to watch a musical about the contributions of immigrants to America's founding on Broadway, a capital of LGBTQ culture, would invite controversy. Sure enough, Pence was greeted by a chorus of boos when he appeared in the theater. And after the curtain call, actor Brandon Victor Dixon addressed the vice president-elect, respectfully, but uncompromisingly, from the stage:

"We, sir — we — are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights," Dixon said. "We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us."

But Pence listened and heard him out. And in a post-performance interview on Fox News, Pence said he "wasn't offended by what was said" and described the pre-show booing as "what freedom sounds like."

The musical probably didn't change Pence's mind on much of anything. And the cast's speech hasn't seemed to shift the vice president-elect's rhetoric on immigration, criminal justice reform, or LGBTQ rights. But Pence stepped out of his comfort zone and listened. He deserves at least some credit for that.  

6. And we need to show up to help other people to burst their filter bubbles.

Beyoncé and the Dixie Chicks at the CMAs. Photo by Nick Diamond/Getty Images.

Despite being the uncontested queen of everyone and everything, Beyoncé's performance at November's Country Music Awards became a lightning rod for fans of the genre. Criticisms ran the gamut from political (she's too liberal!) to aesthetic (she's insufficiently country!) to straight-up racist (black people don't belong in country music).

Here's the thing: Beyoncé can perform anywhere she wants. She's arguably the most famous human on the planet. She didn't need to show up to do a free show for people who mostly want her to go away. But she did it anyway. She did it knowing that the audience wouldn't necessarily be friendly to her. True to form, many weren't.

But many others listened, liked what they heard, and had their minds and tastes expanded. More importantly, their idea of what a country singer can look and sound like was forever changed.

It was a brave move for Beyoncé (and for the Dixie Chicks, who backed up Queen Bey, having been shunned by country audiences for their opposition to the Iraq War over a decade ago). Beyoncé leveraged her massive global fame to send a powerful message for inclusion that resonated with millions of viewers.

7. We need to show up now, when it counts, before it's too late.

Do not deny Prince-from-Beyond! Photo by Kristian Dowling/Getty Images.

We lost a lot of great people in 2016. There will never be another Prince, or David Bowie, or Alan Rickman, or Leonard Cohen, or Gwen Ifill, or John Glenn. But in a way, their passings aren't just tragedies — taken together, they're a call to arms.

Life is fleeting. If we want to make the world a better place, we have to get on it ASAP and show up now — not tomorrow, not a week from now, not in April when things calm down or start to feel normal. We all have limited time on Earth, and it matters, now more than ever, what we do with it.

2016 was a bad year for too many people around the world: We can't just wait, commiserate, post rueful memes, and hope that the next year will be better. We all have to go out and make it so.

2017 is coming, whether we want it to or not. Will it be better?

That's up to us.

via Pixabay

A sad-looking Labrador Retriever

The sweet-faced, loveable Labrador Retriever is no longer America’s favorite dog breed. The breed best known for having a heart of gold has been replaced by the smaller, more urban-friendly French Bulldog.

According to the American Kennel Club, for the past 31 years, the Labrador Retriever was America’s favorite dog, but it was eclipsed in 2022 by the Frenchie. The rankings are based on nearly 716,500 dogs newly registered in 2022, of which about 1 in 7 were Frenchies. Around 108,000 French Bulldogs were recorded in the U.S. in 2022, surpassing Labrador Retrievers by over 21,000.


The French Bulldog’s popularity has grown exponentially over the past decade. They were the #14 most popular breed in 2012, and since then, registrations have gone up 1,000%, bringing them to the top of the breed popularity rankings.

The AKC says that the American Hairless Terrier, Gordon Setter, Italian Greyhound and Anatolian Shepherd Dog also grew in popularity between 2021 and 2022.

The French Bulldog was famous among America’s upper class around the turn of the 20th century but then fell out of favor. Their resurgence is partly based on several celebrities who have gone public with their Frenchie love. Leonardo DiCaprio, Megan Thee Stallion, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Reese Witherspoon and Lady Gaga all own French Bulldogs.

The breed earned a lot of attention as show dogs last year when a Frenchie named Winston took second place at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and first in the National Dog Show.

The breed made national news in early 2021 when Gaga’s dog walker was shot in the chest while walking two of her Frenchies in a dog heist. He recovered from his injuries, and the dogs were later returned.

They’ve also become popular because of their unique look and personalities.

“They’re comical, friendly, loving little dogs,” French Bull Dog Club of America spokesperson Patty Sosa told the AP. She said they are city-friendly with modest grooming needs and “they offer a lot in a small package.”

They are also popular with people who live in apartments. According to the AKC, Frenchies don’t bark much and do not require a lot of outdoor exercise.

The French Bulldog stands out among other breeds because it looks like a miniature bulldog but has large, expressive bat-like ears that are its trademark feature. However, their popularity isn’t without controversy. “French bulldogs can be a polarizing topic,” veterinarian Dr. Carrie Stefaniak told the AP.

american kennel club, french bulldog, most popular dog

An adorable French Bulldog

via Pixabay

French Bulldogs have been bred to have abnormally large heads, which means that large litters usually need to be delivered by C-section, an expensive procedure that can be dangerous for the mother. They are also prone to multiple health problems, including skin, ear, and eye infections. Their flat face means they often suffer from respiratory problems and heat intolerance.

Frenchies are also more prone to spine deformations and nerve pain as they age.

Here are the AKC’s top ten most popular dog breeds for 2022.

1 French Bulldogs

2 Labrador Retrievers

3 Golden Retrievers

4 German Shepherd Dogs

5 Poodles

6 Bulldogs

7 Rottweilers

8 Beagles

9 Dachshunds

10 German Shorthaired Pointers


This article originally appeared on 03.17.23

Pop Culture

Woman who moved to Italy lists the most basic human needs Americans now have to pay for

Remember when these things used to be free? They still are in some places.

Representative image from Canva

If you're feeling like everything is just out of reach, you're not alone.

How many times have you, or someone in your circle, made this joke:

“I can’t seem to go outside without spending money!

But, as with many jokes, there’s some dark truth layered in. Life just feels a little hard right now for many of us when it comes to finances. And one person has hit the nail on the head as to why. Spoiler alert: it probably has nothing to do with anyone being lazy.

Amber Cimiotti, a mom of two and expat living in Italy, begins her video by noting how America has removed naturally occurring activities like “exercise, talking to friends, connecting with people, spending time with our kids,” from everyday life. And so now, Americans only have access to these very necessary things if they are able to pay for them.


For example—let’s talk about exercise. Cimiotti notes how "there's not many places, neighborhoods, and cities where it's super easy to walk everywhere, where you can get a lot of natural exercise, whether it's walking to and from your house or to the grocery stores. This just doesn't exist for most people now, so you have to wake up earlier on your lunch break or after work; you have to go to the gym so you can get in your exercise." Which means someone has to have anywhere between $40 to upwards of $300+ a month to invest in their physical health in this way.

Next up—mental health resources, primarily in the form of real conversations in a supportive community. Cimiotti says “people are meant to share their struggles, their stories, everyday, constantly. And we’re not doing that. And what do you see happening? Nowadays, everybody needs a therapist. Yes, therapy is needed for some things but most people just need to be talking to people way more. And I don’t mean like trolling on the internet.”

Also—child care. "There used to be kids running around neighborhoods all the time. Parents didn't have to pay all this extra money to do activities so their kids can be involved in things; parents didn't have to drive all over the place... But now that doesn't exist. So we do need to pay for activities,” Cimiotti says.

Lastly—food. “Eating healthy food in America is a part-time job, if not a full-time job…it would all be so much easier if we just had healthy food in general.” I don’t think Cimiotti needs to convince anyone here that quality food (food in general, really) is definitely not accessible for many folks, and high prices are at least partially to blame.

“The point is when things don’t happen naturally in your day and you need to take extra energy to achieve basic things like healthy food, exercise, talking to friends, which helps regulate emotions and things like that…when you have to build those into therapy sessions, exercise sessions, hobbies, reading 17 books…of course you’ll be tired,” Cimiotti concludes with a big sigh.

@ciaoamberc #america #culture #family #friends #parenting #society ♬ original sound - Ciao AmberC

Down in the comments, people seemed to really resonate with what Cimiotti had to say.

One reader commented, “I’m totally convinced that a lot of therapy effects could be achieved by processing time with an array of friends in different stages of life. Which isn’t possible to mutually schedule like therapy.”


And while Cimiotti’s video might be sobering, she tells Buzzfeed that her hope is it can lead to more conversations that “help lead to a change.”

Judging by some of the viewer reactions, it seems she’s succeeded, at least in helping people not blame themselves for their challenges. One person shared, “It’s so validating to hear cause I feel like I never have enough time to just live well and not be completely exhausted and have space left to do fun stuff!”

Family

Heartwarming comics break down complex parenting issues with ease

Lunarbaboon comics tackle huge, important subjects with an effective, lighthearted touch that you can't help but smile at.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

Writing comics helped a father struggling with anxiety and depression.

Christopher Grady, a father and teacher from Toronto, was struggling with anxiety and depression. That's when he started drawing.

He describes his early cartoons and illustrations as a journal where he'd chronicle everyday moments from his life as a husband, elementary school teacher, and father to two kids.

"I needed a positive place to focus all my thoughts and found that when I was making comics I felt a little bit better," he says.

He began putting a few of his comics online, not expecting much of a response. But he quickly learned that people were connecting with his work in a deep way.


The comics series called Lunarbaboon was born, and the response to the first few was so powerful that Grady was inspired do more with his comics than just document his own experience.

"I began getting messages from many people about how they connected to the comics and it gave them hope and strength as they went through their own dark times," he says.

"When they look back…they probably won't remember what was said…or where you were when you said it. They may not remember any details of your time together. But they will remember that you were there…and that's what matters most."

"Usually the circle of people we can support, help, influence is limited to our families, friends, coworkers, random stranger at the bus stop, but with my comic I suddenly found my circle of power was much much larger," Grady explains. "I guess I decided to use this power for good."

Grady continued to draw, making a point to infuse the panels with his own special brand of positivity.

"Kids are always watching adults and they look to the adults as role models," he says. "I try to show (my kids and students) that even with all my flaws and weaknesses I am still a good person and I can still make a positive change in the world."

Lunarbaboon comics tackle huge, important subjects with an effective, lighthearted touch that you can't help but smile at.

Check out Grady's take on teaching his son about consent. (All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission.)

consent, relationship advice, father son advice, family

A comic about listening and respecting your partner.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

Here's one about parents being supportive of a gay son or daughter.

sexual orientation, parenting gay children, positive messages, gender orientation

Parents being supportive of their gay son.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

On raising girls in a patriarchal world.

adulting, education, medical field, dreams

Comic encourages girls to chase all their dreams.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

And here's a sweet one about appreciating the heck out of his wife.

motherhood, moms, childbirth, family

Mom one ups dad easily.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

Big topics. Important issues. Grady tackles them with humility and ease.

As Lunarbaboon has continued to grow, Grady says the messages of support he gets have become increasingly powerful.

He certainly doesn't claim to have all the answers to all the complexities of parenting, but he does say that "people like knowing they aren't alone in life's daily struggles. Most people who contact me just want to say thank you for putting something positive into the world."

Grady doesn't expect his Lunarbaboon comics to fix rape culture or end bigotry. He just hopes his message of love, inclusion, and positivity continues to spread.

inclusion, gender roles, social anxiety, happy

Teaching children to accept what might be different.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

"My hope is that for the short time people read it they smile and feel good," he says. "Then I hope they take that good feeling and smile into the world and make it slightly brighter."

You can check out even more of Grady's awesome work over on his website or in his newly published book.


This article was originally published on 11.30.17

Tennessee state senator gives fiery speech on arming teachers

Every once in a while a state's bill will make a blip on national media that causes people to dig a little deeper into what's happening. One such bill made headlines last year for a brief time before a new bill from another state took it's place.

After a tragic school shooting in the state of Tennessee where six people were killed, including three young students, state politicians began talking about arming the teachers. The idea was if teachers were armed then they would be able to stop school shooters, but the bill was widely unpopular among teachers and many parents. That didn't stop the state legislature from drawing up the bill and putting it up for a vote April 2024.

Many parents showed up to Tennessee State Senate to protest the bill, but it was the fiery speech of State Senator London Lamar that has people talking.


The new mom held her infant son in her arms while she addressed her colleagues who saw fit to laugh after moms protesting the bill were asked to leave. Lamar did not hold back in not only expressing her disappointment in her colleagues behavior but their disregard for very real concerns that she also shares with the people asked to leave.

"We are literally talking about arming educators who took an oath to teach our kids writing and arithmetic and how they can one day contribute to Tennessee's great economy, and we're now turning them into law enforcement agents by arming them with guns. We think this piece of legislation is going to keep kids safe which is probably going to enable the next school shooter, and it's not going to be someone coming in from the outside. It's unfortunately going to be a teacher with this piece of legislation," Lamar declares.

You can watch her passionate speech below:

@iamcalledlucas/Instagram, used with permission

We need every Lucas version of Taylor's songs.

Sure, Taylor Swift did a great job at writing, performing in and directing her “Fortnitemusic video (which has only dropped a couple days ago and already at over 30 million views)…but you know what could make it even better? Having a dog perform all the parts, that’s what!

And that’s exactly the treat we received, thanks to an adorable dachshund named Lucas.

The clip (aptly titled “Fortnight (Lucas’ version)”) recreates the music video’s black-and-white typewriter scene, where the camera alternates between a moody Swift and Post Malone clacking as they lament about how much love is “ruining” their lives. you know, basic tortured poets stuff.


Only this time, Lucas plays both the roles—costumes as all! Major kudos to Lucas’ parent, who clearly has an eye for detail and camera angles. Both the original video and Lucas’ video play simultaneously so you can really see how similar they are.

“I look like @taylorswift in this light, i’m lovin’ it 🤭🤍,” the clip caption says.

Watch below. Spoiler alert: get ready to see little doggy paws in lace gloves.

Down in the comments, people were enthralled.

One person wrote, "THIS NEEDS MORE ATTENTION”

"Magical!!!!!!!" another added.

Though clearly Lucas’s is a whole ‘nother level of Swiftie, is he not the only dog to be a fan. In an experiment produced by WoofWoof, dogs were “visibly more relaxed” by her music than other artists in the study. Her songs got more tail wagging and even more “howls of approval.” That’s right, her music transcends species.

Just like Taylor Swift, Lucas has many, many more music videos where they came from, including “The Archer,” “Hoax” and “You Belong with Me.” And just like Swift, he outdoes himself with every new project.

Check out even more of his content on Instagram and TikTok.