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A fan asked Yoda creator Frank Oz if 'Star Wars' is 'boy stuff.' Jedi wisdom ensued.

Star Wars, Muppets, Frank Oz, social issues, gender roles
Photo by Riku Lu on Unsplash

Yoda is/was strong with the "Force."

Muppets and Yoda co-creator Frank Oz is having a party on Twitter, and everyone is welcome.

The 74-year-old director and puppeteer is a living legend. He's the creator of beloved characters like Miss Piggy, Bert (of Bert and Ernie), Cookie Monster, and, of course, Yoda.

Oz has been tweeting up a storm in 2018, engaging with fans and talking about his new documentary "Muppet Guys Talking," in which he and the other Muppets founders talk about how they helped create the historic family of beloved characters.


Sometimes he's funny; other times he's a little more serious. But, in all cases, Oz makes it clear that his stories and characters are for everyone.

When one parent asked him about her 7-year-old daughter wanting to wear a "Star Wars" T-shirt but fearing a backlash, Oz had a clear-cut response.

Gender inclusion is a huge issue in fandom, and Oz's tweet matters.

There has been a lot of progress with inclusion in film, particularly when it comes to fantasy and science fiction films.

Three of the last four "Star Wars" films have led with female protagonists, but the genre is still heavily dominated by men. Even behind the scenes, every "Star Wars" film has been directed by a man, despite Lucasfilm being run by Kathleen Kennedy, a woman.

And then there's the issue of gendering products. The "Star Wars" brand is enormous, so having one of the franchise's most famous voices speak out in favor of greater inclusion sends a hopeful message of inclusion.

Oz never wanted to get on Twitter. But now he can't stop.

"I never liked social media. I didn't like Facebook at all. And I didn't know what Twitter was," he says in an interview.

After some nudging from his wife, Victoria Labalme, Oz signed up for an account shortly before the premiere of "The Last Jedi" in December 2017. Labalme says he treats his tweets "almost like little poems," giving time and thought to fans who take the time to send him thoughtful questions.

"It's become more personal for me. I really enjoy talking to them," he says.

After his gender inclusion tweet, another fan thanked Oz for being so generous in his interactions with fans. The fan added a self-deprecating tone to his tweet, but Oz was having none of it:

Leave it to a "Muppet Guy" to remind us that Twitter can still be a force for good.

Oz knows what it's like to feel vulnerable. Countless people have connected with his characters, but he never saw himself as the center of attention.

"I was a very shy person. I was internal. To a great degree, I still am introverted," he says. "The puppets protected me from being rejected."

And for about 60 years he's been returning the favor to boys, girls, and anyone else who wants to join in the fun.

Identity

Celebrate International Women's Day with these stunning photos of female leaders changing the world

The portraits, taken by acclaimed photographer Nigel Barker, are part of CARE's "She Leads the World" campaign.

Images provided by CARE

Kadiatu (left), Zainab (right)

True

Women are breaking down barriers every day. They are transforming the world into a more equitable place with every scientific discovery, athletic feat, social justice reform, artistic endeavor, leadership role, and community outreach project.

And while these breakthroughs are happening all the time, International Women’s Day (Mar 8) is when we can all take time to acknowledge the collective progress, and celebrate how “She Leads the World.

This year, CARE, a leading global humanitarian organization dedicated to empowering women and girls, is celebrating International Women’s Day through the power of portraiture. CARE partnered with high-profile photographer Nigel Barker, best known for his work on “America’s Next Top Model,” to capture breathtaking images of seven remarkable women who have prevailed over countless obstacles to become leaders within their communities.

“Mabinty, Isatu, Adama, and Kadiatu represent so many women around the world overcoming incredible obstacles to lead their communities,” said Michelle Nunn, President and CEO of CARE USA.

Barker’s bold portraits, as part of CARE’s “She Leads The World” campaign, not only elevate each woman’s story, but also shine a spotlight on how CARE programs helped them get to where they are today.

About the women:

Mabinty

international womens day, care.org

Mabinty is a businesswoman and a member of a CARE savings circle along with a group of other women. She buys and sells groundnuts, rice, and fuel. She and her husband have created such a successful enterprise that Mabinty volunteers her time as a teacher in the local school. She was the first woman to teach there, prompting a second woman to do so. Her fellow teachers and students look up to Mabinty as the leader and educator she is.

Kadiatu

international womens day, care.org

Kadiatu supports herself through a small business selling food. She also volunteers at a health clinic in the neighboring village where she is a nursing student. She tests for malaria, works with infants, and joins her fellow staff in dancing and singing with the women who visit the clinic. She aspires to become a full-time nurse so she can treat and cure people. Today, she leads by example and with ambition.

Isatu

international womens day, care.org

When Isatu was three months pregnant, her husband left her, seeking his fortune in the gold mines. Now Isatu makes her own way, buying and selling food to support her four children. It is a struggle, but Isatu is determined to be a part of her community and a provider for her kids. A single mother of four is nothing if not a leader.

Zainab

international womens day, care.org

Zainab is the Nurse in Charge at the Maternal Child Health Outpost in her community. She is the only nurse in the surrounding area, and so she is responsible for the pre-natal health of the community’s mothers-to-be and for the safe delivery of their babies. In a country with one of the world’s worst maternal death rates, Zainab has not lost a single mother. The community rallies around Zainab and the work she does. She describes the women who visit the clinic as sisters. That feeling is clearly mutual.

Adama

international womens day, care.org

Adama is something few women are - a kehkeh driver. A kehkeh is a three-wheeled motorcycle taxi, known elsewhere as a tuktuk. Working in the Kissy neighborhood of Freetown, Adama is the primary breadwinner for her family, including her son. She keeps her riders safe in other ways, too, by selling condoms. With HIV threatening to increase its spread, this is a vital service to the community.

Ya Yaebo

international womens day, care.org

“Ya” is a term of respect for older, accomplished women. Ya Yaebo has earned that title as head of her local farmers group. But there is much more than that. She started as a Village Savings and Loan Association member and began putting money into her business. There is the groundnut farm, her team buys and sells rice, and own their own oil processing machine. They even supply seeds to the Ministry of Agriculture. She has used her success to the benefit of people in need in her community and is a vocal advocate for educating girls, not having gone beyond grade seven herself.

On Monday, March 4, CARE will host an exhibition of photography in New York City featuring these portraits, kicking off the multi-day “She Leads the World Campaign.

Learn more, view the portraits, and join CARE’s International Women's Day "She Leads the World" celebration at CARE.org/sheleads.


Health

Over or under? Surprisingly, there actually is a 'correct' way to hang a toilet paper roll.

Let's settle this silly-but-surprisingly-heated debate once and for all.

Elya/Wikimedia Commons

Should you hang the toilet paper roll over or under?


Humans have debated things large and small over the millennia, from the democracy to breastfeeding in public to how often people ought to wash their sheets.

But perhaps the most silly-yet-surprisingly-heated household debate is the one in which we argue over which way to hang the toilet paper roll.

The "over or under" question has plagued marriages and casual acquaintances alike for over 100 years, with both sides convinced they have the soundest reasoning for putting their toilet paper loose end out or loose end under. Some people feel so strongly about right vs. wrong TP hanging that they will even flip the roll over when they go to the bathroom in the homes of strangers.

Contrary to popular belief, it's not merely an inconsequential preference. There is actually a "correct" way to hang toilet paper, according to health experts as well as the man who invented the toilet paper roll in the first place.

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Family

Father takes daughter's bullying victim on a shopping trip to teach her a lesson

When Randy Smalls of South Carolina discovered that his teenage daughter was making fun of a classmate over her clothes and makeup, he took swift action.

Randy Smalls of South Carolina

Bullying is a huge problem. According to DoSomething.org, 1 in 5 students ages 12-18 in the United States are bullied during the school year, and approximately 160,000 teens have skipped school because of bullying.

So when Randy Smalls of South Carolina discovered that his teenage daughter was making fun of a classmate over her clothes and makeup, he took swift action.

Smalls instantly felt sympathy for Ryan Reese, a seventh-grader at Berkeley Middle School, having been bullied in his youth. So he took money meant for his daughter and went on a shopping spree with Ryan to get some new clothes and a makeover.

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Image shared by Madalyn Parker

Madalyn shared with her colleagues about her own mental health.




Madalyn Parker wanted to take a couple days off work. She didn't have the flu, nor did she have plans to be on a beach somewhere, sipping mojitos under a palm tree.

Parker, a web developer from Michigan, wanted a few days away from work to focus on her mental health.

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Asexuality is often misunderstood.

In general, it's believed to be the absence of any romantic interest, but asexual identity actually means that a person is not sexually attracted to anyone. Romantic feelings and the strength of those feelings can vary from person to person.

Currently, about 1% of adults have no interest in sex, though some experts believe that number could be higher. For a long time, information on asexuality was limited, but researchers recently have found information that gives us more knowledge about asexuality.

Being asexual can be tough, though — just ask the artists from Empathize This.

To demonstrate, they put together a comic on asexuality, defining it as a sexual orientation, not a dysfunction:

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Family

A study has been following 'gifted' kids for 45 years. Here's what we've learned.

Some of what we used to think about gifted kids turned out to be wrong.


What can we learn from letting seventh graders take the SAT?

In the 1960s, psychologist Julian Stanley realized that if you took the best-testing seventh graders from around the country and gave them standard college entry exams, those kids would score, on average, about as well as the typical college-bound high school senior.

However, the seventh graders who scored as well or better than high schoolers, Stanley found, had off-the-charts aptitude in quantitative, logical, and spatial reasoning.

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via Hunger 4 Words / Instagram

Christina Hunger, 26, is a speech-language pathologist in San Diego, California who believes that "everyone deserves a voice."

Hunger works with one- and two-year-old children, many of which use adaptive devices to communicate. So she wondered what would happen if she taught her two-month-old puppy, a Catahoula/Blue Heeler named Stella, to do the same.

"If dogs can understand words we say to them, shouldn't they be able to say words to us? Can dogs use AAC to communicate with humans?" she wondered.

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