The Gardiner Brothers and Queen Bey proving that music can unite us all.
In early February 2024, Beyoncé rocked the music world by releasing a surprise new album of country tunes. The album, Renaissance: Act II, includes a song called "Texas Hold 'Em," which shot up the country charts—with a few bumps along the way—and landed Queen Bey at the No.1 spot.
As the first Black female artist to have a song hit No. 1 on Billboard's country music charts, Beyoncé once again proved her popularity, versatility and ability to break barriers without missing a beat. In one fell swoop, she got people who had zero interest in country music to give it a second look, forced country music fans to broaden their own ideas about what country music looks like and prompted conversations about bending and blending musical genres and styles.
And she inspired the Gardiner Brothers to add yet another element to the mix—Irish stepdance.
In a TikTok that's been viewed over 17 million times, the Gardiner Brothers don cowboy hats while they step in time to "Texas Hold 'Em," much to the delight of viewers everywhere.
Beyoncé 🤝 Irish dancing #beyonce #countrymusic
Michael and Matthew Gardiner are professional Irish-American stepdancers and choreographers who have gained international fame with their award-winning performances. They've also built a following of millions on social media with videos like this one, where they dance to popular songs, usually in an outdoor environment.
The melding of Irish dance with country music sung by a Black American female artist may seem unlikely, but it could be viewed merely as country music coming back to its roots. After all, country music has its roots in the ballad tradition of the Irish, English and Scottish settlers in the Appalachian region of the U.S. And despite modern country music's struggle to break free from "music for white people" stereotypes, it has roots in African-American traditions as well. For instance, the banjo, which has long been used in bluegrass and country music, was created by enslaved Africans and their descendents during the colonial era, according to The Smithsonian.
People are loving the blending of genres and culture that the TikTok exemplifies.
"Never thought I’d see Irish step dancing while Beyoncé sings country," wrote on commenter. "My life is complete. ♥️"
"So happy Beyoncé dropped this song and exposed my timeline to diversified talent 👏🏽👏🏽," wrote another.
"Beyoncé brought the world together with this song 😭," offered another person.
"Ayeeee Irish Dancing has entered the BeyHive chatroom… WELCOME!! 🔥🔥🔥" exclaimed another.
"I don’t think I can explain how many of my interests are intersecting here," wrote one commenter, reflecting what several others shared as well.
The Beyoncé/Gardiner Brothers combo and the reactions to it are a good reminder that none of us fit into one box of interest or identity. We're all an eclectic mix of tastes and styles, so we can almost always find a way to connect with others over something we enjoy. What better way to be reminded of that fact than through an unexpected mashup that blends the magic of music with the delight of dance? Truly, the arts are a powerful uniting force we should utilize more often.
And for an extra bit of fun, the Gardiner Brothers also shared their bloopers from filming the video. Turns out stepping in the rain isn't as easy as they make it look.
Beyoncé Bloopers #texasholdem #gardinerbrothers
Beyoncé Bloopers #texasholdem #gardinerbrothers
The activist teamed with apparel brand Reformation to combat voter frustration in a fabulous way.
Monica Lewinsky knows a thing or two about reinvention.
The former White House intern became the source of media obsession after her affair with former President Bill Clinton become public. It solidified her place in history against her will, but through her actions since, Lewinsky has transformed her public persona into a feminist icon and champion of a powerful anti-bullying campaign.Now, the 50-year-old Lewinsky is lending her household name to sustainable fashion brand Reformation and Vote.org in hopes to encourage people to vote this year.
In a campaign aptly titled “You’ve Got The Power,” Lewinsky models fabulously chic and structured workwear pieces—blazers, pencil skirts, one badass leather trench coat—all while posing in a sky rise office building.
“Monica’s been empowering women to use their voices and feel powerful for a long time. So it just makes sense that she’d help us do the same."
There are even subtle (or not-so-subtle) nods to Lewinsky’s previous chapter during the Clinton era: one image where she’s clad in vivid scarlet, head-to-toe, and another wearing large sunglasses as though she were thwarting the paparazzi.
On the campaign website, Reformation wrote: “Monica’s been empowering women to use their voices and feel powerful for a long time. So it just makes sense that she’d help us do the same. And while great clothes won’t fix everything, putting them on and going to the polls is a pretty good place to start.”
“Voting is using your voice to be heard, and it’s the most defining aspect of democracy."
On the same page, Lewinsky is quoted saying “Voting is using your voice to be heard, and it’s the most defining aspect of democracy. If you wanna complain for the next four years, you gotta go out and vote."
Lewinsky told Elle in an interview published Monday that her decision to join the campaign was inspired by an evident rise in voter frustration and apathy.
“We all have to be reminding each other that we can’t let that get in the way of needing to vote, that that’s how we use our voice. That’s where our power is,” she shared.
"If you wanna complain for the next four years, you gotta go out and vote."
For many women, clothing is a powerful form of expression. The fact that we have so many unapologetically feminine elements coming together to encourage women to use their voices, spoken in a language that many women understand on a visceral level…that in itself feels like progress.
Voting is sure to be tenuous this year. Whether this campaign serves as a reminder to get out there and let your voice be heard, or gave you inspiration for your election-day look, it’s a pretty worthwhile collaboration.
FYI: Though not modeled by Lewinsky, Reformation is also selling a limited edition "You Got The Power" sweatshirt. A portion of the proceeds made will got towards Vote.org, which works toward making voting more accessible.
Technology is the single greatest contributor to climate change but it may also soon be used to offset the damage we've done to our planet since the Industrial Age began.
In September 2018, a project in Myanmar used drones to fire "seed missiles" into remote areas of the country where trees were not growing. Less than a year later, thousands of those seed missiles have sprouted into 20-inch mangrove saplings that could literally be a case study in how technology can be used to innovate our way out of the climate change crisis.
"We now have a case confirmed of what species we can plant and in what conditions," Irina Fedorenko, co-founder of Biocarbon Engineering, told Fast Company. "We are now ready to scale up our planting and replicate this success."
According to Fedoranko, just two operators could send out a mini-fleet of seed missile planting drones that could plant 400,000 trees a day -- a number that quite possibly could make massive headway in combating the effects of manmade climate change.
The drones were designed by an ex-NASA engineer. And with a pressing need to reseed an area in Myanmar equal to the size of Rhode Island, the challenge is massive but suddenly within reach. Bremley Lyngdoh, founder and CEO of World Impact, says reseeding that area could theoretically house as many as 1 billion new trees.
"Obviously, planting a billion trees will take a long time without the help of drones," Lyngdoh told Fast Company.
But they've now got a powerful new ally in their corner. For context, it took the Worldview Foundation 7 years to plant 6 million trees in Myanmar. Now, with the help of the drones, they hope to plant another 4 million before the end of 2019.
Myanmar is a great case study for the project. In addition to the available land for the drone project, the nation has been particularly hit by the early effects of climate change in recent years. Rising sea levels are having a measurable impact on the population. In addition to their ability to clear CO2 from the atmosphere, healthy trees can also help solidify the soil, which can reduce the kind of soil erosion that has been affecting local populations in Myanmar.
Going forward, technologies like seed-planting drones could help stem the tide of catastrophic climate change while our governments and societies work to change the habits of consumers and corporations that are driving the problem. Our endless hunger for new technology may be the driving force behind climate change and deforestation but it could also end up being the solution to a problem.
This article originally appeared on 4.17.19
People were very upset after hearing that surge pricing may come to the local drive-thru.
In a world where prices are continuously increasing, prominent companies are turning to surge pricing to raise prices even further during peak demand times. Uber charges people more for a ride when demand is high. Hotels have been changing prices based on demand for years and Amazon uses AI to keep prices constantly in flux.
On Monday, February 26, news reports began circulating that Wendy’s, America's 5th most popular fast-food chain, would implement dynamic pricing at its restaurants. Many assumed that meant a Dave’s Double burger would cost an extra $3 during dinner time or medium fries would cost an extra buck during the lunch rush.
The changes in pricing are part of a $30 million effort to launch digital menu boards at all of its U.S. company-run restaurants by the end of 2025 and to enhance its digital menus at restaurants across the globe.
Dear @Wendys,— My Own Damn Self (@BlackGirlTris) February 27, 2024
Many people feared the worst after the reports, but Wendy’s hadn’t provided any specifics on pricing during its announcement. “Dynamic pricing can allow Wendy’s to be competitive and flexible with pricing, motivate customers to visit and provide them with the food they love at a great value,” a Wendy’s spokesperson told The New York Post. “We will test a number of features that we think will provide an enhanced customer and crew experience.”
The news caused a lot of outrage on Twitter, where many railed against what they saw as a plan to start price gouging. They also feared that surge pricing would become ubiquitous in the fast-food industry, where consistency and low prices keep people returning to the drive-thru.
If you can’t depend on the price of a burger and fries on the drive home from work, then what can you depend on?
Prices at fast food restaurants are already on the rise. McDonald's raised its prices by 10% over the last year, and, according to PriceListo, Wendey’s prices have soared by 35% between 2022 and 2023 due to a rise in the cost of labor and supplies.
Adding surge pricing on top of higher prices would force many people to abandon the drive-thru altogether.
Wendys figuring up what your fast food meal cost based on demand and surge pricing pic.twitter.com/zkv7T2siAP— ScottW (@jswtreeman) February 27, 2024
The Wendy’s Cashier after selling the guy in front of me a stale burger for $17.98 pic.twitter.com/1UVYYvx3Pp— High Yield Harry (@HighyieldHarry) February 28, 2024
Bro I’m just trying to order a sandwich from Wendy’s what the heck is this 😭 pic.twitter.com/ptiPThvVo1— Matt Esparza (@matthewesp) February 27, 2024
Wendys + Robinhood 🤝 pic.twitter.com/QTgT66srUK— David (@dkrasniy) February 28, 2024
After the public backlash against its new pricing strategy, Wendy’s clarified that it has no intention of implementing surge pricing. “Wendy’s will not implement surge pricing, which is the practice of raising prices when demand is highest. We didn’t use that phrase, nor do we plan to implement that practice,” the company said in an email to The Associated Press on Wednesday, February 28.
However, it did add that its new digital menu boards may offer more dynamic menu offerings throughout the day that could save consumers a few bucks for stopping by during non-peak hours. The company said the new digital menus “could allow us to change the menu offerings at different times of day and offer discounts and value offers to our customers more easily, particularly in the slower times of day.”
There's so much good out there if you know where to look.
When you peruse the news headlines or dive into discussions on current events on social media, it's pretty easy to feel despondent. Doom and gloom sells, unfortunately, and our natural negativity bias that's meant to protect us can be overworked by a 24/7 bombardment of humanity's challenges.
There is an anecdote to all of that, though: Curating and cultivating the good. Sometimes it's just knowing where to look to find examples of problems being solved, discoveries being made, innovation taking huge leaps and other evidence that humans are moving our collective life forward in incredible ways.
Someone on Reddit asked, "What is currently in its 'Golden age,' but not enough people know about it?" and thousands of people responded. Reading through the answers is an enlightening and uplifting glimpse of things we might not personally be involved with but are happy to see having a heyday. Like, who wouldn't like to know that we're in a golden age of astronomy and paleontology. Space and dinosaurs? It's like realizing our 5-year-old selves' ideal future.
Here are some of the top things that are experiencing a "golden age":
The amount that scientists have learned about the final frontier in recent decades is mind-blowing.
"Astronomy is currently experiencing a golden age. It has changed radically in the last 30ish years. Think on this, if you are 30 + years old, you were born into a world that wasn't sure if planetary systems were rare or common. We now know that nearly all stars are likely to have planets. We know of 5000+ exoplanets. Mars was not considered a place we could find signs of life by most. The generation of spacecraft exploring Mars since the year 2000 changed that. Now some argue that discovering signs of past life on Mars is a matter of when, not if. We found multiple worlds in our solar system with liquid water oceans. This is just scratching the surface. New technologies like JWST promise to keep the momentum for the foreseeable future." – Slimjerry
"A hundred years ago, we were debating if the Milky Way was the entire universe. It’s crazy to think about how far astronomy and cosmology have come. And it’s not just huge existential topics either. Galaxy evolution has been completely reversed in the past 20 years. Elliptical aka 'early type' galaxies are the end result of mergers of spiral and irregular aka 'late types.'" – snoogans235
"42 year old, you're not even doing the scope justice. When I was a little kid, it's not that we didn't know if planetary systems were rare or common, it's that we didn't know if there were other planetary systems! It was just an assumption we extrapolated from the fact that THIS star had them, a statistical contrivance! It could have just as easily proven true that our sun was profoundly weird, the only one this happened with. Think about that next time you're watching some classic B sci fi flick about going to another planet; that was a MUCH bigger leap in logic when that film was made than it is now." –Of_Mice_And_Meese
Knitting and Crocheting
The fiber arts have been around a lonnnng time, but it's never been a better time to be a knitter.
"Knitting. First, we're in the golden age of yarns. There are hundreds of indie dyers putting amazing colors on a truly mind-boggling range of yarn bases (both fiber content and weight). Even "cheap" yarn is better quality, and comes in a wider range of colors and bases, than ever before. There's an abundance of wool yarn soft enough to wear next to your skin (although you can get scratchy yarn if that's your jam).
Then there are the patterns. Thousands of them, many of them free online. Think of what you want to make, and there's a pattern out there.
Tools, too. How do you like your needles - wood, bamboo, steel, aluminum, plastic, casein? Circular with 15 sizes of interchangeable tips, straight, long short? They're out there.
If you're a knitting nerd, it's a great time to be alive."
"I believe it's both crochet and knitting!! i might be a lil biased as i crochet and not knit but all the points you made apply to crochet!"
DINOSAURRRRRS!!! Who knew?
"Paleontology! So much tech bringing new stuff to light."
"And archaeology. LiDAR's power to identify probably human-made structures under layers of jungle canopy is just incredible."
"And completely overhauling existing knowledge. DNA studies have changed to much in paleontology that there are joke papers published about it.
A lot of people's life work has been proven incorrect because of a few DNA studies despite those folks using the best methodologies available to them at the time."
So many recipes. So many documentaries. "The Great British Baking Show." All at our fingertips.
"Cooking! I'm 30 now and it's so easy to find amazing recipes, good cooking supplies, and with so much information I can save money on food in so many ways. Literally youtube is teaching me to make so many great things."
"Yup, and this influx of easy information has created a nexus of global cuisines in almost all major cities. the blending of ingredients and techniques from Asia, Europe, latin America, etc is creating some really incredible stuff. I worked at a three Michelin when I was younger that had a classically trained French chef who focused on Japanese ingredients, it was really quite something."
"Dietary options. No matter what issue you have, there's a pantry full of food that will meet that restriction AND taste good."
This one might be surprising, considering the internet and digital entertainment and screen usage. Perhaps board games are having a great run because of, not in spite of, those things?
"Board games have been having a great run for the past 10 years, tons of amazing games coming out every year."
"The combination of the internet and the inability to copyright rules have opened a floodgate of innovation in board games." – SuperPants73
"Here are some great modern games that are considered gateway games. I would definitely call them favorites also. (Edited for formatting)
Ticket to Ride
King of Tokyo"
Music Production Equipment
Excellent news for creatives with little $$$.
"Playing guitar and recording music. You can buy a quality guitar online for crazy cheap now and some pro recording software out there is free." – leatherwolf89
"Seriously! 'Starter' instruments these days are so far ahead of the starters of the 90's/00's- it's insane how much quality you can get these days for much, much less." – Fortune090
"Keyboards, both synthesizers and mechanical.
It's possible to get a synth that sounds identical to a $5000 Minimoog for $200 and a decent mechanical keyboard for less than that." – the_slanted_slope
"To add to that, DAWs (sound/song editing software, like photoshop for music) are amazing these days!
Some have plug-ins that can mimic orchestras so accurately that you can tell them which way a violin bow's stroke is moving and configure valve sounds into saxes. Some digital flautists come with breath sounds! Like it'll blow a long riff, then a sound like the musician is lightly inhaling.
Off key? Add a little auto-tune. Drummer's all 'not quite my temp' on you? Align it to a digital metronome. Now your drum tracks sound like they're made by an app? Add a little random error into the mix to "humanize" it.
That shit used to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Now $5k gets you a moderately professional studio rig. (But the price for top-end stuff will always be 'how much ya got?')" – hendergle
Home Television Sets
For real. We've all experienced the opposite of inflation with home TVs and it's been a glorious thing.
"Home TVs. The sort of hardware you can get for even $300 is absolutely absurd compared to what the 1980s through 2000s knew." – NotAnotherEmpire
"32-inch, 2006 from Best Buy for $1,700.
I can’t come to terms with the fact that only 18 years later I’m watching a TV twice as big that cost 40% less and carries a picture quality that’s so good it gives me chills sometimes." – frawgster
"Accurate. Just got a 55" Samsung LCD for $350. Hard to beat that value." – Pac_Eddy
He used Nirvana as the perfect example of being “inspired” instead of "awed.”
The rock music scene changed in a big way in the early ‘90s; spandex-clad glam rockers were kicked to the curb by a new group of alternative-rock acts that were rooted in the D.I.Y. (do-it-yourself) ethics of the late ‘70s, early ‘80s punk movement.
MTV served up videos to the new movement via “120 Minutes,” a nightly video show featuring the latest alternative rock, punk and indie acts. A frequent host of the show was Henry Rollins, the former singer of punk icons Black Flag who later created The Rollins Band.
One night, Rollins dispensed some essential D.I.Y. advice for the kids watching at home. He asked them to be inspired by the acts they saw on MTV, not awed by them.
"Instead of being awed by all these people with their wonderful hair and airbrushed faces, you can also go out and get yourself a guitar, learn some rudimentary chords and play yourself,” Rollins said. “You can be awed into submission to where you will sit and be a fan for the rest of your life instead of being someone who does.”
Rollins tied his advice to Nirvana's approach that completely changed rock music.
Henry Rollins says don't be awed, be inspired on MTV 120 Minutes (1993.01.31) Black Flag
"That's why you should learn the lesson from Nirvana,” Rollins continued. “You can be a mere mortal on the planet, not be the big attractive, perfectly-styled guy, have a greasy T-shirt and an attitude, pick up a guitar and actually make some meaningful music. You figure half these boneheads can't read and they can play a guitar. You stand a really good chance."
Rollins then pointed out that people can easily be "freaked out" when they see a genius like Picasso or Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain. Instead, they should choose to be "inspired" by their work to create their own art for the world to enjoy.