Dazzling fireworks can have big drawbacks. But technology can help.

Some of us can't wait for the summer sun to go down so we can set off fireworks.

But for others, the loud sounds and bright lights can be a problem.

If you've ever been to a fireworks show, you know that they can be spectacular. They can also be really overwhelming, especially for those who live with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


Vince Bryant, a veteran living in Texas, told ABC News that the sounds of the fireworks are so much for him that he puts on headphones and locks himself in a closet when they start.

"It sends me right back to Iraq. Automatically it puts me in a situation like we fighting," Bryant said.

And those with PTSD aren't the only ones affected by bright, noisy light shows.

Cats and dogs are often terrified by what's going on. And fireworks are not particularly great for some environments — especially those susceptible to wildfires. Even when fire isn't an issue, environmental concerns remain. Fireworks contribute to pollution, and in some cases, the smog they create can last several days.

Once a spent firework has reached the ground, it can hurt in other ways. The residue that fireworks leave behind often ends up in lakes or rivers, and that can lead to health problems in humans.

Fortunately, technology has come a long way, and fireworks are only one way to celebrate summer holidays.

For one, fireworks distributors often sell silent fireworks. And communities are starting to celebrate with large-scale productions that aim to include everyone while keeping tensions, and pollutants, low.

At Travis Air Base in Northern California, traditional fireworks were replaced with 500 perfectly synchronized drones.

The drones fly in colorful formations without booms or whistles, allowing everyone to enjoy the beautiful light show without having to worry that a giant bomb is going off somewhere.

Other areas like Aspen, Colorado, where wildlife could be hurt by the fallout from fireworks, have ordered drone shows as an environmentally friendly display.

Here's what some of the drone shows look like:

And there's something even cooler on the horizon: Fireworks you can feel.

Disney (of course it's Disney) is working on fireworks displays that aren't just cool to look at but inclusive for all — including those without sight.

These fireworks allow those who are visually or hearing impaired to touch the magic without being burned (or even getting their shirts singed a little bit — something that will definitely happen if you, like me, chose to light six sparkers at once just to see what would happen).

In order to make the viewer feel the explosion, jets of water are shot onto the back of a flexible screen as light plays on the front. The person watching puts their hand on the screen and can enjoy the show in real time. Pretty cool, right?

Bottom line: A more inclusive fourth is awesome for everyone.

There's nothing exactly like the thrill of setting off a firework in the middle of the street and running as fast and far as you can before it goes off in a shower of sparks and shrieking whistles. But that's just not  fun — or even doable — for everyone.

More options means more ways for friends, families, and loved ones to enjoy holiday light shows together. And after unlimited hot dogs and an entire day off, that's the best thing of all.

True

Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less

When it comes to the topic of race, we all have questions. And sometimes, it honestly can be embarrassing to ask perfectly well-intentioned questions lest someone accuse you of being ignorant, or worse, racist, for simply admitting you don't know the answer.

America has a complicated history with race. For as long as we've been a country, our culture, politics and commerce have been structured in a way to deny our nation's past crimes, minimize the structural and systemic racism that still exists and make the entire discussion one that most people would rather simply not have.

For example, have you ever wondered what's really behind the term Black Pride? Is it an uplifting phrase for the Black community or a divisive term? Most people instinctively put the term "White Pride" in a negative context. Is there such a thing as non-racist, racial pride for white people? And while we're at it, what about Asian people, Native Americans, and so on?

Yes, a lot of people raise these questions with bad intent. But if you've ever genuinely wanted an answer, either for yourself or so that you best know how to handle the question when talking to someone with racist views, writer/director Michael McWhorter put together a short, simple and irrefutable video clip explaining why "White Pride" isn't a real thing, why "Black Pride" is and all the little details in between.


Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

The subject of late-term abortions has been brought up repeatedly during this election season, with President Trump making the outrageous claim that Democrats are in favor of executing babies.

This message grossly misrepresents what late-term abortion actually is, as well as what pro-choice advocates are actually "in favor of." No one is in favor of someone having a specific medical procedure—that would require being involved in someone's individual medical care—but rather they are in favor of keeping the government out of decisions about specific medical procedures.

Pete Buttigieg, who has become a media surrogate for the Biden campaign—and quite an effective one at that—addressed this issue in a Fox News town hall when he was on the campaign trail himself. When Chris Wallace asked him directly about late-term abortions, Buttigieg answered Wallace's questions is the best way possible.

"Do you believe, at any point in pregnancy, whether it's at six weeks or eight weeks or 24 weeks or whenever, that there should be any limit on a woman's right to have an abortion?" Wallace asked.

Keep Reading Show less

As the once-celebrated Information Age devolves into the hell-hole-ish Misinformation Age, many of us feel a desperate sense of despair. It's one thing to have diverse perspectives on issues; it's entirely another to have millions of people living in an alternate reality where up is down, left is right, and a global pandemic is a global hoax put on by a powerful cabal of Satanic, baby-eating, pedophile elites.

Watching a not-insignificant portion of your country fall prey to false—and sometimes flat out bonkers—narratives is disconcerting. Watching politicians and spokespeople spout those narratives on national television is downright terrifying.

Clearly, the U.S. is not the only country with politicians who pander to conspiracy theorists for their own gain, but not every country lets them get away with it. In a now-viral interview, New Zealand's Tova O'Brien spoke with one her country's fringe political party leaders and showed journalists exactly how to handle a misinformation peddler.

Her guest was Jami-Lee Ross, leader of the Advance New Zealand party, which failed to garner enough votes in the country's general election this weekend to enter parliament. The party, which got less than one percent of the vote, had spread misinformation about the coronavirus on social media, and Ross's co-leader, Billy Te Kahika, is a known conspiracy theorist.

But O'Brien came prepared to shut down that nonsense.

Keep Reading Show less