'Game of Thrones' might be fantasy, but its economic impact on Northern Ireland is very, very real.

Winter is coming to Westeros and Essos, but the forecast in Northern Ireland is looking bright.

As far as historians are aware, Northern Ireland has never had to contend with dragons, white walkers, or seasons that last for years on end (unless ... maybe that explains why it's always raining there?).

But Northern Ireland has seen its fair share of conflict and turmoil, to the point where a major period of the 20th century in Ireland (from 1968-1998) is actually known as "The Troubles." And, unfortunately, that kind of prolonged unrest can leave a devastating mark on the economy.


However, things are looking up, thanks in part to a little book-series-turned-hit-TV-show called "Game of Thrones."

A "Game of Thrones" fan takes a selfie beside a plaque at Ballintoy Harbour, which appeared as the Iron Islands on the show. Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.

The fictional fight for the Iron Throne has brought a real economic boom to Northern Ireland.

In the last five years, "Game of Thrones" alone has brought in approximately £110 million (~$170 million) to the Northern Ireland economy.

The HBO show is responsible for creating around 900 full-time jobs and 5,700 part-time jobs in the area, which includes catering, hospitality, and other accommodation services in addition to the film crews, production assistants, and other local artisans that work directly on the show.

Lauren Wethers, a goldsmith at Steensons Jewellers in Glenarm, puts finishing touches on a Dire Wolf sterling silver brooch. Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.

That's not a bad return on investment, considering the £12.45 million (~$19 million) spent in subsidies and incentives to bring the show there in the first place. (The producers had originally planned to film in Scotland, where they shot the pilot episode.)

The government agency Northern Ireland Screen has also invested heavily in Northern Ireland's budding film industry, including £14 million (~$22 million) for building new movie studios in Belfast, where the actual RMS Titanic was built and where "Game of Thrones" now films.

The Dark Hedges in Ballymoney — known to fans of the show as Kings Avenue — has become a popular spot for tourists visiting the area. Photo by Christopher McQuillan/Getty Images.

The positive impact of the show extends well beyond the production itself. Just ask the people who live there.

Ingrid Houwers, a professional taxidermist and silversmith, provides furs and animal jewelry for "Game of Thrones."

Her business is booming thanks to the attention and publicity she's gotten as a result of the show. (And because, apparently, "Look! I got my dead cat stuffed by the woman who does taxidermy for 'Game of Thrones'!" is a bragging point for some.)

Ingrid Houwers and her array of pretty dead things. Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.

Ronan Hill is a sound mixer on "Game of Thrones" and I'm sure you can imagine how the Emmy displayed in his Northern Irish home will make it even easier for him to get jobs in the future. He's also up for another award this year. (The show has 24 total Emmy nominations this year alone.)

The success of artists like Houwers and Hill also affects the tourist industry — and of course, more people visiting Northern Ireland means jobs for people in Northern Ireland. Just look at how the tourism rate in New Zealand has doubled (making it the country's second largest industry) in the 15 years since the first "Lord of the Rings" film was released.

This influx of tourism is a regular economic stimulus for people like William Fells, a sword and archery instructor who plays Jon Snow on tours of Castle Ward, the real-life Winterfell, and for Damian Carr, an actor and sword expert who has appeared as an extra on the hit show.

When Carr first started working at Game of Thrones tours, the tours were only running once a week. But five years later, they're a full-time and fully-booked business.

Audley's Castle, which appears as Robb Stark's camp on the show. Photo by Chris McQuillan/Getty Images.

Northern Ireland isn't the only international filming location for the show, but it's easy to see the positive influence the show has had there.

From Winterfell to Belfast, the production of "Game of Thrones" has helped to enhance the local culture and community, in part by making it so locals can afford to live there and contribute to their own economy. Not to mention that those well-paid random Hollywood jobs can be enough to subsidize a local resident's income during slower seasons.

So while I can't alleviate your concerns about George R.R. Martin killing off your favorite character (again), I can assure you that, at least in Northern Ireland, things behind-the-scenes are looking better than ever.

Just, uh, if you visit, be sure to tip your tour guide.

William Kells interacts with tourists at Castle Ward, also known as Winterfell. Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

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The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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