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Democracy

Hate vs. debate—a tale of two e-mail responses to an article I wrote

Hate vs. debate—a tale of two e-mail responses to an article I wrote

I've been writing for the people of the internet for more than a decade, so I'm used to my fair share of hate mail. I don't generally share the details of my inbox with the public (choosing instead to send screenshots to my close friends so we can vent about the insanity of the world together), but two e-mails I received from people who had similar complaints about an article I wrote seem like they offer a lesson of sorts about how we should—and shouldn't—communicate with each other.

A few months ago, I wrote an article about some people's reactions to the murder of Cannon Hinnant, a 5-year-old North Carolina boy shot and killed by a neighbor while out riding his bike in front of his house. It was a terrible, tragic story. Anti-BLM forces quickly jumped on it, complaining that the national media didn't cover the story like they would if the races were reversed (Hinnant was white, his killer was Black). A #SayHisName campaign accompanied the complaint, usurped from the BLM movement. My piece pointed out the reasons why that complaint was problematic.

You can read the piece here if you want the context for the emails I'm going to share with you.

As with many articles I write, the reactions were split. I got messages from people thanking me for expressing exactly what they had wanted to say, and messages from people who vehemently disagreed. I always a bit amazed when people take the time to track down my e-mail address to share their thoughts on what I write, and I generally appreciate it, even when they're writing to tell me they disagree with me. But the disagreement messages for this article were on a whole other level.


If it were just the one horrible message, I'd write it off as just some whacko. But I got multiple messages and comments that were boiling over with hatred. I had to block one guy from my Facebook page for dropping in to address me—a woman he has never met—as a "hypocritical bitch" and a "f*cking c*nt" with no other arguments made. (Out of curiosity, I took a peek at his profile and found out he was a fitness/performance coach who had volunteered with a kindness initiative. Interesting, huh?)

But the cherry on top of this article's hate mail sundae was this email from a man named Edger. Prepare now for a bunch of profanity. (You might also need a key for this: gfy = go fuck yourself, pos = piece of shit, msm = mainstream media.)

Here we go:

"Say his fucking name!

Your liberal pos article telling us not to compare Cannon Hinnant's murder to the scam blm bs or politicize the tragedy is unbelievably fucked up bitch. THAT is exactly what you motherfuckers have been doing for six fucking months over this blm scam bullshit, so gfy you scumbag pos!!!

We are sick of you leftwing blm socialist scam artist destroying America and will fight to the death for our country. And we will win.

I pray one or better yet all of your kids get cancer and die, so you can feel the pain of what you liberals have done to this innocent family and Americans with your cold hearted liberal left wing politically motivated articles and tweets. All of you heartless and trashy liberal degenerates will pay dearly one day, God willing.

CNN, MSNBC and CNBC did not pick up the story until just a few hours ago and only after the outrage of their deafening silence was raised loudly by patriotic Americans, unlike you msm liberals pos assholes.

You pathetic pieces of shit do not come close to understanding how angry we all are, but you will in November, you corrupt vermin.
HOW DARE YOU EVIL FUCKING SCUM.
FU!!!"

So fun, right? Clearly, the dude has some issues, but this is really not too far off from public comments I receive on Facebook regularly on my articles. Our public discourse has devolved into radicalized idealogues spewing the anger and hatred their chosen media outlets keep them coming hooked on instead of actually discussing ideas and issues.

But it doesn't have to be this way.

Another email I received on this article exemplifies the kind of disagreements we can and should have, even if we're coming from totally different perspectives.

Hi Annie

First if I want to say I'm sorry you were subjected to all those vulgar tirades from those that did not like your article on Cannon. Those were uncalled for and just immature.

But that is not to say I agree with your article. There are some flaws or liberties you took with your argument. The 30 second google search on news stories does come up with hits, but most from Thursday or Friday of last week. When the murder took place on Sunday. One very local News to NC Did report it on Sunday night.

Second, you wrote, on average, three children are killed every day. But that includes those over the age of 12. I don't think 16 thru 18 year old count as children. Those over the age of 12 make up half of the three children. If you focus on the 8 and under group(Which is more appropriate for this case), it's more like one per day. And I'd be willing to bet, In not one case, did a man walk up to a child in the street and shoot him point blank in the face. Just the heinous of this crime should have made more of a National splash.

I am not asking for demanding justice. His killer was caught.

But in these days of all this racial unrest, I truly believe that, if the races were reversed, this would have been the first story on Good Morning America on Monday morning. Wouldn't you agree? Or at least agree that is a good possibility? Of course I can't prove that and can't cite any examples of when this actually happened.

Anyway, I wanted to write and share my thoughts. I am just so tired of the media bias.

Mike

Now, that's a message I can do something with.

The obvious lesson here is "Be like Mike, not like Edger," but how do we get people to do that? As I said, I've been writing on the internet for 10 years. I've written about all kinds of contentious topics, from racism to breastfeeding in public. Up until this year, the foulest message I'd received was on an op-ed I wrote five years ago about not assuming every family does Santa Claus—a take that earned me a "Stop being such a whiny c*nt and stop f*cking up your kids" message to my personal Facebook page. I get messages like that regularly now.

There are ways to discuss our perspectives—assuming your perspective isn't wrapped in denying someone's humanity or basic human rights—with civility and reasoned arguments. I am happy to debate issues and do so frequently, but it's impossible to have a discussion with someone who says they hope your kids get cancer and die. Hatred like that is cancerous itself, but unfortunately it feels like its metastasizing throughout the body politic.

I wish I had a perfect answer for how to stop it, but I don't. All I know is that we won't survive this if we don't figure out something quick.

Carsten Vollrath/Canva

Imagine watching your four-tier wedding cake hitting the ground before you even get a bite.

It's quite common for people to fantasize about their wedding day—the ceremony, the bridal party, the dress, the cake—and some people spend months or even years meticulously planning every detail. People even spend thousands of dollars hiring wedding planners to make sure that the big day stays fully organized and all the moving parts come together without a hitch.

But no matter how well you plan, sometimes things that simply can't be predicted happen. And how you and your beloved handle the hitches and glitches on your wedding day can say a lot.

Especially when that hitch or glitch is something major…like watching the beautiful, four-tier wedding cake—the one you spent time choosing and lots of money creating to share with your wedding guests—come crashing to the ground right in front of you.


That's what happened to one couple who eagerly watched as the caterers who were carrying their wedding cake tripped on their way into the room, sending their cake to an untimely demise in spectacular fashion.

The video, shared by @the.sarik on Instagram, is only about 10 seconds long, but it tells a whole beautiful love story in the reactions of both the groom and the bride.

Watch:

First of all, hope those waiters are OK. But secondly, staying calm and making the most of a bad situation is a huge character plus, and this groom clearly has those qualities in spades. You can see in the bride's face that she knows it, too.

"Her eyes show that she knows she got the right guy," wrote one commenter.

"The way he just called her to eat is just phenomenal," shared another.

"'Cake is still cake.' Yelling at those waiters won't solve anything, but it can ruin their whole lives," wrote another. "They know their mistake, and they can be corrected privately. May the reaction of this man be an inspiration to us all, to care for the feelings of other people more than material things."

"Of all the things that could ruin a wedding day, I'm glad the husband knew this didn't have to be one of them," shared another.

When unpredictable things do happen, it's largely the reaction of the people involved that determines whether they become tragic tales or entertaining stories. If what we saw in the video is any indicator, this couple will be telling their grandkids someday about how the guys carrying their wedding cake tripped and ruined it, and how Grandpa's response won Grandma's heart all over again.


This article originally appeared on 7.27.23

A map of the United States post land-ice melt.


Land ice: We got a lot of it.

Considering the two largest ice sheets on earth — the one on Antarctica and the one on Greenland — extend more than 6 million square miles combined ... yeah, we're talkin' a lot of ice.

But what if it was all just ... gone? Not like gone gone, but melted?


If all of earth's land ice melted, it would be nothing short of disastrous.

And that's putting it lightly.

This video by Business Insider Science (seen below) depicts exactly what our coastlines would look like if all the land ice melted. And spoiler alert: It isn't great.

Lots of European cities like, Brussels and Venice, would be basically underwater.

In Africa and the Middle East? Dakar, Accra, Jeddah — gone.

Millions of people in Asia, in cities like Mumbai, Beijing, and Tokyo, would be uprooted and have to move inland.

South America would say goodbye to cities like Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires.

And in the U.S., we'd watch places like Houston, San Francisco, and New York City — not to mention the entire state of Florida — slowly disappear into the sea.

All GIFs via Business Insider Science/YouTube.

Business Insider based these visuals off National Geographic's estimation that sea levels will rise 216 feet (!) if all of earth's land ice melted into our oceans.

There's even a tool where you can take a detailed look at how your community could be affected by rising seas, for better or worse.

Although ... looking at these maps, it's hard to imagine "for better" is a likely outcome for many of us.

Much of America's most populated regions would be severely affected by rising sea levels, as you'll notice exploring the map, created by Alex Tingle using data provided by NASA.

Take, for instance, the West Coast. (Goodbye, San Fran!)

Or the East Coast. (See ya, Philly!)

And the Gulf Coast. (RIP, Bourbon Street!)

I bring up the topic not just for funsies, of course, but because the maps above are real possibilities.

How? Climate change.

As we continue to burn fossil fuels for energy and emit carbon into our atmosphere, the planet gets warmer and warmer. And that, ladies and gentlemen, means melted ice.

A study published this past September by researchers in the U.S., U.K., and Germany found that if we don't change our ways, there's definitely enough fossil fuel resources available for us to completely melt the Antarctic ice sheet.

Basically, the self-inflicted disaster you see above is certainly within the realm of possibility.

"This would not happen overnight, but the mind-boggling point is that our actions today are changing the face of planet Earth as we know it and will continue to do so for tens of thousands of years to come," said lead author of the study Ricarda Winkelmann, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

If we want to stop this from happening," she says, "we need to keep coal, gas, and oil in the ground."

The good news? Most of our coastlines are still intact! And they can stay that way, too — if we act now.

World leaders are finallystarting to treat climate change like the global crisis that it is — and you can help get the point across to them, too.

Check out Business Insider's video below:

This article originally appeared on 12.08.15

A woman is shocked to learn that her name means something totally different in Australia.

Devyn Hales, 22, from California, recently moved to Sydney, Australia, on a one-year working visa and quickly learned that her name wouldn’t work Down Under. It all started when a group of men made fun of her on St. Patrick’s Day.

After she introduced herself as Devyn, the men laughed at her. "They burst out laughing, and when I asked them why, they told me devon is processed lunch meat,” she told The Daily Mail. It's similar to baloney, so I introduce myself as Dev now,” she said in a viral TikTok video with over 1.7 million views.

For those who have never been to Australia, Devon is a processed meat product usually cut into slices and served on sandwiches. It is usually made up of pork, basic spices and a binder. Devon is affordable because people buy it in bulk and it’s often fed to children. Australians also enjoy eating it fried, like spam. It is also known by other names such as fritz, circle meat, Berlina and polony, depending on where one lives on the continent. It's like in America, where people refer to cola as pop, soda, or Coke, depending on where they live in the country.


So, one can easily see why a young woman wouldn’t want to refer to herself as a processed meat product that can be likened to boloney or spam. "Wow, love that for us," another woman named Devyn wrote in the comments. “Tell me the name thing isn't true,” a woman called Devon added.

@dhalesss

#fypシ #australia #americaninaustralia #sydney #aussie

Besides changing her name, Dev shared some other differences between living in Australia and her home country.

“So everyone wears slides. I feel like I'm the only one with 'thongs'—flip-flops—that have the little thing in the middle of your big toe. Everyone wears slides,” she said. Everyone wears shorts that go down to your knees and that's a big thing here.”

Dev also noted that there are a lot of guys in Australia named Lachlan, Felix and Jack.

She was also thrown off by the sound of the plentiful magpies in Australia. According to Dev, they sound a lot like crying children with throat infections. “The birds threw me off,” she said before making an impression that many people in the comments thought was close to perfect. "The birds is so spot on," Jess wrote. "The birds, I will truly never get used to it," Marissa added.

One issue that many Americans face when moving to Australia is that it is more expensive than the United States. However, many Americans who move to Australia love the work-life balance. Brooke Laven, a brand strategist in the fitness industry who moved there from the U.S., says that Aussies have the “perfect work-life balance” and that they are “hard-working” but “know where to draw the line.”

Despite the initial cultural shocks, Devyn is embracing her new life in Australia with a positive outlook. “The coffee is a lot better in Australia, too,” she added with a smile, inspiring others to see the bright side of cultural differences.

Sustainability

Scientists tested 3 popular bottled water brands for nanoplastics using new tech, and yikes

The results were alarming—an average of 240,000 nanoplastics per 1 liter bottle—but what does it mean for our health?

Suzy Hazelwood/Canva

Columbia University researchers tested bottled water for nanoplastics and found hundreds of thousands of them.

Evian, Fiji, Voss, SmartWater, Aquafina, Dasani—it's impressive how many brands we have for something humans have been consuming for millennia. Despite years of studies showing that bottled water is no safer to drink than tap water, Americans are more consuming more bottled water than ever, to the tune of billions of dollars in bottled water sales.

People cite convenience and taste in addition to perceived safety for reasons they prefer bottle to tap, but the fear factor surrounding tap water is still a driving force. It doesn't help when emergencies like floods cause tap water contamination or when investigations reveal issues with lead pipes in some communities, but municipal water supplies are tested regularly, and in the vast majority of the U.S., you can safely grab a glass of water from a tap.

And now, a new study on nanoplastics found in three popular bottled water brands is throwing more data into the bottled vs. tap water choice.

Researchers from Columbia University used a new laser-guided technology to detect nanoplastics that had previously evaded detection due to their miniscule size. The new technology can detect, count and analyze and chemical structure of nanoparticles, and they found seven different major types of plastic: polyamide, polypropylene, polyethylene, polymethyl methacrylate, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, and polyethylene terephthalate.

In contrast to a 2018 study that found around 300 plastic particles in an average liter of bottled water, the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in January of 2024 found 240,000 nanoplastic particles per liter bottle on average between the three brands studied. (The name of the brands were not indicated in the study.)

As opposed to microplastics, nanoplastics are too small to be seen by microscope. Their size is exactly why experts are concerned about them, as they are small enough to invade human cells and potentially disrupt cellular processes.

“Micro and nanoplastics have been found in the human placenta at this point. They’ve been found in human lung tissues. They’ve been found in human feces; they’ve been found in human blood,” study coauthor Phoebe Stapleton, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Rutgers University’s Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy told CNN Health,

We know that nanoplastics are making their way into our bodies. We just don't have enough research yet on what that means for our health, and we still have more questions than answers. How many nanoplastics does it take to do damage and/or cause disease? What kinds of damage or disease might they cause? Is whatever effect they might have cumulative? We simply don't have answers to these questions yet.

That's not to say there's no cause for concern. We do know that certain levels of microplastic exposure have been shown to adversely affect the viability of cells. Nanoplastics are even smaller—does that mean they are more likely to cause cellular damage? Science is still working that out.

According to Dr. Sara Benedé of the Spanish National Research Council’s Institute of Food Science Research, it's not just the plastics themselves that might cause damage, but what they may bring along with them. “[Microparticles and nanoparticles] have the ability to bind all kinds of compounds when they come into contact with fluids, thus acting as carriers of all kinds of substances including environmental pollutants, toxins, antibiotics, or microorganisms,” Dr. Benedé told Medical News Today.

Where is this plastic in water coming from? This study focused on bottled water, which is almost always packaged in plastic. The filters used to filter the water before bottling are also frequently made from plastic.

Is it possible that some of these nanoplastics were already present in the water from their original sources? Again, research is always evolving on this front, but microplastics have been detected in lakes, streams and other freshwater sources, so it's not a big stretch to imagine that nanoplastics may be making their way into freshwater ecosystems as well. However, microplastics are found at much higher levels in bottled water than tap water, so it's also not a stretch to assume that most of the nanoplastics are likely coming from the bottling process and packaging rather than from freshwater sources.

The reality is, though, we simply don't know yet.

“Based on other studies we expected most of the microplastics in bottled water would come from leakage of the plastic bottle itself, which is typically made of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic,” lead author Naixin Qian, a doctoral student in chemistry at Columbia University, told CNN Health. “However, we found there’s actually many diverse types of plastics in a bottle of water, and that different plastic types have different size distributions. The PET particles were larger, while others were down to 200 nanometers, which is much, much smaller.”

We need to drink water, and we need to drink safe water. At this point, we have plenty of environmental reasons for avoiding bottled water unless absolutely necessary and opting for tap water instead. Even if there's still more research to be done, the presence of hundreds of thousands of nanoplastics in bottled water might just be another reason to make the switch.


This article originally appeared on 2.2.24