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John Oliver knows what to do with South Carolina's Confederate flag.

The Civil War was fought in 10,000 places and killed 620,000 Americans. Is it true that this flag is a "heritage" and a "tradition"?

A debate on removing the Confederate flag from South Carolina's Capitol grounds has begun.

Here's one view on this from the great John Oliver. He also mentions a simple idea on what to do with that flag once it's finally taken down, at 4:36. Sounds like a good idea to me.

Is it really about "heritage"?

After the terrorist attack at the Charleston Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, I've seen a lot of comments from folks saying the flag is about “heritage" and “tradition." Some say that for those who grew up in the South, the Confederate flag is a source of pride.


Image by Chris Hondros/Getty Images.

It's all about the context.

There's a reason nobody flies a Nazi flag without sustaining major flak from everybody who sees it. In most of the U.S., the same goes for the Confederate, or "Rebel," flag — it's a symbol of slavery and secession.

So should the flag be taken down? Yes. Here's why.

Even the declared reasons for South Carolina seceding from the union are about slavery.

The Confederate flag represents the largest reason why the South rebelled against the North during the Civil War: slavery. South Carolina in particular — the first state to secede — was quite clear about that.

Here are a few paragraphs from the "Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union" of 1860.

We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself hasbeen made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right ofdeciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen ofthe States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they havepermitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign theproperty of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes;and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.

For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of thecommon Government. Observing the forms of the Constitution, a sectional party has found within that Article establishingthe Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has been drawn across theUnion, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the UnitedStates, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the commonGovernment, because he has declared that that "Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free," and that thepublic mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.
...
We, therefore, the People of South Carolina ... have solemnly declared that the Union heretofore existing between thisState and the other States of North America, is dissolved, and that the State of South Carolina has resumed her positionamong the nations of the world, as a separate and independent State; with full power to levy war, conclude peace, contractalliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do.
Adopted December 24, 1860




What happened in Charleston is one of countless painful wounds on top of scars for generations of people. The flag represents that history.

Yes, it was a terrorist attack. Yes, it was for racist reasons. And yes, flying the Confederate flag at South Carolina's state capitol building is offensive — even more so now. It always was, but it's especially blatant and poignant after this gut-punch to the American experience.

(Update: South Carolina's governor is calling for removal of the flag, joining a chorus of others. It still takes a two-thirds majority of each chamber of the state's legislature for it to happen, but the stakes are higher now.)

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Sustainably good news: Recycling is getting better and this family is showing us how

What if instead of focusing on what isn’t working, we looked at these stories as an invitation to do better?

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There is no shortage of dire news about the state of modern recycling. Most recently, this NPR article shared the jaw-dropping statistic that about 5% of all plastics produced get recycled, meaning the rest of it ends up in landfills. While the underlying concerns here are sound, I worry that the public narrative around recycling has gotten so pessimistic that it will make people give up on it entirely instead of seeing the opportunities to improve it. What if instead of focusing on what isn’t working, we looked at these news stories as an invitation to do better?

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Brendan Fraser dressed as Rick O'Connell.

Brendan Fraser might be making the greatest career comeback ever, racking up accolades and award nominations for his dramatic, transformative role in “The Whale." But the OG Fraser fans (the ones who watch “Doom Patrol” solely to hear his voice and proudly pronounce his last name as Fray-zure, for this is the proper pronunciation) have known of his remarkable talent since the 90s, when he embodied the ultimate charming, dashing—and slightly goofball—Hollywood action lead.

Let us not forget his arguably most well known and beloved 90s character—Rick O’Connell from the “Mummy” franchise. Between his quippy one-liners, Indiana Jones-like adventuring skills and fabulous hair, what’s not to like?

During a double feature of “The Mummy” and “The Mummy Returns” in London, moviegoers got the ultimate surprise when who should walk in but Brendan Fraser himself, completely decked out in Rick O’Connell attire. The brown leather jacket. The scarf. Everything.

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During the time it took for the unsuspecting mother to dig for loose change, the "stranded" stranger, Zach, introduced himself and asked if the duo were from Philly. Once they said they were from the area, he then inquired if they were Eagles fans...the football team, not the birds. "You ever been to an Eagles game?" Zach asked.

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However popular the idea is, polyamory is misunderstood by a large swath of the public and is often seen as deviant. However, those who practice it view polyamory as a healthy lifestyle with several benefits.

Taya Hartless, 28, and Alysia Rogers, 34, along with their husbands Sean, 46, and Tyler, 35, are in a polyamorous relationship and have no problem sharing their lifestyle with the public on social media. Even though they risk stigmatization for being open about their non-traditional relationships, they are sharing it with the world to make it a safer place for “poly” folks like themselves.

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Woman without an internal monologue explains what it's like inside her head

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So what about the other 50-70%? What exactly goes on inside their heads from day to day?

In a video interview originally posted in 2020, a woman named Kirsten Carlson gave some insight into this question, sharing how not having an inner dialogue affected her reading and writing, her interactions with others and how she navigates mental challenges like anxiety and depression. It was eye-opening and mind-blowing.
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Native Siberian shares what daily life entails in the coldest village on Earth

See how the people of Yakutia, Siberia take showers, do laundry, go to school and more in minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit.

A man in the Yakutia region of Siberia takes an ice bath in minus 50 degrees Celsius.

For most of us, waking up to a temperature of minus 50 degrees would spell catastrophe. Normal life would come to a screeching halt, we'd be scrambling to deal with frozen pipes and power outages, school and work would be canceled and weather warnings would tell us not to venture outside due to frostbite risk.

But in the Yakutia region of Siberia, that's just an average winter day where life goes on as usual.

When you live in the coldest inhabited area on Earth, your entire life is arranged around dealing with ridiculously cold temperatures. Villages don't have running water because freezing pipes wouldn't allow for water treatment. Kids go to school unless the temp drops below minus 55 degrees Celsius (which is then considered dangerous). Showering involves spending hours stoking a fire in the bathhouse to create a steamy, warm room.

Native Siberian Kiun B. has created a series of documentary short films detailing what daily life is like in Yakutia's frigid winters. She was born and raised in Yakutsk, Siberia, widely recognized as the coldest city on Earth, where average winter temperatures hover around minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit. As seen in her videos, smaller villages in the Yakutia region regularly dip down into the negative 50s, with the lowest recorded temp in the Yakut village of Oymayakon reaching a mindblowing minus 96 degrees Fahrenheit.

The popularity of Kiun's YouTube channel demonstrates how curious people are about life in such harsh conditions, as her videos have been viewed by tens of millions of people in the past year alone.

Check out this video detailing a day in the life of a family in a Yakutia village.

Can you imagine going out to use an outhouse in minus 40 degrees? Oof.

Another of Kiun's videos goes into more detail about how people shower and do laundry in the region. You might assume they wouldn't line-dry their laundry outdoors, but they do.

Watch:

What do people wear to protect themselves from the negative temperatures? Frostbite is a real risk, so it's important to have the right kinds of clothing and outdoor gear to stay safe and relatively comfortable.

Kiun shared some frigid fashion norms from Yakutsk, which include traditional fur hats and boots as well as lots of layers and down jackets.

However, there are some Yakut folks who see the cold as something to embrace. For instance, this man takes an ice bath out in the elements as a morning ritual. It's something he has worked up to—definitely not something to try on your own during a cold snap—but it still has to be painful.

(Seriously, please don't try this at home.)

The way humans have learned to adapt to drastically different environments, from the sweltering tropics to the Arctic tundra, is incredible, and it's fascinating to get a close-up look at how people make life work in those extremes. Thank you, Kiun B., for giving us a glimpse of what it's like to experience life in the dead of winter in the world's coldest inhabited places.