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Heroes

'Star Wars' fans can thank conservationism for these super cute new characters.

You can thank puffins for the creation of the newest cuddly creatures in the 'Star Wars' universe.

If you've seen "The Last Jedi," you probably have some strong feelings about porgs, the adorable little bird-creatures from Luke Skywalker's hideaway planet of Ahch-To.

They're super cute. Personally, I am a huge fan of porgs. I mean, look at that adorable little face and plump little body! If you're not a fan, though, that's fine (I mean, you're wrong, but it's fine).

I want one. Yes, please. Image via Lucasfilm Ltd.


One thing you might not know about Porgs, however, is that they owe their existence to real-life conservationism. Seriously.

Ahch-To is actually the Irish island of Skellig Michael, which, as you can see, is absolutely stunning!

I want to go to there. Image via Lucasfilm Ltd.

There's just one issue: Skelling Michael is a UNESCO World Heritage site. In other words, it functions as an animal sanctuary of sorts, meaning that the "Star Wars" cast and crew had to be really careful about not disturbing the local wildlife.

One major challenge? It's home to a lot of puffins.

OMG they are so cute! Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images.

"When we scouted [the island], it was covered in puffins," director Rian Johnson said in an IMDB interview, saying that he wanted to "figure out the 'Star Wars' version" of the cute creatures.

[rebelmouse-image 19533268 dam="1" original_size="500x281" caption=""This is part of the island. We've got to figure out the 'Star Wars' version of this." GIF from IMDB/YouTube." expand=1]"This is part of the island. We've got to figure out the 'Star Wars' version of this." GIF from IMDB/YouTube.

As actor Mark Hamill adds in that same interview, the puffins weren't exactly known for respecting the cast and crew's boundaries.

[rebelmouse-image 19533269 dam="1" original_size="500x281" caption=""Since they're protected, if you sit still, they kind of swarm around you." GIF from IMDB/YouTube." expand=1]"Since they're protected, if you sit still, they kind of swarm around you." GIF from IMDB/YouTube.

Rather than trying to digitally erase dozens of puffins that could pop up in the background of a shot, Johnson decided to just roll with it, and porgs were brought into existence!

Thanks, environmentalism!

In an interview on StarWars.com, concept designer Jake Lunt Davies explains the visual inspirations behind the finished porg product. "It was influenced by a seal, and a pug dog, and the puffin," he said. "The big eyes of a seas or the big eyes of a pug dog and the sort of funny, ugly face [of a pug]." Somehow, it all works.

It's always neat when something good, like conservationism, ends up resulting in something even better, like porgs.

While there are all sorts of reasons you should care about the environment, it never hurts to have one more (especially when the new reason is adorable). Do it for the porgs!

A behind-the-scenes look at a porg. Image via Lucasfilm Ltd.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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RumorGuard by The News Literacy Project.

The 2016 election was a watershed moment when misinformation online became a serious problem and had enormous consequences. Even though social media sites have tried to slow the spread of misleading information, it doesn’t show any signs of letting up.

A NewsGuard report from 2020 found that engagement with unreliable sites between 2019 and 2020 doubled over that time period. But we don’t need studies to show that misinformation is a huge problem. The fact that COVID-19 misinformation was such a hindrance to stopping the virus and one-third of American voters believe that the 2020 election was stolen is proof enough.

What’s worse is that according to Pew Research, only 26% of American adults are able to distinguish between fact and opinion.

To help teach Americans how to discern real news from fake news, The News Literacy Project has created a new website called RumorGuard that debunks questionable news stories and teaches people how to become more news literate.

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Family

A mom describes her tween son's brain. It's a must-read for all parents.

"Sometimes I just feel really angry and I don’t know why."

This story originally appeared on 1.05.19


It started with a simple, sincere question from a mother of an 11-year-old boy.

An anonymous mother posted a question to Quora, a website where people can ask questions and other people can answer them. This mother wrote:

How do I tell my wonderful 11 year old son, (in a way that won't tear him down), that the way he has started talking to me (disrespectfully) makes me not want to be around him (I've already told him the bad attitude is unacceptable)?

It's a familiar scenario for those of us who have raised kids into the teen years. Our sweet, snuggly little kids turn into moody middle schoolers seemingly overnight, and sometimes we're left reeling trying to figure out how to handle their sensitive-yet-insensitive selves.


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