"I don't care, just do something about those drivers."
So the next day he had the county go out and put up a sign that said: SLOW: SCHOOL CROSSING.
Three days later the farmer called the sheriff and said, "You've got to do something about these drivers. The 'school crossing' sign seems to make them go faster." So, again, the sheriff sends out the county and they put up a new sign: SLOW: CHILDREN AT PLAY.
And that really sped them up. So the farmer called and called and called every day for three weeks. Finally, he asked the sheriff, "Your signs are doing no good. Is it all right for me to put up my own sign?"
The sheriff told him, "Sure thing, put up your own sign." He was going to let the farmer do just about anything in order to have him stop calling. Well, the sheriff got no more calls from the farmer.
Three weeks after the farmers last call, the sheriff decided to call him. "How's the problem with those drivers. Did you put up your sign?"
"Oh, I sure did. And not one chicken has been killed since then. I've got to go. I'm very busy." And he hung up the phone. The sheriff thought to himself, "I'd better go to that farmer's house and look at that sign... There might be something there that WE could use to slow down drivers..."
So the sheriff drove out to the farmer's house, and he saw the sign. It was a whole sheet of plywood. And written in large yellow letters were the words:
SLOW: NUDIST COLONY.
More Photos Were Taken in the Last 2 Minutes than in the Entire 19th Century
Betty White Is Literally Older than Sliced Bread
Your iPhone Has More Computing Power than NASA Used for the Moon Landing
There Are Whales Alive Who Are Older than the Book Moby Dick
The Nursery Rhyme Never Says Humpty Dumpty Was an Egg
Pluto Was Made and Unmade a Planet Before It Completed One Orbit of the Sun
Neil Armstrong Had to Go Through U.S. Customs after Returning from the Moon
Mankind Put a Man on the Moon Before We Put Wheels on Suitcases
Will Smith Is Now Older than Uncle Phil in the 1st Fresh Prince Episode
You're Twice as Likely to Be Killed by a Vending Machine as by a Shark
France Was Still Using the Guillotine for Executions When Star Wars Hit Theaters
Harvard Was Founded Before the Invention of Calculus
Shakespeare Created the Name Jessica in The Merchant of Venice
Oxford University Was Founded Before Aztec Civilization Began
Nintendo Was Founded in 1889 as a Trading Card Company
There Are More Plastic Pink Flamingos than Real Ones in the U.S.
Saudi Arabia Imports Camels from Australia
Alaska Is Simultaneously the Most Northern, Western, and Eastern State in the U.S.
If Cars Drove Upwards You Could Drive to Space in an Hour
The T-Rex Lived Closer in Time to Us than to the Stegosaurus
Cleopatra Lived Closer to the Moon Landing than the Building of the Great Pyramid of Giza
Bananas Are Actually Berries and Strawberries Are Not
William Howard Taft Was the Last U.S. President with Facial Hair
The Current U.S. Flag Was Designed by a 17-Year-Old for a School Project. He Got a B-
There Are Actually Two North Poles: Magnetic and Terrestrial
Tiffany & Co. Was Founded Before the Country of Italy
The YKK on Zippers Stands for “Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikigaisha”
The Ottoman Empire Still Existed the Last Time the Cubs Won the World Series
They say that ninety percent of life is just showing up.
Unfortunately, for me the other ten percent is usually drinking all the sherry marinade, punching out the band leader, and trying to have sex with the bride's grandmother.
Strange Beauty Standards from History
Renaissance Women Wanted Receding Hairlines
If you've ever looked at Renaissance paintings and wondered why the women seem to look so strange, it's not just you. Large, curved foreheads were an important indicator of beauty, and women would pluck or shave their hairlines to increase the size of their forehead. Basically, creating a receding hairline on purpose.
Painted Legs Were The Look During World War Two
Thanks to nylon shortages during the second World War, women's pantyhose were lacking. However, the tan appearance of stockinged legs was still considered necessary, so dozens of paint products meant to mimic the look of nylon hit the market. According to a 1942 edition of LIFE Magazine, "When they are properly applied the most scrutinizing pair of masculine eyes cannot distinguish between legs thus covered and legs in sheer hose." However, some women would just go for what was around and use gravy to paint their legs to get that stunning nylon look.
Incredibly Small Feet Were All the Rage in China
Although foot binding is perhaps one of the most infamous forms of body modification, its origins in China are unknown, though we know it was prevalent among the wives and daughters of nobles by the thirteenth century. It eventually spread until the practice was commonplace. Foot binding usually began when a girl was five to seven years old, and consisted of her feet being bandaged tightly while she was growing, causing the bones in her foot to break, the sole to bend down to meet the toes, and the toes to bend under the foot. This painful and crippling practice was based on the sexual and aesthetic appeal of small feet.
Skull Shaping Was Standard Child Rearing for the Ancient Maya
Starting around 1000 BC, the ancient Maya started modifying the skulls of their infants. A child's head was kept strapped to a board or bound with various implements, forcing the skull to become malformed. This was done to both males and females, and it is believed to not have been related to social standing, but a sign of ornamental beauty. Many other groups all over the world had similar practices, including the Germanic tribes like the Huns, Hawaiians, Tahitians, Incas, and the Chinook and Choctaw tribes in North America.
Long Fingernails Were No Game in China
The Chinese have a long history of long nails. Both men and women of the Qing Dynasty grew nails that were 8 to 10 inches long, and some women wore gold nail-guards in order to protect their rather inconvenient manicures. This was to indicate that they were wealthy enough that they didn't need to labor with their hands. Instead, they had to rely on servants to do things like dress or feed them.
Men's Calves Were the Abs of the Middle Ages
Women's legs are highly admired these days, but back in the Middle Ages and well through the 18th century, men's calves were what it was all about. Men wore stockings like women in order to show off their well-shaped calves, and some even wore padding inside their stockings to improve their unsatisfactory gams. King Henry VIII, for example, was renowned for his excellent calves.
Eyelashes Were So Out During the Renaissance
For European women during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the plucking did not stop at the forehead. Eyelashes became symbols of oversexuality, and the fresh face was in. Thus, women of means would often remove their eyelashes entirely, which sounds way too painful to begin thinking about.
Japanese Women Actually Wanted Black Teeth
If you ever get tired of brushing your teeth, this is a good alternative. For thousands of years, Japanese women would blacken their teeth permanently after marriage. This continued through the 19th century, and was a symbol of beauty and marital commitment.
Beauty Patches Were Super Classy
In the 18th century, the previous standard of bare-faced women disappeared, and women began wearing heavy makeup. They also started wearing beauty patches, small pieces of fabric that were adhered to the face. They came in many shapes, such as stars, circles, and squares, and their placement on the face had specific meaning. For example, one by the mouth implied flirtatiousness, and one on the right cheek meant that the woman was married.
Veiny Cleavage Was a 17th-Century Must-Have
Seventeenth-century England saw an increase of cleavage in fashion. Necklines plunged and breasts became one of the most prominent features that women attempted to display. At the same time, extreme paleness was in style, as it suggested wealth and an ability to stay out of the sun, unlike laborers. In order to extend the paleness achieved by powders on the face to the cleavage, women would draw blue veins on their breasts to mimic translucent skin.
Erotic Piercings Were Somehow Huge During the Victorian Era
The Victorian Era is generally associated with starched clothing, lots of black, and showing as little skin as possible. Probably the last thing you would think of is a sexual piercing, but life is full of surprises. During a brief period in Victorian England, wealthy women would pierce their nipples, often connecting them with a chain. As for men, they would pierce the head of their penis, supposedly making it easier to comfortably wear the increasingly tight pants of the era. This piercing is known as the "Prince Albert," and it is said that the Victorian prince himself sported the look.
Native American Tribes Plucked Their Pubic Hair
When colonialists arrived in the Americas, they were shocked by a painful beauty standard for native women: plucking off all of their pubic hair. Thomas Jefferson said of this foreign tradition that "with them it is disgraceful to be hairy in the body. They say it likens them to hogs. They therefore pluck the hair as fast as it appears." When it's put like that, I guess it might be worth the trouble.
A Desire for Separated Breasts Created the "Divorce Corset"
The corset is one of the most famous examples of body modification, designed to create a small waist and lifted breasts. From the 16th through the 19th century, women wore a variety of corset styles, some tied so tight that they had trouble breathing. However, in the 19th century, corsets evolved in order to support the new beauty trend: separated breasts. Instead of the high and tight cleavage of the past, women wanted to have a distinct gap between their breasts. Cue the arrival of the "divorce corset," so named for its function in separating the breasts and creating distinctly broader cleavage.
Ancient Chinese Women Constantly Updated Their Colorful Eyebrows
Ancient Chinese women had a chance to get very creative with their eyebrows. They would paint their eyebrows with black, blue, or green grease, and shape them according to the trend at the time; at one point in the Han Dynasty, sharply pointed eyebrows were the style. At another time, women were expected to have short and high eyebrows, and one style was called the "sorrow brow," where the brows were arched upward in the middle in an expression of sadness.
The Greeks Loved a Good Unibrow
The Greeks had a very different idea of "power brows." In Ancient Greece, women's unibrows were considered a sign of intelligence and purity. If they didn't have one naturally, women would use kohl pigment to draw one on, for that bold and beautiful look.
Short Teeth Were Essential During the Renaissance
During the Renaissance, the essential "beauties" of women were well-known. This list eventually climbed to 30 different (very specific) traits. Many of them are familiar to us: long legs, wide hips, and a narrow waist, for example. However, one of them was short teeth. They just loved gummy smiles.
The Tang Dynasty Loved Big Cheeks
It's easy to imagine slender bodies and angular faces as always being the beauty ideal, but this was not always the case. In fact, sometimes it was the opposite. During the Chinese Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), women with plump figures, round faces, big cheeks, and wide foreheads were considered the most beautiful.
"Hey, Judi, how'd your ski weekend go?" Monika asked.
"The good news was I shared the cabin with these two drop dead gorgeous men!"
"Oooo! That must have been wonderful! What's the bad news?"
"They were engaged to each other."
Issue of the Times;
Smartphones are the new Cigarettes by Mark Manson
I go to this boot camp-style class sometimes at a gym near my apartment. It’s one of
those classes where a coach stands there and yells at you to do more pushups and squats
until you think you’re going to puke. Then you go home and struggle to sit on a toilet
for the next three days.
It’s great. I love it. I never miss a week.
Today, as happens many mornings, a couple of people, in between exercises, ran over to
the wall to pick up their phones and check… well, I don’t know what the fuck they could
have been checking. Email? Instagram? Snapchatting their sweat beads so everyone could
see? I don’t know.
The point is they were on their phones.
And the coach got pissed, yelled at them to put their fucking phones away, and we all
stood around awkwardly.
This proceeded to happen two or three times in the class, as it does in pretty much
every class, and for whatever reason, today I decided to speak my mind to the women
glued to her phone while the rest of us were working out:
“Is there really nothing in your life that can’t wait 30 minutes? Or are you curing
cancer or something?”
Note to readers: this is a bad way to make friends.
I was pissed. But fuck them. I felt like I was in the right, that I was saying what
pretty much everyone else in the room was silently thinking.
Later that day, once we’d all gone home, while painfully sitting on a toilet seat, I was
going over the incident in my head. And I asked myself, “Why does that bother me so
much? Why do phones, in general, seem to bug me so much? Why does it bother me when my
wife pulls out her phone when we’re walking down the street together? Why do I fervently
hate with a passion people who hold up their phones and record half a concert? What’s
Am I the screwed up one here?
I know I’m not though. We all have this weird love/hate relationship with our phones
these days. Every year, we become more glued to them than ever before. Yet, every year,
we seem to resent that we’re glued to them. Why is that?
If you think about it, our attention is the only thing we truly own in our lives. Our
possessions can go away. Our bodies can be compromised. Our relationships can fall
apart. Even our memories and intellectual capacity fade away.
But the simple ability to choose what to focus on — that will always be ours.
Unfortunately, with today’s technology, our attention is being pulled in more directions
than ever before, which makes this optioning of our own attention more difficult — and
more important — than ever before.
In his book Deep Work, Cal Newport argues that the ability to focus deeply on a single
project, idea or task for long periods of time is not only one of the most important
skills for succeeding in the information age, but it’s also an ability that appears to
be dwindling among the population.
But I would go even further. I would say that our ability to focus and hone our
attention on what we need is a core component of living a happy, healthy life. We’ve all
had those days or weeks (or months or years) where we’ve felt scatterbrained — out of
control of our own reality, constantly sucked down rabbit holes of pointless information
and drama comprised of endless clicks and notifications.
To be happy and healthy, we need to feel as though we are in control of ourselves and we
are utilizing our abilities and talents effectively. To do that, we must be in control
of our attention.
And I think this is why the cell phone thing at the gym pissed me off. Those workouts
are fucking hard. They require me to focus and exert not only physical discipline but
mental discipline as well. And to stop every 10 minutes because somebody needs to email
their boss or text their boyfriend yanks me out of that. And worse, it yanks me out
against my will.
It’s attention pollution when somebody else’s inability to focus or control themselves
then interferes with the attention and focus of those around them.
And with the explosion in smart devices and internet available pretty much everywhere
from Timbuktu to your mother’s ass crack, attention pollution is infiltrating our daily
lives more and more without us realizing it.
It’s why we get annoyed at dinner when someone starts texting in front of us. It’s why
we get pissed off when someone pulls their phone out in a movie theater. It’s why we
become irritated when someone is checking their email instead of watching the ballgame.
Their inability to focus interferes with our (already-fragile) ability to focus. The
same way second-hand smoke harms the lungs of people around the smoker, smartphones harm
the attention and focus of people around the smartphone user. It hijacks our senses. It
forces us to pause our conversations and redouble our thoughts unnecessarily. It causes
us to lose our train of thought and forget that important point we were constructing in
our head. It erodes at our ability to connect and simply be present with one another,
destroying intimacy in the process.
But the smoking comparison doesn’t end there. There’s evidence that suggests that we are
doing long-term harm to our memories and attention spans. The same way smoking
cigarettes fucks over our long-term health in the name of a series of short-term bursts
of highs, the dopamine kicks we get from our phones are harming our brain’s ability to
function over the long-term, all in the name of getting a bunch of likes on that really
cool new photo of our food we just took.
Now, it may sound like I’m overreacting here. Like I had a shitty gym session and am
taking it out on hundreds of thousands of readers on the internet.
But I’m serious. I think this is fucking us up more than we realize.
I’ve noticed that as the years go on, it’s becoming harder for me to sit down and write
an article like this than it was three or four years ago. And it’s not just that the
amount of available distractions have compounded over the years, it’s that my ability to
resist those distractions seems to have worn down to the point where I often don’t feel
in control of my own attention anymore.
And this kind of freaks me out. It’s not that I resent the woman at the gym who can’t go
10 minutes without checking her messages. I resent that I am becoming that person at the
gym who can’t go 10 minutes without checking his messages.
And I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one.
I’ve met people the last few years who get incredibly anxious if they can’t check their
phone in social situations. They carry their phones into conversations the way some
people carry dogs on airplanes. It’s a constant outlet if the necessity to interface
with another person’s thoughts and feelings ever becomes too intense.
I’ve started to notice people who feel like they need to always be checking email or
their messages to feel as though they’re being a good, productive employee. Doesn’t
matter if it’s their kid’s violin recital, or in the car at stop lights, or in bed at
midnight on a Saturday. They feel like they have to always be caught up on every piece
of information that is flung their way, otherwise they’re somehow failing.
I’ve noticed friends who can no longer sit through entire movies (or even episodes of a
TV show) without pulling out their phones multiple times in the middle of it. People who
can’t make it through a meal without putting the phone next to their plate.
It’s happening everywhere, and it’s therefore becoming the social norm. The eroded
attention is becoming the normal, socially acceptable attention, and we are all paying
I have a dream, friends. I have a dream of a world where people can sit through long,
dull conversations, without feeling the need to douse themselves with instant-
gratification delivered through glowing plastic screens.
I have a dream of a world where people are cognizant of not only their own limited
attention, but the precious attention of others and some numb-nuts won’t start texting
in the movie theatre, totally killing the mood of a dramatic scene.
I have a dream where our devices will be comfortably allotted as the occasional
supplement to our lives, and not used as a poor replacement for them. Where people will
recognize that the constant and instantaneous delivery of information has subtle costs
associated with it, as well as its more obvious benefits.
I have a dream of a world where people become aware of their own attention as an
important resource, something to be cultivated and renewed, to be built and cherished,
the same way they take care of their bodies or their education. And this new cultivation
of their own attention will oddly set them free. Not just free from the screens, but
free from their own unconscious impulses.
I have a dream where that respect for attention would extend to the world around them,
to their friends and family and the acknowledgment that the inability to focus is not
only harmful to oneself, but harmful to one’s relationships and ability to hold and
maintain intimacy with someone.
I have a dream that these women won’t check their fucking phones when I’m doing burpee
#327 next Wednesday. For God’s sake, if you’re going to the gym, go to the fucking gym.
And when this happens, and when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every
village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up
that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles,
Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old
Negro spiritual: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we’re free at last
(from our smartphones)!”
Quote of the Times;
“A thing is not beautiful because it lasts.”
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