TIME celebrity

Patrick Stewart Does the Ice Bucket Challenge in the Classiest Way Possible

He sits quietly writing a check, pulls a bucket of ice onto his desk, and makes himself a nice, stiff drink.

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While everyone else is dumping big buckets of ice water over themselves and screaming their heads off on Facebook, Patrick Stewart — aka Star Trek Captain Jean-Luc Picardtook a more refined approach to the Ice Bucket Challenge, which is raising money and awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) research.

In the video, Stewart sits quietly writing a check, pulls a bucket of ice onto his desk…. and makes himself a nice, stiff drink.

The viral fundraising campaign has raised more than $50 million so far.

 

TIME celebrity

Benedict Cumberbatch Strips Down for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Nominated by Tom Hiddleston, the Sherlock actor has challenged Harvey Weinstein, Kylie Minogue and race car driver Lewis Hamilton

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Benedict Cumberbatch did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in a suit. And in the shower. And on a motorcycle. He gets doused five times in the two-minute clip, part of the viral fundraising campaign in which people post Facebook videos of themselves getting buckets of ice water poured over their heads or donate $100 to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) research.

Nominated by Tom Hiddleston, the Sherlock star then nominated Harvey Weinstein, Kylie Minogue and race car driver Lewis Hamilton. Let’s see if they can top Cumberbatch’s creativity and dramatic use of slow motion.

The fundraising effort has raised more than $50 million.

 

TIME U.S.

Now There’s a 61-Foot-Tall Rubber Duck in Los Angeles

A giant yellow vinyl duck joins sailing ships and motorboats during the Tall Ships Festival L.A. parade in the Port of Los Angeles on Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. Jeff Gritchen/The Orange County Register – AP

On display in the Port of Los Angeles until Aug. 24

The “world’s largest rubber duck” is making a splash in California this week, spending Wednesday, Aug. 20 through Sunday, Aug. 24 in the Port of Los Angeles.

Created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, the 61-foot-tall rubber duckie has traveled all over the world, already making stops in Australia, Taiwan, China, Belgium, Japan, New Zealand, Brazil and Pittsburgh. And it hasn’t been an easy journey – the duck got “sleepy” and deflated during its time in Hong Kong.

But now the famous duck is re-inflated and back in action for the Tall Ships Festival L.A. But don’t assume its just a super-sized bath toy; Hofman has grander designs for his duck.

“The Rubber Duck knows no frontiers, it doesn’t discriminate people and doesn’t have a political connotation,” he said in a statement on the festival’s website. “The friendly, floating Rubber Duck has healing properties: it can relieve the world’s tensions as well as define them.”

MORE: Rubber Duck Inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame

 

TIME Education

Cambridge Is Looking for a PhD Student to Study Chocolate

Who says you're too old to play with your food?

Now your chocolate cravings can land you a job.

The University of Cambridge is seeking a doctoral student to study the “fundamentals” of chocolate, according to the job posting. The purpose of this “fully-funded” three-and-a-half year program based in the Department of Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology is to find ways to keep chocolate from melting in warm temperatures. The listing adds the position will be “mainly experimental.”

There is just one catch: Only EU nationals can apply.

(h/t AP)

MORE: The Secret to Winning a Nobel Prize Could Be Eating More Chocolate

LIST: 9 Weirdest Uses for Chocolate

LIST: The 13 Most Influential Candy Bars

 

TIME Pop Culture

A Weekend With ‘Nerds’ at the Pokémon World Championships

Players at the 2014 Pokémon World Championships in Washington, D.C.
Players at the 2014 Pokémon World Championships in Washington, D.C. Aaron P. Bernstein—Pokémon Company International

Why people travel from all over the world to don their Pikachu ears

Jaxson Piwek wants to be a world champion. He has been training for this day for months, even waking up at 4 in the morning and going to bed at 7 at night for the past week so that the time change between his home in Vancouver and the championships in Washington, D.C. wouldn’t affect his performance.

Jaxson, 10, plays the Pokémon trading card game. And this is his first time qualifying for the world championships.

“It’s very overwhelming for my first time,” he says as he looks around at the more than 3,000 fans packing the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, not far from the White House.

Overwhelming is a good word for it. There are two competition arenas at either end of the massive room—one for the video game competitions, the other for TCG, or trading card game. There is a stage in the front of the room with three screens on which they project the most exciting matches, with live commentary from an ESPN-style booth a few yards away. Gasps and roars come from the mesmerized crowd at crucial moments in the games. If you just heard the audio, you would think you were in a stadium watching soccer.

Pikachu is everywhere. The little yellow creature is emblazoned on t-shirts, backpacks, hats, sweatshirts and iPhone cases, and a giant inflatable Pikachu hangs suspended over the crowd: a smiling cartoonish deity for the pilgrims who have come from 33 different countries to watch the players like Jaxson battle to become world champion. (There are three age brackets—juniors, ages 12 and under; seniors, ages 13 to 16; and masters, ages 17 and up. Jaxson comes in 36th in the junior division.)

Caleb Judkins, 17, is one such pilgrim. He’s an avid Pokémon video game player but isn’t on the competitive circuit. He and his friends traveled here from Gainesville, Va., to see a competition firsthand. “It was on my bucket list to come,” he says. “I wanted to see the battles in progress.”

One person many people are here to see is Ray Rizzo. Ray, 21, is a three-time world champion in the video game—no one has won Worlds more times than he has. He won in 2010, 2011 and 2012 but didn’t make finals last year, so he’s coming back this year with a vengeance.

I talk to Ray after his first match of the weekend; he’s just won his battle so he’s feeling pretty confident. “I don’t really get too nervous anymore because I’ve been playing for a long time,” he says. (This year Ray once again did not make the finals, so he was unable to get a record-breaking fourth win.)

But for those who aren’t veterans like Ray, this weekend is packed with nerves. It’s a year-long road to get here—to qualify for Worlds, players have to compete in regional and national competitions, earning a certain number of “championship points” in each depending on how well they do. The number of these points a player accrues over the season determines if he or she is eligible to compete.

So why Pokémon? What is it about the characters and the games that inspire these people to spend months honing their skills and obsessing over strategy, or to don their Pikachu ears and travel across the world just to be here?

Jaxson Piwek’s answer seems to sum it up —“All the friends I make.”

“Everyone’s so happy and passionate and really enjoying the game,” his mother Shauna says. “It’s a great community.”

J.C. Smith, director of consumer marketing for The Pokémon Company International, says this idea of community is built into the game itself. “The principle they build the game around is communication,” he says. “They really want people to talk and to come together, either online or face-to-face to build these communities. This is the ultimate expression of that. … This is a world championship, but it doesn’t feel cutthroat to me. It feels like a community of people who like to play games, coming together to play games.”

The international element of the tournament does spur some divisions and regional pride—many spectators come armed with their country’s flag, and cheers of “USA! USA! USA!” erupt when American Nikolai Zielinski wins the senior video game tournament.

But people say the game still unites more than it divides. “You can be [an American kid] playing a Japanese kid, but you can totally get it and you can have an interaction through Pokémon,” a company spokesman says of the tournament.

Nikolai, 15, also talks about community, beaming and energetic after his win. “The video game Pokémon community is the best community I’ve ever been a part of,” he says. “Compared to other video games even, it’s amazing. Everyone is so friendly and really nice. I’ve made friends just by placing well in tournaments—people have wanted to become my buddy. And everyone just helps each other out a lot, online and in person. It’s a really, really nice community to be in, and great people to be around.”

Andrea Bacca, 18 and wearing a black and gold costume that includes striped knee socks and ears, puts it both bluntly and affectionately: “I like that we can all fit in and be nerds together.”

Sunday evening after the finals sees 12 trophies awarded—one for each runner-up and champion in the three age divisions of the two games. The most coveted awards of the evening, the masters division trophies, went to Canadian Andrew Estrada for TCG and South Korean Se Jun Park for video game.

As the champions stand onstage, holding their Pikachu trophies and being showered with confetti, the cheers from the audience change. No longer are the viewers chanting country names or clapping for individual players. Now, yelling over the triumphant music blaring from the stage, the audience swells behind a single cheer: “Pokémon! Pokémon! Pokémon!”

 

TIME Internet

Kickstarting Equal Pay: Women Out-Raise Men on Crowdfunding Sites

Call it the funding gap instead of the pay gap

It’s an unfortunate but well-known fact that women trail men in most metrics of business success. But a recent study shows there’s one area of enterprise where women are surging ahead: raising money online via crowdfunding.

On Kickstarter, where backers make monetary donations to projects and businesses in exchange for small rewards, about two-thirds of women-led technology projects reach their fundraising goals, compared with a little less than one-third of male tech ventures, according to the July study from the University of Pennsylvania. Overall, the study found that women are 13% more likely to meet their Kickstarter goals, after controlling for factors like project type and amount of money.

Ethan Mollick, an assistant professor at the Wharton business school at Penn who co-wrote the study, told the Wall Street Journal that women’s success on Kickstarter may be precisely because they are so underrepresented in areas like gaming and technology. These female-started ventures get backed by “women who are activists who want to reach out and help other women,” he said.

That was certainly the experience of Joanna Griffiths, who raised $100,000 on Indiegogo, another crowdfunding site, for her women’s underwear line Knix Wear Inc.. The money came largely from women backers. “It’s a female product. It’s a female team,” she told WSJ. “There’s very much a connection there.”

Alicia Robb, a senior fellow at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, authored another study on crowdfunding that found 40% of Kickstarter ventures funded by women were led by women, compared with only 23% of projects backed by men.

In other words, women are more likely to support other women than men are.

TIME Family

Mom Says She Was Booted For Changing Diaper at Restaurant Table

Baby in nappy on changing mat.
Baby in nappy on changing mat. Lisa Stirling—Getty Images

A debate over parenting manners breaks out in a Texas pizzeria

A Texas mom told a local news station that her dinner out came to an abrupt end when she changed her baby’s diaper on a chair in the dining area of a restaurant.

Miranda Sowers says she was alone at Brother’s Pizza Express in Spring, Texas with her three children, ages 8, 4, and 4 months, when she realized her youngest needed a diaper change. But, Sowers says, the restroom didn’t have a changing table and she didn’t want to herd all of her kids out to the car, so she did what she had to do.

“I thought you know what I’ve got my own changing pad, she’s tiny, she fits right here on the chair.” she told KHOU, a Houston TV station. “So I laid her down quickly and quietly changed her diaper.”

While Sowers saw this is an inoffensive act of convenience, claiming that no one saw her do it, restaurant employees and patrons had a different take.

“As soon as you start opening the diaper, people start complaining about the smell of the diaper,” manager Donny Lala told KHOU. “Last thing I want is a customer throwing up.”

Comments on the story from KHOU readers were mainly against table-side diaper changing. Many self-described parents deemed Sowers inconsiderate: “Gross! I would have used the changing pad on the bathroom floor or gone to my car. Why do people feel so entitled?” wrote one reader.” Others urged the restaurant to install changing tables.

According to KHOU, the incident prompted the restaurant to bring the Sowers’ their food in t0-go containers and they were asked to leave. Sowers has since filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. Brother’s Pizza Express hasn’t backed down, but it might consider installing changing tables in the bathrooms. Brother’s Pizza Express did not respond immediately to calls for comment about the incident or the reported lack of changing tables in their restroom.

TIME animals

Cat Sets New World Record for Longest Fur

Sophie Smith's fur measures just over 10 inches at its longest point. Guinness World Records

It's about 10 inches long at the tail. Me-wow!

A furry feline has set a new record for the longest fur on a cat, Guinness World Records announced in a web post this week.

Sophie Smith, a 2-year-old cat from California, has surpassed the late Colonel Meow‘s old record by more than an inch. Her tail fur is 25.68 centimeters (10.11 inches) at its longest point.

Sophie’s mew-teoric rise to fame came from humble beginnings. Her owner Jami Smith told Guinness World Records that she was out for a walk one day when some men pulled up with a truck, held out a paper bag and asked if she wanted a kitten.

“I walked over, took the bag, opened it up and sure enough there was a tiny kitten inside the bag crying,” she said.

Internet users celebrating World Cat Day today, Aug. 8, should find this story particularly a-mewsing.

TIME politics

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Male Justices Have ‘Blind Spot’ About Women

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the taping of "The Kalb Report" at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. on April 17, 2014.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the taping of "The Kalb Report" at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. on April 17, 2014. Alex Wong—Getty Images

Notorious R.B.G strikes again

In the wake of the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby ruling, which allows religious employers to deny birth control coverage to female employees, Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the male justices in the majority have a “blind spot” about women’s issues.

“Do you believe that the five male justices truly understood the ramifications of their decision?” Katie Couric asked Ginsburg in a Yahoo interview.

“I would have to say no,” Ginsburg replied.

“But justices continue to think and change. They have wives. They have daughters,” she continued. “By the way, I think daughters can change the perception of their fathers. I am ever hopeful that if the court has a blind spot today, its eyes will be open tomorrow.”

But will Ginsburg still be on the court tomorrow? Some liberals are urging Ginsburg, 81, to retire so President Obama can fill her seat with another Democrat.

“All I can say is that I am still here and likely to remain for a while,” she said.

So it looks like Notorious R.B.G is here to stay, and now she finally knows about her nickname. Couric asked her about the Tumblr a female fan created that compares Ginsburg to the rapper Notorious B.I.G.

“She has created a wonderful thing with Notorious R.B.G.,” Ginsburg said. “I will admit I had to be told by my law clerks, what’s this Notorious. And they — they explained that to me.”

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