TIME Crime

This Is the Weirdest Catfishing Case Ever

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Tete sea catfish Getty Images

And Mani Te'o thought he had it bad

Most Catfishing fairytales don’t end in a happily ever after—they end in crying, maybe a marred football career, and a cameo on MTV if you’re lucky. But this particularly sordid case of fraudulent social media identity takes the cake.

Alabama.com reports that a Tuscaloosa woman created a fake Facebook account to track her live-in niece’s online activity. According to court records filed Tuesday, 19-year-old Marissa Williams had been inviting men she had met on Facebook over to the house and blocked her aunt from seeing her profile when she was asked to stop. And so Tre “Topdog” Ellis was born, so that Williams’ aunt could see what her niece did online and teach her a lesson about talking to strangers.

Things went downhill from there.

At first Williams just asked Topdog to come over and get drunk. Then she offered to have sex with him if he paid off her $50 phone bill. Then she asked him to “kidnap” her from her unhappy home and, oh yeah, shoot and kill her aunt if she interfered. And to top it off, Williams created plots for Topdog to sneak into her aunt’s room to murder her, her aunt’s fiancé, her cousin, and the family dog if he had a chance on his way out.

When police were called (obviously) and talked to Williams her response was IDK, JK, LOL. Translated to an approximate, Yeah I asked him to murder my family, but I didn’t mean it. SMH.

Williams is currently in county jail on charges of solicitation and murder. If the prison has wifi, she should be chipping away at that $30,000 bail in no time.

[Alabama.com]

TIME psychology

10 Life Lessons You Can Learn From the Smartest Older People

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Matt Hind—Getty Images/OJO Images RF

I’ve posted before about research into the most important life lessons we can learn from older people, taken from Karl Pillemer‘s excellent book, 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans.

Here’s another take on the same subject:

Before the 50th reunion of Harvard Business School’s class of 1963 they asked them what lessons they would pass on to younger people.

This isn’t firm scientific research — but we ignore it at our peril. We can learn much about life from those who have seen it to the end.

The site has a lot of content but I’ve gone through and curated the bits that I felt were most useful and insightful. Hat tip to my friend Nick for the pointer.

 

LEADERSHIP

ANONYMOUS:

I would have been a better leader if I had been less cocky in my early career, and more confident in my middle career.

 

ROBERT K. BOWMAN:

A successful leader:

  • Knows as much as he can about his organization’s mission
  • Believes in the mission
  • Communicates the mission clearly
  • Points the way
  • Gets out of the way

 

CAREER

RON LESLIE:

Steps to find fulfilling work:

  1. Take the initiative to investigate the places you think are of interest. Ask good questions.
  2. Go with the self-assurance of having written on an index card each of your past accomplishments(including where you simply helped other people do their thing) in three forms:
    1. A simple phrase; e.g., “top salesman in New York office for three years”
    2. A three-sentence statement of the problem, your solution, and the result
    3. A one-page explanation or anecdote to share if asked to give details
  3. Use those cards deftly to encourage people to talk to you — showing you listen on their level and understand whatever they tell you. Remember: The more they talk, the smarter they’ll think you are.

 

MARRIAGE & FAMILY

RALPH LINSALATA:

  • Tell your spouse and children that you love them every day, no matter how you feel.
  • Do not bring your problems home with you.
  • Realize the joy that comes from helping your spouse and children excel in their fields of interest and enjoy themselves.
  • Develop within your family a sense of obligation to help others.
  • Spending quality time with your family — not just time — is critical.
  • Choose a spouse who will understand and support you, and one for whom you will do the same. Life is much better if you can help each other grow and expand your knowledge, experiences, friends, and capabilities.

 

RON LESLIE:

The sweetest words in the English language are, “Granddad, would you like to …?”

 

BUSINESS

DONALD P. NIELSEN:

  • Not all decisions turn out well. Be prepared to deal with problems over which you have no control.
  • Almost everything will require more money and more time than you think.
  • Never settle for “good enough.” Always strive for excellence.
  • Set high expectations for yourself and those with whom you work.
  • Move quickly to deal with people issues.
  • Hiring smart, driven people is a ticket to your own success.

 

WEALTH

WARREN BATTS:

I was born in 1932 and grew up during the Depression. In the beginning, poverty was the level to which I aspired. When I reached it, my next goal was to get out of debt. That took several years. Then my goal was to become financially independent. After reaching independence, more money was not a great motivator for me. My interest became trying to make a difference — making the company I worked for successful, and working for my church and other volunteer organizations.

 

GROWING OLDER

ANONYMOUS:

Retire to something — not from something. Stay engaged. Be physically active and intellectually curious.

 

CHARITY & SPIRITUALITY

J. LAWRENCE WILSON:

If one is devoted solely to promoting the welfare of himself, his family, and his friends, life can be barren. Charity, faith, and spirituality enrich one’s life. Faith or the belief in a power greater than oneself seems to be important for humans, for spirituality is a part of every culture. If this spirituality fosters concern for the welfare of others, it is of great benefit to society. No matter what a person’s professed faith, I admire him if he is charitable.

 

HAPPINESS & SUCCESS

HENRY A. GILBERT:

Success and wealth are being a lover and being loved.

Success is using your tools and powers to enhance the lives and success of others.

Success is capitalizing on economic opportunities yet treating others with over-reaching kindness.

 

J. LAWRENCE WILSON:

When I think back over my career, I am struck that my fondest memories are of people rather than experiences, places, or accomplishments.

 

TURNING POINTS

RALPH LINSALATA:

What did I learn from the turning points in my life? Look for great colleagues, role models, and teachers. Be certain to understand the opportunities relative to the risks, and how the risks can be avoided. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses, and act accordingly. Play to your strengths while you work, but work on your weaknesses.

 

GERALD (JERRY) WOLIN:

Many things that happened in my career were the result of random acts. The important thing is to keep your eyes open to recognize the right moves.

 

LIFE’S LESSONS

JOSE M. FAUSTINO:

I switched fields twice in my academic career — I believed the entire experience was part of growing up. The lesson here for young people: Do not hesitate to switch interests, majors, or fields of concentration. Find your preference or your passion, then focus on it to your heart’s content.

Success is a journey – not a race. Prepare well, retain good practices, and make a habit of effective strategies:

  1. Do not be content to be average. Mediocrity breeds boredom, poor opportunity, and an unsatisfactory lifestyle. Instead, decide to excel in everything you do, and be distinctive, if not unique, in your approach.
  2. Take well-analyzed risks, particularly when there is everything to gain and little to lose. Do not be afraid of rejection when you have competently and ethically tried to succeed.
  3. Be skilled in political strategy. Interpersonal, leadership, and motivational skills are all important for success, but few consider political strategy. In my mind, there is organizational politics in any group with more than three people.

 

JOHN A. MOELLER:

An important lesson in life is learning whom you can rely on, depend on, and trust, and whom you cannot. Only experience and “gut feel” can teach this. Human nature and values — whether of business owners, top management, associates, or staff — vary all over the place. Steering your life, family, career, time, investments, and loyalty toward those you can trust and rely upon is a priority.

Never forget where you came from, and always remember what you are here for. Be true to your values and faith. We are here for a purpose. Enjoy the ride.

Here are more life lessons from the wise.

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Related posts:

What’s The Most Important Life Lesson Older People Feel You Must Know?

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What 10 things should you do every day to improve your life?

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

MONEY Shopping

The Three Cardinal Rules for Father’s Day Gift Giving

Homemade I Love Daddy sign
Courtney Weittenhiller—Getty Images

Dads like being acknowledged, but they can do without elaborate displays—and certainly don't want money being wasted. Follow these rules and you'll be OK.

Su Young Kim, a 30-something owner of a salon in California, was surprised by what her father asked for as a Father’s Day gift. “He said that if I was going to waste my money on something he didn’t need or want again this year, I might as well just give him the cash and save us both some trouble,” said Kim.

Most fathers aren’t quite as blunt, but according to my annual anecdotal survey of dads, they pretty much want what Kim’s dad wants. Not cash, necessarily, but for their kids to not waste their money.

No wonder Father’s Day is the tiniest American gift-giving holiday, accounting for $12.5 billion in consumer spending this year, according to the National Retail Federation. Spending on Mother’s Day, by contrast, was estimated at more than $20 billion.

And no wonder Father’s Day can be a frustrating holiday for gift givers. Most want to surprise, delight, and honor their dads, for good reason. Instead, however, too many sons, daughters, and spouses end up either spending too much money, getting something off the mark or silly, feeling guilty because they didn’t put in much thought or effort beforehand, or some combination therein. To avoid the pitfalls, here are three cardinal rules, endorsed by dads, for fool-proof Father’s Day gift giving:

1. Keep it Simple

This year, and every year that I’ve surveyed fathers, what I hear is that their identity as fathers doesn’t mesh well with lavish Father’s Day celebrations. It seems there’s something unmanly, or “undadly,” about being pampered. Dads pride themselves in providing for others, and they can feel uncomfortable when the tables are turned.

Even though most dads downplay the significance of Father’s Day, there is nothing more important to them than being fathers. According to the 2014 Dove Men+Care Dad Portrayal Research Study, 94% of American fathers prioritize their families over their careers, and three-quarters say they organize their lives around family so they can spend more time with their children. So, regardless of how “undadly” it feels to be celebrated, fathers are likely to feel hurt if they’re not feted on our national day devoted to fatherhood.

Dove also posted this video celebrating dads that made me cry, and then made my husband cry when I made him watch:

How do you balance the need to honor dads without going overboard and making them feel uncomfortable? The solution is to keep it simple. Katy Short, a financial advisor and mother of two children under 5, wrapped up her brilliantly simple Father’s Day plans in one sentence: “We’ll give him lots of kisses, some cologne he wants, and then we’ll dance.”

2. Spend Wisely, Not Wastefully

When I ask dads what they’d like for Father’s Day, many start their response with something they want that’s in the best interests of their kids. “I want my son to get a job,” is a common answer, usually followed by laughter or eye rolling. “I want my kids to be happy,” is another one I hear regularly.

Or like Kim’s father, they respond in a way that essentially says they want their kids to spend their money wisely. Evidently, fathering doesn’t take a holiday. In some ways, the gift a son or daughter picks is a measure of the lessons they’ve learned (or not) from their father. When you spend wastefully on Father’s Day, dads are likely to think that they’ve failed to teach you to not spend wastefully. Your dumb spending reflects poorly on their roles as fathers, even if what you’re spending money on is your dad.

Most dads are gracious when receiving gifts. But when handed presents such as flashy sunglasses or expensive cufflinks, they are probably thinking something along the lines of What did I do wrong? Didn’t I teach this kid about the value of a dollar?

It’s not that dads don’t want budget-busting lavish gifts—they just don’t want them from you. Instead, if your father has been needling you to read a particular book or try a sport, make a Father’s Day gift by showing him you were listening. Then wrap it up in a bow by asking him to discuss the book or play the sport with you. Above all, for heaven’s sake demonstrate that your father has done a good job raising you by not wasting money on something he doesn’t need and will never use.

3. Be Thoughtful

This is the golden rule for all gift giving, of course, but it applies big time for Father’s Day. For the most part, dads want to feel appreciated, and to spend some quality time with their families on Father’s Day. When pressed for an actual gift they’d like to receive that costs actual money, the top choices I hear from fathers are typically celebratory events like sharing a special meal together or tickets to a ball game. Evidently, kids know their dads pretty well. Of those who are purchasing gifts for fathers (or husbands on behalf of younger kids), the top two categories are greeting cards that thank dad for all his does (63%) and special dinners or outings where the crew can be together and have fun (43%).

Russell, a father who preferred not to use his last name for fear of offending his less-than-perfect gift-giving son, summed up what he wants and what he thinks most dads want this way: “It has to be something personal. They have to spend time thinking about what their dads would really like, or spend time with them–like making a breakfast in bed or spending the day fishing.”

Russell got a gushy handmade card and a bottle of wine from his adult daughter last year, and he said both were perfect because they were so incredibly thoughtful. His daughter had taken the time to learn about wine, and had researched his tastes to pick out just the right bottle. And Russell told me that he still has the gushy card – along with every other one he’s received since his daughter was old enough to draw.

_____________________________________________________

Kit Yarrow, Ph.D., is a consumer psychologist who is obsessed with all things related to how, when and why we shop and buy. She conducts research through her professorship at Golden Gate University and shares her findings in speeches, consulting work, and her books, Decoding the New Consumer Mind and Gen BuY.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

FDA: Pregnant Women Should Eat More Fish

For the first time, the federal government is recommending a minimum amount of fish to eat each week

Pregnant women, breastfeeding women and young children should eat more fish, according to a draft of updated diet recommendations from government agencies released Tuesday.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency had previously advised limits on maximum fish consumption during pregnancy. They are now for the first time recommending a minimum instead, as additional research reveals fish’s health benefits.

“For years many women have limited or avoided eating fish during pregnancy or feeding fish to their young children,” FDA Acting Chief Scientist Stephen Ostroff, M.D., said in statement. “But emerging science now tells us that limiting or avoiding fish during pregnancy and early childhood can mean missing out on important nutrients that can have a positive impact on growth and development as well as on general health.”

The new recommendations say women and children in these populations should consume 8-12 ounces (approximately 2-3 servings) of fish that are lower in mercury — like shrimp, salmon, tilapia, catfish and cod — each week to aid fetal development and growth. The guidelines discourage consumption of tilefish, swordfish, king mackerel and shark, which are associated with higher levels of mercury.

TIME Family

Paternity Leave and Why Men Need Feminism Too

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Kei Uesugi—Getty Images

A dad who wants to stay at home, or take more time off, is not just considered less of a man, but less committed as an employee. That needs to change.

Happy Fathers’ Day, American dads: our society still does a crappy job of encouraging you to be fathers! A new study from the Boston College Center for Work and Family has found that new dads take paternity leave only to the extent that they’re paid to–i.e., not a lot. As the Washington Post reports, the majority of men who get two weeks’ paid leave take two weeks, those with three weeks take three, and so on. And per the Families and Work Institute, those lucky guys are few; only 14% of employers offer any pay for “spouse or partner” leave, compared with 58% for maternity leave (mostly through temporary disability insurance and very rarely at full salary).

I can believe those studies because I lived them. When my first son was born, I took six weeks off–the one week of paid parental leave my company offered at the time, plus some accumulated vacation. I wanted to take more, but it would have been unpaid, my wife was getting ready to take leave from her own job at the time (as a librarian, so you do the math) and they’re not giving diapers away.

Spending those few weeks at home with a cranky, leaky, smelly baby was exhausting and overwhelming–and to this day I wish I’d had more of it. And I was one of the lucky ones, by U.S. standards; unlike most fathers, I at least had some paid leave, fairly generous vacation, and, once I went back to work, a reasonably flexible job that allowed working from home. (It’s worth noting that the United States is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t mandate paid maternity leave, and that a number of countries also require paid paternity leave.)

As the Post article says, dads’ choices about leave (and moms’) are largely pocketbook decisions–a lot of those fathers are principal breadwinners and don’t have the luxury to decide otherwise. But all that’s intertwined with social expectations. Women get mommy-tracked and end up earning less. Dads are considered providers first and nurturers second. A dad who wants to stay at home, or at least take more time off, is not just considered less of a man but less committed as an employee–a slacker, a scammer, a liability, a beta.

It’s true no matter how successful you are–say, New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy, who missed all of two games from a 162-game season for the birth of his baby and got blasted by male sportscasters. (Some suggested he “hire a nurse” or tell his wife “C-section before the season starts.” Love you too, honey!)

It’s fitting that these studies should come along at the same time that pundits are debatingCan men be feminists?” because few issues so clearly answer that question: Yes, duh, no matter what Pharrell Williams says.

We have a habit of talking about feminism as if it’s something women do to men or men do for women–that feminism uplifts women at men’s expense. (See the Shailene Woodley “I’m not a feminist because I love men” argument.) If men identify as feminists at all, goes the corollary, they’re “allies” who are being altruistic (or trying to get laid). The cultural politics of this attitude aside, it just doesn’t square with the real world of running a household and paying the bills. Paternity leave is a practical lesson in why men should be feminists, not just because it’s right and fair but because feminism–in its simplest sense of treating people equally and not constraining them with artificial gender roles–benefits men too.

OK, to borrow the famous phrase: “Not all men.” Sexism hurts and limits women much more than it does men, and women experience forms of misogyny that men will never experience (see the #YesAllWomen hashtag campaign). As a man, you can profit handsomely from sexism–but you profit most if you want to be a certain kind of man as the culture defines it: one who derives his self-worth from work and money, who conforms to traditional masculine roles, who sees himself as the backup parent who “babysits” his kids occasionally but delegates most of that work to the little woman. Don’t like that setup? Man up, candyass! Get back to work!

Not everyone is in a heterosexual relationship and has kids, of course. But when you’re raising kids with an opposite-sex partner, the whole op-ed page, Internet-comments-section caricature of feminism as a zero-sum game looks especially silly and disconnected from nuts-and-bolts, bill-paying, time-managing life. When you’re in a family, you’re not an isolated representative of your demographic group. You’re part of a team, and something that holds back your partner holds you back too. If women are paid unfairly, sure, that’s worse for women. But for a husband, that’s also a wife who’s bringing less money into the household. It’s less security if he loses his own job. A husband who can take paternity leave means a wife who doesn’t have to shortchange her career, which means more stable finances. Women who lean in give men the option to lean out, and vice-versa.

When women have more choices, in other words, so do men–including the choice to actually be present as parents to their own babies. A saner set of policies for parental leave and a more open-minded attitude toward parents’ roles would be the best Fathers’ Day gift we could give America’s dads. And for that matter, its moms and kids.

MONEY Kids and Money

WATCH: Tips from the Pros: Best Money Advice for Teenagers

Financial planner Allan Katz talks about the most important financial habit a teenager can develop

TIME Family

This Iggy Azalea Parody Will Remind You That Being Pregnant Is Anything But Fancy

You already know.

+ READ ARTICLE

First a dad and daughter lip-sync to Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” in the car goes viral. Now moms want to get in on the fun.

“I’m So Pregnant” boasts more than 1 million views on the YouTube channel What’s Up Moms?. The refrain: “I’m so pregnant, you already know. I’m in the last month. I can’t even see my toes. I’m so pregnant. Can’t get in any clothes. Don’t ask me the name, I don’t know.”

Is this the new Mozart effect?

WATCH: Rapper Iggy Azalea On Her Worst Job Ever

LISTEN: Iggy Azalea Mashed Up With Reba McEntire Is Your New Summer Jam

TIME Parenting

Dads Claim They’re Pulling Their Weight at Home

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Proud father and his son in nature Maartje Van Caspel—Getty Images

Study finds that 45% of dads say they share childcare tasks equally, but only 27% of moms say the same

A new survey of dads conducted by NBC’s TODAY Show reveals that fathers are really good at pretending to do chores.

The survey found that 54% of dads say they change diapers. But hold your applause, because that means 46% of dads never change diapers. Which is funny, because 45% of dads say they share childcare tasks equally with moms. And only 27% of moms agree.

But if they’re not changing diapers it’s probably the moms’ fault, because 21% of dads say they feel criticized for not doing childcare tasks the way their wives do.

Three out of ten dads say they do the majority of the grocery shopping, and 26% of dads say making meals is their job. Which means that 70% of women do the majority of the grocery shopping, and 74% of moms do the cooking.

Three cheers for the illusion of progress!

 

TIME Family

Infants Can Finally Treat Themselves at a Baby Spa

Because it's hard out there for a baby.

Between the napping and feeding and gurgling and napping, being a baby can be a pretty tough job. Thank goodness there is a spa where babies to treat themselves after a long day of staring at the mobile.

Float Baby recently opened in Houston, Texas, and it provides 130 (and counting) newborns to one-year-olds hydrotherapy and neonatal massages. Parents perform the massages with instruction from Float Baby staff. A visit costs $65.

“What we find is that the babies find the water very soothing and relaxing,” owner Kristi Ison told the TODAY Show. “The newborns especially like it, we see them float and then have a little cat nap while they’re floating. The older babies, they really like to kick around and splash and socialize.”

They do seem pretty peaceful.

TIME Family

Boys of Divorced Parents Twice as Likely to Be Obese

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Mike Kemp—Brand X/Getty Images

Girls' weight is affected too, but not as much.

Researchers in Norway have discovered a possible link between divorce and childhood obesity, especially among boys. The researchers looked at health data from school nurses on more than 1,000 third grade kids (about 8 years old) at 127 different schools in the Scandinavian country. About a fifth of the kids were overweight or obese as defined by the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF). Almost a 10th were abdominally or centrally obese, which means they had a waist circumference that is at least half their height. (A large girth has been connected to several adverse health outcomes, including heart disease and diabetes.) That’s worrying enough. But the boys and girls whose parents were divorced were 50% more likely to obese and almost 90% more likely to be abdominally obese than those whose parents were married. They were even more likely to be obese than kids whose parents had never married. Even when other factors were taken into account, including how educated the mother was—usually the highest predictor of childhood obesity—the findings held true. And for boys, the likelihood of unhealthy weight was even higher. They were 63% more likely to be generally overweight than boys with married parents. And they were 104% more likely to have too much weight on their waist. “We wanted to understand how ongoing changes in society and in children’s daily lives can be related to the development of overweight and obesity,” says Dr. Anna Biehl, an epidemiologist at Norwegian Institute of Public Health and one of the authors of the paper. “Since 1975, the number of divorces has increased and a greater proportion of children today are living for much of their childhood with divorced parents. Knowledge about this is important for preventive work.” It’s not completely clear that the parental divorce was the cause of the obesity, although other studies have found similar effects. There is ongoing discussion among sociologists as to whether divorce leads to poverty or if it’s more true that poverty leads to divorce. Poverty, at least in developed countries, is linked with childhood obesity. So poverty could be the cause of both the divorce and the obesity. Or, as the study notes, there could be other variables: “Health, socioeconomic resources, psychological characteristics, values and preferences affect the chance of marrying and remaining married,” it says, “and has previously been found to account for some of the differences between children of divorced and married parents.” One way to adjust for that in future studies would be to compare the kids’ measurements before and after the marriage dissolved, but this study was not able to do that. Biehl is very reluctant to speculate on why kids of divorce have weight issues. But other research has indicated that women usually take a bigger financial hit when divorced, they usually get custody of minor children and they usually do the bulk of the cooking in most households. All of those things will be harder to do as a single parent which could have health repercussions. There may simply be less household income to spend on food, less time spent on cooking, less mental bandwidth to spend on watching over kids’ health and exercise regime. But there could also be an emotional component. It’s rare that a divorce doesn’t lead to disruption in a child’s life, either through conflict or merely the selling or moving out of a family home, all of which can cause stress. “Such emotional stress may impact on eating behavior and physical activity level,” says the study. Previous studies have hinted that parents might become less strict about healthy lifestyles—allowing children more screen time or to eat when they weren’t hungry, for example—as a way to curry favor with the kids or out of guilt. As to why it hits boys harder? Again, it’s largely speculation, but they tend to have fewer mechanisms for expressing their feelings and often lose a male role model and are therefore more vulnerable when families dissolve.

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