TIME Humor

Right Before the End of the Roman Empire the Citizens of Rome Had a Lengthy Debate Over the Color of a Toga

Gold White Toga
Getty Images

When a fellow American Photoshops not one but two llamas into a different color it means a conversation has ended. (One llama means things are winding down.)

If you are talking or thinking or anythinging about that dress, stop it now. Because all the scientists who have been busy for the last 36 hours telling us about color theory and the size of the lens and how it gets bigger when you get older and blue lights and how one day someone shined a light on some scientist’s Volkswagen and he could have sworn it was actually the Battleship Potemkin are today busy coming up with a new theory about #thedress. This theory is that arguing about what color a dress is will make your brain atrophy.

It will also cause you to be so overstimulated that you will drink three martinis tonight instead of two and black out, and the last thing you will remember is showing someone a picture of the blue and black and the white and gold llamas, which is, incidentally, the last comment that should have been made about that dress. For future reference, when a fellow American Photoshops not one but two llamas into a different color it means a conversation has ended. (One llama means things are winding down.)

I have been annoyed before by technology naysayers who have bravely stepped forward and declared that Twitter is bad and does not constitute real engagement and that we should all be sitting around drinking Nescafe and talking about Norman Rush. But the dress to me actually seems like something that might give those kinds of people ammunition, or, put more simply, it may be a new frontier in stupid.

Would I be elitist in assuming that at least most of us attended 6th grade? And we do remember discussing things like color blindness and perception and how different people saw different things? Yes, I am aware some of the theories that were offered up yesterday were slightly different, but they were variations on that theme. And while that was one of the more interesting days of 6th grade, I don’t know that I could maintain that fascination for a lifetime. #Dressgate proves that I am alone there.

Millions and millions of people, who I am pretty sure have at some point had some conversation about how different people see different things differently, seemed like they were learning this for the very first time. And since they presumably weren’t, well, it kind of made me sad.

I got sad in three stages.

The first came when I got the sense that people had filled up their brains with so much stupid internet stuff (prior to the dresses, prior even to the llamas) that they’d forgotten all the simple things they learned in elementary school.

And then, the sadness intensified when it dawned on me that some people truly had never actually learned this stuff in elementary school because they were from a generation that doesn’t learn anything in school anymore because when their teachers tell their parents that they don’t pay attention their parents tell the teachers to shut up or they’ll get them fired.

And the sadness really solidified when I realized that the people who probably did understand why the dresses appeared to be different colors were only freaking out about it because they’d been triggered—“have a sense of wonder about this now!”—or because they thought appearing to have no conception of basic science might make them feel younger or more attractive.

I’m not going to sit here and judge you because yesterday ISIS destroyed priceless art and you were sitting around screaming “BLUE BLACK!” or “WHITE GOLD!” In everyone’s defense, perhaps this debate was leapt into with such eagerness because it was less emotionally charged than the one about whether ISIS is killing lots of people because they’re Muslim or just because they love killing people or both, or whether Patricia Arquette is a terrible person because she didn’t have a P.R. firm write her Oscar speech. That said, if you’re composing a tweet or a Facebook update about #dressgate maybe you should pick up a basic science text because next week everyone on Twitter might “discover” that the dinosaurs are extinct and you might want to prepare to be a voice of reason.

If you are, however, composing a meme about #dressgate that you think may actually turn out to be funny, could please mail it to me? I’m staying off social media until the #dressgate smoke clears, but I never like to miss the really quality memes.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Art

Watch a Video of British Artist Banksy in Gaza

Several of Banksy's latest graffiti pieces are highlighted

British graffiti artist Banksy, known for his subversive street art, released a two-minute video from war-torn Gaza on his website Wednesday.

“Make this the year you discover a new destination,” it wryly says, in the style of a tourism video. But instead of sandy beaches, it offers viewers a glimpse of what a Gazan sees “well away from the tourist track”: tunnels, rubble and children gazing at some of the 18,000 homes destroyed last July in Israel’s Operation Protective Edge.

The video also spotlights several of Banksy’s latest graffiti pieces, including images of children swinging from a surveillance tower, a parent grieving over a child in a bombed-out setting, and a kitten donning a pink bow.

“A local man came up and said ‘Please — what does this mean?’ I explained I wanted to highlight the destruction in Gaza by posting photos on my website — but on the internet people only look at pictures of kittens,” Banksy writes.

“The cat found something to play with,” a Palestinian man says during the video. “What about our children?”

TIME Internet

Watch This Man Roast a Marshmallow Over a Volcano

Definitely don’t try this at home

The season for roasting chestnuts on an open fire is over, so how about this for an alternative: roasting marshmallows on an open volcano?

Filed in the “definitely don’t try this at home” category is this new video from Caters TV showing, as they call it, a “daredevil” heating up a marshmallow by using a tent peg to dangle it over a lava lake inside Marcum Crater on the island of Ambrym in Vanuatu—which is either the name of one of the seven gates of hell or a small island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Australia.

That daredevil is Simon Turner, though the even braver man is probably Bradley Ambrose, the one behind the camera—especially when taking into account that, as Grub Street claims, he had “to watch out for stuff like shooting fireballs that, for instance, claimed the group’s previous camera equipment.” Here’s hoping they had rental insurance.

According to the video’s description, the pair’s descent to the lava lake was nearly a quarter of a mile, with temperatures reaching up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. In a situation like that, I bet the cold beer was far more enjoyable than the hot marshmallow, no matter how much more work it was for the latter.

This article originally appeared on FWx.

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TIME Humor

Megan Mullally’s 15 Ways to Digitally Detox

Actress Megan Mullally on the Tonight Show on Dec. 12, 2014.
NBC—Getty Images Actress Megan Mullally on the Tonight Show on Dec. 12, 2014.

The actress offers advice on stepping away from it all

1. Throw your phone in the toilet. Put the toilet in the trash. Leave the house. Burn the house down.

2. Buy the new Digital D-Tox app off iTunes or Google Play. Oh, wait. Maybe that’s a terrible idea.

3. Stop sexting and start actually having sex. It may seem weird at first, but it should all come back to you.

4. Feed your hands to a wild animal.

5. Tell a close friend to spray mace in your face every time you check your phone. Eventually, you will associate the pain with technology. Or with your friend. So let’s give this one a 50-50 chance of success.

6. Become Amish.

7. Build a time machine. Go back to the Ice Age. Become part of a Neanderthal family. Settle down. Destroy time machine.

8. Buy 1,000 Taco Bell Burrito Supremes. Never stop eating them.

9. Punch a cop in the face. Go to jail. Good luck getting on the Internet now, idiot!

10. Glue your iPad to your butt. Or, better yet, to a stranger’s butt.

11. Make a rule that before you do anything technological, you have to explain how Twitter and Foursquare work to your parents. Yeah. That should do it.

12. Try to remember that before there was an Internet filled with adorable kitten pictures and videos, there was an actual world filled with adorable kittens.

13. Go to sleep. Don’t wake up until after the Rapture.

14. Start a zombie apocalypse.

15. Destroy all technology. Because if Mama can’t check her e-mail, ain’t nobody can check their e-mail.

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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Read next: These Are the Newly Confirmed Guest Stars Headed to Parks and Recreation

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TIME psychology

The Science of Why Your Kids Can’t Resist Frozen

Frozen
Disney Frozen

Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

A preschooler’s emotional world is reminiscent of 'Frozen' heroine Elsa’s internal struggle

Disney’s Frozen, which earned more than $1.2 billion at the box office, is not only the first “princess” movie to make the list of top 10 grossing animated films, but also the number-one animated film of all time. Its songs and characters are culturally ubiquitous.

Little girls have long been drawn to princesses. But what is it that makes Frozen so much more appealing than previous princess movies—and why does it enrapture young children in particular? As psychologists (who happen to be sisters just like the heroines in the film) and the mothers of princess-loving daughters, we decided to consider this question.

First, a preschooler’s emotional world is reminiscent of Frozen heroine Elsa’s internal struggle: Her emotions are strong, passionate — and seem uncontrollable. Preschoolers too, are driven by their impulses. When Elsa laments that she’s afraid that there’s “no escape from the storm inside of me,” it resonates with young children (and perhaps their patience-tested parents, as well).

Second, preschoolers’ imaginations can make the world a wondrous place filled with the possibility of excitement and adventure. Children respond to stories that employ magical realism, so Elsa—as a superhero with what one of our daughters (Maryam’s) and her friends call “ice powers” (the ability to create a whole castle of snow and ice using only her fingers)—has special appeal. Perhaps because they are so in awe of her magic and power, children are less likely to get caught up in Elsa’s experience of isolation and desperation when she is locked away in her room as a girl and hides herself in a remote castle as a woman.

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But with the allure of magic and the sense that anything is possible comes a high potential for terror. Maryam’s daughter particularly liked that there isn’t a witch in Frozen. Though she adores other Disney princess movies, the witch-like characters (like Mother Gothel in Rapunzel) are all too real. The scary parts in Frozen are minimal and temporary, and the villain is an ordinary guy who sings a catchy love song.

Thirdly, Elsa has a genuine connection with her sister, Anna. Despite Elsa’s repeated rebuffs to Anna’s attempts to develop a friendship throughout most of the movie, their bond underscores dedication to family above all. Preschoolers are deeply entrenched in their families and tend to demonstrate a strong in-group attachment, meaning that they favor members within their social circle. Even when Frozen viewers are rooting for Anna to form a relationship with her love interest Kristoff, the love between the sisters is much more appealing. The heroines of Frozen are authentic and real, and no longer solely focused on finding a prince. They preach sisterly love and girl power.

Finally, the sing-along music seals the deal. Maryam’s 4-year-old daughter and her friends love to sing the anthem “Let it Go,” wagging their fingers at each other: “Be the good girl you always have to be!” They stomp in unison, pretending to be Elsa stomping on the ice to create her castle. Even Maryam’s 1-year-old son gets into the act, mimicking their behavior.

When asked what she thought the song was about, Maryam’s daughter smiled and put it succinctly: “It’s about Elsa being happy and free, and nobody bothering her.”

So there it is, the crux of the matter: a universally appealing desire to be happy and free.

Perhaps understanding the perspective of a preschooler can help us appreciate some of what draws us all to this movie: We all feel internal struggles with our impulses. None of us really wants a (too) scary villain. Most of us are pretty loyal to our families, despite their eccentricities and the emotional challenges that we face at times. And all of us want to be happy and free.

Maryam Kia-Keating, Ph.D. and Yalda T. Uhls, MBA, Ph.D. are sisters, psychologists, and, most importantly, moms. Maryam is an associate professor of clinical psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Yalda is a senior scientific researcher at the Children’s Digital Media Center@LA at UCLA and the Regional Director of the non-profit Common Sense Media. They wrote this for Zocalo Public Square.

Read next: Frozen Director Now Apologizes to Parents for ‘Let It Go’

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Humor

Tips for Surviving the Holiday Season on a Shoestring Budget

Karen E. Bender is the author of Like Normal People and A Town of Empty Rooms.

Some socially acceptable dos and don'ts for a season of giving

It’s the holiday season. The economy has rebounded! Gas is ridiculously cheap! Everyone in the nation is supposed to be doing better. Well, we’re not. Somehow, this new, hopeful economy has bypassed us. We can’t figure out why.

Actually we’re fine. We’re okay, kind of. Which means that we are on the perilous life raft of the American economy; we are okay if nothing at all goes wrong. And while I love the holiday season, it is, sometimes, an economic minefield. But while the Federal Reserve dallies with interest rates, my economic salve for the money stress of the holiday season is one thing: pumpkin bread. (See “Do #6″ below.) Here are some ways to get through the holidays on a shoestring:

DON’T:

  1. Don’t go into any store that features shopping bags that can stand on their own accord, in the middle of a table. This sort of shopping bag denotes prices that will start chipping into your children’s college education fund. Avoid it. Remind yourself to put money into your children’s education fund. And oh yes, your retirement–next year, when things are better. I hear the economy’s improving.
  2. Don’t bid on anything at the religious institution’s Silent Auction. Walk by coveted items, smile at them, nod thoughtfully, but walk on. Or do bid but only when people are watching, and make it so small you can be outbid in an instant.
  3. Don’t monitor your online savings account in real time. It is tempting, but don’t do it.
  4. Don’t buy holiday cards to send out to people (the costs of stamps, my god!) Instead, post nice photo of family with loving caption on Facebook and see “likes” build.
  5. Don’t assume that a restaurant is good if it uses the words “Seatings are at” in its description. The word “banquet” will also do unmentionable things to your bill. You don’t have to pretend to be Henry the VIII, and you actually may not want to be.
  6. Don’t feel that your (or dear relative’s or friend’s) cat or dog will be insulted if you don’t buy him or her the crazily priced cat toy or sweater. Trust me: the pet will not know. This tip also applies to babies.
  7. Don’t assume that you have to wear a new fancy dress or shirt or anything to a New Year’s Eve party. No one is going to notice. Wear last year’s. Everyone’s going to be focused on the champagne and the mini-quiches. Helpful note: properly wrapped, mini-quiches can fit neatly into a purse. They heat up nicely later. By the way, I hear the economy is improving.
  8. Don’t feel that when relative sends gift card for X amount, you are required to send X amount back. Gift cards should not be an economic hostage situation. Send what you can and/or send pumpkin bread. (See #6 below)
  9. Don’t forget to buy books as gifts, as they will nourish the soul, far beyond the cover price.
  10. Don’t forget to give something (money or time) to causes, because you should.

DO:

  1. Tell your children that their Secret Santa gifts for their friends in class will be a re-gifting extravaganza.
  2. Tell your mother that any clothes she wants to purchase you as a gift has to be suitable for a job interview.
  3. Tell the children that the word “upgrade” has been banned in the household and nearby vicinity for the time being.
  4. Buy present at thrift store and sneakily give it to friend in fancy shopping bag received from other friend who foolishly went into store that used such shopping bags.
  5. Make pumpkin bread as the default gift for everyone. It is cheap, it is beloved, it is carbs. And you can make a batch sufficient for many gift recipients in an hour. Don’t worry about fancy cellophane wrapping, though bows are fine. You can use gluten-free flour if needed, too.
  6. Do remember that the dollar store is only a dollar store if you buy only one thing.
  7. Do remember that if it’s to grandmother’s house we go, that’s a good thing and grandmother can pay.
  8. Try to laugh, because not everyone can. And, by the way, it is free. And above all, know that after January 1, everything goes on sale. And did you hear? The economy is improving.

Karen E. Bender is the author of Like Normal People and A Town of Empty Rooms. Her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Zoetrope, Ploughshares, and others. Her debut collection of short fiction, Refund: Stories, will be published by Counterpoint Press in January 2015.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Parenting

Watch a ‘Doctors Without Borders’ Parody That’s All About Your Mom

Help is on the way

There’s a new parody of Doctors Without Borders, and they’re almost as helpful as the real ones. They’re not curing Ebola, but they’re doing something that promotes mental health: teaching moms how to talk to their adult daughters without being passive-aggressive. This hilarious spoof of a Doctors Without Borders PSA tells adult women not to worry, because help is on the way. Soon, the world will be free of veiled hostility and judgment of your life choices.

The video contains some NSFW language, but you can watch it here.

Made by the group COMICS4MSF, the YouTube description says it was screened at a Doctors Without Borders fundraiser, even though the comedians are not affiliated with the organization. It features Jena Friedman, who’s also a field producer for The Daily Show.

(Visit the Doctors Without Borders site to learn more about their life-saving work around the world.)

TIME Humor

I’m So Bored With This ‘Color of the Year’ Thing

red
Getty Images

Calling something a trend doesn't make it trendy

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

At the risk of sounding like one of those people who shows up on the Internet to complain about something completely pointless, can I just vent real quick?

Last week, Pantone unveiled the 2015 Color of the Year, and immediately, everyone ran their typical headlines “You’ll Be Seeing This Color Everywhere in 2015” and “The Trendiest Hue for All Your Holiday Parties.”

This year’s Color of the Year is Marsala, for those playing along at home.

I think it’s time for us to all step back, take a breath, and collectively agree to just calm the eff down.

I’ve never really gotten the whole Color of the Year thing, for many reasons. For one, it’s just such a forced trend. I have a weird relationship with trends in general because I always want to rebel against them on principle, and yet embody each and every single one of them because I have a horrible fear of being left out and also want to be viewed as one of the cool kids. So there’s that.

What makes a trend ~trendy~ is that it happens organically. People see something, respond to it, and incorporate it into their own lives. Like, I don’t know, dark lipsticks, messy fishtail braids, or literally anything on Pinterest. All of that caught on because that stuff is cute. No one just decided on those certain things and handed them down to us.

The whole concept of the Color of the Year just seems very manufactured, like a bunch of execs were sitting around a board room in gray suits, analyzing pie charts and bar graphs, whatever those are, to figure out which color would sell the best throughout the coming year, then making that the color of the year.

It’s just BORING. And doesn’t officially declaring something a hot item automatically negate any cool factor it once had? What’s interesting about a certain color if we’re all going to be wearing it? And could you ever actually hear yourself saying, “Oh yeah, this? It’s the Color of the Year.” I’d rather go blind.

Maybe it’s the fact that the Color of the Year never feels very thought out. Pantone always partners with Sephora for a Color of the Year collection, which is an awesome idea in theory, but the execution always seems to fall a little short. The Color of the Year for 2014 was Radiant Orchid, and the year before that, Emerald. Good on Sephora and Pantone for not being afraid of vibrant colors, but neither of the aforementioned shades struck me as being very wearable nor flattering on any skin tone. I realize that this is just a matter of taste, but still, I would think it would be a factor that would inform the decision on what color you’re going to be marketing to the masses.

This year’s color, Marsala, is in my opinion, the most versatile color Pantone has chosen in a while. They describe it as “a naturally robust and earthy wine red, Marsala enriches our minds, body, and souls.” SIGH.

The images accompanying the announcement play up the luxuriousness of Marsala.

Everywhere you look, there are plush fabrics, mulled wine, berries, and of course, macarons. What would a photo shoot in 2014 be without a macaron? They’re serving up the color to be perfect for the holidays, very warm, able to be incorporated into your clothes, makeup, your couch, your kitchen, whatever.

As colors go, I actually kind of like this one, because it’s sort of an in-between of, like, five other colors. It’s vague. All of my favorite colors are lifeless and boring and this one fits right in. Marsala is like a darkened dusty rose, a muted brick red, with a tiny bit of taupe thrown in there for good measure. It’s a nice departure from the jewel tones of the last couple of years. It’s also a lot more in line with what is actually going on in fashion right now. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Marsala pairs very well with this 90s revival we’ve been seeing with the darker makeup and brown lipsticks.

But do we really need to pair one trend with another? That almost seems like it defeats the purpose of having a color of the year, if they’re just going to align it with what we were already doing anyway.

Is it just me? Are you down with having a color of the year every year? Trends, even at their silliest and most pointless, are supposed to be fun, and I am the last person to hate on something that’s simply supposed to bring us a little joy. After all, I’ve been known to lose my mind over a color-changing nail polish or whatever, so it’s not like I take any of this too seriously. It just seems a little forced. To me, the people who would respond to the Color of the Year are the same people who would wear a band T-shirt without actually knowing any of the band’s music, just because they think it makes them cool (he types, wearing an AC/DC T-shirt, unable to name a single AC/DC song).

Am I putting too much thought into this? Am I taking this too seriously? Have I become what I fear the most: A hater? What trends do you hate? How do you feel about marsala? Was that seriously the cutest name they could come up with?

Tynan Sinks is a Beauty/Style contributor for xoJane.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME celebrities

Jon Stewart Imagines Life if He Ended Up With Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie
Gilbert Carrasquillo—GC Images/Getty Images Actress Angelina Jolie is seen leaving The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Dec. 4, 2014 in New York City.

"We could have been a vodka brand!"

It’s been a long time since Jon Stewart worked with Angelina Jolie on a 1998 film called Playing by Heart, but the Oscar winner left a lasting impression on him.

“Ever since I met you about 20 years ago on set, I thought, ‘This person has talent coming out of everywhere,’ ” Stewart told the actress and director, who stopped by The Daily Show on Thursday. “You meet certain people and you go, ‘This person embodies something different, special.’ I’ve always thought that about you.”

In fact, he even came up with a Brangelina-like name for himself and Jolie, 39.

“If you’d ended up with me instead of Brad Pitt, our portmanteau – Stewart and Jolie – would have been ‘Stolie,’ ” he told the newlywed. “We could have been a vodka brand!”

Stewart, 52, was also full of praise for Jolie’s new film, Unbroken (out Dec. 25), which marks her second outing as a director. He described the big-budget film about Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner and World War II prisoner of war who survived 47 days lost at sea, as “epic” and asked his former rom-com costar if she felt daunted by undertaking a film of such scope.

“It took me off-guard,” Jolie admitted. “I remember waking up in the middle of the night thinking, ‘I don’t know how to film a shark attack.’ ”

“You convince the studio, you say, ‘You should give me this job, I know exactly what I’m doing. I’m so sure of it.’ And then you get the job and you go, ‘Oh my, I’m not sure that I do.’ So every day was a challenge,” she added.

Jolie, who directed In the Land of Blood and Honey in 2011, a film she also wrote, told Stewart that she enjoyed the “huge responsibility” of helming a film.

“I love directing,” Jolie said. “You’re there from the beginning until the end, shepherding every tiny detail.”

When Stewart asked if her interest in directing came from acting in films where she felt that maybe the director could have gone a different way with a scene, Jolie admitted that there were a few of her movies that she hadn’t seen “because I couldn’t sit through them.”

That prompted an adoring Stewart to lean forward, and as they batted eyes at each other he said, “Do you want to talk to me about them, because I’ve seen them all.”

But when Jolie returned the compliment and told the host that she and her husband watched The Daily Show at home, Stewart’s interest in her quickly evaporated.

What does the former PEOPLE Sexiest Man Alive wear when he watches the show, Stewart wanted to know. Just pajama pants and no top?

“Sometimes,” Jolie said with a smile.

“That feels right,” Stewart responded.

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME

This Homer Simpson Statue Made Out of Junk Food Is the Perfect Tribute to Homer Simpson

"Does this make me look fat?"

Some people get a statue, others an honorary plaque. For Homer Simpson, who has for nearly three decades shared with us his low-brow gastronomical obsessions, it doesn’t get any more fitting than a replica fashioned from junk food.

Mandatory.com constructed “The Essence of Homer,” complete with Duff Beer, from gummy bears, powdered doughnuts, licorice, marshmallows, saltwater taffy and pancakes. The video is part of a series called “Fast Food Formations” (they also constructed a football stadium out of Slim Jims and balogna sandwiches), the gluttonous messages of which the site counters with a donation to a charity that aims to end childhood hunger.

There’s no one who deserves his likeness made from doughnuts more than the man who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for a single frosted doughnut.

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