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17 of the Strangest Guinness World Records of All Time

Nigel Roddis—Reuters Grower Pete Glazebrook poses for photographers with his onion weighing 17lb 15.5oz at the Harrogate Autumn Flower Show in Harrogate, northern England September 16, 2011.

As Guinness World Records celebrates its 60th anniversary, take a look back at decades of weird feats

After decades in the business, Guinness World Records knows weird.

The organization, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary Thursday, has made its name designating some of the oddest and most bizarre records possible. Out of the approximately 50,000 applications it receives annually from 174 countries, 6,000 get approved. Though its annual compilation of current records comes out Sept. 10, TIME takes a look back at some of the most unusual world records that have been achieved throughout the years.

1978: Wrestlers Billy and Benny McCrary are dubbed the world’s heaviest twins at 743 pounds and 723 pounds, respectively.

1988: Blackie becomes the wealthiest cat when its owner dies and leaves it $12.5 million.

1992: Bryan Berg set the record for the largest house of cards at 75 storeys in Spirit Lake, Iowa.

1994: Daniel Bent set the record for fastest ever time in the bog-snorkeling triathlon in 2 hours, 23 minutes, 24 seconds at the World Bog Snorkeling Championships.

1998: Suresh Joachim of Sri Lanka takes the longest escalator ride, which was 140 miles long, at the Westfield Shopping Centre in Burwood, New South Wales, Australia.

1999: Gary Bashaw, Jr., set the record for most milkshake dispensed through the nose when 1.82 oz. of milk and chocolate powder came out of his nose on the set of a Guinness World Records TV program in Los Angeles, California.

2000: Ann Atkins set the record for the largest collection of garden gnomes with 2,010.

2001: Smudge, a parrot, set a record for most keys removed from a keyring by a parrot by slipping off 10 in under two minutes. In 2009, he got all the way up to 22.

2004: Chad Fell blew the largest bubblegum bubble at 20 in. at the Double Springs High School in Winston County, Alabama.

2008: Kevin Shelley set the record for most toilet seats broken by one’s head in one minute by shattering 46 in Cologne, Germany.

2009: Melvin Boothe had the longest finger nails on a pair of male hands ever at 32 ft. 3.8 inches when they were measured in Troy, Michigan.

2011: Pete Glazebrook shows off the world’s heaviest onion, weighing 17 pounds, 15.5 ounces at the Harrogate Autumn Flower Show in Harrogate, northern England.

2012: Val Kolpakov of Alpharetta, Georgia, has been recognized for the largest collection of toothpaste tubes at 2,037.

2013: Hip-hop artist Big Freedia set a record for most people twerking simultaneously when she led 358 dancers for two minutes straight in New York City’s Times Square.

2014: Ranmaru, an Australian Labradoodle, boasts the longest eyelashes on a dog at 6.69 in.

2015: 12,975 dancers set a record for the world’s largest Zumba class in Mandaluyong, a city just outside the Philippine capital, Manila.

Date N/A: Micronecta scholtz, a type of aquatic freshwater insect, has been recognized for having the loudest penis at 99.2 decibels, described as “equivalent to sitting in the front row listening to a loud orchestra playing.”

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We Are Measuring Childhood Poverty Wrong

Ethnically lumping groups of Asian-Americans together is creating a grave misperception of wealth

Poverty’s grip on America’s black children has proven strong, as they continue to have the highest poverty rates with no relief in sight, according to a recent Pew Research analysis of Census Bureau data.

But there is much more to the story of childhood poverty in America.

In particular, the surprisingly low rate Pew reported for Asian-American children merits a closer look.

The Census Bureau’s one-size-fits all measure of poverty has not kept up with the increased diversity of groups in America experiencing poverty. A more nuanced picture is important because it would enable us to develop more effective policies and programs to address childhood poverty.

Here, we chose to look at Asian Americans, given they are one of the fastest-growing groups and often invisible in discussions on poverty.

Drill down deeper

The numbers released by Pew don’t drill down far enough to tell the complete story about Asian-American poverty.

In their analysis, groups like the Asian-American and Pacific Islander populations are lumped together, or aggregated. Poverty in this group is masked by fairly high median income of $72,000, compared to the median U.S. adult income of $53,000. That supports the narrative we live with when talking about Asian Americans as the model minority achieving the American Dream. However, if disaggregated, some Asian-American groups have the most rapidly growing poverty rates among all racial and ethnic groups.

Lumped together, poverty statistics make it too easy for policymakers to overlook people like the young Bangladeshi mother, Nazma Begum. Nazma works two jobs, as a cashier at a Subway and cleaning homes, to earn just enough to feed her children and pay for a shared roof over their heads in New York City.

We most often hear about the wealthiest sector of this community: Asian Americans working in Silicon Valley or Wall Street. Lost are those like Hmong and Laotians in Minnesota who have among the highest poverty rates of all ethnic groups in the state.

Look at growth rates

In the wake of the recession and the recovery period from 2007 to 2011, a study by the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development highlights the growth in poverty rates across racial and ethnic groups.

Looking at growth rates – rather than absolute rates – changes the story significantly. Over a four-year period, Hispanic poverty grew by 42%. The Asian-American/Pacific Islander poverty rate grew by 38%. This study shows lower poverty growth rates for both blacks (20%) and whites (27%).

The most striking difference from this growth study is a 60% increase in poverty for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

From 2000 to 2011, the overall Asian-American and Pacific Islander population also grew. Most of these people were not poor. Highly educated and skilled immigrants outnumber the lower skilled Asian refugees that came to the US during that same period. This may be one reason Pew found Asian-American childhood poverty had improved. Another reason may be the extra social and financial buffer multigenerational family structure offers many Asian Americans.

Refine historic measures

The way we measure poverty in the U.S. has changed over time.

In the 1960s, poverty was based on a simple measurement of three times the minimum food budget.

In 2011, the supplemental poverty measure (SPM) was established. The SPM is based on equal expenditures on food, clothing, shelter and utilities. It makes geographic adjustments for housing costs. This new measure also accounts for work-related costs like childcare and makes adjustments for government benefits like Earned Income Tax Credit, energy assistance, housing subsidies and food stamps.

The SPM is an improvement from just looking at food expenses. Using this poverty measure, the Annie E Casey Kids Count highlights differences in childhood poverty and how well the safety net works across the states and District of Columbia.

Kids Count shows us that children experience poverty differently. Influencing factors range from the cost of living and state and federal policies – as well as community safety, their parents’ education and employment history, immigration status, quality of caregiving and access to healthy food and health care.

A 2014 report by the Center for Economic Opportunity revealed that nearly half of New York City’s population is living near poverty – with the largest group being Asian-Americans. New York state’s poverty measure based primarily on the supplemental poverty measure allows for analyzing poverty across demographic groups and neighborhoods.

New ways of measuring

Could we adopt an even better measurement? Perhaps.

Officials in the United Kingdom recently moved the focus away from measuring poverty by family income to examining the root causes of poverty. The U.K. is looking at factors including education, unemployment, debt and addiction to target meaningful changes in the life chances for children throughout the country.

The United States could go even one step further and take a page from UNICEF. That would involve expanding our understanding of childhood poverty beyond consumption, income and material deprivation to also include well-being.

Representatives Danny Davis, D-Ill, Gerald Connolly, D-Va, Barbara Lee, D-Calif and Elijah Cummings, D-Md. may be leading the way to do just that by introducing the “Child Poverty Reduction Act of 2015.”

Better poverty measures help us to go beyond understanding who is poor to assessing ways to move children and families toward greater economic success. This includes supportive services, housing and asset building.

Expanded measures of poverty will help us understand the factors that lead to poverty. They will move us closer to measuring access to opportunities. This will ensure those most vulnerable in our society are accounted for as we continue to embrace economic recovery for everyone.

Seema Agnani, director of policy with the National Coalition for Asian Pacific Americans Community Development, contributed to this article. She has 20 years of experience in implementing anti-poverty programs in the area of housing, and economic development and is a Public Voices Greenhouse participant for Global Policy Solutions.

This article originally appeared on The ConversationThe Conversation

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.

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7 Times Someone (Accidentally) Ruined a Valuable Work of Art


Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) reports that security camera footage appears to show a young man falling into and punching a hole through a painting said to be worth $1.5 million. Flowers, a 17th century oil painting and one of the few signed works by Italian master Paolo Porpora, was on display at “The Face of Leonardo, Images of a Genius” exhibition at Huashan 1914 Creative Park in Taipei, according to CNA.

Below is a glimpse at other reports of tourists being clumsy at museums:

• In May, two tourists reportedly broke off the crown atop “Statue of the Two Hercules,” which sits in Piazza del Comune, a medieval square in Cremona, Italy, when the pair allegedly tried to climb it and take photos.

• Also in May, the Greek Culture Ministry said a tourist tried to touch a prehistoric, Minoan-era vase at the Museum of Iraklio and knocked it over, suffering a minor leg injury.

• Last March, a student reportedly climbed onto a 19th century statue depicting a “Drunken Satyr” at Academy of Fine Arts of Brera in Milan, Italy, to take a selfie and broke it.

• Last July, an American student got stuck inside Pi Chacan, a stone sculpture of a vagina by Peruvian artist Fernando de la Jara, which sat in front of Tübingen University’s Institute for Microbiology and Virology in Germany.

• In 2006, a man was arrested for smashing three 17th century Chinese porcelain vases said to be worth £500,000 (about $789,000) at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England.

• While trying to see how his hand measured up, a Connecticut surgeon reportedly broke off the pinky finger on a 600-year-old statue of the Virgin Mary by 15th century Florentine sculptor Giovanni d’Ambrogi called “Annunciazione” at Florence’s Museo dell’Opera del Duomo (“Museum of the Works of the Cathedral”).

Read next: 8 of the Absolute Worst Times to Take a Selfie

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New Orleans’s Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum Preserves a Culture Washed Away

Hanna Rasanen

Why I created a place to celebrate the neighborhood’s vibrant history and culture

The human-made disaster in New Orleans before, during and after Hurricane Katrina was the first time I was forced to really grapple with race and class inequality.

And it’s what motivated me and three fellow volunteers to try to preserve the history of one neighborhood – New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward – before its story was forgotten.

In 2005 I was a college student, paying little attention when Katrina happened. Nine months later, I got on an airplane as part of an alternative summer break, where I expected to do the same volunteer work I’d done since I was a kid. Then I’d head off for Bourbon Street and the French Quarter (which was all I knew of the city).

Instead, I discovered that the Lower Ninth Ward – a neighborhood that, before Katrina, had one of the highest rates of black homeownership in the nation – remained an open wound, one that left a lasting scar.

For while New Orleans has largely recovered from Hurricane Katrina, it’s clear that the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood has not.

Nonetheless, the story of the neighborhood’s destruction and the story of the ensuing efforts to rebuild it – which includes the creation of a museum – is a remarkable tale of cultural survival.

Residents recall chaos, fear

After that eye-opening summer, I spent years volunteering to rebuild homes and support local community organizing efforts.

I remember sitting down at a tool lending depot with a man struggling to rebuild his home in the Lower Ninth Ward. He’d stayed through the storm, and his trauma was palpable.

Other residents remembered the chaos of the disaster. There was Brandon Fontenelle, who recalled that it was “hard for some of us that wasn’t making the money to get out of here.”

Ward “Mack” McClendon noted that the hurricane itself caused the neighborhood only wind damage. But “when the levees broke after Katrina had passed, that’s what created all of our problems.” Karen Frank remembered hearing “a boom, and when I heard the boom, I heard everybody outside saying ‘ooh.’”

The predicted and preventable levee failure inundated the community under a 20-foot wall of water, drowning many who thought the danger had passed and destroying homes.

“All I had was one emotion: survival,” Milton Crawford III would later say.

‘I think they forgot about us’

Despite the magnitude of the flooding, a number of houses remained structurally sound and could be renovated. But the houses needed to be emptied of all their contents, the walls taken down to the studs.

The work was demanding. At the same time, it was incredibly moving to sort through the remnants of someone’s life – some of whom had passed away in the flooding or in the aftermath. It seemed as though if we could just gut, renovate and rebuild enough houses, the community could return.

However, the Lower Ninth Ward was treated differently from other parts of New Orleans.

As resident Minor Moe recalled, “St Bernard coming up. Uptown coming up. Canal Street coming up. Every part of town coming up but the Ninth Ward, and I think they forgot about us.”

The return of Lower Ninth Ward residents was obstructed by prolonged denial of access to property (worsening mold and termite damage and theft), prolonged absence of water and electrical service, and concern over adequate levee repairs.

But “risk reduction” measures – including proposals to “right size” the city by redeveloping their neighborhood as green space and rainwater storage – have been perceived as attempts to hinder the return of displaced black residents. This was further exacerbated by the threat of government seizure of “nuisance properties” under eminent domain if homes were not gutted or lawns grew above 18 inches.

The premature demolition of homes by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) without proper inspection and notification (and then without compensation) – along with the presence of disaster capitalists seeking to buy up properties before residents recovered – further hindered the community’s rebuilding efforts.

“Everybody could come back home to New Orleans but us,” a resident named Ester Smith remembered.

Under military curfew enforced by the National Guard, residents of the neighborhood were given only restricted access to their property for months after the flooding, well after it had been lifted for other parts of the city.

“Matter of fact, they created what they called a ‘look and leave’ policy,” Ward “Mack” McClendon explained. “After so many months, you could get on a bus in the Upper Ninth, and you could look at your house and leave.”

A culture and history forever lost?

Ten years later, most pre-Katrina residents remain displaced or have died, while the economic and physical infrastructure remains gutted. Nearly half of the housing units are vacant.

“How long it’s been?” resident Deborah Hawkins wondered. “A long damn time, and we still look the same.”

What many people don’t know about the Lower Ninth Ward is that it is a distinct community, with a rich cultural history going back to the late 1700s, when it was a cypress swamp that housed runaway slaves. It was later ground zero for school desegregation in the Deep South, and home to over 200 renowned musicians, including Fats Domino.

The neighborhood possesses “a unique bundle of characteristics that, when taken together, constitute a sense of place that cannot be found or replicated elsewhere.”

Unfortunately, today the number of households in the Lower Ninth Ward is 36.7% of its original size.

With most of their people unable to return home and the spread of gentrification, many original residents expressed the same concerns: they feared their culture, their history, their stories – all of it would be submerged forever.

“The people that’s coming here now, they really don’t know the heritage of the Lower Ninth Ward,” resident Jason Freeman said. “And I’m just afraid that it’s going to get lost.”

“It’s history. It’s the place where I grew up,” Percy Robinson said. “It’s a community that I knew really, really well, and I don’t know it anymore. It’s gone. The community I grew up in is gone.”

A living museum is born

It was residents like Jason Freeman and Percy Robinson who inspired us to create the Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum.

Building on an existing subculture of house museums in New Orleans (such as the House of Dance and Feathers and the Backstreet Cultural Museum), we cofounded the museum to combat the erasure of residents’ voices.

Situated in half of a double-shotgun house on the corner of Deslonde Street and Urquhart Street, the museum is nestled on a quiet residential block between the main drags of St Claude Avenue and North Claiborne Avenue.

Built in 1940, the building was originally owned and inhabited by several families before becoming a rental property. While the house was renovated after Katrina, the owner stopped renting it because he relocated to Baton Rouge and no longer wished to make the commute.

Wanting to put down roots in New Orleans, we purchased the property in 2011 with the museum in mind. After knocking on neighbors’ doors in the surrounding area and receiving their approval, we began work.

Today, the well-marked purple facade and blue porch are hard to miss.

The Living Museum – which officially opened its doors in August of 2013 – celebrates the neighborhood’s vibrant history and culture through exhibits and oral histories, excerpts of which are included in this article. It has also become a hub for children’s programs and community events. Admission is always free.

I’m indebted to the people here for teaching me how the world works on the back of their trauma, for their kindness and generosity. “Roots run deep here,” and the Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum will continue to work in solidarity with the community and carry their stories forward.

Resident Jon Chenau probably put it best: “The soul of the people here, you’re not going to find that nowhere else.”

You can find more information about the Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum here and here.

This article originally appeared on The ConversationThe Conversation

Read next: New Orleans, Here & Now

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.

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Law Enforcement Should Learn To Recognize the Signs of Mental Illness

The Crisis Intervention Training teaches how to address mental illness matters in a health-oriented rather than enforcement manner

The untimely death of Sandra Bland in a rural Texas jail last month has led to many unanswered questions.

Texas prison authorities say Bland hanged herself with a plastic garbage bag in her cell, a claim her family has questioned. Many suspect that Bland was murdered by corrupt law enforcement officials or correctional officers.

Lost in the emotion of yet another tragic death of a young African American in police custody is the real possibility that untreated mental illness led to Sandra Bland’s death.

Regardless of what happened in that Texas jail, Centers for Disease Control data tell us that rates of suicide have seen a steady increase each year since 2000. Suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death among all Americans.

And, while African Americans have lower suicide rates relative to whites, the rate of suicide among African-American males and females has also been climbing each year since 2009.

As a mental health services researcher, I’ve spent years examining factors that prevent vulnerable youth from getting mental health services. My work as a psychotherapist has involved treating folks suffering from depression – folks like Sandra Bland who told police she had tried to commit suicide last year.

The importance of the social network

Sociologist Bernice Pescosolido suggests that mentally ill individuals don’t decide about getting treatment in a vacuum. Those closest to the individual are critical to facilitating entree into care, providing care or doing nothing.

Through my work, I have seen how serious mental illness such as chronic depression or bipolarity can wreak havoc on not just the ill individual, but also on their families and friends. In a sick individual’s social networks, accusations fly. Loved ones duck for cover or they hold back for fear of offending. At this unstable and vulnerable juncture, finding a way to treatment is difficult and staying in treatment is even tougher.

Depression is one of the most debilitating health issues anyone can experience. It is a leading cause of engagement in suicidal behaviors – a precursor, of sorts, to suicide.

At the same time, depression is one of the most successfully treated mental illnesses. Both talk therapies and psychotropic medications are replete with evidence of their successes in the treatment of depression.

The problem is that not enough people with depression actually receive treatment. The numbers vary widely by age and race. Approximately one third of youth with depression receive treatment. That number increases slightly – to about one half – for 20-somethings like Sandra Bland. The lack of care is even more disproportionate in ethnic minority communities relative to white communities. African Americans, Latino Americans and Asian Americans all have lower treatment rates.

My own research indicates these groups are also likely to have greater connections to their families and friends, who pray with them about their condition or offer advice. This might help explain their overall lower rates of suicide relative to whites.

Responsibility of law enforcement

While it is critical for social network members to both see and do something to help their loved ones get connected to treatment, it is equally critical for law enforcement to be trained on how to successfully address interactions with the mentally ill.

Imagine for a moment what would have happened if Sandra Bland had been pulled over by a police officer who was trained to recognize if she was suffering from a mental illness that required immediate attention. Imagine a police officer having the skills to engage Bland – or many others much like her – in a process of recovery.

That novel notion is being carried out by Dr Michael Compton and others who implement the Crisis Intervention Training, a program that trains law enforcement officials on the signs and symptoms of mental illness and how to address these matters in a health-oriented rather than enforcement manner. This program has helped police redirect countless individuals into mental health treatment instead of jails. Indeed, successful CIT programs have emerged all over the country, including in Memphis and Chicago.

The circumstances surrounding Sandra Bland’s death remain unclear. But many who are struggling with a mental illness surround us. Paying attention to the signs and having true engagement with the presenting behaviors can save lives.

This article originally appeared on The ConversationThe Conversation

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.

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How We Can Launch the Millennial Party

Stop complaining about politics and start doing something

The core platform would not be too hard to agree on, as most people under 35 don’t disagree about things which to them are self-evident:

Gay marriage — Climate change — Women’s bodies are, uh, their own — Military intervention for self-defense or protection only, no adventures — Capitalism, duh, hugely pro — Believers/non-believers both welcome

With these essentials and (any?) others agreed upon, we could spend our time debating — at least within the party — the things that are actually up for debate. It’s like my friend who told me the key to a successful marriage is to make sure you are aligned on kids, money, and sex. You’ll still fight, but you’ll spend your time fighting about “all the small things” because the big things are pre-agreed upon.

So why do this? Why establish a new party?

As of 2015, millennials (18–34) are now the largest group of human beings in the United States — 75.3 million people. We just passed the boomers in size. And yet nearly all of our elected officials are boomers, and none of them are millennials. It’s not surprising then that many millennials refer to the government as not truly representing them, or that we don’t “feel connected” to either of the current two parties. But if millennials are now the largest group of people in the country, and we are now all adults of voting age, isn’t it our job to represent ourselves?

Millennials can viably win seats in Congress now. So why not start by winning a couple seats now? If we are so good at the Internet, shouldn’t we get started by using it to secure some of our own representation? And wouldn’t an amazing third party change everything about American politics if it could be a true swing vote? If the Tea Party can become influential, can’t we?

Here is one idea of how to get started:

We raise money for our candidates via crowdfunding. We mostly use YouTube and not TV, and as such we avoid a huge waste of campaign funds. We leverage social channels really well to get the message out, and go around the typical broadcast news infrastructure that invites so much money into politics. We will still need money, of course.

In races where we don’t run, which will of course be the vast majority to start, we make a recommendation to our party on who to vote for. We become influential in every election in the country. We are independent, and we recommend candidates on both sides. We welcome people of all ages to the party. Many people 35 years and older already identify with our values. They hunger for an alternative, and will be intrigued by our view of who to vote for. Our activism will give agency to our entire generation to vote, and if not satisfied by who to vote for, to run.

We are nation of entrepreneurs. If we are disappointed in the current offerings, isn’t it our job to create something that we are excited by? What was that quote about being the change you want to see in the world?

Our spirit animal could be a fox.

It’s easy to be cynical about American politics. It’s more important not to be. If we are not doing something about it, what is the purpose of our complaining?

This article originally appeared on Medium

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.

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Your Child Might Not Need Those Costly Braces

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It is amazing the extent to which straight teeth have become a requirement

Modern parenting can be costly. It’s not just the necessities—diapers, clothing, shoes, food and more food (they never stop eating!), and medical costs—it’s all those unexpected items. What about summer camp and after-school activity fees, sports equipment (do we really need that helmet?), and the birthday presents for their friends? Don’t even talk to me about saving for college.

There’s another cost that many parents take on—the price to provide a child with a perfect smile. For many middle class families, orthodontics has become a right of passage—albeit a painful and ridiculously expensive one.

In the decades that have passed since I was a child with braces, the technology has advanced considerably. Today, parents can choose the traditional metal braces, clear ceramic braces, or even braces that are placed on the back of the teeth. There is even a clear, custom made mouth guard available for slight corrections. As the choices have expanded, so have the costs. These days, orthodontists charge anywhere from around $5,000 to a shocking $13,000 for more extensive correction.

Maybe it’s time to rethink the whole endeavor. In a surprisingly fascinating piece for The Atlantic, Michael Thomsen suggests writes:

Today’s orthodontic practices rely on equal parts individual diagnosis and mass-produced tool, often in pursuit of an appearance that’s medically unnecessary [emphasis mine]. Basic advances in brushing, flossing, and microbiology have largely defeated the problem of widespread tooth decay—yet the perceived problem of oral asymmetry has remained and, in many ways, intensified.

Orthodontics is not so different from other medical specialties. Plastic surgeons provide services to those maimed in accidents and to those born with disfigurements. But they also perform elective cosmetic surgeries on paying clientele.

Yet, orthodontists primarily serve children. And we don’t generally provide “unnecessary” medical services to children. As Thomsen points out, the American Association of Orthodontics actually markets itself as being able to provide a better future for your children. The organization’s website suggests that “A great smile helps you feel better and more confident . . .” and “can literally change how people see you—at work and in your personal life.”

Many parents can’t afford that “great smile,” though, which is why a thriving cottage industry of homemade orthodontic remedies has surfaced to provide the perfect smile to those who can’t afford licensed orthodontic work.

It is amazing the extent to which straight teeth have become a requirement for professional life. Even kids who did have braces often find that their teeth have moved back — they then start the whole process over as adults.

The decision to get braces is also fraught with intense social pressures for parents. What does it say about you if you decide to skip all that expensive orthodontic work for your kids? At the very least, people would consider it a total parental failure that you haven’t done everything to give your child every possible advantage.

While there is a legitimate need for orthodontics to correct truly disabling problems, parents should be aware that much of what is offered is cosmetic. Just as reasonable parents wouldn’t dream of providing their young children with lip fillers, nose jobs, tummy tucks, boob jobs, and other Kardashian-like treatments, parents might want to reconsider the need for pricey cosmetic orthodontic work.

This article originally appeared on Acculturated

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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.

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See the Shocking Moment Lightning Hits a Plane

Don't watch this video if you are afraid of flying (or lightning)

A YouTube video uploaded by user “Jack Perkins” appears to show a lightning bolt striking a Delta plane as it sits on a runway. A description of the clip on the video-sharing network claims the footage was shot at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport: “While filming the line of planes all stacked up during a ground hold in Atlanta on 8/18/15 I happened to capture this direct lightning strike on a 737.”

Here’s another view via CBS News:

Atlanta’s NewsChannel 3 reports that the footage was captured by a man stuck on the runway while on a Minneapolis-bound flight and was sending his wife a video of the storm and the backed-up planes.

(h/t AJC.com)

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Libraries Are Standing on the Front Lines of the Homelessness Crisis in the U.S.

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Many librarians regard their homeless and mentally ill patrons with a sense of mission

Libraries are increasingly a sanctuary for people who are homeless or mentally ill. We wondered how libraries function on the front lines of social service provision.

Prevalence of homelessness in the United States

On any given night in 2014, over half a million people in the United States found themselves without a home. While the majority of these people (69%) secured shelter for the night, many shelters do not provide daytime accommodations for their patrons. This leaves many in search of daytime activity and protection from the elements.

Unfortunately, many homeless are also living with debilitating mental illnesses. The intimate relationship between homelessness and mental illness is well-established. Almost all psychiatric conditions are overrepresented in homeless populations.

The transition from inpatient to outpatient psychiatric treatment that began in the 1960s, including the closure of state-run psychiatric hospitals, may contribute to the prevalence of mental illness among the homeless. Today, adjusting for changes in population size, U.S. state mental hospitals house only about 10% the number of patients they once did.

So it is no surprise that libraries are coping with a large number of patrons who are homeless or have mental illnesses. Public libraries are, after all, designed to be welcoming spaces for all.

This can leave libraries struggling with how to serve a population with very diverse needs.

A major metropolitan library

This is an issue we know that librarians at a metropolitan public library we visited are grappling with. We became aware of this issue in speaking informally with librarians who work there. To our surprise, we learned that the library serves a large number of homeless and mentally ill patrons.

The librarians told us about some of these patrons. There is Big Bob, a large man in his 40’s who frequently regales the librarians with accounts of his exploits as a member of special ops forces in the military. There is John, a reclusive man always attired in combat fatigues and heavy-duty army boots who turned out, in the bitterest cold of winter, to be suffering from severe frostbite. And there is Jane, a young woman who, when it emerged that she was temporarily living in her car, turned the tables on the librarians by saying, “Shh,” so no one else would learn of her plight.

Some of these library patrons are homeless. Others have been diagnosed with a mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, or substance dependence. Tragically, many are experiencing both.

They come to the library for all sorts of reasons: to seek warmth and shelter, to use the restroom, to access the internet, to meet friends, and yes, even to read books and newspapers. One librarian estimates that about half of the library’s regular patrons are either mentally ill or homeless.

The library’s long-term employees report that the mentally ill were not always such a prominent component of its clientele. Their presence increased dramatically 20 years ago, with the closure of a local mental hospital.

How librarians can help patrons who are mentally ill or experiencing homelessness

Helping homeless and mentally ill clients is a challenge that libraries all over the country are grappling with, but library science curricula don’t seem to have caught up.

According to one newly minted librarian who received her master’s degree in library science a few years ago, contemporary library education typically includes no coursework in mental illness. It focuses on the techniques and technology of library services, especially meeting the needs of patrons for access to information.

Learning strategies to assist mentally ill and homeless patrons might not be on library curricula, but the American Library Association has long had policies in place emphasizing equal access to library services for the poor, and in 1996 formed the Hunger, Homelessness, and Poverty Task Force.

Across the country, libraries have developed helpful strategies for serving homeless and mentally ill patrons. One, at least for large libraries with sufficient numbers of personnel, is to designate a member of the staff as a specialist in these matters, who serves as a resource person for other employees.

At the metropolitan library we visited, one of the more civically oriented librarians acts as a liaison between various local mental health agencies and homeless shelters. She has cultivated a relationship with a mental health crisis clinician at the county hospital, who has organized workshops to educate the library staff about mental health and substance abuse.

This librarian’s work with homeless and mentally ill library patrons is currently supported by the library’s budget, but much of her progress was driven by her personal commitment. As she looks toward retirement, she worries that these services will fade when she leaves.

However, there are signs that libraries are embracing their role as a safety net. Libraries in San Francisco, Washington DC and Philadelphia are hiring social workers to assist with the needs of homeless and mentally ill patrons. Others in Queens, New York and Denver, Colorado have outreach programs that bring training services to homeless shelters and educate residents about library services. The Denver program even provides the bus fare to visit the library.

The librarians we talked to take their role as surrogate mental health workers in stride, and many regard their mentally ill patrons with a sense of mission.

Said one librarian who has worked at the downtown library for more than 30 years:

The library often serves as a destination for people who have no place to go. They can always come here, to be warm, safe, and entertained. At first, I didn’t know how important the library is to them, but one day before a holiday, a patron came up to me and said, ‘You guys will really be missed tomorrow.’ Some may resent the presence of the mentally ill in the library, but as far as I am concerned, everyone deserves a chance to use it.

This article originally appeared on The ConversationThe Conversation

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Superfan Creates Her Own Simpsons Kitchen

"Who wouldn’t want corn cob curtains?"

Only a superfan would consider buying a green stove.

Meet Marcia Andreychuk of Calgary, who together with her significant other Joel Hamilton, turned their period kitchen into Marge’s from The Simpsons.

“I’m attracted to the quirky,” says Andreychuk. “Who wouldn’t want corn cob curtains? My significant other and I wanted to do a retrovation, keep old make it new, so we had the bizarre idea, why not take what we already have and turn it into the Simpsons kitchen?”

Andreychuk says her countertop was only $20, though her dream is to buy brand-new “retro-looking appliances.”

But what about a blue wig?

This article originally appeared on EW.com

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