TIME viral

Google Doodle Celebrates the Pony Express With a Game

There once was a time before Gmail

Before there was Gmail to deliver our messages, there was pen and paper. And before that, at least in the United States in the 1800s, there were ponies.

In honor of the 155th anniversary of the Pony Express on Tuesday, Google created an animated Doodle game that commemorates the mail delivery service. If Googlers click on the Wild West-themed Doodle, they can help a pony deliver mail across America. (Just watch out for cacti).

In the video above, animator Nate Swinehart explains the history of the Pony Express and gives a behind-the-scenes look at the Doodle process.

TIME society

The 10 Most Complained About Books in 2014

For reasons ranging from "controversial issues" to "sexually explicit" content

The American Library Association released its annual list of the “Top Ten Most Challenged Books in 2014” on Monday, based on 311 “challenges” recorded by its Office for Intellectual Freedom. A “challenge” is defined as “a formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness.”

Here is the full list:

1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: Anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying.”

2. Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
Reasons: Gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions.”

3. And Tango Makes Three, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda.”

4. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues.”

5. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleges it [to be] child pornography.”

6. Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Reasons: Anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.

7. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence.

8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation.”

9. A Stolen Life: A Memoir, Jaycee Dugard
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.

10. Drama, by Raina Telgemeier
Reasons: Sexually explicit.

TIME Family

Why Have Kids?

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

In the midst of rapidly changing family structures, why does childlessness still carry a stigma for women?

It used to be that the Cleavers — dad working an office job, mom raising two boys full-time — were the model American family. But the past several decades have seen dramatic changes — recent studies find that only about half of American adults are married today, compared to around 70 percent in 1960. The share of interracial marriages has doubled since 1980. Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia now recognize same-sex marriage. More men than ever are becoming single fathers. More mothers are becoming family breadwinners. More children are being born outside of marriage.

A Pew Research Center study from 2010 found that 20 percent of American women now end their childbearing years without having borne a child, compared to 10 percent in the 1970s. During that time, the public has become more accepting of these women, but 38 percent of Americans surveyed for that study felt this trend was bad for society. When it comes to some other changes to the American family — such as marrying someone of a different race or women working outside the home — the public has said in greater numbers that those trends were good for or at least didn’t harm society.

In advance of the Zócalo event, “Why Have Kids?”, we asked a panel of experts: If Americans have come to accept a range of non-traditional family structures, why does a woman’s choice not to have children still elicit skepticism and judgment?

 

Bella DePaulo — We want other people to share the worldviews we care about most

“As long as women bounce around kidding themselves that life is full when alone, they are putting their hedonistic, selfish desires ahead of what’s best for children and society.” That was one reader’s response to a 2002 cover story in Time about women who were choosing to stay single and not have kids. At the time, I was just starting to research my first book on single people and I was perplexed. The reader had no relationship to the women in the story — they were strangers. If these women didn’t have qualms about their life choices, why should this guy get so angry about them?

I hadn’t yet recognized the power of people’s views of the world. Worldviews help us make sense of the world. They can boost our self-esteem, enhance our good feelings, and keep our bad ones at bay. We want other people to share the worldviews we care about the most. When it comes to marriage and family, one of the strongest worldviews is that women are supposed to get married and have kids. And if they do, they will be happier and healthier than everyone else — and morally superior, too.

The “problem,” then, with women who do not follow the culturally valued life course of marrying and having children, is that they are threatening beliefs that people hold dear.

What’s more, it is even worse if they choose not to marry or have kids. For example, research has shown that single people who want to be single are judged more harshly than those who want to find a partner. They are seen as lonelier, colder, less sociable, and more miserable. Even more tellingly, other people express more anger toward them. That irate reader of the Time story was not only irked because he thought the women were stupid, but also because they were happy. How dare they claim that life without marriage or kids is a good and happy life — a life that someone would actually choose!

Bella DePaulo, who has a doctorate in psychology from Harvard University, is the author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After and the forthcoming How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century. Visit her website at www.BellaDePaulo.com.

 

Elaine Tyler May — Women have opted out of motherhood throughout history

Womanhood equals motherhood has long been accepted as the norm for women’s lives. But in fact, throughout history, women have often opted out of motherhood. In the 19th century, for example, the average number of births per woman declined by half—from eight in 1800 to four in 1900. Many women chose not to marry, and even some of those who married chose not to have children. The rate of childlessness was at an all-time high at the dawn of the 20th century, and then dropped to an all-time low after World War II in the midst of the Baby Boom.

Today, more and more women are choosing not to have children for a wide variety of reasons. Women without children are not scorned or pitied to the extent they once were, but a stigma still attaches to women who choose not to procreate. It is way past time for that stigma to lift. American women today lead rich and varied lives, with or without partners, with or without children. It is time to celebrate all the choices women have, and protect their ability to make the choice to have children—or not. Besides, there are many ways to have children in one’s life without giving birth to them or raising them. Just ask any devoted aunt, teacher, doctor, childcare worker, or anyone with children in their lives. As one teacher said proudly, “I’m not childless! I have 400 children!”

Elaine Tyler May is Regents professor of American studies and history at the University of Minnesota. She is the author of several books on women and the American family, including Barren in the Promised Land: Childless Americans and the Pursuit of Happiness.

 

Laura S. Scott — People are ignoring studies that point to happy, regret-free seniors who didn’t have children

Behind all the media attention around baby bumps, intentional single moms, egg freezing parties, and celebrity surrogacy is a belief that the only path to a purposeful and fulfilling life is parenthood, particularly motherhood. If you value the experience of motherhood over all other experiences, you will tend to judge someone who values a different experience.

There is also the persistent belief that, if you don’t have kids, you will regret it and die alone or in a home with 30 starving cats. Everyone chooses to ignore the multitude of studies that point to happy, socially connected, regret-free childfree seniors who are living their dreams and contributing in many creative ways. The lingering stigma is puzzling unless you factor in the judgment, unspoken regrets, and dare I say, envy, from parents who say, “I didn’t think I had the choice!”

We now have the means and opportunity to remain childfree, but we have to have the intent and will to resist the prenatal messaging, peer and family pressure, and be true to ourselves. We also have to have reliable birth control and doctors who believe us when we say, “I don’t want kids, ever! And I will not change my mind and sue you if you perform this tubal!”

We also need to be able to wrap our brains around this question: “If everyone is invited to decide for themselves if they want to be a parent, how does our thinking and our world have to change to allow for that?”

Laura S. Scott is an executive and reproductive decision-making coach, author of Two is Enough: A Couples Guide to Living Childless by Choice, and director of the Childless by Choice Project.

 

Bill McKibben — There’s also prejudice towards people who chose to have just one kid

There’s another choice that yields almost as much skepticism: the decision just to have one child. Surveys show that the biggest reason for having a second kid is so the first won’t be an only child. There may be plenty of good reasons for having a big family, but it turns out that isn’t one of them: all the data show that only kids grow up to be indistinguishable from their peers with siblings. Not spoiled, not crazy. Just fine.

In fact, it’s a perfect example of how easily we’re led astray by prejudice. The “study” that convinced everyone that only children were odd was conducted in the late 1800s, and the definition of “odd” included “very pretty,” “very ugly,” and “very strong.” (It also found that immigrant children were odd; go figure.) The subjects in the study included not just actual only children, but only children in works of fiction.

Happily science has marched on, and so should the rest of us. It’s time that we learned to accept that people, and families, come in many different shapes and sizes; that they face different circumstances and want different things. It’s time, that is, to stop with the judging.

Bill McKibben is a Vermont-based writer whose books include Maybe One: An Argument for Smaller Families.

 

Melanie Notkin — Choose happiness

We have “Mom-opia” in America—the myopic view of motherhood as womanhood.,. And yet, the latest U.S. Census Report on Fertility shows that 46 percent of women of childbearing years are childless.

This all-women-as-mother view generates “black and white” assumptions for why women make their choices, ignoring nuances and shades of gray. I worked closely with DeVries Global PR on a 2014 national demographic study entitled: “Shades of Otherhood,” inspired by my book: Otherhood: Modern Women Finding a New Kind of Happiness, to better understand this cohort of modern women. Of the 19 million childless American women ages 20 to 44, over one-third (36 percent) are childless by choice. Some never felt motherhood was for them. Some don’t feel financially secure enough for parenthood. Some enjoy the freedom to live life to what they envision as its potential. And 18 percent of all childless women are on the fence, having not yet made a choice on motherhood either way.

And then nearly half (46 percent) are involuntarily childless, some by biology, and more often, among the cohort I explore more widely in Otherhood, by circumstance.

The women of the Otherhood are often single, often not by choice, and they choose to wait for love before motherhood.

Still, whatever the reason for childlessness, 80 percent of women in our study said they can live a happy life without children of their own. Moreover, even among those who are childfree by choice, 80 percent are “childfull” — they play an active role the lives of other people’s children.

Whatever the choices or circumstances of childlessness, the only way to live a meaningful and happy life is to live an authentic life—making the right choice for oneself, not by the measure of what society believes is the “right” choice. And the only one who can make that authentic choice is the women who chooses. She chooses happiness.

Melanie Notkin is the founder and author of Savvy Auntie and author of Otherhood: Modern Women Finding a New Kind of Happiness. Connect with her at Otherhood.co and @SavvyAuntie.

This article was written for Zocalo Public Square.

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 Appreciation

Kid Who Won ESPN’s March Madness Bracket Donates Xbox Prize to Make-A-Wish

He got one Xbox for himself and another to donate

We told you earlier this week about Sam Holtz, the 12-year-old who tied for the best bracket in this year’s ESPN Tournament Challenge out of 11.57 million entries.

It turns out that even though he had his dad’s permission to enter the contest, he wasn’t eligible for the drawing for a $20,000 Best Buy gift card and a trip to Maui since he was not 18 or older.

Best Buy was gracious enough to award Holtz a $1,000 gift card anyway, and he did what many kids his age would do: purchase himself an Xbox One, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Holtz still had money on the gift card left over, and instead of using it on himself, he decided to buy another Xbox One and donate it to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses.

He explained his decision to the Tribune:

“I decided to donate one of the Xbox One systems to Make-A-Wish because of my cousin Alec,” Sam said. “When he was real little, he was in Make-A-Wish, and back then [23 years ago], people granted his wish of going to Disney World. I thought I’d kind of repay them for what they did for my cousin [who survived his illness and is now an adult].”

It’s a terrific gesture by Holtz, who’s got to still be riding high after pulling off the impressive bracket feat.

​[CollegeBasketballTalk]

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

 

TIME society

Watch a News Anchor Interview a Traffic Cone on Air

Slow news day?

A Philadelphia news station must be celebrating April Fools’ Day all month because a couple of anchors interviewed a traffic cone Thursday morning. On air. Live.

Mike Jerrick, who hosts FOX 29’s Good Day Philly with Alex Holley, posed questions to a traffic cone, which even had a mic at the top of its hole.

The cheesy stunt was inspired by the mysterious sight of a traffic cone paved into a street in Center City. The city told the news station that workers repaired a hole in the road, topped it with a cone, which got run over by a car.

TIME society

This Video Shows That Women Really Do Pay More for Everything Than Men

The so-called "women's tax" is very real in everything from haircuts to perfume to dry cleaning

While it’s no secret that many products and services inexplicably cost more for women, many people still seem unaware — or at least unperturbed — about this “women’s tax.” France’s finance ministry is currently investigating this issue, but in the U.S., it still seems to go largely unnoticed.

So, to shed light on this purported price gap between gendered products, a team at the Daily Share created a video comparing nearly identical products with not-so-identical price tags. They found that a Schick’s Hydro 5 men’s razor, for example, costs $8.56, while a counterpart marketed toward women costs $9.97.

Narciso Rodriguez Eau de Toilette For Him, they found, costs $87, while the “For Her” variety comes in at $106.60. Even major expenses like long-term care insurance, they found, costs 13% more for women.

The one thing they came up with that costs the same for men and women? Unisex button-down shirts from American Apparel. Getting these identical shirts dry cleaned, however, cost 25 cents more for the woman, whose receipt actually said “lady shirt.”

 

TIME society

Alaska Airlines Kicked a Woman With Cancer Off a Flight

An employee said she didn't have a doctor's note

Elizabeth Sedway had to miss chemotherapy at home in California Tuesday because Alaska Airlines refused to let the multiple myeloma patient fly without a doctor’s note. The airline has since apologized for the incident.

“I’m being removed as if I’m a criminal or contagious,” she said in a emotional video posted on Facebook Monday night showing Sedway, her husband and two sons being escorted off the flight. They had been on vacation in Hawaii. “My family is being forcibly removed from a plane because I have cancer.”

“God bless you,” other passengers told the 51-year-old, who can be heard crying as she exists.

An Alaska Airlines employee noticed Sedway was wearing a surgical mask to avoid germs in the airport.

“She asked me if I needed anything,” Sedway wrote in a Facebook video post that has been viewed more than 20,000 times in two days. “The first time. I said no. The second time, [I] said, well I might need a bit of extra time to board, sometimes I feel weak. Because I said the word weak, the Alaska Airlines employee called a doctor, she claimed was associated with the airlines. After we board the plane. An Alaska representative boarded the plane, and told us I could not fly without a note from a doctor stating that I was cleared to fly.”

Sedway, who says she has had no trouble flying in the five years since her diagnosis, had to miss her chemotherapy scheduled for the next day as a result. Her husband missed work and her sons missed a day of school.

Alaska Airlines apologized for the incident Tuesday.

“We regret the inconvenience Ms. Sedway experienced yesterday and are very sorry for how the situation was handled,” spokesperson Halley Knigge told a local CBS affiliate. “Her family’s tickets have been refunded and we will cover the cost of her family’s overnight accommodations in Lihue. While our employee had the customer’s well-being in mind, the situation could have been handled differently.”

TIME

This Teen’s Rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner Will Inspire You

She couldn't see the crowd clap, but she could hear them cheer

Before Rand Paul announced his presidential bid Tuesday—declaring, “We have come to take our country back”—the crowd heard a special rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner by Marlana VanHoose.

The Kentucky 18-year-old couldn’t see the crowd erupt in applause after she took the stage at the Kentucky Galt House Hotel. Nor could she read the stream of tweets praising her when she belted the national anthem.

Born with cerebral palsy, without a fully formed optic nerve, VanHoose has never been able to see. But after defying doctors’ predictions and making it past her first birthday, according to her website, “Marlana was humming “Jesus loves me” before she talked and by the time she was 2 years old she taught herself to play the piano.”

VanHoose has also sung the national anthem at sporting events and has been featured on ESPN.

She might not have been able to see the crowd clap, but she could hear them cheer.

 

TIME society

Mr. Burger to Marry Ms. King? You Got It

The fast food giant has agreed to pay for the Burger-King wedding

Fast food has a new power couple.

Two Illinois residents Joel Burger and Ashley King will wed in July—forming the Burger-King wedding, according to The State Journal-Register.

King told the paper they have “fully embraced our nickname” and even announced their engagement with a photo in front of the restaurant chain.

With approval from the company, the couple—who have known each other since kindergarten but only started dating in college—also hope to use the logo on drink koozies as a wedding favor and it looks like they just might get their wish.

Burger King acknowledged the nuptials by tweeting out the paper’s article on Saturday hoping to find them.

“Mr. Burger and Ms. King? Is this real life? Please help us find this amazing couple,” they tweeted. And when King responded to their Tweet, the company revealed they “have something special” for them.

We’re just hoping their future kids will have a hyphenated last name.

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME society

Meet the World’s New Oldest Living Person

Courtesy of Michael Kinloch Jeralean Talley and godson Tyler Kinloch pictured with one of the seven catfish she caught at the Spring Valley Trout Farm in Dexter, Mich., on June 16, 2012.

Here's what 115-year-old Jeralean Talley of Michigan had to say about the news

The last two known people on Earth born in 1898 have passed away just five days apart, according to the Gerontology Research Group.

Following the death of 117-year-old Japanese woman Misao Okawa last Wednesday, Gertrude Weaver of Camden, Ark., became the world’s new oldest living person at 116 years old. But she passed away Monday morning at the Silver Oaks Health and Rehabilitation Center after complications due to pneumonia, the Associated Press confirmed.

“The record for the shortest reign is four days, and that was Emma Tillman in 2007 at 114 years old,” said Robert Young, director of the supercentenarians division of the Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group. “The average title holder keeps the title maybe for about a year. On top of that, we’ve never had two people over 116 years old die in one week before. So now you can close the book on 1898.”

Courtesy of Christonna CampbellTalley holds great-great grandson Armmell Holloway at home, May 13, 2014.

That makes Jeralean Talley of Inkster, Mich., the new oldest living person at 115 years old. There could still be people who are older than Talley, but their claims have not been verified by the organization, which usually requires documentation such as original proof of birth, name change and recent identification.

MORE Long Life Secrets from the Second-Oldest American

“I feel good,” Talley told TIME in a Monday evening phone call, aided by her daughter, Thelma Holloway, 77. “I don’t feel sick. I’m still trying to do the right thing is all.”

Aisha Holloway, 39, Talley’s great-granddaughter, who was visiting from nearby Southfield, Mich., described the news as “amazing” and “overwhelming.”

Thelma Holloway said Talley is generally in good health and is still a night owl, awake as late as midnight. “She doesn’t get around like she used to, but she doesn’t have any pains and walks around the house. All she does is sleep and eat.”

Talley has always said the secret to her longevity is two-fold: “do unto others as you desire them to do unto you” and eat lots of pork—specifically hog’s head cheese—which doesn’t contain cheese and is mostly made of pigs’ ears and feet.

She has stayed active over the years by sewing dresses, making quilts, playing the slot machines at casinos and bowling—even scoring 200 in one game before retiring from the lanes at 104 years old, when her legs got too weak. Since then, she has been known to pass the time by watching The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Wheel of Fortune or listening to baseball on the radio. Around her birthday in May, one of her friends, Michael Kinloch, usually takes her fishing for catfish and trout.

Aisha Holloway said that while Talley does not have any hobbies she pursues regularly anymore, she still makes it to church on Sundays. “She’s a very solemn individual. Very quiet, very humble, very sweet.”

As Talley’s great-great-grandson, Armmell, shrieked in the background, she added, “We’ve got a two year old here that keeps her on her toes. She’s very stern with him and will say ‘You get off of there! You’ll hurt yourself!’ It’s amazing to watch an almost 116 year old watching out for a two year old. I think God kept her alive so she can watch over us.”

 

Courtesy of Michael KinlochTalley pictured with her fishing buddy Michael Kinloch’s family the day after Thanksgiving, on Nov. 29, 2013. (L-R) Michael’s youngest son and Talley’s godson Tyler, Michael’s wife Elaine, and Michael’s oldest son Ramon and his fiancé Andrea (both doctors), and Michael.
Courtesy of Michael KinlochTalley puts the bait on her fishing pole at the Spring Valley Trout Farm in Dexter, Mich., on May 25, 2013.
Courtesy of Michael KinlochTalley with (L-R) the owners of Spring Valley Trout Farm in Dexter, Mich., her friend Mary Kennedy, and her godson Tyler Kinloch, on May 25, 2013.

Read next: Meet the Oldest Living American

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