Buying a fun shower curtain is an easy way to brighten your home

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 If you’ve been isolating yourself at home due to COVID-19, there’s a good chance you’re growing tired of your same old surroundings.

Once the novelty of staying inside wears off, the social distancing lifestyle can start to feel a bit lonely, boring, and monotonous. If you’re looking for a cheap, simple way to make your living space more exciting, we have a somewhat unconventional suggestion: Buy a new shower curtain.

I know you’re probably thinking that buying a new shower curtain sounds even more dull than the idea of staying home for another month. But I’m not talking about a sensible, neutral shower curtain that you’d buy to tie your whole bathroom together. I’m suggesting you order a fun, colorful, wacky, patterned, perhaps even slightly chaotic shower curtain. 

A new shower curtain has the power to transform the look and feel of your entire bathroom, not to mention, glancing at it in the mirror when you’re washing your hands 20 times a day can help cheer you up.

I’ve always favored extremely tame shower curtains that seamlessly blend with surrounding bathroom decor, but after recently coming across a Wayfair ad for a few wacky-looking shower curtains I did a little research and stumbled into the weird and wonderful world of online shower curtain shopping. 

Was everyone aware of just how many shower curtains there are in this world? There are curtains with gorgeous flowers, colorful stripes, maps, tassels, animals, sports logos, travel scenes, and more printed onto them. If you can imagine it, it’s on a shower curtain. And if not, you can personalize your own curtain with a favorite quote, photograph, or design.

The online shower curtain selection is honestly a bit overwhelming, so if you need some inspiration I suggest filtering search results by seeking out curtains that reflect your interests. Do you love the color orange? Are a you a huge fan of Star Wars? Are you obsessed with dogs, vinyl, or traveling? If so, you’re in luck. The perfect shower curtain is out there for you.

After a few initial searches I was able to find these serious contenders for my own shower, but the possibilities are truly endless.

Buying a fun shower curtain is an easy way to brighten your home

Price: 29.99 via Wayfair

Buying a fun shower curtain is an easy way to brighten your home

Price: $57.14 via Redbubble

Buying a fun shower curtain is an easy way to brighten your home

Price: $17.55 via Amazon

Buying a fun shower curtain is an easy way to brighten your home

Price: $101 via Wayfair

Wayfair, Amazon, Etsy, Redbubble, and more have delightful selections of shower curtains — including both whimsically unhinged and tastefully simple options — that I highly recommend browsing. But some custom curtains online can be a bit pricey, so remember that you can always search for discounts at stores like Target and Bed Bath & Beyond, or Marshalls and TJ Maxx when stores re-open. 

Most people don’t usually change their shower curtains very often, but it sounds like a nice idea to have several options on-hand that you can swap out depending on your mood. They even sell festive shower curtains for the holidays that are hilariously extra. And if you really feel like an upgrade you can also shop for new shower curtain hooks and rings.

Just be sure to keep the height of your shower/tub in mind when shopping for your new shower curtain,  remember to buy a plastic liner if needed, and your bathroom glow-up will be good to go.

How to cope with the unique pain of synced menstrual cycles in quarantine

Quarantining during the coronavirus outbreak with my roommates was going well. I live with two friends from college, Madde and Nicole, and we planned out activities and shows to watch together.

Things in the outside world may have been very bad, but we did actually manage to make the best of the situation — until we all got our periods at the same time, and the energy in our apartment changed. 

Menstrual syncing is the idea that pheromones cause people who spend a lot of time together to get their periods at the same time. It’s a much-debated phenomenon, but there is no conclusive evidence to support it. Whatever the reason, my roommates and I have managed to get our cycles matched up, give or take a couple days.

We live in Brooklyn, and this was toward the end of March, so we were under orders to stay inside and had already been social distancing at home together for a week and a half. The pandemic was growing increasingly bad, and certainly we were lucky to be safe and healthy and together. 

But while it may have been trivial in comparison to what was going on in the larger world, being stuck inside a small apartment with two other women who also had their period was a less than ideal wrench to throw in the works — and we had very little else to focus on so we got annoyed fast

The logistics of group periods

For starters, we only have one bathroom. Being in an office while dealing with period pains and potential bleed-throughs is not great, but at least there are multiple stalls and/or bathrooms where you can take care of everything.

My roommates and I had to time it out and slip into the bathroom when no one else was using it. Period poops are real, my friends, and don’t exactly care about whether the toilet is free. There’s also not a ton of privacy in our space. Luckily, the bathroom fan is broken and is incredibly loud, sparing us from hearing one another do the deed.

I wanted nothing more than to take a long, hot bath, but I didn’t want to be that asshole who was hogging the bathroom for an hour if the other two needed to get in.

Another dilemma we faced was the shortage of toilet paper. We’d been rationing our shitty stock of single-ply TP because it’s all we could find when we were prepping for social distancing. Fortunately, when I went to the drugstore to pick up my birth control prescription and tampons, I was also able to snag a pack of better quality toilet paper, so the end of our cycles saw some softer days.

Too many moods in a small space

Let’s talk about the emotional side of menstruation. Now, I like my roommates a lot — we’ve been friends for almost five years. But, wow, the energy in our little apartment became tense.

I will take most of the blame for this, tbh. I’m an introvert, and I get hella moody when my body is shedding itself from the inside. Contrary to its name, this time of isolation did not allow me to be alone much.

For the first two days of my social distancing cycle, I shut myself in my room instead of hanging out on the couch and watching The Handmaid’s Tale with my roomies. (I know, we’re late to the game.) By the third day, Madde texted our group chat and asked if we could eat dinner, play a game, or do some sort of activity together because she could tell something was off.

The three of us ended up baking cookies and sharing gripes about how we were dealing with our periods. I avoided contact to keep myself from being shitty to my friends, Madde got annoyed at little things but worked to keep the peace, and Nicole found herself down an accidental rabbit hole of old photos from when she and her boyfriend were broken up and had a little cry sesh in her room. You know, normal period stuff.

“We’re going to hold a little extra anxiety and sorrow right now. We don’t need to judge ourselves for being anxious, sad, or angry.”

The thing that was hardest is that we couldn’t take a break from each other or go out and do things to distract ourselves. Madde and Nicole both have boyfriends, so they usually spend some nights over at their apartment, and I get our apartment to myself to order Thai food and wallow in self-pity and cramps while watching a romcom on the couch. 

This time around, we were all confined to our rooms with heating pads on our stomachs trying not to be too bitchy or burst into tears. 

A better way to cope

Luckily, my roommates and I did not end up hating each other. But I do want to be more prepared for next time, so I spoke with Dr. Angela Lawson, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and psychiatry at Northwestern University, to see what sort of tips she had for people sheltering in place with others.

Communication, she says, is the biggest thing. Communicate your needs to your roommates, partner, family, or whomever you’re isolating with. If you need a hug, tell someone. If you need to be left alone, tell someone. If you need to scream into the void, tell! someone! 

“We assume people will guess our needs, but unfortunately people are bad guessers,” Lawson says.

As for the logistics of sharing a bathroom, Lawson suggests figuring out a schedule for what you can control, like showers and baths. Communicate and respect one another’s time.

When I was being antisocial in my room, Madde did exactly what Lawson would recommend — suggesting an activity that brought us together. If you’re struggling socially during your cycle, try getting together and baking, going for a walk, doing a puzzle, or playing a game.

Finally, Lawson advises acknowledging how you’re feeling and that we’re all going through a weird time. “We’re going to unfortunately hold a little extra anxiety and sorrow right now,” Lawson says. “We don’t need to judge ourselves for being anxious, sad, or angry.” 

Try to control your reaction to your situation and focus on things you know will help. If you don’t know what exactly that is, talk to other people or experiment with new things. And don’t forget there are online tools to help with emotional support and mental health.

So, if you and your quarantine mates are all going through the beautiful hell of menstruation together while sheltering in place, be gentle with yourselves, communicate, and bake some cookies.

Bible breakthrough: ‘Proof of Jesus resurrection’ discovered in Jerusalem tomb exposed 

The story of Jonah and the Whale can be found in the Old Testament and tells the tale of an Israelite called upon by God to be a prophet who refused to accept his divine mission and left on a sea voyage instead. God then raised a great storm as a sign of his anger with Jonah and the sailors, realising that Jonah’s disobedience had caused the storm, threw him overboard in an attempt to save their ship. Jonah was saved from drowning when he was swallowed by a “great fish which vomited out Jonah upon the dry land,” sparing his life in what Christians believe is a parallel to Jesus’ resurrection.

In an ancient tomb in Talpiot, Jerusalem, archaeologists found ossuaries – bone boxes for the dead – bearing engravings that could represent the earliest archaeological evidence of the story.

Biblical investigator Simcha Jacobovici said in 2012: “For a believing Christian, it’s very, very, very good news.

“Why? Because here we have a Christian symbol, an icon, and the first recognised Christian symbol from the catacombs biblical symbol is the sign of Jonah.

“It’s the only statement that Jesus actually gives in the Gospels in his own worlds.”

Mr Jacobovici holding a replica of what he saw

Mr Jacobovici holding a replica of what he saw (Image: GETTY/YOUTUBE)

The story of Jonah and the Whale is told in the BIble

The story of Jonah and the Whale is told in the Bible (Image: GETTY)

For a believing Christian, it’s very, very, very good news

Simcha Jacobovici

Mr Jacobovici went on to make a link between Jonah’s resurrection and Jesus’.

He added: “When he’s asked for a sign, he says ‘this is an evil generation, I will give you only one sign – the sign of Jonah’.

“So we have an attested Christian symbol, found in Jerusalem, dating back to the time of the people that knew Jesus, 250 years earlier than anything in the catacombs.

“Next to it we have the earliest and only statement of the resurrection faith ever found.”

The tomb has been dated to before 70AD, so if its engravings are indeed early Christian, they were most likely made by some of Jesus’ earliest followers, according to the excavators.

READ MORE: ‘This is not mythology’ Archaeology find in ancient Israel ‘matching’ Bible story revealed

Simcha Jacobovici

Simcha Jacobovici in 2012 (Image: YOUTUBE)

One of the limestone ossuaries bears an inscription in Greek that includes a reference to “Divine Jehovah” raising someone up. 

A second ossuary has an image that appears to be a large fish with a stick figure in its mouth. 

Translating the inscriptions, Professor James Tabor added: “God, Jehovah, lifts up, the tense of this is not clear, but it is essentially the verb ‘I lift up’ – the lord God has lifted me up from death.

“He actually says that in the Book of Jonah.

“The person who is making this ossuary, let’s say the family, seems to be deriving from the Book of Jonah, their vocabulary, their language.”

Together both the inscription and the image of the fish represent the Christian belief in resurrection from death.

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The original inscriptions

The original inscriptions (Image: SIMCHA JACOBOVCI)

Some say it is proof of the resurrection

Some say it is proof of the resurrection (Image: GETTY)

While images of the Jonah story became common on more recent Christian tombs, they do not appear in first-century art, and iconographic images like this on ossuaries are extremely rare. 

Professor Charles Price, explained what the find means for the understanding of the Bible.

He added: “We said that Jesus was buried somewhere in a dusty tomb outside Jerusalem, we do not have any possibility of a living relationship with him.

“Paul confirmed the physical resurrection of Jesus, that’s what he spoke of in Corinthians chapter 15, and he spoke of it as a historical event.

“He was dying, he was buried and he was raised to life.

“He was not saying he physically died, but spiritually he raised to life – no – he speaks of all three in the same context.”

But, the discovery came with some controversy.

This tomb was originally uncovered in 1981, but the excavators at the time were forced to leave by Orthodox Jewish groups who oppose the excavation of Jewish tombs.

The tomb was then resealed and buried beneath the modern city. 

Almost two decades later, the archaeologists got a license to go back into the tomb, however, because of the buildings on top of it and the threat of protests from Orthodox Jewish groups, they took an unconventional route.

They inserted a robotic arm, developed for the project, carrying high-definition cameras, through holes drilled in the basement floor of the building. 

The cameras photographed the ossuaries inside from all sides.

This, according to some scholars, may have led to wishful thinking.

Referring to the drawing, Mark Goodacre, an associate professor of religious studies at Duke University, who specialises in the New Testament, said in 2014: “When is a fish not a fish? 

“When it has handles, matching handles?

“It’s a vessel, it’s a vase. It’s a vase that looks like many of the ones that you’ll find in the early Roman period.”

Professor Goodacre had doubts over the translation too, adding: “They’re seeing things that simply aren’t there, their heads are so full of DaVinci Code.”

Mr Jacobovici has been criticised before when he made the claim that he had found Jesus’ family tomb, with ossuaries that contained the bones of Jesus’ mother Mary and possibly Jesus himself.

But, Professor Tabor, among others, do believe that Mr Jacobovici did find something significant in 2012 and that the two tombs, just 200 feet apart, are related somehow. 

Life after death: Man experiences heaven in near death experience – claim

A person who just gave his name as Brom believes he has experienced the afterlife after suffering a near-fatal swimming accident. Brom stated that following his accident, which left him paralysed from the shoulders down, he was close to death and technically died for a few moments. While he was dead, in which his breathing and heart stopped while on the way to the hospital, Brom believes he experienced a heavenly realm.

He wrote on the Near Death Experience Research Foundation (NDERF): “I became fully engulfed in heavenly light while being propelled forward. I clearly heard the loud sound of rushing wind.

“After some moments of awe and wonder, I realised that my consciousness had been separated from my body. Instinctively, I struggled to return to my body by sending messages to those parts of my body.

“I tried to shrug my shoulders, blink my eyes, and turning my head, but did not seem to have any effect at first.

“Unknown to me, a doctor was with me at the time. He recognized what was happening, grabbed a hand pump to resuscitate me, and re-positioned the breathing tube.


Life after death: Man experiences heaven in near death experience – claim (Image: GETTY)


Brom claims he entered heaven (Image: GETTY)

“He also directed my brother to shout at me and get my attention.

“As my sensation of being separated began to fade, the sound of the wind began to diminish. I heard my brother’s voice.

“I heard the doctor’s voice telling me to calm down, stop moving around, and that I was going to be okay. The room gradually came into focus.”

Some researchers believe visions of an afterlife are normal phenomenon and not necessarily a sign of life after death.


“After some moments of awe and wonder, I realised that my consciousness had been separated from my body” (Image: GETTY)

Dr Sam Parnia, director of critical care and resuscitation research at NYU Langone School of Medicine in New York City, said at an Oz Talk: “People describe a sensation of a bright, warm, welcoming light that draws people towards it.

“They describe a sensation of experiencing their deceased relatives, almost as if they have come to welcome them.

“They often say that they didn’t want to come back in many cases, it is so comfortable and it is like a magnet that draws them that they don’t want to come back.

“A lot of people describe a sensation of separating from themselves and watching doctors and nurses working on them.”

Dr Parnia said there are scientific explanations for the reaction, and says seeing people is not evidence of the afterlife, but more likely the brain just scanning itself as a survival technique.

Alien UFO found in Antarctica is 100 percent proof of ancients aliens on Earth – odd claim


Alien UFO found in Antarctica is 100 percent proof of ancients aliens on Earth – bizarre claim (Image: ET DATABASE)

Despite countless supposed UFO sightings, there is zero evidence to suggest that have ever been on Earth. In fact, there is little evidence which supports the theory that life exists anywhere else in the Universe. However, one conspiracy theorist believes he has now found that evidence in the form of a triangular UFO which he spotted on an Antarctic island.

Prominent hunter Scott C Waring believes he has spotted a UFO which suggests that aliens not only made their way to Earth but have also lived here.

Mr Waring claims the UFO and base were only uncovered as the warming globe caused snow and ice to melt away in the Antarctic.

The conspiracy theorist spotted the supposed spaceship on the Lavoisier Island using Google Maps.

Mr Waring wrote on his blog ET Database: “I was looking over an island in the Antarctic region when I came across a craft.

“The triangle craft has a hump in the middle and a thicker edge with three sides.


The conspiracy theorist spotted the supposed spaceship on the Lavoisier Island (Image: ET DATABASE)

“It looks metallic and its sitting in an area which appears to be the location of an ancient alien base.

“This craft was revealed after warm years had melted the ice and snow revealing the secret craft below. This is 100 percent evidence that aliens have lived on Earth long before humanity ever made cites.”

However, some people who commented on Mr Waring’s work were not in agreement with the alien hunter.

A YouTube user who goes by the name moogie8596 simply said: “Looks like a rock ridge to me.”

NASA and other sceptics would agree with this sentiment, stating the ‘UFO’ and other similar findings are just the effects of pareidolia – a psychological phenomenon when the brain tricks the eyes into seeing familiar objects or shapes in patterns or textures such as a rock surface.


There are countless theories of UFOs on Earth (Image: GETTY)

This is not the first time claims have been made about ancient aliens living on Earth, and some believe evidence can be found in old paintings.

Painted on the walls of the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Georgia is an 11th-century portrait of Christ.

The fresco painting shows Christ being crucified with a large crowd gathering around him, but in the top left and right corners are what appears to be flying crafts or some form of advanced technology which humans clearly would have not have had 2000 years ago.

The ships are dome-like, with three trails coming out of each which look like a propellant of some kind.

Art historians who have studied the 11th-century painting claim that the strange crafts actually represent guardian angels, however.

30 years later, ‘Twin Peaks’ stills loves us as much as we love it

Deputy Hawk was late to our phone call. To be fair, the man was on duty. 

“I mean, this raccoon was the size of a Volkswagen,” Michael Horse, the actor behind the Twin Peaks icon, tells me through triumphant chuckles. “I built a chicken coop the guys from Alcatraz couldn’t escape from, so this raccoon must have had bolt cutters or something. ”

Nestled in his northern California home, Horse regales me with the details of his raccoon rumble (and apologizes repeatedly for keeping me waiting) before diving into the subject of our call. Prior to connecting with Mashable, the 68-year-old had planned to be in Graceland with cast members and fans to celebrate Twin Peaks’ 30th anniversary. But given the rapid spread of coronavirus, organizers had no choice but to postpone festivities until November. 

“There are two kinds of people: the ones who get Twin Peaks and the ones who don’t.”

So for now, the Hawk is partying with me. Well, me and his cat, Carlos whom he says was very worried about the chickens. “Anyway,” he laughs, “how are you?”

In my mind, there are few things more daunting than writing about Twin Peaks. Dripping with David Lynch’s surreal sensibilities and Mark Frost’s immense intelligence, the legendary show sits in a part of my brain typically reserved for the big questions of life: Is my existence meaningful? Where does space go? How long after the expiration date can you still drink the milk? 

From the original series and movie to the Showtime return, novels, and fan forums, the universe of Twin Peaks is bafflingly complex. Not just in terms of plot, but as a matter of TV history, life philosophy, and metaphysical exercise. When Horse tells me there are two types of people in this world — “the ones who get Twin Peaks and the ones who don’t” — I fear for a moment that I’m the latter.

"I mean this raccoon was the size of a Volkswagen."

“I mean this raccoon was the size of a Volkswagen.”

Image: courtesy of twin peaks: From Z to A

Brandishing my knowledge of the franchise like a shield, I hit Horse with a few questions about deep-cut details and viewer theories. It’s a feeble attempt to establish credibility in a realm no one, including Horse, really understands.

“A lot of things about Twin Peaks don’t make sense to me, and I’m in it,” he says through an audible grin. “Because it isn’t about the questions. It’s about the journey.” 

It’s a sentiment I’d already heard speaking with Dana Ashbrook on the phone an hour before. Of course, anything is more resonant coming from the Hawk than Bobby Briggs — no matter how phenomenal his Return redemption arc was — but it’s the one-two punch of hearing it from both of them that puts me at ease. 

“They know the show so well, and they care about David, and they care about us so much. We’re so, so lucky.”

“No, I don’t go down that road,” Ashbrook tells me, making it politely clear that he would not be entertaining any questions about the father of Lucy’s baby while socially distancing in the Catskills. “I don’t speculate about that stuff. I just leave it up to the viewer. That’s their job.”

Known for its game-changing role in serialized drama, Twin Peaks isn’t the most inviting world. Not only is the entire thing built on the grisly murder of a 17-year-old girl, but the clashing of mystery, soap, and sci-fi genres makes it unlike anything to come before or after it. It’s one of a kind, a singular experience that doesn’t fit into any matrix. A round peg in a stack of waffles.

I’d spent hours preparing for these conversations, agonizing over making the perfect observation to wow my subjects as much as my editors. It turns out, I could just say hi because that’s what fans do. Especially Twin Peaks fans.

“It’s the sweetest, most cool, most artistic fan base of any show,” Ashbrook says. “For a lot of them, the show is an escape from a difficult childhood, difficult teenage years, or whatever, a difficult life. They know the show so well, and they care about David, and they care about us so much. We’re so, so lucky.”

“They’re so smart, and they’re so kind, and they’re so polite,” Horse agrees. “They come into my wife’s gallery and I’m usually never there. But my wife can spot ‘em. She says they look like deer in headlights, and she goes, ‘He’s not here, but I’ll tell him you stopped by.’”

“Why does anyone like anything?”

We chat about the kind of work Horse’s wife does, his former home in Topanga Canyon, and the beauty of Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks score, which he describes as being straight from “the dream world.” 

With Ashbrook, I ask about auditioning (he didn’t really, Lynch signed off on Ashbrook’s casting long before “the day”), which of his castmates he keeps in touch with (a whole lot of them, usually by text), and what about the show makes it worth revisiting 30 years later. 

“Why does anyone like anything?” he quips. “I don’t know. It strikes a chord.” 

Neither actor hands me the key to understanding Twin Peaks. We just talk warmly and kindly about this show we all like very much. They’re fans just like I am.

Though the questions of Twin Peaks are certain to haunt me well into the next 30 years, I’m confident in saying these conversations taught me what truly makes it special. Yes, it’s the exquisite cinematography, inventive humor, pitch-perfect performances, and mesmerizing world. But it’s also just us. Sitting in a diner. Having a damn fine cup of coffee — and a slice of cherry pie. 

Twin Peaks Season 1 and 2 are streaming on Hulu, Netflix, and CBS All Access. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is available for purchase or rent on iTunes and Amazon Prime. Twin Peaks: The Return can be found on Showtime

The entire Twin Peaks collection is compiled on Blu-ray in Twin Peaks: From Z to A.

Sylvia Browne’s End of Days: Did the psychic predict coronavirus?

The psychic Sylvia Browne is believed by many to be on par with Nostradamus and the Bulgarian mystic Baba Vanga. In 2008, Mrs Browne published a collection of prophecies for the future, one which may have been a prediction of the .


A fragment from the book End of Days: Predictions and Prophecies about the End of the World has been widely circulated on the internet in recent months.

Since the coronavirus outbreak at the end of 2019, conspiracy theorists have been busy trying to explain the disease.

One person said on Twitter: “Now would be a good time, while we are practising social distancing, to READ a good book!

“I suggest, End of Days: Predictions and Prophecies About the End of the World by Sylvia Browne, who accurately predicted our shift to America First and the 2020 corona virus.”

READ MORE: Bible verses about coronavirus: What does the Bible say about COVID19?

Sylvia Browne: Coronavirus predictions

Sylvia Browne prophecy: Did the psychic predict coronavirus in End of Days? (Image: GETTY)

Sylvia Browne: Tweets about the psychic

Sylvia Browne: Many people believe the psychic could predict the future (Image: TWITTER)

Another person said: “What?? Sylvia Browne’s book ‘End of Days’ predicted the spread of Coronavirus #COVID19 in 2020 around the globe.”

A third Twitter user said: “Remember Sylvia Browne the psychic who used to do the talk shows? She predicted the #coronavirus #WuhanFlu too.

“Now that we know about #YellowCube #LookingGlass how many of these psychics could be deep state assets?”

But what exactly did the psychic say in the End of Days?

A brief passage in the book predicts the global outbreak of a pneumonia-like disease.

The new coronavirus attacks the respiratory system with flu-like symptoms and can trigger pneumonia in severe cases.

In around 2020 a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread throughout the globe

Sylvia Browne, End of Days

Mrs Browne wrote: “In around 2020 a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread throughout the globe, attacking the lungs and the bronchial tubes and resisting all known treatments.

“Almost more baffling than the illness itself will be the fact that it will suddenly vanish as quickly as it has arrived, attack again 10 years later, and then disappear completely.”

However, not everyone is convinced by the passage and the psychic’s supposed clairvoyance.


Coronavirus infection tracker: COVID-19 infections

Coronavirus has infected more than 1.4 million people around the globe (Image: EXPRESS)

Sylvia Browne: Tweets about coronavirus

Sylvia Browne: Not everyone is convinced by the conspiracy theory (Image: TWITTER)

One person on Twitter said: “Also can we stop posting that Sylvia Browne coronavirus prediction?

“It was extremely vague and she’s a proven fraud.

“This is coming from someone with way too many tarot decks so if I think something is woo, that’s saying something.”

Another naysayer tweeted: “For those gobbling up that Sylvia Browne #coronavirus prediction, ‘In around 2020’ is some funky psychic wordplay.

“Being dead and from the ‘other side,’ I can confirm that nobody ever crossed dimensions to talk to Browne. Or Edwards. Or the one with the really big hair.”

The psychic’s book was published just five years after the 2003 SARS epidemic – another member of the coronavirus family.

It is likely the psychic’s prediction was based on that event and scientists frequently reminds us of the threat of undiscovered viruses and bugs.

Fact-checking website Snopes said: “It’s unclear whether Browne’s ‘prediction’ was more of a lucky guess, considering the book was written after the SARS outbreak.

“Furthermore, it’s unknown – possibly unlikely — whether other aspects of Browne’s book passage will bear out.”

In 2020, ‘semi’ is the new ‘ex,’ because not every relationship is official

Maddy, a 24-year-old woman in New York City, defines “ex” as a past exclusive relationship.  

Well, most of the time. 

I spoke with Maddy after she completed a survey I created for this article all about the term “ex.” It was distributed over social media in February, and 283 people responded. During our conversation, Maddy discussed a woman she considers an ex — even though they were never exclusive.

“It does feel like she’s my ex, even though that goes against my own definition,” said Maddy, who requested to be referred by her first name for privacy reasons. “Just because of the level of closeness and the level of how much we expected from each other.”

Maddy is not alone. It’s 2020, and there are so many permutations of relationships beyond exclusive ones (not to mention those within polyamorous relationships, which I will not dive into here). We all have our own nebulous definition of “ex.”

There are so many paths a relationship can take, and there are just as many degrees of emotion we attach to them — even when they’re labeled outwardly as “casual.” When these types of entanglements end it can feel heartbreaking, as much as when you experience the end of a “real” relationship. But if those people are not exes, then what are they?

I propose we call these not-really-exes “semis.” It’s another prefix and incredibly fitting: Those people who got part of the way towards a “real” or “serious” relationship, but not quite all the way.

Here’s how it is used in a sentence: “Ugh, I got a 3AM text from my semi from last year.”  

I know, I know — yet another dating buzzword to describe our current dating landscape. There are, however, several reasons why I feel a word like “semi” is incredibly necessary. 

Our current state of dating

In retrospect, it does make some sense that the English language has not kept up with the various types of relationships we see ourselves in today. For a long time (and is still the case in some areas of the world), dating was something facilitated by parents, or at least one’s family. It usually culminated in marriage and the promise of children.

In the United States and many parts of the Western world, this shifted in the twentieth century in part due to social movements like the sexual revolution. Thanks to technology, however, dating in 2020 is far different from the courting of the nineteenth century and even dating in the twentieth century. It’s shifted the kinds of relationships we have with each other. And as our romantic interactions have changed, a plethora of terms to describe the scourge that dating has become have emerged. 

“It does feel like she’s my ex, even though that goes against my own definition”

Dating apps are certainly part of this. With a few swipes right and messages, you can get a date seemingly in an instant — and thus begins a new, unique relationship. Whether it be a one-night stand, a short-term relationship, or a life partner, it is in fact a relationship. That is even more true for queer people: More queer couples meet each other online than heterosexual couples.

But it’s not just dating apps that have contributed to an array of relationship permutations. Social media as a whole has had a hand in this. You may follow someone on Instagram that you dated years ago and haven’t spoken to since, for example. But something as ubiquitous as texting has also shifted our relationships. You can talk to someone for days on end and create a deep connection even if you barely had any face-to-face time. 

For better and worse, tech has made connecting much easier, and thus made forming deep connections with our fellow man much easier. On the upside, we can make friends online and keep in touch with faraway loved ones. The downside, though, is that we have tons of different relationships with people — and we don’t always know how to categorize them. 

Guy Winch, psychologist and author of How to Fix a Broken Heart, believes these loose definitions are generational to late millennials and Generation Z. The trend among young people is to not want to label relationships, to “see where things go.” Considering we are the first generations where apps and online dating permeated our dating experience, it makes sense. 

It’s this uncertainty that led Kate Wiswell, author of Full-Frontal Nerdity: Lessons in Loving and Living with Your Brain, to coin “eggplant” as a descriptor for someone who was not just a friend, but not a boyfriend, either.

Even six years after writing that blog, Wiswell believes the English language lacks language nuanced enough for the plethora of relationships we have. “I still feel incredibly frustrated by the lack of ability for us to have the right words to try and describe what we’re going through,” she said in an interview with Mashable. 

Millennial and Gen Z dating histories, according to Winch, are like the gig economy — patchworks of experiences. “There’s not the understanding of this linear process of you start dating someone, it intensifies in seriousness, and then either you get into a committed serious relationship or it drops off,” he said in an interview with Mashable. “That’s no longer the main model I think people are using.”

Labels do have their downsides, such as giving people false expectations or they can be seen as restrictive. But not labeling the relationship can also cause a lot of confusion. “People ‘go with the flow,'” said Winch, “but then they start to question, ‘Well, where is this flow going?'”

How people define “ex” now

Samantha Rothenberg, a comic artist who goes by @violetclair on Instagram, told me that she only considers someone an “ex” if they had that conversation where they label their relationship. 

“An ex must be someone who I had the relationship talk with where we firmly established that I’m his girlfriend, and he’s my boyfriend,” she said. 

In my survey, 73.4 percent of the 283 respondents agreed with Rothenberg and said they use “ex” only to mean a past exclusive, monogamous relationship. 

But that is not the whole story. While many felt the same way, others have a looser definition of the term. Over 37 percent said they refer to someone they’ve dated in the past for a certain amount of time as an ex, and 20 percent said an ex is someone they’ve dated for any amount of time.

Since we live in a time of friends-with-benefits and fuck buddies, I also asked about sexual relationships. Around 19 percent of respondents say they consider an “ex” a past, non-exclusive sexual relationship for a certain amount of time, while 6 percent consider an “ex” a past, non-exclusive relationship for any amount of time.

Additionally, Rothenberg polled her some 200,000 followers about the subject. The majority of the 4402 respondents, 54 percent, said they use “ex” more loosely than just past “serious” relationships.   

Not only is our definition of “ex” all over the place, but so is the amount of time we feel necessary to deem someone an ex. When asked about how much time is “a certain amount of time,” respondents answered anywhere from a month to six months to years. 

While Rothenberg has a tight personal definition, she said that it makes defining past relationships that did not have “the talk” harder to talk about. “It does kind of leave this weird gray area when I’m referring to one of those relationships,” she said, “I’m never sure what the correct term to use is.”

The “ex” conversation becomes even more layered once you consider queer relationships, which can take varying degrees of platonic and romance at any given time. This is something heterosexual people cannot seem to wrap their heads around even decades after When Harry Met Sally

Maddy said she does not know how to define the word when it comes to other queer people. “If ex is based on relationships,” Maddy said, “the only real model for relationships that we’ve had for hundreds and hundreds of years is straight relationships.”

Why “semis” deserve to be named

There is an argument that we don’t need to name these relationships, that they are unnamed for a reason: They are not significant enough to have their own names. If you were not in an “actual” relationship, why legitimize them with language?

It’s because these relationships, even undefined, are significant. We invested enough time and attention to have genuine feelings for this person — why else would we be talking about them? If they were insignificant, this gap in language would not exist because we would simply forget about them, they would not come up in conversation, we would have no need to truncate “that Tinder guy I hooked up with for six months but then it got weird…” or what have you. 

If it takes a paragraph to explain someone’s role in you life, it’s a lot easier to just create a word for them rather than will those feelings and memories away. 

“Even if someone is not officially your boyfriend or girlfriend, it can still hurt so much when it ends”

“Even if someone is not officially your boyfriend or girlfriend, it can still hurt so much when it ends,” said Rothenberg. She described how the emotional pain of a “situationship” ending could be brought on because you’re left with the fantasy of what could have been — rather than the reality of how a relationship could have played out where you see that you were not a compatible couple. 

Furthermore, your brain cannot tell the difference between those “not really” relationships and “real” ones. Breaking off a friends-with-benefits arrangement or with someone you dated but never DTRed — it’s painful. “Those relationships hurt because the fact that they’re nebulous doesn’t mean that our mind doesn’t fill in the blanks at some level,” said Winch, “With all kinds of hopes and expectations and anticipations.” 

Even if we do not know the future or the other person’s intentions, our mind fills that void. Winch commented, “Psychology hates a void. Something’s going to go in there, even if you’re not fully articulating it.” That’s what makes our hearts break over semis: it’s not about what actually happened. It’s about what we thought would happen, or what we thought about what was happening. If you pour your hopes and dreams into a friend with benefits you believe will for sure want to marry you, and then they don’t, of course it’s going to hurt. 

That is why we should not brush these semis aside, and why we should label them. 

“We need to find a way to embrace the uniqueness of various relationships,” said Wiswell. “There aren’t just a few little buckets that we can put everything into.” 

Where do we go from here? 

It’s difficult to say whether this relationship trend will continue. Wench believes trends to be a generational pendulum — perhaps those who come next will balk at the way millennials and Generation Z labeled or did not label their varying relationships, and the tides will shift. 

Furthermore, we don’t know the technological developments that will change dating. The landscape got a complete overhaul in the 2010s, and it may, and probably will, happen again. 

Our language should change with the times. I want my and others’ feelings validated by the words we use; I want there to be words to use, period. I do not want to have to rattle off a paragraph to describe someone who meant a lot to me — so instead, they’ll be my semi. 

Sony unveils its new DualSense controller with improved triggers

The age of the DualShock has ended. Welcome to the age of the DualSense.
The age of the DualShock has ended. Welcome to the age of the DualSense.

Image: sony

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With every new console, Sony has released a new DualShock controller to go along with it. Not this time.

What you’re looking at is the new DualSense controller, revealed Tuesday by Sony, a gamepad for the upcoming PlayStation 5 that looks like a cross between the DualShock 4 controller, the Xbox One controller, and a Stormtrooper helmet.

The most apparent features of the controller are the color and the size. The sleek white and black combo is a new direction for PlayStation aesthetic, which tends to stick toward a single color. It may point to the aesthetic of the yet-to-be-revealed console.

The DualSense seems a bit bulkier than the DualShock 4 and fills in the space around the two joysticks instead of having them stick out, which is very reminiscent of how Xbox has been designing their controllers since the beginning.

Naming it the DualSense instead of the DualShock 5 is a nod toward some of the new features of this controller. In the blog post, the company mentions new haptic feedback added to the controller  — which is likely more precise and localized vibrations similar to the Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Con controllers — and adaptive triggers for the R2 and L2 buttons which, again, is how Microsoft has designed their triggers since the beginning.

Sony unveils its new DualSense controller with improved triggers

All of this is meant to improve immersion, the blog states.

“Our goal with DualSense is to give gamers the feeling of being transported into the game world as soon as they open the box. We want gamers to feel like the controller is an extension of themselves when they’re playing – so much so that they forget that it’s even in their hands.”

One other nice addition (or subtraction, really) to the controller is the lack of lightbar on the back of it. While there is still a large touchpad and some glow on the face of the controller, there isn’t a big light coming out of the back of it like on the DualShock 4. It’s not a huge issue, but sometimes that blue light will glare on the screen when playing.

Along with the new controller information, the blog mentions that we will be getting some information on the actual console’s design in the coming months.

The PlayStation 5 is planned to launch in the holiday season of 2020, and the company has previously mentioned that its launch should not be impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.