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Pro’s Choice: The Wild Life: John Hyde Treks Deep Into The Wilderness To Capture Amazing Images Of Nature

By Jill Rahn

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Don’t Show Promo ImageIt’s one thing to sit in the safety of a Jeep or Land Rover while photographing the wildlife of the Serengeti. It’s quite another to be one with nature, coming face to face with wild creatures on their level, and even to establish a certain rapport with the animals. Then add yet another ingredient: enduring harsh Arctic conditions for hours, if not days, on end, just to get that one great shot. Welcome to the world of wildlife and nature photographer John Hyde.Fri, 08/14/2015Jack Neubart



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Al-Zawihiri Pledges Allegiance To New Taliban Chief

By Scott Neuman

In an audio statement attributed to the head of al-Qaida he backs Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, who was chosen to replace the deceased Mullah Omar.

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Rebuilding A Life Shattered By An Earthquake In China

By Melissa Block

NPR’s Melissa Block was in China when a major earthquake hit in 2008. As she wraps up her time as host of All Things Considered, she reconnected with a Chinese girl who’s overcome great challenges.

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This or That: Pick Your Favorite Dorm Room Decor

By Farima Alavi

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The beginning of college is a bittersweet moment — you’ll miss your family and friends, but the thought of making new friends and embarking on new adventures can be exciting. It’s also the perfect time to express your personality through your new space’s decor. Decorating your dorm room is all about making the most of a small space with smart, multifunctional furniture. This week, we want to know which multipurpose piece you love — a filing cabinet that also serves as an end table or this clever bookshelf room divider?

Vote in our poll below, then tell us which design you chose and why in the comments below.

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Take Our Poll

Check back next week to see the final tally.



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Q&A: Author Neesha Arter on Her Memoir, Survival and Self-Love

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No band in history has written a lyric that more aptly describes the anxiety for perfection quite like Radiohead, in its first hit, “Creep”: “I want to have control / I want a perfect body / I want a perfect soul.” More than 20 years after Thom Yorke penned this confessional line, the idea of perfection is still fraught: It’s often a goal, an obsession and, in some cases, a coping mechanism for many people.

In her harrowing new memoir, Controlled, 24-year-old author and journalist Neesha Arter (The New York Observer, The New York Times) writes—in poignant detail—how an obsession with achieving bodily perfection was a damaging way that she dealt with trauma at 14. Simmering in blame and confusion after she was raped by two former friends, Arter attempted to push away the horrific experience by focusing on losing weight and tried to disappear completely through anorexia. What ensued speaks volumes about our contemporary image-obsessed culture, one that also wallows in silence and shame.

“There is a common superstition that ‘self-respect’ is a kind of charm against snakes, something that keeps those who have it locked in some unblighted Eden, out of strange beds, ambivalent conversations, and trouble in general,” Joan Didion wrote in her celebrated essay “On Self-Respect.” She continues: “It does not at all. It has nothing to do with the face of things, but concerns instead a separate peace, a private reconciliation.”

This private reconciliation Didion wrote about in 1961 is still something that’s so difficult to grapple with. “On Self-Respect” is a favorite essay of Arter’s; fitting, as Controlled speaks so precisely to how difficult it can be to shed self-loathing and blame, and what happens when one can recognize the need for help and come out the other side stronger and more capable. Upon the release of her memoir Tuesday, Arter spoke with Newsweek about survival and speaking out.

First of all, thank you for writing this memoir. With the Bill Cosby accusations so visible in culture right now, it’s high time for your book to come out.

I know. I agree. I think it’s good timing. I love the New York mag piece. Did you watch the videos? The one where the woman said she was doing it for her daughter and started crying? These people are my heroes.

Your book is super-detailed, down to the specifics of clothes and conversations. Did you keep a diary back then?

The beauty of being young and writing a memoir…. I wrote a draft when I was 18, which was just four years later. And I’m still very close friends with the three friends [Jane, Emma and Brad] I put in the book. The character Brad is my best friend to this day. So when I was writing it, he was reading it along and helping me. But it was hard to forget. To this day I can still remember a lot. Specifically the year 14…. I don’t think I’m going to forget that.

Grappling with what happened is harrowing, of course, but was it also a fight to get this book published?

Here’s a bit of the process: I wrote it when I was 18. I was lucky, I had a phenomenal mentor who was the head of the creative writing department. I was a creative writing major. He always believed in me. I don’t know if this would have been possible without him. So I kept working on it—it was my senior thesis. It’s funny, when I first wrote this book I thought, If I can get this book published, I can get over it. I can move on with my life, because I never thought about it for four years. I was 14. When the legal case ended at 15, I thought, OK, this is done. Pushed it away, pushed it away. Then brought it back up, went to therapy. I was always trying to get a [literary] agent, but I was in L.A. and that’s not really the place for that.

So when I was about to graduate, I came [to New York], had a couple of interviews and was like, OK, I’m going to do it. I moved to New York, but didn’t know anyone here. At one point I worked with an editor who…wasn’t very nice. It’s hard because not everyone is going to believe in you. You have to believe in yourself more than anything. People think that these are so female, women’s issues. No. This is a human issue.

Women are taught vigilance from the day they are born, and men on the other hand aren’t instructed to not rape.

I know. [Related to that] I have a good story about the cover, which I love. I was with Katie Ford [former CEO of Ford Models, who wrote the book’s foreword] at a book party in the winter. And this older man, who is a big publisher…I had just shot this, and it didn’t have any of the typography. She said, “Oh, I love the image but let’s poll the room.” And I said, “Oh, I don’t know if I want to show all these strangers…” She asks this man and introduces me, and says, “She just wrote a great memoir about a rape that happened when she was 14.” And he said, “Were you raped because you were wearing that short skirt?” Direct quote. And I died when he said that to me. People have been nice, but then…he said it, and then he said it again.

The cover of Neesha Arter’s “Controlled.”
Courtesy of the author

I would hope that many parents read this book. Have yours?

I don’t really care what anyone thinks of this book except my parents, and they love and support me, so it’s good. But it’s been emotional. I stand by it all. They have read it. My dad was very unemotional, so he said, “Loved it! I loved your book! It’s going to sell.” Thanks, Dad. My mom…it was hard for her. I think she blames herself for [what happened]. But it’s not anyone’s fault. You can’t protect everyone from everything in life. You have to let people live it.

But I have no idea, I’m not a mother. One of my best friends struggled with anorexia, and her mom read this. And she told me it really, actually helped a lot. It’s hard to know what’s going on in your kid’s mind, especially at 14.

As a teenager, you’re already fighting with your parents so much. Reading your book, I got the sense that your parents were so hinged on getting justice, but they didn’t realize…

They didn’t get it.

Right. Since you chose not to testify when this happened, is “​Controlled a form of seeking justice for you?

When I first wrote the book, I thought a lot about whether I wished I went to court or got justice. I do really think I’ve made peace with it. People always say, “Living well’s the best revenge.” But I don’t want to live my life out of revenge. I just want to live my life for me. I was so young; I can’t even begin to imagine what it would have been like to face all these people that didn’t believe me in the first place. I don’t want to…no. I couldn’t do it. I don’t think I could do that at 24. It’s just not worth it to me. I mean, I hope that these guys are not doing that to other girls, but…I don’t know.

What is justice, even? I don’t know anymore, because this is such a losing case. My agent’s a lawyer, and we’ve talked about it a lot. He’s told me I wouldn’t have won this.


There wasn’t enough evidence. I mean, going back to Bill Cosby. On The View: “Innocent until proven guilty.”

He’s been accused for decades, and it took [comedian] Hannibal Buress telling a joke about him to make this visible.

The shame has got to go, especially when [none of the women] did anything wrong. This is absurd. I was at this photo shoot for something, and this makeup artist was asking me if I was nervous for the book to come out. I said, “Well, yeah, it’s a little nerve-wracking.” And she says, “Do you think guys will think you’re difficult to date because you’re damaged?” I was, like, This is crazy. If you’re sexually assaulted, it’s not your fault. That was upsetting. But if I listened to half the things people said to me, I wouldn’t leave my house in the morning.

I have to say that some days, I wake up feeling quite empowered by these platforms and the myriad ways people can speak out and can have public discourses on a global scale about taboo issues such as eating disorders. At the same time, the Internet can be a terrible cesspool. You went through this when the Internet wasn’t as developed but were consulting message boards that were fueling your anorexia, so I was curious about that transition in the 10 years since.

I spoke at the Planned Parenthood national youth conference last month in D.C. I had all of these teen girls come up to me and say, “Thank you for writing this book, I’m a survivor of sexual assault as a child, and no one talks about it.” There was so much love, and that was the point. If anyone wants to bring me down about it, I’m not going to pay attention to it. I love social media—until I start getting the major hate. Get back to me.

But now that the book is coming out, I’m going to be a contributor to this eating disorder recovery blog and do this podcast. You can really find a group for whoever you are. It would be nice to find that in-person, but there are so many platforms for whatever you’re going through. Which is good, especially if you’re a teenager.

I worry about the future, especially where it concerns teen girls.

This book is for teen girls, and the next generation. Sadly, I don’t think this problem is going to go away soon, but I don’t want them to feel alone. I know that’s cliché, but this is truly the reason why I wrote this book. If I had read this at 14, I would have said, “OK, someone else feels this way.” A lot of people tell me, every day, that they were raped and never told anybody.

Something your book really makes explicit is how, culturally, we have a very concerning relationship with body image and food, and it’s worse as a teen girl.

I know a lot of people with eating disorders. In college I knew a lot of people with eating disorders. The first chapter is personal, but in a lot of ways I was more nervous to put out all the anorexia stuff in, because no one knows any of those things. That gave me more anxiety, I think. I don’t think there’s a book out there about eating disorders that is honest and also says, This is not pretty. It’s miserable. People have a glamorous image of anorexic girls and their idealistic body type. What is the cost?

It’s hard to work so hard on something that, now that’s it going to go out into the world, will be interpreted in all kinds of ways. Which is tough, when it’s this close to you.

I love this book and am so happy I can give it to people. I have a family member who’s struggled with anorexia, and she read it. I think it can help a lot of people feel less defeated in the world. I have no idea what’s going to happen: I’m just holding on. But the hardest part of this book has been hearing people’s stories. That makes me sad. This is a worldwide epidemic: It’s rape story after rape story. It’s hard to separate it, and I think that’s the biggest thing I have to learn.

On another note, let’s talk about your connection to Joan Didion and the epigraph at the beginning of the book: “We all survive more than we think we can.”

I think it’s from an interview she did. Play It as It Lays is my favorite novel. I think for me, so much of my high school was so…vacant. I wasn’t ever there. At the end of [Play], she says, “I know what nothing means, and I keep on playing.” There are so many lines from that book that I could relate to at that point in my life. When I read it, I felt like a character in that book.

My favorite essay of hers is “On Self-Respect.” That is something I want every teen girl to read. Self-respect is the most important thing in the world, over love and friendship. The relationship you have to yourself…that’s what I’ve learned from all of this. The way I see myself, the way I talk to myself…I can’t emphasize enough how important that is. Be on your side! Bottom line.

But it’s taken me time. My professor said, “You need to enjoy your own company,” but it wasn’t until I was in college and I was in London—and I kept a diary at that point—that I realized what that meant. I really do enjoy being myself. I think about that a lot: how differently you see others and how you see yourself. I tell people they’re beautiful, because I think they need to hear it more. There needs to be more love in the world.

What words would you offer to someone who’s been through something like this?

It’s very important to not blame yourself. It never crossed my mind that it was my fault until everyone said it was. I wouldn’t think like that. I’m sitting here crying, what? So it would be: Don’t blame yourself, and tell someone you trust. Dealing with trauma is not easy, and some people turn to drugs. Have you read Lucky by Alice Sebold?

I haven’t.

It’s about her rape at 18, and the legal case. I worship her. But the point is, when something traumatic happens it’s going to come out, in some way. Anorexia, that was my coping mechanism, and that happened quickly after [the rape]. She became a heroin addict later in life. We all deal…there’s no physical way to just push it away. It’s a process.

So I would say, Tell someone you trust. You don’t have to deal with this alone. I tried to, and it was a slow path to self-destruction. And there was nothing pretty about it. What would have happened if I accepted a little help? You can’t do it alone. I couldn’t have gotten here alone. But you can do it.



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Don’t Panic, But Our Universe Is Dying

By Ed Mazza

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Don’t get too attached to the universe. It won’t be around much longer.

The universe will long outlast Earth. However, in the cosmic sense, it is slowly dying — something scientists have believed to be the case since the 1990s, but recently confirmed in a new study.

A team of international researchers measured the energy output across a large portion of space and found that it was only half of what it was a mere 2 billion years ago.

And that decline will continue. In the simplest terms, the universe is not only burning out… it’s also fading away.

“The universe will decline from here on in, sliding gently into old age,” Simon Driver, leader of the Galaxy and Mass Assembly (GAMA) project, said in a news release. “The universe has basically sat down on the sofa, pulled up a blanket and is about to nod off for an eternal doze.”

All of the energy in the universe was created in the Big Bang, with some of that energy becoming mass. Stars convert mass back into energy, and that output is what the GAMA study examined in more than 200,000 galaxies across 21 wavelengths, from ultraviolet to far infrared, according to the European Southern Observatory.

“While most of the energy sloshing around in the universe arose in the aftermath of the Big Bang, additional energy is constantly being generated by stars as they fuse elements like hydrogen and helium together,” Driver said. “This new energy is either absorbed by dust as it travels through the host galaxy, or escapes into intergalactic space and travels until it hits something, such as another star, a planet, or, very occasionally, a telescope mirror.”

Driver’s team at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in Western Australia put together an oddly soothing video (above) explaining the project and the slow decline of the universe.

“Just as we all become less active in our old age, the same is happening to the universe, and it’s well past its prime,” Luke Davies, a member of the ICRAR research team, said in the video.

The universe itself won’t die so much as slip into an eternal old age.

“It will just grow old forever, slowly converting less and less mass into energy as billions of years pass by,” Davies said in the clip. “Until eventually it will become a cold, dark, and desolate place where all of the lights go out.”

Driver presented the findings on Monday at the International Astronomical Union’s General Assembly in Honolulu. The research has also been submitted to the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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‘The Diary of a Teenage Girl’ Is Essential, Not Sophomoric, Viewing

“Dear Diary: Everything is so loveless and mediocre.”

Meet the sometimes hapless, often hopeful and always horny 15-year-old Minnie Goetze, the heroine of Marielle Heller’s coming-of-age dark comedy The Diary of a Teenage Girl. At once a wide-eyed high-schooler, a talented cartoonist-in-training and a cynical young adult, Minnie (played by newcomer Bel Powley) takes viewers along as she reports her observations of growing up in 1970s San Francisco. Through this, she unapologetically details her very real fears and insecurities, muses about the future and attempts to find understanding with her mother (Kristen Wiig)—all with dazzling Technicolor animations illustrating her lysergic imagination.

The puberty, pimples and pizza parties of teenagehood aside, Minnie’s grappling with some serious questions of love, adultery and sex—because she’s sleeping with her mother’s boyfriend, Monroe (Alexander Skarsgard). Naturally, some audiences may admittedly be uncomfortable with this controversial notion, as well as with the (many) other sex-positive scenes where Minnie’s running the show. To wit: Upon losing her virginity, Minnie triumphantly draws a bloody “x” on Monroe’s leg, later examining her fingernail as a scientist might under a microscope. Yet the film does not condone nor glorify Minnie’s decisions, as troublesome as they may be. The Diary of a Teenage Girl is instead salient commentary on how young women—in the attempt to quell raging hormones during that bizarre stasis between childhood and adulthood—have been rendered in media and film only as silent, as punchlines, as madonnas, as whores or simply as the objects of boys’ desires.

A theater actor by trade, Marielle Heller made her directing debut with Diary. Yet before it hit the silver screen, The Diary of a Teenage Girl was a graphic novel written and illustrated by Phoebe Gloeckner published in 2002. Heller’s sister gave her the book as a gift years ago, and she soon fell hard for the character Minnie. She tells Newsweek she began feeling a connection that hadn’t ever resonated with the likes of other coming of age staples, such as American Pie and Superbad, which deconstruct the awkwardness (and farts) that comprise teenage boyhood. “[Diary] made me feel so much less alone. It made me feel like I wasn’t a freak,” she tells Newsweek. “I thought, Oh. This is what it feels like to be reflected in art.”

So Heller approached Gloeckner with the idea of converting the book into a musical, and the author, while skeptical, gave her the green light because of her charm, persistence and vision. “I was just laughing. What does she want to do with a play? But she did it, and it was great,” Gloeckner says. After a successful 2010 off-Broadway run, the story still felt fresh enough to evolve into something more. Heller began writing a screenplay that would bring Minnie’s crucial story to the big screen and that would illustrate her as the funny, perceptive and vulnerable person she was. “We feel very comfortable seeing very fleshed out, flawed humans in men,” Heller says, commenting that she was struck by the frank, often-flawed Minnie. “But when it comes to girls it can only be what we’re comfortable with, idealized versions of themselves.”

British actress Bel Powley, who plays Minnie in the film, read The Diary of a Teenage Girl script and was similarly astonished. “I’d never read such an honest depiction of what it really feels like to be a teenager—you’re so earnest and irrational, and everything really feels like life or death,” she says. Even Skarsgard, who grew up in admittedly more libertine Sweden, was immediately taken with the story. “Why have I never seen anything like this before?” he asks. Heller cast Powley after a Skype audition, and with a nod to the note illustrating how much she’d connected with Minnie.

Three months before shooting, the 20-something Powley had to regress back to her old self, in a way. “I had to go further and think, Wait: How did I walk when I was a teenager? How did I hold myself? How did I speak?” She tells Newsweek that she modeled Minnie’s style of walking on “a baby deer learning to walk,” in the words of Heller. It’s a fitting analogy: In a way, teenagers are young bucks with everything ahead of them, which is at once a frightening and a fantastic prospect.

Yet the notion that teenagers are in a distinct stage of life is a fairly new concept, one that was developed around World War II. Before then, young women and men were expected to make the transition from childhood much more quickly, enlisting in the service or getting married and beginning families. The word adolescent, which has been in use in the English language since the 15th century, means “becoming adult.” But teenagers weren’t recognized as an individual sociological group until arguably the emergence of post-war capitalism, when marketing departments realized that this demographic was one to which they could sell, sell, sell.

And young women have historically shuffled along in the innocence of childhood as young daughters until they are sexualized, at which point they were often relegated to the roles of mothers and wives. Seldom were they able to encompass various roles simultaneously, or have the liberty to engage in some more libertine parts of being a young person without the fear of stigmatization. And The Diary of a Teenage Girl calls bullshit to those societal assertions that women are incapable of complex observations or that they don’t bear their own desires, sexually or otherwise, or that their choices are constant fodder for moralization. This is made all the more powerful by the seismic Patty Hearst trial, which is mentioned at various times in the film. It anchors the story as a sort of 1970s period piece, and the young Hearst’s ongoing troubles curiously mirror Minnie’s questionable decisions: Does she know about what she’s doing? Who is responsible for these actions? Who’s a victim?

Ironically, many a teenager may have to sneak into the theater to try to see The Diary of a Teenage Girl: In the U.K., viewers must be 18 to even see the film, with a parent or otherwise, because of its “strong sexual” content. While the film was one of the most buzzed-about new pictures at Sundance, Heller admits that she received some off-base comments from early viewers about it potentially glorifying pedophilia, though this couldn’t be further off the mark. “Some people are going to take this the wrong way, but luckily at least getting to talk about it is helpful,” she says, shrugging. “It can help frame the conversation.”

Inciting the conversation begins with, well, listening to girls. At this point in time, girls have more outlets than ever at their disposal, from the socially progressive web publication Rookie to the platforms for expression in social media such as Tumblr and Pintrest. Minnie didn’t have the Internet, however, and thus her on-screen “diary” is a tape recorder, as opposed to the clacking confessions she writes on a typewriter in the book version. The intention was at once to dispel the visually unappealing convention of the mad writer genius slaving over a typewriter, cigarette dangling from her lip and to allow us to go through all of Minnie’s milestones with her, as she reports the weird, wonderful things that comprise her young life.

“Getting to watch her process her life through her diary is so much more compelling than hearing a voice-over, hearing her tell the story, and how is she interpreting it,” Heller says. “How did she see that incident, how did it happen and how did it affect her?” Hearing Minnie narrate the agony of crushes, the thrill of cutting class and the pain of clashing with friends in turn is not only compelling, it feels revolutionary.

And, sure, Minnie is technically a teenage girl living in a freewheeling world that’s still stacked against her in every way. But the truth is, Minnie is a vehicle for all of our contemporary confusion. She is intended to be ageless, even genderless—because the issues she’s grappling with are human, not limited to just the experience of teenage girls. “All those adjectives of [Minnie’s] age, gender, things that can be added or analyzed with that experience, I’m after something that we all share. To compartmentalize things is a lie,” Gloeckner says. So file The Diary of a Teenage Girl under the category of “life” first and “fiction” second—it’s an enlightening ride, to say the least.