Over the past few years, the momentum of Pride has changed. Radically. Opposition to marriage equality at state and federal levels has been crumbling in the courts and the court of public opinion. Anti-discrimination laws are being revised to include LGBT individuals. And for the generation of people in their 20s and 30s, coming out is legitimately getting better.
Still, for all the gains in rights and acceptance, it ain’t all rainbows. Let’s face it: A great many places across America are still not that welcoming of the LGBT community. But there are beacons of hope—as well as cities quietly changing—and hence, the Queer Index was born.
AfrikaBurn, a smaller and more intimate version of Burning Man in Nevada, drew some 9,000 people into the desert of South Africa’s Northern Cape earlier this month. Although the event does involve the requisite number of naked hippies dancing and getting high, it’s about much more than that. To the organizers and devoted attendees, the annual festival is also about art, self-expression and changing the world.
Vocativ sent correspondent Matthew Goldman to check out AfrikaBurn. Let’s just say he had an immersive experience.
In the past few years, humans have accomplished major technological feats in the world of unmanned aviation. But in the end, winged species still have the edge. “The way creatures perform in the air is way out of reach of our current technology,” says David Lentink, a Stanford University professor who runs a bio-inspired flight lab. And for that reason, nature is having its moment with drone engineers.
In a special issue of the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, Lentink brought together work of various research teams that looked at the aerodynamics of birds, bats, insects and even snakes to solve the common issues drones face when flying through complex aerial landscapes. “What we are seeking are solutions to improve flight control and to enable drones to fly safely in urban areas without falling from the sky,” says Lentink, who guest-edited the issue.
After months of turmoil, including riots and clashes with pro-Russian forces, some 36 million Ukrainian citizens eligible to vote will head to the polls on Sunday, May 25, to cast ballots in a first round of presidential elections. According to Ukrainian election rules, if one of the 17 registered candidates for president wins 50 percent or more of the vote, that person wins the presidency outright. If a majority vote falls below 50 percent, a runoff will be held in early June.
Here’s what you need to know about the vote.
The Gladiator is coming out swinging.
Russell Crowe popped out a string of tweets yesterday offering his support for workers at the Dorchester luxury hotel chain. Normally that wouldn’t be a big deal—it might even be applauded. But this time, he’s getting some blowback. A number of A-list actors have been calling for a boycott of the chain, the Dorchester Collection, because its owner, the Sultan of Brunei, recently announced harsh penalties for gays and adulterers, including death by stoning.
So it’s Crowe vs, Jay Leno, Kim Kardashian, Ellen Degeneres and other celebs in the battle over how best to shame the Sultan, who owns 10 swish hotels in the U.S., U.K., France, Italy and Switzerland.
“It was like dealing with a thousand heroin addicts,” Louise McKnight, a sheep farmer from Australia’s New South Wales, told the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this week. McKnight and her husband recently lost 800 of their herd after the sheep began grazing on the deceptively named “darling pea plant” that had begun growing in their pastures. As the McKnights observed, their flock had grown addicted to the noxious flower, which made them staggery, depressed and even suicidal. “They just go to a post and bang their head on it till they crack their heads open,” she said.
Local veterinarians were flummoxed by the sheeps’ erratic behavior, which one described as similar to that of a drunk, echoing another incident in Turkey from 2005 where 1,500 sheep hurled themselves off a cliff (though nearly two-thirds survived as the mounting pile of woolen bodies helped cushion their fall). Incredibly, another flock of 50 leapt to their deaths in 2010.
Pretty much every major company has a Twitter account.
Airlines use them for customer service. Newspapers use them to promote new content. Denny’s uses one to make jokes about fanny packs. Point is, they all have a strategy.
And then there’s JD.com.
Forget floral prints and exposed midriffs. According to Vogue U.K., boobs—yes, boobs—are the next big thing this season.
“If boobs are not yet an out-and-out fashion trend, they are becoming a frequent exception to the rule,” writes Violet Henderson, author of Return of the Bosom. The “rule,” of course, is the tiny size and stick shape of designer samples. Thanks to “glamazons” like Kate Upton, Laura Stone and “the boobs from Brazil” Gisele Bündchen, those touchstones for the female figure are apparently evolving “to fit a special girl.”
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, Thailand’s military chief declared nationwide martial law. “This is not a coup,” said General Prayuth Chan-Ocha in a televised broadcast, before justifying the declaration as a move necessary to restore peace and public order. The country has been embroiled in a mounting political crisis since protesters began demonstrating against the current prime minister seven months ago, which has led to increasingly violent unrest.
So far, the public has remained relatively calm as tanks roam their streets and military personnel stand guard at key intersections and shopping malls (some citizens are even taking selfies with soliders), while the United States and other Western governments have urged the Thai people to avoid large crowds and sites of protest as a precaution. As of now, Thailand’s army has claimed the right to take up arms against rioters, forbid public gatherings, enforce curfews and detain people for up to week, in addition to other powers.
The Kentucky Derby is the Super Bowl for horses and a rite of passage for all Kentuckians. The unforgettable event—well, thankfully forgettable enough in some cases—drew close to 170,000 onlookers this year. Vocativ spent the day at Churchill Downs, taking in everything from the drunk exhibitionism of the infield to the fancy prancing at the Club House with ladies high on mint juleps. Those Kentucky folk definitely showed us how to drink and horse around, Derby-style.
Check out this sneak peek and look for the full version soon on Vocativ.com.