If you were to visit the L'Arche community in Iron Mines, Cape Breton, there's a good chance something like this would happen: Shortly after your arrival, a lanky red-headed man with awkward posture and distorted speech would maneuver his way to your side, peer down at your shoes, and point.
"Shoooooes" he would confide, leaning in close, a sudden grin lighting his face with spasms of delight.
Trevor is keen on footwear: Shoes are good, boots are better, spike heels are the pièce de résistance. Other people may quietly harbour such feelings, but Trevor makes no bones about them. Trevor. Likes. Shoes.
L'Arche was founded by the Catholic humanitarian philosopher Jean Vanier. It's an international federation of communities where "men and women with developmental disabilities, and those who choose to share life with them, live and work together." That's the official tag line, but in my experience, it doesn't quite capture the heart of the outfit.
My daughter-in-law, Jenn Power, is the community leader at l'Arche Cape Breton, and my son also works there, so I've had a lot of exposure to its 25 "core members," and the "assistants" who provide them with an often intense level of personal care. To me, what sets l'Arche apart is the community's knack for treating everyone according to what they can do, not what they can't. Staff do this for core members, of course, but also for each other, and for you and me when we visit.
My generation grew up regarding people with intellectual disabilities as totally defined by that difference. L'Arche turns this dynamic on its head, with revolutionary impact on the lives of its core members--and everyone who comes into contact with them. Open yourself to that notion, and you soon discover a breathtaking truth: that we are all more alike than different.
In this video, six men and women from l'Arche Cape Breton's drama group offer a glimpse of their surprising interior lives:
One final word about Trevor (who, I'm assured, will be delighted to see his image featured here in the company of smart shoes).
Two years ago, a group of L'Arche Cape Breton assistants and core members, including Trevor, took a vacation trip to New York City--a 1,000-mile drive in the community's wheel chair bus. While strolling through SoHo one afternoon, they happened upon a shoe store. This was the result:
[Photo of l'Arche Cape Breton core member David Gunn (top, leaping) by Amil Zavo. Photos of Trevor by Maxim Stykow. Used with permission.]
Parker Donham, a writer and consultant who lives on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, blogs at Contrarian.ca.
James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne.
It’s a paradox: Shouldn’t the most accomplished be well equipped to make choices that maximize life satisfaction?
There are three things, once one’s basic needs are satisfied, that academic literature points to as the ingredients for happiness: having meaningful social relationships, being good at whatever it is one spends one’s days doing, and having the freedom to make life decisions independently.
But research into happiness has also yielded something a little less obvious: Being better educated, richer, or more accomplished doesn’t do much to predict whether someone will be happy. In fact, it might mean someone is less likely to be satisfied with life.
That second finding is the puzzle that Raj Raghunathan, a professor of marketing at The University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business, tries to make sense of in his recent book, If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy?Raghunathan’s writing does fall under the category of self-help (with all of the pep talks and progress worksheets that that entails), but his commitment to scientific research serves as ballast for the genre’s more glib tendencies.
A professor of cognitive science argues that the world is nothing like the one we experience through our senses.
As we go about our daily lives, we tend to assume that our perceptions—sights, sounds, textures, tastes—are an accurate portrayal of the real world. Sure, when we stop and think about it—or when we find ourselves fooled by a perceptual illusion—we realize with a jolt that what we perceive is never the world directly, but rather our brain’s best guess at what that world is like, a kind of internal simulation of an external reality. Still, we bank on the fact that our simulation is a reasonably decent one. If it wasn’t, wouldn’t evolution have weeded us out by now? The true reality might be forever beyond our reach, but surely our senses give us at least an inkling of what it’s really like.
In Trump’s aftermath, his enemies on the right will have to take stock and propose a meaningful alternative vision for the GOP’s future.
Donald Trump’s big victories in the Mid-Atlantic primaries don’t represent quite the end of the ballgame—but they come damn close.
And now Donald Trump’s many and fierce opponents in the Republican Party and the conservative movement face the hour of decision. Trump looks ever more certain to be the party nominee. Yet not perhaps since George McGovern in 1972 has a presumptive nominee so signally failed to carry the most committed members of his party with him.
So what happens now to those who regard themselves as party thought-leaders? Do they submit? Or do they continue to resist?
Resistance now means something more—and more dangerous—than tapping out #NeverTrump on Twitter. It means working to defeat Trump even knowing that the almost certain beneficiary will be Hillary Clinton.
To find out, scientists collected poop from thousands of people—but they ended up with more questions than answers.
There are tens of trillions of bacteria in my gut and they are different from those in yours. Why?
This is a really basic question about the human microbiome and, rather vexingly, we still don’t have a good answer. Sure, we know some of the things that influence the roll call of species—diet and antibiotics, to name a few—but their relative importance is unclear and the list is far from complete. That bodes poorly for any attempt to work out whether these microbes are involved in diseases, and whether they can be tweaked to improve our health.
Two new studies have tried to address the problem. They’re the largest microbiome studies thus far published, looking at 1,135 Dutch adults and 1,106 Belgians respectively. Both looked at how hundreds of factors affect the microbiome, including age, height, weight, sleep, medical history, smoking, allergies, blood levels of various molecules, and a long list of foods. Both found dozens of factors that affect either the overall diversity of microbial species, or the abundance of particular ones. And encouragingly, their respective lists overlap considerably.
There’s a common perception that women siphon off the wealth of their exes and go on to live in comfort. It’s wrong.
A 38-year-old woman living in Everett, Washington recently told me that nine years ago, she had a well-paying job, immaculate credit, substantial savings, and a happy marriage. When her first daughter was born, she and her husband decided that she would quit her job in publishing to stay home with the baby. She loved being a mother and homemaker, and when another daughter came, she gave up the idea of going back to work.
Seven years later, her husband told her to leave their house, and filed for a divorce she couldn’t afford. “He said he was tired of my medical issues, and unwilling to work on things,” she said, citing her severe rheumatoid arthritis and OCD, both of which she manages with medication. “He kicked me out of my own house, with no job and no home, and then my only recourse was to lawyer up. I’m paying them on credit.” (Some of the men and women quoted in this article have been kept anonymous because they were discussing sensitive financial matters, some of them involving ongoing legal disputes.)
Nearly half of Americans would have trouble finding $400 to pay for an emergency. I’m one of them.
Since 2013,the Federal Reserve Board has conducted a survey to “monitor the financial and economic status of American consumers.” Most of the data in the latest survey, frankly, are less than earth-shattering: 49 percent of part-time workers would prefer to work more hours at their current wage; 29 percent of Americans expect to earn a higher income in the coming year; 43 percent of homeowners who have owned their home for at least a year believe its value has increased. But the answer to one question was astonishing. The Fed asked respondents how they would pay for a $400 emergency. The answer: 47 percent of respondents said that either they would cover the expense by borrowing or selling something, or they would not be able to come up with the $400 at all. Four hundred dollars! Who knew?
Could the Islamic State's recent failures signal its demise?
In 2014, ISIS racked up a series of stunning successes as it pushed through Iraq and Syria, gaining momentum and new recruits with each victory. But in recent weeks, Syrian government forces liberated the city of Palmyra from ISIS, signifying a broader retreat for the extremist group over the past year. Can ISIS survive the label of loser?
Who could have foreseen that within a decade, between 2004 and 2014, the terrorist group al-Qaeda in Iraq would transform into ISIS, outline an apocalyptic vision of the End Times, reintroduce slavery, embrace war without limits, take on the world’s greatest powers, and conquer a mini-empire spanning swaths of Syria and Iraq—with spin-off affiliates infiltrating Libya, Nigeria, and elsewhere?
Why hasn’t the Texas senator managed to unite the Republican Party in opposition to Donald Trump? It’s not complicated.
Former House Speaker John Boehner seems to be enjoying his retirement—and wouldn’t you, after what he went through in Washington? One reason for his buoyant mood, besides the chance to cut grass, is the opportunity to stay far, far away from Senator Ted Cruz.
“I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life,” Boehner added. He said he would not vote for Cruz in a general election, though he would vote for his fellow tangerine-tinted Republican Donald Trump.
The U.S. president talks through his hardest decisions about America’s role in the world.
Friday, August 30, 2013, the day the feckless Barack Obama brought to a premature end America’s reign as the world’s sole indispensable superpower—or, alternatively, the day the sagacious Barack Obama peered into the Middle Eastern abyss and stepped back from the consuming void—began with a thundering speech given on Obama’s behalf by his secretary of state, John Kerry, in Washington, D.C. The subject of Kerry’s uncharacteristically Churchillian remarks, delivered in the Treaty Room at the State Department, was the gassing of civilians by the president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad.
With women explaining periods to men, pop culture is finally treating menstruation as a societal issue everyone should care about.
In the season-three finale of Broad City, Abbi and Ilana find themselves, via participation in the “Birthmarc” program, on a plane to Israel. Early on in the episode, in mid-air, Abbi gets her period. From there, the rest of the finale’s plot revolves around the pair’s airborne quest to find Abbi a tampon. It’s an effort, Abbi and Ilana being Abbi and Ilana, that comes with many, many jokes about the circumstances they’ve found themselves in thanks to Abbi’s uterus. “Ooof, first day. That’s, like, putting your spoon into a molten lava cake,” Ilana says.
“It’s like the first bite of a jelly donut,” Abbi counters.
“It’s like a side of chutney.”
“It’s like fruit on the bottom.”
The exchange—rapid-fire, unapologetically graphic, unrelentingly hilarious—is yet more evidence that pop culture, which for so long has treated periods as the stuff of shame and taboo, is now insistently de-stigmatizing them. Periods have recently been so popular a topic of cultural exploration that 2015, NPR argued, was “the year of the period”—also known as the year, per Cosmopolitan, that “the period went public.”