ISIS Chemical-Weapons Expert Speaks

BAGHDADISIS was looking for scientists, said Ahmed, a 36-year-old follower of the so-called Islamic State who holds a Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry and drug design. And Ahmed was looking for a chance to put his scientific knowledge to use.

This would not be theoretical research. ISIS and al Qaeda before it have been working since at least the 1990s to obtain biological and chemical weapons. But as with many gruesome enterprises, ISIS has been more methodical than its predecessors and competitors.

We do not yet know for sure the extent to which ISIS was successful and cannot confirm some of the claims made by Ahmed, but they fit with those made by an Iraqi geologist, Suleiman al-Afari, who told The Washington Post recently that he supervised a mustard gas production line for the Islamic State.

We also know that ISIS, through its global social media and internet recruiting, managed to create a corps of scientists interacting in person and on dark web forums to support the creation of a WMD arsenal, and Ahmed, whose name has been changed here, was part of the team. We interviewed him last month along with other ISIS prisoners being held in the Iraqi capital.

At the height of its power four years ago, ISIS worldwide recruiting effort offered top dollar to equip labs and support scientists to an extent much greater than anything Ahmed had been offered in Iraq, which basically was nothing.

I knew I could synthesize the biological and chemical weapons I researched on the web, he told us. I just needed the supplies and a well-equipped lab.

U.S. coalition and Iraqi forces have recently announced the discovery of an installation in Mosul where ISIS was indeed working on such weapons, and Ahmed says he was involved in that same labs operations.

We should be careful not to confuse the attempts by ISIS to develop and use chemical weapons with the infamous attacks launched by the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. Of an estimated 300 such attacks in Syria in the course of the conflict there, a new study from the Global Public Policy Institute (PDF) estimates 98 percent are attributable to the regime, and only about 2 percent to ISIS.

But the groups aspirations in this regard, and some usage, is well documented. For instance, the group successfully deployed mustard and chlorine gas against the Kurdish Peshmerga. ISIS also set up a secret chemical weapons production facility in northern Iraq and has been quite innovative in using drones as dispersal devices for biological and chemical materials.

Surprisingly, research on the extent to which the group used or desired to expand on the use of chemical and biological weapons remains rare and largely under-researched, as noted in a report published last year by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.

Ahmed, imprisoned inside the compounds of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces of the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Services, recounted in detail his rise from a promising but frustrated young scientist, to one who saw himself as a galvanized agent of social change at the time he joined ISIS, to his eventual capture.

Ahmed, like so many who joined and served ISIS, had come into contact with the group via social media while a Ph.D. student in India after a scientist friend, who was already working for them, encouraged him to join up.

While initially attracted to the idea of an Islamic State, he claimed it was not so much the ideology as what he thought would be the ability to show off his scientific and technical skills that actually drew him to ISIS: At first I was looking into their ideology because of their interest in science and technology. I was convinced I would join an authentic scientific community. Many scientists joined from many countries, he claimed in our interview. Lots of nuclear physicists and engineers, especially from Russia joined them.

Ahmed said he did not ever join the group physically, but supported them virtually and substantially. Searching the worldwide web and pursuing scientific journals, some of which he hacked into, allowed him to pass on knowledge about manufacturing chemical and biological weapons to those scientists already working in the Mosul lab.

While Ahmed started his work for ISIS by spreading this research and interacting on web forums on behalf of the group in 2015 and 2016, he fully intended to join the lab in Mosul upon his graduation and was confident of his ability to create the desired chemical and biological weapons. At the time, he believed ISIS was already an established state and would continue to expand.

I would upload and [my research] would get read by the high command of the Caliphate, he told us. They were interested in my posts and asked how we can acquire these chemicals. I also summarized books from a Russian website. There are loads of [scientific] journals I could access on the web and its not classified. I told them everything was in my summary, but also told them, you must have a real lab.

The operation in Mosul succeeded in producing mustard gas, which it dispersed in various operations using drones. In Baghdad, we viewed pictures of victims allegedly burned in ISIS mustard gas attacks.

Ahmed and his research colleagues working in the Mosul lab were not the only ISIS members striving for biological weapons. A chilling arrest occurred as recently as June 2018, in Germany, when Sief Allah H, a Tunisian man living in Cologne, was arrested after preparing the deadly biological poison ricin, made from castor beans. Security sources told ICSVEthe International Center for the Study of Violent Extremismthat the police knew of his activities and that he was following instructions provided over the internet by ISIS, and that police surveillance of the operation was terminated and arrests made after he succeeded, but before he was actually able to deploy the infamous compound.

Ahmed proudly boasted about his knowledge of computer science and the ability to modify, synthesize, and manufacture lethal weapons from raw substances, at times appearing highly ecstatic and fervent in his answers during the interview.

There are loads of scientific journals and its not classified. You just have to access them through a scientific institution, said Ahmed, explaining how he managed to access the latest in science by going to the dark web and using a Russian website that cracked these journals codes.

My friend [in ISIS] told me about WMD, that they were interested in making mustard gas, nitrogen, and sulfur. Nerve agents are easy to synthesize

I used Russian search engines that no one can penetrate and a Tor browser to hide and search, Ahmed said. For instance, the first item I put up for them was from the journal of Organic Phosphorus Chemistry aboutVX gas in Israel. Its a new generationnerve agent. The authors told how they made particle Isomers and structural modifications to enhance the activity of the gas in use, Ahmed said. I can tell a scientist about how to carry out the organic synthesis for this in micro quantities.

There was onearticle on pyrophoric [flammable] materials from a hazardous materials journal, Ahmed went on. These pyrophoric materials become flammable with water and moisture creating gas, fire and choking smoke to cause asphyxiation. The article was speaking about the flammability [of the materials] and what kind of gas was being generated, about the hazardous materials you could throw to troops, and on streets, on floating bridges, etc. All the necessary materials are available on the market… There was also a book from a Russian website about the experimental synthesis of all explosives. For me, I can synthesize any of these.

My friend [in ISIS] told me about WMD, that they were interested in making mustard gas, nitrogen, and sulfur. Nerve agents are easy to synthesize, Ahmed said, noting that he was disappointed that ISIS wasnt going further into the subjects he felt proficient in.

Its like writing a paper. I can search and modify the structure. I passed this to them. If I gain access to a lab, then I can do it. In our lab in India [where he was studying] I learned how to synthesize theoretically. We take the structure into a software and see how it works on this nerve, then we try it on animals. I synthesized for anti-diabetic and anti-epileptic activity and it worked, so I know I can do it for these substances as well.

Ahmed, who does not appear particularly connected to his own emotions, insisted that his work for ISIS was to help them as a state to be able to defend against and repel attackers. When reminded that ISIS had been at war with the Iraqis, Syrians and Western powers at that point, he kept insisting that the weapons he hoped to build for them were only for defense.

He also seemed oblivious to ISISs already deployed use of mustard gas against civilian populations. My idea was to use weapons as a deterrent, not to be used against humankind. He also seemed oblivious to the extraordinary brutality of ISIS during the time he was working for them and much more interested in and excited by the recognition he could achieve.

He hoped to branch out from poisons and plagues to explore new technologies for delivering them. I learned in the engineering world they [ISIS] were interested in anti-aircraft missiles and drones. They complain about coalition jet fighters destroying their troops on the ground. The admin on the website, there was a guy on the website who provided links from a British university to make drones from organic synthesis to make the whole body of the drone. It was some kind of solution, liquid phase synthesis, polymer science. We have already developed anti-aircraft missiles. We were going to use them.

It appears that Ahmed was not particularly religious prior to joining ISIS. He articulated only a very rudimentary grasp of the Islamic faith, which he said he rarely practiced. I was not very religious. I was not looking for an Islamic State. They [ISIS] were more interested in science and technology. They were thinking forward. My family is interested in science and technology. I find religion suspicious.

Although incongruous on its face, it has been common for many ISIS recruits to believe that somehow the Caliphate could fulfill their dreams, even if those had little to do with the way ISIS twisted the teachings of the Quran and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad.

Ahmed said he was deeply dissatisfied with widespread corruption and sectarian discrimination in the Iraqi job market following the 2003 toppling of the Saddam regime. As a Sunni, and despite being qualified, he felt he was kept out of jobs in areas of national defense and in any government-sector related to science.

Political things, the quality of the regime after 2003, it pushed me to interact and work against the regime, he said. I worked as a student in a lab in Iraq for four years. It was not possible to gain employment there. After, I worked in a pharmaceutical lab. It was totally corrupt. The whole facility was corrupt and it lacked in everything. I was completely frustrated. I considered it a primary school, he said.

Ahmed claimed he was compelled to look for jobs elsewhere, first in Qatar and then Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, but to no avail. His disconnected personality probably contributed to his failure in that regard, but all the same he was a gifted individual frustrated by his inability to pursue his chosen fielduntil ISIS came along.

Ahmed was arrested in 2018 by the Kurdish security forces during an undercover counterterrorism operation in Erbil, the capital of the Iraqs Kurdish regional government. He was then handed over to the U.S. Army in Erbil for further interrogation and later transferred to Iraqi authorities in Baghdad.

While Ahmed claimed he had stopped working for ISIS after he looked more closely into their violent Islamic ideology, he continued to see himself, as many jihadists are encouraged to do, as a sort of chivalric hero and, in his case, a chemical whiz kid.

During our interview, he expressed regret over his decision to join ISIS.

My advice to everyone in the world is not to believe [ISIS] propaganda and media. Real jihad is to support your country and families and provide them with the best knowledge. Dont believe ISIS or join any upcoming group.

At the same time, he seemed to still be angling for a job in his chosen field. Appearing to think we could bounce him out of prison, he offered to help the Americans now to fight ISIS. He had made a similar egotistic offer to the Peshmerga and also to others who had handled him following his capture.

Ahmeds story serves to demonstrate ISIS horrifying ambitions and tryst with chemical and biological weapons in Iraq and Syria, nearly actualized through their power to attract scientists like him from around the globe.

These experts are capable of researching methods for and carrying out the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction from raw substances and materials that ISIS also appears adept at procuring.

The notion that ISIS and its operatives can deploy weapons of mass destruction outside of Syria and Iraq still remains far-fetched, but even if Ahmed is overstating his abilities by a considerable margin, there is no question that the Caliphate had a substantial group of capable scientists, engineers and technicians.

ISIS capacity for innovation and the ability to replicate itself elsewherethat is, engage in transfer of tools and techniques learned abroad for use in Europe, Asia or the Americasmust be taken seriously.

The Islamic State may have lost every last acre of the Caliphate in Iraq and Syria, but it lives on in the the minds of many who would inflict terrible attacks on its enemies, and may yet acquire the means to do so.

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This school principal who reads bedtime stories online to her students is what they mean by an ‘everyday hero.’

Reading aloud is good for kids. This principal is going above and beyond to make it happen for her students.

The benefits of reading is well-documented, especially for growing children. Books help build vocabulary, foster empathy, increase attention spans, and teach kids to think critically.

But some kids, especially in low-income households, may not have easy access to books or have caregivers who are able to read to them regularly. That’s a problem. It’s hard for kids to develop a love of reading without lots of exposure to books. And without the benefits that regular reading can offer, the educational gap for kids in low-income households just grows wider.

Principal Belinda George, a first-year principal at Homer Drive Elementary in Beaumont, Texas, has many low-income students under her charge. And in a simple, unique way, she’s trying to make sure they all get the gift of reading.

Dr. George reads aloud to students in the evening—in her pajamas—during “Tucked-in Tuesdays.”

According to the Washington Post, the 42-year-old principal opens up Facebook Live on her phone at 7:30pm on Tuesdays for a read-aloud session she called “Tucked-in Tuesdays.” Snuggled up in her jammies—which include a Cookie Monster onesie (me wants one!)—George reads a book aloud to whatever students can be online for storytime. She started Tucked-in Tuesdays in December, and it’s a hit.

“Kids will come up to me Wednesday and say, ‘Dr. George, I saw you in your PJs reading!,” she told the Post. “They’ll tell me their favorite part of the book.” Students will often go try to find the book she read them at the school library. People outside of the school district, and even outside of Texas, have started tuning in for bedtime stories with the principal.

Her love of kids motivates her to take the time to bring something extra to their lives outside the classroom.

George doesn’t have any kids of her own, and she uses her story time to connect with her students whom she refers to as her children.

“The idea came from a Facebook group called Principal Principles Leadership Group,” George told TODAY. “And from the fact that I absolutely love my children.”

George told the Post that if she doesn’t reach them outside of school, she knows she won’t be able to reach them in school. Tucked-in Tuesdays are a way for her to build bonds with students and families while also fostering a love of books. She greets students by name as they tell her they’re watching, and she asks questions to keep the story time interactive.

Educators like Dr. George can make a huge difference in students’ lives.

All of us have special teachers, librarians, or other adults in school who influenced us with their beyond-the-call-of-duty care. What a wonderful memory these young scholars will have for the rest of their lives, and what a great way for them to build positive bonds with an authority figure in their lives.

George told the post that she does anything she can to build relationships with her students, including twice weekly dance parties. “If a child feels loved they will try,” she said.

Check out Principal George reading “Clark the Shark” in her Cookie Monster PJs:

Clark the Shark and the Big Book Report
Reading Level: 2.5
AR Points: 0.5

Posted by Homer Drive Elementary on Tuesday, February 19, 2019

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From bombers to Big Macs: Vietnam a lesson in reconciliation

The Vietnamese capital once trembled as waves of American bombers unleashed their payloads, but when Kim Jong Un arrives here for his summit with President Donald Trump he won’t find rancor toward a former enemy. Instead the North Korean leader will get a glimpse at the potential rewards of reconciliation.

By the time the Vietnam War ended in 1975, tens of thousands of tons of explosives had been dropped on Hanoi and nearly two decades of fighting had killed 3 million Vietnamese and more than 58,000 Americans. Vietnam, though victorious, lay devastated by American firepower, with cities in ruins and fields and forests soaked in toxic herbicides and littered with unexploded ordnance.

Despite the conflict’s savagery, what followed was a remarkable rapprochement between wartime foes and it took merely 20 years to restore full relations.

Now some hope Vietnam will offer Kim a road map for his own detente with the United States and that the formerly besieged capital city will be the site of a dramatic resolution to one of the last remaining Cold War conflicts.

While North Korea remains America’s sworn enemy 65 years after the Korean War fighting ceased, Vietnam today stands as a burgeoning partner which even buys lethal U.S. weaponry. Bilateral trade has soared by 8,000 percent over the last two decades and billions of dollars in American investment flows into one of the world’s best performing economies.

And while North Koreans are still taught to loathe Americans by their country’s propaganda machine, in Vietnam there is little animosity.

“I was born after the war and only hear war stories from American films or books,” said Dinh Thanh Huyen, a 19-year-old university student who was waiting in line at a crowded McDonald’s in Hanoi. She said she was happy the former enemies have moved on. “History is for us to learn from, not to hold grudges.”

Kim could take note of the history of win-win rapprochement and how Vietnam’s communist leaders have allowed a capitalistic economy and an open door to the U.S. and other outsiders, all while not sacrificing their tight grip on power. Or he could allow it all to pass him by as he narrows his focus for the Feb. 27-28 summit on tit-for-tat bargaining over nuclear arms and economic sanctions.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke in Hanoi last year about “the once-unimaginable prosperity and partnership” the U.S. has come to enjoy with Vietnam and noted Vietnam was able maintain its form of government.

“I have a message for Chairman Kim Jong Un: President Trump believes your country can replicate this path. It’s yours to seize the moment,” he said. “This can be your miracle in North Korea as well.”

To be sure, Vietnam remains a one-party state with a poor human rights record where even moderate critics and dissenters are frequently jailed.

Since the first Trump-Kim summit last June in Singapore, a few small steps have already been taken along a timeline forged by the U.S.-Vietnamese thaw, including Pyongyang turning over remains of U.S. servicemen killed in the Korean War, the first such hand-over in more than a decade.

It was the same missing in action issue that heralded U.S.-Vietnamese reconciliation, with the repatriation of American war dead creating an environment for improvement in relations in other areas.

Next came step-by-step lifting of economic sanctions, as Washington encouraged Vietnam’s so-called “doi moi” reform, initiatives launched in 1986 to shed a state-run economy in favor of a market-oriented one open to foreigners.

North Korea has already shown interest in Vietnam’s reforms, sending students and official delegations who returned home with favorable reports. Having enjoyed close relations with North Korea since 1950, Vietnam could be the ideal go-between in nudging Pyongyang to re-engineer its disastrous economy and turn foes to friends.

“Vietnam’s model of development ‘doi moi’ is an important factor in the United States’ larger strategy of drawing North Korea out of its self-imposed isolation as part of the larger process of denuclearizing,” said Carlyle Thayer, a political scientist at The University of New South Wales.

But Thayer and other experts share strong reservations about how much of the U.S.-Vietnamese “miracle” can be duplicated. There are stark differences in the way the North Korea responded once the fighting stopped.

The North slammed shut its doors and slid into a Cold War bunker — and it remains one of the world’s most isolated nations. Vietnam, however, chose to put behind its tragic past and move forward.

Not long after the war, American journalists and official U.S. delegations were allowed entry to a poor, shabby Hanoi, its lovely French colonial buildings moldering from neglect. The only clothes many men had were the baggy green uniforms and pith helmets of the North Vietnamese army. Suspicion was palpable and Westerners, including journalists, were assigned minders to keep tabs on them.

Expecting a hostile reception, the Americans were stunned at the lack of animosity displayed by the average Vietnamese, even those who had lost loved ones to U.S. bombs. Returning American veterans were often signaled out for especially warm welcomes, sometimes tearfully embracing their onetime battlefield enemies while exchanging stories of suffering.

Making such scenes possible were a set of special circumstances. Some were geo-political: Vietnam badly needed a counter-balance that the U.S. could provide to its perennial enemy — neighboring China.

This has taken on special urgency in recent years as Beijing moves aggressively to claim large swaths of the South China Sea. Telling are the exchanges between the U.S. and Vietnamese coast guards and the provision of U.S. patrol boats. Last year the USS Carl Vinson, an American aircraft carrier, made a historic port call in Vietnam, the first of its kind since the war ended.

Vietnam also no longer faced a threat from the United States, whereas North Korea perceives that it does, making abandonment of its nuclear program difficult, perhaps even in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

But an underlying human element was also at work.

“During the Vietnam War Hanoi always drew a distinction between the peace-loving American people and the imperialist American government,” Thayer said. “There was a basis for future reconciliation.”

The face-to-face encounters that followed, serving to ease mutual hostility, never occurred with North Korea. Instead, generations of North Korean children sat in classrooms looking at posters of Americans portrayed as big nosed goblins. A massive anti-American rally loomed large on the annual calendar.

“The Vietnamese saw over the years of our war that many American people and veterans spoke out against the war,” said Bob Mulholland, a prominent Vietnam combat veteran.

And there were powerful advocates of reconciliation, including Sens. John Kerry and the recently deceased John McCain as well as other veterans who quietly returned to Vietnam to help the shattered country.

Although the Vietnam War has begun to fade from the collective memory in both countries, it is not the “forgotten war” that the Korean conflict has long been known as. With peace and greater prosperity have come fresh connections forged by a younger generation.

Near the McDonald’s in Hanoi’s old quarter, not far from a Starbucks, the area is closed to traffic each weekend and entertainers, including American buskers, take to streets now strung with U.S. and North Korean flags. Vietnamese youth can be seen mingling with young American travelers.

Just a short stroll away, tourist Brian Walker was taking in Hanoi’s Military War Museum, fronted by the wreckage of an American B-52 shot down while bombing the city.

“For many Americans, it may be a country of a bloody war that we took part in,” said 28-year-old social worker from New York City. “But coming here, all I see is people with big smiles, good food and a beautiful landscape.”


Gray reported from Bangkok.

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A Man Is Suing His Parents For Being Born

In a move that won’t be doing the so-called “snowflake generation” any favors, a 27-year-old man has taken the drastic step of suing his parents. Their crime – having him in the first place.

Raphael Samuel, a businessman based in Mumbai, India, bases the dispute on the belief that it is immoral for a couple to bring a sentient being into the world without asking their permission to do so. His argument stems from a philosophical movement called “anti-natalism”, an outlook that reasons any new human life will inevitably involve pain and suffering, while pleasure (although good) is irrelevant to those who do not or have not existed in the first place.

An anti-natalist ultimately concludes it would have been better not to have been born in the first place.

Or as Samuel put it to BBC News: “My life is good, but I’d rather not be here. You know it’s like there’s a nice room, but I don’t want to be in that room.”

The decision to take his parents to court is to make a point, Samuel says. He knows it’s extremely likely the lawsuit will be thrown out before he has a chance to be heard and he also acknowledges the impossibility of acquiring consent from an as-yet-unconceived being. And yet, he hopes that by pursuing the case, the stunt will raise the profile of anti-natalism. 

“There’s no point to humanity,” he added. “So many people are suffering.”

“If humanity is extinct, Earth and animals would be happier. They’ll certainly be better off. Also no human will then suffer. Human existence is totally pointless.”

At least for now, anti-natalists are in the minority – but elements of anti-natalism are edging into the mainstream. Take, for example, True Detective. Matthew McConaughey’s character, Rust Cohle, could be described as a nihilistic anti-natalist. 


True Detective screenwriter Nic Pizzolatto says he was inspired by a piece by David Benatar, the controversial head of the University of Cape Town’s philosophy department and author of various books and essays on anti-natalism. Benatar’s view: “One of the implications of my argument is that a life filled with good and containing only the most minute quantity of bad – a life of utter bliss adulterated only by the pain of a single pin-prick – is worse than no life at all.”

In The Human Predicament, Benatar lists the pain that goes hand-in-hand with simply being. This includes not just the obvious (sickness and grief, say) but the various discomforts and indignities we all experience on a daily basis, from hunger and thirst to the need to go to the bathroom, waiting in traffic, and feeling too cold or too hot. “The quality of human life is, contrary to what many people think, actually quite appalling,” he concludes.

But if death seems like the way out, think again. Grief and dying bring their own pain – or, as Benatar puts it, “Life is bad, but so is death…Together, they constitute an existential vise”.

To sum up: Life is worth continuing because death is considered “bad”. But that does not mean it is not worth starting in the first place.

As for Samuel and his parents, the good news is that they still appear to be on good terms – despite the looming lawsuit.

“I must admire my son’s temerity to want to take his parents to court knowing both of us are lawyers. And if Raphael could come up with a rational explanation as to how we could have sought his consent to be born, I will accept my fault,” Kavita Karnad Samuel said in a statement, BBC News reports.

Before adding, “I’m very happy that my son has grown up into a fearless, independent-thinking young man. He is sure to find his path to happiness.”

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50 Singles Admit What Makes Them Lose Interest, Swipe Left, And Leave Dates Early
Cataloged in Romance

50 Singles Admit What Makes Them Lose Interest, Swipe Left, And Leave Dates Early

Here are some relationship dealbreakers from single men and women on Ask Reddit.

1. If they put a whole lot of stock into zodiac signs, it’s a good sign we aren’t going to agree on a lot of things.

Especially if they try to excuse their behavior with it like, “Sorry I was being bitchy, it’s because I’m a Virgo.”

No Linda, you’re just bitchy.

2. Cheating. Being okay with cheating culture, admitting to having cheated before, laughing/egging on friends into cheating.

Some people can give second chances, but I’ve been bitten by too many people to bring myself to trust someone who can cheat. I need a partner who believes as strongly as I do in loyalty and monogamy.

3. People who are not good at a macro level. Like being a loving girlfriend, but leaving a tub of ice cream on a random shelf at the grocery store, because who cares about strangers?

4. When they constantly outdo you. Have a good memory? Theirs is better. Had a shitty day? OH IT DOESN’T EVEN COMPARE TO THEIRS! Like seriously, calm down. Its not a competition.

5. If she’s proud of the fact that she doesn’t read books.

6. Jealousy. Either you trust me or you don’t. If you think I’m gonna get rid of the few friends I have to make you feel better then you’ve got a storm coming.

7. If they don’t take care of themselves. I want a partner and someone who will push me to be a better person, not someone I have to look after.

8. Not being willing to work through conflict quickly. Every couple fights and some issues are legitimate reasons to be upset, but if you refuse to discuss it with your partner, a small fight that should take 15 minutes could turn into a fight that lasts for days. You may not like arguing, but putting it off till tomorrow sometimes makes it much worse.

9. Someone that’s always stressed. Especially the kind of person that says it’s okay to be stressed out, its good for you. It’s really not. I’m a very chill person and sure some things stress me out, but I’m not a stressful person. I will deal with the situation as it arises. I’ve known people that will stress about every tiny thing, like what to eat for Friday, when its Monday. Or, my favorite, “why didn’t you call me, I thought you were dead!”

10. Being close to exes. I am not part of the “it’s super healthy” crowd. I think it’s weird and unnatural.

11. Being a cheap ass. I had a boyfriend who would complain if I got a soda when we went out to eat instead of water, refused to tip anywhere we went, and tried to get free food all the time.

12. Being on the phone 24/7.

I don’t know if my ex still liked me and I honestly was with her for so long that I forgot if she had her phone out during our first dates but that shit got to me which lead to me dumping her.

I fucking hate it. If you want to be on the phone, why are we even trying?

13. If we can’t both talk, and enjoy silence. Like, I should be able to talk to my partner for hours on end without ever feeling like we’re just killing time. And I should be able to sit and read next to them for hours without saying a word and just enjoy their presence. It’s a lot to ask, but when choosing someone to share your life with it pays to be picky.

14. If they have kids that’s fine but if they don’t take care of them that is a deal breaker.

15. Incapable of introspection, which seems to be a bigger problem now than it used to be. Things will turn to shit eventually, and it’s up to you both to pull up your britches and work through it. Most problems can be solved through introspection – but none can without it.

16. Having different political views (which involves many aspects).

17. Only talking about themselves.

18. Using me as a target for anything. Pranks, jokes, bad moods, sarcasm.

I want a lover, not a personal bully.

19. If she is a super picky eater.

Ok, hear me out… I love to cook, and sharing food and recipes is a big part of my family dynamic. Nothing would put me out more if I made a dish and she wouldn’t even try it because there are so many foods she just WON’T eat. I understand if someone has a handful of foods that they really don’t like, and I try to be considerate. Just not like entire aisles worth of food.

20. This wouldn’t have mattered to me at age 20, but it is a dealbreaker from age 30 onward: Being a saver/investor and not spending more than they earn.

It’s okay to have some frivolous purchases, hobbies, or travel expenses, but I don’t want the stress of being with someone who can’t balance those “wants” against the need to save and manage their finances for the future.

21. Anyone who falls back on typical gender stereotypes when they fuck up. Like, if someone acts possessive or overly clingy to a problematic point and says “this is how girls are” or “don’t you know how girls work?”, then I’m not here for that.

I want someone who recognizes their individual responsibility and can own their mistakes, because that’s what I strive to do as I deal with my own issues. Personal accountability is a huge thing I practice in my life and I won’t accept anyone that uses shit like this to excuse mistreatment. I want to be with someone who owns their actions and communicates with me when we have problems.

22. Dirty bathroom or just a dirty house in general. Usually means they don’t care much about personal hygiene either.

23. Bad music taste. Can’t connect without relating through good music.

24. Pretentiousness.

Not only is it a red flag for insecurity, but it also means they are superficially judgmental, and shallow.

25. Someone who only ever points out all the negative things and makes you doubt yourself. You should lift each other up, however that may be (laughs, talks, discussions, challenges…).

26. Lack of ambition whether it be in work or their education. I personally am pretty goal oriented and am aiming to provide for my family in the future so I look towards the future a lot of the time. I like making goals for my life about stuff we’d plan to do in the future as motivation to work hard for each other.

Also if they have double standards. I just wouldn’t like the idea of my partner believing they are allowed to do something but forbid me from wanting to do the same.

Lack of humility or communication. If they can’t apologize, knowing they may have said/done something overtly insensitive when upset it’s not worth getting hurt and sweeping it under the rug. The same goes with communication, if they can’t talk to you properly when upset or aren’t willing to talk about the issue in their relationship it won’t be good for either of you.

27. Too many piercings. I don’t mind a few on the ears, but if you’ve got a nose ring, tongue, lip, eyebrow, nipple or whatever else, not to mention those huge gauge things in the ears… it’s a no for me

28. Always playing devil’s advocate, or taking the counter-point position in every conversation or discussion is absolutely exhausting. Every topic turns into a debate or argument.

29. Lack of empathy, especially towards elderly, children, and those who are clearly suffering.

Also people who don’t like dogs.

30. I don’t want a woman who’s a damsel in distress. A girl who can take care of herself and even watch my back is pretty nice to have in a life or death situation.

31. Posts too much on social media.

32. Someone who lacks any opinion of their own. I went on a date with a guy who seemed to be agreeing with me on absolutely everything. Even when I asked him a question he’d work a way around it to get my answer first and then agree with it. Once I figured out what he was doing I started evading answering any questions until I figured out his opinion and then I would just say I felt differently or preferred something else and suddenly his opinion would immediately change to match mine.

I am in no way someone who enjoys arguments or disagreements. But its okay to have different opinions and preferences. Healthy, even. I can’t imagine being happy with someone who pretends to prefer something just because I do. I’m not sure how that other person could remain happy in a long term relationship.

33. Talk shit behind people backs and then be all nice and fake to their faces.

34. Had a guy tell me “I’m not your therapist” after asking how my day was. If we can’t have clear communication, it’s over. I had an awful day, and I was honest about it, just to have it thrown back in my face. I was so shocked, I thought he was joking… it was two months or so into the relationship. You think you know someone.

35. They have no hobbies.

36. No appreciation for dark humor, and can’t stand cursing.

Sorry but it’s how I cope with the shit I’ve had to deal with and am currently dealing with. I won’t curse around children or good company – I am able to filter myself extremely well but if there’s a mild inconvenience (and I’m allowed to due to no requirement for proper etiquette) I’m probs gonna drop the most unenthused “shitballs” or a “fuckberries” remark to it and just continue on doing w/e

37. Regular smoker or vaper.

Drunk on Friday and want a cigarette cool. But doing it everyday is too much.

38. When a guy tries to control you when you’re barely in the talking stage. Boy bye.

39. Lack of confidence/constant need for validation. I might sound like an ass for this but being confident in who you are and the decisions you make are a huge deal to me. That also ties into the ability to actually make important decisions and not be indecisive about everything. I’m a firefighter and being able to make quick decisions that could have serious consequences is a huge part of my job, so having someone else who can make a quick, confident decision is a big deal.

40. Spoon biter. Like when you put the spoon in your mouth I don’t need to hear it click your teeth.

41. Not being kind to animals.

You don’t have to fawn over every bunny you see or be a militant vegan or anything, but if you find the idea of dog fighting acceptable, or think cats are pests that should be trapped and killed (plenty of people subscribe to this belief in my town), then we’re not going to go far.

42. Poor financial discipline.

If you have a large student loan to pay back and lots of credit card debt, I’m cool with that if you’re actively paying it all if and not buying a ton of junk you don’t need.

43. Condescending – once dated a dude that literally knew everything about anything, it was something that attracted me to him at first, but when we’d talk about stuff if I got something even slightly incorrect or read from a news source he didn’t seem worthy he would be pretty nasty about it and I didn’t want to freely share my thoughts anymore.

44. If they’re really talkative and extremely opinionated about every. little. thing. I’ve dated someone like that and he drove me up the wall every day.

45. Throws things when they’re angry and also not taking responsibility for their wrongdoings.

Especially the anger. Went through a not so good childhood with things being thrown and slammed out of anger. Can’t handle that as an adult.

46. Among more obvious things (child molester, puppy kicker, lack of sense of humor, etc), someone who doesn’t bother helping out their friend, partner, or other loved one when they need it. An example, if I go to the store, carry the groceries in, cook the meal that we both eat, I think it’s fair that a potential partner willingly wash, dry, and put away the damn dishes. The reverse is also true.

47. Sense of humor. If you don’t laugh or make me laugh, why are we even trying?

48. Thankfully, I’ve never had this issue come up, but I don’t think I could ever date a guy with the same name as my dad or brother. It’d be way too weird for me.

49. Bad hygiene.

50. Lack of a normal amount of self-awareness. My friend’s gf will ask/say inappropriate shit at the worst times and peg it as her just being “weird, quirky, and going against mainstream social norms”. Or she’ll say “I’m just an honest person” to justify her saying pretty rude, explicit or dumb things that make everyone uncomfortable. It probably all comes from insecurity and needing to positively flip parts of herself she feels bad about, instead of self-reflecting and realizing it’s ok to fix bad habits, but still.

Image Credit: Artem Bali

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The 6 Biggest Misconceptions About the Bible (and God)

Considering going to the movies this holiday season? You already have preconceptions about many of the films at the theater — and even opinions on the actors and director. And that’s OK. It’s one way we make daily choices, based on past information and experience.

But how many of us pretend to have a “conclusion” about God, based on rumors and reviews? My hunch is that there’s a dullness — based on conscious and subconscious wrong thinking — that keeps people away from the Bible.

Here are six of the biggest misconceptions about the Bible, which form a lasting (and false) impression about God.

  1. Bible Stories Are Disturbingly Violent (Therefore God Is Violent)

Yes, there are violent stories in the Bible. The Old Testament feels like an endless list of casualty records — big battles, and non-stop bloodshed. (Read Joshua and Judges for some stories “Rated R for Intense Violence.”)

What’s the reason for all this death? And the bigger question: Why was God involved in helping the Israelites to wipe out their enemies?

Maybe there’s more to the story.

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Genesis 3:15 is one of the most foundational verses in the Bible. In fact, it sets up the story of the entire Bible. Not only is there a promised Seed — [but] this verse is also a declaration of war.

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.”

Within hours of the fall of the first man and woman, the gracious redemption plan was unveiled: The Seed would bring justice — through the family of Adam and Eve.

But it wouldn’t be quick. And it wouldn’t be easy. God takes his time (about 4,000 years) and gives humankind the freedom to fight. God is faithful to protect His promise, and protect The Seed, even if it means confronting those who tried to destroy it.

When you understand the Seed, and the promise of His redemption, the battles of the Bible start to make sense.

What if God is not a bully but is a protector?

  1. The Bible Is Random

Sure, the compilation of books can seem clunky at times — history books followed by poetry books and then an assortment of prophecy books. And our modern Bible is not exactly chronological — that can create challenges, too.

But with a view of the Bible’s big picture, and understanding of the Seed strategy, the Bible becomes less random and more of a thriller. (Or, less Hallmark movie and more action-suspense.)

  1. The Old and New Testaments Don’t Align

Why, all of the sudden, does the killing end (most of it, anyway) as we enter the New Testament? Why the shift in strategy — from [the] destruction of enemies to “turning the other cheek”?

One clear explanation is that The Seed had arrived — finally! — Jesus had fulfilled the role foretold in Genesis Chapter 3.

The reason the Old and New Testaments don’t seem to align is [that] God’s strategy changed.

The Old Testament strategy (Genesis 3:15) was to bring about this promised Seed, at all costs. The New Testament strategy was not to protect the Seed. Rather it was time for the Seed to die!

Christ died, was resurrected to life, and then returned to heaven. The Seed accomplished His mission. There’s no need to fight — not yet.

The Genesis 3:15 strategy progressed to a John 3:16 strategy — sharing a message of hope and life.

  1. Prophecies Are Confusing and Frightening

There’s actually some truth here. The book of Revelation is a bit deep and dreadful and can evoke emotions of fear and confusion.

Revelation speaks to a future season when things will be heating up again. There will be a return to warfare before the final death-blow to the serpent (the promise of Genesis 3:15 will finally be complete).

Revelation also attributes to the seemingly-random nature of the Bible. Why, after the Old Testament, does the earth enter a season of peace and grace, only to be whipsawed right back into judgment?

Consider Revelation as one of three “acts” of the Bible.

There are the Old and New Testaments — and a Future Testament (Revelation).

The New Testament is not a radical shift from the Old Testament, but rather a middle scene, before the final battle which leads to the restoration of all things.

With time and study, Bible readers can learn more about these prophecies. But seeing the Bible’s big picture can help.

  1. I Can’t Read the Bible

We all know the Bible is eleven-billion words and is impossible to read in a lifetime, right? Actually, the Bible is only 783-thousand words — about the length of 10 novels. You can read it in 60 days, in an hour per day.

An audio Bible takes about 75 minutes a day of simple listening. (And the concept of listening to the Bible being read is a scriptural concept. See Deuteronomy 31, Joshua 8, 2 Kings 23, and Nehemiah 8.)

  1. I Can’t Understand the Bible

Bible scholars” sometimes give the impression that it takes eight years of university and 10 years in a cave to comprehend the Bible. Who has time for that?

And if you’ve ever tried a hopscotch 365-day reading plan, Scripture seems even more disjointed. Deep dive studies are important but can make us think we must completely understand every facet of every verse in order to enjoy God’s Word.

You don’t have to know everything to learn many things. So, what’s holding you back?

Don’t Watch the Movie — Read the Book.

When you’ve heard a movie has “senseless violence” or is directed by a “creep,” it’s usually good to steer away from media that doesn’t lift you up. But misconceptions about the Bible can keep you from reading the Bible — which can keep you from seeing the big picture and knowing a powerful, loving God.

So don’t rely on rumors, ratings or trailers to judge the Bible. Don’t rely on my review. Read the Book.

You can read the entire Bible in 60 days, in just an hour per day. My free reading plans and commentary will help you see the beautiful, and stirring, storyline of creation.

Jeff Anderson speaks and writes about walking with God and leading your family into deeply rooted faith. He’s the author of “Plastic Donuts”, “Divine Applause” (Multnomah/Random House) and “Power Read the Bible”

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The Third Mushroom by Jennifer L. Holm

The Third Mushroom is a serious yet fantastical story about family, relationships, life, death, science, and so much more. Ellie gets home from school to find that her grandfather, Melvin, has turned into a 14-year-old boy. They start experimenting with jellyfish, and they put together a plan for a science fair project that will blow everyone away. In the process, they learn that it’s okay when life doesn’t quite turn out the way you hope. The author has a conversational writing style that makes the story easy to follow, although sometimes it seems to ramble a little. The science topics are well integrated into the story, and there are so many different concepts covered. The characters are well developed and very believable, including the adults. Ellie is a self-assured, inquisitive, and likable middle schooler, and her relationship with Melvin is especially great to read about. This is a good book for anyone aged 10-14 who likes science, fantasy, and cool experiments. I really liked the book even though I hadn’t read the first one. It’s a fun, interesting, and good story about growing up and also growing older.

Reviewed By: Yessenia – Age 11

All The Laws You Should Know About That Go Into Effect In 2019

2019 will see the enactment of a slew of new laws across the country (in California alone, more than 1,000 will be added to the books). In some states, minimum wages will go up, guns will be harder to obtain, plastic straws will get the boot and hunters will get to wear pink for a change.

Here are some of the noteworthy laws going into effect this year:

Tighter gun restrictions in several states

Following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, last February, thousands of protesters across the nation demanded stricter gun control measures.

In the wake of the shooting massacre at a Parkland, Florida, high school last year, California passed several measures to prevent domestic abusers and people with mental illness from obtaining guns. Californians who are involuntarily committed to a mental institution twice in a year, or who are convicted of certain domestic violence offenses, could face a lifetime gun ownership ban.

Under an expanded Oregon law that went into effect on Jan. 1, domestic abuse offenders or people under restraining orders are banned from owning or purchasing a gun. In Illinois, authorities now have the right to seize firearms from people determined to be a danger to themselves or others. A similar “red flag” law will go into effect in New Jersey later this year.  

At least six states — California, Washington, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois and Vermont — and the District of Columbia are raising the minimum age from 18 to 21 for the purchase of long guns this year, CNBC reported.

Washington state will also be enforcing several other gun control measures, including enhanced background checks, secure gun storage laws and a requirement for gun purchasers to provide proof they’ve undergone firearm safety training.

New ‘Me Too’ laws

In 2018, the Me Too movement spurred many people to come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and abuse — and prompted several states to pass new laws targeting sexual violence.

Several states are taking aim at workplace sexual harassment. California has banned nondisclosure provisions in settlements involving claims of sexual assault, harassment or discrimination based on sex. California employers will also no longer be allowed to compel workers to sign nondisparagement agreements as a condition of employment or in exchange for a raise or bonus.

By the end of 2019, publicly held corporations in the Golden State will also need to have at least one woman on their board of directors. Depending on the size of the board, corporations will need to increase that number to at least two or three female board members by the end of 2021.

In New York, all employees will be required to complete annual sexual harassment prevention training. Larger businesses in Delaware will have to provide such training to their workers, and legislators and their staff in Virginia will need to undergo such training every year.

Minimum wages get a boost 

Though the federal minimum wage has languished at $7.25 since 2009, at least 19 states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, New York and Washington, will be raising their minimum wages this year. Each will boost its minimum wage to at least $12. Some cities like New York, Seattle and Palo Alto, California, will see their wage floors increase to $15.

So long straws and stirrers!

Under a new California law, restaurant customers will have to explicitly ask for a plastic straw if they want to use one.

As public awareness mounts of the hazards of plastic waste pollution, cities and states around the country have been targeting a major source of the problem: single-use plastic products like straws and food containers.

A new law in New York City bars restaurants, stores and manufacturers from using most foam products, including takeout containers, cups and packing peanuts.

Eateries in the District of Columbia are now prohibited from giving out single-use plastic straws and stirrers. In California, restaurant patrons will need to ask explicitly for a plastic straw if they want to use one. Restaurants can be fined $25 a day for serving beverages with plastic straws that aren’t requested by customers.

Former felons in Florida can head to the voting booth

In November, Florida voted to approve a ballot measure that enabled more than 1 million former felons to regain their voting rights.

On Jan. 8, Florida will restore the voting rights of all former felons except those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense. Some 1.4 million possible voters will be added to the rolls — an addition that could have a significant effect on elections in the swing state.

Utah implements strictest DUI law in the country

Utah has lowered its blood alcohol content standard for drunk driving to 0.05 percent — the lowest limit in the country.

Under the new law, a driver who exceeds that limit and causes the death of another person will be charged with criminal homicide, a felony offense.

As CNN notes, all other U.S. states have a blood alcohol concentration limit of 0.08 percent for noncommercial drivers. Since at least 2013, the National Transportation Safety Board has been pushing to lower the limit to 0.05 nationwide. 

Pets to get more rights in California

Pets in California will no longer be treated by courts as physical property in divorce cases. Instead, judges can decide who gets custody of the family pet.

Under a separate California law, pet stores will no longer be allowed to sell cats, dogs or rabbits that aren’t from animal shelters or nonprofit rescue groups. That law, which took effect on Jan. 1, also requires that store owners maintain proper documentation of the backgrounds of the dogs, cats and rabbits they sell.

Hawaii legalizes physician-assisted suicide

Hawaii’s new law allowing physician-assisted suicide took effect on Tuesday.

Tobacco targeted in several states

Some states and cities are taking aim at tobacco products this year.

Smoking will be banned at all New Jersey public beaches and parks starting in July.

In New York City, a new ordinance bans pharmacies from selling cigarettes and other tobacco products. And Massachusetts has raised the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21.

Nonbinary people can list their gender as ‘X’ in NYC

People who identify as neither male nor female can now list their gender as “X” on birth certificates in New York City.

New Jersey requires all residents to have health insurance

A health insurance law in New Jersey that came into effect on Jan. 1 requires residents to maintain coverage or pay a penalty. It’s the second state in the country, after Massachusetts, to enact an individual health insurance mandate.

Vermont is paying remote workers to move there

In an effort to promote economic growth, Vermont has offered to pay some remote workers to relocate to the state.

Qualified applicants can each apply for up to $10,000 in funding. The state has earmarked $500,000 for the initiative, The Associated Press reported.

Hunters in Illinois can wear pink if they want to

Not into the usual “blaze orange”? Hunters in Illinois can now wear equally eye-catching “blaze pink” under a new law.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) said the new shade could be even more effective in helping hunters stand out.

“[In the fall] we’re hunting in trees and in some fields, there are orange leaves. There is orange in the background, so it’s not always easy to see orange,” Rauner said, according to the Illinois News Network. “So we’re adding blaze pink to be one of the colors.”

Ohio kids will soon be required to learn cursive

In an age of text messaging and email, Ohio is attempting to keep the handwriting tradition of cursive alive. A new state law will require students to be able to write in cursive by the end of fifth grade. 

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50 Ways To Deal With Your Loneliness Besides Swiping Through Tinder And Crying Yourself To Sleep
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50 Ways To Deal With Your Loneliness Besides Swiping Through Tinder And Crying Yourself To Sleep

When you find yourself feeling lonely, Ask Reddit can help you cope.

1. I hang out with myself! I go to events alone, I go on little adventures around the city alone, I try to try a new restaurant once or twice a month and get dressed up for the occasion. I’m only 19 years old so it kind of bums me out that I don’t have friends but I’m starting to really like being alone, I think part of being ok with being alone is enjoying your own company.

2. I used to be lonely. But once I learned to forgive and love myself, I decided to get something for my place that I thought was really beautiful, to really liven up my apartment. It was relaxing and gave off a cozy atmosphere. After a while I ended up not only happy with who and where I was in life but I had an apartment that was a joy to come home and walk into. It made being there alone much much much better. I didn’t dread going home alone anymore. I was excited to go home and lay on my beautiful comfy couch and light my wonderfully scented new candles! Stuff like that. Then a boyfriend popped up when I least suspected it. Probably because I’d quit looking for it and gained some confidence.

3. I realize that even if nobody wants to be my friend, I can be my own friend. I learned a lot of cool things about myself through being lonely.

4. You learn to thrive on it. If you’re lonely that means you can do whatever you want whenever you want, so just pick something that interests you and dive into it.

5. I talk to my dogs, as crazy as that sounds. I can’t get out of the house much due to my health so they’re as close to human interaction as I can get.

6. I’m always trying to learn more things. It transforms the discontent of loneliness into the solace of solitude.

7. It only bothers me when I think about it. I know that periods where I’m actually around friends, I feel a lot better, but life isn’t that bad without them around, either. Most of my close friends live away from me, so it’s like stepping into a magical fairytale world for me when they visit for a weekend, or I go out to visit one of them. But I know that’s not how our friendship would feel if we lived in the same city; we get the privilege of this blissful time because it is so scarce. The rest of the time, I often wish I had more people around, but books can help with that. The rest of my time I put into hobbies and things that generally fall under “improving myself”, although I’m not really interested in the general self-improvement fad stuff. I’ve started barbell training (SS) in the past few months and it requires a lot of effort for me both in the gym and out, so I don’t mind if all my free time is spent eating, watching videos on YouTube, and sleeping. The only thing I think about when I wake up and when I go to bed now is how many pounds I can load on my back, crouch down, and get back up with. It doesn’t mean much, ultimately, but I feel good about the progress, and the points have substantially more worth than in video games (one of my other main passtimes).

Basically, think about why you’re “lonely” instead of just “alone”. A lot of it is a matter of perspective. I’m lonely when I’m around people, most of the time. I think what people really want is that contented feeling in their heart, and many people get it from relationships. But not everyone does, and some people do but can also find it elsewhere. I wouldn’t assume that finding people to hang around will improve your loneliness substantially. You may still feel empty and alone even with people around you.

I really think that if you are lonely alone, you will probably be lonely together… this has definitely been the case for me, at the very least. That doesn’t mean, though, that there aren’t issues that are making you feel worse with people than you should, even if you feel fine alone (don’t assume the inverse). Just because you feel fine alone doesn’t mean you’re not lonely around other people — you could have social issues that make it hard to relate or communicate with other people. Those may require a lot more specific attention to address and I’m definitely not the person to help someone with that.

8. Books. Nothing like good book to take your mind off the loneliness.

9. I remind myself often that I would rather come to terms with my loneliness and learn to enjoy it instead of filling that empty void with another human being.

10. Constantly reminding myself that the only person that the only person that I can always rely on to make myself feel better is myself.

11. I try my best to distract myself by diving into super complex or involved movies, books, tv shows, video games, etc. to take my mind off of it.

When I want somebody to talk to I go on reddit. You can usually find somebody wanting to talk.

12. Focus on hobbies. Take an interest in your future and focus on bettering yourself. I have a small group of friends who are a little far away, but they know I need my space. I embrace the solitude but try to push myself to be social.

13. I never even think about being lonely. I actually really love it. I mean I do see people on occasion and at work but I’m most happy alone. I like to work on myself, listen to music, do my own thing before going out again. There needs to be a balance. It made me very confident being myself and if anything I enjoy socializing even more because I’m myself and not the product of non-stop social drama. I’m calm and patient, I don’t care for he said she said bullshit and people seem attracted by that. I give great advice and people feel less anxious around me. You must find a balance of being alone and social. Too much of either is bad. I can always tell the ones who live for social attention. They are always uncomfortable, anxious and only talk about people instead of ideas. These people are scared to be left alone and it baffles me. Like I said, you have to find a balance that works for you. Avoid either extreme.

14. I try to immerse myself in things that interest me. And I stay in touch with the very few people I do have in my life. It’s bittersweet to think about the past. But that’s life.

15. Social media but don’t follow anyone you actually know in real life. Follow a bunch of uplifting accounts.

16. Watch Netflix, cook yummy things, study, read, basically keep myself occupied rather than moping around.

17. I comfort myself with the notion that in the end, no one can entertain me as well as I can.

18. Sometimes when I get the feels, I remind myself its perfectly fine to feel that way, and its fine to be alone. Then I find something to do, whether I build something like a raised bed for my garden or a doghouse, attempt to draw, go for a jog, play video games, shoot hoops, listen to comedy, watch YouTube, read a book, etc.

Other times, if I can’t fight it off with any of that, I’ll talk to family by text or call or go somewhere with lots of people just to people-watch and feel somewhat connected.

If that doesn’t help, ill get on dating sites and talk to my matches or at least send messages.

19. I try to avoid social media and remember that what people portray on there isn’t always how their life is.

I talk to random strangers on the internet, listen to lots and lots of music, read, laugh at memes, spend hours on reddit, watching tv shows (less nowadays), I try to go to the gym 3 times a week – keep myself in shape and build my confidence.

When uni kicks in I study really really hard and that takes my mind off the loneliness.

Most importantly though, I try not to dwell on it and rather think of all the things I still want to do and learn on my own – like learning more about myself for example or spending time re-learning the drums/piano.

20. Change the perspective. If you start feeling lonely — Flip it and reverse it. Think of the blessings you’ve been given (I’m not religious, just the best wording I can think of). What’s the problem No friends to chill out with? Well, Do you have food to eat? There’s something to be thankful for. No significant other/ spouse? Do you have a roof over your Head and somewhere to sleep? There’s something to be thankful for. No family at the holidays do you have employment? There’s something to be thankful for.

The way I see it, (and this is definitely not in meant to minimize the hardships of others in any way) is that when I’m feeling lonely, it’s because I don’t have bigger problems at the moment, and I am grateful that I don’t.

21. Multiplayer video games help a lot. Get paired with some randos and strike up a conversation. Play well enough and they’ll want to group.

22. ANIME: now you might think this is stupid and I’m just turning you into a weeb but for me, finding out the existence of anime help me a lot. I have friends but none of them are really close to me so we never hang out. Sometime I would feel like I’m being ignored or left out(maybe my fault I don’t know). But when you find something you love that does not need friends to enjoy it, then you’ll no longer feel the loneliness. Sometime you even want to be lonely.

23. Volunteering!

24. Be as busy as possible. Watch twitch streamers to “hangout” with them and chat. Play video games. Do something active. Go mountain biking or hiking.

25. I comfort myself by thinking that I’m not alone in my loneliness, and that I might meet people who are lonely too, and we won’t be lonely together.

26. I tend to clean and turn up some music.

27. I make a conscious effort to do things that make me happy. It’s surprisingly easy to just put it off.

28. Meditate.

29. I just accept it for now. I avoid things that can trigger it too.

30. I realize that Star Wars does such a great job of capturing my imagination that it makes me forget about it as I get absorbed in a new world and problems that are different from my own.

31. I’ve picked up playing D&D with groups online. It really helps. Gives me something social to look forward to at a regular time during the week, and people to talk to about it in between sessions.

32. I got a dog. 11/10 times would recommend a pet.

33. You are never alone if you love yourself.

34. Lots of porn…

35. You handle loneliness with sports, music, sleep, books, games, learning, cooking. You could find meaning in so many things in life, instead you chose to be alone and miserable. Loneliness is a choice.

36. Sometimes when I’m alone I talk to myself. Helps me think a bit better and makes me feel less empty.

37. Dog. Gym. Dog park. Books. More gym. Run. Run with dog. Work 40 hours a week.

When I was single I was reading a book a week. Gym, dog and reading really helps.

38. I work a lot. Try to travel some. Do stuff for other people. LOTS of internet.

39. When one pad starts sinking you jump to another. Make lots of friends and you will never run out of lily pads.

Always go out one day of the week with a friend/friends.

Find a hobby or activity that involves people.

40. If you are talking in terms of being alone, being at peace in your own company is a valuable “skill” to learn. You need to first accept internally that there is nothing wrong with being alone. If you are having trouble connecting with people or socializing and feel lonely because of this, try going on discord or some other voice chat enabled software and practice, get good enough to where you feel confident in face to face.

41. I like being alone. More time for myself. Might be selfish, but I need it at the moment.

42. I worked from 7am to 8pm today. Kept working through my lunch hour, just listened to music and worked on cars. Probably gonna do that tomorrow too. I do that quite a bit. On weekends I buy and work on cars then sell them.

It’s also how I work through stress among other things.

43. I think about how complicated it actually is to hang out with other people. How hard it is to come up with interesting things to say or do or talk about all the time.

That works. All the time.

44. Keep yourself occupied, hobbles, exercise, work if need be.

If in the budget and have the time for it: a cat or dog. Sometimes can help build self worth

45. I got anti depressants, and now its not so bad….i feel better about everything and so the need to fill that hole is no longer there. Honestly, its just not a good time for a girlfriend anyways.

46. I plug my guitar and make some noise!

47. Watch a horror movie before going to sleep. I’m definitely won’t be alone during that time.

48. By messaging friends, but that doesn’t compete with physical presence.

49. I suppose I deal with it by distracting myself with hobbies and whatnot, keep my mind off it, you know?

50. I used to listen to the same podcasts everyday to the point where I felt like I was chatting with my friends. I slept with headphones on, listening to the same shows over and over just so I could hear another voice in the room.

Image Credit: God & Man

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