Bresha Meadows Thought You’d Understand

Photos by Maddie McGarvey

CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio ― There are things that Bresha Meadows remembers about the night she killed her father and things she doesn’t. She tells me this as she slowly picks apart a chocolate chip cookie, discarding the stale edges. We’re sitting at her attorney’s dining room table in an east side suburb of Cleveland. Although Bresha is 18, she looks younger, with warm brown eyes and a slightly upturned nose, which her boyfriend playfully teased her about the first time they met. She lifts her chin when she laughs, and she laughs often. The more distressing the story she’s telling, the more she breaks into a smile. It’s a nervous habit.

Her guess, she says, is that her mind blocked out some stuff to protect her. She remembers steadily extracting the gun from under her dad’s pillow as he slept on the couch. Then putting it down. Picking it up. Putting it down. You know when you can kinda like, foresee something?” she asked. “I sat there thinking and pictures kept flashing in my head, like my mom’s funeral casket, and then my sister and brother are old enough to move out, and it is just me and him left in the house.” Her dad had been sexually abusing her since she was 8, she said, and beating her mother for her entire life. The last thing she thought before she pulled the trigger was: It’s never gonna stop. It’s only gonna get worse. She clicked the gun and spun around like a wooden spinning top.

She was 14.

She doesn’t remember screaming, though her mother describes hearing an unearthly sound, high-pitched and deafeningly loud. When the police arrived to arrest her, she was dripping wet. After shooting her father, she bolted upstairs and jumped in the shower fully clothed. “I felt myself going into shock, so I tried to get cold water on me,” she explained. The police officers who responded, all men, allowed her to put on dry clothes before taking her down to the station, but insisted on remaining in the room as she undressed, she said.

I’d been covering Bresha’s case since 2016, but this was the first time we’d met. In court, her back was always to the public gallery. From behind, she struck a fragile figure, often visibly shaking and shifting foot to foot as she stood in front of the judge, her hands clasped behind her. In person, she was lighter, more animated, although she chose her words with a degree of caution and precision rarely observed in teens. That’s a repercussion of jail, she said. She is always bracing for something terrible to happen. 

The fact that we were even having this conversation was improbable. Normally kids who kill a parent are tried as adults and go to prison for decades, even if they are victims of severe child abuse. Bresha was an outlier. Eighteen months after the shooting, she returned home to her family in Warren, Ohio. This spring, she graduated high school with a 4.0 for the year. 

During one of our conversations, I asked her what she wanted from her new life. She paused and a look of confusion flashed across her face. It was the wrong question, impossible for her to answer. Her childhood was focused on survival; it left no space to dream. Recently, she purchased an old Jeep. It had a cracked windshield and an oil leak, but it ran. When she is driving, she said, she is able to capture the rare and blissful feeling of having complete control over her life.

A Childhood Deferred

Bresha Meadows poses for a portrait in her lawyer’s home in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, on Oct. 2, 2019. Meadows killed her father after he allegedly terrorized and abused her family for years.

The hours and minutes leading up to the shooting on July 28, 2016, were unremarkable. Jonathan Meadows, 41, drank vodka mixed with pop and yelled at Bresha’s older brother before passing out on the couch. At the young age of 14, Bresha was accustomed to this pattern. Drinking, then fighting. Her dad was prone to physical violence, she said, and his cruelty grew when he was drunk. His favorite target was her mother, Brandi, who married him when she was 19. “Most of the time he’d keep the bedroom door closed when he hit her, but if he was drunk, he’d forget and leave it open,” Bresha said. Some days, she’d come home from school to find her mother with a fresh black eye. She recalled one occasion when she was hanging out in her bedroom and heard a loud thud. She peeked her head out and tiptoed down to her parents’ room. Her mother was knocked out on the floor. “Do you remember that, mom?” she asked, turning to Brandi, who sat with her daughter during interviews in early October. Brandi shook her head no, her eyes watery. Bresha laughed nervously again.

When Bresha was little, her father used to tuck her in at night and offer up his cheek for a “zerbert,” the term for a raspberry popularized by “The Cosby Show.” She’d press her lips against his face and blow, making a silly noise. It was their special evening ritual. Later, she would come to dread bedtime. Around the age of 8, her father began molesting her, she said. He told her to keep it a secret and she did. But soon after, Bresha started asking her mother if they could leave Daddy. “She was the first one to say it to me,” Brandi said. In 2011, when Bresha was 9, Brandi had a stroke and ended up in the hospital for a week. For Brandi, the medical emergency served as a wake-up call. “I realized this is not what I want. Like, I don’t want to die here, living like this in front of my kids,” she said.

As soon as she was well enough, Brandi fled to her mother’s house in Parma, Ohio, with her three children ― Bresha and her older siblings, Brianna, now 22, and Jonathan Jr., now 24. In a protective order filed at the time, she detailed her husband’s brutality. “In the 17 years of our marriage he has cut me, broke my ribs, fingers, the blood vessels in my hand, my mouth, blackened my eyes,” she wrote. “If he finds us, I am 100 percent sure he will kill me and the children.” Sitting on the back porch of her mother’s house, Brandi opened up to one of her sisters, Martina Latessa, a Cleveland detective who knew firsthand the complexities of domestic violence. Still, a few months later, Brandi returned to her husband, a decision that she still hasn’t forgiven herself for. Once they were home, Bresha said, things deteriorated further. Her dad believed his children betrayed him by leaving, and was paranoid they’d do it again. “We wasn’t allowed to talk no more after that,” Bresha said, nodding at her mom. “If he walked in and we were talking, he’d get mad.” 

On left, Bresha (baby in center) is pictured with her mother, father and two siblings. On right, Bresha (in black) poses with her family. To her left is Ja’Von, her cousin, who also went public with his allegations of abuse at the hands of Jonathan Meadows.

When Bresha was 12, her dad raped her for the first time, she said. She hadn’t had a period yet, but started menstruating soon afterwards, which led her to wonder if the two were related. “I don’t know if that could bring a period faster,” she said, her voice trailing off. She shared a room with her sister, and her father would time his visits for when his youngest daughter was alone. At 13, she ran away to Cleveland, seeking help from her aunts. “I needed to breathe,” she said. Latessa, her aunt, was struck by how withdrawn her niece appeared. “She was rubbing her hands together and shaking and very closed off,” she said. Bresha told her that her dad’s violence was getting worse. He had strangled her mother, and threatened to shoot all of them. When Latessa told Bresha that she had to go home ― her parents had reported her missing ― she broke down crying. On the car ride back, she lay comatose in the backseat. She didn’t tell her aunt about any sexual abuse, but Latessa wondered about it after spotting cut marks on her arms. Self-injury is common among female victims of molestation, she said. Latessa made Bresha memorize her phone number and took her to the Warren Police Department so that Bresha could tell them about her father’s violence, and what it was like inside the home. Nothing came of the report, Latessa said. The police did not immediately return a request for comment. 

Three months before the shooting, Bresha’s family moved houses. For the first time in her life, she had her own bedroom. Most teens crave their own personal space. But for Bresha, sleeping alone meant she was never safe from her father. She stopped sleeping and developed chronic, debilitating headaches, terrified of her father’s surprise visits. She ran away again. “Every time I left, they just sent me back. It was pointless,” she said. “You could walk through that house and you knew it, he had control, he wasn’t going to get in trouble.” One night, she was in the process of hanging herself in her closet, she said, when her friend walked in and stopped her. 

Before she pulled the trigger, Bresha said, it hadn’t actually occurred to her that she would go to jail. She thought it was obvious she was acting in self-defense, and everyone would agree. Nowhere is her 14-year-old mind more evident than in this calculation. It wasn’t until she was inside the Trumbull County Juvenile Detention Center, and heard her charge ― aggravated murder ― that it dawned on her that she was in serious trouble. If she was tried as an adult and convicted, she could spend the rest of her life behind bars.

‘The Archetypal Violent Act’

Bresha Meadows poses for a portrait in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. 

Parricide, the killing of a parent, is extremely rare. Only about 50 children under the age of 18 in the U.S. kill their parents each year, according to an estimate by Kathleen Heide, a professor at the University of South Florida who was hired as an expert witness by Bresha’s defense team. Most are victims of severe child abuse. And, like Bresha, most act while their parent is asleep or otherwise incapacitated because it is the only time they believe they can fight back and win.

To a child, it’s a rational choice. “It’s when their fear level is a little lower,” said Paul Mones, a lawyer who specializes in defending children who kill their parents. But it usually dooms them in court. Under most self-defense laws, a person is only justified in using deadly force if they believe they are being threatened with imminent death or serious bodily harm, with an emphasis on imminent. There is no exception for juveniles, Mones said, although in a handful of cases, courts have allowed testimony on battered child syndrome ― a condition resulting from severe abuse ― to explain why a child might truly believe their life was in danger despite the absence of an imminent threat.

Mones, who wrote “When a Child Kills: Abused Children Who Kill Their Parents,” said that in most of his cases, his clients were charged as adults, convicted and sent to prison for at least 10 years. “There’s a strong streak of retribution against youth in the juvenile justice system,” he said. “The killing of a parent, no matter what, is still viewed as the archetypal violent act of kids, the ultimate rebellion.”

On left, Bresha is seen inside the Warren Police Department a few hours after the shooting. On right, she appears at one of her many hearings at the Trumbull County Family Court.

The practice of trying children as adults is commonplace in the U.S., especially if the defendant is a person of color. Bresha is Black. “We have this expression, ‘If you can do the crime, you can do the time,’ which from a developmental point of view is ludicrous,” said psychologist James Garbarino, who studies the use of violence by children. A growing body of neurological research has found that the parts of the brain associated with functions such as planning, reasoning, judgment and impulse control are not done maturing until a person is in their 20s. Kids simply think differently than adults. The Supreme Court has acknowledged this in a series of landmark decisions. In 2012, the court ruled that it was cruel and unusual to sentence a child to life in prison without the possibility of parole, because it “precludes consideration of [a child’s] chronological age and its hallmark features — among them, immaturity, impetuosity, and failure to appreciate risks and consequences.” Writing for the majority, Justice Elena Kagan noted that it also prevents the justice system from taking into account a child’s home environment, from which a child “cannot usually extricate himself — no matter how brutal or dysfunctional.” 

In addition to their cognitive immaturity, children are also especially vulnerable to the effects of trauma. Back in the 1990s, a landmark study found a significant link between negative childhood experiences and chronic health problems later in life. Ongoing research into adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs as they are called, has found that the more ACEs a person has, the more likely they are to develop heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, depression; struggle with substance abuse; or end up incarcerated. (You can take the 10-question ACE test here.) The exact mechanism that links childhood trauma to negative health outcomes is unclear, but scientists hypothesize that it has to do with the stress response. When we feel threatened, our bodies react by increasing our heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormones, such as cortisol. Learning to manage stress is a normal and healthy part of growing up. But when children are constantly stressed, it can literally shape the developing brain. 

Bresha has an ACE score of 7. While extremely high, it is not out of the ordinary for girls in juvenile justice. An estimated 45% of female juvenile offenders have an ACE score of 5 or higher, according to a Department of Justice report. Like Bresha, 31% were sexually abused prior to incarceration.

For many children, you can draw a straight line between the trauma they experienced and the crime that put them behind bars. They’re not bad kids, they’re hurt ones. 

The Fight Of Her Life

Ian Friedman, the lawyer for Bresha Meadows, in his home in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. 

On Bresha’s first night in juvenile detention, she got a surprise visit from Ian Friedman, a criminal defense attorney based in Cleveland. Before they met, he wasn’t planning on taking her case. His trial schedule was full and the family couldn’t pay. But he promised Brandi, who came to see him in his office that day, that he would talk to Bresha in person before making up his mind. “My first impression was that she was a little girl who didn’t have anything, didn’t come from anything and wasn’t going to get a fair shake in the system,” he said. “I was concerned that she would get flushed down the toilet.” He took the case on the spot.

Outside the jail, Bresha’s case was beginning to go viral. A few days after the shooting, Brandi went on local television and called Bresha a hero. “I wasn’t strong enough to get out and she helped me,” she said, sobbing. The heartbreaking clip was picked up by national news outlets, including HuffPost. Latessa, Bresha’s aunt, also began speaking to reporters about the violence in the house and her niece’s recent repeated attempts to run away. By this point, Latessa was a detective in Cleveland’s special domestic violence unit. (She has said she was inspired to work with domestic abuse victims after witnessing her sister’s untenable situation.) Her clear, calm recounting of what she knew about the family lent credibility to her Bresha’s claims of self-defense. So did the account by Bresha’s cousin, Ja’Von Meadows-Harris, who described being physically and emotionally abused by Bresha’s father when he lived with them. Jonathan Meadows’ sister denies that he was abusive, and says that he was a good dad.

The racial dynamics of her case ― as a young Black girl, Bresha was more than four times more likely to end up incarcerated than her white peers ― also caught the attention of activists. An organizing collective, called #freebresha, began ginning up public support, promoting the family’s GoFundMe, organizing book drives and starting a petition to demand Bresha’s immediate release.

Bresha Meadows talks with her lawyer, Ian Friedman.

On the inside, Bresha was struggling. Every morning in juvenile detention, she woke up in a panic to a loud pop. It was her cell door snapping open, but to her, it sounded like a gunshot. She suffered from flashbacks to the night of the shooting, and anxiety attacks. The worst part was that she couldn’t talk to anyone about it. She was in the midst of the biggest mental health crisis of her life, and she didn’t even have a therapist, she said. When she entered the jail, her mother had to sign a form that stated “other than prescription refills and emergencies, your child will not be approved for any medical appointments while in detention.” Renae Hoso, the juvenile court coordinator for Trumbull County Juvenile Court, told HuffPost that detained youth generally have access to a licensed professional counselor, but she could not speak to any specific services provided to Bresha. Bresha, who was eventually diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, maintains that she didn’t receive needed psychiatric care while incarcerated. “I felt like there was nothing to live for,” she said. Another girl in juvie taught her to cut herself with a snapped hair elastic. 

Meanwhile, she began to receive a steady stream of letters from people who had heard about her case. They sent her books to read, and encouraged her to stay positive. People thought she was brave, she said, though she didn’t see it that way. “When I think about it, I don’t think I did it because I was strong,” she said. “I did it because it was the last resort.” 

Behind the scenes, her attorney, Friedman, was working hard to get her a deal. “It was terrifying the whole time,” he said. “If we made a mistake, even the slightest mistake, a little girl could end up in prison and that would alter the course of her life.” In December, he won his first victory. Four months after Bresha was taken into custody, prosecutors announced that they would not try her as an adult, removing the threat of a life sentence. The longest she could go to prison if convicted was until the age of 21. It was welcome news to Bresha, but her 21st birthday still seemed forever away. It meant she would spend the rest of her childhood behind bars, separated from her family. Being in jail was beginning to remind her of being in her dad’s house. The authorities had complete control over her life — when she ate, when she slept, whom she talked to. She felt entirely powerless. “It kind of triggered me, being in there,” she said. “I’m like, y’all don’t understand. I’ve been through this.”

As the months wore on, she sunk into a deep depression. Friedman and her family were increasingly worried about her mental state. “It was insane. You had this girl whose condition was just deteriorating every day,” he said. “To us, this was the central issue of the case.” In April, after Bresha had been in jail for over eight months, Friedman took action. He filed a motion urging the judge to release Bresha and put her on electronic surveillance pending trial, arguing that the lack of mental health services inside Trumbull County Juvenile Detention Center was akin to cruel and unusual punishment. “It was clear she had sustained some real trauma throughout her life and needed care. And here she was, sitting in jail for excess of 250 days without it,” he said. He attached study after study to his 21-page motion, showing the negative effects of long periods of incarceration on teens. “The research caused us to believe this would end with irreparable harm towards Bresha,” he said.

The motion seemed to move the needle on her case. The following month, Friedman secured a plea deal. On May 22, 2017, she pleaded “true,” equivalent to guilty in juvenile court, to an involuntary manslaughter charge. It was her 299th day behind bars. She was sentenced to a year and a day in juvenile detention, with credit for time served, as well as six additional months at a residential mental health facility and two years of probation. 

She was 15.

Home For Healing

Bresha Meadows stands with her mother Brandi Meadows outside her lawyer’s home in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

On a recent morning, Bresha was debating whether people are born optimists or pessimists, or made that way by their life experiences. She was leaning toward the latter. She used to be bubbly and chatty, she said, open to talking to anyone. Now, she shies away from big crowds. When she returned to her high school in February 2018, she was embarrassed to notice that she was walking with her hands clasped behind her back, a holdover from juvie. In any situation with multiple outcomes, she said, she is primed to expect the worst. 

She plans to go to college and study criminal justice, but she’s not sure where yet. It will depend on money, mostly, and where she has enough family support. She might become a lawyer like Friedman, or a detective like Latessa. Or a domestic violence advocate, so she can support families like her own. 

“Most of the kids just need help, you know?” she said, referring to the children she met while in juvenile detention. “They always had something behind why they were there. Not like, an excuse. But you gotta remember, a kid has a kid’s mind. We don’t have adult minds. And so it’s like, for them to incarcerate us as if we’re adults ― it just crushes us. It messes with the mind a lot, actually.” 

Bresha Meadows and her mother Brandi Meadows show their matching semicolon tattoos.

These days, Bresha and Brandi spend a lot of time at home, just hanging out. In a way, they’re both convalescing. They got matching tattoos: a semicolon with an arrow through it. The image signifies that “the story is not over,” Bresha said. Life goes on. In many respects, she’s just like any other teen: She binges Netflix, Snapchats with her friends, and longs for new experiences, away from the trappings of her hometown. She’s never left Ohio, except for one time she was helping her mom deliver phone books and they crossed the state line into Pennsylvania. She’s never roller-skated. When we spoke, she had yet to take a plane ride, though that was about to change. This week, she is flying to Chicago to give a talk at an event for grassroots activists. It will be her first time speaking in public about what happened to her. She is nervous, she said, but feels compelled to do it. For all the other children who didn’t get a second chance like she did.

“I feel lucky, but I also feel bad, ’cause like, how am I any better?” she said. “I can’t do much, but I feel like I’m supposed to do something.” 

This story has been updated with more information on mental health services at Trumbull County Juvenile Detention Center.

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What do we know about Archie’s christening?

Image copyright Chris Allerton / SussexRoyal

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, has been christened by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the private chapel at Windsor Castle.

Harry and Meghan ruffled some feathers when they announced the event would be held privately and that details, such as the names of godparents, would not be released.

So what do we know about the christening and how does it compare to other ceremonies in the UK?


Baptisms are a must for Windsor babies.

The Queen is Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England and royal infants are often welcomed into the Christian faith within weeks of being born.

George was christened when he was three months old, Charlotte was only nine weeks and Louis was 11 weeks, while Archie will be exactly two months old on 6 July.

Harry was baptised at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, on 21 December 1984 when he was three months and six days old.

George was the first future monarch in modern times not to be baptised at Buckingham Palace, with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge choosing the intimate Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace instead in 2013.

Statistics show the number of baptisms performed by the Church of England during this period has declined from 135,000 in 2009 to just under 93,000 by 2017.

The christening gown

Image copyright Mary Turner/The Times
Image caption Princess Charlotte on her christening day wearing the family gown

Archie was christened in the frilly cream royal christening gown, like his cousins.

Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis all wore the outfit for their christenings, as did Zara and Mike Tindall’s daughters Mia and Lena.

The replica of the intricate lace and satin gown made for Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter has been used for royal infants for the last 11 years.

The new gown was created by the Queen’s dresser Angela Kelly and the team of dressmakers at Buckingham Palace, and features the same lengthy skirt and elaborate collars and bow as its predecessor.

The original Honiton lace and white satin robe, which was made in 1841, was last used in 2004, after which the Queen commissioned the handmade copy so the historic outfit, which had become too fragile to use, could be carefully preserved.

Unlike the royals, many parents in the UK now choose to dress up their little ones in “smart” but less formal clothing which has led to sales of traditional christening gowns going down.

The cake

Image copyright Steve Parsons
Image caption Harry and Meghan’s wedding cake – did they save a tier for the christening?

Traditionally, newlyweds would keep the top tier of their wedding cake for the christening of their first child, just like William and Kate did with their seven-tier fruit cake.

Fruit cakes, which for years were the traditional wedding cake of choice, can be stored for years, but sponge cakes should generally be eaten within two to three days.

But Harry and Meghan chose a layered lemon and elderflower sponge cake, decorated with fresh buttercream for their wedding reception.

Lily Jones, owner of London bakery Lily Vanilli, says that sponge cakes can be frozen and defrosted up to a year after the wedding.

She told the BBC: “No-one really orders fruit cake any more – I think in the last 10 years I’ve only had about three orders for it.

“But we get quite a lot of christening cake requests. Most people are more concerned with the decoration and they tend to be quite traditional – white flowers, crosses, that sort of thing. They are quite simple usually, a bit more pared back.

“All of my customers are quite modern, but there are those nods to tradition. Only a few have ordered a wedding cake with the intention of keeping a layer for the baby, but it sometimes happens – just not very often.”


Image copyright Getty Images

Royal infants usually have more than the standard three godparents.

Prince Louis has six, Prince George has seven and Princess Charlotte has five.

Speculation is rife that Meghan’s best friend, the Canadian stylist Jessica Mulroney, will be chosen while Harry’s old schoolmates, brothers Thomas and Charlie van Straubenzee, could be picked.

Tennis star Serena Williams ruled herself out on Thursday after Meghan watched her play at Wimbledon, as she is playing on Saturday.

The Church of England’s advice states: “You can have as many godparents as you wish, but every child should have at least three, two of the same sex and at least one of the opposite sex to the child.”

Normally under the Parochial Registers and Records Measure 1978 the names of godparents are publicly listed.

However, it is understood that to protect the privacy of the godparents, who are thought to be private individuals and not public figures, their names are not being released.


Image copyright Getty Images

The tradition of giving a silver coin to a young child for their christening goes back centuries and it is though to have links to the Biblical story of the Three Wise Men.

People thought the coin symbolised good luck, but it also served the practical purpose of setting up a nest egg for the child, according to the Royal Mint.

Over the centuries the type of gift has evolved. During the Tudor era people gave silver spoons and in Queen Victoria’s reign people started giving silver trinkets.

Etiquette expert William Hanson told the BBC: “Traditionally the idea is to give something that lasts and is fairly ageless – something that when the child is an adult they can still use and cherish.

“Things made from silver are always popular, or cases of wine made in the year of the birth (if a vintage year, for instance) that can be enjoyed on the child’s coming of age. I suggest people avoid things that are overly infantile, like children’s books, rattles (even silver ones) or cuddly toys. These are not ‘ageless’, however well meant.

“I suspect some of Archie’s godparents (not that we are likely to know) will be American so there may be some presents that have a US provenance, which can help remind him of his transatlantic roots. But I am sure whatever he will receive will be well meant and of great quality.”

Etiquette guide Debrett’s adds: “Premium bonds or other savings accounts may be set up, or a life membership of an organisation, for example the National Trust, may be suitable.”

Prince Harry reportedly bought his youngest nephew, Prince Louis, a first edition of A.A Milne’s Winnie-The-Pooh, for his christening last year.

Harry spent around £8,000 on the book. The gift was inspired by Harry’s childhood memories, a source told The Sun.

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Convention marks Game of Thrones lingo

Image copyright Sky Atlantic
Image caption Dothraki is the language of a nomadic warrior race in Game of Thrones

The brains behind some of science fiction’s most popular invented languages are gathering for a convention to showcase their skills.

The San Diego-based Language Creation Society has brought together “conlangers” – or people who “construct” languages – in Cambridge.

Among the languges represented is Dothraki, as used in Game of Thrones.

UK organiser Oliver Mayeux said the convention would enhance the network of a “rather eccentric tribe”.

Image copyright PA Archive
Image caption Klingon is a constructed language created for Star Trek and has its own institute
Image copyright CBS
Image caption A language was created for the Klingons in the Star Trek films, although it was never heard in the original TV series

The society – which has 185 members in 27 countries – was created in 2007 to “promote the art, craft and science of language creation”.

It came to recent prominence after the producers of Game of Thrones got in touch to find a language creator to develop Dothraki, from the few words and phrases in the original books by George RR Martin.

Linguist David J Peterson, a member of the society, was then chosen to devise an entire language for the series.

Image copyright Langauge Creation Society
Image caption An excerpt of Dothraki, one of the languages devised by David Peterson for Game of Thrones
Image copyright PA Archive
Image caption Ludvic Zamenhof (right) invented the language of Esperanto

Conference host Bettina Beinhoff, of the Anglia Ruskin centre for Intercultural and Multilingual Studies, said most conlangers derived inspiration from Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien, who developed languages for much of his work.

“For many language creators, Tolkien was the starting point, many want to recreate his sense of aesthetics,” Dr Beinhoff said.

“I hope the conference will inspire conlangers to learn from each other, as well as get ideas and solutions to any dilemmas they face.”

Other constructed languages, such as Klingon, from Star Trek, have developed their own cultural appeal.

Esperanto, invented in the late 19th Century as a “universal second language to foster peace and international understanding”, is spoken by about two million speakers worldwide, according to language database Ethnologue.

Image copyright Oliver Mayeux
Image caption Dr Oliver Mayeux’s love of languages led him “down a rabbit hole” to study linguistics

Society president Joseph Windsor, said: “When you hear Klingons speaking Klingon, or the Dothraki speaking Dothraki, it adds a sense of believability to a fictional world.

“I’ve heard from different conlangers who engage with the craft as catharsis after a stressful day, or who use their languages to be able to keep a completely private journal.

“You can’t Google Translate a conlang that no-one else knows.”

Image copyright Language Creation Society
Image caption Members of the society at the 2017 convention in Calgary, Canada

Dr Mayeux, who has a PhD in linguistics from Cambridge University, said building a language from scratch is an “incredibly personal thing”.

“It’s like poetry or painting – people who do it have a natural expressiveness and admiration for language,” he said.

“We don’t do it for fame or notoriety, we’re a rather eccentric tribe of language nerds, coming together to discuss their creations.”

The convention takes place at Anglia Ruskin University’s Cambridge campus from 22 to 23 June.

Read more:

Isaac Hempstead Wright says Bran’s ending on ‘Game of Thrones’ was George R.R. Martin’s idea

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J.K. Rowling faces backlash on Twitter for comments about sexual relationship between two characters

J.K. Rowling is facing backlash for recent comments she made about the sexuality of Dumbledore and Grindelwald in an interview for DVD and Blu-ray features on her film “The Crimes of Grindelwald.”  (Reuters)

J.K. Rowling is facing backlash on social media for recent comments she made about the sexuality of two of her characters.

For an interview in a DVD and Blu-ray feature on her film “The Crimes of Grindelwald,” the writer said Dumbledore and Grindelwald may have had a “sexual dimension” to their relationship.


Her comments were tweeted out by @rowlinglibrary on Sunday.

According to the Twitter account, the author said about Dumbledore and Grindelwald: “Their relationship was incredibly intense. It was passionate, and it was a love relationship.”

“But as it happens in any relationship, gay or straight or whatever label we want to put on it, one never knows really what the other person is feeling. You can’t know, you can believe you know,” she continued.

“So I’m less interested in the sexual side — though I believe there is a sexual dimension to this relationship — than I am in the sense of the emotions they felt for each other, which ultimately is the most fascinating thing about all human relationship,” she added.

That sexual relationship, however, was not made obvious in “The Crimes of Grindelwald,” which disappointed fans at the time.

Followers expressed their displeasure again on social media over the weekend.


One Twitter user posted: “J.K. Rowling Confirms Some Characters in Her Books and Movies Are Gay Everywhere Except in the Books or the Movies.”

Another person tweeted: “jk rowling reappearing every 2 months to say something literally no one asked about is me adding more random details to my essay to up my word count.”

Someone else wrote: “I love Harry Potter so much but JK’s blatant (and failing) attempts to make Dumbledore any gayer without actually having the guts or motive to actually write it… Smh, making a character gay to seem woke or give them more depth… Sloppy, Rowling.”

“Well, as an ‘intense’ homosexual, and a fan of her books, I’ve quite had it with J. K. Rowling piggybacking on LGBTQ+ folk because it’s trendy to do so now, when she wasn’t prepared to make the sacrifices and fight at a time when it wasn’t so easy,” another Twitter user wrote, adding: “Stop milking ££ our rainbow.”

Not all fans were upset with Rowling’s comments, however, with one person tweeting: “I can’t believe people are this up in arms about JK Rowling. Holy s–t no one is ever satisfied. It’s a book series. We all loved it. It was amazing. STFU and enjoy it.”

Rowling, who is known for announcing additions to her books and movies on social media and in interviews, declared Dumbledore was gay in 2007, 10 years after her first novel, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” was published in the U.K. in 1997.

However, the wizard’s sexuality is never explicitly mentioned in any of the books or movies.

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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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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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Mother’s booklet for son with autism: ‘Voting is really important. Here’s how to do it.’

(CNN)When Nathaniel Batchelder, a 28-year-old who has autism, voted Thursday in the midterm elections, “we were on such a high,” said his mother, Susan Senator.

But had he lived somewhere else — in a state where laws place tighter voting restrictions based on “mental competence” — he might not have been able to cast his ballot at all, experts say.
Senator knew that she needed to come up with a way to make things as smooth as possible for her son. Batchelder voted for the first time in 2016, but when he voted in this year’s primaries, he felt anxious and rushed. He went through a couple of ballots before he was able to fill one out properly.
    So Senator created a booklet for her son titled “Voting is really important. Here’s how to do it.”
    The nine-page resource walks him through the process, complete with pictures of the ballot, which he could practice bubbling in, and reminders about the candidates running for different positions.
    “Nat uses the pen to color in ONLY ONE CIRCLE: That is how you vote!” the guide says. “What are you going to be? Republican or Democrat?”
    His dad read it with him, as did his caregivers — and right before voting, he practiced filling in the bubbles one by one. For Senator’s son, knowing the rules and structure beforehand is key in addressing his anxiety before he can exercise his civic duty.
    “For any person, the more you know about how something works, the better you’re going to perform,” Senator said.
    On the final page of her booklet: a photo of a ballot being inserted into the voting machine, with an encouraging note:
    “Put the paper in the slot of the machine! You did it!”

    ‘More at stake’

    Senator isn’t the only one trying to develop a voting resource for people like her son.
    “Is this something that’s easily accessible or known about in the autism world? I don’t think so,” said Michael Bowman, senior developmental specialist at 3LPlace, an organization that provides support for adults with autism and other developmental disabilities in the Boston area.
    Bowman has been putting together a nonpartisan lesson plan for members of the organization that uses a five-point scale indicating where candidates fall on certain issues. When he heard about Senator’s booklet, he requested it so that he might incorporate how she described the physical process of voting to her son.
    “It’s something that we felt that we had to create in order to help empower our members,” Bowman said.
    Bowman said that many adults like those he works with might have difficulties communicating, but that doesn’t mean they have a hard time putting together their thoughts or being informed voters.
    For example, when Bowman first discussed marriage equality and abortion, he realized that members initially thought he was asking whether they themselves wanted to marry someone of the same gender or have a baby. So he reframed the questions in order to communicate these issues effectively.
    People with intellectual disabilities “rarely receive instruction or other supports to encourage their participation in voting,” according to a 2015 survey of people who care for and work with them. Most respondents said they “believed that teaching individuals to vote was important and worthwhile and that instructional materials could be prepared that would allow people … to understand varying political platforms or positions on at least some political issues.”
    Some respondents also expressed concerns, saying they were “mindful of the time requirements and the potential for personal bias to influence the instructional process.”
    Senator said she guides all three of her sons as a parent would, and only one has a diagnosis of autism. Her family doesn’t always agree on everything, she said — but one of the things that’s different about Batchelder is that “he’s a very black-and-white thinker.” In order to have those conversations, she finds ways to be clear and concrete about issues that impact his everyday life.
    For example, support from Medicaid allows Batchelder to live in an apartment with caregivers and lead an active life, playing sports, singing in a rock band, volunteering and recycling at a high school, Senator said.
    For many people with disabilities, “their livelihood depends on their health care,” said Jennifer Mathis, director of policy and legal advocacy at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.
    “They have arguably more at stake than many of us.”

    ‘Nobody should be invisible’

    A number of states have requirements that voters be “competent” in order to vote, which can have the effect of stripping away the right to vote from people with certain disabilities, Mathis said.
    Tthe US Election Assistance Commission keeps data on voters removed from registration rolls due to “mental incompetency,” but it’s hard to say exactly how many people across the country have been prevented from voting due to disability, she added.
    “Our problem with those laws is that they hold people with disabilities to a higher standard than all other voters,” Mathis said.
    According to this year’s voting rights guide led by the Bazelon Center, 40 states and the District of Columbia have policies in state constitutions or election laws that could restrict someone’s right to vote if they have such a disability.
    Often, these policies are based on guardianship status, Mathis said, which may have been imposed after a single episode in which the person was in crisis — as with someone who didn’t take their medications or who didn’t have access to services they needed.
    “The consequence of that: The person is now living with the inability to make decisions about basic things for the rest of their life,” she said.
    More restrictive state policies might prevent people under guardianship from voting, while other states have less restrictive policies or ones that are difficult to enforce. Some “middle-ground” states might require some sort of challenge in order to prove “competence” — for example, by answering questions about the governor’s name or issues on the ballot, Mathis added.
    “We don’t expect that of voters without disabilities. We don’t scrutinize the rationality of their choices,” she said.
    “I think if you ask the average voter on the street some of the questions that people with disabilities get asked in these guardianship proceedings, they wouldn’t be able to answer them.”
    In Massachusetts, where Batchelder lives, people with intellectual disabilities can vote in elections unless that person’s guardianship specifically states that they can’t vote.
    Seven states’ laws also use “outmoded and stigmatizing terms” such as “idiots,” “insane persons” and “of unsound mind,” according to the Bazelon Center guide.
    “Even though the laws evolve over time and they may get better in some ways, it takes a very long time to get away from these fundamental views of people with disabilities as incapable,” Mathis said. “That’s the biggest stereotype of people with disabilities.”
    She questioned why we need a voter competence standard at all, especially when 10 states have no such standard. “The way that we know that people are competent to vote is if they show up to vote and they want to make a choice,” she said.

    Sign up here to get The Results Are In with Dr. Sanjay Gupta every Tuesday from the CNN Health team.

    However, barriers to voting go beyond which laws are on the books, experts say. Some people may lack transportation, not know how to use the voting equipment, feel discouraged from failed attempts in the past or have a physical disability that makes a polling place inaccessible to them, according to one report.
    But for Batchelder, who proudly wore an “I Voted” sticker after casting his ballot Thursday, “everything from start to finish was so nice — and so easy,” Senator said.
      The polling workers sensed that he was different from some of the other voters, Senator said, “and they immediately took Nat under their wing. And I was just so touched about that.”
      “Just because someone has a diagnosis of developmental disability, that should not disqualify someone,” she said. “Nobody should be invisible.”

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      11 amazing perks you get from your local library you never knew before now

      “I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.” So said the famed novelist Jorge Luis Borges, and if you love those musty old buildings packed with study carrels and knowledge, you probably share his heavenly sentiment.

      Tap or click here for 4 apps to help organize your books, music and movies.

      Today, the library is as essential as ever. I mean physical libraries, the same brick-and-mortar buildings that have been lending books since the dawn of America. However, how does a place full of hardbacks and CDs keep pace with the digital universe? By adapting to its logic and evolving with the times.

      Tap or click here for a fantastic resource for free eBooks.

      Armed with a simple library card, you can put your tax money to good use and support one of the noblest institutions there is – all the while enjoying a near-limitless supply of literature, periodicals, music, movies, and even free office space. Here are just a few of the perks your local library has to offer.

      1. eBooks and Audiobooks

      When you think “library,” you think books. But books come in many varieties, including picture books for kids, paperbacks for the beach, and large-print books for people with visual challenges.

      The explosion of media has birthed multiple new formats as well: libraries today also boast an impressive number of eBooks and audiobooks, all for free with a library card. All you need is your eReader (such as the super-cheap Kindle) and/or an audiobook app that supports your library’s file types (such as Overdrive), and you can binge on books the way you binge TV shows.

      Just keep in mind eBooks and audiobooks from the library come with due dates, just like the print books do – you’ll be able to keep your copy for generally about two weeks, then you’ll have to renew your reading material, or let it be available again to other library cardholders.

      Specific titles, especially beloved bestsellers, may not always be available either. However, you can place hold requests, just like with print books, and get the link to download your copy as soon as it’s available.

      2. DVDs and CDs

      Long before streaming, libraries made a go of competing with video and music stores with one big exception – the tapes, DVDs and CDs would be free to check out with a library card.

      Sure, the selection might be somewhat more limited, and new releases wouldn’t get there as quickly, and sometimes the DVDs or CDs would be scratched and difficult to play. The movies would be free, and still are free at your local library right now.

      The best approach to a library’s selection is to treat it like a thrift store: you never know what’s been donated over the years, so you can browse the eclectic collection for old favorites or bygone blockbusters you never got around to.

      3. Wi-Fi and places to work

      The “virtual office” usually means one of two things: your house, or a cafe. Coffee drinks add up, and sometimes leaving the house is a boon for productivity. The solution: an open table or padded chair, courtesy of your local book-lender. Every major library has free Wi-Fi, outlets, and designated places to work, and your only limitations are the hours of operation. (And don’t make any phone calls, obviously).

      Libraries often have secluded workspaces and conference rooms you can reserve.

      4. Computers

      Need a computer too? Virtually all libraries have desktops available, and some even have laptops you can rent on site. These devices come with time limits on their use, but they’re still handy for many situations, and they often have printers available for use as well. So libraries make excellent work locations.

      5. Free images

      Need great stock images that are more historical or natural, or need to look at famous works of art, or some local maps? Libraries can help with all of that. The New York Public Library has 200,000 free images you can use for any purpose, and you can download them from your home right now. It also has a collection of 180,000 works of art, literature, and performance, many of which are in the public domain, as well as 672,000 items in its digital collection in general.

      Peruse any of the items in your home right now, and use the public domain ones for any purposes you can think of. Then perhaps enjoy a collection of coloring pages from world-class libraries and museums, which you can print out and use whenever also made available through the digitizing efforts of libraries.

      Also, don’t forget to see what similar services your local library has—you may get to see some great old maps of your town or portraits done by local artists of yore.

      6. Classes on Technology

      As an inexpensive alternative to more formal continuing education classes, libraries often host classes and workshops on various subjects. These classes might be on technology, accounting, or studio art. In the case of the D.C. library system, there might even be a class on how to avoid NSA spying. Classes are often divided by age, offering courses to teens and adults to better account for their relative learning levels, and some libraries even offer courses aimed at young children to encourage literacy and necessary math skills.

      Libraries also frequently offer ESL programs to help those less familiar with English gain fluency. Since these classes are free, they’re aimed at a large audience, so typically they’re designed for serious beginners. If you already know a bit about Excel, taking a class on it at your local library will likely cover what you already know.

      7. Activities for children

      Libraries are heavily geared toward children, from individual sections (organized by age groups and reading ability) to kid-friendly programming, like storytelling and play sessions.

      Kids may also access computers with pre-installed games and learning programs. (Full Internet access may be restricted as well).

      8. Employment help

      As mentioned, libraries offer free classes that can give you the skills to put on a resume. On top of that, many local libraries have job listings on their website, particularly with local companies that hire often, and some libraries offer programs to provide some basic resume and cover letter critique to those seeking it out.

      If you’re looking for work, your local library can be a fantastic resource for you. Check out your local library’s site, and ask about it next time you go in for any of its other amazing services and resources.

      9. 3-D printers

      Some of the most tech-savvy libraries, including college libraries, offer 3-D printers for use. It’s all part of what’s called the Maker Culture, providing spaces for people to create things that they use or sell.

      Check with your library for availability, any associated costs (some libraries offer printing for free but charge for the plastic that is used) and policies. You don’t want to get caught printing something that could get you in trouble.

      10. Hotspots

      While Wi-Fi is almost always available in libraries, more are offering hotspots for checkout. This gives internet access to people that otherwise don’t have it, ensuring that libraries are doing their part to close the digital divide.

      Schools sometimes borrow the hotspots for their students, or families will get the devices so the kids can get some homework done. Check with your library before you go get a hotspot, as the devices can have long waiting lists.

      11. All Kinds of Devices

      In well-endowed libraries, you can borrow an arsenal of digital equipment by the hour. If you only need a camcorder to record a short meeting, or you just need a laptop for long enough to edit a few dozen photos, this is the perfect arrangement.

      Most such lending occurs at colleges and universities, where students must use their student IDs to check out expensive electronics. But some technology is only available at your library, or at least would be hard to find anywhere else: librarians may provide easy access to microfiche readers, transparency projectors, laser disc devices, cassette players and vinyl record turntables. Such old-school devices may reopen while archives of lost material.

      What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call my national radio show and click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.

      Copyright 2018, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.

      Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at

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      Robot Solves ‘Where’s Waldo?’ Books, But It’ll Never Know Why Is Waldo

      In the latest edition of things no one asked robots to do for us, creative agency Redpepper created a device that takes all the fun out of the beloved “Where’s Waldo?” children’s puzzle books.

      The machine, called There’s Waldo, finds the candy-cane-striped gentleman in just seconds using Google’s Cloud AutoML and AI image recognition technology. But what possible applications could this lead to, besides stopping humanity from being able to hide in crowds?

      “Maybe a fun use would be seeing what cartoon character the AI thinks you look closest to? Maybe could detect comic book forgeries?” Redpepper’s chief technologist, Matt Reed, told The Verge.

      All right, robots, so you found Waldo, but do you have any idea who Waldo is or why he’s here?

      Read more: