About Cristen Conger
Raised on a steady diet of Technicolor musicals and library books, Cristen Conger always wanted to be a writer when she grew up. While working toward her journalism degree at the University of Georgia, she learned to avoid starry-eyed statements about childhood dreams and stick to hard facts. After graduating, Cristen decided she'd spent enough time chasing down REM band members in Athens and hitched up the road to Atlanta and HowStuffWorks.com. Childhood dream now fulfilled, she writes on a variety of topics each week and co-hosts the "Stuff Mom Never Told You" podcast with Molly Edmonds. Keep up with Cristen on Twitter and Facebook.
Most Recent: Cristen Conger Postings
Not all “friends with benefits” (heretofore referred to as FWB) relationships are made equally — as one might expect when you “add sex and stir,” as some researchers have framed the 21st-century not-so-romantic setup. A cornerstone of the millennial generation’s “hookup culture,” FWB relationships may come off as straightforward sex-minus-dating arrangements, but as anyone who’s even flirted with FWBs knows, things can get complicated fast given how humans aren’t so keenly evolved toward cleanly separating sex with a consistent partner from feelings toward said consistent partner.
To better understand the complexities within FWBs, a 2011 study out of the University of Arizona identified seven (SEVEN!) varieties of FWB relationships…
Humans have pretty low emotional pain tolerances, and research has shown that people instinctively seek out distractions away from sources of whatever unpleasantness ails, hence the indefatigable sales of alcohol and ice cream. When trouble arises in interpersonal relationships, the heartbroken also often spend time wallowing in the negativity, perhaps playing Bon Iver’s “For Emma” on repeat as though intentionally keeping the waterworks faucet turned up to full blast (not that I’ve ever done anything like that ever…).
…In addition to finding out that the FDA has devised a mayonnaise checklist, which is one of the greatest artifacts of bureaucracy mine eyes have ever beheld, I also learned that mayo has been around since the 1700s. Paula Deen would’ve been right at home in the 18th century, y’all! AP reporter Mae Anderson wrote that it “originated in France…when a chef seeking to make a creamy sauce combined oil and egg.”
In April, Washington officially struck the word “penmanship” from any state statutes and replaced it with “handwriting” in an effort to use only gender-neutral language. To me, it’s funny that “penmanship” is a male-gendered noun since there’s a common assumption that women have neater handwriting than men. A lefty lady with chicken scratch-screwing handwriting, I’ve been particularly aware of that stereotype as I’ve never much fit the mold…
In a New York Times Room for Debate segment on cursive in the classroom, University of Southern California education professor Morgan Polikoff argued that since few adults regularly employ it and that most workplace communication is conducted via keyboard, teaching penmanship only gobbles up valuable classroom minutes. Speaking to NPR, a New Jersey school principal said bluntly, “It’s just that with all the state mandates, we don’t have time.” Most kids are board with abandoning cursive as well, not surprisingly; in reporting on public schools’ collective move away from cursive, The Wall Street Journal cited a Scholastic survey, which found that 79 percent of middle schoolers polled dislike the fancy handwriting.
During pregnancy, many women experience a period of forgetfulness or absentmindedness nicknamed “mommy brain,” and as I detailed in How Motherhood Works, those might be inconvenient symptoms of brain remodeling underway. In 2010, when some Yale scientists examined fMRI scans of new moms’ brains, they discovered small but significant structural changes the hypothalamus, amygdala and prefrontal cortex — areas specifically involved with motivation and reward. As I explain in the delightful video below, those alterations offer evidence that what we think of as “maternal instinct” might be neurologically hardwired into new mom’s brains:
And while Gatsby on screen might be a sumptuous Vogue-ready feast for the eyes, it skips right over the cultural significance of the flapper who openly defied the rules for how young women should conduct themselves. Sure, they dressed differently, smoked, danced and drank, but flappers also were turn-of-the-century feminists.
So if you’re reading (or re-reading) “The Great Gatsby” or going to see the movie spectacle, here’s some recommended reading to understand who the real Daisy Buchanan and her drop-waist dress-sporting gal pals might’ve been:
…Emblazoned on the bodies of so many sweaty (Always sweaty! Should be called “sweatspo” if you ask me, but nobody did.) are pithy sayings that range from the genuinely inspiration — “Be positive, patience and persistent” — to the sinister –”It’s always too early to quit.” And mostly, the fitspo that I found motivates with body-shaming threats that twist exercise into a constant state, rather than a healthful retreat…
Nipple-darkening tattoos in Britain, double eyelid surgery in South Korea, and now mustache implants in Turkey. I’m not going out of my way to turn this blog into Stuff Mom Never Told You About Faddish Cosmetic Surgeries, I swear. But how could I resist spreading the word about how men are apparently “flocking” to Turkey to get mustache implants? Answer: I couldn’t.
In response to a widely circulated photo of 20 Miss Korea beauty contestants that originated on a Japanese blog, a Reddit commenter who claimed to be from South Korean said: “This is called the Korean plastic face look. In certain areas of Seoul, you would think all the women are sisters because they look so similar due to same surgeries.” Even though South Korea’s penchant for plastic surgery already had been well established, the glaring side-by-side similarity among the young women attracted widespread attention online, with some like Hello Giggles’ Jennifer Still wondering whether it signaled a “new beauty standard” South Korea (not to mention increased difficulty with judging beauty contestants that all look remarkably the same).
Recent Postings by Category
- Thank You and Best Wishes to Marshall Brain
- Contest – Design a $300 house and win $25,000
- How the Philtrum works – the place under your nose where your face comes together
The Coolest Stuff on the Planet
- Why can a 5 foot 8 inch man dunk a basketball on a 10 foot rim while some people of taller stature can’t?
- What happens to our sun once it runs out of fuel?
- How do we know the age of the universe?
Stuff Mom Never Told You
- 7 Types of ‘Friends with Benefits’ Relationships
- How Sad Breakup Songs Make Us Feel Better
- 18th-Century Mayonnaise
Stuff to Blow Your Mind
- Blow Your Mind: Slay Your Paper Tigers
- Space Religion: Cao Dai and the 72 Inhabited Exoplanets
- Blow the Mind: Objects of Love
Stuff You Should Know
- “In The Neighborhood” by Jon Stewart Mosman
- “Frame Story” by Adam Pracht
- “Thanatos” by Christopher Vincola
The Stuff of Genius
- Show Notes: Heart-stopping Last Laps of Racing
- Never say Never: Jaguar XJ220 Spotted in the Wild!
- What’s your pick for the 2013 Indianapolis 500 pace car?
- PopStuff Show Notes: Episode 152: Final Episodes
- PopStuff Show Notes: Episode 151: Mailbag!
- PopStuff Show Notes: Episode 150: Barbie!
Stuff They Don't Want You To Know
Stuff to Change the World
- Who will own the Arctic?
- Obesity: The New Global Crisis
- Bill Gates Makes For A Pretty Decent Cartoon