Blog Posts by Piper Weiss, Shine Staff

  • AIDS awareness commercials: a look back

    In honor of World AIDS Day today, we're looking back at some of the stand-out awareness campaigns through the years. As our understanding and treatment options continue to evolve, so do our outreach messages. While the earlier campaigns serve as time capsules, they've also had a great impact on prevention of the disease. Hopefully by the next decade, there won't be a need for these commercials anymore.

    1980's



    1990's


    Early 2000's



    Now


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  • What two books would you donate to classrooms?

    (ThinkStock Photos)(ThinkStock Photos)
    School reading lists are rarely packed with page-turners. But one in a while, there's a surprise. For me it came in fifth grade when we were assigned several stories from An Anthology of Greek Myths, and again my senior year of high school when an English teacher introduced our class to Because It Is Bitter and Because It Is My Heart, by Joyce Carol Oates.

    But good books don't always come easy to America's public schools, so Borders Books is helping out. From December 4-5, at stores nationwide, customers who purchase anything (even a cup of coffee) will get a $15 Borders gift card to donate to a public school of their choosing, through the website DonorsChoose.org. Inspired by the documentary "Waiting for Superman," which takes a critical look at the nation's educational system, the store is even offering an additional $15 donation card if you buy the documentary on DVD.

    But lets just say you've got $15, or two books, to give an elementary or high school. What two books from your

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  • Men in leather pants: do's and (please) don'ts

    (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)(Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)It takes more than a pretty face to pull a pair of leather pants. We learned that this week, when the seemingly impenetrable bone-ability of Brad Pitt was quelled by a pair of baggy, crumpled leather pants.



    Though still a champ in the facial department, his ill-fitting chaps sent off mid-life crisis sonar signals. It was a warning to men who dare: leather pants can make a fool of anyone if worn incorrectly. It's a battle of wills: man vs. pants. They will try to upstage, but if you can prove that you're wearing them and not the other way around, you're a verified a rock star.


    For tips, let's look at some of the best and worst moments in the brotherhood of the traveling pants.





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  • 10 beards better than Santa's

    Not far from North Pole a group of men gather for the ultimate face-off. May the best beard win. The World Beard & Mustache Championships brings together the biggest growers from around the world. Santa wouldn't make it to the semi-finals.

    From waxed mustaches to chin manes, competitors from the around the world flaunt male facial fashions from bygone eras. One reason is to get a little cash (selected winners earn $1000), but mostly it's just cause… "Not all of us can grow a mean 'stache or beard," says photographer Dave Mead. "It's a definite sign of manliness and strength."

    Last year, Mead traveled to Anchorage, Alaska, where the competition was held, to take portraits of some of the hairiest contenders dressed in period costumes to match their beards. "They're artists, doctors, musicians, professors, misfits," explains Mead. "Each grows his beard or mustache for a different reason, but mostly it's an expression of individuality." For some of his subjects, it's a year

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  • Should there be school shooting fire drills?


    A 2007 mock school shooting simulated at a California middle school. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)A 2007 mock school shooting simulated at a California middle school. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) Yesterday, a 15-year-old entered his high school social studies class, armed with two semi-automatic weapons and held 23 students and one teacher hostage. The stand-off ended with everyone being released. The young gunman tragically shot himself and was taken to a local hospital, but no other students were injured.

    Tim Baneck, the Superintendent for the Marinette, Wisconsin school district, where the incident took place, credits a recent mock shooting exercise at the school with preventing even more bloodshed. "So the local law enforcement officials as well as the educators were all involved in a mock shooter situation, so it is actually very fresh in our minds in terms of the training we just went through," Baneck told the Associated Press.

    The Marinette drill didn't involve students, though their participation has been proposed. In Finland, the education system is compiling a standard response guide for school shootings, hoping to train students to react to that particular kind of

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  • Hathaway and Franco to host Oscars. Wait, Really?


    Depending on the host, the Oscars have tried stand-up, Broadway showcase, fake news and sketch comedy. This year, the Academy Awards are recreating the one genre that always draws an audience: the romantic comedy.

    That's got to be the reason behind the selection of Anne Hathaway and James Franco as this year's hosts. Together they promise ratings, a younger audience and fewer Tums for producers. After years of mixed reviews and controversial hosts, two young, Crest-White-Strips-pretty, stars who are likely to stay on- book during the show must seem like a great idea for anxious show-runners. But not so much for viewers.

    What happened to John Stewart? Steve Martin? Heck, Whoopi? The types of hosts who aren't afraid to rip into their colleagues sitting in the audience or skip their lines in favor of a raunchy political joke? The Hathaways and Francos, on the other hand, are relegated to walking the red carpet, introducing the short documentaries and weeping through acceptance speeches.

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  • Would you quit your job to be Kate Middleton?

    Kate Bevan looks a lot like another Kate we know. Now she wants to be paid for her good fortune. (Photo via Daily Mail)Kate Bevan looks a lot like another Kate we know. Now she wants to be paid for her good fortune. (Photo via Daily Mail)Well, not exactly the princess, but the knock-off. People are paying for replicas of Middleton's dress and jewelry. Why wouldn't they pay for a replica of the woman herself?

    That's what Kate Bevan is banking on. The British newlywed quit her job in a local pharamacy to pursue a career as a Middleton lookalike. It all started right around the time Wills and Kate announced their engagement to the world. After getting bombarded by strangers mistaking her for the future royal, she decided to go with it.

    Bevan's taking speech lessons to nail her doppelganger's accent. She's also adapted the 28 year-old's wardrobe from the blue cocktail number to the proper white coat. Her goal is to land paid appearances and possibly become Middleton's "official lookalike," playing a perpetual decoy to foil paparazzi.

    On first take, you want to tell the poor girl "don't quit your day job," but looking at the facts she may be onto something.

    First of all, she's twenty-one--an age when lots of her peers

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  • The skinny on Weight Watchers' new Points plan

    A large apple would cost you points on the old Weight Watchers plan. Now you can eat it to the core without gaining a single point. (Photo by ThinkStock)A large apple would cost you points on the old Weight Watchers plan. Now you can eat it to the core without gaining a single point. (Photo by ThinkStock)

    Apples are getting a big fat zero. Ditto grapes. Yesterday, Weight Watchers unveiled an updated version of their Points system, slashing the number on most fruits and vegetables. Now everything from pomegranates to bananas won't make a dent on a dieter's daily Points.

    The zero-foods update is all part of Weight Watchers' revamped diet method, called the PointsPlus Program. Launched Sunday, the revised regimen rethinks the body-slimming giant's 13-year-old philosophy, which limited members to a number of daily Points based on calorie count. The new plan incorporates new strides in scientific research that prove that simply counting calories isn't enough.

    One piece of fruit and a bag of low-cal chips can have the same calorie count, according to nutrition research, but different effects on the body. That's because fruits and veggies are water-rich and have what's called "lower energy density." In other words, you get fuller faster so you don't reach for the second bag of

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  • The hero dogs we're thankful for

    Target was a war hero. A stray dog who ended up befriending a group of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, he put his own life in peril when he attacked a suicide bomber trying to blow up a military base. Target was the scrappy kind--he got his name for the various cuts and scrapes he brandished after countless brushes with death in the war-torn country. After being named a hero he was brought to the States to live the good life with a loving family. But when he ran away from home and ended up in a kennel, he was accidentally euthanized.


    The heart-breaking story of Target has commanded an outpouring of sympathies and awareness of just how amazing dogs can be. In honor of Target and dogs everywhere, here's a few other other incredible canines who proved that not only are they smarter than cats, they're sometimes smarter than humans. And at least as brave. So what do you say, can they come up on the bed?

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  • Family-friendly strippers? Study finds kids' movies use women as eye-candy

    Technology has advanced since the Disney era of "Aladdin" and "The Little Mermaid," but female characters haven't. A new study of 122 top-grossing domestic family films found that female characters much more likely to be sexualized and used as eye-candy than male characters.



    "Zero progress has been made in what is specifically aimed at kids," says Geena Davis. Yup, that Geena Davis. Her organization, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media Research, funded the study by USC. "What children see affects their attitudes toward male and female roles in society. And, as they watch the same shows and movies repeatedly, negative stereotypes are imprinted over and over again."



    And what's being imprinted are a lot of breasts and not a whole lot more. The study examined G, PG and PG-13 rated family films released between 2006-2009 and found that 24% of the female characters are dressed in "sexy, tight or alluring" attire. Compare that to the 4% of men dressed equally minimally.



    Even if

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