Harper Lee , Author of “To Kill a Mockingbird”, dies at the age of 89

Harper Lee, whose 1961 novel To Kill a Mockingbird became a national institution and the defining text on the racial troubles of the American deep south, has died at the age of 89.
Harper Lee at the Stage Coach Cafe in Stockton, Alabama, in 2001. Photograph: Alamy

Lee, or Nelle as she was known to those close to her, had lived for several years in a nursing home less than a mile from the house in which she had grown up in Monroeville, Alabama – the setting for the fictional Maycomb of her famous book. The town’s mayor, Mike Kennedy, confirmed the author’s death.
Until last year, Lee had been something of a one-book literary wonder. To Kill a Mockingbird, her 1961 epic narrative about small-town lawyer Atticus Finch’s battle to save the life of a black resident threatened by a racist mob, sold more than 40 million copies around the world and earned her a Pulitzer prize. George Bush awarded her the presidential medal of freedom in 2007.

But from the moment Mockingbird was published to almost instant success the author consistently avoided public attention and insisted that she had no intention of releasing further works. That self-imposed purdah ended abruptly when, amid considerable controversy, it was revealed a year ago that a second novel had been discovered which was published as Go Set a Watchman in July 2015.

The house where Lee lived for years with her sister Alice sat quiet and empty on Friday. The inside of the house appeared unchanged from when she lived there – antique furniture was stacked with books, audio cassettes and gift baskets.
Her neighbor for 40 years, Sue Sellers, said Lee would have appreciated the quiet. “She was such a private person,” she said. “All she wanted was privacy, but she didn’t get much. There always somebody following her around.”
In recent years Lee’s health had declined. Seller said the last time she spent any real time with Lee they went to breakfast together. “The whole way home she drove her big car in the turn lane,” she said. “She couldn’t see. I was scared to death.”
The last time she saw Lee was a few months ago at the Meadows nursing home. Sellers brought flowers. “She just hollered out: ‘I can’t see and I can’t hear!’” Sellers said. “So I just told her goodbye.”

Lee was born in Monroeville in 1926 and grew up under the stresses of segregation. As a child she shared summers with another aspiring writer, Truman Capote, who annually came to stay in the house next door to hers and who later invited her to accompany him to Holcomb, Kansas, to help him research his groundbreaking 1966 crime book In Cold Blood.

Capote informed the figure of the young boy Dill in Mockingbird, with his friend the first-person narrator Scout clearly modelled on the childhood Lee herself.


Lee was the youngest child of lawyer Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Finch Lee. Her father acted as the template for Atticus Finch whose resolute courtroom dignity as he struggles to represent a black man, Tom Robinson, accused of raping a white woman provides the novel’s ethical backbone.

Last year’s publication of Go Set a Watchman obliged bewildered fans of the novel to reappraise the character of Finch. In that novel, which was in fact the first draft of Mockingbird that had been rejected by her publisher, Finch was portrayed as having been a supporter of the South’s Jim Crow laws, saying at one point: “Do you want Negroes by the carload in our schools and ­churches and theaters?”

Within minutes of the announcement of the novelist’s death, encomiums began to flow. Her literary agent Andrew Nurnberg said in a statement: “We have lost a great writer, a great friend and a beacon of integrity.”
He added: “Knowing Nelle these past few years has been not just an utter delight but an extraordinary privilege. When I saw her just six weeks ago, she was full of life, her mind and mischievous wit as sharp as ever. She was quoting Thomas More and setting me straight on Tudor history.”
Michael Morrison, her publisher at HarperCollins US, said: “The world knows Harper Lee was a brilliant writer but what many don’t know is that she was an extraordinary woman of great joyfulness, humility and kindness. She lived her life the way she wanted to – in private – surrounded by books and the people who loved her.”

In Lee’s home state of Alabama, an epicenter of the violent upheavals over civil rights that immediately preceded the publication of Mockingbird, literary experts reflected on the power of the novel to shift the ingrained assumptions of white Alabamans. Jacqueline Trimble, president of the Alabama Writers’ Forum that bequeaths the annual Harper Lee award for literary excellence, said that the book had a profound effect on white residents of the state.

“She was able to take the politics of the civil rights era and make them human. She showed people that this was about their neighbors, their friends, someone they knew, not just about the issues,” Trimble said.
Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, tweeted a quote from Mockingbird: “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

Here’s The Answer To That Fruit Math Puzzle That’s Driving Everyone Crazy

It’s one of those Facebook posts that’s all over the place, and — like “the dress” or the hidden panda — everyone seems to have a different take on it.

What is half a coconut plus one apple plus three bananas?

Can you solve this? We will share the result after an hour…!!

Posted by Following on Thursday, February 18, 2016

On the surface, it would seem the apple has a value of 10, the bananas a value of four and the coconut a value of two. And if that were the end of the story, the answer would be 2 + 10 + 4 = 16.

But in the final frame, the fruit are slightly different.

There is half a coconut, instead of two halves in the earlier example equation that establishes a value of two. And instead of the four bananas representing the value of four, there are just three bananas.

If the numbers are reduced along with the portions of fruit, you get a totally different answer: 1 + 10 + 3 = 14.
With the given information, the single coconut and the 3 bananas are completely new symbols. There is no clear unambiguous mathematical reason to suppose that their values are 1 and 3. Deducing that from the other symbols is nothing but a guess. This is especially true since the single apple has a value of 10. You might as well just say they have values of 14 and 12 or anything else you want.

Therefore the final equation has two unknowns. This system of equations is therefore unsolvable.

Pope Francis Says : ‘This Man Is Not Christian’ ! About Donald Trump

Pope Francis said on Thursday that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border is “not Christian.”

Speaking aboard his papal plane after visiting Mexico, the pope was asked specifically about Trump’s proposal. “A person who only thinks about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” he said, according to reporters who were on the plane with the pontiff.
“A person who only thinks about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” Pope Francis said on Thursday.

The pope stressed that he was not suggesting whom American voters should support in the election: “I am not going to get involved in that. I would only say that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that.”

Francis, a native of Argentina, has prioritized ministering to the poor and vulnerable during his papacy.
Trump responded to the pope’s comments quickly, putting out a campaign statement that “for a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful.”
Yet even as he decried the pope’s comments, the billionaire real estate mogul conveniently forgot that he has questioned the Christianity of his Republican rival, Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas).

The GOP front-runner is not the only Republican candidate who has called for a wall to be built between the United States and Mexico. Cruz, along with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Sen. Marco Rubio (Florida), have all said they would build a barrier along the U.S. southern border.

A son of immigrants himself, the pope noted earlier that the U.S. was “largely built” by immigrant families.

As word of the pontiff’s comments about Trump spread on social media, Trump’s social media director, Dan Scavino, posted this tweet:

A spokesman for Carson also came to Trump’s defense on Thursday, telling NBC News that “making sure our border is secure does not negate him from being a Christian.”

Rubio told reporters that “Vatican City controls who comes in, when they come in and how they come in as a city state,” and said the U.S. “has the right to do that as well.”

Despite his strongly worded response to the pontiff, Trump has praised him in the past:

During an appearance on SiriusXM’s “Breitbart News Daily” earlier on Thursday, Trump said, “I respect the pope and I love the pope in many ways. I love what he stands for and I like his attitude.”

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Hozier Haunting New Music Video About Domestic Violence

Hozier’s new music video for the song “Cherry Wine” depicts the cycle of domestic abuse that far too many women experience around the world.

The singer/songwriter released the music video just days before Valentine’s Day. The music video stars Oscar-nominated actress Saoirse Ronan and actor Moe Dunford.

The video features Ronan and Dunford in what-looks-to-be a passionate and loving relationship. Before they head to bed however Ronan sits in front of a mirror and wipes away her makeup to reveal a large bruise on her eye.
“With the song Cherry Wine, I tried to get across the difficulty of coming to terms with and facing up to domestic violence and the dynamic of an abusive relationship,” Hozier wrote on his website.
Paired with Hozier’s haunting chorus, the video is a powerful reminder of the dynamics that make it so difficult for a woman to simply walk out on her abuser. “The way she shows me I’m hers and she is mine,” Hozier sings in the chorus. “Open hand or closed fist would be fine. The blood is rare and sweet as cherry wine.”

All the proceeds from the song will go to over 20 domestic violence charity organizations around the world. “Domestic violence is an ongoing issue in our society, the statistics of which are shocking and the effects of which damage whole families, communities and span generations,” Hozier wrote on his website.

In the U.S., 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience intimate partner violence at some point in their lifetimes. Every day, three women are murdered by a current or former male partner in the U.S.

“I hope through the video and song we can shine light on the issue and complexity of domestic abuse and in doing so help those caught up in the cycle of domestic violence,” Ronan added on Hozier’s website.

Well done, Hozier.

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Spectacular 404-Carat Diamond Unearthed In Angola Worthy About $14M

The 404-carat gem is 2.7 inches long and weighs about 2.8 ounces. It was mined from the Lulo diamond field in the African country’s northeastern Lunda Norte province by the Perth, Australia, based Lucapa Diamond Company.

The spectacular rock smashes the previous record set for a diamond found in Angola, according to a press release. A 217.4-carat diamond was discovered there in 2007.
Lucapa chairman Miles Kennedy told ABC Australia the find was a “wonderful vindication of eight years of pretty hard work.”

“When we first looked at the property, 3,000 square kilometers (1,864 square miles) of untouched ground, 700 kilometers (434 miles) inland from the coast, you are talking about a very, very remote area,” he said.

When asked how much the diamond was worth, he was unsure, but said slightly smaller diamonds tend to be worth $20 million in Australian dollars, or about $14 million U.S.

“We’re not used to valuing 400-carat diamonds,” Kennedy told ABC.

After the Lucapa Diamond Company announced the discovery of the diamond on Monday, its shares soared by 29 percent, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Lucapa is partnered with Angola’s national diamond company Endiama and local business Rosas & Petalas on the diamond field.

Endiama chairman Carlos Submula said in the statement that it was “a significant day” for the country and the diamond industry as a whole.

“The Lulo diamond field is an example of what we would like to showcase to the world to encourage international investment in Angola’s diamond mining industry,” he added.

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What a Pain in the Neck ! – Could That Pain In Your Neck Be Causing Headaches ?

We’ve all suffered from that nagging headache, but did you know headaches can sometimes be caused by the neck? These headaches are called “cervicogenic headaches.” Cervicogenic headaches are sometimes misdiagnosed as either migraine or cluster headaches (headaches that originate in the head).

The roots of the upper 3 cervical spinal nerves (located at C1, C2, and C3) share a pain nucleus (which routes pain signals to the brain) with the trigeminal nerve. The trigeminal nerve is the main sensory nerve that carries messages from your face to your brain. Because of the shared nerve tracts, pain is misunderstood and thus “felt” by the brain as being located in the head.

Determining the origin of the headache is one of the most controversial and difficult procedures to perform. Almost all types of headaches share common symptoms of throbbing pain, nausea, sensitivity to light, and sensitivity to noise. The signs and symptoms that could point towards cervicogenic type include tenderness at the base of the skull and possible exacerbation of symptoms with head and neck movement.

A proper diagnosis should include:

A medical history and a physical examination
A series of plain cervical spine x-rays, including flexion/extension views of the joints in the upper 3 cervical spinal segments
An open-mouth view of the skull and a lateral skull x-ray may be necessary
One or more diagnostic nerve blocks in the neck will need to be performed. Doing one diagnostic block at a time to see whether it reduces the pain will help narrow down the origin of the headache within the cervical spine. Frequently, it will take several diagnostic blocks, carefully performed and evaluated, to arrive at the understanding of the precise source of the cervicogenic headache.
Although not mandatory, a CT or MRI may be of interest
The type of treatment a patient receives should be dependent on the type of headache they have to ensure the utmost success in relieving the headache without prolonging the pain and extra cost of erroneous treatment. As a general rule, treatment begins once the diagnosis of cervicogenic headache has been made.

Pain medications may be considered, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), anti-seizure agents such as gabapentin, tricyclic anti-depressants, and/or migraine prescriptions.

If pain medications prove unsuccessful, then injections may be considered, including occipital nerve blocks, atlantoaxial joint block administered at C1-C2, and/or facet joint blocks administered at C2-C3.

If machines are capable of doing almost any work humans can do, what will humans do?

Would you bet against sex robots? AI ‘could leave half of world unemployed’
Scientist Moshe Vardi tells colleagues that change could come within 30 years, with few professions immune to effect of advanced artificial intelligence
SciencePictureCoCorbis_FollowingArtificial intelligence could put more than half the planet’s population out of a job, a computer scientist says. Photograph: Science Picture Co./Corbis

Machines could put more than half the world’s population out of a job in the next 30 years, according to a computer scientist who said on Saturday that artificial intelligence’s threat to the economy should not be understated.

Expert Moshe Vardi told the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS): “We are approaching a time when machines will be able to outperform humans at almost any task.

“I believe that society needs to confront this question before it is upon us: if machines are capable of doing almost any work humans can do, what will humans do?”

Physicist Stephen Hawking and the tech billionaires Bill Gates and Elon Musk issued a similar warning last year. Hawking warned that AI “could spell the end of the human race” and Musk said it represents “our biggest existential threat”.The fear of artificial intelligence has even reached the UN, where a group billing itself the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots met with diplomats last year.

Vardi, a professor at Rice University and Guggenheim fellow, said that technology presents a more subtle threat than the masterless drones that some activists fear. He suggested AI could drive global unemployment to 50%, wiping out middle-class jobs and exacerbating inequality.

Unlike the industrial revolution, Vardi said, “the AI revolution” will not be a matter of physically powerful machines that outperform human laborers, but rather a contest between human wit and mechanical intelligence and strength.
In China the question has already affected thousands of jobs, as electronics manufacturers, Foxconn and Samsung among them, develop precision robots to replace human workers.
In his talk, the computer scientist alluded to economist John Maynard Keynes’ rosy vision of a future in which billions worked only a few hours a week, with intelligent machines to support their easy lifestyles – a prediction embraced wholesale by Google head of engineering Ray Kurzweil, who believes “the singularity” of super-AI could bring about utopia for a future hybrid of mankind.
Vardi insisted that even if machines make life easier, humanity will face an existential challenge.

“I do not find this a promising future, as I do not find the prospect of leisure-only life appealing,” he said. “I believe that work is essential to human wellbeing.”

Computer scientist Bart Selman told reporters at the conference that as self-driving cars, “household robots, service robots” and other intelligent systems become more common, humans will “sort of be in a symbiosis with those machines, and we’ll start to trust them and start to work with them”.


Selman, a professor at Cornell University, said: “Computers are basically starting to hear and see the way humans do,” thanks to advances in big data and “deep learning”.

Vardi predicted that driving will be almost fully automated in the next 25 years, and asked, for all the benefits of technology, “what can humans do when machines can do almost everything?”

He said that technology has already massively changed the US economy in the last 50 years. “We were all delighted to hear that unemployment went down to 4.8%” this month, he said, “but focusing on the monthly job report hides the fact that for the last 35 years the country has been in economic crisis.”

Citing research from MIT, he noted that although Americans continue to drive GDP with increasing productivity, employment peaked around 1980 and average wages for families have gone down. “It’s automation,” Vardi said.

He also predicted that automation’s effect on unemployment would have huge political consequences, and lamented that leaders have largely ignored it. “We are in a presidential election year and this issue is just nowhere on the radar screen.”

He said that virtually no human profession is totally immune: “Are you going to bet against sex robots? I would not.”

Last year, the consultant company McKinsey published research about which jobs are at risk thanks to intelligent machines, and found that some jobs – or at least well-paid careers like doctors and hedge fund managers – are better protected than others. Less intuitively, the researchers also concluded that some low-paying jobs, including landscapers and health aides, are also less likely to be changed than others.

In contrast, they concluded that 20% of a CEO’s working time could be automated with existing technologies, and nearly 80% of a file clerk’s job could be automated. Their research dovetails with Vardi’s worst-case scenario predictions, however; they argued that as much as 45% of the work people are paid to do could be automated by existing technology.
Vardi said he wanted the gathering of scientists to consider: “Does the technology we are developing ultimately benefit mankind?
“Humanity is about to face perhaps its greatest challenge ever, which is finding meaning in life after the end of ‘in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread’,” he said. “We need to rise to the occasion and meet this challenge.”

In the US, the labor secretary, Thomas Perez, has told American seaports that they should consider robotic cranes and automatic vehicles in order to compete with docks around the world, despite the resistance of unions. In 2013, two Oxford professors predicted that as much as 47% of the US workforce, from telemarketers to legal secretaries and cooks, were vulnerable to automation.

Dire forecasts such as Vardi’s are not without their critics, including Pulitzer-winning author Nicholas Carr and Stanford scientist Edward Geist. Carr has argued that human creativity and intuition in the face of complex problems is essentially irreplaceable, and an advantage over computers and their overly accurate reputation.

Walking the line between the pessimists and optimists, Martin Ford, author of Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future, has suggested that automation will come down to politics today, telling National Geographic that if scientists and governments don’t address the issue “for lots of people who are not economically at the top, it’s going to be pretty dystopian”.

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Woman’s React When Winning A $120,000 Aston Martin On The Price Is Right

When I go on a game show like The Price Is Right, I’d really prefer to walk away with a very fast six-figure sports car instead of some horrible dining room set. Thank god there’s Dream Car Week, and it kicked off today with one woman locking down a 2016 Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT Coupe.
Photo by Jalopnik.com
Naturally, she’s very happy about this outcome.

The winner is Bay Area wedding photographer and mom Francesca Penko, and she’ll be rolling up to her wedding gigs in a silver Aston Martin worthy of 007 himself—complete with a six-speed manual.

Total price? $120,265. During the “Spelling Bee,” Francesca got the chance to choose between $25,000 in cash and the Aston Martin. She didn’t hesitate to pick the car. Our kinda gal. And it paid off bigtime!

The other cars up for grabs this week are a Mercedes 550 4Matic Coupe, a Tesla Model S, a Porsche Panamera, a Maserati Quattroporte, and a BMW 320i available on a Big Wheel spin.

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Cold In Canada, iPhones Are Shutting Off And Windows Are Cracking

1. It’s been super ass-freezingly cold in many parts of Eastern Canada this weekend.

2. So cold, in fact, that rugged Canucks can’t help but talk about all the crazy things happening as a result of the weather. For example, it’s so cold that cellphones are randomly shutting down.

Fitbits can’t handle it, either.

It’s so cold a cop went to start his cruiser and this happened:
Police Officer’s Name withheld by request

Cans of pop are exploding from the cold.

Want good sex ? Put a ring on it.

Let’s play a word-association game. If I say the word marriage, what comes to mind? Hot, steamy sex and earth-shattering orgasms? No, I thought not. When I asked some of my besties, they said things like “kids”, “old” and “trapped”. That’s because the prevailing cultural narrative for women my age – I’m 27 – is that our teens and 20s are for sexual adventures: the try-before-you-buy approach. Our early 30s are for being just as flirty, perhaps a wee bit pickier, and for forging ahead with our careers. Eventually, when we get bored with playing the field and crawling home at 4am with a hangover that lasts three days, we settle down, have babies and start listening to Radio 4.
GettyIMGFollowing ‘My biggest worry was going to bed and waking up next to the same man for the rest of my life.’ Photograph: Nick White/Getty Images
I’ve been tuned in to this unsophisticated, fear-mongering frequency for so long that when my gorgeous boyfriend of 18 months asked me to marry him, instead of shouting “I do” from the rooftops, I was paralysed with Fomo (that’s fear of missing out for anyone born before 1975).

My biggest worry was going to bed and waking up next to the same man for the rest of my life. I thought I would feel claustrophobic and get bored with his face – lovely though it is – day in and day out.

But fast forward two and a half years and I can say that getting married was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Not only am I the most content I’ve probably ever been – in life, in myself, in my career – but I’m also having the best sex I’ve ever had. The Big O is no longer like Father Christmas – making an appearance once a year (albeit accompanied by much excitement) and I can say categorically that the frisson does not fizzle out when you get hitched.

Cosmopolitan, I trusted you and you lied to me. Ecstasy is not to be found in the face-to-face fandango, the figure-of-eight or even the side wind-her (who comes up with this crap anyway?). It’s actually found in what I like to call the three Cs: commitment, connection and communication.

Friends who are in long-term relationships often say to me: “What’s the point of getting married? It’s just a piece of paper”, but let me tell you, being married has changed everything for me in the bedroom department. Knowing that my husband (let’s call him J) is completely invested in our relationship, has signed on the dotted line in front of all our family and friends and promised to share everything with me – including his Star Wars box set – is better than oysters and champagne when it comes to sex. It’s a real turn-on thinking about the vows he made to me: he could have picked any woman in the world (within reason – remember the Star Wars box set) but he chose me.

When I was dating, there was often a niggling thought in the back of my mind: he could leave at any time. It was a one-foot-in, one-foot-out kind of mindset that would creep into my thoughts when we were getting into the mood, like cigarette smoke winding its way through a clean room. To my shame, I would use this get-out clause to my own advantage whenever I got bored or the relationship got too hard. In fact, I found it very difficult to stay faithful to anyone.

I’m not naive enough to think that J would never leave or that I wouldn’t get tempted to stray again, but divorce is a lot harder to arrange than a text message telling someone you just don’t think it’s working.

Arousal starts in the mind, long before you get into the bedroom. Many of my past relationships were built on the ever so rocky foundation of aesthetics. I was relying purely on physical attraction and not on emotional and intellectual connection. Without those key ingredients, orgasms were rarer than affordable property in London.With some boyfriends it would take up to an hour of constant foreplay to relax me enough to let loose and, even then, I would be so conscious of what facial expression I was pulling – that my fits of rapture didn’t quite match the images I’d seen in pornography – that I struggled to climax.

In the unquenchable search for pleasure, we’d contort ourselves to little effect: sex always felt like a performance. I had to be toned and tucked, waxed and plucked, and wrapped up in peelable, matching underwear. As women we’re taught that sex is all about pleasing your man. One particular ex had so many lads’ mags lying around (hello, early noughties) that even with my ample DDs, I felt inadequate.

In marriage there is a lot less pressure. J hopes to know me when I’m a little old lady so a bit of extra tummy fat or an untrimmed bush isn’t going to scare him off. There’s also no pressure to be “keeping it fresh”. If missionary ain’t broke, why fix it? The nuns don’t seem to be complaining.

Nowadays, I find it much easier to have an orgasm and because I expect to, I get aroused quickly just thinking about it.


Communication is key to good sex. We’ve heard this a million times before, but the truth is it took tying the knot before I was able to be completely honest about what turned me on and enabled me to climax. Marriage is an adult relationship: it separates the men from the boys and because of that I can trust J fully with the most embarrassing details. Plus I know he isn’t going to run off and gossip about our sex life with his friends.

With other boyfriends, honesty felt like an admission of weakness and telling them about my genuine desires felt too intimate and private, especially as relationships were sometimes short-lived. Happy to share my orifices, but fantasies were a step too far – at least when I was sober.

I also found it difficult to be honest about the things I didn’t want to do and this became more frequent as porn culture started seeping into the mainstream male mentality.

I remember an ex asking for something hardcore as if he was asking for milk in his tea – so matter-of-fact and expectant, as if everyone was doing it and I’d be a square to refuse.

With J it’s about my pleasure as much as his and because we have mutual respect and a partnership outside of the bedroom, it helps to foster a healthy one inside it. What’s good for us sexually is also good for our marriage, so J works hard to please me as he sees it as a “win-win” (his words, not mine).
Millennials have been sold a lie and our self-esteem and pleasure receptors are paying the price. The message shouted at us constantly through popular culture is: variety is the spice of life and monogamy is for mugs. Have fun while you’re young and settle down when you’re old.

As I look over the precipice of my third decade, I am relieved that I met J at 25. He saved me from countless one-night stands and the heartache that comes from the dreaded Tinder side-swipe. Because I felt my fear and did it, I’m now lucky enough to live with my best friend, I have the stability I’ve craved for so long and I know deep contentment.

And the sex? Well, move aside oysters and champagne. There’s no better aphrodisiac than good old-fashioned commitment. Who’d have thought it?