English Towns Are Installing ‘Chat Benches’ to Combat Loneliness

iStock/monkeybusinessimages
iStock/monkeybusinessimages

Loneliness is a serious health condition: One AARP study found that prolonged social isolation can have the same risks as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. But unlike other ailments, the symptoms of loneliness can be hard to detect to everyone but the person having them. A new initiative in the UK aims to combat the problem by making it easier for people who feel alone to socialize with strangers.

As Yahoo! reports, the police department of Burnham-On-Sea, in southwest England, has posted signs designating some public seating as "chat benches." Two were unveiled in a park in nearby Taunton and one was installed on the waterfront in Burnham-On-Sea. The signs read: “The ‘Happy to Chat’ Bench: Sit Here If You Don’t Mind Someone Stopping To Say Hello.”

For people who feel isolated in their daily lives, the benches are an opportunity to make a connection with someone new. They also give people who want to help the lonely members of their community a way to do so.


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Burnham-On-Sea police community support officer Tracey Grobbeler told Burnham-On-Sea.com, “Simply stopping to say ‘hello’ to someone at the Chat Bench could make a huge difference to the vulnerable people in our communities and help to make life a little better for them.”

The initiative was launched to coincide with United Nations World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. According to a recent poll, more than a third of seniors reported feeling a lack of companionship at least some of the time, while 27 percent said they feel isolated some of the time or more often. While the project was conceived with the elderly population in mind, the Burnham-On-Sea police department encourages residents of all ages to use the chat benches.

Giving people permission to strike up conversations with strangers is just one of way to fight social isolation among seniors. In China, young people can live in a nursing home for a discounted price in exchange for spending time with older residents. Meanwhile, in the U.S. and Europe, adult playgrounds act as social hubs for seniors.

[h/t Yahoo!]

Thousands of Disney+ Accounts Are Being Cracked and Sold. Here's How to Protect Yourself

Disney+
Disney+

With an estimated 10 million sign-ups during its debut last week and positive reviews for its marquee original Star Wars series The Mandalorian, Disney’s new Disney+ streaming service has been a resounding success. But making such a high-profile splash is apparently coming at a price. According to CNBC, thousands of consumer accounts are being hijacked and their login information is being shared illicitly online. 

The report, published by ZDNet, alleges that hackers were able to breach usernames and passwords for the service within hours of launch and began distributing them for free or for a fee of $3 to $11—the economy of the black market making a one-time purchase cheaper than paying the standard $6.99 monthly for access to the Disney+ library.

The idea wasn’t to co-opt the accounts but to seize them entirely, using the login to change the email and password associated with the account and locking the consumer out.

A spokesperson for Disney told CNBC that they weren’t aware of any security breach. It’s possible that accounts from unrelated sites were compromised and hackers were able to cull from a database of existing passwords to see if consumers used them for their Disney+ account.

The best way to secure your account for Disney+ or any other service requiring a log-in is to use a unique password for each and avoid obvious parallels to the content. If you’re using “mickeymouse” as part of your login, don’t be shocked if you find yourself locked out of your account one day. Ideally, experts say, the service will eventually incorporate a multi-factor authentication process to make compromising logins—and watching Freaky Friday for free—more difficult.

[h/t CNBC]

11 Novelty Socks That Make Perfect Stocking Stuffers

Good Luck Sock/OoohYeah/Amazon
Good Luck Sock/OoohYeah/Amazon

There’s no reason socks should elicit groans when they’re given as gifts for the holidays. If you know where to look, you can find ones that reflect the tastes and personality of the person you’re shopping for. In addition to being a form of self-expression, they're also practical. Chances are that nearly all of the loved ones on your list could use an extra set. We pulled together a group of fun and colorful novelty socks that are perfect for Star Wars fans, Disney villain lovers, hikers, and everyone in between.

1. Injinji Toe Socks; $12

Toe socks
Injinji / Amazon

Toe socks are more than funky-looking footwear. They also reduce blisters, wick sweat, and align the foot in a way that’s more natural than conventional socks. That’s why Injinji chose the style for its running socks. They’re great for working out, or just lounging around the house and feeling comfortable.

Buy It: Amazon

2. Seirus Heatwave Socks; $30

Heatwave socks.
Seirus Innovation / Amazon

When hiking in the dead of winter, even the thickest wool socks aren’t always enough to keep your toes warm. Seirus’s Heatwave socks use a high-tech design to trap the heat from your foot inside your shoes. The “kinetic heat return system” converts the energy you generate into heat that gets reflected back onto your body. They’re knit from a blend of spandex and polyester, so they can stretch to maximize the insulation of any size shoe.

Buy It: Amazon

3. Star Wars Starry Night Socks; $39

Star Wars Starry Night socks.
Amazon

This five-pack of socks reimagines your favorite Star Wars characters in a post-impressionist art style. Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Yoda, a Stormtrooper, and R2-D2 along with C-3PO are all represented against a swirling background reminiscent of Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night.

Buy It: Amazon

4. Studio Ghibli Socks; $12

Studio Ghibli socks.
Amazon

If you know a Studio Ghibli fan that can’t pick a favorite movie, this sock pack is for them. Each pair in the set of four features characters from a different movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki, including Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and My Neighbor Totoro.

Buy It: Amazon

5. Christmas Sweater Dinosaur Socks; $10

Dinosaur socks.
Amazon

If you don’t think the person you’re shopping for would commit to wearing a full ugly Christmas sweater, buy them these socks. The festive apparel features dinosaurs like T. rex and Stegosaurus sporting knitwear for the holidays.

Buy It: Amazon

6. Takeout Sushi Socks; $20

Sushi socks in a box.
Amazon

The creative presentation of these socks makes them a great gift for the holidays. They come rolled like sushi and nigiri and are packaged in a classic plastic takeout box—fake green grass included. When they’re unraveled, the socks show off the patterns and color palettes of the sushi pieces.

Buy It: Amazon

7. Bob Ross Socks; $12

Bob Ross socks.
Amazon

Bob Ross’s “happy little accidents” saying originally referred to his painting, but it also makes for a sensible life philosophy. With these socks, wearers can carry the mantra—along with the artist’s glorious perm—on their feet wherever they go.

Buy It: Amazon

8. Stranger Things Socks; $7

Stranger Things socks.
Hot Topic

The striped design of these crew socks already makes them feel like they’re ripped right from the 1980s. The Stranger Things logo and the silhouette of Mike and Eleven on a bike, à la E.T., perfectly complements the retro style.

Buy It: Hot Topic

9. Smartwool Socks; $22

Smartwool socks.
Smartwool

All of the socks from Smartwool are made from Merino wool—a material that keeps feet dry, warm, and odor-free without compromising softness. Their socks are perfect for outdoors as well as staying comfortable in your day-to-day life. If you know the person you’re shopping for well enough, you can fill out a quick survey with their preferences for length, thickness, and outdoor activities to find the best socks for them.

Buy It: Smartwool

10. Disney Villain Socks; $15

Disney villain socks.
Hot Topic

This is the gift for your one friend who shrugs off the classic Disney heroes and instead embraces the company's villainous side. These socks feature the faces of classic evildoers like Ursula, Cruella de Vil, and Maleficent, along with each villain’s catchphrase. Five pairs are included in a pack.

Buy It: Hot Topic

11. Dreidel Dog Socks; $8

Dreidel dog socks.
Amazon

Celebrate this Hanukkah by giving the gift of cuteness. These socks, featuring a delightful combination of puppies and dreidels, come in blue or black.

Buy It: Amazon

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