Election Season in Sierra Leone

“I didn’t have to wait long before I ran into Reagan Bush, a man gifted in the art of mocking earnest American writers.”

The Web is a Millennial. It was first proposed twenty-five years ago, in 1989. Six years later, Netscape’s I.P.O. kicked off the Silicon Valley circus. When the Web was brand new, many computer-savvy people despised it—compared to other hypertext-publishing systems, it was a primitive technology. For example, you could link from your Web page to any other page, but you couldn’t know when someone linked to your Web page. Nor did the Web allow you to edit pages in your browser. To élite hypertext thinkers and programmers, these were serious flaws.#

— Paul Ford on the history of the Web and HTML5, the “markup we deserve” #

Men Explain 'Cars' to Me

Cars 2In the summer of 2011, a friend convinced me to try make a profile on OkCupid. I filled my profile with jokes because I wanted project a certain personality: “haha look how not seriously I am taking this, I am a carefree and fun girl, please date me.”

When OkCupid asked what I spend a lot of time thinking about, well. I did not hesitate:

okcupidcars

I went on exactly two dates with two different men within the first month of creating the account before I lost interest. And yet I never got around to deleting my profile. Every few weeks I would log on and my inbox would be filled with messages: a couple of them would just be stock lines (“hey ur cute wanna grab a drink?”). The rest were all theories about the movie Cars. Some made me think, some made me roll my eyes, others brought up existential questions in other animated films; all of them entertained me. I finally deleted my OkCupid account, having never found love, but instead something much better: a deeper insight into the Pixar movie Cars.

SZA, "Sobriety"

If you haven’t heard SZA, this song, a subtly produced showcase for her voice, is as perfect place to start. You can also listen to the entirety of last year’s excellent S EP on SoundCloud.

Get me off your fucking mailing list.#

In the Trenches of the Facebook Election

For a profession locked in a perpetual psychodrama with Facebook, I think journalism underestimates Facebook. It’s not that journalists don’t pay enough attention to the site (god no, lol), just that, as a journalist, your perspective is obscured, and it’s difficult to conceive of Facebook from the outside. You experience it through your profile, your site’s official page, your stories, or your analytics suite. It feels both unfathomably more powerful than you and yet somehow all about you; your experience is acute and personal but so are the experiences of other users, which are therefore inaccessible. David Carr’s characterization of the media as wary of working as “serfs in a kingdom that Facebook owns” is doubly apt for its implication that Facebook’s kingdom can only be as large as the publishing world it is apparently subjugating.

This, maybe, is why journalists are so bad at seeing where they fit into the grand scheme of social media feeds—that is, that they now compete, head to head, with videos and games and comedy and posts from friends and family for a limited amount of attention. Believing that the dominant social software does not think you are in any way special is difficult to reconcile with the conventional wisdom that it also controls the future of your industry. Together, these ideas are fatal to the ego, and so they cannot both be true.

New York City, November 19, 2014

★★★ “The sun puts water in my eyes,” the three-year-old lamented, as the morning brightness met his congested head. The floors were cold underfoot. Crows, their throats bronze in the strong light, perched on the television antenna of the apartment block to the west. Now the leaves were bright red down on a cross street. Some distant birds flapped and glided on the wind, too quickly to find on the binoculars. At sundown, the northern sky glowed as strongly as the southern. A worker swept up dead leaves below the lumber frames awaiting the sidewalk Christmas trees. A Hampton Jitney stood in a no-standing zone. The supermarket was not warm enough to make the case for taking off the knit hat. The crosswalk signals were sticking with both icons showing at once. A dry, gloveless hand whistled when blown on.

Spending Money To Make Money: The Cost of Getting Your Law License

miranda-the-look-02-1024This year I graduated law school, took and passed the bar, and was admitted as an attorney in my state. It’s a given that law school itself is expensive. But like a lot of other professional programs, there are also tons of costs when you’re coming out of law school that I didn’t really think about until I had to. Since you have to be licensed in order to work and make that sweet professional salary, there’s no getting around some of them. For lawyers, of course, there’s the bar.

One option for law students are bar loans. My school was mysteriously quiet about this process, but they are the most common option for people who need to borrow in order to cover their post-grad expenses. Basically, your school confirms to the federal government that you will need extra funds to cover “education-related expenses” after you graduate. This allows you to then apply for more federal loans. If you miss the deadline to do this (December for my year), private loans are available, and are also called bar loans, and they typically come with the same or similar terms as most private student loans.

If it is at all possible, the best bet is to plan for this expense at the beginning of your final year: you can set aside any loan money you take out and earmark it for your bar expenses, or you can opt not to take out the maximum amount of federal loans offered to you, and go back and take it out later. This is what I was lucky enough to be able to do, and it’s worked out well.

Reviews of Store Catalogs

The_J._Peterman_Company_(emblem)The J. Peterman Company: Owner’s Manual No. 121
By John Peterman
The J. Peterman Company, 74 pp., $0.00

Not long ago, I spent an afternoon in a sparsely populated cafe on the bank of the Seine with an older gentleman, an Ernest Hemingway-type in rolled-up sleeves. His chief claim to fame was that he’d successfully wooed Audrey and Marilyn in the 1960s, but while the glamor of his private life eclipsed his public travails, he’d been busying accomplishing more than his fair share of success in life—or should I say exactly his fair share; when you meet the man it becomes immediately clear that he runs on only a dash of luck generously greased by a certain European charm and personality—and today his résumé includes climbing Mount Everest wearing only a motorcycle jacket and adopting a coterie of displaced polar bears from southern Alaska, which he raised as his own children. We’d been talking for three hours before I realized I wasn’t in a weathered cafe off the Seine at all: I was in a small room in my own home—my bathroom—reading a J. Peterman catalog.

Mary J. Blige and Disclosure, "Follow"

The very best musical theme of 2014: Artists returning to their most comfortable sounds to find brand new people—children, basically!—waiting to meet them there. One of the Disclosure boys was born the year before Whats’ the 411? came out; the other was born two years after.

“You don’t use fighting words and then become really surprised that it’s caused a fight. If I said, ‘Fuck you and your mother with a stick,’ you’d say, ‘Whoa, Jack!’ And then I couldn’t say, ‘I’ve just been lynched.’#