Monday, September 29th, 2014
3

The Ads We Deserve

Facebook has made a great many terrible promises to a great many terrible people about all of the terrible ways that those terrible people—and Facebook!—can make a lot of money using the incredibly personal data extracted from users to sell them terrible products. Not all of those promises have panned out. But one can get an approximate sense of how genuinely anxious one should be, as a Facebook user, by how genuinely excited the terrible people become at the prospect of one of these promises. (It's a roughly inverse relationship: The more excited they are, the more unnerved one can choose to feel. It's like when somebody guffaws [...]

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The Rodent and the Mayor

Brian Morris, a spokesman for the zoo, said officials were in the process of revisiting animal protocols, and it was "more than likely" that new rules would keep mayors and groundhogs from coming into contact every February.

"It’ll protect our animals," he said, "and it’ll also protect whoever the mayor is."

Keeping large rodents out of the hands of towering New York City mayors will no doubt save their lives, given the recent events that led to the death of Charlotte, aka Chuck, the mystical groundhog—but what grave harm, exactly, must the mayor be shielded from? The conspiracy is real, folks.

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5

Middleman Removed

But consider the experience of Chris Dannen, a 29-year-old ­webtrepreneur who was served with an eviction notice after a year of hosting Airbnb guests in his Greenpoint apartment. When he dropped off his final rent check, he noticed the management company was converting it into a hotel: The "loft suite" apartments are currently listed on Airbnb for $199. Dannen was, and still is, a believer in Airbnb’s cause. "I’m of the millennial view that it’s a nice way to meet people and make friends." But he was disappointed in Airbnb’s reaction to his situation. "In retrospect, I would say, they knew this was going to happen to people, and they [...]

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2

Are You a Tech Company?

In 2014, there are but a few questions to ask yourself in order to determine if you are a technology company or "startup."

• Do you have a website which is primarily used to sell your product(s)?

• Do you sincerely believe that your company, which mostly aspires to sell a commodity product to middle-class and upper-middle-class consumers using mildly novel marketing techniques, is going to change the world?

• Has a mysterious man offered you tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars?

Well then! I have good news for you.

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3

The Real Estate Agent's Preferred Way of Thinking About Climate Change

“The answer is the Pacific Northwest, and probably especially west of the Cascades.”

“Actually, the strip of coastal land running from Canada down to the Bay Area is probably the best.”

“I predict we’re going to have millions of people moving to [the country’s midsection, like Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Milwaukee and Detroit]."

“Alaska is going to be the next Florida by the end of the century.”

The grim parlor game that we're playing here is "Where will people move when the now-inevitable environmental apocalypse that the human race could've averted but loved its SUVs and one-dollar hamburgers and air conditioning a little too much [...]

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1

How to Be an Ex-President

September, 2014: At the Smorgasburg food fair in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Mikheil Saakashvili motored in fluorescent green sneakers among bearded men with tattoos and women in revealing overalls. They lined up for Cheese Pops, Dun-Well Doughnuts and other local delicacies. He ordered a coconut. … Mr. Saakashvili is in self-imposed exile on North Seventh Street — plotting a triumphant return, even as his steep fall from grace serves as a cautionary tale to the many American government officials who had hoped he would be a model exporter of democracy to former Soviet republics.

Since leaving office last November, this George W. Bush favorite — whose confrontation with President Vladimir V. [...]

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4

A New York Superlative

The mean income of the top 5 percent of households in Manhattan soared 9 percent in 2013 over 2012, giving Manhattan the biggest dollar income gap of any county in the country, according to data from the Census Bureau The top 5 percent of households earned $864,394, or 88 times as much as the poorest 20 percent, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which is being released Thursday and covers the final year of the Bloomberg administration.

The meaning of this statistic, which still maintains a limited ability to shock in our post-Piketty era, will magically unravel itself in due time as many of the remaining [...]

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4

The Mathematics of Re-Calibration

An electorate reshaped by a growing presence of liberal millennials, minorities, and a secular, unmarried and educated white voting bloc will most likely force Republicans to recalibrate. … When Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980, white voters without a college degree made up 65 percent of the electorate; by 2012, that number had dropped to 36 percent.

The latter statistic is more complicated than it seems, in large part because more people than ever are getting college degrees—33.5 percent of people between the ages of twenty-five and twenty-nine had a bachelor's degree in 2012, versus 24.7 percent in 1995 versus 21.9 percent in 1975, according to [...]

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1

The Economics of Plugged Leaks

Mr. Balazs insists on privacy, discouraging cellphone pictures by guests. Employees surrender their phones during working hours and submit to “the most draconian sort of confidentiality agreements,” he said.

A recent breach at Mr. Balazs’s Standard, High Line in New York—the leak of a video of Jay Z and Solange Knowles fighting in an elevator—heightened the need for such measures. Mr. Balazs said that the employee who leaked the video was fired within 24 hours, and that he and Jay Z are considering legal action.

In this age of (slightly) renewed concern for labor issues, one wonders if TMZ's compensation for video footage now takes [...]

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3

Anniversary Commemorated

In ordering a sustained military campaign against Islamic extremists in Syria and Iraq, President Obama on Wednesday night effectively set a new course for the remainder of his presidency and may have ensured that he would pass his successor a volatile and incomplete war, much as his predecessor left one for him…the widening battle with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria will be the next chapter in a grueling, generational struggle that has kept the United States at war in one form or another since that day 13 years ago on Thursday when hijacked airplanes shattered America’s sense of its own security.

Happy 9/11, everyone.

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1

View Cloudy

A question about the forthcoming Nordstorm Tower, freshly rendered by YIMBY: At which floor of the one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five foot tower—which, though it is one foot shorter than One World Trade Center, because of the elevation of midtown, will be the tallest point in the city—will residents' view of Central Park be blocked by clouds? Not that it should matter terribly much during the fall and winter, when the building will cast a four-thousand-foot shadow across the park, since they should be some place much warmer anyway, like Miami or São Paulo.

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0

Laws of Nature

There are certain inexorable laws of nature that every building in New York City must abide by. For instance, the taller your building—and the higher your personal residence within it, well: We've already seen the layouts for some of the lower full-floor apartments in superscraper 432 Park Avenue, but this unit, which takes up the entire 92nd floor, is the highest apartment in the building to be listed so far. It follows logically that it also has the highest price — $79.5 million. (The 87th-floor penthouse was listed for $74.5 million last month, but the listing was removed for unknown reason four days ago.) Unit no. 92 has all [...]

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Journalism Extremely Successfully Funded

The Huffington Post, a publishing company worth hundreds of millions of dollars that is nestled within AOL, a media company that has a market cap of nearly three-and-a-half billion dollars, has successfully convinced people to donate forty thousand dollars to it, as if it were a charity in need of the largesse of its readers, in order to "to ensure on-the-ground coverage from Ferguson remains a part of the national conversation." It is truly a golden age of journalism.

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0

How to Count to Infinity

As a child, one might have imagined counting to ten billion in the course of reckoning with the seeming infinitude of enormous numbers. This is actually impossible to do in a human life time, since it would take over three hundred years. But, as an adult, one might discover that he can simply will himself from zero to that number, or even more—at least as long as he is counting in dollars, as the founders of Snapchat and Uber have discovered, whose companies are now valued at more than ten billion dollars. A lingering question: now that the ten-billion-dollar frat has become a little less exclusive, who will be [...]

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3

Neighborhood Demographics Shifting

"But walking around the East Village, I just want to cry at the state of it. There are so many fuckin’ jocks everywhere! It’s like a frat house everywhere. There are all those terrible bars like The 13th Step, and it’s just spreading over to A and B. And now, in Williamsburg, you have all these frat guys dressed as alternatives. I don’t know if it’s a sign of the times, but where are the real weirdos?" They have apparently moved to Park Slope.

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The Waning of the Hobo

"There are currently nine major North American freight railroads. Operators point out that hopping freight is illegal and extremely dangerous and hope that the slide in hobo numbers in recent decades will continue."

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3

A Study in Contrasts

As hundreds line up for Michael Brown's funeral, the New York Times is running twinned profiles of twenty-eight-year-old Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson and the unarmed eighteen-year-old he shot to death. This is how Wilson's begins: On the early afternoon of Feb. 28, 2013, Officer Darren Wilson answered a police call of a suspicious vehicle where, the police said, the occupants might have been making a drug transaction. After a struggle, Officer Wilson subdued the suspect and grabbed his car keys before help arrived, the police said.

A large amount of marijuana was found in the car, the police said, and the 28-year-old suspect now faces [...]

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Journalism Funded

The Huffington Post asks: What happens in Ferguson and the St. Louis metro area the day after everybody leaves?

I'm not sure.

We plan to be there as it all unfolds.

Great. I feel better knowing that AOL, a large, profitable media company, supports the Huffington Post's real, on-the-ground reporting.

For The Huffington Post, this'll involve a first-of-its-kind collaboration with readers, the local community and the Beacon Reader to create what we're calling the Ferguson Fellowship.

Oh wow, I love it when the community gets involved.

Local resident Mariah Stewart has been covering the Ferguson protests as a citizen journalist with the support of readers through Beacon's platform. [...]

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The Lost Section

Here is a weird thing about the technology section of the most important newspaper in America: A number of its biggest stars have left in recent months. While reporters at large papers frequently move around and often change beats—especially at the Times—all of these reporters continue to cover technology, just not from the tech desk. Nick Bilton, its most famous writer, who lives in the future and watched Twitter get hatched, now runs his "Disruptions" column in the Styles section; Claire Cain Miller now covers "tech + gender/work/family" at the Times' explainer site, the Upshot; Jenna Wortham, its brightest star, recently decamped for Sunday Business, where she continues [...]

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3

"It’s Uber, but for Golden Parachutes"

The two-way path between government, politics, and private industry, densely shaded by lush money trees, is so well-worn it seems to have been carved by the finger of God, a well-known capitalist, long ago. And yet, fresh trade routes establish themselves all the time. David Plouffe, the man who successfully convinced a majority of the United States in 2008 that Barack Obama would change the country for the better, is now going to make the same argument for Uber, a service that seeks to deeply weave itself into the infrastructure of cities in order to make as much money as possible. Meanwhile, Kara Swisher notes, former Obama press [...]

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