Thursday, October 16th, 2014
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Attention Artists, Designers and Creators

It's tough out there for working artists today. Finding the funding, resources and mentorship to realize your passion projects can feel overwhelming. Well, here's your opportunity. THE SPACE is a non-profit organization that provides artists with substantial funding, allowing them to bring their digital art ideas to fruition. They're looking for talented artists from all disciplines to submit proposals for their dream projects.

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THE SPACE provides the opportunity for you to get genuine funding for that one crazy project you could never quite fit in your schedule. Like when John Cale of The Velvet Underground got funding to create an orchestra of flying drones. Or when musical pioneer John Peel got the time to create a virtually accessible archive of his massive record collection. Nothing’s off limits, this is about pushing the limit. The best part? You retain all rights to your project.

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It's easy. Simply submit a short description of your idea through THE SPACE Open Call, which runs from October 10th to November 14th 2014.

We only ask, that the project can live on the internet and be accessed on mobile and tablet devices. The art projects can take their point of departure in any artistic discipline, from music and film to visual arts and gaming.

The best projects will be shortlisted and the winners will be announced February 2015. So what are you waiting for? Submit your proposal today. and join the conversation at on twitter using the #TheSpaceOC hashtag.

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Hotels Are People Too

airbnblahIt's increasingly hard to escape the sensation that the primary proprietors of the so-called sharing economy don't so much share as take—from their users, from their contracted workers, from the localities in which they operate, by utilizing infrastructure that they do not contribute toward. It's everybody else who shares.

The New York State Attorney General's initial report on Airbnb in New York City, which analyzed full-apartment bookings (crucially, not room shares) with the service from 2010 until this past June, feels fairly conclusive in this regard. Even if you absolutely do not care at all that, according to the attorney general, seventy-two percent of the private bookings on Airbnb are technically illegal, or that real hotel operators are losing out hundreds of millions of dollars in bookings, or even maybe that the city has lost tens of millions of dollars in taxes the city has lost to Airbnb and its hosts, it's frankly easy, as a renter in New York City (I mean, Jesus) to feel supremely agitated that last year, more than four-and-a-half thousand apartments listed on Airbnb were booked for short-term rentals for three months of the year or more, and of those, nearly half were booked by half the year or more—meaning apartments that could and should have been on the market were being largely used as hotels. (These apartments accounted for thirty-eight percent of the revenue to Airbnb and its hosts from units booked as private short-term rentals, according to the attorney general.) READ MORE

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The Sad Parents of #Gamergate

All around the country, parents are sitting down to have the talk with their children. Not about sex or mortality or college. They're having the talk about Gamergate. From our own comments:

I have a 17 year old son and trying to point out the actual facts in this story is like trying to convince a rabid 70 year old FOX viewer that Obama is not a terrorist, born on Mars, here to take your guns.
"It's about ethics, mom. Don't you care about ETHICS?"

He's not down with the death threats though, so I guess Yay?

Imagine! You hear your child talking animatedly about something. He steps closer and you hear him say "bias" and "Sarkeesian." The words drip with spite. Later, you hear him through the bedroom door, talking to his webcam: "No, it's about corruption in games journalism!" What do you do?

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I Bought Some Jeans on Sale at The Gap And Now I'm a Person Again

Adco2-popupI was the only person in Gap at 9:30 in the morning on a Saturday, which I would recommend for anyone who has tried to avoid thinking about their body for a very long time and is ready to face the music in the most boring way possible and at a 40% discount. READ MORE

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Leon Bridges, "Coming Home"

Via GvB, a supremely satisfying soul pop throwback to ~60 years ago which, obviously, you can read all about on the artist's Tumblr.

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Countdown to the Last-Ever October Surprise

It's election season. It's October. According to the political-astrological calendar, this is very important: It's time for an October surprise. Juan Williams thinks the surprise will be war:

To be clear, Republicans remain a slight favorite to win enough seats to claim the majority of the U.S. Senate. But the twists and turns of war have the capacity to create one legendary October political surprise.

He is using the conspiratorial definition of "October Surprise," as opposed to the literal surprise definition. War for votes. Bob Beckel, conspiracy theorist, agrees: "I think I know what it is, but it is going to shake things up…it’s going to have to do with national security."

Darrell West has a different idea:

[T]he real October surprise will come from billionaires dropping millions of dollars in a handful of Senate races seeking to move the needle one or two points to secure the election.

That would throw things off! But you could argue that this wouldn't really be a surprise.

Yesterday, anyway, Washington achieved clarity. The official October Surprise is Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever. (Congratulations to Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever.)

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New York City, October 14, 2014

weather review sky 101414★★★★ Low clouds were moving fast in the humid morning. In the span of a viola lesson, the dazzling sunlight had been covered up by a diffuse layer of them. In the span of a subway ride downtown, that cloud-stuff had shaped up into at least one impressively solid cloud in a field of blue; other cloud remnants drifted here and there. It was necessary or worthwhile to get out into the damp warmth to fetch lunch. Across the Bowery, the breeze was cooler. For a moment, near the end of afternoon, the lowering sun made it indoors. Then by rush hour a sort of cover of sort of clouds, mottled dusk-blue and gray, had returned.

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Erykah Badu, "Street Hustle Experiment"

"I just, kind of always wanted to see what it would be like to, you know, sing for money on the streets. So what I'm going to do is, I'm going to find a good place." Erykah Badu busks in Times Square.

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Meet Perfection

Brought to you by Absolut.

From seed to sip, every drop of Absolut Vodka is expertly crafted by generations of farmers and distillers from the small village of Åhus, Sweden — in a region with more than 400 years of superior vodka-making expertise. What’s their secret? High quality, locally sourced ingredients— pristine aquifer water & pure winter wheat (the latter carefully selected in partnership with 450 local farmers).

These high quality ingredients, in conjunction with the care and attention of a village that has been crafting vodka since 1879, results in a smooth, rich vodka that transforms any cocktail.

To learn more about how Absolut is crafted please visit: meetperfection.com.

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The TV Networks' Comedy Depth Charts

depthchartsHow committed are your favorite TV networks to making you laugh? While some networks are happy to stick with a tried and true formula, others are being forced to experiment this season. What’s going on with the rise of the romantic sitcom? Who’s doubling down on family fare? Where should you look for your favorite canceled shows? We’ve examined the comedies the networks and cable have to offer this 2014-2015 TV season to see which network offers the most in quantity, which offers the most in quality, and who’s taking the biggest risks. READ MORE

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Gamergate in Posterity

The hideous mass lash-out known as #Gamergate is snowballing into an unlikely but genuine historical moment. This rings true:

What we have in Gamergate is a glimpse of how these skirmishes will unfold in the future—all the rhetorical weaponry and siegecraft of an internet comment section brought to bear on our culture, not just at the fringes but at the center. What we're seeing now is a rehearsal, where the mechanisms of a toxic and inhumane politics are being tested and improved. Tomorrow's Lee Atwater will work through sock puppets on IRC. Tomorrow's Sister Souljah will get shouted down with rape threats. Tomorrow's Tipper Gore will make an inexplicably popular YouTube video. Tomorrow's Willie Horton ad will be an image macro, tomorrow's Borking a doxing, tomorrow's Moral Majority a loose coalition of DoSers and robo-petitioners and scat-GIF trolls—all of them working feverishly in service of the old idea that nothing should ever really change.

The ideology that leads a young fan of Call of Duty to tweet threats of violence at women who dare make or write about video games is old and broad and thoroughly rotten. His venues, however, are new: They lower the bar for participation, bringing words that would have been shared in private out into the open, on the internet, turning cruel jokes shared between gamers on the couch into real and terrifying threats posed in public.

The urgent consequence is that this private speech projected into public is harassment. But a future consequence, the closest thing to a silver lining that #Gamergate has, is that at least some of this speech is permanent. The worst harassers and instigators are mostly anonymous, but their legions of supporters and fans and enablers are not.

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Why My Baby Doesn't Eat Animals

pigHaving a child means that you, as a parent, wield incredible power. You can dress your baby exclusively in green, or never let her hear Simon & Garfunkel (as if) or Iggy Azalea (oops, I wish). Arguably the greatest power arrives with the introduction of “solid food” into your baby’s mouth, around the time they are six months old. I thought for a very long time, even talking it over with friends, about what Zelda’s first food should be. I was told by my doctor to start with something naturally mushy. I settled on a daily vacillation between the avocado and the banana.

Zelda didn’t want to wait until she was six months old. By the time she was four-and-a-half months old, she was trying to grab food from my hands, or off of my plate. So, one afternoon, in a less momentous fashion than I had imagined, I mashed up both an avocado and a banana and offered them to her, minutes apart. She took the spoon from me and hoisted it into her mouth herself. She made a face, but she was also “chewing” as she handed the spoon back to me for a refill. A lot of what I gave her on the spoon fell out of her mouth and onto the floor, where the dog was anxiously waiting. But Zelda clearly understood the ritual: The next day, when I fed her sweet potato which I had peeled, steamed, and pureed, more went in—and stayed in. In less than a week, she’d been introduced to green beans, peas, carrots, and leeks (which I steamed with a small piece of potato and pureed for her).

Now, at eight months old, with just two teeth, Zelda can chomp down anything you hand over, in smallish chunks. She likes her food pureed or not, warm or not. Toast, strawberries, steamed broccoli, pasta noodles. She eats a lot, usually feeding herself, and often sharing with the dog. The one thing Zelda has never tasted, however, is an animal. READ MORE

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A Cool Book Review by a Hip Writer Who Has Definitely Had Sex

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I got my first asymmetrical haircut when I was 8. My mother was in the kitchen, reading, and I walked in with a pair of scissors. "Fuck you, Mom," I said, as I sliced off half the hair I’d grown as a protest against traditional masculinity. “Fuck the whole world.”

My mother doesn't understand me, still, to this day. She doesn't understand my smoking, my drinking, my casual drug use, or my biting and contemporary parody Twitter accounts. To her credit it is impossible to truly know anything. That, like how to make a bong out of a bottle I found in the garbage, is something I know.

One time I was in an orgy. READ MORE

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Rewriting History in Real Time: A Social Media Guide

In the process of trying to figure out when your cousin's birthday is, or looking at photos of your old partners' weddings, or deciding whether or not to attend your 10/20/30/40-year reunion, there's a reasonable chance you will come across some variation of this headline on Facebook. Beneath it will be comments from friends and family and strangers, in which the dinner table arguments of a decade ago are relitigated. The details, which were foggy in the first place, are now foggier. Someone will probably bring up beheading immediately.

The source for this post—which comes from a profoundly cynical, and popular, news project called the Independent Journal Review, which treats news stories like ideological choose-you-own-adventure books—is "The Secret Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons," a blockbuster report by C. J. Chivers. It will not come up, because it has been buried behind at least one layer of translation—from boring, caveated "writing" into pitched and colloquial social patois (but still with a VERY CREDIBLE font). Its new headline, or headlines, are not about the story so much as they are about their prospective sharers, and so those are the terms in which it will be discussed. The new versions of the story say, "I was right" or, at least, "you were wrong." The structure within which they appear is such that engaging with the post—sharing, disagreeing, Liking—is much easier than investigating is provenance, even if it's just three clicks away.

The Times story contains many "shareable" parts but its core is brutally unsharable: Behind every revelation is a complicating and depressing explanation.

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New York City, October 13, 2014

★ The clouds, torn in places early, thickened and assumed the color of old fingernails. The ambiguity resolved into a faint drizzle. A gloomy chill seeped through the office. Out on the fire escape, it was humid and a little less cold. The indoor hoodie stayed on for the commute–accidentally at first, and then out of necessity. Uptown, there was just enough light left to search the playground till the fallen leaves began to look too plausibly like they might be a yellow diecast anthropomorphic car. The drizzle rematerialized and as night fell it intensified into a soaking mist, till umbrellas came out and the sidewalk grew slippery.

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"While some elementary schools no longer have recess, and people like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie argue that school days should be even longer, a few schools are already moving in a different direction. Some are testing out standing desks, and realizing that a little bit of activity can actually improve attention spans. Others, like Ward Elementary in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, are starting to fill classrooms with exercise bikes, so students can work out while they learn." —Thought experiment: Would the ethical status of this program change, in any way, if the exercise bikes were used to generate electricity? The MOOC machines will need charging.

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Eye Contact in the Highest Court in the Land

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer looked at me and nodded at 1:33PM Eastern Daylight Time on January 21, 2014.

I arrived early that day. You have to. Seating is limited at the Supreme Court. At 6:04AM, I was eighth in the queue. Snow was imminent. Most schools in DC, Virginia, and Maryland were closed. The federal government was closed too, but Chief Justice John Roberts kept the doors of justice open. It takes more than a few flurries to close this Article III court.

The day’s docket was unique. Instead of the typical two cases, three oral arguments were on the schedule. I had no personal stake in the outcome of any of the disputes. I was simply interested in observing the process and witnessing the back-and-forth between the justices and lawyers in real time. Neither live audio nor video are allowed at the Supreme Court, so attending in-person is the only option. The justices’ questions and commentary, coupled with their body language and tone of voice, sometimes foretell how the cases will be decided. Armed with first-hand observation, journalists will often turn soothsayer after attending oral arguments.

At 7:25AM, the line had yet to move. I was just trying to stay warm, marching in place. I tried not to look strange, but it is hard not to look strange while doing high knees near the entrance of the nation’s highest court. I re-read my papers summarizing the trilogy of cases to be heard. First up was Harris v. Quinn. Harris was one of several state employee plaintiffs. The latter, Pat Quinn, is the governor of Illinois. I read the “question presented” three times and my confusion increased. My sense was that the dispute had something to do with a government worker who did not want to the join a union.

The second case was Petrella v. MGM. The case stemmed from the classic boxing movie Raging Bull. That sounded pretty cool. The overriding legal dispute centered on whether the doctrine of laches can be invoked as a defense to a copyright infringement claim. That didn’t sound very cool. My Black’s Law Dictionary started collecting dust years ago. I couldn’t recall what laches meant.

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Life Coaching for Life Coaches

ProSolutions National 2006"Don’t pick it up," my mother said to my 14-year old daughter last summer. "Faeena said it was bad luck. The money will never come to you if you pick up pennies."

Faeena was a woman my mother used to know once upon a time. And not picking up pennies was a superstition that apparently dictated financial success or lack thereof.

I immediately protested.

"Nonsense," I said. "If you don’t pick up coins lying on the ground then you are showing disrespect towards money and that’s when the money will stay away from you."

My mother shrugged and changed the subject to avoid an argument—which in this particular case was to my advantage because if she had asked me how picking up change had helped me over the years, I wouldn’t have had much evidence to present.

I first heard about this strategy of attracting money a few years ago from a life coach who claimed that picking up change lead to her six-digit earning success. At that time I was a life-coach-business beginner and desperate for any tip that could help me build my own successful coaching empire. So I started picking up coins wherever I went. I picked up U.S. cents, Euro cents, and even Russian kopeks that were at the time worth less than broken pieces of glass littering the streets of St. Petersburg. Eight years into this routine and into running my coaching business I was no closer to six digits than when I started. READ MORE

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Intimate and Anonymous: Alejandro Cartagena's 'Carpoolers'

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The Art Museum of the Americas stands at the junction of Virginia Avenue and 18th Street in Washington, D.C., just a few blocks from the White House, the Washington Monument, and the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial. The red-roofed Spanish colonial villa that houses the museum is a sort of in-law residence annexed to the palatial Organization of American States headquarters (also known as the Pan American Union Building), which occupies the 17th Street side of the same block. A well-tended public sculpture garden featuring the busts of pan-American statesmen and writers separates the two buildings. There are no fewer than four statues of Simón Bolívar on or near the grounds, as well as castings of Pablo Neruda, Abraham Lincoln, José Martí, Gabriela Mistral, José Cecilio del Valle, and Gabríel Garcia Marquez. Walking among those art works assembled in the name of inter-American unity and cooperation is a melancholy experience; such aspirations are so out of synch with the current political reality that I half-expected the plaques on the statues to be in Esperanto.

What brought me to the AMA was a show by the photographer Alejandro Cartagena, titled "Small Guide to Homeownership." Cartagena, who was born in the Dominican Republic but lives and works in Mexico, certainly fits the pan-American mold. The exhibit begins humbly enough, with a looping black and white video of the entrance to a 2010 "real estate event" in Mexico: Potential home-owners wander in an out of a doorway marked "Buscando Casa" as music plays, depicting the banality of the consumerism that drives the continued expansion of the outer suburbs of Monterrey, Juarez, and Apodaca (not to mention Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Washington, D.C.).

But all of that was prelude. Thirty startling images from Cartagena's "Carpoolers" series, taken in 2011 and 2012, comprised the rest (and best) of the show. "Carpoolers" is a found poetry of terrific power: Twice a week, during the morning rush hour, he set his camera up on a pedestrian overpass above Highway 85 in Monterrey and took bird's-eye-view images of day laborers in the backs of pickup trucks on their way to cut lawns, plaster walls, and excavate swimming pools in the city's wealthy neighborhoods. Intimate yet impersonal, voyeuristic yet respectful, the photos offer glimpses at men who are usually overlooked or hidden from view. "I was very excited when I found these workers going to work this way," Cartagena told me in an email. "I had been looking for a way to represent the people who had bought the small suburban houses and how they were managing going to work every day."

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How to Change Your Name in 41 Easy Steps

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1.) Practice saying your new name. Say it aloud to friends, family, and police officers. Ask yourself these questions: Can I pronounce it? Can I spell it? Can I remember it?

2.) If you are changing your name as part of getting married, proceed to step 2b.) If not, skip to step 3.

2b.) Go online and print out an application for your marriage license. On the application, there will be a question asking what you want your new name to be, followed by a large blank space. Whatever you write here will be your new name! Congratulations! Mazel tov!

2c.) The application will most likely have some rules attached stating that you can only change your surname during the marriage process, but apparently this is bullshit. If say, you are going from Kathleen Hale to Kathleen Rich, but want to change your middle name from Erin to Hale (sorry Ireland) you should do it here. Otherwise you will find yourself going through the usual name change channels at the courthouse, which, as you can see by the length of this guide, is a total nightmare. Not to mention: once you have gone through weeks of bureaucratic bullshit, and endured a lot of snark from government employees, you will find yourself face to face with a particularly snarky government employee, who will tell you, "haha, you could have just done this when you got your marriage license—yeah it says not to, but they have to honor whenever you put down" and you will understand in that moment why he is talking to you from behind bullet proof glass. If you were stupid enough to take these bullshit rules at face value, proceed to step 3.

3.) Your only option is to Google "how to change your name in [insert your city, state, country here]." There will be application forms available through a government website. Fill one out. Press print.

4.) The printed application will include a list of things to bring with you to the courthouse in order to change your name. Some of these things are hard to find and scary to lose (birth certificate, etc.) Also, the courthouse might not accept copies, depending on where you live, so put everything in a special folder.

4b) Duct tape shut the folder.

4c.) Wrap it in chains.

4d.) Padlock the chains around your waist.

5.) Proceed to the courthouse.

6.) Take a number.

7.) Wait for the rest of your life. READ MORE

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