Monday, October 27th, 2014
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Mister Lies, "High (ft. Harrison Lipton)"

Does this sound a little bit like Massive Attack? It would be well within the regulations of tribute and nostalgia: "Teardrop" came out in 1998. The rest of the album, which is slow and lush and worth a listen, brings to mind The Notwist's Neon Golden, which came out just four years later. Music, the loop, is now barely ten years in circumference.

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A Fractured Skull, a Lost Sense of Smell, and a New Job

rachelThis summer, my friend Rachel Bailey was working as a waitress in Athens, Ga., doing social media for some restaurants, writing when she could, but not as much as she wanted—just scraping by in a town where it’s easy, sometimes even fun, to just scrape by. But she wasn’t having fun. She’d been out of college a few years and had imagined something more for her 20s. She was feeling anxious, stagnant and just generally crappy about life. And then she hit her head in a piggybacking accident and almost died. And then things got better.

Rachel lost her sense of smell and is still slogging through (and mourning) that and a host of other cognitive side effects that may or may not sort themselves out in a year or so. But the accident also pulled her out of a rut she already knew she’d been wallowing in too long. READ MORE

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1

Toward a Resolution of the Moral Quandary of Eating on the Subway

People drop things on the Internet and run all the time. So we have to ask. In this edition, writer and Ridgewood resident Brendan O’Connor tells us more about two guys having dinner—at the dinner table—on the subway.

Brendan! So what happened here?

OK! So. I was taking the M train from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Despite its problematic schedule, the M train is my favorite because in Brooklyn and Queens it runs above ground. I am young enough in the game for this to still be magical because you can look outside. Also you can tweet.

The train was pretty empty when these guys got on. At first, I wasn't sure that they were going to open up the table. It was a folding table. But they did. Then they ate McDonald's on it. I could smell the McDonald's; it smelled good. I don't know that anyone was particularly bothered by what was going on. Maybe by the smell though? Sometimes the smell of McDonald's can be sort of overwhelming. The sense I got from the few other passengers was one of bemusement rather than annoyance, though. READ MORE

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3

Do As Facebook Says, Not As It Does

This week, David Carr writes about Facebook's increasingly psychodramatic relationship with publishers, who, whether or not they've actively catered to the site, have come to depend on it profoundly. The column also carries a bit of news, which has been circulating as a likely theoretical for the last year or so, but which now seems to be real:

The company has been on something of a listening tour with publishers, discussing better ways to collaborate. The social network has been eager to help publishers do a better job of servicing readers in the News Feed, including improving their approach to mobile in a variety of ways. One possibility it mentioned was for publishers to simply send pages to Facebook that would live inside the social network’s mobile app and be hosted by its servers; that way, they would load quickly with ads that Facebook sells. The revenue would be shared.

There are publishers who have been waiting for this opportunity. Some are small, and already depend entirely on Facebook for distribution—they are not, by any familiar definition, diverse news publications. Some are large, and see a short-term opportunity: They're already optimizing for Facebook with "TRENDING NEWS" teams and the like, so they would be glad to remove any friction between their most viral posts and the cascading feed at which they were intentionally angled. Direct publishing could be a way to directly monetize this ᴄᴏɴᴛᴇɴᴛ, and to counteract a Facebook-driven dilution of traditional ad rates for websites. Or even to sell ads against posts a second time, to a different audience (first on your site, then on Facebook's site).

One way to look at this, which situates Facebook neither as an evil force colonizing publishing nor as a lumbering dumb beast grabbing at everything around it, is to try to see what kind of example it's setting. Facebook—the company, not the site—has spent the last few years diversifying. It spent many billions of dollars on a messaging app that was already successful; it spent a couple billion on a virtual reality helmet that it finds promising. It bought Instagram, watched it grow larger than Twitter, and then filled it with ads. It threw weight behind Facebook-adjacent internal projects, such as Slingshot, Paper, and Rooms, none of which have caught on, not that it matters yet—Facebook has a lot of cash and at least some time to figure out its next contraption to convert human attention into money.

Implicit in this behavior is an acknowledgment that Facebook proper, the News Feed, is not the future of the company. It's how it makes most of its money now, and next year, and who knows for how many years after that. But Facebook, a large company run by competent people, is attempting to plan against the unforeseeable and the inevitable. It's leaders don't know for sure what's coming next, but they know they need to be a part of it. They know that preferences change and tides turn and that their old site, the single feed of photos and updates and links from a mishmash of friends and family and coworkers assembled over a decade, the first hugely successful smartphone platform but definitely not the last, will eventually give way to something else. This is a sensible way to look at the world, if you are Facebook. Or if you are any company on the internet!

Facebook, a company with lots of cash and great short-term prospects, is diversifying its company as fast as it possibly can. At the same time, it is asking publishers—many of whom have very little cash and uncertain short-term prospects—to do the opposite. It's asking publications to go all-in, or to raise their bets on Facebook substantially. It is asking to do as Facebook says, not as it does.

READ MORE

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0

Ghosts Of My Youth

sp00000kyThe first ghost story I ever heard was from my mother. She described how once, while sleeping in an upstairs bedroom in her sister’s house, she woke to the feeling of twin icicles curling around her ankles. They were hands, but she didn’t see a body, exactly. More like an abstract interpretation of a body, female, crouched at the foot of the bed. It yanked once, hard, and she opened her pink teenaged mouth and screamed, causing it to let go and vanish. The details shift uneasily when she retells this story—sometimes there is a horrible, unseasonal rainstorm beating the roof, sometimes she is 15, or 17. But these two details remain the same: The bed belonged a dead woman and she never went into that portion of the house again.

There's a lot of paranormal activity in my family. Whether it is more than most other families is hard to say, but we seem to have more than most. During holidays and family events, after the adults wander into the kitchen to drink coffee or head off to bed, us cousins gather in some remote part of the house and talk about the things that go bump in the night. These are our heirlooms, a series of signals and omens that help us make sense of each other and our shared family history, which is by turns strange, mysterious and murky. These stories open up a portal to the parts of life that don’t seem to make much sense but as still just as real as the rest of it. Over the years, I've come to realize that sometimes a ghost isn't always a ghost. Sometimes, telling a ghost story is a way to talk about something else present in the air, taking up space beside you. It can also be a manifestation of intuition, or something you’ve known in your bones but haven’t yet been able to accept. But sometimes a ghost is exactly what it is—a seriously fucking scary spirit. READ MORE

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0

Meet the New Ebola Experts

WELCOME TO NEW JERSEY AND NOW GET IN THE TENT, DOCTOR:

On Friday, in a surprising move, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey imposed a mandatory quarantine on individuals arriving at two area airports who have had direct contact with those infected with Ebola, including health workers.

Among medical professionals who have been fighting Ebola in West Africa, the restrictions only intensified the debate. While a few of those interviewed said an overabundance of caution was welcome, the vast majority said that restrictions like those adopted by New York and New Jersey could cripple volunteers’ efforts at the front lines of the epidemic.

Of the diminishing ways to assert yourself as a tough, clear-minded politician, fed up with the bullshit and ready to Get Things Done, enacting a mandatory Ebola quarantine for new arrivals from affected countries seems like an attractive choice. Fear of the disease combined with the impression that it is somehow a foreign pathogen, rightfully belonging to other people, means that any decisive plans with the word "Ebola" in them will quickly find public support. (1985: "A majority of Americans favor the quarantine of AIDS patients.")

The only problem with this plan is that medical professionals are not sure it makes any sense at all.

Dr. Rick Sacra, who contracted Ebola in Liberia and was flown back to the United States to be treated in September, said he believed that the new rules in New Jersey and New York would reduce the number of people willing to volunteer their time to treat Ebola patients.

So a doctor, who also happens to be a former Ebola patient, publicly suggests to Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie that their tough-on-infection posturing might in reality do more harm than good. If we grant that the quarantine discussion is above all a PR battle, this still seems like it might be a problem. That would be a misreading:

Americans' trust in the medical profession has plummeted in recent years, and lags well behind public attitudes toward doctors in many other countries, according to a new report…

Just 34 percent of U.S. adults polled in 2012 said they had "great confidence in the leaders of the medical profession," down from 76 percent in 1966, according to the report.

This is slightly higher than America's polled "Trust in Government," but not by enough to matter.

It's not about what you know, or what you've done. It's about how much confidence you inspire in the people who are paying the least attention.

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5

Ebola Panic in Small-Town New Jersey

orangecones

The Peasant Grill in sleepy Hopewell, New Jersey, is a popular destination for hot drinks, baked confections, and sandwiches. It's usually packed during lunch hour, but it's been relatively empty since October 9th, when a black Mercedes with a woman wearing black sunglasses behind the wheel pulled up and disgorged a man, who went inside and picked up an order of soup. Some days later, the woman's name, her children's names, and the address of her home—a short drive from The Peasant Grill—appeared on posters hung on the public boards throughout downtown Princeton:


HELP PROTECT OUR COMMUNITY FROM:
EBOLA
NBC TODAY SHOW
TV CELEBRITY
NANCY SNYDERMAN

READ MORE

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New York City, October 23, 2014

weather review sky 102314★ For a while, off in the northwestern distance, there was one rumpled gap of brightness behind the gray rain. Then gray covered all. The rain dripped more vigorously down through the grate onto the subway tracks than it had been falling above. Downtown, the rain had wind behind it and was heavy enough to require the umbrella, allowing the discovery that one arm had snapped and gone dangling. The darkness held all day. By the time the rain stopped, it was too cold to duck out onto the fire escape, even with a jacket.

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0

How to Play the Airline Miles Game

I am a 30-year-old woman with an arts degree and some geographic commitment issues, so for much of my adult life, I’ve been in situations where I’ve earned unimpressive amounts of money, but have needed (or wanted) to fly to places semi-regularly. As a result, I’ve become a sort of unabashed, salivating fangirl for airline miles, and something of an expert when it comes to accumulating them. I offer here a primer on how you might join me in this rewarding hobby.

Not to be a scold right off the bat, but this method involves credit cards, so it may not be for everyone. You’ll need to have good credit, and pretty high levels of self-discipline for it to work right. If you’re the type who sees access to credit as an invitation to spend recklessly, I’m sorry, but this is not for you. You know that show on TLC about "Extreme Couponing" that is both inspiring and repulsive and you don’t know whether to pity the couponers or to cheer them on? This advice is going to be kind of like that, but for airline miles, so if you’re squeamish, don't read any further.  READ MORE

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0

Hobbits Take Flight Once Again In The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made

Brought to you by Air New Zealand

In anticipation of the December release of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Air New Zealand takes flight once again with Dwarves, Orcs, and Elves in The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made.

Wrapping off a successful and exciting three-year collaboration with The Hobbit film series, Air New Zealand brings some of the Trilogy’s most beloved cast and crew, such as Elijah Wood (Frodo Baggins), Dean O’Gorman (Fili the Dwarf), Sylvester McCoy (Radagast) and director Sir Peter Jackson, to a number of New Zealand’s Middle-earth locations for this in-flight safety video. Passengers, alongside other creatures from the Trilogy, embark on an epic journey through Middle-earth from their own seat.

The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made follows up the airline’s first Hobbit-inspired safety video, The Unexpected Briefing (2012).

Check out the video to discover how Air New Zealand can help make your journey to Middle-earth one you sure won’t soon forget. Then visit airnewzealand.com for the best offers to get you there.

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0

A Poem by Danniel Schoonebeek

Works and Days

Hesiod insists his name means the shovel.

And this life on my spade

“it will end

in two acts.”
ACT ONE
Before I grow up

& I die a legend to nobody
ACT TWO
I’ll grow up

get poorly

& ghost write

my brother’s life story.

READ MORE

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4

Not Just Any Apple

Golden Russet apples

New York has the best apples in the world. I say this grudgingly, since I am not a native New Yorker and prefer to argue about claims to New York’s superiority rather than accept them. But after four years of living in this ridiculous city, the facts are the facts: Washington may grow many more apples each year; Minnesota may have the best apple laboratories; and apples (well, besides crab-apples) may not even be native to this continent; but in terms of flavor and variety, I’ll hold up New York’s apples against anywhere in the world. That said, you’re probably buying the wrong ones.

I won’t even bother to dismiss the Red Delicious apple, still the most popular variety in the country; Sarah Yager at the Atlantic did a better job with that than I could. Instead I want to encourage New Yorkers, and other people who live in states which I’m sure do other things well but do not grow apples quite as well as New York, to try the ugly apples—the cheap and rough and blemished and unfamiliar apples.

Lately, it is not the red delicious that’s raised my ire, but the Honeycrisp, an apple developed just a few decades ago in labs in Minnesota. The Honeycrisp is an excellent walking-around apple, a hardy variety that lasts for weeks off the tree and boasts a spectacularly crisp texture. Perhaps no other apple boasts the *snap* of a Honeycrisp. But at the farmers market I see customers walk past a dozen other varieties in favor of the Honeycrisp, and this saddens me, for two reasons. First, the Honeycrisp is not especially flavorful; its sweetness and tartness is well balanced, but it lacks the punch-in-the-face apple flavor of other varieties. Second, it’s very expensive; a grower I know in Pennsylvania refers to them as “Moneycrisps” because he can charge two or three times as much for them as for other varieties, though it’s not really any harder to grow.

Now, if I’m in a grocery store and the choices are Red Delicious, Granny Smith, and Honeycrisp, I’d usually opt for the Honeycrisp. But not in New York, in the fall! Not when there are literally hundreds of heirloom varieties out there, crazy apples with flavors of pear and pineapple and spice and with a huge range of colors and textures. Branch out! Try the ones you’ve never heard of!

READ MORE

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0

Dramedy and the Grim Future of Comedy

louie elevator 2In a recent Salon interview, Bob Odenkirk warns aspiring writers to “get out of comedy, because it’s about to collapse.” Sketch comedy, he says, is having its time in the sun now — what with YouTube, Comedy Central’s burgeoning lineup and the legions of theater sketch teams popping up all over—but the market is becoming saturated. What’s next then? He suggests that once the market tires of short sketches, it may turn to more long-form, dramatic material. “I do think that after sketch comes story,” he speculates.

And when you look at the TV landscape, that makes sense. (Plus, Odenkirk’s been ahead of the game for years. Why wouldn’t you listen to him now?) Louie and Girls, two shows that are nominally considered comedies but regularly flirt with drama within their svelte 30-minute timeframes, are setting the tone for many of the new comedies cropping up everywhere. Some of that influence manifests itself in different ways, whether it’s other series copping their surface premise (Maron), their intimate, semi-vérité style (Broad City, Looking) or their personal, insular subject matter (Transparent, Hello Ladies).

But regardless of exactly how each show borrows, the bottom line is that all these series are following Louie and Girls’ lead by digging beneath the obvious elements of comedy to explore the uncomfortable or painful issues that lie beneath any good punchline. In short, they’re acting more like dramas.  So that begs the question: are we entering some new era dominated by that nebulous thing known as the “comedy-drama”? READ MORE

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Checking in with the Ebola Day Traders

A few days ago, there was a sense among the addled death-shorting Twitter community that "Ebola stocks"—by then shorthand for a specific set of companies that mostly make protective equipment—weren't a great investment. Sure, demand for their products must be up, and their prospects for making money must have improved, but their ability to rain down hot cash on fast-clicking maniacs was diminished. Of course the existence of a horrible virus that has killed thousands of people and will kill thousands more is categorically bad news, but that's beside the point. What isn't beside the point, is a better question to ask of our financial markets.

There was now mostly unease and regrouping, after a legendary (among Twitter day traders) run on Ebola stocks following the cases in Texas.

The subject, which days earlier hosted thousands of messages, had been overtaken by spam.

The day traders were either ignoring the stocks or thinking about shorting them. Many apparently did.

But then, mid-afternoon, a tremor.

READ MORE

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2

Screaming Females, "Wishing Well"

A walk-around-with-headphones track that rummages through a drawer of twenty-year-old chord progressions and flourishes and somehow comes up with exactly what it needs.

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0

New York City, October 22, 2014

★ Discouraging rain, dark and soaking. The plastic cover for the stroller had picked up a crust of thick black grime as it rode around unused in the bottom cargo basket. The rain eased off and came back on again. Outside the barbershop, a bent cigarette, dropped half-finished, trailed smoke eastward low over the wet sidewalk. A turn of the chair and it had burned out. It was too cold out on the office fire escape to duck out for a break without a jacket. The rain made sure to come on heavily again for rush hour. Little golden leaves made crumbling jetties or failing dams in the gutters.

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3

Intern Deluxe: The Rise of New Media Fellowships

My first unpaid media internship was in the summer of 2010. Like most college students, previous semesters spent whiffing on applications made landing one feel like a reward, regardless of pay—I’d move to New York and even have the chance to write (mostly) professionally. The “unpaid” part always loomed, but my friends and I made it work through varying levels of cost-cutting and couch-crashing. Besides, we were all believers in that age-old internship axiom: As stressful as working for free was, we’d be getting the experience and exposure needed to compete for real, paid jobs. The problem with “climbing up to minimum wage” as an employment strategy never really crossed our minds.

Unpaid internships, long a due-paying rite of passage for college students, became entrenched as a stopgap solution for employers with spots to fill but without the money to properly fill them.  This was (and is) very bad. In cases where full-time work was carried out under the auspices of internship programs, it was also illegal. And, as the ways that many unpaid internships violated labor laws became common knowledge, former interns began taking their employers to court.  The earliest lawsuits, filed around late 2011, challenged the argument that interns weren’t technically employees and didn’t qualify for protections like minimum wage because they were getting educational or professional benefits by being in the office.  After a federal judge ruled that Fox Searchlight Pictures was illegally using unpaid interns on the movie Black Swan in June 2013—the first major ruling against unpaid internships—a wave of lawsuits followed against media companies like Conde Nast, NBC Universal and Gawker Media. (A similar case against the Hearst Corporation, filed in 2012, is currently under appeal.)

The media industry adapted swiftly: Slate began paying its interns in December 2013; Conde Nast shuttered its intern program entirely; and the Times ended its sub-minimum wage internships in March. But other high-profile employers have turned to a new way to temporarily employ students or recent grads: fellowships.

READ MORE

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0

Ghosts Of My Youth

sp00000kyThe first ghost story I ever heard was from my mother. She described how once, while sleeping in an upstairs bedroom in her sister’s house, she woke to the feeling of twin icicles curling around her ankles. They were hands, but she didn’t see a body, exactly. More like an abstract interpretation of a body, female, crouched at the foot of the bed. It yanked once, hard, and she opened her pink teenaged mouth and screamed, causing it to let go and vanish. The details shift uneasily when she retells this story—sometimes there is a horrible, unseasonal rainstorm beating the roof, sometimes she is 15, or 17. But these two details remain the same: The bed belonged a dead woman and she never went into that portion of the house again.

There's a lot of paranormal activity in my family. Whether it is more than most other families is hard to say, but we seem to have more than most. During holidays and family events, after the adults wander into the kitchen to drink coffee or head off to bed, us cousins gather in some remote part of the house and talk about the things that go bump in the night. These are our heirlooms, a series of signals and omens that help us make sense of each other and our shared family history, which is by turns strange, mysterious and murky. These stories open up a portal to the parts of life that don’t seem to make much sense but as still just as real as the rest of it. Over the years, I've come to realize that sometimes a ghost isn't always a ghost. Sometimes, telling a ghost story is a way to talk about something else present in the air, taking up space beside you. It can also be a manifestation of intuition, or something you’ve known in your bones but haven’t yet been able to accept. But sometimes a ghost is exactly what it is—a seriously fucking scary spirit. READ MORE

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9

We Chased Another Woman Off Twitter, Good Job Everyone

Utah-born writer and model Christine Teigen (also the spouse of John Legend) is leading the way off Twitter because you're all really stupid, possibly illiterate, and have no impulse control. We encourage you to follow her. No not "follow" her on social media. Follow her off social media. Oh yes, her evil crime?

Uh huh? Accurate. Anyway, she gave it a good college try, engaging with enraged loons for as long as possible. This was particularly deft:

But we all know how this story ends: with a stupid "balanced" write-up in a newspaper. Sad times!

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18

Everything Except Rap and Country

There is something that reviewers are not quite saying about Taylor Swift's new album, 1989. It's on the tips of their tongues. Jon Caramanica comes closest:

Modern pop stars — white pop stars, that is — mainly get there by emulating black music. Think of Miley Cyrus, Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber. In the current ecosystem, Katy Perry is probably the pop star least reliant on hip-hop and R&B to make her sound, but her biggest recent hit featured the rapper Juicy J; she’s not immune.

Ms. Swift, though, is having none of that; what she doesn’t do on this album is as important as what she does. There is no production by Diplo or Mike Will Made-It here, no guest verse by Drake or Pitbull. Her idea of pop music harks back to a period — the mid-1980s — when pop was less overtly hybrid. That choice allows her to stake out popular turf without having to keep up with the latest microtrends, and without being accused of cultural appropriation.

That Ms. Swift wants to be left out of those debates was clear in the video for this album’s first single, the spry “Shake It Off,” in which she surrounds herself with all sorts of hip-hop dancers and bumbles all the moves. Later in the video, she surrounds herself with regular folks, and they all shimmy un-self-consciously, not trying to be cool.

See what Ms. Swift did there? The singer most likely to sell the most copies of any album this year has written herself a narrative in which she’s still the outsider. She is the butterfingers in a group of experts, the approachable one in a sea of high post, the small-town girl learning to navigate the big city.

The line on the new album's music is: Less country, more pop. But not just any pop! Maybe…white pop. READ MORE

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