I especially loved this passage about hipsters:
Constantly dodging legibility by authority figures—the media, parents, employers—is the key to authenticity, is the thinking. It’s a bit optimistic about the human capacity to resist social pressures, a bit hypocritical in its inability to acknowledge the strictness of the norms of the subcultures it creates, the fact that those norms shift constantly only making them worse and more authoritarian, not less, as any of several factions of Trotskyite still living might tell you, and it’s a bit pessimistic about the real sources of character and where they lie, even in a highly organized society.
I am reading “Devil in the White City” — a gripping non-fiction book about the creation of the 1893 Columbian Exposition intertwined with the story of the serial killer H.H. Holmes who came up at the same time the fair was being constructed. The book is amazingly well-researched and well written (despite the author’s penchant for monotonous foreshadowing).
The thing I am most amazed by so far is how many symbols and rituals and inventions that we Americans take for granted were created for the fair or by the demands of it.
- The Ferris Wheel was built by engineer George Washington Gale Ferris as a way to out-Eiffel the Eiffel Tower (the symbol of The Paris World’s far).
- The pledge of allegiance was written by school teacher Francis Bellamy as a way for students to celebrate the dedication day by saying the pledge in unison across the country. (Side note: When it was written “under god” was not in it.)
- Carpenter and craftsman Elias Disney worked on the fair and told his son of all the magical buildings and attractions being constructed next to Lake Michigan. His son Walt was no doubt influenced.
- Chicago allegedly earned the nickname “the Windy City” from a New York writer mocking the city’s boasts that it was best equipped to handle the world’s fair when it was still competing with Washington and New York for the honor.
- Milton Hershey bought a European exhibitor’s chocolate-making equipment to add chocolate to his caramel manufacturing business.
- Because the creation of the fair was under impossible timelines, Francis Davis Millet, the painter hired to make the “White City” actually white, invented spray painting.
- The fair honored Columbus and prompted then-President Harrison to create the October 12th holiday.
Amongst the attendees were Woodrow Wilson, Clarence Darrow, Teddy Roosevelt, Houdini, Nikola Tesla, Susan B. Anthony, L. Frank Baum, and Thomas Edison. In the book’s most touching moment a young Helen Keller meets the man who invented the brail typewriter and the brail book press.
It goes on and on. (The fair also impacted the future of electricity by choosing alternating current to light the hundreds of buildings involved over the new-fangled direct current being pushed by Thomas Edison and General Electric.) Considering its impact on this country I feel ashamed it took me this long to discover the history of The Chicago World’s Fair.
You may not be able to work at home, but Yahoo! is showing real respect for new parents who are committed to both career and family.
“Under the new policy, mothers can take 16 weeks of paid leave with benefits, and fathers can take up to eight weeks, each time they have a new child via childbirth. Both parents receive eight weeks of paid leave for new children via adoption, foster child placement or surrogacy.”
Throw in the “$500 to spend on such things as house cleaning, groceries and and babysitters, plus Yahoo-branded baby gifts” and you’ve got yourself one of the best maternity/paternity packages out there.
(h/t Rachel Sklar)
I can’t do it. I can’t read a book on a damn Kindle. I don’t get excited when I feel the pages on the left start to outweigh the pages on the right. I don’t start to miss the book when I get to the last chapter. I don’t get a thrill from feeling that I’m alone in the world with this book and no one else can come between us because we have a secret I’m uncovering. I don’t notice the font and spacing and paper quality cause there is no paper and the rest all the damn same…I’m going to become a hoarder, aren’t I…
Covers of Virginia Woolf’s books, designed by her sister, Vanessa Bell. From little augury: Virginia’s flock.
David Carr asked me, Melena Ryzik, Ben Smith, Clay Shirky, Brian Stelter, Jenna Wortham, Nick Bilton, Anthony De Rosa and Xeni Jardin to tell media nerd jokes for a presentation he was doing at SXSW. This is the result!
Headquarters of Benito Mussolini and the Italian Fascist Party (1934) (via Historical Photographs - Imgur)
For me the low point of this never-ending night wasn’t one of Seth MacFarlane’s inane sexist/racist jokes. Or the fact that Nora Ephron was given almost no recognition for all she gave Hollywood, but “Searching for Sugar Man” winning for best documentary.
I enjoyed the film. It was nice and small: They searched for “Sugar Man,” they found him. It had a great soundtrack and some pretty drawings. It was a half-hour too long and lost its thread about a third of the way through but it was sweet.
My problem is that giving it an Academy Award is a pathetic act of cowardice by Hollywood’s elite. “The Invisible War,” “Five Broken Cameras,” and “The Gatekeepers” were better in every way, by any metric. They were braver, more intense, had better editors, and, in the case of “Invisible War,” have actually changed public policy.
It’s hard to get yourself heard as a filmmaker, especially as a documentarian, and “The Invisible War”—a doc about sexual assault in the military—miraculously made it into the hands of Leon Panetta who took the choice of whether or not to prosecute rapes away from the chain of command as a result of seeing it. It’s a start but it’s not enough. Had this film won it could’ve done real good in this country, could’ve raised awareness in unprecedented ways and the fact that these better films were overlooked for being too political or threatening or whatever is disgusting and antithetical to the “art” people keep talking about in their acceptance speeches.
This is all to say, we’ll have to work harder to make sure the better films, the more challenging films get seen because rape and war are just slightly more important than folk singers.
Friend who went to Yale: We’ve got a college reunion! But if we did not have that I would totally go.
Me: Is this your five year reunion?
Friend: No, it’s out of the blue.
Me: Oh, so it’s not an official reunion.
Friend: No, it is. It’s the reunion of our acapella group “Out of the Blue.”
Friend: …we’re going to drink alcoholic punches out of rowing trophies.
There should be a word for the cuteness that comes when baby animals have a football-esque pile up.
Photo Credit: Henry Doorly Zoo (via ZooBorns)
Les Mean Girls!