Thursday, December 11, 2014

New York vs. Los Angeles: Just the Dogs

As the two American population and media centers on opposing coasts, New York City and Los Angeles are prone to endless imperfect comparison. New York has delicious, abundant water, which may or may not make its bagels and pizza so far superior to L.A.’s; in Los Angeles, it is currently in the mid-60s, and will stay that way for the remainder of winter. Now, thanks to the datasets compiled by local radio stations WNYC and KCRW, it is possible to make measure of New York and Los Angeles using a common household pet, the canis lupus familiaris.

First, a note regarding data: The WNYC dog dataset includes 81,542 individuals, pulled from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s dog licensing program list from 2012. Approximately four out of five dogs in New York are unlicensed. The KCRW L.A. dog data offers a similarly incomplete but best-available picture. Pulled from 23 different county and city agencies, as well as the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority, it includes 416,338 individuals. Like New York, many dogs in L.A. are unlicensed, and therefore not included—pit bulls in particular are prone to under-licensing, miscategorization, or misidentification (often willful; people are scared of the very name). Some cities or agencies within L.A. did not respond to requests for data; others limited data due to privacy concerns.1 Both the WNYC and KCRW datasets are similar structured—the KCRW dog project was inspired by WNYC’s—with individuals grouped by name, breed, and zip-code. Other attributes, including sex and coloration, were included but largely ignored in each of the radio stations’ final reports.

How best to parse this data? Our statistical analysis (chi-square for breed and dog names; logistical regression for gender) can be found below. The radio stations arranged individual specimens of canis lupus familiaris by name, breed, and zip code, then displayed the results over maps of the city, so that one is quickly able to ascertain the most prevalent, hyper-regionalized dog specimens. For example, in Malibu, Santa Monica, and Venice Beach, Labrador retrievers2 named Lucy predominate. The same is true on the entire Upper West Side of Manhattan. In fact, the Labrador-heavy neighborhoods in both cities (for the most part particularly affluent—with median household income well-above $85,000/year—and majority caucasian) nearly all favor the name Lucy.3 The similarities do not end there. In both L.A. and NYC, Max4 is the most popular dog name, and Bella5 is the second most popular. But this is not an article about the similarity. No, it is about the difference in New York and Los Angeles canids, and what those differences might tell us about the cities, and their respective cultures and residents. Once the focus shifts, two archetypes emerge. READ MORE


Your Favorite Shonda Rhimes Moment

Earlier this week, Shonda Rhimes received The Hollywood Reporter Sherry Lansing Award, given to her for "in recognition of my breaking through the industry’s glass ceiling as a woman and an African-American." Here's part of her speech, published on Medium:

How many women had to hit that glass before the first crack appeared? How many cuts did they get, how many bruises? How hard did they have to hit the ceiling? How many women had to hit that glass to ripple it, to send out a thousand hairline fractures? How many women had to hit that glass before the pressure of their effort caused it to evolve from a thick pane of glass into just a thin sheet of splintered ice?

So that when it was my turn to run, it didn’t even look like a ceiling anymore. I mean, the wind was already whistling through — I could always feel it on my face. And there were all these holes giving me a perfect view to other side. I didn’t even notice the gravity, I think it had worn itself away. So I didn’t have to fight as hard, I had time to study the cracks. I had time to decide where the air felt the rarest, where the wind was the coolest, where the view was the most soaring. I picked my spot in the glass and called it my target. And I ran. And when I hit finally that ceiling, it just exploded into dust.

Like that.
My sisters who went before me had already handled it.

A couple of weeks ago, I was working a red carpet event for a freelance job and one of the questions I had to ask was "What's your favorite Shonda Rhimes moment?" The answer, from now on, is this one.


How to Sing With Dead People: Barry Manilow's My Dream Duets

Something strange happened when I searched for Whitney Houston on Spotify last month. Instead of an image depicting a goddess who made origami swans of the word “actually” in her sleep, who would be my baby tonight and every night until the end of recorded time, a turtle-like figure hunched in the corner of the screen, its neck craned skyward below the words “latest release.” Accompanying this distinct Not-The-Face-Of-My-Black-Empress were six more words: “I Believe in You and Me.”

My heart sank. “What treachery is this?” tingled strategically distributed black outrage sensors, each in the shape of Phylicia Rashād. Dare I click? I stepped quietly away from my work desk and into the Potential Rage room on my office floor. I took a deep breath.

There it was: Barry Manilow’s “I Believe in You and Me.” Was this a cover? No. It was a “dream duet” from his new album My Dream Duets, or How to Sing With Dead People. These were formerly songs of, by today’s standards, questionable audio fidelity, whose vocal tracks Manilow’s engineers had isolated, then zoomed in and enhanced. This allowed Manilow to then rearrange and retouch beloved tunes otherwise foreign to multitrack recording.

Contrary to the assertions of some, one can’t sing a live duet with a decidedly dead performer. At best you can sing a simultaneously alive-and-dead duet, hereby known as the Schrödinger's Cat Collabo. READ MORE


Clarice Lispector: "It Changes Nothing"

Clarice Lispector gave exactly one television interview in her entire life and—unsurprisingly—it is 22 minutes and 49 seconds of perfect. Apparently, the director of TV Cultura in São Paulo had gathered all his courage and simply asked her to appear, and she said yes.

The Paris Review posted the complete video here yesterday, saying:

Lispector is restless, and charmingly curt, throughout the interview—it seems as if she really, really doesn’t want to be there. Even under duress, though, she gives stronger, more meaningful answers than many writers give at their most accessible. “I write without the hope that what I write can change anything at all. It changes nothing…Because at the end of the day we’re not trying to change things. We’re trying to open up somehow.”

My personal favorite answer comes early in the interview when she's asked what adolescent Clarice was like. Her response: "Chaotic. Intense. Entirely outside the reality of life." Same, tbh.


Cashew-Raspberry Second Breakfast Cake


There are many things I love about Tina Fey and her 30 Rock alter ego Liz Lemon, but one thing stands out: I love her love of food. I mean, I’m a long time fan of food. I come from a family that regularly talks about one meal while eating a totally different meal. Often I’ll read recipes (with their “line breaks like poetry”) that I never plan to make, or read reviews of restaurants that I never plan to go to, or just daydream about food. And like Tina Fey (it is my new goal in life to casually start as many sentences as possible with “like Tina Fey…”), I try my best to eat two breakfasts a day.



Ask Baba Yaga: How Do I Get Rid Of A Demanding Work Ethic?

work ethic baba
Transcript after the jump. READ MORE

The Economics of Dating, OKCupid Edition

beyoncesingleladiesWhen I started dating again this fall, I thought it might be a little like Downton Abbey, in that I'd be Lady Mary and I'd have multiple eligible bachelors competing for my attentions.

I mean, I knew it wouldn't really be like that; I've dipped my toe into online dating before, and I am well aware of that When Harry Met Sally scene where Carrie Fisher says "tell me I'll never have to be out there again," because my goodness out there is awful, but! I am charming and successful and dad-gum delightful, and I live in a city that has more eligible men than women, thanks to the tech industry.

In fact, the Pew Research Center lists Seattle as the fifth best city for women to find marriageable men. (The fact that they phrase it that way, as if all the single ladies were on a mission to find! marriageable! men! hints at the larger cultural issues in play here.)

So there is no reason why I shouldn't have multiple eligible bachelors eating out of my hand. I carry snacks in my purse, after all.

I tried Tinder first, 100% because of the "you can't message each other until both of you opt in" feature. Swiped through everyone in about two weeks, and every week or so I swipe through the handful of people who just joined. There's nothing quite like looking at the screen that reads "there is no one new around you" and interpreting it as "sorry, we tried everyone we had, guess you will never find love."

So then I signed up for OKCupid.



"Rebounding," Internet Dating, and Oppressive Monogamous Conditioning

chicksI’m a queer man who’s just come out on the other side of a 5-year relationship (and being in my early 20's, that is a major chunk of my life) with a wonderful man whom I still very much care about, but it was time to move on and make choices for myself and be alone for a bit. We only officially broke up in the past week and a half, but I had been thinking about it and dealing with the possibility of the break up for a while longer than that time.

At the very end of our relationship I had a run in with an old potential love from back in the day (before I had even met my now-ex) and talked over why we had never been a thing in the past. Well, the breakup came and went and I have now been chatting/starting to see this new old potential future love, and really think it could go somewhere.

Aside from the fact that this new guy is beyond fantastic and a potentially-maybe-long-term thing, I have found myself feeling extreme guilt lingering from the recent breakup (while also dealing with moving out and trying to start again for myself) and trying to not let this be a quick rebound pick-me-up from the very long and committed relationship I have just ended.

How do I make sure that I am not putting this guilt onto my new friend and making him a rebound, while also not blaming myself for being ready to move on even though it is so soon after the recent break up?

If you were preparing yourself for the breakup for a long time, you might feel like you’ve worked through your feelings and are ready to jump back in the pool (is romance really that similar to a pool, though? Maybe it’s more like you’re ready to jump back in the raging whitewater river full of sharks and emotionally unavailable piranhas. You’re gonna have so much fun!). But the lasting effects of ending a relationship can be unpredictable and reverberate longer than you expect them to, so it’s good that you’re being cautious about moving on to the next person.



"Pre-Fall Is Happening. Did You Notice?"

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 9.21.24 AM
No. You didn't. I mean, I don't know, maybe you did, maybe you are like me circa 2011: consumed by slideshows, desperately seeking images of the most recent runway shows, but in my experience a few years of actually working in fashion will wrench that impulse right out of you.

Vanessa Friedman writes that most consumers "could be forgiven for failing to notice" pre-fall had even started, a sentiment I generously agree with, but that maybe it's not for the reasons we would hope (sanity, common decency). She explains:

Well, though some over-worked fashion people (mea culpa) saw this as a potentially positive sign that, perhaps, the relentless drive toward more-shows-all-the-time was slowing, a boon to designers and consumers, the houses have a slightly more prosaic explanation: it’s timing.

Pre-spring falls in June, a slow(er) time for most brands than December, when they not only have holiday sales/events/vacation to contend with, but also men’s wear, which shows in January, women’s wear (February), and, perhaps, couture (January). This is one of the reasons it is a split season, with half the presentations taking place now, and half in early January — when awards season, a fashion season by another name, likewise picks up steam.

Pre-fall is typically a great season—I am particularly into these casually draped furs at Creatures of the Wind—but the pace of ready-to-wear fashion alone is increasing so rapidly that my default response is to take a nap.

Once, when I was still working for a fashion buyer, I came across a catalogue for "High Summer" and just slammed the entire folder shut. Stop trying to make these fake seasons a thing. Pre-Fall is not a thing. High Summer is not a thing. Actually, let's just stop buying clothes entirely!! Jk let's go visit the Drake store.


A Woman Composed Of Borderlands: An Interview With Daisy Hernández

daisyhernandez-Jorge Rivas
The conundrum of the immigrant child—at one point summarized by a friend of Daisy Hernández as failing one’s parents by becoming too much like them and on the other hand failing them by becoming too different from them—is rendered discursively yet accessibly in her memoir, A Cup of Water Under My Bed. Hernández looks back on her childhood growing up in an immigrant Latino family, where the expectation was that she would uphold the traditions and values of her Cuban/Colombian parents, while assimilating and thriving in the straight, white, middle-class culture that surrounded her. She reflects on her struggle to make sense of the competing expectations of her family, her community, and her own personal desires while navigating her queer identity and her professional drive to be a writer.

A Cup of Water describes her complicated relationship with the New York Times during her internship there. The harmful attitude of neo-liberal ignorance she endured from her mostly white, male colleagues as a woman of color is all too relevant to us now; it's a story about a woman's attempt to act without compromising.

This penetrating memoir by Daisy Hernández was a relief to read. Like bell hooks, Hernández shows us a feminism that is lived as much as it is theorized. It is not feminist politics we see, but a Latin American woman’s life held up as a clear organizing principle for feminism. Because, of course, we are as contradictory and complicit as we are revolutionary.

Hernández is the co-editor of Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism and former executive editor of ColorLines magazine. She is also a sought-after speaker on issues of feminism, race, and media justice. Her activism and writing are inextricable. She is a woman composed of borderlands. From this in-between space she draws her power, encouraging women like myself to see intersections less as sites of conflict and more as a meeting points for crucial subaltern experiences that, when combined, are a multi-pronged assault on oppression.



Ada Lovelace, Genius

I have a peculiar way of learning, and I think it must be a peculiar man to teach me successfully… Do not reckon me conceited… but I believe I have the power of going just as far as I like in such pursuits, and where there is so decided a taste, I should almost say a passion, as I have for them, I question if there is not always some portion of natural genius even.

This is part of a letter that Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, sent to Charles Babbage, requesting him to be her mentor. Walter Isaacson, author of The Innovators, a collection of mini-biographies, included this in Lovelace's section, commenting: “Whether due to her opiates or her breeding or both... she developed a somewhat outsize opinion of her own talents and began to describe herself as a genius.”

OK, but shouldn't we insist that the person who designed the foundations of modern-day computer programming— back in 1843—actually is a genius? Lovelace "envisioned a general-purpose machine capable not only of performing preprogrammed tasks but also of being reprogrammed to execute a practically unlimited range of operations," and began the conversation of technological sentience we're still having nearly 200 years later (see: Her, sex robots, Bender from Futurama). Let's give her some more credit: Ada Lovelace was a genius. Happy birthday to her.

[via Brain Pickings.]


"'We need to stop waiting for permission to write."

The voice is your head that’s asking how dare you is the voice produced by an environment that’s going to be challenged by your daring. The risk of undervaluing what you have to offer, especially for women of color, is so much greater than the risk of overvaluing it. Your contribution may not be grand, but its absence is going to be deeply felt and be part of a much greater void in our culture and history.

What I’d recommend next is to find your women. Seek out and support, at all costs, women of color and put their testimony above all else. We have to go out of our way to support and value each other. Love is practice; you don’t gain expertise by never enacting it. Whether that’s liking a friend’s selfie, not withholding a compliment from another woman, or publicly supporting a woman who is being publicly piled on to. That just barely approaches equalising what we’re up against.

*one hundred million queen emojis*


First Date Mad Libs


Hallie Bateman is a freelance illustrator in Brooklyn and her twitter is @hallithbates.

How to Die Slowly in America

bedAs America enters its second season of Obamacare enrollment, a poll released Monday confirms that for the first time, a majority of Americans want the Affordable Care Act fixed, rather than repealed, owing to its visible successes. Unquestionably, the law can be improved. Among the many harms caused by opponents of the Affordable Care Act, one of the worst can be traced back to the efforts of Sarah Palin, who launched the phrase “death panel” into the public consciousness in an August 2009 Facebook post:

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care.

Palin was referring, however nonsensically, to a provision of the ACA that would have reimbursed doctors for discussing (discussing!) end-of-life care with Medicare patients and their families: things like palliative care, hospice care and when to suspend treatment in case of a mortal illness. Families don't receive this kind of counseling as a matter of course, and they should, for so many reasons—we spend too much money trying to rescue bodies that are too far gone to save; it's cruel to make families endure the end of hope and the end of life in the same moment; too many people's last moments are tortured, not peaceful. But Palin’s lies—that is what they were—created such a firestorm that those provisions were withdrawn from the final law. So now, an area of medicine that remains woefully inadequate for many Americans will remain so, even in the face of an opportunity to develop and expand it. READ MORE


André 3000 Discusses OutKast Tour Jumpsuits

...and it's great.

via Pitchfork.