Monthly Archives: February 2015

Link Party: 2/23-2/27

The rainbows on Tuesday afternoon were incredible.

The rainbows on Tuesday afternoon were incredible.

I had a great week, and I hope you did too. Here’s what I read:

1. This chat between two editors, who had never met before but tried to get the other to feel the most profound sense of dread and panic from reading an email,  is one of the funniest things I’ve read in a long time.

2. Medium article #2: A fascinating look at how a media studies professor’s 5-year-old son uses Twitter.

3. Carrie Brownstein on style, Portland v. New York.

4. How the New York Times has described Buzzfeed over the years.

5. A very interesting article about Venmo and its lack of privacy. (The woman who wrote this article also has a fantastic daily newsletter.)

And a bonus: A documentary about J.D. Salinger that blew my mind. A lot of critics didn’t like it, but I think it’s definitely worth a watch. (Bonus story to the bonus: I woke up at 3 a.m. on Wednesday morning, couldn’t go back to sleep and watched it before getting up for for school. I felt horrible at about 5 p.m., but it was worth it.)

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Think Tank: The Dress

For the record, I see either color scheme depending on the angle and the overall lightness. Granted, my glasses have a very light prescription.

I had totally planned to write something else for today’s Think Tank, but Adrian told me that I needed to write about The Dress so here I am.

If you haven’t seen or heard about The Dress yet, it’s this photo of a dress that’s been circulating the Internet today. The original poster asked her followers on Tumblr to help decide on what colors the dress is: white and gold, or blue and black. Some people see one color scheme, while others see the other (It switches back and forth for me.) Basically, the Internet, especially Tumblr and Twitter, has blown up because of this stupid dress. My own father suggested that when I said I saw blue and black, I was messing with him because it was definitely white and gold, and that anyone saying otherwise was just in on a huge joke.

It turns out that your overall eye health and the light in the photo dictates the colors you see, but it is fascinating to me that the collective Internet has lost basically an entire day debating on whether or not this dress is white and gold or blue and black. Taylor Swift even tweeted about it. I wasn’t on the computer for most of the afternoon, and by the time I found out about it people had already made new memes out of it and were claiming that it was the Illuminati’s master plan. It seemed as if anyone and everyone, especially celebrities, had already decided what camp they were in. People I would never have thought would have gotten in on the debate, like Julia Louis-Dreyfus, even made comments. Something so trivial on the grand scale of things got so many people involved so quickly.

This isn’t to say that this doesn’t happen with really important things either: #BlackLivesMatter and #JeSuisCharlie are testaments to that, and gave very important things the exposure they needed. But the furor surrounding The Dress could not have possibly happened 10, 20, 30 years ago, which says something significant about how we spread this kind of information, talk about it and deem things as important.

The FCC made a very important decision concerning net neutrality today, and I have seen nearly nothing about it in comparison to the discussion surrounding The Dress. My parents and grandparents, who definitely subscribed to the newspaper a decade ago (In fact, I think my grandparents still do [go print!]), probably would have thought something like this showing up on the front page of the Los Angeles Times (which is effectively what social media is these days) meant that it was an incredibly slow news day, or that it maybe was a joke that the editors were playing. Something like this simply wouldn’t have been considered newsworthy. There simply wasn’t the physical space for it. My feelings on print media are an entirely different discussion and blog post for another day, but I feel very strongly that print is one of the best measures of quality control.

But because there are no physical boundaries to the Internet, this kind of story can proliferate endlessly and become immortalized. It’ll probably be brought up again sometime in some corner of the Internet. But it is mind-boggling to me that my future children may be able to find a whole archive of information on this meme when in this day and age, New Yorker articles still need a subscription to be accessed. I don’t possess the power of being able to foresee what the Internet’s future purpose will be or what it will look like, but I’m nearly positive that this will end up somewhere. Keeping it 100, I’m unsettled by that. Something like this confirms that there is truly no quality control to the Internet, despite any effort.

But because people have the forum to share the image and proliferate the content, it’s become a big deal. This is expressly why I don’t like content aggregators like Buzzfeed or Huffington Post. More people spend time taking quizzes about which Disney character they are or browsing slideshows of celebrity lookalikes than they do reading about things that have much more power to affect them. Even the outlets that make fun of all of that in a wickedly smart way, like The Onion or Clickhole, have to feed off of these kinds of things in order to have meaningful content.

Despite what color scheme you think it is, quite frankly there is a bigger world out there with more important issues. For being such a wealth of information, the Internet allows for you to select what you want to see and lets things to slip through the cracks, and while I can appreciate the jokes, laughter and camaraderie The Dress has spawned, I can’t help but feel a little sad for our society. I 100 percent understand that videos of animals doing funny things, listicles and debate about what color scheme The Dress is are all great distractions. They are basically the junk food of news, and we all need a few pieces of candy to balance out the fiber. And I’m not setting myself on a pedestal either — I’ve been known to link to the greatest Buzzfeed article of all time.  But I really do think that the buzz surrounding this phenomenon is an indication of how much our culture has changed in such a short amount of time.

It’s startlingly easy to share the image with a friend, reblog it on Tumblr or see who in the world is talking about it. These viral posts are a constant reminder that our world is nearly instantaneous and is always working towards it, and it will probably take me my entire life to figure out whether or not that’s a good thing. Right now, I think if there’s anything The Dress can really teach us, it’s that out of the chaos we should probably start to reevaluate our sense of importance.

What do you think? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

 

 

 

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Gold Star for the Internet: Everlane

I’m really obsessed with this shirt. It grazes my hip bones ever so slightly, but it’s comfortable, the right cut and thick enough to wear without a tank top. 10/10 is recommending.

Now that you guys know all about my aversion to shopping in a store, I’ll tell you about my new favorite (online) retailer: Everlane.

Everlane’s claim to fame — which all started with one t-shirt, by the way — is that there’s no middleman between it and the customer. The price you pay for something in the store is marked up so high because there are usually a few people in between the manufacturer and the consumer. Everlane challenges that business model. Also, there’s a tab on the website that shows you exactly where in the world your product was made and who works at that factory — something most companies don’t publicize. Pretty cool, huh?

Plus, the quality is incredible for how low the prices are. This t-shirt only cost $15. It is exactly what I wanted and had been looking for, and I don’t think I would have been able to find it in a department store, fast fashion spot or boutique. Everlane sells all kinds of stuff that ranges in price, from silk blouses to weekend bags to swim trunks to stationery. I have a striped shirt also on the way, and know some other people who have made purchases. So far, in both print and in person, I have yet to see or hear anyone have anything negative to say about Everlane.

What a perfect package to come home to after a long day at school.

What a perfect little package to come home to after a long day at school.

Obviously, you could get clothing from somewhere else for much cheaper. But I feel socially, ecologically and economically more responsible buying from a company like this. Their aim is earnest, and I know that what I’m going to get is high quality and chic. And for that, I’m giving Everlane a huge gold star.

Do you know of any other companies like Everlane? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

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Undergrad Adventures: Anthropology via the Internet

 

Anthropologists also have wicked humor, as exhibited in both this comic and the photos that they put in the textbook.

Anthropologists also have wicked humor, as exhibited in both this comic and the photos that they put in the textbook.

I’m one of those senior students who waited until her last year to finish her last lower division general education class, so here I am in ANT 112: Anthropology via the Internet. The name is kind of misleading, because I originally thought that it was going to be looking at the Internet through an anthropological lens, which I thought sounded like a pretty damn rad class. I quickly found out that it was an Introduction to Anthropology class hosted online through Blackboard, but it’s still been eyeopening.

There are a lot of different kinds of anthropology. 

Going into this class, I didn’t really know much about anthropology. Anthropology is a pretty broad term, but I’ve enjoyed learning about different kinds of anthropology: biological, archaeology, linguistic, cultural and applied. I was already interested in linguistic anthropology, since I’ve learned about it in a few of my English classes. Much like other academic fields, there’s a huge variety of research and specialties. I’ve come to admire the people who go to remote places around the world, assimilate into and observe different cultures and write about them– you basically devote your life to your research. There are even people who are doing archaeology by doing research on the trash islands in the ocean. Anthropology is a field that I think a lot of people discount as a real career, but it’s really important cultural work that we should value more.

You realize just how limited your own perspective is. 

My textbook references a lot of small tribes, ethnic groups and nations I had never heard of before this class, so it’s been a great lesson in cultural awareness. I didn’t realize just how America-centric history and geography classes are until I started reading the textbook. It’s so easy to be entrenched in everyday life and concerned about getting a good job, going to school or even having the latest and greatest technology. In an anthropology class, you realize that there are still people in the world who don’t know what the Internet is or have never drank a can of Coke. They are part of cultures that are incredibly tight-knit and traditional, and I’m a little sad that I’m only learning about some of them just now. For example, there was a sidebar in the textbook about the Kwakwaka’wakw, an indigenous group of people in British Columbia, that have a long and storied history of potlatching (which is not the same as potlucking) that was banned for a long time. Now I know all about a facet of a really incredible culture.

Getting a chance to reread something is actually kinda cool.

For my term project, I’m writing a paper on Elie Wiesel’s Night (For those who haven’t read it, it’s a firsthand account of the Holocaust [That’s actually simplifying it unjustly, so go read it].) I don’t usually reread books, and the last time I read Night was in 10th grade. I still have the photocopied packet my teacher gave me, and reread some of the notes and highlights I had made.

1. I don’t understand why I highlighted what I highlighted. (This is the 20/20 vision of an English major that I experience semi-frequently, but I digress.)

and 2. It is a much more powerful read for me at 21 years old than it was at 15.

This time around, I have to look at the text from an anthropological perspective. Not only is the book historically important because it details the Holocaust, but it’s anthropologically significant too on the religious, spiritual and political levels.

But multiple choice quizzes are not the business. 

My least favorite part of this class has been the 20-question timed multiple choice quizzes I have to take once a week. Because it’s online and you have access to the book, the questions are ultra-specific. Plus, I have a raging case of senioritis that I’m currently battling, so the thought of taking a multiple choice quiz makes me want to go lie down for a thousand years. But I’m going to finish this class strong, and end it with a new wealth of information.

Have you taken an anthropology class? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

 

 

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Link Party: 2/16-2/20

I was on my way home Wednesday night, and out in front of the historical society's museum was this beautiful blooming tree. I had to pull over and take a photo.

I was on my way home Wednesday night, and out in front of the historical society’s museum was this beautiful blooming tree. I had to pull over and take a photo.

This week was not a good one for me, creatively or academically. But I’m bouncing back, and will have more posts next week. But here’s what I  was able to read:

1. I like to think that this profile of The New Yorker query proofreader Mary Norris is a projection of my future.

2. Ruth Bader Ginsburg continues to be awesome.

3. Pitchfork‘s review of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. (I’m partial to “Energy,” “10 Bands” and “6 God.”)

4. The current Starbucks menu ranked. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be funny but I find it hysterical.

5. The discourse of FYI emails.

And a bonus: Practice your hip hop sampling with this awesome keyboard.

Have a great weekend!

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Link Party: 2/9-2/13

I found this card in a book that used to belong to a professor or her husband. I will cherish it forever.

I found this card in a book that used to belong to a professor or her husband. I will cherish it forever.

Here’s what I read this week:

1. The only Kanye West-Beck-Grammys article that I actually agreed with. My favorite sentence: “Kanye’s confidence and self-worth is Tibetan monk-level solid and it will not be brought down because you are trying to throw mud balls at a blimp.”

2. Stephen Marche on rereading Hamlet and The Inimitable Jeeves 100 times.

3. Scientists have discovered traces of air pollution in Inca, Peru almost 500 years ago.

4. One beautiful soul went through 50,000 Wikipedia articles to fix a grammar error that most people don’t even think is an error.

5. The cultural evolution of the candy heart.

And a bonus: 420-character stories.

Have a great weekend!

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Culture Connoisseur: Whiplash

Man, this movie.

 

I’m dreadfully behind on newer television (I really need to get it together for Better Call Saul and Broad City), but I saw a fantastic movie I’ve been thinking about all week: Whiplash.

Whiplash has been getting a lot of awards buzz lately, and it’s well-deserved. The semi-autobiographical movie is about a young music student, played by Miles Teller (hearts-for-eyes emoji), who wants to be one of the best jazz drummers of all time. At the He’s given the chance to play in a very prestigious jazz ensemble at a fictional music conservatory. Very quickly, however, the audience finds out that the conductor, played by J.K. Simmons, is a complete and utter sociopath.

I won’t spoil the rest of the movie, since I didn’t know that much about Whiplash beyond the premise. The cinematography is beautiful and the soundtrack is fantastic. I’m not exactly impressed with the all-white list of Oscar nominees this year either, but J.K. Simmons definitely deserves some kind of recognition for his performance.

What really sealed my high opinion of this movie, though, was how artfully it translated to the audience how Miles Teller’s character was supposed to be feeling without succumbing to overly dramatic music or carefully framed camerawork. While watching it, I felt anxious and strung-out, which I presume is how the audience is supposed to think a first-year music student would feel trying to make it in a very competitive industry. The entire time (especially the ending) I was on the edge of my seat. And moreover, I almost always Google the plot of a movie before I watched it. I didn’t with Whiplash, nor did I feel compelled to look mid-movie. I was that enthralled from the very beginning.

I know that some of my favorite publications have criticized Whiplash for getting jazz wrong, but I don’t really think that’s the point of the film. The music is certainly a big part of the movie, but I think Whiplash is supposed to be a study in how far a person can be pushed, and how much that person can possibly want something — regardless of who or what prohibits you from getting it. For that exploration, Whiplash has earned a spot on my list of favorite films. 

See any good movies lately? Let’s talk about in the comments.

 

 

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