black holes and gray matter. in one thousand tangos.

             
“DURING his run for mayor, Bill de Blasio pledged to eradicate the Central Park horse-drawn carriage business. He called the industry inhumane, and proposed to replace the retired horses with electric-powered replicas of vintage cabs. Since taking office, he has not agreed to meet with the operators or hear their views. …
The majority of New Yorkers, however, do not agree with him. The latest Quinnipiac poll shows that 64 percent of New Yorkers polled support the horse carriages.
I have been a New York City resident for over 20 years, and have enjoyed Central Park for as long. … I can appreciate a happy and well-cared-for horse when I see one. It has been my experience, always, that horses, much like humans, are at their happiest and healthiest when working. Horses have been pulling from the beginning of time. It is what they have been bred to do.
Horses and their caretakers work together to earn a decent livelihood in New York, as they have for hundreds of years. New York’s horse-carriage trade is a humane industry that is well regulated by New York City’s Departments of Health and Mental Hygiene and Consumer Affairs. Harry W. Werner, a past president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, has visited the stables and “found no evidence whatsoever of inhumane conditions, neglect or cruelty in any aspect.”
Every horse must be licensed and pass a physical examination by a veterinarian twice a year; typically, the horses spend about six hours per day in the park. They cannot work in excessive cold or heat, and must also be furloughed for five weeks a year on a pasture in the country.
New York’s horse carriages have made an estimated six million trips in traffic over the last 30 years. In that time, just four horses have been killed as a result of collisions with motor vehicles, with no human fatalities. In contrast to the terrible toll of traffic accidents generally on New Yorkers, the carriage industry has a remarkable safety record.
A majority of carriage drivers and stable hands are recent immigrants, often raised on farms in their home countries. They love their jobs and their horses, and they take pride in being ambassadors for this great city. I can’t help but see the proposed ban as a class issue: Their livelihoods are now at risk because the animal-rights opponents of the industry are well funded by real-estate interests, which has led to speculation that this powerful lobby wishes to develop the West Side properties occupied by the stables.
As a result, an entire way of life and a historic industry are under threat. We should ask whether this is the New York we want to live in: a sanitized metropolis, where local color and grit are thrown out in favor of sleek futuristic buildings and careening self-driving cars?”
Liam Neeson | NYT

DURING his run for mayor, Bill de Blasio pledged to eradicate the Central Park horse-drawn carriage business. He called the industry inhumane, and proposed to replace the retired horses with electric-powered replicas of vintage cabs. Since taking office, he has not agreed to meet with the operators or hear their views. …

The majority of New Yorkers, however, do not agree with him. The latest Quinnipiac poll shows that 64 percent of New Yorkers polled support the horse carriages.

I have been a New York City resident for over 20 years, and have enjoyed Central Park for as long. … I can appreciate a happy and well-cared-for horse when I see one. It has been my experience, always, that horses, much like humans, are at their happiest and healthiest when working. Horses have been pulling from the beginning of time. It is what they have been bred to do.

Horses and their caretakers work together to earn a decent livelihood in New York, as they have for hundreds of years. New York’s horse-carriage trade is a humane industry that is well regulated by New York City’s Departments of Health and Mental Hygiene and Consumer Affairs. Harry W. Werner, a past president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, has visited the stables and “found no evidence whatsoever of inhumane conditions, neglect or cruelty in any aspect.”

Every horse must be licensed and pass a physical examination by a veterinarian twice a year; typically, the horses spend about six hours per day in the park. They cannot work in excessive cold or heat, and must also be furloughed for five weeks a year on a pasture in the country.

New York’s horse carriages have made an estimated six million trips in traffic over the last 30 years. In that time, just four horses have been killed as a result of collisions with motor vehicles, with no human fatalities. In contrast to the terrible toll of traffic accidents generally on New Yorkers, the carriage industry has a remarkable safety record.

A majority of carriage drivers and stable hands are recent immigrants, often raised on farms in their home countries. They love their jobs and their horses, and they take pride in being ambassadors for this great city. I can’t help but see the proposed ban as a class issue: Their livelihoods are now at risk because the animal-rights opponents of the industry are well funded by real-estate interests, which has led to speculation that this powerful lobby wishes to develop the West Side properties occupied by the stables.

As a result, an entire way of life and a historic industry are under threat. We should ask whether this is the New York we want to live in: a sanitized metropolis, where local color and grit are thrown out in favor of sleek futuristic buildings and careening self-driving cars?”

Liam Neeson | NYT

“Romantimatic — the little app I wrote to remind the distracted or forgetful to text nice things to their significant other — is a month old today.
It’s been an interesting month.
The app has sold just over 875 copies, across a couple of dozen countries, making me about $885. It has a four-and-a-half-star average in the App Store, and I’ve received a handful of enthusiastic e-mails. It has been the subject of coverage from Mashable, the CBC, Lifehacker and Kottke.
It has also been the target of a medium-level Internet pile-on. …
Derision from Cult of Mac. Disapproval from Esquire. The accusation that my goofy project has killed romance as we know it from Elle. Fifteen hundred words of high-minded arm-chair psychology and moral indignation from the Atlantic, including the comparison of the app’s users to — reductio ad absurdum — those who need reminding not to harm animals. And thousands and thousands of excoriating tweets. …
The criticisms, with varying degrees, all come down to the same sentiment: If you need or want this app, you are a bad person, and you should feel bad about yourself.
This is not a rational argument — it’s an emotional one. I don’t believe, in fact, there is a rational argument to be made here, against the app. It’s not evil, by any sane definition of the word. It’s not hurtful. It does not do damage to the user or to others. Everyone who has argued so vehemently against it could have just as easily quietly noted its existence, decided it wasn’t for them, and moved on, without moral obligation or qualm.
But this is the Internet, and such things do not happen.
I’ve been around long enough to develop the three essential tools that on-line life requires — a sense of humor, a sense of perspective and a thick skin — and they’ve served me well here. The criticisms amuse more than trouble, and it’s been interesting being on the receiving end of one of the many, many hullabaloos that roil the Web every day. I do not feel a need to defend myself or the app or the people who are happily using it. We’ll go our way and you — with that disapproving frown — will go yours.
But I am intrigued by the reaction. With the opportunity to simply let this particular leaf on this particular river float by, why condemn? Doubly so when nothing is at stake? …
This isn’t some mealy-mouthed plea for all of us to get along, to say that criticism doesn’t have an important place, on-line or otherwise. Critics and criticism are powerful, vital forces in any endeavor. But criticism should have some foundation in a shared world, a common set of resources and interests. I mock Republicans because I believe their policies do damage to the country I love. I criticize start-up culture because I believe it’s corrosive to technological progress and the people who create it. I rage at mass shootings and the people who defend the status quo because there are dead children littering the streets. These things affect me, are deeply important to me, so they require judgement and — sometimes — condemnation.
That’s not what I’m talking about here. What I’m talking about here is how addictive the righteousness that comes from that condemnation is, and how we will apparently turn to any source we can find for it — even when that source is not evil or harmful or part of any world we exist in or understand.”
The Empathy Vacuum

Romantimatic — the little app I wrote to remind the distracted or forgetful to text nice things to their significant other — is a month old today.

It’s been an interesting month.

The app has sold just over 875 copies, across a couple of dozen countries, making me about $885. It has a four-and-a-half-star average in the App Store, and I’ve received a handful of enthusiastic e-mails. It has been the subject of coverage from Mashable, the CBCLifehacker and Kottke.

It has also been the target of a medium-level Internet pile-on. …

Derision from Cult of Mac. Disapproval from Esquire. The accusation that my goofy project has killed romance as we know it from Elle. Fifteen hundred words of high-minded arm-chair psychology and moral indignation from the Atlantic, including the comparison of the app’s users to — reductio ad absurdum — those who need reminding not to harm animals. And thousands and thousands of excoriating tweets. …

The criticisms, with varying degrees, all come down to the same sentiment: If you need or want this app, you are a bad person, and you should feel bad about yourself.

This is not a rational argument — it’s an emotional one. I don’t believe, in fact, there is a rational argument to be made here, against the app. It’s not evil, by any sane definition of the word. It’s not hurtful. It does not do damage to the user or to others. Everyone who has argued so vehemently against it could have just as easily quietly noted its existence, decided it wasn’t for them, and moved on, without moral obligation or qualm.

But this is the Internet, and such things do not happen.

I’ve been around long enough to develop the three essential tools that on-line life requires — a sense of humor, a sense of perspective and a thick skin — and they’ve served me well here. The criticisms amuse more than trouble, and it’s been interesting being on the receiving end of one of the many, many hullabaloos that roil the Web every day. I do not feel a need to defend myself or the app or the people who are happily using it. We’ll go our way and you — with that disapproving frown — will go yours.

But I am intrigued by the reaction. With the opportunity to simply let this particular leaf on this particular river float by, why condemn? Doubly so when nothing is at stake? …

This isn’t some mealy-mouthed plea for all of us to get along, to say that criticism doesn’t have an important place, on-line or otherwise. Critics and criticism are powerful, vital forces in any endeavor. But criticism should have some foundation in a shared world, a common set of resources and interests. I mock Republicans because I believe their policies do damage to the country I love. I criticize start-up culture because I believe it’s corrosive to technological progress and the people who create it. I rage at mass shootings and the people who defend the status quo because there are dead children littering the streets. These things affect me, are deeply important to me, so they require judgement and — sometimes — condemnation.

That’s not what I’m talking about here. What I’m talking about here is how addictive the righteousness that comes from that condemnation is, and how we will apparently turn to any source we can find for it — even when that source is not evil or harmful or part of any world we exist in or understand.”

The Empathy Vacuum

"Any artist, regardless of his field, can experience distance between his true self and his public persona. But because film actors typically experience fame in greater measure, our personas can feel at the mercy of forces far beyond our control. Our rebellion against the hand that feeds us can instigate a frenzy of commentary that sets in motion a feedback loop: acting out, followed by negative publicity, followed by acting out in response to that publicity, followed by more publicity, and so on.

Participating in this call and response is a kind of critique, a way to show up the media by allowing their oversize responses to essentially trivial actions to reveal the emptiness of their raison d’être. Believe me, this game of peek-a-boo can be very addictive.

Mr. LaBeouf has been acting since he was a child, and often an actor’s need to tear down the public creation that constrains him occurs during the transition from young man to adult. I think Mr. LaBeouf’s project, if it is a project, is a worthy one. I just hope that he is careful not to use up all the good will he has gained as an actor in order to show us that he is an artist.”

James Franco on Shia LaBeouf | NYT

“When Google honored African American author Zora Neale Hurston with a custom logo — a Google Doodle — on its homepage earlier this month, the company won praise.”
“But is Google the right booster for one of the Harlem Renaissance’s greatest treasures? We’d be appalled if McDonald’s used Martin Luther King Jr.’s image to sell hamburgers or if Coca-Cola put Mohandas Gandhi on a soda can. So why is it any different when a tech behemoth uses Hurston to hawk searches?
Since Google began Doodling in 1998, it’s aligned its brand with some of the greatest human beings who ever walked the Earth, borrowing the pixie dust of Gandhi, MLK and others. In a role once reserved for the U.S. Postal Service and its stamps, Google now decides who deserves tribute — Hurston yes, Malcolm X no.
It’s time for the company to stop folding major political and cultural figures into its logo.
Remember: Google is embroiled in privacy lawsuits around the globe even as it criticizes the National Security Agency for invading Americans’ privacy. It protests censorship yet continues to expand its presence in China. It’s been accused of manipulating search results to benefit its business and may be the world’s largest copyright violator. It celebrates great African Americans in Doodles but won’t release its minority hiring statistics.
When Google goes deep, its Doodles rob honorees of context. The logos reduce legacies to cartoons, turning icons into iconography.”
"With Doodles, a company with unprecedented reach into our private lives incorporates history into its brand — a brand most Westerners with a computer stare at every day. That’s not just creepy, it’s downright Orwellian."
“‘We are not Google’s customers: we are its product,’ Siva Vaidhyanathan writes in The Googlization of Everything (and Why We Should Worry). ’We — our fancies, fetishes, predilections, and preferences — are what Google sells to advertisers. When we use Google to find out things on the Web, Google uses our Web searches to find out things about us.’”
"[I]f this ubiquitous company is going to live up to its motto — ‘Don’t be evil’ — amid controversies over labor unions and monopolistic behavior, it can at least avoid treading on sacred ground by logo-izing Rosa Parks or Kenyan activist Wangari Maathai.
Gandhi, not to mention Jesus, is doing fine without Silicon Valley sponsorship.”
The Case Against the Google Doodle

When Google honored African American author Zora Neale Hurston with a custom logo — a Google Doodle — on its homepage earlier this month, the company won praise.”

But is Google the right booster for one of the Harlem Renaissance’s greatest treasures? We’d be appalled if McDonald’s used Martin Luther King Jr.’s image to sell hamburgers or if Coca-Cola put Mohandas Gandhi on a soda can. So why is it any different when a tech behemoth uses Hurston to hawk searches?

Since Google began Doodling in 1998, it’s aligned its brand with some of the greatest human beings who ever walked the Earth, borrowing the pixie dust of GandhiMLK and others. In a role once reserved for the U.S. Postal Service and its stamps, Google now decides who deserves tribute — Hurston yes, Malcolm X no.

It’s time for the company to stop folding major political and cultural figures into its logo.

Remember: Google is embroiled in privacy lawsuits around the globe even as it criticizes the National Security Agency for invading Americans’ privacy. It protests censorship yet continues to expand its presence in China. It’s been accused of manipulating search results to benefit its business and may be the world’s largest copyright violator. It celebrates great African Americans in Doodles but won’t release its minority hiring statistics.

When Google goes deep, its Doodles rob honorees of context. The logos reduce legacies to cartoons, turning icons into iconography.”

"With Doodles, a company with unprecedented reach into our private lives incorporates history into its brand — a brand most Westerners with a computer stare at every day. That’s not just creepy, it’s downright Orwellian."

“‘We are not Google’s customers: we are its product,’ Siva Vaidhyanathan writes in The Googlization of Everything (and Why We Should Worry). ’We — our fancies, fetishes, predilections, and preferences — are what Google sells to advertisers. When we use Google to find out things on the Web, Google uses our Web searches to find out things about us.’”

"[I]f this ubiquitous company is going to live up to its motto — ‘Don’t be evil’ — amid controversies over labor unions and monopolistic behavior, it can at least avoid treading on sacred ground by logo-izing Rosa Parks or Kenyan activist Wangari Maathai.

Gandhi, not to mention Jesus, is doing fine without Silicon Valley sponsorship.”

The Case Against the Google Doodle

“I hate superheroes. I think they’re abominations. They don’t mean what they used to mean. They were originally in the hands of writers who would actively expand the imagination of their nine- to 13-year-old audience. That was completely what they were meant to do and they were doing it excellently. These days, superhero comics think the audience is certainly not nine to 13, it’s nothing to do with them. It’s an audience largely of 30-, 40-, 50-, 60-year old men, usually men. Someone came up with the term graphic novel. These readers latched on to it; they were simply interested in a way that could validate their continued love of Green Lantern or Spider-Man without appearing in some way emotionally subnormal. This is a significant rump of the superhero-addicted, mainstream-addicted audience. I don’t think the superhero stands for anything good. I think it’s a rather alarming sign if we’ve got audiences of adults going to see the Avengers movie and delighting in concepts and characters meant to entertain the 12-year-old boys of the 1950s.”

Alan Moore (via richardrushfield)

Fine. But the emotionally-stunted or “subnormal” adult-male audience is not just feeding on the Superhero franchises; Hollywood has had them on a bottomless diet of Sandler-sagas, Hangovers, and Seth Rogen-overloads for years. The fact that this audience exists is a cultural issue. The “infantalization of our culture" is a deeply-rooted American epidemic. It’s not Hollywood’s fault that (the majority of) our men refuse to grow up. Hollywood is simply doing what it’s built for: profiting off of them.

Is It O.K. to Kill Cyclists? | NYT
“SAN FRANCISCO — EVERYBODY who knows me knows that I love cycling and that I’m also completely freaked out by it. I got into the sport for middle-aged reasons: fat; creaky knees; the delusional vanity of tight shorts. Registering for a triathlon, I took my first ride in decades. Wind in my hair, smile on my face, I decided instantly that I would bike everywhere like all those beautiful hipster kids on fixies. Within minutes, however, I watched an S.U.V. hit another cyclist, and then I got my own front wheel stuck in a streetcar track, sending me to the pavement.
I made it home alive and bought a stationary bike trainer and workout DVDs with the ex-pro Robbie Ventura guiding virtual rides on Wisconsin farm roads, so that I could sweat safely in my California basement. Then I called my buddy Russ, one of 13,500 daily bike commuters in Washington, D.C. Russ swore cycling was harmless but confessed to awakening recently in a Level 4 trauma center, having been hit by a car he could not remember. Still, Russ insisted I could avoid harm by assuming that every driver was “a mouth-breathing drug addict with a murderous hatred for cyclists.”
The anecdotes mounted: my wife’s childhood friend was cycling with Mom and Dad when a city truck killed her; two of my father’s law partners, maimed. I began noticing “cyclist killed” news articles, like one about Amelie Le Moullac, 24, pedaling inside a bike lane in San Francisco’s SOMA district when a truck turned right and killed her. In these articles, I found a recurring phrase: to quote from The San Francisco Chronicle story about Ms. Le Moullac, “The truck driver stayed at the scene and was not cited.”
In stories where the driver had been cited, the penalty’s meagerness defied belief, like the teenager in 2011 who drove into the 49-year-old cyclist John Przychodzen from behind on a road just outside Seattle, running over and killing him. The police issued only a $42 ticket for an “unsafe lane change” because the kid hadn’t been drunk and, as they saw it, had not been driving recklessly. …
The American Medical Association endorses National Bike to Work Day, and more than 850,000 people commute on a bicycle, according to the League of American Bicyclists. Nationwide, cycling is the second most popular outdoor activity after running, supporting a $6.1 billion industry that sold 18.7 million bikes last year.
But the social and legal culture of the American road, not to mention the road itself, hasn’t caught up. Laws in most states do give bicycles full access to the road, but very few roads are designed to accommodate bicycles, and the speed and mass differentials — bikes sometimes slow traffic, only cyclists have much to fear from a crash — make sharing the road difficult to absorb at an emotional level. Nor does it help that many cyclists do ignore traffic laws. Every time I drive my car through San Francisco, I see cyclists running stop signs like immortal, entitled fools. So I understand the impulse to see cyclists as recreational risk takers who deserve their fate. 
But studies performed in Arizona, Minnesota and Hawaii suggest that drivers are at fault in more than half of cycling fatalities. And there is something undeniably screwy about a justice system that makes it de facto legal to kill people, even when it is clearly your fault, as long you’re driving a car and the victim is on a bike and you’re not obviously drunk and don’t flee the scene. …
“We do not know of a single case of a cyclist fatality in which the driver was prosecuted, except for D.U.I. or hit-and-run,” Leah Shahum, the executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, told me.”
Read on.

Is It O.K. to Kill Cyclists? | NYT

SAN FRANCISCO — EVERYBODY who knows me knows that I love cycling and that I’m also completely freaked out by it. I got into the sport for middle-aged reasons: fat; creaky knees; the delusional vanity of tight shorts. Registering for a triathlon, I took my first ride in decades. Wind in my hair, smile on my face, I decided instantly that I would bike everywhere like all those beautiful hipster kids on fixies. Within minutes, however, I watched an S.U.V. hit another cyclist, and then I got my own front wheel stuck in a streetcar track, sending me to the pavement.

I made it home alive and bought a stationary bike trainer and workout DVDs with the ex-pro Robbie Ventura guiding virtual rides on Wisconsin farm roads, so that I could sweat safely in my California basement. Then I called my buddy Russ, one of 13,500 daily bike commuters in Washington, D.C. Russ swore cycling was harmless but confessed to awakening recently in a Level 4 trauma center, having been hit by a car he could not remember. Still, Russ insisted I could avoid harm by assuming that every driver was “a mouth-breathing drug addict with a murderous hatred for cyclists.”

The anecdotes mounted: my wife’s childhood friend was cycling with Mom and Dad when a city truck killed her; two of my father’s law partners, maimed. I began noticing “cyclist killed” news articles, like one about Amelie Le Moullac, 24, pedaling inside a bike lane in San Francisco’s SOMA district when a truck turned right and killed her. In these articles, I found a recurring phrase: to quote from The San Francisco Chronicle story about Ms. Le Moullac, “The truck driver stayed at the scene and was not cited.”

In stories where the driver had been cited, the penalty’s meagerness defied belief, like the teenager in 2011 who drove into the 49-year-old cyclist John Przychodzen from behind on a road just outside Seattle, running over and killing him. The police issued only a $42 ticket for an “unsafe lane change” because the kid hadn’t been drunk and, as they saw it, had not been driving recklessly. …

The American Medical Association endorses National Bike to Work Day, and more than 850,000 people commute on a bicycle, according to the League of American Bicyclists. Nationwide, cycling is the second most popular outdoor activity after running, supporting a $6.1 billion industry that sold 18.7 million bikes last year.

But the social and legal culture of the American road, not to mention the road itself, hasn’t caught up. Laws in most states do give bicycles full access to the road, but very few roads are designed to accommodate bicycles, and the speed and mass differentials — bikes sometimes slow traffic, only cyclists have much to fear from a crash — make sharing the road difficult to absorb at an emotional level. Nor does it help that many cyclists do ignore traffic laws. Every time I drive my car through San Francisco, I see cyclists running stop signs like immortal, entitled fools. So I understand the impulse to see cyclists as recreational risk takers who deserve their fate. 

But studies performed in Arizona, Minnesota and Hawaii suggest that drivers are at fault in more than half of cycling fatalities. And there is something undeniably screwy about a justice system that makes it de facto legal to kill people, even when it is clearly your fault, as long you’re driving a car and the victim is on a bike and you’re not obviously drunk and don’t flee the scene. …

“We do not know of a single case of a cyclist fatality in which the driver was prosecuted, except for D.U.I. or hit-and-run,” Leah Shahum, the executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, told me.”

Read on.

There Is Nothing Random About The LAX Shooting

There already is some talk about this event being a “random” one. But it is not. These things are becoming as regular as rain, as predictable as the summer heat. The only thing “random” about it is the shooter. He could be anyone, and that’s the point. There are people who spend money making sure that he could be anyone, and there’s nothing “random” about how they do that. There is nothing “random” about this country’s ludicrous disinclination to regulate its firearms. There is nothing “random” about the millions of dollars that the NRA spends to convince people that they should have the right to carry their assault weapon anywhere they want to carry it, including into an airport terminal, if they so desire. There is nothing “random” about the politicians who truckle and bow to this lucrative monetization of bloody mayhem. These are all deliberate acts with predictable consequences. There is nothing “random” about how we have armed ourselves, and there is nothing “random” about the filigree of high-flown rhetoric with which we justify arming ourselves, and there is nothing “random” about how we learn nothing every time someone who could be anyone decides to exercise his Second Amendment rights by opening fire. There is nothing random about how we got where we are today, here in Terminal 7, where people have sought refuge from the bloodshed, four terminals over. There is nothing “random” at all. We have chosen insanity over reason. We have done it with our eyes open. It is time for me to walk out of the airport now. I am leaving behind a terrible event. But I am not leaving behind something accidental. I am leaving behind what America has determined must happen from time to time, if we are to be a free people. I am leaving behind what America has determined is part of the cost of being an American. I am leaving behind the blood that I am told I must accept as part of the price of being a member of a free society. I am leaving behind a place of death, and I am joining my fellow citizens, as we make an odd pilgrimage out of a place that is now another altar of the blood sacrifice that I am told we must make, regularly, in order to be truly free. I am a free citizen, I am told, of the Republic of Murder, my rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Moloch. I am leaving.”

Charles P. Pierce

"I am black, I am a woman and I am a feminist.

In private, I often refer to this trifecta as the holy trinity. My biological, social and chosen identities shape how I move, how I am perceived and how much space I am allowed to take up in a white-male-dominated world. In trying to put my feminism into practice, I do not always stand behind every so-called feminist issue that is mandated by mainstream white feminists. For example, feminists have made a big push to critique what is termed “slut-shaming” and to reclaim the word “slut.” They have organized nationwide marches and written hundreds of blog posts in an effort to take back the term and subvert it.

“Slut-shaming,” the act of negatively judging and policing women who take full control of their sexual agency, is an act deeply rooted in sexism and misogyny, all things feminists should be against. It seeks to demean women who carry their own condoms, who initiate conversations about sex, or who negotiate their sexual wants and desires openly. The mere act of seeing oneself as a sexual being and being proud of it makes you a target for being “slut-shamed.” All the things that society commends men for doing and measures their masculinity against, society also condemns in women.

I am all for marginalized groups reclaiming words that were once used to shame and dehumanize them. I stand firmly behind the reclaiming of the term “queer,” especially as a verb. Queering languages, queering spaces, and queering understanding is something that I am politically committed to doing in my life, but as a black woman I have no desire to reclaim the term “slut.” My act of resistance in not wanting to reclaim the word “slut” does not mean that I advocate for “slut-shaming.” I do not agree with the sexual policing of women no matter their race, class, gender presentation, body size or ability. But one of the major flaws of mainstream feminism is the propensity to generalize about the lives of women, treating women as though they all face the same threats, and therefore can only be liberated through a one-size-fits-all model.”

Read on: Why I won’t call myself a “slut” | Salon

The 100 top things you honestly don’t need to do before you die

“‘OMG, you have to watch Breaking Bad! You simply have to. Stop whatever you’re doing and watch it right now… As I understand it, we are now all legally obliged to watch Breaking Bad by the end of 2013. …

These days we are told we simply have to watch, to read or just to do, very many things: 100 Things to Do Before You Die; 100 Films You Have to See, 100 Books You Must Read If You Don’t Want Everyone at Work to Realise Exactly What a Shallow, Self-Obsessed, X Factor Fan You Really Are. …

But, while I can’t stress enough that I don’t wish to be a troublemaker, there is a slight problem with the maths.

The average human being will live for 701,844 hours. You will be asleep for 233,600 of those hours (more if you’re a cricket fan). You will be working for 74,060 hours (fewer if you’re Usain Bolt) and you’ll be waiting for your children to hurry up and get their shoes on for 11,850.

Take off another 200,000 hours for miscellaneous activities such as being on hold for broadband customer service, queuing at Costa Coffee, or looking up pictures of your ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend on Facebook.

You suddenly find yourself with just 182,334 useful hours in your life for reading, watching films and baking your signature Loganberry Pecan Flapjacks. …

Watching every film on the BFI’s list of The Greatest Films of All Time will take you 217 hours (with an extra half-hour if you want to watch the hilarious “blooper reel” at the end of Citizen Kane). You will also have to watch at least one new film a month that Charlotte at work keeps banging on about, and one foreign-language film a month because Peter Bradshaw has called it “a stunning new benchmark for Latvian cinema”. That takes your total for films you simply have to see up to 2,233 hours.

And now an even bigger problem: books. Let’s read the Observer’s 100 Greatest Novels. Add in one new book a month that Charlotte has recommended (I like Charlotte, but I wasn’t absolutely convinced by A Street Cat Named Bob) and one new book a month that the Review section has described as Margaret Atwood meets EL James. Sum total of hours spent on books you simply have to read? 6,360.

Then you also have to find time to swim with dolphins, to watch the sunset over Machu Picchu, to kiteboard in the Andes, and to do any number of other tiresome things you see people doing in their profile pictures on Guardian Soulmates. …

Let’s end this madness shall we? By all means watch Breaking Bad (I’ve heard it’s good – have you heard it’s good?), but the only bit of TV you actually have to see before you die is the episode of Superstars where Kevin Keegan falls off his bike. …

The only films from the BFI’s list that you must watch are Some Like It Hot, The Godfather and Singin’ in the Rain. …

You must never swim with dolphins. If they ever want to swim with you, I’m sure they’ll let you know. Forget Machu Picchu; the sunset on the west coast of Scotland is as beautiful as any you’ll see in the world, and it’s really nearby. And by all means go kiteboarding above the Andes, but that might be the thing you do literally just before you die. …

But before you do that, have you seen Breaking Bad? You must.”

"The physical part of our city—the body—has been improved immeasurably. I’m a huge supporter of the bike lanes and the bike-share program, the new public plazas, the waterfront parks and the functional public transportation system. But the cultural part of the city—the mind—has been usurped by the top 1 percent."

"[M]ost of Manhattan and many parts of Brooklyn are virtual walled communities, pleasure domes for the rich (which, full disclosure, includes me and some of the Creative Time team), and aside from those of us who managed years ago to find our niche and some means of income, there is no room for fresh creative types. Middle-class people can barely afford to live here anymore, so forget about emerging artists, musicians, actors, dancers, writers, journalists and small business people. Bit by bit, the resources that keep the city vibrant are being eliminated.”

"This real estate situation—a topic New Yorkers love to complain about over dinner—doesn’t help the future health of the city. If young, emerging talent of all types can’t find a foothold in this city, then it will be a city closer to Hong Kong or Abu Dhabi than to the rich fertile place it has historically been. Those places might have museums, but they don’t have culture. Ugh. If New York goes there—more than it already has—I’m leaving."

David Byrne: Will Work For Inspiration

©2011 Kateoplis