“To begin with, there is evidence that a big part of AA’s effectiveness may have nothing to do with the actual steps. It may derive from something more fundamental: the power of the group. Psychologists have long known that one of the best ways to change human behavior is to gather people with similar problems into groups, rather than treat them individually.”—Secret of AA
“Even Zynga’s designers seem well aware that their game is repetitive and shallow. As you advance through Farmville, you begin earning rewards that allow you to play Farmville less. Harvesting machines let you click four squares at once, and barns and coops let you manage groups of animals simultaneously, saving you hundreds of tedious mouse-clicks. In other words, the more you play Farmville the less you have to play Farmville.”—Why do people play Farmville?
“And there is nothing wrong with lists. Lists are a legitimate form of archiving. Girls, like gay men, like lists. (Go read some Wayne Koestenbaum–a professor, and a man, so he must know what he is talking about!–for more on this.) Saying that effusive lists aren’t as good as “actual art” by young dudes is just a massive fail. Lists can be “actual art.” Andy Warhol was pretty into lists. The idea of “actual art” is already sexist. Etc.”—Boys vs. Girls on 90s Nostalgia
“The thing is: being a writer can kinda feel like never leaving high school. We all form “cliques” for our own survival, and the cliques exist in a kind of hierarchy model. The New Yorker clique could be said to be on the top of the clique pyramid. Those kids have the designer clothes and the cool cars. We indie kids have our own cachet too. We’re the ones up on the newest music, with our ears to the ground and our thrift store black clothes. We may be a little more prone to depression than those in the New Yorker clique, and our drugs are cheaper, but our parties are still fun. The thing is, like the New Yorker clique, we have our “cliques within a clique” too.”—The Lists We Love to Hate: First the New Yorker, Now Dzanc?
“After Versace’s murder, the words of Chicago police captain Tom Cronin, a serial-killer expert I had interviewed, rang in my ears: “Down deep inside, the publicity is more sexual to him than anything else. Right after one or two of these homicides, he probably goes to a gay bar in the afternoon when the news comes on and his face is on TV, and he’s sitting there drinking a beer and loving it. You hide in plain view.”—Vanity Fair on Andrew Cunanan (1997)
“In 2005, she made one of the decade’s best pop albums, “Robyn,” which occasionally borrowed from American R. & B. and hip-hop, but largely stuck to the sound and feel of electronic gadgets, manipulating them to sound like other genres. On “Robyn,” there were traces of Prince in the loping regret of “Should Have Known,” which could have been a bonus song from his album “1999.” Her vocal approach begins somewhere in the depths of teen pop, moves through the audacity of R. & B., and runs along a hybrid cadence derived from hip-hop and Jamaican dancehall.”—Dancehall Dream
“Unicorns aren’t real and have never been real in a physical sense. But when I say ‘unicorn’ everyone knows what I’m talking about. This is how they’re real: we all think about them more or less the same way. And they continue to ‘exist’ in this sense because the idea of a unicorn is totally awesome, and pleasant to think about (and doodle, and tattoo), so even though there’s no rational reason for us to continue using the brainspace dedicated to knowing what unicorns are, we still keep it lodged up in there. It’s nonsense, but it helps us communicate with other people. Politics is like a unicorn because it’s a collection of unreal things that we all agree to recognize, mostly because doing so beats not doing so.”—
Mike Barthel is one of the brightest thinkers I know of on the internet (and a really, really fine writer), and for the rest of the week he’s going to be “explor[ing] the ways politics isn’t rational or real—and why that’s OK—for the public, the government, and the media”.
“Every year around this time, the envelopes begin to arrive. Embossed curlicues on thick-stock, cream-colored paper ask for “the pleasure of our company” at “the union of,” “the celebration of,” or “the wedding of.” With every spring, our sighs get a little deeper as we anticipate another summer of rote ceremony, cocktail hour, and, finally, awkward dancing. Sure, some weddings are fun, but too often they’re a formulaic, overpriced, fraught rite of passage, marking entry into an institution that sociologists describe as “broken.”—The case against marriage
“Wheeler had walked into two Pittsburgh banks and attempted to rob them in broad daylight. What made the case peculiar is that he made no visible attempt at disguise. The surveillance tapes were key to his arrest. There he is with a gun, standing in front of a teller demanding money. Yet, when arrested, Wheeler was completely disbelieving. “But I wore the juice,” he said. Apparently, he was under the deeply misguided impression that rubbing one’s face with lemon juice rendered it invisible to video cameras.”—The unknown unknowns (via kottke)
“Over the last few months the four Filipino-American R&B singers from the San Francisco Bay Area known as Legaci have appeared on some of the biggest stages of American pop. There they were, belting perfect four-part harmony on “Saturday Night Live,” finger-snapping and line-dancing like the Temptations on “The View,” “Ellen” and “Today,” and crooning to a hysterical, sold-out crowd of 15,000 at the annual KIIS-FM Wango Tango blowout in Los Angeles.”—Eastern Promise, Legaci
“We should be able to talk about both privilege within MFA programs and privilege that MFA programs grant attendants in the world at large. In workshop, I have seen women get talked over by men with louder voices, people of color pegged as militant for fairly pointing out a racist element in a story, even if they are echoing a critique made by white students, men praised for their empathy and ability to channel women’s voices in stories that would be dismissed as chick lit if they were turned in by female writers. More often though, I’ve seen a sort of benign neglect of work that gets pegged as “exotic,” – because of the author or characters’ class or ethnic background. I’ve seen people be very hands off on stories that needed a lot of work, because they weren’t quite sure what to do with them. It can be hard to get critical feedback from people who lack familiarity with the world you’re writing about.”—Smart Conversations About MFA Programs (via mandirigma)
“As a recession-cursed class of 2009 college graduate, I hoped to turn to the wisdom of the movies to figure out where my life was headed, the same way I looked to rising freshman Mitch Kramer in “Dazed and Confused” when entering high school or the scandalous “Rules of Attraction” before traveling abroad. Now in my early 20s, I’m resigned to a blank stare when asked about my future plans. So you can imagine my disappointment when a movie custom-made for my age group — “Post Grad,” about the travails of a career-less college graduate — turned out to be so flimsy.”—School’s out forever
“Much of the time, however, the manager’s main function is to serve as an avatar for the hopes and fears of the nation. When the team isn’t playing, he’s less a coach than the central attraction in an ongoing media sideshow, one that reflects (and exaggerates) the highs and lows of the country’s self-esteem. These days, every coach needs to know how to handle the media. But the international soccer manager may be unique in the extent to which being represented in the media is part of the basic substance of his job.”—Weird Cup Weirdos
Unless I am struck by one of my spontaneous bouts of shyness (Who can predict them?!), in your absence, I can be relied on to make you look really, really great. I will be your Maria Gostrey, your ultimate ficelle. I will harken back to your best witticisms and change their pronouns to make it…
“You think I’m pedestrian and tacky? Guess the fuck what, Picasso. We don’t all have seventy-three weights of stick-up-my-ass Helvetica sitting on our seventeen-inch MacBook Pros. Sorry the entire world can’t all be done in stark Eurotrash Swiss type. Sorry some people like to have fun. Sorry I’m standing in the way of your minimalist Bauhaus-esque fascist snoozefest. Maybe sometime you should take off your black turtleneck, stop compulsively adjusting your Tumblr theme, and lighten the fuck up for once.”—