This has been a bittersweet week for me—I announced my new job at National Journal, but it was also my last week at Slate. Working at Slate this past year has been so fun it should be illegal, and I spent the year in a near-constant state of awe that I was allowed to work with such smart, hilarious, and kind people on a regular basis. That said, I’m very excited for new ventures. (But sad!) (But excited!)
Anyway. Here are some things I read this week.
For Mr. Charles, fame — like everything — is part of what he calls “the hoax.” “There are only two types of people in the world,” he said. “There are the people who understand that this is a matrix” — he knocked on an iron gate, to prove its unreality — “and then there are the people who buy it lock, stock and barrel.” To him, drag exposes everything else as a charade. “Drag has always been under fire, because people resent anyone who breaks the fourth wall,” he said.
How did sources treat you differently than your male colleagues?
The bad news was you weren’t one of the guys so you didn’t chum it up with them and go drinking. The good news was they assumed you were young and stupid. I was young. I wasn’t stupid. They would very often say the most incredible things to me because they weren’t concentrating on the fact that I was concentrating on them.
I probably scored a number of scoops that way. It’s just hilarious. One time I was doing a story about junkets on Capitol Hill. I think Northwest [Airlines] had inaugurated a new line to Japan and Korea. They had taken on their maiden voyage most of the members of the Senate Commerce Committee, which of course controlled regulation of the airline industry.
So I did a bunch of interviews with people who went, and then I asked the people who didn’t go why they didn’t. I remember [Montana Democrat] Mike Mansfield said something of great integrity. He just said, “Don’t do that kind of thing.” But there was a senator, [New Hampshire Republican] Norris Cotton, who said, “Oriental food gives me the trots.” And that was the subhead in the story! It was just too good.
Ensconced in my father’s Oldsmobile, we twisted our way through the curlicues of Rock Creek, rising up Porter Street onto Connecticut Avenue. We passed Yuen Hing Palace, the Chinese restaurant where men in dark suits and heavy-framed glasses planned both the Bay of Pigs and Nixon’s visit to China. Today, although it houses a drug store, its façade remains intact, a tendril of D.C.’s secret history hiding in plain sight. In Washington, every block drips with this peculiar company town history; file the right FOIA request—or listen to the right cab driver—and you can unlock its secret past.
And more! Dealbreaker: He’s a prostitute. Shut up, Piers. BREAKING: Wisconsin’s public sector unions aren’t doing so hot. Ned Ryerson remembers Harold Ramis. Whole Foods is America’s affluent, liberal temple of pseudoscience. American journalism is brimming with “once-in-a-generation” talent (/sarcasm). Hey internet, please quit with the happiness articles. The art of running for office as a woman, circa 1990. Can you believe the children of Washington elites are spoiled? Emily Nussbaum and Willa Paskin on True Detective (AHHHH WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN). Dark money groups have already spent 75 percent more at this point in the election cycle vs. 2012. Woof. Vanilla Ice, Amish farmer. Spike Lee on gentrification. Marilyn Hegarty, the premiere restaurant critic of Grand Forks, North Dakota, strikes again. This glossary of book club defense mechanisms will come in handy next week when I have to pretend I’ve finished Americanah (which I highly recommend despite my laziness).
Website of the week: Soundboardt
Shade of the week: “We shouldn’t say that when a woman makes sexual choices she deserves misogynists’s harassment in response to it.” – Dylan Matthews vs. Ross Douthat
Comic of the week: An Illustrated Account of the 1830s Mulberry Craze
Song of the week: “Rancid Girl” by Sky Ferreira
Video of the week: True Warrior Cats
GIF of the week: Excuse me can’t you tell I’m doing very important work
Have a great weekend, kiddos.
A quick programming note:
So, some personal news! I'm leaving Slate to start as a politics blogger for @nationaljournal. First day is 3/10.
— Emma Roller (@emmaroller) February 25, 2014
It’s true! I’m really excited to start working at Natty Jo (the abbreviation I’ve made up for it) with a lot of good people. One of my fellow Cardinalistas works there, too, so we’ll be repping Wisconsin hard. I’m not entirely sure what my position will entail yet, but I’ll get back to you in a few weeks.
That said, I am really going to miss Slate, and not just because the office is above Krispy Kreme. I can only hope National Journal has as high a tolerance for my cursing at my computer screen.
I read (and in one case, wrote) some things this week. Here are all of them!
36 hours on the fake campaign trail with Donald Trump: (the fallout from this story has been hilarious, btw)
I meet Trump for our official interview around 5 p.m. in the “living room” — a cavernous, ornate chamber at the center of the complex with high gold ceilings, massive chandeliers, and a collection of flamboyantly baroque furniture spread throughout the premises. Trump leads Nunberg and me to a large dining hall, where the staff is setting the table for a wine dinner to be held later tonight. He introduces me to an older, German-accented gentleman who appears to be in charge of the event.
“He’s the biggest blogger in the world,” Trump tells the man. “You look at him, and he’s sort of handsome, but his power is immense.” He turns to me. “Isn’t that right?”
Before I can answer, he is facing the German gentleman again. “Have you heard of BuzzFeed?”
The man doesn’t want to say no, but it’s clear he’s unfamiliar.
“It used to be the New York Times, now it’s BuzzFeed,” Trump explains. He pauses a beat, and then adds, almost wistfully, “The world has changed.”
The engineers can tell, in real time, how many people are streaming the show on these devices, where they are, and who’s binging. Edberg said the last time House of Cards launched, the engineers figured out that the entire season was about 13 hours.
“And we looked to [see] if anybody was finishing in that amount of time,” Edberg said. “And there was one person who finished with just three minutes longer than there is content. So basically, three total minutes of break in roughly 13 hours.”
Subtle cues in the physical environment of companies such as Star Trek posters and video games lead to women being less interested in being a part of an organization when compared to a neutral office environment. This causes women to self-select out of technology jobs.
Indeed, the trend is getting worse. In 1985, 37 percent of computer science undergraduate degree recipients were women. By 2011 this proportion had dropped to 18 percent. Most technology firms refuse to release gender and diversity numbers. Data collected on Github explains why. Dropbox, for example, had only 9 women in its 143 person engineering team as of October 2013. That’s 6.3 percent in an industry in which 18 percent of the hiring pool is women.
And more! The unlikely duo behind Ready For Hillary. Haunted houses and Hot Pockets. All the Presidents’ Honeymoons. Rand Paul and felon voting rights. Positive thinking is a sham, but like addiction is totally real. A “Worth It” button for stories you actually read all the way through. Against voluntourism. How accurate is the Deep Web subplot in House of Cards? Google is now blocking WND’s hateful “black mob” stories. Charlie Crist is a big hugger. Rick Steves is a longtime pot activist. Six degrees of Bill Murray. Secrets from voiceover school. Internships—boy, I don’t know.
Blog of the week: Used to be a Pizza Hut
Shade of the week: “It feels like you’re watching performance art… and most of them are bad actors.” – Kevin Spacey vs. Congress
Comic of the week: White Thug Life
Songs of the week: Everything is Awesome; Let It Go
Pie chart of the week: What are straight white male feminists worrying about?
Videos of the week: Brian Williams does Rapper’s Delight; Cat Curling
GIF of the week: This is a game I like to call, “Swat the Haters” (via The Daily GIF)
Did you know tomorrow is National Margarita Day? Me neither. I’m about to go acquaint myself, and advise you to do the same.
I talked about Scott Walker’s email woes yesterday with the great Amanda Terkel and Jason Linkins on HuffPost Live. It is a MUST-WATCH for the graph at 9:25 alone. If you still have no clue what I’m talking about, just read Amanda’s piece here.
I also forgot to promote on here the two things I’ve written about Walker and the 2014 race over the past two weeks.
Valentine’s Day isn’t just a Hallmark holiday for people in Wisconsin. It’s also the anniversary of the first protests against Gov. Scott Walker after he proposed his anti-union legislation in 2011. Students and teaching assistantswere on the front lines of the protests, walking out of class to march up State Street to the Capitol with bullhorns and leaving “valentines” outside Walker’s office asking him to change his mind. During that month, the crowd of protesters swelled to 30,000, then 100,000.
But three years later, the valentines are gone. The thousands of people who came for the protests and counterprotests are gone. The stands selling anti-Walker buttons and shirts emblazoned with the pro-union groups’ iconic blue fist are gone, too. The packs of people with bullhorns aren’t roaming downtown anymore. Now, only a handful of people gather in the Capitol rotunda every day at noon to sing protest songs. But guess who is still here?
Wisconsin Democrats have been waiting for years for this shoe to drop. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin has been working to link Walker to Gov. Chris Christie since the Bridgegate scandal—Christie heads the Republican Governors Association, which has poured money into Wisconsin for attack ads against Walker’s gubernatorial opponent, Mary Burke.
Still, Walker’s story has gotten far less national media attention than Christie’s, probably because campaign malfeasance doesn’t make for quite as dramatic a scandal as a huge, unnecessary traffic jam. But the two cases bear striking similarities: two Republican governors with national profiles and national ambitions, allegedly using their public office to boost their political standing, all the while distancing themselves from the work their staffs sullied themselves with.
Nonetheless, this could haunt Walker into his 2014 election and beyond. Burke, who’s been running a pacifist’s campaign so far, now has ample ammunition.
I should have added an addendum to that headline: “This could be the start of Scott Walker’s Bridgegate… if more compelling evidence surfaces and/or voters suddenly start caring about campaign law.” Chances are still good that, come November, he’ll win his third gubernatorial race in three years.
Valentine’s Day, amiright ladies? Just kidding, I won’t spend any time talking about Valentine’s Day. (OK, maybe except for this. And this.) Here are some other things I looked at on the internet this week.
How The Sims taught me what matters in Life: “Achievers kept pushing towards victory, but upon discovering that the numbers have no upper limit, they invariably got bored and quit. Meanwhile, despite not being a real word (and thus the red-squiggly bane of my spellchecked life), Dollhousing is the most rewarding, long-lasting, and dare I say best way to play. As more of a toy than a game, The Sims doesn’t reward players seeking a high score — pursuing one is a sure path to frustration and failure. Dollhousers play by their own rules, and whether or not they realize it, demonstrate a powerful idea: When you can’t win, you can’t lose.”
Crime story of the week, courtesy of my hometown: A stolen Stradivarius, “Taser confetti,” and someone named Universal Knowledge Allah. This story has everything!
T-Pain defends his gay assistant: “Why you think this gay dude is gonna like you? Bitches don’t even like you! That’s stupid, bruh!” #tpainwisdom
The year Anil Dash didn’t retweet men: “I found the only times I even had to think about it were very male-dominated conversations like the dialogue around an Apple gadget event. Even there, I’d always find women saying the same (or better!) things about the moment whose voices I could amplify instead of the usual suspects. And for the bigger Twitter moments I love, like award shows and cultural events, there are an infinite number of women’s voices to choose from.” (Katy had some smart things to say about it, per usual.)
Olympic skiers’ butts cannot lie: “Ripped jeans are apparently a common phenomenon for downhill skiers, much as it is routine for the Incredible Hulk to turn green and burst out of his clothes in fits of anger.”
GHOST: have you killed Claudius yet
HAMLET: fuck you is why
im going to the cemetery to touch skulls
Why you shouldn’t feel guilty about binge-watching “House of Cards” this weekend: “In an era where little ‘invisible’ chunks of time on Snapchat and YouTube can easily absorb as much time in a week as a season of Breaking Bad, the ability to reclaim control of one’s time, to rediscover—as Shay Colson, a Seattle-based cybersecurity engineer I quote in my recent book put it—’how much time is in the day when you don’t spend it in 30-second chunks,’ makes binge watching an almost radical act of self-determined focus.” (I also wrote up a poll about binge-watching here.)
Goats of fashion week: “Look, it happens to all of us sometimes. You wake up in the morning and you accidentally put on the flag of Finland.”
Quiz of the week: Bot or poet?
Playlist of the week: Singles Awareness Day by DJ Spicoli
Shade of the week: Johnny Weir vs. the world
Comics of the week: The Last Sunday of the Year (how I’ve missed you, Esther C. Werdiger!) and San Francisco’s class warfare by the numbers
Videos of the week: OH MY GOD YOU ARE GOING TO FALL TO YOUR DEATH (pt. 1 and pt. 2)
GIFs of the week: How I like to think I finished out the week, and how I actually did (source)
Podcast of the week: The Andy Daly Podcast Pilot Project, AKA how to make all your coworkers uncomfortable by cackling maniacally at your desk.
Happy Pizza Day, y’all!
I’m back in Madison, Wisconsin this weekend. It’s cold but great here. Hooray!
For now, Karen’s only window into her grandchildrens’ lives is through people in the town, like Tommy Durham, a bearded machine operator who has befriended the Deans. When he saw the girls exit the Pursleys’ silver minivan at the R&R Mercantile this past Labor Day, Durham took a few photos through the windshield of his truck with his smartphone and texted them to Karen. In one photo, five-year-old Annabelle, in a purple shirt with pink hearts, chews on her finger nervously as her six-year-old sister, Savannah, looks over her shoulder. “That’s how I have to see my grandkids now,” Karen said.
I’m a Luger, Baby (headline of the week): “Luge is basically a childhood delight writ lethal.”
10 Reasons Old Punks Make Great Dads: “Babies don’t know how to blow their nose so they’ll just sit there bubbling green slime out of their nostrils until the cold goes away. One night when my infant daughter was congested, I put my lips up to her nose and sucked out about a pound of snot before spitting it into the sink. My wife was mortified but my daughter could breathe, and I felt like a great dad.”
On sexual assault and “hoping it’s not true”: “‘Hoping’ never helps a victim. It only helps an onlooker who doesn’t want to believe that bad things happen.”
Seriously, fuck that Daily Beast story about Dylan Farrow: “Weide then spends two more paragraphs auditing Mia Farrow’s sexual history. Alleged victims of sexual assault are commonly subjected to such scrutiny, but when we’re dealing with a 7-year-old, it seems her mother will serve just fine by proxy.”
The first-ever news article about Facebook, in the Harvard Crimson in 2004: “Everyone’s been talking a lot about a universal face book within Harvard,” Zuckerberg said. “I think it’s kind of silly that it would take the University a couple of years to get around to it. I can do it better than they can, and I can do it in a week.” (there’s that Zuckerberg charm!)
Ask a Daily Caller commenter: “DOES ANY1 even REMEMBER BENGHZI? Tired of MEDIA BLACKwash of THESE CRIMES…NSA IRS AGENDA 21 FT HOOD and UNCONSTITUTIONAL SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY!!!x”
Album of the week: The-Dream remixed by Giraffage
Shade of the week: “A collection of Jay Leno’s best Tonight Show moments”
Comic of the week: Tweets in Meatspace
Video of the week: “They want you to get drunk on feeling like you belong.” (RIP, PSH)
GIF of the week: #sochifail
The ACLU is trying to overturn Wisconsin’s eight-year-old gay marriage ban, while conservative groups are trying to dismantle the domestic partnership benefits the state already has in place. I wrote in Slate about what makes Wisconsin’s gay marriage ban worse than those in most other states:
Wisconsin not only lags behind Minnesota, but also behind Iowa, which has had marriage equality since 2009, and Illinois, where same-sex marriage will become legal on June 1. What makes Wisconsin’s gay marriage ban more heinous than other states’, however, is its draconian “marriage evasion law,” which could penalize same-sex couples who get married in another state with fines up to $10,000 or nine months in jail. Attorneys in the ACLU case say there haven’t been any prosecutions as far as they know, but the law remains on the books nonetheless.
This is just one instance of the weird, somewhat nascent polarization of Wisconsin politics. Though the gay marriage was instated under Jim Doyle, a Democratic governor, it will be a difficult measure to support if it’s still in place when Democrats regain control.
I’m experimenting with rounding up all the best things I’ve read each week. I tried to do this more than a year ago, but this time I hope to do at least two weeks in a row. We’ll see how it goes!
Barry, My Homeless Neighbor, Rest in Peace: “We are one of the smartest and wealthiest cities on the planet, and it’s maddening to see the city continuously fail to help those in need.”
On the hardest computer game of all time: “The world it presented was like being exposed to Plato’s forms, a secret, nonphysical realm of pure ideas and logic. The challenge of the game—and it was one serious challenge—was to understand that other world.”
Why the mantra “Do What You Love” is bullshit: “Nothing makes exploitation go down easier than convincing workers that they are doing what they love.”
The problem with shopping in Paris: “France, fundamentally, is not a country where the customer is always right. It’s not very interested in customer satisfaction. What it’s interested in are satisfied workers.”
It Happened to Me: I Saw a White Girl on My Train: “That’s when her cerulean orbs fell on my ugly, unremarkable, dirt colored ones. I knew that they were full of fear. What should I do? Should I reach out and say: ‘I know plenty of white girls! Don’t be scared!’ I wracked my brain to think of some Seinfeld quips or my favorite Tina Fey moments, but I came up empty.”
How to Tell If You’re in a Hemingway Novel: “You are alone at sea. How you hate the sea, but how you respect the fish inside of it. How you hate the kelp. How indifferent you are to the coral.”
How I Lost My $50,000 Twitter Username: “Sounds like I was dealing with a wannabe Kevin Mitnick—it’s as though companies have yet to learn from Mitnick’s exploits circa 1995.”
Media Reporting’s Blind Spot: “Media reporting today is, for better or for worse, inextricable from technology reporting. Tech — the internet, CMSes, distribution and production — is not just a factor for media companies, but an overwhelming context.”
Undercover at the U.N. Lounge: “‘You haven’t really done it, until you’ve done it in the Security Council chamber behind China,’ boasted one Dane to a visitor, making a thumbs-up motion.”
Song of the week: Bing-a-bong-a-bong-a-bong-Burbank
Shade of the week: “Macklemore is the rap game Upworthy.”
Comic of the week: Deep Dark Fears
Quiz of the week: Which BuzzFeed Quiz Are You? (I’m “Which Twin Peaks Character Are You?”)
Videos of the week: The Wolf of Wall Street vs. Blank Check and Felix Baumgartner’s full view from the stratosphere
GIF of the week: As a white girl, Tina Fey just gets me. (source)
Happy Friday! I’m pumped to be seeing these guys tonight.
New at Slate, I finally found an excuse to talk about my LiveJournal:
Viral quizzes allow us to easily categorize ourselves. Even more, they provide us with the instant affirmation that we share some part of ourselves with other people (orcities, or David Lynch characters, or Bill O’Reillys) that we admire. By sharing your quiz results on Facebook, you are saying: Look! Like a Ravenclaw, I am intelligent yet kind. Like Daenerys Targaryen, I am not to be trifled with. Like the city of London, I have a refined appreciation for history and literature. Like Animal, I embody #YOLO.
Of course, no one actually believes these quizzes are going to uncover some dark mystery about themselves. The quizzes themselves are designed in such a slapdash way that they seem to follow no internal logic. (I just deliberately tried to pick all the most Beaker-like answers in the Muppets quiz—including choosing “Meep” as my favorite word!—and was told I’m the “Mahna Mahna” guy.) Though, if you think about it, the seemingly random results could be a deliciously nihilistic commentary on the human condition. We are, after all, blobs of amino acids thrown together in an endless vacuum. BuzzFeed, you are so philosophical sometimes. You should live in Paris!
My editor told me that line made him LLOL. I’ll take it.