A Story About Living Like A Bear

Oct 25 2014 @ 9:12pm

Diana Spechler highlights what happens when youthful naivety collides with nature’s call:

Spechler is a journalist, novelist and live storyteller in the New York City area. Check out more of her stories here. Previously storytelling on the Dish here.

Generation Sext, Ctd

Oct 25 2014 @ 8:35pm

Amid the continuing debate over teen sexting, Zara Kessler notes that school districts are trying to address the phenomenon:

Sexting teaching materials already exist. There’s “Empowering Students to Engage in Positive Communication: K-12 Curriculum to Combat Student Sexting,” from Miami-Dade County Public Schools. A key message can be quickly distilled from “Secondary Lesson 3″: “Safe Sexting, No Such Thing.” The previous lesson has an accompanying handout, “My Personal Promise to Avoid ‘Sexting,’” with spaces for student and parent signatures. The description of a later lesson notes that it “will help students gain an insight into the perspective of the ‘victim’ of sexting as well as helping those affected stop being victimized.”

Texas has the “Before You Text… Program,” an online course that the Texas School Safety Center states “can be mandated by a judge or used as an educational tool.” Not surprisingly, the program isn’t so fond of the sexting life, asserting, “Even if you only sent one sexting message, others may now have a bad opinion of you,” and “Your family members are eventually very likely to see any images you send electronically.” Just in case the low opinion of peers and family is no deterrent, the program points out that “Embarrassment, humiliation, fear, and betrayal may come back to haunt you.”

The View From Your Window

Oct 25 2014 @ 8:02pm


Blue Ridge, Georgia, 12.22 pm

Data-Driven Dating

Oct 25 2014 @ 7:48pm

OkCupid co-founder Christian Rudder advocates it in his new book Dataclysm:

[On OkCupid] the copy-and-paste [message-sending] strategy underperforms from-scratch-messaging by about 25 percent, but in terms of effort-in to results-out it always wins: measuring by replies received per unit effort, it’s many times more efficient to just send everyone roughly the same thing than to compose a new message each time. I’ve told people about guys copying and pasting, and the response is usually some version of “That’s so lame.” When I tell them that boilerplate is 75 percent as effective as something original, they’re skeptical — surely almost everyone sees through the formula. […] [L]et me tell you something. Nearly every single thing on my desk, on my person, probably in my entire home, was made in a factory alongside who knows how many copies. I just fought a crowd to pick up my lunch, which was a sandwich chosen from a wall of sandwiches. Templates work. […] Innovation is using a few keyboard shortcuts to save […] some time.

In a review of the book, Evan Selinger protests Rudder’s logic:

This passage is disturbing in several respects.

Read On

Surveying four decades of criticism chronicling how SNL has lost its edge, Ian Crouch posits that the Internet has sounded the true knell for the show:

The final death of “S.N.L.” … may coincide with the death of live television itself. “S.N.L.” has faced challenges from other shows in the past, but, now, everything that is funny anywhere, at any time, is a challenge. On television, Comedy Central’s “Key & Peele” and “Inside Amy Schumer” can make the sketches on “S.N.L.” look slapdash and tame; the topical sharpness of John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” often makes Weekend Update seem meek and scattered; and surreal shows like “Drunk History” and “Nathan for You” produce moments of left-field oddity that rarely make it past “S.N.L.” ’s dress rehearsals.

And that’s just what’s on television, never mind the surfeit of great series and amateur comedy creations on the Web. Many of these are carefully shot and meticulously edited, giving them a polish that surpasses what can be managed on a weekly, live stage show. And, like with “S.N.L.,” we can watch them whenever we want. And so, as fewer people arrange their lives to be on the couch on Saturday nights, the limitations of the live form begin to seem less thrilling, and more like a liability.

Coincidentally, the YouTube ad attached to the above video from Key and Peele featured an old SNL duo:

Read On

Cannabis For Kids

Oct 25 2014 @ 6:34pm

Kate Pickert investigates the world of medical marijuana for children. She focuses on the Stanley family, who began selling “Charlotte’s Web” – a strain high in CBD but low in THC – through their Colorado business after the mother of a girl with epilepsy approached them:

For the girl, Charlotte Figi, the results were remarkable, according to her parents. Charlotte went from hundreds of seizures per day to almost none. Once a writhing, immobile, non-verbal child, she suddenly began walking and talking. … After the CNN documentary [the Stanleys] were featured in [see above] —which is controversial among pediatric neurologists—the brothers were inundated with requests for the drug, which at the time was only available in Colorado, where medical marijuana has been legal since 2000 and where recreational marijuana was legalized in 2013. The brothers, who sell Charlotte’s Web at the same price as [California medical marijuana advocate Ray] Mirzabegian—5 cents per milligram—say they have a waiting list of more than 12,000 families, with many relocating to the state to access the product. Five cents a milligram may sound like nothing, but the 17 acres of the strain they harvested in September are poised to produce $23 million worth of oil. …

Meanwhile, to eliminate a chunk of their waiting list and lower costs, the Stanley brothers have decided to test the limits of existing drug laws. They still sell THC-rich pot through their medical marijuana dispensaries, but are now calling Charlotte’s Web something else: “hemp.” The plant is less than 0.3 percent THC, which meets the federal legal definition of hemp and mirrors concentrations of hemp oil already available in U.S. grocery stores that is imported from abroad. Calling the plant “hemp” means the Stanleys can grow far more of it and, they think, legally ship Charlotte’s Web across state lines, with the first bottles of oil scheduled to leave Colorado in November. Under a federal law proposed in June by Republican Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, making and shipping CBD-rich oil within the U.S. would be explicitly legal. For now, however, shipping domestically produced hemp oil from state to state is, at best, a legal gray area.

A Poem For Saturday

Oct 25 2014 @ 5:34pm


Dish poetry editor Alice Quinn writes:

Counterpoint Press has just published an important anthology, Modernist Women Poets, edited by Robert Hass and Paul Ebenkamp, featuring the work of sixteen avant garde artists born near the close of the nineteenth century and forging their way in the transformative early years of the next. A number of them are famous still—Gertrude Stein. H.D., Marianne Moore, Djuna Barnes, Mina Loy, and a little less so, Laura Riding. But many have slipped out of view in spite of the consistent or intermittent devotion of scholars.

In her preface to the book, C.D.Wright introduces the group, “Only one was born in the South and stayed rooted in her native state. Only three of them had children. Five of them preferred women to men. Most traveled extensively or relocated far from their origins. Many of them lived long and calamitously and struggled with poverty, disease, divorce, and, in one instance, rape and likely incest. Two died very prematurely, one of tuberculosis and one of scarlet fever ….Within a wide span of intensity and yield, they all felt compelled to write poetry.”

We’ll focus on three this weekend, starting with Angelina Weld Grimke, daughter of the second African American to graduate from Harvard Law School. With the exception of a few years separation, Grimke, born in 1880, lived with her father until he died in 1930. Her mother committed suicide when she was a child. It is said that her father insisted she renounce her love of women in favor of their bond, and the wistfulness of the delicate, deliberate poem below seems to speak of that unfulfilled longing.

“Grass Fingers” by Angelina Weld Grimke:

Touch me, touch me,
Little cool grass fingers,
Elusive, delicate grass fingers.
With your shy brushings,
Touch my face—
My naked arms—
My thighs—
My feet.
Is there nothing that is kind?
You need not fear me.
Soon I shall be too far beneath you,
For you to reach me, even,
With your tiny, timorous toes.

(From Modernist Women Poets: An Anthology © 2014 by Robert Hass and Paul Ebenkamp. Reprinted by permission of Counterpoint Press. Photo by Kitty Terwolbeck)

When NSFW Is Your Work

Oct 25 2014 @ 4:49pm

Now that Facebook, YouTube, and their ilk employ some 100,000 “content moderators” who spend their days on the lookout for gore and porn, Adrian Chen suggests “it’s worth pondering just what the long-term psychological toll of this work can be.” He considers the case of “Rob,” a onetime moderator for YouTube:

For the first few months, Rob didn’t mind his job moderating videos at YouTube’s headquarters in San Bruno. … But as months dragged on, the rough stuff began to take a toll. The worst was the gore: brutal street fights, animal torture, suicide bombings, decapitations, and horrific traffic accidents. The Arab Spring was in full swing, and activists were using YouTube to show the world the government crackdowns that resulted. Moderators were instructed to leave such “newsworthy” videos up with a warning, even if they violated the content guidelines. But the close-ups of protesters’ corpses and street battles were tough for Rob and his coworkers to handle.

So were the videos that documented misery just for the sick thrill of it. “If someone was uploading animal abuse, a lot of the time it was the person who did it. He was proud of that,” Rob says. “And seeing it from the eyes of someone who was proud to do the fucked-up thing, rather than news reporting on the fucked-up thing – it just hurts you so much harder, for some reason. It just gives you a much darker view of humanity.”

Mental Health Break

Oct 25 2014 @ 4:20pm

Get some cleaning done this weekend, if you can:

Introducing The Reality Novel

Oct 25 2014 @ 3:38pm

We used to work through social problems with novels, writes Tim Parks, but what if we’ve now entered the era of “reality fiction”?

Readers have become so canny about the way fiction works, so much has been written about it, that any intense work about sexuality, say, or race relations, will be understood willy-nilly as the writer’s reconstituting his or her personal involvement with the matter. Not that people are so crass as to imagine you are writing straight autobiography. But they have studied enough literature to figure out the processes that are at work. In fact, reflecting on the disguising effects of a story, on the way a certain set of preoccupations has been shifted from reality to fiction, has become, partly thanks to literary criticism and popular psychology, one of the main pleasures of reading certain authors. What kind of person exactly is Philip Roth, Martin Amis, Margaret Atwood, and how do the differences between their latest and previous books suggest that their personal concerns have changed? In short, the protection of fiction isn’t really there anymore, even for those who seek it.

Parks goes on to consider the thoughts of David Lodge, who wrote recently in Lives in Writing that “as he gets older he finds himself more interested in ‘fact-based writing’ than in fiction and goes on to offer an account of the lives of eleven writers, most of them novelists”:

Read On