Culture

Getting the Paper

The daily paper The Oregonian sent reader Ken Bilderback a note thanking him for being a loyal subscriber. The reader forwarded the note to Jim Romenesko, drily pointing out that loyalty comes at a cost: “Another reason newspapers are failing. We subscribe to The Oregonian. The good news is that we will get the Thanksgiving and Christmas papers we’re paying for. The bad news is that our subscription will be shortened because of it.”

That’s because the “special” holiday editions of the paper cost more, being chock full of good stuff / unnecessary junk like “money-saving coupons.” The conversation continues on Romenesko’s FB page:

Do you invest in your local paper, and if so, do these pricing shenanigans bother you? My local paper is the NYT, and I do subscribe; my loyalty is boundless and my enjoyment — which encompasses the ability to mock without mercy – is priceless.

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Selling Sexless Sex at Abercombie & Fitch

One day in college, on what would have otherwise been a forgettable afternoon, two attractive people approached me outside of my department. The man, with his bionic back, parabolic pectorals and arms fixed at right angles, cut an intimidatingly precise figure. The woman was an implausible series of distends, curves and stares—all unnervingly suggestive. There were no introductions or pleasantries; instead, they presented me with a pristine white card. Looking down at it in hope of an explanation, I read, “Abercrombie and Fitch recruitment.” They stood back proudly and expectantly, letting what I suppose they thought was an honor sink-in. When I showed no response, they resorted to their pitch. They told me that they needed someone like me and that I would really enjoy working at the company. Everyone was exceedingly “cool” and, in fact, it “wouldn’t even seem like a job.”

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Should Economic Equality Have Come Before Marriage Equality?

At the Washington Post, Alyssa Rosenberg reflects on the new movie Prideusing it as a launching pad to discuss whether the LGBTQI[infinity symbol] rights movement made a mistake by putting marriage first, as a goal, instead of economic equality. After all, she writes,

According to a Williams Institute analysis of data from the American Community Survey, lesbian couples in the United States are more likely to live in poverty than married heterosexual couples, and gay African American couples “have poverty rates more than twice the rate of different-sex married African Americans … Almost one in four children living with a male same-sex couple and 19.2 percent of children living with a female same-sex couple are in poverty, compared to 12.1 percent of children living with married different-sex couples. African American children in gay male households have the highest poverty rate (52.3 percent) of any children in any household type.”

Marriage, she argues, only helps those who are partnered for the long-term. Passing a national Non-Discrimination Act would help more broadly. Especially because lots of people in the community are poor. The Williams Institute reports, “We find clear evidence that poverty is at least as common in the LGB population as among heterosexual people and their families.”

Yet many folks — up to and including one of the nation’s most powerful short-sighted bigots men, Justice Antonin Scalia — harbor the misconception that to be gay is to be rich. In an opinion in the 90s, Scalia wrote of the queer community’s “high disposable income” and its concurrent “disproportionate political power.” Presumably Scalia watched an episode of “Will and Grace” and another of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and drew conclusions. But he’s not alone, here or abroad. The Atlantic calls the widespread notion that gays have influence and cash “the Myth of Gay Affluence.”

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Happy Ada Lovelace / Women in Tech Day! Let’s Learn History

Babbage, you may remember, was the mathematician forefather of the computer; Turing helped win WWII; and Byron was a terminally Romantic pansexual poet.

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What Your Sex Life Has to do with Barry Diller and Diane Von Furstenberg

His estimate for how much money he has spent on first dates in the past six months was $1,000. “That’s approximating $15 per, because a first date is one drink: I take her to a bar and then I get a beer, and following suit she usually gets a beer too, even if she leaves half of it, so it’s not too bad.”

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Who’s a Real Artist? Ask the IRS

The New York Times reports felicitous news for working artists with day jobs: they can deduct the expenses associated with creating their art from their taxes, even if those expenses exceed the profits derived from the art. This is good news in the most limited of ways, because it lays bare just how difficult it is to make art profitably, and presents a victory that only a small minority of artists will likely benefit from, but still, the existence of tax benefits for fine artists takes a bit of the sting out of the usual news about tax loopholes.

In a case involving Susan Crile, a tenured studio art professor at Hunter College, the IRS asserted that her art activities were merely ancillary to her teaching, and couldn’t be treated as an independent money-making venture. (“[The IRS] agrees,” the tax court ruling reports, “that petitioner has been a successful, though rarely a profitable, artist.” Thanks, IRS!) The tax court disagreed, affirming that in fact, Crile is a real-life artist, even if only three of her 40 years as an artist were profitable.

But! This does not mean that I can start deducting the costs of cooking rice and beans and buying beer for a twenty-person band rehearsal every week.

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Do You Venmo?

Once upon a time a few days ago, some olds — people who were in their 30s — had (and then published) an inter-office online chat with some youngs — people who were in their 20s on the subject of Venmo, the app whose primary purpose is to facilitate bill paying among friends. It has a social component too, though, which is what shocked the olds.

The youngs tried to explain to the olds why Venmo was convenient and fun. The olds pointed out that if you rearrange the letters the app’s name becomes, appropriately, Venom. The young expressed polite skepticism that the app actually intended to poison them. The olds exploded.

heatherlandy 11:52 AM omg, it’s not bad enough that i have to know that the girl i used to sit next to in social studies just took her 4-year-old to the dentist, now i have to know that one of you paid your roommate for the phone bill??? people, you are just GIVING your privacy away! about sensitive things like money! we all need to have a big talk soon… 

Which side of Venmo divide do you fall on, dear readers? I’m in No Man’s Land: I have no philosophical problem with the app but I don’t use it, either. Do you find it entertaining or horrifying how blase certain people are about sharing financial info with their friends?

Note: I was tempted to title this “Venmo Venmo Venmo,” in homage to the Simpsons episode “Krusty Gets Cancelled” where there’s all this mysterious advertising for “GABBO GABBO GABBO” but that might be too esoteric. It would be, right? Yeah.

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A Billion Dollars in an Elevator: Beyoncé, Jay Z, and Business of Being Pop Culture Royalty

The footage of the fight went viral in part because we rarely see Beyoncé and Jay Z in situations that they do not control. But I’m not interested in the elevator; for me, Beyoncé’s version of damage control was much more captivating than the damage itself.

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How the Gilmore Girls Do Money

The world of Stars Hollow, CT, is indeed a magical one. It rarely snows, and only ever in a picturesque, ad-for-Christmas-in-New-England kind of way. An unzipped coat and vivid scarf are enough to keep one warm. A single working mother can afford a lovely house to share with her daughter, with whom she can also afford to eat out three meals a day and binge on candy while watching rented movies besides.

As part of a truly Faustian bargain — or perhaps an Wildean one, a la Dorian Gray” — all calories ingested by svelte brunette junk-a-holics named Lorelei are absorbed vicariously by Miss Patty. Thus our protagonists can subsist on french fries and Al’s Pancake World take-out Chinese and never gain an ounce. Diabolical.

But we overlook these quirks because Stars Hollow is charming. Its beloved denizens are feminists, bright-eyed and quick-witted, and the show itself is unafraid of dealing in a  realistic manner with the fraught interrelation of money, family, and class. Lili Loofbourow at the Cut explains:  

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Why Don’t American Women Bike To Work?

Do you bike to work? Back when I regularly went to an office, I walked the two miles every morning. I was also a Xootr Commuter for a while (this means I rode a kick scooter while simultaneously being an adult wearing an Ann Taylor Loft sheath dress), but quickly went back to walking.

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Amanda Palmer: “Everything Feels Unstable”

Amanda Palmer released another one of her intense, thought-provoking stream of consciousness blog posts, touching on her friend’s struggle with cancer, her own struggle with her first book, and her decision to avoid reading her own book reviews but to read Lena Dunham’s book reviews instead: “every barb, compliment or dagger that goes into her soft book heart….i can just pretend they’re being aimed at me.”

And then she writes this:

i’ve snuck into some recording studios in the past few weeks to record various weird things for various weird reasons. i wrote a song for jason webley’s kickstarter, i made some songs for a compilation coming out for christmas, i recorded some things that have been burning a hole on my pocket for a while. i’m hoping to get them out into the word soon, but like thom yorke and U2 and every other musician on the planet, i’m flying by the seat of my pants, not totally sure what the right delivery mechanism will be in two weeks, in two years, ever. everything feels unstable. the only think i can trust is that someone out there might want or like me or trust my talent enough to support my song-making endeavors. that’s something i can hold onto.

It’s something I didn’t quite realize was in the back of my mind until I read it.

We don’t know.

I think all the time about whether I’ll have this type of job in two weeks or two years. (Two weeks? Absolutely. Two years? Um.) The way we interact with the written word changes just as quickly as the way we interact with the vocalized one; it mutates and shifts so subtly that we can think “remember when people used to type URLs into their browsers instead of collections of words, remember when people used to read blogrolls instead of Facebook news feeds” and we can sort of remember it but not quite, because it was stored in the part of our brains that didn’t keep things that mattered.

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