Weekend Reads

Surprise, surprise: being a puppy parent and starting a new job within the same 30 days takes a pretty big toll on one's life. Namely free time with zero interruption. I realize this is a fact of life with a dog (AND KIDS EVENTUALLY I KNOW GUYS), but I'm still getting used to it all -- waking up by 7 a.m. even on the weekends, monitoring Stanley as he attempts to chew every single thing in the apartment (except his toys), taking a quick nap instead of reading, and so on. And I forgot how a new job can be exhausting and stimulating all at once, as I've had to face a learning curve transitioning into technology-oriented projects with more responsibility as well as putting names to faces in my new department. But all of that is just temporary, and I'm looking forward to getting back on track in terms of reading and writing and blogging... perhaps with my newly gained morning hours! Ha. Right now I just drink coffee and watch the news and say NO! to Stanley a million times.

Media outlets continue to bombard the American public with endless stories about the missing Malaysian plane. I'll be honest, I've not been following this much at all, primarily because the onslaught of theories and facts and details and claims is overwhelming. Jack Shafer addresses the issue of overcoverage at Reuters in an important way, noting that humans have always been drawn to stories of disaster and mystery, and that today's media is bound to make mistakes or produce conflicting reports in light of the fast-paced speed of the news world.

malaysia77-1024x680

Though I'm curious about why the plane is missing, and certainly my heart goes out to the families of those on that plane, I guess I don't feel the need to "keep up" with the entire scenario. Is that bad? I don't know.

What do you think -- are you fascinated by the missing plane, keeping up with every news items, or not really paying close attention?

Speaking of news, this detailed explanation of the new NYT Now mobile summary app is extremely interesting. Dan Nosowitz calls it a platform change due to reader trends shifting from web to mobile:  "Mobile news readers are doing something akin to 'snacking': instead of reading the morning paper, or diving deep into news sites on a lunch break, mobile users pull out their phones often, multiple times a day, for shorter lengths of time."

3027710-inline-i-snytimes-01

Definitely true for a lot of folks. I do this all the time, particularly during the week; instead of sitting down to read or watch the news (a luxury often reserved for weekends), I try to stay up to speed during small pockets of downtime. One of my good friends, who is a news anchor in the Quad Cities, even has alerts sent to her phone from various news apps, so that she's constantly informed (part of her job, yeah, but the same concept).

Nosowitz writes, "The idea [with the NYT app] is that at a glance, you can get a sense for what's going on in the world, rather than having to pore through sections and stories as you would on a more traditional app or site. What NYT Now is doing is like an elaborate New York Times-centric Twitter feed: instead of a headline and a link, you get bullet points, a picture, and a link. And you're relying on the NYT Now staff to pick the stories you care about. It's almost like a newsletter, except it updates constantly instead of being sent once a day."

The catch: it's $8 a month. Would you pay it, or do your own summarizing of the news for free?

This next piece is a long read, but crucial for anyone who does any sort of freelancing work via the web. Sarah Kessler spends a month in the "gig economy," a term for a collaborative, shared economy where people work project-to-project rather than for corporate America.

3027355-poster-p-1-pixel-dimed-on-not-getting-by-in-the-sharing-economy

Wow. Her experience is not only a good story, but an incredible testimonial in opposition to digital employment (at least, the way it stands now). I've dipped my toes into these waters over the past year, and I share some of her complaints. All these new sites that promise to deliver paid work? They're not lying, but they usually don't disclose the fact that SO many Internet users are vying for the same $10 position. Especially with all the writing and editing gigs -- I can't tell you how many times I've seen a posting that asks for 20 hours of work but only wants to pay $50 or something equally ridiculous. And the thing is, people are willing to do it.

What do you think of digital employment? Does it really provide a sense of freedom and security in comparison to the corporate world? Have you taken on odd jobs from the web?

Okay, let's talk television. Two great reads for you!

In a recent episode of GIRLS, Marnie works at a friend's art gallery where she tries to help lay out an exhibit with the artists. Jessa storms in and steals the show, naturally (I won't spoil it, but it's a funny scene and predictable to the nature of the characters). But get this: the artist is played by Louise Lasser, an actress who played the protagonist in a unique tv show in the '70's called Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. The show was known as a unique (for its time) critique of American consumer culture. Lasser also happened to be married to Woody Allen for a while, which may or may not be interesting to you, but her commentary on the marriage in this interview with Claire Barliant at The Toast sure is.

louise lasser

And if you're a Mad Men fan who anxiously awaits the final season, you may want to read this interview with the show's creator Matthew Weiner.

matthew weiner

He shares insights on episode themes and character dialogue, how he transposed real moments from his past into anecdotes on the show, why he thinks Don Draper is an Everyman and reflections on why audience viewers love Joan and Peggy and love to hate Betty and Don. Cannot. Wait. For April 13. (For more, see a longer piece by the interviewer, Hanna Rosin of The Atlantic.)

On a completely different note, Katie McDonough at Salon writes a biting essay about recent Republican talk that seems pro-women on the surface... except, oh wait, no. (Disclaimer: I'm Democrat and honestly seek ways to find common ground across parties, but then I read a story like this and it seems impossible. To say the least.) She says, "Republican rhetoric about modern ladies making their modern way in the modern world falls away pretty quickly when you apply a little pressure — particularly when it comes to reproductive rights and abortion care. This becomes abundantly clear in a state like Texas, where women and other people seeking abortion must wait 24 hours, undergo coercive counseling and have their ultrasounds described to them in detail before they can make a decision about their health. . . You’re left with the distinct impression that the GOP believes women can sometimes be fiercely independent — but are mostly really, really stupid." Honestly, I continue to be absolutely baffled that women's reproductive choices are in the arena of political discourse like this at times.

Vent over. Your reward for reaching the end of this post is THIS!

3027906-slide-paulnathan2

Extreme dog grooming photos. These are real life. Get some laughs on this sunshine-y Friday.