February 10, 2014
The new TV show "The Samaritans" is a mockumentary inspired by The Office about the perils – and pleasures – of the “NGO world”. Created by a Kenya-based production company, it chronicles the work of Aid for Aid – an NGO that, in the words of its creator, “does nothing.” Over at Warscape, some wry advice for a "development officer of a not-for-profit yearning for a celebrity of your very own" after Downton Abbey's Elizabeth McGovern flubbed her "African adventure," mixing up Dakar with Darfur. “We have to break in our new celebrities slowly,” confides Sarah Wilson, a World Vision representative who is chaperoning McGovern on the trip. “There will be lots of breaks so she doesn’t get overloaded.” (previously) (previouslier) (more previouslier)
Forty years before "Modern Family" and "The Bachelor", ABC was... well, you can see for yourself: A thirty-three minute promo for the American Broadcasting Company from 1974.
How Iowa Flattened Literature
The Iowa Writers’ Workshop emerged in the 1930s and powerfully influenced the creative-writing programs that followed. More than half of the second-wave programs, about 50 of which appeared by 1970, were founded by Iowa graduates. Third- and fourth- and fifth-wave programs, also Iowa scions, have kept coming ever since. So the conventional wisdom that Iowa kicked off the boom in M.F.A. programs is true enough. [...] Over the past 40 years, creative writing’s small-is-beautiful approach has served it well, as measured by the discipline’s explosive growth while most of its humanities counterparts shrink and cower. The reasons for this could fill many essays. For one thing, creative writing has successfully embedded itself in the university by imitating other disciplines without treading on their ground. A pyramid resembles a pedagogy—it’s fungible, and easy to draw on the board. Introductory math and physics professors like to draw diagrams too, a welcome analogy for a discipline wishing both to establish itself as teachable and to lengthen its reach into the undergraduate curriculum, where a claim of pure writerly exceptionalism won’t cut it.
Alien is a very strange but alluring music video from Japanese hardcore band Maximum the Hormone. [more inside]
Stefan Grabiński is often called "the Polish Poe" or "the Polish Lovecraft," which are both useful for short-hand, but don't quite capture Grabiński's style. As suggested by China Miéville in the Guardian, "where Poe's horror is agonised, a kind of extended shriek, Grabinski's is cerebral, investigative. His protagonists are tortured and aghast, but not because they suffer at the caprice of Lovecraftian blind idiot gods: Grabinski's universe is strange and its principles are perhaps not those we expect, but they are principles - rules - and it is in their exploration that the mystery lies." If you haven't heard of Grabiński, it is probably because only a few of his works have recently been translated to English. The primary translator is Miroslaw Lipinski, who runs a site dedicated to Grabiński. You can read Lipinksi's translation of Strabismus (PDF linked inside), and The Wandering Train online. [more inside]
Can you live on the minimum wage? NYTimes.com has provided you with a handy calculator to find out.
"I saw the trailer for Captain Alex [previously on mefi], and two weeks later I flew from NYC to Uganda." Redditor Uncle_Benon shares a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at filming an action flick in Wakaliwood, a studio based in the slums of Wakaliga, outside Uganda's capital city. [more inside]
New York's SAFE act sought to ban so-called "assault weapons" by making certain physical features of such guns illegal in the state. Enterprising machinists have now created a modified version of the venerable AR-15 which complies with the law. The New York State Police have declared that the gun is legal, and prototypes are being shown in gun shops all over the state.
"How Girls is Like Little Women": Chiara Atik argues that the characters in the HBO show Girls are essentially modern-day versions of the March sisters in Louisa May Alcott's classic American novel Little Women. "The characters of the show are analagous in a way that suggests these four girls — the writer, the responsible one, the sweet one, and the wild-child — are time-honored archetypes for American women, rather than products of their creator’s imagination. Or maybe American society and American girlhood just haven’t changed that much in the past 150 years." [more inside]
447 years ago this morning, the Provost's house at Kirk o' Field, Edinburgh, was annihilated in an explosion. Lord Darnley, king consort to Mary, Queen of Scots, had been staying in the house to recuperate from a bout of pox; his body was found in a nearby orchard, unburnt but asphyxiated. Rafael Sabatini recounts the possible course of events in his Historical Nights' Entertainment, a two volume anthology of murders, court intrigues, and scandals. [more inside]
The deathspiral of the "like". Australian science vlogger Derek Muller of Veritasium makes a convincing case for why Facebook likes are becoming less and less useful for brands --- and why paying for ads on Facebook locks you into a cycle of dependency which actually makes it harder to reach people who actually care about your content. (SLYT, 9min).
I Took Off My Hijab By adding more layers. A knit hat and scarf around my neck to be exact.
Stuart Hall, influential theorist and founder of New Left Review, has died aged 82. Born in Jamaica on February 3rd, 1932, Stuart Hall became a beacon of the New Left in Britain, a hugely influential cultural theorist (as one of the founding figures of British Cultural Studies) and an incisive critic of Thatcherism.
The Made Up Words Project is an on-going undertaking by illustrator Rinee Shah (who you may remember from her Seinfood poster series.) The goal is to collect and catalog the made up words that we share with family and friends.
"Such esoteric partnerships can confuse the authorities. Last November the Home Office invited journalists to accompany officers on a raid of an apparent sham wedding between an Italian man and a Chinese woman in north London. After interrogating the bride, groom and guests, the officers emerged sheepishly to admit that the union was probably real." -- The Economist looks at the rise of mixed race Britain and the changing ethnic makeup of the UK.
Jimmy Fallon signs off The Late Show with an homage to The Last Waltz (SLYT). With Muppets. Lots of Muppets. (Past awesome Late Show musical numbers: previously and previously and previously but that's really just a start.)
In possibly the largest Southern progressive protest since Selma in 1965, 75,000 to 100,000 people marched on Raleigh, North Carolina this Sunday in protest against the recently elected conservative government’s radical agenda. Once a comparatively moderate Southern state, the government North Carolina elected in 2010 has begun a systematic campaign [previously] to remove 50 years of progressive legislation from the state. Weekly Moral Mondays protests [previously], beginning in April 2013, have been ongoing, but this march represents the biggest gathering so far in protest of the NC government. [more inside]
Deciding on a career in the real world is hard enough, but for those who live in the fictional realm of romantic comedies, the prospects are even slimmer. (SLAV Club)
Deklarasyon Endepandans Ayiti: Rechèch pou jwenn dokiman ki pèdi nan Achiv Mond Atlantik la [more inside]
"The National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes – an unreliable tactic that results in the deaths of innocent or unidentified people." - Scahill and Greenwald @ The Intercept [more inside]
With recognition software making the use of recycled term papers impractical, a new service is now allowing students to hire unemployed professors to write term papers from scratch.
"A college student who's very unlucky. Sounds like me." Long Story Short. [YouTube comedy web series] [more inside]