In the News 22.11.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 22.11.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 22.11.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 22.11.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Harvey Weinstein’s Secret Settlements

On April 20, 2015, the Filipina-Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez sat in an office in midtown Manhattan with an eighteen-page legal agreement in front of her. She had been advised by her attorney that signing the agreement was the best thing for her and her family. In exchange for a million-dollar payment from Harvey Weinstein, Gutierrez would agree never to talk publicly about an incident during which Weinstein groped her breasts and tried to stick his hand up her skirt.

“I didn’t even understand almost what I was doing with all those papers,” she told me, in her first interview discussing her settlement. “I was really disoriented. My English was very bad. All of the words in that agreement were super difficult to understand. I guess even now I can’t really comprehend everything.” She recalled that, across the table, Weinstein’s attorney was trembling visibly as she picked up the pen. “I saw him shaking and I realized how big this was. But then I thought I needed to support my mom and brother and how my life was being destroyed, and I did it,” she told me. “The moment I did it, I really felt it was wrong.”

Weinstein used nondisclosure agreements like the one Gutierrez signed to evade accountability for claims of sexual harassment and assault for at least twenty years. He used these kinds of agreements with employees, business partners, and women who made allegations—women who were often much younger and far less powerful than Weinstein, and who signed under pressure from attorneys on both sides.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker


Detroit: The Most Exciting City in America?


I’ve always found the best way to read a city’s mood is on a bicycle. You move at a speed that allows for a kind of mutual handshake with the urban topography.

This past summer I shook hands with Detroit. Specifically, I signed up for Slow Roll, a mass social bike ride. Slow Roll (pronounced “Sloow Roooooooooll!”) was co-founded seven years ago by Jason Hall and Mike MacKool as a small, motley group of cyclists who bonded while riding motorless in the Motor City, evading the police and potholes and irate drivers. Over the years, Slow Roll has evolved and grown up alongside its hometown and now the Detroit police escort as many as 4,000 Slow Rollers on a weekly ride designed to highlight one of the city’s many historic neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, the Slow Roll I was supposed to take part in was canceled hours before its start because of a threatening thunderstorm. But, as the old saying goes, “80 percent of life is showing up.” So I showed up.

The Slow Roll gathering point, in front of the old Masonic Temple, was a ghost town. There was me, a young African-American man named Woody who had been Slow Rolling since the beginning (“Since before the beginning”) and three middle-aged white women who had come in from the suburbs. This was their first Slow Roll and they hadn’t heard the ride had been canceled.

“Don’t worry,” said Woody. “They’re coming.”

The women looked doubtful beneath their bicycle helmets. Not too long ago suburbanites rarely came downtown. I remember visiting Detroit in 2001 and being unnerved by how empty the streets were. It felt like the beginning of a zombie apocalypse movie. The national media participated in constructing this portrait of Detroit as the ultimate failed American city, artfully feeding the public’s appetite for ruin porn with photos of decaying buildings, majestic theaters crumbling into dust, trees sprouting through walls.

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

Tuscany Tote in Midnight

Shop the Tuscany Tote in Midnight
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How to Tell If You’re a Jerk

Here’s something you probably didn’t do this morning: Look in the mirror and ask, am I a jerk?

It seems like a reasonable question. There are, presumably, genuine jerks in the world. And many of those jerks, presumably, have a pretty high moral opinion of themselves, or at least a moderate opinion of themselves. They don’t think of themselves as jerks, because jerk self-knowledge is hard to come by.

Psychologist Simine Vazire at the University of California, Davis argues that we tend to have good self-knowledge of our own traits when those traits are both evaluatively neutral (in the sense that it’s not especially good or bad to have those traits), and straightforwardly observable.

For example, people tend to know whether they are talkative. It’s more or less okay to be talkative and more or less okay to be quiet, and in any case your degree of talkativeness is pretty much out there for everyone to see. Self-ratings of talkativeness tend to correlate fairly well with peer ratings and objective measures. Creativity, on the other hand, is a much more evaluatively loaded trait—who doesn’t want to think of themselves as creative?—and much less straightforward to assess. In keeping with Vazire’s model, we find poor correlations among self-ratings, peer ratings, and psychologists’ attempts at objective measures of creativity.

The question “am I really, truly a self-important jerk?” is highly evaluatively loaded, so you will be highly motivated to reach a favored answer: “No, of course not!” Being a jerk is also not straightforwardly observable, so you will have plenty of room to reinterpret evidence to suit: “Sure, maybe I was a little grumpy with that cashier, but she deserved it for forgetting to put my double shot in a tall cup.”

Read the rest of this article at: Nautilus


Rise of the Robots

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It’s dusk and Robert Hermann is driving an eighteen-wheeler down a narrow road lined with fields and neat hedges. We’re in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, and the silhouettes of the Coast Mountains loom on the horizon. As the truck passes farms and barns, Hermann, sixty-one, rolls down the window and inhales—animal manure and moist dirt. “Smells like money,” he says, and laughs.

Hermann has been driving trucks for thirty-five years. He’s carried tomatoes and gasoline and wood chips and firehoses across the continent, BC to Louisiana, Los Angeles to Toronto. On this night in early May, Hermann and a group of other truckers are preparing to haul 110,000 chickens from a farm near Abbotsford to an abattoir in the middle of Vancouver. The birds are thirty-nine days old and it’s time for slaughter.

He steers past a sign that reads, “do not enter biosecurity in effect” and pulls up to two long aluminum barns. “I’ll tell you right off the bat,” Hermann says as he manoeuvres the truck, “I hate automatics.” He’s filling in for another driver and he borrowed the vehicle. “I hate it!” he says as it stutters through the gears.

A van arrives and a crew of chicken catchers pours out, ready for the overnight shift. They hunch over lit cigarettes, backpacks slung on their shoulders as they wait under the yard light. Hermann gets the truck into position and turns on the radio—he needs to wait until the cargo is loaded. Inside one of the barns, the chicken catchers pace up and down, grabbing birds by the legs and stuffing them into cages.

Read the rest of this article at: The Walrus

What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men?


Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, William Burroughs, Richard Wagner, Sid Vicious, V. S. Naipaul, John Galliano, Norman Mailer, Ezra Pound, Caravaggio, Floyd Mayweather, though if we start listing athletes we’ll never stop. And what about the women? The list immediately becomes much more difficult and tentative: Anne Sexton? Joan Crawford? Sylvia Plath? Does self-harm count? Okay, well, it’s back to the men I guess: Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Lead Belly, Miles Davis, Phil Spector.

They did or said something awful, and made something great. The awful thing disrupts the great work; we can’t watch or listen to or read the great work without remembering the awful thing. Flooded with knowledge of the maker’s monstrousness, we turn away, overcome by disgust. Or … we don’t. We continue watching, separating or trying to separate the artist from the art. Either way: disruption. They are monster geniuses, and I don’t know what to do about them.

We’ve all been thinking about monsters in the Trump era. For me, it began a few years ago. I was researching Roman Polanski for a book I was writing and found myself awed by his monstrousness. It was monumental, like the Grand Canyon. And yet. When I watched his movies, their beauty was another kind of monument, impervious to my knowledge of his iniquities. I had exhaustively read about his rape of thirteen-year-old Samantha Gailey; I feel sure no detail on record remained unfamiliar to me. Despite this knowledge, I was still able to consume his work. Eager to. The more I researched Polanski, the more I became drawn to his films, and I watched them again and again—especially the major ones: Repulsion, Rosemarys BabyChinatown. Like all works of genius, they invited repetition. I ate them. They became part of me, the way something loved does.

I wasn’t supposed to love this work, or this man. He’s the object of boycotts and lawsuits and outrage. In the public’s mind, man and work seem to be the same thing. But are they? Ought we try to separate the art from the artist, the maker from the made? Do we undergo a willful forgetting when we want to listen to, say, Wagner’s Ring cycle? (Forgetting is easier for some than others; Wagner’s work has rarely been performed in Israel.) Or do we believe genius gets special dispensation, a behavioral hall pass?

And how does our answer change from situation to situation? Certain pieces of art seem to have been rendered unconsumable by their maker’s transgressions—how can one watch The Cosby Show after the rape allegations against Bill Cosby? I mean, obviously it’s technically doable, but are we even watching the show? Or are we taking in the spectacle of our own lost innocence?

Read the rest of this article at: The Paris Review

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.