SEATTLE — A year ago, when Amazon let a homeless shelter for families move into a former motel it owned, it was viewed as a nice but fleeting gesture.
The motel was on a chunk of downtown property where Amazon planned to eventually erect yet another set of sparkling buildings to meet its insatiable need for office space in this city, where it has come to embody both the region’s economic boom and its struggles with affordability. The hotel would be torn down and the shelter kicked out when that time came.
Instead, Amazon has decided to let the shelter stay. In an unusual arrangement, the company has agreed to give the shelter, Mary’s Place, a permanent home inside one of the new office buildings for which it will break ground in the fall.
Read More at The New York Times
Kris Kobach likes to bill himself as “the A.C.L.U.’s worst nightmare.” The Kansas secretary of state, who was a champion debater in high school, speaks quickly for a rural Midwesterner, with the confidence of a man who holds degrees from Harvard, Oxford and Yale Law School, and until January he hosted his own local radio show, which used that line about the A.C.L.U. to introduce each episode. On March 3 he strode into the Robert J. Dole Federal Courthouse in Kansas City, Kan., to face the latest lawsuit filed against him by the civil-liberties organization. In an unusual arrangement for a secretary of state, Kobach, 51, personally argues all of his cases. He seems to see it as a perk of the job — and a mission.
The A.C.L.U. has filed four suits against Kobach since he was elected in 2010. All of them challenge some aspect of his signature piece of legislation, the Secure and Fair Elections Act, or SAFE Act, a 2011 state law that requires people to show a birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers to register to vote. Kobach has long argued that such a law is necessary to prevent noncitizens from registering to vote, a phenomenon that he has repeatedly claimed is both pervasive and a threat to democracy. The A.C.L.U. has countered that the real purpose of the law is not to prevent fraud but to stop the existing electorate from expanding and shifting demographically. The same principle informed the “grandfather clauses” of the Jim Crow era, which exempted most white voters from literacy tests and poll taxes designed to disenfranchise black voters. Even a seemingly small impediment to registration, like a new ID requirement, favors the status quo, and in Kansas, and indeed nationally, the status quo favors the Republican Party.
Read more at the New York Times Magazine.
Every committed hiker has had some frustrations with gear, be it socks that chafed or boots that started to fall apart before the summit. Not everyone follows through with resolutions made back at the trailhead to come better equipped next time. But Tom Chappell, best known (for now) as the co-founder of Tom’s of Maine? This formerly frustrated hiker built a whole company to fix that gear problem. And also, with an eye toward reinvigorating America’s flagging apparel industry, sustainably.
He’d taken a two-week-long trek through Wales in 2008 with his son Matt, now the owner of Gather restaurant in Yarmouth, during which he felt let down by his high-tech hiking garments. They weren’t sufficiently warm, didn’t stay dry and quite frankly, didn’t smell so good. Within weeks of his return he had purchased a spinning machine to experiment with wool fibers at home and was researching making lifestyle clothing in the United States, with natural, sustainably milled and manufactured fabrics.
Read More at Portland Press Herald
This is my last weekly column for The Verge and Recode — the last weekly column I plan to write anywhere. I’ve been doing these almost every week since 1991, starting at the Wall Street Journal, and during that time, I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know the makers of the tech revolution, and to ruminate — and sometimes to fulminate — about their creations.
Now, as I prepare to retire at the end of that very long and world-changing stretch, it seems appropriate to ponder the sweep of consumer technology in that period, and what we can expect next.
Let me start by revising the oft-quoted first line of my first Personal Technology column in the Journal on October 17, 1991: “Personal computers are just too hard to use, and it isn’t your fault.” It was true then, and for many, many years thereafter. Not only were the interfaces confusing, but most tech products demanded frequent tweaking and fixing of a type that required more technical skill than most people had, or cared to acquire. The whole field was new, and engineers weren’t designing products for normal people who had other talents and interests.
Read More at Recode
“I can’t take on the history of 50 percent of the population just because I’m a woman,” says Jenkins, bristling when asked about the heavy responsibility of directing Wonder Woman, the most expensive film ever shot by a person with two XX chromosomes (its $150 million budget surpasses Kathryn Bigelow’s $100 million K-19: The Widowmaker). “I’m just trying to make the greatest version of Wonder Woman that I can for the people who love the character as much as I do and hope that the movie lives up to all the pressure that’s on it.”
Read More at The Hollywood Reporter
On a spring afternoon, Diana Krall sat in an empty Café Carlyle, quoting lines from Woody Allen’s “Hannah and Her Sisters” in a respectable New Yawk accent. Ms. Krall, the jazz pianist and singer, mentioned a scene in which Mr. Allen’s character takes a date to see Bobby Short, the Carlyle’s longtime cultural ambassador.
Ms. Krall met Mr. Short more than two decades ago, while still an aspiring musician. At the time, she was too shy to tell him she played the piano. “I would just sit in the background, in that chair,” she said, pointing toward the back of the room, as far from the stage as the intimate space allows.
The Diana Krall of today isn’t hiding in any corners. Now 52, she is easily the most high-profile female jazz artist of her generation, with a string of gold and platinum albums as well as film and TV projects, including an upcoming Amazon series adapting the children’s book series “Pete the Cat.” (Ms. Krall and her husband, Elvis Costello, voice Pete’s parents.) Ms. Krall is now eager to engage that veteran stature by mentoring younger musicians the way Rosemary Clooney, Marian McPartland and others encouraged her. And on Wednesday she will perform at the Beacon Theater, supporting her latest album, “Turn Up the Quiet,” a collection of standards released in May that was firmly guided by her artistic authority.
Read More at The New York Times
Born in Suzhou, China, on April 26, 1917, Chinese-American architect Ieoh Ming Pei grew up in Hong Kong and Shanghai before moving to the United States to study architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. He then went on to study engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, finishing his studies at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design under the tutelage of former Bauhaus masters Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer.
In 1955, Pei founded his own practice, I.M. Pei & Associates, which later changed its name to Pei & Partners in 1966, becoming Pei Cobb Freed & Partners in 1989. However, a year later, in 1990, Pei retired from full-time practice. Yet, even at 100 years old today, he still takes on some consulting work for Pei Partnership Architects, the firm founded by his sons Chien Chung Pei and Li Chung Pei.
Read more at Dwell.
LOS ALGODONES, Mexico — “Hello, my friends, are you looking for a dentist?” Pablo says, hopping off his perch on a shaded railing at the border crossing into the mid-May morning sun.
Wearing medical scrubs and a welcoming smile, Pablo introduces himself, his hand seamlessly producing a business card from his breast pocket between handshakes. “We have the best prices in town,” he says, confidently running through a litany of dental procedures his employer offers.
It’s a pitch Pablo makes dozens — perhaps hundreds — of times a day to tens of thousands of dental refugees who stream across the border at Yuma, Arizona, each year seeking the affordable dental care they only dream of back home. With an astounding 600 dentists in this town of just 6,000, competition for customers is brisk. And there is no shortage of them.
“Buddy, it’s a mine for us,” Pablo tells me.
Read more at BuzzFeed.
“Jump in!” came a shout from the yacht’s cabin. “You won’t grow a third eye.” This is not what I wanted to hear as I was poised on the bow of a Catalina, working up the courage for a midnight dip. It was a perfect summer’s night: The dark waters were mirror-flat, and the steamy air wrapped the deck in a velvety embrace. But this wasn’t an idyllic corner of the French Riviera, Turkish coast or Adriatic. Two hundred yards away loomed the Statue of Liberty, her golden torch casting a shimmering reflection in the Hudson River.
“We’re at the cleanest place to swim in all of New York Harbor,” continued Avram Ludwig, the unflappable captain of the yacht and self-described “urban explorer,” as he secured the anchor between Liberty and Ellis islands, the Manhattan skyline glittering behind us. “There’s no river traffic, no barges, no industry.” Even better, the ocean tide was coming in, he enthused. Still, the half-dozen other passengers, Broadway actor and actress friends of Ludwig (whose day jobs are movie producer, director and novelist), eyed the river warily and cracked jokes about dead bodies floating past. The unsavory nature of the New York waterways has been an integral part of American urban lore since the 1920s, when industry closed the estuary’s many oyster beds, floating swimming pools and bathhouses. Woody Allen joked that German submarines would sneak into the bathing area of Coney Island beaches during World War II, only to be destroyed by pollution. An entire “Seinfeld” episode revolves around Kramer’s mad plan to swim in the East River and the noisome odors he begins to exude.
Read More at Smithsonian
A pair of platinum-colored Nike running shoes seem to levitate above a pedestal in the middle of a circular room. The left and right sneakers point outward, each poised at 45 degrees. Spotlights give them an ethereal glow and, here and there, illuminate strands of silvery suspension filament strung from the ceiling in a “V.” The walls, floor, ceiling, and pedestal are all white, save for a deep blue circle painted above. Were a choir to file in and begin singing hallelujahs, it wouldn’t seem out of place. Instead, there is Brett Holts, Nike Inc.’s vice president for running footwear, surrounded by about a dozen reporters and photographers.
Read More at Bloomberg