In the latest war of words between the United States and North Korea, Kim Jong Un did not pull any punches.
But he may have pulled out an old dictionary.
“I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire,” Kim declared in an unusually direct and angry statement published Thursday by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency.
The North Korean leader’s warning about “fire,” which echoed President Trump’s August statement threatening “fire and fury,” was par for the course in the increasingly tense relationship. On Thursday, Trump announced new financial sanctions to further isolate the country as its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities rapidly escalate.
But Kim’s use of “dotard” was what raised eyebrows, prompting people around the world to Google the old-time insult.
Merriam-Webster defines the noun as “a person in his or her dotage,” which is “a state or period of senile decay marked by decline of mental poise and alertness.”
Oxford’s definition: “An old person, especially one who has become weak or senile.”
Read more at The Washington Post
Dogs just want to have fun and they know how to do it
Jethro bounds toward Zeke, stops immediately in front of him, crouches on his forelimbs, wags his tail, barks, and immediately lunges at him, bites his scruff and shakes his head rapidly from side to side, works his way around to his backside and mounts him, jumps off, does a rapid bow, lunges at his side and slams him with his hips, leaps up and bites his neck, and runs away. Zeke takes off in wild pursuit of Jethro and leaps on his back and bites his muzzle and then his scruff, and shakes his head rapidly from side to side. Suki bounds in and chases Jethro and Zeke, and they all wrestle with one another. They part for a few minutes, sniffing here and there and resting. Then, Jethro walks slowly over to Zeke, extends his paw toward Zeke’s head, and nips at his ears. Zeke gets up and jumps on Jethro’s back, bites him, and grasps him around his waist. They then fall to the ground and mouth wrestle. Then they chase one another and roll over and play. Suki decides to jump in, and the three of them frolic until they’re exhausted. When it’s over, they all look like they couldn’t have been happier. And then, Lolo comes, too, and it all happens once again.
These are some of my field notes, which have been mirrored in thousands of other observations of dogs at play. I’ve been nose deep in dog play for decades, and I never get bored thinking about it or watching dogs romping here and there. Below is a general summary of what we now know about the hows and the whys of play in dogs and other animals. For more specifics about play, please see “How and Why Dogs Play Revisited: Who’s Confused?” and Mechtild Käufer’s excellent book called Canine Play Behavior: The Science of Dogs at Play (for a review of this book please see “Dogs at Play: What They Do, Know, Think, and Feel“).
We’ve all seen it. When dogs play, they look like they’re going crazy, frenetically wrestling, mouthing, biting, chasing, and rolling over, and doing it again and again until they can hardly stand. They use actions such as those seen during fighting or mating in random and unpredictable ways. Play sequences don’t reflect the more predictable patterns of behavior seen in real fighting and mating. The random nature of play is one marker that dogs are indeed playing with one another. They know it and so do we.
When dogs play they joyfully provide a pretty clear window into their heads and hearts. Play is a voluntary activity, and if a dog doesn’t want to play, he or she can opt out. Dogs can quit whenever they want to, and others often seem to know when one dog has had enough for the moment.
Read more at Psychology Today.
Monica Halem calls it the “fertility train.” Every woman who embarks on a cycle of in vitro fertilization is familiar with the ride: the multiple cycles of hormonal stimulation, the pain of the injections, the discomfort and the bloating; then the delicate harvest of eggs to be fertilized outside the body, and the anxious wait for genetic testing on the embryos to make sure they have the right number of chromosomes before they are transferred back; and then, if all of the embryo tests come back abnormal, or the embryos don’t implant, or the pregnancy ends prematurely in miscarriage, the process starts all over again.
“It’s a lot of highs, right?” Halem says. “You’re getting excited, you’re ready. And then when it doesn’t work, which is more times than not, it’s a very low low. Such a depressing low. I mean, there’s-been-times-I-couldn’t-get-out-of-bed low.”
She is sitting at the desk of her office in the dermatology clinic she runs on Fifth Avenue, right across the street from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with its endless rooms of Madonnas bouncing Renaissance bambini on their laps. It is a hot June afternoon, and Halem, 47, looks youthful and sleek in a black summer dress, her skin preternaturally smooth (what do you expect from a board-certified dermatologist?). But tears form in the doctor’s eyes as she relives her ride on the train.
“And to pick yourself up, you’re like, Okay, what’s the next step? And the next step is to try again. And you end up just going and going and going.” Halem first climbed on the train in 2009, and it was a rocky journey — over the next six years, she would visit five different fertility centers, go through dozens of IVF cycles, and endure seven miscarriages. “And it’s so … ,” she adds in a whisper, “so devastating when it doesn’t work.”
Then again, as the baby pictures and crayon drawings that decorate the walls of her office attest, it did work for Halem. In 2012, after an estimated 15 to 20 cycles of IVF and six miscarriages, this single mother became pregnant — at age 42 — and gave birth to a daughter in February 2013. A year later, she tried to get pregnant with a leftover embryo from an earlier cycle and suffered another miscarriage. Then, toward the end of 2014, at age 44, Halem decided she still wanted to try again.
Read more at The Cut
Donna Paz Kaufman has grown used to hearing the melodramatic doom and gloom soundtrack around bookstores. “Every decade I’ve been in this business, somebody has said bookstores are going to die, and it was for a whole different reason,” she says. Since 1992, she’s been consulting with and training independent bookstore owners on how to navigate this ever-changing industry.
The threats have been many: CD-ROM, audio books, e-books, big-box bookstores, online book giants. And yet, Kaufman doesn’t worry about the future of books and bookstores. “There’s something to be said for the human aspect of knowing a good book, and not having it relate to any algorithm,” she says.
In fact, bookstores are making a comeback. Just take a look at the membership numbers of American Booksellers Association (ABA), a trade organization that works with independent bookstores: In 2009, ABA membership hit a low, with just 1,651 locations. Like a phoenix, that number has risen for the last seven years, reaching more than 2,320 locations in 2017. Book sales in independent stores are also up. According to the ABA, book sales in U.S. indie shops grew more than 10 percent in 2015 over the previous year, and in 2016 sales at independent bookstore were up nearly 5 percent.
Even Amazon is getting on board with the brick-and-mortar concept. So far, the online giant has opened 11 physical bookstores across the U.S. Shoppers can peruse the shelves of front-facing books (so you see the cover, like you do on the site) that are, primarily, crowdsourced—they’re rated at least four stars by customers. Reviews that sit next to the books were taken from online customer reviews.
If anything, the new Amazon stores are a study in contrasts with mom-and-pop shops. The Amazon store in Chicago, for example, feels more like a Best Buy than a neighborhood bookstore. It’s transactional, rather than connective. Efficient, rather than cozy. It’s a great place to come and grab the latest bestseller, but not a place where you’d go to lose yourself.
On Tuesday morning, Peter Barbey, owner of the Village Voice, assembled the staff of the storied but turbulent New York City alt-weekly for a meeting. The paper, he said, would cease print operations for the first time since its founding in 1955, but will continue to publish digitally. When the last print issue would hit the red honor boxes wasn’t made clear. The meeting lasted about three minutes. None of the surprised staff asked any questions. A press release went out, and then employees dispersed back to their desks, uncertain about their own immediate future in an even more uncertain media climate.
“I think everybody was stunned,” film editor Alan Scherstuhl told Esquire. “You know how you always expect this will be the last month things keep going? Everybody is kind of surprised, but also like, ‘I can’t believe we got away with it this long.'”
The news comes after more than a decade of the paper toggling between owners, mergers, and separations. But for all the specific changes at the Voice itself, there is a bigger problem across the media in general: declining ad revenues, and, in particular for alt-weeklies, the full-scale migration of classified ads from print to the internet. The Voice‘s future as a newspaper may have just reached its denouement, but it’s been a long time coming.
The Village Voice was the publication that invented the concept of the alt-weekly newspaper, and indeed much of the irreverent, speaking-truth-to-power brand of journalism that we take for granted today. (Ironically, the news came on the one-year anniversary of the end of Gawker, a spiritual nephew for the internet age.) For decades, the Voice set the agenda for the cultural calendar of New York’s underground music and arts scene, and influenced dozens of other papers around the country. For many who read the Voice it was a similar gateway, the definition of urban cool, and generations of young writers grew up fantasizing about seeing their byline printed on its pages. Many of those writers, including myself, eventually did, but the history of people who cut their teeth in the Voice is as impressive as any in American letters. A group of them, including Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Voice stalwarts Tom Robbins, Michael Musto, and Robert Christgau, recently signed onto a letter petitioning the paper to meet the conditions of the Village Voice Union, who were attempting to renegotiate their contracts, something that may or may not have factored into Barbey’s decision, depending on whom you ask.
Neither the Voice‘s editor, Stephen Mooallem, nor Barbey immediately responded to Esquire’s interview requests, but in a press release Barbey said:
“For more than 60 years, The Village Voice brand has played an outsized role in American journalism, politics, and culture. It has been a beacon for progress and a literal voice for thousands of people whose identities, opinions, and ideas might otherwise have been unheard. I expect it to continue to be that and much, much more.”
Over the past 24 hours, I’ve reached out to writers and editors from multiple eras of the paper’s existence to reflect on what the Voice meant for them, and the culture at large, based on their individual subjective memory. Excerpts of those conversations are below, lightly edited for clarity.
Read more at Esquire.
Most of your career earnings take place before age 40, so if you don’t land a high-paying job early, odds are you will be stuck on a lower-earning track for life. First jobs matter, perhaps more than ever before.
A recent academic paper took Social Security records and tracked lifetime earnings for people who started work between the 1950s and 1980s. The economy in the 1950s was more forgiving; there was less inequality among twenty-somethings, and they earned more than their counterparts in later generations, as pay rises steadily shrank for young workers over this period.
For recent graduates, the early signs aren’t good. Inequality is worse and young graduates are paid even less than their parents were at their age. That makes the cost of starting a career in the wrong job higher than it used to be. Lower starting salaries and less job mobility are a bad combination. In 1983, more than 25% of American workers had been in their job less than a 1 year. In 2014, less than 20% had short tenure (pdf, Figure 6).
So where are twenty-somethings getting their start in today’s high-stakes economy? The chart below shows where 23 to 29 year-olds who are not enrolled in school worked in 2016, by job type. The share of men in these roles is in the right-hand column.
Read more at Quartz.
It’s the end of the summer and most employees at Condé Nast are either on vacation or leisurely working through the remaining days leading up to Labor Day weekend. The same is true at Vogue, which sits on the 25th floor of One World Trade Center in New York — but there’s a different sort of energy, a quiet, yet hurried one. The sound of hangers skimming the metal poles of clothing racks intermingles with chatter from editors, who are finishing up end-of-the-year projects while their boss, Anna Wintour, is on holiday, enjoying the last relaxing days before the rush begins for New York Fashion Week and then London, Milan and Paris.
Their work will close out an important year for Vogue, which is feting its 125th anniversary with a host of collaborations, a new conference and editorial projects that nod to the magazine’s past and current mission. The anniversary also comes at a challenging time for print media and fashion magazines in particular, which are still honing their digital voices while working to develop new revenue-generating brand extensions in the face of waning print advertising.
For Vogue, which many view as the crown jewel of Condé Nast, the occasion has provided a moment of reflection on what the publication means today and whether it still holds the same gravitas as it did decades earlier.
Nobody is better able to answer that question than Wintour, who’s been the magazine’s editor in chief since 1988 and, for the last four years, also artistic director of Condé Nast, a company where she built her reputation as one of the most cunning, influential and intimidating editors in fashion — and became a pop-culture figure around the world in the process.
But the landscape has changed since Wintour began her Condé career at Vogue 34 years ago.
Speaking broadly, she thoughtfully addressed the dominant force that is sapping power away from magazines — even hers — explaining that technology has given a platform to everyone, creating the effect of “information overload.”
“I think we’re living, in terms of media, in a very democratic age, but I think that we still look at everything through the lens of Vogue and through our own point of view,” she said, of her title’s mission today. “In the fact that Vogue is someone that can help guide enormous audiences through this fascinating world, I would like to think we are as influential and actually are now reaching so many more people than we ever dreamt of back in the Fifties or the Sixties.”
When asked if she feels as influential as ever, Wintour, whose power-playing persona is the red meat of every Hollywood characterization of a bitchy fashion person (exhibit A: “The Devil Wears Prada”), paused. “Personally?,” she said sheepishly. “That is something I never think about.”
Read more at WWD.
At the time of his death in early 2015, David Carr was a prominent media columnist for The New York Times. He edited the alt-weekly Washington City Paper in the mid-1990s, where he cultivated some of the great journalistic talent of our day. He was both a blunt and colorful writer, with a gift for similes that would make readers snigger with pleasure. “To call something the most popular podcast might seem a little like identifying the tallest leprechaun,” he wrote in one of his Media Equation columns for the Times.
Carr got his start in journalism at the Twin Cities Reader, where he eventually became editor. He then went on to edit the Washington City Paper. Years earlier, he’d struggled with addictions to crack and alcohol, and he eventually turned those rank memories into a bestselling memoir. Along with his duties as a columnist, Carr taught a course on new media at Boston University, where I was his graduate teaching assistant. Amid his kaleidoscope of accomplishments and obligations, Carr still found the time to guide dozens of young people in the arduous process of shaping careers of their own. He did it for me: Carr set me up with the interview that would turn into my first real job in journalism. He died just two weeks before I got my offer letter.
Carr had an unusual gift for recognizing young talent, and an equally unusual willingness to pull that talent up the ladder with him. He hired us for internships and jobs, edited our stories, sent out emails on our behalf, invited us to meetings we were really too junior to be a part of, and introduced us to his most successful and famous friends. But most important of all was this: He told us again and again that we had something special. We were smart, he told us. We were worthy. And we believed him, because he was the best guy we knew.
For The Atlantic’s series on mentorship, “On the Shoulders of Giants,” I spoke with over a dozen of the writers, thinkers, artists, and family members who benefited from Carr’s guidance. What follows are their stories about when Carr acted as their champion, and what he taught them about being a mentor.
Read more at The Atlantic.
Bill Murray turns then ripe old age of 67 today (September 21). He’s been delighting the Internet with his winningly eccentric behaviour for years now and we love him for it. Just last summer, a man tweeted a picture of him brazenly nicking a chip off his friend’s plate while they grabbed a quick snack at Martha’s Vineyard Airport in Massachusetts, and it soon went semi-viral. We feel it’s just the right time to round up some of the best real-life Bill Murray stories being bandied about online. Before we begin, it’s only fair to point out that there’s a whole website dedicated to these anecdotes, and it’s probably the perfect way to waste your lunch break.
1. In early 2016, he reportedly lobbed three mobile phones off a restaurant roof after fans got a bit too eager to grab a selfie with him. Being a gent, Bill later agreed to replace the property that was damaged.
2. In 2014, he was spotted dancing in the crowd at a Kings Of Leon gig in New York City, something which Nathan Followill called “one of the highlights of my career”. He was also seen enjoying Girlpool’s set at SXSW last year.
3. Murray has been spotted riding a children’s bike through branches of Wal-Mart on several occasions, most notably at a store in Southfield, Michigan in 2006, when a man named Jake says the actor was “wearing an obviously heavily used firefighter’s uniform, complete with oxygen tank, [which] made the moment a little too surreal for my tastes”. We hear you, Jake.
4. In 2014, he crashed a random guy’s bachelor party and gave the prospective groom some very wise advice, which thankfully was captured on camera.
Read more at NME
When Amanda Chatel’s husband cheated on her after a year and a half into their marriage, she was flabbergasted. “I think cheating is one of the worst things you can do to a person,” said Chatel, who coped with the shock by throwing herself a lavish divorce party at The Plaza two years ago when she was 35.
She also never anticipated it. She explained that, “I was in my early 30s when I got married, so any interest I would have had to hook up was gone.
“There wasn’t a single ounce of my being that would have even considered cheating.”
Chatel’s attitude is in keeping with a younger generation that seems to view adultery as more cataclysmic than their predecessors.
A new study from the Institute for Family Studies claims 20 percent of those older than 55 years old reported having sex outside of marriage. That’s compared with only 14 percent of those under 55. (The study constitutes infidelity as having sex with anyone but your husband and wife.)
Millennials, generally defined as those born between 1981 and 1997, take a particularly dim view of cheating. While Generation X, born between 1964 and 1981, report a 17 percent extramarital-sex rate, those aged 37 and under claim a rate of 12 percent, according to the study.
Why are millennials so faithful? Could it be that we are all beautiful, pure-hearted people? Maybe, but it’s likely there are other factors at play.
For one thing, millennials are less sexually adventurous than their predecessors. A 2015 study by Jean Twenge that ran in Archives of Sexual Behavior noted that baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) averaged an estimated 11 sexual partners throughout adulthood, while millennials averaged just eight.
Perhaps today’s youth isn’t as hot to trot as the over-55 free-love crowd was in their day. Baby boomers came of age during the “Summer of Love” in 1967, when people were encouraged to “make love not war.” Mate swapping was a fad in the ’70s. Meanwhile, millennials grew up watching the president get impeached for receiving extramarital oral sex. We learned early on that there might be some pretty bad consequences to adultery.
Read more at The NY Post.
Not long ago, Hulu was known primarily as a streaming service for viewers who wanted to relive the glory days of “Seinfeld,” “The Golden Girls,” “South Park” and other TV favorites.
All that changed this year with “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Hulu’s feminist sci-fi series that became a national conversation starter and its biggest success to date. On Sunday, the series, based on the Margaret Atwood novel, took home five Emmy Awards — including the award for outstanding drama series — tying HBO’s “Big Little Lies” for the most wins of the year.
“The Handmaid’s Tale” is the first streaming show to win the drama series award — a feat that neither Netflix nor Amazon could accomplish — and signals Hulu’s ascent to the top ranks of TV. At the same time, its victory represents a win for traditional media, since Hulu is a joint venture between 21st Century Fox, Walt Disney Co., NBCUniversal and Time Warner. “Handmaid’s” was produced by MGM Television, a division of the classic Hollywood studio.
With its big victory, Santa-Monica-based Hulu now looks as if it has finally come of age and is ready to go up against its larger streaming rivals in the fight to land coveted scripts and A-list talent.
Read more at Los Angeles Times
It’s a hazy Saturday afternoon in July and some of the greatest improvisers in the country are assembling in a nondescript office building on Sunset Boulevard in East Hollywood. One by one, they enter Earwolf Studios and greet each other like the old friends they’ve become.
There’s Jon Gabrus, lounging on the couch in front of a wall of colorfully decorated Vans sneakers, one for each of the more than two dozen podcasts Earwolf now produces on a weekly basis. Paul F. Tompkins strolls in looking dapper as ever in a dark green blazer and bright yellow tie with socks to match. Nick Kroll and Mary Holland are grabbing some last-minute nitro cold brew coffee from the office’s built-in tap. Soon, Jason Mantzoukas and Lauren Lapkus have arrived as well, along with the host who will guide them through the highly-anticipated 500th episode of the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast: Scott Aukerman.
Aukerman, who started his career as a writer for Bob Odenkirk and David Cross’ beloved HBO sketch series Mr. Show in the late ‘90s before going on to co-create the web series Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis, has never been quite as famous as the people around him. But as I learned by speaking to dozens of comedians who have appeared on his podcast and the IFC television show it inspired, he is considered the alternative Lorne Michaels in the influence he has had on the contemporary comedy landscape in America.
Comedy Bang! Bang! is the rare comedy podcast that’s actually funny. That’s because instead of talking about comedy, Aukerman and his guests—typically one celebrity appearing as him or herself and one or more comedians playing outrageous characters—actually do comedy on the show. Specifically, they do the type of long-form improv made popular by the Upright Citizens Brigade theater in an audio medium that allows listeners’ imaginations to take over, leading to blissfully surreal and demented scenarios to unfold week after week.
It is a format that has evolved a lot over the eight years since Aukerman first launched the show as a radio broadcast on the now-defunct Indie 103.1 station in 2009, back when it was called Comedy Death-Ray, the same name as the live stand-up show he was hosting at the time at UCB. As legend has it, it was Scott’s wife (“My wife!”)—and host of Earwolf’s Who Charted? podcast—Kulap Vilaysack who came up with the new name in 2011.
Today, Comedy Bang! Bang! regularly receives upwards of two million downloads a month and has spawned a rabid fan base that tracks the backstories and narratives of every fictionalized character in the show’s repertoire—and helped fuel multiple live tours around the country over the past few years. It has also produced the numerous spin-off podcasts that help make up the influential Earwolf network (co-founded by Aukerman), including Womp It Up! with Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham, How Did This Get Made? with Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas, and June Diane Raphael, and Spontaneanation with Paul F. Tompkins.
Over the course of the week leading up to the release of the 500th episode, I spoke to or emailed with as many of the comedians as I could who made Comedy Bang! Bang! the hands-down funniest podcast of all time.
Read more at The Daily Beast.