5/14/15

Things to Read - Interesting Articles from Around the Web (on THAT family, Redundancy, A Finnish Town that Went on a Diet, On Demand Everything, and Sally Mann)

1. (THAT family) - The New York Times asks (and tries to answer), "Where Would the Kardashians Be Without Kris Jenner?"

"There are still people who dismiss Kris Jenner, 59, and her family — Kourtney, Kim and Khlo√© Kardashian, all in their 30s; her son, Rob Kardashian, 28; and Kendall and Kylie Jenner, 19 and 17 — as “famous for being famous,” a silly reality-show family creating a contrived spectacle. But we have reached the point at which the Jenners and the Kardashians are not famous for being famous: They are famous for the industry that they’ve created, the Kardashian/Jenner megacomplex, which has not just invaded the culture but metastasized into it, with the family members emerging as legitimate businesspeople and Kris the mother-leader of them all."
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2. (Redundancy) - Do you sometimes feel like everything looks the same?

"Ok, I’m exaggerating a little, but let me explain for a second. I was walking down the street with my friend Alexandra recently, and we passed by a new home decor store, and I asked her if she liked it. I loved her response:

“Yeah, it’s ok. I mean, it’s basically the ambient taste right now.”

Me: “What do you mean, ambient taste?”

“Oh, you know – it’s kind of what everyone likes these days, you see it everywhere, and you like it too without even really thinking about it.”

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3. (Unintentionally Dieting Finns) - The Finnish Town that Went on a Diet

"Puska and his team approached the Martha Organization, a powerful women’s organization with several local clubs, to help spread the word. Together, Puska and the clubs hatched the idea of holding afternoon “longevity parties,” where a member of Puska’s team would give a short talk encouraging them to replace butter with oil, meat with vegetables, cut salt, and stop smoking. They gave the women a recipe book that added vegetables to traditional North Karelian dishes and cooked and served them. North Karelian stew, for instance, typically had only three main ingredients—water, fatty pork, and salt—but the team replaced some of the pork with rutabagas, potatoes, and carrots. The women liked the new version of the dish, which they named “Puska’s stew.” By showing these women how to cook plant-based meals that tasted good, Puska had found a way to disseminate the health message better than any leaflet could.

Inspired by a former professor, Everett Rogers, who came up with the idea of “opinion leaders,” Puska next went from village to village recruiting “lay ambassadors.” Believing that the best way to spark cultural change was from the bottom up, he recruited some 1,500 people, usually women who were already involved in other civic organizations. He gave each ambassador an identification card, taught them simple messages about reducing salt and animal products, and encouraged them to talk to their friends."
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4. (On Demand Everything) - Lauren Smiley documents The Shut in Economy.

"Five months ago I moved into a spartan apartment a few blocks away, where dozens of startups and thousands of tech workers live. Outside my building there’s always a phalanx of befuddled delivery guys who seem relieved when you walk out, so they can get in. Inside, the place is stuffed with the goodies they bring: Amazon Prime boxes sitting outside doors, evidence of the tangible, quotidian needs that are being serviced by the web. The humans who live there, though, I mostly never see. And even when I do, there seems to be a tacit agreement among residents to not talk to one another. I floated a few “hi’s” in the elevator when I first moved in, but in return I got the monosyllabic, no-eye-contact mumble. It was clear: Lady, this is not that kind of building.

Back in the elevator in the 37-story tower, the messengers do talk, one tells me. They end up asking each other which apps they work for: Postmates. Seamless. EAT24. GrubHub. Safeway.com. A woman hauling two Whole Foods sacks reads the concierge an apartment number off her smartphone, along with the resident’s directions: “Please deliver to my door.”
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5. (Sally Mann) - What an artist captures, what a mother knows and what the public sees can be dangerously different things.

"For all the righteous concern people expressed about the welfare of my children, what most of them failed to understand was that taking those pictures was an act separate from mothering. When I stepped behind the camera and my kids stepped in front of it, I was a photographer and they were actors, and we were making a photograph together. And in a similar vein, many people mistook the photographs for reality or attributed qualities to my children (one letter-­writer called them “mean”) based on the way they looked in the pictures. The fact is that these are not my children; they are figures on silvery paper slivered out of time. They represent my children at a fraction of a second on one particular afternoon with infinite variables of light, expression, posture, muscle tension, mood, wind and shade. These are not my children at all; these are children in a photograph.

Even the children understood this distinction. Once, Jessie, who was 9 or 10 at the time, was trying on dresses to wear to a gallery opening of the family pictures in New York. It was spring, and one dress was sleeveless. When Jessie raised her arms, she realized that her chest was visible through the oversize armholes. She tossed that dress aside, and a friend remarked with some perplexity: “Jessie, I don’t get it. Why on earth would you care if someone can see your chest through the armholes when you are going to be in a room with a bunch of pictures that show that same bare chest?”

Jessie was equally perplexed at the friend’s reaction: “Yes, but that is not my chest. Those are photographs.”

Exactly."

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