August, 2011

Aug 11

Sharing Is Caring

In an interesting social experiment, Jonathan Stark has showcased the more constructive aspects of social media – its ability to bring people together and create positive bonds throughout society.

Last week, Stark made his Starbucks card available for anyone to use. He encouraged Internet users to simply scan the barcode of his card with their iPhone at any shop to purchase coffee, pastries, or whatever their hearts desired, but as part of the deal he encouraged users to donate money to help refill the card.

Far from resulting in a tragedy of the commons, in which users recklessly abused the generosity of others, the card seemed to be a great success. Sadly, Starbucks has chosen to shut down the operation, but on the bright side according to Stark’s website the card has sparked numerous acts of random kindness.

“In the last 5 days or so, we’ve received hundreds of stories of people doing small things to brighten a stranger’s day: Paying for the next car at the drive through. Sharing a pick me up with someone who has had a rough time. Charging up a phone card and sharing it with strangers at the airport. The list goes on, and on, and on…”

Hopefully this social experiment will also encourage you to go out and do a nice thing for someone today.

Meanwhile for more evidence of the inherent kindness of others and their willingness to sacrifice for strangers, have a look at this article in Pluck about my experience on Obama campaign in New Mexico.


Aug 11

The Morning Benders – Last Nite (Cover)

Check out the latest Morning Benders’ track, a cover of “Last Nite” by The Strokes.

In a departure from their usual sound, the Morning Benders opted to abandon their guitar driven melodies for electronic beats and dreamy synths to give “Last Nite” a totally different feel.
For fans of The Morning Benders and The Strokes this is bound to make your day.

More please!

Meanwhile if you’re still in the mood for some music and procrastination, check out my latest post over at Pluck Magazine about judging bands by their photos.

The Morning Benders – Last Night (Strokes Cover) by The Morning Benders

Note: This post originally appeared on my other blog Aesthetes Anonymous.


Aug 11

Need A Sugar Daddy? There’s A Site For That

I know that times are tough out there and for centuries young nubile women have entered into less than ideal relationships with older men for financial stability, but this recent website I came across shocked me nonetheless.

On, an online dating site, sugar babies can sign up to look for their sugar daddies and vice versa. According to the site, a sugar baby is an “attractive, ambitious and young” gal (or guy) who “[seeks] a generous benefactor to pamper, mentor and take care of you — perhaps to help you financially.” Meanwhile sugar daddies are “rich and successful,” and they can even be “single or married” because they have “no time for games.” These sugar daddies are looking for a “personal secretary,” “student,” or “a mistress for an extra-marital affair.”

I suppose the horrifying thing about this whole thing is not that old men seek young female companions using money as a lure and women willingly reciprocate for said money, but rather to see this type of relationship so boldly manifested in an online dating site is like a glaring stain on our collective conscience.

If you’re curious you can head over to to see for yourself. If that’s not up your alley, you can try their other sites and (I’ll leave it to your imagination to figure out what these two sites cater to).

Meanwhile for a more in-depth look at the types of folks who are signing up for sugar daddies, the Huffington Post had an interesting piece on the site, which you can view here.

I’m currently crafting my own profile for the site in the hopes of snagging a sugar mamma, so if you have any tips and suggestions feel free to send them my way.


Aug 11

Time For A Chat

Maybe right now is a good time for a talk. Maybe it’s time for a moment to stop and listen and reflect, to give and take some suggestions. Maybe with the streets of London aflame, the world stock markets cratering, and political parties fighting wars of attrition, it’s the right time for a chat.

Start that conversation at the Do Lectures, a speaker series of “ideas and energy”, as the organizers say. From the beginning, the Do Lectures have tried to hew to a slightly more down-to-earth set of values than the TED giants. Beginning in the earthy valleys of Wales, the Do Lectures have always been small, and always encouraged the audience to ask questions of the eclectic presenters.

The first round in 2008 featured a professional forager, a beekeeper, and a man who builds mountain biking trails. Though they have gotten more high-profile as the years have progressed, and now even feature a series in California wine country, the Do Lectures have tried to stay close to their quirky roots- this year’s speakers include energy entrepreneurs, midwives, ecologists, and surfers.

Spark your own discussions with our 3-part series on Detroit, America’s most interesting city.


Aug 11

Breaking News: Facebook breakups not cool

What is our world coming to? It seems that kids these days have to be taught how to interact face to face instead of just telling people important things via Facebook status updates.

According to a recent New York Times article, teens most commonly break up over text message or Facebook status changes. It seems that with the protective social cocoon of online interactions, teens have retreated further behind its protective shield to avoid awkward confrontations.

In an attempt to show teens the polite way to do things, the Boston Public Health Commission has begun giving seminars that teach teens how to have a “healthy breakup.”

At a recent seminar, several teens admitted that they had found out that their significant others had broken up with them by changing their Facebook status. One teen even went so far as to say, “When I’m done with a relationship, I’m not going to wait a day, an hour or even 10 minutes to update my status.”

“When it’s over, it’s over. I’m done with you,” he continued.

Sigh. What happened to the good ol’ days?

See when I was in middle school, you would just tell your friend to tell your girlfriend’s friend to tell her that you wanted to break up and vice versa. Why can’t people just step up to the plate and do that anymore?

Kids these days, what can ya say?

Head over to the Times to read the full article.


Aug 11

True Adventures – Anthony Nicaj

Several months ago, my co-worker, Anthony Nicaj, told me he was leaving the online publication where we both worked to walk across the country.

“Uh-huh,” I said trying to mask my incredulity.

He went on to explain his plan to buy a kind of modified stroller to carry his belongings and of his route through the northern United States which he planned to take during the most destructive flood and tornado season in history.

Naturally, I was a bit skeptical, but I have been gladly proven wrong. Starting in New York, Anthony has already made his way to Wyoming, Kerouacing his entire way there.

Have a look at his Flickr site as he documents his travels through the heart of America meeting complete strangers who share his unwavering optimism. In his photos, one can plainly see his love for life, his sense of adventure, and the endless supply of hospitality from the complete strangers that he encounters on the road.

If this doesn’t restore your faith in humanity or inspire you to walk across the country, I don’t know what will.

Have a look at a few of my favorites below and be sure to head over to his site to the rest.


Aug 11

Al Jazeera, Give it a Whirl

Maybe it was the endless coverage of the debt ceiling debacle. Maybe it was my thinning schadenfreude towards the Murdoch scandal. Whatever it was, somehow I started watching Al Jazeera English, a 24 hour streaming news channel and the sister agency of Al Jazeera, the Arabic news channel.

Obviously, Al Jazeera has controversial connotations in the United States, where its willingness to feature “dissenting viewpoints,” is frowned up on and its cultural base is framed as closer to that of America’s enemies than that of the West. However, Al Jazeera English is a fascinating confluence of East and West, with headquarters in Doha and a geographically rotating source of news, with broadcasting centers in Doha, London, and Washington, DC, as well as news outlets in Gaza and Harare.

The mission of Al Jazeera is “to give voice to untold stories, promote debate, and challenge established perceptions,” for the more than 1 billion English speaking people, who may or may not have a Western worldview.

While seeing coverage on American issues was interesting (notably absent “lifestyle” articles), the range and angle of the topics that they cover is fascinating and should make each and every American news junkie think again.

Just compare Al Jazeera’s “Most Viewed” as of 8/2/2011 to CNN’s and the New York Times:

Al Jazeera

  • In Pictures: The start of Ramadan
  • Islamophobia, Zionism and the Norway massacre
  • Mobile biometrics to hit US streets
  • Gaddafi forces ‘launch Zlitan offensive’
  • Military hawks upset with debt deal
  • Protesters across Syria come under fire
  • Unsafe at any speed?
  • Has the Arab Spring arrived in Israel?
  • Israel ‘sees border talks if PA drops UN bid’


  • Syria: ‘Brother of a whore’ tossed like trash
  • Space shuttle Columbia part found in Texas
  • Man detained after jumping White House fence
  • Obama signs debt ceiling bill, ends crisis

New York Times

  • Tea Party’s War on America
  • Ancient Moves for Orthopedic Problems
  • Who Falls to Addiction, and Who Is Unscathed?
  • Reaping Millions in Nonprofit Care for Disabled
  • Putting an Antebellum Myth to Rest
  • Pearls, Finer but Still Cheap, Flow From China
  • The President Surrenders
  • Study Sheds Light on Auditory Role in Dyslexia

There are exactly two articles in the American news outfits that even mention another country and the Chinese article appears to be about the Chinese market for pearls and how it is affecting the American one. It is not that this is inherently wrong, but it does contribute to the overall reputation that the United States is totally unaware of how it comes off to the world.

I will stand by my apple-pie-news-source staples, but hey, give Al Jazeera English a whirl. You might learn something new about what’s going on in America.


Aug 11

True Adventures – Elspeth Beard

On the heels of Eugene’s post on Everett Ruess, let’s take a look at another adventurer who eschewed boots and mules for a more refined horsepower. In the late 1970’s, Elspeth Beard- whose trip photographs are proudly displayed at The Selvedge Yard- rode a motorcycle across contentious nation states, dirt highways, and malarial coastlines to become the first woman to circle the globe via motorbike.

Saving up cash from her job bartending, Beard took time off from her architectural studies in London, loaded her BMW R-60 onto a flight, and set off from New York on what would become a three year, 48,000-mile trek.

After convalescing from a bad crash in New Zealand on an early leg of her journey, Beard wore her helmet religiously- but didn’t cancel her trip. Instead, she plugged onwards to Singapore, where her passport was stolen, then on to Thailand, where she recovered from a crash under the care of a poor Thai family who fed her the dog she had just run over.

Bouts of dysentery and malaria struck in India, as did the crossing of a jittery post-partition border between India and Pakistan. Her beloved helmet helped disguise her gender as she crossed Iran, and a bumpy ride across Yugoslavia’s Highway of Death ended with her back in Western Europe. You can read more on her exploits in this Motorcyclist Magazine piece.

Today she lives in a restored Victorian water tower in Britain, having raised a son as a single parent and established her own well-respected architectural firm.

Not a bad resume to emulate on our own adventures.

Meanwhile if you’re in the mood to read about the exploits of a contemporary, check out the adventures of one Pluck contributor who travelled solo across the United States for nearly a year.


Aug 11

Motivation to Run

In an ambitious move designer and running enthusiast Joan Pons Moll plans on drawing every letter of the alphabet using GPS and long circuitous jogging paths.

Using RunKeeper, a GPS tracking app for runners, Moll is able to map out paths that resemble letters. Far more difficult than traditional typography, Moll’s first attempt to draw a capital letter “A,” involved a torturous nine-mile route.

As if that weren’t difficult enough, the ambitious designer lives on the Spanish island of Menorca, where streets are not laid out in grids forcing him to dash through open fields, circular streets, and even rough coastline trails.

“It’s a beautiful place to live,” he says, “but running definitely gets tricky.”

Although, as a relatively new runner who needs some inspiration, Moll says the challenge is perfect for motivation. “It’s a definite reason to keep running,” he says.

Follow his progress on his site Running Alphabet, or if you’re interested in helping him out, you can even run your own letter. Click here for more details.


Aug 11

You Actually Get Paid For That? Stoner Columnist

Wish you could get paid to get high, generate, like the most amazing ideas ever, and then…wait, what were we talking about again?

While most people seem generally unable to turn their weed smoking habits into a living, Tess Lynch appears to be the exception.

Writing as GOOD magazine’s marijuana culture columnist and the curator of her own blog, Wipe Your Feet, Lynch turns her stoned musings into entertaining gems that you don’t have to be high to appreciate. For instance in her most recent article on how to make television ads more suitable for stoners, she writes a pitch for the Toyota Camry:

“Open on a school parking lot. Our hero is sitting in the car. The digital clock reads 8:01 a.m. We see him start to open the door, then change his mind. He reclines the seat all the way back. He opens the sunroof. A butterfly flies in the sunroof and lands on the hero’s nose. Dozens of butterflies follow, and the car becomes a spaceship, and then a logo appears made of stars that says “FUTURE,” underneath which would be a meteor tugging a banner that says “IT’S SAFE IN HERE.” We zoom out to find that the hero is hurtling through space and skipping school at the same time, which is aspirational. The space ship becomes a bed and everybody goes to sleep to dream about safely playing hooky, not brake failure.”

To read the rest of the article, head over to GOOD Magazine or check out her blog.

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