GET /freshly-pressed/

List Freshly Pressed Posts

Resource URL

Type URL and Format
GET https://public-api.wordpress.com/rest/v1/freshly-pressed/

Query Parameters

Parameter Type Description
http_envelope (bool)
false:
(default)
true:
Some environments (like in-browser Javascript or Flash) block or divert responses with a non-200 HTTP status code. Setting this parameter will force the HTTP status code to always be 200. The JSON response is wrapped in an "envelope" containing the "real" HTTP status code and headers.
pretty (bool)
false:
(default)
true:
Output pretty JSON
meta (string) Optional. Loads data from the endpoints found in the 'meta' part of the response. Comma separated list. Example: meta=site,likes
fields (string) Optional. Returns specified fields only. Comma separated list. Example: fields=ID,title
callback (string) An optional JSONP callback function.
number (int) The number of posts to return. Default: 10. Limit: 40. Default: 10.
after (iso 8601 datetime) Return posts picked on or after the specified datetime.
before (iso 8601 datetime) Return posts picked on or before the specified datetime.
content_width (int) When in context=display, images/embeds in post content will be set to the desired maximum width. Default: 480.
thumb_width (int) Desired width of thumbnail images, in pixels. Default: 252.
thumb_height (int) Desired height of thumbnail images, in pixels. Default: 160.

Response Parameters

Parameter Type Description
ID (int) The post ID.
site_ID (int) The site ID.
author (object) The author of the post.
date (iso 8601 datetime) The post's creation time.
modified (iso 8601 datetime) The post's most recent update time.
title (html) context dependent.
URL (url) The full permalink URL to the post.
short_URL (url) The wp.me short URL.
content (html) context dependent.
excerpt (html) context dependent.
slug (string) The name (slug) for the post, used in URLs.
guid (string) The GUID for the post.
status (string)
publish:
The post is published.
draft:
The post is saved as a draft.
pending:
The post is pending editorial approval.
future:
The post is scheduled for future publishing.
trash:
The post is in the trash.
sticky (bool) Is the post sticky?
password (string) The plaintext password protecting the post, or, more likely, the empty string if the post is not password protected.
parent (object|false) A reference to the post's parent, if it has one.
type (string) The post's post_type. Post types besides post, page and revision need to be whitelisted using the rest_api_allowed_post_types filter.
comments_open (bool) Is the post open for comments?
pings_open (bool) Is the post open for pingbacks, trackbacks?
likes_enabled (bool) Is the post open to likes?
sharing_enabled (bool) Should sharing buttons show on this post?
gplusauthorship_enabled (bool) Should a Google+ account be associated with this post?
comment_count (int) The number of comments for this post.
like_count (int) The number of likes for this post.
i_like (bool) Does the current user like this post?
is_reblogged (bool) Did the current user reblog this post?
is_following (bool) Is the current user following this blog?
global_ID (string) A unique WordPress.com-wide representation of a post.
featured_image (url) The URL to the featured image for this post if it has one.
post_thumbnail (object) The attachment object for the featured image if it has one.
format (string)
standard:
Standard
aside:
Aside
chat:
Chat
gallery:
Gallery
link:
Link
image:
Image
quote:
Quote
status:
Status
video:
Video
audio:
Audio
geo (object|false)
publicize_URLs (array) Array of Twitter and Facebook URLs published by this post.
tags (object) Hash of tags (keyed by tag name) applied to the post.
categories (object) Hash of categories (keyed by category name) applied to the post.
attachments (object) Hash of post attachments (keyed by attachment ID).
metadata (array) Array of post metadata keys and values. All unprotected meta keys are available by default for read requests. Both unprotected and protected meta keys are available for authenticated requests with access. Protected meta keys can be made available with the rest_api_allowed_public_metadata filter.
meta (object) API result meta data
date_range (object) date range covered by current results.
number (int) The number of posts brought back by current query.
posts (array) An array of post objects, with added Freshly Pressed info, in the editorial property for each post.

Example

cURL

curl 'https://public-api.wordpress.com/rest/v1/freshly-pressed/?pretty=1'

PHP

<?php

$options  = array (
  'http' => 
  array (
    'ignore_errors' => true,
  ),
);

$context  = stream_context_create( $options );
$response = file_get_contents(
  'https://public-api.wordpress.com/rest/v1/freshly-pressed/?pretty=1',
  false,
  $context
);
$response = json_decode( $response );

?>

Response Body

{
    "date_range": {
        "newest": "2014-09-01T18:01:00+00:00",
        "oldest": "2014-08-31T16:01:58+00:00"
    },
    "number": 10,
    "posts": [
        {
            "ID": 5203,
            "site_ID": 38808321,
            "author": {
                "ID": 38240616,
                "login": "campariandsofa",
                "email": false,
                "name": "sofagirl",
                "nice_name": "campariandsofa",
                "URL": "http:\/\/campariandsofa.wordpress.com",
                "avatar_URL": "https:\/\/0.gravatar.com\/avatar\/6dafb6beaa39b5b21948643ebfb82649?s=96&d=identicon&r=G",
                "profile_URL": "http:\/\/en.gravatar.com\/campariandsofa",
                "site_ID": 38808321
            },
            "date": "2013-04-08T23:00:25+01:00",
            "modified": "2013-04-10T19:10:04+01:00",
            "title": "Doing more only to do less &#8211; do we glorify busy?",
            "URL": "http:\/\/campariandsofa.com\/2013\/04\/08\/doing-more-only-to-do-less-do-we-glorify-busy\/",
            "short_URL": "http:\/\/wp.me\/p2CPOF-1lV",
            "content": "<p><a href=\"http:\/\/campariandsofa.files.wordpress.com\/2013\/04\/484666_10151401075783096_753254543_n.jpg\"><img class=\"aligncenter size-full wp-image-5197\" alt=\"Stop the glorification of busy.\" src=\"https:\/\/campariandsofa.files.wordpress.com\/2013\/04\/484666_10151401075783096_753254543_n.jpg?w=480\"   \/><\/a>My friend Gavin was telling me about a conversation he had with some Dutch colleagues. Gavin, and his compadre Georgina, find that the sheer volume of work they are confronted with on a weekly basis is just un-doable within the confines of a normal 8-hour work day. So they regularly put in 10-hour days at the office. And another couple of hours at home picking up emails. This causes all sorts of problems: they\u2019re tired all the time, their spouses feel ignored, they don\u2019t want to go out at night or over the weekend and they lose touch with friends.<\/p>\n<p>Hmmfff&#8230;\u201d, said their pals, \u201cIn Holland, if you were to work like that we would think you were not coping.\u201d<\/p>\n<p>\u201cAm I\u201d, he wondered, \u201cnot coping? Or am I doing more than I should? And if I am doing more than I should \u2013 \u00a0what should I stop doing? And if I stop doing it, will someone else do it? Or does it simply not get done and we just all shrug when it comes up?\u201d<\/p>\n<p>I knew what he meant: I used to work like that. Calls from Asia\u00a0first thing in the morning at home, a work-day until 7 or 8pm, followed by more calls at home from LA in the evening. Five days a week if I was in town. Six or seven days a week when I was travelling. Then there were the shows, dinners, artist meetings. My boss believed his executives were paid to be on call 24 hours a day \u2013 and the man only slept 4 hours a night \u2013 so I could never be sure when he would phone. I had to stay available and alert. I hardly went out socially \u2013 telling myself, and everyone else, that I was too tired and too busy to be having fun. And that a night out, with its subsequent sleeping in &#8230; would just put me back hours. I just couldn&#8217;t afford for that to happen.<\/p>\n<p>Something had to give and one Sunday morning it did. Any weekend that I was in town, I would head to\u00a0Barnes and Nobles at 66th and Broadway for coffee, an orange cinnamon scone and the New York Times. It was freezing that day \u2013 so I bundled up and headed off on the familiar 8-minute walk to the shop.<\/p>\n<p>As I crossed the triangle in front of the <a class=\"zem_slink\" title=\"Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts\" href=\"http:\/\/maps.google.com\/maps?ll=40.772311,-73.983403&amp;spn=0.01,0.01&amp;q=40.772311,-73.983403 (Lincoln%20Center%20for%20the%20Performing%20Arts)&amp;t=h\" target=\"_blank\" rel=\"geolocation\" rel=\"nofollow\">Lincoln Centre<\/a>, I realised I couldn\u2019t remember how to get into the building in front of me. I also couldn\u2019t remember what it was. I knew I had been inside before \u2013 and I needed to be inside now &#8211; but my brain would not figure out what to do next. I just stood there. Suddenly I felt my mind slurp out of my head: I was looking down &#8211; completely detached from my body and everything was silent. I watched me standing in the snow. Dispassionately. And next thing I was walking in my front door. I had been gone 50 minutes \u2013 standing on that traffic island for at least 30 of those.<\/p>\n<div id=\"attachment_5217\" style=\"width: 437px\" class=\"wp-caption aligncenter\"><a href=\"http:\/\/campariandsofa.files.wordpress.com\/2013\/04\/326anxiety-ratcage-blog427.jpg\"><img class=\"size-full wp-image-5217\" alt=\"image copyright Niv Bavarsky\" src=\"https:\/\/campariandsofa.files.wordpress.com\/2013\/04\/326anxiety-ratcage-blog427.jpg?w=480\"   \/><\/a><p class=\"wp-caption-text\">image copyright Niv Bavarsky<\/p><\/div>\n<p>I was terrified &#8211; convinced I had a brain tumour. I had read about them causing that sort of disassociation. But the next morning my doctor disagreed. \u201cIt was an anxiety attack. I have five executives from your company as patients \u2013 you are all in a state of shock and exhaustion. No more sleeping pills for you \u2013 time to take <a title=\"Lexapro\" href=\"www.drugs.com\/lexapro.html\">Lexapro<\/a> and figure out how you are going to save your life.\u201d<\/p>\n<p>Why were the six of us living like that?<\/p>\n<p>Author <a class=\"zem_slink\" title=\"The Pain \u2013 When Will It End?\" href=\"http:\/\/www.thepaincomics.com\/\" target=\"_blank\" rel=\"homepage\" rel=\"nofollow\">Tim Kreider<\/a> believes \u201cOur frantic days are really just a hedge against emptiness.\u201d \u00a0We feel we are nothing, not worthy, unimportant or left out if we have nothing to do.<\/p>\n<p>But there is another aspect to it. Perfectionism \u2013\u00a0that shadow from our childhoods.\u00a0We want to be excellent &#8211; because if we are, we will be worthy of love. So we take on anything and everything that is thrown us. Even when we are aware we are overwhelmed, we find it hard to say &#8220;NO&#8221;. Because we fear that if we do &#8211; people will think less of us. So we end up doing more than our fair share.<\/p>\n<p><img class=\"size-full wp-image-5210 alignleft\" alt=\"Unknown-1\" src=\"https:\/\/campariandsofa.files.wordpress.com\/2013\/04\/unknown-1.jpeg?w=480\"   \/> The <a class=\"zem_slink\" title=\"Pareto principle\" href=\"http:\/\/en.wikipedia.org\/wiki\/Pareto_principle\" target=\"_blank\" rel=\"wikipedia\">Pareto Principle<\/a> holds that 20% of our efforts will bring us 80% of our reward. And vice versa.<\/p>\n<p>So, is the true art of work clarifying what that 20% is and focusing only on that? Should we leave 80% to be dealt with, if and when, it ever comes up? And instead of filling the time we have reclaimed with more work \u2013 do\u00a0we actively choose to do nothing?<\/p>\n<p>Kreider says yes: \u201cIdleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets.\u201d<\/p>\n<p>So, unless we take plenty of time out and rest \u2013 the bones of our imagination and souls will soften and fracture easily. Causing us to limp mentally?<\/p>\n<p>Absolutely, says Kreider. He got into a situation where his success meant more people were wanting more of him. And he tried to meet all of their demands. Feeling he had to deliver. Until he couldn\u2019t anymore and ran from the city. He realised he had to redefine for himself what work meant.<\/p>\n<p>Now, he says: \u201cI am not busy. I am the laziest ambitious person I know. Like most writers, I feel like a reprobate who does not deserve to live on any day that I do not write, but I also feel that four or five hours is enough to earn my stay on the planet for one more day.<\/p>\n<p>&#8220;On the best ordinary days of my life, I write in the morning, go for a long bike ride and run errands in the afternoon, and in the evening I see friends, read or watch a movie.<\/p>\n<p>&#8220;This, it seems to me, is a sane and pleasant pace for a day. And if you call me up and ask whether I won\u2019t maybe blow off work and check out the new American Wing at the Met or ogle girls in Central Park or just drink chilled pink minty cocktails all day long, I will say, what time?\u201d<\/p>\n<p><i>\u201cThis, it seems to me, is a sane and pleasant pace for a day.\u201d<\/i> Brilliant and yes, yes, yes, I agree. I am going to look at restructuring my days to match the rhythm of his. That\u2019s not to say I am not going to get my work done. I will, but I am never again going to be too busy to have a cocktail with a friend.<\/p>\n<p>I think those damn Amsterdammers may be onto something &#8211; we need to learn to work smarter. I know I sure as hell don\u2019t want rickets.<\/p>\n<p>So, Gavin \u2013 how about it. Are you in?<\/p>\n<p><i><a href=\"http:\/\/campariandsofa.files.wordpress.com\/2013\/04\/unknown.jpeg\"><img class=\"alignleft size-full wp-image-5214\" alt=\"Unknown\" src=\"https:\/\/campariandsofa.files.wordpress.com\/2013\/04\/unknown.jpeg?w=480\"   \/><\/a><\/i><\/p>\n<p><i>Tim Kreider\u00a0is the author of \u201c<a title=\"We learn nothing\" href=\"http:\/\/www.amazon.com\/We-Learn-Nothing-Essays-Cartoons\/dp\/1439198705\">We Learn Nothing<\/a>,\u201d a collection of essays and cartoons.\u00a0<\/i><\/p>\n<p><em>Niv Bavarsky&#8217;s website is<a title=\"Niv Bavarsky\" href=\"www.nivbavarsky.com\"> here<\/a><\/em><\/p>\n<p><em>The Parato Prinicple image is in the public domain<\/em><\/p>\n<p>&#8220;<em>The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing&#8221;, is a quote by the great Henry Ford who worked very hard.<\/em><\/p>\n",
            "excerpt": "<p>My friend Gavin was telling me about a conversation he had with some Dutch colleagues. Gavin, and his compadre Georgina, find that the sheer volume of work they are confronted with on a weekly basis is just un-doable within the &hellip; <a href=\"http:\/\/campariandsofa.com\/2013\/04\/08\/doing-more-only-to-do-less-do-we-glorify-busy\/\">Continue reading <span class=\"meta-nav\">&rarr;<\/span><\/a><\/p>\n",
            "slug": "doing-more-only-to-do-less-do-we-glorify-busy",
            "guid": "http:\/\/campariandsofa.com\/?p=5203",
            "status": "publish",
            "sticky": false,
            "password": "",
            "parent": false,
            "type": "post",
            "comments_open": true,
            "pings_open": true,
            "likes_enabled": true,
            "sharing_enabled": true,
            "gplusauthorship_enabled": false,
            "comment_count": 523,
            "like_count": 821,
            "i_like": 0,
            "is_reblogged": 0,
            "is_following": 0,
            "global_ID": "d3d6e65dd9cca36ed72489c510ed0e90",
            "featured_image": "https:\/\/campariandsofa.files.wordpress.com\/2013\/04\/484666_10151401075783096_753254543_n.jpg",
            "post_thumbnail": {
                "ID": 5197,
                "URL": "https:\/\/campariandsofa.files.wordpress.com\/2013\/04\/484666_10151401075783096_753254543_n.jpg",
                "guid": "http:\/\/campariandsofa.files.wordpress.com\/2013\/04\/484666_10151401075783096_753254543_n.jpg",
                "mime_type": "image\/jpeg",
                "width": 500,
                "height": 500
            },
            "format": "standard",
            "geo": false,
            "publicize_URLs": [

            ],
            "tags": {
                "anxiety": {
                    "ID": 3252,
                    "name": "anxiety",
                    "slug": "anxiety",
                    "description": "",
                    "post_count": 4,
                    "meta": {
                        "links": {
                            "self": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/tags\/slug:anxiety",
                            "help": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/tags\/slug:anxiety\/help",
                            "site": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321"
                        }
                    }
                },
                "featured": {
                    "ID": 35890,
                    "name": "featured",
                    "slug": "featured",
                    "description": "",
                    "post_count": 294,
                    "meta": {
                        "links": {
                            "self": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/tags\/slug:featured",
                            "help": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/tags\/slug:featured\/help",
                            "site": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321"
                        }
                    }
                },
                "health": {
                    "ID": 32374717,
                    "name": "health",
                    "slug": "health",
                    "description": "",
                    "post_count": 61,
                    "meta": {
                        "links": {
                            "self": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/tags\/slug:health",
                            "help": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/tags\/slug:health\/help",
                            "site": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321"
                        }
                    }
                },
                "Life after 50": {
                    "ID": 1005773,
                    "name": "Life after 50",
                    "slug": "life-after-50",
                    "description": "",
                    "post_count": 206,
                    "meta": {
                        "links": {
                            "self": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/tags\/slug:life-after-50",
                            "help": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/tags\/slug:life-after-50\/help",
                            "site": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321"
                        }
                    }
                },
                "new york times": {
                    "ID": 33609,
                    "name": "new york times",
                    "slug": "new-york-times",
                    "description": "",
                    "post_count": 11,
                    "meta": {
                        "links": {
                            "self": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/tags\/slug:new-york-times",
                            "help": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/tags\/slug:new-york-times\/help",
                            "site": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321"
                        }
                    }
                },
                "Pareto Principle": {
                    "ID": 2422355,
                    "name": "Pareto Principle",
                    "slug": "pareto-principle",
                    "description": "",
                    "post_count": 1,
                    "meta": {
                        "links": {
                            "self": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/tags\/slug:pareto-principle",
                            "help": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/tags\/slug:pareto-principle\/help",
                            "site": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321"
                        }
                    }
                },
                "positive thinking": {
                    "ID": 40816,
                    "name": "positive thinking",
                    "slug": "positive-thinking",
                    "description": "",
                    "post_count": 113,
                    "meta": {
                        "links": {
                            "self": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/tags\/slug:positive-thinking",
                            "help": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/tags\/slug:positive-thinking\/help",
                            "site": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321"
                        }
                    }
                },
                "self-confidence": {
                    "ID": 164388,
                    "name": "self-confidence",
                    "slug": "self-confidence",
                    "description": "",
                    "post_count": 59,
                    "meta": {
                        "links": {
                            "self": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/tags\/slug:self-confidence",
                            "help": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/tags\/slug:self-confidence\/help",
                            "site": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321"
                        }
                    }
                },
                "The Pain \u2013 When Will It End?": {
                    "ID": 13021569,
                    "name": "The Pain \u2013 When Will It End?",
                    "slug": "the-pain-when-will-it-end",
                    "description": "",
                    "post_count": 1,
                    "meta": {
                        "links": {
                            "self": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/tags\/slug:the-pain-when-will-it-end",
                            "help": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/tags\/slug:the-pain-when-will-it-end\/help",
                            "site": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321"
                        }
                    }
                },
                "Tim Kreider": {
                    "ID": 7841335,
                    "name": "Tim Kreider",
                    "slug": "tim-kreider",
                    "description": "",
                    "post_count": 2,
                    "meta": {
                        "links": {
                            "self": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/tags\/slug:tim-kreider",
                            "help": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/tags\/slug:tim-kreider\/help",
                            "site": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321"
                        }
                    }
                },
                "work day": {
                    "ID": 1377131,
                    "name": "work day",
                    "slug": "work-day",
                    "description": "",
                    "post_count": 1,
                    "meta": {
                        "links": {
                            "self": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/tags\/slug:work-day",
                            "help": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/tags\/slug:work-day\/help",
                            "site": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321"
                        }
                    }
                },
                "work ethic": {
                    "ID": 337675,
                    "name": "work ethic",
                    "slug": "work-ethic",
                    "description": "",
                    "post_count": 1,
                    "meta": {
                        "links": {
                            "self": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/tags\/slug:work-ethic",
                            "help": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/tags\/slug:work-ethic\/help",
                            "site": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321"
                        }
                    }
                }
            },
            "categories": {
                "Aging": {
                    "ID": 17218,
                    "name": "Aging",
                    "slug": "aging",
                    "description": "",
                    "post_count": 82,
                    "parent": 0,
                    "meta": {
                        "links": {
                            "self": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/categories\/slug:aging",
                            "help": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/categories\/slug:aging\/help",
                            "site": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321"
                        }
                    }
                },
                "Life &amp; Love": {
                    "ID": 39921,
                    "name": "Life &amp; Love",
                    "slug": "life-love",
                    "description": "",
                    "post_count": 295,
                    "parent": 0,
                    "meta": {
                        "links": {
                            "self": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/categories\/slug:life-love",
                            "help": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321\/categories\/slug:life-love\/help",
                            "site": "https:\/\/public-api.wordpress.com\/rest\/v1\/sites\/38808321"
                        }
                    }
                },
                "Relationships": {
                    "ID": 197,
                    "name": "Relationships",
                    "slug": "relationships",
                    "description": "",
                    "post_count": 162,
                    "parent": 0,
                    "meta": {
                        "links": {
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            "date": "2014-07-10T14:59:20+00:00",
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            "title": "If You Haven&#8217;t Worked a Day in Your Life, You Probably Don&#8217;t Love Anything",
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            "content": "<p>You&#8217;ve heard it before, the beloved aphorism from the ever-intriguing Confucius;<\/p>\n<p>&#8220;Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.&#8221;<\/p>\n<p><a href=\"http:\/\/theindisputabledirt.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/choose_a_job_you_love_and_you_will_never_have_to_work_a_day_in_your_life.jpg\"><img class=\"wp-image-636 aligncenter\" src=\"https:\/\/theindisputabledirt.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/choose_a_job_you_love_and_you_will_never_have_to_work_a_day_in_your_life.jpg?w=546&#038;h=271\" alt=\"choose_a_job_you_love_and_you_will_never_have_to_work_a_day_in_your_life\" width=\"546\" height=\"271\" \/><\/a><\/p>\n<p>I&#8217;ve also heard it attributed to Albert Einstein, but the internet tells me that Confucius coined it, so we\u2019ll go with that. Regardless, you&#8217;ve probably seen it in the form of a meme, pinned a thousand times on Pinterest, shared on Facebook, tweeted on twitter, etc\u2026<\/p>\n<p><a href=\"https:\/\/theindisputabledirt.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/confucius2.jpg\"><img class=\" wp-image-629 aligncenter\" src=\"https:\/\/theindisputabledirt.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/confucius2.jpg?w=341&#038;h=341\" alt=\"Confucius2\" width=\"341\" height=\"341\" \/><\/a><\/p>\n<p style=\"text-align:center;\">\u00a0<em>^stuff like this^<\/em><\/p>\n<p>I understand why the quote is so popular. There is something inspiring, something hopeful about it. It is just poetic enough to sound reasonable, just vague enough to withstand any serious scrutiny.<\/p>\n<p>The only problem, of course, is that it is almost entirely false.<\/p>\n<p>If the phrase was not so oft-quoted, if I did not think it influenced people\u2019s decisions, I wouldn&#8217;t be writing this post. But from where I stand, this Confucian concept is ubiquitous in today\u2019s culture. And it\u2019s a problem.<\/p>\n<p>Case in point: <a href=\"http:\/\/www.brookings.edu\/~\/media\/research\/files\/papers\/2014\/05\/millennials%20wall%20st\/brookings_winogradfinal.pdf\">a recent study from Brookings<\/a> found that 64% of Millennials would rather make $40,000 a year at a job they love than $100,000 at a job they found boring. Now, it isn&#8217;t the response that worries me. I would take a lower paying job that I loved over a high-paying boring job any day.<\/p>\n<p><strong>The problem is that this job, the one you love, probably doesn&#8217;t exist. And if you make it your primary goal to find a job that you love, you will be unemployed for a very long time.<\/strong><\/p>\n<p>Before everyone freaks out, lets make a distinction; loving your job is not the same as loving its end. Just because you are passionate about your children\u2019s well-being doesn&#8217;t mean you love changing their diapers. And yet, most people would agree that a clean diaper is essential to a child\u2019s well-being. No parent who loves his child allows him to stew in his own feces for too long. And any parent who says he loves wiping poop out of all the crevices of his squirmy, crying infant at 4 in the morning is a liar.<\/p>\n<p>Here\u2019s the thing: All\u00a0of these &#8220;passions&#8221; (or vocations, or loves, or whatever you&#8217;d like to call them)\u00a0involve metaphorical diaper changing\u2014actions that we don\u2019t love doing in and of themselves but are willing to do for the sake of something we <em>do<\/em> love. In fact, many of them involve doing things we <em>hate<\/em>\u2014things we wouldn&#8217;t do but for the sake of the thing we love. Some are less challenging than others, some involve less fecal matter than others, but they all require the doing of boring, mundane, frustrating, tedious tasks.\u00a0All of them require sacrifice.<\/p>\n<p>Cooking requires chopping, and measuring, and waiting for the stove to heat up, and standing around, and sweating in a hot kitchen. To be great at cooking requires research, persistence, trial and error, failure. A devoted chef will\u00a0accept failure as a stepping stone on his path to success, but he doesn&#8217;t love it in and of itself. If he did, he would be just as content to continue failing as he is to succeed. He loves producing delicious food and is willing to chop onions, sweat, try and fail in order to do so.<\/p>\n<p style=\"text-align:center;\"><a href=\"https:\/\/theindisputabledirt.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/kitchenlingo_atala.jpg\"><img class=\"alignnone  wp-image-633\" src=\"https:\/\/theindisputabledirt.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/kitchenlingo_atala.jpg?w=484&#038;h=308\" alt=\"kitchenlingo_atala\" width=\"484\" height=\"308\" \/><\/a><\/p>\n<p>Which brings me to my next point: <strong>Not only do all of the things we love require the doing of work we don\u2019t love, the things we love often require <em>more<\/em> work than things we don\u2019t.<\/strong><\/p>\n<p>When you are passionate about something, you hold yourself to a higher standard than if you simply like it. If you like writing then you will write, and as long as what you write generally\u00a0communicates what you intend to say, you will be content. If you <em>love<\/em> writing, you will strive to perfect what you write, to say what you mean to say in the best possible way. <strong>Striving for perfection requires more work than settling for mediocrity.<\/strong> As such, if you are passionate about something you will likely do <em>far more<\/em> work for its cause than if you aren&#8217;t.<\/p>\n<p>Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life?<\/p>\n<p>I doubt it.<\/p>\n<p><strong>Find something that you truly love, and you will likely work for it relentlessly.<\/strong><\/p>\n<p>Now the obvious response to my claims is that I am incorrectly interpreting the aphorism\u2014that Confucius did not mean that\u00a0a life spent in pursuit of one&#8217;s passion is a life without work. Rather, he meant that when you are passionate about something, the work you do for it feels less like work. The quote ought to\u00a0be interpreted as such:\u00a0&#8220;If you find a pursuit\u00a0for which\u00a0you are truly\u00a0passionate, you won&#8217;t ever feel like you\u2019re working even when you are working.&#8221;<\/p>\n<p>To which I respectfully respond, \u201cbull.\u201d<\/p>\n<p><a href=\"https:\/\/theindisputabledirt.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/35fef60c95ac26cb2d95393048fc5a22.jpg\"><img class=\"wp-image-631 aligncenter\" src=\"https:\/\/theindisputabledirt.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/35fef60c95ac26cb2d95393048fc5a22.jpg?w=387&#038;h=387\" alt=\"35fef60c95ac26cb2d95393048fc5a22\" width=\"387\" height=\"387\" \/><\/a><\/p>\n<p style=\"text-align:center;\"><em>^She probably doesn&#8217;t even feel it.^\u00a0<\/em><\/p>\n<p>Yes, being passionate about something may motivate you to complete the work it requires, but the work required remains. Yes, your love for something may make the work it requires more rewarding, but the work required remains. And if you asked people who pursued their passions, I\u2019d be willing to bet they\u2019d say that, a lot\u00a0of the time, the work still felt like work. Maybe not all the time\u2014but a lot of the time.<\/p>\n<p>This is my main issue with the proverb in question: it is a misleading measure of one\u2019s love for something. However interpreted, it suggests that if you have found a pursuit for which you are passionate, you won\u2019t really feel like you\u2019re working as you pursue it.<\/p>\n<p><strong>It follows from this that if you feel like you\u2019re working, then you haven\u2019t found your passion.<\/strong><\/p>\n<p>Can you think of anything more destructive to the achievement of one\u2019s goals than to be convinced\u00a0that it shouldn&#8217;t require work that feels like work?<\/p>\n<p>I thought that writing was my passion but, based on how work-like it feels, I guess I was wrong. I guess I should\u00a0try something new\u2014and then abandon it when it starts to feel too much like work, of course.<\/p>\n<p>Imagine if we applied this reasoning to, say, anything else.<\/p>\n<p>\u201cMarry a person you love, and you won\u2019t fight a day in your life. And even if you do fight, the fighting won&#8217;t feel like fighting.\u201d<\/p>\n<p>I hate to break it to you, kids. From what I&#8217;m told, if you fall in love and get married, you will fight with your spouse from time to time, and the fighting will make you feel exactly as crappy as fighting usually does. To stick it out and work through your marital troubles is well worth your time, but the fighting still feels like fighting.<\/p>\n<p>The same is true of all passions, all loves.<\/p>\n<p><strong>And that\u2019s okay.<\/strong><\/p>\n<p>Because you do\u00a0not measure your\u00a0love for something by how easy it is for you\u00a0to accomplish it, or how easy it feels to work for it.<\/p>\n<p><strong>Your passion is not that for which you do not have to work, or that for which the work doesn&#8217;t feel like work, but that for which you are willing to work\u2014even when the work is grueling.<\/strong><\/p>\n<a class=\"twitter-timeline\" width=\"450\" height=\"450\" href=\"https:\/\/twitter.com\/baleighscotttt\" data-widget-id=\"489055857775091714\">Tweets by @baleighscotttt<\/a>\n<p>&nbsp;<\/p>\n",
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            "title": "How the Other Half Works: an Adventure in the Low Status of Software Engineers",
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            "content": "<p>Bill (not his real name, and I&#8217;ve fuzzed some\u00a0details to protect his identity) is a software engineer on the East Coast, who, at the time (between 2011 and 2014) of this story, had recently turned 30 and wanted to see if he could enter a higher weight class on the job market. In order to best assess this, he applied to two different levels of position at roughly equivalent companies: same size, same level of prestige, same U.S. city on the West Coast. To one company, he applied as a Senior Software Engineer. To the other, he applied for VP of Data Science.<\/p>\n<p>Bill had been a Wall Street quant and had &#8220;Vice President&#8221; in his title, noting that VP is a mid-level and often not managerial position in an investment bank. His current title was Staff Software Engineer, which was roughly Director-equivalent. He&#8217;d taught a couple of courses and mentored a few interns, but he&#8217;d never been an official\u00a0<em>manager<\/em>. So he came to me for\u00a0advice on how to appear more &#8220;managerial&#8221; for the VP-level application.<\/p>\n<p><strong>The Experiment<\/strong><\/p>\n<p>His first question was what it would take to get &#8220;managerial experience&#8221; in his next job.\u00a0I was at a loss, when it comes to direct experience, so my first thought was, &#8220;Fake it till you make it&#8221;. Looking at his r\u00e9sum\u00e9, the &#8220;experiment&#8221; formed in my mind. Could I make Bill, a strong but not exceptional data-scientist-slash-software-engineer, over into a <em>manager<\/em>? The first bit of good news was that we didn&#8217;t have to change much. Bill&#8217;s Vice President title (from the bank) could be kept as-is, and changing Staff Software Engineer to Director didn&#8217;t feel dishonest, because it was a lateral tweak. If anything, that&#8217;s a <i>demotion<\/i> because engineering ladders are so much harder to climb, in dual-track technology companies, than management ladders.<\/p>\n<p>Everything in Bill&#8217;s &#8220;management\u00a0r\u00e9sum\u00e9&#8221; was close enough to true that few would consider it unethical. We upgraded his social status and management-culture credibility&#8211; as one must, and is expected to, do in that world&#8211; but not his technical credentials. We turned technical leadership into &#8220;real&#8221;, power-to-fire leadership, but that was the only material change. We spent hours making sure we weren&#8217;t really lying, as neither Bill nor I was keen on damaging Bill&#8217;s career to carry out this experiment, and because the integrity of the experiment required it.<\/p>\n<p>In fact, we kept the management\u00a0r\u00e9sum\u00e9 quite technical. Bill&#8217;s experience was mostly as implementor, and we wanted to stay truthful about that. I&#8217;ll get to the results of the experiment later on, but there were two positive side effects of his self-rebranding, as a &#8220;manager who implemented&#8221;. The first is that, because he didn&#8217;t <em>have<\/em> to get his hands dirty as a manager, he got a lot of praise for doing things that would just have been doing his job if he were a managed person. Second, and related to the first but far more powerful, is that he no longer had to excuse himself for menial projects or periods of low technical activity. As opposed to, &#8220;I was put on a crappy project&#8221;, which projects low status, his story evolved into &#8220;No one else could do it, so I had to get my hands dirty&#8221;, which is a high-status, <em>managerial<\/em> excuse for spending 6 months on an otherwise career-killing project. Instead of having to explain\u00a0why he didn&#8217;t manage to get top-quality project allocation, as one would ask an engineer, he was able to give a truthful account of what he did but, because he <em>didn&#8217;t have to do<\/em> this gritty work, it made him look like a hero rather than a zero.<\/p>\n<p>What was that project? It&#8217;s actually relevant to this story. Bill was maintaining a piece of old legacy code that took 40,000 lines to perform what is essentially a <a href=\"http:\/\/en.wikipedia.org\/wiki\/Logistic_regression\">logistic regression<\/a>. The reason for this custom module to exist, as opposed to using modern statistical software instead, was that a variety of requirements had come in from the business over the years, and while almost none of these custom tweaks were mathematically relevant, they all had to be included in the source code, and the program was on the brink of collapsing under the weight of its own complexity. These projects are career death for engineers, because one doesn&#8217;t learn transferrable skills by doing them, and because maintenance slogs don&#8217;t have a well-defined end or &#8220;point of victory&#8221;. For Bill&#8217;s technical\u00a0r\u00e9sum\u00e9, we had to make this crappy maintenance project seem like\u00a0<em>real<\/em> machine learning. (Do we call it a &#8220;single-layer neural network&#8221;? Do we call the nonsensical requirements &#8220;cutting-edge feature engineering&#8221;?) For his management\u00a0r\u00e9sum\u00e9, the truth sufficed: &#8220;oversaw maintenance of a business-critical legacy module&#8221;.<\/p>\n<p>In fact, one could argue that Bill&#8217;s management\u00a0r\u00e9sum\u00e9, while less truthful on-paper, was\u00a0<em>more<\/em> honest and ethical. Yes, we inflated his social status and gave him managerial titles. However, we didn&#8217;t have to inflate his technical accomplishments, or list technologies that he&#8217;d barely touched under his &#8220;Skills&#8221; section, to make a case for him. After a certain age, selling yourself as an engineer tends to require (excluding those in top-notch R&amp;D departments or <a href=\"http:\/\/michaelochurch.wordpress.com\/2012\/09\/03\/tech-companies-open-allocation-is-your-only-real-option\/\">open-allocation<\/a>\u00a0shops) that you (a) only work on the fun stuff, rather than the career-killing dreck, and play the political games that requires, (b) mislead future employers about the quality of your work experience, or (c) spend a large portion of your time on side projects, which usually turns into a combination of (a) and (b).<\/p>\n<p>Was this experiment ethical? I would say that it was. When people ask me if they should fudge their career histories or\u00a0r\u00e9sum\u00e9s, I always say this: it&#8217;s OK to fix prior social status because one&#8217;s <em>present<\/em> state (abilities, talents) is fully consistent with the altered <em>past<\/em>. It&#8217;s like formally changing a house&#8217;s address from <em>13<\/em> to <em>11<\/em>\u00a0before selling it to a superstitious buyer: the fact being erased is that it was once called &#8220;13&#8221;, one that will never matter for any purpose or cause material harm to anyone. On the other hand, lying about skills is ethically wrong (it&#8217;s job fraud, because another person is deceived into making decisions that are inconsistent with the actual present state, and that are possibly harmful in that context) and detrimental, in the long term, to the person doing it. While I think it&#8217;s usually a bad idea to do so, I don&#8217;t really have a <em>moral<\/em> problem with people fudging dates or improving titles on their\u00a0r\u00e9sum\u00e9s, insofar as they&#8217;re lying about prior social status (a deception as old as humanity itself) rather than hard currencies like skills and abilities.<\/p>\n<p>Now, let&#8217;s talk about how the experiment turned out.<\/p>\n<p><b>Interview A: as Software Engineer<\/b><\/p>\n<p>Bill faced five\u00a0hour-long technical interviews. Three went well. One was so-so, because it focused on implementation details of the JVM, and Bill&#8217;s experience was almost entirely\u00a0in C++, with a bit of hobbyist OCaml. The last interview sounds pretty\u00a0hellish. It was with the VP of Data Science, Bill&#8217;s prospective boss, who showed up 20 minutes late and presented him with one of those interview questions where there&#8217;s &#8220;one right answer&#8221; that took months, if not years, of in-house trial and error to discover. It was one of those &#8220;I&#8217;m going to prove that I&#8217;m smarter than you&#8221; interviews.<\/p>\n<p>In the post-mortem, I told Bill not to sweat that last interview. Often, companies will present a candidate with an unsolved or hard-to-solve problem and don&#8217;t <em>expect<\/em> a full solution in an hour. I was wrong on that count.<\/p>\n<p>I know people at Company A, so I was able to get a sense of how things went down. Bill&#8217;s feedback was: 3 positive, 1 neutral, and 1 negative, exactly as might have been expected from his own account. Most damning were the VP&#8217;s comments: &#8220;good for another role, but <em>not on my team<\/em>&#8220;. Apparently the VP was incensed that he had to spend 39 and a half minutes talking to someone without a PhD and, because Bill didn&#8217;t have the advanced degree, the only way that that VP would have considered him good enough to join would be if he could reverse-engineer the firm&#8217;s &#8220;secret sauce&#8221; in 40 minutes, which I don&#8217;t think anyone could.<\/p>\n<p>Let&#8217;s recap this. Bill passed three of his five interviews with flying colors. One of the interviewers, a few months later, tried to recruit Bill to his own startup. The fourth interview was so-so, because he wasn&#8217;t a Java expert, but came out neutral. The fifth, he failed because he didn&#8217;t know the in-house Golden Algorithm that took years of work to discover. When I asked that VP\/Data Science directly why he didn&#8217;t hire Bill (and he did not know that I knew Bill, nor about this experiment) the response I got was &#8220;<em>We need people who can hit the ground running.<\/em>&#8221; Apparently, there&#8217;s only a &#8220;talent shortage&#8221; when startup people are trying to scam the government into changing immigration policy. The undertone of this is that &#8220;we don&#8217;t invest in people&#8221;.<\/p>\n<p>Or, for a point that I&#8217;ll come back to, software engineers lack the social status necessary to make others invest in them.<\/p>\n<p><b>Interview B: as Data Science\u00a0<i>manager<\/i>.<\/b><\/p>\n<p>A couple weeks later, Bill interviewed at a roughly equivalent company for the VP-level position, reporting directly to the CTO.<\/p>\n<p>Worth noting is that we did\u00a0<em>nothing<\/em> to make Bill more technically impressive than for Company A. If anything, we made his technical story more <em>honest<\/em>, by\u00a0modestly inflating his social status while telling a &#8220;straight shooter&#8221; story for his technical experience. We didn&#8217;t have to cover up periods of low technical activity; that he was a manager, alone, sufficed to explain those away.<\/p>\n<p>Bill faced four interviews, and while the questions were behavioral and would be &#8220;hard&#8221; for many technical people, he found them rather easy to answer with composure. I gave him the Golden Answer, which is to revert to &#8220;There&#8217;s always a trade-off between wanting to do the work yourself, and knowing when to delegate.&#8221; It presents one as having managerial social status (the ability to delegate) but also a diligent interest in, and respect for, the work. It can be adapted to pretty much any &#8220;behavioral&#8221; interview question.<\/p>\n<p>As a 6-foot-1, white male of better-than-average looks, Bill looked like an executive and the work we did appears to have paid off. In each of those interviews, it only took 10 minutes before Bill was the interviewer. By presenting himself as a manager, and looking the part, he just had an easier playing field than a lifelong engineer would ever get. Instead of being a programmer auditioning to sling code, he was already &#8220;part of the club&#8221; (management) and just engaging in a two-way discussion, as equals, on whether he was going to join that particular section of the club.<\/p>\n<p>Bill\u00a0passed. Unlike for a typical engineering position, there were no reference checks. The CEO said, &#8220;We know you&#8217;re a good guy, and we want to move fast on you&#8221;. As opposed tot he 7-day exploding offers typically served to engineers, Bill had 2 months in which to make his decision. He got a fourth week of vacation without even having to ask for it, and genuine equity (about 75% of a year&#8217;s salary vesting each year).<\/p>\n<p>I sat in when Bill called to ask about <a href=\"http:\/\/michaelochurch.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/05\/never-relocate-unpaid\/\">relocation<\/a>\u00a0and, honestly, this is where I expected the deal to fall apart. Relocation is where so many offers fall to pieces. It&#8217;s a true test of whether a company actually sees someone as a key player, or is just trying to plug a hole with a warm body. The CEO began by saying, &#8220;Before getting into details, we are a startup&#8230;&#8221;<\/p>\n<p>This was a company with over 100 employees, so not really a startup, but I&#8217;m going to set that aside for now. I was bracing for the &#8220;oh, shit&#8221; moment, because &#8220;we&#8217;re a startup&#8221; is usually a precursor to very bad news.<\/p>\n<p>&#8220;&#8230; so we&#8217;ll cover the moving costs and two months of temporary housing, and a $10,000 airfare budget to see any family out East, but we can&#8217;t do loss-on-sale for the house, and we can&#8217;t cover realtor fees.&#8221;<\/p>\n<p>Bill was getting <em>an apology<\/em> because the CEO couldn&#8217;t afford a full executive relocation workup. (&#8220;We&#8217;re just not there yet.&#8221;) For a software engineer, &#8220;relocation&#8221; is usually some shitty\u00a0$3,000 lump-sum package, because &#8220;software engineer&#8221;, to executives, means &#8220;22-year-old clueless\u00a0male with few possessions, and\u00a0with\u00a0free storage of the parental category&#8221;. On the other hand, if you&#8217;re a\u00a0<i>manager<\/i>, you might be seen as a real human being with actual concerns about relocating to another part of the country.<\/p>\n<p>It was really interesting, as I listened in, to see how different things are once you&#8217;re &#8220;in the club&#8221;. The CEO talked to Bill as an equal, not as a paternalistic, bullshitting, &#8220;this is good for your career&#8221; authority figure. There was a tone of equality that a software engineer would never get from the CEO of a 100-person tech company.<\/p>\n<p><b>Analysis<\/b><\/p>\n<p>Bill has a superhuman memory and took a lot of notes after each interview, so there was plenty to analyze about this sociological experiment. It taught me a lot. At Company A, Bill was applying for a Senior Engineer position and his perceived &#8220;fit&#8221; seemed to start at 90. (Only 90, for his lack of PhD and Stanford pedigree.) But everything he <em>didn&#8217;t<\/em> know was points off. No experience with Spring and Struts? Minus 5. Not familiar with the firm&#8217;s Golden Algorithm? Not a real &#8220;data scientist&#8221;; minus 8. No Hadoop experience? Minus 6. Bill was judged on what he <em>didn&#8217;t<\/em> know&#8211; on how much work it would take to get him up to speed and have him serving as a reliable corporate subordinate.<\/p>\n<p>Company B showed a different experience entirely. Bill started at 70, but everything he knew was a bonus. He could speak intelligently about logistic regression and maximum likelihood methods? Plus 5. He&#8217;s actually implemented them? Plus 6. He knows about OCaml? Plus 5. Everything he knew counted in his favor. I&#8217;d argue that he probably scored these &#8220;points&#8221; for irrelevant &#8220;interesting person&#8221; details, like his travel.<\/p>\n<p>When a programmer gets to a certain age, she knows a lot of stuff. But there&#8217;s a ton of stuff she doesn&#8217;t know, as well, because no one can know even a fraction of everything that&#8217;s going on in this industry. It&#8217;s far better, unless you&#8217;re applying for a junior position, to start at 70 and get credit for everything you do know, than to start at 90 (or even 100) and get debited for the things you don&#8217;t know.<\/p>\n<p>This whole issue is about more than what one knows and doesn&#8217;t know about technology. As programmers, we&#8217;re used to picking up new skills. It&#8217;s something we&#8217;re good at (even if penny-shaving businessmen hate the idea of training us). This is all about <em>social status<\/em>, and why status is so fucking important when one is playing the work game&#8211; far more important than being loyal or competent or dedicated.<\/p>\n<p>Low and high status aren&#8217;t about being liked or disliked. Some people are liked but have low status, and some people are disliked but retain high status. In general, it&#8217;s more useful and important to have high status at work than to be well-liked. It&#8217;s obviously best to have both, but well-liked low-status people get crap projects and never advance. Disliked high-status people, at worst, get severance. As Machiavelli said, &#8220;it is far safer to be feared than loved if you cannot be both.&#8221; People&#8217;s likes and dislikes change with the seasons, but a high-status person is more unlikely to have others act against his interests.<\/p>\n<p>Moreover, if you have low social status, people will eventually find reasons to dislike you unless you continually sacrifice yourself in order to be liked, and even that strategy runs out of time. At high social status, they&#8217;ll find reasons to like you. At low status, your flaws are given prime focus and your assets, while acknowledged, dismissed as unimportant or countered with &#8220;yes, buts&#8221; which turn any positive trait into a negative. (&#8220;Yes, he&#8217;s good in Clojure, but he&#8217;s might be one of those dynamic-typing cowboy coders!&#8221; &#8220;Yes, he&#8217;s good in Haskell, but that means he&#8217;s one of those static-typing hard-asses.&#8221; &#8220;Yes, he&#8217;s a good programmer, but he doesn&#8217;t seem like a team player.&#8221;) When you have low status, your best strategy is to be invisible and unremarkable, because even good distinctions will hurt you. You want to keep your slate ultra-clean and wait for mean-reversion to drift\u00a0you into middling status, at which point being well-liked can assist you and, over some time&#8211; and it happens glacially&#8211; bring you upper-middle or high status.<\/p>\n<p>When you have high status, it&#8217;s the reverse. Instead of fighting to keep your slate\u00a0blank, it&#8217;s actually to your benefit to have things (good things) written about you on it. People will exaggerate your good traits and ignore the bad ones (unless they are egregious or dangerous). You start at 70 and people start looking for ways to give you the other 30 points.<\/p>\n<p><strong>The Passion of the Programmer<\/strong><\/p>\n<p>I&#8217;ve always felt that programmers had an undeserved low social status, and the experiment above supports that claim. Obviously, these are anecdotes rather than data, but I think that we can start to give a\u00a0<em>technical<\/em> definition to the low social status of &#8220;software engineers&#8221;.<\/p>\n<p>Whether programmers are over- or underpaid usually gets into debates about economics and market conditions and, because those variables fluctuate and can&#8217;t be measured precisely enough, the &#8220;are programmers (under|over)-paid?&#8221; debate usually ends up coming down to subjective feelings rather than anything technical. Using this technical notion of status&#8211; whether a person&#8217;s flaws or positive traits are given focus&#8211;\u00a0we have the tools to assess the social status of programmers <em>without<\/em>\u00a0comparing their salaries and work conditions to what we feel they &#8220;deserve&#8221;. If you are in a position where people emphasize your flaws and overlook your achievements, you have low social status (even if you make $200,000 per year, which only means efforts to cut your job will come faster). If the opposite is true, you have high social status.<\/p>\n<p>Using this lens, the case for the low social status of the programmer could not be any clearer. We&#8217;ll never agree on a\u00a0&#8220;platonically correct&#8221; &#8220;fair value&#8221; for an engineer&#8217;s salary. What can see is that technologists&#8217; achievements are usually under-reported by the businesses in which they work, while their mistakes are highlighted. I&#8217;ve worked in a company\u00a0where the first thing said to me about a person was the production outage he caused 4 years ago, when he was an intern. (Why is nothing said about the manager who let an intern cause an outage? Because that manager was a high status person.) A big part of the problem is that programmers are constantly trying to one-up each other (see: feigned surprise) and prove their superior knowledge, drive, and intelligence. From the outside (that is, from the vantage point of the business operators we work for) these pissing contests make\u00a0all sides look stupid and deficient. By lowering each others&#8217; status so reliably, and when little to nothing is at stake, programmers lower their status as a group.<\/p>\n<p>There was a time, perhaps 20 years gone by now, when the Valley was different. Engineers ran the show. Technologists helped each other. Programmers worked in R&amp;D environments with high levels of autonomy and encouragement. To paraphrase from one R&amp;D shop&#8217;s internal slogan, bad ideas were good and good ideas were great. Silicon Valley was an underdog, a sideshow, an Ellis Island for misfits and led by &#8220;sheepdogs&#8221; intent on keeping mainstream MBA culture (which would destroy the creative capacity of that industry, for good) away. That period ended. San Francisco joined the &#8220;paper belt&#8221; (to use Balaji Srinivasan&#8217;s term) cities of Boston, New York, Washington and Los Angeles. Venture capital became Hollywood for Ugly People. The Valley became a victim of its own success. Bay Area landlords made it big. Fail-outs from MBA-culture strongholds like McKinsey and Goldman Sachs found a less competitive arena in which they could boss nerds around with impunity; if you weren&#8217;t good enough to make MD at the bank, you went West to become a VC-funded Founder. The one group of people that <em>didn&#8217;t<\/em>\u00a0win out in this new Valley order were software engineers. Housing costs went up far faster than their salaries, and they were gradually moved from being partners in innovation to being implementors&#8217; of well-connected MBA-culture fail-outs&#8217; shitty ideas. That&#8217;s where we are now.<\/p>\n<p>So what happened? Was it inevitable that the Valley&#8217;s new wealth would attract malefactors, or could this have been prevented? I actually think that it could have been stopped, knowing what we know now. Would it be possible to replicate the Valley&#8217;s success in another geographical area (or, perhaps, in a fully distributed technical subculture) without losing our status and autonomy once the money spotted it and came in? I think so, but it&#8217;ll take another article to explain both the theoretical reasons why we can hold advantage, and the practical strategies for keeping the game fair, and on our terms. That&#8217;s a large\u00a0topic, and it goes far beyond what I intend to do in this article.<\/p>\n<p>The loss of status is a sad thing, because technology is <em>our<\/em> home turf. We understand computers and software and the mathematical underpinnings of those, and our MBA-culture colonizers don&#8217;t. We ought to have the advantage and retain high status, but fail at doing so. Why? There are two reasons, and they&#8217;re related to each other.<\/p>\n<p>The first is that we lack &#8220;sheep dogs&#8221;. A sheep dog, in this sense, is a pugnacious and potentially vicious person who protects the good. A sheep dog drives away predators and protects the herd. Sheep dogs don&#8217;t start fights, but they end many&#8211; on their terms. Programmers don&#8217;t like to &#8220;get political&#8221;, and they dislike it even when their own kind become involved in office politics, and the result is that we don&#8217;t have many\u00a0sheep dogs guarding us from the MBA-culture wolves. People who learn the skills necessary to protect the good, far too often, end up on the other side.<\/p>\n<p>The second is that we allow &#8220;passion&#8221; to be used against us. When we like our work, we let it be known. We work extremely hard. That has two negative side effects. The first is that we <em>don&#8217;t<\/em> like our work and put in a half-assed effort\u00a0like everyone else, it shows. Executives generally have the political aplomb not to show whether they enjoy what they&#8217;re doing, except to people they trust with that bit of\u00a0information. Programmers, on the other hand, make it too obvious how they feel about their work. This means the happy ones don&#8217;t get the raises and promotions they deserve (because they&#8217;re working so hard) because management sees no need to reward them, and that the unhappy ones stand out to aggressive management as potential &#8220;performance issues&#8221;. Not to be passionate is almost a crime, especially in startups. We&#8217;re not allowed to treat it as &#8220;just a job&#8221; and put forward above-normal effort only when given above-normal consideration. We&#8217;re not allowed to &#8220;get political&#8221; and protect ourselves, or protect others, because we&#8217;re supposed to be so damn &#8220;passionate&#8221; that we&#8217;d do this work for free.<\/p>\n<p>What most of us don&#8217;t realize is that this culture of mandatory &#8220;passion&#8221; lowers our social status, because it encourages us to work unreasonably hard and irrespective of conditions. The fastest way to lose social status is to show acceptance of low social status. For example, programmers often make the mistake of overworking when understaffed, and this is a terrible idea. (&#8220;Those execs don&#8217;t believe in us, so let&#8217;s show them up by&#8230; working overtime on something they own!&#8221;) To do this validates the low status of the group that allows it to be understaffed.<\/p>\n<p>Executives, a more savvy sort, lose passion when denied the advancement or consideration they feel they deserve. They&#8217;re not obnoxious about this attitude, but they don&#8217;t try to cover it up, either. They&#8217;re not going to give a real effort to a project or company that acts against their own interests or lowers their own social status. They won&#8217;t negotiate against themselves by being &#8220;passionate&#8221;, either. They want to be seen as supremely <em>competent<\/em>, but not sacrificial. That&#8217;s the difference between them and us. Executives are out for themselves and relatively open about the fact. Programmers, on the other hand, heroize some of the stupidest forms of self-sacrifice: the person who delivers a project (sacrificing weekends) anyway, after it was cancelled; or the person who moves to San Francisco without relocation because he &#8220;really believes in&#8221; a product that he can&#8217;t even describe coherently, and that he&#8217;ll end up owning 0.05% of.<\/p>\n<p>What executives understand, almost intuitively, is reciprocity. They give favors to earn favors, but avoid self-sacrifice. They won&#8217;t fall into\u00a0&#8220;love of the craft&#8221; delusions when &#8220;the craft&#8221; doesn&#8217;t love them back. They&#8217;re not afraid to &#8220;get political&#8221;, because they realize that work is mostly politics. The only people who can afford to be apolitical or &#8220;above the fray&#8221;, after all, are the solid political winners. But until one is in that camp, one simply cannot afford to take that delusion on.<\/p>\n<p>If programmers want to be taken seriously, and we should be taken seriously and we <em>certainly<\/em> should want this, we&#8217;re going to have to take stock of our compromised position and fix it, even if that&#8217;s &#8220;getting political&#8221;. We&#8217;re going to have to stop glorifying pointless self-sacrifice for what is ultimately someone else&#8217;s business transaction, and start asserting ourselves and our values.<\/p>\n",
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            "title": "No End in Sight: Academic Research and &#8220;Time Off&#8221;",
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            "content": "<p>&nbsp;<\/p>\n<p><a href=\"https:\/\/judgmentalobserver.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/wheedle.jpg\"><img class=\"aligncenter size-full wp-image-3201\" src=\"https:\/\/judgmentalobserver.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/wheedle.jpg?w=480\" alt=\"Wheedle\"   \/><\/a><\/p>\n<p>&#8220;Can you read these words to me, Amanda?&#8221; my first grade teacher asked, pointing at the cover of\u00a0<em>The Wheedle on the Needle.\u00a0<\/em>I shook my head and smiled, thinking this was some kind of trick. How the hell would I know how to read those letters? Later, I asked my friends if they had been able to decipher\u00a0the book cover, assuming they were as lost as I had been. &#8220;The Wheedle on the Needle,&#8221; my friend replied, almost casually. The others nodded and I felt betrayed: when did\u00a0everyone learn to read? This\u00a0was 1983, when it was <em>not<\/em> assumed that children would enter kindergarten knowing how to read. But still, somehow, between kindergarten and first grade, I had fallen behind my peers.<\/p>\n<p>Soon after my fateful reading test our teacher sorted us into reading groups. I was, of course, placed in the &#8220;remedial&#8221; reading group while all of my friends were in the &#8220;advanced&#8221; group. Though I\u00a0had no way of knowing this earlier &#8212; this\u00a0was the first time any kind of judgment had been made, implicitly or explicitly, about our intelligence &#8212; I now had confirmation: I was stupid.<\/p>\n<p>I decided then and there that I would learn to read, as quickly as possible, and I would get the hell out of the remedial group. After several months of intense concentration and effort &#8212; it was the first time I can recall applying myself fully to academics &#8212;\u00a0I was in the advanced reading group. \u00a0It felt good to be back with my friends and sure, it felt good to learn how to read. But the biggest lesson I learned that day was\u00a0that I was built for studying: a natural born student.<\/p>\n<p>Fast forward to 1999, my\u00a0first year of graduate school. I had just graduated \u00a0<em>magna cum laude<\/em>\u00a0from an Ivy League institution and I was pretty confident in my intellectual capabilities. As an undergrad\u00a0I had stuffed my brain with the likes of Doris Lessing, Tom Stoppard, Toni Morrison, Euripides, and T.S. Eliot, but I quickly learned that these names meant nothing to my new classmates. They had abandoned the text, that frivolous playground of undergraduate English majors, and moved on to more challenging writers with unfamiliar names like\u00a0&#8220;Foucault&#8221; and &#8220;Deleuze&#8221; and &#8220;Baudrillard.&#8221;\u00a0When did this happen? Why did I not get the memo? I was behind everyone else and grad school\u00a0had barely started. It was first grade all over again.<\/p>\n<p>To cope with this brand new bout of <a href=\"http:\/\/www.forbes.com\/sites\/margiewarrell\/2014\/04\/03\/impostor-syndrome\/\">imposter syndrome<\/a>, I set to work &#8220;catching up&#8221; with my peers. I made lists of &#8220;essential&#8221; books and essays &#8212; the stuff I thought I should have <em>already<\/em> read, before coming to graduate school &#8212; and tried to fit them in after completing all of my assigned\u00a0coursework (which was impossible since my coursework took up almost all of my time). How does one cope with such an impossible work load? Easy: you never stop working. And when you <em>do<\/em> stop working, you must berate\u00a0yourself about\u00a0your decision to not-work because, in the world of the scholar, you can <em>always be working.\u00a0<\/em>That&#8217;s why alcohol is so useful for graduate students. No one feels bad about not reading Foucault while intoxicated.<\/p>\n<p><a href=\"https:\/\/judgmentalobserver.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/9780253204745_med.jpg\"><img class=\"aligncenter size-full wp-image-3214\" src=\"https:\/\/judgmentalobserver.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/9780253204745_med.jpg?w=480\" alt=\"9780253204745_med\"   \/><\/a><\/p>\n<p>Sometimes I would be in my apartment, rereading an incomprehensible passage in\u00a0<em>The Acoustic Mirror\u00a0<\/em>for the fourth time, and I would be seized with a\u00a0bottomless\u00a0sense of doom, like I was free falling down a long dark well, only it was the inside of me that was falling. The only way I knew how to keep my body\u00a0from collapsing\u00a0in on itself, like a black hole of dread,\u00a0was to get into bed, squeeze my eyes tight, and breathe deeply until my internal gravitational pull slowed to a stop. Sometimes this took minutes, other days it took hours. Then I would get out of bed, pick up\u00a0<em>The Acoustic Mirror<\/em>\u00a0and my yellow highlighter, take a deep breath, and begin again.<\/p>\n<p>At the time I had no idea that there was a name for these episodes: panic attacks. I just thought I was too dumb for graduate school and had a bad time coping with that reality. But after some consultations with my doctor and my parents I realized that the best thing for me to do was to\u00a0take a leave of absence after completing my Masters. I hoped that a year off might help me to decide whether I should continue on to do a\u00a0PhD or move into some profession that would not cause my body to regularly seize up\u00a0 with dread or cause the skin on my face to erupt in angry pulsing nodules of adolescent acne.<\/p>\n<p>The\u00a0year off was good for me. I worked for AmeriCorps, watched a lot of movies, read all of the\u00a0<em>Harry Potters, <\/em>got a puppy, and learned how to share a home with the man who would eventually become my husband and the father of our two kids. At the end of the year I felt refreshed and returned to the University of Pittsburgh, fully ready to begin a PhD in film studies. I still had the occasional panic attacks, suffered from imposter syndrome, and regularly believed that there would never be enough hours in the day to complete all of the reading, viewing and writing that \u00a0I thought I needed to complete. But I also knew that being a scholar was what I liked best and so the constant anxiety, a kind of low-level hum &#8211;my body&#8217;s own white noise &#8212; was the penalty I had to pay to do what I loved.<\/p>\n<p>During those 5 years I was always\u00a0wondering if I was doing &#8220;enough&#8221; to succeed. I distinctly remember sitting around with my fellow PhDs, comparing\u00a0the amount of hours we spent on our coursework each week &#8212; not to brag or one-up each other &#8212; but out of a genuine desire to determine whether what we were doing was truly &#8220;enough.&#8221; Because there was no other way to measure the knowledge we were slowly and painfully accumulating. Was 50 hours enough? 60? \u00a070? (Answer: it is never enough).<\/p>\n<p>Of course anyone who pursues a post-graduate degree \u00a0&#8212; doctors, lawyers, nurses, veterinarians &#8212; finds themselves devoting all of their free hours to their studies. But the difference for professors is that this frantic need to always be reading or writing, <em>to always be a student<\/em>, never really &#8220;ends.&#8221; In this profession we are made to feel as if teaching and committee work and the occasional article or book\u00a0are\u00a0not enough. If we&#8217;re not publishing books with the top presses or publishing articles in the top journals or being offered jobs at R1 schools, then we don&#8217;t really matter in the field. If we&#8217;re not always working (and I mean <em>always working<\/em>)\u00a0then we don&#8217;t exist.<\/p>\n<p>William Pannapacker addressed this issue quite well <a href=\"http:\/\/chronicle.com\/article\/Its-Your-Duty-to-Be\/135014\/\">in a piece for\u00a0<em>The Chronicle of Higher Education<\/em><\/a>, which is worth quoting at length, because it is fantastic:<\/p>\n<blockquote><p>If someone asks, &#8220;How are you?,&#8221; I sigh, shrug, and say, &#8220;Busy, like everyone else.&#8221; If pressed, I will admit that I spent some time with my family\u2014the way a Mormon might confess to having tried a beer, once. For more than 20 years, I have worn what Ian Bogost has called &#8220;<a href=\"http:\/\/www.bogost.com\/blog\/the_turtlenecked_hairshirt.shtml\">the turtlenecked hairshirt<\/a>.&#8221; I can&#8217;t help it; self-abnegation is the deepest reflex of my profession, and it&#8217;s getting stronger all the time&#8230;<\/p>\n<p>Surely, the Catholic tradition of monastics and mendicants lies behind this tendency that I share with my profession, but there are other traditions at work here. As H. L. Mencken said, Puritanism is &#8220;the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.&#8221; Happiness is worldliness, and idleness is sin: Work is an end in itself, as Max Weber observed in <em>The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.<\/em> Likewise, there&#8217;s an old, unspoken commandment, &#8220;A professor shall not be seen mowing the lawn on weekdays.&#8221;<\/p><\/blockquote>\n<p>This &#8220;turtlenecked hairshirt&#8221;\u00a0doesn&#8217;t go away\u00a0when you finish your dissertation, or (if you&#8217;re lucky) snag your first tenure track job. It doesn&#8217;t even end when you get tenure.\u00a0I know professors who have climbed as far as they can up the academic hierarchy (and it is a woefully stubby ladder to begin with), but who still regularly churn out monographs and anthologies as if they are getting paid by the word.\u00a0But here&#8217;s the thing: they&#8217;re <em>not<\/em> getting paid by the word. Or the chapter. They&#8217;re barely clearing a few hundred dollars for what is often years of tireless research and writing. No, academics are &#8220;paid&#8221; in positive reviews, citations, and ego stroking.We&#8217;re paid with tenure or new job opportunities. Those of us on the tenure track are &#8220;paid&#8221; in\u00a0new titles: Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Full Professor.<\/p>\n<p style=\"text-align:center;\">***<\/p>\n<p>I am a tenured professor working at a state university that has ceased to offer raises (including cost of living raises) to its faculty. When I started my job in 2007 I was making approximately $53,000, a solid starting salary for an Assistant Professor circa 2007. Today, after 7 years at the same institution, I&#8217;m proud of my research profile, the classes I&#8217;ve taught, the students I&#8217;ve mentored and the film studies program I&#8217;ve helped build, but my salary is a\u00a0mere $2,000 more than it was when I started 7 years ago. I have been told by numerous administrators that I should not get my hopes up for a raise, that money is tight (even though newbie professors fresh out of graduate school are hired every year at <em>much<\/em> higher salaries). The $2,000 I received for getting tenure is likely going to be &#8220;it&#8221; for a very long time. Yes that&#8217;s correct, the only raise I&#8217;ve received in 7 years is $2,000 for getting tenure. Oh, you can also call me &#8220;Associate Professor&#8221; now. I know academic titles carry a lot of weight so I wanted to make sure\u00a0y&#8217;all knew about that, too.<\/p>\n<p>I had planned to spend my summer &#8212; as most academics do &#8212; working on a major research project, in this case, my <a href=\"http:\/\/judgmentalobserver.com\/2013\/01\/11\/mtv-reality-programming-the-labor-of-identity-construction\/\">next book project<\/a>. I would find a way, as I always do, to fit research and writing into the pieces\u00a0of time leftover after teaching a summer class, driving my kids to their various activities, and visiting the family and friends who live too far away to visit during the school year. My summer\u00a0research projects always\u00a0drain away the time I spent with family and friends,\u00a0but I have done this every summer since I can remember: to get a job, to get tenure, and because I was always advised to work for the job I want, not the job I have.<\/p>\n<p>&#8220;Why are you always <em>working<\/em> in the summer, aren&#8217;t you a teacher?&#8221; my non-academic friends often ask me, while my academic friends usually ask &#8220;What are you working on this summer?&#8221;<\/p>\n<p style=\"text-align:center;\">***<\/p>\n<p>A few months ago, after a failed attempt to get a job at a university that might actually pay me a salary commensurate with my rank and experience, I came to the realization that the stress and\u00a0late nights, the self doubt and loathing, were now unnecessary. I am\u00a0not going to get a better-paying job and my current employers, no matter how many books I publish, how many students I mentor, or how many committees I serve on, are not going to give me any more money. Or at least not much money. Initially this realization made me despondent: if no one is paying me more money to produce more\u00a0work, <a href=\"http:\/\/www.psmag.com\/navigation\/books-and-culture\/killing-pigs-weed-maps-mostly-unread-world-academic-papers-76733\/\">and very few people read the peer-reviewed articles or monographs I&#8217;m trying to crank out<\/a>, then what happens? What happens when a professor no longer has\u00a0any incentive to work at the breakneck pace at which she has been encouraged to work since she first embarked upon that great and arduous journey towards a career in academia?<\/p>\n<p>Nothing. <em>Nothing<\/em> <em>happens<\/em>. And, dear reader, it is glorious.<\/p>\n<p>Yes, this summer I decided to stop: panicking,\u00a0working at 9pm after the kids go to bed, working on Saturday afternoons, bringing &#8220;work&#8221; with me on vacation, making myself feel guilty for not working on vacation, complaining about how &#8220;busy&#8221; and &#8220;stressed&#8221; I am all the time in real life and online, writing articles or presenting at conferences <em>just<\/em> to add a line to my CV, writing shit that no one will be able to read because it&#8217;s locked behind a paywall, viewing the success of my friends and colleagues as a indictment of my own (non)success, and staring at my computer screen while my kids ask when I will be done working so I can play with them. Plus, most people believe that professors are <a href=\"http:\/\/www.theawl.com\/2010\/05\/the-shame-of-the-professors-summer-vacation\">lazy layabouts in the summer <\/a>anyway, so I decided to start living up to the stereotype.<\/p>\n<p>So this\u00a0summer I&#8217;ve been on vacation &#8212; a real, honest-to-goodness vacation. Sure, I taught a 5-week class and I&#8217;ve answered urgent emails. I&#8217;ve spoken with colleagues about conference panels and workshops. And right now I&#8217;m writing this blog post. But I&#8217;ve stopped with the &#8220;musts&#8221; and the &#8220;shoulds.&#8221; I&#8217;m only working on what I want to work on. And sometimes, even when I really do feel like I&#8217;d like to say, brush up on the history of broadcast television, I decide to go out to lunch with my kids instead. Just because. I&#8217;m saying &#8220;no&#8221; to &#8220;Would you like to chair this blah blah blah&#8230;&#8221; and &#8220;yes&#8221; to &#8220;Would you like to sit in this chair and drink a cocktail?&#8221;\u00a0And I&#8217;m enjoying my family and my life in a way that I haven&#8217;t been able to since&#8230;well, since I started graduate school back in 1999.<\/p>\n<p>I want to be clear:\u00a0I love writing and researching. I love the feeling of finishing a sentence and knowing that it says exactly what I want it to say. I love following an idea through all the way and producing scholarship that is readable and functional. I&#8217;m incredibly proud of <a href=\"http:\/\/utpress.utexas.edu\/index.php\/books\/kleame\">my first book<\/a> and I think it&#8217;s doing something useful in the subfield of genre studies. But\u00a0my scholarship won&#8217;t\u00a0cure cancer. It doesn&#8217;t provide fresh drinking water to drought-stricken regions. It&#8217;s not even the kind of writing\u00a0people stay up all night reading and then eagerly discuss with their book club the next day, like <em>Twilight<\/em>. That&#8217;s just not how humanities scholarship works. So I&#8217;m in no\u00a0big rush to publish my next piece of scholarship. While I love doing good scholarship I don&#8217;t love feeling like a hamster on a wheel: working, working, working for no tangible reward and with no end in sight. At least the hamster is getting exercise.<\/p>\n<p style=\"text-align:center;\">***<\/p>\n<p>Last week my children and I drove up to Connecticut to spend a few days with a dear friend and her family. They swam and dug holes and her kids\u00a0taught my kids how to catch (and release) frogs. They were having the kind of summer I remember having when I was young &#8212; days that unspool in no particular hurry, with no clear agenda. As we walked home in the twilight, holding hands, my daughter said to me &#8220;This is the best vacation ever!&#8221; And she&#8217;s right, it is.<\/p>\n<div id=\"attachment_3209\" style=\"width: 530px\" class=\"wp-caption aligncenter\"><a href=\"https:\/\/judgmentalobserver.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/img_1735.jpg\"><img class=\"size-full wp-image-3209\" src=\"https:\/\/judgmentalobserver.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/img_1735.jpg?w=480\" alt=\"Frog catching\"   \/><\/a><p class=\"wp-caption-text\">Frog catching<\/p><\/div>\n<p>&nbsp;<\/p>\n",
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            "content": "<p><span style=\"color:#000000;\">Recently, AP Images was hired by <a href=\"http:\/\/www.hsi.org\/\" target=\"_blank\">Humane Society International<\/a> to photograph activists as they worked with local authorities in Beijing to negotiate the release of a truck full of dogs that were being transported to a dog meat market in Northeast China. This was one in a series of rescues that occurred within the last month when activists stopped a truck en route. \u201cHumane Society International\u2019s objective is to support and guide Chinese animal welfare groups, educate local officials and bring awareness to the risks and cruelty involved in the dog meat trade in China, with the hope of moving towards an end to this trade,\u201d says said Peter Li, HSI\u2019s China Policy Specialist.\u00a0<\/span><\/p>\n<p><span style=\"color:#000000;\">Shown below are images from the rescue.\u00a0<\/span><\/p>\n<hr \/>\n<p><a href=\"https:\/\/apimagesblog.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/08\/ap323614046700_0-21.jpg\" target=\"_blank\"><img class=\"aligncenter wp-image-5472 size-full\" src=\"https:\/\/apimagesblog.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/08\/ap323614046700_0-21.jpg?w=480\" alt=\"Beijing Rescue of Dogs Headed For The Dog Meat Trade\"   \/><\/a><span class=\"img-caption\">Caged rescue dogs wait to be transported in a warehouse, Tuesday, August 12, 2014, in suburban Beijing, China. <\/span><span class=\"img-credit\">(AP Images for Humane Society International) <a href=\"http:\/\/apne.ws\/1tlOTOR\" target=\"_blank\">License this photo<\/a><\/span><\/p>\n<p><a href=\"https:\/\/apimagesblog.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/08\/ap761890313015_4.jpg\" target=\"_blank\"><img class=\"aligncenter wp-image-5477 size-full\" src=\"https:\/\/apimagesblog.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/08\/ap761890313015_4.jpg?w=480\" alt=\"Beijing Rescue of Dogs Headed For The Dog Meat Trade\"   \/><\/a><span class=\"img-caption\">Veterinarian Deedee Wang ties a tag around the leg of a rescued dog, Tuesday, August 12, 2014, in suburban Beijing, China. \u00a0<\/span><span class=\"img-credit\">(AP Images for Humane Society International) <a href=\"http:\/\/apne.ws\/1tlOTOR\" target=\"_blank\">License this photo<\/a><\/span><\/p>\n<p><a href=\"https:\/\/apimagesblog.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/08\/ap456815442123_15.jpg\" target=\"_blank\"><img class=\"aligncenter wp-image-5476 size-full\" src=\"https:\/\/apimagesblog.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/08\/ap456815442123_15.jpg?w=480\" alt=\"Beijing Rescue of Dogs Headed For The Dog Meat Trade\"   \/><\/a><span class=\"img-caption\">A rescued dog sits with other dogs, Tuesday, August 12, 2014, in suburban Beijing, China.\u00a0<\/span><span class=\"img-credit\">(AP Images for Humane Society International) <a href=\"http:\/\/apne.ws\/1tlOTOR\" target=\"_blank\">License this photo<\/a><\/span><\/p>\n<p><a href=\"https:\/\/apimagesblog.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/08\/ap865246241844.jpg\" target=\"_blank\"><img class=\"aligncenter wp-image-5499 size-full\" src=\"https:\/\/apimagesblog.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/08\/ap865246241844.jpg?w=480\" alt=\"Beijing Rescue of Dogs Headed For The Dog Meat Trade\"   \/><\/a><span class=\"img-caption\">Rescued dogs lie in the shade of a transport truck that was taking them to be slaughtered and sold for meat, Tuesday, August 12, 2014, in suburban Beijing, China.\u00a0<\/span><span class=\"img-credit\">(AP Images for Humane Society International) <a href=\"http:\/\/apne.ws\/1tlOTOR\" target=\"_blank\">License this photo<\/a><\/span><\/p>\n<p><a href=\"https:\/\/apimagesblog.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/08\/ap798342184616_16.jpg\" target=\"_blank\"><img class=\"aligncenter wp-image-5478 size-full\" src=\"https:\/\/apimagesblog.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/08\/ap798342184616_16.jpg?w=480\" alt=\"Beijing Rescue of Dogs Headed For The Dog Meat Trade\"   \/><\/a><span class=\"img-caption\">A volunteer holds a newborn rescue puppy on Tuesday, August 12, 2014, in suburban Beijing, China.\u00a0<\/span><span class=\"img-credit\">(AP Images for Humane Society International) <a href=\"http:\/\/apne.ws\/1tlOTOR\" target=\"_blank\">License this photo<br \/>\n<\/a><\/span><\/p>\n<p><a href=\"https:\/\/apimagesblog.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/08\/ap872745356807_5.jpg\" target=\"_blank\"><img class=\"aligncenter wp-image-5479 size-full\" src=\"https:\/\/apimagesblog.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/08\/ap872745356807_5.jpg?w=480\" alt=\"Beijing Rescue of Dogs Headed For The Dog Meat Trade\"   \/><\/a><span class=\"img-caption\">A caged rescue dog waits to be transported to an animal shelter, Tuesday, August 12, 2014, in suburban Beijing, China.\u00a0<\/span><span class=\"img-credit\">(AP Images for Humane Society International) <a href=\"http:\/\/apne.ws\/1tlOTOR\" target=\"_blank\">License this photo<\/a><\/span><\/p>\n<p><a href=\"https:\/\/apimagesblog.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/08\/ap333675675019_8.jpg\" target=\"_blank\"><img class=\"aligncenter wp-image-5473 size-full\" src=\"https:\/\/apimagesblog.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/08\/ap333675675019_8.jpg?w=480\" alt=\"Beijing Rescue of Dogs Headed For The Dog Meat Trade\"   \/><\/a><span class=\"img-caption\">A rescued dog stands next to a volunteer in a holding pen, Tuesday, August 12, 2014, in suburban Beijing, China.\u00a0<\/span><span class=\"img-credit\">(AP Images for Humane Society International) <a href=\"http:\/\/apne.ws\/1tlOTOR\" target=\"_blank\">License this photo<\/a><\/span><\/p>\n<p><a href=\"https:\/\/apimagesblog.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/08\/ap953819000877_12.jpg\" target=\"_blank\"><img class=\"aligncenter wp-image-5482 size-full\" src=\"https:\/\/apimagesblog.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/08\/ap953819000877_12.jpg?w=480\" alt=\"Beijing Rescue of Dogs Headed For The Dog Meat Trade\"   \/><\/a><span class=\"img-caption\">A veterinarian examines a rescued dog, Tuesday, August 12, 2014, in suburban Beijing, China.\u00a0<\/span><span class=\"img-credit\">(AP Images for Humane Society International) <a href=\"http:\/\/apne.ws\/1tlOTOR\" target=\"_blank\">License this photo<\/a><\/span><\/p>\n<p><a href=\"https:\/\/apimagesblog.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/08\/ap889322563845_7.jpg\" target=\"_blank\"><img class=\"aligncenter wp-image-5480 size-full\" src=\"https:\/\/apimagesblog.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/08\/ap889322563845_7.jpg?w=480\" alt=\"Beijing Rescue of Dogs Headed For The Dog Meat Trade\"   \/><\/a><span class=\"img-caption\">Volunteer Li Xin, left, and veterinarians Du Kun, center, and Jun Liu attend to a severely ill rescue dog, Tuesday, August 12, 2014, in suburban Beijing, China.\u00a0<\/span><span class=\"img-credit\">(AP Images for Humane Society International) <a href=\"http:\/\/apne.ws\/1tlOTOR\" target=\"_blank\">License this photo<\/a><\/span><\/p>\n<p><a href=\"https:\/\/apimagesblog.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/08\/ap996792190969_17.jpg\" target=\"_blank\"><img class=\"aligncenter wp-image-5484 size-full\" src=\"https:\/\/apimagesblog.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/08\/ap996792190969_17.jpg?w=480\" alt=\"Beijing Rescue of Dogs Headed For The Dog Meat Trade\"   \/><\/a><span class=\"img-caption\">Volunteer Fiona Qin pets a pair of rescued dogs, Tuesday, August 12, 2014, in suburban Beijing, China.\u00a0<\/span><span class=\"img-credit\">(AP Images for Humane Society International) <a href=\"http:\/\/apne.ws\/1tlOTOR\" target=\"_blank\">License this photo<\/a><\/span><\/p>\n<hr \/>\n<p>&nbsp;<\/p>\n<p><a href=\"http:\/\/www.apimages.com\/Assignment-Services\" target=\"_blank\">Learn more about AP Assignment Services<\/a><\/p>\n<p>&nbsp;<\/p>\n<p><span style=\"color:#000000;\"><strong>Lead Image Caption:<\/strong>\u00a0Caged rescue dogs wait to be transported in a warehouse, Tuesday, August 12, 2014, in suburban Beijing, China. Animal activists intercepted a truck that was transporting hundreds of dogs to be slaughtered and sold for meat. With the help of activists and groups, including Humane Society International, the dogs are now receiving post rescue care. \u00a0(AP Images for Humane Society International)\u00a0<\/span><\/p>\n<p><span style=\"color:#000000;\">\u00a0<\/span><\/p>\n<p><span style=\"color:#000000;\">AP Images is the world\u2019s largest collection of historical and contemporary photos. AP Images provides instant access to AP\u2019s iconic photos and adds new content every minute of every day from every corner of the world, making it an essential source of photos and graphics for professional image buyers and commercial customers. Whether your needs are for editorial, commercial, or personal use, AP Images has the content and the expert sales team to fulfill your image requirements. Visit\u00a0<span style=\"color:#ff0000;\"><a style=\"color:#ff0000;\" title=\"AP Images- Home\" href=\"http:\/\/www.apimages.com\/Home\" target=\"_blank\">apimages.com<\/a><\/span>\u00a0to learn more.<\/span><\/p>\n<p>&nbsp;<\/p>\n<p><strong><a href=\"https:\/\/twitter.com\/AP_Images\" target=\"_blank\">AP Images on Twitter<\/a>\u00a0|\u00a0<a href=\"https:\/\/www.facebook.com\/APImages\" target=\"_blank\">AP Images on Facebook<\/a>\u00a0|\u00a0<a href=\"https:\/\/plus.google.com\/112042081433592139743\/posts\" target=\"_blank\">AP Images on Google+<\/a><\/strong><\/p>\n<p>&nbsp;<\/p>\n<p>&nbsp;<\/p>\n",
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            "title": "Don\u2019t Fear the Reaper: Reactions When I Tell People What I Do",
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            "content": "<p><a href=\"https:\/\/irrevspeckay.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/cold-brewed-coffee-or-espresso-is-added-to-chai-tea-for-a-delicious-chilled-drink.jpg\"><img class=\"wp-image-2992 alignleft\" src=\"https:\/\/irrevspeckay.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/cold-brewed-coffee-or-espresso-is-added-to-chai-tea-for-a-delicious-chilled-drink.jpg?w=128&#038;h=172\" alt=\"Cold-brewed-coffee-or-espresso-is-added-to-chai-tea-for-a-delicious-chilled-drink.\" width=\"128\" height=\"172\" \/><\/a>I was in line at <a href=\"http:\/\/rivervalleymarket.coop\/\">my local food co-op<\/a>, which just so happens to have the planet\u2019s best dirty chai (<em>the<\/em> treat I get for myself after an especially hard day\u2019s work). It\u2019s embarrassingly expensive, but nothing else compares. IMHO.<\/p>\n<p>This morning, I was more needful of being seen than I usually am so, when the cashier asked, \u201cHow are you?\u201d I let it be a question, rather than a social greeting.<\/p>\n<p>I answered, \u201cI could be better. I\u2019m just coming off 24 hours at the hospital.\u201d<\/p>\n<p>He looked at me, a kind expression on his face, and asked, \u201cWere you the patient? Or the MD? Or an RN?\u201d<\/p>\n<p>I responded, \u201cChaplain.\u201d<\/p>\n<p style=\"text-align:left;\">From the look on his face, I\u2019m pretty sure he heard me say, \u201cGrim Reaper.\u201d<\/p>\n<p><div id=\"attachment_2991\" style=\"width: 248px\" class=\"wp-caption aligncenter\"><a href=\"https:\/\/irrevspeckay.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/grim_reaper_by_totemicdruid.jpg\"><img class=\"wp-image-2991 size-medium\" src=\"https:\/\/irrevspeckay.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/grim_reaper_by_totemicdruid.jpg?w=238&#038;h=300\" alt=\"Grim_Reaper_by_totemicdruid\"   \/><\/a><p class=\"wp-caption-text\">Grim_Reaper_by_totemicdruid<\/p><\/div>\n<p>It hadn\u2019t actually been 24 hours, as scheduled. It had been 27. I stayed three hours extra because\u2026 well, there was a very good reason that involved newborn life and a dance at the other end of that continuum. Which is probably why I was on the more needful side of wanting to be visible to others. I knew I would be going home to an empty house (the rest of my family temporarily strewn around the rest of New England) and though I wanted to hide under my bed covers, I also wanted to be known and seen and maybe even given permission to cry.<\/p>\n<p>On the first day of learning to be a hospital chaplain as an intern, they <span style=\"text-decoration:line-through;\">warn<\/span> inform you about the myriad of reactions you will encounter. There are the people who will smile in relief at your knock on the door. There are nurses who will give you a heads up which patient needs your presence. There are people who will ask for a chaplain themselves, wanting something specific from their faith tradition or just knowing they want something and it has some spiritual quality to it.<\/p>\n<p>Then there are the <em>other <\/em>reactions.<\/p>\n<ul>\n<li>The patient who would welcome a visit from a spiritual leader, but when they hear, \u201cchaplain,\u201d they also hear, \u201cChristian,\u201d and that\u2019s not their thing. (And their thing has been historically, and likely even in the present times, oppressed or silenced by representatives of Christianity\u2026)<\/li>\n<\/ul>\n<ul>\n<li>The people who have been so hurt, traumatized, denied by religion that the presence of a chaplain is not only painful to them, it enrages them and can be experienced as a reminder of that violation.<\/li>\n<\/ul>\n<ul>\n<li>The ones who are wracked with guilt, not so much for any wrong they have committed, but because they haven\u2019t gone to church\/synagogue\/prayers\/ _______________ in a while, and think that a chaplain is the enforcer of such things, or will judge them, or withhold something from them.<\/li>\n<\/ul>\n<ul>\n<li>The ones that would like something spiritual, but they see some explicit artifact of specific religiosity (a clergy collar, a hijab, a cross, a habit, a skull cap, a kippah) and cannot, or will not, let that chaplain be of service to them.<\/li>\n<li>There are the ones whose tradition doesn\u2019t allow female clergy, and they have bought into that value hook, line, and sinker. \u201cThank you, <em>dear<\/em>, but no thank you.\u201d<\/li>\n<\/ul>\n<ul>\n<li>There are those who are not religious, who are not even \u201cspiritual, not religious,\u201d and who look for strictly secular forms of support, not knowing or able to hear that true multi-faith chaplains \u201cserve people of <em>all<\/em> Beliefs and <em>no<\/em> Belief.\u201d<\/li>\n<\/ul>\n<p>Then there are the people \u2013 patients and medical staff alike \u2013 who believe the presence of a chaplain can mean only one thing: bad news.\u00a0\u00a0 Usually death or imminent death, a.k.a. the Grim Reaper.\u00a0\u00a0 This is unfortunate. When it takes place in nursing staff, it can lead to families sitting with their grief alone for days on end in a hospital room while their loved is in the process of dying, with no chance to build a relationship with the chaplain so that they can be better served when the patient&#8217;s time has come.\u00a0<\/p>\n<p>So, when the cashier shut up, stopped looking at me, and got all kinds of awkward-y, I kinda knew what was probably going on. Maybe long ago he had a bad experience. Maybe it wasn\u2019t so far in the past.\u00a0 Or maybe he\u2019s really uncomfortable with anything related to the topic of death or dying. If that\u2019s the case, he\u2019s in good company. At cocktail parties, it is a real buzzkill to tell people that this summer I am working as a hospital chaplain. Because, when I do, <em>they<\/em> get all awkward-y and either create some reason to flee or, if they have more success at managing initial impulses, they (usually abruptly) change the topic of conversation.<\/p>\n<p>Before this internship, I didn&#8217;t regularly spend time at a hospital unless you count watching tv.\u00a0 I am regularly a decade behind in pop culture when it comes to media, so please don\u2019t laugh when I share that my daughter and I spend quality time binge watching <a href=\"http:\/\/en.wikipedia.org\/wiki\/Grey%27s_Anatomy\">Grey\u2019s Anatomy<\/a>. (We are in the second half of season five\u2026which originally aired six years ago). I rant every episode about the absence of a chaplain on that show. (At least\u00a0<a href=\"http:\/\/www.imdb.com\/title\/tt2372162\/\">OITNB<\/a> has had a chaplain twice.) I rant about how all the beautiful doctorpeople work out their high-drama psycho-shit on their unsuspecting patients.<\/p>\n<p>Chaplains, at least, get formal training in how <em>not<\/em> to do that. True fact.<\/p>\n<p>I wonder: if there were images of chaplains in the media doing what I do ~ what my colleagues and mentors do well ~ would my cashier buddy have had the same reaction? If he had seen on his favorite television show, or Netflix series, a chaplain who sat with someone fearful of their own mortality, or as they blessed a newborn baby, or as they helped a man out of control of his rage be able to contain it enough to say good-bye to his beloved sister, or sat with a distraught ICU nurse who had just one too many deaths that day and needed a shoulder to cry on \u2013 would I have still been seen as the Angel of Death?<\/p>\n<p>As long as there has been television, there has been a plethora of doctor shows.\u00a0 So I don&#8217;t mean to pick on just Grey&#8217;s Anatomy.\u00a0 For instance, I just pursued the <a href=\"http:\/\/www.imdb.com\/title\/tt0412142\/fullcredits?ref_=tt_cl_sm#cast\">list of characters on the tv show, House, M.D<\/a>. There\u2019s a hospital pharmacist, there\u2019s even a Carnival Goer, but I did not find a single chaplain. In this nation that is supposedly one of the most religious among developed countries, is there no need for spiritual healing at the same time that there is medical healing going on?<\/p>\n<p>When addressing a national group of doctors, Rabbi Abraham Heschel once said,<\/p>\n<blockquote><p>It is a grievous mistake to keep a wall of separation between medicine and religion. There is a division of labor but a unity of spirit. The act of healing is the highest form of imitatio Dei.<\/p>\n<\/blockquote>\n<p>Amazing strides have been made in this arena since he spoke those words in 1964. One huge stride is the move towards a multifaith approach that recognizes all people, whether affiliated with a specific religion or not, have spiritual needs. These needs can be independent of one\u2019s religious identity. In a society that is becoming increasingly less identified with one religion or any religion, this is an essential step.\u00a0 Is there room for improvement among individual chaplains or hospital programs?\u00a0 Hell, yes.\u00a0 But there has been great progress and continued movement in the right direction.<\/p>\n<p>Part of breaking down the wall of separation is to make spiritual services at hospitals more visible in the wider world \u2013 not just more visible at hospitals, but also in popular culture. \u00a0<\/p>\n<p><a href=\"https:\/\/irrevspeckay.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/grey-s-anatomy-greys-anatomy-1663492-1024-768-grey-s-anatomy-sons-of-anarchy-doctor-who-fringe-weeds-5-tv-shows-to-binge-watch.jpg\"><img class=\"size-medium wp-image-2993 aligncenter\" src=\"https:\/\/irrevspeckay.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/grey-s-anatomy-greys-anatomy-1663492-1024-768-grey-s-anatomy-sons-of-anarchy-doctor-who-fringe-weeds-5-tv-shows-to-binge-watch.jpg?w=300&#038;h=225\" alt=\"grey-s-anatomy-greys-anatomy-1663492-1024-768-grey-s-anatomy-sons-of-anarchy-doctor-who-fringe-weeds-5-tv-shows-to-binge-watch\" width=\"300\" height=\"225\" \/><\/a>So this is a shout out to the stunning <a href=\"http:\/\/www.imdb.com\/name\/nm0722274\/\">Shonda Rhimes<\/a>, executive producer of Grey\u2019s Anatomy (and who might be a tad busy with Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder, but a girl can dream), and to ABC, which just this past May renewed the show for an 11<sup>th<\/sup> season. Maybe, just maybe, the 11<sup>th<\/sup> season could have an appropriately beautifulpersonchaplain join the crew, just once or twice, providing spiritual support that meets the needs of the patients, not the personal-drama needs of the doctor interns and attending physicians.<\/p>\n<p>Then maybe, just maybe, there won\u2019t be as much need to fear the \u201cReaper.\u201d<\/p>\n<p><span class='embed-youtube' style='text-align:center; display: block;'><\/iframe><\/span><\/p>\n",
            "excerpt": "<p>I was in line at my local food co-op, which just so happens to have the planet\u2019s best dirty chai (the treat I get for myself after an especially hard day\u2019s work). It\u2019s embarrassingly expensive, but nothing else compares. IMHO. &hellip; <a href=\"http:\/\/irrevspeckay.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/20\/dont-fear-the-reaper-reactions-when-i-tell-people-what-i-do\/\">Continue reading <span class=\"meta-nav\">&rarr;<\/span><\/a><\/p>\n",
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            "date": "2014-07-25T08:51:37-04:00",
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            "title": "Something Wicked This Way Comes: Witches and Modern Women",
            "URL": "http:\/\/thegeekanthropologist.com\/2014\/07\/25\/something-wicked-this-way-comes-witches-and-modern-women\/",
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            "content": "<p>Two weeks ago, I published a piece on <a href=\"thegeekanthropologist.com\/2014\/07\/11\/the-devil-in-disguise-modern-monsters-and-their-metaphors\">modern monsters and their meanings<\/a> within contemporary pop culture. Though I dug through the remains of zombies, vampires and kaiju, I intentionally avoided analysis of witches\u2014I wanted to devote an entire piece that would provide me with the space to unpack the cultural resurgence of witches this year. I\u2019m not talking about Hogwarts students\u2014I\u2019m talking toil and trouble, dances with the Devil in the pale moonlight, bad bitches hex magic witches. <em>American Horror Story\u2019s<\/em> third season, <em>Coven<\/em> (2013-2014), conjured up a cast of New Orleans witches grappling to manifest the Seven Wonders and subsequently catapulted witches into the pop culture limelight yet again. While I have argued that zombies and vampires speak to concerns about climate change, capitalism and germ warfare, these witches serve a very different cultural purpose. With new shows like <em>Salem<\/em> (2014) and <em>Witches of East End<\/em> (2013-) on Lifetime, witches are experiencing their own charmed moment of cultural zeitgeist, one that comes out of ongoing feminist politics. Within the past year or so, women\u2019s issues have gained ascendency in the media and public attention\u2014topics like sexual assault on college campuses, rape culture, #YesAllWomen and equal access to birth control (I\u2019m looking at you Hobby Lobby) are being discussed widely, ushering in a new era in feminism and its visibility. As the general public becomes more aware and educated on women\u2019s issues, witches have pulled up their stockings and reemerged as feminist icons.<\/p>\n<p>Witches have historically been understood and treated as threats to patriarchal forms of power. Many historians who have studied witchcraft throughout the centuries indicate that the women who were targeted for being witches were often outsiders or women who did not fall into the tightly controlled gender roles of the time. The moral discourse surrounding witchcraft accusations often legitimized and reified gendered social hierarchies and political structures, as well as culturally entrenched beliefs about sin and depravity (Douglas 1991). Many of those throughout Europe and America who were accused of witchcraft were women who did not regularly attend Church (an inherently patriarchal institution), were unmarried or widowed, were economically self-sufficient, or dressed and acted immodestly by societal standards of the time. Witches were also often perceived as licentious, sexual creatures who seduced men, lay with the Devil, and could pollute men with their feminine fluids.<a href=\"https:\/\/thegeekanthropologist.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/4261b0afed1a66338670afb8609f1f3a.jpg\"><img class=\"alignright wp-image-2856 size-medium\" src=\"https:\/\/thegeekanthropologist.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/4261b0afed1a66338670afb8609f1f3a.jpg?w=189&#038;h=300\" alt=\"4261b0afed1a66338670afb8609f1f3a\"   \/><\/a><\/p>\n<p>During the Salem Witch Trials (1692-1693), the first three women accused of witchcraft were the cultural others of the Puritanical New England town\u2014Tituba, Reverend Parris\u2019s slave; Sarah Good, who was homeless; and Sarah Osborne, who disrupted land inheritance claims of the time by retaining the land of her deceased husband, rather than ceding it to her eldest son. Most of the women who were tried and executed for witchcraft undermined the conservative gender roles of the time and disturbed social norms of a woman\u2019s place in the domestic sphere. The widespread witch panic was also contemporaneous with the Scientific Revolution, which demonized female healers and condemned the practice of medicine by women. Throughout Europe and America, as <a href=\"http:\/\/www.salon.com\/2013\/10\/31\/what_witches_have_to_do_with_womens_health\/\">Soraya Chemaly<\/a> indicates, women \u201cwere charged as witches because they were successful. Take the case of\u00a0<a href=\"http:\/\/ir.uiowa.edu\/cgi\/viewcontent.cgi?article=1057&amp;context=mff\">Jacoba Felicie,<\/a>who was tried in 1322. Her accusation read, \u2018she would cure her patient of internal illness\u2026visit the sick assiduously and continue to examine\u2026in the manner of physicians.\u2019 No less than six witnesses described how she\u2019d successfully treated the when \u201cdoctors\u201d had failed\u201d (2013).<\/p>\n<p>Before the Scientific Revolution, medicine often fell to female healers, who used a combination of herbal medicine and folk therapies passed down through experience and intuition from generation to generation. As Constance Classen notes, \u201cIn the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, however, medicine gradually distanced itself from the domestic realm, and from the feminine senses of touch, taste and smell [\u2026] Healing was further taken out of female hands by the increased professionalization of the field, for women were forbidden to follow men into university\u201d (2005:80). Indeed, \u201ca newly developing male medical profession benefited economically from the demonization of female healers and midwives, many of whom were poor and derived their only income from healing. Not only was the division between \u2018witches magic\u2019 and \u2018men\u2019s medicine\u2019 gendered, but also it was classed. Newly minted male-only university doctors in the employ of the nobility were happy enough to eliminate illiterate female competition for their services\u201d (Chemaly 2013). Many women, therefore, who were maligned of witchcraft were also female healers, women who destabilized \u201cmasculine\u201d standards of medicine. Finally, \u201cwomen were persecuted for associating with other women, accused of forming covens or holding parties with Satan. Women who came together to celebrate holidays or to share information, trade herbs, gossip or otherwise, you know, hang out together were considered dangerous\u201d (Chemaly 2013). If you target disruptive women and keep them from communicating with one another, you eliminate potential subversion. Witchcraft, then, can historically be understood in Western contexts as the vilification and elimination of female power in the face of rising male power within the public sphere.<\/p>\n<p>There are still parts of the world that prosecute and burn witches. Women in Papua New Guinea still face violence if they are accused of sorcery or black magic. <a href=\"http:\/\/www.vice.com\/read\/papua-new-guinea-are-still-burning-witches-at-the-stake\">VICE<\/a> reports that, \u201cThose accused tend to be the more marginalized members of society, and while men are occasionally victimized,\u00a0<em><a href=\"http:\/\/www.news.com.au\/world-news\/woman-accused-of-sorcery-killed-in-mob-attack-in-bougainville\/story-fndir2ev-1226615137554\">women are particularly vulnerable to attacks<\/a><\/em><em>,<\/em> comprising roughly six out of every seven cases reported\u201d and it is estimated that \u201cthere were more than 50 sorcery-related killings in their provinces in 2008\u201d (<a href=\"http:\/\/www.huffingtonpost.com\/zama-coursenneff\/where-violence-against-wo_b_161339.html\">Coursen-Neff 2009<\/a>). In Ghana, women (usually elderly widows) have formed \u201cwitch camps\u201d and \u201cwitch villages,\u201d as safe refuges for those accused of witchcraft in their communities. As many of the supposed Ghanian witches are widows, the accusation can be seen as a ploy by the family to take their property. \u201c\u2019The camps are a dramatic manifestation of the status of women in Ghana,\u2019 says Professor Dzodzi Tsikata of the University of Ghana. \u2018Older women become a target because they are no longer useful to society.\u2019 Women who do not conform to society&#8217;s expectations also fall victim to the accusations of witchcraft, according to Lamnatu Adam of the women&#8217;s rights group Songtaba\u201d (<a href=\"http:\/\/www.bbc.com\/news\/magazine-19437130\">Whitaker 2012<\/a>). The efficacy of black magic and threat of witches remains very much a lived reality within many cultures around the world, a hazard that often targets already marginalized women and perpetuates cycles of gender-based violence.<\/p>\n<p><div id=\"attachment_2857\" style=\"width: 235px\" class=\"wp-caption alignleft\"><a href=\"https:\/\/thegeekanthropologist.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/c68e1b423d967cb24571884d15964869.jpg\"><img class=\"wp-image-2857 size-medium\" src=\"https:\/\/thegeekanthropologist.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/c68e1b423d967cb24571884d15964869.jpg?w=225&#038;h=300\" alt=\"Girls pose by a jail that recalls the witch trials of 1692 in Salem, 1945 [click on this image to find a short clip and analysis on the study of deviance in sociology] Photo Credit: B. Anthony Stewart\/National Geographic Society\/Corbis \u00a9 Corbis. All Rights Reserved.\" width=\"225\" height=\"300\" \/><\/a><p class=\"wp-caption-text\">Girls pose by a jail that recalls the witch trials of 1692 in Salem, 1945 [click on this image to find a short clip and analysis on the study of deviance in sociology] Photo Credit: B. Anthony Stewart\/National Geographic Society\/Corbis \u00a9 Corbis. All Rights Reserved.<\/p><\/div>\n<p>Within recent years, however, Western feminists and women within certain cultural enclaves have appropriated the term witch, claiming it as a title of female empowerment and solidarity. The appropriation of the term witch can be understood within the linguistic project of Mary Daly, through <em>Webster\u2019s First Intergalactic Wickedary of the English Language<\/em> and the <a href=\"croneproject.com\">Crone Project<\/a>, which aims to dismantle patriarchal ways of thinking and understanding women, and instead revisioning language from a female perspective.<\/p>\n<p>As spectral evidence leave contemporary audiences spellbound, I believe we\u2019re experiencing a different kind of s\u00e9ance. The recent television shows that feature witches come out of a particular cultural milieu, one that is increasingly aware and vocal about women\u2019s issues. <em>American Horror Story: Coven<\/em> not only tackles the history of women\u2019s oppression, but it also attends to ongoing misogyny, present controversies over women\u2019s rights, as well as division within feminist communities at large.<\/p>\n<p>During <em>Coven\u2019s<\/em> very first episode, \u201cBitchcraft,\u201d the writers take the dangerous sexuality of witches and recast it as a form of female empowerment. Zoe Benson discovers her witchy powers when she tries to lose her virginity, and accidentally ends up giving her boyfriend a fatal brain hemorrhage. Later on in the episode, when Madison Montgomery\u2014a fellow witch at Miss Robichaux\u2019s Academy\u2014gets drugged and gang-banged at a college party, Madison exacts punishment on her rapists by killing all but one in a bus crash. When Zoe realizes that one of the rapists might live, she straddles him in the hospital and uses her sex as a weapon. She becomes the castrating woman, like Salome or the vigilante vagina of Dawn O\u2019Keefe in <em>Teeth<\/em> (2007). While rapists and sexual offenders escape punishment or legal action, these witches enact their own form of justice, one that punishes the violation of a woman and appropriates a legacy of men fearful of the power housed within the female body.<\/p>\n<p><em>Coven<\/em> reconfigures history in other ways too. Zoe and Madison assume the role of Dr. Victor Frankenstein in \u201cBoy Parts,\u201d when they reconstruct and reanimate the limbs of the victims of the bus crash to create Kyle, a surrogate boyfriend\/sex-toy for the two. Only women, in this story, have the power to transcend life and death. <em>Coven<\/em> also deals with women\u2019s health issues. When Cordelia Foxx, Headmistress of the Academy, fails to get pregnant by medical means, she resorts to magic. Her desperation for fertility speaks to the debate over women\u2019s bodies, especially regarding access to services like birth control and comprehensive reproductive health care. The Academy\u2019s most assiduous antagonist, true to form, is the Delphi Trust, an organization whose sole purpose is to hunt down and eliminate witches. The Trust is comprised entirely of men and could easily be read as a corporate manifestation of the patriarchy.<\/p>\n<p>One of the climaxes of female solidarity occurs in episode six, \u201cThe Axeman Cometh,\u201d set during 1919, when the witches of the Academy lure the axe-murderer into their coven and stab him to death. When the Axeman returns to the Academy in \u201cGo To Hell,\u201d and Kyle offers to take care of him, Madison grabs the axe and cuts open the Axeman\u2019s belly. Misty turns to Kyle, saying, \u201cWe really don\u2019t need a man to protect us,\u201d and the witches proceed to stab the murderer to death, again. Bloody girl power.<\/p>\n<p><img class=\"alignnone\" src=\"https:\/\/i0.wp.com\/blog.chron.com\/tubular\/files\/2014\/01\/wow-walk-in-wrong-house-ahs.gif\" alt=\"\" width=\"500\" height=\"281\" \/><\/p>\n<p>The most compelling and malicious characters in the show, though, are all women. Each female character is given a complex backstory and emotional life. Even the women with vicious tendencies, such as Fiona Goode, Marie Laveau and Delphine LaLaurie, pulsate with charismatic, vindictive energy. They are never wholly good or bad characters, but are rather given the full personal depth few female characters are afforded in media. If we are to use the Bechdel Test to judge television shows and movies, <em>American Horror Story: Coven<\/em> accomplishes the Test\u2019s stipulations and validates the viability of a dynamic female-driven show that is intimately concerned with the magical machinations of women. What the Bechdel Test gestures toward is eliminating the artificial stereotypes of women where they are used as props\u2014burn those heresies at the stake.<\/p>\n<p>But <em>American Horror Story: Coven<\/em> also acknowledges the internal controversies that exist within the women\u2019s movement. Just as Fiona Goode and Marie Laveau (the Vodou Queen of New Orleans) spend most of the series at odds with one another, there are divisions amongst feminists along the lines of race, ethnicity and sexuality. Audre Lorde and bell hooks, amongst other queer women of color, have called upon contemporary feminists to acknowledge the differences that can exist in feminist agendas and ideologies across cultures and races. Many indigenous feminists around the world have also called for indigenous <em>feminisms,<\/em> a plurality that attends to the multitude of lived experiences and histories that inform a group\u2019s understanding and approach to feminism.<\/p>\n<p>Yet despite the variety of feminisms throughout the world, the most insidious form of patriarchy manifests when women turn against other women. Many of the accusations of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials were women testifying and criminalizing other women. Similarly, there is fierce competition between the students at the Academy over who is to be the next Supreme, and the witches turn against each other, often with deadly results. This competition and ill will between the witches is mirrored in contemporary debates about women\u2019s issues, where women recoil from identifying themselves as feminists&#8211;or even proclaim themselves <a title=\"Women Against Feminism\" href=\"http:\/\/womenagainstfeminism.tumblr.com\/\" target=\"_blank\">anti-Feminist <\/a>&#8211;or declare that America is post-sexism. There are women in the media who claim we have broken the glass ceiling and achieved parity, so that more vocal advocates of women\u2019s issues are seen as heretical in comparison. Only through uniting around common goals of equality can progress, or magic, be made.<a href=\"https:\/\/thegeekanthropologist.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/a8b1c3b45c60620d3e86858fd54b0b39.jpg\"><img class=\"alignright wp-image-2858 size-medium\" src=\"https:\/\/thegeekanthropologist.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/07\/a8b1c3b45c60620d3e86858fd54b0b39.jpg?w=300&#038;h=213\" alt=\"a8b1c3b45c60620d3e86858fd54b0b39\" width=\"300\" height=\"213\" \/><\/a><\/p>\n<p>In the finale of <em>Coven<\/em>, Cordelia\u2014as the newly initiated supreme\u2014decides to eliminate the secrecy of the Academy and expose the presence of witches to the wider world. It\u2019s a risky decision, but one that resonates with the contemporary condition of women\u2019s issues. Only by coming forward and making their stories of prejudice, discrimination and oppression known will the witch-burning end. Witches invite women to join hands and discover their power.<\/p>\n<p>\u00a0<\/p>\n<p>\u00a0<\/p>\n<p><strong>Works Cited<\/strong><\/p>\n<p><em>American Horror Story: Coven<\/em> (2013-2014). Ryan Murphy Productions.<\/p>\n<p>Chemaly, Soraya (2013). \u201cWhat Witches Have To Do With Women\u2019s Health.\u201d <em>Slate.<\/em><\/p>\n<p><a href=\"http:\/\/www.salon.com\/2013\/10\/31\/what_witches_have_to_do_with_womens_health\/\">http:\/\/www.salon.com\/2013\/10\/31\/what_witches_have_to_do_with_womens_health\/<\/a><\/p>\n<p>Classen, Constance (2005). \u201cThe Witch\u2019s Senses: Sensory Ideologies and Transgressive Femininities from the Renaissance to Modernity.\u201d <em>Empire of the Senses: The Sensual Cultural Reader. <\/em>Ed. David Howes. Bloomberg Academic.<br \/> Coursen-Neff, Zama (2009). \u201cWhere Violence Against Women is Rampant.\u201d <em>The Huffington Post. <\/em><a href=\"http:\/\/www.huffingtonpost.com\/zama-coursenneff\/where-violence-against-wo_b_161339.html\">http:\/\/www.huffingtonpost.com\/zama-coursenneff\/where-violence-against-wo_b_161339.html<\/a><\/p>\n<p><em>Crone Project<\/em>. <a href=\"http:\/\/croneproject.com\/\">http:\/\/croneproject.com\/<\/a><\/p>\n<p>Daly, Mary &amp; Jane Caputi (1994). <em>Webster\u2019s First New Intergalactic Wickedary of the English Language. <\/em>Harpercollins Publishers.<\/p>\n<p>Douglas, Mary (1991). &#8220;Witchcraft and Leprosy: Two Strategies of Exclusion.&#8221;\u00a0<em>Man,\u00a0<\/em>New Series, Vol. 26, No. 4. pp. 723-736.<\/p>\n<p>Friedman, Maggie (2013-Present). <em>Witches of East End. <\/em>Lifetime Television.<\/p>\n<p>hooks, bell (1984). <em>Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center. <\/em>South End Press.<\/p>\n<p>K\u00fcntzle, Julia &amp; Paul Blond\u00e9 (2013). \u201cThe Unhappy Fate of Ghanaian Witches.\u201d <em>VICE.<\/em><\/p>\n<p><a href=\"http:\/\/www.vice.com\/read\/the-unhappy-fate-of-ghanaian-witches-0000102-v20n10\">http:\/\/www.vice.com\/read\/the-unhappy-fate-of-ghanaian-witches-0000102-v20n10<\/a><\/p>\n<p>Lichtenstein, Mitchell (2007). <em>Teeth.<\/em><\/p>\n<p>Lorde, Audre (1977). \u201cThe Transformation of Silence into Language and Action.\u201d <em>Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. <\/em>Crossing Press Feminist Series.<\/p>\n<p>Miller, Laura (2005). \u201cWho Burned the Witches?\u201d <em>Slate<\/em>. <a href=\"http:\/\/www.salon.com\/2005\/02\/01\/witch_craze\/\">http:\/\/www.salon.com\/2005\/02\/01\/witch_craze\/<\/a><\/p>\n<p><em>Salem<\/em> (2014). WGN America.<\/p>\n<p>Whitaker, Kati (2012). \u201cGhana Witch Camps: Widows\u2019 Lives in Exile.\u201d <em>BBC News Magazine. <\/em><a href=\"http:\/\/www.bbc.com\/news\/magazine-19437130\">http:\/\/www.bbc.com\/news\/magazine-19437130<\/a><\/p>\n",
            "excerpt": "<p>Two weeks ago, I published a piece on modern monsters and their meanings within contemporary pop culture. Though I dug through the remains of zombies, vampires and kaiju, I intentionally avoided analysis of witches\u2014I wanted to devote an entire piece &hellip; <a href=\"http:\/\/thegeekanthropologist.com\/2014\/07\/25\/something-wicked-this-way-comes-witches-and-modern-women\/\">Continue reading <span class=\"meta-nav\">&rarr;<\/span><\/a><\/p>\n",
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            "date": "2014-08-15T09:27:08+00:00",
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            "title": "A &#8216;cyclist&#8217; is not a different species; just another human being",
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            "content": "<p><small><em><strong>Short version<\/strong> &#8211; it&#8217;s as preposterous to attribute characteristics to &#8216;cyclists&#8217; as it would be to attribute them to\u00a0&#8216;trainists&#8217;, &#8216;busists&#8217;, &#8216;planeists&#8217;, &#8216;tubists&#8217; or &#8216;pedestrians&#8217;. A &#8216;cyclist&#8217; is just a\u00a0human being who\u00a0happens to be travelling by bike, just as a &#8216;pedestrian&#8217; is a human being who happens to be travelling on foot, and a &#8216;trainist&#8217; one who happens to be travelling by train.<\/em><\/small><\/p>\n<p>&nbsp;<\/p>\n<p>&nbsp;<\/p>\n<p>Last month Radio 1&#8217;s Newsbeat programme ran\u00a0<a href=\"http:\/\/www.bbc.co.uk\/programmes\/b0495c3j\">a short segment on cycling safety<\/a>, featuring <a href=\"https:\/\/twitter.com\/maidstoneonbike\">MaidstoneonBike<\/a>, among others.<\/p>\n<p>About halfway through the programme, a number of\u00a0tweets from the audience\u00a0were read out, presumably in the interests of &#8216;balance&#8217;. That &#8216;balance&#8217; being that on a programme arguing we need to do more to keep &#8216;cyclists&#8217; safe, we need other people arguing that &#8216;cyclists&#8217; need to do more for themselves.<\/p>\n<p>Among these tweets, read out to an audience of millions, were the following statements\u00a0-<\/p>\n<blockquote><p>cyclists have no spatial awareness<\/p><\/blockquote>\n<p>and<\/p>\n<blockquote><p>bike riders are irresponsible<\/p><\/blockquote>\n<p>There are, I think, only two\u00a0ways these comments &#8211; and countless others like them &#8211;\u00a0can\u00a0conceivably make sense.<\/p>\n<p><strong>1)<\/strong> It&#8217;s possible that\u00a0a &#8216;cyclist&#8217; <strong>isn&#8217;t a normal human being<\/strong>, but rather some variant of the species that lacks spatial awareness, or that is more irresponsible than a standard human being.<\/p>\n<p><strong>2)<\/strong> Alternatively, a &#8216;cyclist&#8217;\u00a0<strong><em>is<\/em> a normal human being<\/strong> &#8211; but there is something about a bicycle that immediately removes their spatial awareness, and makes them more irresponsible; or, that a bicycle appeals uniquely to that subset of humanity that is lacking spatial awareness, or\u00a0is irresponsible.<\/p>\n<p>The first is obviously absurd; the second bears slightly\u00a0more serious consideration, but not much.<\/p>\n<p>But I think that the first (absurd) explanation does\u00a0actually correspond to the way plenty of people think, reflexively. Perhaps it is what the word &#8216;cyclist&#8217; conjures up in the popular imagination &#8211; a skinny young male, dressed in lycra, wearing funny shoes and a funny helmet. This person isn&#8217;t &#8216;one of us&#8217;. They&#8217;re a bit alien.<\/p>\n<p><a href=\"https:\/\/aseasyasridingabike.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/08\/screen-shot-2014-08-15-at-09-46-00.png\"><img class=\"aligncenter size-full wp-image-6358\" src=\"https:\/\/aseasyasridingabike.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/08\/screen-shot-2014-08-15-at-09-46-00.png?w=480\" alt=\"Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 09.46.00\"   \/><\/a><\/p>\n<p>A clear example of this phenomenon came on a Radio 4 comedy programme last night &#8211; <a href=\"http:\/\/www.bbc.co.uk\/programmes\/b04d4vbz\">The Show What You Wrote<\/a>, on which the &#8216;ensemble&#8217; perform\u00a0&#8216;the best&#8217; listener submissions, chosen from thousands of entries.\u00a0The very first\u00a0sketch of this programme &#8211; indeed<em> the first of the entire series<\/em> &#8211; was remarkable, for what it says about these kinds of attitudes.<\/p>\n<p>It starts with the sound of a car being driven, followed by a loud crashing sound, and a squeal of tires.<\/p>\n<blockquote><p><strong>Man<\/strong>: I think I&#8217;ve hit something! Oh, I can&#8217;t believe this. A nice, country drive, and this happens. I feel awful.<\/p>\n<p><strong>Woman<\/strong>: Poor little thing. Do you think his little family are wondering where he is?<\/p>\n<p><strong>Man<\/strong>: Oh my God it moved! It&#8217;s still alive!<\/p>\n<p><strong>Woman<\/strong>: Well we&#8217;re going to have to put it out of it&#8217;s misery. Here &#8211; use this stick.<\/p>\n<p>[Sound of a beating]<\/p>\n<p><strong>Man<\/strong>: Oh, that wasn&#8217;t nice.<\/p>\n<p><strong>Woman<\/strong>: Okay, now you get rid of his body, and I&#8217;ll stick his bicycle in the boot.<\/p>\n<p>LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE<\/p><\/blockquote>\n<p>The &#8216;humour&#8217; here &#8211; such that it is &#8211; relies upon the audience believing that the man and the woman are discussing hitting and dispatching something <em>not-human<\/em>, when it turns out they hit and dispatched a <em>human, or a sort-of-human<\/em>. Presumably the image the audience have in their mind is of a\u00a0kind of skinny, lycra-clad, helmeted &#8216;species&#8217;, like in the picture above.<\/p>\n<p>The &#8216;joke&#8217;, however, would be preposterous if the word &#8216;cyclist&#8217; conjured up these images in the popular imagination.<\/p>\n<div id=\"attachment_6357\" style=\"width: 650px\" class=\"wp-caption aligncenter\"><a href=\"https:\/\/aseasyasridingabike.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/08\/screen-shot-2014-08-15-at-09-40-20.png\"><img class=\"size-full wp-image-6357\" src=\"https:\/\/aseasyasridingabike.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/08\/screen-shot-2014-08-15-at-09-40-20.png?w=480\" alt=\"Caption\"   \/><\/a><p class=\"wp-caption-text\">You get rid of her\u00a0body, and I&#8217;ll put her\u00a0bike in the boot. Ho ho ho!<\/p><\/div>\n<p>So &#8211; as ridiculous as it is to think of &#8216;cyclists&#8217; as a different kind of human, or not-human, this is unfortunately the instinctive reaction of plenty of people. Radio 4 comedy programmes would not run segments like this if it were otherwise.<\/p>\n<p>The <strong>other<\/strong>\u00a0explanation &#8211; that <em>a bicycle itself<\/em> somehow transforms an otherwise ordinary human being into an irresponsible one, or that bicycles uniquely appeal to those that lack spatial awareness, or variants thereof &#8211; is almost as ridiculous.<\/p>\n<p>People who ride bikes use plenty of other modes of transport; they all walk, they almost all drive motor vehicles (except, of course, children), they take the train, the tube, and the bus.\u00a0For it to be true that &#8216;cyclists&#8217; have particular characteristics of lawlessness, or of irresponsibility or cluelessness, that other transport users don&#8217;t have, these characteristics must suddenly appear when they sit astride a bicycle, and then just as suddenly disappear when they dismount.<\/p>\n<p>Is this likely? Can &#8216;spatial awareness&#8217; suddenly come and go, according to the mode of transport someone is using? Obviously not; someone&#8217;s spatial awareness is a constant. Likewise &#8216;irresponsibility&#8217; is a constant; an irresponsible person will be irresponsible regardless of their mode of transport.<\/p>\n<p>A man\u00a0who pushes you out of the way while cycling will undoubtedly be the same kind of person who pushes you out of the way while walking, or while trying to get onto a train, or who will use his horn while driving. But this kind of behaviour &#8211; equally likely across all modes of transport &#8211; is never used as an attribute of &#8216;pedestrians&#8217;, or &#8216;trainists&#8217;, or &#8216;motorists&#8217;.<\/p>\n<p>A moment&#8217;s reflection will show that <strong>it makes absolutely no sense to attribute characteristics to people who happen to be using a particular mode of transport.<\/strong><\/p>\n<p>&#8216;Motorists have poor hearing.&#8217;<\/p>\n<p>&#8216;Trainists are sweaty&#8217;.<\/p>\n<p>&#8216;Busists lack a sense of direction.&#8217;<\/p>\n<p>All utterly, utterly preposterous; yet BBC presenters are quite happy to read out precisely these kinds of statements on air, to millions of people.<\/p>\n<p>Think about what you&#8217;re saying.<\/p>\n",
            "excerpt": "<p>Short version &#8211; it&#8217;s as preposterous to attribute characteristics to &#8216;cyclists&#8217; as it would be to attribute them to\u00a0&#8216;trainists&#8217;, &#8216;busists&#8217;, &#8216;planeists&#8217;, &#8216;tubists&#8217; or &#8216;pedestrians&#8217;. A &#8216;cyclist&#8217; is just a\u00a0human being who\u00a0happens to be travelling by bike, just as a &#8216;pedestrian&#8217; &hellip; <a href=\"http:\/\/aseasyasridingabike.wordpress.com\/2014\/08\/15\/a-cyclist-is-not-a-different-species-just-another-human-being\/\">Continue reading <span class=\"meta-nav\">&rarr;<\/span><\/a><\/p>\n",
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            "date": "2014-08-26T22:14:30-06:00",
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            "title": "GAZA",
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            "content": "<p>Leaving isn\u2019t difficult. It\u2019s coming back that breaks you.<\/p>\n<p>\u201cSo how was teaching terrorists all summer?\u201d my aunt asked contentiously\u00a0as we lay on the beach at the lake, August 2000. Like every summer since I was two, we were taking a week of family vacation to waterski and tan and fight over nothing. And like every summer, I was pretty sure I was going to punch a family member.\u00a0But now for legitimate\u00a0reasons.<\/p>\n<p>I had just returned from the Gaza Strip where I had been teaching English to Palestinian Jr. High students. To this day, Gaza\u00a0remains one of the most crowded, most impoverished, most hopeless places I&#8217;ve travelled. And I&#8217;ve been to a lot of shitty places. Beautiful, hospitable people, caged in like cattle.\u00a0And\u00a0that was fourteen years ago. Fourteen more years of siege. Of bombing. Of a relentless de-humanization campaign. Of tunnels and kidnapping and retaliations, and &#8220;you&#8217;re right&#8221; and &#8220;I&#8217;m righteous.&#8221; A city\u00a0being\u00a0razed once again by\u00a0some delusional belief by all parties that more violence will solve it.<\/p>\n<p>And yet, the summer of 2000 was filled with laughter and dancing and friendships. On the brink of peace or war, while Barak, Clinton and Arafat holed up in Camp David, deciding the fate of the\u00a0little strip of land, I hung out with a gaggle of privileged kids, teaching English at the one Catholic School in the Strip, learned their history, their reality, and let them steal my heart. They also bugged the shit out of me. But mostly, I loved them. I planned on going\u00a0back every summer, determined to give my life to learning and hopefully finding a way to help towards peace.<\/p>\n<p>I\u2019ve never been back to Gaza. The doors slammed shut that fall when the second intifada started, and Israel\u00a0barely allows\u00a0foreigners in. Occasional\u00a0press, few aid workers. I don\u2019t know what happened to my students. The emails stopped coming that fall. Some had citizenship elsewhere and hopefully\u00a0they escaped. Most probably joined in their people\u2019s rebellion. Throwing stones and crudely made bombs at the American-financed Israeli tanks and body armor. A generation locked in a pattern of violence so senseless, and yet held onto with such self-righteous victimization.<\/p>\n<p>But I will remember them as they were that summer.\u00a0Sporting\u00a0Leonardo DiCaprio TITANIC t-shirts, the girls flirted and giggled and the boys used pagers and too much hair gel. We called them our\u00a0&#8220;pimps&#8221; and &#8220;beauty queens&#8221;. Their parents insisted we come over and force fed us too much food. The girls huddled to close to us on the humid, sticky, bus rides all over the Strip, needing to hold our hands. Pet our hair. Tell us they loved us and make us promise we wouldn&#8217;t forget them. They insisted we spend our free time at their houses, or at the beach, their parent&#8217;s force fed us food and got in our business\u00a0and we all cried\u00a0when we left. Walking through the long-cattle-like trough back to Israel. Not realizing this was truly goodbye.<\/p>\n<p>Leaving isn&#8217;t difficult. It\u2019s the coming back that breaks you. Because everything has stayed the same. Everything except you. And suddenly you no longer fit into the rhythms and patterns of a world that used come as naturally as breathing. And you fear you never will again. That you&#8217;ll spend all your family vacations trying to explain how those\u00a0kids were\u00a0no more terrorists than you and I are\u00a0because our\u00a0country sells their enemy the bombs that kill them. Explaining\u00a0that they were just normal kids born in a beautifully tragic place where all they had known was war and violence and occupation.<\/p>\n<p>But the\u00a0greater fear is that \u00a0slowly over time, you will forget to tell people what\u00a0you\u2019ve seen. You yourself will forget the details. The faces, the names. The promises made. Forget to debate and share and fight. Forget to weep for the death and destruction and lives lost.<\/p>\n<p>Because over the years I learned, that for me, leaving\u00a0is always the\u00a0easy path. But staying, that\u2019s the challenge.<\/p>\n",
            "excerpt": "<p>Leaving isn\u2019t difficult. It\u2019s coming back that breaks you. \u201cSo how was teaching terrorists all summer?\u201d my aunt asked contentiously\u00a0as we lay on the beach at the lake, August 2000. Like every summer since I was two, we were taking &hellip; <a href=\"http:\/\/thesevoicesinourheads.wordpress.com\/2014\/08\/26\/gaza\/\">Continue reading <span class=\"meta-nav\">&rarr;<\/span><\/a><\/p>\n",
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            "date": "2014-08-29T05:05:07-07:00",
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            "title": "How Google can really help news &amp; media",
            "URL": "http:\/\/om.co\/2014\/08\/29\/how-google-can-really-help-news-media\/",
            "short_URL": "http:\/\/wp.me\/pbs-2wy",
            "content": "<figure><img style=\"display:block;margin-left:auto;margin-right:auto;\" src=\"https:\/\/om.files.wordpress.com\/2014\/08\/all-the-presidents-men.png?w=480\" \/><\/figure>\n<p>Earlier this month, folks from Google invited me along with Kara Swisher and Audrey Cooper for a conversation about the future of news. Towards the end of the conversation, we were asked what Google could do in order to help the news and media industry. Obviously, we joked about buying the New York Times, but when asked, I pointed out that Google is good at one thing \u2014 software \u2014 and instead of trying to do crazy things, why not build tools that help the news ecosystem? Why not create tools that help data novices make sense of information? Or how about a smarter, simpler and more nimble analytics tool just for reporters? (Or simply buy Chartbeat!) I forgot to mention one tool that they could build in their sleep, and in the process help not only save many reporter hours but make the news better, smarter and more contextual.<\/p>\n<p>That tool is search \u2014 not the Google search as we know it, but a different version of Google-powered search tool that allows reporters to see in real-time past stories from across the web. That&#8217;s not all \u2014 the search tool would also provide contextual information about various topics, whether through Wikipedia or some private archive like Lexis-Nexis. There is a crying need for this tool, especially in today&#8217;s hyperactive media environment.<\/p>\n<h2>Reinvent, Reimagine<\/h2>\n<p>One of the great things about the web is that it has totally and completely exploded the notion of traditional journalism. It has allowed fresh air into newsrooms and basically allowed us to reinvent what it means to be in the media business. Listicles are what made Cosmopolitan, big, fat and happy and they&#8217;ve helped Buzzfeed\u00a0<a href=\"http:\/\/om.co\/2014\/08\/11\/buzzfeed-the-attention-game\/\">attain a valuation of $850 million<\/a>. Data-driven feature pieces (they used to call them infographics) were commonplace in technology and business magazines like Wired and Red Herring.\u00a0<\/p>\n<p>Today they are a category of their own, thanks to the rise of The Upshot and\u00a0<a href=\"http:\/\/om.co\/2014\/03\/25\/nate-silver-vs-the-media\/\">Nate Silver&#8217;s FiveThirtyEight<\/a>.\u00a0<a href=\"http:\/\/thewirecutter.com\">The Wirecutter<\/a>\u00a0has successfully reinvented the \u201cshopper\u201d concept that was so common during the heydays of the PC business and in the process discovered a business model that puts readers first. And the beat goes on. I absolutely love the media experiments that are trying to get a slice of our attention. From\u00a0<a href=\"http:\/\/www.beaconreader.com\">Beacon Reader<\/a>\u00a0to Byliner (sadly dead), everything is worth trying because we are going through a transition and are in a state of flux.\u00a0<\/p>\n<p>Of course, like all industries in flux, media is attracting newer, younger, creative minds who are not weighed down by the legacy and are natively proficient in using the tools of today . The new generation thinks different and makes a different media \u2014 just look at Vice. However, there is a one challenge that most in media, especially the newcomers have, and that is the historical understanding\/context of the news events and industries they cover.\u00a0<\/p>\n<p>The newsrooms of today aren&#8217;t as nurturing an environment and it is hard for young reporters to get the mentorship we got. Similarly, with fewer (and much younger) editors, you don&#8217;t have access to that accumulated knowledge. Many of the senior writers are either retired, or pushed out or have moved on to other things. And with it, there is a loss of that historical context. I don&#8217;t say this to bemoan the present or talk about the good old days \u2014 far from it. It is just to provide some color to the reality of the modern media world.\u00a0<\/p>\n<p>The good news is that all the information a reporter needs is out there. Over the past twenty five years, society has put up a lot of information on the web and the only challenge that remains is our ability to find it. And this where the proposed Google search tool \u2014 with a special focus on journalistic\/news needs \u2014 comes into play.\u00a0<\/p>\n<p>To illustrate why it could be useful, I will\u00a0<a href=\"http:\/\/www.niemanlab.org\/2014\/08\/this-why-atlantic-media-is-funding-a-social-platform-for-sharing-links-one-at-a-time\/\">use the story<\/a>\u00a0of \u201cThis\u201d a link sharing social platform that got a glowing writeup from the\u00a0<a href=\"http:\/\/www.niemanlab.org\/2014\/08\/this-why-atlantic-media-is-funding-a-social-platform-for-sharing-links-one-at-a-time\/\">Nieman Journalism Labs<\/a>. Missing from the piece was any mention of\u00a0<a href=\"http:\/\/lastgreatthing.com\">Last Great Thing<\/a>, a similar idea that got a write-up from a site called \u2014 wait a minute \u2014 Nieman Journalism Labs. (When a stream is just a trickle: Last Great Thing is one item a day, no archives\u00a0<a href=\"http:\/\/bit.ly\/XFH0ue\">http:\/\/bit.ly\/XFH0ue<\/a>) Do I think the reporter forgot this intentionally? I don&#8217;t think so. It was a case of \u201cI didn&#8217;t know.\u201d<\/p>\n<h2>News, Turbocharged<\/h2>\n<p>Let me give you one simple example of the newsflow in today&#8217;s turbocharged environment. A reporter gets an alert for a story from three or four sources \u2014 public relations pitches, pr-focused new wires, Twitter, or from their sources directly. When that news flows into their inbox (usually via email), they go on alert and start thinking about the angle and how many words they can do and how fast. The faster you get to the web, the better the chances for a reporter to get attention. Most normally just do some basic report and post it to the web and add details later. It is not very different from the newswire reporting I used to do back in the day.\u00a0<\/p>\n<p>There are times when reporters have to do longer pieces \u2014 profiles on companies, people or cover news events. In this case, you do research but the effectiveness of research is limited by the questions you ask, whether it is sources or the databases. You don&#8217;t always ask the right question when you are on deadline \u2014 yes even longer pieces are written these days with a proverbial gun to the head \u2014 and as a result you miss the critical nuances in shaping the final piece.\u00a0<\/p>\n<p>The internet has done one thing: it has made speed one of the key factors in how information is produced and consumed. As networks have become faster and more prevalent, the news and our expectation of the information has become faster. I think the challenge is that our information-gathering tools are not up to the snuff \u2014 or up to speed I should say.\u00a0<\/p>\n<p>I don&#8217;t expect media companies \u2014 unless they are the new breed of companies like Buzzfeed and Vox Media \u2014 to be able to do this. They failed in coming up with software that helped them publish to the web and it wasn&#8217;t till more open source products such as WordPress came to the fore that media companies saw the light. The tools to help augment the information gathering process will also come from open source and the Internet world. New language-oriented libraries like Hemingway can provide some grammatical and composition help, for instance.\u00a0<\/p>\n<p>Software &amp; Internet-centric companies like Google should be more effective than others. Others like Automattic\/<a href=\"http:\/\/wordpress.org\">WordPress<\/a>\u00a0should be thinking about this long and hard, now that they have embraced the idea of being the content-management system or \u201cCMS\u201d of the web. That said, startups shouldn&#8217;t bother, because let&#8217;s face it, the media industry is not known for being big spenders on any kind of technology.<\/p>\n<h2>Tools, not talk<\/h2>\n<p>If technology has upended the media ecosystem, then it should also be the solution for that ecosystem to adapt to the new hyper-speed reality of news and information. What we need is a set of tools that basically are a way to help the information-gathering process at network speed. Instead of reporters asking questions \u2014 if you don&#8217;t have historical context you can&#8217;t really ask some key questions \u2014 we need tools that help augment the process.\u00a0<\/p>\n<p>Whether it is a tech tool that helps sift for signals in the increasing amount of transmissions on the social web or a tool that provides context serendipitously or simply an app that helps identify copyright infringements or plagiarism \u2014 in my view, media people need tools that basically help them produce the best possible reports.\u00a0<\/p>\n<p>Now a good context+search tool (a chrome extension would be perfect) should have helped surface the old story about Last Great Thing, and thus given the reporter a chance to be either more skeptical or give her the option to flesh out the story further by adding more details. The extension wouldn&#8217;t be passive \u2014 it would essentially watch what a reporter is writing via a WordPress plugin or through some arrangement between Google and WordPress &#8212; and constantly surface matching \u201ccontextual\u201d stories from archives and around the web. For example, it could run as a simple sidebar and it should have capabilities for reporters to customize their information sources.<\/p>\n<p>The biggest challenge of modern web-based publishing is the incessant speed of the publishing cycle. You have much less time as a reporter\/writer to turn around the copy for the Internet \u2014 and there is very little time for reporters to do search. A tool like that would make searching for contextual information an inline activity. My point here is that as the internet changes journalism \u2014 increasing its metabolism and redefining its core components \u2014 it is time to develop a set of tools that help the modern (and future generations) of media people do their job better.\u00a0<\/p>\n<p>After all, as Mathew Ingram\u00a0<a href=\"http:\/\/gigaom.com\/2014\/08\/26\/journalism-is-doing-just-fine-thanks-its-mass-media-business-models-that-are-ailing\/?utm_source=dlvr.it&amp;utm_medium=twitter&amp;utm_campaign=gigaommedia&amp;utm_term=gigaomvideo\">so aptly puts it<\/a>\u00a0\u2014 journalism is doing just fine and will continue do just fine, regardless of the business models.<\/p>\n<h3>SOME Recent Musings ON Media<\/h3>\n<p>1.\u00a0<a href=\"http:\/\/om.co\/2014\/03\/25\/nate-silver-vs-the-media\/\">Establishment vs Nate Silver<\/a><br \/>2.\u00a0<a href=\"http:\/\/om.co\/2014\/08\/11\/buzzfeed-the-attention-game\/\">Buzzfeed and the attention game<\/a><br \/>3.\u00a0<a href=\"http:\/\/om.co\/2014\/05\/06\/festivus-journalism-perugia\/\">Festivus, journalism and Perugia<\/a><br \/>4.\u00a0<a href=\"http:\/\/om.co\/2014\/05\/03\/on-journalism\/\">On Journalism<\/a>.<\/p>\n",
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