Monthly Archives: December 2012

An Appetite for Weight Management Tools

Trustworthy and conversational, Farhad Manjoo reviews popular fitness apps and food/exercise trackers.  His top recommendations are the small and un-cumbersome Fitbit.  And for monitoring your diet Manjoo recommends My Fitness Pal.

But My Fitness Pal’s killer feature is its enormous database. The app claims to have knowledge of more than a million food items, from apple strudel to zucchini walnut bread. In my tests, I found it almost creepily comprehensive. It had caloric info on that Cook’s Illustrated meatloaf, as well as a flounder recipe I made from Bon Appétit, and pretty much anything you could ever buy in a grocery and even many restaurants. If it does not have an item, My Fitness Pal allows you to enter your own recipe; for example, you can type in the ingredients of your mom’s apple pie, and it will figure out how many inches a slice will add to your waist.


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My Post on BuzzFeed: The 10 Outstanding Essays of 2012

A collection of this year’s best culture writing.

LeBron James’ Hairline, Manufacturing Rick Ross and Lana, Twitter subpoenas, Obama’s paradoxical blackness, an Asian hoops star, doxxing twitter trolls, a future beyond Facebook, our infatuation with busyness, breaking down Breaking Bad, and the revolutionary women of the Arab Spring.

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The New Superman Trailer and M. Night’s Redemption

The forging of the new Man of Steel interests me more than most.  Henry Cavill’s Kal-El, like Gerard Bartler’s Leonidas, was built inside of a dungeon in Salt Lake, otherwise known as Gym Jones.  If you’ve ever wandered over to my other blog you’ll know that I also worship at that temple.

While I’m not a fan of the Watchmen, 300 was a feast for the eyes.  And with Chris Nolan as producer it’s clear that the new Superman will be closer to Batman in style and tone than the abominations that are the recent X-Men and Spider-Mans.

Depending on who you ask, M. Night Shyamalan became unbearable after The 6th sense, or after any movie he’s made since.  (For me it was The Happening.  Mark Whalberg and Zooey “miscast bangs” Deschanel were just awful.)

Bill Simmons of ESPN’s Grantland makes a convincing case that, when you think about it, there are only a few movie stars that actually compel us to buy tickets, Will Smith being chief among them.

I hope this spells redemption for M. Night.

The giant, sprawling landscapes remind me of James Cameron’s Avatar and M. Night’s most recent, The Last Airbender.  My little brother says it reminds him of Halo, a comparison that is always welcome.

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In Netflix Case, a Chance to Re-examine Old Rules

In July of this year the CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings posted this on his facebook: “Netflix monthly viewing exceeded 1 billion hours for the first time ever in June.”

Since then the S.E.C. has launched a probe to determine if–through this social media post–the video streaming company violated  “the Regulation Fair Disclosure rule, commonly known as Reg FD, which requires a company to announce information that is material to its business to all investors at the same time.”

Steven Davidoff of the New York Times examines the two critical aspects of this case: 1) Is facebook a public space where investors and analysts know to receive information? And 2) Did the post contain material information?

Struggling to keep pace with our modes of information consumption, regulators reveal their outdated framework.

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Graphic Or Merely Indecent

Jeff Sonderman at Poynter has a great roundup of essays that grappled with the NY Post photo that I discussed in my last post.

The sociologist Zeynep Tufekci articulates a simple and persuasive method for determining when a journalistic photo is provocative, graphic and ultimately in the public interest versus one that is merely indecent and there to grab attention.

In sum: if the event is one-off and rare in nature, if the subject of the photo is not representative of an ongoing tragedy with many other victims, and if there is a split-second decision in which taking of the photo and trying to save the victim clash, that does not qualify as a graphic photo whose taking, purchasing and publication serves public interest and consequently what New York Post has done is crass and indefensible—and also indefensibly insensitive to the victim’s family.

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Solidarity At The Edge Of A Subway Platform

When the New York Post ran a picture of a man about to be struck by a subway train earlier this week, writer David Carr was disgusted. On his regularly awesome media decoder blog at the NY Times, Carr breaks down the ethics of posting that controversial pic.

One of six arguments he puts forth:

1. Within its four corners, The Post cover treatment neatly embodies everything people hate and suspect about the news media business: not only are journalists bystanders, moral and ethical eunuchs who don’t intervene when danger or evil presents itself, but perhaps they secretly root for its culmination.

Aside from the journalistic detachment of the freelance photographer, and the discussion within the media about yellow-journalism, I’m interested also in the social dynamics at play in the subway.

Carr mentions a news story from 2003 where a group of 4 teenaged friends drowned in a waterfall. After David, 18, slipped off a granite ledge, his 3 friends, Adam, Jonah and Jared jumped in to save him. The violent current and churning foam took all their lives.

Friendship inspired these young men to act and to sacrifice.

As a progressive, multicultural society, I wonder how we can cultivate this kind of solidarity even among people who are not lovers, friends or kin. Religious and secular groups foster this kind of community, but can it also be fortified with strangers?

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