Stephen Miller falls asleep during Trump conference on school safety

Stephen Miller nods off during Trump speech about school safety.
Image: JIM LO SCALZO/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Between frothing about “cosmopolitans” or getting escorted out of CNN by security, it’s rare to capture Senior White House policy advisor Stephen Miller in a humanlike moment.

We take what we can. Like today for example, when Jim Lo Scalzo from EPA photos captured Miller asleep during President Trump’s wildly delusional over-an-hour-long briefing on school shootings.

I strongly encourage the Pulitzer committee or at least my mom to take a look at this person’s fine work. 

Image: JIM LO SCALZO/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

I can correctly blame Miller for the downfall of our nation, but I can’t quite penalize him for falling asleep during Trump’s speech, which was particularly divorced from reality today.

Image: JIM LO SCALZO/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Perhaps these quotes triggered the poor snowflake into sleep.

“We lose a lot with Canada.  People don’t know it.  Canada is very smooth.  They have you believe that it’s wonderful.  And it is — for them.  Not wonderful for us; it’s wonderful for them.  So we have to start showing that we know what we’re doing.”

“So we have to confront the issue, and we have to discuss mental health, and we have to do something about it. You know, in the old days, we had mental institutions. We had a lot of them, and you could nab somebody like this. Because, you know, they did — they knew he was — something was off.  You had to know that.”

Here’s what Twitter had to say.

Of course, Miller can in no way match Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s infamous nap during the State of the Union when she got a little white wine drunk.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/02/26/stephen-miller-nap-trump-school-safety/

Segregation in baseball was the norm until this relatively unknown player stepped up.

As the pioneer and historical face of desegregation in sports, Jackie Robinson experienced taunts and death threats at every point of his Major League career as the first black player admitted to the league.

His bravery and persistence in the name of equal rights have been well-documented and honored not just in baseball history, but in the larger context of the struggle to end the disparate treatment of black citizens endemic to American institutions.

But Robinson’s success, in no slight to his considerable achievement, came as the result of the road paved by many less-celebrated predecessors, who, through their careers in the Negro Leagues, brought a resolve and speed to the game unmatched by their Major League counterparts.

In the shadow of Jackie Robinson’s legacy are the efforts of Andrew “Rube” Foster, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981, having earned the title of “the father of black baseball.”

Foster scoring a hit. Photo via digboston/Flickr.

Known to few modern-day baseball fans, Foster sought to ensure that black players were given the due attention and compensation they had long been denied in “separate but equal” America.

No individual before Foster or since has been as instrumental in legitimizing black baseball both internally and in the eyes of the fans and media. His achievements, though largely disregarded at the time, were integral in eventually affording all black players the right to play in the Major League.

For example, Foster quietly broke a baseball color barrier almost four decades prior to Jackie Robinson, playing with a semi-pro mixed-race squad out of Otsego, Michigan. Most notably, Foster served as the star pitcher for the Philadelphia X-Giants, pitching four of the team’s five wins in a contest dubbed the “colored championship of the world” in 1903.

In his era and in the decades following, Foster’s success on the mound was virtually unmatched. For instance, the current MLB record for most consecutive wins by a pitcher stands at 24 by the New York Giants’ Car Hubbell, whose streak ended on May 31,1937.

Foster won 44 games in a row three decades prior in 1902.

But as compelling as Foster’s accomplishments on the diamond were, it was his contributions to the game after his playing days that continue to endure almost a century later.

Foster’s goal was simple: Turn the largely overlooked black baseball leagues into a legitimate, respectable, and sustainable organization.

Before his involvement in league management, the black baseball leagues were deemed inferior — if they were considered at all. Yet Foster’s blueprint for a unified organization ushered in a new era that would prove crucial in eroding the Major League’s color barrier.

In 1911, a great step was taken toward legitimizing black baseball as Foster negotiated a partnership with the Comiskey family of Chicago to use the White Sox ballpark for his new team.  With a premiere venue and the team’s marketable aggressive style of play, the newly-formed Chicago American Giants skyrocketed in popularity, leading his once-marginalized club to draw more fans than the neighboring Cubs and White Sox.

Following the success of his own team, Foster immediately set his goal higher, aiming to help elevate all black players, not just those on his team.

Foster with a white player from Joliet, Illinois. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

In 1919, as his city of Chicago was embroiled in race riots, Foster felt a sense of urgency to unify black baseball players in one league. He wrote regularly in the Chicago Defender of the need for a league that would “create a profession that would equal the earning capacity of any other profession … keep Colored baseball from the control of whites [and] do something concrete for the loyalty of the Race.”

Gathering the owners of unaffiliated teams, Foster held a meeting at the Kansas City YMCA and shared his vision. The next year, on Feb. 13, 1920, the Negro National League was created, with Foster serving as both president and treasurer.

As other regions developed, they followed in Foster’s footsteps and established their own leagues for black players, serving as an economic boon not just for the players and front office, but for black communities as well.

Sadly, Foster’s oversight would prove to be short-lived as health issues forced him to step away from overseeing the burgeoning league he had created. But that didn’t end the progress he started.

Rube Foster plaque. Photo via Penale52/Wikimedia Commons.

Even though Negro Leagues shuttered due to the Great Depression and lack of leadership, many teams would return under the banner of the Negro American League in 1937. It was this organization that served as the springboard for Jackie Robinson to make his legendary inroads to Major League Baseball.

While Jackie Robinson remains a civil rights icon, desegregating baseball is an act that no one man can lay claim to. Rube Foster’s legacy may not be as well known as Robinson’s, but his efforts helped ensure equality not just for Jackie Robinson, but every black player who has played Major League baseball since.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/segregation-in-baseball-was-the-norm-until-this-relatively-unknown-player-stepped-up

Apples New Spaceship Campus Has One Flaw and It Hurts

The centerpiece of Apple Inc.’s new headquarters is a massive, ring-shaped office overflowing with panes of glass, a testament to the company’s famed design-obsessed aesthetic. 

There’s been one hiccup since it opened last year: Apple employees keep smacking into the glass.

Surrounding the building, located in Cupertino, California, are 45-foot tall curved panels of safety glass. Inside are work spaces, dubbed “pods,” also made with a lot of glass. Apple staff are often glued to the iPhones they helped popularize. That’s resulted in repeated cases of distracted employees walking into the panes, according to people familiar with the incidents. 

Some staff started to stick Post-It notes on the glass doors to mark their presence. However, the notes were removed because they detracted from the building’s design, the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing anything related to Apple. Another person familiar with the situation said there are other markings to identify the glass. 

Apple’s latest campus has been lauded as an architectural marvel. The building, crafted by famed architect Norman Foster, immortalized a vision that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had years earlier. In 2011, Jobs reportedly described the building “a little like a spaceship landed.” Jobs has been credited for coming up with the glass pods, designed to mix solo office areas with more social spaces. 

Apple campus in Cupertino.
Photographer: Jim Wilson/New York Times via Redux

The building is designed to house some 13,000 employees. Wired magazine, first to pay a visit at its opening last year, described the structure as a “statement of openness, of free movement,” in contrast to Apple’s typically insular culture. “While it is a technical marvel to make glass at this scale, that’s not the achievement,” Jony Ive, Apple’s design chief, told the magazine in May. “The achievement is to make a building where so many people can connect and collaborate and walk and talk.”

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment. It’s not clear how many incidents there have been. A Silicon Valley-based spokeswoman for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration referred questions about Apple’s workplace safety record to the government agency’s website. A search on the site based on Apple’s name in California found no reports of injuries at the company’s new campus. 

It’s not the first time Apple’s penchant for glass in buildings has caused problems. In late 2011, 83-year-old Evelyn Paswall walked into the glass wall of an Apple store, breaking her nose. She sued the company, arguing it should have posted a warning on the glass. The suit was settled without any cost to Apple, according to a legal filing in early 2013. 

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-16/apple-s-new-spaceship-campus-has-one-flaw-and-it-hurts

    Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Transhumanism Is Dominating Sci-Fi TV

    The future belongs to those who can afford it. This may be virtually true in today’s world, where surviving retirement can feel impossible, but it’s also the literal premise of Altered Carbon, Netflix’s new prestige sci-fi series. Based on Richard K. Morgan’s novel of same name, the neo-noir is set several hundred years in the future, when human consciousness has been digitized into microchip-like “stacks” constantly being swapped into and out of various bodies, or “sleeves.”

    This technology, along with innovations like human cloning and artificial intelligence, has given society a quantum leap, but it’s also sent socioeconomic stratification into overdrive, creating dire new realities for the poor and incarcerated while simultaneously producing an elite upper-class. Called “Mets”—short for “Methuselahs”—the members of Altered Carbon’s 0.001 percent have achieved virtual immortality thanks to vaults of their own cloned sleeves and cloud backups full of their stacks. It’s either dystopia or utopia, depending on one’s bank account.

    Whatever your views on the show’s plot, in which a former rebel supersoldier named Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman), on ice in a stack prison, is revived and hired by a Met to solve the murder of his last sleeve, Altered Carbon’s best quality is its worldbuilding. In the 25th century, transhumanism—the belief that human beings are destined to transcend their mortal flesh through technology—has reached its full potential, and some of its end results are not pretty, at all.

    But Altered Carbon is only the latest bit of transhumanism to hit TV recently. From Black Mirror’s cookies and Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams’ mind-invading telepaths and alien bodysnatchers to Star Trek: Discovery’s surgical espionage and Travelerstime-jumping consciousness, the classic tropes of body-hopping, body-swapping, and otherwise commandeering has exploded in an era on the brink, one in which longevity technology is accelerating more rapidly than ever, all while most people still trying to survive regular threats to basic corporeal health and safety.

    These tropes have enjoyed a healthy existence in sci-fi and horror for decades, but now more than ever transhumanism is ubiquitous in pop culture, asking us to consider the ethical, personal, political, and economic implications of an ideology with a goal—implementing technology in the human body to prolong and improve life—that is already beginning to take shape.

    The Birth of Transhumanism

    A crucial fact to remember about transhumanism and the philosophies it inspired, including the ones modeled by Altered Carbon’s Mets, is that its conception was heavily rooted in eugenics. Though earlier thinkers had already produced work one could call transhumanist today, the term wasn’t coined until 1951, by Julian Huxley, a noted evolutionary biologist (and brother to Brave New World author Aldous Huxley). Julian Huxley believed strongly in the fundamentally exclusionary theory that society would improve immensely if only its “best” members were allowed to procreate. In the speech in which he first used the word “transhumanism,” he claimed that in order for humans to “transcend the tentative fumblings of our ancestors,” society ought to enact “a concerted policy … to prevent the present flood of population-increase from wrecking all our hopes for a better world.”

    While he didn’t necessarily believe the criteria for what constituted “best” should be drawn along racial or economic lines, the ideology Huxley promoted was inherently elitist. It also allowed for virtually as many interpretations as there are people, and plenty of those people, particularly those in power—especially in Huxley’s time, but also in the fictional future of Altered Carbon—did and do believe “best” means “white, straight, financially successful, and at least nominally Christian.” As a result, the concept he named ended up being primarily conceptualized in its infancy by white men of privilege.

    This, of course, didn’t remain the main interpretation of transhumanism for long. In the years following Huxley’s coinage, humans made profound leaps in technological innovation, first in computers and then in AI, which allowed more people to envision the possibilities of one day being able to transcend their organic limitations. The basic concept was easily repurposed by those whose oppression has always been tied to physical violence—notably people of color, LGBTQ people, and women.

    By the early 1980s, scholars like Natasha Vita-More and Donna Haraway had revamped the concept with manifestos that argued transhumanism ought to be about “diversity” and “multiplicity,” about breaking down constructs like gender, race, and ability in favor of a more fluid, “chimeric” alternative in which each person can be many seemingly contradictory things at once—including human and machine. (As WIRED’s Julie Muncy explains in her review of the first season, Altered Carbon touches upon but never really takes a stance on this dimension of a post-corporeal world.)

    The Future, Revisited

    As Silicon Valley boomed, so did transhumanism. Millionaire investors have poured endless cash into anti-aging research, machine intelligence companies, and virtual reality; meanwhile, the possibility of extended or superhuman life has veered even further into becoming the exclusive purview of the extremely rich (and, more often than not, extremely white and extremely male). In 1993, mathematician and science-fiction writer Vernor Vinge pegged the arrival of the singularity—the moment at which technology, particularly AI, supersedes human intelligence and either eliminates humanity or fuses with it, allowing people to finally become “post-human”—at around 2030; by 2005 futurist Ray Kurzweil was agreeing with Vinge in his now-seminal book The Singularity is Near. (The Verge has a solid timeline of transhumanist thought here.)

    Today, working organs are being 3D-printed. Nanites, while a few years off, are definitely on the horizon. And the technologies that fuel nightmare fodder like Black Mirror are becoming realities almost daily, which gives the overwhelming impression to laypeople that the Singularity, while perhaps still technically far off, is imminent.

    Add privatized healthcare, police brutality, immigration, sexual assault, and plenty more extremely real threats to people’s physical bodies—not to mention the exponential growth of the TV industry itself—and you’ve got the perfect cocktail for a flood of transhumanist sci-fi shows that give form to anxieties viewers have about both wanting to escape the physical confines of their blood-bag existences and being absolutely, justifiably terrified of what could go wrong when they actually do.

    But however uncomfortable it may be, that dilemma is not accidental. It has become necessary to understanding and surviving our current techno-political moment. Whether enjoying the ecstasy of possibility in Altered Carbon’s disembodied immortality or writhing in the agony of imagining eternity as a digital copy of one’s own consciousness, the roller coaster of emotions these shows elicit ought to be a major signal to audiences that now is the time to be thinking about the cost of pursuing technological immortality. If stacks and sleeves are indeed our inevitable future, the moral quandary won’t lie in the body-swapping itself—it’ll be reckoning with who gets to do it and why.

    Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/altered-carbon-transhumanism-tv/

    The world is watching: How Florida shooting made U.S. gun control a global conversation

    AR-15 "Sport" rifles on sale at deep discounts in an Arizona store.
    Image: john moore/Getty Images

    When you move to America from a country with more effective gun control laws, one of the first things you learn is how hard it is to talk to Americans — even on the sympathetic side of the political divide — about the gun issue. 

    It was particularly difficult when I arrived on these shores in 1996, direct from living in Scotland during its (and Britain’s) worst-ever school shooting. In the tiny town of Dunblane, a 43-year old former shopkeeper and scoutmaster brought four handguns to a school gymnasium full of five-year-olds. He shot and killed 16 of them and their teacher, then turned his handgun on himself.

    After Dunblane, the British plunged into a state of collective mourning that was at least as widespread as the better-known grieving process for Princess Diana the following year. (Americans don’t always believe that part, to which I usually say: the kids were five, for crying out loud. Five.)

    In a country where nobody would dream of pulling public funding for studies into gun violence, the solution was amazingly rational and bipartisan. After a year, and an official inquiry into Dunblane, the Conservative government passed a sweeping piece of legislation restricting handguns. Then after Labour won the 1997 election, it passed another. Britain hasn’t seen a school shooting since. (Same with Australia, which also passed major gun control legislation in 1996). 

    But trying to talk about all that in America over the last two decades, I’ve learned from experience, has been like touching the proverbial third rail: only tourists would be dumb enough to try it. Even gun control advocates now think they’re dealing with an intractable, generational problem. Many tell me that we need to tackle mental health services or gun fetishization in Hollywood movies first. The legislation route couldn’t possibly be that easy, they say.

    But what if it is that easy? What if the rest of the world also loves Hollywood action movies and has mental health problems, but manages to have fewer shootings simply because it has fewer guns available? What if the rest of the world has been shouting at America for years that gun control is less intractable than you think — you just have to vote in large numbers for the politicians that favor it, and keep doing so at every election? 

    If that’s the case, then perhaps some powerful, leveling international marketplace of ideas could help the U.S. see what everyone else has already seen. Something like social media. 

    In one sense, Wednesday’s massacre in Parkland, Florida — a school shooting as shocking and senseless as Dunblane —  was evidence that America was further away from a gun control solution than ever. In 1996, buying an AR-15 assault rifle was illegal under federal law. Now, in Florida and many other states, a 19-year old can walk into any gun store and walk out with this military-grade weapon of mass destruction. 

    Yet anecdotally, I have noticed one glimmer of hope. Since the last American gun massacre that got everyone talking, there has been a small shift in the online conversation. It has become a little more global. The students of Parkland have been broadcasting to the world via social media, and the world is taking notice. 

    I’m not suggesting some kind of slam-dunk situation where every American on Twitter and Facebook and Snapchat has an epiphany about gun control because they’re more frequently interacting with people from other nations with different laws. 

    But I am saying it’s noticeably harder for pro-gun accounts to spread lies about the situation in other countries without people from those countries chiming in. 

    Meanwhile, there is a mountain of evidence that Russian bots and troll accounts are attempting to hijack the online conversation using the same playbook from the 2016 elections — manufacture conflict to destabilize American discourse. That means taking the most trollishly pro-NRA position they can think of, in a bid to counteract the large majority of Americans who want sensible gun control. 

    So the voices from other countries are chiming in just in time. If anything, we need more of them to balance out cynical foreign influence in a pro-gun direction. 

    How effective gun control can happen

    Twenty years of trying to have this debate in the U.S. have worn me down. As you might expect, I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of Second Amendment-splaining from the pro-gun lobby. (Yep, I’m very familiar with the two centuries of debate over the militia clause, thanks.) I’ve been told I didn’t understand the power of the NRA (which, again, I’m quite familiar with: the organization supported sensible gun restrictions until it was radicalized in 1977).

    I’ve heard every argument you could imagine: the notion that British police must now be lording it over the poor defenseless population; the blinkered insistence that there must have been a rise in crime with illegal guns and legal knives now all the good people with guns have been taken out of the equation. (Violent crime is still too high in the UK, but it is a fraction of America’s total — and has declined significantly since 1996.) 

    I no longer have the dream that a UK-Australia-style handgun ban would work here. There are as many as 300 million firearms in private hands, according to a 2012 Congressional estimate; even though most of them are concentrated in the hands of a small percentage of owners, it’s simply impractical to talk about removing a significant percentage of them from the equation. 

    But if anything, I’m more aware of creative legal solutions: laws that require gun insurance the way we require car insurance, or tax ammunition, or hold manufacturers responsible for gun deaths. I’ve seen my adopted state of California implement some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, laws that just went into effect. The fight to prevent future massacres is just getting started.

    And any time you want to talk about how it can happen, the rest of a shrinking world is listening — and ready to talk. 

    Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/02/17/gun-control-social-media/

    Trump offers a big thumbs up to school shooting victims instead of gun control

    Trump flashes a thumbs up before boarding Marine One, destined for Florida where he will meet with victims and first responders after a school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
    Image: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

    On Friday, President Donald Trump visited Parkland, Florida in the wake of a school shooting in a high school that left 17 people dead. But Trump has faced criticism over the way he carried himself during that visit.

    After an awkward meeting with first responders, the president and first lady Melania Trump stood together for a friendly photo op, which in itself seems insensitive. Trump had a huge smile on his face in the photo, and flashed his now signature thumbs up.

    Trump updated his Twitter cover photo with the picture from the meeting Friday evening.

    Image: Twitter/Realdonaldtrump

    Trump also visited Broward Health North hospital in Pompano Beach, where many of the victims received care after the shooting. On his official Instagram, a series of images posted in an album featured Trump wearing a large smile on his face, flashing a thumbs up in a photo with hospital staff.

    The press asked Trump if he met with any victims at the hospital. Instead of speaking about the impact those meetings may have had on him as a president, as a human, Trump decided to fluff up the hospital.

    “Fantastic hospital, and they have done an incredible job,” Trump boasted. “The doctor was amazing, we saw numerous people and incredible recovery. And first responders — everybody — the job they’ve done was in incredible.”

    Trump then congratulated a doctor he was standing next to.

    While yes, first responders and hospital staff should be thanked and praised for their hard work in wake of the shooting, congratulations here are completely tone deaf considering 17 people lost their lives in the attack. 

    In any other presidency, this would be a time for mourning. But Trump is using it to boast and brag. 

    Many were quick to criticize Trump for his demeanor on social media, with some pointing to Barack Obama’s reaction to the Sandy Hook massacre in December of 2012. In 2016, Obama also delivered a powerful and emotional speech on gun violence, in which he broke down crying

    Obama’s official White House photographer, Pete Souza, who has made it his duty to criticize the Trump administration by way of his photography from the Obama era, uploaded a photo of Obama sitting alone in a classroom in Sandy Hook Elementary School. It captures the former president in a quiet moment after he met with families for hours, and before he attended a prayer vigil. 

    While it often seems like President Trump’s actions couldn’t be more shocking, this type of behavior is disgusting, and the heavy criticism is merited. There’s a time for photo ops, and then there is time for mourning. This was not the moment for Trump to show off how great he’s making America.

    America has a real problem, and Trump isn’t even trying to fake it.

    Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/02/17/donald-trump-parkland-smiling-thumbs-up-obama/

    This Swedish fitness trend combines running with picking up litter

    Image: Getty Images

    Forget about Hygge, Lagom, and Ikea’s attempt to start a twin duvet revolution. There’s a new Scandinavian trend in town. 

    This trend encourages people to pick up litter while out running. So, it’s not just good for your health, it’s also good for the environment. 

    It’s called ‘plogging’—a portmanteau of jogging and the Swedish plocka upp, meaning ‘pick up.’ 

    So hot is this new trend that fitness app Lifesum is allowing its users to log and track their plogging activity as a workout. 

    Plogging combines going for a run with intermittent squatting or lunging (to collect rubbish), which actually sounds like a pretty satisfying workout. According to Lifesum, a typical user will burn 288 calories in 30 minutes of plogging, which is more or less the same as what’s burned off while jogging.  

    As with all fitness trends, there are plenty of #plogging pics on Instagram, offering a glimpse of what this trend looks like IRL. Ploggers take plastic bags along with them so they can store the collected litter they find along their route.

    Swedish fitness app Lifesum claims it’s the first health app to allows its 25 million users to log their plogging activity. Those using the health app can log plogging as a fitness activity, in the same way that they would log running or walking, and the app will estimate how many calories have been burned. 

    Image: lifesum / rachel thompson

    Lifesum has also teamed up with the non-profit Keep America Beautiful to provide an online resource for ploggers who want to log the rubbish they’ve collected. 

    Mike Rosen, senior vice president at Keep America Beautiful, thinks plogging is a great way to encourage people to make a difference in their local environment. 

    “Plogging is brilliant because it is simple and fun, while empowering everyone to help create cleaner, greener and more beautiful communities,” Rosen said in a statement. “All you need is running gear and a bag for trash or recyclables, and you are not only improving your own health, but your local community too.”

    Plog away!

    Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/02/13/plogging-fitness-trend/

    Mark E Smith, founder and lead singer with the Fall, dies aged 60

    Famously fractious singer had been suffering from ill health throughout 2017

    Mark E Smith, founder and lead singer with the Fall, dies aged 60

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/jan/24/mark-e-smith-lead-singer-with-the-fall-dies-aged-60

    Barcelona off the beaten path: A city guide for the culturally adventurous

    Image: pixabay

    From the architectural masterpieces of Antoni Gaudí to the sweeping vistas of the Catalan countryside, Barcelona is a city full of sensory delights. 

    But there’s far more to this vibrant metropolis than initially meets the eye. For locals and travellers alike, Barcelona is full of hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path wonders that go far beyond the typical tourist traps. 

    Below, we’ve outlined a few bucket list items for every type of traveller who hopes to live like a local during their stay in this remarkable city.

    WHAT TO DO

    For couples: Couples who want to experience the “real” Barcelona can find a number of authentic activities that veer from the standard stroll down to la Sagrada Família. To delve into the heart of Catalan culture, a hands-on approach is key.

    Image: pixabay

    Start with the city’s world-renowned cuisine: At bcnKITCHEN, visitors can sign up for cooking classes (offered in both English and Spanish) to learn the art of local, traditional dishes like coca catalana and crema catalana.

    For couples craving a taste of the dramatic, visit Barcelona Improv Group to catch an improv show or even partake in a Sunday drop-in workshop hosted at Teatre de l’Enjòlit

    For business travellers: Those staying in Barcelona for business may find inspiration at MADE, a flexible space for artists, designers, entrepreneurs, engineers and more. This creative co-working organisation hosts Open Monday Meetups for interested parties to drop in, explore the space, and mingle with resident entrepreneurs.

    For families: Entertainment options in Barcelona go beyond correfoc, a traditional fireworks display — though these shows are highly recommended if you happen to be in town for any kind of Catalan festival. For a unique take on the city’s theatre scene, check out puppetry at Sala Fenix. The shows are primarily in Catalan and Spanish, so it’s an experience best reserved for families who speak a little of the local language.

    Barcelona’s expansive beaches are also well worth a visit. For those seeking sandy beaches sans crowds, head to Playa de Llevant, Barcelona’s easternmost beach. Other less-touristic beach options include Platja del Bogatell, Nova Icaria, and Mar Bella.

    Image: pixabay

    For anyone on a budget: Market strolling is a quintessential Barcelona activity, and there are options to satisfy every budget. Bypass Boqueria to explore some of the local hot spots, like Els Encants Vells, the largest permanent flea market in town, which is accessible via the Glòries metro stop, or Sants Market, where locals swarm Montero, a lunchtime spot that specialises in menjars casolans (“homemade meals”) to go.

    WHAT TO SEE

    For couples: You may not know that some of the world’s top-rated vineyards are within an hour and a half drive from Barcelona, and nothing says romance quite like vino with a view. Go beyond the city limits for a day of wine tasting, vineyard touring, and soaking in the mountains, monasteries, and stunning nature that surrounds this metropolitan hotspot. Devour Barcelona offers a variety of options to choose from for day or half-day tours of Catalonia.

    Or, stick around town, throw it back to the ’90s, and rent skates from Inercia. The company’s website offers a variety of ideas for roller activities around town, as well as information about local tours and classes for all levels.

    For business travellers: Meandering through Gràcia, which has become one of Barcelona’s hippest neighbourhoods in recent years, will provide a peek into how the locals live. Along with a smattering of indie shops and architectural landmarks (such as Gaudí’s Casa Vicens and Park Gϋell), this area has a number of outdoor cafes with WiFi,  so you can take a laptop and enjoy  people watching. Onna Cafe has excellent coffee, plentiful electrical outlets, and a variety of delectable menu options.

    Image: pixabay

    For families: Skip the guided tours of Barcelona’s most heavily trodden tourist traps and opt instead for a comprehensive bike tour of this fabulous city. Steel Donkey Bike Tours offer a unique experience; no two tours are the same, and the group prides itself on discovering hidden hot spots that even locals may not know about. 

    For anyone on a budget: Get a feel for the gritty side of Barcelona with a free street art tour that will take you down the rabbit hole of some of the city’s most intriguing alternative culture. For a glimpse into comprehensive Catalan culture, it’s worth paying a visit to the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, which hosts talks, events, as well as  a wide range of ever-evolving exhibitions.

    WHERE TO DINE

    For couples: A visit to Barcelona simply isn’t complete without a truly memorable meal. Such an experience is all but guaranteed at Etapes. Don’t be fooled by the restaurant’s small size: exquisite dishes like smoked sardines, bluefin tuna loin, and stuffed rabbit porchetta pack explosive Mediterranean flavour.

    For a more laid-back meal, take the funicular up to Cafe Mirablau to enjoy delicious bites with a spectacular view.

    For business travellers: Barcelona’s numerous art cafes are the perfect blend of boho ambiance and WiFi fuerte. Cosmo Cafe in Carrer Enric Granados is the ideal place to grab a bite and a natural juice while working from the cafe’s cozy sofas. It’s a particularly apt option for health-conscious, eco-conscious travellers. The majority of the menu’s ingredients come from local establishments within a 100 km radius. 

    Image: pixabay

    For families: Skip the long lines at the restaurants and opt to pack a Catalan-style picnic complete with Iberian ham, local cheeses, and delicious breads and pastries. Picnic locations are plentiful, including any number of the city’s beautiful parks like Park Guinardó or the Tamarita Gardens, where you can enjoy a relaxing afternoon amongst the locals walking their dogs. These parks are a quiet refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city.

    For anyone on a budget: There’s no better way to experience a city’s culinary creative side than to sample the sensory smorgasbord of street food. At the Palo Alto Market, peruse local crafts and handmade goods alongside some of the city’s famed food trucks, which serve up any number of inventive delicacies.

    WHERE TO PARTY

    For couples: A stroll down the winding streets of El Born is the perfect way to set a romantic mood before an evening out on the town. Head to El Xampanyet for the local experience and an extensive wine menu — and prepare to get close amongst the crowds. 

    For business travellers: For an authentic experience that’s a great option for groups (not to mention a chance to relax from work-related stressors), score tickets to a local football match. Barcelona’s beloved team, FC Barcelona, plays at Camp Nou stadium, the largest stadium in Europe. Tickets may be tricky to come by, but visit the FC Barcelona website or Ticketmaster a few days before a game to search for seats.

    Image: pixabay

    For families: Parents and kids alike will have a blast at Tibidabo, Spain’s oldest running amusement park. The park has been around for more than a century, and it features more than 25 rides as well as stunning panoramic views.

    For anyone on a budget: To take the evening up a notch, head to Espit Chupitos, a bar that specialises in unique shots. Each drink comes complete with a story, so be sure to inquire about the meaning behind the menu. A lively atmosphere, affordable drinks, and up-for-anything bartenders makes this place a hot spot for anyone looking for a night out on the town.

    WHERE TO STAY

    There’s more to Barcelona than meets the eye. Whether you’re looking to explore the city’s lesser-known wonders or get a taste of true Catalan culture, there’s a TRYP by Wyndham hotel to meet your needs. Located right in the middle of Barcelona’s vibrant culture, stunning architecture, and unique dining scene, TRYP by Wyndham hotels are perfect for any type of traveller.

    Read more: http://mashable.com/2018/01/08/barcelona-city-guide-2017/

    Oprah Winfrey: one of the world’s best neoliberal capitalist thinkers

    Oprah is appealing because her stories hide the role of political, economic and social structures in our lives. They make the American dream seem attainable

    In Oprah Winfrey lore, one particular story is repeated over and over. When Oprah was 17, she won the Miss Fire Prevention Contest in Nashville, Tennessee. Until that year every winner had had a mane of red hair, but Oprah would prove to be a game changer.

    The contest was the first of many successes for Oprah. She has won numerous Emmys, has been nominated for an Oscar, and appears on lists like Times 100 Most Influential People. In 2013, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She founded the Oprah Book Club, which is often credited with reviving Americans interest in reading. Her generosity and philanthropic spirit are legendary.

    Oprah has legions of obsessive, devoted fans who write her letters and follow her into public restrooms. Oprah basks in their love: I know people really, really, really love me, love me. And she loves them right back. Its part of her higher calling. She believes that she was put on this earth to lift people up, to help them live their best life. She encourages people to love themselves, believe in themselves, and follow their dreams.

    Oprah is one of a new group of elite storytellers who present practical solutions to societys problems that can be found within the logic of existing profit-driven structures of production and consumption. They promote market-based solutions to the problems of corporate power, technology, gender divides, environmental degradation, alienation and inequality.

    Oprahs popularity stems in part from her message of empathy, support, and love in an increasingly stressful, alienating society. Three decades of companies restructuring their operations by eliminating jobs (through attrition, technology, and outsourcing) and dismantling both organized labor and the welfare state have left workers in an extremely precarious situation.

    Oprah
    Oprah in the early days of the show. Photograph: Everett Collection/Rex

    Today, new working-class jobs are primarily low-wage service jobs, and the perks that once went along with middle-of-the-road white-collar jobs have disappeared. Flexible, project-oriented, contingent work has become the norm, enabling companies to ratchet up their requirements for all workers except those at the very top. Meanwhile, the costs of education, housing, childcare, and health care have skyrocketed, making it yet more difficult for individuals and households to get by, never mind prosper.

    In this climate of stress and uncertainty, Oprah tells us the stories of her life to help us understand our feelings, cope with difficulty and improve our lives. She presents her personal journey and metamorphosis from poor little girl in rural Mississippi to billionaire prophet as a model for overcoming adversity and finding a sweet life.

    Oprahs biographical tale has been managed, mulled over, and mauled in the public gaze for 30 years. She used her precocious intelligence and wit to channel the pain of abuse and poverty into building an empire. She was on television by the age of 19 and had her own show within a decade.

    The 1970s feminist movement opened the door to the domestic, private sphere, and the show walked in a decade later, breaking new ground as a public space to discuss personal troubles affecting Americans, particularly women. Oprah broached topics (divorce, depression, alcoholism, child abuse, adultery, incest) that had never before been discussed with such candor and empathy on television.

    The shows evolution over the decades mirrored the evolution of Oprahs own life. In its early years the show followed a recovery model in which guests and viewers were encouraged to overcome their problems through self-esteem building and learning to love themselves.

    Barack
    US President Barack Obama presents broadcast journalist Oprah Winfrey with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

    But as copycat shows and criticisms of trash talk increased in the early 1990s, Oprah changed the shows format. In 1994, Oprah declared that she was done with victimization and negativity: It s time to move on from We are dysfunctional to What are we going to do about it? Oprah credited her decision to her own personal evolution: People must grow and change or they will shrivel up and their souls will shrink.

    In an appearance on Larry King Live, Oprah acknowledged that she had become concerned about the message of her show and so had decided to embark on a new mission to lift people up. Themes of spirituality and empowerment displaced themes of personal pathology. For Oprah, the transformation was total: Today I try to do well and be well with everyone I reach or encounter. I make sure to use my life for that which can be of goodwill. Yes, this has brought me great wealth. More important, it has fortified me spiritually and emotionally.

    A stream of self-help gurus have spent time on Oprahs stage over the past decade and a half, all with the same message. You have choices in life. External conditions dont determine your life. You do. It s all inside you, in your head, in your wishes and desires. Thoughts are destiny, so thinking positive thoughts will enable positive things to happen.

    When bad things happen to us, its because were drawing them toward us with unhealthy thinking and behaviors. Dont complain about what you dont have. Use what youve got. To do less than your best is a sin. Every single one of us has the power for greatness because greatness is determined by serviceto yourself and others. If we listen to that quiet whisper and fine-tune our internal, moral, emotional GPS, we too can learn the secret of success.

    Janice Peck, in her work as professor of journalism and communication studies, has studied Oprah for years. She argues that to understand the Oprah phenomenon we must return to the ideas swirling around in the Gilded Age. Peck sees strong parallels in the mind-cure movement of the Gilded Age and Oprahs evolving enterprise in the New Gilded Age, the era of neoliberalism. She argues that Oprahs enterprise reinforces the neoliberal focus on the self: Oprahs enterprise [is] an ensemble of ideological practices that help legitimize a world of growing inequality and shrinking possibilities by promoting and embodying a configuration of self compatible with that world.

    Nothing captures this ensemble of ideological practices better than O Magazine, whose aim is to help women see every experience and challenge as an opportunity to grow and discover their best self. To convince women that the real goal is becoming more of who they really are. To embrace their life. O Magazine implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, identifies a range of problems in neoliberal capitalism and suggests ways for readers to adapt themselves to mitigate or overcome these problems.

    Does your 60 hour-a-week desk job make your back hurt and leave you emotionally exhausted and stressed? Of course it does. Studies show that death by office job is real: people who sit at a desk all day are more likely to be obese, depressed, or just dead for no discernible reason. But you can dull these effects and improve your wellness with these O-approved strategies: Become more of an out-of-the-box thinker because creative people are healthier. Bring photos, posters, and kitschy figurines to decorate your workspace: Youll feel less emotionally exhausted and reduce burnout. Write down three positive things that happened during your workday every night before leaving the office to reduce stress and physical pain from work.

    In December 2013, O devoted a whole issue to anxiety and worry. The issue conquers a lifetime s worth of anxieties and apprehensions, an apt subject given rising levels of anxiety across the age spectrum.

    In the issue, bibliotherapists Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin present a list of books for the anxious, prescribing them instead of a trip to the pharmacy. Feeling claustrophobic because youre too poor to move out of your parents house? Read Little House on the Prairie. Feeling stressed because your current project at work is ending and you dont have another lined up? Read The Man Who Planted Trees. Worried that you wont be able to pay the rent because you just lost your job? Read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles. Instead of feeling depressed, follow the lead hero Toru Okada, who, while jobless, embarks on a fantastic liberating journey that changes the way he thinks.

    Oprah recognizes the pervasiveness of anxiety and alienation in our society. But instead of examining the economic or political basis of these feelings, she advises us to turn our gaze inward and reconfigure ourselves to become more adaptable to the vagaries and stresses of the neoliberal moment.

    Oprah is appealing precisely because her stories hide the role of political, economic, and social structures. In doing so, they make the American Dream seem attainable. If we just fix ourselves, we can achieve our goals. For some people, the American dream is attainable, but to understand the chances for everyone, we need to look dispassionately at the factors that shape success.

    Oprah
    Oprah Winfrey gestures during the taping of Oprahs Surprise Spectacular in Chicago May 17, 2011. Photograph: John Gress/Reuters

    The current incarnation of the American Dream narrative holds that if you acquire enough cultural capital (skills and education) and social capital (connections, access to networks), you will be able to translate that capital into both economic capital (cash) and happiness. Cultural capital and social capital are seen as there for the taking (particularly with advances in internet technology), so the only additional necessary ingredients are pluck, passion, and persistence all attributes that allegedly come from inside us.

    The American dream is premised on the assumption that if you work hard, economic opportunity will present itself, and financial stability will follow, but the role of cultural and social capital in paving the road to wealth and fulfilment, or blocking it, may be just as important as economic capital. Some people are able to translate their skills, knowledge, and connections into economic opportunity and financial stability, and some are noteither because their skills, knowledge, and connections dont seem to work as well, or they cant acquire them in the first place because theyre too poor.

    Today, the centrality of social and cultural capital is obscured (sometimes deliberately), as demonstrated in the implicit and explicit message of Oprah and her ideological colleagues. In their stories, and many others like them, cultural and social capital are easy to acquire. They tell us to get an education. Too poor? Take an online course. Go to Khan Academy. They tell us to meet people, build up our network. Dont have any connected family members? Join LinkedIn.

    Its simple. Anyone can become anything. Theres no distinction between the quality and productivity of different peoples social and cultural capital. Were all building our skills. Were all networking.

    This is a fiction. If all or most forms of social and cultural capital were equally valuable and accessible, we should see the effects of this in increased upward mobility and wealth created anew by new people in each generation rather than passed down and expanded from one generation to the next. The data do not demonstrate this upward mobility.

    The US, in a sample of 13 wealthy countries, ranks highest in inequality and lowest in intergenerational earnings mobility. Wealth isnt earned fresh in each new generation by plucky go-getters. It is passed down, preserved, and expanded through generous tax laws and the assiduous transmission of social and cultural capital.

    The way Oprah tells us to get through it all and realize our dreams is always to adapt ourselves to the changing world, not to change the world we live in. We demand little or nothing from the system, from the collective apparatus of powerful people and institutions. We only make demands of ourselves.

    We are the perfect, depoliticized, complacent neoliberal subjects.

    And yet were not. The popularity of strategies for alleviating alienation rests on our deep, collective desire for meaning and creativity. Literary critic and political theorist Fredric Jameson would say that the Oprah stories, and others like them, are able to manage our desires only because they appeal to deep fantasies about how we want to live our lives. This, after all, is what the American dream narrative is about not necessarily a description of life lived, but a vision of how life should be lived.

    When the stories that manage our desires break their promises over and over, the stories themselves become fuel for change and open a space for new, radical stories. These new stories must feature collective demands that provide a critical perspective on the real limits to success in our society and foster a vision of life that does fulfill the desire for self-actualization.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2015/may/09/oprah-winfrey-neoliberal-capitalist-thinkers