Mixed Media

The Feds Are Officially Investigating Hollywood's Glaring Gender Gap

| Wed Oct. 7, 2015 8:09 AM EDT

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has officially launched an investigation looking into the lack of female directors working in Hollywood.

The LA Times reports government officials have already requested interviews from some 50 women working in the industry and will start interviews as soon as next week to ultimately determine if Hollywood is violating federal law.

"I hope they force people to change the way they do business because Hollywood is not exempt from the law," Lori Precious said in response to Monday's news. Precious is one of the women the EEOC requested to talk to as a part of the formal probe.

The inquiry comes as an increasing number of women in Hollywood, both directors and actresses, come forward with personal stories alleging a disturbing pattern of discrimination, including high profile women such as Ava DuVernay and Meryl Streep. In May, the American Civil Liberties Union urged the government to formally investigate the persistant claims.

"Blatant and extreme gender inequality in this large and important industry is shameful and unacceptable,” director of the the ACLU Southern California Project Melissa Goodman wrote in a press release back in May. "The time has come for new solutions to this serious civil rights problem."

Earlier this year, a staggering gender bias study found only 30.2 of all speaking characters in 2014 were played by women.

"For every 2.3 male characters who say 'Dude,' there is just woman saying, 'Hello?!" the Times Manhola Dargis wrote.

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These Photos of Wet Dogs Are Shameless Clickbait, and You Will Click on Them

| Wed Oct. 7, 2015 5:00 AM EDT

After moving to New York City in 2010, the French photographer Sophie Gamand has made her living taking pictures of dogs—not a bad strategy in the internet era. Strays, purse-sized pups draped in jewels, Hairless Mexican dogs, flower-bedecked pit bulls, shelter dogs, and, yes, wet ones. It's been two years since Gamand found a viral audience for her portraits of canines pulled straight from the bath, eyes full of reproach, water streaming from whiskers.

The wet dog series won her a Sony World Photography Award in 2014 and a book deal from Grand Central Publishing. Wet Dog, out October 13, is gloriously uncomplicated: It consists of 144 pages of scruffy, soaked canines and sentimental commentary on the bond between the dogs and their owners. "Elevating dog photography to the status of art," Gamand's website boasts, "these expressive portraits of our canine friends mirror our very own human emotions." You know, like the frustration of getting shampoo in your eye. Or the indignity of shower caps.

Sophie Gamand
Sophie Gamand
Sophie Gamand
Sophie Gamand
Sophie Gamand
Sophie Gamand
Sophie Gamand
Sophie Gamand
Sophie Gamand
Sophie Gamand
Sophie Gamand

Silicon Valley Is Even Whiter Than You Thought

| Tue Oct. 6, 2015 4:17 PM EDT

The funders behind Silicon Valley's hottest companies tend to look a lot like the people they invest in: white and male.

Of the 551 senior venture capitalists* examined in a new three-month study by the tech news site the Information and the VC firm SocialCapital, less than 1 percent (precisely four executives) were black, and another 1.3 percent were Hispanic. Twenty percent, or 110 people, were Asian.

While there has been considerable focus on the diversity figures of major companies such as Facebook and Twitter recently, little attention has been paid to the racial and gender makeup of the decision-makers who invest millions of dollars in tech startups, hoping they succeed.

The Information

Ninety-two percent of top venture capital executives are men. According to the report, that's "way worse" than the gender disparity in tech companies, where 77 percent of leadership roles are occupied by men.

The Information

The striking numbers reinforce the narrative surrounding Silicon Valley's diversity problems, as companies and civic leaders alike push to improve the racial and gender balance of the companies that make the gadgets and apps we consume. Not all VCs are doing poorly—the 15-person senior investment team at Y Combinator*, the well-known startup accelerator firm, has "four Asian men, a black man, three white women, and an Asian woman," according to the report. Yet the report found that a quarter of firms have an all-white management crew.

As Mother Jones pointed out in July, the number of African Americans employees at Twitter, Facebook, and Google combined could fit on a single Airbus A830. Now we know the number of black venture capitalists, at least in this study, could fit in an Uber.

In an op-ed Tuesday titled "Bros Funding Bros: What's Wrong with Venture Capital," SocialCapital founder Chamath Palihapitiya criticized the backwards nature of the venture capitalist community and called for changes.

"The VC world is cloistered and often afraid of change—the type of change that would serve the world better," Palihapitiya wrote. "An industry that wields the power to change lives is failing to do just that. Ultimately, fund investors will wake up to this bleak reality. We must change before this happens."

You can check out the rest of the the Information's Future List here.

Correction: Following the publication of this story, Information and SocialCapital corrected several portions of their report, including their description of the racial and gender makeup of Y Combinator's investment team. The story has been updated to reflect those changes.

"The Good Wife" Is Back. We Have to Talk About It Right Now. Stop What You Are Doing.

| Mon Oct. 5, 2015 2:02 PM EDT

The best show on network television finally returned last night, but is this Good Wife still the Good Wife we all know and love? Kalinda and Finn have joined Will in that great big green room in the sky and last night's episode felt...different.

Let's talk about it.

Alicia's life sucks at the moment. She has no law firm. She has no male love interest. She has no friends. And where are her dumb kids anyway? She's a pariah! "I'm a pariah," she does not say as the episode begins, but she might as well have. She's whiling away her days in Shooter McGavin's bond court, fighting for pick-up cases with beleaguered unclean lawyers who probably went to a joke Ivy like Cornell unlike Alicia who went to Georgetown, which never pretended to be an Ivy in the first place. Poor good wife.

Governor Bad Husband promised his good wife last year that he wouldn't run for president if she didn't want him to and she didn't want him to so he isn't running for president. OK? Fine, Good. Whatever. But then the good wife changes her mind, because Peter running for president is going to be the plot line for this season—paralleling the plot line in America these days—so she needed to get with it. Peter's chief of staff, the Russian computer hacker from GoldenEye, is very pleased with this development and he celebrates by wooing Margo Martindale, a top-flight campaign consultant, the meth-making matriarch from the second season of Justified.

But Margo Martindale doesn't want to be just another campaign strategist. She wants to be the campaign manager and for reasons not entirely clear, Peter goes along with this and fires Alan Cumming. The good wife's bad husband is also a bad boss.

Meanwhile the attractive young man who used to be Alicia's rival before becoming her law partner before becoming superfluous to the main plot of the show is unhappy at the big fancy law firm that bears his name. Cary's few scenes in this episode are dedicated to him trying to be popular with the first year associates who think he's a stodgy old fart because he spends all of his time with his stodgy old fart partners in their stodgy old fart ivory tower.

Speaking of Cary's aged old partners: Diane and the lawyer who makes the divorces happen are facing off against Alicia in probate court over some meaningless bullshit about a painting that is worth a lot of money. Who will get the deceased's paining? No one cares. But this does provide a nice forum for the show to do what it does best: wink at the audience and acknowledge that the show isn't really about the cases. The Good Wife, more than any other legal drama, doesn't want you to care about the cases. The cases are just a thing for the characters to do. The marathon of random specialists testifying about post-it notes in this probate case are a great example of that. Not even the judge cares about what the post-it scientists have to say.

Anyway, Alicia covers for one of the bond court lawyers—because bond court lawyers stick together— and then the bond court lawyer covers for Alicia in the probate hearing for which she's totally unprepared. Diane and Divorce Attorney are going to school her so hard but then—shocker!—the bond court lawyer is good at law and wins the case. Bond court lawyer is apparently supposed to be Alicia's new friend.

Then Alicia hires Alan Cumming to be her chief of staff because the good wife is also a good friend. Alan Cumming tells Margo Martindale that he is going to destroy her.

Oh also Michael J Fox wants Alicia to work with him. And I think she sort of said yes at the end. (Or did she?) It wasn't entirely clear.

What is this show about now? It used to be about Alicia finding the courage, through crosses and losses, to become the person she wanted to be. Is it still about that? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

John Oliver Slams Republicans Who Only Discuss Mental Health to Actively Avoid Gun Control

| Mon Oct. 5, 2015 8:07 AM EDT

In the wake of Thursday's mass shooting at a community college in Oregon, many Republicans were quick to dismiss renewed calls for increased gun safety measures, in favor of discussing the need for a stronger mental health care system. 

On Sunday, John Oliver agreed that mental health is a topic Americans need to properly address. But as he explained on the latest Last Week Tonight, broaching mental health issues in the aftermath of a mass shooting is more often than not a political strategy used to simply reroute the conversation away from gun control.

"It seems like there is nothing like a mass shooting to suddenly spark political interest in mental health," Oliver said, while featuring the talking points of Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Mike Huckabee—all of whom steered away from discussing increased gun control legislation after the shooting in Oregon, to tout the need for better mental health programs.

In reality, this is dangerously problematic because, as Oliver explains, "the vast majority of mentally ill people are nonviolent, and the vast majority of gun violence is committed by non-mentally-ill people."

But if Republicans are only willing to talk about treating mentally ill people following mass shootings, so be it: Then at the "very least we owe them a fucking plan," Oliver said.

Bikini Kill's Classic Demo Finally Reissued

| Mon Oct. 5, 2015 5:00 AM EDT

Bikini Kill
Revolution Girl Style Now
Bikini Kill Records

Loud, surly and thrilling, Revolution Girl Style Now reissues the raw 1991 demo tape by the Olympia, Washington, punk quartet widely considered to have launched the Riot Grrl scene, leading the way for a host of other women not content to stay quiet. Feral singer Kathleen Hanna mixes performance art and old-fashioned show-biz charisma in confrontational outbursts like "Daddy's L'il Girl" and "Suck My Left One," addressing feminist concerns with surges of fabulous noise. For longtime followers, this essential set offers three previously unreleased tracks, including the sludgy "Playground." Recommended for fans of Sleater-Kinney and Screaming Females, and anyone else who appreciates rock and roll at its primal best.

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The Bottle Rockets' Latest, "South Broadway Athletic Club," Is One of Their Best

| Mon Oct. 5, 2015 5:00 AM EDT

The Bottle Rockets
South Broadway Athletic Club

Utterly familiar yet amazingly fresh on every album, Brian Henneman and company have made loose-jointed, empathetic roots-rock for more than two decades. South Broadway Athletic Club ranks among their best. Spiritual cousins of Drive-By Truckers, with less tragedy and more wry humor, this lovable St. Louis quartet honors people who don't merit headlines, including the auto worker with a bad attitude ("Chrysler"), the dude with a canine best friend ("Dog") and someone whose idea of a good time is wasting time ("Big Fat Nuthin'").

The Bottle Rockets' nimble mix of boogie, blues, and country provides the perfect setting for Henneman's twangy everyman vocals. He's been one of pop's more underrated singers for a long time, but it's never too late to get on the bandwagon.

Why Do I Like Reza Farazmand's Stupid Comics So Much?

| Sat Oct. 3, 2015 5:00 AM EDT
Reza Farazmand

Does a man ever grow up? Apparently not. I'm a geezer, for Chrissake, and I can't stop laughing at Poorly Drawn Lines. That's the popular web comic by Reza Farazmand that, come October 6, you can acquire in the form of ink rolled onto processed and flattened dead trees. You know, a book.

Farazmand's gags are, if not poorly drawn, then simply drawn. They poke fun at technology, art, metaphysics, human (and creature) foibles, and the meaning of life. For the most part, they're kind of juvenile and super jaded, kind of like The Far Side meets Mad magazine, except with more swearing. Naturally, my 13-year-old loves 'em. And although they're hit or miss, like all comics, I love 'em, too.

The book's very first strip reads as follows:

Buffalo: Some buffalo can jump as high as 36 feet.

Man: That's not true.

Buffalo: Some buffalo are lonely and lie to gain attention.

[They pause to consider.]

Buffalo: Some buffalo would be down to get a drink later, or...

Man: I have a thing tonight.

Buffalo: Okay.

If I have to explain why that's funny, you don't deserve to get it. (Sorry, Mom.) But plenty of people do, judging from the strip's 650,000-plus Facebook fans. Here are some more examples from the book:

Reza Farazmand

Reza Farazmand

All 8,400 Apollo Moon Mission Photos Just Went Online. Here Are Some of Our Faves.

| Fri Oct. 2, 2015 4:46 PM EDT

Every photo ever taken by Apollo astronauts on moon missions is now available online, on the Project Apollo Archive's Flickr account. That's about 8,400 images, grouped by the roll of film they were shot on. You can finally see all the blurry images, mistakes, and unrecognized gems for yourself. The unprocessed Hasseblad photos (basically raw scans of the negatives) uploaded by the Project Apollo Archive offer a fascinating behind-the-scenes peek at the various moon missions…as well as lots and lots (and lots) of photos detailing the surface of the moon. Here's a very small taste. All photos by NASA/The Project Apollo Archive.


Watch a Bear Destroy a Woman's Kayak After She Thanks Him for Not Destroying Said Kayak

| Thu Oct. 1, 2015 11:43 AM EDT

An expression of gratitude should never be followed by a threat of pepper spray.

YouTube user Mary Maley learned this lesson the hard way after she encountered a black bear during a recent kayaking trip in Alaska.

"Thank you for leaving my kayak alone!" Maley tells the bear in the video.

As the bear saunters toward her, Maley quickly decides to abandon such pleasantries and hauls out the pepper spray, telling the animal, "I'm going to pepper-spray you in the face. That's what I'm going to do with you."

After she does just that, the bear turns around and begins to destroy Maley's kayak, while Maley engages in an increasingly hysterical rant.

"Bear! Bear! Why are you breaking my kayak? Why are you doing that?!" she screamed, her voice rising.

She also points out that it's the end of September and the bear should be asleep. To no one's surprise, the bear seems unimpressed with her hibernation facts and continues playing with her boat.