Mixed Media

This Fake App Just Summed Up Everything That's Wrong With Silicon Valley

| Thu Mar. 12, 2015 6:08 PM EDT

In Silicon Valley, a group of mostly white, mostly male twentysomethings have built a multibillion-dollar empire of sharing apps: shared housing (AirBnB), shared cars (Uber), shared dog-sitting (DogVacay)…you get the idea. But the so-called "sharing economy" doesn't actually share equally with everyone. One fake app wants to change that.

WellDeserved is an app that helps you "monetize" your privilege—be it racial, gender-based, or socioeconomic—by sharing it (temporarily, of course) with other people. The fictional app was the winning entry at last month's Comedy Hack Day in San Francisco, where creative agency Cultivated Wit challenged contestants to come up with a comedic app idea and pitch it to judges, all in 48 hours.

The app's promo video will make you laugh and cry: A Google employee sells his free Google lunch to a guest for $10, a dude charges a black man $5 to hail a cab on his behalf, and another guy walks a woman home so she won't get catcalled, asking himself, "Why don't I walk with them, spare them the harassment, and charge 'em like five bucks?"

The creators' (fake) plan for making the (fake) app work is summed up perfectly: "Our business plan is that VCs will just give us money. Because this is San Francisco, and we have an idea."

This post has been updated.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Millions of Americans Don't Have Full Voting Rights. John Oliver Explains Just How Insane That Is.

| Mon Mar. 9, 2015 6:42 PM EDT

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday this weekend, an event that spurred the passage of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act, John Oliver took a moment out during his show last night to remind everyone that nearly 4 million people living in the United States are still denied full voting rights. Why? Because they live in territories.

Coincidentally enough, 98 percent of these residents happen to be racial or ethnic minorities who were once categorized as government-acquired "alien races" and therefore not extended constitutional protections.

"Alien races can't understand Anglo-Saxon principles?" Oliver asked. "I find that condescending and I'm British. We basically invented patronizing bigotry!"

As Oliver goes onto further explain, it gets even worse for American Samoans, who are the only people born on U.S. soil but denied citizenship. Last month, Mother Jones published a report detailing the Obama administration's fight to continue denying citizenship to American Samoans using a century-old racist law to justify their case.

Oliver also summed up everything stupid about Daylight Saving Time in 3 minutes:

John Coltrane for Experts

| Mon Mar. 9, 2015 6:00 AM EDT

The John Coltrane Quintet Featuring Eric Dolphy
So Many Things: The European Tour 1961
Acrobat

So many "things" indeed! This intriguing four-disc collection of concert performances from November 1961 features six different renditions of the standard "My Favorite Things, each running 20 to 29 minutes, along with more compact versions of "Blue Train," "I Want to Talk About You." and other Coltrane favorites. These previously bootlegged concerts were taken from radio broadcasts and suffer slightly from thin sound, but are more than listenable. If So Many Things isn't for beginners, it's great extra-credit listening: With multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy briefly in the lineup, Coltrane was pushing his tenor and soprano sax chops into new territory, leaving behind traditional melodies and song structures in a restless search for fresh ideas and approaches—a quest he would continue until his death in 1967. The harsher extremes of his final years are yet to be reached, and there's a mesmerizing, meditative quality to the music throughout that's dreamy, yet subtly urgent.

This NRA Tweet Is So Tasteless and Awful That It Makes Me Want to Vomit

| Thu Mar. 5, 2015 8:10 PM EST

Good afternoon.

How are you? How are you feeling? Are you feeling good? Are you, by chance, feeling too good? Are you flying too high on borrowed wings? Maybe you need a bit of a punch in the stomach to bring you back down to Earth and remind you that in life there are hills and valleys; that this vacation on Creation is, well, not all champagne and strawberries. I guess what I'm asking is, would you like to feel nauseous? You look to me like you might like to feel nauseous. C'mon! A little nausea never hurt anyone! It builds character!

Let's get nauseous!

This comes via the New York Daily News, which doesn't mince words:

Hitting a new low in its disgusting war against gun laws, the National Rifle Association on Thursday went after Gabby Giffords with a personal attack mocking her 2011 shooting dismissively.

Have a nice day.

Instead of Tackling Its Rape Problem, India Just Banned a Documentary About It

| Wed Mar. 4, 2015 2:44 PM EST
In New Delhi, women participate in a candlelight vigil at the bus stop where, two years ago, a woman boarded the bus where she was gang-raped. Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014.

Citing fears its broadcast would lead to "public outcry," an Indian court issued an order yesterday blocking the country's media from airing a documentary centering on the 2012 gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman that occurred on a New Delhi bus.

The BBC documentary, titled India's Daughter, features an interview with one of the six men accused of the crime, in which he repeatedly blames the victim for fighting back while she was raped. Mukesh Singh spoke to British filmmaker Leslee Udwin from prison, where Udwin says he appeared like "a robot" during the 16 hours the interview was conducted.

"You can't clap with one hand," Singh says in the film. "It takes two hands. A decent girl won't roam around at 9 o'clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy. Boy and girl are not equal. Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes. About 20 percent of girls are good."

Rajan Bhagat, a spokesperson for the New Delhi police, told AFP that police officials were concerned the "very objectionable interview" could incite violence.

"A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy. Boy and girl are not equal," Singh says in the film.

"We have only seen the promotional parts of the film. Based on that we took the matter to court because we felt that it will cause likely apprehension of public disorder," Bhagat said.

The brutal 2012 incident shocked the international community and prompted mass demonstrations in India. Over weeks of protests, advocates called for reform and increased protections for women in a country where sexual assault is perceived as a source of shame and often leads to more restrictions for women.

But the controversy over India's Daughter demonstrates the country remains divided over the issue of sexual assault and how to move forward. India's parliamentary affairs minister M. Venkaiah Naidu slammed the documentary as an "international conspiracy to defame India." In its Tuesday order, the court echoed these concerns and said the film violated Indian law preventing "intent to cause alarm in the public."

Udwin has asked the Indian prime minister to lift the ban. The film premieres on BBC Wednesday evening.

Why the Duke Basketball Sexual-Assault Story Won't Go Away Quickly

| Mon Mar. 2, 2015 5:32 PM EST

The Duke University student newspaper reported today that a player recently dismissed from the school's powerhouse men's basketball team had been twice accused of sexual assault. Moreover, it found that athletic department officials, including Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski, knew about the allegations as early as last March but failed to act for months.*

According to the Chronicle, two different women claimed that junior guard Rasheed Sulaimon had sexually assaulted them during the 2013-14 school year. In October 2013, a woman told classmates at a retreat that Sulaimon had assaulted her; at the same retreat in February 2014, another woman made a similar claim. The Chronicle reported that the team psychologist was made aware of the allegations in March 2014, and that several key members of the athletic department—including Krzyzewski, several assistant coaches, and athletic director Kevin White—found out shortly thereafter.

At a press conference, Krzyzewski declined to comment on the Chronicle article. But here are three reasons why this particular story won't be going away anytime soon:

  • Slow response: Neither woman filed a complaint with the university or went to the local police in part due to "the fear of backlash from the Duke fan base," according to the Chronicle. Nonetheless, the allegations reportedly were brought to the coaching staff shortly after the second incident was disclosed. According to the Chronicle, most Duke employees are required to report sexual assault; under Title IX, the university must investigate any such allegations. "Nothing happened after months and months of talking about [the sexual assault allegations]," an anonymous source told the newspaper. "The University administration knew."
  • It's Duke, and Coach K: It has been nearly nine years since the Duke lacrosse rape case, which fell apart after months of intense scrutiny and media attention. Given the prominence of Krzyzewski and his program—he has the most wins of any Division I men's coach in history, and the Blue Devils are ranked No. 3 in the country—this story could gain a lot more traction as March Madness nears. Sulaimon was the first player Krzyzewski has dismissed in his 35 years at Duke; here's how the coach described the decision in a January 29 press release: "Rasheed has been unable to consistently live up to the standards required to be a member of our program. It is a privilege to represent Duke University and with that privilege comes the responsibility to conduct oneself in a certain manner. After Rasheed repeatedly struggled to meet the necessary obligations, it became apparent that it was time to dismiss him from the program."
  • It's yet another sexual-assault accusation against a college athlete: The Sulaimon story comes just days after a former Louisville University basketball player was charged with rape and sodomy. On January 27, two former Vanderbilt University football players were convicted on multiple counts of sexual battery and aggravated rape, a case dissected in a Sports Illustrated feature last month. And in another highly publicized recent case, Jameis Winston, Florida State University's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback and the likely No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL draft, was accused but never charged of raping a fellow student. (The school recently cleared Winston of violating its code of conduct.)

UPDATE, March 4, 2014: In a statement released yesterday to the Sporting News, Duke athletic director Kevin White had this to say about how Krzyzewski and the athletic department handled the Sulaimon situation:

Any allegation of student misconduct that is brought to the attention of our staff and coaches is immediately referred to the Office of Student Conduct in Student Affairs, which has responsibility for upholding the Duke code of conduct.  The athletics department does not investigate or adjudicate matters of student conduct, and cooperates completely in the process…

These investigations are conducted thoroughly, in a timely manner, and with great care to respect the privacy and confidentiality of all students involved. Those procedures have been, and continue to be, followed by Coach Mike Krzyzewski and all members of the men's basketball program. Coach Krzyzewski and his staff understand and have fulfilled their responsibilities to the university, its students and the community.

For more on Duke's legal footing with regard to how much information it needs to share with the media, read Michael McCann's latest at Sports Illustrated.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Watch John Oliver Turn America's Doomed Infrastructure Into a Summer Blockbuster

| Mon Mar. 2, 2015 12:24 PM EST

America's infrastructure system—from its dams, bridges, roads, airports, etc.—is deteriorating and in need of a serious renovation. It's an issue most people agree on, and as John Oliver noted last night, even has the attention of a "total idiot" like Donald Trump. Despite all this, the country remains pretty uninterested in doing anything about it.

"The lack of political urgency in tackling this problem is insane," Oliver explained. "And you cannot tell me that you are not interested in this, because every summer, people flock to see our infrastructure threatened by terrorists and aliens."

In hopes to cure America's blissful apathy to our crumbling infrastructure, Last Week Tonight took a cue from our movie-going habits by producing a gripping, Armageddon-like summer blockbuster to get people freaked out enough and finally start working on this major problem. Watch below:

 

 

 

 

O Glory! Pops Staples Was Magnificent—and Rockin'

| Mon Mar. 2, 2015 7:00 AM EST

The Staple Singers
Freedom Highway Complete – Recorded Live at Chicago's New Nazareth Church
Legacy

Pops Staples
Don't Lose This
dBpm/Anti-

What a monumental legacy Roebuck "Pops" Staples left behind! From the mid-1950s on, his family group, the Staple Singers, was a premier gospel act. In the '70s, they scored a number of uplifting R&B hits, including "Respect Yourself" and "I'll Take You There." Up until his death in 2000, Pops Staples continued making compelling, moving music.

Freedom Highway Complete, recorded in April 1965, captures Pops and his kids, Mavis, Yvonne and Pervis, at the height of their testifying powers, electrifying a churchgoing audience the month after Dr. King's history-changing marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. From the exuberant title track to the foot-stomping "Samson and Delilah," it's a thrilling concert, thanks to the interplay of the Staples' robust voices, Pops' shimmering, pithy guitar licks, and spirit-lifting rhythms. It's magnificent—and rockin'!

Don't Lose This collects 10 songs that Pops recorded in 1999 but never finished. Last year, daughter Mavis took the incomplete recordings to Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, who worked on her more recent solo albums, and together they turned the tracks into a proper album, adding voices and instrumentation. (If Tweedy took the liberty of mimicking Pops' distinctive guitar in places, he did a great job.) Mavis' rousing voice is prominent, but it's still her dad's show. His tender yet forceful singing on "Somebody Was Watching Me" and on Bob Dylan's "Gotta Serve Somebody" is sure to inspire. The album is a fitting memorial to this endearing genius.

President Obama: "I Loved Spock"

| Fri Feb. 27, 2015 5:45 PM EST

President Obama released a statement Friday on the death of Leonard Nimoy. The actor, best known for his role as Spock on Star Trek died at the age of 83 earlier today.

Long before being nerdy was cool, there was Leonard Nimoy. Leonard was a lifelong lover of the arts and humanities, a supporter of the sciences, generous with his talent and his time. And of course, Leonard was Spock. Cool, logical, big-eared and level-headed, the center of Star Trek’s optimistic, inclusive vision of humanity’s future.

I loved Spock.

In 2007, I had the chance to meet Leonard in person. It was only logical to greet him with the Vulcan salute, the universal sign for “Live long and prosper.” And after 83 years on this planet––and on his visits to many others––it’s clear Leonard Nimoy did just that. Michelle and I join his family, friends, and countless fans who miss him so dearly today.

Upon meeting for the first time, Nimoy said the president greeted him with the iconic Vulcan salute.

In the past, Obama has been criticized for being too "Spock-like" or methodical in his proceedings, to which the president once playfully responded, "Is that a crack on my ears?"

Nimoy's death has sparked an outpouring of eulogies from fans, fellow actors, and politicans alike. Earlier, Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted:

 

RIP.

RIP Leonard Nimoy

| Fri Feb. 27, 2015 1:37 PM EST

Leonard Nimoy, best known for his role as the iconic Mr. Spock of "Star Trek" died on Friday at the age of 83.

His wife confirmed the news to the New York Times, saying the actor died from "end-stage" pulmonary disease. Nimoy announced he had been battling the disease earlier this year and attributed his many years of smoking for the cause.

Below is his last tweet: