Sunday, June 29, 2014

Things, organized

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All images via Things Organized Neatly
Listen, don't get me wrong, I love minimalism. I aspire to live in a white concrete room with lucite furniture and white accessories as much as the next guy, but my god, what an exhausting process that must be to continually re-edit your possessions. Far better to afford yourself the luxury of flotsam and jetsam and just keep it beautifully organized.

Besides, I'm more stimulated by the process of laying out, selecting, and organizing than I am the messy, amorphous act of creation. I'm way too anal.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Betsy Youngquist

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I came across the work of artist Betsy Youngquist at Jazzfest this year, and as soon as I spotted her creepy, heavily beaded little creatures peering at me with taxidermy eyeballs, I fell in love. She has more work featured on her website, and an etsy shop where some pieces are available for sale. I so very badly want a set of her wall eyes.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Documentary: Hot Coffee

If I told you I watched an interesting documentary about Tort reform, would you believe me? Probably not, but bear with me for just a minute. Remember the lady who sued McDonalds for burning herself with a cup of their coffee in the drive thru? You may remember her being skewered in the media, ridiculed by pundits and talking heads, referenced as a symbol of American litigiousness. You may have thought, like me, that the case was indicative of the absurdity and entitlement of a generation of mouth-breathing Americans expecting a big payout for making mistakes that should land them a Darwin Award, not a 7-figure settlement. It turns out there was a lot more to that case, and many others like it, than I knew.

Hot Coffee centers around the story of Stella Liebeck, the 79-year-old woman was scalded with 3rd degree burns after spilling a cup of McDonald's coffee in her lap in the passenger seat of her grandson's car. The burns required skin grafts and a prolonged hospital stay. She originally sought $20,000 from McDonalds to cover her medical costs. When the case went to trial, the jury awarded Liebeck $2.7 million dollars. The vast majority of this was 'punitive' in nature, meaning it was meant to punish McDonalds for failing to ensure the safety of patrons consuming their coffee (company manuals stipulated that the coffee be brewed at 190 degrees fahrenheit, hot enough to cause 3rd degree burns instantly). Whether McDonald's was negligent in allowing the coffee to be brewed so hot, or whether Ms. Liebeck was simply an idiot for spilling it on herself is essentially the crux of arguments for or against Tort (or civil lawsuit) reform.  How much are we responsible for our own safety? How much liability should be assumed by companies selling products? How about doctors delivering babies? Would you say that a child, permanently disabled due to medical malpractice, is only worth $250,000? Only $1 million?

The documentary was particularly eye opening for me in how it laid out the history of large corporations suppressing individuals' right to sue. It turns out most of the dialogue and so-called public opinion around these types of lawsuits has been dominated and manipulated by big business setting out to protect their profits and limit liability in cases where consumers are injured by their products. While the movie has been criticized for not presenting both sides (some have even gone so far as to classify it as propaganda) it was still an eye opening look at one side of a complicated issue--and quintessentially American phenomenon. The civil lawsuit.

**Interesting post-script: One of the women highlighted in the film as a victim of mandatory arbitration laws, Jamie Leigh Jones, who claimed she was raped while working as a military contractor in Iraq for Halliburton, finally got her day in court and a jury found her accusations to be unfounded. She likely made the whole thing up. Which lends credence to the idea that people lie and sue for attention and money. The plot thickens.

TL;DR: Everything you thought you knew about the McDonald's coffee case, and Tort laws in general, is wrong and/or fabricated by large corporations to sway public sentiment and make it difficult to win settlements.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Witness the stunningly intricate glass mosaic sunglasses created by skilled craftsmen using Murano glass for Dolce & Gabbana. The pair featured are valued at $7,800, which makes them an excellent stocking stuffer if you're one of the lucky few who, in spite of a widening wealth gap, just keep getting richer! Or if you're me, you could sell your car, take your life savings, and borrow a few thousand dollars from your parents/kickstarter.

Monday, June 16, 2014

This is a blog

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A vanity project, of sorts. A place for me to wax poetic, make pithy observations, and otherwise ponder life, death, and the occasional Kardashian family drama. You won't learn anything from reading, except maybe where to purchase a custom made gypsy wedding dress (Sondra Celli) or how easy it is for a horse to die (so easy) or any other useless effluvium that I pick up on Reddit.