Spreads of Thrones

Vanity Fair

A spread from the April issue of Vanity Fair. Photographs by Annie Leibovitz.

“It’s a really complex story, and it’s very hard to follow, and people love working that puzzle out. And essentially why I think people like it is it’s a rollicking good story with sex and violence,” says British actor Kit Harington in GQ about HBO’s Game of Thrones, which begins its fourth season on Sunday night. Harington plays bastard/ice zombie killer Jon Snow in the show’s fictional Middle Earth-esque locale of Westeros. If ice zombies (proper name: white walkers) sound a bit out there, they are. There’s also women who birth dragons and black smog things, children who control birds with their minds, and a queen who eats whole stallion hearts. Don’t let the fantasy fool you. The swords and dragons of Game of Thrones are second to only the guns and gangsters of The Sopranos (notice the sex and violence link) in viewership per episode on the premium cable channel. To promote the upcoming season, cast members traded cloaks and armor for more fashionable garb that is suitable for this world. Questions about hair, eyebrows, stardom, and relationships ensued. Spoiler alert: Magazines favorite ice zombie killers and dragon mothers.

To read articles and buy the issues, click on the links below.

GQ - Apr - 14

“Dress Like a Tough Bastard,” by Chris Heath, GQApril 2014

Instlye UK - Apr

“Out of This World,” by Jessica Hundley, Instyle UKApril 2014

Details - Apr -14

“Great Dane,” Benjamin Svetkey, Details – April 2014

Look - March 31

“Emilia Clarke,” Look – March 31, 2014

Men's Health UK - Apr

“Train Like a Bastard,” by David Morton, Men’s Health UK – April 2014

Tatler UK

“The Stark Truth,” by Gavanndra Hodge, Tatler UK – April 2014

SciFi Now - No.91

“Throne of Blood,” SciFi Now – No. 91

Esquire Philippines - March

“‘Tis the Next Season,” by Max Olesker, Esquire Philippines – March 2014

Posted by: Adam on April 4, 2014
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Your Way, José


Soccer coach José Mourinho pictured in the April 2014 issue of British GQ

José Mourinho grew up in Setúbal, Portugal, a port city on a peninsula roughly 20 miles southeast of Lisbon. Mourinho’s father, Felix, played professional soccer as a goalie, once representing his birth nation in an international game, and his uncle Mario Ledo helped build the stadium of the local team Vitória de Setúbal. Naturally, young José followed his elders into the sport.

Mourinho’s playing career was short lived. His coaching career, on the other hand, is one of the most prolific to date. He honed his craft under legendary coaches Sir Bobby Robson and Louis van Gaal before he got his big break at Porto Football Club, or Porto FC. Since then he’s experienced a disproportionate series of ups to a few uncharacteristic downs. Mourinho is the only coach to win league titles in England, Italy, and Spain. He has won the coveted Champions League—an interleague tournament in Europe between the continent’s best teams—twice, with two different clubs. At 51-years-old, only a cadre of active and retired coaches matches his pedigree.

Mourinho returned to England this season for a second stint at the helm of Chelsea FC in London. The move triggered media alertness on par with tabloid celebrities and heads of state. For one, his kempt fashion sense and good looks make him a natural focal point for newspapers and magazines. This month, British GQ and Esquire UK ran features on him that probed about his style as much as his coaching philosophy. (FYI: He doesn’t think Madrid is a fashionable city; the quality of the clothes is more important to him than the look; he has a sentimental attachment to a pair of Prada shoes he wore once during a Champions League final). But the British media’s fascination with Mourinho goes deeper than a thread count.

The intrigue started a decade ago, after his first Champions League victory with Porto FC in 2004, when Mourinho was appointed the coach of storied Chelsea FC in London. The club had hit a dry spell for trophies after the millennium, but big ambitions loomed when Russian billionaire Roman Ambromovich purchased the club in July 2003 and spent $100 million on new players. Mourinho was the man to lead the revolution.

In his first press conference in charge of Chelsea FC, Mourinho gave anything but humble answers. “I’m not one who comes straight out of a bottle—I’m a special one,” he said. This hubris remains a staple of his character (“The Special One” and his given name are nearly interchangeable) but it overshadows his true penchant for psychological supremacy.

Mourinho has made a mini-career of getting inside people’s heads. His pre- and post-game mental jujitsu is more than a benign form of gamesmanship. These “mind games” main purpose are to unhinge opponents outside the field of play; side effects include viral sound bites and media frenzy. Recently, Mourinho stated, with the deadpan ease of a lying congressman, that his team will not win England’s prestigious Premier League title despite sitting in first place with a two game cushion. In another episode of scathing sarcasm, he called Arsène Wenger, a fellow coach who led a team to the only undefeated season in 115 years, an expert in losing.

This preternatural focus on the psyche extends to the players he coaches, too. “But, as Mourinho accepts, thousands of coaches know everything about football; where he believes he can make the greatest difference is the psychology of players,” says Tim Lewis in Esquire UK. Sometimes it backfires, and players, such as Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos at Real Madrid, become publically fed up with his tactics. Yet there is an army of impassioned followers. Zlatan Ibrahimovich, a Swedish forward known for his acrobatic goals and bloated ego, played for Mourinho at Inter Milan in Italy. In his autobiography, Ibrahimovich described him as, “a guy I was basically willing to die for.” The Portuguese coach goes as far as to confront players’ wives and girlfriends to make sure his men are happy, and text former players going through a rough time, according to Lewis.

Amid all the personal touches, he’s not afraid to dust off his iron fist and remind his co-workers who’s the boss. No matter how illogical the act appears from the outside looking in. This past January, Mourinho sold one of the team’s brightest young players named Juan Mata. The 25-year-old Spanish midfielder, Chelsea FC’s player of the year the last two seasons, was shipped to arch nemesis Manchester United in exchange for around $50 million. Time will tell whether or not that move proves Mourinho is still “The Special One” as a coach. To the media, though, he’ll never lose that title.

To read the full articles in Esquire UK and British GQ, click the links below.


“The Maestro,” by Tim Lewis – Esquire UKApril 2014

British GQ

“Príncipe,” by Paul Hendeson - British GQ, April 2014

More Mourinho on Zinio:

Screen shot 2014-03-24 at 10.08.16 AM

“How to Lose Friends…and Alienate People”FHM India, Nov. 2011

Posted by: Adam on March 21, 2014
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To Infinity and Beyond

GQ - March

Neil deGrasse Tyson and Seth MacFarlane prepare to launch “Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey,” on March 9. Photo from GQ, March 2014

In the midst of the Cold War, on September 28, 1980, PBS debuted a program called “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage.” For thirteen episodes, a scientist with a comb-over in a turtleneck named Carl Sagan presented the wonders of the universe and the mysteries of science. Each week Sagan took the fictional Ship of the Imagination to investigate everything from RNA to Einstein’s theory of relativity. The show was an unparalleled success. It reached 750 million viewers across 60 countries, becoming the most viewed show on PBS until Ken Burns’s “The Civil War” overtook it a decade later.

Sagan’s hard science achievements never brought him the same clout among his colleagues as celebrity scientist did with mainstream America. He worked on NASA robotic missions, groomed the next generation of astronomers at Cornell University, edited the scientific journal Icarus, and penned multiple books, but the National Academy of Sciences never admitted him. The public, on the other hand, was entranced with “Cosmos” and Sagan’s twenty-six appearances on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson. In the March issue of Smithsonian Magazine, Sagan’s widow Ann Druyan remembers a porter at Union Station In Washington, D.C. who refused to let Sagan tip him for helping with luggage. “You gave me the universe,” the porter said. Seth MacFarlane, the creator of “Family Guy,” recalls Sagan’s verve on camera in the March issue of Reader’s Digest. “I saw a Brooklyn-born researcher pull back the curtain on a world of seemingly dense scientific concepts, which, with the flair of P.T. Barnum, he managed to present in ways that made them accessible to those of us lacking a degree in mathematics and physics.”

Now Macfarlane is helping to bring the universe to a new generation. On March 9, Fox will debut the follow-up to Sagan’s landmark series with “Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey.” Hosted by go-to science guy Neil deGrasse Tyson and produced by Druyan and MacFarlane, the miniseries will follow the same format as the original but explore new advancements and discoveries, like exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) and the Higgs boson.

Tyson is a present day Sagan-esque science superhero—part pure astrophysicist, part figurehead to the masses. Rebecca Mead describes his unique talent in The New Yorker as follows: “Being able to pivot comfortably between the general public and the political plutocracy is a skill no less complex than being able to analyze data from the Hubble telescope; being able to do both is very unusual.”

Tyson’s day job is director of the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium in New York. He moonlights as a science ambassador to laymen, frequently appearing on “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” and hosting a popular podcast called “StarTalk”; never turning down an opportunity to translate esoteric nomenclature into the vernacular.

To promote “Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey,” Tyson has given interviews in a number of science publications. Here are a few noteworthy quotes.

“If you go back 40 years, (the thinking about) the environment was ‘don’t pollute the lake because then you’ll kill the fish, and it will mess up our little water hole.’ No one was thinking that what they did locally would affect everybody else globally. The local-global connection has emerged in the last couple of decades.” – mental_floss

“Like, Venus is 900 degrees. I could tell you it melts lead. But that’s not as fun as saying, ‘You can cook a pizza on the windowsill in nine seconds.’ And next time my fans eat pizza, they’re thinking of Venus.” – GQ 

“The idea that science is just some luxury that you’ll get around to if you can afford it is regressive to any future a country might dream for itself. Innovations in science and technology are the engines of the 21st-century economy; if you care about the wealth and health of your nation tomorrow, then you’d better rethink how you allocate taxes to fund science. The federal budget needs recognize this.” – WIRED

“If I put on my pure scientist hat, you wouldn’t send humans into space. You have to feed them and keep them warm. A robot couldn’t care less. We can design robots to do what humans can do and better.” – Popular Science 

To read more about Neil deGrasse Tyson and “Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey,” click the links below.

Popular Science - March

“Neil deGrasse Tyson,” by Susannah Locke - Popular Science, March 2014

New Yorker - Feb.17

“Starman,” by Rebecca Mead - The New YorkerFeb. 17 – 24

Emmy Magazine - Issue 1:14

“Cosmic Encounters,” by Curt Schleier - Emmy Magazine, Issue 1-14

Smithsonian - March

“Star Power,” by Joel Achenbach - Smithsonian Magazine, March 2014

Wired - March

“Star Power,” by Rachel Edidin – WIRED, March 2014

mental_floss - Mar:Apr

“Neil deGrasse Tyson Is the Master of the Universe,” by Drew Toal - mental_floss, March/April 2014

Reader's Digest - Mar

“Mr. Universe,” by Seth MacFarlane - Reader’s Digest, March 2014

Astronomy - Apr

“Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey,” by Michael E. Bakich - AstronomyApril 2014

Posted by: Adam on March 6, 2014
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Netflix Streams Ahead


From the Jan/Feb issue of Fast Company

Netflix has come a long way since its days as the Pony Express for DVDs. The red envelopes have morphed into a full-bore TV station in the cloud. Traditional TV— un-streamed, with commercials and strict start times—has been put on watch. Next, Netflix will use its rising clout to upend premium cable channels. “The goal is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s Chief Content Officer, in the February 2013 issue of GQ.

Netflix and HBO each excel at the other’s kryptonite. Netflix reigns supreme in U.S. subscribers, online girth, and stock price. HBO has a firm grasp on the international sphere, profits and revenue, and budget for original programming. HBO pockets around $1.7 billion annually (Netflix’s best quarter yielded $100 million), allocates eight times more money than Netflix does on original content, and attracts two-and-a-half times as many subscribers outside the U.S. Netflix, on the other hand, surpassed HBO for U.S. subscribers at 31 million and counting, and accounts for an estimated 30% of Internet down streaming during peak hours. The company’s stock price hovers around three times the value of Time Warner, HBO’s parent company. Put the rivals together and it’s a match made in syndicated TV heaven.

Yet there still may be a plot twist in the Netflix story. The company’s trademark disruptive approach—releasing full seasons at once, foregoing ratings, keeping user data private, and paying top dollar for licensing deals—feeds viewers appetites for the silver screen and the small screen, but it poses problems for a sustainable business model. Four recent articles go behind the scenes to examine the ins and outs of Netflix and assess the chances of a fairytale ending. Feel free to binge read.


Netflix: The Red Menace,” by Nicole LaPorte – Fast Company, Jan/Feb 2014

Nicole LaPorte charts Netflix’s rise from an obscure DVD service to Hollywood’s Silicon Valley nemesis. The company threw out the rulebook on its way to becoming an entertainment juggernaut, says LaPorte, but in reality it is more traditional than it appears.

New Yorker

Outside the Box,” by Ken Auletta – The New Yorker, Feb.3, 2014

Columnist and contributor Ken Auletta tackles the fickle ecosystem of TV—from the early days of black and white to viral YouTube clips. Auletta interviews top-level executives, including CBS CEO Leslie Mooves and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, to locate unique threats for different players. Netflix’s two big hurdles are broadband access, which is priced and controlled by cable companies, and live events, such as rights to lucrative sports leagues.


The Big Bang Theory,” by Daniel Frankel – Emmy Magazine, Issue 1-14

Releasing entire seasons at once has potential hazards, writes Daniel Frankel. If viewers are on different episodes, it can subdue steady social media buzz and water-cooler talk. Not to mention spoiler alerts (even President Obama is concerned) and the flow of production. “Will viewers of shows like House of Cards be willing to wait until the entire season is written, shot, edited and encoded?” asks Frankel.


How Netflix Reinvented HR,” by Patty McCord – Harvard Business Review, Jan/Feb 2014

Patty McCord helped shape the culture and work environment at Netflix before she left the company to pursue consulting. In this frank article, McCord highlights five points Netflix’s values are built on and explains the rationale behind radical employee initiatives, like taking vacation whenever you want and giving fired employees massive severance packages.

More Netflix on Zinio:


Niche Is the New Mass,” by Tim Wu – The New Republic, Dec. 9, 2013


The Man Who Ate the Internet,” by Ashlee Vance - Bloomberg Businessweek, May 13 – May 19, 2013


And the Award for the Next HBO Goes to…” by Nancy Hass - GQ, February 2013

Posted by: Adam on February 24, 2014
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Sochi Prepares the Snow


The Jan. 6 – Jan. 12 cover of Bloomberg Businessweek

The lead up to the Winter Olympics in Sochi provided writers and editors with ample firepower for stories. Before we go any further, here are a few fun facts. The bill for the two-week event has ballooned to $51 billion, the most expensive ever; the average temperature in subtropical Sochi for February is 34.7 degrees Fahrenheit—on par with Kentucky’s average the same month; Russia spent $8.7 billion on a road to connect sites—three times what NASA spent on a new generation of Mars Rovers; Putin chose a Unesco World Heritage site for his newest dacha to conduct “meteorological research”; a blue psychedelic frog with no hands named Zoich became the unofficial mascot; the government has banned rallies and protests in lieu of an unpopular anti-gay law. As it turns out, Russia is as loaded with corrupt officials, conflict, and environmental disregard as it is vodka.

The infrastructure for the Sochi Games was built from scratch on two locations—Krasnaya Polyana in the Caucasus Mountains for skiing and downhill events, and the coastal town of Adler for skating competitions. The need for a decade worth of new projects was a gift for sleazy bureaucrats.

Brett Forrest writes in Vanity Fair UK that Putin and a small inner circle reaped the economic rewards from the vast construction ventures. The president’s close friends and colleagues were awarded lucrative contracts for power plants and structures, and state-owned contractors inflated building costs to cover kickbacks. Akhmed Bilalov, a Russian Olympic Committee member, oversaw the construction of the ski jump site that went over budget by $220 million. Putin jokingly applauded the miscalculation in front of cameras before he relieved Bilalov of his duties. Bilalov fled the country and survived a bout of mercury poisoning before he settled in London.

But according to Joshua Yaffa in Bloomberg Businessweek, the underhanded business that built Sochi is rampant across Russia. Yaffa met with a former Russian businessman named Valery Morozov. Morozov owned a construction firm but became weary when Kremlin officials insisted kickbacks in bags of cash. Morozov and the police created a sting operation to bring down a crooked high-profile official. The sting was busted, and the case stalled before it was eventually dropped. Morozov was granted asylum in London.

Sochi itself didn’t pop up from the earth like a ski resort. Newsweek’s Anna Nemstova and National Geographic’s Brett Forrest detail the area’s long and complicated history, from the 19th century genocide of the indigenous Circassian people to a war with Georgia in 2008.

Tension continues to this day. The surrounding areas of the Caucasus Mountians including Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetiya, and Kabardino-Balkariya remain hotbeds for Islamic insurgents. Abkhazia, a small independent country that seceded from Georgia, got the cold shoulder from Russia after explosives linked to a terrorist group were found within the country’s borders. As a result, Abkhazians are not allowed to participate as an independent country, travel freely through Europe, cross the border to watch the Games, or get work on construction sites in Sochi.

In addition to lawless officials and volatile international relations, Sochi’s terrain has hindered plans, too. Unstable geology caused multiple site locations to shift; thick groves of trees blocked 5,750 vertical feet of ski slopes; and 28 million cubic feet of natural and artificial snow needed to be stored under reflective blankets. As a result of the environment’s “stubbornness,” developers beat the natural world into submission. Outside correspondent McKenzie Funk visited members of the Russian Geographical Society to assess the damage. The verdict: a bird preserve has vanished, up to 30,000 tons of debris ended up in an illegal landfill, and dump trucks caused landslides that shifted foundations of houses.

And then there are the athletes, who, like Sochi’s metamorphosis, rely on state-of-the-art technology to prepare for competition.

U.S. skier Ted Ligety told Popular Science he opened his own company to perfect the design of his goggles and helmets, and he tested 70 pairs of skis to find the perfect pair. According to Popular Mechanics, Team USA’s bobsled got a German makeover to speed up their medal conquest. BMW re-engineered the sled with a carbon fiber shell to disperse weight for a smoother and quicker ride. For snowboarder Amy Purdy, technology is the difference maker. Purdy explained to Glamour how she fought her way back after a life threatening illness to become the only double amputee athlete to compete at the Olympic level. For races where a tenth of a second can separate a world record holder from a has-been, cutting edge equipment is as essential to athletes as technique and drive.

The opening ceremony takes place on Friday, February 7th in the newly built Fisht Stadium. The roughly $500 million structure is scheduled for only two events, the opening and closing ceremonies. Then it takes a four-year hiatus before the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

To read all the articles mentioned, and more, click the images below from Zinio’s Winter Olympic Collection.

Popular Mechanics, February

Popular MechanicsFebruary 2014


Bloomberg BusinessweekJan. 6 – 12, 2014

Vanity Fair UK

Vanity Fair UKFebruary 2014


Redbook, February 2014

Reader's Digest

Reader’s Digest, February 2014

Pop Science

Popular ScienceFebruary 2014

Newsweek Jan 31


NewsweekJan. 31, 2014


GlamourFebruary 2014

ESPN The Magazine

ESPN The Magazine, Feb. 3, 2014


The NationFeb. 10, 2014


The EconomistFeb. 1, 2014

Trans Snow

Transworld SnowboardingFebruary 2014


OutsideDecember 2013

Newsweek - Jan 10

NewsweekJan. 10, 2014

Screen shot 2014-02-10 at 12.08.41 PM

National Geographic InteractiveJanuary 2014

Posted by: Adam on February 5, 2014
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News Brief

Off-year elections swept across the U.S. this past week and stole headlines for the right and the left. In other news, The Economist analyzes the pros and cons of Google Glass; Newsweek discusses a new element to the Syrian conflict; Rolling Stone exposes Republican gerrymandering.

“Even when menu labels do sway people toward healthier choices, that doesn’t mean those people eat better overall. Making one abstemious choice seems to free some people to indulge on others. In a 2010 study, Yale University researchers found that people who saw menu calorie counts ate fewer calories than people who didn’t. But those who saw calorie listings then went home and ate, on average, nearly 300 calories more, making up for the difference.” – Melinda Wenner on American eating habits in Pacific Standard (November).

“Shortly after President Obama’s first election, the RSLC launched the Redistricting Majority Project (REDMAP) with an explicit strategy to ‘keep or win Republican control of state legislatures with the largest impact on congressional redistricting.’ The logic was simple. Every decade following the census, the task of redrawing federal congressional-district boundaries falls (with some exceptions) to the state legislatures. If Republicans could seize control of statehouses—and, where necessary, have GOP governors in place to rubber-stamp their redistricting maps—the party could lock in new districts that would favor Republican candidates for a decade.” – Tim Dickinson on the GOP’s gerrymandering in Rolling Stone (Nov. 21).

“It’s hard to look at the Democratic Party these days and not feel as if all the energy is behind Warren. Before she was even elected, her fund-raising e-mails would net the party more cash than any Democrat’s besides Obama or Hillary Clinton. According to the Times, Warren’s recent speech at the annual League of Conservation Voters banquet drew the largest crowd in 15 years. Or consider a website called Upworthy, which packages online videos with clever headlines and encourages users to share them. Obama barely registers on the site; Warren’s videos go viral.” – Noam Scheiber on the rise of Senator Elizabeth Warren in The New Republic (Nov. 25).

“The political and media elites obsessed only with Washington intrigue and the next presidential race thought New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s predictable re-election was the big story of the 2013 season. It wasn’t. The big story was a cross-country rejection of austerity and an endorsement of the progressive populism that Democrats must embrace if they hope to prevail in 2014. Bill de Blasio’s 73 percent landslide in the New York mayoral race, in which he ran on a platform of building a more inclusive city by addressing income inequality and taxing the wealthy, was just the topline measure of a national trend.”The Nation on a progressive wave in American politics (Dec. 2).

“Still, as cameras become smaller, more powerful and ubiquitous, new laws may be needed to preserve liberty. Governments should be granted the right to use face-recognition technology only where there is clear public good (identifying a bank robber for instance). When the would-be identifiers are companies or strangers in the street, the starting-point should be that you have the right not to have your identity automatically revealed. The principle is the same as for personal data. Just as Facebook and Google should be forced to establish high default settings for privacy (which can be reduced at the user’s request), the new cameras and recognition technologies should be regulated so as to let you decide whether you remain anonymous or not.” - The Economist on the potential privacy problems amid invasive technology (Nov. 16).

“Since those early street protests—beginning in the spring of 2011—the tide of the war in Syria has turned. Public sentiment—once on the side of the opposition that modeled itself on Spanish Civil War Republicans or Bosnian freedom fighters—has shifted. This is due, in part, to the fact that the Free Syrian Army has lost ground in many places to jihadists, who are now better armed thanks to generous funding from wealthy Gulf nations. Even if the under-armed FSA wanted to maintain order among rebels, it often cannot.” – Janine di Giovanni on a new layer in the Syrian conflict in Newsweek (Nov. 15).

“Just six months ago, productive talks with Iran—the kind that hold out the possibility of a historic breakthrough—were unthinkable. Now, for the first time in thirty-four years, Iran and the United States are speaking. Yet many in the West remain wary of a diplomatic solution. The nature of diplomacy, after all, is compromise, which means that an agreement with Iran will bring an end to the fantasy of total victory for either side.”  – Laura Secor on U.S.-Iran nuclear deliberations in The New Yorker (Nov. 25).

“Internet companies have started giving users greater control over their personal data. But they may start to restrict access as it grows more valuable: after all, they have their sky-high valuations to defend. That would be a loss. Open data is becoming a powerful tool for citizens and activists around the world: it has already been used to hold governments to account, to improve transport, and to make health and police services more effective.”New Scientist on potential threats to open data (Nov. 16).

Posted by: Adam on November 19, 2013
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May the Force be with you (for real)

Church of Jedi

“I think we’re heading to a point where we’re going to see a physical Jedi temple sometime in the next 10 years.”

No, the above quote is neither a projection from the fictional Obi Wan Kenobi nor is it a remark from a grown man in a Jar Jar Binks costume at Comic-Con. It appears in the article “The Church of the Jedi,” by Benjamin Svetkey, from the November issue of Details. The quote’s composer is John Henry Phelan of the Temple of the Jedi Order (the Millennium Falcon of Jedi websites), who is one of a growing number of real-life Jedi zealots.

Jediism, for people like Phelan, is not a hobby marbled into a busy schedule; it’s an around-the-clock observed religion. Yes, there are wonky eccentric types and hyper-obsessed fans twirling light sabers, but, as Svetkey finds out, among the stigmas, there is a pious group devoted to a sacred doctrine.

The creation story dates back to 1987.  After the original three movies, West End Games debuted Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game. The activity gave fans an immersive, in-depth way to experience the thrill of the movies as participants, not just observers. The game maker is now defunct, but four parables in the glossary acted as the founding commandments of the religion.

There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no passion, there is serenity.
There is no death, there is the Force.

These holy axioms, known as the Code, are each Jedi’s personal Yoda. The poetic fragments capture the ethos of the Star Wars movies (even though they’re never murmured in the films) into a DIY guide for Jedi life in the Milky Way Galaxy.

“It’s about identifying the elements that make characters like old Ben Kenobi so gallant (sacrifice, honor, chivalry) and codifying them into quasi-scriptural tenets that can be applied to real-world experiences so that you can be gallant too…” explained Svetkey in the article.

A myriad of denominations hold faith-based debates in a variety of places. Most exchanges happen via the Internet on no less than six independent websites. Other gatherings happen off-site.

Svetkey traveled to Norris, Tennessee to observe a summit at the Run Rabbit Retreat. Among the 18 faithful men and women, there was neither binge watching nor action figure trading (some of the people there have never even seen the films, but connect with Jediism, nonetheless). Select Jedi came together to share with like-minded souls (Dark and Light side) and to ponder ways of the Force. There was a martial arts class that covered under arm pinches, a ceremony for a Jedi who moved up ranks, and a guy who didn’t get too close to the TV for fear of blowing the set up through his body’s vibrations—all parts of the interconnected galaxy.

Prayer, in the classical Judeo-Christian, is not part of a Jedi knight’s life. Jedi focus on altruistic pursuits to fulfill their religious obligations.

“But most of those other religions are all about attaining spiritual enlightenment in order to save yourself, to stay out of hell, or whatever. With Jediism, though, our religious observance is found through service to the community. Service is sort of what we do for prayer,” stated Andy Spaulding, a Jedi and Kentucky National Guardsman.

Religious splinter groups based on popular science fiction are nothing new. Robert A. Heinlin’s cult classic Stranger in a Strange Land produced The Church of All World; Ed Wood fanatics created Woodism; The Matrix manufactured Matrixism; The Big Lebowski yielded Dudeism. Jediism shares this bloodline, but it’s slowly shedding its niche status.

In England and Wales, more people punched “Jedi” on their 2011 census cards than Rastafarianism and Scientology. Multiple thousands selected “Jedi” as their primary religion in the Czech Republic, Canada and, Australia, according to the article. Yes, the faithful admit that many may be jokes, but that won’t stop them from breaking ground on some temples in time for Disney’s next theatrical installment in 2015.

Details Click here to get Details on Zinio.

Posted by: Adam on November 12, 2013
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Spreads of the Week

Tornados, a shark tank, and a cranberry bog are featured spreads for the week of November 4.

Harper's Bazaar UK

Harper’s Bazaar UK, December 2013

Bicycle Times - 026

Bicycle Times, 026

Paper - Nov

PaperNovember 2013

Town & Country - Dec

Town & CountryDecember 2013

Red Bulletin South Africa - Nov

Red Bulletin South Africa, November 2013

Nat Geo - Nov

National Geographic InteractiveNovember 2013

D Photo - No. 57

D-Photo, No. 57

GreenSource - Nov:Dec

Greensource, Nov/Dec 2013

FourFourTwo UK - Dec

FourFourTwo UK, December 2013

Dirt Bag Magazine - Issue 174

Dirt Rag Magazine, Issue 174

British Vogue - September

British VogueDecember 2013

Posted by: Adam on November 8, 2013
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The Art of the Steal

mental floss

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum sticks out of Boston like a chess piece on a checkerboard. A Venetian-style building wrapped around a stately garden, it’s a European pinprick in Beantown’s blue-collar sea. The space houses the private art collection of Mrs. Gardner, which includes paintings from icons such as Diego Velazquez and John Singer Sargent. The 110-year-old museum doesn’t draw the same crowds as some of its neighbors, like the Museum of Fine Arts and Fenway Park, but it’s just as famous. Yet the Gardner’s fame came at a hefty price.

On March 18, 1990, the museum made international headlines when $600 million in art was stolen from the premises—the largest property heist in U.S. history. Twenty-three years later, the case is unsolved. The loot—which includes paintings by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Manet, and a handful of Degas sketches, among other pieces—remains missing.

In March, the FBI reignited interest in the case when new information emerged about the thieves’ identities and the paintings’ whereabouts. Tim Murphy’s recent article in the December issue of mental_floss entitled “The Art Detective,” revisits the hunt for the masterpieces through the eyes of a veteran art detective named Bob Wittman.

In 2004, Wittman was a seminal member of the FBI’s Art Crime Team. Over the span of two decades, he recouped over $300 million in stolen art and cultural relics, according to the article. Wittman worked on the Gardner case for a long portion of his career. He, unlike others, is skeptical of the fresh wrinkle in the investigation.

“They are barking up the wrong tree,” Wittman told Murphy in the article.

Wittman has the bona fides to make such a bold statement, considering he came closest to recovering select pieces seven years ago.

In 2006, he followed a lead to Miami and posed as an underground art handler named Bob Clay. Through his contacts, Wittman met a black market art dealer named Sunny who offered him three stolen paintings from an American museum—a Rembrandt, a Vermeer, and a Monet—for $10 million. Wittman believed he had pieces from the Gardner in his grasp.

Negotiations ensued. Wittman constructed an elaborate sting operation replete with a yacht, fake art, and fake drug dealers to lure Sunny and recover the paintings. But Wittman’s cover was eventually blown when a pair of unrelated busts in Europe revealed his true identity. The hunt was over.

In her will, Isabella Gardner insisted the galleries, like the brush strokes of a portrait, would remain unchanged. In January 2012, the museum added a new wing—a contemporary glass structure for musical performances, exhibitions, and classes—but to this day, the empty frames that had priceless art slashed from them still hang from the walls. It’s a visceral reminder of a heinous crime.

The FBI estimates the art heist business accounts for about $6 to $8 billion a year. Even by those figures the Gardner’s valuables are more than a watermark on the big picture.

mental floss - Dec Click here to get mental_floss on Zinio.

Posted by: Adam on November 1, 2013
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News Brief

The technical problems that plagued online health exchanges were too big to go unnoticed. The cyber glitches went viral, and President Obama was forced to address the nation. In other news, Bloomberg Businessweek covers the Keystone pipeline; Kiplinger’s Personal Fiance highlights attractive energy investments; The Atlantic delves into Amazon’s business conundrum.

“To ‘stimulate’ the economy our central bank, at the direction of Ben Bernake, has undertaken unprecedented actions that have immensely harmed credit markets, thereby retarding recovery. They have the potential to inflict even greater damage on us and the world than the 2008-09 crisis. Without congressional authority the Fed has assumed enormous economic powers. Even worse, despite the Fed’s manifest failures before and after the economic crisis, Congress has granted it other powers that threaten our economic future.” – Steve Forbes on the overreach of the Federal Reserve in Forbes (Oct. 28).
Forbes - Oct.28

 “The way the program to provide the poor with the bare minimum of daily nutrition has been handled is a metaphor for how the far right in the House is systematically trying to take down the federal government. The Tea Party radicals and those who either fear or cultivate them are now subjecting the food-stamp program to the same kind of assault they have unleashed on other settled policies and understandings that have been in place for decades.” – Elizabeth Drew on the drastic cuts in the food-stamp program in Rolling Stone (Nov. 7).
Rolling Stone - Nov 7

“But what if young healthy people meet so many glitches on exchanges that they give up? People with illnesses that are costly to treat will presumably keep trying. That could leave insurers with a sick, expensive pool of patients. To cover their costs, they would have to raise prices. That would dissuade healthy patients from enrolling the next year, driving rates higher still. Such a death spiral could make Obamacare collapse.”The Economist on potential problems with Obamacare (Oct.26).
Econ - Oct.26

“While debate raged around the 1,179-mile northern leg of the Keystone XL, which aims to bring heavy crude from the oil sands of western Canada into the U.S. and requires federal approval because it crosses international borders, TransCanada has spent the past year quietly building the southern leg. Although most people haven’t paid it much attention, oil investors have been watching like hawks. The aerial surveillance is conducted by Genscape, a private energy intelligence company based in Lousiville. Its photos provide updates of construction, which Genscape then packages into reports it sells to clients such as hedge funds, banks and oil traders.” – Matthew Philips on the southern leg of the Keystone pipeline in Bloomberg Businessweek (Oct. 28 – Nov. 3).

“Democrats should be capitalizing on their stronger position by demanding a budget that fits needs of the moment: one that ends the painful cuts caused by sequestration, invests in infrastructure and job creation, and provides desperately needed resources to state and local governments. Democrats and their allies must recognize that their current advantage is not guaranteed or permanent, and it is not so fail-safe that the party can abandon principle in the shaping of a budget deal.”The Nation on the next steps for the Democratic Party post-shutdown (Nov. 11).
The Nation - Nov 11

“The ex-players only showed modest deficits on the cognitive tasks, which included tests of planning, spatial awareness, memory and counting. However, their brains had to work much harder to achieve the same results. Regions of the frontal cortices that normally communicate with each other to handle reasoning and planning were particularly inefficient compared with non-players.” – Hal Hodson on the cognitive struggles of ex-NFL players’ brains in New Scientist (Oct. 26).
New Scientist - Oct 26

“The world’s largest private-sector employer and biggest US corporation faces renewed workplace unrest. Workers who founded OUR Walmart two years ago are promising protests to coincide with Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the busiest shopping day of the year. They will demand a living wage, affordable healthcare, stable work schedules and an end to retaliation against their members.” – Alex Wood on Walmart employees in The New Internationalist (November).
New Internationalist - Nov

“Over the past five years, however, the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has unleashed a massive new boom that’s gradually putting the state’s mineral wealth back at center stage. In the Eagle Ford Shale down south and in the Permian Basin out west, it’s the seventies all over again. Actually, this boom is bigger. According to one study, more than 575,000 jobs related to the spree have been created statewide, and in the Eagle Ford alone, oil companies will spend around $100 billion this year to get their crude out of the ground.”Texas Monthly on a new oil boom in the Lone Star State (November).
Texas Montly - Nov

“The transformation from energy consumer to exporter creates opportunities for investors in a wide array of U.S. firms, particularly those that focus on the industry’s four s’s: shale, sea, sun and service. But there are risks, too. When it comes to energy, a whole new script is being written, and no one is quite sure how it will turn out.” – Kathy Kristof on potential energy investment opportunities in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance (December).
Kiplinger's - Dec

“Some 19 years after its founding, Amazon still barely turns a profit—when it makes money at all. The company is pinched between its low margins as a discount retailer and its high capital spending as a global logistics company. Last year, it lost $39 million. By comparison, in its latest annual report, Apple announced a profit of almost $42 billion—nearly 22 times what Amazon has earned in its entire life span. And yet Amazon’s market capitalization, the value investors place on the company, is more than a quarter of Apple’s, placing Amazon among the largest tech companies in the United States.” – Derek Thompson on Amazon’s puzzling business plan in The Atlantic (November).
The Atlantic - Nov

“Across the United States, whether it’s schools, food stamps, health care or entry-level jobs, the young are feeling the brunt of government cutbacks. With debt and public spending at the top of the Republican agenda, with the sequester already biting, and with GOP members pledging not to raise revenue through taxes in any circumstances, there has never been a worse time to need help from the government.” – Anna Bernasek on the effects of government spending cuts on younger generations in Newsweek (Oct.25).
Screen shot 2013-10-28 at 11.37.41 AM

“Like a guerrilla army, the Tea Party is learning how to influence public opinion even when it loses a conventional battle. The budget caps that Obama conceded in 2011 have already enshrined in law a portion of the movement’s draconian fiscal agenda. And although Cruz and his allies in House won no additional cuts this time, they managed to spread magical thinking among their followers about a possible future debt default.” – Steve Coll on the Tea Party’s tactics in The New Yorker (Nov. 4).
New Yorker - Nov 4

Posted by: Adam on October 28, 2013
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