The Week in Review: Thaw in U.S.-Cuba Relations

Ties between the United States and Cuba, severed more than 50 years ago, were restored this week after months of negotiations and a prisoner exchange.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced the agreement to repair diplomatic ties in simultaneous speeches on Wednesday after Alan Gross, an American imprisoned in Cuba for five years, returned to the U.S. and three jailed Cuban intelligence officers returned to their country.

President Obama said it was time for a new approach toward Cuba after years of isolation that stemmed from crises over spies and refugees, the Cuban missile crisis and deep political divides.

“Nobody represents American values better than the American people,” Obama said. “I believe this contact will ultimately do more to empower the Cuban people.”

The agreement, which Pope Francis helped broker, includes the reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Cuba, a review of Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terror, the easing of travel restrictions and expanded economic ties between the two countries.

The move was met with mixed reactions on Capitol Hill, where some Republicans are hatching a plan to prevent the shift, including to deny embassy funds, stall the nomination of a potential ambassador and vote down legislation to open travel.

House Speaker John Boehner said, “Relations with the Castro regime should not be revisited, let alone normalized, until the Cuban people enjoy freedom—and not one second sooner.” Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (FL), a Cuban-American, said he would do what he could to “unravel” the plan.

However, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, “We must acknowledge our policy towards Cuba is a relic of a bygone era that weakens our leadership in the Americas and has not advanced freedom and prosperity in Cuba.”

Americans largely support diplomatic relations with Cuba, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted between July and October. One fifth of those surveyed said they did not support an opening in relations, while 43 percent said relations should be restored.

Follow the latest developments and learn more about Cuba as this shift unfolds.

CUBA by Brian Armitage: News and stories about and from Cuba.

Cuba ♥♥♥♥♥ by Maria Mercado: Explore Cuba through photos of the people, streets and views.

Punto de Mira: Cuba – EE.UU.: News and opinions around the historic announcement, in English and Spanish.

international relations by Greg Wilson: Follow the latest international news and jockeying.

In Retrospect: Todays World by swaggadigitalmagazine: The politics and events that affect our world.

President Obama by Eileen Clark: The presidency of Barack Obama through photos and statements.

~GabyS is reading HRH Royal Queen

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On the Red Couch with Roald Dahl’s Grandson Luke Kelly

Whether you’re 50 or 15, there’s a good chance Roald Dahl influenced your childhood in some way. The prolific British author penned 17 hugely popular children’s books, many of which—including The Gremlins, James and the Giant Peach, and Matilda—were adapted for the big screen. Of all Dahl’s imaginative books, none caught the world’s fancy quite like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Though greed, good vs. evil and everlasting gobstoppers are the more obvious elements of the classic tale, Dahl was careful to approach childhood with maturity. One of the people who got to experience that firsthand was his grandson, Luke Kelly, a children’s book author himself. We spoke with Kelly about his childhood, his grandfather’s collection of strange curios and why he adores Augustus Gloop.

Why do you think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has remained such a favorite book for children and adults alike, even 50 years after its initial release?
I think the longevity of the story is owed to both the sheer inventiveness of the rooms Wonka leads us through and the inventiveness of the language Roald uses to lead us (by the scruff of our necks) along the whole story. Also, the unnerving prescience of the themes—obesity and screen-gazing culture, etc—make the book feel very current. It is anchored in the perennial theme of good triumphing over greed within a traditional cautionary tale structure.

Who is your favorite character and why? Did your grandfather have a favorite character in the book?
As a true glutton myself, I have a fondness for Augustus Gloop. Roald was himself a great inventor—inventing a medical brain shunt that helped drain excess fluid from the brains of thousands of injured children—and so Wonka, as the ultimate inventor, feels like a depiction of parts of his own character.

The two movie adaptations for Charlie are very different. What’s your opinion on each version?
Each has its own particular appeal. The Gene Wilder version is now an evergreen classic in its own right and I love its caustic humor. The Burton/Depp vision—which will celebrate its own 10th anniversary in 2015—brought out some of the darker elements skillfully. And it’s worth noting that Burton created the factory with very little CGI, using huge, incredible sets built at Pinewood. He even had real-life squirrels on set, such was his commitment to authenticity.

Writing for children is especially difficult for adults because it asks them to either revisit their youth or try hard and live vicariously. Obviously your grandfather was quite capable that way. Where did he turn for inspiration?
Roald was gifted in seeing the world through the eyes of a child. He once said, “If a grown-up really wants to find out what it is like to live in a young person’s world, let him or her get down on hands and knees and go about like that for a week.” Somehow he never forgot what it was like. To a degree, he drew on his own childhood experiences—tapping into his difficult time at school, for instance, to create the amazing Crunchem Hall and Miss Trunchbull. He also seemed to find inspiration for his stories everywhere else too, and made notes in his ideas books, often returning to these and ticking off the initial germ of an idea once he had developed it into a full story.

The children in his books face very unpleasant circumstances. Was that informed by Roald’s own upbringing?
Elements of his own childhood were stark, such as being sent off to boarding school at age eight (the same age I went, too!) and seeing the dark side of humanity during World War II, but he also had a very loving and close family and a devoted relationship with his mother. So equally, it might have been his recognition that you have to put the hero or heroine through the wringer in order to create a compelling story. In that regard, he is part of a tradition harking back to traditional fairy tales, which of course he offered his own unique twist on in Revolting Rhymes.

Up until a year and a half ago, you ran an antiques store in New Hampshire, and have mentioned in previous interviews that your family were inveterate collectors. What sorts of items populated your childhood homes? And of those, which were the strangest or most compelling?
Roald collected everything from exotic orchids to revolutionary art. In his writing hut he had an eclectic collection, including ancient antiquities, his own blue and purple spinal pieces (removed in an operation related to his wartime plane crash) that sat floating in a jar next to his writing pencils, and a mini cannonball made from Kit Kat wrappers that spent years compacting together. I definitely inherited the collecting gene, and I love collecting interesting and odd objects myself—each piece is often a whole story in-and-of-itself—and I adored having my antique shop as a side project while I was working on a Masters degree.

Even though he died when you were quite young, how did your grandfather influence you as a child and an adult?
I was young when he died, however I lived for 10 years in his home—where his writing hut sat in the orchard, the witch’s tree (where Fantastic Mr Fox lived) was at the end of the garden, and an old Gypsy Caravan that inspired Danny the Champion of the World was within spitting distance from the back door—and you can imagine how impactful that was. He was simply such a huge figure in our family, and I now think about his writing every day in my job as the managing director of his estate, so I can honestly say that we all still feel his tremendous presence. A remarkable life like that (as a writer, inventor, father, war pilot and spy) will echo for a long time. His writing is also so imbued with his voice that it serves as a constant reminder of what he was like, which reminds me of the ending rhyme from his book The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me:

“All you do is to look
At a page in this book
Because that’s where we always will be.
No book ever ends
When it’s full of your friends
The Giraffe and the Pelly and me.”

What other Roald Dahl-related projects are currently in development? Are there any other projects the Dahl estate is working on that readers and fans should be aware of?
Steven Spielberg is directing The BFG for Dreamworks. In fact, I just read the latest version of the script,which is by Melissa Mathison (who wrote ET), and she has done a truly phenomenal job and been incredibly faithful to the book. We also have the Twits coming to the Royal Court theatre next year, and at Christmas you will see a lovely TV film of Esio Trot starring Dame Judi Dench and Dustin Hoffman on the BBC. Longer term, we have a heavy handful of incredible film, television, digital and stage adaptations coming together, and many treats and surprises planned for the year of Roald Dahl’s Centenniel, 2016, too!

~ShonaS is curating “Proof of Experience”

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Flip Down Memory Lane: The Year in Review

In 2014, we saw countries unite to fight mass disease and terror. Ebola ravaged African countries and spread to the United States. ISIS attacked Americans and other Westerners despite a fierce military response. Protests erupted across the country after decisions surrounding the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Two Malaysia Airline passenger jets went down, eliciting extensive searches. Turmoil persisted in Ukraine, and another year passed without peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

In more positive news, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the youngest-ever recipient; an AIDS free generation was declared “within reach” due to historic advancements; and a space traveler landed on Comet 67P, marking the first time scientists were able to study a comet as it gets closer to the sun. The World Cup captivated the planet; gas prices hit a four-year low; Taylor Swift breathed new hope into the music industry with off-the-chart sales; and that eternal bachelor, George Clooney, finally tied the knot.

Political decisions over the last few months, particularly surrounding the 2014 election and immigration, give us a window into the debates that lie ahead. Here are just some of the magazines that touch on the news events that defined 2014.

2014 Year in Review by Year in Review: Read about the developments, breakthroughs and losses of 2014. Sections like “Year in Tragedy & Conflict,” “Year in Unions,” “Year in Big Ideas” and “Year in Books & Culture” contain important articles and photography from some of the best journalists in the world.

Ferguson Shooting & Protests by CNN: The Ferguson decision sparked immediate protests and a larger debate about race relations and police in our country. Read about the volatile events and state of those relations.

Ebola Outbreak by Oskar van Rijswijk: Ebola spread, and continues to spread, throughout the world. According to the World Health Organization, the current death toll stands at over 6,300 and more than 17,800 people have been infected. Learn about the disease and its impact around the world.

The Islamic State’s Violent Ambitions by The New York Times: The United States fought a foreign enemy this year: the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, attacked Americans and native civilians in the Middle East. Examine the ongoing threat and response.

Brazil 2014: Team Magazines by Flipboard Brazil2014: Fans from around the world helped Flipboard curate magazines on their favorite teams for this year’s World Cup. Relive the moments from the widely-watched matches, which ended in a triumphant Germany.

Bachelor No More by Aida B.: In one of the biggest unions of the year, famous bachelor, actor and director George Clooney tied the knot to international criminal and human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin. Read about their courtship and see pictures from the star-studded wedding day.

Tributes & Obituaries by thenewsdesk: Read about the lives of those to whom we said goodbye, including comic geniuses Robin Williams and Joan Rivers, designer Oscar de la Renta, wordsmith Maya Angelou and newspaper man Ben Bradlee.

~GabyS is reading “The Best Of 2014

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The Week in Review: Torture Report Debated

A debate over American interrogation techniques reignited this week with the release of the long-awaited terror report. The document, submitted by the Senate Armed Services Committee, detailed the steps used by Americans against terrorists after the attacks on September 11, 2001.

According to the report, prisoners endured waterboarding, frozen conditions, being attached to a wall and put in a box, among other measures. The roughly 6,000-page document concluded that the program led to little valuable information from the prisoners and stated that the C.I.A. misled the White House and Congress about the success of the program.

Defenders of the program said the CIA was advised that the methods used were not torture and that the program was instrumental in dismantling al-Qaeda. Michael Hayden, who served as CIA Director under former President George W. Bush, said the tactics were not legally torture and said they led to important intelligence.

“Information gained from this program, and from detainees was absolutely part of the fabric of information that the agency used to go after Osama bin Laden,” Hayden told NBC News. “Frankly, in my experience, we learned so much from these people. It kind of created this Home-Depot-like warehouse of knowledge about al Qaeda to which we continually referred.”

Current CIA Director John Brennan said the detention had value, but said it is “unknowable” if the information received was valuable.

President Obama formally ended the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation program when he took office in 2009 and said the tactics “did not serve our broader counter-terrorism efforts or our national security interests” and did “significant damage to America’s standing in the world.” The president’s sentiments were echoed by politicians across the aisle this week. Republican Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, a former prisoner of war, said the CIA’s conduct “stained our national honor” and did “much harm and little practical good.”

The policy debate and political jousting will continue. Our nation’s leaders will likely never agree, but the report will impact the way history is written and our future tactics. Delve into the debate and issues raised through magazines on Flipboard.

Foreign Policy by Keith Fitzgerald: The latest foreign policy news surrounding the terror report and relations with Iran, China and the Middle East.

Terrorism News by KJH: Reports on the hazards and worry felt in the U.S. and abroad.

Moral, Ethics and Politics by micronanopico: Examine the cross-section between our politics and convictions.

ISIS Threat & Uprising in Iraq by thenewsdesk: News about the latest threat facing the United States.

The ISIS Threat: Analysis From CFR by Council on Foreign Relations: Hear the experts at CFR explain the nuances of ISIS and the global response.

Keep up with the ongoing debate around the terror report with the “interrogation” topic tag.

~GabyS is reading “Political

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On the Red Couch with Ghostly’s Sam Valenti IV

Photo credit: Jessica Miller

If you’re into electronic music, Ghostly International’s Sam Valenti IV is terribly exciting to meet. He grew up in Detroit, the birthplace of techno music, going to raves as a teenager. He’s a DJ himself and runs two imprints, Ghostly International and Spectral Sound, whose signings include buzzworthy acts like Tycho, Matthew Dear, Com Truise, Phantogram and Gold Panda.

That’s impressive enough, but Ghostly does more than just release cool music. The brand is a platform for creative people and has extended to things like The Ghostly Store, a music discovery app and a subscription platform called “I thought there was a need for an American label that had a wide range of styles and tastes, and was able to connect music and design in a thoughtful way,” says Valenti, on why he started his company 15 years ago. “I really loved the idea of a label as a philosophy, almost like an art gallery where the work changes, but the ethos remains.”

We sat down with Valenti to discuss how he, as a “small publisher,” has been able sustain a healthy business despite tectonic shifts in the music industry. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the scene that so inspired him in the first place has finally been embraced by American culture at large. Let’s dance to that!

How is running Ghostly today different from running it, say, 10 years ago?
Everyone thinks the music industry’s been in this sort of downward spiral, but I really think it’s actually been kind of a healthy change. When I started Ghostly in college from my dorm room, I was using Napster at the time, and the writing was on the wall that things were changing pretty dramatically. However, I think it’s opened up a lot of opportunities for small publishers like Ghostly and others. When you are relying on word of mouth, fan support, direct sales and things like that, the Web’s been able to unlock that power.

Can you talk about the interplay between free and paid, and how they support each other?
It’s a really big debate right now, mainly because we think we have the ability for fans to pay for content and for people to enjoy stuff for free. I’m a fan of SoundCloud’s and a lot of the services that’ve made music routine on the Web. People understand how it works. People know they can get a stable playback method that won’t disappear—that was largely lacking in music culture.

I also love the idea that there’s more bespoke ways to buy music. The return of vinyl—people are excited about purchasing artifacts and even just having a more intimate experience with music. We’re in a golden age where all kinds of music fans can be satisfied. However, we feel that some fans, the wild ones, could use some more attention, that’s why we started, where we now look after the fan communities for artists like They Might Be Giants and labels like Stones Throw, Sub Pop and Mad Decent.

What’s your criteria for signing someone to Ghostly?
I think a lot about the humanity of the work. It’s easy to make music these days. The artists we work with have to have a really strong grasp of who they are. Even if it’s instrumental music, you feel them at work; the work is not overwhelmed by the technology available. It’s still very much a personal statement to make and release music.

What do you read to stay in touch with what’s happening in music?
I’m trying to read less music journalism because I find it sometimes changes how you hear things. I like the idea of a raw experience. I read a lot of the tech blogs, the daily ones and the sort of more long-form ones. I’m back to The New Yorker again; I just really find it a satisfying experience. I still read a lot of the design blogs: Selectism, Design Milk, ISO50 and The Fox is Black.

What do you make of electronic music’s huge growth this year?
We’re totally past genre now. I don’t know if it was file sharing, the iPod/iPhone, or just the Web in general that sort of disintermediated the idea of genre from our conversation. [It’s more like] “How does it make me feel? How does it related to other things I like? Do any of my friends like it?” It’s a very social experience—that’s why festivals and dance music culture have gotten bigger. People are more interested in just experiencing it.

How will electronic music continue to evolve in 2015?
Electronic music is having a disco moment, where people are trying to sound more electronic and utilize the aesthetics of electronic, so I expect a lot of copying, but also a lot of young producers who are coming with a fresh voice and perspectives that we haven’t seen yet.

What’s the scene like in Detroit now?
Detroit has a hope that is phenomenal. A lot of people who are choosing to stay in Detroit and develop their careers there (when I graduated, people wanted to leave). So the hope on the entrepreneurial level is pretty high. There’s a lot going on and a lot of work to do as well. Musically, it’ll always be a place for creation. It just has too much history, too much power not to deny, whether you’re looking at back to Motown or as recent as the last five years.

What are some of the tentpole events on your social calendar?
I go to:
– MoogFest in Asheville, NC
– Sónar in Barcelona
-MUTEK in Montreal
For our 15th anniversary this year, we did shows at Berlin’s Berghain Panorama Bar, Seattle’s Decibel Festival and of course Movement in Detroit—the places that have been really supportive of Ghostly artists.

Which artists or albums knocked your socks off in 2014?
From our roster, I thought that HTRK and Tycho delivered career-best albums. I love a lot pop R&B (Tinashe) and hip-hop (Hit Boy & DJ Mustard beats) faves and some leftfield or non-trad faves like the harpist Mary Lattimore. We tried to pick our favorite artists of 2014 for Ghostly Swim 2 compilation with Adult Swim, which is out Christmas week so you can stay sane when dealing with your family.

What can we expect from Ghostly in 2015?
Some great debuts like Fort Romeau from London and Matrixxman from San Francisco. Continuing the #ghostly15 collaborations with people like Warby Parker, Blk Pne, Void Watches, and Makerbot. Just trying to find and share some great artists. That’s it.

Browse Ghostly’s magazine on Flipboard:

~MiaQ is curating “Riddim Freak

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Wonderland Twinkles With Holiday Advice and Inspiration

With Hanukkah starting next week, and Christmas close behind, it’s show time for this holiday season. Are you ready? Wonderland, our holiday magazine, is—it’s all gussied up with articles on how to create sparkling memories you won’t soon forget.

The magazine leads with gift ideas because it’s time to finalize all that, and expert guides from publishers like VOGUE, Dwell and Huffington Post, can help narrow your choices. There are also articles about making your home guest-ready and beautiful; getting yourself primed for parties and host-ing with the most-ing; and a new section, “Thankful,” about how to give back this season. The entertainment guide has no shortage of suggestions of what to do with all that down-time coming up.

After the holiday, Wonderland will move into a health and wellness mode, with articles about healthy eating, fitness and goal-setting. Tap “follow” to ensure your holidays go smoothly and your year gets off to an excellent start.

~MiaQ is reading “2014 Music Links

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The Week in Review: #GivingTuesday Grows

We have Black Friday, Cyber Monday and now, for the third year in row, Giving Tuesday.

The day dedicated to giving back started when a group of individuals at the 92nd Street Y in New York City decided the days of excess needed a counter balance. What began as a campaign in 2012 has since grown into a global event.

“What we’ve really seen over the last couple of years is just a real surge of engagement and interest in people thinking about how they give, why they give, and what they give, too,” Henry Timms, the founder of #GivingTuesday told The Huffington Post.

This year’s push raised $45.7 million, a 63 percent donation increase since last year, according to estimates released by the Case Foundation. Sixty-three countries and over 20,000 organizations participated, contributing to the 32.8 million Twitter impressions and 698,600 hashtag mentions.

Celebrities, athletes, politicians, business people and philanthropists raised awareness for their favorite causes. Bill and Melinda Gates matched, and doubled, every contribution up to $200,000 to Shot@Life, an organization focused on improving vaccines. The NFL designated St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, their chosen charity for the day. Ten meals were donated to Feeding America from each tweet that used the #YouGiveWeGive hashtag.

“Much like everyone anxiously awaits…the amount of online spending on Cyber Monday and Black Friday as a measure of our nation’s economic health, measuring the amount of online donations every #GivingTuesday serves as a gauge of our nation’s philanthropic health,” the Case Foundation said in a statement.

Giving Tuesday added to a successful start to the holiday season that included a record-breaking Cyber Monday of $2.04 billion in sales and a Black Friday that continued expanding into other countries.

Read about those giving back to their communities and organizations dedicated to change.

Bespoke Philanthropy by Josephine Tan: News about philanthropic efforts from the individual to the corporate level.

Global Poverty 101 by ONECampaign: Discover ways to help fight global poverty and disease, from the perspective of the ONE Campaign.

Women’s Health by Doctors Without Borders: This world health organization looks at the biggest issues facing women.

#GivingTuesday and all year long by Colleen Pence: Get ideas of where to invest your time and/or resources.

Blackfriday and Holiday Shopping 2014 by charlie seanez: What to buy for your friends and family this season.

Volunteering by Jelenko Dragisic: News about who’s volunteering in the United States and around the globe.

~GabyS is reading “All About Violin

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On the Red Couch with Fantasy Novelist Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson was “anti-books” until an eighth grade teacher introduced him to fantasy novels. He went on to write seven novels during his undergraduate career at BYU while juggling the night shift at a hotel. After many rejections from publishers, he received a fateful phone call from fantasy book editor Moshe Feder of It had been a year and a half after he submitted his manuscript for Elantris and he had almost given up.

Now he is known for his bestselling series Mistborn, co-hosting the podcast “Writing Excuses” and was chosen by Harriet McDougal to finish Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, a seminal epic fantasy that heavily influenced Sanderson himself.

As part of our iBooks author series (iBooks powers much of our Books category), here’s what Sanderson had to say about his ongoing projects. Fantasy enthusiasts and aspiring novelists, take heed!

Publishing and distribution has really changed since you began writing in 1997. How did you adapt to a more digital world?
One thing that is very different is you can take a shorter piece, like a novella, and reach an audience much more quickly. With social media, it makes the business feel less lonely. Book length is less important, which is a big advantage for both readers and writers. For the longest time, you had to publish a book at a certain length. You can now tell the story that you want to tell and include color illustrations easily.

How did it feel to carry the torch and finish Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series?
It was a like becoming stepfather to several million people. Fortunately I was part of the fandom, so I understood it to an extent. Robert Jordan had been good at interacting with his readers. I had to bone up on my minutia of Wheel of Time and I was nowhere near as good at it. Otherwise, it was a deep honor to take over on this series. But it was so difficult, I don’t know if I would ever do anything like it again.

The Stormlight Archive will be 10 books long and your third in the series, Stones Unhallowed, is due out in 2016. How do you stay on top of it?
It’s on track for 2016. Those books take a lot of work to write. I found that they come out better if I take a break in between them, to let the ideas continue to flow. My plan is to do one every two years. I like to have a solid plan for every story I’m working on. Beyond that, I do have assistants whose jobs are to focus on continuity.

Allomancy is very tactile power in Mistborn. Did spending time outdoors or living in Utah inspire that?
It was definitely inspired by my time outdoors, but at the same time, great magic in a book will often be one that has a strong tactile sense to it. Some newer writers go wrong in their magic in fantasy books by making it cerebral. Giving that extra boost, where you make it easier to see yourself doing it, makes for a stronger story.

How do you personally encourage young writers?
I like dropping by schools. I, unlike a lot of writers, didn’t enjoy writing and reading when I was a teenager. It took a teacher, who focused on me as a person to get me excited about fantasy novels. I had such a wonderful experience that it changed my life. If I can reach that same age group and say, “You may be thinking that you hate books, the truth is that you probably haven’t found the right books yet.”

How did you get involved with the game Infinity Blade?
The guys who make the Infinity Blade games live down the street from me. They were big fans of my work. I’ve been a gamer all my life. It was me getting a chance to experiment with a new type of storytelling, while they were getting a chance to see first-hand how a writer goes about developing a story. Maybe someday I’ll have video games based on my books.

Do you play games? What have you played lately?
The last one that I played all the way through was Dark Souls 2. Lately I’ve been into a mobile game I found called Badland.

Any recommended reading from students you’ve taught?
Brian McClellan‘s Promise of Blood, Peggy Eddleman’s Sky Jumpers and Janci Patterson. I’m am lucky to have had these students in my classes because they are people I learn from.

Flip through this magazine for more about Brandon Sanderson and to see his titles on iBooks:

You can also watch some of Mr. Sanderson’s BYU lectures on Youtube!

~ jdlv is curating “Toolkit

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On the Red Couch with Food52’s Amanda Hesser

Tis the season to be eating—so what better person to, ahem, grill than Amanda Hesser, a founder of the mouth-watering site Food52 (that’s “52” as in 52 weeks a year). Hesser and her co-founder Merrill Stubbs have created a kind of cook’s nirvana by bringing together every aspect of a chef’s life, including inspiring recipes, advice on cookware and table decor, and a community of cooks eager to help each other out.

While all these things are presented in a beautiful manner, with must-make-that-now! photography, the real beauty of Food52 is that it’s just plain useful. That’s because both Hesser and Stubbs are thoughtful but easygoing about food. “We cook locally, we cook seasonally, but we’re not preachy about it. We’re also happy to go and eat a burger,” Hesser says.

Food52’s alluring practicality also comes from the fact that real home cooks drive most of what you see on the site. Reader expertise is harnessed via callouts and contests, and they respond in droves: Hesser says 98% of the site’s recipes and 70% of blog posts come from passionate reader-chefs. “We felt like while food blogs were growing in importance, they’re very diffuse, so the way we think of Food52 is very much like a platform for talented home cooks, bloggers and professional cooks,” she explains.

In this interview, Hesser let us in on the site’s secret sauce—just how they’ve managed to cultivate such a vibrant community around food. Their Flipboard magazines contain not-so-secret tips about how to make your Thanksgiving feast—or any culinary experience—delicious and fulfilling.

Do you vet the community’s recipes before you publish them?
Anyone can upload any recipe to the site, so the short answer is no. But it’s a little bit more complicated than that. That’s the secret to our model—there’s vetting on a number of levels. For example, we don’t make it easy for you to upload a recipe. We make you put in all the ingredients and steps. That’s a reason that so many of our 31,000 recipes are of very high quality. It’s not something that you’re going to do on a whim; it’s people who are wanting to compete and they feel like their recipe is great.

Once the recipes come in, a team selects a percentage to test. (We have testers all over the country and in Canada.) We photograph [the finalists], and then the community votes on the winners. We designed the site for the community to participate in lots of different ways. High touch would be participating in a recipe contest. Low touch might be voting on a recipe contest, commenting on a recipe, favoriting a recipe, favoriting a blog post or favoriting a product. The community is constantly curating the site without realizing it. We want people to naturally interact with the site and have those interactions be meaningful.

What kinds of things have you learned about cooking from your community?
So many things! Quinoa and kale happen to be two of the most search ingredients on our site, which tells you something about our audience. This recipe was on the site before those two became really big. It has a little bit of goat cheese. It has Meyer lemon zest, a little bit of nut oil. It’s one of those recipes that’s very simple to do, and the flavors really come together in this interesting way. It’s the kind of dish where if you took it to a party everyone will ask the recipe for it.

That’s the kind of thing we find over and over. Because our recipes come from home cooks, they’re very resourceful; they’re not going to dirty a billion pots because they’re going to be the ones who have to clean them. It’s often about toasting something to give it a little extra flavor or texture. It’s those tiny details that really do amplify the flavor or character of a recipe. That’s why the recipes on our site are very accessible: They tend to be five or six ingredients, a few steps, because they’re they’re cooking after work and on the weekends.

Do you think home cooks are an endangered species?
Absolutely not. I think home cooking is going through a major renaissance. I think people cook differently at home. Part of the food revolution that’s happening is that people are so excited about food and all the cool things that you can eat, and they want to know more and more about it. I think the thing that’s different is that it’s not cooking Monday to Friday and going out on the weekend. It’s really cooking here and there, more out of curiosity than necessity. It’s cooking by choice as opposed to it being a chore. That’s great, in my view, because that will make the kitchen much more welcoming to a larger number of people.

How do you get your kids to try new foods?
We basically decided when they were born that we were going to serve dinner, and that’s dinner. There’s no “I don’t like this.” I mean yes, anyone has the option to not like something, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have to eat it. We kind of took the old-school approach. Food is a joyful thing. Eating what was made for you is a way of showing respect to each other and the person who made it. You might not like mushrooms but your sister might. You eat mushrooms this time and the next time you’ll get something that maybe she doesn’t like. It’s about compromising and truly sharing with others.

Do you have any tips for working parents on how they can meal-plan for the week and eat healthfully?
I don’t feel like I’m the master of any of this, but what has been working for us is I will shop and cook on the weekends and I’ll plan out the meals for the week in a sort of old-fashion way that my mom used to do. She would shop for the week. I find that if I try to figure it out on a daily basis; it doesn’t happen or the results aren’t pretty. As a result, I’ll cook bigger batches of some things and try to use the leftovers from this to mix into that. In fact, we have a column on the site that’s like “one tub of yogurt, six meals” to get at [this idea]. I don’t cook one thing and hope it’s going to last for the week because I feel like by the end it’s “I never want to see that dish again.”

Aside from deliciousness, what do you look for in a meal?
Something that feels joyful. I’m increasingly interested in food that you can assemble. I like serving things more family-style now so that people can interact with what you’ve cooked as well. Maybe that comes from having kids, and they want to get their hands in stuff which is really exciting. You realize that this is a natural human desire to touch the food that you’re eating and have a part in it. It has changed the way I think about what I make.

Check out Food52 on Flipboard.

~MiaQ is reading “Balancing Time & Energy

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Flipping The Wall Street Journal and Factiva

For 125 years, it has been read by the leading business influencers in the world. It’s won 35 Pulitzer prizes, for topics including the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and corporate scandals. And it has the largest paid circulation of any newspaper in the U.S. Today, The Wall Street Journal comes to Flipboard, where it’s been paginated and designed for easier reading.

The newspaper will make a selection of stories available free to our readers; but paid subscribers to the Journal also will be able to authenticate their service and read premium content as well. (Simply tap your User Profile, then tap the Settings gear in the upper right, then find the Journal under Accounts and enter your login and password.)

The Wall Street Journal’s sister and fellow Dow Jones property, the business information and research service known as Factiva, will launch shortly on Flipboard. This service, a global collection of licensed news, web content and company data from more than 32,000 sources is only available to Factiva subscribers, who can authenticate under the same Accounts tab, described above.

The Wall Street Journal provides more than just business and financial news, of course. You’ll find U.S. and world news, politics, technology, lifestyle, sports and entertainment in its pages, as well. Its business today encompasses news bureaus in nearly 50 countries and employs nearly 1,800 journalists. Its distinctive front page—from the “What’s News” digest to the “stipple drawings” or “hedcuts” of prominent business people to the “A-hed” feature—are instantly recognizable to newspaper readers around the globe.

You can start reading the Wall Street Journal by tapping the badge below.

You can find The Wall Street Journal on Flipboard in the New & Noteworthy area of the Content Guide on tablets or tap the search icon on phones for quick access.

~JoshQ is curating “HYSTERIA Magazine

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