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The Weekender: on Ai Weiwei and 'Visions of Dune'

Everything to do, see, and read this weekend

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Welcome back to The Weekender, First Weekend of Fall Edition. The weather is getting a bit cooler here on Mars, so it's time to take a breath and look back on a long week back on Earth. But don't worry; there's still plenty for you to do if you're not staying inside your little fallout shelter.

Do this

The High Line at the Rail Yards, New York

The High Line, New York City's famous elevated park, opened its final section this past week. The High Line at the Rail Yards follows what used to be disused West Side Line train tracks all the way down to the Hudson River and back into the city's heart. But unlike the sections of the park further downtown, this place is a little wilder.

High Line 2

Photo Credit: gigi_nyc / Flickr

@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz, Alcatraz Island

Preeminent Chinese artist and political dissident Ai Weiwei opened his latest work at the Alcatraz this week. "@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz" uses the former prison as a base for thinking about the implications of incarceration. The piece feature numerous installations throughout the facility, including 176 portraits of imprisoned political dissidents, all meant to create tension between freedom and gloomy prison life.

Read this

Welcome to Colon, magic capital of the world

You might think that a city like Las Vegas is the heart of magic in the US, but you'd be wrong. It's actually Colon, Michigan, a sleepy town somewhere between Detroit and Chicago the just happens to host what might be most beloved magic gathering in the whole world.

Inside the building where Apple tortures the iPhone 6

That the iPhone 6 Plus bends in people's pockets became one of the biggest stories of the week; while Apple has only received 9 complaints from customers, numerous owners and a few tech reporters stated online that their new iPhone bent. To respond to "Bendgate," Apple gave us a look inside the facility where iPhones receive the most brutal of testing.

BlackBerry Passport review

Despite what you may think, BlackBerry is still very much around. But after losing handily to the iPhone and Android, the company is vying hard for relevance by going back to its roots. The result of that shift is the Passport, a big, bulky, and squarish smartphone made with businesspeople in mind.

How one tiny startup is winning the race to power your smart home

The smart home is in a state of disarray. While we all want a home that can attend to our every need with just a word, click, or gesture, the fact is most products for the connected home rely on competing standards that don't talk to one another. Wink, a New York-based startup that launched this past June, is changing that with just a $79 box, and is a dark horse contender for leader in the space.

Out of thin air: is this the world's newest type of cloud?

Gavin Pretor-Pinney may have discovered a new kind of cloud. An author, graphic designer, and former absinthe importer, Pretor-Pinney founded the Cloud Appreciation Society in 2005, which would birth a lively online community soon after. It was there that he first saw what he calls the undulatus asperatus cloud, unlike anything else on the books. Now he wants to give it legitimacy.

Always Leave Them Laughing

Vanity Fair
Simpsons co-creator Sam Simon was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and Merill Markoe writes about his work as an animal rights activist.

As the plane taxis down the runway, Sam opens up a briefcase full of medical-marijuana-laced snacks. "Mention I have a vegan pot chef," he calls to me. He holds up a container of strawberry cannabis lemonade and laughs. Sam punctuates most of his sentences with a distinct laugh. It starts out a big deep rumbling guffaw, which longtime Simpsons writer and producer George Meyer describes as "startling, like the squawk of a macaw," except that it keeps on going, longer than you’d expect, "until it fades into a whoosh, like the last squeeze of a Sriracha bottle."

The solace of oblivion

The New Yorker
Jeffrey Toobin explores the "right to be forgotten" as it has evolved in Europe and the US.

"The roots of European data protection come from the bloody history of the twentieth century," Mayer-Schönberger said. "The Communists fought the Nazis with an ideology based on humanism, hoping that they could bring about a more just and fair society. And what did it look like? It turned into the same totalitarian surveillance society. With the Stasi, in East Germany, the task of capturing information and using it to further the power of the state is reintroduced and perfected by the society. So we had two radical ideologies, Fascism and Communism, and both end up with absolutely shockingly tight surveillance states."

Disappearing darkness

AZ Central
Megan Finnerty reports on the spread of light pollution and the decline of darkness across the United States.

Scientists estimate that in about 10 years, America will have only three dark patches of land where people will be able to clearly see the Milky Way and where they'll be able to do high-quality astronomy and nocturnal wilderness research.

Those areas are southeastern Oregon and western Idaho; northeastern Nevada and western Utah; and northern Arizona and southeastern Utah — the better part of the Colorado Plateau.

"The Dumbest Person in Your Building Is Passing Out Keys to Your Front Door!"

New York Magazine
Jessica Pressler profiles the wild history, growth, and struggles of Airbnb.

At first, Airbnb—they shortened the name in 2009—was a hit mainly with their peers: millennials who were a tad more discriminating than the kids who booked with As the number of listings increased, the customer base grew, and it became a bona fide substitute for hotels. Then the financial crisis happened, and it became "so much more," says Chesky.

Listen to this

Z - Visions of Dune

You don't need to have read Frank Herbert's magnum opus to appreciate Bernard Szajner's 1979 masterwork of experimental electronica, but it helps. Full of tracks like "Kwisatz Haderach" and "Harkonnen," the album is an abstract, impressionistic take on the novels. If the Atreides had traditional music, it might sound something like this.

Gui Boratto - Abaporu

Abaporu recalls the work of Brazilian painter Tarsila do Amaral of the same name, which is considered the most valuable work of Brazilian art. The music on the album is a touch less surreal. Instead, it's lively and atmospheric. These rhythms should keep you moving all weekend.

Play this

Hyrule Warriors, Wii U

Long-time fans of the Legend of Zelda series will get a kick out of this. Actually a mashup with Dynasty Warriors, Hyrule Warriors takes you to famous Hyrule landmarks and throws you into massive battles not unlike what you'd find in a Peter Jackson movie. It's absolutely crazy, but it works.

Update: The previous Play This entry, Middle-earth: Shaddow of Mordor has not seen release yet. We've updated the entry and apologize for the error.

Watch this


Amazon may finally have a show that can take on House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black. Transparent comes just as transgender issue have begun to hit the mainstream, and it successfully manages to be beautiful, funny, and tragic in its treatment of them. Created by Jill Soloway, the story follows the family of Mort Pfefferman, played by Arrested Development's Jeffrey Tambor, as they contend with her transition to Maura. With plenty of honest, varied performances, this is easily one of the best shows you should be binge-watching