This 16-Year-Old Made an App That Exposes Sellout Politicians
With US politics swimming in so much corporate money that it’s pretty much an oligarchy, it can be hard to keep track of which particular set of lobbyists is trying to milk more cash out of healthcare, fossil fuels and other very important issues from one week to the next.
But thanks to 16-year-old Nick Rubin, keeping track of just how much politicians have sold out has become a lot easier. He created Greenhouse, a new browser plugin which operates under the motto, “Some are red. Some are blue. All are green.” The plugin aims “to shine light on a social and industrial disease of today: the undue influence of money in our Congress.” It sounds like a bit of a lofty aim for an app, but it’s actually pretty simple and effective—it provides a break down of a politician’s campaign contributions when that politician’s name comes up in an article. It is currently available for Chrome, Firefox and Safari and is completely free. As you can imagine, reading about how your Member of Congress voted in a recent health bill becomes all the more enlightening if you know how much money the health industry showered him in at the last election.
I spoke to Nick Rubin about the plugin, politics and what he calls the “money stories” behind what you read in the news.
VICE: Hi Nick. So how did you come up with the idea for Greenhouse?
Nick Rubin: Back in seventh grade, I gave a presentation on corporate personhood and ever since then I’ve been really interested in that issue. I think the one problem is that the sources of income for members of congress haven’t been simple and easily accessible when people have needed it. More recently, I’ve been teaching myself how to code and I thought that something like Greenhouse that puts the data at people’s fingertips would be a perfect solution. It really is the intersection of these two passions of mine—coding and politics. I made it after school and on weekends on my computer.
Why the name?
Well, green is the color of money in the US, and house refers to the two houses of Congress [the Senate and House of Representatives]. The name also implies transparency; greenhouses are see through and they are built to help things thrive.
Where did you get the information on the politician’s donations?
It uses the data from the last full election cycle which was 2012. This is simply because it’s just the most complete set of data that we have. But, the browser does provide access to the most up to date 2014 information by just clicking the name of the politician on the top of the window or theOpenSecrets.org link in the popup. So the 2014 data is just one click away.
I’m intending to update the data as a whole later in the election cycle as the 2014 contributions are more complete. These are updates I’m currently working on, as well as thinking of other ways I can expand the tool.
We’d Like More Webbys, Please!
Every year around this time, the Webby Awards announce their nominees, and we happen to be one of these nominees. But in order to win, we need your votes. We know the internet is confusing, so here are some handy FAQs to help you make sure we get the Webbys we deserve.
You: What’s a Webby?
VICE: A Webby is an award that’s given to websites. This year we’ve been nominated in eight categories.
Cool. Have you ever actually won any?
Yes, we have a modest amount of Webbys that we keep on a shelf (see above photo). We’re currently looking for a bigger shelf. But that comes down to you. Unlike the charades that are the Academy Awards and the US presidential election, your vote actually matters. You like (love?) us, right? So vote for us!
VICE is up for Webbys in four categories: In Saddam’s Shadow and Sisa: Cocaine of the Poor for best Individual Episode in the News and Politics category, Child Workers of the World Unite for best Individual Episode in the Documentary category, Far Out for best Long Form in the Branded Entertainment category, and the VICE Mobile App for best Handheld Device App in the Entertainment category.
If you include our extended family, we’re up for a few more: Motherboard’s Click. Print. Gun. for best Individual Episode in the Documentary category, Noisey’s Guitar Moves for best Unscripted in the Branded Entertainment category, The Creators Project for best Art in the General Website category, The Creators Project’s The Collaborators for best Music in the Online Film & Video category, and The Creators Project’s This Must Be the Only Fantasy for best Scripted in the Branded Entertainment category.
I enjoy voting for people and things. How do I vote?
Head over to the Webby Awards site. Then register to vote with Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or any email account.
OK, now what?
Click on each of the links below to jump directly to the categories we’re nominated in:
-Online Film & Video: Documentary: Individual Episode: (Motherboard/VICE Media: “Click, Print, Gun”)
-Online Film & Video: Documentary: Individual Episode: (VICE Media: “Child Workers of the World Unite”)
-Online Film & Video: Branded Entertainment Long Form: (VICE Media: The Creators Project)
-Online Film & Video: Branded Entertainment Long Form: (VICE Media: “Far Out”)
-Online Film & Video: News & Politics: Individual Episode: (VICE Media: “Sisa: Cocaine of the Poor”)
-Online Film & Video: News & Politics: Individual Episode: (VICE Media: “In Saddam’s Shadow”)
-Online Film & Video: Music: (VICE Media: “The Collaborators”)
-Online Film & Video: Branded Entertainment Scripted: (VICE Media: “This Must Be the Only Fantasy”)
-Online Film & Video: Branded Entertainment Unscripted: (VICE Media/Noisey: “Guitar Moves”)
-Web: Art: VICE Media: “The Creators Project”
-Mobile & Apps: Entertainment: (VICE Media: VICE Mobile App)
To cast your vote, click your choice and click again to confirm. If you see a voting tally with percentage, you have voted successfully, and we love you.
Yeah, sure. Anyways, something’s been bugging me, and I gotta ask—why does a Webby look like a duck penis?
When you win a Webby, they tell you why. But it’s a secret.
The male duck dick is quite the evolutionary feat. Did you know it helps facilitate rape on unsuspecting female ducks? Besides, aren’t award ceremonies all about who has the biggest dick anyway?
Whatever, guy. Just go vote for us.
Download Our Fashion Issue on the VICE iPad App
Did you know we’ve been releasing a free iPad edition of every VICE issue since 2012, packed full of special features, extras, and exclusives? If not, you need to crawl out from beneath that big ball sack you’ve been hiding under and immediately download all of the great content we’ve cooked up.
Earlier this month, we released our annual Fashion Issue, which was sex themed. The concept lead to us explore everything from the hairy butts of women to the nuns in latex. As per usual, the iPad edition of the issue is bursting with dope, new shit. Here is a rundown of all the goodies:
— VICE’s Creative Director Annette Lamothe-Ramos introduces the issue with a video, detailing how we acquired the incredible Robert Mapplethorpe portfolio and cover photo.
— Artist Ole Tillmann’s Wooly Wendy illustration for “In Defense of Hairy Women” gets an interactive update, allowing users to actually add hair to Wooly Wendy’s face.
— In our Duran Duran-themed fashion shoot, “The Chauffeur,” Annette serves up some behind-the-scenes audio commentary.
— Our “Gender Benders” fashion shoot features behind-the-scenes footage our model boys transitioning into sexy-ass bitches.
— Our “Sisters” photo shoot, which has a nunsploitation-theme, features more audio commentary from Annette.
— “Power,” our fashion shoot and feature on the evolution of black masculinity through fashion, boasts beautiful bonus images taken by Awol Erizku.
— “Some Cat from Japan,” our Q&A with famed designer Kansai Yamamoto, features audio commentary from Annette.
— Jocelyn Spaar’s lovely illustrations of panties for Sadie Stein’s essay, ”Ass Menagerie,” features interactive lingerie animation.
— We added the audio version of Rat Tail’s ”2 Butts 4 the Price of 1” to the mysterious artist’s long lost lyrics.
— Milt Abdjourian, the publisher of an imaginary porn and fashion-focused, adds satirical audio commentary to a selection of his vintage cover images.
(Source: Vice Magazine)
I Went Looking for Love at Tinder’s Launch Party
Tinder’s popularity rises with the increasing number of lonely people in the world. Largely capitalizing on the solitude of the city-dwelling 20-somethings who form the majority of the app’s users, it has reduced the human romantic experience down to its most basic level. Your iPhone flashes up a picture of a stranger’s face. Put your thumb on it and swipe left if you don’t want to have sex with them; swipe right if you do. If you’re the kind of puritanical moralist who has issues with that, then fuck you. When you’re little more than a faceless urban speck, wedged in that sticky interim period between formal education and a living wage, techno-dogging offers a welcome distraction.
However, I was still a little surprised when my friend forwarded me this invitation to an official Tinder “Launch Party” in London, England:
Why was this party occurring over a year after the app’s actual launch? Maybe the launch was going to serve as an inaugural huzzah for a sort of Tinder elite, a pool of the most right-swiped people in Britain. Maybe the people who run Tinder just want to renew the hype around it after a couple of months of the media talking it to death. Could it perhaps be an orgy? Obviously I had nothing better to do that evening, so I went down to take a look and find out what Tinder’s finest really thought of Jack, 24, Peckham.
A New App Lets You Bribe People for Dates
We live in a big cyber world filled to the brim with dating apps and websites. Anyone these days can try to find love with the click of a button, from farmers and ranchers to the obsessively gluten-free. So, what’s the hubbub with this new one called Carrot Dating, which surprisingly is not the name for either of the previous sites mentioned?
MIT graduate and evident ladies’ man Brandon Wade invented an app that bribes women into going on dates with men. (Although the site’s FAQ page states that the briber can be of any demographic or sexual orientation—that is, women are allowed to bribe the men, too—77 percent of the bribers are male.) You see, it’s called Carrot Dating in reference to the idiomatic “carrot and stick.” Back in the old days, a cart driver would dangle a carrot attached to a stick in front of a donkey which would trick the donkey into moving forward, thus moving his cart. To Brandon, women are those finicky donkeys who don’t want to follow an unattractive, self-obsessed cart driver unless he dangles a yummy carrot in front of them.
Tinder and Grindr Users See Some Crazy Shit
Too Good to Be True
It was November of last year, so it was at the very beginning of my Tinder experience, and I had found a guy who seemed incredible. Perhaps too good to be true. He was a pro golfer, born and raised in Switzerland, he came over to Canada and went to school on a full scholarship, and was just killing it running his own business. He was incredibly ambitious and really good-looking, and we hit it off right away.
We ended up meeting up on a Thursday night for some drinks and dinner. That Wednesday I had actually gotten into a pretty serious car accident. I’m fine but the car was totaled. I was really shook up that day but thought maybe the date would cheer me up.
While we were on our way to the restaurant I started explaining to him that I had been in a car accident, so he starts trying to relate to me with his car issues. He tells me he’s had 19 speeding tickets, he’s been arrested twice, and he pays over $900 a month in insurance. I knew right off the bat this was a red flag.
While we were out at a sushi restaurant he just suddenly looked up from his food and said, “You’re so pretty, you’re probably the prettiest Filipino I’ve ever met.” I actually spit out my drink, because I am the farthest thing from Filipino. I’m very white, and probably look more Italian or Jewish, but certainly not Filipino. I actually had to Google “Filipino” on my phone and show it to him so he could understand how wrong he was.
At this point I was just enjoying the entertainment value of the date, so I agreed to a drink after dinner, and we headed over to an Irish Pub downtown. While we were having a drink he started talking about religion, which is a subject I try to avoid on first dates whenever possible, but he brought it up, so I told him I was pretty much an atheist and don’t really practice anything. He said, “That’s interesting, I’m part of the Illuminati.” He goes on to tell me about how his grandfather has all the secrets of the world and all these conspiracy theories that he’s aware of.
It became pretty obvious at this point that this guy was a pathological liar and that most of his profile was made up. I doubt he’s a pro golfer or a small business owner or that he’s ever lived in Switzerland.
So I told him I was really tired and needed to go home, and he dropped me off back at my place. At the end of the date he went in for the kiss, and I went for a hug. I’ve never heard from him since.
More Tinder/Grindr nightmares
Are You “Quirky” and “Interesting”? This Bullshit Dating Website Could Be for You!
Last week I was forwarded a press release for a new dating website called LoveFlutter.com. Interestingly, it promises to screen out people who are “boring”:
“To coincide with our launch we’ve worked with Dr. Simon Moore of the British Psychological Society to create a 60-second test that scores how interesting a person is, out of 100. It’s called The Quirky-Interesting Test and we’re harnessing it to exclude any ‘unexciting’ types at sign-up. Potential members must pass the test in order to join LoveFlutter.”
Wow. An innovative new test backed by a real-life scientist who deems himself an authority on what is “quirky” and “interesting”? This sounded like exactly the kind of tonic my love life has long been in dire need of. Could science tell me whether I was interesting enough to be allowed to have sex with people?
Whenever a new social media platform becomes popular, the VICE Tumblr Team is frequently asked about our strategy for said platform. "How are you activating pix.fux?" "What are you doing on coolz-E?" Generally, our answer is “nothing,” because most social media sites are stupid and everyone forgets about them in like a month and it’s always easier (and often wiser) to just do nothing. But every once in a while one sticks and we’re obliged to create an account. And so, we’re proud to announce that we’ve finally decided upon our Snapchat strategy.
We’ve created an account, username: vicemag, and we want you to send us pictures. We will look at them, and if we like them we’ll take a screenshot. (Yes, we know that screenshotting Snapchats goes against the medium, but the VICE Tumblr Team hails from So-Cal, the DGAF capital of the world.) Then, assuming we’re sent cool photos, we’ll post a weekly round-up of our favorites on this here Tumblr. We won’t use your names. Also, we might send you some photos of our own. Cool?