TOPIC OF THE DAY – 2014

12.22 The New York Times: “In July 2002, C.I.A. lawyers told the Justice Department that the agency needed to use “more aggressive methods” of interrogation that would “otherwise be prohibited by the torture statute.” They asked the department to promise not to prosecute those who used these methods. When the department refused, they shopped around for the answer they wanted. They got it from the ideologically driven lawyers in the Office of Legal Counsel, who wrote memos fabricating a legal foundation for the methods. Government officials now rely on the memos as proof that they sought and received legal clearance for their actions. But the report changes the game: We now know that this reliance was not made in good faith. No amount of legal pretzel logic can justify the behavior detailed in the report. Indeed, it is impossible to read it and conclude that no one can be held accountable. At the very least, Mr. Obama needs to authorize a full and independent criminal investigation. The American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch are to give Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. a letter Monday calling for appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate what appears increasingly to be “a vast criminal conspiracy, under color of law, to commit torture and other serious crimes.” The question everyone will want answered, of course, is: Who should be held accountable? That will depend on what an investigation finds, and as hard as it is to imagine Mr. Obama having the political courage to order a new investigation, it is harder to imagine a criminal probe of the actions of a former president. But any credible investigation should include former Vice President Dick Cheney; Mr. Cheney’s chief of staff, David Addington; the former C.I.A. director George Tenet; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, the Office of Legal Counsel lawyers who drafted what became known as the torture memos.”
12.18 Madonna on Instragram, after demos of her album were leaked: “This is artistic rape!!These are early leaked demo’s half of which wont even make it on my album the other half have changed and evolved. This is a form of terrorism. WTF!!!! Why do people want to destroy artistic process??? Why Steal? Why not give me the opportunity to finish and give you my very best?”
12.17 Sony cancels release of `The Interview’
12.17 Obama normalizes relations with Cuba
12.13 Pope says “all God’s creatures” can be Paradise


20141201-pictures-madonna-interview-magazine-alas-piggott-spread-0312.8 Camille Paglia in the Sunday Times of London: “Reaction to Madonna’s languid nipple-baring photo shoot for Interview magazine has run the gamut from gaga to gagging. Is her grimly seductive portfolio “a triumph for all women” and a powerful “feminist statement” (The Daily Telegraph)? Or do her topless photographs “scream new levels of desperation” (the Irish Independent)? I’m afraid I must agree with the online commentator at Billboard magazine who tartly declared: “Those who find these ridiculous photos ‘hot’ are necrophiliac.” The muddy, slack-jawed cover image makes Madonna look as paralytically congealed and mummified as a Celtic bog body. What is shocking about these ugly photographs is not their tiny nudity but their mediocrity and monotony. Why is Madonna, a titanic pioneer of popular culture, tediously repeating formulas that she debuted a quarter-century ago and that have been exhausted by a host of imitators worldwide? She seems trapped by a past self and incapable of new ideas.”
Jean Beliveau12.3 Ken Dryden in the Toronto Star: “It was after he retired in 1971 that Jean became truly special. He became an ambassador for the Canadiens, but one like no other. He was proud of being a Montreal Canadien and proud of his sport. He was proud of being a Victoriavillois and a Montrealer, proud of being a Quebecker, proud of being a Canadian. He believed in all of them, and he represented all of them wherever he went. No place was too small or remote because no fan, no person was too unimportant.He was the great Jean Béliveau, tall, handsome, graceful and gracious, with his warm dignity and friendly smile, yet there he was. He treated everyone with such respect. He said the right things, and in the right way — in French and in English — because that is what he believed, and that’s how he was. He made every occasion better. He made everyone who attended feel that their town, their organization, their province, their country, their event, mattered. That they mattered. Appealing to their best selves, he reminded them of the best that was in them. It’s how he had been as a player. Unlike most other great stars, his presence didn’t diminish others. He made others better.”

12.1 Interviewed by writer Yael Grauer on a blog called No Idea, my friend David Hochman paid me a great compliment: “Hochman believes if writers spend some time reflecting on people who helped them along the way, they’ll be more conscious of the importance of guiding new freelancers. “Think about who’s helped you and how important that’s been. Think about how it felt to be mentored by someone or to have someone share something with you, go out on a limb, and take a chance on you. If you think about that and how it’s applied to you, it’s easy to start feeling more gracious about sharing with others.” Hochman pointed to Jamie Malanowski, a former editor at places like TIME, Esquire, andPlayboy, as someone who helped him along the freelance path: “He was just so willing to connect me with editors and take a chance and give me emails and introductions, and that really mattered.” Thanks, David!

11.24 Paul Krugman in the Times: “The counterintuitive realities of economic policy at the zero lower bound are likely to remain relevant for a long time to come, which makes it crucial that influential people understand those realities. Unfortunately, too many still don’t; one of the most striking aspects of economic debate in recent years has been the extent to which those whose economic doctrines have failed the reality test refuse to admit error, let alone learn from it. The intellectual leaders of the new majority in Congress still insist that we’re living in an Ayn Rand novel; German officials still insist that the problem is that debtors haven’t suffered enough. This bodes ill for the future. What people in power don’t know, or worse what they think they know but isn’t so, can very definitely hurt us.”
giants-v-dallas-cowboys11.23 In a 31-28 loss to the Cowboys, the Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. make the greatest catch ever.
11.23 Interviewed by Charles Heller on Liberty Watch radio in Tuscon AZ
11.20 David Rothkopf, on The Foxhole, said 9/11 “was something that required a response from the United States, a strong response, against the perpetrators. But you know, we fell into the terrorists’ trap. The terrorists’ trap is to actually [get us to] over-respond, to allow the terror to get the best of you, and to behave in a way that promotes their message, and undermines your message. We reordered our entire national security apparatus to make terrorism our principal concern; it should have been a concern. But is it more important than the rise of other powers? Is it more important than problems we’ve got at home? Is it more important than the threats posed from traditional powers, or the decline of our alliances, or the emergence of new threats from technology and so forth? It is certainly not. And we let it claim all the bandwidth – and all the budget – and it was extremely damaging to us.”
buffalo_snow_tb11.19 Seven feet of lake-effect snow falls on Buffalo.
11.16 Mohsin Hamid in the Times: “In the balance between our rights as consumers and as producers — as, go on, say it: laborers — the pendulum has swung too far one way. . . The America that boomed in the mid-20th century was a place where the state demanded that male citizens surrender years of their lives to national service, where the top income tax rate hovered between 70 and 94 percent, and where commercial banks were prohibited from investment banking. It was a veritable socialist paradise compared to the America of today. Maybe we can learn something from that America. No, not to go fight in Vietnam or celebrate Jim Crow or enforce sodomy laws or criminalize abortion. But to value producing as much as we do consuming. To do that, we’ll need to think of ourselves as workers again. And (sotto voce) unite. At least a little. And not just with other writers.”
11.18 Interviewed by Kara Snead on KTRS Radion, St. Louis
11.16 Daniel Mendelsohn in the Times: “On average, a Frenchman reads 25 percent more books per year than an American does. . . . Other statistics are equally striking. In 2008, for instance, 14 percent of books published in France were translations from other languages: a key indicator of a nation’s intellectual curiosity and awareness. In the United States, the figure scrapes along at 3 percent. Such realities reflect deep cultural values that can’t be Band-Aided over. Should we declare books “an essential good”? Sure, declare away. But saying so won’t make it so.”
Kim_cover_web_211.14 Jean-Paul Goode photographs Kim Kardashian for Paper.
11.14 Charlie Cook in The Atlantic: “In mid-summer 2009, polls universally showed that Americans wanted the president, along with the overwhelmingly Democratic Congress, to focus on the economy and job creation. Instead, Congress chose to focus almost exclusively and obsessively on healthcare reform. Although this was a worthy objective, the effort would likely have been better spent in a time when people weren’t so worried about their economic well-being. This horrific choice, to focus on the Affordable Care Act rather than the economy, besides costing Democrats their House majority—not to mention platoons of Democratic governors and state legislators who would have been handy in drawing the congressional redistricting maps the next year—created scar tissue that remains to this day. Americans resent the policy choices that Obama and congressional Democrats made early on.”
photo-1611.12 Lunch for Mary Norris at The Modern
11.10 Robert Reich: “Technically, the economy is growing. But almost all the gains from that growth are going to a small minority at the top. In fact, 100 percent of the gains have gone to the best-off 10 percent. Ninety-five percent have gone to the top 1 percent. The stock market has boomed. Corporate profits are through the roof. CEO pay, in the stratosphere. Yet most Americans feel like they’re still in a recession. And they’re convinced the game is rigged against them. Fifty years ago, just 29 percent of voters believed government is “run by a few big interests looking out for themselves.” Now, 79 percent think so.According to Pew, the percentage of Americans who believe most people who want to get ahead can do so through hard work has plummeted 14 points since 2000. What the President and other Democrats failed to communicate wasn’t their accomplishments. It was their understanding that the economy is failing most Americans and big money is overrunning our democracy. And they failed to convey their commitment to an economy and a democracy that serve the vast majority rather than a minority at the top.”
get-attachment11.9 If/Then with Cara
11.6 Frank Luntz in the Times: “If Americans could speak with one collective voice — all 310 million of them — this is what they said Tuesday night: “Washington doesn’t listen, Washington doesn’t lead and Washington doesn’t deliver.’”
11.6 Harold Meyerson in the Washington Post: “The same factors that lowered the turnout of the Democratic base also cost the party votes among whites: the failure of government to remedy, or even address, the downward mobility of most Americans. . . .Even though it was the Republicans who blocked Democrats’ efforts to raise the federal minimum wage or authorize job-generating infrastructure projects or diminish student debt, it was Democrats — the party generally perceived as controlling the government — who paid the price. But with the exception of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who has been plenty outspoken about diminishing the power of Wall Street, the Democrats have had precious little to say about how to re-create the kind of widely shared prosperity that emerged from the New Deal.”
11.5 President Obama: “I hear you.”
11.2 Ginia Bellinfante in the Times: “wWenever a beloved institution closes in New York, it is precisely this kind of person — someone old enough to have lived through more thrilling days and now well situated in Cobble Hill or Fort Greene and not easily moved from a Donghia sofa and Hulu account — who is often the quickest to lament the disappearance of this restaurant or that bar without having visited them in a decade. A cherished institution now closes in New York practically each week. . . . and yet the institutions are often cherished the most voluptuously by people who love them the least actively. . . .Developers are crass; urban planning has seemed virtually nonexistent; New York feels ever more like Singapore meets St. Louis. Who wants to live in a place where the bank-to-person ratio is veering toward one-to-one? As you’re complaining, it may be worth remembering that once, long ago, you used to be a lot more fun.”
10.31 David Brooks in the Times: “Engineers at a few gigantic companies will have vast-though-hidden power to shape how data are collected and framed, to harvest huge amounts of information, to build the frameworks through which the rest of us make decisions and to steer our choices. If you think this power will be used for entirely benign ends, then you have not read enough history. The second implication is philosophical. A.I. will redefine what it means to be human. Our identity as humans is shaped by what machines and other animals can’t do. For the last few centuries, reason was seen as the ultimate human faculty. But now machines are better at many of the tasks we associate with thinking — like playing chess, winning at Jeopardy, and doing math. On the other hand, machines cannot beat us at the things we do without conscious thinking: developing tastes and affections, mimicking each other and building emotional attachments, experiencing imaginative breakthroughs, forming moral sentiments. In the age of smart machines, we’re not human because we have big brains. We’re human because we have social skills, emotional capacities and moral intuitions. I could paint two divergent A.I. futures, one deeply humanistic, and one soullessly utilitarian. In the humanistic one, machines liberate us from mental drudgery so we can focus on higher and happier things. In this future, differences in innate I.Q. are less important. Everybody has Google on their phones so having a great memory or the ability to calculate with big numbers doesn’t help as much. In this future, there is increasing emphasis on personal and moral faculties: being likable, industrious, trustworthy and affectionate. People are evaluated more on these traits, which supplement machine thinking, and not the rote ones that duplicate it.In the cold, utilitarian future, on the other hand, people become less idiosyncratic. If the choice architecture behind many decisions is based on big data from vast crowds, everybody follows the prompts and chooses to be like each other. The machine prompts us to consume what is popular, the things that are easy and mentally undemanding.”
10.29 The San Francisco Giants defeat the Kansas City Royals 3-2, and take the World Series 4 games to 3. In 21 innings over three games, pitcher Madison Bumgarner yields one run, and earns two wins and a save.
10.27 Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe: “Today, the World Series is like ‘The Ed Sullivan Show,’ the Miss America pageant, Timex watches, and sitting in your favorite chair surrounded by a stack of daily newspapers. It’s like ‘Peanuts.’ It was once the biggest event in sports. Now it’s a relic of a simpler time before the Worldwide Leader and the World Wide Web. My fantasy baseball world of 1962 has been overthrown by the fantasy baseball (where you can win millions!) of 2014. In 2014, the World Series is your father’s Oldsmobile.”
10.27 Roger Cohen in the Times: “a shadow fell over the world: annexations, beheadings, pestilence, Syria, Gaza and the return of the Middle Eastern strongmen. Hope gave way to fever. When Canada is no longer reassuring, it’s all over. We are vulnerable and we are fearful. That is the new zeitgeist, at least in the West. Fanaticism feeds on frustration; and frustration is widespread because life for many is not getting better. People fret. Come to think of it, our conversation was not encrypted. How foolish, anybody could be listening in, vacuuming my friend’s dark imaginings into some data-storage depot in the American desert, to be sifted through by a bunch of spooks who could likely hack into his phone or drum up some charge of plotting against the West by having ideas about the propagation of Ebola. Even the healers are being humiliated and quarantined, punished for their generous humanity, while the humanoid big-data geeks got soda, steak and a condo in Nevada. There were cameras and listening devices everywhere. Just look up, look around. It was a mistake to say anything within range of your phone. Lots of people were vulnerable. Anyone could hack into the software in your car, or the drip at your hospital bed, and make a mess of you. What has happened? Why this shadow over the dinner table and such strange fears? It seems we have the remorse of Pandora. The empowering, all-opening, all-devouring technological spirit we have let slip from the box has turned into a monster, giving the killers-for-a-caliphate new powers to recruit, the dictators new means to repress, the spies new means to listen in, the fear mongers new means to spread alarm, the rich new means to get richer at the expense of the middle class, the marketers new means to numb, the tax evaders new means to evade, viruses new means to spread, devices new means to obsess, the rising powers new means to block the war-weary risen, and anxiety new means to inhabit the psyche. Hyper-connection equals isolation after all. What a strange trick, almost funny. The crisis, Antonio Gramsci noted in the long-ago 20th century, “consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born.” Many people I talk to, and not only over dinner, have never previously felt so uneasy about the state of the world. There is something in the air, fin-de-siècle Vienna with Twitter.”
10.27 Paul Krugman in the Times: “America used to be a country that built for the future. Sometimes the government built directly: Public projects, from the Erie Canal to the Interstate Highway System, provided the backbone for economic growth. Sometimes it provided incentives to the private sector, like land grants to spur railroad construction. Either way, there was broad support for spending that would make us richer. But nowadays we simply won’t invest, even when the need is obvious and the timing couldn’t be better. And don’t tell me that the problem is “political dysfunction” or some other weasel phrase that diffuses the blame. Our inability to invest doesn’t reflect something wrong with “Washington”; it reflects the destructive ideology that has taken over the Republican Party.”
10.26 Lexington Herald Leader, in endorsing Alison Lundergan Grimes: “Mitch McConnell does have power. He commands a perpetual-motion money machine; dollars flow in, favors flow out. The problem is how McConnell uses his power. He has repeatedly hurt the country to advance his political strategy.McConnell has sabotaged jobs and transportation bills, even as Kentucky’s unemployment exceeds the nation’s and an Interstate 75 bridge crumbles over the Ohio River. He blocked tax credits for companies that move jobs back to this country while preserving breaks for those that move jobs overseas. He opposed extending unemployment benefits, while bemoaning the “jobless” recovery. He brags about resolving crises that he helped create. The Senate may never recover from the bitter paralysis McConnell has inflicted through record filibusters that allow his minority to rule by obstruction.” Yeah, boy!
10.22 Due to an oddity in record-keeping procedures, the New York City Board of Elections lists 850 registered voters who are said to be 164 years old. The error dates from a time when voters who could not precisely state their birth dates were as a convention assigned the birth date January 1, 1850. That convention is no longer observed.
10.21 Chris Christie, in a speech before the US Chamber of Commerce: “I gotta tell you the truth: I’m tired of hearing about the minimum wage. I really am. I don’t think there’s a mother or father sitting around a kitchen table in America tonight who are saying, ‘You know, honey, if our son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God, all of our dreams would be realized.’”
10.17 Federal Reserve Board Chairman Janet Yellin: ““The past several decades have seen the most sustained rise in inequality since the 19th century after more than 40 years of narrowing inequality following the Great Depression. By some estimates, income and wealth inequality are near their highest levels in the past hundred years, much higher than the average during that time span and probably higher than for much of American history before then.I think it is appropriate to ask whether this trend is compatible with values rooted in our nation’s history, among them the high value Americans have traditionally placed on equality of opportunity.”
10.13 Ann Romney, to the Los Angeles Times, on the possibility of her husband running for president again: “Done. Completely. Not only Mitt and I are done, but the kids are done. Done. Done. Done.”
10.18 Dinner with Paul and Anne Lindstrom at MP Taverna in Irvington.
comics_50010.8 Paul Lindstrom and I see Drew Friedman introduce his new book The Men Who Made the Comics at The Society of Illustrators in Manhattan.
9.29 Paul Krugman in the Times: “[T]he truly rich are so removed from ordinary people’s lives that we never see what they have. We may notice, and feel aggrieved about, college kids driving luxury cars; but we don’t see private equity managers commuting by helicopter to their immense mansions in the Hamptons. The commanding heights of our economy are invisible because they’re lost in the clouds. . . .According to [Forbes], in 2013 the top 25 hedge fund managers took home, on average, almost a billion dollars each. Does the invisibility of the very rich matter? Politically, it matters a lot. Pundits sometimes wonder why American voters don’t care more about inequality; part of the answer is that they don’t realize how extreme it is. . . .Today’s political balance rests on a foundation of ignorance, in which the public has no idea what our society is really like.”
499d5723a288d0e669ec7b977eec1ccc_crop_north9.27 Derek Jeter quoted in the Times: “I know there’s a lot of people that have much more talent than I do throughout the course of my career, not just now. And I can honestly say I don’t think anyone played harder. I don’t. Maybe just as hard, but I don’t think anyone had more of an effort. Every single day I went out there and tried to have respect for the game and play it as hard as I possibly could. And I did it here in New York, which I think is much more difficult to do. And I’m happy for that.”
New York Yankees vs Baltimore Orioles9.25 In storybook fashion, Derek Jeter closes the emotional final home game of his final season with a dramatic game-winning hit in the bottom of the 9th inning.
9.25 Ezekiel Emanuel in The Atlantic on why he wants to die at 75: “But 75 defines a clear point in time: for me, 2032. It removes the fuzziness of trying to live as long as possible. Its specificity forces us to think about the end of our lives and engage with the deepest existential questions and ponder what we want to leave our children and grandchildren, our community, our fellow Americans, the world. The deadline also forces each of us to ask whether our consumption is worth our contribution. As most of us learned in college during late-night bull sessions, these questions foster deep anxiety and discomfort. The specificity of 75 means we can no longer just continue to ignore them and maintain our easy, socially acceptable agnosticism. For me, 18 more years with which to wade through these questions is preferable to years of trying to hang on to every additional day and forget the psychic pain they bring up, while enduring the physical pain of an elongated dying process. Seventy-five years is all I want to live. I want to celebrate my life while I am still in my prime. My daughters and dear friends will continue to try to convince me that I am wrong and can live a valuable life much longer. And I retain the right to change my mind and offer a vigorous and reasoned defense of living as long as possible. That, after all, would mean still being creative after 75.’
9.25 Tom Verducci in Sports Illustrated: “I go back to the night of Oct. 26, 2000, the apex. It wasn’t just the home run, or that he had just become the first man to be named the MVP of the All-Star Game and the World Series in the same year. I walked out of the park with Jeter that night, exiting by way of the warning track in leftfield and out a gate in centerfield. Dressed in a slick, quick­silver suit with a silk white T-shirt beneath, he walked past New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was playing catch in the Yankees’ bullpen, and Placido Domingo, who was in leftfield giddily shouting to Jeter that he had called his home run, and headed to a car to meet his date, Miss Universe, for a party at a Manhattan nightclub that would run until 5 a.m. in which people paid $12,000 to reserve a table in the inner sanctum near Jeter. He was 26 years old and already a four-time world champion. It was as dizzying as a Fellini movie, only real. Yet Jeter somehow stayed on balance. How could he do it?”
9.20 Margaret Schmidt on Facebook: “Hoping I’m getting a raise at work because apparently now I’m expected to be a mind reader on top of being everyone’s bitch.”


9.19 Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post: “It is not hard to imagine the sequence: more trainers, more weapons, more support staff, more combat-like roles, more troops to execute missions beyond the capacity of our less-than-impressive proxies. We’ve seen it before I cannot avoid concluding that the logic of Obama’s strategy points toward escalation. If that’s not true, I wish he would explain why.”
9.18 Scotland decisively turns away a bid for secession from Britain, with the “no” campaign winning 55.3 percent of the vote.
9.15 Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals: “Derek Jeter is not just the captain of the Yankees, but the captain of baseball.”
9.15 Great question from last night’s Boardwalk Empire: “Why must there always be pandemonium?”
9.14 Thomas Friedman in The New York Times: “Obama is right that ISIS needs to be degraded and destroyed. But when you act out of fear, you don’t think strategically and you glide over essential questions, like why is it that Shiite Iran, which helped trigger this whole Sunni rebellion in Iraq, is scoffing at even coordinating with us, and Turkey and some Arab states are setting limits on their involvement? When I read that, I think that Nader Mousavizadeh, who co-leads the global consulting firm Macro Advisory Partners, is correct when he says: “When it comes to intervening in the Arab world’s existential struggle, we have to stop and ask ourselves why we have such a challenge getting them to help us save them.” So before we get in any deeper, let’s ask some radical questions, starting with: What if we did nothing? George Friedman , the chairman of Stratfor, raised this idea in his recent essay on Stratfor.com, “The Virtue of Subtlety.” He notes that the ISIS uprising was the inevitable Sunni backlash to being brutally stripped of power and resources by the pro-Iranian Shiite governments and militias in Baghdad and Syria. But then he asks: `Is ISIS “really a problem for the United States? The American interest is not stability but the existence of a dynamic balance of power in which all players are effectively paralyzed so that no one who would threaten the United States emerges. … But the principle of balance of power does not mean that balance must be maintained directly. Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia have far more at stake in this than the United States. So long as they believe that the United States will attempt to control the situation, it is perfectly rational for them to back off and watch, or act in the margins, or even hinder the Americans. The United States must turn this from a balance of power between Syria and Iraq to a balance of power among this trio of regional powers. They have far more at stake and, absent the United States, they have no choice but to involve themselves. They cannot stand by and watch a chaos that could spread to them.’ Therefore, he concludes, the best U.S. strategy rests in us “doing as little as possible and forcing regional powers into the fray, then in maintaining the balance of power in this coalition.”
9.14 An impassioned Chris Carter on ESPN on child abuse: `This goes across all racial lines, ethnicities, religious backgrounds. People in disciplining their children. People with any sort of Christian background, they really believe in discipling their children. My mom did the best job she could do raising seven kids by herself. But there are thousands of things that I have learned since then that my mom was wrong. This is the 21st century. My mom was wrong. She did the best she could, but she was wrong about some of that stuff she taught me. And I promised my kids that I won’t teach that mess to them. You can’t beat a kid to make him do what you want to do. The only thing I’m proud about is the team I played for [the Minnesota Vikings], they did the right thing [regarding Adrian Peterson]. Take them off the field. We’re in a climate right now, I don’t care what it is. Take them off the dang-gone field. Because you know what? As a man, that’s the only thing we really respect. We don’t respect no women. We don’t respect no kids. The only thing Roger [Goodell] and them can do, take them off the field because they respect that.”
9.10 President Obama: ““I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country wherever they are,” Obama said during the 15-minute address from the White House. “That means I will not hesitate to take action against [ISIS] in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”
9.8 New video of Ray Rice punching fiance emerges, creates uproar
jeter1n-1-web9.8 Roger Angell in The New Yorker: “ I’ll settle for one more inside-out line-drive double to deep right —the Derek Jeter Blue Plate that’s been missing of late. It still astounds me—Derek’s brilliance as a hitter has always felt fresh and surprising, for some reason—and here it comes one more time. The pitch is low and inside, and Derek, pulling back his upper body and tucking in his chin as if avoiding an arriving No. 4 train, now jerks his left elbow and shoulder sharply upward while slashing powerfully down at and through the ball, with his hands almost grazing his belt. His right knee drops and twists, and the swing, opening now, carries his body into a golf-like lift and turn that sweetly frees him while he watches the diminishing dot of the ball headed toward the right corner. What! You can’t hit like that—nobody can! Do it again, Derek.It’s sobering to think that in just a few weeks Derek Jeter won’t be doing any of this anymore, and will be reduced to picturing himself in action, just the way the rest of us do. On the other hand, he’s never complained, and he’s been so good at baseball that he’ll probably be really good at this part of it too.” Illustration by Mark Ulriksen.
9.6 Cousins party at the home of Marge and Bob Centofanti in Sykesville. Fun!
9.4 Joan Rivers dies at 81.
140811_r25325-3208.13 The brilliant Barry Blitt strikes again, in The New Yorker
8.12 Lauren Bacall dies at 89.
8.11 Robin Williams dies at 63.
8.1 The New York Post reports that according to NASA, two years ago, on July 23, 2012, Earth had a near miss with a solar flare, or coronal mass ejection (CME), that would have ended life on earth as we know it. “If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,” says Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado. Says the article, “We managed to just avoid the event through lucky timing as the sun’s aim narrowly turned away from Earth. Had it occurred a week earlier, when it was pointing at us, the result could have been frighteningly different. . . .It’s believed a direct CME hit would have the potential to wipe out communication networks, GPS and electrical grids to cause widespread blackout. . . . It would be chaos and disaster on an epic scale. “According to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, the total economic impact could exceed $2 trillion or 20 times greater than the costs of a Hurricane Katrina. Multi-ton transformers damaged by such a storm might take years to repair.”. . . Physicist Pete Riley, who published a paper titled “On the probability of occurrence of extreme space weather events,” has calculated the odds of a solar storm strong enough to disrupt our lives in the next 10 years is 12 percent.
7.18 Sen. John Cornyn, quoted in the Times: “We can’t elect another Republican president in 2016 who gets 27 percent of the Hispanic vote,” said Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, referring to the percentage Mitt Romney won in 2012.” Noting the demographic shifts in his own state — where he observed, “It’s not just people that look like me” — Mr. Cornyn added: “This is a challenge for the country, and we need to solve it. And we have a political imperative as Republicans to deal with this or else we will find ourselves in a permanent minority status.”
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7.7 Eddie Izzard in Newsweek: “There are three rules to fascism: “Make shit up, scream it loudly, then kill people. . . . Why have you never heard of an extremist having wisdom? No one in the Nazi Party could ever say, “Ah, now that was a wise Nazi.” There’s no such thing. No Tea Party member can be wise. The extremist {National} Front party in France—they don’t have wisdom. None of them do.”
7.6 Walter Isaacson: “There’s a striking disconnect between the optimism and swagger of people in the innovative economy — from craft-beer makers to educational reformers to the Uber creators — and the impotence and shrunken stature of our governing institutions.”
7.8 Nathaniel Philbrick: “They weren’t better than us {during the Revolution}; they were trying to figure things out and justify their behavior, kind of like we are now. From the beginning to the end, the Revolution was a messy work in progress. The people we hold up as paragons did not always act nobly but would then later be portrayed as always acting nobly. It reminds you of the dysfunction we’re in the middle of now.The more we can realize that we’re all making it up as we go along and somehow muddling through making ugly mistakes, the better. We’re not destined for greatness. We have to earn that greatness. What George Washington did right was to realize how much of what he thought was right was wrong.”
7.6 Frank Luntz: “The Fourth of July was always a celebration of American exceptionalism. Now it’s a commiseration of American disappointment.”

6.29 The Economist: “It’s not every day that an old-school magazine makes a splash by interviewing an ageing character actor. But Playboy seemed to know exactly what it had on its hands when Gary Oldman unleashed a sweeping, unguarded commentary on everything from marriage and sobriety to Mel Gibson and, er, the Jews. It takes a special kind of skill at interviewing to guide a celebrity on a publicity tour toward statements like “we’re up shit creek without a paddle or a compass”—and then to nudge him into detailing exactly why, and how, and who is to blame.” The man with that special skill is my friend David Hochman. 6.24 Eli Wallach dies at 98 dylan-blog480-v26.24 Rollingstone.com: “A draft of Bob Dylan‘s lyrics for his groundbreaking 1965 song “Like a Rolling Stone” sold for $2.045 million at auction Tuesday afternoon. The lyrics were sold to an unidentified bidder at auction house Sotheby’s, who called the sale a world record for a popular music manuscript, according to Associated Press. Written in pencil on four sheets of hotel stationary, Sotheby’s described the item as “the only known surviving draft of the final lyrics for this transformative rock anthem.” Still, the sheets do feature some lyrics that didn’t make the final cut, including the phrase, “…dry vermouth/You’ll tell the truth” and an abandoned line about Al Capone. The lyrics also show Dylan’s various attempts to build a rhyme off of the “How does it feel” line with phrases like, “it feels real,” “does it feel real,” “get down and kneel,” “raw deal” and “shut up and deal.” The draft — written at the Roger Smith Hotel in Washington D.C. — also boasts some of Dylan’s stray thoughts and doodles. . . Two pages of Dylan’s handwritten lyrics for “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” also sold at the same auction for $485,000.” get-attachment
6.24 Defending my draft at Henry’s
6.22 Sen. Rand Paul, responding to The criticism leveled by ex-VP Dick Cheney et all at President Obama for his handling of Iraq: “The same questions could be asked of those who supported the Iraq War. Were they right in their predictions? Were there weapons of mass destruction there? That’s what the war was sold on. Was democracy easily achievable? Was the war won in 2005, when many of these people said it was won? They didn’t really, I think, understand the civil war that would break out. And what’s going on now — I don’t blame on President Obama. Has he really got the solution? Maybe there is no solution. But I do blame the Iraq War on the chaos that is in the Middle East. I also blame those who are for the Iraq War for emboldening Iran. These are the same people now who are petrified of what Iran may become, and I understand some of their worry.”
6.20 Yankee game with Shawn Kelly. 6.18 Former Labor MP David Miliband appears on Morning Joe, and speaks with amazing clarity and pith. “The problem is not just that the United States is war weary, it’s that it is world-weary.” and “You’ve learned the lessons of the limits of hard power in the decade after 9/11, and now you’re ;earning the limits of the absence of a credible threat of hard power.” 6.17 Ruth Marcus in The Washington Post: “Two instincts — one predictable, the other surprising — help explain the arc of Barack Obama’s presidency. The predictable instinct is Obama’s tendency to overlearn the lessons of history. The second, more surprising but related to the first, is Obama’s frequent audacity deficit. Every capable leader learns from history. But key moments of the Obama presidency demonstrate that he has erred in precisely the opposite direction, by being overly reluctant to repeat the mistakes of his predecessors. On the domestic front, the signal episode in this regard involves his hands-off shepherding of the health-care debate through Congress. The (correct) lesson of the Clinton administration was that foisting a top-down behemoth on a balky Congress was a recipe for legislative disaster. But Obama was so determined not to replay the mistakes of Hillary Clinton et al. that he overcompensated by being unduly aloof.. . .On foreign policy, the signal episode of Obama’s overlearning the lessons of history is … pretty much the entirety of his foreign policy. It has been a reaction, understandable enough, to the adventurism of George W. Bush, primarily the ill-advised, ill-fated venture in Iraq. Bush promised humility yet overreached; Obama vowed realism and yet underplayed the United States’ essential hand in world affairs. Hence the administration’s reluctance to intervene in Libya, the costly dillydallying over whether and how to help the rebels in Syria, the failure to push hard enough for a status of forces agreement that would have allowed U.S. troops to remain in Iraq. The administration’s instinct to retreat and ignore festering problems has helped contribute to the cataclysmic result now playing out in Iraq. Yes, the original, far graver, sin was the decision to invade. The responsibility of the incumbent president is to deal with the mistakes he inherits.” 6.17 Chris Matthews on Hardball: “So much of Richard Nixon as we know is the result of his life in politics.” 6.16 US beats Ghana 2-1 in Copa Mondial.
6.15 San Antonio Spurs beat the Miami Heat, four games to one, with impressive dominance. get-attachment6.15 Celebrating birthday/Father’s Day with Ginny and Molly at the Nyack Pour House.
6.13 The Los Angeles Kings beat the New York Rangers, four games to one, in an astonishingly close series; three of the games went into OT; in two of those OT games, Ranger shots hit the post.
6.13 Chuck Noll dies at 82. 6.6 George Will in The Washington Post: “Colleges and universities are being educated by Washington and are finding the experience excruciating. They are learning that when they say campus victimizations are ubiquitous (“micro-aggressions,” often not discernible to the untutored eye, are everywhere), and that when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate. And academia’s progressivism has rendered it intellectually defenseless now that progressivism’s achievement, the regulatory state, has decided it is academia’s turn to be broken to government’s saddle.” 6.3 Child psychologist Adam Phillips, in an interview in The Paris Review,says that in order to pursue their intellectual adventures, children need a secure social base: “There’s something deeply important about the early experience of being in the presence of somebody without being impinged upon by their demands, and without them needing you to make a demand on them. And that this creates a space internally into which one can be absorbed. In order to be absorbed one has to feel sufficiently safe, as though there is some shield, or somebody guarding you against dangers such that you can ‘forget yourself’ and absorb yourself, in a book, say.” Second, before they can throw themselves into their obsessions, children are propelled by desires so powerful that they can be frightening. “One of the things that is interesting about children is how much appetite they have,” Phillips observes. “How much appetite they have — but also how conflicted they can be about their appetites. Anybody who’s got young children … will remember that children are incredibly picky about their food. …“One of the things it means is there’s something very frightening about one’s appetite. So that one is trying to contain a voraciousness in a very specific, limited, narrowed way. … .An appetite is fearful because it connects you with the world in very unpredictable ways. … Everybody is dealing with how much of their own alivenesss they can bear and how much they need to anesthetize themselves.” Third, children are not burdened by excessive self-consciousness: “As young children, we listen to adults talking before we understand what they’re saying. And that’s, after all, where we start — we start in a position of not getting it.” Children are used to living an emotional richness that can’t be captured in words. They don’t worry about trying to organize their lives into neat little narratives. Their experience of life is more direct because they spend less time on interfering thoughts about themselves.” sin-city-a-dame-to-kill-for-poster 5.30 Eva Green in Sin City 2. 5.30 CBS reports “Species of plants and animals are becoming extinct at least 1,000 times faster than they did before humans arrived on the scene, and the world is on the brink of a sixth great extinction, a new study says. The study looks at past and present rates of extinction and finds a lower rate in the past than scientists had thought. Species are now disappearing from Earth about 10 times faster than biologists had believed, said study lead author noted biologist Stuart Pimm of Duke University. “We are on the verge of the sixth extinction,” Pimm said. “Whether we avoid it or not will depend on our actions.” The work, published Thursday by the journal Science, was hailed as a landmark study by outside experts. Pimm’s study focused on the rate, not the number, of species disappearing from Earth. It calculated a “death rate” of how many species become extinct each year out of 1 million species. In 1995, Pimm found that the pre-human rate of extinctions on Earth was about 1. But taking into account new research, Pimm and his colleagues refined that background rate to about 0.1. Now, that death rate is about 100 to 1,000, Pimm said 5.29 Rangers eliminate Canadiens, move into finals. 5.29 Maya Angelou dies. Sometimes she seems very wise, sometimes very trite. I guess we all do. “I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.” I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 100_01735.20 Vicki died. We had to put her down. Her chronic conditions had become too much; we took her in before she had been robbed of every last shred of dignity. But how bitter it is, how painful, to have had a hand in her death. “We said goodbye to our beloved Vicki today. In her 17th year, the chronic conditions of old age finally claimed her. A scourge to squirrels and large trucks, a connoisseur of pizza crusts and cereal milk, a boon companion, Vicki was one of those rare creatures whose pleasure, need and mission were all the same thing: her family. We will miss her always.” 5.24 Dinner with Greg and Susan at Ramiro’s. 5.17 Ginny and I saw Steve Tyrell at the Carlyle. Ritzy! 5.14 Mr. Karpovich dies. 5.14 Jill Abrahamson fired as executive editor of The New York Times. Sudden, sloppy execution-style ouster un-Times-like. They said she had a harsh management style. At a papaer once famous for its harsh managers, this raises more questions than it answers. One wonders if it was justified. 5.13 Rangers upset Penguins, overcoming a three games to one deficit and virtually eliminating Sidney Crosby as a factor 0michael-sam-kiss-1938_bff83dcaf7f2f56f508fad4dbe8c245d5.10 Michael Sam is drafted by the St. Louis Rams. Peter King on si.com: “Snead telling him he’d been drafted with the 249th pick. “Man, was he emotional,” [Rams GM Les] Snead said Sunday morning. “I could feel it over the phone.” Snead handed the phone to coach Jeff Fisher, with Sam tearing up and slowly, slowly, slow folding over and weeping, his male partner there to comfort him. On national TV. It’s a scene we haven’t seen in American TV history (and certainly not in American sports history), thankfully running unedited and uninterrupted by ESPN. And then Sam kissed the man. The world is changing, and the Rams and Sam and the NFL and ESPN made a seminal moment of it Saturday. If you think that moment of Sam bending over and audibly weeping isn’t going to be replayed scores of times for sporting and societal reasons, you’re wrong. Way wrong. “I could feel the pivot in history at that moment, with that phone call,” Snead said.” 5.9 Bill Maher on HBO: “So let me get this straight. We should concede that there’s no such thing anymore as a private conversation, so therefore remember to ‘lawyer’ everything you say before you say it, and hey, speaking your mind was overrated anyway so you won’t miss it. Well, I’ll miss it, I’ll miss it a lot. When President Obama was asked about the Donald Sterling episode, he said, ‘When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, just let them talk.’ But Sterling didn’t advertise. He was bugged. And while he may not be worth defending, the 4th Amendment is.” 5.5 V. Stiviano speaks to Barbara Walters, who asks about her relationship with Donald Sterling: “I’m his right-hand arm man. I’m his best friend, his confidant, his silly rabbit.” 4.30 BOB HOSKINS DIES AT 71. 4.24 Stone Cold Steve Austin: “I believe that any human being in America, or any human being in the goddamn world, that wants to be married, and if it’s same-sex, more power to ‘em. Which one of these motherfuckers talked to God, and God said that same-sex marriage was a no-can-do?” Later: “Okay, so two cats can’t get married if they want to get married, but then a guy can go murder fourteen people, molest five kids, then go to fucking prison, and accept God and He’s going to let him into heaven? After the fact that he did all that shit? See that’s all horseshit to me, that don’t jive with me.” 4.20 Ruben “Hurricane” Carter dies at 76. “If I find a heaven after this life, I’ll be quite surprised. In my own years on this planet, though, I lived in hell for the first 49 years, and have been in heaven for the past 28 years. To live in a world where truth matters and justice, however late, really happens, that world would be heaven enough for us all.’’ 4.13 Season 7 of Mad Men begins tonight. Milton Glaser designed the poster. mad-men 4.7 Kentucky never really gets going, falls to Connecticut after a exciting March Madness run. get-attachment4.6 In Woodstock. 4.5 Kentucky beats Wisconsin in thrilling semi-final game. 4.5 Spring is in the air.get-attachment 4.4 In an interview with Stan Lee in Playboy, David Hochman notes that during WW II, Lee “wrote military pamphlets in an elite group that included Frank Capra, William Saroyan and Theodor Geisel.” Lee’s standout memory: “That Dr. Seuss was slow.” 3.25 Biographer Robert Caro, quoted in The New York Times: “Sometimes I feel as if I’m working in a field that’s disappearing right under my feet.” 3.23 Mark Cuban, quoted on si.com: “I think the NFL is 10 years away from an implosion. I’m just telling you, pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. And they’re getting hoggy. Just watch. Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. When you try to take it too far, people turn the other way. I’m just telling you, when you’ve got a good thing and you get greedy, it always, always, always, always, always turns on you. That’s rule number one of business.” 3.17 James Kwak in The Baseline Scenario: “Last week Peter Eavis of DealBook highlighted a statement made last year by New York Fed President William Dudley (formerly of Goldman Sachs, then a top lieutenant to Tim Geithner): “There is evidence of deep-seated cultural and ethical failures at many large financial institutions.” There was a point, say in 2008, when many people probably thought that our largest banks were just guilty of shoddy risk management, dubious sales practices, and excessive risk-taking. Since then, we’ve had to add price fixing, money laundering, bribery, and systematic fraud on the judicial system, among other things. Eavis also tried to make something positive out of a couple of other recent comments. Dudley said, “I think that trust issue is of their own doing—they have done it to themselves,” while OCC head Thomas Curry said, “It is not going to work if we approach it from a lawyerly standpoint. It is more like a priest-penitent relationship.” I don’t see much reason for optimism. First, framing the problem as a “trust issue”—customers no longer see banks as trustworthy institutions—is beside the point. Wall Street’s main defense is that its clients already realize that investment banks do not have their buy-side clients’ best interests at heart, and clients who don’t realize that are chumps. And in the wake of the financial crisis, I suspect there are few individuals out there who believe that their banks are there to help them. The banking industry has discovered that it can thrive without trust, which is not surprising; retail depositors trust the FDIC, and bond investors know that trust isn’t part of the equation. Second, when an entire industry shows a deep proclivity to flaunt the law, it’s distressing that one of its top regulators sees himself more as a priest than as a lawyer. With a priest, the presumption is that the congregant actually wants to be saved, and therefore will listen to the priest. Wall Street banks just care about profits, which is only natural. Once they’ve learned that they can be profitable without being ethical, there’s no turning back. The only way to change the equation is to make lawbreaking unprofitable, which means serious penalties, both civil and criminal.” 3.16 Jeremy Rifkin in the Times: “WE are beginning to witness a paradox at the heart of capitalism, one that has propelled it to greatness but is now threatening its future: The inherent dynamism of competitive markets is bringing costs so far down that many goods and services are becoming nearly free, abundant, and no longer subject to market forces. While economists have always welcomed a reduction in marginal cost, they never anticipated the possibility of a technological revolution that might bring those costs to near zero. . . .The huge reduction in marginal cost shook those industries and is now beginning to reshape energy, manufacturing and education. Although the fixed costs of solar and wind technology are somewhat pricey, the cost of capturing each unit of energy beyond that is low. This phenomenon has even penetrated the manufacturing sector. Thousands of hobbyists are already making their own products using 3-D printers, open-source software and recycled plastic as feedstock, at near zero marginal cost. Meanwhile, more than six million students are enrolled in free massive open online courses, the content of which is distributed at near zero marginal cost. Industry watchers acknowledge the creeping reality of a zero-marginal-cost economy, but argue that free products and services will entice a sufficient number of consumers to purchase higher-end goods and specialized services, ensuring large enough profit margins to allow the capitalist market to continue to grow. But the number of people willing to pay for additional premium goods and services is limited. Now the phenomenon is about to affect the whole economy. A formidable new technology infrastructure — the Internet of Things — is emerging with the potential to push much of economic life to near zero marginal cost over the course of the next two decades. This new technology platform is beginning to connect everything and everyone. Today more than 11 billion sensors are attached to natural resources, production lines, the electricity grid, logistics networks and recycling flows, and implanted in homes, offices, stores and vehicles, feeding big data into the Internet of Things. By 2020, it is projected that at least 50 billion sensors will connect to it. . . .Cisco forecasts that by 2022, the private sector productivity gains wrought by the Internet of Things will exceed $14 trillion. A General Electric study estimates that productivity advances from the Internet of Things could affect half the global economy by 2025.THE unresolved question is, how will this economy of the future function when millions of people can make and share goods and services nearly free?”


3.16 Ross Douthat in the Times: “The millennials’ skepticism of parties, programs and people runs deeper than their allegiance to a particular ideology. Their left-wing commitments are ardent on a few issues but blur into libertarianism and indifferentism on others. The common denominator is individualism, not left-wing politics: it explains both the personal optimism and the social mistrust, the passion about causes like gay marriage and the declining interest in collective-action crusades like environmentalism, even the fact that religious affiliation has declined but personal belief is still widespread. So the really interesting question about the millennials isn’t whether they’ll all be voting Democratic when Chelsea Clinton runs for president. It’s whether this level of individualism — postpatriotic, postfamilial, disaffiliated — is actually sustainable across the life cycle, and whether it can become a culture’s dominant way of life.
3.10 Charles Pierce in Esquire.com on Sarah Palin‘s speech at CPAC: “She is the living representation of the infantilization of American politics, a poisonous Grimm Sister telling toxic fairy tales to audiences drunk on fear, and hate and nonsense. She respects no standards but her own. She is in perpetual tantrum, railing against her betters, which is practically everyone, and volunteering for the job of avatar to the country’s reckless vandal of a political Id. It was the address of a malignant child delivered to an audience of malignant children. If you applauded, you’re an idiot and I feel sorry for you.”
3.8 Gail Collins in the Times: “The war on abortion is often grounded in a simple aversion to sex that does not lead to procreation. If that wasn’t the case, Texas would be making a major-league effort to end its standing as one of the nation’s teen pregnancy capitals by giving kids the best and most effective sex education programs in the country. That isn’t happening. “By and large, it’s not getting better,” said Susan Tortolero of the University of Texas, an expert in sex education. (This gives me an opportunity to recall one lesson that required the teacher to demonstrate the alleged inability of condoms to protect against sexually transmitted diseases by constructing an 18-foot-long model of “Speedy the Sperm” and dragging it around the classroom.)Maybe someday we can all come together and create a public space where kids are raised to make responsible decisions about their sex lives. Where every woman has access to help with family planning, even if they’re poor and live in remote rural areas. Where early abortions are available when they’re needed but abortions after the first trimester are extremely rare. After all, if you poke the public, you’ll find that’s where the majority’s preference already dwells.”
3.8 Ben Judah in the Times: “Britain, open for business, no longer has a “mission.” Any moralizing remnant of the British Empire is gone; it has turned back to the pirate England of Sir Walter Raleigh. Britain’s ruling class has decayed to the point where its first priority is protecting its cut of Russian money — even as Russian armored personnel carriers rumble around the streets of Sevastopol. But the establishment understands that, in the 21st century, what matters are banks, not tanks. The Russians also understand this. They know that London is a center of Russian corruption, that their loot plunges into Britain’s empire of tax havens — from Gibraltar to Jersey, from the Cayman Islands to the British Virgin Islands — on which the sun never sets.British residency is up for sale. “Investor visas” can be purchased, starting at £1 million ($1.6 million). London lawyers in the Commercial Court now get 60 percent of their work from Russian and Eastern European clients. More than 50 Russia-based companies swell the trade at London’s Stock Exchange. The planning regulations have been scrapped, and along the Thames, up go spires of steel and glass for the hedge-funding class. Britain’s bright young things now become consultants, art dealers, private banker and hedge funders. Or, to put it another way, the oligarchs’ valets. Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, gets it: you pay them, you own them. Mr. Putin was absolutely certain that Britain’s managers — shuttling through the revolving door between cabinet posts and financial boards — would never give up their fees and commissions from the oligarchs’ billions. He was right. In the austerity years of zero growth that followed the 2008 financial crash, this new source of vast wealth could not be resisted. Tony Blair is the latter-day embodiment of pirate Britain’s Sir Walter Raleigh. The former prime minister now advises the Kazakh ruler Nursultan Nazarbayev on his image in the West. Mr. Blair is handsomely paid to tutor his patron on how to be evasive about the crackdowns and the mine shootings that are facts of life in Kazakhstan. This is Britain’s growth business today: laundering oligarchs’ dirty billions, laundering their dirty reputations. It could be otherwise. Banking sanctions could turn off the financial pipelines through which corrupt officials channel Russian money. Visa restrictions could cut Kremlin ministers off from their mansions. The tax havens that rob the national budget of billions could be forced to be accountable. Britain has the power to bankrupt the Putin clique. But London has changed. And the Shard — the Qatari-owned, 72-floor skyscraper above the grotty Southwark riverside — is a symbol of that change. The Shard encapsulates the new hierarchy of the city. On the top floors, “ultra high net worth individuals” entertain escorts in luxury apartments. By day, on floors below, investment bankers trade incomprehensible derivatives. Come nightfall, the elevators are full of African cleaners, paid next to nothing and treated as nonexistent. The acres of glass windows are scrubbed by Polish laborers, who sleep four to a room in bedsit slums. And near the Shard are the immigrants from Lithuania and Romania, who broke their backs on construction sites, but are now destitute and whiling away their hours along the banks of the Thames. The Shard is London, a symbol of a city where oligarchs are celebrated and migrants are exploited but that pretends to be a multicultural utopia. Here, in their capital city, the English are no longer calling the shots. They are hirelings.”
3.3 Jillian Keenan in Slate on why she supports taking Andrew Jackson off the $20 bill: “Even in historical context, our seventh president falls short. His racist policies were controversial even in his own time. After the Indian Removal Act only narrowly passed Congress, an 1832 Supreme Court ruling declared it unconstitutional. (Jackson ignored that decision.) In 1838, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote a passionate letter calling Jackson’s policies “… a crime that really deprives us as well as the Cherokees of a country, for how could we call the conspiracy that should crush these poor Indians our government, or the land that was cursed by their parting and dying imprecations our country any more?”
ellen-oscar-selfie3.2 12 Years A Slave wins the Oscar for Best Picture. In Ellen’s selfies: Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong’o, Angelina Jolie; seated: Meryl Streep, Ellen Degeneres, Bradley Cooper, Lupita’s brother
2.28 Mt. Gox, once the world’s biggest bitcoin exchange, filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan on Friday, saying it may have lost nearly half a billion dollars worth of the virtual coins due to hacking into its faulty computer system.
2.27 In an interview with Guns.com, Ted Nugent said “I have obviously failed to galvanize and prod, if not shame, enough Americans to be ever-vigilant not to let a Chicago communist-raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel like the ACORN community organizer gangster Barack Hussein Obama to weasel his way into the top office of authority in the United States of America.”
2.26 Major General Paul D. Eaton criticized former Vice President Dick Cheney for hitting President Barack Obama on foreign policy. On Monday, Cheney criticized a proposal that called for shrinking the Army to its smallest size in 74 years, saying it would do “long-term damage to our military.” Said Cheney: “The whole thing is not driven by any change in world circumstances, it is driven by budget considerations. [Obama] would much rather spend the money on food stamps than he would on a strong military or support for our troops.” Replied Eaton: “Vice President Cheney is one of the architects of the worst foreign policy disaster of the 21st century. We’re young, but the decision to attack Iraq, and to do so in such an incompetent manner, does not give him a platform to say anything about the foreign policy under execution today.
2.15 TJ Oshie, American hockey player whose OT goals against the Russians made him an Olympic hero: “The real American heroes are wearing camo. That’s not me.”
2.4 David Brooks in the New York Times: “Certain mental skills will become less valuable because computers will take over. Having a great memory will probably be less valuable. Being able to be a straight-A student will be less valuable — gathering masses of information and regurgitating it back on tests. So will being able to do any mental activity that involves following a set of rules. But what human skills will be more valuable? In the news business, some of those skills are already evident. Technology has rewarded sprinters (people who can recognize and alertly post a message on Twitter about some interesting immediate event) and marathoners (people who can write large conceptual stories), but it has hurt middle-distance runners (people who write 800-word summaries of yesterday’s news conference). Technology has rewarded graphic artists who can visualize data, but it has punished those who can’t turn written reporting into video presentations.”
get-attachment2.3 Seahawks obliterate Denver, 43-8, Safety at :12 begins the assault.Highlight is my firehouse meat loaf, made with 11 pounds of meat, as well as a pound of spinach for the vegetarians.
2.2 Philip Seymour Hoffman dies at 46.
1.26 Dinner with Jo and Dave at Hudson at Haymount House.
1.25 Robert Reich: “It’s possible. of course, that rightwing Republicans, corporate executives, and Wall Street moguls intentionally cut jobs and wages in order to cow average workers, buried students under so much debt they’d never take to the streets, and made most Americans so cynical about government they wouldn’t even try for change. But it’s more likely they merely allowed all this to unfold, like a giant wet blanket over the outrage and indignation most Americans feel but don’t express. Change is coming anyway. We cannot abide an ever-greater share of the nation’s income and wealth going to the top while median household incomes continue too drop, one out of five of our children living in dire poverty, and big money taking over our democracy.At some point, working people, students, and the broad public will have had enough. They will reclaim our economy and our democracy. This has been the central lesson of American history.”
photo-30photo-311.24 Midnight Ramble Band in Port Chester.
1.24 Venture capitalist Thomas Perkins in the Wall Street Journal:“From the Occupy movement to the demonization of the rich embedded in virtually every word of our local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent. There is outraged public reaction to the Google buses carrying technology workers from the city to the peninsula high-tech companies which employ them. We have outrage over the rising real-estate prices which these “techno geeks” can pay. We have, for example, libelous and cruel attacks in the Chronicle on our number-one celebrity, the author Danielle Steel, alleging that she is a “snob” despite the millions she has spent on our city’s homeless and mentally ill over the past decades.This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendant “progressive” radicalism unthinkable now?
1.22 Dinner with Josh Gillette
1.22 NPR: “It is a myth that “poor countries are doomed to stay poor,” and by the year 2035, “there will be almost no poor countries left in the world,” Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates about the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and conditions in the nations where the foundation works. Gates sees a world where once-impoverished countries have already made tremendous progress and where more will follow their lead. Here’s some of his thinking:
— “The global picture of poverty has been completely redrawn in my lifetime. Per-person incomes in Turkey and Chile are where the United States level was in 1960. Malaysia is nearly there, as is Gabon. And that no-man’s-land between rich and poor countries has been filled in by China, India, Brazil, and others.”
— “Since 1960, China’s real income per person has gone up eightfold. India’s has quadrupled, Brazil’s has almost quintupled, and the small country of Botswana, with shrewd management of its mineral resources, has seen a thirty-fold increase. There is a class of nations in the middle that barely existed 50 years ago, and it includes more than half of the world’s population.”
Local villagers scavenging coal illegally from an open-cast mine in a village near Jharia, India, in 2012.
— “So the easiest way to respond to the myth that poor countries are doomed to stay poor is to point to one fact: They haven’t stayed poor. Many — though by no means all — of the countries we used to call poor now have thriving economies. And the percentage of very poor people has dropped by more than half since 1990.”
— “That still leaves more than 1 billion people in extreme poverty, so it’s not time to celebrate. But it is fair to say that the world has changed so much that the terms ‘developing countries’ and ‘developed countries’ have outlived their usefulness.”
— “Don’t let anyone tell you that Africa is worse off today than it was 50 years ago. Income per person has in fact risen in sub-Saharan Africa over that time, and quite a bit in a few countries. After plummeting during the debt crisis of the 1980s, it has climbed by two thirds since 1998, to nearly $2,200 from just over $1,300. Today, more and more countries are turning toward strong sustained development, and more will follow. Seven of the 10 fastest-growing economies of the past half-decade are in Africa.”
— “The bottom line: Poor countries are not doomed to stay poor. Some of the so-called developing nations have already developed. Many more are on their way. The nations that are still finding their way are not trying to do something unprecedented. They have good examples to learn from.”
1.21 Ceil Coady dies
1.21 Yahoo News: “Pope Francis on Tuesday called on the world’s political and business elite gathered in Davos to use their spirit of entrepreneurship to alleviate crushing global poverty. In a message read out at the opening ceremony of the annual World Economic Forum, Francis said: “Those who have demonstrated their ability to be innovative and for improving the lives of many people by their ingenuity and professional expertise can further contribute by putting their skills at the service of those who are still living in dire poverty.” It is “intolerable” that hunger continues to stalk the world even though “substantial quantities” of food are wasted, the pontiff added.Ahead of the annual meeting of the global elite that ends Saturday, the charity Oxfam issued a report that said inequality had run so out of control, that the 85 richest people on the planet “own the wealth of half the world’s population.” The pope alluded to this when he told delegates: “The majority of men and women of our time still continue to experience daily insecurity, often with dramatic consequences.”
1.21 Yanks sign Masahiro Tanaka
get-attachment.aspx1.22 Vicki, feeling well enough to join shovel squad
1.20 From The Guardian: “[A] new report from Oxfam on Monday . . .. warned that those richest 85 people across the globe share a combined wealth of £1tn, as much as the poorest 3.5 billion of the world’s population. The wealth of the 1% richest people in the world amounts to $110tn (£60.88tn), or 65 times as much as the poorest half of the world, added the development charity, which fears this concentration of economic resources is threatening political stability and driving up social tensions.
1.19 Vicki back to status quo
1.17 Vicki has some sort of episode, is not well
1.7 Interview with Fred Gehring of Tommy Hilfiger
1.7 Polar Vortex

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