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A memo to Joe Nocera

Trudy Lieberman responds to his column about his 401k. Go read.

Piano man

Ethan is a 6-year-old who plays piano by ear. Oh, and he’s autistic:

Here he is, playing Beethoven.

The usual fallback position

Is to cut arts funding in the schools, and it’s happening again. Funny, how many people seem incapable of grasping the idea that not all children have abilities in all areas. We can’t take kids, put them on an assembly line and turn them all into engineers and computer scientists.

There’s a reason why the geek stereotypes are so prevalent: It takes a certain kind of brain and personality type to excel in a technical field, just as it takes for art and music majors. I specifically chose my kids’ school district because it was obvious early on they were gifted artists, and our local schools had one of the best art programs in three states.

If they were going to school now, they wouldn’t have that option. What a shame.

‘A shameful display of whoredom’

The White House Correspondents dinner. Hamilton Nolan at Gawker:

This is not just any segment of the working press, enjoying a night out. This is the DC press corps, which has arguably the most important job in American journalism: informing the public about the activities of its government, and serving as a strong and omnipresent check on the government’s power. Great to know that our fearless watchdogs are busy swilling wine with the people they are supposed to be covering and introducing them to their wives and posing for pictures with Mila Kunis.


The United States of America is currently at war. In part because of the DC press corps’ soft, friendly relationship with those in power. Glad to see they’ve learned their lesson from that.


Every year I ponder whether it’s possible to go to Whore Dinner to cover it without being Part of the Problem, and I every year I decide that it is not. (Credit the New York Times and other news organizations who have come to the same conclusion.) And every year I and other humorless moralists write these somber diatribes about this event, and nothing ever changes, nor will it, because the media members themselves don’t give a fuck, because they like to meet celebrities, and the public doesn’t give a fuck because they already know the stars of the “mainstream media” are a bunch of patsy starfuckers who have to carefully consider how awkward next year’s Dinner might be every time they’re formulating uncomfortable questions for a politician, so who cares?


This little rant is not meant to offer any hope. It is not meant to project any sense of superiority. (We don’t get invited to these things.) This is only meant to make an annual declaration—which is not earth-shattering or surprising or particularly insightful, but is, nevertheless, necessary, in the sense of simply reading something into the public record—that you, the tie-adjusting, ballgown-donning, picture-posing members of the media at the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner, are not cute.


You are gross.

Oh look

Iceland said no to austerity and paying for the bankers, and now their economy’s booming.

I wonder if there’s a connection.

Duh

That’s because we’re not really a democracy anymore, we just play one on TV!

IN Yemen, Pakistan and elsewhere the C.I.A. has used drones to kill thousands of people — including several Americans. Officials have aggressively defended the controversial program, telling journalists that it is effective, lawful and closely supervised.


But in court, the Central Intelligence Agency refuses even to acknowledge that the targeted killing program exists. The agency’s argument is based on a 35-year-old judicial doctrine called Glomar, which allows government agencies to respond to requests under the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, by refusing to confirm or deny the existence of the records that have been requested.


The doctrine sometimes serves a legitimate purpose, but the C.I.A. has grossly abused it, in cases relating to the targeted killing program and other counterterrorism operations. It is invoking the doctrine not to protect legitimately classified information from disclosure, but to shield controversial decisions from public scrutiny and to spare officials from having to defend their policies in court.

I’m your puppet

Just so we’re clear!

Grover Norquist, the Republican strategist who heads Americans for Tax Reform, said in an interview that he did not expect Mr. Romney to lead as president. He just wants him to sign the bills that put Mr. Ryan’s vision into practice.

Where is everybody?

Not much blog reading going on here today!

The publishing mafia

That would be Amazon.

Mr. Bissinger wrote the e-book for Byliner.com, one of a number of fledgling companies trying to make a go of it by publishing long-form works — not as long as a traditional book, but longer than most magazine articles — for digital readers. Mr. Bissinger thought the e-book, priced at $2.99, would be a great way to pay tribute to the relationship while also helping Mr. Miles, by giving him a third of the proceeds.


But the plan hit a pothole after Apple, which had been looking to get into shorter works in a digital format, decided to include e-books in a promotion that it does with Starbucks. It selected Mr. Bissinger’s digital sequel as a Pick of the Week, giving customers a code they could redeem online for the book. (Mr. Bissinger said he still received a royalty of $1.50 for each copy sold.)


Amazon interpreted the promotion as a price drop and lowered its price for “After Friday Night Lights” to exactly zero. Byliner withdrew the book from Amazon’s shelves, saying it did so to “protect our authors’ interest.”


Mr. Bissinger, who has built a franchise on journalistic excellence and rhetorical intemperance — see his Twitter account — managed to choose his words carefully when talking about how his e-book ended up as a bug on the windshield of Amazon’s relentlessness on pricing.


That may have a little something to do with the fact that he has a great big book, “Father’s Day,” being released by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in just two weeks. It would be a bad time to stick his finger in the eye of a company that sells more books — including his — than any other company in the world.

Oh dear

Wall Street to lay off at least 21K workers. That’s a lot of job losses for one city to absorb.

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