April 16, 2018

We tricked you fair and square

I've been revising my expectations, but it's so hard to keep up. I can remember a time when "You opted-in" meant "We tricked you fair and square."

Now it's little more than a short-hand for the Bart Simpson defense, "I didn't do it, no one saw me do it, you can't prove anything!" I even remember how people once accepted the common law principle that a contract is not complete if its terms and conditions are unclear.

-- Paul Romer

March 14, 2018

White guilt is not angst

White guilt is not angst over injustices suffered by others; it is the terror of being stigmatized with America's old bigotries--racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. To be stigmatized as a fellow traveler with any of these bigotries is to be utterly stripped of moral authority and made into a pariah. The terror of this, of having "no name in the street" as the Bible puts it, pressures whites to act guiltily even when they feel no actual guilt. White guilt is a mock guilt, a pretense of real guilt, a shallow etiquette of empathy, pity and regret.

It is also the heart and soul of contemporary liberalism. This liberalism is the politics given to us by white guilt, and it shares white guilt's central corruption. It is not real liberalism, in the classic sense. It is a mock liberalism. Freedom is not its raison d'être; moral authority is.

When America became stigmatized in the '60s as racist, sexist and militaristic, it wanted moral authority above all else. Subsequently the American left reconstituted itself as the keeper of America's moral legitimacy. (Conservatism, focused on freedom and wealth, had little moral clout.) From that followed today's markers of white guilt--political correctness, identity politics, environmental orthodoxy, the diversity cult and so on.

Shelby Steele, author of "Shame: How America's Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country"

January 2, 2018

Bildung and Sitzfleisch

In Germany, the keyword is almost untranslatable: Bildung, which means education in the form of personal cultivation and improvement. That idea, expressed in different languages in different nations, tied this rising class together across national borders. Self-improvement differentiated them from the decadent 1 percent.

For example, listening to music became an educational -- rather than entertaining -- experience. The eighteenth century's classical chamber music functioned as a pleasant soundtrack for aristocratic soirees. At concert halls, the nobility would canoodle in their boxes, only half paying attention to the performers.

But when the rising capitalist class attended concerts, they did not gab away in a convivial fashion: they sat still and demanded silence, in order to concentrate on the music.

German Victorians coined the term Sitzfleisch -- sitting flesh -- to describe the muscle control required for sitting absolutely still during a concert performance. Even coughs and sneezes had to be stifled, lest they break anyone's concentration and derail self-improvement.

The quest for Bildung saturated daily life as well. Wealthy young women, who could not hope for any career beyond wife and mother, learned at least one other language and took piano and singing lessons. Men often spent their evenings attending lectures or participating in civic organizations.

For this dedication to pay off, however, these enriched Victorians had to display it, making their difference from both the wealthier and the poorer obvious to all.

Continue reading "Bildung and Sitzfleisch" »

November 10, 2017

Amy Cuddy explained too well

the breadth of the accusations -- how diffuse they are -- could easily be mistaken for the depth of her scientific missteps, which at the outset were no different from those of so many of her peers.

"We were all being trained to simplify, to get our message out there -- there were conferences and panels on how to do it. One of the ironies is that Amy Cuddy just did it more successfully."

-- Richard Petty, a social psychologist at Ohio State.

August 1, 2017

Elon Musk: If you're not progressing, you're regressing; so, keep moving forward.

We could sum up Musk's point in a single sentence:

If you're not progressing, you're regressing; so, keep moving forward.

Why this is great advice.
It doesn't really matter what your personal goals are. The key to success in any field or endeavor is to keep moving forward.

A progressive mentality doesn't mean that you'll never experience major setbacks, or even utter failure--which can deliver vital lessons and invaluable experience. (Just ask Musk, or any successful entrepreneur, how many times they've gotten it wrong before getting it right.) Additionally, reflecting on how far you've come can provide necessary motivation.

But there's danger in keeping focused on the rear-view mirror, so to speak.

It eventually leads to a crash.

To maintain a forward-moving mentality, you must:

resist needlessly dwelling on mistakes. Instead, identify lessons learned and move on;
continue to set challenging yet reachable goals--especially after scoring big;
aspire, not to be a know-it-all, but rather to be a learn-it-all; and
never give up. Ever.

Continue reading "Elon Musk: If you're not progressing, you're regressing; so, keep moving forward." »

June 26, 2017

idler: modern stoicism misses the point

Without a transcendent perspective on life's harshness, without trust in an unfolding higher than human vision, all we have is our desire, our frightened calls for control, our empty cries for freedom echoing about in the indifferent void. If you can feel the force of that thought, you can feel the depth of what Epictetus was driving at.

Continue reading "idler: modern stoicism misses the point" »

March 21, 2017

Gordon Hodson and Michael A. Busseri in an issue of the journal Psychological Science, "Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes

Perhaps you were one of those myriad liberals who, back in 2012, posted on Facebook about a study by Gordon Hodson and Michael A. Busseri in an issue of the journal Psychological Science, "Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes: Lower Cognitive Ability Predicts Greater Prejudice Through Right-Wing Ideology and Low Intergroup Contact." Its abstract explained:

Despite their important implications for interpersonal behaviors and relations, cognitive abilities have been largely ignored as explanations of prejudice. We proposed and tested mediation models in which lower cognitive ability predicts greater prejudice, an effect mediated through the endorsement of right-wing ideologies (social conservatism, right-wing authoritarianism) and low levels of contact with out-groups. In an analysis of two large-scale, nationally representative United Kingdom data sets (N=15,874), we found that lower general intelligence (g) in childhood predicts greater racism in adulthood, and this effect was largely mediated via conservative ideology.

The Great Gatsby finds that sort of cognitive narcissism risible too. In that dialogue in which Tom Buchanan dresses up his racism in scientific raiment, all of us, because we know ourselves to be sophisticated and smart, identify with Daisy Buchanan. Fitzgerald had also figured out something shrewed about such--but how shall we put it--cultural sophisticates? Effete snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals? Elite liberals?

February 21, 2017

You are where your attention is

The family that is eating together while simultaneously on their phones is not actually together. They are, in Turkle's formulation, "alone together."

You are where your attention is.

Via Andrew Sullivan

October 31, 2016

Messy desk is in use

"When is it that your desk gets most cluttered?
It's that moment when you're busiest,
when you're getting most stuff done,
when you're starting to feel overwhelmed,"

-- Tim Harford

August 15, 2016

Finance industry must restore fairness and honesty without diminishing profit ?

Many of the founders of modern finance -- families whose names have been dragged through the mire of Libor and other scandals -- built their banks on Protestant principles. Their aim was simple: encourage thrift and enterprise to deter sin and sloth. They were not promoting get-rich-quick schemes and did not have corporate social responsibility departments.

These pioneers taught a crucial lesson: that saving was a route out of poverty and enterprise could be rewarded. It was a social responsibility in itself. And they realised an essential truth: financial institutions serve a society, they do not command. As these banks succeeded, so did the country.

Napoleon's jibe that Britain is a nation of shopkeepers was true because sober financiers helped people buy stock and start businesses. The Industrial Revolution transformed the nature of labour but the financial revolution democratised opportunity. That is why capitalism matters: no other system of economic organisation has liberated more people.

-- Tom Tugendhat

August 6, 2016

Happiness studies

Is happiness a purely subjective feeling, or can it be somehow measured? Can you be happy without knowing it? Can you only be happy without knowing it? Could someone be thoroughly miserable yet be convinced they were in ecstasy?

-- Asking for William Davies.

June 15, 2016

Facebook triumphs over G+

A certain resinous smarminess coated Vic Gundotra, like a thin layer of annoying motor oil on a socket wrench, never letting you get a real grip on it. And toolish he was, stumping loudly for Google Plus in countless media interviews and at Google-sponsored events.

What was most insulting to a Facebooker was his studiously avoiding mentioning the social-media behemoth in public statements, as if the very raison d'être for his now towering presence at Google didn't even exist. Like some Orwellian copywriter, engineering language and perception to suit a fictional reality, Google would rarely mention the Facebook elephant in the room in any public statement, insulting any viewer by suggesting they had practically invented the notion of Internet-mediated social interaction.

"Networks are for networking," intoned Gundotra, any reference to Facebook always oblique and dismissive. "Circles are for the right people," he continued, referring to Google Circles, a way of organizing social contacts, shamelessly copied from Facebook's long-ignored Lists feature.

-- from Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley, by Antonio García Martínez.

May 22, 2016

An aesthetic, antifashion as fashion

As an aesthetic, antifashion as fashion is annoying and alienating, bleats GINIA BELLAFANTE, the self appointed spokesperson for people who are over 40, not particularly slender or less prestigiously schooled.

Everybody else can attest when visiting a Warby Parker outlet that there is both a democracy in a relatively low price, and also a sense of exclusion is woven into the gestalt.

Are you really smart enough to be shopping at Warby Parker? Have you read even a fraction of the books displayed?

May 10, 2016

Cordray's Peeple

"It doesn't matter how far apart we are in likes or dislikes," she tells some bro at a bar in episode 10. "All that matters is what people say about us."

-- Julia Cordray.

May 7, 2016

College lecture format discriminates ? Biased against undergraduates who are not white, male and affluent?

Slatepitch ?

DOES the college lecture discriminate? Is it biased against undergraduates who are not white, male and affluent?

The notion may seem absurd on its face. The lecture is an old and well-established tradition in education. To most of us, it simply is the way college courses are taught. Even online courses are largely conventional lectures uploaded to the web.

Yet a growing body of evidence suggests that the lecture is not generic or neutral, but a specific cultural form that favors some people while discriminating against others, including women, minorities and low-income and first-generation college students. This is not a matter of instructor bias; it is the lecture format itself -- when used on its own without other instructional supports -- that offers unfair advantages to an already privileged population.

Annie Murphy Paul, author of the forthcoming book "Brilliant: The Science of How We Get Smarter."

March 29, 2016

Always on iPhone

Young people spoke to me enthusiastically about the good things that flow from a life lived by the rule of three, which you can follow not only during meals but all the time. First of all,

1. There is the magic of the always available elsewhere. You can put your attention wherever you want it to be.
2. You can always be heard.
3. You never have to be bored.

When you sense that a lull in the conversation is coming, you can shift your attention from the people in the room to the world you can find on your phone. But the students also described a sense of loss.

-- Sherry Turkle

Continue reading "Always on iPhone" »

March 21, 2016

Smack or Smackdown ? Trump in poor white towns

The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. Forget all your cheap theatrical Bruce Springsteen crap. Forget your sanctimony about struggling Rust Belt factory towns and your conspiracy theories about the wily Orientals stealing our jobs. Forget your goddamned gypsum, and, if he has a problem with that, forget Ed Burke, too. The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles.

Donald Trump's speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin. What they need isn't analgesics, literal or political. They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul. If you want to live, get out of Garbutt. -- Kevin D. Williamson is roving correspondent for National Review. This article originally appeared in the March 28, 2016, issue of National Review.

-- Kevin D. Williamson

February 16, 2016

Inured to the animus: Scalia, Kagan, and David Axelrod

The Supreme Court is a singular institution in our system: lifetime appointees, powerful in their impact but uniquely opaque in their process of arriving at decisions.

We have become inured to the animus that characterizes the relationship between many of our elected officials in these highly partisan times. But members of the court, free from the pressures of running for office, relate to each other in a different way.

So much so that a conservative lion would lobby the President's adviser for his liberal friend. Thank you, Justice Scalia, for your service to our country.

David Axelrod

January 11, 2016

Show them what you have achieved through your tidy room, your freer soul

Marie Kondo:

"With willpower, I think about the balancing point between having the determination to start something and having the wisdom to stop. When I was younger I would reach a point in my tidying where I would throw out almost anything. My brother's stuff, my sister's--even my parents' and my teachers' things weren't safe.

What for many people is so difficult to start [WSJ] --tidying--was sometimes difficult for me to stop. One of the most common questions I hear is 'Your book helped me, but what can I do about the messiness of my husband, wife, co-worker, etc.?' I always answer the same way: 'Nothing. You can't change them, and you shouldn't try.'

Show them what you have achieved through your tidy room, your freer soul, and let them find their own way forward. Willpower is not only the drive to change yourself, it's also the sense of understanding that this power has limits."


The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

January 5, 2016

Work hard, use your talents, perhaps start a business, maybe even make the world a better place OR accomplish little, yet be relaxed and happy OR

Is it more important to you to have little, accomplish little, yet be relaxed and happy and spend time with family? Or is it more important to you to work hard, use your talents, perhaps start a business, maybe even make the world a better place along the way ?

-- Richard J. Light, professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education and author of "Making the Most of College."

Continue reading "Work hard, use your talents, perhaps start a business, maybe even make the world a better place OR accomplish little, yet be relaxed and happy OR " »

December 8, 2015

Network effect internet collage

networkeffect: found sound circa 1986 meets found web circa 2016.

Network Effect Found Sound.png

November 29, 2015

Pay back student loans before retirement

Liz Kelley, a Missouri high school teacher and mother of four who made a series of unremarkable decisions about college and borrowing. She now owes the federal government $410,000, and counting..

Continue reading "Pay back student loans before retirement" »

July 25, 2015

Developmental change, generational change

Developmental change, in Gladwell's story, is behavior that occurs as people age. For instance, "murder is a young man's game," he said, with almost all murders being committed by men under the age of 25. Likewise, dying in a car accident is something that just "statistically doesn't happen" over the age of 40. In other words, people age out of developmental changes -- they are not true long-term lasting shifts in behavior.

Generational change, on the other hand, is different. That's behavior that belongs to a generation, a cohort that grows up and continues the behavior. For example, Gladwell said, baby boomers transformed "every job in America" in the '70s as they demanded more freedom, greater rewards, and changes in the boss-employee relationship.

July 20, 2015

The Bloomberg Way

A chapter in The Bloomberg Way, the bible for its journalists, begins, "If we don't know the people on our beats, what they do, where they're doing it, when they're doing it, and how they do it, we don't know our beats."

December 6, 2014

Obsessed life facilitated by technology

Tech is fun now, deliriously so, but this fun comes with a built-in anxiety that it must lead to more. As an engineer, coding should be your calling, not just a job, so you are expected to also do it in your time off. Interviewers will ask about side projects -- a Firefox browser add-on maybe, or an Android version of your favorite iPhone app -- which are supposed to indicate your overflowing enthusiasm for building software.

Tech colloquialisms have permeated every aspect of life -- hack your diet, your fitness, your dates -- yet in reality, very little emphasis is placed on these activities. In a place with one of the best gender-ratios in the country for single women, female friends I talk to complain that most of the men are, in fact, not available; they are all busy working on their start-ups, or data-crunching themselves. They have prioritized self-improvement and careers over relationships.

-- Yiren Lu

November 30, 2014

'crackdown' on corruption, Chinese style

The most recent 'crackdown' on corruption was launched with great fanfare by the new administration of the Chinese president Xi Jinping. But it has gone after such easy targets as hospitality budgets, official vehicles and foreign trips, while the real muscle has gone into hunting down dissidents, whistle-blowers and journalists who might actually threaten the powerful.

As with anti-corruption campaigns of the past, mistresses make a convenient distraction. They feed the public appetite for scandal without challenging the way China's power networks operate. The popular media portrays mistresses as 'beauty attracting disaster', and speaks of their 'evil, poisonous nature', as if the poor officials would never have tasted the apple of corruption without a woman to lure them on.

September 1, 2014

Immersive course in the American way of life

Before arriving there as part of the big push, Brad Katsuyama had never laid eyes on Wall Street or New York City. It was his first immersive course in the American way of life, and he was instantly struck by how different it was from the Canadian version. "Everything was to excess," he says. "I met more offensive people in a year than I had in my entire life. People lived beyond their means, and the way they did it was by going into debt. That's what shocked me the most. Debt was a foreign concept in Canada. Debt was evil."

August 9, 2014

One foot in the grave, two at sea

Most land-based jobs are safe, but when a seaman boards a ship,
one foot is already in the grave.

April 14, 2014

A neighborhood of people working for slightly more than minimum wage in exchange for a chance to play-act at brunching in a nice neighborhood.

It felt like a neighborhood of people working for slightly more than minimum wage in exchange for a chance to play-act at brunching in a nice neighborhood.

Continue reading "A neighborhood of people working for slightly more than minimum wage in exchange for a chance to play-act at brunching in a nice neighborhood." »

February 16, 2014

"It's only when you get to the end that you realize how much you have left to do.

"It's only when you get to the end that you realize how much you have left to do."

-- Karl Magnus Troedsson, general manager at the Digital Illusions Creative Entertainment, or DICE, a development studio owned by the Silicon Valley gaming powerhouse Electronic Arts.

August 1, 2013

300 square feet is humane

In his 2000 book The European Office, Juriaan van Meel noted that in Sweden "almost everybody has a private office", while in Germany "open-office layouts are scarce" - although small teams sometimes shared a room.

German office workers have an average 28.2 sq m of personal space. Their right to elbow room and daylight is enshrined in law.

The office buildings that meet such requirements generally have separate wings of long corridors, with small offices on either side. Some, the most ambitious, have a central "street" where employees can come together to collaborate.

In the UK and North America, by contrast, design is mostly driven by cost rather than worker satisfaction, and open-plan layouts remain the norm.

In London's West End, space for one desk (4 sq m) costs £8,500 ($13,000) a year. A private office would cost much more than that - and have a larger carbon footprint.

One compromise popular in the US is the cubicle, in which desk space is enclosed by canvas-covered dividers, usually around 5ft (1.5m) high. It's a set-up which blocks daylight and, supposedly, office distractions.

July 3, 2013

Truth is not jelly but it can be nailed to a wall

"Truth is not the hole in the middle of the doughnut, it is on the doughnut somewhere," a veteran reporter whom I worked with at an alternative weekly in Minneapolis once told me. What he meant was that articles that strive only to be in the middle -- moving from one hand to the other in an effort to be nicely balanced -- end up going nowhere. I was just out of journalism school, brimming with freshly taught tenets of fairness and objectivity, and already those values were in question.

-- David Carr

June 22, 2013

A motto for LinkedIn

there are two great tragedies in professional life: not having a job, and having a job you hate.

June 10, 2013

More distracted and more emphasis on speed, less depth, and the less we care.

Psychologists who study empathy and compassion are finding that unlike our almost instantaneous responses to physical pain, it takes time for the brain to comprehend the psychological and moral dimensions of a situation. The more distracted we become, and the more emphasis we place on speed at the expense of depth, the less likely and able we are to care.

Everyone wants his parent's, or friend's, or partner's undivided attention -- even if many of us, especially children, are getting used to far less. Simone Weil wrote, "Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity." By this definition, our relationships to the world, and to one another, and to ourselves, are becoming increasingly miserly.

-- Jonathan Safran Foer

Continue reading "More distracted and more emphasis on speed, less depth, and the less we care." »

May 6, 2013

business separates into attackers, disrupting, changing the world, and defenders, trying to de-risk

The world of business really separates into these two groups. The attackers are the entrepreneurs who are disrupting the status quo, trying to change the world, take the hill, anything is possible, and have nothing to lose in most cases. They're driven by passion and the idea and intensity. Large organizations -- and it's true of Fortune 500s and it's also true of governments and other large organizations -- are defenders. These guys aren't trying to pursue the art of the possible, how to maximize opportunity. They actually are trying to minimize the downside, and hedge risk. They're trying to de-risk situations. Entrepreneurs can't even think this way. It's not even a concept they understand.

-- Steve Case, AOL founder

May 1, 2013

We'll shout "fat, crippled banker!", perhaps in the future,

Perhaps one day, far in the future, when we hit a finger with a hammer, we'll shout "fat, crippled banker!"

-- MELISSA MOHR, author of "Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing."

August 27, 2012

Travel is meant to be epic

In the Bible, the human journey begins with an expulsion. God's chosen people are also those condemned to wander. Not only wander, but wonder: Why are we in exile? Where is home? Can this rupture ever be repaired?

"Gilgamesh," the Icelandic sagas and "The Odyssey" are all about the itinerant life. Yet these characters don't see travel as we moderns do. They embark on journeys of mythic significance -- the literature of travel in the premodern era did not recognize travel for leisure or self-improvement.

Today, our approach to travel is defined not by archetypal imagery but, rather, according to our own mostly prosaic trips. Literature, to be sure, still produces grand quests; likewise, there are still many people whose journeys are precarious and momentous on an epic scale.

Continue reading "Travel is meant to be epic" »

June 15, 2012

Pictures of ladies

MUCH fanfare greeted the $388m made by Christie's post-war and contemporary evening sale in New York earlier this month--its highest total ever. Few seemed to notice that the auction was unprecedented in another way: it had ten lots by eight women artists, amounting to a male-to-female ratio of five-to-one. (Sotheby's evening sale offered a more typical display of male-domination with an 11-to-one ratio.) Yet proceeds on all the works by women artists in the Christie's sale tallied up to a mere $17m--less than 5% of the total and not even half the price achieved that night by a single picture of two naked women by Yves Klein. Indeed, depictions of women often command the highest prices, whereas works by them do not.

April 8, 2012

David Itzkoff and Frank Bruni take on _Girls_ (HBO)

She added that the instant connections a person can make on the Web, which also lets them survey a broad world of possibility, can create a restlessness and an even greater disinclination to commit:

"I knew a guy, and I couldn't actually believe he was saying this, but he said, 'Why would I want to eat in the same restaurant every night when the world's a buffet?' I thought people said that only on 'Entourage'."

Dunham is one of the four main players in "Girls." She's joined by Allison Williams (the daughter of the NBC anchorman Brian), Zosia Mamet (the daughter of the playwright David) and Jemima Kirke (the daughter of the Bad Company drummer Simon). All four sat down with The Times's Dave Itzkoff recently for a spirited group chat.

Dunham has an extended sex scene in each of the first two episodes of "Girls," and I told her I couldn't quite tell whether her character, who professes enjoyment of these encounters, is really supposed to have enjoyed them. The ambiguity struck me as intentional.

-- Bruni, Bruni, and Itzkoff.

March 13, 2012


To this day I rely on my Twitter followers for arcane information, most recently some updates on the vernacular speech of the young. Who knew that "sick" is the new "awesome," and that "epic" is the rightful substitute for "amazing?" Twitter knew.

-- Margaret Atwood

October 18, 2011

Less stupid or just less photographed ? The AWL pushes credulity .

In On Photography, Sontag refers to the technique used by Arbus, famed documenter of New York's marginalized (dwarfs, giants, transvestites, nudists etc.): "Instead of trying to coax her subjects into natural or typical position, they are encouraged to be awkward, that is, to pose. Thereby, the revelation of self gets identified with what is strange, odd, askew. Standing or sitting stiffly makes them seem like images of themselves." In a similar way to Arbus' subjects--whose real selves are undermined by the images the photographer wishes to present of them--Depp subverts his own persona and projects that of the various fashion photographers who shoot him for magazines. In this way Depp maintains the Hollywood illusion of himself as poster boy for celebrity eccentricity.

The photographer's power lies not only in determining how his or her subject poses, but also in how the image is ultimately produced (cropping, editing, Photoshopping, etc.); as Sontag put it, "in preferring one exposure to another, photographers are always imposing standards on their subjects." Small wonder that Julia Roberts could tell American Photo in 2004 that she feels "stupid," "goofy," and "nervous"--like Depp--when being photographed and, in the same breath, say that when she handles a camera (as in the film Closer, in which she played a professional photographer), it "instantly makes you the coolest person in the room."

Johhny Depp

Johnny Depp took his reputation for eccentricity a little too far last week. Interviewed in the November issue of Vanity Fair, the actor appeared to let his guard down when discussing photo shoots with writer Nick Tosches, a long-time friend and a godparent to one of Depp's kids. "Well, you just feel like you're being raped somehow," the actor said. "Raped. The whole thing. It feels like a kind of weird--just weird, man. Weird. Like you meet people and they say, 'Can I have a picture with you!' And that's great. That's fine. That's not a problem. But whenever you have a photo shoot or something like that, it's like--you just feel dumb. It's just so stupid."

The answer is clearly not provided on the big screen. On the contrary. Interestingly, Depp uses the term "stupid" at least a couple other times in the interview. One of them comes when he's describing his opposition to a staged cockfight in the upcoming film, The Rum Diary. Though the cockfighting scene reportedly looks real, the roosters were protected from killing each other with pieces of invisible monofilament (in accordance with American Humane Association regulations), a precaution he appeared to think detracted from the viscerality of Hunter S. Thompson's original scene. "I think it was stupid," he told Tosches. Extrapolating from that comment, Depp use of the term "stupid" suggests his aversion to false representation. Given his stated pleasure at being photographed by fans in his everyday life, it's the falseness of the photo shoot and the poses associated with it that seem to bother Depp.

Kristen Stewart:

Explaining her moodiness around paparazzi, Stewart contended that the public is not often privy to what happens before the pictures are taken. "What you don't see are the cameras shoved in my face and the bizarre intrusive questions being asked, or the people falling over themselves, screaming and taunting to get a reaction," she told Elle. "All you see is an actor or a celebrity lit up by a flash. It's so... The photos are so... I feel like I'm looking at someone being raped."

In the same interview, Stewart did, however, seem to be in tune with Sontag. "Your little persona is made up of all the places that people have seen you and what has been said about you, and usually the places that I am are so overwhelming in the moment and fleeting for me--like one second where I've said something stupid, that's me, forever."

-- Soraya Roberts

Continue reading "Less stupid or just less photographed ? The AWL pushes credulity ." »

September 24, 2011

The language of sociology and common culture has been replaced by the language of economics and individualism.

From the 1930s to the 1960s, as the Princeton historian Daniel T. Rodgers demonstrates in his recent book, "The Age of Fracture," American public discourse was filled with references to the social circumstances of average citizens, our common institutions and our common history. Over the last five decades, that discourse has changed in ways that emphasize individual choice, agency and preferences. The language of sociology and common culture has been replaced by the language of economics and individualism.

Continue reading "The language of sociology and common culture has been replaced by the language of economics and individualism." »

January 24, 2011

Self-direction, in independent thought, in peer collaboration, in responsibility.

One of the most important influences early on was being educated in a Montessori setting. The Montessori ethos was very formative for me because it built into me a belief in self-direction, in independent thought, in peer collaboration, in responsibility.

Those even became tenets for me in terms of my management style -- a kind of laissez-faire approach to allowing people to self-direct and peer-collaborate to figure things out and get things done here. That attracts a certain kind of person. There are other people who can't thrive in that -- they need things spelled out, they need their five tasks

Jeremy Allaire, chairman and chief executive of Brightcove, an online video platform for Web sites.

January 1, 2011

Rhymes with Eleven

Prediction: there will be a short term burst in demand of things that Rhyme with Eleven.

October 11, 2010

This envelope won't be pushed !

Theme of the conforming Oscars.

March 21, 2010

The years from 1989 to 2009 were consumed by locusts.

What caused this dire loss of faith in our government and leaders? Mr. Judt spreads the blame around. He criticizes the narcissistic left of the 1960s, which was largely uninterested in social justice. "What united the '60s generation was not the interest of all, but the needs and rights of each," he writes. He blames that generation's political leaders too. What the baby-boomer politicians have in common, he notes, is "the enthusiasm that they fail to inspire in the electors of their respective countries."

He surveys an earlier and "superior class of statesmen," who, regardless of its members' political leanings, "represented a political class deeply sensitive to its moral and social responsibilities." Politically speaking, he declares, "ours is an age of the pygmies."

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the West missed an opportunity to reshape the world. "Instead," Mr. Judt writes, "we sat back and congratulated ourselves upon having won the cold war: a sure way to lose the peace." Here is his historical judgment: "The years from 1989 to 2009 were consumed by locusts."

-- Tony Judt

March 7, 2010

Enquiring Press needed -- Douthat

It's remarkable, in a way, that the Enquirer still exists at all, let alone that it's enjoying a moment in the journalistic sun. In the age of Gawker, Twitter, and, a weekly scandal sheet seems quaint, if not archaic. And in an era when newspapers are fighting desperately for readers, you would think that the mainstream media -- hemorrhaging subscribers and hungry for online eyeballs -- would uncover all the really interesting scandals first.

But you'd be wrong. The Internet is very good at generating gossip, but lousy at the dogged work of transforming rumor into news. And the national press almost seems more uncertain about when and whether to probe into politicians' private lives

Continue reading "Enquiring Press needed -- Douthat" »

August 19, 2009

Smarter America

Driving the overhaul of the campus tour is colleges' desire to provide visitors a more natural, spontaneous and, ideally, more engaging experience -- and to relieve mothers, in particular, of the nagging worry that their guide might, at any moment, fall backward over a bicycle rack.

The changes have been fortunate for Katie Rice, 21, a senior at Hendrix and long-time guide here, who does not even know when her school was founded -- "I just tell my groups it was a long time ago," she says -- and who never did get the hang of walking backward.

"Look at these shoes," she said the other day,...

Though some have done so on their own, others have been urged to turn their guides around by a private consulting firm called Target X. It charges colleges thousands of dollars to "audit" their tours and look at other aspects of how they present themselves to visitors, including visitor parking.

What did stick was her guide telling her group about a theme night in the cafeteria that commemorated the fall of the Berlin Wall.

"He told us how, on the east side of the room, the cooks removed all the salt and pepper shakers, took all the tablecloths away and served really bad food," she said. "On the west side, they gave nice German candy and decorated the place really well."

Hendrix has emerged as enough of a pace-setter for the modern campus tour that administrators from as far away as Bennington College in Vermont have traveled to Arkansas to see the program.

Continue reading "Smarter America" »

May 2, 2009

Ecological awareness in America today

When someone thinks of global warming, they think of a politicized, polarized argument. When you say 'global warming,' a certain group of Americans think that's a code word for progressive liberals, gay marriage and other such issues.

-- ecoAmerica's president and founder, Robert M. Perkowitz

Continue reading "Ecological awareness in America today" »

March 8, 2009

World of Hurt

"I love the irony," Mario declared. "This is a virtual representation of a real-world financial system that is itself based on virtual money backed only by the faith and credit of the government. The goal of the game is to become so big and corrupt that the government has to bail you out. That's so twisted, it's brilliant."

Continue reading "World of Hurt" »

March 7, 2009

Sartorial Depression

In the last depression, all the poor guys begging for bread were wearing such spiffy suits and nice hats.


Continue reading "Sartorial Depression" »

January 20, 2009

Indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

BHO44, Managing Director, USA

Continue reading "Indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics" »

January 4, 2009

Jealousy and begrudgery are still alive and well in Ireland

"Jealousy and begrudgery are still alive and well in Ireland, and whoever eradicates them should be prime minister for life," he says as he tucks into a heaping plate of gravy-drenched turkey and mashed potatoes in the restaurant of one of the two hotels he owns -- and is hoping to raze. "It's part of the Irish psyche and it is the result of 800 years of being controlled by other people, of watching everything the master or landlord is doing."

Crime, gangland disputes and a sense of anomie flourished as Moyross and other similar projects evolved as cocoons of poverty and hopelessness.

Property developer Sean Dunne with his wife, Gayle Killilea, in Dublin

Continue reading "Jealousy and begrudgery are still alive and well in Ireland" »

December 30, 2008

SWPL talks

Upper middle class, left wing elites -- my people.
-- Christian Lander

The SWPL blog is not on the list Meta.

Continue reading "SWPL talks" »

November 2, 2008

All on a government loan.

With my torture film
Drive a gto
Wear a uniform
All on a government loan.
I'm worth a million in prizes

-- Iggy Pop and David Bowie, 1977, as prophets.

Continue reading "All on a government loan." »

October 5, 2008

Madonna, hardest working person in show business

Madonna also picked up an electric guitar for a enthusiastic punk-pop version of "Borderline." Her moves were aerobic, not erotic; in one song, other dancers spotted her as if they were personal trainers.

Jon Pareles on Madonna.

Continue reading "Madonna, hardest working person in show business" »

September 28, 2008

Masters of the Universe know their nuts

Shed no tears for the Masters of the Universe, however, not that your correspondent actually thought you might. Most of the young Masters already have their own personal nut free and clear. "Nut" is the term for the amount of money you need salted away in weather-proof investments in order to generate enough interest to live comfortably in Greenwich on Round Hill Road, Pecksland Road or Field Point Road in a house built before the First World War in an enchanting European style, preferably made of stone featuring the odd turret, with a minimum of five acres around it and big enough to be called a manor. Every Master of the Universe knows the number.

-- Tom Wolfe.

Continue reading "Masters of the Universe know their nuts" »

August 8, 2008

Hipster as consumer or as producer ?

I'd always understood "hipster" as someone who tried to claim creativity by proxy, by acquiring someone else's creative output, and trying to defend that acquisition as unique by deriding anyone and everyone else who acquired it as wannabes.

Continue reading "Hipster as consumer or as producer ?" »

July 26, 2008

Heth and Jed jam NY transit

Heth and Jed, the best buskers of NYC, lure and relax hundreds
of commuters. Space guitar !

July 6, 2008

Stuff White People Like

Q. But isn't it kind of a contradiction, because isn't bragging about
not having a TV also a sign of status?

A. Yes, because do you know how white people consume "The Wire"?
Netflix subscription watched on their MacBook.

-- Christian Lander, Stuff White People Like: A Definitive Guide to
the Unique Taste of Millions

See also Salon interview.

June 15, 2008

Die Hard Yuppie Scum

The starting point was the Bowery Wine Company, a sleek bar
partly owned by Bruce Willis, ...

Life in the East Village, the Bowery, the Lower East Side, NY.

[via NYT/New York Region
East Village Protesters Denounce All Things Gentrified. It's a Tradition.
Published: June 15, 2008
You know it's summer in the East Village when the protesters show up,
speaking against gentrification and its perceived agents.]


November 5, 2007

She was, in fact, a maid

Correction: October 21, 2007

An article last Sunday about the fashion industry’s
reticence to use black models referred incorrectly
to a black woman in a maid’s outfit pictured in the
September issue of Italian Vogue.

She was, in fact, a maid at the hotel where the pictures
were taken, and was included, the Vogue photographer
said, because of her attractiveness and her ability to
underscore the pictures’ theme of a stereotypical
rich white woman who hires ethnic servants; the
black woman was not a model dressed as a maid.

Continue reading "She was, in fact, a maid " »

June 27, 2007

Life after 30

After the age of 30 if you're still drinking beer out of plastic cups
that should tell you something about the caliber of person you are.

-- Deal Breaker

May 2, 2007

Metal: know your genre

Brian Posehn - Metal By Numbers

April 22, 2007

The best American understands America

The best American is not the American who has been here
the longest or the one who just arrived, it is the one who
understands the principles of America the best because
we are a country held together by ideas.

Rudolph W. Giuliani

April 3, 2007

Same song, different voice

Alanis Morissette, "My Humps"

April 1, 2007

India Today

The Ministry of Finance’s office building in central Delhi,
which also houses customs and economic officials, could
be an advertisement for the need for reform itself. The
elevators are etched with graffiti, wires protrude from
the ceiling and garbage piles up in corners of the hallway.
Outside, a troop of monkeys threads through parked cars,
stopping to eat discarded fruit.

-- [NYT]

December 2, 2006


Google's first four matches for enthusiasts are automotive fanclubs.

1. Ford Truck Enthusiasts
2. Neon Enthusiasts
3. MG Cars Enthusiasts' Club
4. Jaguar Enthusiasts' Club

January 18, 2005

Front 242 - Funkahdafi (live)

Could this be the inaugural musical ?
As compelling today as it was twenty years ago.

Maybe next time !

Continue reading "Front 242 - Funkahdafi (live)" »