Monthly Archives: June 2009

Links — June 30, 2009, 4:52 pm

Links

As newspapers and magazines shrink and shutter their book review sections, one could easily fret that with them will go that other great literary institution: the author-critic feud. Fortunately, as Alice Hoffman’s weekend meltdown suggests, the form is still thriving — in 140-character nuggets. Smarting from a so-so review of The Story Sisters in the Boston Globe, the prolific novelist tweeted her fury to the world. She came out swinging, calling reviewer Roberta Silman “a moron,” quickly moving on to “idiot,” then expanding her repertoire to dis the newspaper and the city of Boston itself. But the real jaw-dropper in …

Washington Babylon — June 30, 2009, 3:52 pm

Coleman Concedes: The good news and the bad news

From the New York Times: Nearly eight months after Election Day, Al Franken, a former comedian and an author, appeared certain on Tuesday to become the next United States senator from Minnesota, giving the Democratic Party at least symbolic control over Senate filibusters. Outside his St. Paul home, the incumbent, Norm Coleman, a Republican who had held the seat for one term, conceded the election to Mr. Franken, bringing an end to a lengthy battle that had resulted in thousands of pages of legal documents, cost tens of thousands of dollars, and had left many ordinary Minnesotans weary. Mr. Coleman’s …

Washington Babylon — June 30, 2009, 3:50 pm

Clinton’s Latest Boner: Ex-president poses with dictator’s daughter

Two trusted sources have sent me a picture of former President Bill Clinton posing for the camera with a woman who the sources say is Gulnara Karimova, daughter of the dictator of Uzbekistan, one of the world’s worst regimes. The picture is undated but was clearly taken recently. I haven’t published it because I don’t know who owns the rights, but I have compared it with photographs of Gulnara on the web and it certainly appears to be her. Gulnara is not your run-of-the-mill dictator’s daughter. She may succeed her father as head of Uzbekistan and she has been implicated …

Washington Babylon — June 30, 2009, 9:41 am

The Evil of Sam Zell

I used to work at the Los Angeles Times and still read it online regularly, although I rarely see a hard copy. I was just in Los Angeles for a week and was surprised to see that — despite Sam Zell’s best efforts to destroy it — it’s still an exceedingly good newspaper. There were strong stories every day I checked, especially this piece by Mike Anton about agricultural workers in the Coachella Valley, and this story by Greg Miller about soon-to-retire CIA lawyer John Rizzo (“John was kind of the legal enabler of the agency,” said a senior CIA …

Washington Babylon — June 30, 2009, 9:35 am

I hate the U.S. (Soccer Team)

Americans almost always interpret international sports victories as demonstrations of national superiority, so it was wonderful to watch the U.S. soccer team’s massive choke in the Confederation Cup final against Brazil. Ahead 2-0 at the half, the Americans watched helplessly as Brazil scored three goals in the second half to win. (Actually four, but the referee blew a call and failed to credit what I, watching the game on television, could see was an obvious goal by Kaka.) All the hype in American newspapers about the national team’s second place finish obscures the fact that the U.S. team is mediocre …

Washington Babylon — June 30, 2009, 9:24 am

Snack Attack: Industry lobbies on junk food

From the Wall Street Journal: The food and beverage industries are coming around to support some efforts in Washington to limit the sale of junk food in school vending machines, the Washington Post suggests. There are a few reasons for the shift. For one thing, many companies now have divisions that could profit from a shift to healthier foods. Coca-Cola, for example, might not mind so much if kids drank less Coke— as long as they switched to Dasani water, another Coca-Cola product. What’s more, as states look to fight childhood obesity, they’re considering taking matters into their own hands …

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In the early Eighties, Andy King, the coach of the Seawolves, a swim club in Danville, California, instructed Debra Denithorne, aged twelve, to do doubles — to practice in the morning and the afternoon. King told Denithorne’s parents that he saw in her the potential to receive a college scholarship, and even to compete in the Olympics. Tall swimmers have an advantage in the water, and by the time Denithorne turned thirteen, she was five foot eight. She dropped soccer and a religious group to spend more time at the pool.

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On December 3, 2016, less than a month after Donald Trump was elected president, Amanda Litman sat alone on the porch of a bungalow in Costa Rica, thinking about the future of the Democratic Party. As Hillary Clinton’s director of email marketing, Litman raised $180 million and recruited 500,000 volunteers over the course of the campaign. She had arrived at the Javits Center on Election Night, arms full of cheap beer for the campaign staff, minutes before the pundits on TV announced that Clinton had lost Wisconsin. Later that night, on her cab ride home to Brooklyn, Litman asked the driver to pull over so she could throw up.

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In 1899, the art critic Layton Crippen complained in the New York Times that private donors and committees had been permitted to run amok, erecting all across the city a large number of “painfully ugly monuments.” The very worst statues had been dumped in Central Park. “The sculptures go as far toward spoiling the Park as it is possible to spoil it,” he wrote. Even worse, he lamented, no organization had “power of removal” to correct the damage that was being done.

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One sunny winter afternoon in western Michigan, I took a ride with Leon Slater, a slight sixty-four-year-old man with a neatly trimmed white beard and intense eyes behind his spectacles. He wore a faded blue baseball cap, so formed to his head that it seemed he slept with it on. Brickyard Road, the street in front of Slater’s home, was a mess of soupy dirt and water-filled craters. The muffler of his mud-splattered maroon pickup was loose, and exhaust fumes choked the cab. He gripped the wheel with hands leathery not from age but from decades moving earth with big machines for a living. What followed was a tooth-jarring tour of Muskegon County’s rural roads, which looked as though they’d been carpet-bombed.

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Abby was a breech birth but in the thirty-one years since then most everything has been pretty smooth. Sweet kid, not a lot of trouble. None of them were. Jack and Stevie set a good example, and she followed. Top grades, all the way through. Got on well with others but took her share of meanness here and there, so she stayed thoughtful and kind. There were a few curfew or partying things and some boys before she was ready, and there was one time on a school trip to Chicago that she and some other kids got caught smoking crack cocaine, but that was so weird it almost proved the rule. No big hiccups, master’s in ecology, good state job that lets her do half time but keep benefits while Rose is little.

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Number of cast members of the movie Predator who have run for governor:

3

A Georgia Tech engineer created software that endows unmanned aerial drones with a sense of guilt.

Roy Moore, a 70-year-old lawyer and Republican candidate for the US Senate who once accidentally stabbed himself with a murder weapon while prosecuting a case in an Alabama courtroom, was accused of having sexually assaulted two women, Leigh Corfman and Beverly Young Nelson, while he was an assistant district attorney in his thirties and they were 14 and 16 years old, respectively.

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"Gun owners have long been the hypochondriacs of American politics. Over the past twenty years, the gun-rights movement has won just about every battle it has fought; states have passed at least a hundred laws loosening gun restrictions since President Obama took office. Yet the National Rifle Association has continued to insist that government confiscation of privately owned firearms is nigh. The NRA’s alarmism helped maintain an active membership, but the strategy was risky: sooner or later, gun guys might have realized that they’d been had. Then came the shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, followed swiftly by the nightmare the NRA had been promising for decades: a dedicated push at every level of government for new gun laws. The gun-rights movement was now that most insufferable of species: a hypochondriac taken suddenly, seriously ill."

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