Monday, May 10, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"In a 1998 profile of Elena Kagan in the New Republic, Dana Milbank described Bill Clinton’s deputy chief of domestic policy as 'wonderwonk,' an 'all purpose brain' in the White House and a 'nerd who could talk tough.' In addition to acting as a walking encyclopedia for Bill Clinton on constitutional and legal issues, Kagan convinced John McCain and other Senate Republicans to accept the Food and Drug Administration’s authority to regulate tobacco—even though she herself was a former smoker who then indulged in the occasional cigar. This combination of formidable intelligence with a skill for bringing together ideological opponents has characterized every stage of Kagan’s career. I first met Kagan in the mid-'90s when we were both former law clerks for Judge Abner Mikva on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Since then, I’ve run into her every few years, as she moved from the University of Chicago Law School to the Clinton administration back to Harvard, and most recently to the Solicitor General’s Office, where my brother-in-law is now her deputy. I've always been struck by her ability to ask a friendly but pointed question that identified the hardest issue in the legal dispute, to connect to the people she was questioning with an uncanny ability to see things from their intellectual perspective, and then to reframe the issue on her own terms so that the resolutions seemed clearer and more compelling." (Jeffrey Rosen/TNR)

"One of the primary reasons that the EU pressed to have the facility in place so quickly is because officials in the regions believe that 'wolf packs' of speculators have bet against European sovereign debt and the euro pushing their values down. According to The National, Swedish officials said institutional investors were roiling the markets for Europe currencies. The large pool may keep speculators out of the market, but it will not keep rioters out of the streets. The money available from the EU will make it more likely that Spain and Portugal will borrow to offset their deficits, much as Greece has done. All of these borrowing programs bring with them new requirements of austerity, many of these involving cuts in the social services and public worker pay in the needy nations. Another by-product is higher taxes. These measures have caused rioters to fill the streets in Athens, and there is no reason to believe that Spanish and Portuguese citizens will not react similarly." (247WallStreet)

"For the first time in 36 years, Britain's political parties are in the unusual position of not knowing who will form the next government. As I write, David Cameron's Conservatives are in pole position to form either a minority administration or a formal coalition with the third-largest party, the Liberal Democrats, after Thursday's inconclusive election. But one thing is certainly clear: The next British government is going to be leaner and less interventionist than the last, with broad implications for its global allies. Whoever moves into No. 10 Downing Street will be faced by a daunting in-tray, including a huge budget deficit that all parties agree must be drastically reduced over the next few years." (ForeignPolicy)

"A new book claims the French presidential couple kept an unidentified head of state waiting while they had sex. Ooh la la! In the new book, 'The Promise: President Obama, Year One,' Newsweek editor Jonathan Alter reveals that, during a visit to the US, France’s first lady, former supermodel-turned-singer Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, bragged to her American counterpart Michelle Obama how she and French president Nicolas Sarkozy had made a head of state wait while they were having sex. 'Bruni wanted to know if, like the Sarkozys, Michelle and the President had ever kept anyone waiting that way,' wrote the American journalist. ‘Michelle laughed nervously and said no’ he added. The spicy revelation on the sex life of the French presidential couple has led people to think that the dignitary in question may even have been the Queen of England, although she was never identified by Bruni-Sarkozy in the discussion. During an official state visit to the U.K, President Sarkozy and his wife spent a night at Windsor Castle, home of the Queen, shortly after they married two years ago. The Sarkozys are notorious for being late." (ABC"News")

“'We’re No. 5!' That’s the chant you’re likely to hear around the halls of Marvel Entertainment and distributor Paramount Pictures Monday, after tentpole follow-up 'Iron Man 2' opened to $133.6 million this weekend, the fifth best premiere in U.S. and Canada ever. At least one box-office tracking firm had quietly predicted that the Jon Favreau-directed sequel would start out somewhere in the almost unimaginably huge realm of $165 million, which would beat 'Dark Knight’s' record $158.4 million opening in 2008. But with the $200 million 'Iron Man 2' securing another $57.2 million in foreign grosses this weekend -- and $194 million in international box-office revenue to date – there’s little disappointment about a film that has taken in $327.6 million worldwide so far." (TheWrap)

"If only Santa's sleigh bells rocked as hard as Brooklyn-based electro-pop duo Sleigh Bells, we would all enjoy Christmas music a whole lot more. Songwriter and guitar player Derek Miller and singer Alexis Krauss have proven to be a formidable indie duo as of late, drawing backing from M.I.A.'s record label, N.E.E.T. and touring this summer with Ms. Arulpragasam, Yeasayer and Major Lazer. Not bad for a band whose debut LP hasn't even come out yet. Kraus and Miller practically set the stage at the intimate Greenpoint venue Coco 66 on fire Friday night, where they performed with Mr. Dream. The room almost broke the sound barrier when unexpected guest M.I.A. came on stage for the encore." (Paper)

(VA Lacrosse logo via NYSD)

"Though it has been around for centuries, founded by native North Americans, lacrosse in the last decade has become a hot and rapidly growing sport – for boys and girls. Every year more schools and colleges add teams to their sports programs. Anybody who plays or watches the game knows success rides on well-honed speed, agility, ball handling and, like it or not, aggression. The men’s game can be brutal, and players need to be taught how to handle confrontation, on and off the field. Since the murder of Yeardly Love there have been calls for lacrosse as a family to review itself. There are vulnerable spots, particularly within some of the 'powerhouse' high schools and colleges, where the obsession with winning can cloud the moral compass. Too often schools let the good male players, at an early age, skirt the disciplinary rules that apply to others, creating a cocky, jockey attitude that hurts the boys and the game. Can this happen in any sport? Yes. Why does it blowback so fiercely on lacrosse? Because the schools that field championship lacrosse teams are among the nation’s top schools and a higher standard of behavior is expected. Regardless, from the first time it seems apparent, when aggressive or inappropriate behavior happens off the field it needs to be called out, punished, and not overlooked or excused." (Carol Joynt/WashingtonSocialDiary)

(image via heretv)

"The silence coming out of the Larry King/Shawn King divorce is be cause the lawyers have told them to keep their mouths shut. They're sort of trying to work things out financially. Even their friends aren't talking. They're getting very, very quiet. Nobody is saying a word -- and there are plenty of word to say." (CindyAdams)

"Andrey Ternovskiy, an eighteen-year-old high-school dropout from Moscow, has a variety of explanations for why he created the Web site According to one story, he got bored talking to people he already knew on Skype; according to another, it was a fund-raising ploy for a bike trip from Moscow to Amsterdam. The most reliable version, however, centers on a shop called Russian Souvenirs. It is an upscale outfit owned by Ternovskiy’s uncle Sasha, who hired his nephew to work there as a salesman during the summer of 2008, five days a week, eleven hours a day. Ternovskiy was supposed to show foreign tourists around the shop, pulling various nesting dolls, lacquered boxes, and kitschy Soviet paraphernalia from the bright vitrines. The job was easy but exhilarating. 'I was really excited to work there, because I met, like, hundreds of different nations in a day,' Ternovskiy said recently at a coffee shop near his mother’s apartment, in the far reaches of northwestern Moscow. He is thin and nervous, with light sprays of acne on his cheeks and a fuzz of dark-blond hair. He has a hard time making eye contact and learned English by spending thousands of hours chatting online, but he says that his passion is talking with people and 'exploring other cultures.'" (TheNewyorker)

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