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Friday, January 14, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Barely a month goes by without a Washington Post editorial bemoaning Egypt's authoritarian retrenchment and criticizing the Obama administration's alleged failure to promote Arab democracy. But now Tunisia has erupted as the story of the year for Arab reformers. The spiraling protests and the regime's heavy-handed, but thus far ineffective, repression have captured the imagination of Arab publics, governments, and political analysts. Despite Tunis's efforts to censor media coverage, images and video have made it out onto social media and up to Al Jazeera and other satellite TV. The 'Tunisia scenario' is now the term of art for activist hopes and government fears of political instability and mass protests from Jordan to Egypt to the Gulf. But the Post's op-ed page has been strikingly silent about the Tunisian protests. Thus far, a month into the massive demonstrations rocking Tunisia, the Washington Post editorial page has published exactly zero editorials about Tunisia. For that matter, the Weekly Standard, another magazine which frequently claims the mantle of Arab democracy and attacks Obama for failing on it, has thus far published exactly zero articles about Tunisia (though, to his credit, frequent Standard contributor and ex-Bush administration official Elliott Abrams has weighed in on it at his new CFR blog). Why are the most prominent media voices on Arab democracy so entirely absent on the Arab reform story of the year? Perhaps they've had nothing to say simply because there has been little coverage of Tunisia in the Western media, and the United States has few interests or leverage in Tunis, making it a marginal issue for U.S. political debate." (ForeignPolicy)


"On Saturday, Review ran an excerpt from Amy Chua’s new book 'Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.' The article, titled 'Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,' attracted a lot of attention, generating more than 4,000 comments on wsj.com and around 100,000 comments on Facebook. Below, Ms. Chua answers questions from Journal readers who wrote in to the Ideas Market blog." (WSJ)


"Deadline has learned that Oprah Winfrey's upstart cable network OWN has acquired Becoming Chaz, the Fenton Bailey/Randy Barbato-directed feature documentary that will make its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and follows the gender reassignment journey that transformed Cher's and the late Sonny Bono's daughter Chastity into their son, Chaz Bono. The network is prepping a soiree up at the festival, where OWN will likely make a formal announcement of this deal. The network has already acquired more than half a dozen documentaries. Oprah's chief content officer Lisa Erspamer will be at the fest looking for more. More importantly for the film, Chaz Bono will be on hand for a film that makes its first festival premiere on Sunday, January 23." (Deadline)


"I went down Chelsea last night with my friend Charlie Scheips to a couple of gallery openings. I get invited to these things but rarely go because I don’t know the crowd and feel like a fish out of water, as they say. Going with Charlie is fun because he’s part of that world, knows a lot of people and knows what the art is about so he can assist my eye. We started out at the David Nolan Gallery at 527 West 29th Street which is over between 10th and 11th. That part of town looks like it was – the industrial area. Except now at night the sidewalks are filled with people because it’s mainly art galleries. There are something like 400 art galleries in Chelsea." (NYSocialDiary)


"Back in 1975 Adam Ferguson, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, published a very important book with a very apt modern title, When Money Dies. It was about the Weimar hyperinflation nightmare, something our so-called leaders might well think about, which of course they will not. We are so dumbed-down by reality and talent shows on the idiot box, why bother to bring up unpleasant subjects? ... I write all this because of Uncle Sam and the Bank of England’s appetite for 'quantitative easing,' the bureaucrooks’ lingo for printing moolah. Why can’t they simply call it printing money? QE is an American invention, like reality shows and celebrity programs. The Brits simply follow, the way they did for Iraq and Afghanistan. The bankers tell us that printing money will stimulate the economy. The great economist Taki is not convinced. Stopping the presses is like stopping a VLCC—a very large tanker—it can take up to twenty miles. Worse, it takes a very long time for inflation to show up even after you’ve stopped printing. At present, inflation is running at three times the rate of public and private sector pay increases, which means everyone is getting poorer except for the bankers, the dealmakers, and those who owe big money to the big banks for the dealmakers’ financing of their shady mega-deals." (Taki)


"Before Glock arrived on the scene in the mid-1980s, the U.S. was a revolver culture, a place where most handguns fired five or six shots at a measured pace, then needed to be reloaded one bullet at a time. With its large ammunition capacity, quick reloading, light trigger pull, and utter reliability, the Glock was hugely innovative—and an instant hit with police and civilians alike. Headquartered in Deutsch-Wagram, Austria, the company says it now commands 65 percent of the American law enforcement market, including the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration. It also controls a healthy share of the overall $1 billion U.S. handgun market, according to analysis of production and excise tax data. (Precise figures aren't available because Glock and several large rivals, including Beretta and Sig Sauer, are privately held.) With all those customers and that visibility, it's no surprise that the Glock has also been the gun of choice for some prolific psychopaths." (BusinessWeek)

"President Barack Obama's well-received speech at Wednesday's Tucson shooting victims memorial drew nearly 31 million total viewers across seven networks. The speech aired on ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, Fox News, CNN and MSNBC from 8:39 p.m. to 9:20 p.m. The 40-minute address averaged 30.77 million viewers and 22.5 million households, according to Nielsen, bettering the numbers for his most recent primetime speech on Iraq in August. That drew 29.2 million viewers and 21.8 million households. He drew slightly more for the speech before that on the BP oil spill, with 32.1 million viewers and 24 million households watching. His biggest audience last year came for his State of the Union in January, which averaged 48 million viewers and 34.2 million households. The president had to strike a delicate balance between remembering the victims and ensuring that the speech did not turn into a political pep rally. At times the applause during his remarks seemed awkward, considering the sensitive subject, but most analysts agreed that the president succeeded in offering thoughts that transcended party lines." (Medialifemagazine)


"Florence's Pitti Immagine Uomo isn't just the fashion world's biggest menswear bazaar. Twice a year, it also offers a chosen few designers the chance to spread their wings and do something a little less run of the mill than the customary catwalk. So we've seen some spectacular installations and arty happenings over the years (Gareth Pugh's outing tomorrow night promises to continue the tradition). Alberta Ferretti, invited to open Pitti's 79th edition last night, didn't go that route, but she did create an extravagant 30-piece collection exclusively for Florence, and she got to show it in the Chiesa di Santo Stefano al Ponte, a centuries-old Romanesque church that sure beat yer average fashion venue. Plus, she took a leaf out of Tom Ford's book and presented her clothes on a mix of models and friends, some of whom just happened to be recognizable-bordering-on-iconic. Like fashion's favorite septuagenarian Carmen Dell'Orefice, in a floor-length, felted gray wool suit with a lavish fur trim." (Style)


"If you’re an artist, critic, or curator, someone will inevitably ask you what you’re working on. It’s good to have either two projects that can be mentioned briefly, or one project that can be mentioned in more depth—though still kept within the bounds of appropriate party chatter. In different cities, artists, critics, and curators take different tacks on describing their workload. In Los Angeles, artists must always look like they are rested and fresh. In New York, the more haggard and hardworking you look the better. It’s always appropriate to be on your way to or to have just returned from international travel, e.g., 'I just got back from being in this biennial in Prague, but I’ve only a couple of weeks to get on my feet before I have to have some meetings in London.'" (Paddy Johnson)

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