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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Shortly after Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down, an anonymous call began to circulate through Chinese microblogs for citizens to participate in 'Jasmine Revolution' protests. The demonstrations, which took place on Feb. 20 and Feb. 27 in several large Chinese cities, attracted a small but determined cohort of Chinese people 'taking a walk' and 'gathering to watch' as a peaceful show of support for pro-democracy movements in the Middle East -- and for expanding employment opportunities, protecting housing rights, and opposing official corruption in China. President Hu Jintao labeled the call for protests 'socially destabilizing,' and Chinese authorities responded with a sweeping pre-emptive strike against anyone they identified as likely to take part. That included hundreds of human rights activists, lawyers, and pro-democracy dissidents from across the country. Police used violence, arbitrary detention, 'disappearances,' and other forms of harassment and intimidation to silence their voices. Although the full scope of police action is difficult to trace, signs are emerging that the ongoing crackdown may be one of the severest in the past few years." (ForeignPolicy)


"What might the Arab uprising mean for the world? No one knows the answer to this question. But this should not prevent one from making a guess at the range of uncertainty. As an economist, I find one aspect of these events peculiarly heartening: they demonstrate that the forecasting ability of experts on politics is at least as limited as that of economists. All such events are inherently unforecastable. This is not because they are 'unknown unknowns'. They are rather 'known unknowns': thus we know that many countries are vulnerable to such upheavals, but no one knows when or even whether such an event might occur. We do not even know the probabilities of such events. As Hamlet says, 'the readiness is all'. What, then, can we say about the political consequences? One conclusion is that the notion of an 'Arab exception' to the appeal of freedom of expression and political participation is dead. Yet we also know that the road from repression to stable democracy in poor countries with weak institutions and histories of repression is long and hard. The difficulties of post-Ceauçescu Romania, in spite of its engagement with the European Union, indicate the scale of the task. Beyond this, a big question is how far the unrest might spread, not only within the Arab world, but also outside it." (Martin Wolf/FT)


"Last summer, the world’s top software-security experts were panicked by the discovery of a drone-like computer virus, radically different from and far more sophisticated than any they’d seen. The race was on to figure out its payload, its purpose, and who was behind it. As the world now knows, the Stuxnet worm appears to have attacked Iran’s nuclear program. And, as Michael Joseph Gross reports, while its source remains something of a mystery, Stuxnet is the new face of 21st-century warfare: invisible, anonymous, and devastating." (VanityFair)


"Last night at the Park Avenue Armory was the Preview Evening benefiting the Henry Street Settlement of the 23rd Annual Art Show which opens to the public today at noon, and runs through this Sunday coming. The biggest ticket (don’t know the price but assume it was four figures) started arriving at 5:30. By 7:30 when I arrived (press ticket), there were hundreds, maybe a couple of thousand – the Park Avenue Armory is vast – milling about taking in the creative splendor. This is the beginning of Art Week in New York ... I went last night with my friend, Mr. Art Set, Charlie Scheips, who always has something interesting to point out, and someone interesting whom he knows ... Evenings like this now provoke a frequent comment from those attending: things are getting better. There are two explanations other than the obvious (people like to collect). One is that those who can afford to are looking for places to put their money and Art is one of those places (especially Contemporary Art — although someone told me last night that Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst are both buying Old Masters these days). Another explanation is that people (who can afford it) are feeling more optimistic about the state of the economy and spending once again. Whatever the reason, the excitement last night was palpable and frankly, its own kind of palliative — a pleasure to be around (even for this 'poor' writer). Everything is enhanced in this kind of atmosphere including even the art itself." (NYSocialDiary)


"Despite rumors of a split, Ryan Phillippe and Amanda Seyfried 'were all over each other and making out all night' at Madonna's post-Oscar party, even though his ex-wife Reese Witherspoon was also there with her new fiancé, Jim Toth, a spy tells us. Also at Guy Oseary's Coldwater Canyon mansion was pregnant Natalie Portman, who was 'dancing and had a great time until the early hours,' plus Colin Firth, who 'celebrated so much that he started slurring' ... Our source said, 'Madonna and her dancers put on a show for everyone. Cameras were banned, and guests were ordered to leave their bodyguards in the security tent.'" (PageSix)




"Did the Church of Scientology use a Vanity Fair contributing editor to infiltrate and gather intelligence on the cult's enemies in the media? John Connolly is a well-known, and well-liked, character in New York media circles. He's a former NYPD detective and stock broker who landed a third career as an investigative reporter for Vanity Fair, where he is a contributing editor, Radar, the Daily Beast, Gawker, and other outlets. Connolly is an investigator of the old school, employed more for his ability to run a license plate number than his facility with prose. In 1990, while freelancing for Forbes, he was accused by a federal judge of using his old NYPD badge to obtain sealed court documents. According to USA Today, his stint as a stockbroker ended in the 1980s with a $100,000 civil penalty and lifetime ban from the Securities and Exchange Commission. He's a mischievous tipster, an inveterate gossip, and an information broker of the highest order. He speaks with a cartoonish New York accent and knows literally everybody. And according to the two highest ranking Scientology officials to ever leave the church, he's been a paid informant for the cult for two decades." (Observer)


"When I saw the iPhone video that people were sending me of John Galliano proclaiming his love for Hitler at La Perle, I was shocked. I never heard him saying anything like that before, even though I may not be one of his closest friends. Evidently, John is haunted by a morbid, anti-Semitic obsession, and the words and threats that can be heard in this video are inacceptable. I can find no excuse for this, whether or not he is drunk or on medication, or even his extreme megalomania. However, his drunken anti-Semitic tirade seems to be more of a desperate cry, a public suicide, a hardcore Brit-punk provocation, than an affirmation of any racist convictions. I mainly harbor a great sadness for John Galliano because this unfortunate incident (and once again, intolerable) marks for him a sudden end — one that is unworthy of his rare talent and his extraordinary sense of mise-en-scène. Clearly, in this absurd altercation, John Galliano is expressing the distress of a designer worn-out by this industry, isolated from others by his eccentric celebrity and his megalomania, dissocialized and profoundly alone." (Olivier Zahm)


"Friday night is Hollywood Power Player night. First stop is uber-agent Ari Emanuel’s glamorous Brentwood house. Teeming with stars. I am obsessed with his ultra-chic screening room and want to move in. Next stop, Hollywood King Bryan Lourd’s bash. The party is ultra-private (no press at all), so I feel like I ought not to divulge too much, but suffice it to say, it is wall-to-wall A-listers (A+ listers, actually) as far as the eye can see. And everyone is relaxed and kicking back. What a group! Daniel drags me (unwillingly) out at close to 1:00 a.m. (I would have happily stayed all night – the party and Bryan’s house are beyond). Highlight for Daniel: meeting Sofia Vergara. She is hot!  Saturday day is Barry Diller’s & Diane Von Furstenberg’s lunch at their house. This one is always a ton of fun. Relaxed and delicious and an amazing mix of people, and Barry & Diane are incredibly warm and gracious hosts. Oprah sighting!! Saturday night is the Night Before party, masterminded by DreamWorks’ Jeffrey Katzenberg, Stacey Snider and Chip Sullivan." (Andrew Saffir)


"Over the past week, (Charlie) Sheen has called Two and a Half Men co-creator Chuck Lorre a clown, a turd and a charlatan among other things. But, despite the bad blood, Sheen doesn't rule out working with Lorre again. 'Maybe two guys just sit in a room and say, Look, we hate each other, let's continue to make some great television,' he said during his 20/20 interview that aired tonight. There was no love for CBS executive though. 'The fun stops' on the set of Men 'when they roll in,' Sheen said. 'They just puke all over it. They're not welcome to be in the presence of what I'm delivering.' Meanwhile, on Piers Morgan Tonight, Harvey Weinstein was asked about Sheen whom he called 'one of the best actors when he’s motivated.' But when Morgan suggested that the actor's strategy of going after the bigwigs, including CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves, might work, Weinstein quickly dismissed that. 'I know Les Moonves,' Weinstein said. 'Charlie Sheen is playing a losing game.' He later added, 'Les Moonves knows how the program a network, Les Moonves knows how to make a show. He is a dangerous guy to go against.'" (Deadline)


"I'm a 41-year-old, very attractive, happily married woman. My husband and I have been together for 15 years. When we first met, the sex was absolutely incredible. After we got married, the sex was good, not great. This was because we were busy raising our children. (My husband had custody of 4-year-old twins, children from his first marriage, when we married.) The reason I know our sex life suffered while we were busy raising the kids is that after the girls went off to college, things went right back to absolutely incredible. One night, we were talking about our sexual fantasies, and I confessed that since my mid-30s I've fantasized about being with a younger man. He told me that he'd be fine with me living out that fantasy if I would have a MFF threesome with him. I agreed, and we had the MFF threesome with a friend of mine. Here's my question: How do I go about finding a gorgeous, college-age man? I thought about posting an ad on Craigslist, but you've said that most of the people on Craigslist are flakes and picture collectors. Do you have better suggestions for finding a straight college-age guy for a no-strings-attached encounter?" (SavageLove)

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