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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"(Niall) Ferguson's most recent strategic expository centered on the geopolitical implications of China possibly eclipsing American and Western power, reflections he recently shared at Chatham House in London [published as, 'The West and the Rest: the Changing Global Balance of Power in Historic Perspective,' May 9, 2011]  His compelling if provocative analysis built not only on his latest tome, Civilization: the West and the Rest, but also the much-anticipated sweeping history, On China, written by the Henry Kissinger, and published today. Kissinger's narrative sees Confucian roots in contemporary Chinese decision-making and upheavals. This is a consequential conclusion, because for Kissinger it means that as China's power ascends the temptation to wield power the way Europe or even America has done so will be tempered by tradition. Rather than seeking imperial rule, for instance, China will be content with finding its place under heaven, essentially as the regional Middle Kingdom. It is also likely to employ a classical Chinese strategy of playing external barbarians off one another, only occasionally clinching a few of the barbarians into its ambit. Thus, Kissinger emphasizes civilizational and cultural continuity as the common thread throughout Chinese history. In contrast, Ferguson emphasizes the simple but dominant theme of power, in a sense that Hans Morgenthau and John Mearsheimer would readily recognize (and indeed which Kissinger would have felt more comfortable with during his more youthful days as a statesman). At the heart of Ferguson's analytical question is this: what if China has not only figured out how to catch up with the West, but has also adopted an imperial Western conception of power? " (ForeignPolicy)


"HBO's 'Too Big to Fail' film premiere was not big enough to keep Warren Buffett and George Soros in the same room. Sources who attended the cable network's bash at the Four Seasons say the Wall Street rock stars, whose investment strategies couldn't be more different, stayed well apart during the evening. A source tells us Soros held court at a table in the center of the Four Seasons' Grill Room, where titans of finance lunch on weekdays. Buffett, however, presided over a table of female financial journalists in the Pool Room, which is at the other end of a long passageway. With the two titans of finance in opposite strongholds, one reveler says, 'It was like having a scale of wealth' teetering back and forth. The soiree feted HBO's adaptation of Andrew Ross Sorkin's book about the 2008 Wall Street crash and subsequent bailout ... Neither investor seemed interested in upsetting the balance by mingling. In fact, another party guest says that when Buffett arrived at the party via the Grill Room, with financial writer Devon Spurgeon, a photographer approached to suggest the Berkshire Hathaway billionaire take a shot with Soros, who was also with "a much younger blond' ... Safely ensconced in the Pool Room, the elegantly dressed Buffett ensured privacy by taking a table on the raised terrace, which is protected by a brass railing. A source says he was further buffered by an all-female table of guests ... 'No one could get to him,' says one source, who said that despite Buffett's sequestered state, he was able to enjoy the lavish Four Seasons spread, thanks to one woman at his table who ministered to his culinary needs. 'He was sitting right by the dessert buffet. And he enjoyed that dessert buffet a lot,' says the source." (NYDailyNews)


"The current saga between Zsa Zsa Gabor’s ninth husband, Frederic von Anhalt, and her only daughter, Constance Francesca Hilton, is as remarkable as it is mundane. It is the stuff of everyday life in courthouses all over the country when a loved one is incapacitated and family dramas break out into public viewing. On the surface, it is the stuff of tabloids: formerly glamorous actress succumbs to old age as her latest husband battles for control of the assets with her only next of kin. But, as Gabor comes closer to death, the sad story carries with it the strains of a Greek tragedy. Hilton, the only child of Gabor and her second husband, the hotel magnate Conrad Hilton, says von Anhalt has banned her from seeing her mother—a charge that von Anhalt denies. 'She can go on Sundays when the doctor is there so there is no funny business,' said John Blanchette, a spokesman for Gabor and von Anhalt. Gabor, 94, has suffered a slow and horrible march toward death that she surely never would have imagined. Always ultra-careful with her image, the world has seen garish pictures of Gabor in a hospice bed, her leg amputated after a gangrenous infection. Her slow demise has been covered in agonizing detail and has included such bizarre and sordid stories as von Anhalt wanting Gabor’s body to be preserved and displayed upon her death and Gabor wanting a surrogate to carry von Anhalt’s child. Hilton maintains that von Anhalt, a self-described German prince—despite being the son of a policeman—nearly three decades Gabor’s junior, is behind the leaks and the reason for her mother’s undignified end." (TheDailyBeast)



"What's the worst thing that could happen at an upfront presentation? It may be what's taking place at the TNT-TBS gathering right now: The network can't show clips of its shows to the audience. The session is on hold while technicians try to solve the problem, but it already screwed up one of Conan O'Brien's comedy routines ... Video came back about 15 minutes ago and appears to be OK. Whatever happens, the technical woes gave Conan O'Brien more ammo for a routine that took several jabs at Turner Entertainment. When the breakdown ruined one of his gags, he said, 'You know I love working at TBS -- the commitment to detail.' After a stagehand told him to skip the routine with the clip, he added: 'Alright, I guess I’ll do what I'm told. Beggers can’t be choosers.' Earlier he said, 'I did this upfront last year. Frankly, I don’t know why TBS doesn’t do what it does best and run it again -– four freaking times.' Also: 'We’re already No. 1 in TBS’ key demographic: People who can’t afford HBO.'" (Deadline)


"This year, Mark Pincus, the founder and C.E.O. of Zynga—the company that created the silly Facebook games FarmVille, CityVille, and Zynga Poker, the most popular online poker game in the world—had plans to spend the whole month of March at his ranch outside of Aspen. Pincus, who is himself, along with his company, devoted to the concept of 'play' in theory, practice, and also as an extraordinarily lucrative business model, was determined to have fun. 'Aspen is just dialed in as a sports town,' he says. 'You have skiing, hiking, road-biking, mountain-biking, golf, tennis … ' A slight five feet six, with large liquid brown eyes, Pincus looks down for a moment and purses his lips. 'I have to say, though, I hate tennis here. The ball goes faster because of the altitude. It’s harder to win points' ... So, on this Wednesday in the middle of his Aspen week, Pincus has been having fun all morning, slicing down Aspen Mountain before barreling down his driveway for a late lunch. Plus, the most fun thing ever happened today: he became a billionaire, at least on paper. It’s an amazing feat for a guy whom, a close associate says, 'no one in Silicon Valley wanted to touch in 2007,' and whose ideas a big game manufacturer turned down early on, 'essentially throwing up all over them.' In the Valley, Pincus has been famous for 15 years, but he’s always been plotting his big score. 'There’s an A-list [in Silicon Valley], and then there’s everyone else—and I’m not on the A-list,' he lamented to The New York Times six years ago, even after his first company, a wonky tech outfit, was sold for $38 million. Anyway, the Forbes list came out this morning, and there it was, finally, for everyone to see—Pincus, worth a billion dollars and counting. He’s one of the seven new 'Facebook billionaires,' a group which includes all those guys from the Social Network movie—Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin, Sean Parker, libertarian investor Peter Thiel—plus Russian tech investor Yuri Milner. Pincus’s BlackBerry has been pinging on and off throughout the day, with messages from friends and colleagues offering congratulations. “You know, I was hoping not to be on the list,' he says later, shaking his head a little. 'I’m not looking to be famous for the amount of money I have, and it’s kind of socially awkward.' But from the glint in his eye, it’s clear that he isn’t exactly disappointed." (Vanity Fair)


"And what I know even more is that the Strauss-Kahn I know, who has been my friend for 20 years and who will remain my friend, bears no resemblance to this monster, this caveman, this insatiable and malevolent beast now being described nearly everywhere. Charming, seductive, yes, certainly; a friend to women and, first of all, to his own woman, naturally, but this brutal and violent individual, this wild animal, this primate, obviously no, it’s absurd. This morning, I hold it against the American judge who, by delivering him to the crowd of photo hounds, pretended to take him for a subject of justice like any other. I am troubled by a system of justice modestly termed “accusatory,” meaning that anyone can come along and accuse another fellow of any crime—and it will be up to the accused to prove that the accusation is false and without basis in fact. I resent the New York tabloid press, a disgrace to the profession, that, without the least precaution and before having effected the least verification, has depicted Dominique Strauss-Kahn as a sicko, a pervert, borderlining on serial killer, a psychiatrist’s dream." (Henry Bernard Levy)


"Lunch at Michael’s with Philip Kingsley, the world renowned Trichologist who is a new friend. Although Philip is one of those people who comes naturally to the gift of friendship. We met only a little more than a couple years ago through his wife Joan with whom I was in summer stock in the summer of 1967. Joan and I never saw each other again after that summer, except once in 1979 when I was first living in Los Angeles and she – newly married to Philip – was in town with her husband. We renewed our friendship only a couple years ago when I discovered that she and I had a mutual friend here in town. Since then we see each other almost monthly when they are in from London, and I have got to know her husband ... My objective with yesterday’s lunch was to interview him about his business, which is not unusual but a somewhat sparsely populated profession in a market that is vast and global. Definition: Trichology n. The branch of medicine, cosmetic study and practice concerned with the hair and scalp .. Susan Gutfreund stopped by the table and when I introduced them asking if they’d met (they hadn’t), she said: 'he’s famous.' Indeed he is. Later Gerry Byrne the media and entertainment consultant -- another Michael’s regular -- stopped by our table because he and Philip are old friends. So it turned out was Michael McCarty himself. In asking him about his life, I wondered what caused his break-out where so many famous people became clients. The first big break came in the early 1960s when Harry Andrews, the actor – then with the National Theatre – came to see him. Andrews was mainly bald. Philip told him in his straight forward but easy to take way, that he couldn’t re-grow what had been lost but he could help him take are of what he had left. Andrews became a client.  One day he said to his fellow company member, Laurence Olivier, 'Larry, you worry so much about your hair, you should go and see this Kingsley fellow because he’s so honest.' Olivier went to Philip and went back and again. 'And you know, actors talk,' Philip added, 'and soon the whole National Theatre company were coming to see me.' He was launched." (NYSocialDiary)
 

"Howard (Stern) brought up Arnold (Scwarzenegger) and how unbelievable he is. He said that he was living in a house with his wife who is a Kennedy. He said she gave up her career to have kids with the guy and she has 4 kids. He said he was so hell bent on meeting the Kennedy's that he did whatever he could to do it. He was obsessed with Jacqueline Kennedy. He said he met her at a celebrity event and worked his way into her life. He said just like the Kennedy's he married someone for political position and he cheated on the side just like the Kennedy's. He said it's like the grand tradition ... JD came in and said that he heard Arnold's kids changed their last names to Shriver on their Facebook accounts. Howard said he's going to get a lot of shit for this. He said he wants to know where he's going to show up first to talk about this. He said he should just move to Austria to get away from everything. Howard said that's what he'd do. He said he'd get the fuck out of Dodge. " (Marksfriggin)


"'I see myself as sort of an emotional consigliere,' Mr. (Jerry) Colonna told Betabeat recently, sitting in his office on Broadway. 'I like to have the deep conversations with people that really dig into their problems.' He was dressed a bit like Steve Jobs: blue jeans, white Nikes, a blue turtleneck and wire-frame glasses. He spoke with a soothing, monklike calm—a style that has proved surprisingly popular among high-strung local techies. Mr. Colonna’s touchy-feely ethos makes him something of an outlier in the city’s competitive, high-stress tech scene. Under the “recommended reading” section of his website, Mr. Colonna touts such titles as Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living and When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Uncertain Times. A post about a recent trip to Tibet includes a lyric from the Tracy Chapman song, 'Changes': If you knew that you would die today / Saw the face of God and love / Would you change? / Would you change? That sentiment stands in sharp contrast to the city’s predominant start-up culture, which romanticizes sleepless work weeks, solitary struggle and scrappy resolve in the face of failure.'You’ve either started a company or you haven’t,' Chris Dixon, founder of local start-up Hunch and a well respected angel investor, wrote on his blog recently, in what might stand as a stirring manifesto of the Founderist ethos ... During the first dot-com boom, Mr. Colonna was a founder himself. His venture capital firm, Flatiron Partners, which he stared with Fred Wilson, was the first in town to specifically fund early-stage internet companies, including Geocities, which sold to Yahoo for $3.7 billion in 1999 at the height of the Web 1.0 bubble." (BetaBeat)

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