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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"On July 9, the world welcomed the independence of South Sudan and marked one of the more significant events in international geopolitics -- the creation of a new country. If, as expected, the new state is admitted for U.N. membership this week, it will become the body's 193rd member. South Sudan's independence has caused some excited announcements that we are witnessing a 'wave of self-determination' in the world, as Parag Khanna put it on this website in January. With entities like Palestine, South Ossetia, Somaliland, and Darfur pushing for sovereignty, Khanna writes, 'Within a few decades, we could easily have 300 states in the world.' Writing at the Atlantic, journalist G. Pascal Zachary sees South Sudanese independence as evidence that 'the process of Africans inventing and discovering their own political boundaries has finally begun, after some 50 years of waiting.' But the fact is, rather than an age of 'cartographic stress,' as Khanna has put it, the current era is a relatively stable one in terms of the movement of borders and the creation of new states. The global excitement that has surrounded South Sudan's arrival is really a reflection of how rare the creation of new states has become. To put it another way: If you purchased a world atlas at any point during the second half of the 20th century, within five years it would have been missing at least half a dozen new countries." (ForeignPolicy)


"July 14, 2011. Bastille Day. Regarded in history as the moment that sparked the French Revolution and brought down the monarchy of centuries. There were probably only about 300 people in all of Paris that day who knew about the storming of the Bastille. Very possibly no one at Versailles heard about it, let alone King Louis and Marie Antoinette. Two days later the prison was burned to the ground, a symbolic destruction of the 'tyranny' of the monarchy. What is rarely pointed out in the history of the time was that the monarchy was broke and had been engaged in financial activity to bolster the failing financial system. The aristocracy did not want to pay taxes and of course the other biggest landowner, the Church, didn’t. So Louis and his ministers were out of luck." (NYSocialDiary)



"In the classic summer-camp movie Meatballs, the boys of Camp North Star spend an inordinate amount of time fretting over their inability to compete with the wealthier boys of Camp Mohawk, across the lake. As Bill Murray’s camp counselor points out to his North Star charges, the outcome of a planned competition between the camps is ultimately irrelevant. No matter who wins, he says, 'all the really good-looking girls would still go out with the guys from Mohawk because they've got all the money! It just doesn't matter if we win or we lose. IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER!' As if they needed it, the boys (and girls) of the world’s Camp Mohawks are getting another leg up, as a growing number of exclusive summer camps focus on teaching kids not only to feel entitled but, specifically, how to be rich, according to an article that ran in last weekend’s New York Times. Take that, North Star losers. In wealthy circles, how a person spends his or her summer says everything about social class. Having family ties to a prestigious resort enclave and country club provides crucial cul-de-sac cred, the assumption being that those who vacation in the best spots have the necessary prerequisites for American aristocracy: money, access, and taste. This implied measure of status is now being used to define the structure of life for affluent children over summer vacation. TheTimes article cited well-to-do parents pressuring summer camps to do a better job of providing services that will help kids 'pad the high-school resume.' The traditional camp experience isn’t enough, according to this view. Now families are demanding that their children’s summer-camp programs focus on activities that will get them into Harvard, such as brushing up on their studies or training with premier golf and tennis coaches. When I was young, the camp you went to said something about your background. Rich kids from the Northeast (at least the ones I knew) all wanted to go to the Windridge Tennis & Sports Camps—the St. Tropez of camps for a network of preppy children who were just beginning to understand the value of having the right friends." (JamieJohnson)



"If the scene at Michael’s today is any indication, summer vacations are so 2010. The place was full of magazine honchos (the cafeteria at Hearst must have been empty), media mavens (Does Jason Binn ever sleep?) and bold face names who were all working the room like nobody’s business. I knew this group meant business when the chatter rose to such a decibel-splitting level that I could barely hear what my lunch dates were saying. So forget about playing hooky this week because the weather is so good, get to work on making that next big deal happen! When I arrived a little before noon today I got a chance to catch up with Harold Ford Jr. I asked the former congressman, now MSNBC analyst, what he thought of the contentious negotiations between President Obama and the Republicans on raising the debt ceiling. Will the two sides reach an agreement before the August deadline? 'They’ll strike an 11th hour deal,' Harold told me ... (Table 18)  Matt Lauer and Today‘s executive producer Jim Bell who was sporting what looked to be the beginnings of a beard. Before the guys had a chance to dig into their Cobb salads Matt got what appeared to be a very important call and had to dash outside for a few minutes. Who could possibly have been calling?" (FishbowlNY)



"HBO's new dramas Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones made a big showing in their first Emmy races, Friday Night Lights received a great sendoff for its final season, Modern Family solidified its position as the undisputed comedy king, The Big Bang Theory and Parks & Recreation landed first best series noms, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and So You Think You Can Dance broke into the major categories at the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards. On the heels of its Golden Globe and SAG wins, prohibition era extravaganza Boardwalk Empire netted an impressive tally of 18 Emmy nominations - including best drama series, best actor: Steve Buscemi and best director: Martin Scorsese - second only to the drama series that has dominated awards races for the past 4 years, AMC's Mad Men, which had 19. HBO led the network pack with 104 nominations, followed by this year's host of the Primetime Emmy ceremony, Fox, which was the most nominated broadcast network with 42 noms, while HBO's miniseries Mildred Pierce was the most nominated program overall with 21 mentions, including one in the newly consolidated best movie/miniseries category." (Deadline)


"Talks among members of the Senate’s Gang of Six have gained new momentum in recent days as negotiations between President Obama and congressional leaders have faltered.The five active members of the gang met for two and a half hours in the office of Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) Wednesday evening to eat dinner and make a penultimate push to a deal. The sixth member, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who had taken a hiatus from the group, says he is thinking about returning and has given them a new round of deficit-reduction proposals to consider. Aides to the Gang of Six members — who have taken to calling themselves 'five guys' since Coburn left — worked late into the night to put their progress into writing.  Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), one of the members of the group, said he and his colleagues made a lot of progress Wednesday. Several members also met earlier in the day. 'We’ve worked tonight, made a lot of progress,' he said Wednesday. 'We got people reducing things to writing tonight and tomorrow and we’ll see when we get back together tomorrow if people want to go forward.' The remaining members of the gang, Conrad, Warner, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) planned to meet again Thursday." (TheHill)

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