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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Europe is a generalization. As recent events have demonstrated yet again, sharing a continent with someone doesn't necessarily make you their countryman … or even capable of cooperating with them when it is in your mutual self-interest. Yet, despite all evidence to the contrary, when we talk about the crisis in Europe, we talk about it as if it were a Europe-wide crisis. Worse, recently, political opportunists on the right have begun to argue that the problems in Greece, Italy, and Spain are an indictment of Europe as a whole and of 'European' ideas like the welfare state. But of course, the economic mess in which the Greeks, the Italians and others find themselves has nothing to do with their being European. It has to do with them being financially irresponsible. It has to do with them being baited into reckless practices by bankers with whom they were too cozy … and who themselves were so eager to lend that they suspended sensible risk assessment practices. Admittedly, the problems within these states have pan-European consequences and they have revealed serious shortcomings both within European Union institutions and among EU leaders. But it would not only be misleading to lump all the countries of Europe into one basket in terms of the issues that have been raised, it would also obscure the fact that within Europe itself exist superb examples of what these floundering countries might aspire to. (And the contrast between the success stories and the failures needs to be understood to begin to grapple with the real problems of economic and political integration that have not been sufficiently addressed to date in the context of the European Union.) What's more, Europe's success stories not only quash absurd assertions that having a state with a strong social safety net is the problem, they offer examples that might be well followed outside Europe; say, in the United States, home to another broken, corrupted version of capitalism." (David Rothkopf)



"On Wednesday night we witnessed a political suicide live on national television. Rick Perry is now the official Charlie Brown of presidential candidates. He reminds me of the kid who got held back in high school. Even though he’s been there longer than the rest of the class (or governor for 10 years), he still doesn’t know the answers. It’s one thing to not be able to tick off all of Mitt Romney’s 59-point economic plan. Or even a 10-point plan. But when you can’t get past two in a three-point plan, you’re done. Disqualified. Perry is now a dead man walking. He’ll go through the motions to save face, but he won’t get a single new voter. And he will quickly lose the ones he had. Once they’re laughing at you, you’re finished. Perry supporters Wednesday night were running out in the dark and pulling out yard signs." (Mark McKinnon/TheDailyBeast)


"Last night was a social marathon. Over on 77th and Central Park West they celebrated the re-opening of the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library. There was a Statue dedication at 5:30, followed by an Exhibition Preview of the museum's new show 'Revolution! The Atlantic World Reborn,' and the premiere screening of 'New York Story,' a film experience narrated by Liev Schreiber. Hosts for the evening (with a big crowd) were Diana and Joseph DiMenna, Simone and David Levinson, Jacqueline Sackler, Rory Tahari. If you happened to have been watching over the last few years, the N-YHS has been going through a re-birth led by several individuals starting with Richard Gilder, Roger Hertog who is the chairman of the museum, Louise Mirrer, President and CEO and Pam Schafler who is Vice-Chair. The theme of the evening was 'This Is What A Revolution Looks Like.' ... Also on the calendar. Love Heals celebrated its 20th Anniversary at the Four Seasons restaurant. They honored Julianna Margulies, Cristina Greevan Cuomo, and Michael Lorber ... Then there were the book parties which are hosting with increasing frequency as well as much frequented by a wide variety of New Yorkers who like getting out and about. Solomon Asser, Ian Graham, Cathy Franklin, Raphael de Niro hosted a book launch for Ellen Graham and her new book Talking Pictures at Mr. Asser's newly renovated townhouse on the Upper East Side." (NYSocialDiary)



"Between 1971 and 1984, (Daniel) Kahneman and (Amos) Tversky had published a series of quirky papers exploring the ways human judgment may be distorted when we are making decisions in conditions of uncertainty. When we are trying to guess which 18-year-old baseball prospect would become a big-league all-star, for example. To a reader who is neither psychologist nor economist (i.e., me), these papers are not easy going, though I am told that compared with other academic papers in their field they are high literature. Still, they are not so much written as constructed, block by block. The moment the psychologists uncover some new kink in the human mind, they bestow a strange and forbidding name on it ('the availability heuristic'). In their most cited paper, cryptically titled 'Prospect Theory,' they convinced a lot of people that human beings are best understood as being risk-averse when making a decision that offers hope of a gain but risk-seeking when making a decision that will lead to a certain loss. In a stroke they provided a framework to understand all sorts of human behavior that economists, athletic coaches, and other 'experts' have trouble explaining: why people who play the lottery also buy insurance; why people are less likely to sell their houses and their stock portfolios in falling markets; why, most sensationally, professional golfers become better putters when they’re trying to save par (avoid losing a stroke) than when they’re trying to make a birdie (and gain a stroke). When you wander into the work of Kahneman and Tversky far enough, you come to find their fingerprints in places you never imagined even existed. It’s alive in the work of the psychologist Philip Tetlock, who famously studied the predictions of putative political experts and found they were less accurate than predictions made by simple algorithms. It’s present in the writing of Atul Gawande (Better, The Checklist Manifesto), who has shown the dangers of doctors who place too much faith in their intuition. It inspired the work of Terry Odean, a finance professor at U.C. Berkeley, who examined 10,000 individual brokerage accounts to see if stocks the brokers bought outperformed stocks they sold and found that the reverse was true." (Michael Lewis/Vanity Fair)


"Last night, two of the cities most dapper fellows: fashion designer Thom Browne and man-about-town Euan Rellie hosted the launch of Browne Bag, the designer's collaboration with Dewar's scotch whiskey at Hudson Clearwater in the West Village. DJ Mike Nouveau kept the stylish gents' toes tapping. Guests included Kate Schelter, Pamela Berkovic, Martin Marks, Darrell Hartman, Jackie Astier and Stan Parish." (Papermag)


"A coalition of conservatives is working to organize the disparate groups opposing Mitt Romney as the Republican presidential nominee. While much has been made of Romney’s lack of support among conservative Republicans, the sense of malaise has mostly manifested as a lack of enthusiasm rather than outright opposition. That could all be about to change. The new coalition is seeking to push back against the narrative that Romney is the 'inevitable nominee,' according to spokesman and activist Ali Akbar. The group's website, NotMittRomney.com, launched this week. Akbar said that although the group is open to becoming a political action committee in the future, right now it is focused on becoming an online gathering place for the anti-Romney movement. The 'inevitable' Romney storyline has been growing. The former Massachusetts governor has been at or near the top of the polls since the race began; conservatives have not rallied around a candidate to oppose him; and his nearest competition, businessman Herman Cain, faces allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior." (TheHill)



"Oscar-winning producer Brian Grazer will take the reins as producer of the 84th Academy Awards after Brett Ratner dramatically stepped down, it was announced last night. Sources tell Page Six the show under Grazer may now include an ensemble of 'hot' presenters rather than one key host. Grazer was due to meet last night with brass from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, sources said, to discuss new host ideas and to rescue the Feb. 26 live telecast. The move to hire Grazer -- in the wake of Ratner’s and then host Eddie Murphy’s dramatic exits -- came as Imagine Entertainment honcho Grazer touched down in Los Angeles from New York late Tuesday after he’d screened his Clint Eastwood film, 'J. Edgar,' which stars Leonardo DiCaprio and is gaining big Oscar buzz. No decision has been made about who will take over the hosting duties,” said a source. 'Brian has some ideas, but he wants to see who the Academy has already spoken to and what they think.' Also, events producer Don Mischer has stayed on to co-produce the show ... Hiring Grazer, who produced the Best Picture-winning 'A Beautiful Mind,' will certainly keep many of the Academy’s more traditional guard happy after its experiment to be hip with Ratner backfired." (PageSix)

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