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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oevres


"In June, a Chinese friend of mine who grew up in the northern industrial city of Shenyang and recently graduated from university moved to Beijing to follow his dream -- working for a media company. He has a full-time job, but the entry-level pay isn't great and it's tough to make ends meet. When we had lunch recently, he brought up his housing situation, which he described as 'not ideal.' He was living in a three-bedroom apartment split by seven people, near the Fourth Ring Road -- the outer orbit of the city. Five of his roommates were young women who went to work each night at 11 p.m. and returned around 4 a.m. 'They say they are working the overnight shift at Tesco,' the British retailer, but he was dubious. One night he saw them entering a KTV Club wearing lots of makeup and "skirts much shorter than my boxers' and, tellingly, proceeding through the employee entrance. 'So they are prostitutes,' he concluded. 'I feel a little uncomfortable.' But when he tallied his monthly expenses and considered his lack of specialconnections, or guanxi, in the city, either to help boost his paycheck or to find more comfortable but not more expensive housing, he figured he'd stick out the grim living situation. 'I have come here to be a journalist -- it is my goal, and I do not want to go back now. But it seems like it's harder than it used to be.'  When I asked how his colleagues and former classmates were getting along, he thought about it for a moment and then replied that some were basically in the same lot as him, "but many of my friends have parents in Beijing, and they can save money to live with them. If your family is already established here, it helps a lot." After a moment, he added: 'And some of them have rich parents who have already bought them their own apartments -- and cars.'" (Foreignpolicy)


"Congress is very unpopular. In November, according to the Gallup Poll, only 13% of Americans approved of the job that Congress was doing. That tied the record set in October for the lowest approval rating in the history of the Gallup Poll. Moreover, according to another recent Gallup Poll, only 20% of Americans believe that most members of Congress deserve to be reelected. That's the lowest percentage in the 19 years that Gallup has been asking this question. These sorts of statistics, repeated in poll after poll, have given rise to speculation by some pundits and political observers that large numbers of incumbents in both parties may lose their seats next November as a result of the high level of public dissatisfaction with congressional Democrats and Republicans. Some analysts have even suggested that the anti-incumbent mood could produce an historic triple flip in the 2012 elections with control of both houses of Congress and the presidency all changing hands. If this happened there would be a Republican president along with a Democratic House and a Republican Senate in 2013. OK, time to get back to reality. There has never been a triple flip election and there is not going to be one in 2012. Not only that, but despite the abysmal approval ratings that Congress has been receiving, 2012 will not be an anti-incumbent election. That's because opinions about the performance of Congress and opinions about whether most congressional incumbents deserve to be reelected have little or no influence on the outcomes of congressional elections." (SabatosCrystalBall)

"December 22, 2011. The Winter Solstice. Also known as Midwinter and the longest night of the year. From today on, the days will get longer and the nights shorter. Let there be light ... My cabbie this afternoon, taking me home from midtown, observing the noticeably quieter traffic on the avenue said he thought a lot of people have already left town for the holiday. The private schools in my neighborhood (Chapin and Brearley) are already out ... The day before yesterday I went down to Michael’s to lunch with Alexandra Wolfe whom I’ve known for quite some time. I think the first time we met, she was a reporter for the New York Observer and she called me about a story she was working on. I can’t remember the story. But she was such good conversation over the phone that I asked her to lunch. That must have been four or five years ago. Since then we’ve met to catch up once or twice a year. I think Tuesday was the first time this year. " (NYSocialDiary)

"My end-of-the-year Christmas party was the best yet. The festivities began at 10PM and ended somewhat hazily around 6 the next morning. My son JT provided the youth and I provided the gravitas. Actually it was the other way around. I provided the brawn—judo and karate experts—and he provided the artsy-fartsy types from Brooklyn with lotsa pretty girls. Cauliflower brains mixed freely with cauliflower ears. My buddy Michael Mailer, son of Norman and a very good boxer who now produces movies, had to fly to South Africa, but like a good friend he left three beautiful blondes behind who all came to the party. At midnight I announced that the three beauties sitting together in the Mailer corner were now my property because Michael had been eaten by a rogue lion somewhere near the Cape. The ladies thought it unfair, but I reminded them that life’s unfair and if one’s eaten, one stays eaten. Never have so many beautiful young women been in my house before—an embarrassment of riches, with clusters of them talking to each other while the men talked politics, martial arts, and other such silly subjects. Some even talked art. 'How strange it is to be writing about parties and good times when the world is in this condition. 'How strange it is to be writing about parties and good times when the world is in this condition." (Taki Theodoracopulos)

"In their 2011 'Rulebreakers' issue, The Hollywood Reporter looks at The Rebels, The Opportunists, The Cinderella Stories and more from the world of TV and movies. Marisa Guthrie pens a page on The Interviewers, focusing on ABC’s Diane Sawyer, NBC’s Matt Lauer and CBS’s Steve Kroft. 'Sometimes you think you know the story, but you go back and look again,' says Sawyer. 'It’s about waking all of us up. That is the reason we do it.' 'It’s not the topic,' says Matt Lauer of his style. 'It’s the tone. If you can make people comfortable and get them to trust you, then you can hit them hard on something.' Kroft’s interviews inside the beltway and beyond have made him '60 Minutes' griller-in-chief. He’s interviewed Pres. Obama 12 times, from the campaign trail to just last week. Kroft tells Guthrie the president 'has never said no' to an interview." (TVNewser)


"Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) on Thursday urged House Republicans to pass a two-month extension of the payroll-tax cut, putting greater pressure on House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to act. McConnell said House passage of a Senate-approved payroll-tax relief package 'locks in' legislative language requiring President Obama to speed up his timetable for approving the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline. The bipartisan Senate package also includes a two-month extension of unemployment benefits and a two-month freeze of scheduled cuts to doctors’ Medicare payments. The cost of the package is offset by increasing fees at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, cutting about $3 billion from the deficit. McConnell also backed Boehner’s demand that Senate Democrats appoint conferees to negotiate a year-long extension of the payroll-tax cut with the House. '[Senate Majority] Leader [Harry] Reid should appoint conferees on the long-term bill, and the House should pass an extension that locks in the thousands of Keystone XL pipeline jobs, prevents any disruption in the payroll tax holiday or other expiring provisions, and allows Congress to work on a solution for the longer extensions,' McConnell said in a news release Thursday morning." (Alexander Bolton/TheHill)


"According to a North Korean Central News Agency report, 'peculiar natural wonders' have been witnessed since Kim Jong-il died on Saturday. And we're not talking about Kim Jong-il's face appearing in a crummy piece of toast.  On the morning of Kim Jong-il's death, layers of ice on a famous lake broke thunderously. ' was the first time that such a big noise was heard.' At Mt. Paektu, under which Kim Jong-il's wacky origin myth says he was born in a log cabin, words of Kim Jong-il's that have been carved into stone glowed brightly. (yes, Kim Jong-il had his own writings carved into the side of a mountain. Take that, George Washington.)" (Gawker)


"Which famed cougar actually swings both ways and once stripped in front of a female journalist as an obvious come-on? Which ethnic actress must be getting a career boost out of publicly dating that sizzling actor? (She's a lesbian!) Which mouthy funny lady loves sex so ferociously that when she used to fuck a fellow comic, the windows had to be shut because her squeals shook the whole neighborhood? (Yep, she's a scream.) hat designer's young boyfriend is still so relatively unsophisticated that he has four crumbled chocolate-chip cookies covered in milk for breakfast—plus he spells zucchini 'zookini'? Which supposedly reformed star ran out of a screening four times (to powder her nose, perhaps), unfortunately coming back to ask a not-terribly-bright question during the Q&A? Which avant-garde disco singer still hasn't returned that Marlene Dietrich movie? hich old broad messed up so many songs during a big concert engagement that some people were buzzing that it was 'a career killer' (though she got the obligatory standing ovation)? Which rising starlet shuns red carpets these days because she doesn't want to be asked about her relationship with that TV star?" (Musto)


"Former Police Commissioner Bill Bratton touted the release of his tome 'ollaborate or Perish!'at Georgette Mosbacher’s holiday bash while his fourth wife, Rikki Klieman, was eager to see her dedication. She said she got her hands on the transcript last week, and immediately flipped to the acknowledgments. 'e dedicated the last book to his first wife,'she said. 'So I think I deserve a dedication in the second.'She got what she was wishing for. Guests at the GOP fundraiser’s Park Avenue home included Barbara Walters, Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes, Rudy Giuliani, Martha Stewart, top cop Ray Kelly, Bill White, Ed Rollins and Democratic analyst Robert Zimmerman swimming in a sea of Republicans." (PageSix)

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