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Monday, July 02, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"For a long time, primatologists have known that chimpanzees will act out ­social dominance with a special ferociousness, slapping hands, stamping feet, or 'charging back and forth and dragging huge branches,' as Jane Goodall once wrote. And sociologists and anthropologists have explored the effects of hierarchy in tribes and groups. But psychology has only recently begun seriously investigating how having money, that major marker of status in the modern world, ­affects psychosocial behavior in the species Homo sapiens. By making real people temporarily very affluent, without regard to their actual economic circumstances and within the controlled environment of a psych lab, the Berkeley researchers aim to demonstrate the potency of that one variable. 'Putting someone in a role where they’re more privileged and have more power in a game makes them behave like people who actually do have more power, more money, and more status,' says Paul Piff, the psychologist who designed the experiment. The Monopoly results, based on a year of watching inequitable games between pairs like Glasses and T-Shirt, have not yet been ­released. But Piff believes that they will support and amplify his previous provocative research. Earlier this year, Piff, who is 30, published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that made him semi-famous. Titled 'Higher Social Class Predicts Increased Unethical Behavior,' it showed through quizzes, online games, questionnaires, in-lab manipulations, and field studies that living high on the socioeconomic ladder can, colloquially speaking, dehumanize people. It can make them less ethical, more selfish, more insular, and less compassionate than other people. It can make them more likely, as Piff demonstrated in one of his experiments, to take candy from a bowl of sweets designated for children. 'While having money doesn’t necessarily make anybody anything,' Piff says, 'the rich are way more likely to prioritize their own self-interests above the interests of other people. It makes them more likely to exhibit characteristics that we would stereotypically associate with, say, assholes.' These findings, in combination with a researcher eager to promote them, reverberated online." (NYMag)

"From a cliff-top fortress that looks more like Count Dracula's abode than Cinderella's fairy-tale castle, Prince Hans-Adam II von und zu Liechtenstein looks down on the capital of his micro-nation, content that he has the final say on its rule. With a net worth estimated at $7 billion, the silver-haired monarch ranks among the world's richest heads of state, and he owns one of the most important art collections in private hands. His conservative principality, nestled between Austria and Switzerland, has the planet's second-highest GDP per capita, and it is an island of economic stability in troubled Europe. But discontented rumblings are afoot after Prince Hans-Adam's heir, 44-year-old Prince Alois, threatened to veto the result of a referendum last fall aimed at overturning Liechtenstein's ban on abortion. Although Prince Hans-Adam supports a formal division of church and state, he and his family do not hide their Catholic devotion. Eighty percent of their principality's population of 36,000 is also Catholic. A massive carving of Jesus on the cross looms over the fireplace in Prince Hans-Adam's vaulted office, and when he showed me around the 130-room castle this past winter, we stopped in a chapel adorned with a Gothic altar where he and his offspring pray regularly. But unlike in the United States, where the battle over abortion rights is part of a larger cultural war, the tempest in Liechtenstein is not primarily related to religious belief: Rather, it centers on the extraordinary degree of political power retained by a dynastic leader in the heart of 21st-century democratic Europe." (ForeignPolicy)
"Kathleen 'Kick' Kennedy has been coping with the suicide of her stepmother, Mary Richardson Kennedy, by working with patients at Bellevue Hospital, sources tell Page Six. Kennedy, who stars in Aaron Sorkin’s 'The Newsroom,' has been helping patients create art for 'The Survivors,' a project that pairs patients with artist Bjarne Melgaard. Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s daughter has been 'stretching canvas, washing brushes and painting with participants... three times per week,' says a source. The work by the patients is being displayed at Ramiken Crucible Gallery on Grand Street. Richardson committed suicide on May 17 and had a history of depression." (PageSix)


"Last week, News Corporation’s board voted to quarantine the newspapers that Rupert Murdoch has so lovingly nurtured, separating them into a new company. Cleaving the giant media conglomerate in two will free the lucrative entertainment division to find a share price more befitting its stellar run. Mr. Murdoch had long resisted such a move, so it’s fair to wonder why one of the most stubborn operators on the planet had such a significant change of heart. The specter of Mr. Murdoch being steered to a new place by those around him is not something we have seen in his long reign at News Corporation. He seemed to acknowledge as much when he told analysts, 'It’s a very big move and a very big decision for me to move forward with this.' Mr. Murdoch may have taken the leap, but he was pushed by a decline in the fortunes of print that was more rapid than anyone had anticipated. He was worn down by his most senior executives, a board that was suddenly listening to them as well as him, and his own instinct for self-preservation.  Even at 81, Mr. Murdoch remains firmly in command of the company he built into a behemoth, so you can’t exactly say they took away his keys to the family cars. But his long-running romance with print will no longer be indulged just because he’s the boss." (NYTimes)

"When I first saw the photograph – taken by Robert Astley-Sparke – I thought it was a send-up with a couple dressed to resemble Bianca and Mick Jagger. That shows you how out of it I am because I don’t know in my mind’s eye what Jade Jagger looks like. Very pretty she, with a sweet smile. Nor did I know about her boyfriend who is now her husband, Adrian Fillary. I remember when Mick married Bianca in 1971. We were all about the same age and Mick was very cool. And already one of the immortal rockers. It is interesting to see them a generation later attending the wedding of their child. The parents were the generation that revoked tradition. Mick remains the fashionable fellow that he always was — the lavendar and white stripes, the eternally 'youthful' countenance, the posture, the slender physique. He almost looks like he’s kidding. Yes, we know he’s not; because he’s still in the game big time. Bianca (in Dolce and Gabbana) looks like a marchioness at her daughter’s wedding, or a Manhattan-Southampton socialite (I mean of the first order); about as outré as Belgian shoes. Whatever their intentions, the parents still capture the eye." (NYSocialDiary)


"The vice-presidential selection process is not merely the act of each nominee picking a running mate. It’s also the political equivalent of the Oscars. Just as aspiring movie stars covet being among the nominees for cinema’s ultimate prize, ambitious politicians want to have their names on the oft-repeated list of potential vice presidents. Getting on the ticket is the ultimate goal, but even being a finalist — or convincing the media you were a finalist even if you weren’t — brings benefits, too. The veepstakes has long been a clinic in subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) self-aggrandizement. But in recent years,the process has morphed into an open exercise in cautious but unmistakable résumé buffing. Politicians, their staffs and supporters quietly jockey to be among the mentioned in hopes of drawing media attention, better fundraising and a wider following that will aid future attempts at higher office. For at least a few years, the not-chosen few will invariably be deemed as 'short-listers' or similar shorthand to denote their runner-up status ... Because presidential nominees have become strict about staying mum about all aspects of the process and the media are so hungry to sniff out the list, would-be prospects have virtually unchecked power on getting their names in the mix — e ven if they’re not actually being considered ... Or as Bob Shrum, another veteran of Democratic White House campaigns, put it, 'The whole nature of the process now makes it possible for people to get floated who are only floating on air and not in reality.' Take House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. In 2008, he was a rising Republican star but still just the chief deputy whip of the House minority. But he got a burst of attention in August when The Associated Press reported that John McCain’s presidential campaign had asked him to turn over documents. Other news outlets, including POLITICO, quickly followed the news, reporting that Cantor was being looked at as a potential running mate. This was the source of great bemusement to senior McCain officials. 'I remember seeing that story and laughing,' a top McCain aide recalled last week, the memory still fresh after four years." (Politico)


"Blue Ivy Carter just got a bunch of shiny new toys to play with. The BET Awards took place in Los Angeles on Sunday, and big winners included Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, and, of course, Jay-Z and his wife Beyoncé. The show kicked off with a Kanye-induced bang as the rapper, decked in all-white, joined 2 Chainz and eventual Best New Artist winner Big Sean to perform their runaway rap hit “Mercy,” which Music Mix can verify has been blaring from 90% of car stereos in Brooklyn all summer. West, who brought Kim Kardashian as his date to the awards, also ran through “Theraflu,” the cut that outed the couple in the first place. That performance segued to host Samuel L. Jackson coming out with Red Hook Summer director Spike Lee to deliver a parody version of the Jay and Kanye single 'N—-s in Paris'; we’ll include the video once it shows up online ... The night also featured an extensive Whitney Houston tribute, which brought out a long list of guests to commemorate the late singer, including: Monica, Brandy (who sang 'I’m Your Baby Tonight' and 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody'), Whitney’s mother Cissy Houston (singing 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'), and none other than Chaka Khan, who took us home with 'I’m Every Woman.'As for the awards themselves, some people outside the Jay-’Ye-Bey trinity managed to swipe prizes .." (EW)

"Paul Steiger is one of the men I admire the most in my profession. Five years ago, at the age of 65, and after a 16-year tenure as the Wall Street Journal’s managing editor, he seized the opportunity to create a new form of investigative journalism. Steiger created ProPublica, a non-profit newsroom dedicated to the public interest and to deep dive reporting. He hired a bunch of young staffers (coached by seasoned editors and reporters) that could help him lift data journalism and computer-assisted reporting to the highest level. Thanks to wisely managed partnerships, he gave ProPublica a wide audience and the quality and breadth of his newsroom’s reporting landed it scores of awards, including two Pulitzer Prizes. ProPublica was the first online news organization to receive such a seal of approval. All this in five years, with now 33 journalists. Kudos. Last wednesday, at the end of quick hop to New York, I paid Paul Steiger a visit. His corner office nests on the 23rd floor of Broadway, overlooking Wall Street’s canyons and Manhattan’s southern tip. At 70, Steiger has a twinkle in the eye that you don’t often find in reporters half his age. Especially when he speaks about ProPublica’s most shining journalistic moments. In late 2006, the Sandler Foundation, approached Steiger with a wish to allocate a fraction of its immense wealth to the funding of investigative reporting. The newsman made four recommendations ..." (MondayNote)

"Other disguises also came in useful. On the run in occupied Bordeaux he dressed as a nun. In later life he helped Maurice Papon to flee to Switzerland. Robert Jean-Marie de La Rochefoucauld was born in Paris on September 16 1923, one of 10 children of an aristocratic family which lived in old-fashioned splendour on Avenue de la Bourdonnais, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. An ancestor was François de La Rochefoucauld, famous for his maxims. Robert’s mother (née Wendel) was daughter of the Duke of Maillé. His father’s family retained a private carriage which was hitched on to trains during rail journeys. Considered a sickly child, Robert was sent to a succession of private schools for the jeunesse dorée in Switzerland and Austria where, in 1938, he was taken on a school trip to Berchtesgaden, Hitler’s Alpine retreat. When Hitler’s convoy drew up, the Fuhrer approached and patted Robert on the cheek affectionately. It was, La Rochefoucauld later recalled, a dream come true for his 15 year-old self. Hitler was then the great statesman of Europe; young Robert and his schoolmates had attached swastikas to their bicycles in admiration. La Rochefoucauld was back in France when the Nazis invaded. His father was taken prisoner; the rest of the family took refuge in the Chateau de Villeneuve, east of Paris. Furious at the Occupation, La Rochefoucauld protested long and loud until he was warned to keep quiet by a friendly postman, who had intercepted a letter denouncing the young man to the Nazis ... Robert de La Rochefoucauld married Bernadette (née de Marcieu de Gontaut-Biron). She survives him, with three daughters. Their son Jean inherits the title." (TheTelegraph via David Patrick Columbia)

"Berluti took over the Palais Royal gardens to present its second men’s ready-to-wear collection, which was followed by a lavish open-air dinner around one of its fountains. Guests including Diane Kruger, Dita Von Teese and Vahina Giocante marveled at the fairytale setting — and the male eye candy. 'It’s so fun,' squealed actress Marisa Tomei as she took in one of the fashion vignettes inhabited by live models. 'You know the dioramas at the New York Natural History Museum? It’s like that, with more precious creatures to look at.' Diane Kruger agreed. 'They’re certainly easy on the eye,' she mused. What did her partner Joshua Jackson have to say about it? 'I am okay with that — they look good,' he grinned. Shivering slightly as she slipped a pashmina over her low-cut lilac cocktail dress, Kruger gazed up at the oversized balloon hovering above the venue. 'This is a first. I’ve never had dinner in the Palais Royal,' she said, turning to photographer Patrick Demarchelier. 'I mean, this to me, on a scale of one to one thousand of ridiculousness of beauty, this would be close to a one thousand.' 'One thousand and one,' Jackson concluded." (WWD)


"Long known as a purveyor of ultrafine footwear, Berluti is now proposing a whole men’s wardrobe—and what better way to show the world you're branching out than to book an entire public park? Last night, the Italian-blooded Parisian label did just that, transforming the gardens at the Palais Royal into its own little playland ... 'It's very Marie Antoinette for boys—and for men, of course,' Ellen von Unwerth noted. The photographer said she needed some cheering up in the wake of Germany's devastating Euro Cup loss to Italy the night before—she's pals with the team, having photographed them for Strenesse—and Berluti's big-budget soirée seemed to do the trick. Dita Von Teese was feeling much the same way. 'I have an apartment here, so I just happen to be here, and I popped into the party that was most exciting,' the burlesque queen told Style.com. She couldn't have known that between the first and second courses, a balcony outside one of the apartments ringing the gardens would become the scene of an amorous threesome. Down below, a couple of cynics suggested the goings-on might be staged. Either way, it was quite the coup de théâtre—and cleverly, given all the sartorial savoir faire on display, one that involved very little in the way of clothing." (Style)

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