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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"After the first presidential debate, opinion polls showed what most 'analysts' were also saying: that Mitt Romney had done well, Barack Obama had done poorly, and what had seemed an insuperable Obama lead was shrinking by the day. Since the second debate, and especially in the past three days, Republican commentators have been saying what the polls are not showing: that Romney has 'momentum,' that he's on an unstoppable roll, that their side is getting ready for an inevitable win. Anyone who has watched Fox, been on Republican email lists, or followed even 'mainstream' 'savvy' commentary has seen this shift. Michael Tomasky talks about this tone taking over the press 'narrative' here. Meanwhile, this is what the most-frequently-cited poll-of-polls, from Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight, has shown during very same period. Obama's re-election probability is shown in blue. The big drop in Obama's probability-of-win, from a high of 86% to a low of 61% by Silver's calculation, came immediately after that first debate. But a week later, that decline stopped -- and then reversed, as it has through the subsequent ten days. (Similarly, see Votamatic.org. Eg, 'The reality in the states - regardless of how close the national polls may make the election seem - is that Obama is in the lead.')  They can't both be right: on the one side, the Republican partisans and political 'pros' who say that Romney is on the certain road to victory, and on the other the quants who say No he is not. Of course either side allows for uncertainty about the final outcome: there are still two weeks to go. But about the state and the trend of the race, at this moment, they are in fundamental disagreement. The 'pros' tell us that Romney is catching up, the quants say he is falling behind. In a way this is a perfect test case of the Michael Lewis Moneyball hypothesis. Apart from Silver's own background as a sports-stats analyst, we have an exceptionally clear case of people judging from their experience, their 'bones,' their personal instinct, etc that things are going one way (like veteran scouts saying that a prospect 'looks like a Big Leaguer'), while data (on-base efficiencies in one case, swing-state polls in another) point in the opposite direction." (James Fallows)


"If every modern president needs a creation myth, then Xi Jinping's begins on the dusty loess plateau of northwest China. It was here that Xi spent seven formative years, working among the peasants and living in a lice-infested cave dug into the silty clay that extends around the Yellow River. Gradually, the selfless peasants and the unforgiving 'Yellow Earth' -- a term for China's land that symbolizes relentless toil and noble sacrifice -- transformed this pale, skinny, and nervous-looking teenager into the man who in November will take control of the world's second-most powerful country. 'When I arrived at the Yellow Earth, at 15, I was anxious and confused,' wrote Xi in 1998, by which time he was working his way to the top of the Communist Party hierarchy in the prosperous coastal province of Fujian. 'When I left the Yellow Earth, at 22, my life goals were firm and I was filled with confidence.' When Xi describes himself as 'always a son of the Yellow Earth,' as he did in that rare biographical essay published in a book titled Old Pictures of Educated Youth, he was not only setting up his personal narrative as a leader who has toiled with the masses, in contrast with an increasingly corrupt governing elite. He was also alluding to the idealistic creation story of the Chinese Communist Party, in which his own father, former Vice Premier Xi Zhongxun, played a starring role in setting up the wartime bastion of Yanan, just down the road. Yanan, as the local museum puts it, "is the holy land of the Chinese revolution" and 'birthplace of New China.'" (ForeignPolicy)


"Ben Bernanke, disappointed Nats fan and Federal Reserve chairman, has reportedly told friends he is planning to step down from his post at the end of his next term even if President Obama wins reelection. This bit of news was tucked away in Andrew Ross Sorkin's New York Times column today about handicapping the next picks for Treasury secretary and Fed chairman ... Sorkin! You can't just drop that in the middle of your column and move along like nothing happened. Bernanke is our rock, our deliverance, our national happy place. That lily-white beard is our security blanket. QE3 is our economy's Xanax. Hell, his middle name is literally 'peace.' We're going to need some time to process this ... Still, we have to start mentally preparing for the possibility that Uncle Ben will leave us for a prettier, younger central bank or maybe just Princeton's economics department. Sorkin says that Larry Summers and Fed governor Janet Yellen are on top of his list of possible Bernanke replacements." (NYMag)


"Not many weddings feature Benny Medina as master of ceremonies, 'Gangnam Style' sensation Psy as the wedding singer and a trip down the aisle on a white unicorn. But the nuptials of 'Cougartown' producer Danny Rose and top Hollywood entertainment lawyer Aaron Rosenberg combined all three. The lavish bash at LA’s Paramount lot Saturday started with the happy couple arriving on a 'Jewish unicorn' — a white horse complete with a unicorn horn and a tallis — to Madonna’s 'Like a Virgin.' The ceremony and reception, produced by Rembrandt Flores and Brad Levine, included performances by John Legend, Ciara and Joss Stone. Jennifer Lopez sent a video tribute. Just before 1 a.m., Psy arrived and put on a surprise performance of 'Gangnam Style.' Guests included Courteney Cox, Busy Philipps and Scooter Braun, who manages Justin Bieber and Psy and is Rose’s TV producing partner. The first dance was a choreographed hip-hop number featuring backup dancers. One guest said, 'It was a really fun wedding.'" (PageSix)


"There were two weddings over the weekend of couples who make their homes (at least a good part of the time) in New York, but married in distance places. Tom Sachs, the highly successful New York contemporary artist who took the Warholian route and made something unique with his interest in the phenomenon of consumerism and branding, married Sarah Hoover in the bride’s hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana. And that Southern belle who’s made New York her home for a number of years, Frances Schultz married Tom Dittmer, the legendary independent futures brokerage founder (Refco) at his Rancho La Zaca in the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County, California. The photo of the bridegroom was taken by one of their guests, Nina Griscom, who has the full report on her block ninagriscom.com." (NYSocialDiary)



"Last year I abused my buddy Carlos, a much overworked New Yorker with a mostly uninhabited upper east side penthouse, and a Swedish car in a garage. I commandeered his guest room for a few weeks, and helped myself to the Swedish vehicle, without permission, and got caught. So it was fitting that when he was invited to a conference in Palm Beach, he would rent a car and visit me here in groovy Key West, if only for revenge. He could not find my house so I met him in the parking lot of the Waffle House. Black hair, black sunglasses, dark red skin, sitting in a silver convertible. He was staring forward, smoking a cigarette. I walked up from behind him and saw, on the passenger seat, a styrofoam of half-devoured waffles and syrup and sausages dying under the hot sun. 'Welcome!' I said. 'Fuck, that’s a long drive,' Carlos said, 'I need a drink.' As he looked up at me, his broad back shuddered and he began to bellow with a cough like a braying donkey. One hand slammed against his open, retching mouth, catching phlegm and spume. I showed him around but after many hours driving in the blistering sunshine, and a solid evening of liquids, by midnight Carlos was sweating and slurring. And with his infernal cough still exploding like a fuming coal train I took him home and pushed him into the guest room. Warning: the following material may be offensive to frailer readers .." (Christina Oxenberg)


"After a long day, sometimes you need an action-packed thriller to get your juices flowing again. Thankfully, the Cinema Society and Grey Goose hosted a screening of Alex Cross at the Tribeca Grand Hotel giving us just the right dose of crime mystery on a Thursday night. The premiere brought out an A-list crowd, per usual: Tyler Perry, Cicely Tyson, Carmen Ejogo, novelist James Patterson, Meredith Ostrom, Alex Lundqvist, Thom Filicia, Mario Lopez, Nicole Ari Parker, Kelly Bensimon, Olivia PalermoMontego Glover, and Russell Simmons ... Before the screening, Perry enlightened The Daily with some on-the-job style secrets. 'As a detective, I wore things I would never wear. It took me back to many years ago when I couldn't afford nice things. I'm able to be more hip and chic. [On the red carpet] I always wear Tom Ford and I always pay full price for Tom Ford. He has not sent any clothes to me for free...as of yet!' Noted." (Fashionweekdaily)

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