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Thursday, December 06, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"In mid-2010, thousands of centrifuges, enriching uranium at Iranian nuclear research facilities, spun out of control. The instruments were mysteriously reprogrammed to operate faster than normal, pushing them to the breaking point. Iranian computer systems, however, inexplicably reported that the centrifuges were operating normally. This incident, it was later revealed, was the work of the infamous Stuxnet computer worm, presumed to be the creation of the United States and Israel, and one of the most sophisticated cyberweapons to date. The infiltration was initially thought to have set back Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program three to five years, although current estimates are in the range of two years to a few months. Stuxnet was followed by the Flame virus: a new form of malware that infiltrated several networks in Iran and across the Middle East earlier this year. Flame copied text, recorded audio, and deleted files on the computers into which it hacked. Israel and the United States are again the suspected culprits but deny responsibility. These two attacks generated substantial buzz in the media and among policymakers around the world. Their dramatic nature led some experts to argue that cyberwarfare will fundamentally change the future of international relations, forcing states to rethink their foreign policy. In a speech to the New York business community on October 11, 2012, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta expressed fear that a cyber version of Pearl Harbor might take the United States by surprise in the near future. He warned that the U.S. government, in addition to national power grids, transportation systems, and financial markets, are all at risk and that cyberdefense should be at the top of the list of priorities for President Barack Obama’s second term." (ForeignAffairs)


"The remarkable crack-up of the Republican Party’s two-decade wall of unyielding anti-tax absolutism has resulted from a combination of circumstances: the self-induced Republican shock at President Obama’s reelection, expiration of the Bush tax cuts, and Obama’s determination to leverage that event to break the GOP’s opposition to higher revenue. But one of the oddities of it is that the structure of Republican anti-tax absolutism has turned against the cause it was intended to sustain. The conservative movement is built mainly to prevent Republicans from striking a deal with Democrats to raise taxes. It’s a reaction to the 1990 budget deal between George Bush and the Democrats. The Grover Norquist pledge, the intense distrust of backroom bargaining, the monomaniacal partisan discipline — all these were created so that 1990 would never happen again, just as the French built the Maginot Line so they would never endure the horrors of World War I trench warfare again. Of course, the Maginot Line was a huge failure. The Germans simply went around it, and once they had outflanked the line, it became a trap that prevented the French military from maneuvering. This is the situation Republicans find themselves in now." (Jonathan Chait)


"Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has made it known in South Carolina that he wants Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) to replace him in the Senate, two state Republican sources tell The Hill. The sources, requesting anonymity to speak candidly, say Scott is DeMint's preference for the seat, though the final decision will be Gov. Nikki Haley's (R). She will appoint someone to serve out the rest of DeMint's term after he officially resigns from the Senate to take over the conservative Heritage Foundation in January. An election for the seat will then be held in 2014 for the remaining two years of the term. Haley and Scott have a good relationship, according to sources, though it's unclear how willing she would be to listen to DeMint, who officially stayed neutral during her gubernatorial primary but quietly supported then-Rep. Gresham Barrett (R-S.C.) in the race ... Scott, who was first elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010, has close ties with GOP House leadership and is also well-liked by conservative groups such as Club for Growth. If chosen, he would become the first African-American Republican senator since Sen. Edward Brooke (R-Mass.) retired in the late 1970s, and the only African-American in the next Senate." (TheHill)


"'There was something about the invitation that made me wear a jacket,' the novelist Sam Lipsyte deadpanned last Friday night at a magazine launch in an apartment on West 10th Street. Yes, some usual suspects were there—Jeffrey Eugenides, Ben Marcus, editors from The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek, and writers from The New York Times and The New Yorker—but aside from that, this wasn’t your average literary party: the attire was more art-world chic than MFA tweedy. The American Reader isn’t your average literary magazine. The Princeton grads who run it have barely closed their second issue, and already it is being hailed as the next Paris Review or n+1. But Uzoamaka Maduka, the 25-year-old editor in chief, doesn’t go in for the comparison. She’s looking for wider appeal ... Ms. Maduka grew up in Columbia, Maryland—a planned community between Washington and Baltimore. For her, the title The American Reader has something of a personal resonance: she is the only member of her intimidatingly accomplished family who was born in America. Her father, who emigrated from Nigeria with the rest of the family right before Ms. Maduka was born, is a doctor, her mother a chemical engineer. She has two older brothers who work in finance, and a sister who worked for the Clinton Foundation’s HIV/Aids Initiative, was the dean of Oprah Winfrey’s Leadership Academy and got an MBA from Harvard. 'I benefited from being raised always on the edge of something,' Ms. Maduka said. 'I’m black, but I’m not African-American. I’m African. I’m Catholic. That sense of constantly being lost in translation allows me to stay marginal in a way.' She is aware of something that many magazine editors probably don’t often stop to notice—that she is operating in a white world. 'The literary scene in New York is one of the last bastions of white male privilege,' Ms. Maduka said over coffee, explaining that it there is still a narrow framework for diversity. 'Even when you bring in women or people of color, it’s still, like, Harvard, Princeton, Yale..'" (Observer)


"Though you would not think it of a show set in a suburb of Detroit during the 1980–81 school year, Freaks and Geeks, which premiered on NBC in the fall of 1999, is one of the most beautiful and ambitious television series ever made. But its beauties are not cosmetic, and its ambitions are subtle. Both on-screen and behind the scenes, the story of Freaks and Geeks is one of community beating against the odds and growing stronger for it. An hour-long comedy with drama at its core (a 'dramedy,' to use the then current term of art), the series centered on a sister and brother, 16-year-old Lindsay Weir and 14-year-old Sam, and, widening its frame, the outsider crowds in which the Weirs run—the older freaks for Lindsay, the younger geeks for Sam—as everyone copes with the sad, hilarious unfairness of life. Whether telling the story of an A student straying from her expected path, a drummer whose dreams outstrip his talent, a kid addressing his parents’ foundering marriage through ventriloquism, or a geek who gets the girl of his dreams only to learn she bores him, the show—unusual for a network series—always preferred emotional truth to rosy outcomes, character to type, and the complicated laugh to the easy one. Created as veiled autobiography by Paul Feig and developed with executive producer Judd Apatow and supervising director Jake Kasdan, the series gathered a cult following during its on-again, off-again, abbreviated original broadcast. In the dozen years since its cancellation it has continued to convert new viewers, through showings on cable television and via DVD; in September, its 18 episodes began streaming on Netflix. It was also the wellspring of a dominant force in 21st-century comedy: the School of Apatow. Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, and James Franco—in their first roles or first roles of note, like nearly all their young castmates—got their start there. And Apatow and Feig re-teamed not long ago, as producer and director of the 2011 hit Bridesmaids." (VanityFair)


"Howard (Stern) came back and said that Quentin Tarantino has a new movie out called Django Unchained. Howard said he looks tan too. Howard asked if he's a fan of George Takei. Quentin said he is. He mentioned a movie he was in many years ago. Howard asked Quentin about working in a video store and if that was like film school for him. Quentin said it was. Quentin said that he quit school as a kid because he hated it. He said he started skipping school and he would stay out of school for 4-6 days and when he went back he knew he'd be in trouble. Quentin said he would stay out for 2 weeks and he knew he'd be in really big trouble. Howard asked if he was afraid that his parents would get angry. Quentin said he eventually went back to school and he got in trouble. He said his mom yelled at him about it. Howard asked where his dad was. Quentin said he left. He was gone. Howard asked if he has ever seen him. Quentin said he actually approached him at a coffee shop once. He said it was in Santa Monica and he must have heard he hung out there. Quentin said one day he was eating breakfast and there he was standing there. Howard asked why he was interested in him now that he's a director. Quentin said that he had 30 years to get in touch with him. He said if it was really bothering him he had those 30 years to reach out to touch him. Howard asked how his dad talked to him. Quentin said he could sense who it was by the way he was looking at him. Howard asked if he looks like his dad. Quentin said that he looks more like his mom. Quentin said he expected that day to come some day. Quentin said he was making overtures to try and get in touch with him. He said he asked to sit down with him and he just said no. He said he waved him away and looked back at his plate. He said he had nothing to say to the guy. He said the only thing he could have said was 'thanks for the sperm.'" (Marksfriggin)



"A warm, sunny day at noontime. Warm in the Sun but cold without it. I took my overcoat just in case.It was Wednesday and what’s better than Michael’s for a reporter in Manhattan than where the midday biz buzz biz is. Yes, I know, but I couldn’t resist. It was the mood I was in. It was not easy getting around town, so it’s go nuts or get over it. Roads jammed. On Fifth Avenue there’s no turning right or left in midtown until after New Year’s. Someone’s idea of keeping the traffic flowing. Or slowing, guess which? I finally got out of the car at Park and 55th, after waiting through three light changes and still no turning, and walked the two and a half more city blocks to Michael’s. Late of course. Busy atmosphere with cozy holiday overtones beginning to roll in, it was almost as jammed as Park and 55th. The familiar-ist faces such as: Dr. Gerry Imber, Jerry della Femina and Andrew Bergman (sans Greenfield, Kramer). Right next door At Table One, Cheri Kaufman was celebrating her birthday with a group of gal pals like Lucia Hwong-Gordon, Karen Klopp, Janna Bullock and Kathy Sloane, the Brown Harris real estate broker to the stars, masters of the universe and daughters of Presidents. Judy Taubman stopped by to bid the birthday girl a happy happy." (NYSocialDiary)


"Does having a wife and kids change your act? Yes, but only in the best way. It gives you weight and authority. It also makes you closer to the audience because the audience is married and has kids. People without kids know nothing about kids. Jokes about your kids are always better than jokes about your brother’s kids. Married guys know more about women than single guys. Single guys have girlfriends. Girlfriends are always auditioning, always on their best behavior. Wives are like Supreme Court justices—they do whatever the fuck they want. What isn’t O.K. to say onstage? Any of your family’s personal business. No experience that is just theirs. I don’t really worry about what they are thinking. Anything I say about women, I try to make sure that at least five or six friends of mine are going through a similar situation. That way I’m not picking on my wife. We like to say I have my real wife, who’s a lovely woman, mother to my children. Then I have my comedy wife, who’s a crazy bitch." (Chris Rock)



"Notorious Upper East Side madam Anna Gristina is about to start naming names of high-power clients from her little black book — and an unlucky NFL executive will be the first bombshell name she lets fly, we’re told. 'There is going to be a giant name dropped — actually, a couple of them,' Gristina told The Post’s Laura Italiano, speaking of her plans for an upcoming interview with TV host psychologist Dr. Phil. Asked if those names would be 'giant' with a capital 'G,' the Hockey Mom Madam gave a distinctly mischievous laugh that portends bad news for the bigwig client. 'Everyone’s going to have to watch Dr. Phil,' she said. 'I will tell you that one of the names is high-level [NFL] management. Then there’s an older [football] player who’s still very well known. Tune in to Dr. Phil!'" (PageSix)


"A light rain did nothing to deter thousands from gathering outside the Brick Presbyterian Church on Park Avenue last Sunday to celebrate the annual lighting of the Park Avenue Trees. The tradition of lighting trees on Park Avenue began in 1945 when Mrs. Stephen C. Clark and a group of friends decided to light 10 trees as their way of paying homage to the military men and women who lost their lives defending the United States in World War II. Over the years, the number of trees has grown to 104 and the trees now honor all fallen soldiers. The trees are always illuminated on the evening of the first Sunday in December following a ceremony that both celebrates the original meaning of the lights and serves as an unofficial kick-off to the holiday season ... While many take part in the ceremony, others celebrate privately or at parties up and down the avenue. Local businesses also get into the act." (NYSocialDiary)

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