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Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Media-Whore D'oeuvres


"First, the North Koreans positioned themselves as ferocious by appearing to have, or to be on the verge of having, devastating power. Second, they positioned themselves as being weak such that no matter how ferocious they are, there would be no point in pushing them because they are going to collapse anyway. And third, they positioned themselves as crazy, meaning pushing them would be dangerous since they were liable to engage in the greatest risks imaginable at the slightest provocation. In the beginning, Pyongyang's ability to appear ferocious was limited to the North Korean army's power to shell Seoul. It had massed artillery along the border and could theoretically devastate the southern capital, assuming the North had enough ammunition, its artillery worked and air power didn't lay waste to its massed artillery. The point was not that it was going to level Seoul but that it had the ability to do so. There were benefits to outsiders in destabilizing the northern regime, but Pyongyang's ferocity -- uncertain though its capabilities were -- was enough to dissuade South Korea and its allies from trying to undermine the regime. Its later move to develop missiles and nuclear weapons followed from the strategy of ferocity -- since nothing was worth a nuclear war, enraging the regime by trying to undermine it wasn't worth the risk. Many nations have tried to play the ferocity game, but the North Koreans added a brilliant and subtle twist to it: being weak. The North Koreans advertised the weakness of their economy, particularly its food insecurity, by various means. This was not done overtly, but by allowing glimpses of its weakness. Given the weakness of its economy and the difficulty of life in North Korea, there was no need to risk trying to undermine the North. It would collapse from its own defects. This was a double inoculation. The North Koreans' ferocity with weapons whose effectiveness might be questionable, but still pose an unquantifiable threat, caused its enemies to tread carefully. Why risk unleashing its ferocity when its weakness would bring it down? Indeed, a constant debate among Western analysts over the North's power versus its weakness combines to paralyze policymakers. The North Koreans added a third layer to perfect all of this. They portrayed themselves as crazy, working to appear unpredictable, given to extravagant threats and seeming to welcome a war. Sometimes, they reaffirmed they were crazy via steps like sinking South Korean ships for no apparent reason. As in poker, so with the North: You can play against many sorts of players, from those who truly understand the odds to those who are just playing for fun, but never, ever play poker against a nut. He is totally unpredictable, can't be gamed, and if you play with his head you don't know what will happen." (STRATFOR)


"The Emanuel brothersAri, Rahm and Zeke — crack Town & Country’s new list of America’s most powerful families ranking ahead of the Kennedys, McCains and Pritzkers. (The trio sits at No. 4 while the Bush family’s perched on top.) The magazine’s “first annual list of the country’s most prominent families” include various categories . (For example, the Marsalis clan beats out the Coppolas as most creative, the Gates are most generous, and Christopher Reeve’s brood topped Ralph Lauren and his kin in the “most inspiring” category.) There are also the expected DuPonts, Vanderbilts and Rockefellers. But the rankings will surely lead to debate: 'Because one successful individual doesn’t make a dynasty, there are no Zuckerbergs or Brins on our list,' the mag’s May issue explains. Mark Zuckerberg’s sister, Randi, and Sergey Brin’s wife, Anne Wojcicki, might take exception to that one." (PageSix)



"Looks like there is hope for the magazine industry after all–that is, if you have $100,000 to spend per issue of a start-up and some big socialite names (and money) behind the venture. 'Everybody thinks it’s crazy to start a magazine today,' Alexia Niedzielski told T magazine’s Eric Wilson, who noted that Ms. Niedzilski is starting her third at the age of 30. Ms. Niedzielski, who was featured in a 2009 Vanity Fair spread called 'Fortune’s Children' (as was our own publisher) is starting System, a  'deep-thoughts magazine about the fashion industry.' She’s teaming up with Elizabeth von Guttman,  her partner in her previous two insidery-fashion magazines Industrie and Ever Manifesto (which used the made up catchphrase 'everlution' to describe the magazine). 'Collectively, the five-person editorial board represents the next generation of Annas, Graydons and Graces. Or so they hope,' reports T. And who wouldn’t? But, according to the piece, the new magazine is being guest edited by W‘s senior fashion editor Marie-Amélie Sauvé, which has apparently irked the top brass over at Condé Nast." (Observer)



"Following Sunday afternoon's spring benefit for the Mounts Botanical Garden, the event's host, art collector, curator, patron and real estate executive Beth Rudin DeWoody may want to add Master Gardener to her portfolio as several hundred green thumbs converged at her artfully designed waterfront estate to support the area's oldest and largest public garden. 'Our most successful event,' said Polly Reed, president of the Friends of the Mounts Botanical Garden. 'Many thanks to Beth DeWoody and her staff, our volunteers, and our patrons whose generous donations will go to the development of new wetlands at the Mounts,' Reed added." (NYSocialDiary)

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