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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"China's strategic focus on space is less about national pride than about the importance of space for both the military and economic progress of the country. The Chinese space program has developed rapidly over the past decade, illustrating the importance of the program to Beijing. Shenzhou 10, a 15-day mission that began June 11 and returned to Earth the morning of June 26 marked China's fifth manned mission to space. An increasing, ongoing presence in space is essential for civilian and military communications. Satellites' functions include navigation systems such as GPS, weather data and communications relays. But the significance of space goes beyond satellites. Technological advancement and development is required for countries such as China that want to participate in future resource development in space. The Chinese space program officially began in 1958. Beijing launched its first earth-orbiting satellite in 1970, and while there were a series of launch failures in the 1990s, China carried out its first manned mission -- Shenzhou 5, which put a man in orbit -- in 2003. More manned missions would follow in 2005, 2008 and 2012. A major uptick in activity began in 2010, when China successfully completed 15 unmanned launches, including a lunar orbiting probe. Nineteen more launches would follow in 2011 and 2012. China is now one of only two countries -- Russia being the other -- actively putting people into space and plans to land an unmanned craft on the moon in late 2013. The latest mission, Shenzhou 10, was launched as part of the testing process for docking capabilities with Tiangong 1, the small space module that is part of the program that will eventually culminate in China's own full-sized space station, planned for the 2020s. The mission, which reached completion June 26, also set out to advance flying abilities; demonstrate adaptability and efficiency while completing objectives on the complex; and test coordination of various systems." (STRATFOR)


"It's too soon to see which way the Senate winds will be blowing in the fall of 2014. But unless conditions somehow change drastically, one thing seems certain, even 18 months out: The seat flips will be mainly or entirely in one Red direction. Right now, Democrats aren't seriously contesting any Republican seat (excluding New Jersey), while the GOP has an excellent chance to flip two Democratic seats (South Dakota and West Virginia) and at least a fair chance in four other states (Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina). Republicans, there's your good news. Nothing in politics is static for long, and we expect a shift here and there. For example, if the Republicans nominate far-right Reps. Paul Broun or Phil Gingrey in Georgia, then prospective Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn could actually have a shot at a seat in the congressional chamber her father, Sam, once helped run. On the other hand, if former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) surprises everyone and doesn't run for the open Senate seat of retiring Democrat Max Baucus in Montana, Republicans will have another likely pickup. So we recognize that the chess board is not yet fully assembled.What's unusual is that, already, there are far more Red chess pieces on the board than Blue, and in better strategic positions. Since 1954, there have been nine (out of 30 total) cycles where one party didn’t flip a single Senate seat held by the opposing party. These flat, 'zero-base' Senate elections have hurt both parties at different times: the Democrats in 1980, 1994 and 2010, and the Republicans in 1958, 2006 and 2008 (all were wave years). The three other instances were years of little movement: in 1960, Republicans flipped two Democratic seats while Democrats flipped none; in 1966, Republicans won three Democratic-held seats while the Democrats didn’t add any; and in 1990, Democrats netted a single Republican seat while the Republicans didn’t win a single Democratic seat. Obviously, in the event that Democrats can’t flip any Republican seat, they’d prefer to limit their damage, as in 1960 or 1966. Republicans want a repeat of 1980, 1994 or 2010: a wave election where all or almost all the tight Senate races fall in their direction. They argue that Obama's popularity is already dipping, scandals are taking their toll, and the lack of much action (helped along by GOP intransigence in the House) will produce the dreaded "sixth year itch" -- dreaded, that is, by the incumbent White House party, because the out-of-power party gains lots of seats when the phenomenon occurs. The recent, best instances of sixth-year itch have all helped the Democrats -- 1974, 1986 and 2006 -- so maybe Republicans are due some turnabout as fair play." (Sabato)



"'Pop-Tarts...they can't go stale because they were never fresh!' Long form entertainment, it's the wave of the future. Huh? Don't we live in the short attention span era? WRONG! Ignore everything said by anybody who proffers this theory. Ever see a kid play video games? You can't tear him away. The truth is we all want to dig deeper, and he who realizes this will own the future. Huh? Aren't you the wanker who tells musicians to stop making albums? 'A small amount of too much spoils the whole thing.' That's why Jerry didn't do another season of 'Seinfeld.' He was worried about compromising the white hot relationship between the show and its fans. Once it's not quite as good, it's awful. Kind of like a standup...he's genius if he kills for an hour ten, after an hour and a half, it's way too much, you're looking at your watch, you're ready to go home. Come on, you've had this feeling at the gig. You can't believe you're there, that they're playing your song! And it's not that you don't want to hear any more, but that special feeling...it's evaporating. But first you need an audience. That's your goal. And if you think you gain an audience through an album, you're clueless about relationships. Relationships are fostered on specialness, then you bring on the quantity. I watched Seinfeld's show from its inception, because I was aware of him from late night TV, with his routine about the supermarket and women...that's why they call it the 'checkout' line. But despite being on Johnny Carson for nine years, NBC never offered him a gig. It was his manager, George Shapiro, who started the conversation. Shapiro sent a one sentence letter to the NBC brass, saying he saw Jerry on NBC in the future. Huh. I was just discussing this last night. Trink said you need to put yourself out there, you need a plan...I always wait for things to come to me. Maybe Trink's right. And Jerry takes the meeting and doesn't pitch an idea. He hasn't got one. But then he tells the story to Larry David, they go to a restaurant, goof on some people, and Larry says...THIS IS THE SHOW! And the rest is both TV and comedy history." (Lefsetz)


"Meanwhile back in New York, on today’s Diary, Jeanne Lawrence covers an opening exhibition in the new Museum of Chinese Art (MOCA) in Chinatown. I haven’t been there yet but I was introduced to it by Patty Tang. We ran a picture of Patty and her daughter and her mother who was celebrating her 101st birthday at Sistina. They had taken over the restaurant for a birthday lunch. I met Patty and her husband at a dinner party a couple of  years ago at the downtown house of Corice Arman, wife of the late French-born American artist. The Tangs are Chinese but have lived all or almost all of their lives here in New York, so they’re as American as this kid. Except they are more worldly and more sophisticated culturally. I had lunch with Patty at Michael’s one day about a month ago. She told me about her family’s past. These are the Chinese that abandoned China with the coming of Mao. Obviously they were upper class Chinese and their properties were being confiscated, as well as their assets. This generation has lived long enough to see that world change and then change again. And if we give them a little more time, God knows what the changes will be.Madame Chiang Kai-shek lived in the neighborhood also, at 10 Gracie Square, until she died 10 years ago. Evidently she’d lived there for years among a host of famous New York names like Jock Whitney, Mrs. Mellon Hitchock, Brooke Astor, Gloria Vanderbilt et al." (NYSocialDiary)


The 2013 Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival officially commenced with its 81st Season Opening Gala on Saturday, June 15th. Attendance for the Gala was the highest since the Festival's 75th anniversary in 2007, and the evening raised a record-breaking $411,000 for the organization.Honorary Co-Chairs for the Season Opening Gala included Artistic Director of Dance Theatre of Harlem Virginia Johnson and principal dancer with the New York City Ballet Wendy Whelan. Gala Co-Chairs were Jacob's Pillow Board President Mark Leavitt, Taryn Leavitt, Board Treasurer Christopher Jones, and Deb McAlister. An outdoor cocktail reception kicked off the event, along with an exclusive exhibit preview of two new exhibits: Shooting Stars, a series of behind-the-curtain photographs by dancers Wendy Whelan, Miguel Anaya, Amber Star Merkens, and others; and Dancers Among Us, Jordan Matter's celebration of dancers in everyday places. Cocktails were followed by a Gala performance held in the historic Ted Shawn Theatre and featured a variety of extraordinary artists and choreographers, including a world premiere by resident choreographer for the Atlanta Ballet Helen Pickett, performed by the Ballet Program dancers of The School at Jacob's Pillow." (NYSocialDiary)

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