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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"One of the most difficult features of the new news environment is that everybody gets to see the utter mess of the early hours of a breaking news story — the chaos, the bad information off the scanner, the misidentifications. Those are things that used to take place inside the newsroom or, at worst, be swept away on the unrecorded broadcast airwaves. There is now a heated debate over the moral status of Edward Snowden — who fled Hong Kong for Moscow en route, reportedly, to Ecuador Sunday — and over whether his decision to flee almost certain conviction and imprisonment in the United States means that his actions can’t be considered 'civil disobedience.' These seem like good questions for a philosophy class. They are terrible, boring, ones for reporters, and have more to do with the confusing new news environment than with the actual news. Snowden is what used to be known as a source. And reporters don’t, and shouldn’t, spend too much time thinking about the moral status of their sources. Sources sometimes act from the best of motives — a belief that readers should know something is amiss, or a simple desire to see a good story told. They also often act from motives far more straightforwardly venal than anything than has been suggested of Snowden: They want to screw someone who is in their way professionally; they want to score an ideological point by revealing a personal misdeed; they are acting on an old grudge, and serving revenge cold; they are collecting chits with the press to be cashed in later. When these sources are anonymous or — in the case of earlier NSA sources — gray men whose stories haven’t captured the public imagination, nobody much cares. The Nixon Administration’s campaign to smear reporters’ Vietnam source, Daniel Ellsberg, is remembered only for having happened. When you learn decades later that the most famous anonymous source in American history — Deep Throat — was an unappealing figure fighting a bureaucratic civil war, that’s a mildly interesting footnote. The criminality he unearthed was interesting; Mark Felt wasn’t really. Who cares? Christians talk of hating the sin and loving the sinner; reporters occasionally operate in exactly the opposite way: They hate, or at least, dislike the source, and love the story." (BuzzFeed)


"Showing off honey-blond waves and facial skin that looks like it’s treated with human stem cell lotion every morning, none other than Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone Instagrammed a pic of herself, hands on hips, looking sassy. It wasn’t just any Instagram, though, as this one bore a message: 'On my way to VICE to strategize for launch of #secretproject! The Revolution is coming soon!' What on earth could this mean? Well, Ms. Ciccone has been rapping about a 'revolution' and 'compassion' and 'love' and other Chicken Soup words on her Insta for some time now. If VICE is getting involved, maybe this means Madge will be donning a bustier and driving around in a sketchy van, snarking on people’s outfits? That would be great. But knowing VICE’s new direction, and hers too, it’s probably got more to do with a documentary to expose human rights violations in third-world countries. Which is acceptable, too." (BetaBeat)


"Lunch with Prabowo Subianto, the former special forces commander who is running to be president of Indonesia, was never destined to be straightforward. An encounter earlier this year at his heavily guarded mountaintop ranch outside Jakarta ended in frustration: the general, regularly described as a 'military strongman', was too anxious to engage in an on-the-record interview with the FT. Now on our second meeting, in Jakarta on the neutral territory of the Four Seasons Hotel, he still looks fidgety, despite being accompanied by his billionaire brother Hashim, an American investor friend and a small battalion of aides. Reflecting his putative transformation from soldier to statesman, Prabowo takes his wardrobe seriously. A trim-looking 61-year-old with a mop of improbably black hair, he has discarded the trademark dictator-chic safari suit he wears on the rural campaign trail in favour of a double-breasted blue blazer, white monogrammed shirt and ruby red tie. After exchanging pleasantries, we walk up the marble stairs to a private room at the Lai Ching, a Chinese restaurant that, it turns out, is a regular haunt of his. Taped birdsong plays, rather too loudly, in the background." (FT)


"One of the things (Woody) Allen is shrewdest about is money. His films typically cost about $18 million to make, which is next to nothing these days. Most of them go on to make a modest profit—if not in the United States, then when they're shown worldwide—and once in a while he has a hit on the order of Midnight in Paris. It's a fairly foolproof formula, even if it seems to have little appeal to the studios now, who would rather make bigger bets in hopes of bigger payouts. Allen's modest budgets enable him to retain total control of his films, something that's seldom granted to directors anymore, and to be flexible when it comes to probably his greatest strength as a director: casting memorable actors in memorable parts. 'I'm not in the hit-flop business,' he explained. 'I make a film and if it's a big hit it's not going to do anything special for me. If it's a disaster it won't ruin anything, because I'll already be working on the next. The people who play the hit-flop game suffer a lot when they have the flops. I don't, but then I don't get the highs either.'" (WSJ)


"'Star Wars' creator George Lucas and his new wife, Mellody Hobson, are having a second wedding celebration today in her hometown of Chicago — and word is that superstar Prince will perform. The couple, who married last weekend in California, are throwing an extravagant party on the lakefront at Promontory Point, which will be closed off for the private, tented event. Hobson is president of Ariel Investments, which is headquartered in her native Windy City." (PageSix)


"Eighteen months before I was born, my mother was in Auschwitz. She weighed 49 pounds. She always told me that God saved her so she could give me life. I was born out of nothing. My mother was nothing; she was ashes practically. That is much more of an influence on me than what my parents had. Then I married a prince. So big deal, I married a prince!" (Diane von Furstenberg)


"(Top Ten Badly behaving Royals 1) Prince Albert II of Monaco Well, he got married. So that's something. And he's stayed married. Well done him. But there have been several touch-and-go moments in the past. As the principality's premier singleton, the son of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier used to step out with the likes of Brooke Shields and Claudia Schiffer. And Albert, 55, only acknowledged his two illegitimate children (Jazmin and Alexandre) from two different women after they both had DNA tests. Still, as long as the head of the House of Grimaldi gets down to the business of producing an heir with Charlene, it's all hunky dory. And no DNA test required. 2) Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn of Thailand  The Thai Crown Prince, 60, became a figure of some derision in 2009 after a video appeared on the internet of an extravagant birthday party he threw - for his dog. The miniature poodle, called Foo Foo, was served birthday cake by the prince's wife, Princess Consort Srirasmi, who was wearing only a G-string. Sometimes flunkeys have to refer to the dog as Air Chief Marshal Foo Foo, a military rank the prince bestowed upon his loyal pooch. Foo Foo has been known to appear at official parties dressed in a uniform decorated with paw prints." (Tatler)


"Why is it that summers used to last so much longer back then? School would be out in early June and by the time the horrid month of September rolled around, it seemed as if three years had passed.
What fun it was to be young during summer. No homework, no need to stay in shape, no starving oneself to make weight for wrestling, girls galore at the country club and on the beach, softball on the public lawns of Greenwich, CT, and soccer on the lawns of Vouliagmeni, east of Athens, where Greek ship owners parked their yachts—sailing boats, that is. The first man to own a gin palace was Aristotle Onassis, who had a Canadian frigate converted, and it all went downhill from there. Youth never worries and takes its fun whenever and wherever it can get it; hence one didn’t worry about being locked up in boarding school until it actually happened. (Now, in old age, I worry about something unpleasant months before I have to go through with it.) How quickly and easily one fell in love during those long summer days and nights, and—thank God—how even more rapidly one fell out of love when something more exotic came along. I’d say on average there were three to four major romances during those unending summers—with each one starting “for life and forever after” until the inevitable happened. Time seemed to go so slowly that I am now embarrassed at how little a bite at cherry I had with all that time my hands. The first time I ever kissed a girl was during a hot summer evening. Her name was Marina. She was eleven and I was twelve. Then came Margo, Isla, and Mary. (Then came September and the kissing had to stop.) Amazing how 64 years later I don’t only remember their names but exactly what they looked like. I’m sure that they wouldn’t recognize me now, and vice-versa." (Taki)

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