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Friday, August 23, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"SAGES from philosophers to pollsters have long struggled to explain what makes voters lean left or right. As political animals, people are unpredictable. Why do conservative poor people vote against their economic interests? Why do privileged young intellectuals stump for the welfare state?
Some political scientists like to believe political preferences are rooted in 'rational choices'.Sociologists claim that political inclinations are informed by a person’s home, institutions and social groups. Now it is time for the biologists and psychologists to weigh in, argues Avi Tuschman in his new book 'Our Political Nature'. An anthropologist by training, he claims that evolutionary instincts shape political preferences—and inform partisanship—far more than income or what people watch on television. With an arsenal of data and studies, Mr Tuschman views political divisions through three main personality traits: tribalism, tolerance for inequality and views of human nature. These qualities are all quantifiable and rooted in biology, he argues. Xenophobia, for example, is a result of breeding preferences. In cases where infectious diseases are common—often in hotter regions—people are more sexually conservative and instinctively avoid partners from different ethnic groups." (TheEconomist)


"For nearly 40 years, 'Saturday Night Live' has been a reliable engine for generating new comedic talent, and a springboard for stars like Dana Carvey, Will Ferrell, Jimmy Fallon and Kristen Wiig.
Though new cast members come from many different avenues, there’s ultimately only one way to get on this NBC late-night franchise: impress Lorne Michaels, the 'SNL' creator and executive producer who has run the show for 33 of its 38 seasons and is known for his cryptic, sphinxlike presence over the show. This year he and his team have their work cut out for them as they try to replace the veteran 'SNL' players Bill Hader, Fred Armisen and Jason Sudeikis and prepare for the departure of Seth Meyers early next year. These losses will test a tradition that has evolved through decades, as Mr. Michaels and his colleagues spend their summers scouring sketch and improv comedy theaters and stand-up clubs around the country to replenish the ranks at 'Saturday Night Live.' But what exactly is Mr. Michaels looking for? While his personal tastes are enigmatic and the show’s recruiting process is generally opaque, dozens of performers have successfully navigated this minefield of uncertainty and anxiety. Here, 22 past and present 'Saturday Night Live' cast members — and one who almost made it — tell how they auditioned for the show. In these excerpts from their recollections, they reveal the stages of an obstacle course that often culminates with an audition on the 'SNL' stage at NBC’s Studio 8H (sometimes more than once) and an ambiguous final interview (or is it a personality test?) with Mr. Michaels himself — all for that one career-making chance to declare that 'Live, from New York, it’s ‘Saturday Night’!'" (DavidItzkoff




 
 
"Just before I left for the Greek islands I went to dinner at Eugenie Radziwill’s, whose other guests included the great Barry Humphries, his wife Lizzie, and a man I had never met before but whose name rang a distant bell: John Sutherland. The bell turned out not to be so distant, the prof having reviewed a book for the Speccie just that week. I was late as usual and when introduced to Susan Sutherland, I made the gaffe of asking her whether the professor was her father or her husband. She was a very pretty English Rose type, and smilingly she said, 'He is my husband' without making a face over my rudeness. Her hubby seemed amused and we got along swimmingly at dinner. After drink took hold, I told him that if all left-wing academics were as nice as he was, I’d tolerate even hush puppies, but never socks and sandals." (Taki)


"One of my favorite places in Paris is the Musée Carnavalet in the Marais district. The museum describes itself as “dedicated to the history of Paris and its inhabitants” and spans from the prehistoric era to the present. I was first taken there by my great, now long departed friend, the art historian, curator and magazine editor Patrice Bachelard. Patrice was born in 1952 in Saint-Germain-en-Laye just outside of Paris. By the time I met him, and his partner, American-born food authority Gregory Usher, he had already moved on from a distinguished career as a curator at the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris. While there Patrice organized major exhibitions from 1977-1982 on a diverse range of contemporary artists as well major surveys of André Derain and Henri Hayden — artists on whom he also published important books. In 1983 he co-founded the art magazine Beaux-Arts — serving as editor-in-chief until 1988. One day in 1989, after I had just arrived in Paris for a visit, I met Patrice at his office behind the Hôtel de Ville on the rue François-Miron. During lunch, he was shocked when I told him I had never heard of the Musée Carnavalet. He insisted we pay the bill at once and walk a couple blocks away to the museum to rectify this failure in my education." (NYSocialDiary)



"A decade ago, the notion that (Steve) Case would be celebrated by businesspeople of any description might have seemed laughable. At the peak of the Internet bubble, he engineered a merger with Time Warner that, while highly profitable for Case and other AOL insiders, quickly became known as the most disastrous in corporate history, with more than $200 billion in shareholder value destroyed. Business school students still learn about it as a case study in hubris and magical thinking. Yet it’s now clear that Case not only survived a debacle that would have ruined the careers of other executives—and did—but is also thriving again, in a self-made role that in some ways makes him more influential than ever. Case has a venture capital fund, Revolution, that aims to be the dominant VC firm east of the Mississippi. He launched it with some $500 million of his personal fortune in 2005, investing in companies such as Zipcar and LivingSocial; a $450 million fund with outside money followed in 2011, and a $150 million fund will go live this fall. He’s also an in-demand 'cheerleader for entrepreneurism,' a gig that involves speaking at tech conferences, writing op-eds, and tweeting to 609,000 followers about #startups and #innovation. And perhaps most surprisingly for a figure who was once so radioactive, Case has become a genuinely productive figure in Washington—one of the few bipartisans who can take a meeting with the Obama White House one day and congressional Republicans the next, with actual legislation to his credit. How Case pulled this off—how he went from corporate punching bag to tech industry role model and Washington wise man—is partly about America’s endless capacity to forgive entrepreneurs. It’s partly a reminder that billionaires write their own rules. But mostly it’s about Case’s refusal to internalize much, if any, fault for what went wrong." (Businessweek)



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