Increasingly, though, the incentives [for television appearances] are changing. Assume that the incentive for going on television is to raise your profile (which is about 75 percent correct). If I went on television five years ago, a large part of my incentive would be to make the host like me. After all, these appearances pass in an instant, and most of you would never see the program. So if I want to reach the maximum number of people with my arguments and do the most to increase my visibility, I want to keep coming back. Now, however, with YouTube and GoogleVideo and online archiving, a single, contentious appearance can be seen on the internet a million times. Everyone, after all, has seen Stewart berate Tucker Carlson on Crossfire, but very few of us had actually tuned in that day. Similarly, my segment on the Kudlow show, replayed on the internet a few thousand times, did much more for my reputation among the audience relevant to my success than have my more friendly, but bland, appearances on other shows. Making sense often requires you to be disruptive, and not long ago, being disruptive was probably a bad idea. Now it's a good one. And since the channels are wising up and putting their videos online with advertising before them, they also want widespread online dissemination of appearances, and so their incentives are increasingly aligned with mine. Does this mean more folks will be making sense? Not necessarily. But it means their might be more room for sense-making.Alas, I think Ezra has his logic backwards. What attracts viewers' attention when watching pundits is not whether or not they're making sense, but whether or not they're being disruptive. This, of course, was why Crossfire was on the air for so long. This is why Robert Novak's most memorable TV moment will be when he walked off the the set of Inside Politics. This is why blogginghead.tv's biggest viral moment involved a lot of disruption but not a whole lot of sense. To put it in terms of inequalities, I would agree that (disruptive + making sense) > (disruptive + nonsense) for most TV viewers, but that (disruptive + nonsense) > (polite + making sense) for most TV viewers as well. One could argue that this means that the best pundits will be both disruptive and make sense, crowding out everyone else. Color me skeptical, however, for two reasons. First, it's much easier to be disruptive than it is to make sense, and so for an aspiring pundit, the risk-averse attention-getting strategy is making as big a stink as possible. Making sense is optional. Second, sometimes making sense is not disruptive -- it's boring. Most of the time, life is not simple, does not fit neatly into ideological categories, and requires "on the one hand, on the other hand" calculations. This kind of analysis can be really, really boring to people -- especially if they crave informational shortcuts in the form of brightly colored answers. Of course,to defend this position, I hereby challenge Ezra Klein to a mano-a-mano, no-holds-barred bloggingheads smackdown to debate the issue -- a prospect that scares other pundits.
"A lot of suburbanites have moved to the city in the last five years looking for action," said Beehive co-owner Darryl SettlesSuzanne Ryan, "The place to be (over 30)," Boston Globe, July 13, 2007.
A grand feast of marinated steaks and jumbo shrimp was winding down, and a group of friends was sitting on the back patio of a Capitol Hill home, sipping red wine. Suddenly, a hooded man slid in through an open gate and put the barrel of a handgun to the head of a 14-year-old guest. "Give me your money, or I'll start shooting," he demanded, according to D.C. police and witness accounts. The five other guests, including the girls' parents, froze -- and then one spoke. "We were just finishing dinner," Cristina "Cha Cha" Rowan, 43, blurted out. "Why don't you have a glass of wine with us?" The intruder took a sip of their Chateau Malescot St-Exup?ry and said, "Damn, that's good wine." The girl's father, Michael Rabdau, 51, who described the harrowing evening in an interview, told the intruder, described as being in his 20s, to take the whole glass. Rowan offered him the bottle. The would-be robber, his hood now down, took another sip and had a bite of Camembert cheese that was on the table. Then he tucked the gun into the pocket of his nylon sweatpants.Click on the story to read what happens next... but group hugs are involved.
If you?ve been driving around listening to pop radio stations this spring and summer, you?ll have noticed three songs that are pretty much unavoidable, and each of them is a long way from puppy love.... [Brooks' three songs: Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats," Pink's "U + Ur Hand," and Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend". I'll go out on a limb and add that I think Kelly Clarkson's "Never Again" is actually a better song than these three and better represents what Brooks is trying to get at in his column.--DD] If you put the songs together, you see they?re about the same sort of character: a character who would have been socially unacceptable in a megahit pop song 10, let alone 30 years ago. This character is hard-boiled, foul-mouthed, fedup, emotionally self-sufficient and unforgiving. She?s like one of those battle-hardened combat vets, who?s had the sentimentality beaten out of her and who no longer has time for romance or etiquette. She?s disgusted by male idiots and contemptuous of the feminine flirts who cater to them. She?s also, at least in some of the songs, about 16. This character is obviously a product of the cold-eyed age of divorce and hookups. It?s also a product of the free-floating anger that?s part of the climate this decade. But as a fantasy ideal, it?s also descended from the hard-boiled Clint Eastwood characters who tamed the Wild West and the hard-boiled Humphrey Bogart and Charles Bronson characters who tamed the naked city. When Americans face something that?s psychologically traumatic, they invent an autonomous Lone Ranger fantasy hero who can deal with it. The closing of the frontier brought us the hard-drinking cowboy loner. Urbanization brought us the hard-drinking detective loner. Now young people face a social frontier of their own. They hit puberty around 13 and many don?t get married until they?re past 30. That?s two decades of coupling, uncoupling, hooking up, relationships and shopping around. This period isn?t a transition anymore. It?s a sprawling life stage, and nobody knows the rules. (emphasis added)A few thoughts:
1) David needs to haul his current research assistant into his office and bitchslap him or her for a while. It's the RA's job to have a better grasp of pop culture, and in this case there has been a clear failure, because this kind of song has been around for a while. A decade ago, there was Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know," Fiona Apple's "Sleep to Dream", and Meredith Brooks' "Bitch." Two decades ago, there was Tina Turner's "What's Love Got to Do With It?" Three decades ago, there was Blondie's "One Way (Or Another)" 2) The persistece of this song suggests that Brooks' fears might be just a wee bit exaggerated. II'll wager it's been at least three decades since educated women have had to marry the farmer next door at gunpoint. The fact that this period has stretched out further (for both sexes) does not breed more confusion -- it simply means that a higher percentage of the population has experienced the kind of traumatic break-up that generates the songs discussed above. [Did you experience this?--ed. Yes, but in my case it manifested itself into marathon watchings of thirtysomething back when it was aired on Lifetime. You were such a wuss!!--ed. I was keenly aware of this fact, yes. ] 3) Pop songs are about moods more than permanent states of personality. The mistake in Brooks' column is to assume that the mood identified in these songs lasts beyond a summer. They don't. 4) I've wasted way too much time on this post.
In a gut-busting showdown that combined drama, daring and indigestion, Joey Chestnut emerged Wednesday as the world's hot dog eating champion, knocking off six-time winner Takeru Kobayashi in a rousing yet repulsive triumph. Chestnut, the great red, white and blue hope in the annual Fourth of July competition, broke his own world record by inhaling 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes -- a staggering one every 10.9 seconds before a screaming crowd in Coney Island. "If I needed to eat another one right now, I could," the 23-year-old Californian said after receiving the mustard yellow belt emblematic of hot dog eating supremacy.
Earlier this month Jolie was invited to join the Council on Foreign Relations, the elite club for the American foreign-policy establishment. It's no room for lightweights. Her fellow members include Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Jimmy Carter, Diane Sawyer and Bill Clinton.To my dying day, I will be vexed by one of two possibilities:
1) Reporter Sean Smith sees Diane Sawyer as a foreign policy heavyweight; 2) An editor at Newsweek read Smith's draft and though,"not enough heavyweights... better add Diane Sawyer."
1) No one in Tony's immediate family dies; 2) No one else in Tony's crew will die either; 3) Melfi takes Tony back (I found that part of last week's show unconvincing); 4) Regardless of how/whether Tony's feud with Phil Leotardo is resolved, the show will end with Tony still in charge, bereft of any competent underling to take over, depressed at the prospect of having to soldier on in charge, acutely aware that his eventual death will likely not be a peaceful one (this search for a successor has been at the heart of this last season, and for the past few seasons if you think about it); 5) Despite his best efforts, James Gandolfini will never find a role that makes people forget either Tony Sorprano or this song.Readers are encouraged to offer their own predictions/postmortems. POST-EPISODE UPDATE: Wrong on Melfi, but I think the rest of it holds up pretty well.
US Jews must protect Wolfowitz because the allegations against him are baseless and Germany?s motives in pushing these allegations are suspect. Meanwhile, President Bush wants to purge his administration of anti-Iran policy makers. As his legacy, Bush wants to make a strategic partnership with Iran?s Nazi President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Firing Paul Wolfowitz is the down payment on Bush's strategic partnership with Iran.Right. Next up: Grady Hendrix, "Mocha Zombies," Slate:
The rage virus, with its ability to create red-eyed, screaming monsters, with its instantaneous transmission via liquid, and the fact that its frantic growth can only be stopped by firebombing, is an effective metaphor for the unstoppable, global spread of Starbucks.... Images of rabid globalization... still deliver a kick, and there's nothing that says "New World Order" more than a horde of single-minded zombies devouring the quick and assimilating them into their anonymous, ever-expanding ranks.I think this one is intended to be funny, but I'll let the readers be the judge.
In the Top 10 for Singles are the fun, densely-populated places you might expect: New York, L.A., Washington, San Francisco, Chicago, etc. For Young Couples, we have cool hangouts like Portland, Austin, and Boulder. Empty Nesters get to kick back in Bellingham, Santa Fe, Tahoe and Berkeley.... But what does my demographic, Families with Children, get? Number 1 in the nation: Louisville CO. It?s followed closely by Gaithersburg MD. Roswell GA, Lakeville MN, and Flower Mound TX round out the top five. Now, I don?t want to offend the many fine people of Gaithersburg, MD or Noblesville IN, but Roll on the Empty Nest, I say.I confess to some puzzlement at Kieran's distress. What most of the top-ranked Family With Children places have in common is that they are semi-affordable suburbs adjacent to cities that fell into one of the other Top 10 categories [What about Noblesville IN?--ed. I got nothing, but that doesn't mean it's a bad place to live.] In a follow-up comment, Kieran elaborates:
[C]ome on, everyone. Do people really not find the notional life transitions laid out in the chart?from New York or L.A. to Boulder or Austin to ? Flower Mound or Gaithersburg?even slightly funny? It?s like, as if the endless diapers and slug-like minivans aren?t enough, here?s where you have to live.Having made the move from one of the top 10 places for Singles to a place that I'm guessing ranks high on Families with Children, all I can say is, thank God for the suburbs (in fairness, Hyde Park is not exactly a typical urban neighborhood):
Five minute walk to the elementary school? Check. Five supermarkets within a ten-minute car ride? Check. Lots of children for our children to befriend? Check. Reasonable access to big city to enjoy childless activities once in a blue moon? Check. Swinging key parties to get to know the neighbors better? Thankfully, this isn't The Ice Storm, so no.I suspect Kieran was mostly being flip, but I do think there's a part of him that shudders with dread about the exemplary suburban locale. To which I have to say, sure, it's easy to find fault. But I'll take the small downsides of suburbandom over the nasty stares I recall getting when entering hip and trendy restaurants/supermarkets/stores/shopping malls with a few rugrats in tow. At this point in the 21st century, having small children is kind of like belonging to a different religious persuasion that others view as bizarre and discomfiting. It's nice to be with one's own kind during these years.
It started just the other week as I watched FNL's season finale. I had never bothered to introduce my significant other to the show, because, well, she likes football about as much as she likes my Star Wars lightsaber collection ? which is to say, not very much ? so I viewed the entire season by myself. But then something else dawned on me: Christina loves teen shows.... It occurred to me that, hey, Friday Night Lights is as much -- if not more -- a teen show than it is a football drama. So I implored her to give it a chance. To my shock, she agreed (again, we're talking about football here). We had the first nine episodes on DVD. We watched one. Then we watched another. Then I went to bed, and she watched two more. Next night, same drill. She went through episodes the way I go through cans of Milwaukee's Best. Only she didn't wake up with a headache in the morning. Now, I know what you're thinking: How is your marriage in trouble? You've found a show you both love! What's the problem? Well, the first problem is that when I asked Christina whether she was a Street girl or a Riggins girl, she replied emphatically, ''Riggins!'' This means she digs the bad boy, and not being a bad boy myself by any stretch of the imagination, this causes me some concern. (She in turn inquired whether I was a Lyla or Tyra guy, which I refused to answer because I am smart and realize that either answer would come back to haunt me in the long run.) The bigger problem, however, is this: I'm out of episodes. Like an addict that is being denied her fix, my wife is going through serious withdrawal symptoms. She actually ordered me to not come home until I got more DVDs (which might explain why I remain typing here at 10:23 in the evening). Luckily, I have my sources. My peeps over at NBC Universal have taken pity upon me and are hooking Christina up with the rest of the season. Whew ? crisis averted. But for how long? Sure, we'll get a dozen more episodes, but at this rate that'll take her about a weekend to plow through them. What then? In case you hadn't noticed ? and judging by the ratings, you hadn't ? Friday Night Lights is not exactly what you'd call an audience favorite. A critical darling, to be sure, but a seriously low-rated one.... And as much as I absolutely adore Friday Night Lights, I clearly recognize that this show will never, ever be a hit. What fans love about it ? its realism and understated nature ? does not appeal to mass audiences. Twenty million people are simply not going to watch a show with shaky cam shots of kids in a diner, so it's hard for me to convince the powers-that-be to keep the show on the air in the hopes that it will suddenly do big numbers. Convincing NBC brass of the show's excellence is also rather futile, because everyone that works there seems to be a big fan of the program. They know it's good. So I am left to play the only card I have left ? the preservation of my holy matrimony. Look, NBC, I have children ? two of them! Do you want them to grow up in a broken home just because you benched what might be the best drama on network television?I lack Ross' NBC connections, but my wife got so hooked on the show after I introduced her to it that she caught up on all the episodes by watching them online (they're all still available, by the way). And, as in Ross' case, my wife is a huge Riggins fan, even though he's the bad boy of the show. "He's just gorgeous... and smoldering," she said. She then tried to assuage any anxiety I might have had by reassuring me that, "you are as un-Riggins-like as you can possibly be." I feel much better now. [Yes, you, who link to Salma Hayek at the drop of a hat, should get upset at this!!--ed. True, though I have never (and will never) told my wife that she was "un-Hayek like."] Oh, and for FNL afficionados, I'm neither a Lyla or a Tyra guy -- I'm a Tami guy through and through.
It is... proof that a song can be so bad as to veer toward evil.... It's not Awesomely Bad; it's Horrifically Bad. The Peas receive no bonus points for a noble missing-of-the-mark or misguided ambition (some of the offended have responded with parody videos and snickering anecdotes about how the group uses Hitler-approved microphones). "My Humps" is a moment that reminds us that categories such as "good" and "bad" still matter. Relativism be damned! There are bad songs that offend our sensibilities but can still be enjoyed, and then there are the songs that are just really bad?transcendentally bad, objectively bad.Which makes an "ironic" cover of the song... well.... pretty damn bad.
Government spokesman, Gholam-Hossein Elham said Tuesday that the movie called `300' insults the culture of world countries. The statement was made in response to the question raised about the anti-Iran movie dubbed `300'. The government spokesman referred to the movie as part of the extensive cultural aggression aiming to degenerate cultures of world states. Elham noted that the Iranian nation and those involved in cultural activities will respond to such a cultural aggression.... The movie has fabricated the history with depicting a war between Iran and Greece, whereas, no Greek king dared to stand up to the Persian Empire or the Emperor Xerxes. Though Sparta's King Leonidas cherished such a dream, but, he lost his head and Iranian fighters threw his head before Emperor Xerxes's feet and told him that he had attempted a suicide attack to Persian Army.Though Matt and I have had some differences on Iran, I agree with correct lesson he from this tidbit of information:
It's interesting that even Iran's contemporary theocrats regard themselves as the heirs to all the pre-Islamic Persian empires. Which goes to show how misleading it is to frame US-Iranian disputes as part of an apocalyptic struggle with "Islamofascism" rather than a sort of banal (but not unimportant!) situation issue where the government of Iran is seeking to assert its interests in the neighborhood where governments of Iran have traditionally sought to assert themselves.UPDATE: Azadeh Moaveni suggests in Time that ordinary Iranians are equally ticked off about the movie.
The dead-pan world of the Washington policy wonk looks set for a dash of Hollywood glamour with the nomination of actress Angelina Jolie to join one of the most venerable think-tanks in the US. The Council on Foreign Relations, whose members include former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger and Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve chairman, decided on Friday to accept the 32-year-old to be considered for a special five-year term designed to ?nurture the next generation of foreign policy makers?. Membership would allow Ms Jolie access to 40 academic ?fellows? ? such as Joschka Fischer, the former German foreign minister, and Max Boot, a neoconservative military historian ? and to meet current world leaders. The Council does not require members to hold any particular academic qualifications. Ms Jolie?s formal education ended at a high school in Beverly Hills . Applicants must be nominated by one existing member and seconded with at least three supporting letters from others. It is not clear who nominated Ms Jolie, but fellow Hollywood actors Michael Douglas and Richard Dreyfuss are life members of the Council, founded in 1921 as a non-partisan membership organisation to ?promote understanding of foreign policy and America?s role in the world?.Note to self: check immediately to ascertain if Salma Hayek would be interested in CFR membership. [Um.... don't you have to be an American citizen to belong to the Council?--ed. Hayek is now a U.S. citizen, to vdare's everlasting chagrin.]
Meier cites the strategy board game Risk as one of his major influences. "Conquer the world. All those cool pieces. You felt like you were king. It gave you a lot of power." What about the game Diplomacy? "You had to have friends to play Diplomacy so that kind of left me out.".... Civilization has a range of levels ascending in difficulty, from "Settler" to "Deity," sometimes known as the Sid level. Ironically, Meier has never won at this level. His excuse? "When we're developing, it's hard to finish a game. A lot of times, you play for a while and say, 'Oh, this or that ought to change.' People in the real world get better than us. I mean, there are people who are just so willing to spend the time." Take, for example, WEEKLY STANDARD contributor and First Things editor Joseph Bottum, who has, in fact, won at the Deity level in Civilization III. He first began playing Civilization II in 1995 when he was a professor at Loyola College in Baltimore. "Among real aficionados," he says, "the goal was to see whether you could launch a spaceship before you reached A.D." The Deity level of Civ III posed more of a challenge, though Bottum eventually found a winning strategy--one involving an ancient civilization whose prime achievement appears early in the game, such as Egypt with its war chariots.UPDATE: Matus provides some more details in this Galley Slaves post.
1) Media hype. Last night the spouse turned on the local news to catch a weather forecast, and the anchors looked positively orgiastic in their glee about the impending storm. The growth and sophistication of media marketing is greater now than a decade ago, and this affects expectations about the future; 2) Liability laws. School districts are more risk-averse because of the possible liability that comes with not calling a snow day and then having a bus get into an accident. 3) Traffic congestion. The problem isn't the weather, it's the weather + an increased number of cars on the road. 4) When it's been a mild winter, everyone jumps at the first appreciable snowfall.Parents, provide your guesses here.
[I]t seems hard to dispute the notion that the siesta is a thoroughly inefficient way of inserting break times into the working day. So the economist in me accepts this as wise policy. At the same time, the Burkean conservative in me mourns a loss. The siesta is such a lovely conceit for lazy people like myself -- who have a strong belief in the restorative and stimulating powers of the long lunch -- that it will be hard to imagine its disappearance from its country of origin.It turns out there may be another negative externality associated with eliminating the siesta -- according to Stephen Smith of the Boston Globe:
In a study released yesterday, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and in Athens reported that Greeks who took regular 30-minute siestas were 37 percent less likely to die of heart disease over a six-year period than those who never napped. The scientists tracked more than 23,000 adults, finding that the benefits of napping were most pronounced for working men. Researchers have long recognized that Mediterranean adults die of heart disease at a rate lower than Americans and Northern Europeans. Diets rich in olive oil and other heart-healthy foods have received some of the credit, but scientists have been intrigued by the potential role of napping. The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, concluded that napping was more likely than diet or physical activity to lower the incidence of heart attacks and other life-ending heart ailments. Still, the authors cautioned that further research is needed to confirm their findings.Well, confirm them, for Pete's sake!
I suspect that The Guardian's audience is not as well traveled as they think they are. Outside the major cities in the United States, for instance, the only foreign tourists you usually find are Germans, who will go just about anywhere and rent RVs to do it. How many Guardian readers have driven through the desert Southwest or the Blue Ridge?I've traveled a fair amount in the United States, and my casual empiricism suggests that you'll find quite a lot of foreign tourists in the Southwest. They might not be driving RVs, but they will go there to take in one of the features of the United States that is not quite as common in Europe -- jaw-dropping natural vistas like the Grand Canyon, Garden of the Gods, or Zion National Park. In fact, in my experience, I've bumped into foreign tourists more often at non-urban destinations than urban ones.* This could be a perceptual bias, so I'd be curious to hear from readers if this is their experience as well. *If the dollar continues to fall in value, this will change, as even more tourists come to the U.S. for lower consumer prices.
Daniel W. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.