Archive for March, 2011

Quote of the Day

Posted on March 21st, 2011 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

—”Don’t miss the killer hedge funds that are emerging from the Harvard endowment!”

a hyperlink on Businessinsider at the end of a story on Drew Faust encouraging Harvard students to go into public service.

An Idea Whose Vine Has Come

Posted on March 19th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

In New York, thanks to the special interest power of the liquor store lobby, you can’t buy wine in grocery stores. There’s no good reason for it—it’s just that liquor store owners are afraid they’ll be forced to offer lower prices and better service. You can understand why they’re opposed to the change!

There’s a group—Generating Revenue and Promoting Employment Statewide (GRAPES!)—trying to fix this silly law. Sign here if you believe in freedom.

Still More Twouble with Twitter

Posted on March 19th, 2011 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

The Times has an amusing story today about a new irritating part of Twitter—how annoying it is when someone tweets to tell you that they’re having more fun than you are. Specifically, we’re talking hipsters at SXSW. (That’s South by Southwest to us non-hipsters.)

And this week, as thousands of the nation’s Twitterati gathered at the annual South by Southwest technology and music festival in Austin, Tex., their exhaustive, real-time accounts of barbecue, beta tests and Jake Gyllenhaal sightings have prompted a backlash by those not in attendance.

“It feels like high school,” tweeted @JillVanWyke, who teaches journalism in Des Moines, as tweets from other journalism professors rolled in from Austin. “All the cool kids are at a cool party, and I’m home on a Fri night.”

Poor twits! It breaks the heart.

I joke, but in fact I’m sympathetic. There is something obnoxious—you see it on Facebook too—when people post news of what chic, amazing, trendy thing they’re doing even now. What is the point, except to make deeply insecure people feel better about themselves at your expense? I mean, it’s not like it’s a competition.

By the way, blog posts might be scarce for the next couple of days: I’m flying to Venice to test-drive a Ferrari.

Maybe She Should Move to Japan?

Posted on March 18th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Ann Coulter tells Bill O’Reilly why “radiation is actually good for you.”

Even O’Reilly looks uncomfortable about this….

Bloomberg on Faust

Posted on March 18th, 2011 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

The Harvard president is profiled by the billionaire’s news service, with an emphasis on her emphasis on public service.

From the eight U.S. presidents among its alumni to the professors who invented the iron lung and performed the first kidney transplant, Harvard has a rich tradition of serving society that Faust wants to restore, said David Gergen, director of the Kennedy School of Government Center for Public Leadership.

“She came in with a view that too many Harvard students were aspiring to financial-services careers that emphasized materialism,” Gergen said in a telephone interview. “She didn’t villainize Wall Street, but she wanted to get more balance in what the student body was doing, and she’s encouraged more graduates to give back through public service.”

Bit of a puff piece, eh?

As anyone on the verge of a capital campaign would, Faust is careful not to alienate the private sector.

I believe in engagement of the public and private sector,” Faust said. “Business is about generating prosperity, and we have a number of students who are developing investment projects, devices or other programs that may ultimately serve society. Public service is a big tent and I don’t mean to leave anyone out of it.

She also admits that she admires soldiers, and has a PR person defend her from Harvey Mansfield’s criticism that she’s not doing enough to make Harvard academically rigorous.

Faust has worked to ensure that the broadest possible spectrum of views is represented at Harvard, and that students are prepared to examine those diverse viewpoints with the best intellectual training, the university said in an e-mail.

Finally, Faust says the power of the Harvard president is “complex.”

“It’s a job that gives you a voice and a platform and an occasion to accomplish a great deal.

The Harvard president has been stepping up her profile lately. Is this preparation for the capital campaign—or an attempt to avoid being overshadowed by a certain former university president who has now returned, semi-rehabilitated, from Washington?

More Twouble with Twitter, Cont’d.

Posted on March 17th, 2011 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

After Tweeting some unfortunate jokes about Japan—and let’s face it, what joke about Japan isn’t unfortunate right now?—comedian Gilbert Gottfried loses his job as the voice for the AFLAC duck.

The company…noted that Gottfried is not the voice of the duck in Japan….

Because Everybody Loves Penguins…

Posted on March 16th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

…and Englishmen having a spat while dressed as R2D2 and C3PO.

See more funny videos and funny pictures at CollegeHumor.

Now Here’s an Apology

Posted on March 16th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

As opposed to Cappie Pondexter’s lame apology (below), here’s an apology from Alexandra Wallace, a UCLA freshman who posted a video on YouTube about how hard it is to live with Asian students.

When people were understandably unhappy about the video (see below), Wallace realized that she’d screwed up badly, and wrote:

“Clearly the original video posted by me was inappropriate. I cannot explain what possessed me to approach the subject as I did, and if I could undo it, I would. I’d like to offer my apology to the entire UCLA campus. For those who cannot find it within them to accept my apology, I understand.

It’s not perfect, but she does take the blame and doesn’t offer false explanations or use that deeply annoying construct, “…to anyone who may have been offended…”

We all have reason to apologize from time to time, and I think a sincere apology should prompt consideration of forgiveness. But it should not prompt expectation of forgiveness.

More Twouble with Twitter

Posted on March 16th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

With Twitter, the twits hits just keep on coming.

The Times reports on the dilemma of New York Liberty point guard Cappie Pondexter, who heard news of a horrific tragedy abroad and promptly Tweeted, “What if God was tired of the way they treated their own people in there [sic]
country? Idk guys he makes no mistakes.”

(I guess “Idk” stands for “I don’t know,” which is about the only accurate thing she wrote.)

“What if God was tired of the way they treated their own people”? WTF?

Pondexter later added, “u just never knw! They did pearl harbor so u can’t expect anything less.”

A WNBA official called the Tweet “inappropriate.”

In a wonderful bit of irony, Pondexter is one of the women who, quite appropriately, criticized Don Imus for the racist language (”nappy-headed hos”)
he once used to describe WNBA players.

She said then, with suspiciously clearer language than in her Tweets, “Imus’s racial comments are unacceptable and inappropriate. Not only were the comments racist, they were also misogynistic.”

Pondexter argued that, for Imus, an apology or suspension were inadequate punishment.

Pondexter herself has neither been suspended nor fired. But she did go to great trouble to make amends. She Tweeted!

“I wanna apologize to anyone I may hurt or offended during this tragic time,” Pondexter typed. “I didn’t realize that my words could be interpreted in the manner which they were.”

The interpretation is that God punished the Japanese for Pearl Harbor and how Japanese leaders treat their own people, whatever that refers to, right?

How else could those words be interpreted?

Which is my way of saying that Pondexter compounded her offense with an apology that, in essence, blames her readers for misinterpreting her words, despite the fact that her words are pretty hard to misinterpret.

Twitter is the reductio ad absurdum of two converging trends, one technological and one cultural. The first is the democratization of publishing technology. The second is the idea that anything and everything one says is important because to believe otherwise could be damaging to one’s self-esteem.

The first trend is a good thing. The second, as Cappie Pondexter may have just learned, has its downsides.

Yaz in Springtime

Posted on March 16th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

The Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy has a nice piece about Carl Yastrzemski and his life after baseball.

Fifty years after his rookie season, the greatest living Red Sox player doesn’t want to be around the millionaire big leaguers and he doesn’t want to be around baby boomer fans he thrilled all those years ago. He just wants to work with anonymous young hitters, walk around the warning track by himself for an hour, then retreat to an afternoon of fishing or golf.

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Yaz for my book, The Greatest Game, on the 1978 Yankees-Red Sox pennant race. The interview had taken me a year to coordinate, and up to about an hour before it happened I wasn’t sure it would come off.

We sat on a set of bleachers near a minor league field in Fort Myers, Florida, where the Red Sox conduct spring training. Yastrzemski liked to work with the minor leaguers; he didn’t want to help coach the pros, he said, because once they’re at that level, it’s really too late to teach them much.

For about an hour, we talked about that 1978 season and the one-game playoff which ended it for the Sox. Yastrzemski had made the game’s last out, and we talked about that too, and I thought Yaz was as straight up as a guy could be about what must be a painful memory. I asked if, in retrospect, he wished that someone else were up at the plate to face Goose Gossage with two outs, and he shook his head decisively and said, “No. Coming to the plate in big moments like that is why you play the game.”

I went away from the interview respecting Yaz even more than I did going into it, which doesn’t always happen but is a great feeling when it does.