Archive for August, 2011

Nice One, Yankees

Posted on August 31st, 2011 in Uncategorized | 10 Comments »

Heck of a game last night—it felt like September baseball, didn’t it? All the more enjoyable because the good guys won. Also, because Adrian Gonzalez went 0-5. (So did Derek Jeter, but then, the good guys won.)

A few thoughts:

1) Pretty stupid of Francisco Cervelli to clap his hands like that while crossing home plate. Stupider of John Lackey to hit him, putting an insurance run on first with no one out. Also: Lackey threw the pitch, in my opinion, a little too close to the head. Not cool.

2) It must be irritating for the Sox that their record against the Yankees this year is 10-3 and yet they’re only half a game up.

3) On his (I think) 127th pitch, C.C. Sabathia threw a 96 mph fastball. Amazing.

4) One of the Yankee announcers pointed out, with genuine surprise, that after the Sox half of the 8th, Sox “fans” started pouring out of the stadium. I miss the old Sox fans; they were higher quality.

5) In some ways I prefer the Yankees without A-Rod at 3rd.

6) Why oh why is AJ Burnett still pitching? That guarantees that the Red Sox will still be in first at the end of this series…. This is an excellent example of the deleterious effects of the wild card; there’s not a chance in hell Burnett would take the mound against the Sox if the Yankees had to win the division to make the playoffs.

7) Nonetheless! Nice one, Yankees.

Scary Rick Perry

Posted on August 31st, 2011 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

I didn’t know—should have, but didn’t—that he thinks climate change is “a contrived phony mess that is falling apart.

Perry’s got a good haircut and good suits…but underneath that, he’s just nuts, isn’t he?

So it makes total sense that he’s the GOP’s frontrunner for its presidential nomination….

How Was Irene for You?

Posted on August 29th, 2011 in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

I happened to have a long-planned trip to Chicago this weekend, but I watched CNN semi-obsessively to find out what was going on back East. I’m not surprised that the storm turned out to be less severe than predicted; they almost always do. The perfect storm came elsewhere, from the combination of sensationalistic media (I miss the old CNN sometimes) and hyper-cautious politicians. After Katrina, no president is ever going to risk looking lackadaisical about a storm; and after Snowmageddon, Mike Bloomberg wasn’t about to get caught in Bermuda again.

Meanwhile CNN was all Irene, all the time, and you could tell the channel was pretty darn excited about the storm and the ratings boost it promised. I can’t tell you how many times I heard a CNN anchor use the phrase “monster storm,” which particularly struck me because I’m generally irritated by the term “monster shark” (as in Martha’s Vineyard’s obscene “Monster Shark” fishing tournament”)—they’re equally meaningless terms.

Of course, it’s probably a good thing that the politicians reacted strongly, and it sounds like they avoided a lot of damage to the public transportation systems in particular by doing so. I also imagine that conducting evacuations is terrific practice for a real disaster.

But Irene shows that we still have a long way to go before we can accurately calibrate the response to a storm.

Meanwhile, Chicago has been just gorgeous: an architectural tour of the city by water, the Art Institute (with its glorious new modern wing by Renzo Piano), Millenium Park—the city really does a nice job of incorporating its history (trains going through everything) with a progressive vision of urban planning….

The view from the roof cafe of the Art Institute

The view from the roof cafe of the Art Institute

Forbes’ Most Powerful Women

Posted on August 25th, 2011 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

These lists need to be taken with a grain of salt, of course. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth pointing out when they seem particularly off-base.

Forbes just released its annual list of most powerful women. (Not that Forbes knows much about women, but that’s another subject.)

Facebook exec (and Larry Summers friend) Sheryl Sandberg—she’s having a good year—is at #5, just a couple notches behind the presidents of Germany and Brazil and the US secretary of state.

From everything I’ve read, Sandberg’s most important play at Facebook seems to be concluding that the site shouldn’t charge its users, which it never seriously considered doing. That may just be because of a lack of good reporting, but….#5? Seriously? If Facebook vanished tomorrow, after two weeks would anyone really miss it?

Gisele Bunchen is at #60.

Drew Faust is at #83.

Drew Faust is 23 places behind Gisele Bunchen?

:-(

Posted on August 25th, 2011 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

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Mas Mariachi!

Posted on August 24th, 2011 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

The beluga whale and the mariachi band he liked so much are about to be reunited. That is sweet. For $5, you can go to the Mystic Aquarium and check out “Cocktails with the Whales.” Five bucks! Deal.

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Swimming with Sharks

Posted on August 24th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

The LA Times has a cool photo essay about three guys, determined to change the way we think about sharks, who free-dive with great whites. It looks…amazing.

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Met-aphor

Posted on August 23rd, 2011 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Last night the Mets game against the Phillies (they got crushed, natch) was delayed because a Mets player was on the can.

Which is funny, because really, if you think about it, the whole team is in the sh**ter.

(B)race Yourself

Posted on August 23rd, 2011 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

….as the Dominique Strauss Kahn/Nafissatou Diallo matter gets even uglier, and the race/gender cards get thrown down…

I spent some time this morning reading the prosecutor’s recommendation for dismissal, which is a bombshell document. (And compelling reading.) For example:

14 In her interviews of June 9 and June 28, the complainant stated that she had indeed been raped in the past in her native country, but in a completely different incident than the one that she had described in her earlier interviews. Our interviews of the complainant yielded no independent means of investigating or verifying this incident.

15 On occasion, the complainant’s untruths were accompanied by dramatic displays of emotion. In the course of one interview, the prosecutor asked the complainant about a particular personal circumstance, and she calmly responded in the negative to the inquiry. In an interview two days later, she was asked a more specific question about the same subject. In response, she dropped to the floor, and physically rolled around while weeping; once composed, she said that she did not know the answer to the prosecutor’s question. In yet a later interview, the prosecutor revisited the issue. This time, the complainant responded affirmatively, in a matter-of-fact manner, to the question.

The dry language of a legal brief can’t mask what must have been a surreal scene—and I mean scene in a couple different senses of the word—for the prosecutors.

After reading this motion, one has to consider the allegation of rape highly suspect. But regardless of what happened in that hotel room, Nafissatou Diallo would have been a disastrous witness, and the prosecutor’s office is right not to bring the case.

What will happen next? Well, there’s a civil suit in the works, so expect Diallo’s lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, to play the gender and race cards. He’s given every sign of preparing to do just that. That’s what the TV interview with ABC (think it was a coincidence that interviewer Robin Roberts—who fondly refers to Diallo as “Nafi” thoughout the segment—is black?) and the print interview with Newsweek were for: to lay the groundwork for a civil suit in which racial and gender sentiment is mobilized to create so much hostility that Strauss Kahn will write a check rather than endure it. Exhibit 1: This photo from the NYT piece on the recommendation to dismiss.

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Why exactly does Diallo need those massive bodyguards…except to suggest that she’s in constant danger of becoming a martyr?

(Incidentally, we’re running a piece about bodyguards in Worth by our security columnist, Paul Viollis, and one of the points he makes is that if you’re really worried about your safety, you don’t hire bruisers like this. They’re usually bar bouncers making an extra buck, and hiring them is more about making a statement than keeping you safe. In this case, the statement is pretty clear.)

The irony of all this, of course, is that Diallo’s race has only been an asset to her in the public perception of the case, and probably boosted the prosecutor’s original trust in her. There was of course the perception of Diallo as a saintly African woman, supporting herself and her daughter by cleaning up after rich white men. (C.f. The Help.) The power imbalance, of which race was certainly a part, made many people (myself included) more sympathetic to Diallo than perhaps we should have been without having more of the facts.

Then there was the perception of Diallo as already a victim. Why were prosecutors so quick to believe her bogus story of being gang-raped by soldiers? Was it because she’s from Africa and, well, that sort of thing just happens there all the time? If Diallo had been a white woman from, say, Russia, would we have wondered more about that story? We lived through this already with Tawana Brawley…but people forget.

None of this is to exculpate Dominique Strauss Kahn, who clearly has some serious issues with women. (How serious, it’s hard to know.) In any event, his reputation is in tatters, his career almost surely over. Is this justice? Maybe. We’ll see. But if you read the document linked to above, there’s just one conclusion you can draw with certainty: Nafissatou Diallo is a chronic liar and this criminal case could never have been prosecuted.

Cornell Publishes Its Grade

Posted on August 19th, 2011 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

And as the blog Carpe Diem points out, if you want an “A”, don’t major in economics—but do go to the Ed School.