Archive for October, 2013

More Signs of the Apocalypse

Posted on October 31st, 2013 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

At universities across the country, the humanities are in decline, a function of the job market and university-sanctioned reverence for tech entrepreneurs who can subsequently donate their fortunes to their alma maters. The NSA is secretly tapping the servers of Google and Yahoo. Russia continues its crackdown on political expression.

Oh, and the Red Sox won the World Series.

Farewell to the Reverend

Posted on October 30th, 2013 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

A New York institution—and just a wonderful, big-hearted man—passes away.

I remember once finishing up in the washroom at 21 and lingering for about another ten minutes because I got into a conversation there with Lorenzo Robinson, a.k.a. the Reverend, about children and family….

Is the Summers-Rubin Era Finally Over?

Posted on October 30th, 2013 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Ever since withdrawing his name from consideration for the post of Fed chair, Larry Summers has kept a low profile (my guess: he’s back on the consulting/speaking money trail).

Now Harvard announces a Corporation “transition”: Bob Rubin, Summers mentor and inexplicably influential financier, will be stepping down from the Harvard Corporation.

Feels like the end of an era, no?

“American Lives Have No Second Acts,” said FDR

Posted on October 29th, 2013 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

The walls of the Cleveland Browns’ new training facility are lined with inspirational quotes from people like Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Abraham Lincoln and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Except for the fact that those gentlemen didn’t actually say what the Cleveland Browns are attributing to them.

Deadspin reports.

Spying on Heads of State

Posted on October 29th, 2013 in Uncategorized | 11 Comments »

So our President is considering banning it—at least when it involves our allies.

Here’s the question I really want to know: Did the NSA spy on the President?

After all, if it spied on the German chancellor, the French president, the Brazilian president, and so on….why stop there? And if it did spy on the President, could it blackmail him?

This story is slowly building; I think it’s the greatest government scandal, and the greatest threat to American democracy, since Watergate. Let’s hope the press—and the public—keep the pressure on. (I have more confidence in the former than the latter.)

I Am Having an Argument…

Posted on October 29th, 2013 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

…on Facebook, about tipping and social justice, prompted by this Zadie Smith essay.

I’m not going to complain about Britain’s “lack of a service culture”—it’s one of the things I cherish about the place. I don’t think any nation should elevate service to the status of culture. At best, it’s a practicality, to be enacted politely and decently by both parties, but no one should be asked to pretend that the intimate satisfaction of her existence is servicing you, the “guest,” with a shrimp sandwich wrapped in plastic. If the choice is between the antic all-singing, all-dancing employees in New York’s Astor Place Pret-A-Manger and the stony-faced contempt of just about everybody behind a food counter in London (including all the Prets), I wholeheartedly opt for the latter. We are subject to enough delusions in this life without adding to them the belief that the girl with the name tag is secretly in love with us.

Zadie Smith is certainly welcome to feel however she wants, but as a general proposition, this is absurd. When I pointed that out to my Facebook friend who posted the essay, noting that it seemed to reflect a particularly fatalistic, classist and British view of the world, a Londoner lit into me, accusing me of anti-Brit classism. (The argument is a little tortured, but whatever.)

This has now devolved into a discussion of which universities promote greater social diversity and economic advancement, English or U.S. ones, and particularly Cambridge versus Harvard. (Hint: I’m on the American side.)

Take a look at the essay, it’s interesting.

The Sox, Headed Home

Posted on October 29th, 2013 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

The Cardinals have their backs against the (Fenway) wall….Yikes. I know it’s bad karma to root against a team, but will the Cardinals please stage a comeback and beat the Red Sox at Fenway?

(He said with little hope…)

Even Though I Hope the Red Sox Lose….

Posted on October 28th, 2013 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

…and even though a couple of the games have ended in a bizarre fashion…it’s been a pretty exciting World Series so far, wouldn’t you say?

But Red Sox guys…that pulling the beards thing is just too weird.

Red Sox Cheating?

Posted on October 25th, 2013 in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

Some time after Red Sox pitcher Clay Bucholz is accused of using a foreign substance to doctor his pitches, now Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester appears to be doing the same thing: He was caught on film with a green substance on the edge of his glove, which he repeatedly touches during the game.

Boston: cheating again?

I’d guess the answer is yes—hey, it worked in ’04!—and I’ll bet any reader that you won’t see that same substance on Lester’s glove on game 5.

Thank God the Cardinals won Game 2, is all I can say. They need to beat the Beards.

Shameless Self-Promotion

Posted on October 21st, 2013 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

I had a lot of fun writing this story for Worth about Todd Robinson, a retired billionaire (he’s about five years older than I am, sigh) who’s turned his attention to environmental philanthropy. He’s bought a 180-foot boat and outfitted it into one of the prime shallow-water fishing boats in the world, and is now taking it to some of the world’s most remote places to study the survival of reef fishing.

Fascinating guy and, I hope, an interesting story.