Sunday, January 03, 2010

It burns!!!: The Sunday New York Times tab dump! 

We perform many important services for our readers, but we think we do the greatest good by reading the New York Times so you don't have to. Does anybody else pay so high a price to make you happy? Herewith, therefore, the Sunday New York Times tab dump.

The trade see-saw, an interesting graphic that shows exports and imports by American port of entry. I love this bit about New York:

The city's largest export category was precious stones and metals at $33 billion. This was also the largest import category, at $32 billion, as the city is a center for grading and cutting diamonds.

As tough as the last decade was on the American economy, more than 40 percent of the world's people live in China, India, Indonesia, and Brazil, and those countries did pretty well. Billions of poor people becoming rich is a lot better than having them stay poor, even for the prosperity of Americans over the long run. Just don't expect a lot of Asian villains in American movies.

Everything about this story screams "New York," and explains why some people love the place and others stare at it with a stunned, pole-axed look. At least when they give it any thought at all.
GIVE credit to the first guy to light up a cigarette inside GoldBar on a recent Saturday night: at least he was pretending to be discreet.

Between puffs, the smoker, a 30-something man with a tight T-shirt, a gold watch and a gym membership, slyly obscured his cigarette behind the knee-high table that held his $400 bottle of Belvedere, assorted mixers and a pack of Parliaments. In turn, the cocktail waitresses flanking the room — who, at 12:30 a.m., still outnumbered the patrons — pretended not to notice.

Set aside everything else, Belvedere is vodka. How "fabulous" do you have to be to waste your money like that in the middle of a harsh recession? No wonder there is growing populism in this country -- the coastal rich have lost their sense of shame.

One thing is for sure: The dudes exporting $33 billion in precious stones and metals aren't blowing $400 for a bottle of vodka.

An item from yesterday, but new to me today: "10 ideas that might make the next 10 years more interesting, healthy or civil." The author is Bono, for my money the most interesting and credible of the show-biz do-gooders. He has an understanding of self that few people do:
How is it that the country that made us all fall in love with the automobile has failed, with only a few exceptions, to produce a single family sedan with the style and humor and grace of the cars produced in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s?...

That’s why the Obama administration — while it still holds the keys to the big automakers — ought to put some style fascists into the mix: the genius of Marc Newson ... Steve Jobs and Jonny Ive from Apple ... Frank Gehry, the architect, and Jeff Koons, the artist.

"Style fascists." I love that. But read the whole thing, and reflect upon the security requirements at the "festival of Abraham," which is otherwise a very interesting idea.

The editors inveigh against head injuries in the National Football League, and I am not inclined to argue in favor of them. My objection is to the tone:
But it will take more than new rules, or new corroborating evidence, to change a macho culture in which coaches and TV announcers seem to value vicious “hits” above all else, and players are mocked or presumed soft for sitting out with injuries.

Oh yes, football is just so icky. Idiots. The "macho culture" is a reflection of intense professional competition, not the cause of it. You cannot do away with the "macho culture" of football without doing away with the game itself, or at least the glory and emoluments of victory.

Clark Hoyt, the "public editor," earnestly records his paper's stern action against free-lance writers who violate the NYT's rules against financial conflicts of interest. Travel writers who accept free tickets or nights at the resort and such. All well and good, I suppose, but petty financial conflicts strike me as the least important sources of bias and the easiest to disclose. Rather than banning these minor conflicts (which the NYT may have to do if it is going to increase its reliance on free-lancers), the Times should move to transparent disclosure. Require each free-lancer to produce a short conflicts disclosure form, accessible through a hyperlink at the byline. Then let me decide whether I care that the travel writer once got a free ticket from Jet Blue.

A few years back there was some family in Princeton with a bumper sticker on their silver Mercedes SUV that said "The best things in life aren't things." That ethic rendered aspirational is the dream of every self-hating affluent liberal. Growing national poverty has made it the involuntary reality for millions.*

More later.

*I actually believe that and live more modestly than many people with fewer means, but do not feel the need to qualify my indulgences by advertising the point.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jan 03, 01:19:00 PM:

"It burns?" That rings a bell, but surely not?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jan 03, 02:17:00 PM:

"The dudes exporting $33 billion in precious stones and metals aren't blowing $400 for a bottle of vodka."

I don't think Jews go in much for vodka.

But Franky "Four Fingers" pretended to be a Jew and then got shot by a Russian over a big fat diamond. That Russian dodged bullets. And he probably drank lots of vodka. Maybe even Belvedere. And that all caused a great big mess what made for a good movie that had Pikeys and stuff in it. So there's a six degree separation thing going on I think. Also, Avi flew into London from New York. So there's New York again.  

By Anonymous feeblemind, at Sun Jan 03, 03:00:00 PM:

Re football: In the relentless drive to reduce risk and protect us from ourselves, I am quite frankly surprised that the safety police have never made a concerted effort to ban tackle football for anyone under the age of 18. With regard to concussions, it will never happen but I wonder if a return to single platoon, limited substitution football would reduce concussions? I am thinking if the players had to be out there for the entire game, they would have to be built more like soccer players. Just wondering if the lighter build combined with the fatigue of playing the entire game would result in less devastating hits?  

By Blogger Assistant Village Idiot, at Sun Jan 03, 10:45:00 PM:

The Bono op-ed is quite interesting.

feeblemind, I don't know about the concussion rate, but soccer creates more hospital visits per minute played than football does in the US. And having headed enough balls that have just traveled forty yards in the air, I'm going to bet the concussion rate in soccer is pretty high anyway.  

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