The Ledes

Friday, May 29, 2015.

Washington Post: "The U.S. economy shrank at an annualized pace of 0.7 percent in the first three months of the year, according to government data released Friday morning, a tumble for a recovering nation that until recently seemed poised for takeoff. The contraction, the country’s third in the aftermath of the Great Recession, provides a troubling picture of an economy that many figured would get a lift from cheap oil, rapid hiring and growing consumer confidence. Instead, consumers have proved cautious, and oil companies have frozen investment — all while a nasty winter caused havoc for transportation and construction and a strong dollar widened the trade deficit."

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post (May 22): "A salmonella outbreak that’s probably linked to raw tuna from sushi has sickened at least 53 people across nine states — the majority in Southern California, health authorities said."

White House Live Video
May 28

11:05 am ET: President Obama receives the annual hurricane season outlook & preparedness briefing in Miami, Florida (audio only)

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

***********************************************

New York Times: "Charter Communications is near a deal to buy Time Warner Cable for about $55 billion, people with direct knowledge of the talks said on Monday, a takeover that would create a new powerhouse in the rapidly consolidating American cable industry.... The potential acquisition of Time Warner Cable completes a lengthy quest by Charter and its main backer, the billionaire John C. Malone, to break into the top tier of the American broadband industry. If completed, the transaction would be the latest in a series of mergers remaking the market for broadband Internet and cable television in the United States." ...

     ... Update: "Charter Communications agreed on Tuesday to buy its much larger rival Time Warner Cable for $56.7 billion in a deal that would transform the company into one of America’s largest cable and broadband operators."

Washington Post: "One of the earliest known copies of the Ten Commandments was written in soot on a strip of goatskin found among the trove of biblical material known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, widely considered to be one of the great archaeological finds of the 20th century. Penned on parchment by an unknown scribe more than 2,000 years ago, the scroll fragment is ... so fragile that its custodians rarely permit it to be moved from the secure vault where it rests in complete darkness. But for 14 days over the next seven months, the Ten Commandments scroll, known to scholars as 4Q41, will make a rare public appearance at the Israel Museum as part of a new exhibit called 'A Brief History of Humankind,' a show based on the international best-selling book by Israeli polymath Yuval Noah Harari."

Erik Loomis of LG&M: "It looks like Maggie Gyllenhaal has had her Last Fuckable Day at the ripe old age of 37:

... Sharon Waxman of the Wrap: "Every time we think things are getting better for women in Hollywood, something comes along to remind us — naaah. Maggie Gyllenhaal ... revealed that she was recently turned down for a role in a movie because she was too old to play the love interest for a 55-year-old man."

Emily Nussbaum of the New Yorker: "Now that [David] Letterman’s a flinty codger, an establishment figure, it’s become difficult to recall just how revolutionary his style of meta-comedy once felt. But back when I was sixteen, trapped in the snoozy early eighties and desperate for something rude and wild, Letterman seemed like an anarchist."

     ... Here's the Realtor.com page for the property.

AP: "The suburban New York home where F Scott Fitzgerald is believed to have written The Great Gatsby is for sale. A spokeswoman for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage said on Wednesday that the asking price for the manor home on Long Island was just over US$3.8m (A$4.8m).... The home is in the village of Great Neck Estates, about 20 miles (32km) from Manhattan.

After years of signing "-BO" at the end of @BarackObama to signal the tweets he crafted himself from an account operated by the Organizing for Action staff, the President now has his very own handle @POTUS, tweeting for the first time: 'Hello, Twitter! It's Barack. Really! Six years in, they're finally giving me my own account.'... Per a statement from the White House, the @POTUS handle 'will serve as a new way for President Obama to engage directly with the American people, with tweets coming exclusively from him.'"

The $5MM Ankle. New York Post: "Shakedown artist Al Sharpton’s eldest child wants $5 million from city taxpayers after she fell in the street and sprained her ankle, court rec­ords show. Dominique Sharpton, 28, says she was 'severely injured, bruised and wounded' when she stumbled over uneven pavement at the corner of Broome Street and Broadway downtown last year, according to a lawsuit."

My friend Jan C. sent me a list of actual complaints made by dissatisfied travelers who had gone on excursions organized by the British Thomas Cook Vacations. An example: "It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair."

New York Times: "The most striking geographical pattern on marriage, as with so many other issues today, is the partisan divide. Spending childhood nearly anywhere in blue America — especially liberal bastions like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Washington — makes people about 10 percentage points less likely to marry relative to the rest of the country. And no place encourages marriage quite like the conservative Mountain West, especially the heavily Mormon areas of Utah, southern Idaho and parts of Colorado." ...

Matt Seitz in New York notes that the pilot for "Mad Men" repeatedly points to the series' conclusion. ...

Gabriel Sherman of New York: "Tomorrow morning [Wednesday, May 13], in what marks a tectonic shift in the publishing industry, the New York Times is expected to officially begin a long-awaited partnership with Facebook to publish articles directly to the social media giant.... According to people familiar with the negotiations, the Times will begin publishing select articles directly into Facebook's news feed. Buzzfeed, NBC News and NatGeo are said to be also joining the roll out, among others. The deal raises all sorts of knotty questions for the Times." ...

... New York Times Update: "— Facebook’s long-rumored plan to directly host articles from news organizations will start on Wednesday, concluding months of delicate negotiations between the Internet giant and publishers that covet its huge audience but fear its growing power. Nine media companies, including NBC News and The New York Times, have agreed to the deal, despite concerns that their participation could eventually undermine their own businesses. The program will begin with a few articles but is expected to expand quickly.... Most important for impatient smartphone users, the company says, the so-called instant articles will load up to 10 times faster than they normally would since readers stay on Facebook rather than follow a link to another site." ...

.... Here's Facebook's announcement.

Nell Scovell in New York: Dave Letterman' former writers reminisce about jokes they wrote & pitched but which Letterman rejected. Letterman comments.

Vermeil placecard holders, a favorite "souvenir" of White House guests.... Washington Post: Petty thieves show up at White House state dinner -- all the time. Many guests at state dinners & other functions just can't resist taking home mementos, some of them pricey. "While the chief usher’s office monitors exactly what goes out with each place setting when the first family entertains, there is no formal accounting of how much taxpayers must pay each year to replace items that are gone by the end of the night."

Washington Post: The law finally catches up with Frank Freshwater, who escaped from prison in 1959.

Washington Post: Tesla plans to market a home battery system that draws power from solar panels or the power grid to use during outages. It holds up to 10 kw-hours, about 1/3 of what it takes to power an average home for a day. Tesla plans to make the system avalable by the end of this summer.

Conan O'Brien in Entertainment Weekly: "Not one single writer/performer in the last 35 years has had Dave [Letterman]’s seismic impact on comedy.... In today’s’ world of 30 late night programs, it’s tempting now to take Dave for granted. Do not. Dave was a true revolution.... Like all revolutions, it was such a seismic shift that it was disorienting and a bit messy at first, and it has taken us time to realize the sheer magnitude of the shift."

White House: "For a new state china service, First Lady Michelle Obama wanted it to have modern elements, but also for it to be practical, in the sense that it would be complementary to the preceding historic state services. The Obama State China Service consists of eleven-piece place settings for 320":

Timothy Simon of "Veep" gets ready to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner, which is Saturday, April 25:

... Cecily Strong of “Saturday Night Live will headline the event.

MOOCS! Washington Post: For $45, anyone can become a freshman at Arizona State University. "Students can take classes online for a fee, then decide whether to pay reduced tuition for the credits."

The Sex Life of David Brooks is apparently intensely interesting to Villagers who do not participate in it.

Washington Post: "Gaioz Nigalidze’s rise through the ranks of professional chess began in 2007, the year the first iPhone was released. In hindsight, the timing might not be coincidental." During a competition in Dubai, the Georgian grandmaster allegedly hid an iPhone in the bathroom, then consulted a chess app during play.

CBS News: "'Face the Nation' Host Bob Schieffer announced Sunday that CBS News political director John Dickerson will become the new host of 'Face the Nation' this summer when he retires." CW: So "Face the Nation" is going to become even worse. Follows the well-established pattern of Sunday morning "news" shows.

New York Times: "Bob Schieffer, a television anchor who has worked at CBS for nearly half a century and interviewed every sitting president since Richard Nixon, announced Wednesday night that he was retiring this summer. Mr. Schieffer, 78, made the announcement while giving an address at Texas Christian University, his alma mater." CW: This will be a great disappointment to Charles Pierce, as regular readers of Pierce's posts will recognize.

I believe we are going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth in the next decade and definitive evidence in the next 10 to 20 years.... We know where to look, we know how to look, and in most cases we have the technology.... We are not talking about little green men, Stofan said. "We are talking about little microbes. -- Ellen Stofan, chief scientist for NASA

It's definitely not an if, it's a when. -- Jeffery Newmark of NASA

... The L.A. Times story, from which the above citations come, is fascinating.

Washington Post: "The quote on the stamp originated with [Joan Walsh] Anglund.... 'Yes, that’s my quote,' Anglund said Monday night from her Connecticut home. It appears on page 15 of her book of poems 'A Cup of Sun,' published in 1967. Only the pronouns and punctuation are changed, from 'he' in Anglund’s original to 'it' on the stamp." CW: These are forever stamps. Maybe you should rush to the Post Office & buy a pane.

Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.

Sunday
Apr082012

The Commentariat -- April 8, 2012

Sorry, I am back to being among the legally blind, so I won't be linking to stuff today. I might try to come back if my sight gets a little better & link to stuff that I think looks interesting, but as of yesterday afternoon, I have not been able to see. Period.

Have patience, please.

Ostara or Eostre, by Johannes Gehrts, 1884. Thanks to P. D. Pepe & the Venerable Bede.

Update: for the moment, I am seeing well enough to read a few articles when I ramp the print size WAY up. So, in honor of Christianity highest holy day, I'll concentrate on articles & essay related to religion, starting with ....

Nicholas Kristof has noticed an "intellectual tide" among atheists which acknowledges "grudging admiration for religion as an ethical and cohesive force." ...

 

 

... Kristof's column brings to mind this little number, which, as I recall, contributor Dave S. told us about a week or two ago:

"Global War on Women": Maureen Dowd compares the Augusta National & Pope Benedict (who spent Easter denouncing priests who want reforms like allowing women & married priests) to Saudi Arabia. She ends with,

The Rev. Alberto Cutié, the handsome Miami priest who defected to become an Episcopal priest when he fell in love and married a woman from his parish, found the pope’s timing ironic.

'They say women can’t be priests because Jesus only called men to be apostles,' he said. 'But the women close to Jesus were the first witnesses of the resurrection. When the men were afraid and hidden, the women went to the tomb and said, "Jesus is risen!" If Easter is the most important part of Christianity, the first to proclaim the message were women. Who could make more effective preachers?'

      ...  Dowd, BTW, contrasts the above-named miscreants with our national messiah Barack Obama.

      ... Nicole Winfield of the Associated Press (April 5): "Pope Benedict XVI has denounced priests who have questioned church teaching on celibacy and ordaining women, saying Thursday they were disobeying his authority to try to impose their own ideas on the church. Benedict made the rare and explicit criticism from the altar of St. Peter's Basilica in his homily on Holy Thursday, when priests recall the promises they made when ordained."

NEW. Rollo Romig of the New Yorker on "how Muslims view Easter."

Dan Frosch of the New York Times: "The Catholic Campaign, which doles out $8 million annually to about 250 groups nationwide, has been under increasing pressure from conservative Catholic groups to ensure that it is not unwittingly aiding organizations that run afoul of church positions on issues like birth control and marriage.... Since 2010, nine groups from across the country have lost financing from the campaign because of conflicts with Catholic principles...."

Heidi Hall of The Tennessean: "The Southern Baptist Convention has spent more than a decade trying to leave behind the racially divided past that created it.... But some consider statements made Saturday by the convention’s top policy representative on his national radio show a setback. On Richard Land Live!, Land accused black religious leaders — whom he called 'race hustlers' — and President Barack Obama of using the shooting death of an African-American teen in Florida for election-year gains."

Here are Mitt Romney & Paul Ryan on Obama's "War on Religion." And how about that Tim Dolan?:

... So here's the secular warrior at the Easter Week Prayer Breakfast he hosted:

... AND, uh-oh, here -- via the Maddow blog -- are some disrespectful members of Occupy Catholics and Catholics United outside St. Patrick's (TimDolanWorld) in NYC protesting the budget of the good Catholic boy Paul Ryan:

The banner reads, "Were you there when they crucified the poor?"

Law Prof. Robert Burt in a Washington Post opinion piece: In the Bible stories, "... no one has effective coercive authority over God. But in the biblical texts, God is continually reminded — by Abraham, Moses, Job and Jesus — that coercion cannot pry loose what He truly wants from us: not just obedience but loyalty, allegiance and love. It is also hard to exercise coercive authority over our secular leaders — the president during his term in office or life-tenured Supreme Court justices. Political leaders may want our love (or at least our votes), but it may be that, unlike God, they are content to settle for our sullen, enforced obedience."

Apropos of all this -- in this post, which appeared in the Times last week, Matthew Hutson cites studies which show that "superstitious thought, or 'magical thinking,' even as it misrepresents reality, has its advantages."

News Ledes

AP: "CBS newsman Mike Wallace, the dogged, merciless reporter and interviewer who took on politicians, celebrities and other public figures in a 60-year career highlighted by the on-air confrontations that helped make “60 Minutes” the most successful prime-time television news program ever, has died. He was 93." CBS News has a brief remembrance here. ...

Morley Safer remembers Mike Wallace:

     ... Update: "60 Minutes" reprises some of Wallace's segments here. Next Sunday's "60 Minutes" will be devoted to Wallace.

AP: "The Afghan government and the U.S. signed a deal Sunday governing night raids by American troops, resolving an issue that had threatened to derail a larger pact governing a U.S. presence in the country for decades to come."

Reader Comments (6)

Marie, I am sorry that the slow healing is keeping you away from a banner day in sophistry, starring the incomparable Ross Douthat, the person I will immediately recruit should I ever be tasked with selling s**t as Shinola. Here's a taste: "And the inescapability of religious polarization — whether it pits evangelicals against Mormons, the White House against the Catholic Church, or Rick Santorum against the secular press — during an election year that was expected to be all about the economy is a sign of what happens to a deeply religious country when its theological center cannot hold." My favorite is "the White House against the Catholic Church," when actually it's "everybody who doesn't believe the Catholic malarkey (including most Catholics) against the Catholic Church."

April 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Mahoney

Marie--
Be patient with yourself. Take the time to let the eyes heal. If you put the Weader aside for a week, we'll miss you, but we'd miss you more if your sight was permanently damaged by coming to work too soon.

April 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterwaltwis

With all the folderol on religion this Easter Sunday (by the way the word Easter derives from a mythical goddess of spring) the Steve Martin video made my morning plus Jack's entertaining the recruitment of Douthat if he should ever be asked to sell shit as Shinola. The only way to survive all this nonsense is with a sense of humor and lots of colored eggs hidden in secret places.

April 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

CW,
I can wait... Rest your eyes.
Mae Finch

April 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermae finch

Thanks for all who read Ross Douthat so I don't have to. I have become increasingly dismayed at all the charges back and forth hurled by candidates as to who does or doesn't pass the religious litmus test, or practice the "correct" religion. The idea of people even discussing religious beliefs - their own or anyone else's - in the public square is something I have still not gotten used to. Certainly, when I was growing up, you didn't question another person's faith and you didn't talk about your own , except to family and close friends.
That said, Happy Easter to all ! (from an agnostic)

April 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

@Marie--

Although it seems we are destined to agree on only a very few things, I nevertheless wish you the very best for a full and speedy recovery, and the very best possible result for recovery of your vision.

Heck, I'm one of those believers in things magical--and, yet, a scientist--so I even dare to hope for miracles! How strange is that?

As one who tried to undertake too much, too soon, following an important surgery and paid the corresponding price, I second the motions of those who have suggested that you should take it easy for a while.

Stay still, relaxed, and let the healing process proceed. Even some Conservatives need you!

Best wishes,

Zee

April 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZee
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