The Wires

The Ledes

Saturday, March 25, 2017.

New York Times: "Five years after a child sex abuse scandal rocked Penn State, damaging its reputation, exposing a revered coach as a serial predator and sending him to prison, a jury on Friday convicted the former president of the university of child endangerment for failing to stop the abuse. On its second day of deliberations, the jury in Harrisburg, Pa., found Graham B. Spanier guilty of one misdemeanor count, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. He was also found not guilty of two felony charges, for his handling of allegations against Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant coach." -- CW 

Public Service Announcement

Safety/Irony Alert. CNBC (December 25): Your new home security system may be an open invitation to hackers to make you, and perhaps many others, unsafe.” -- CW

 


The Hill: "Arnold Schwarzeneggar says his first season as host of NBC's 'Celebrity Apprentice' is also his last. In remarks Friday, the former California governor cited President Trump, who has repeatedly mocked the ratings of his reality TV replacement, as his reason. 'Even if asked [to do it again] I would decline,' Schwarzenegger told Empire magazine.... 'With Trump being involved in the show people have a bad taste and don’t want to participate as a spectator or sponsor or in any other way support the show. It’s a very divisive period right now and I think the show got caught up in all that division.'" -- CW 

New York Times: "Penguin Random House will publish coming books by former President Barack Obama and the former first lady Michelle Obama, the publishing company announced Tuesday night, concluding a heated auction among multiple publishers. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but publishing industry executives with knowledge of the bidding process said it probably stretched well into eight figures." -- CW ...

Guardian: A statement by the Academy of Motion Pictures said "that PwC – formerly Price Waterhouse Coopers, the accounting firm that has been used by the Academy to handle the voting process for 83 years – had taken full responsibility for 'breaches of established protocols' that led to the error.... On Monday afternoon, the Wall Street Journal reported that ... Brian Cullinan, one of two accountants whose job it was to hand out the winners’ envelopes..., had tweeted a behind-the-scenes photo of [best female actor winner Emma] Stone holding her statuette. The tweet, sent moments before the best picture announcement, raised the question of whether the accountant was distracted, handing Beatty the duplicate envelope." -- CW ...

... Actually, No, It Was Donald Trump's Fault. The Hill: "President Trump is calling Sunday’s Oscar ceremony 'sad,' saying the awards show was 'focused so hard on politics' it led to the epic mix-up over the best picture winner. 'I think they were focused so hard on politics that they didn’t get the act together at the end,' Trump said Monday in an interview with Breitbart News." CW: Because everything is about Drumpf. 

Los Angeles Times: "In one of the most surprising upsets and shocking moments in Oscar history, the poetic coming-of-age drama 'Moonlight' took home the top prize for best picture at the 89th Academy Awards, beating out the heavily favored 'La La Land,' which was actually announced as the winner. The win for 'Moonlight' came in a chaotic and confused moment that played out live in front of an audience of millions, as presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway initially presented the evening’s final award to 'La La Land,' only to have one of the film’s producers announce that 'Moonlight' had, in fact, won." -- CW 

Here's the LA Times' "live coverage" page.

CW: It would have been way better for the world if the Electoral College had admitted, as a body, that "There's been a mistake." Unfortunately, actors & film producers have more integrity than electors.

The New York Times embeds the February 23 late-nite's show responses to the latest political news.

Washington Post: "A newfound solar system just 39 light-years away contains seven warm, rocky planets, scientists say. The discovery, reported Wednesday in the journal Nature, represents the first time astronomers have detected so many terrestrial planets orbiting a single star. Researchers say the system is an ideal laboratory for studying distant worlds and could be the best place in the galaxy to search for life beyond Earth.... The newly discovered solar system resembles a scaled-down version of our own. The star at its center, an ultra-cool dwarf called TRAPPIST-1, is less than a tenth the size of our sun and about a quarter as warm. Its planets circle tightly around it; the closest takes just a day and a half to complete an orbit and the most distant takes about 20 days.... TRAPPIST-1 is so cool that all seven of the bodies are bathed in just the right amount of warmth to hold liquid water. And three of them receive the same amount of heat as Venus, Earth and Mars, putting them in 'the habitable zone,' that Goldilocks region where it's thought life can thrive." -- CW 

Here's a Houzz feature on Frederick Douglass's D.C. home. Since it's not far from Donald Trump's new (temporary) digs and is every bit as fancy, the Trumpster might want to pay a visit to someone who's done such "an amazing job" that he's "getting recognized more and more." SCROTUS may be surprised to discover that Mr. Douglass is not at home. Too bad, because if Mr. Douglass weren't dead, he could have showed Donaldo his portrait, which for some time was owned by W.E.B. Du Bois (or DeBois or whatever).

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

Rosie O'Donnell's new Twitter profile pic. Thanks to Unwashed for the link. -- CW 

CNN: "The book publisher Penguin is printing more copies of George Orwell's dystopian classic '1984' in response to a sudden surge of demand. On Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning the book was #1 on Amazon's computer-generated list of best-selling books. The list reflects hourly book sales. The 68-year-old novel appeared on the list on Monday, hovered around the #6 spot for much of the day, rose to #2 by Tuesday afternoon and then hit #1." -- CW 

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Saturday
Nov192011

November 19 & 20 -- Open Thread

The floor is yours.

CW Request: The other day I asked JJG08, who has been commenting here for some time, to finally let us know his first name. Maybe because I'm not good at math, I find it awkward to communicate with a number. It would have been fine for him to just make up a name, of course. How would we know, anyway? JJG08 has chosen not to comply with my request, so please help me choose a numberless name for him. No disparaging epithets, please, but you get points for humor. JJG08 will get bonus points for any suggestions he makes.

The audio is better on this one, but no video:


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Friday
Nov182011

November 18 -- The Cost of College

If Americans are so anti-intellectual -- and getting more so -- why does the cost of higher education keep going up (much faster than the rate of inflation)? Is this a paradox or self-explanatory?

We need a leader, not a reader. -- Herman Cain, Anti-Intellectual-in-Chief

Write on this or something else.

P.S. For an excellent explanation of what the Occupy movement is all about, please read Isaiah Earhart's comment/essay in yesterday's Off Times Square thread. ...

... Here's the Seattle Times' report on Occupy Seattle: "Hundreds of demonstrators marched onto Seattle's University Bridge on Thursday, snarling traffic during the evening rush hour in one of several rallies nationwide for 'Jobs Not Cuts.' Seattle police escorted the group from the University of Washington to the University Bridge, and later reported there had been no conflicts in what they termed 'the peaceful demonstrations.'"

Wednesday
Nov162011

November 16 & 17 -- How Now, Occupy?

Now that several cities, including New York, Oakland, Portland & Denver, have removed Occupy encampments from their public or quasi-public squares, and it appears courts will uphold the "evictions," what should the Occupy movement's strategy be? How should it maintain a presence if it can't maintain a round-the-clock physical presence?


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Tuesday
Nov152011

November 15 -- Day of the Newt

Public Policy Polling: "Newt Gingrich has taken the lead in PPP's national polling. He's at 28% to 25% for Herman Cain and 18% for Mitt Romney. The rest of the Republican field is increasingly looking like a bunch of also rans: Rick Perry is at 6%, Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul at 5%, Jon Huntsman at 3%, and Gary Johnson and Rick Santorum each at 1%."

CW: This report seems so preposterous, that I am at a loss to comment. If you'd like to reaquaint yourself with the newly-popular Georgia State Salamander, this profile by John Richardson, published in Esquire in August 2010, is a worthy classic. And here's a piece by Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times on the lovely Mrs. Tiffany Gingrich.

I leave it to you to glean the significance of the Day of the Newt.

Update. Michael Tomasky, writing in the Daily Beast, has the same take I have. He even uses the same adjective: "preposterous": "The idea that he’s a serious presidential candidate is preposterous. Even if he were the nominee..., he’d say crazy things. He’d reignite the whole Obama-is-a-Kenyan-anticolonialist business.... He’d be a disaster.... The guy has more baggage than a Stones tour.... Poll respondents probably don’t remember the government shutdown or even have any idea it ever happened. They’re also probably not quite fully aware that his wife is his ex-mistress, the woman with whom he was committing infidelity at precisely the same moment he was baying that Bill Clinton had driven America to ruination by doing the same."

CW P.S. Far be it from me to shy away from promoting myself, so if you don't read the Commentariat, you missed this: 

Since I'm boycotting the New York Times comments, I've found a new venue for my comments on Times op-ed columns: the New York Times eXaminer. Please consider becoming a NYTX subscriber. My comment on David Brooks' column is here. The lede paragraph:

If you think you’re better than Joe Paterno, you’re vain. So says David Brooks in today’s New York Times op-ed section. Brooks turns to science and history to explain away Penn State head coach Joe Paterno’s failure to stop one of his coaches, Jerry Sandusky, from serially raping young boys.... To make his case, Brooks lumps assistant coach Mike McQueary in with Paterno.... False equivalencies are Brooks’ specialty, so let’s see how this one works.


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Monday
Nov142011

November 14 -- POTUS for a Day

You’re President of the United States for a Day & are allowed to make one executive decision which neither the Congress nor the Supreme Court can rescind. When PBS News' Jim Lehrer was asked a similar question, he answered, "Mandate national service — military or civil — for all able-bodied Americans of all ages and genders."

What would you do? (And no cheaty answers like "Make myself Dictator for Life.")


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Saturday
Nov122011

November 12 & 13 -- Open Thread

This week we got philosophical, and the result was some unusually fabulous comments. You might want to riff off one or more of them. Or whatever.

I think this is the bar graph JJG08 refers to in his comment:


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Friday
Nov112011

November 11 -- Tribalism

Over the past few days we've been talking about our concepts of citizenship and patriotism. In one comment, Akhilleus wrote about how patriotism evolved from primitive tribalism and how we're seeing that same sort of primitivism in today's conservative clique.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world has been focused on Pennsylvania, where the State Attorney General charged Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky with 40 counts of sex crimes against eight young boys. A number of the incidents took place in the Penn State locker room. Penn State employees observed two rapes. Penn State officials (two of whom have been charged with perjury), including head coach Joe Paterno and University president Graham Spanier, both of whom the university trustees fired Wednesday, were aware of at least one instance of abuse (Paterno & Spanier claim not to have known the abuse was sodomy) and did somewhere between nothing and next to nothing about it. A huge contingent of the student body rioted, not in outrage over the rape of children and the ensuing coverup, but over the firing of Paterno. There's much more on this continuing story linked in today's Commentariat.

In this essay, Tod Kelly, writing in the League or Ordinary Gentlemen, brings together those two threads -- our discussion and the Penn State scandal & riot: "When you see these kinds of reactions in the face of such a horrific crime, it’s easy to see how ... tribalism-based denial can lead to the circumstances that allowed the crimes to occur in the first place." Kelly sees the thread of tribalism running through the irrational support for Bill Clinton, Rick Perry, Herman Cain & Joe Paterno.

(Also helpful: the New York Times eXaminer interview of Prof. Henry Giroux. [audio])

What do you think?

Thursday
Nov102011

November 10 -- Plato

Prof. Gary Gutting, relying on Plato's “Republic,” which describes "five types of government -- aristocracy (rule by the 'best', that is, by experts specially trained at governance), timarchy (rule by those guided by their courage and sense of honor), oligarchy (rule by a wealthy minority), democracy (rule by the people as a whole—a “mob” as Plato saw it), and tyranny (rule by a despot answerable to no one but himself) -- notes that the U.S. incorporates all five types. Gutting says, "Current calls for 'less government' actually mean less power for elected leaders and for the bureaucracies that serve them and more power for the 'oligarchy' of millionaires and corporations. Such calls also imply less power for the people (the democratic element), since, while elected leaders are directly responsible to those who vote, those whose power is based on wealth are not." CW: this is a little philosophical something the rank-and-file of the Tea Party have not figured out. You can bet the Koch brothers have.

What do you think about that?


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Wednesday
Nov092011

November 9 -- Patriotism

At the end of a comment to the November 7 thread on citizenship, Fred Drumlevitch wrote,

I raise the question for which I will undoubtedly be criticized: to what extent should we even believe in patriotism, which I consider a non-rationally-based pride and love of country. I would say that if one's country operates properly, then it certainly deserves a measure of admiration, loyalty, and service. But if it doesn't behave properly, then it doesn't deserve and shouldn't expect it.

What do you think? Of course you may disagree with Drumlevitch, but please do not criticize him personally (or I'll have to zap your comment!). He raises a valid philosophical question: is "patriotism" a virtue? Why or why not?


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Monday
Nov072011

November 8 -- On Strike!

I'm on strike today, so you're on your own. Updates to the Commentariat will be sporadic, at best.


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Sunday
Nov062011

November 7 -- Should We Have to Earn Citizenship?

n a comment at the end of yesterday's thread, Zee posed a question that's worth exploring. Here is his comment, somewhat abbreviated:

William Galston [in a New York Times op-ed] suggesting that voting should be made mandatory in the U.S. Galston touts the “effectiveness” of mandatory voting in the nation that may be our closest cultural relative, Australia....

I’d like to stand Galston’s argument on its head and ask if voting rights--effectively, citizenship -- should be earned rather than a simple birthright....

In the book “Starship Troopers,” [Robert A.] Heinlein effectively proposed that citizenship -- and the right to vote -- should be earned by a brief period of service to the state.... As I recall, this service to the state (For a period of two years?) did not need to be service in the military; it could be teaching, janitorial work, hospital worker, ANY service that the state needed. And no matter how physically handicapped the aspiring “citizen,” the state HAD to find her/him some kind of suitable work that would allow him/her to earn citizenship....

Would we have a more “responsible” citizenry and a more effective government if we were to REQUIRE of our citizens that they CARE enough about our society to commit their time and talents to brief state service before “earning” citizenship? ...

Imagine how we might apply this problem to, say, illegal immigration, and all the problems associated with it. Want to be a U.S. citizen? Fine. Sign up for two years of paid service to the state--not necessarily in the military--and you’re in as a voting citizen.


What do you think?

Saturday
Nov052011

November 5 -- Guy Fawkes Day

... AND NOVEMBER 6

We'll call this another Open Thread Weekend, though there's this to think about:

Candice Choi of the AP: "It's moving day for bank customers. A grassroots movement that sprang to life last month is urging bank customers to close their accounts in favor of credit unions by Saturday. The spirit behind 'Bank Transfer Day' caught fire with the Occupy Wall Street protests around the country and had more than 79,000 supporters on its Facebook page as of Friday. The movement has already helped beat back Bank of America's plan to start charging a $5 debit card fee."

... Stuart Pfeifer & E. Scott Reckard of the Los Angeles Times: When Kristen Christian [of Echo Park, California,] learned that Bank of America Corp. planned to charge her a $5 monthly debit card fee, she did what many people do these days when they get mad: She ranted on Facebook. What followed was an illustration of the power of social media. Her Facebook post urging friends to abandon big banks unwittingly blossomed into a national campaign." Here's Christian's Bank Transfer Day event page.

BUT. Simon Van Zuylen-Wood of The New Republic: unless you're carrying an average balance in the neighborhood of $25,000 or above, the big banks will be happy to see you go; you've turned into a liability. Thanks to Haley S. for the link.

CW: I have a bright idea to mitigate the problem Van Zuylen-Wood highlights. I just don't have time to carry it out.


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