If the Holocaust holds a political lesson for us today, it is to be especially vigilant about threats to the justice of our institutions, the freedom of our society, and the confidence and tolerance of our culture. When those bulwarks break down, as they did in Germany in 1933, innate human goodness is not enough to protect anyone from the consequences.
His cheeriness and optimism was so persistent it sometimes felt fake: how could it not be fake, we asked. But there is a difference between a lie and a performance. I believe Jack was a persistent optimist, an unflagging hoper, but in those instants when his optimism was impersistent, when his hope flagged, he still behaved like the person he wanted to be.
The big difference between art and sports, of course, is that art collectors are honest about psychic benefits. They do not wake up one day, pretend that looking at a Van Gogh leaves them cold, and demand a $27 million refund from their art dealer. But that is exactly what the NBA owners are doing. They are indulging in the fantasy that what they run are ordinary businesses — when they never were. And they are asking us to believe that these “businesses” lose money. But of course an owner is only losing money if he values the psychic benefits of owning an NBA franchise at zero — and if you value psychic benefits at zero, then you shouldn’t own an NBA franchise in the first place. You should sell your “business” — at what is sure to be a healthy premium — to someone who actually likes basketball.
“What is it that enables an institution to take in stride such a series of history jolting events? Spirit? Dedication? Preparedness? Certainly, all of these are important, but the underlying factor is people. People whose education and training is sound. People whose judgement is calm and perceptive. People whose actions are deliberate and definitive. Our pride is not that we were swept up by the whirlwind of tragic history, but that when we were, we were not found wanting.”—Letters of Note: We were not found wanting
In the boom years, Stewart’s extravagances could reasonably be seen as the cost of doing business. But with MSLO losing money, the clash between business imperatives and Stewart’s perfectionist aesthetic became increasingly problematic. “The entire workday would come to a halt so we could discuss the virtues of sea-foam green over more of a blue-green, and would take literally 30 minutes,” remembers an editor. “Susan [Lyne] would say, ‘I’m sure you guys can make this decision.’ ” Despite the cash crunch, Stewart would not hesitate to send staff members to, say, India, to obtain a certain piece of fabric. The company kept three separate test kitchens. Stewart herself retained “nine personal assistants,” says a former executive. “Nine. That number is untouchable. I broached it with her, and I almost lost my job that day.” (A source close to the company calls the number “highly exaggerated.”)
“So the whole point of this episode was to create a showcase for him to be funny, and the analogy I remember using is that when The Matrix was being advertised, you saw people bending over at the ankles and dodging crazy bullets with weird vapor trails, and at the time I saw it, I was like, “Whatever this is, I’m in. I don’t have any idea what this is, but I’m going to see this on opening night,” and then I went to see it, and there are like, 40 kung-fu battles in that movie, and they had given no indication in the marketing that there was any kung-fu. It was like you knew it was your birthday, but then it also turned out that it was Christmas. [Laughs.] Like, “I can’t believe how great this is,” and that was the feeling.”—Michael Schur walks us through Parks And Recreation’s third season (Part 2 of 4) | The A.V. Club
There are the people that, by default, prefer you to know what they’re thinking, and there are the people who, by default, prefer you not to know. Nobody’s good and nobody’s bad but it’s safer to keep to your half of the world.
“It just never took. It’s like the first day you check into a hotel in L.A. there’s a message under your door. The second day, there’s eleven messages under your door. The third day, there’s thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, seventy messages. And I realized that they just want fresh blood. They. Just. Want. Fresh. Blood. You gotta get the hell out of there. And you really feel, if you live in New York, that you’re three hours ahead of them—I mean that literally. It’s like, Oh man, we gotta help these people! And the longer you stay there, the less ahead of them you get, and then you’re one of them. No way, man. Not for me.”—Bill Murray on Ghostbusters 3, Get Low, Ron Howard, and Kung Fu Hustle
In the world of social media, it can feel bizarre that potent evidence of grieving from one friend is followed so quickly by pictures of oven-fresh cookies from another. But Facebook is generated by algorithms without feelings. It’s not a narrative: The breast cancer went into remission, but the stories of the radiation treatment continue; the lost children remain as photos, woven into the threads of hundreds of lives. The details of everyday life begin to fill in around those threads. The tide brings in status updates; the tide takes them out.
As the JSF competition intensified in the late 1990s, the only thing that mattered as much as the success of the lift fan was the opinion of Darleen Druyun. Druyun’s official title is principal deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisitions and management. Through the past decade she has been one of the most important civilians at the Pentagon, and she is clearly the most influential woman. She started working as an Air Force contract negotiator more than thirty years ago, soon after she graduated from Chaminade University, in Hawaii, and she has overseen government projects ever since. A former colleague described Druyun to me as “embodying the bureaucratic approach, in the positive sense of the term”—that is, believing in procedure, facts, rules. Her detractors describe her as haughty and cold. When NASA had budget and management emergencies after the Challenger explosion, Druyun was dispatched to be its chief of staff. She returned to the Pentagon in her current job at the beginning of the Clinton Administration, and no signs suggest that she is about to leave. “There is a category of savvy managers in the government that industry lives in fear of,” a veteran Pentagon official told me. “That is her. People don’t take her on because she is too tough to take on.” Another man says, “People live in fear of her, because she not only speaks her mind but they know that in any argument on the merits, she will prevail over the political people. She always knows more.”
Between 1992 and 1997 News Corp declared profits of A$5.8 billion in Australia, under Australian accounting rules; profits of A$3 billion in the US, under SEC accounting rules; and paid tax consistent with having earned profits of A$1 billion. … And then Chenoweth has found, looking at the accounts, that the company’s profits, declared in Australian dollars, were A$364,364,000 in 1987, A$464,464,000 in 1988, A$496,496,000 in 1989 and A$282,282,000 in 1990. The odds that such figures were a happy coincidence are 1,000,000,000,000 to one. That little grace note in the sums is accountant-speak for “Fuck you.”
Apparently, no one enjoys Miller Lite? I’m wondering how this group conducted their research. Good friends did an extensive taste test for their selection of cheap house beer. Miller Lite won for both taste and alcohol to calorie ratio.
A lot of people say “what about my heart, what’s going to pump my blood around,” which brings us to step two: you have to be made of something other than flesh and blood. I prefer to be made of mud, because it keeps women and children away from me. Other writers are made of dirt, or excrement, the choice is yours, it just can’t be anything that anyone would want in their bed and it has to be a substance that adheres to itself but nothing around it, so that you can keep a generally human shape for as long as possible.
These stories have very different vibes and imply very different aftermaths. The first is a local news story. The second is part of a national panic. But when passing news on, there’s a tendency to go for the stronger spin not the weaker one - and you can guess which way Twitter jumps. Now imagine that spread across far bigger stories, and a hundred of them happening at once. This is a problem with social media as news source - we are natural storytellers, hurrah! But because we’re natural storytellers we’re also natural shapers and changers of information.
It’s kind of amazing because it takes an otherwise normal statement and catapults it into the dimension of absurdist metaphor; as though the person is saying, ‘I don’t just have a routine series of things I do to maintain my aesthetic appeal, I am literally the dictator of a police state constantly bringing every resource I possess to bear on suppressing the resistance group “Wrinkles”’.