Our Adolescent Media

 (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Fast Times at Eighth Avenue High

Matthew Continetti  writes:  You are an accomplished adult, at the top of your field, working in the heart of the greatest city in the world. Important people answer your emails and phone calls. Yet there is one person in the office who bugs you, whose demeanor you find obnoxious. You want to take a stand, to let this individual know his behavior is uncalled for, imperious, despotic even. And so you do the only thing a mature and levelheaded man in your position can do: You refuse to sit with him at lunch.

Such is the case of an unnamed reporter at the New York Times, who is so upset at editorial and op-ed page editor Andrew Rosenthal that “he will literally not allow Mr. Rosenthal to join their lunch table in the cafeteria.”

I learned of this amazing passive-aggressive episode in an article by Ken Kurson, “The Tyranny and Lethargy of the Times Editorial Page,” which appeared this week in the New York Observer. Kurson interviewed “more than two-dozen current and former Times staffers,” who heaped insult atop insult on Rosenthal and his columnist Thomas L. Friedman, accusing them of laziness, pettiness, arrogance, belligerence, nosiness, unoriginality, and ineptitude. I suppose it takes one to know one.

Read the rest of this entry »


Wellesley students: Eeek! Trauma! Please Censor Art to Protect Our Feelings


Robert Shibley  writes:  Wellesley College near Boston is suffering through a bout of controversy over, of all things, a sculpture. Artist Tony Matelli’s very realistic The Sleepwalker, whichdepicts a balding, slightly pudgy man in briefs sleepwalking outdoors, is evidently causing a stir on the elite women’s college campus. It’s even produced a petition (signed by more than 700 people as of this writing) asking the Wellesley administration to remove the sculpture on the basis that it is “a source of apprehension, fear, and triggering thoughts regarding sexual assault for some members of our campus community.”

 “the responses that this statue is invoking are largely ones of discomfort, anxiety, shock and disgust.”

As far as sexualized images on campus go, The Sleepwalker rates pretty close to the bottom of the pile. The University of Tennessee is about to host a Sex Week, and Harvard University (not far from Wellesley) has one too. Sex magazines featuring not-safe-for-work photos of college students have been present for years on campuses like WesleyanHarvardVassar, and Boston University. Northwestern University had an incident in which a professor invited his human sexuality class to stay after the scheduled time in order to watch a couple use a sexual device fashioned from an electric reciprocating saw on one another.

Read the rest of this entry »

Alan Dershowitz: No, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Dealer Isn’t a Murderer

1306017445490.cachedThose who sold heroin to Philip Seymour Hoffman are morally culpable for his death. But they shouldn’t be legally culpable

ace-of-spadesAlan M. Dershowitz  writes:  Whenever a celebrity dies of a self-administered drug, particularly heroin, efforts are made to locate and prosecute those who provided the drug.  As I wrote back in the 1980’s, following the overdose death of comedian John Belushi and the prosecution of Cathy Smith, the woman who provided him the drugs, “That issue [holding the supplier criminally responsible for the death] seems to capture public attention primarily when famous people overdose.  The tragic deaths of basketball player Len Bias and the late Robert Kennedy’s son David generated demands for prosecution of the suppliers.  The daily street deaths of dozens of faceless addicts rarely even provoke an investigation.”

 [Professor Dershowitz’s latest book: Taking the Stand:  My Life in the Law at Amazon]

Now the stakes have gotten higher as some states have applied the “felony-murder” law to such deaths, while others have enacted specific statues turning the criminal act of providing drugs into a homicide if death results.

“But there is no acceptable moral distinction between two dealers who sell the same product, in the same way, to the same people—and one of their customers, for reasons unrelated to anything the dealers did, happens to die”

It is easy to understand why the public demands homicide prosecutions against drug providers whose product caused the death of a beloved celebrity like Philip Seymour Hoffman.  A person lies dead; someone must bear responsibility for his death. It is easy to scapegoat the drug provider.  But is it fair to single out the provider whose heroin happened to have killed a celebrity (or anyone else)?

Read the rest of this entry »

Scarlett Johansson, War Criminal?


Daniel Schwammenthal  writes:  In a sane world, Israeli company SodaStream would be a poster child for corporate responsibility. Of the 1,300 staff in its West Bank plant, 450 are Israeli Arabs and 500 are Palestinians. All workers receive equal pay, which in the case of the Palestinians is several times the average salary they would normally make.

 [Check out Amazon’s SodaStream Store] I call it “fizzy water”. I support SodaStream. I have one, I like bubbles…]

sodastreambottleHere is a real-life example of coexistence, a place where Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Muslims, Druze and Christians work together in peace. To boot, they assemble a product that, by turning tap water into fizzy drinks, cuts the production of environmentally damaging beverage containers.

Alas, this world is not sane, certainly not when it comes to discussions of Israel. Simply because one of its 20-plus factories is in the West Bank, anti-Israeli activists have been targeting SodaStream and its celebrity spokesperson, American actress Scarlett Johansson.

No matter that the factory is in a location that would most likely remain Israeli in a future peace agreement. And if it became part of Palestine, even better for the new state’s tax revenues. But in the destructive world of supposedly pro-Palestinian activism, this facility must be boycotted, those 500 Palestinians and their families be damned.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Real Public Servants


Private enterprise does more for the national good than it gets credit for

hoover_logo_diJames Huffman  writes:  Alexis de Tocqueville reported that “Americans of all ages, all conditions, all minds constantly unite. . . . Everywhere that, at the head of a new undertaking, you see the government in France and a great lord in England, count on it that you will perceive an association in the United States.”

    [Alexis de Tocqueville‘s Democracy in America is available in paperback from Amazon ]

Tocqueville went on to observe that these civil associations serving every imaginable end were the product of what he called “self-interest well understood.” Tocqueville reflected that “the beauties of virtue were constantly spoken of” in “aristocratic centuries,” but he doubted that men were more virtuous in those times than in others. 

In the United States, he had observed, “it is almost never said that virtue is beautiful.” Rather Americans “maintain that . . . [virtue] is useful and they prove it every day.” This is what Tocqueville meant by “self-interest well understood,” which he illustrated with this quotation from Montaigne: “When I do not follow the right path for the sake of righteousness, I follow it for having found by experience that all things considered, it is commonly the happiest and most useful.”

“self-interest well understood” “forms a multitude of citizens who are regulated, temperate, moderate, farsighted, masters of themselves; and if it does not lead directly to virtue through will, it brings them near to it insensibly through habits.”

Twenty-first century Americans have forgotten this ancestral insight—that “self-interest well understood” “forms a multitude of citizens who are regulated, temperate, moderate, farsighted, masters of themselves; and if it does not lead directly to virtue through will, it brings them near to it insensibly through habits.” Perhaps “self-interest well understood” sounds too much of Adam Smith’s invisible hand for present day Americans whose habit, like the French of Tocqueville’s time, increasingly is to look for solutions not to private collaboration but to an omnipresent government. Nineteenth-century Americans who turned to both neighbors and strangers in pursuit of mutual interests would be puzzled at the hard and fast boundary their twenty-first century descendants draw between public and private interest.

Read the rest of this entry »

Reality Check: Liberal Jews Not Immune from Anti-Israel Hate

Photo credit: Jewish Journal/Julie Fax

Photo credit: Jewish Journal/Julie Fax

Joel B. Pollak writes:  Left-wing Jews may hope that their increased willingness to criticize Israel might spare them some of the worst of anti-Israel hatred from Palestinian advocates and antisemites. Not so, sadly. The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles reports that a beautiful mural along the outer wall of the Arbeter Ring/Workmen’s Circle Southern California facility in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood was defaced with “Free Palestine!!!!” graffiti Thursday.

Read the rest of this entry »

Vintage Advertising Illustration of the Day: Modern Kitchen, Domestic Tranquility


 [Home & Kitchen Deals at Amazon]


Read the rest of this entry »

The Hammer: Health-Care Myths We Live By

TheHammerCharles Krauthammer  writes:  Swedish researchers report that antioxidants make cancers worse in mice. It’s already known that the antioxidant beta-carotene exacerbates lung cancers in humans. Not exactly what you’d expect given the extravagant — and incessant — claims you hear made about the miraculous effects of antioxidants.

John Shinkle/POLITICO

John Shinkle/POLITICO

In fact, they are either useless or harmful, conclude the editors of the prestigious Annals of Internal Medicine: “Beta-carotene, vitamin E and possibly high doses of vitamin A supplements are harmful.” Moreover, “other antioxidants, folic acid and B vitamins, and multivitamin and mineral supplements are ineffective for preventing mortality or morbidity due to major chronic diseases.” So useless are the supplements, write the editors, that we should stop wasting time even studying them: “Further large prevention trials are no longer justified.”

[Charles’ bestselling book: Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics at Amazon]

Such revisionism is a constant in medicine. When I was a child, tonsillectomieswere routine. We now know that, except for certain indications, this is grossly unnecessary surgery. Not quite as harmful as that once-venerable staple, bloodletting (which probably killed George Washington), but equally mindless. Read the rest of this entry »

[VIDEO] Reality Check: Memo Reveals IRS Focusing on Targeting Conservatives in 2012



Read the rest of this entry »

[VIDEO] Violent Riots in Rio de Janeiro: Protesting Public Transportion Fare Increase

Hundreds of people in Brazil have clashed with police during a protest against increased fares for public transport.

Riot police fired tear gas in attempts to regain control of the situation at Central Station

Riot police fired tear gas in attempts to regain control of the situation at Central Station

Commuters were caught up in the violence at Rio de Janeiro’s Central Station during rush hour.

Riot police fired tear gas and tried to disperse the crowd, while activists hurled stones and petrol bombs.

A cameraman is in a serious condition in hospital after suffering a head injury.

The BBC’s Wyre Davies was at the station and was among those who went to the cameraman’s aid.

Read the rest of this entry »

Money Approved For More Medical Pot

Tyler Williams peruses samples on the first day of recreational pot sales in Colorado. (Getty Images)

Tyler Williams peruses samples on the first day of recreational pot sales in Colorado. (Getty Images)

More staff has been authorized to implement Nevada’s new medical marijuana law

A panel of state lawmakers Thursday approved $365,000 to hire five administrators who will oversee applications and inspectors for pot growers, processors and dispensaries.

Read the rest of this entry »

[VIDEO] Philip Seymour Hoffman’s (Extended) Drug Scene from Sidney Lumet’s “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” (2007)

Long version, 6 ms 5s. This is the Philip Seymour Hoffman heroin scene from Sidney Lumet‘s “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” (2007) It featues Andy Hansen, an accountant, played by Hoffman, snorting coke at his desk at work between meetings. Next scene, making a drug buy in clandestine apartment in a Manhattan high rise…


Then being injected, by the dealer, in a quiet bedroom. It’s an erie depiction of a sad, troubled character, retreating to an exclusive, private, white-collar drug den, high above the city, in the middle of the afternoon.


Film story summary from Internet Movie Database:

When two brothers organize the robbery of their parents’ jewelry store the job goes horribly wrong, triggering a series of events that sends them, their father and one brother’s wife hurtling towards a shattering climax.

The short version — 2 ms 24s —  is here.

Pundit Planet Media – YouTube

Read the rest of this entry »

Innovation & Self-Expression in Texas: Design Your Own Guitar And This Startup Will Build It


Moniker, a Texas company that started with two guys and a little seed money, will put customized guitars in the hands of everyday guitarists. Have it your way, because mass customization is the future of manufacturing.

From  Popular MechanicsChris Raymond writes:  Kevin Tully was in Syracuse, N.Y., studying for the bar exam when a friend came pedaling up to his apartment on a bicycle. Not just any bicycle but a one-of-a-kind machine she herself had created on a hip, design-it-yourself website owned by Republic Bike. “She went online and picked out all the colors and parts,” he says. “She was really enthusiastic about the bike because it represented her sense of style.”


As a lifelong guitar player, Tully identified with that sense of pride. He was no Jimi Hendrix, but the two instruments in his home ranked among his most prized possessions. How great would it be, he wondered, if they could truly reflect his personal taste?

And so, over Thanksgiving in 2011, Tully approached his high school friend Dave Barry, a fellow guitar enthusiast, with the idea of launching a business. “Your guitar is kind of an extension of yourself, and guitar players are creative by nature,” Barry says. “We wanted to give people the opportunity to create their own guitar.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Books: The Absurdist Insurgency

Traveling throughout the United States of the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville pondered the question of just how funny Americans were before deeming us decidedly unfunny.

Traveling throughout the United States of the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville pondered the question of just how funny Americans were before deeming us decidedly unfunny.

“People who spend every day in the week making money, and the Sunday in going to Church, have nothing to invite the muse of Comedy.”

                                                                                    — Alexis de Tocqueville

A history of American humor finds liberation in the horselaugh

cover00Ben Schwartz writes:  Who gets to be funny and who gets made fun of? Americans never get tired of that question. At least, we Americans in the think-piece-writing business don’t. Are women funny? Are fat jokes cruel playground humor or legitimate satire in an increasingly unfit culture? Did that comic you’ve never heard of before go too far on that talk show you never watch? Is that black comic who puts on a dress funny, or a demeaning Jim Crow minstrel? Is there such a thing as a man telling a funny rape joke, and if so, why hasn’t it been written yet?

[Check out American Fun: Four Centuries of Joyous Revolt at Amazon, in hardback, and Kindle edition]

Judging by most late-night talk shows, sitcoms, and stand-up clubs, we go about distributing the cultural authority to make fun of us in much the same way that we’ve gradually doled out other kinds of authority—to vote, own property, run Fortune 500 companies, or sit in the White House. Mainly, it’s been white men kidding, if not ridiculing, us and defining what’s supposed to be funny and what isn’t.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Hammer: Obama’s Claims of No Corruption in the IRS Is ‘a Farce’

“We originally had the admission and now the administration is pretending — there never was in the first place, there is no story, and it’s a sideshow…”

Soon after news broke that the IRS was improperly targeting conservative groups, President Obama said such actions are “outrageous” and that “there’s no place for” such behavior. Nine months later, the night before the Super Bowl this Feburary, he said there was “not even a smidgeon of corruption” in the agency.

“That’s a farce”

Charles Krauthammer said on Special Report tonight….

“It is a scandal,” Krauthammer said, “that of all the ten thousand lawyers who work in the Department of Justice they have to pick one who is a contributor to Barack Obama.”



Elon Musk and Space X Want to Colonize Mars in a Decade


Giuseppe Macri  writes:  Tesla Motors founder and private space exploration entrepreneur Elon Musk says millions of people could be headed to Mars aboard rocket-propelled space colonies in as little as 10 years.

Musk, who is also the founder of Space X, a space transport company that is already building rockets for NASAtold CBS this week that the technology to send colonists to Mars is coming along much sooner than anticipated, and that we could see potential colonization missions in the next 10 to 12 years.

Read the rest of this entry »

Promises, Promises: The 180-Degree Legal Transformation of Barack Obama


Obama once disparaged presidents who use executive action to bypass Congress. How quickly things change…

Tom Rogan writes:  Few politicians are disciples of truth. But when it comes to President Obama and executive power, the gap between rhetoric and reality is truly astonishing. The candidate who once promised a presidency of humility is long gone. Instead, this president has defined his administration by a naked and extreme exertion of executive power. And now he’s been caught.

In its unanimous ruling late last week that the president’s non-recess appointment of three officials to the National Labor Relations Board was unconstitutional, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals didn’t pull any punches. Unfortunately, the court’s ruling is a little late. For the past four years, Obama’s executive authority has been restrained only by the limits of the president’s imagination.

Of course, unilateral executive action is not new. George W. Bush was hardly an infrequent fan of executive orders. Nonetheless, Obama is worse — if not in quantity, than at least in quality. Just look at the record.

Read the rest of this entry »