Saturday
Jul252015

Carl Hiaasen in Florida Trend

Five things he said in the August issue:

1. "Mostly, we produce construction jobs in Florida — construction for the sake of construction. That's basically the same mechanism as a cancer cell."

2. "There's no question that there's a glorious abundance of weirdness and depravity in Florida. As a parent and a grandparent, you have to wonder if this is really where I want my kids to grow up? Is this really what I want my kids to see and experience? But more selfishly, as a writer, you think, 'I'm in heaven.'"

3. "If you get into the business of journalism or the business of writing novels and think you're going to change the world, you're either a madly deluded egotist or you're just mad period. That isn't why you do it. It's enough to know that you've changed a few people's way of thinking or you've plugged into an audience that feels passionate about something."

4. "When people see their newspapers diminish, and they think, well, so, it put some reporters and editors out of work. No, no, it's much worse than that. These are your eyes and ears in the community. If you want to know what's going on in your community, you need journalism."

5. "You can go online and see what stories are getting the most hits. If there's a story in the Herald tomorrow that says 'Kim Kardashian Grows a Third Ass Cheek' and another story, 'Iran Tests a Nuclear Weapon Next to Israel,' which one do you think is going to get the most hits? That's a bitter pill for all of us who believe people gravitate to what's really important."

Wednesday
Jul222015

I worry about this too

Claire Messud in the August Harper's:

When I recall my formative years, of course there was loads of reading, and travel, and biking, and TV. But there was also a whole lot of boredom. I guess that’s what concerns me, as a parent: that my kids, who lack for nothing even more than I did, are not only unversed in material deprivation and insufficiently familiar with self-restraint but, most terribly, they know nothing of nothingness. Having no truly empty time, they’re unfamiliar too with the unexpected and exhilarating flowers that can grow there.

I want my children to embrace doing nothing, to embrace the slowing of an afternoon to a near standstill, when all you can hear is the laborious ticking of the clock and the dog snoring on the sofa, the rain’s patter at the window, the occasional swoosh of a slowly passing car. Remember those days? The exasperation, the excruciating itchiness of them? My kids would have to dive in, live through the agony, and come out the other side. They’d have to learn to lie on the lawn watching ants scale the grass blades; they’d have to linger, digits pruning, in the bathtub; they’d have to stop, to be still, and then to wait, and wait, and wait, allowing time to fatten around them, like a dewdrop on the tip of a leaf. And then, only then, who knows what they might imagine or invent?

Wednesday
Jul222015

This month's Findings

Three things I underlined in the new Harper's:

1. Parakeets are the only non-mammals to yawn contagiously.

2. The first fraction of human ejaculate contains the best sperm, while the remainder exists mostly to foil competition.

3. Men who smell a T-shirt recently worn by a fertile woman drink more nonalcoholic beer.

Wednesday
Jul222015

Donald Trump

“You want to know what total recognition is? I’ll tell you how you know you’ve got it. When the Nigerians on the street corners who don’t speak a word of English, who have no clue, who’re selling watches for some guy in New Jersey—when you walk by and those guys say, ‘Trump! Trump!’ That’s total recognition.” Click.

Saturday
Jul112015

Asif Kapadia and Amy Winehouse

Four things I underlined in this Q&A in today's Style section:

1. The first thing was just getting them to meet me. Only after a long conversation did it ever get to the point of saying, "Okay, I have footage." They were not going to just hand it over.

2. Life is so much more complicated than the fiction version, where you go, "That was the moment. If we could have just changed that one moment, that one scene, then everything would have turned out differently." It isn't like in those movies. All of your experiences add up to make you the person you are.

3. ... you think you know the story, but actually you don't know anything.

4. All of the answers are there. We just didn't listen very carefully.

Thursday
Jul092015

Bernie Sanders Has a Secret

Have a new story up this evening. It's about Bernie Sanders. Here, from a 1972 issue of Movement, a Liberty Union Party newsletter Sanders edited, is something he wrote that I didn't use in full:

And so it goes on and on and on. There's not much new to be said. Everybody knows what's happening — who wants to know. A handful of people own almost everything ... and almost everybody owns nothing. A handful of people make the decisions and the vast majority of people have virtually no control over their lives.

A man in Springfield, Vermont, works at a plant for 30 years — and one day the plant closes down, and the man is old — and now he's on welfare. Nobody asked him whether the plant should close or not. Why should they? He's just a worker who worked in a plant that has a margin of profit which is no longer acceptable to the owner.

A black kid in Detroit has no place to go. He's got no money, school is taking him nowhere, and there are no jobs to be had. There is no future. It doesn't matter anymore. So he joins his friends on heroin and becomes one of the tens of thousands of black kids in that city who are killing themselves. To stay alive, and to suport his habit, he robs and mugs his neighbors who are trying to keep themselves (barely) alive. Around and around it goes. The victim of the system, out of desperation, turns on the other victims of the system — while the real criminals, those who own and control the whole show and are responsible for the situation, get off scot free. And then we sit down and watch T.V. and hear the politicians, who are responsible for the horror, talk about the 'problem' of crime in the streets — like they weren't responsible for it. All of which sounds like the slave owner who whips his slave and talks about the 'problem' of the cuts and bruises on the slave's back.

Sunday
Jun212015

More Findings

Eight things I underlined in the July Harper's:

1. Black Americans die younger in areas with more Google searches for "nigger."

2. Happiness creates a signature smell in human sweat that can induce happiness in those who smell it.

3. There is no such thing as pure autism.

4. There is no such thing as pure dominance.

5. Prominent composers in the nineteenth century died 2.2 years earlier if another major composer lived in the same city.

6. Middle initials are overrepresented among lead authors of psychology articles.

7. Chins, which are unique to modern humans, are not useful.

8. A Chernobyl fox made itself a sandwich.

Tuesday
Jun092015

Big bucks for short talks

My latest:

Toward the end of his presidency, George W. Bush told Robert Draper, reporting for a book called Dead Certain, that he intended after vacating the Oval Office to “replenish the ol’ coffers.” He said he could make “ridiculous” money on the lecture circuit.

“I don’t know what my dad gets, but it’s more than 50, 75” thousand dollars a speech, he said.

“Clinton’s making a lot of money,” he added.

As critics over the years have chided Bill Clinton and also his wife for the industriousness with which they have pursued opportunities to get paid a lot of money in this manner, Bush, too, has been doing exactly what he said he would be doing.

Since 2009, POLITICO has found, Bush has given at least 200 paid speeches and probably many more, typically pocketing $100,000 to $175,000 per appearance. The part-time work, which rarely requires more than an hour on stage, has earned him tens of millions of dollars.

Relative to the Clintons, though, he’s attracted considerably less attention, almost always doing his paid public speaking in private, in convention centers and hotel ballrooms, resorts and casinos, from Canada to Asia, from New York to Miami, from all over Texas to Las Vegas a bunch, playing his part in what has become a lucrative staple of the modern post-presidency.

Keep reading. So far at POLITICO.