July 14, 2012

Posted by orrinj at 9:40 AM


George Shultz: Memo to Romney -- Expand the Pie : George Shultz, the former secretary of state and Treasury says America's current problems are large, and its power in the world is diminished. But the policies for revival are obvious with the right leadership. (ROBERT L. POLLOCK, 7/14/12, WSJ)

[M]r. Shultz is confident that if we get the policies right again, America can regain its footing: "When Ronald Reagan took office, inflation was in the teens, the prime rate was in the 20s, and the economy was going nowhere. We still had the remnants of wage and price controls, particularly in oil and gas. And Jimmy Carter said we were in 'malaise.' It was a bad time. I'm convinced the economy can be turned around because I watched Ronald Reagan do it."

"It took long-term thinking," Mr. Shultz emphasizes. "I'll give you an example. [Reagan] knew and we all advised him you can't have a decent economy with the kind of inflation we've got. . . . The political people would come in and say 'You've got to be careful, Mr. President. There's gonna be a recession [if the Federal Reserve tightens the money supply]. You're gonna lose seats in the midterm election.'

"And he basically said, 'If not us who? If not now when?' And he held a political umbrella over [Fed Chairman] Paul Volcker, and Paul did what needed to be done. And by late '82 early '83, inflation was under control, the tax changes that he made were kicking in, and the economy took off. But it took a politician with an ability to take a short-term hit in order to get the long-run results that we needed."

Posted by orrinj at 8:57 AM


Newk's Picks: Sonny Rollins chooses 10 must-hear tenor cuts (Jazz Times, 07/10/12)

Yesterday we published the all-time top 50 tenor saxophone recordings as chosen by an elite group of artists and critics. Today we turn the floor over to Mr. Sonny Rollins, who knows a thing or two about tenor.

Posted by orrinj at 8:24 AM

Mariachi El Bronx On World Cafe (World Cafe, July 12, 2012, NPR)

Los Angeles-based Mariachi El Bronx started out as a punk band called The Bronx, but that was before its members discovered a collective love for Mexican folk music. The group fell hard for mariachi, and when faced with playing an acoustic punk rock set for a TV show, they decided to fully embrace that new direction and start a Mexican-flavored side project. Since that fateful day, there have been two eponymous Mariachi El Bronx albums, and a third LP is in the works.

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Posted by orrinj at 8:21 AM


Israeli coalition split by demands to make ultra-Orthodox Jews serve in army (Phoebe Greenwood, 7/14/12, guardian.co.uk)

Proposals to draft ultra-Orthodox men into the Israeli army, ending an exemption that has lasted for 64 years, are bitterly dividing prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu's coalition government ahead of a crucial debate on Monday.

A new bill allowing the draft is due to be submitted for its first reading in the Knesset, following a ruling by the country's supreme court that the Tal Law, exempting Haredi Jews from military service, was unconstitutional. That law is due to expire on 1 August, but what will replace it has become the subject of ferocious argument over one of the most sensitive issues in Israeli society.

As Netanyahu faced a weekend of crisis talks with his deputy and political rival, Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz, senior government sources conceded that their chances of reaching a solution to save their coalition were slim. 
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Posted by orrinj at 8:16 AM


Rereading: Up in the Old Hotel, by Joseph Mitchell: Joseph Mitchell is celebrated for his meticulous New Yorker profiles of Manhattan outcasts and eccentrics. His attentiveness to his subjects was not so much a technique as a moral principle (William Fiennes, 6/22/12, guardian.co.uk)

Joseph Mitchell was born in 1908, in Fairmont, North Carolina, where his father was a farmer who traded in cotton and tobacco. He began submitting newspaper stories as a student at the University of North Carolina, and moved to New York in 1929 with the idea of writing about politics. He got a job as a "district man" on the Herald Tribune, "hoofing after dime-a-dozen murders" in Brooklyn and Harlem. The latter, especially, left a deep impression. "Until I came to New York City," Mitchell would write in an introduction to My Ears Are Bent (1938), a collection of his early newspaper stories, "I had never lived in a town with a population of more than 2,699, and I was alternately delighted and frightened out of my wits by what I saw at night in Harlem." By the time his stint there was over, Mitchell was "so fascinated by the melodrama of the metropolis at night" that he forgot his ambition to be a political reporter.

Instead, he went to sea, working on a freighter shipping heavy machinery to Leningrad. Returning to New York, Mitchell found a job at the World-Telegram, writing features and interviews. He wrote about strippers, Eleanor Roosevelt, lady prize-fighters, Noël Coward, pickpockets, Tallulah Bankhead and George Bernard Shaw, and he began contributing short pieces to the New Yorker, which had been founded by Harold Ross in 1925. Mitchell joined the staff in 1938, and the magazine immediately gave him two great gifts.

The first was a form. The profile - a portrait of an individual drawn from interviews, observations and background research - is now a journalistic commonplace, but in the 1930s it was an innovation, conceived and developed at the New Yorker by Ross and writers such as Alva Johnston, Meyer Berger and St Clair McKelway. The profile, according to Ross, showed that it was possible "to write history about living people". Mitchell would become its greatest exponent.

The second gift was time. Released from the ticking-clock schedules of newspaper reporting, Mitchell now had the freedom to immerse himself in his stories, spending weeks or even months with his subjects, watching and listening. "There was this anomaly," he would say, much later. "You can write something and every sentence in it will be a fact, you can pile up facts, but it won't be true. Inside a fact is another fact, and inside that is another fact. You've got to get to the true facts. When I got [to the New Yorker], I said to myself I don't give a damn what happens, I am going to take my time."

Mitchell on Gould is just awesome psychodrama. Was he writing about himself to begin with, or did he too stop writing out of guilt at exposing his subject?

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Posted by orrinj at 8:05 AM


THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM PERFORMS IN THE CURRENT STUDIOS (Mary Lucia, 7/12/12, Minnesota Public Radio )

Handwritten, the band's fourth studio album (and their first with Mercury Records), will be released on July 24. While in town to perform at the Fine Line Music Cafe, frontman Brian Fallon stopped by The Current studios to talk with Mary Lucia about the difference between performing at venues and music festivals, busking on the street and, of course, Bruce Springsteen.

Songs performed: "45," "American Slang" and "Here's Lookin at You Kid."

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Posted by orrinj at 8:01 AM


In the Age of Anxiety, are we all mentally ill? (Reuters, July 14, 2012)

When Cynthia Craig was diagnosed with postpartum depression eight years ago, she told her family doctor she felt anxious about motherhood. She wondered whether she had made a catastrophic mistake by quitting her job, whether she could cope with the long, lonely hours stay-at-home mothers face -- and even whether she should have had children.

"Anxiety is something I have always had, especially during times of change," said Craig, 40, who lives in Scotland, Ontario. "But I was never worried about the level of anxiety, and it never prevented me from leaving the house, driving, socializing or even speaking in front of people."

Her doctor referred her to an anxiety clinic, where a nurse asked Craig dozens of yes-or-no questions -- are you afraid of snakes? do you hear voices? do you vomit from anxiety? -- and made a diagnosis. "She said, 'Let's call it Generalised Anxiety Disorder with a touch of social phobia,'" Craig said.

The easier life gets the more time you have for drug abuse.

Posted by orrinj at 7:50 AM


Audio Exclusive: The Speech That Landed Condi On Romney's List (McKay Coppins, 7/13/12, Buzzfeed)

Rice's forceful and surprisingly partisan 13-minute address -- audio of which has been obtained by BuzzFeed -- won her two standing ovations from the gathering of big-money donors and GOP elite. It was widely considered the highlight of the weekend, several people present told BuzzFeed.

The standout performance took several people in Romney's orbit by surprise. One surrogate said he was surprised by the red meat rhetoric employed by Rice, who has largely eschewed the political arena in recent years, devoting her time instead to an academic career at Stanford.

"She's either very worried about a socialist threat to America, or she wants to be Vice President," the surrogate said.

Posted by orrinj at 7:29 AM

Judith Wallerstein, psychologist who pioneered research on divorce, dies at 90 (Elaine Woo, 7/06/12, Washington Post)

In 1970, preschool teachers asked Marin County, Calif., psychologist Judith Wallerstein how to deal with a rash of children who couldn't sleep, cried constantly or were too aggressive with playmates. The common denominator, the teachers said, was that the parents were divorcing.

Dr. Wallerstein looked for research on the issue and, finding nothing useful, decided to conduct her own. She launched what would become a 25-year investigation, producing alarming findings that made her, a long-married grandmother of five, a polarizing figure in a contentious national debate. [...]

When Dr. Wallerstein began looking at the effects of divorce, she thought the children's difficulties would be fleeting. Instead, she found that for half of the 131 children she studied, time did not heal their wounds but allowed them to fester, creating "worried, under-achieving, self-deprecating and sometimes angry young men and women" who, not surprisingly, struggled considerably with romantic relationships.

In light of this delayed effect, Dr. Wallerstein came to a controversial conclusion: If parents could swallow their misery, they should stay together for their kids.

"What in many instances may be the best thing for the parents may by no means be the best thing for the children," she told Newsday in 1994. "It is a real moral problem."

She wrote about the consequences of divorce in several books, including "Second Chances: Men, Women, and Children a Decade After Divorce" (1989) and "The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce" (2000). Co-authored by Sandra Blakeslee, the books made headlines, put Dr. Wallerstein on talk shows and magazine covers and became bestsellers.

-REVIEW: of The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce : The 25 Year Landmark Study (2000) 

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Posted by orrinj at 7:19 AM


Red or dead. : a review of Memoirs of a Revolutionary by Victor Serge (JOHN GRAY, 27 JUNE 2012, New Statesman)

"We revolutionaries, who aimed to create a new society, 'the broadest democracy of the workers', had unwittingly, with our own hands, constructed the most terrifying state machine conceivable: and when, with revulsion, we realised this truth, this machine, driven by our friends and comrades, turned on us and crushed us." The Russian revolutionary Victor Serge's assessment of the role that he and his comrades played in building the machine that would destroy them is striking in its candour. Virtually all of his friends who managed to survive the dictatorship that was installed in the revolution of October 1917 blamed the totalitarian repression that ensued on factors - the Russian civil war, foreign intervention, Russian backwardness - for which the Bolshevik regime was not responsible.

Refusing to acknowledge his part in constructing and using the machinery of repression, Leon Trotsky pinned most of the blame on Joseph Stalin - a single human being. Here, Serge was more clear-sighted. Trotsky, he wrote, "refused to admit that in the terrible Kronstadt episode of 1921 the responsibilities of the Bolshevik central committee had been simply enormous, that the subsequent repression had been needlessly barbarous, and that the establishment of the Cheka (later the GPU) with its techniques of secret inquisition had been a grievous error on the part of the revolutionary leadership, and one incompatible with any socialist philosophy". [...]

Though he does not put himself at the centre of this extraordinary story, the strand that links everything together is Serge himself - a courageous and generous man who was loyal to his vision of how revolution could usher in a new era in human history. In moral terms, there can be no doubt that he was on a higher plane than the Bolshevik leaders.

At the same time, possibly for that very reason, Serge was consistently deluded about how the revolution would develop. Lenin and Trotsky knew that revolution is by nature a ruthlessly violent and inherently undemocratic business. Without firing squads, mass imprisonment, the use of family members as hostages (a technique pioneered by Trotsky to secure the loyalty of the Red Army in the civil war) and the routine use of torture by the Cheka, the Soviet regime would have been overthrown soon after it came to power."

Had Gorbachev realized that glasnost would unleash the Sergian insight--that the Revolution was rotten from the start--he never would have allowed it.
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Posted by orrinj at 7:16 AM


Electric Car Breaks 500 Mile Barrier (Karsten Strauss, 7/13/12, Forbes)

The arguments against an electric car are growing fewer. A vehicle in development by ECOmove - a consortium of Danish car builders - has unveiled a car that can travel 500 miles without refueling. Once a sticking point for electric vehicles, distance could be ticked off the list of grievances the driving populace has with electrics. Fuel prices have moved drivers to turn to hybrid and clean diesel but advances in electric technology could signal the rise of electrics as a space for entrepreneurs and established companies alike.