Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A moment of clarity from CNN courtesy of Jack Cafferty:

That was from Friday (9/26). By now, I hope you've seen the SNL spoof on it. The Times has been doing a decent job of following this story.

Monday, September 29, 2008

You're going to have to put in some serious work.

The initial impetus for the post came while I was glancing over the fashion advice that Details had in its October issue. Coupled with the editorial advertisements, there are some really strong ideas kicking around for men's style this season. Here's the clincher...

... if you don't make six figures it'll be tough to pull off a lot of what they're creating as an image for your closet. I guess you can't hate on them too much-- markets are markets.

Forever, the standard response to the problem of finding clothes at a reasonable price has been the thrift store. I don't know if you read this article that was in the Times earlier this month, but the writing is on the wall for either a sharp downturn in the quality of goods you're likely to find in city stores, or a hike in the price of the items that you're relying on to make your wardrobe.

So either put in the work, get paid more and perform a line by line assimilation of you're closest fashion mag, or start hitting thrift stores outside of NYC-- it's where your go-to boutique is getting their clothes.

I'm not going to give you the name/address of where I did my shopping today, but Fall is taken care of-- four pants, three shirts, three sweaters and a windbreaker-- for $56.

If church meant going to listen to Al Green, I'd be more religious.

There's something that organized religion can glean from this. There has to be.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Where are we relative to Russia?

David Remnick's Letter from Moscow in the September 22nd New Yorker sheds light on the peculiar role the "independent" radio station Echo of Moscow plays inside of Russia's media-politics-policy complex, as well as its perfunctory role of informing the public. In the piece, Remnick reveals to the reader his personal use of Echo to keep abreast of the situation in Russia. It is his interviews with established members of the Russian media, however, that grant fascinating insight into whether or not Echo is successful as a media institution. In particular, the observations that former Kommersant editor Kirill Rogov made stand out:

“It’s been the best news service for a long time,” he said. “But is a free media outlet possible in an unfree country? I would say no. In a free country, the newspaper publishes a story, it influences television, it reaches the public, then it helps to shape the course of policy. In an unfree country, Echo of Moscow lives in isolation, on a kind of Indian reservation. It broadcasts a story or a discussion and it reaches an audience, but then it never goes any further.”

To be sure, the United States is a freer country that Russia when it comes to its media. On the Reporters Sans Frontères Annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index, the United States' media environment ranks as the 48th freest, while Russia is buried at 144th (out of 169). RSF highlights why specific countries appear as they do on the rankings; fortunately, they explain both America's and Russia's respective locations:

  • There were slightly fewer press freedom violations in the United States (48th) and blogger Josh Wolf was freed after 224 days in prison. But the detention of Al-Jazeera’s Sudanese cameraman, Sami Al-Haj, since 13 June 2002 at the military base of Guantanamo and the murder of Chauncey Bailey in Oakland in August mean the United States is still unable to join the lead group.

  • Russia (144th) is not progressing. Anna Politkovskaya’s murder in October 2006, the failure to punish those responsible for murdering journalists, and the still glaring lack of diversity in the media, especially the broadcast media, weighed heavily in the evaluation of press freedom in Russia.

While there is no single person in the United States that wields as much influence over the media as Putin, there are several forces which dictate the breadth, depth, and context of media as it is broadcasted to the masses. In this sense, it is worth considering Rogov's perspective on what defines media as effective in a free country. Despite widespread exposure and criticism of the way the media has been treated by the United States government with regards to the War on Terror, U.S. policy has remained, for the most part, unchanged.

The Best 8 Minutes You'll Spend Today

Defining What It Means To Be Liberal

Louis Menand is a literary critic who was influenced greatly by Lionel Trilling. His piece on Trilling's life in the New Yorker a few weeks back had some great insights on the concept of what it means to be a liberal. Some of the highlights follow:

  • And there are, as a matter of political theory, very different types of liberals. There is, in Isaiah Berlin’s famous distinction, the liberal who believes in negative liberty, “freedom from,” and the liberal who believes in positive liberty, “freedom for.” There is the classical liberalism of free markets and individual rights, and the left liberalism of state planning and class solidarity.

  • A liberal is a person who believes that the right economic system, the right political reforms, the right undergraduate curriculum, and the right psychotherapy will do away with unfairness, snobbery, resentment, prejudice, neurosis, and tragedy. The argument of “The Liberal Imagination” is that literature teaches that life is not so simple—for unfairness, snobbery, resentment, prejudice, neurosis, and tragedy happen to be literature’s particular subject matter.

  • For books, including the Great ones, are social products “all the way down.” They do not come from some place outside the system, and they do not represent an independent alternative to the way things are. They are among the things that are, even when they belong to what Trilling called “the adversary culture”—even when they reject conventional ways of thinking and behaving. The adversarial is part of the system; it helps to hold the other parts in place. Responsible liberal people feel better adjusted for having an appreciation of art and ideas that are contemptuous of the values of responsible liberal people. It helps the world seem round.

These selections, especially the last segment, frame succinctly the attraction self-proclaimed liberals have towards counter-culture. The question begs to be asked, to what extent and to what end do you embrace subversive ideas and the adversarial culture?