>> Simon Doonan Leaves the New York Observer After 10 Years for Slate –Right before New York Fashion Week, the New York Observer has just lost Simon Doonan, a columnist for the paper for the past 10 years. Slate's chairman, Jacob Weisberg, has reportedly been courting Doonan for some time now, and he leaves on the heels of Alexandra Jacobs, the longest-serving editor at the New York Observer, who took a position as an editor at The New York Times's Styles section. Observer editor-in-chief Kyle Pope wrote in an email: "Simon has been a star of the Observer for 10 years, and he’ll be missed. But, as he said, it’s time for someone new to step up. We’re searching now for who that someone will be.” [Business Insider]
An issue that doesn't get much mainstream attention made the front page of Slate this week: 9/11 conspiracy theories. Following an episode of Rescue Me, during which firefighter character Franco Rivera shares his beliefs that 9/11 was an inside job, writer Christopher Beam began to wonder: do actual firefighters subscribe to 9/11 conspiracy theories? The answer is yes.
The various alternative versions of the horrific day are not that easy to follow, but the one favored by many firefighters is that the Twin Towers and 7 World Trade Center fell thanks to controlled demolition, and not because of the plane crashes. In recorded interviews right after 9/11, firefighters said they heard explosions right before the buildings fell. But those tapes were not released until 2005.
A 2007 poll found that 26 percent of Americans think the government had something to do with the attack. A group of 9/11 families, first responders, and other citizens is working on getting a measure on the New York state ballot that would legally mandate the formation of a new investigation with subpoena power. Do you want to see more investigation or do these theories offend you?
Last week, Rocco DiSpirito declared he was sick of foie gras. Then we made a list of things we're over. Here's another tired food trend to add to the queue: kid foodies. Lately, the little ones have been making a lot of noise in the kitchen. First, there was Greg Grossman, a 13-year-old who was the hottest rising caterer on the Hamptons circuit. Then the New York Times told the world about David Fishman, a 12-year-old aspiring food critic, and Paramount promptly purchased the rights to turn his story into a movie. Last, but certainly not least, was Julian Kreusser, a 5-year-old from Portland with a recurring cooking show.
What to make of this growing trend? While those with a fondness for a child's precociousness may be bowled over, the rest of us are left feeling slightly perturbed. In response, at least one journalist has voiced her issue with it.
In a Slate article, food writer Regina Schrambling argues that letting children into the kitchen at such a young age is both dangerous and premature. Childrens' taste buds differ from adult palates and they have a smaller frame of reference for food, making it hard to tell the difference between a good burger and a bad burger. Schrambling writes:
On a larger scale, the trend emphasizes the worst of the food frenzy today: The celebration of celebrity and novelty over authenticity and seriousness.
Maybe it's because I didn't hone my culinary skills until I was an adult, but I have to side with Schrambling. Kids should be kids — childhood, in all its joys, is short enough. Do you agree — are you equally sick of hearing about tots flipping omelets in the kitchen?
Slate ran a useful piece this week looking at all the mistakes the press made in its reporting on the Mumbai massacre. Inconsistencies involved the nationalities of the killers (some were British citizens?), the planning of the assault (did the attackers visit Mumbai to spy?), and the targets of the attacks (Americans and Brits, Mumbai's luxury hotels, or anyone and everyone?). The author even takes issue with the fact that multiple publications provided different spellings of the lone remaining gunman Kasab.
The thrust of the article is that newspapers and networks should at least "warn readers of the provisional nature of their hot breaking reports."
When a crisis strikes would you rather get information quickly and do the fact-checking yourself, or do you want the outlets to remind you that they're not 100 percent sure about their reports?
Yesterday I came across a hilarious and poignant column in Slate discussing the drawbacks of the dreaded birthday dinner. "I hereby propose that the birthday dinner go the way of the $4 cup of coffee, the liar's mortgage, and the midsize banking institution," its author proclaims.
The truthful description of his birthday dinner nightmare includes awkward small-talk, excessively-ordered appetizers and drinks, and inequity when it comes to paying the hefty tab. Not to mention that since everyone celebrates once a year, birthday dinners can be frequent and repetitive. For this reason alone, I can't say I attend every birthday dinner I get invited to, and I never hold my own.
Still, it can be nice every now and then to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. What about you? Are you a fan of the birthday dinner? Have you been subjected to your (unfair) share of disastrous birthday dinners?
Oh, bailout, you're our new Sarah Palin. We can't stop talking about you, yet we know so little about you. The president is set to give a televised address about the state of the economy tonight at 9 p.m. EDT — but here's the real question I've been wondering about since the $700 billion figure first popped up: exactly how much is $700 billion anyway?
Well for starters, if you count this double-image pic of gajillionaire Bill Gates as two . . . and then add the other 10 of him in net worth, that's how much $700 billion is: 12 Bill Gateses. That's only a dozen right? Not so many. (?!)
To see the whole dirty dozen of Billy, and more perspective on the figure (including Titanic comparisons) read more
Seen a lot of sliver foxes running around lately? That's because the population of folks in the US over 100 has nearly doubled since 2000. If the candle-blowing continues like this, within 40 years, it could exceed one million. A million people over 100. Slate has a piece examining the cause and effect of great medical care — people live longer, and consequently require more and more care for many years longer than the Medicare system was equipped to handle — like one woman who received a $35,000 pacemaker the month before her 100th birthday.
Living long is fantastic, but it raises a question: Would the health care money be better spent on younger patients? The piece makes the argument that health is like wealth. Some people are blessed with it, and some aren't — and it floats this theory:
Just as some people have enough money, others have had enough time. If you make it to 100 and can fund your own surgery, that's terrific. But Medicare should focus its resources on people who haven't been as lucky as you. Living to 99 is no tragedy. It's a blessing.
Should there be an age consideration for patients to receive spendy medical procedures for those who've lived good, long lives?
I'm not so much a sportsy-follower and admit that I didn't know that Serena Williams is a Jehovah's Witness until she started talking about Barack Obama in this Slate piece, but I'm glad she did — this is fascinating stuff. Do you know why Jehovah's Witnesses tend not to vote? Passages like John 17:14 where Jesus says of those who follow him: "They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world." This other-worldliness is what Jehovah's Witnesses have interpreted as a directive to remain above terrestrial concerns like the election and neutral in all political matters.
Though voting isn't completely prohibited it's cautioned against — the Watchtower, the official publication of the Jehovah's Witnesses has suggested that whether to stop into the voting booth was one of personal conscience. Not limited to voting, Witnesses also don't serve in the military, pledge allegiance to the flag, or run for office.
The cautioning against politics does work — only 13 percent are registered to vote, and though they're the biggest religious group that opts out of voting, there are others, like the Amish and the Rastafarians (though even their attitudes have altered the last few years.) Is God a big reason to stay vote-free? In the US about 2 percent of people who don't register to vote cite religion as the reason.
I knew the hijab (the scarf Muslim women cover their head with) is symbolic, but I hadn't given much thought to just how meaningful the decision whether or not to don it is until I read this piece in Slate. Especially for Muslim women living in America, covering up or not varies just as often as someone might switch jobs or leave a relationship, and it's just as life changing.
The author of the piece tells of her own decision to cover and shares other's stories, too. One woman originally covered up as an act of rebellion, a way to stand out — but decided to unveil later after being set up with potential dates who thought her hijab broadcast a submissive attitude toward marriage whereas her education had prompted her to examine roles for men and women laid out in classical Islamic law. To see it applied in modern times, read more
I suppose it was only a matter of time — for those of you el sicko of the campaign-o, Slate has found a way to make it even more culturally insidious. (Of course it's possible! Dare to dream!) Are you ready for this? Candidate. Cell phone. Ringtones.
I can't help it; they're so obnoxious they fill me with glee. They have a selection, and here are a few favorites. Which one would you assign to your best friend? Your nemesis? Would you give any of them a jangle?