American Culture

Nota Bene #51

nboctoberLink of the Week (as opposed to the Weakest Link)

William Langewiesche, Vanity Fair, The Devil at 37,000 Feet, about a 2006 airplane collision over the Amazon jungle:

[The pilots] were operating an inherently simple jet that had been stuffed with electronic capabilities. … driven [in part] by the technical possibilities offered to overly enthusiastic designers and engineers. The problem for pilots is the idiosyncratic architecture of the systems that are created, the need to fathom the logic that has been applied, and the reliance on manuals laced with invented terminology to which practitioners are expected to submit their minds.” [Emphasis added.]

Describes any new technology, doesn’t it?

David Bernstein, Chicago Magazine, Mr. Un-Popularity, on Rod Blagojevich’s father-in-law and political sponsor:

Nowadays, says Alderman Mell, when he sees friends around city hall or in Springfield they’ll sometimes tease him about his role in promoting Blagojevich’s career: “Here comes Dr. Frankenstein,” they’ll say. “He created the monster.”

Dave Lindorff, Common Dreams, Muntadar al-Zaidi Did What We Journalists Should Have Done Long Ago:

Meanwhile, I’m suggesting that my alma mater, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, hire al-Zaidi to teach a class in press conference journalism techniques. They should make it a multi-year appointment, because if he left after just one year, his would be difficult shoes to fill.

Richard Kerbaj, the London Times, Teachers ‘beat and abuse’ Muslim children in British Koran classes:

The Minister for Community Cohesion, Sadiq Khan, urged his fellow Muslims to turn in those responsible for violence against children. … “It’s pure village culture mentality,” he said. … “We need a culture which says that whistleblowing on these things is a badge of pride not a badge of shame.”

McCatchy’s Warren Strobel, Nukes & Spooks, blogging from Tehran:

. . . rumors are running rife in Tehran’s huge central bazaar that the United States is on the verge of establishing some sort of diplomatic office in Iran for the first time since shortly after Iran’s 1979 revolution. That would probably cause a mass stampede, since half of Tehran seems to have a relative in the United States, and even many that don’t would love to have a U.S. visa.

Christopher Hayes, the Nation, The Pragmatist:

On the front page of the Times, in a “news analysis” (a recurring feature that might as well be titled “Conventional Wisdom Digest”), David Sanger pointed to the likely appointments of Hillary Clinton and Timothy Geithner as suggesting that “Mr. Obama is planning to govern from the center-right of his party, surrounding himself with pragmatists. . .” [Emphasis added.]

The New York Daily News on Caroline Kennedy:

City Board of Elections records show Kennedy has failed to vote in many elections since she registered in the city in 1988. … “It doesn’t speak to a deep-felt commitment to the electoral process,” Baruch College political scientist Doug Muzzio said when told of Kennedy’s ballot breakdowns.

Thomas Frank, Huffington Post, Rent-a-Womb Is Where Market Logic Leads:

If surrogacy ever becomes a widely practiced market transaction, it will probably make pregnancy into just another dirty task for the working class, with wages driven down and wealthy couples hiring the work out because it’s such a hassle to be pregnant.


Murray Hills, Taranaki Daily News (New Zealand), Treading a golden path:

It’s also a well-known fact that [Tiger] Woods and American Phil “Mr Nice Guy” Mickelson are not the best of buddies. [Tiger’s caddy Steve] Williams told a story of Woods and Mickelson paired together during the US Open. … As a hush fell back over the crowd, a fan yelled out “Phil.” No response from Mickelson. … The fan changed tack. “Hey, Mr Mickelson.” When Mickelson turned and waved, the fan yelled out “Nice tits.” The crowd erupted in laughter; Mickelson went double bogey, bogey and his tournament was over.

Joe LaPointe, the New York Times, For a Pair of Wide Receivers, Same Name, Different Patterns (both the Carolina Panthers and the New York Giants have receivers named Steve Smith):

The Giants’ Smith said he hoped to meet his counterpart again after Sunday’s game. They talked briefly last season after a preseason game. At that time, Carolina’s Smith advised the younger Smith to avoid controversy because if it occurred, fans might blame the Panthers’ Smith.

Again, that is. The Panthers’ Smith has had his share of on- and off-the-field struggles.

Andrew Perloff,, For the Record:

The Giants were media savvy enough to avoid the Burress mess after the game. But when one reporter pressed Tom Coughlin on Philadelphia’s aggressive defensive play-calling, the Giants coach appeared to be on the verge of bursting a blood vessel. Actually, he always looks like that, except for five minutes after last year’s Super Bowl.

Will Leitch, New York magazine, A Giant Among Coaches:

In the Giants’ locker room last week, tackle Kareem McKenzie admitted to me that the main “distraction” caused by Burress was that players who don’t know the receiver well now had to rack their brains for something noteworthy to say about him to reporters.


Michael Kosares, USA Gold:

In watching money markets (always through the prism of gold) for over 35 years now, I cannot recall a Federal Reserve ever openly talking about printing money, and in massive quantities, like it did yesterday. We have talked about the Weimarization of America here for many years. It seems that day has arrived.