aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, January 26, 2006
I’m not proud of my resistance to accepting Oprah’s apology - what more could I have asked for? And if she pulls this off that really might mean something:
“An author brings his book in and says that it is true, it is accurate, it is his own,” Ms. Talese said. “I thought, as a publisher, this is James’s memory of the hell he went through and I believed it.”
But Ms. Winfrey pointed out that her producers had asked about reports of the book’s truth in September, after the Hazelden counselor raised doubts, and that they were reassured by Random House.
“We asked if you, your company, stood behind James’s book as a work of nonfiction at the time, and they said absolutely,” Ms. Winfrey said. “And they were also asked if their legal department had checked out the book, and they said yes. So in a press release sent out for the book in 2004 by your company, the book was described as brutally honest and an altering look at - at addiction. So how can you say that if you haven’t checked it to be sure?”
Ms. Talese replied that while the Random House legal department checks nonfiction books to make sure that no one is defamed or libeled, it does not check the truth of the assertions made in a book.
Ms. Winfrey replied, “Well, that needs to change.” [...]
One former publisher said he believed that the publishing industry would have to change its practices at the behest of its biggest patron, Ms. Winfrey. Laurence J. Kirshbaum, who recently retired as the chief executive of the Time Warner Book Group and who now runs his own literary agency, said in an interview yesterday that “there is no question what she said will have a far-reaching impact on our business.”
SEE ALSO Slate:
The sectional kept expanding-first for publisher Talese, then Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, then the New York Times’ Frank Rich. They talked about Frey as if he were a troublesome puppy. After a while, there was little for him to do but sip his water and wait for the episode to end. Via videotape, Joel Stein, Stanley Crouch, and Maureen Dowd piled on, too-a full flock of pundits!
LATER: A NYTimes editorial praises Oprah, Kurtz
adds nothing weighs in (please forgive that snarky blogger indulgence, I try to keep it reigned in). Salon calls it a little creepy, “ it was hard to avoid thinking that Frey was being put on display not to set the record straight, but for a public flogging.”
Doug says, “I betcha Frey writes a book about being redeemed.” If he does, and readers buy it, they’re dupes. He should husband his resources and live out his days anonymously. I am persuaded that the biggest problem here is the publishing industry (in symbiosis with the media machine) and this is an opportunity for change.
Switching from Poli Sci to Sci Fi
Looking for a West Wing replacement, I’ve settled on Battlestar Galactica. The enlightened way they treat their fans - inviting them to watch the first episode online commercial free and uncut prior to airing and making a wide variety of podcasts, blogs, message boards and downloads available to them - is one reason. Last summer’s NYTimes article is another.
This week’s New Yorker clinched the deal:
[W]hat interests people who normally don’t care about science fiction is how timely and resonant the show is, bringing into play religion and religious fanaticism, global politics, terrorism, and questions about what it means to be human. (There are also a couple of funny jabs at the media, particularly at talk-show airheads who don’t, or can’t, distinguish between news and entertainment.) ... The central twist is that both the Cylons and the human beings they’re trying to kill are religious: the humans believe in gods, and the Cylons believe in God. In killing people, they think they’re doing God’s work… There have been a couple of good episodes focussing on the realities of being stuck in space-the need for water, and the need for fuel. The characters are well drawn and have unfolded in a way that could keep people watching for several more seasons… The story isn’t ridiculous-something that viewers are on the lookout for in science fiction more than in any other genre-and it raises questions that nag at you in the same way that life on Earth does. “Battlestar Galactica,” refreshingly, is as real as science fiction gets.
My TiVo is set.
Overextended? Don’t ask, don’t tell!
While some say the army’s near the breaking point:
Stretched by frequent troop rotations to Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has become a “thin green line” that could snap unless relief comes soon, according to a study for the Pentagon.
Andrew Krepinevich, a retired Army officer who wrote the report under a Pentagon contract, concluded that the Army cannot sustain the pace of troop deployments to Iraq long enough to break the back of the insurgency. He also suggested that the Pentagon’s decision, announced in December, to begin reducing the force in Iraq this year was driven in part by a realization that the Army was overextended.
As evidence, Krepinevich points to the Army’s 2005 recruiting slump - missing its recruiting goal for the first time since 1999 - and its decision to offer much bigger enlistment bonuses and other incentives.
Among the nearly 10,000 service members expelled under the Pentagon’s antigay “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy over a 10-year period, hundreds have been medical specialists and officers. According to data released on Wednesday by the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military, 244 medical specialists were kicked out in the period spanning 1994 to 2003, the first 10 years the policy was in effect. The data were obtained from the Pentagon with the help of Rep. Marty Meehan, a Massachusetts Democrat who sits on the House Armed Services Committee.
It’s worth noting, of course, that Rep. Marty Meehan (D-Mass.) has championed the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R.1059), which would repeal the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and allow these men and women in uniform to stay in the military. As of now, the bill is up to 107 co-sponsors, three of whom are Republican. It has no chance of even coming to the floor for a vote, but it’s way overdue.
A friend I worked with as a waiter in New York for nearly a decade sent this link with the note, “Those were the days!!! “
A runaway who ended up in New York with no skills, waiting tables was my ticket off the streets (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). Through rose-colored glasses I recall my waiter days as such good days that to this day people are regaled with my waiter day tales.
NYTimes restaurant critic Frank Bruni:
[L]ast week I traded places and swapped perspectives, a critic joining the criticized, to get a taste of what servers go through and what we put them through, of how they see and survive us…
From Monday through Saturday, I worked the dinner shift, showing up by 3:30 and usually staying past 11. I took care of just a few diners at first and many more as the week progressed.
And I learned that for servers in a restaurant as busy as the East Coast Grill, waiting tables isn’t a job. It’s a back-straining, brain-addling, sanity-rattling siege.
Of course, for a less sentimentalized view of the waiter-world check out Waiter Rant:
[T]urnabout is fair play. If Frank gets to play in my end of the pool it’s only fair I get to play in his.
I extend an offer to Frank and the New York Times. Let me play food critic for a week. I’ll follow Frank around, see how he does his job, and then, under his guidance, review a restaurant for publication in your newspaper. (And Frank, don’t worry about your anonymity, I don’t want anyone to know what I look like either.)
So how about it? Seems like a fair trade. And I promise I won’t get drunk with power. (Well, maybe just a little.)
Oh to have been a blogger then… What great fun they have.
Man’s best friend
If they’re this good now imagine how great they’ll be in 20 years when I get mine:
Researchers studied children aged between seven and 15 who had a Sony Aibo robot dog in parallel with other children who owned a living pet. Over 70 per cent of the robo-pet owners said that the machines ‘could be a good companion’.
“Interaction with animals has been shown to increase children’s physiological health, social competence and learning opportunities,” said lead researcher Gail F. Melson.
“In turn, there has been a movement to create technological substitutes for pets, such as the Tamagotchi, Furby, Tama and Aibo. As this technology becomes more sophisticated and pervasive, its impact on children’s lives will increase. “
The team also gave Aibos to elderly residents in care homes for six weeks and found that they were less depressed and lonely after interaction with the robotic dogs. Some residents reported being more active after playing with the robot.
Here’s the study.
LATER: Personal beer serving robots from Asahi.