Thursday, April 10, 2008

Some Things I Set Aside to Share

Head Shaving as a Form of Solidarity. Senator Arlen Specter was on NPR's Diane Rehm show some weeks ago, talking about his bout with cancer with the fill-in host, USA Today's Susan Page. He noted that at one point, he lost all of his hair, and his colleague, Sen. John Sununu, shaved his hair in sympathy.

Golden Arches Coffee Wins. Whenever I stop at a Starbucks, it's only to purchase a copy of the New York Times. I wouldn't pay for the designer coffee, which in addition to being overpriced, is really awful stuff. So I was pleased (if not altogether surprised) to learn recently that Consumer Reports last year ranked their coffee below that served by McDonald's. I think any real coffee drinker could have told them that.

No Ghosts Here. I think one of the too-infrequently-mentioned reasons why Barack Obama remains a favorite of the national media is the fact that he wrote what's said to be a pretty good book, and he didn't need the obligatory ghostwriter to do it. Not long ago on NPR, Slate editor Jacob Weisberg argued that the candidate's first book "is so good it's almost like he was a writer turned politician." On the other hand, the Washington Post's Ruth Marcus said of Hillary's autobiography that there are "long stretches where it sounds like a bad travel writer who's being paid by the word." Ouch.

Great Use of Metaphor. Not long ago, I linked to a great Wall Street Journal piece that I thought did the best at explaining the real stakes of the subprime fiasco. In an interview published in the New York Times Magazine a couple weeks ago, former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill offered by far the pithiest explanation of the crisis. Asked how these subprime mortgages could spark a global crisis, he responded: "If you have 10 bottles of water, and one bottle had poison in it, and you didn't know which one, you probably wouldn't drink out of any of the 10 bottles; that's basically what we've got here."

He's Only Too Happy to Service Seniors. Finally, we couldn't help but bring you a quick outtake from a cover interview in the March/April AARP Magazine, with Hollywood bad boy Jack Nicholson. Asked if he would date a woman of AARP age (50 and over), he had this piquant reply: "Well, yes--I'd do everything to a woman of AARP age, and have."


At 6:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And here I thought my taste buds were just far too unsophisticated to appreciate Starbucks fine offerings! Thanks for that reassurance. Grounds for divorce from a company that DOES seem to try to do some good for its employees and communities.

At 9:16 PM, Blogger Jenny said...

That's the ONLY reason I go to Starbuck's too! - cuz I know it's one place I can buy the New York Times.

Don't drink coffee anymore, but when I did I got it from McD's all the time (the only thing that bugged me were those eco-unfriendly styrofoam cups)

At 9:38 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Lovely to see not one but two new commenters! No, Rosa, your taste is probably similar to many. Starbucks coffee just tastes burnt to me, and no amount of spin or salesmanship can paper that over. And Jenny, I love your blog. Lawyer turned writer has a lovely ring to it. Keep up the great work, and I'll check back with you occasionally. Thanks again to both of you for dropping by and leaving your two cents.

At 12:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some powerful writing . . .

Speaking of need to reduce greenhouse emissions worldwide, "That will require the rhetoric of Obama, the grit of Clinton and the courage of McCain--all combined in one leader. Or we can wait for the ice caps to melt, in which case the leaders will be calling for a different kind of sacrifice, like abandoning coastal cities."

Newsweek 4/14 p50, Thomas, Wingert, and Begley

At 12:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

AARP huh?

Interesting article, think movie, "The Bucket List," might be both fun and thought provoking. My favorite kind.

At 8:58 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Craig, that makes me happy to live a bit inland. And The Bucket List was okay, I thought. When two old masters like Nicholson and Freeman collaborate, good things tend to happen.

At 7:34 PM, Blogger Celeste said...

John, you presented very helpful info for us artists/writers at the AEI workshop, this weekend, at Kent State University. Thank you, for your information.

Celeste Billhartz
ps. I love your blog!

At 12:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was "proudly served" Starbucks at Mongolian Grill tonight and had to laugh.

Re: Solidarity

Compassion can take many different forms, but a hand to hold in the blackest night can make all the difference. Empathy given at great cost can be life changing; endowing its recepient with a way to look back at a most painful time in life and find something to be thankful for, a true friend. It is a gift so incredibly precious and powerful that it can change your life forever. It did mine.

At 5:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul O'Neill sounds like a man that Obama could use when he becomes Prez.
I am still trying to understand how we ended up with GWB and his entourage as the head of our Nation.
I'd like to read an anthropologist view of what brought us down to pick the least qualified person for the most important position.

Firing Paul O'Neill was just one more gaffe.


At 12:36 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Celeste, how nice of you to come by and leave a note. I only wish we all had had more time to spend together last evening. I was pleasantly surprised to get that invitation, and it was fun to do. Hope you'll continue to stop by and leave some thoughts. Jo, while I'm not quite sure what you're referring to, I'd certainly agree with you about the power of empathy.

Finally, Daniella darling, seeing your name in comments always brightens my day, since I never get to see you in person anymore. O'Neill's connection with Bush was actually that he and Cheney both worked in the Ford administration, and while Cheney initially brought him in, he also brutally sacked him. O'Neill's reputation has not only survived since but been enhanced, while you know all about Cheney's reputation.

Anyway, thank you all for such a wonderful comment string. It's made my weekend brighter.

At 3:13 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Celeste, I studied your blog and was knocked out by it. Your entry on "twilight musings" even made me tear up. Wonderful, powerful stuff. I'm so very happy that you've shared that link with me, which I'll be sure to share with my readers soon. I wish you health, and keep scribbling so wonderfully.


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