Tuesday, April 22

Catching Up

Because of my Jane Austen endeavor, I fell way behind on my New Yorker and New York Times consumption. The last couple of weeks I've been catching up on what I missed, and here is the best of my backlog.

I'm not sure if ten-page long profiles of George Clooney belong in The New Yorker, but Ian Parker's article is good, even fascinating:


"Your job is to find the best way for those people to hold on to their dignity," he explained to me. "For a second, they have thrown it out. They got what they came for"—the autograph, the handshake—"but then they're standing there feeling, God, that horrible taste in their mouth: 'What now, how do I walk away?' " As Clooney described it, they have to be shown a path back to their normal selves.


Malcolm Gladwell on Rick Warren, who wrote The Purpose-Driven Life:


I'm guessing that a glowing Gladwell profile of a megachurch pastor doesn't sound like the greatest read, but I found Warren to be an interesting subject.

"The New Testament's most left-liberal text, the Lord's Prayer, begins with a call for utopian social restructuring ("Thy will be done, On earth as it is in Heaven"), then welfare relief ("Give us this day our daily bread"), and then income redistribution ("Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors")."


Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris' article about Abu Ghraib was all over the place a month or so ago, so I guess if you've either already read it or never will. But let me belatedly add to the chorus of voices praising their work.


"When the photographs were made public, the blame focussed overwhelmingly on the Military Police officers who were assigned to guard duty. The low-ranking reservist soldiers who took and appeared in the infamous images were singled out for opprobrium and punishment; they were represented, in government reports, in the press, and before courts-martial, as rogues who acted out of depravity. Yet the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib was de facto United States policy. The authorization of torture and the decriminalization of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of captives in wartime have been among the defining legacies of the current Administration; and the rules of interrogation that produced the abuses documented in the fall of 2003 were the direct expression of the hostility toward international law and military doctrine that was found in the White House, the Vice-President's office, and at the highest levels of the Justice and Defense Departments."


John Lanchester, author of The Debt To Pleasure, reviews a perfume guidebook:


The actual quotes from the guidebook are so awesome.


Elizabeth Kolbert on irrational decisions:



Susan Orlean writes about her neighbor, who has allegedly invented a better umbrella:



Most of you have already seen this, since I frantically emailed it to everyone I know last week, but this New York Times Sunday Magazine profile of Chris Matthews is the most breathtakingly negative profile I've ever seen, and the lulz come early and just don't let up. A masterpiece of a smear, the article paints Matthews as a hateful blowhard before revealing him as needy and pitiful:





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