Even for our finest actors, the Boston accent is Everest: an irresistible, but insurmountable, challenge. . .This may seem like a minor matter to you. But for those of us who grew up possessing, or shedding, a Boston accent, it's a deal breaker. Consider, if you will, the embarrassing hilarity that tends to ensue when my dear father, unapologetic owner of a medium-thick Boston brogue, returns an off bottle of wine at a restaurant because "I know the taste of cork. And this tastes like cork."
Here's a top-line summary of all the current news regarding the Kurds. Increasingly aggressive Kurdish guerrillas (i.e. the P.K.K., labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S.) are executing strikes across the Iraqi border into both Turkey and Iran. Because we like Turkey, we are urging the Kurds to stop. But because we hate Iran, we are giving the Kurds advice and possibly direction.
The alternative to tangling ourselves up in microregional conflicts and aligning ourselves with terrorist organizations is to use (gasp!) diplomacy. If we were allowing the P.K.K.'s strikes in Iran to continue because we were using them as a bargaining chip (for example, saying to the Iranians, "In exchange for a concession on your nuclear development program, we will call off the dogs on the Iraqi border.") that would be one thing. But we aren't negotiating in any serious way! Aiding the P.K.K. on its Iranian raids, as the article linked to above strongly suggests we are doing, is apparently intended to destabilize the Iranian regime. The far, far, far more likely result is that it will increase the chance of regional war, keep the Iranians from ever working with us on stabilizing Iraq, and give the Iranians some rhetorical cover when they send Iranian agents into Iraq to attack Americans.
Update: I just want to remind everyone that war with Iran isn't just war with Iran. It means war with Hezbollah, Hamas, and countless hidden terrorist cells across the Middle East, all of which would be unleashed by the Iranian mullahs. Richard Cohen makes this point in a Washington Post op-ed in which he asks Rudy Giuliani to pretty-please consider maybe being possibly less bellicose on the Iranian question.
Former ABC consultant Alexis Debat called to ask that I post this, the write up of the results of an ABC investigation into his work, and proposals to change its hiring practices regarding ABC news consultants. I told him that ABC Senior Vice President Jeffrey Schneider had reacted to his sending that around with the emailed comment, "Lol. Does he think he is vindicated? He shouldn't. He is still a big liar." Debat says in response, "I don't think I'm vindicated. But it's a big statement." I used the opportunity of the conversation to ask Debat about parts of his earlier claims that did not check out - how he said it was an administrative misunderstanding on his part that he did not know he didn't have a PhD from the Sorbonne. He said that he changed thesis advisors and departments to the political science department but couldn't further discuss it. I asked him about the mysterious Rob Sherman, who supposedly conducted the interview for him with Senator Barack Obama. Debat said he had met him in a cocktail party in 2003, he was fifty-ish with gray hair, but he wouldn't tell me what cocktail party or why he would have agreed to such an arrangement. About the fake interviews with Obama, Hillary Clinton, and others published under his name in the French journal Politique Internationale, Debat says he was stupid to sign his name to those interviews but it's not fair to say he claimed to conduct those interviews. Asked further questions, he said he had only called to tell me to post the above and he had nothing else to say. More from the NYT.
The fashion industry has always been out of sync with normal women's shopping cycles. Stores routinely trot out the latest in fall fashions--corduroy Peter Pan jackets, knee-high boots-when most of us are still in dire need of a new swim suit for the beach. But global warming is making these practices seem even more ridiculous.
Here in DC, for instance, this month may go down on record as the hottest October in 137 years. The average normal high temperature for DC in October is 67 degrees. This month, it's been well over 80 almost every day (we even had a day in the 90s), and yet, just try to find something decent to wear that doesn't involve wool! Eventually, the fashion folks are going to have to come to grips with the fact that D.C. is now basically California, not New York, when it comes to the weather. At this rate, all those cute cord jackets in store windows are going to be obsolete long before the the temperature drops below 70.
With CMJ happening in New York this week, that's all the blogs are talking about. Lucky them. Your intrepid, ridiculously-named reporter was not there, I'm just listening to music on the hi-fi, or the lo-fi, as the case may be.
10. The Dream "She Needs My Love" (from Love/Hate out Dec. 11 on Def Jam)
(stream at The Fader)
Hey, it's super-slo-mo choruses! Remember how much I love those? Combine that with Dream's songwriting skills (this is the guy who wrote "Umbrella") and you have a track that veers between sing-along almost-ballad and car stereo-pounding thumper.
9. New Young Pony Club "Get Lucky" (video)
This new wave-y track from the UK combo appeared in my Top Ten a while back already, but this video is so odd, both charming and disconcerting, I felt like it deserved a re-entry:
8. South Rakkas Crew "Crazy Feelings" (from The Mix Up on Mad Decent)
(listen at the Mad Decent site)
First I thought the bassline was from The Other Two's "Selfish," and then the chorus kicked in and I realized, that's the Jacksons. Not the Jackson 5, the Jacksons, Triumph-era. That's the trouble with samples: you suddenly realize you might actually like the original. Aack!
7. Travis Barker vs. Soulja Boy "Crank That"
Yes, this is the drummer from Blink 182 and +44, playing over the still-inescapable "Crank That." While you just want to be annoyed with him, all tattooed and rich and bashing the living bejesus out of his drums to overcompensate for being like 4'11", this is truly, unbelievably awesome.
6. Roisin Murphy "Let Me Know" (from Overpowered on EMI)
The former Moloko lead singer has struck out on her own in a somewhat typical British solo artist style: too pop to be cool, too weird to reach America. Hello, Robbie Williams! It's too bad, because this is glammy, perfectly-executed electro-disco that should be bigger than Madonna, and the video illustrates why: it can make even the most mundane moments of our pathetic lives feel special.
Just in case anyone out there is deluded into thinking we're actually making progress on this issue because it's in the occasional headline, or, now and again, mentioned by a jaw-wagging politician. Here's the latest: Atmospheric carbon dioxide growth has increased 35 percent faster than expected since 2000.
The findings by the British Antarctic Survey and others, and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that inefficiency in the use of fossil fuels drove up atmospheric CO2 by 17 percent since 2000. At the same time, the declining efficiency of natural land and ocean sinks drove it up another 18 percent.
The research shows that improvements in the carbon intensity of the global economy have stalled since 2000, after improving for 30 years, due to population growth and the growing global wealth. The decline in global sink efficiency, according to author Dr Corinne Le Qéré, "suggests that stabilization of atmospheric CO2 is even more difficult to achieve than previously thought. We found that nearly half of the decline in the efficiency of the ocean CO2 sink is due to the intensification of the winds in the Southern Ocean".
Hold onto your hats, peeps.
Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent. You can read from her new book, The Fragile Edge, and other writings, here.