Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday grab-bag

● It seems pretty clear to me that Eric Schlosser’s Command and Control is the most important non-fiction book of the year – certainly the most chilling. Louis Menand’s New Yorker review does the honors. One excerpt:

Because a nineteen-year-old airman performing regular maintenance accidentally let a socket slip out of his wrench, a Titan II missile became a time bomb, and there was no way to turn off the timer. … If it had detonated, most of the state of Arkansas would have been wiped out.

● I would advise against clicking through to this Belle Waring screed on why male authors suck. I do not understand why this piece has gotten so much love on the Internet – I find it self-indulgent, smug, and ultimately far more mean-spirited, boring and closed-minded than the authors she criticizes.

● Matt Taibbi brings the outrage in his story on Wall Street looting America’s pension funds. One of his leading villains is Rhode Island’s Gina Raimondo: I remember when this gushing Time Magazine profile lauded her as the walk-on-water savior of all that was good and true. Here's Taibbi: 

Nor did anyone know that part of Raimondo's strategy for saving money involved handing more than $1 billion – 14 percent of the state fund – to hedge funds, including a trio of well-known New York-based funds: Dan Loeb's Third Point Capital was given $66 million, Ken Garschina's Mason Capital got $64 million and $70 million went to Paul Singer's Elliott Management. The funds now stood collectively to be paid tens of millions in fees every single year by the already overburdened taxpayers of her ostensibly flat-broke state. ...
In Rhode Island, over the course of 20 years, [former SEC lawyer Eric] Siedle projects that the state will pay $2.1 billion in fees to hedge funds, private-equity funds and venture-capital funds. Why is that number interesting? Because it very nearly matches the savings the state will be taking from workers by freezing their Cost of Living Adjustments – $2.3 billion over 20 years.
Video of the week: “Dig Budgie!” exclaimed WXPN DJ Dan Reed midway through Tuesday’s “Highs in the Seventies” segment, thus adverting to the hitherto unknown existence (to me, anyway) of Wales’ premier hard rock power trio. Wikipedia assures me they are big news in Poland and Texas, evidently places where a look and sound midway between Rush and Spinal Tap can woo the cognoscenti:

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