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NYT Sampler for 8 July 2007


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NYT Sampler for 8 July 2007
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:29 pm EDT, Jul  8, 2007

For serious politicians and analysts, the "global warming" scare is passé.

Imagine if you could offset the whole Ten Commandments.

As big consumers of oil, you and I are intervening powerfully in Africa -- and perhaps unwittingly furthering graft and bloodletting.

"That’s when all hell broke loose," Mr. Williams said.

But now the glue is gone.

He likens it to a school of fish moving in a particular direction until a new leader suddenly emerges, everything shifts in that direction and somehow the crowd arrives at something close to an aesthetic.

Genetic engineering is too big for ethics. It changes human nature, and with it, our notions of good and bad. It even changes our notions of perfection. The problem with perfection in the age of self-transformation isn’t that it’s bad. The problem is that it’s incoherent.

Why Bush and the military are emphasizing Al Qaeda to the virtual exclusion of other sources of violence in Iraq is an important story.

Nothing amuses him more than the wincingly awkward silences that freeze a room in the moments after someone blurts out something embarrassing in a trying-too-hard attempt to look cool.

"The only explanation I can think of is the critical-mass explanation."

It will be dredged up from the ocean bottom, mixed with water and pumped to shore as a slurry that will spew out onto the beach.

Amazon folklore, in fact, is full of fanciful creatures that are used to explain unwelcome or embarrassing phenomena. The boto, for example, is a type of dolphin that is said to be able to transform itself into human form, wearing a white hat to cover its air spout, and seducing and impregnating impressionable young virgins.

It was a delightful episode in which a necrophiliac is suspected of raping a girl in a coma.

How strange that our gestures for terror and joy should be so similar.

I denied permission for the excursion. Shock, outrage and furious debate ensued. The main arguments offered were that they are teenagers, it is summer and I am stupid.

It is sad but common evidence of our sense of entitlement that we in the West consider whatever we get our hands on to be ours.

This nation of enthusiastic hobbyists appreciates craftsmanship, styling and the cachet of owning revered foreign brands.

Somebody said to me the other day that the entitlement we need to get rid of is our sense of entitlement.

"If we’re right on this one, everyone’s going to want to take these drugs and they’re going to treat many of the major diseases of Western society."

It remains to be seen whether even endless expenditures can hold back the sea.

"The Special Operations guys are tearing their hair out at the highest levels."

"It has a little more of a redneck militia feel to it than I would have liked."

"The world is full of things in need of embellishment," she said.

Oh! I feel it. I feel the cosmos!

"You’re using information you threw away earlier."

They appear to truly lack social fear. It’s as if they see all faces as friendly.

Once in a while they even fix each other with death stares, as if summoning a voodoo curse.

We never put men down for the way they look. We never say, Oh, Dick Cheney looks like a basset hound.

At times he sounds like a Freudian neoconservative.

He dubbed me the Needless Wonder because of my doormat ways.

"The only one he really helped was himself."

"I like to do things my own way," he explains, rather unnecessarily.

He wasn’t a shrinking violet, but in discussions on politics he didn’t know as much.

Investigators are looking for what could motivate people in top professions to turn toward terrorism.

"It is, thus, the brains behind them that the government should go after."

We Yanks, however, do not want froufrou endings.

Amid a continuing flurry of reports about civilian casualties in Afghanistan, the leader of a tribal council in Farah Province said Saturday that 108 noncombatants had been killed Friday in a NATO airstrike.

A suicide truck bomber killed at least 105 people in a single blast north of Baghdad on Saturday. In addition to the dead, at least 240 people were wounded. It was one of the deadliest single attacks of the war.

"I feel weird when people say, ‘Great timing!’ "

"We’re talking about two men who are so tough, so clever and with so much talent and communication power. And we’re talking about a company that has to be developed. It’s a matter of finding a balance between the two things."

... Corporate America has already moved overseas ...

It is frighteningly clear that Mr. Bush’s plan is to stay the course as long as he is president and dump the mess on his successor. Whatever his cause was, it is lost.

"I am all that stands between you and potential catastrophic loss."


His antics in Courchevel, where the police detained him for four days on suspicion of making prostitutes available to his guests, even drew the attention of Nicolas Sarkozy, then the interior minister and now the president of France, who quipped to journalists: "There’s a man who aims to please."

"I like his stand on families, I really do."

There’s some secret pleasure I take in things like that, in things going horribly wrong."

You can't really claim you've been here until you've received a courtesy jolt to the pelvis ...


It never occurred to me that lamb shanks might be refreshing.

Set to the tune of "Puttin’ on the Ritz," the TV advertisement portrayed an imagined newscast of police officers escorting a line of young women dressed in lingerie and fur hats, followed by a tycoon in a bathrobe. The ad cut to a woman in a Russian apartment watching the news. The tag line was: "Some enjoy fantasies of the good life. Others drink juice."

"It is very, very simple," he decrees. "I try to make my girls look sensational."

"You should have as much as you can tolerate," he says.

She’ll drink milk out of my mouth, actually.

In the perennial tug of war between security and privacy, security appears to be winning.

I love the word "lurk."

That's not grime you're seeing, it's historical charm.


Until now few people were aware that the story of the record business’s 19th-century origins was told, in part, in four-letter words.

"You wouldn’t believe it, but the ice cream business is more competitive than the music business."

"Competition inside our bureaucracy has led to a diffusion of power and a tendency to shirk responsibility. Cracking down on individual criminals doesn’t solve the problem. We need to fix the whole system."

This was the first time I really listened to jazz, and it bowled me over. I was thunderstruck.

"You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a help-wanted sign."

"Property rights are very conditional in Russia, to this day. Private business exists only by the grace of the state."

(AllofMP3 was conveniently shuttered last week as President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia prepared to visit President Bush.)

"We’re starting to be an art form and can have a massive cultural impact globally similar to television in the ’50s," he said. "But we could also become ham radio."

"What ... we are trying to do is to ensure ... that they’ve sworn allegiance ... and that they’ve given us their biometric data ..."


An important and illuminating book that offers a sweeping look at rehabilitating America’s image abroad ...

For Tocqueville, democracy sets society moving in an egalitarian, not a libertarian, direction. To be preoccupied with equality under such circumstances is to be preoccupied with a foregone conclusion. It is the "passion for liberty," by contrast, that is most in danger of dying out, and most in need of defenders. This is Tocqueville’s core belief.

Whether in music or in fiction, the most basic thing is rhythm. Your style needs to have good, natural, steady rhythm, or people won’t keep reading your work.

A new type of librarian is emerging -- the kind that ... is "looking to put the ‘hep cat’ in cataloguing."

At least he reads something besides Gawker.

"What’s your name?" asked a woman posted behind a check-in table.
As one man gave his name, the woman dragged a finger down the guest list. His name was not on it.
"Do you have a blog name?" she asked.
"Do you have any other name?"
He didn’t, and he left the building.

"The biggest difference ... is we’re a lifestyle."

"With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I’d gotten a patent on this thing."

They like to convey the spirit of the underdog ... as if discomfited by the adornments of an increasingly moneyed, Americanized and postheroic society.

Resources might be better invested in adaptation. The current debate would benefit from less emotion and more calculation.

"We envisioned it at first to be this level playing field, where everyone gets an equal shot. But you start to realize that leaders and popularity and all those things are quite possibly an organic, natural part of any community."

If you think a perimenopausal woman goes right back to sleep when awoken at midnight, you are quite mistaken.

There’s the caramel tan. The helmet of hair. The impeccable suit. The impossibly big Cartier watch.

"Gough Street is really about the old SoHo."

... the world’s deepest, most voluminous body of fresh water ...

... one of the most distinctive tea scenes in the country ...

Once you graduate, oh, sure, you’ve got the ruddy degree in witchcraft and the dark arts but whatcha gonna do with it? Doesn’t half pay the rent. I got me a new tack now. I’m writing some books.

"It’s like pepper," Mr. Hogan said.

"If I had billions of dollars I would also relax with the women in France."

Their story had a happy ending, unlike that of Jewish refugees from Germany aboard the S.S. St. Louis, who were denied entry to Cuba and the United States in 1939 and were forced to Europe, where most died in the Holocaust.

Aid agencies could benefit from operating more like venture capitalists.

The company’s Shot-Up Shirts are unquestionably distressed, having been blasted with shotguns and pistols. They are also the company’s most expensive items, priced at $100 each.

In Africa, things may get a lot worse before they get a lot worse.

I hope that I keep being contemporaneously aware of what’s happening, and that I will recognize the next big thing and what its impact will be.

One year they said they’d give the top salesman a trip to Spain for himself and his spouse. I won -- but they wouldn’t let me go because I was single. They gave me a fancy calculator that they said cost as much as the trip. Talk about different times!

"America good! Al Qaeda bad!" he said in halting English, flashing a thumb’s-up in the direction of America’s second-ranking commander in Iraq.

The theory is that "shouting cameras" are harder to ignore.

"You can think of it as a re-boot."

He’s a metaphor, of course, for anyone who champions any form of art.

One of the most lavishly promoted and rapturously greeted movies of the summer ...

"It looks like a little bit of saber-rattling."

"The Virtues of Raw Oysters" is one of 43 profane monologues, skits and other spoken-word curios on "Actionable Offenses: Indecent Phonograph Recordings from the 1890s," the newest release from Archeophone.

"I’m sitting on the fence," she said. "I have to make a decision."

The most interesting things almost always happen when the jurors are not around.

Where Mr. Padilla eats lunch is one mystery of the trial, but a far larger question looms: What must the jurors be thinking?

... a training camp application they say he filled out ...

It’s a tale of how tensions between behind-the-scenes financiers and filmmakers, a frantic push for awards glory and the horrendous influence of bad buzz can doom a movie before it even opens.

... a rift between operators in the field and a military bureaucracy that has still not effectively adapted to hunt for global terrorists ...

Its main role, though, is the ideological cultivation -- some say indoctrination -- of today’s youth, the first generation to come of age in post-Soviet Russia.

There are hundreds of companies like Piece of Pie that teach sales agents how to find retirees willing to buy annuities.

Some liberal legal scholars suggest that beyond political tactics, what the left urgently needs is a long-term strategy built around an affirmative message of what the Constitution means and what the enterprise of constitutional interpretation should be about.

The number of students here attending religious schools belonging to the Deobandi sect, an anti-Western, pro-jihadi fundamentalist school of thought that inspired the Taliban, among other movements, has doubled in the last year alone.

Before, it was only small and informal workshops that would churn out fake food and drugs, but nowadays many big companies have joined in.

American complaints about China’s products are part of a mounting trade war. They are the expression of efforts by Westerners to keep China down.

... he was a junior neurologist, she was a lab technician ...

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