Interview with Mikhail Gorbachev, 80. "I supported Putin during his presidency, and I still support him in many ways today. What troubles me is what the United Russia party, which is led by Putin, and the government are doing. They want to preserve the status quo. There are no steps forward. On the contrary, they are pulling us back into the past, while the country is urgently in need of modernization. Sometimes United Russia reminds me of the old Soviet Communist Party."
PUBLISHED: Aug. 16, 2011
LENGTH: 15 minutes (3889 words)
"I guess I’d call Rick Perry’s campaign ghostly, because he was not the main character. (Karl) Rove, who recruited him to switch parties and run against me, directed the effort. Perry was not any good at campaigning; he had no idea how to deal with Houston and Dallas and San Antonio and South Texas and all that, though I don’t know of any inappropriate comments that he made, because he wasn’t really getting any media. Rove got frustrated with him and sent him out to West Texas to attend Farm Bureau county meetings while Rove raised, I think it was about $3 million, and threw it into TV ads against me. They ran ads of me endorsing Jesse Jackson—ran that in East Texas. One ad showed a hippie setting a flag on fire and throwing it on the ground, and my picture came up out of the flames. So I had supporters in Dallas and Houston and East Texas who said, 'Well, I liked ol’ Hightower but I didn’t know he burned flags.'"
At the time I wrote Nickel and Dimed, I wasn’t sure how many people it directly applied to—only that the official definition of poverty was way off the mark, since it defined an individual earning $7 an hour, as I did on average, as well out of poverty. But three months after the book was published, the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., issued a report entitled “Hardships in America: The Real Story of Working Families,” which found an astounding 29% of American families living in what could be more reasonably defined as poverty, meaning that they earned less than a barebones budget covering housing, child care, health care, food, transportation, and taxes—though not, it should be noted, any entertainment, meals out, cable TV, Internet service, vacations, or holiday gifts. Twenty-nine percent is a minority, but not a reassuringly small one, and other studies in the early 2000s came up with similar figures.
What is the Littoral Combat Ship? Is it a heavily armed brawler meant to wade into bloody coastal battles and sacrifice itself while taking out multiple enemy missile boats? Is it a mine-clearer? A sub-hunter? A low-cost patroller ideal for slowly stalking pirates, drug runners and weapons smugglers and training alongside allied navies? ... Is it an affordable version of the Navy’s large destroyers, meant for the export market? Is it the flagship of an industrial scheme designed to revamp American shipbuilding? The answer is … all of these things. And none of them.
I was calling Sleets because I wanted to talk to the man who invented the high five. I'd first read about him in 2007 in a press release from National High Five Day, a group that was trying to establish a holiday for convivial palm-slapping on the third Thursday in April. Apparently, Sleets had been reluctantly put in touch with the holiday's founders, and he explained that his father, Lamont Sleets Sr., served in Vietnam in the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry -- a unit nicknamed The Five. The men of The Five often gathered at the Sleets home when Lamont Jr. was a toddler. They'd blow through the front door doing their signature greeting: arm straight up, five fingers spread, grunting "Five." Lamont Jr. loved to jump up and slap his tiny palms against their larger ones. "Hi, Five!" he'd yell, unable to keep all their names straight.
It’s as if the tumor of hipster culture that formed when the cool kids moved to Williamsburg had metastasized into a cluster of cysts pressing down on parts of the borough’s brain. Around the militantly organic Park Slope Co-op, for example, or Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene, where you can buy rings glued to typewriter keys as well as used, handmade, vegetable-dyed, vintage Oriental rugs for $1,000. Brooklyn is producing and consuming more of its own culture than ever before, giving rise to a sense of Brooklyn exceptionalism and a set of affectations that’s making the borough look more and more like Portland, Oregon.
PUBLISHED: July 26, 2011
LENGTH: 12 minutes (3207 words)
VC manifesto from the Founders Fund. "To understand why VC has done so poorly, it helps to approach the future through the lens of VC portfolios during the industry’s heyday, comparing past portfolios to portfolios as they exist today. In the 1960s, venture closely associated with the emerging semiconductor industry (Intel, e.g., was one of the first – and is still one of the greatest – VC investments). In the 1970s, computer hardware and software companies received funding; the 1980s brought the first waves of biotech, mobility, and networking companies; and the 1990s added the Internet in its various guises."
The stick would soon hold a videogame unlike any other ever created. It would exist on the memory stick and nowhere else. According to a set of rules defined by Jason Rohrer, only one person on earth could play the game at a time. The player would modify the game’s environment as they moved through it. Then, after the player died in the game, they would pass the memory stick to the next person, who would play in the digital terrain altered by their predecessor—and on and on for years, decades, generations, epochs. In Rohrer’s mind, his game would share many qualities with religion—a holy ark, a set of commandments, a sense of secrecy and mortality and mystical anticipation. This was the idea, anyway, before things started to get weird. Before Chain World, like religion itself, mutated out of control.