Despite fears that NASA and the United States have given up on space exploration, the focus has simply shifted to private companies like Virgin and SpaceX, which are preparing for commercial space travel:
"This was the International Symposium for Personal and Commerical Spaceflight. It had been co-founded eight years earlier by a New Mexico State professor named Pat Hynes, who had been studying and advocating for the commercial potential of space for twenty years. She has watched the conference grow in size and influence alongside the industry. Now, the facility buzzed with engineers and scientists and entrepreneurs and astronauts. Sponsors included Lockheed Martin and Boeing, a European company touting its ability to 'launch any payload to any orbit at anytime,' and another company claiming the authority to sell plots of land on the moon. Hynes, ecstatic, inaugurated the conference by shouting a 'Let’s rock this house!' welcome, before introducing Michael Lopez-Alegria, a recently retired space-shuttle astronaut who spoke of his conversion from 'skeptic with outright disdain for the idea of commercial space” to a “Kool-Aid-pouring believer' in the private space industry."
PUBLISHED: May 20, 2013
LENGTH: 32 minutes (8219 words)
A writer's 10-day journey into the life of Gwyneth Paltrow:
"While making the meatballs, however, I can tell something is up. No. 1: They are green (they are made of arugula and turkey). No. 2: I can't put them in tomato sauce because I have eliminated tomatoes from my diet. Instead, I am serving them with a broccoli soup that tastes mostly like water. What is going on? Yesterday was so amazing! When my guests arrive and I feed them the meatballs, I can tell that they hate them. One of them pulls out a huge bag of chips and starts eating them in front of me. Another one leaves to 'actually eat dinner.' I am about to have a panic attack when I suddenly remember when Gwyneth went to a dinner party in America and someone asked her what kind of jeans she was wearing and she thought to herself, 'I have to get back to Europe.' America is the worst. I say nothing about anyone's jeans, even though I was literally just going to ask everyone about their jeans."
PUBLISHED: May 9, 2013
LENGTH: 9 minutes (2339 words)
The founding editor of the New York Review of Books looks back on 50 years:
Danner: "I’m holding here the first issue, which declares, in a statement on the second page: 'This issue … does not pretend to cover all the books of the season or even all the important ones. Neither time nor space, however, have been spent on books which are trivial in their intentions or venal in their effects, except occasionally to reduce a temporarily inflated reputation, or to call attention to a fraud.' This is the only editorial statement that you’ve ever made."
Silvers: "That’s it! And that’s still what we try to do. We shouldn’t pretend to be comprehensive. There’s no point in reviewing a book if you can’t find someone whose mind you particularly respect. And even so, we have to turn down every month or so a piece we’d asked for. But I left one thing out of that editorial statement: the freedom of those people to reply at length, to make their case."
PUBLISHED: April 7, 2013
LENGTH: 27 minutes (6995 words)
Turmoil at NBC's "Today" show: How the dismissal of Ann Curry set off a chain of events that led to a ratings slump and now questions about Matt Lauer's future:
"The producers of Today are employing every trick they know to rebuild the family’s chemistry, retooling the set, fiddling with the mix of stories, going for more uplift and smiles. But the show is still haunted by what happened, and is still happening, offscreen, the internal struggles and animosities casting strange shadows. Matt Lauer smiles for a living, but offstage he has been obsessed with the situation, brooding about his ratings and his enemies while trying to put forward his own version of events. If Lauer is guilty in the hosticide of Ann Curry (he’s certainly not innocent), he’s far from the only guilty party. For all the smiles, TV hosts often get offed, for all sorts of reasons. As Hyman Roth said in Godfather 2: This is the business they’ve chosen."
PUBLISHED: March 24, 2013
LENGTH: 26 minutes (6556 words)
PUBLISHED: March 15, 2013
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4685 words)
Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, who left office in 2009 after revealing an affair with an Argentine woman, is now running for Congress—and he asked his ex-wife Jenny to run his campaign:
"According to Jenny, she had already told Mark she would be taking a pass on the race the day before, at the funeral of a mutual friend. So when Mark came to visit her, he arrived with a proposal. 'Since you’re not running, I want to know if you’ll run my campaign,' he said. 'We could put the team back together.'
"Jenny told him, in so many words, that wasn’t going to happen. Mark made one last appeal.
"'I could pay you this time,' he said."
PUBLISHED: March 4, 2013
LENGTH: 16 minutes (4227 words)
The director on what's wrong with Hollywood today, why you should never use his name in a pitch, and why he's retiring from movies to focus on painting:
"The worst development in filmmaking—particularly in the last five years—is how badly directors are treated. It’s become absolutely horrible the way the people with the money decide they can fart in the kitchen, to put it bluntly. It’s not just studios—it’s anyone who is financing a film. I guess I don’t understand the assumption that the director is presumptively wrong about what the audience wants or needs when they are the first audience, in a way. And probably got into making movies because of being in that audience.
"But an alarming thing I learned during Contagion is that the people who pay to make the movies and the audiences who see them are actually very much in sync. I remember during previews how upset the audience was by the Jude Law character. The fact that he created a sort of mixed reaction was viewed as a flaw in the filmmaking. Not, 'Oh, that’s interesting, I’m not sure if this guy is an asshole or a hero.' People were really annoyed by that. And I thought, Wow, so ambiguity is not on the table anymore. They were angry."
PUBLISHED: Jan. 27, 2013
LENGTH: 29 minutes (7404 words)
How the global art market works:
"The negotiations among Gagosian, Mugrabi, and the Sotheby’s team reflect the sort of favored-client privileges many gallerists who don’t speculate in the secondary market claim can be dangerous to collectors and artists. Mugrabi told Rotter that if Froehlich, the seller, didn’t agree to their price, he ought to take the piece off the market rather than risk a buy-in. 'I’ll tell you what the bottom price is, and if the guy wants it, we can at least have a secure bid on it,' he told Rotter. 'And if he doesn’t, then maybe he withdraws it from the sale.'
"Then Mugrabi called his father. 'Froehlich está muy stubborn,' he complained. He proceeded to have a conversation, mostly in Spanish, about which pictures were covered ('El Tuna, sí. El Hammer and Sickle, no. Los Zapatos tampoco…'). He took his father’s remarks as instructions to make an offer 'por los dos.' When Mugrabi called back to Rotter at Sotheby’s, he said, 'What’s up, Alex? My dad said that he can pay for the two pictures—for the Hammer and Sickle and the shoes—£2 million, all-inclusive.' Then he said, 'Okay, cool. Okay, okay.' They hung up."
PUBLISHED: Jan. 21, 2013
LENGTH: 23 minutes (5944 words)
Tide detergent is known as "liquid gold" on the black market, and is being stolen from stores by the cases in exchange for drugs:
"As the cases piled up after his team’s first Tide-theft bust, Thompson sought an answer to the riddle at the center of the crimes: What did thieves want with so much laundry soap? To find out, he and his unit pored over security recordings to identify prolific perpetrators, whom officers then tracked down and detained for questioning. 'We never promised to go easy on them, but they were willing to talk about it,' Thompson says. 'I guess they were bragging.' It turned out the detergent wasn’t being used as an ingredient in some new recipe for getting high, but instead to buy drugs themselves. Tide bottles have become ad hoc street currency, with a 150-ounce bottle going for either $5 cash or $10 worth of weed or crack cocaine. On certain corners, the detergent has earned a new nickname: 'Liquid gold.' The Tide people would never sanction that tag line, of course. But this unlikely black market would not have formed if they weren’t so good at pushing their product."
PUBLISHED: Jan. 6, 2013
LENGTH: 11 minutes (2848 words)