Thursday, February 14, 2013

Guys on Girls, Season 2


Lena Dunham

Photo by Jessica Miglio/HBO

Having written, for the most part very enthusiastically, about every episode of Girls since it premiered last year, I?ve long since gotten used to defending the series from detractors, online and off. This week, though, the script was flipped: I hated an episode that has since been championed by pretty much all of the smartest and most prominent fans of the show. Several people have said it?s the best thing yet from Season 2; others have said it?s the best thing in the series altogether to this point. What?s more, my view of it?and that of my colleague Daniel Engber, who shared his distinct but similarly negative take in our conversation about the episode?has been pilloried as a particularly blinkered bit of male gazing.

To take the second matter first: Engber and I did go on rather much about Patrick Wilson?s appearance and its bearing on the episode?s plausibility. Wilson?s conventional handsomeness is part of the episode?s point, I think, along with his conventionally fancy home and conventionally prestigious job, as some champions of the episode?including Slate?s Hanna Rosin?have noted. But it was only part of the point, and perhaps doesn?t really weigh much on the matter of plausibility; that Engber and I each thought so to varying degrees may very well reflect a specifically male sort of superficiality and foolishness that I?m not particularly happy to see in myself (or anyone).

The broader question of plausibility is, I think, both more complicated and more interesting. Rosin began her critique of our exchange by picking apart our ?very literal-minded complaint that this episode was ?unrealistic.? That was a fantasy, guys,? she wrote, ?and fantasies are often unrealistic. You could tell because it stood apart from the rest of the series, like a standalone play in three tiny succinct acts.?

Over at Vulture, New York TV critic Matt Zoller Seitz quoted those remarks, and built his case for the episode around the idea that plausibility is beside the point, and that ?Dunham?s screenplay and Richard Shepard?s direction refused to tell us whether this whole situation was, in some sense, too good to be true?if it was ?really? happening, if it was a fantasy of Hannah?s, or if it was somewhere in between.? Seitz compared the episode to ?Louie?s most stylistically radical episode to date,? called ?New Year?s Eve,? which was ?wholly dedicated to rendering the dream/reality distinction useless. It insists that we experience every moment in terms of emotional logic and metaphor, as we might one of our own dreams.?

Seitz is right that Louie has eradicated the distinction between dream and reality, particularly on that incredible Season 3 finale. But Girls has not done so?the contrast between ?One Man?s Trash? and ?New Year?s Eve,? which includes multiple dream sequences and flagrantly absurd scenarios, is stark. And the question does matter?as Seitz?s own analysis of the episode suggests. ?Joshua?s vague account of the breakup of his marriage,? he says, is a ?tell? that the episode may indeed be a fantasy, because it consists of ?what sounded like placeholder dialogue that Hannah would presumably fill in with real dialogue during revision.? (Emily Nussbaum similarly suggested, albeit in passing, that the episode is actually the essay that Hannah, in episode 2, gave to Sandy.) This is a bold bit of close reading, but besides feeling too clever by half, it utterly undercuts the effectiveness of the dialogue as dialogue: If the episode was ?written,? in some sense, by Hannah, rather than Dunham, its need for revision is a brilliant metafictional ploy. If Hannah didn?t ?write? it, it?s just not very good dialogue.

So which was it? Having watched the episode once like a normal person?i.e., sitting on a couch and not taking any notes?and then again a few days later on a computer with a word processor open, I decided to watch it again. After last week?s viewing, I found the episode ?interestingly bad.? This time I found it more interesting and less bad. It wasn?t entirely un-bad, though; in particular, Dunham?s acting, usually stellar, is frequently stilted and unnatural. There were various little details that still seemed off and unconvincing: how quickly and totally Ray explodes at Joshua and starts yelling about body drumming and neighborly fences; how completely Joshua fails to recognize Hannah just minutes after meeting her; her failure moments later to understand what he means by the question ?So, what?s up??; the way that, when he asks for her name after they first start making out, she says, ?Guess.?

But there were also moments that made more sense this time, including, yes, the way Joshua so passionately responds when Hannah?implausibly, it still seems to me?kisses him without warning. Her request that he beg her to stay?another scene that Seitz singled out as being ?written? by Hannah?still felt artificial; here, as elsewhere, the lines themselves may have been the problem, or it may have been Dunham?s delivery of them. The moment she starts crying in bed, just before launching into her speech about happiness, felt completely inorganic, something only imagined and not fully realized.

And that?s still how I feel about much of the episode. But watching Hannah deliver that odd speech, I realized what really bothered me, I think, about ?One Man?s Trash,? what got under my skin about it, made me frustrated and even, maybe, a little hostile to it: I didn?t recognize the character at the center of it.

Like many critics, I generally disdain too much emphasis on ?identifying? with a fictional character, and I?ve praised Dunham in previous weeks for making Hannah less and less sympathetic, for daring to put such an unlikable protagonist at the center of a show. But on some level, Hannah?s basic aims still felt, to be honest, a lot like my own. She wants to get by in New York, to make it as a writer, to have a few smart friends. Put so plainly, it all sounds very cheesy?but there it is. And in ?One Man?s Trash,? she expressed a longing I don?t identify with at all: the desire for a big fancy fridge in an opulent brownstone with immaculately maintained interiors. That?s not me, that?s my neighbors, the ones with the deed and the construction crew working five days a week for a year and, whenever they?re finally done, the fancy place next door all to themselves.

As Seitz notes, ?some part of Hannah is ? looking to be cared for (in her fantasies) by a handsome rich doctor with a nice house and no visible personal attachments except the one he?s got with her.? Even more to the point are Sarah Nicole Prickett?s comments at Bullett: ?I?ve often felt this show to be secretly conservative,? she says, ?and here we see it, plain: Hannah?s artistic bent is revealed to be pretension; her struggle, a ruse. What she?s really about is this Nancy Meyers life.?

That?s put a tad emphatically, maybe, but it?s not far off the mark. And it probably shouldn?t bother me as much as it did. But the truth is that some part of my love for this show does have to do with seeing myself in it, and particularly, I suppose, in Hannah. I don?t think the few days with Joshua were a ?fantasy? in the sense that they didn?t ?really happen? in the world of the show. (Although Joshua does call himself at one point ?an old ghost,? so ? maybe.) But I do think they were a fantasy of happiness for Hannah, one that, for a variety of reasons, I find a bit repellent. That doesn?t make ?One Man?s Trash? the ?worst episode of Girls ever.? Maybe, who knows, it was the best episode ever. (I still like last week?s more.) Either way, it made the episode very hard for me to enjoy. And that, I realize, is on me.

Source: http://feeds.slate.com/click.phdo?i=3ba1788e01a7a8c06c22de63c2c2dc55

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Chernobyl hit by roof collapse

A section of the roof at Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear plant has collapsed - but there has been no increase in radiation at the site, authorities say.

No-one was hurt when the roof over a turbine hall gave way under heavy snow.

The "sarcophagus" used to seal off the failed reactor was unaffected, officials said, but around 80 construction workers were moved away.

The 1986 explosion and reactor meltdown at Chernobyl was the world's worst-ever nuclear accident.

Correspondents say the roof collapse will revive concerns about the condition of the defunct power plant.

"There are no changes in the radiation situation at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant or in the exclusion zone," Chernobyl's administrators said in a statement.

'Stay calm'

The affected area was about 50m (165 feet) away from the sarcophagus built to contain leaking radiation from the exploded reactor, Chernobyl spokeswoman Maya Rudenko told the Associated Press.

"Everyone should stay calm," Ms Rudenko said. "Yes it is unpleasant, but there is no danger."

A huge new containment structure is currently being built to slide over the reactor, amid concerns about the long-term viability of the existing encasement.

The concrete shell is being built by French construction companies and funded by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, as well as other donors. After the roof collapse, two firms, Vinci and Bouygues, moved their workers away from the site as a precaution.

The explosion at Chernobyl's number four reactor in 1986 - when Ukraine was still part of the Soviet Union - sent a huge plume of radiation across Europe.

Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated from their homes in Ukraine, western Russia and Belarus.

The number of people who died because of the accident remains controversial, but thousands are thought to be at higher risk of cancer as a result of exposure to radiation.

The area around the plant is heavily contaminated and a 30km (19 mile) exclusion zone is in force.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21449760#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

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Despite Zany Guest Star, Obama's State of the Union Ratings Take a Nosedive

Obama's State of the Union ratings have been steadily declining since he drew 52.4 million viewers in 2009, and his most recent speech was the second-lowest rated since President Clinton's final address in 2000. Only?33.5 million Americans tuned in for the president's Tuesday night address, despite the (admittedly slim) prospect of a showdown with longtime nemesis Ted Nugent.

Source: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/02/obama-draws-lowest-sotu-ratings-in-years.html

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Saturday, February 9, 2013

9 things Apple could do with $137B

Apple Inc. has recently come under attack for its practice of stockpiling cash. At the end of last year, the company was sitting on $137 billion ?and the heap keeps growing.

Corporations normally don't hoard cash the way Apple does. They keep enough around for immediate needs, and either invest the rest in their operations or dole it out to shareholders in the form of dividends or stock buybacks. If they need more cash for, say, an acquisition, they borrow it.

Apple has never explained why it is salting away so much money ?other than to say the company is preserving its options.

The money belongs to shareholders, so Apple is limited in what it can legally do with it. Leaving legality aside, here are some things Apple could do with $137 billion:

?Give every American a check for $437.

?Buy 213 million iPhones at the average wholesale price, enough for every American who lives east of the Mississippi River, plus Texas.

?Based on market value at Thursday's close, Apple could acquire Facebook, Groupon, LinkedIn, Netflix, Pandora, Research In Motion (Blackberry), Yahoo, Yelp, Zillow and Zynga ?and have more than $2 billion left to spare.

?Create a stack of dollar bills 9,300 miles high, 38 times higher than the orbit of the International Space Station.

?Buy 100,000 luxury Manhattan apartments, enough to house the population of Omaha.

?Foot the bill for U.S. federal spending on education for two years.

?Give every Apple employee a bonus of $1.7 million.

?Double U.S. foreign economic aid to the developing world for three and half years.

?Provide shareholders with a one-time dividend of $145 per share. (The stock closed Thursday at $456.95)

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/f70471f764144b2fab526d39972d37b3/Article_2013-02-08-Apple-Cash/id-499a7e9826fc4faca9c2c809bc5c35d5

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Police release new photo of LAPD murder suspect

Irvine Police Department

This Jan. 28 image shows Christopher Dorner, police say. It was taken by a surveillance video camera at an Orange County hotel.

By Tracy Connor, Staff Writer, NBC News

Updated at 8:51 p.m. ET: Dozens of police officers went door-to-door in the snowy California mountains on Friday, searching 200 cabins and other buildings for ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner, suspected of killing three people in a revenge-fueled rampage he mapped out in an online manifesto.

Meanwhile, investigators released a new image of Dorner and searched the home of Dorner's mother, who police said was cooperating.

The image of Dorner was taken Jan. 28 by a surveillance video camera at an Orange County hotel, police say.

The search was focused on the mountains, where?"it's extremely dangerous," San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said at a news conference Friday?after more than 100 cops spent a tense night and day patrolling around the town of Big Bear Lake, where Dorner's burned-out truck was found a day earlier.?

The search was suspended Friday evening, and was set to resume on the ground at 7 a.m. PT Saturday, NBCLosAngeles.com reported.

Police say Dorner, 33, is on a mission to execute former LAPD colleagues and superiors and their families to avenge his 2008 firing. They believe he murdered a retired captain's daughter and her fiance in Irvine on Sunday, then killed one cop and wounded two others in shootings Thursday.

Chris Carlson / AP

San Bernardino sheriff's Officer Steven Spagon mans a checkpoint during the search for fired Los Angeles officer Christopher Dorner in Big Bear Lake, Calif.

More coverage from NBCLosAngeles.com

The manhunt led investigators to the Big Bear ski resort, about two hours from Los Angeles, where the burning hulk of his dark-gray Nissan was discovered with footprints leading to two forest roads.

Police followed the tracks until they lost them on frozen ground. They said they have no idea if Dorner is still in the area or if he left the mountain on foot or with a different vehicle.

All night and into the next day, SWAT teams piled into snowcats and armored personnel carriers with snowchains and drove?through eight square miles of mountain, checking cabins for signs of forced entry.

"We want to make sure he didn't find a place to hide for the night," McMahon said. "Certainly there has been time to get out of here, but we don't know if he has, in fact, left."

With the heavily armed suspect eluding capture for a second day, schools were closed Friday, though the ski resorts were open.

Credit: Los Angeles Police Dept. newsletter via NBCLosAngeles

This undated photo released by the Los Angeles Police Department shows suspect Christopher Dorner.

?There is no panic,? said Big Bear Mayor Jay Obernolte. ?We're very hardy residents?and many people are armed.?

He said his biggest concern was that a gun-toting resident might spot Dorner and try to take him on themselves. He urged everyone to keep their distance from Dorner and call police for help.

The sheriff acknowledged that the hunt for a man who is effectively hunting them could be nerve-wracking.

"This business is not always safe," he said. "But this is what we train for."

Ex-cop's mom, sister cooperating
Friday afternoon, Irvine and La Palma police, joined by U.S. marshals, were at the home of Dorner's mother in La Palma, a small city in Orange County about 20 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

Dorner's mother and sister were at the home and were cooperating, officials told NBC 4 of Los Angeles.

"I knew they were here for something," neighbor David Pighin said. "I thought maybe he was coming back to say goodbye to his mother."

The LAPD believes Dorner, who is 6 feet and 270 pounds, has an arsenal of weapons that includes assault rifles.

Dorner earned a ribbon for rifle marksmanship and a medal for pistol expertise in the Navy Reserve, where he was a lieutenant until his honorable discharge last week. Two bases in Nevada and California where Dorner worked were on heightened security over concerns that he might still have his military ID.;

Dorner worked at Fallon Naval Air Station, Nev., from March to November 2009, Zip Upham, a spokesman at Fallon, told NBC News. He also oversaw some security operations at Stead Air Force Base, Calif.

Dorner previously served in the LAPD from 2005 to 2008 and was fired for making false statements after he accused a training officer of brutalizing a man.

During an internal review, he was represented by Randal Quan, a retired captain. His daughter Monica Quan, 28, and her fianc?, Keith Lawrence, 27, were fatally shot while parking their car at their apartment complex after a Super Bowl party.

In the 11,300-word manifesto, Dorner vented his rage at Quan and other police officials and made it clear he had no compunction about killing their loved ones.

"I never had the opportunity to have a family of my own, I?m terminating yours," he wrote in one chilling passage.

The father of the man who was allegedly roughed up by the training officer told NBCLosAngeles.com that he thought Dorner made too big a deal of the 2007 incident by filing a formal accusation.

?He stood up for what he thought was right,? he said. ?You could tell by the look on his face he was just a young, idealistic kid, who?was?proud of?the badge," Richard Gettler said. "I commended him first. Then I got close to him and said, 'What is wrong with you? Weren't you thinking? ... It's the three musketeers, all for one and one for all!'"

Gettler called the recent?killings horrible and urged Dorner to turn himself in.

"Back then, when he became a police officer, he wanted to do good," Gettler said.

Read suspect's manifesto

In the manifesto, Dorner suggests that he believes he will be killed during his spree, but LAPD Chief Charlie Beck appealed to him to surrender.

"This has gone far enough," Beck said Thursday night. "No one else needs to die."

M. Alex Johnson and vivian Kim of NBC News contributed to this report.


The tense search for a former cop who police say killed three people and vowed to murder more continued for a second day. NBC's Miguel Almaguer reports.

Source: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/02/08/16899029-police-search-mountains-for-lapd-murder-suspect-christopher-dorner-release-new-image?lite

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Michigan tribes lawyer up for off-reservation casinos - Indianz.Com

Home >Indian Gaming

"In 1991, Port Huron voters had a real shot at becoming an economic heavyweight, but by a handful of votes rejected what could have been the very first off-reservation casino in Michigan. In 1993, after years of battling, the ?compact? between Michigan and its tribes was settled. The tremendous economic impact generated by gaming opened the door for the 1996 approval of three casinos in Detroit. With Port Huron voters? 2001 approval, Bay Mills spent the few years failing to get Congress to make its proposed casino site in Port Huron ?reservation land.? In November 2011, Bay Mills took another run with its ?new legal theory? declaring its casino site in Vanderbilt ?reservation land.? The state shut it down within weeks. Now it was the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians? turn. Sault Ste. Marie tried the same legal play with its proposed Lansing casino, declaring the Lansing site ?reservation land.? Two weeks ago, the Michigan Attorney General?s Office was in federal court to shut down the Lansing casino before it had a chance to open." Get the Story:
Cliff Schrader: Port Huron missed a bet with '91 casino gambling proposal(The Port Huron Times Herald 2/8)


Egghart Certified Public Accountants

Source: http://www.indianz.com/IndianGaming/2013/025933.asp

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Friday, February 8, 2013

Earth-like planets next door? Prospect could point to 9.6 billion more

A new study calculates that the nearest Earth-like planet may be only 13 light-years away ? and argues there may be more habitable planets out there than we thought.?

By Pete Spotts,?Staff writer / February 6, 2013

This artist's conception provided by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics shows a hypothetical planet with two moons orbiting in the habitable zone of a red dwarf star. Earth-like worlds may be closer and more plentiful than anyone imagined. Astronomers reported Wednesday.

David A. Aguilar/Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics/AP


The nearest potentially habitable, Earth-like planet may be a scant 13 light-years away ? close enough that any hypothetical, tech-savvy inhabitants there could start enjoying the second season of "The Sopranos" right about now.

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Indeed, there should be at least three Earth-size planets orbiting in the habitable zones of stars within 33 light-years of Earth, according to a new analysis of data from NASA's Kepler mission.

That would put detailed studies of such planets ? and the hunt for signatures of life on them ? well within the reach of a new generation of space telescopes, including the James Webb Space Telescope, currently slated for launch in October 2018.

Launched in March 2009, Kepler is monitoring some 158,000 stars across the constellations Cygnus and Lyra?for signs of planets. The ultimate goal is to detect Earth-like planets orbiting sun-like stars.

Along the way, however, the mission has also been gathering statistics on the size and type of planets orbiting different stars.?Based on those data, the team conducting the new study concludes that some 6 percent of the smallest, coolest types of stars in the galaxy ? red dwarfs ? host planets with a mass similar to Earth's that are also in habitable zones.?

Up to 80 percent of the stars in the galaxy are thought to be red dwarfs. If 6 percent have an Earth-like planet, that means?the galaxy could host between 9.6 billion and 19.2 billion potentially-habitable Earths?around these stars alone.?

The results reinforce a growing recognition that our solar system, with its larger, hotter star, "is quite rare," says John Johnson, an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena who studies extrasolar planets. "It's quite remarkable that the vast majority of habitable planets throughout the galaxy are likely around these red dwarfs."?

The results also "highlight just how quickly the field of extrasolar planets is blooming," he adds.

In 2000, astronomers had only detected 33 planets, all gas giants the size of Saturn or larger. They have now found 3,300, when Kepler's planet candidates are included.?

The new study, conducted by Harvard University graduate student Courtney Dressing and astronomer David Charbonneau at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., casts a new eye on the red dwarfs previously cataloged by the Kepler team.?

Source: http://rss.csmonitor.com/~r/feeds/science/~3/rgLo33ZT_h0/Earth-like-planets-next-door-Prospect-could-point-to-9.6-billion-more

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