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Archive for February, 2008|Monthly archive page

The End of the Fox Hunt

In Connecting the Dots on Friday, 29 February 2008 at 12:36

It’s an interesting story that you may have missed: Imad Mugniyah was killed by a car bomb earlier this month in a tony suburb outside Damascus, Syria. Not nearly as famous as Osama bin Laden or Carlos the Jackal, by the 1980s, Hizbullah-associated Mugniyah, known as “the fox” or sometimes “big brother,” was responsible for enough kidnappings, bombings, and hijackings to push him to the top of most-wanted lists around the world; his grisly rap sheet included the 1983 bombing of a Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 servicemen, the 1984 kidnapping of Beirut CIA chief William Buckley, and the hijacking of TWA flight 847 in 1985. In addition to Newsweek’s detailed account of Mugniyah’s demise, which describes how it could lead to more violence, the right-wing political pubs picked up on the assassination, as well. The Weekly Standard focused on Mugniyah’s ties to Al Qaeda and bin Laden, while the National Review looked at Syria’s role in the Middle East. Foreign Policy, on the other hand, provides an unrelated look at the next class of terrorists — and what the world can do about it. (Beginning, it seems, with re-framing the debate.)

The Meta Times: Bloggin’ About Bloggin’

In Connecting the Dots on Thursday, 28 February 2008 at 11:57

Blogs are for everyone, it seems, as Talk of the Nation’s interview with Stuff White People Like author Christian Lander is riding high on our Most Popular list this week. New York Magazine also has a list of other blogs worth your time, including a DC-based Casanova and a confessional translation of The Iliad. Meanwhile, Utne Reader reviews some feminist blogs. But if politics is too polarizing for you, you can always turn to that classic Internet staple — pictures of cute animals.

Musical Diplomacy

In Connecting the Dots on Wednesday, 27 February 2008 at 12:39

Following in the footsteps of the Boston Orchestra’s ground-breaking 1956 tour of the Soviet Union, the New York Philharmonic this week offered a command performance to Pyongyang’s elite. Seeing as North Korea — often called the Hermit Kingdom — remains a relatively closed society in an increasingly global world, press reports about the event provided an important peek behind the DMZ. While The New Yorker covers conductor Lorin Maazel’s attempts to break the language barrier with music, the Wall Street Journal provides a detail-packed account of the trip; The National Review, predictably, criticizes the orchestra’s decision to travel to Pyongyang, while The Washington Post explores earlier attempts to bridge idealogical divides with music (including a performance by Pink Floyd that helpfully came a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall). Still, against all these attempts by well-meaning Westerners to spread democracy around the globe, Foreign Policy asks an important question: Does democracy really make you any happier?

Warning Shots

In Connecting the Dots on Tuesday, 26 February 2008 at 13:20

While the rest of the world lives in relative peace, we at Brijit have been tracking a coming storm, a growing compendium of signs of the apocalypse. Take for example David Matlock’s “G shots”: quick shots of collagen to a woman’s G spot that temporarily increase its size, making it easier to find. Some women are hooked, returning every four months (and dropping $1,850 each time). Other threats to humanity include people enlisting in the “citizen paparazzi” and selling bottled holy water. Still not scared? Well, there’s always those uber-destructive supermassive black holes charging through space.

That’s Super!

In Connecting the Dots on Monday, 25 February 2008 at 12:23

With a lull in Democratic primaries before the upcoming contests in Ohio and Texas, pundits and political writers have focused upon the role of superdelegates in this tight race. Raising the specter of a nominee chosen by superdelegates — those hangers-on, VIPs, political operatives, and party cadres who can cast their delegate vote however they please, unbeholden to any popular vote — Rick Stengel ponders the unlikely possibility that superdelegates would dare to go against the electorate, while other reporters look at the controversial history of the superdelgate. Lanny Davis even provides a first-hand account of his experience as a superdelegate, pointing out that they’ve always been seen as “independent” of the electorate, while Geraldine Ferraro offers her own, pro-superdelegate take on the situation. (Of course, both disclose themselves as Hillary Clinton supporters, the candidate widely considered to benefit from all this superdelegate maneuvering.)

Oscar, and the Grouches

In Connecting the Dots on Friday, 22 February 2008 at 11:07

Leading up to Oscar weekend, it seems Ellen Page and Juno are finished making the rounds; most of the coverage went to villain-studded Best Picture noms There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men. Our own Best Oscar Reporting statuette goes to Premiere, which got up close with four nominated actors. But rather than fawn over favorites, most mags put out contrarian pieces: Time weighs in with some delightful naysaying, and the AARP shows whippersnappers a thing or two with its Movies for Grownups Awards. But even they can’t out-curmudgeon Vanity Fair, which, as usual, is stuck in the past.

Will the Real John McCain Please Stand Up? The Press Corps Can’t Seem to Find You.

In Connecting the Dots on Thursday, 21 February 2008 at 10:52

John McCain and his Straight Talk Express seem to have a relatively smooth road to the Republican nomination — even if the Express itself could use a Pimp My Ride-style makeover, as a sprawling New Yorker profile of the candidate points out. But who, exactly, is it behind the wheel? The New York Times has a massive investigative feature today, but all it really tells us is that McCain seems to prefer blondes (as does New York this week). The chattering class is split; those on the left would like to strip McCain of his “maverick” image, while those on the right seem to be preparing themselves to hold their nose and vote for him. More interesting is Nicholas Kristof’s contention that McCain is too honest to be an effective political panderer, and EJ Dionne’s argument that McCain is wrong to think terrorism is the biggest issue facing the US. Of course, you could always try watching McCain on TV and forming your own opinion.

The Morning After

In Connecting the Dots on Wednesday, 20 February 2008 at 12:58

It’s not easy being the front-runner. Fresh off his Wisconsin primary win, Barack Obama finds himself leading Hillary Clinton in delegates, but under increased scrutiny from the press corps. Campaigning in Wisconsin, he was teased for skipping the blue-collar pandering (brats, beers, and fish frys), and giving a speech at a convention center instead. Across the US, numerous pundits are arguing that Obama is more style than substance, while others have examined his speeches for plagiarism. Writing from his perch at The New York Times, David Brooks looks at the candidate’s momentum and wonders what will happen “when the magic fades.” But then again, the primaries aren’t over yet. The Sunday morning talk shows were buzzing with party loyalists and testy discussions of the latest issues within the Democratic Party itself: Will delegates from Florida and Michigan be seated at the convention? And how should all those superdelegates vote?

Uncork a Winner!

In Connecting the Dots on Tuesday, 19 February 2008 at 15:35

OK, so you blew it on Valentine’s Day and didn’t get your hands on “the greatest wine on the planet.” Don’t fret; you can impress your friends at that Oscar party this weekend with some decent runners-up (hey, it’s an honor just to be nominated). All the demand for top vintages has created an affordable pocket of commendable bottles, and American oenophiles can now stay local, as enotecas — wine shops that showcase local wineries — are making their way stateside. Finally, round out your tasting with some chocolate, and make it milk, because the lighter side is making a comeback.

Brijit for Facebook Will Save You Time, Make You Smarter, and Earn You Money. Seriously.

In brijit, social media on Tuesday, 5 February 2008 at 16:43

I’ve tried really hard not to endlessly flack Brijit in this space. But today we’re introducing Brijit for Facebook, and I can’t help myself — it’s just really cool, and I hope you’ll indulge me.

My 100-word abstract:

Wish you had the time to read cover-to-cover or never miss an episode? So do we. At Brijit, we gather 100 great sources and boil them down to 100 words to save you time. Now Brijit for Facebook lets your friends be your guide to the world’s best content, as we make it easy to share what you’re reading, listening to, and watching. Find it on Brijit, and your friends can see it on Facebook. And if you want to write for fun or profit, Brijit will even pay you $5 or more every time we publish one of your abstracts. It’s that simple.

Kudos to Benjamin Dorr, Allan Chan, Brent Thorington and Richard Ponton for bringing Brijit for Facebook to life. They’ve done some pretty interesting and innovative things here.

EASY SHARING INTEGRATED BEYOND FACEBOOK — For starters, Brijit for Facebook is one of the relatively few applications that’s robustly integrated with a site outside of Facebook. Once you’ve opted in, your reading on Brijit leads seamlessly and directly to recommendations on Facebook. There are no additional steps. No share buttons to press. No comments to tack on. If you read it on Brijit, your friends can see it on Brijit for Facebook. And if they read it, you can see it — it’s a mutual-recommendation tool that requires practically no effort.

A TIME-SAVER, NOT A TIME-SUCK — From SuperPoke to Scrabulous, the vast majority of Facebook applications, fun though they may be, are for wasting time. Brijit for Facebook is all about giving you your time back. We’re 100 percent committed to developing the best possible interface for dealing handling hundreds of sources and thousands of subjects. Today’s release is our first shout at it; additional customization is coming. We also think we’re on the early side of the maturation-of-Facebook trend with an efficient, easy-to-use service that takes full advantage of all of social media’s best traits.

A WAY TO GET PAID — We’re not familiar with too many Facebook apps that actually enable you to earn money easily, but Brijit for Facebook does just that. Users are just one click away from claiming any assignment they want to abstract. Facebook users now have easy access to the Brijit writers area, where they can earn $5 or more for every abstract they write that we publish. And of course, they can show off what they write for their friends with no further effort.

In the end, we think of Brijit for Facebook as an extension of everything we’re doing at Brijit. On Brijit for Facebook, your friends become your well-read friends, and everyone gets just a little bit smarter. We hope you’ll check it out, share it with your friends, and let us know what you think.