The New York Times reported Tuesday on the installation of a cross at the St. Nicholas National Shrine beneath the World Trade Center. The Times’ article included a most curious assertion:
In a recent post, I detailed how some people described the acquisition of Seamless in Kuwait (how clever) as the largest Middle Eastern exit since 2009. They forgot, of course, that Israeli startups routinely eclipse Talabat’s $170 million purchase price — or maybe excluding Israel from “the Middle East” was a conscious decision. Either way, they’re redrawing maps.
But those offenders are small potatoes (which you may presumably order on Talabat). This time, I’d like to call your attention to the pages of the New York Times. In yesterday’s column, Islam and the West at War, Roger Cohen described the current conflict between, well, Islam and the west:
Often, by the time a newspaper publishes a critical correction, it’s far too little and far too late to make much of an impact on the narrative of the original story. For example, when tensions flared across Israel and the West Bank late last year, the New York Times published the following allegation:
Four days ago, I wrote a post titled “When ebola comes to New York City, ground zero will be about three miles from Ground Zero“. Unfortunately, I didn’t stop by giving the post a name: I also included a slightly more specific prediction: that the outbreak would begin at a restaurant called Pitopia, located 3.4 miles from Ground Zero:
I picked up dinner there right before watching the Seahawks season opener (only the Ebola portion of this post is timely*) and ordered a falafel sandwich. The process is pretty straightforward: You get a few balls in a pita, and it’s up to you to fill in the rest at the salad bar.
I think you can figure out where this is going.
Via Newser, a heartwarming 9/11-related story:
Every year on 9/11, Elizabeth Stringer Keefe has tweeted out an image of a tattered wedding photo that a friend of hers found at Ground Zero, in the hopes that this time, the right person would see it. And now, after 13 years of trying, the right person has. On Friday, the Lesley University professor’s search suddenly went viral, drawing attention from the Boston-area blog site Universal Hub, the amateur sleuths at Reddit, and several news sites. More than 68,000 people retweeted the photo, the New York Daily News reports, and before long it had come to the attention of the photo’s owner, a Colorado man named Fred Mahe.
A likely story — but just one problem: If Keefe really has been tweeting the image every year since 2001 (2002?), why isn’t she a billionaire like the people who founded Twitter in 2006?
Via The Washington Post:
Beginning in about 2005, the CIA began secretly developing a custom-made Osama bin Laden action figure, according to people familiar with the project. The face of the figure was painted with a heat-dissolving material, designed to peel off and reveal a red-faced bin Laden who looked like a demon, with piercing green eyes and black facial markings.
The goal of the short-lived project was simple: spook children and their parents, causing them to turn away from the actual bin Laden.
The code-name for the bin Laden figures was “Devil Eyes,” and to create them the CIA turned to one of the best minds in the toy business, said those familiar with the project.
Unsurprisingly, the operation seems to have fallen somewhat short of success:
In 2011, I met an American diplomat of some sort attending Chabad’s seder in Kathmandu. I have his card somewhere — assuming it’s his real card — but the one fact about him I remember without even looking at it is where he was stationed: in Pakistan. He traveled all the way to Kathmandu to celebrate Passover presumably because he didn’t trust the kashrus in Isalamabad.
One week after Passover 2011 drew to a close, Osama bin Laden was caught and killed by the United States. I like to imagine my new acquaintance, and the interesting week/month/year/[however much longer he was in Pakistan] he had for himself.
I was probably among the last Americans on this planet to find out about the strike. Living in a remote Nepali village, without electricity, without television, and without the internet made keeping up with the outside world somewhat difficult. Apparently, the passal (where we took all our meals twenty minutes up the road) carried Obama’s speech live — but it was a cold and rainy night, and the volunteers all stayed home. All that was reported to us the next day was that President Obama had been on television — which was actually impressive, given that many of the people in our village did not recognize the name Obama (or find Nepal on a map of the world).
Being so far away from the United States at such a tumultuous time was interesting for another reason as well: rather than celebrate the event with my American friends (firing AK-47s into the air and handing out candy, I’m sure), I experienced it in the company of Nepalis. To them, it was something that happened. Whatever. And as I recounted in my blog, they weren’t entirely clear on the details of what had gone down with the body.
As it turns out, neither was the rest of the world. The military reportedly disposed of Osama’s body over the side of a ship, and the Obama administration refused to release photographs in an effort to prevent the image from inciting riots that would put Americans abroad at risk (just look at what happened in Benghazi! – and all from one little movie ;-)):
I remember the first time I heard of Carlos Slim. Not the specific moment, nor where I was, or what I was doing — after all, it wasn’t 9/11* — just the feeling of shock when I learned that there was someone out there with more money than even Bill Gates.
Over time, I’ve slowly gotten used to the idea of his existence, as he and Gates (and Warren Buffett) have spent the past few years moving in and out of the top spot. As recently as the Forbes 2013 release, Slim came in first with $73 billion. But since those rankings were published, Microsoft shares are up 28% while Slim ran into some “regulatory troubles”,** and just last month, BG3 finally reclaimed his status as the world’s richest man for the first time since 2009.
Or so they say.
I’m here to take issue with this methodology. Gates is famously generous with his money, and has promised to give a large portion of his fortune to charitable causes, so it feels a little bit like cheating to count all the money in his bank account as his. More realistically, he’s a rich guy, but somewhere much farther down the list. Clearly, you just can’t trust Forbes.
So while it’s nice that the financial magazine collects all this information about people with way more money than they know what to do with, I prefer a different index of wealth: the Gates Generosity Guide. The GGG differs from Forbes in that it is based not on the size of any pile of cash, but on how much money moguls have done their best to give away.
And based on his latest effort to channel money to others, it would appear the Gates estate has fallen on tough times:
Bill Gates needs your help to raise money for fighting AIDS. As of the time of this writing, 9,696 people have RTed the message, earning The Global Fund exactly $9,696. Big money. Or, you know, what used to fall out of Gates’s mouth every time he flossed.
To gauge just how far Trey’s fallen, compare that desperate attempt to harness the crowd with the last time he got himself involved in the power of social media — or, at least, what passed for it at the time. Once was, Bill Gates spent all his time desperately trying to give money away, to the tune of hundreds of dollars per email. If you had an electronic mail account at any point between the late 90s and early 00s, you almost certainly remember what I’m talking about:
When he accidentally referred to Libya as Lebanon on Saturday, Rick Perry was putting himself in good company — he’s now the second 2012 Republican Presidential primary candidate who can’t keep the country straight, after Herman Cain famously self-immolated when asked to comment on Obama’s policy there. Here’s one account of Perry’s speech: