I read The Sunday New York Times, so you don’t have to
Yes, it feels like fall. It is chilly this morning. A few yellow leaves are scattered on the lawn. The coffee is Kenyan, the first music of the day is Bill Evans.
1, How interesting it is that the lead story in The Times this morning is an architecture critic’s evaluation of Masdar, the new city that is being constructed in the Arabian desert, 20 miles from Abu Dhabi. On a planet where an exploding population is pushing all resources, in 2007 the Masdar project was introduced as the first zero carbon city. It would be a square, nearly one mile each side, raised 23 feet high to reach desert breezes, as electric cars carried the population through tunnels below. It is, writes critic Nicolai Ourousoff, “a vision that, a first glance, seems to brim with hope.” But Ourousoff quickly dashes that hope. As the first people began moving into the new city this week, Ourousoff sees Masdar as “the gated-community mentality that has been spreading like a cancer around the globe for decades. Its utopian purity, and its isolation from the life of the real city next door, are grounded in the belief – accepted by most people today, it seems – that the only way to create a truly harmonious community, green or otherwise, is to cut it off from the world at large.” Ultimately, Ourousoff concludes, Masdar is a useless utopia: “a self-sufficient society, lifted on a pedestal and outside the reach of most of the world’s citizens.”
2, The Times reports that Karl Rove, the man who put George Bush in the White House, is directing “a shadow Republican party, a network of donors and and operatives that is among the most aggressive players in the Republican effort to capture control of the House and Senate.”
3, Meanwhile, “Democratic candidates across the country are opening a fierce offensive of negative advertisements against Republicans, using lawsuits, tax filings, reports from the Better Business Bureau and even divorce proceedings to try to discredit their opponents and save their Congressional majority.” For example, The Times cites Ohio Representative Betty Sutton, who calls Republican Tom Ganley ” ‘a dishonest used-car salesman’ who has been sued for fraud, discrimination, lying to customers about repairs, overcharging them and endangering their safety. She warns voters, ‘You’ve head the old saying, buyer beware!’ ”
4, A sex scandal is threatening yet another huge church figure. Bishop Eddie L. Long, who has built Georgia’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church into a 25,000 member congregation, has been accused by four former members of one of his youth groups of “repeatedly coercing them into homosexual acts, and of abusing his considerable moral authority over them while plying them with cash, new cars, lodging and lavish trips.” Bishop Long is, as The Times notes, one of our conservative leaders who “rails against homosexuality and calls for a ban on same-sex marriage. His church even holds seminars promising to ‘cure’ homosexuals.”
5, “Extravagant promises and bluster are the stuff of campaign rhetoric, but the House Republicans’ ‘Pledge to America’ goes far beyond the now,” The Times writes in an editorial. As the editorial notes, last week’s document was created by the same people who “slashed taxes on the rich, turned a surplus into a crushing deficit, and helped unleash the financial crisis that has thrown millions of Americans out of their jobs and their homes…. We find it hard to believe that even the most disaffected voters will be taken in. But again, these are strange and worrying times.”
6, The U.S. is a country out of balance, “the balance between security and prosperity,” columnist Thomas L. Friedman writes. “We need to be in a race with China, not just Al Qaeda.” China is investing heavily in the development of forward-thinking technologies such as electric cars. “The auto industry was the foundation for America’s manufacturing middle class,” Friedman reminds us. Without such investment, he says, “you’ll import your new electric car from China just like you’re now importing your oil from Saudi Arabia.”
7, “Howard Brodie, Combat and Trial Artist, Dies at 94,” reads the headline. Brodie followed U.S. soldiers through the South Pacific and Europe during World War II, armed only with pencils. A drawing he made of the execution of a German soldier during the Battle of the Bulge was censored by the military. “A defenseless human being is entirely different than a man in action,” Brodie wrote afterward on the sketches that he produced from the incident. “To see these three young men calculatingly reduced to quivering corpses before my eyes really burned into my being.”
8, In perhaps the most-literate sports section you’ll ever read, The Times today examines what John Updike wrote of Ted Williams, upon observing Williams’ final day as a ballplayer with a horrible Red Sox team. Williams hit a home run in his last at bat and called it a career. “To me, Williams is the classic ballplayer of the game on a hot August weekday,” Updike wrote, “before a small crowd, when the only thing at stake is the tissue-thin difference between a thing done well and a thing done ill.”
9, Another story in the sports section points out that the not-so-memorable Todd Zeile also hit a home run in his final at-bat. About 40 players have done so in Major League history.
10, Phil Collins, Englishman, former drummer with Genesis, now living in Switzerland, is writing a book about the Alamo.