After a month long hiatus, here is a star-studded, predominantly Obamafied version of the Friday Diversion.
By Hendrik Hertzberg
If you only have time to read one piece regarding the significance of the nomination of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America, read this short piece taken from the November 17th Comment section of The New Yorker. Here's a brilliant excerpt:
Barack Hussein Obama: last week, sixty-five million Americans turned a liability—a moniker so politically inflammatory that the full recitation of it was considered foul play—into a global diplomatic asset, a symbol of the resurgence of America’s ability to astonish and inspire. In the Convention keynote speech that made him instantly famous four years ago, Obama called himself “a skinny kid with a funny name.” Funny? Not really. “Millard Fillmore”—now, that’s funny. The Times contented itself with referring to the candidate’s “unusual name.” Unusual? Unusual would be, say, “Dwight D. Eisenhower.” Ten weeks from now, the President of the United States will be a person whose first name is a Swahili word derived from the Arabic (it means “blessing”), whose middle name is that not only of a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad but also of the original target of an ongoing American war, and whose last name rhymes nicely with “Osama.”
That’s not a name, it’s a catastrophe.
Say it loud, and say it proud: Barack Hussein Obama, President-elect of the United States of America.
The Joshua Generation
By David Remnick
A fascinating, lengthy, and detailed account of Barack Obama's political ascension. From his childhood quest for identity in Hawaii (Sometimes, as one reads “Dreams from My Father,” it’s hard to know where the real angst ends and the self-dramatizing of the backward glance begins, but there is little doubt that Obama was at sea, particularly where race was concerned. To ease that pain, to “flatten out the landscape of my heart,” he would do what kids sometimes do: he drank, he smoked grass, and, in his unforgettably offhand formulation, he did “a little blow” when he “could afford it.”) to Grant Park on that glorious November night (“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer”), this piece basically covers it all.
A Slide Show depicting the front pages of newspapers the world over after Obama's victory.
For South, a Waning Hold on National Politics
By Adam Nossiter
An explanation of the obselescence of the Southern state of mind. You can't help but to almost feel sorry for these people who simply don't know any better. They're like the grade school bully when everyone finally realizes they don't have to take his shit anymore.
Thanks to Flats for the link.
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN'S COMMENTS FROM THE STAGE AT CLEVELAND'S VOTE FOR CHANGE RALLY
Taken from BruceSpringsteen.Net, November 2, 2008
Suffice it to say, at this point, nobody puts it better than The Boss.
It's great to be here today among friends. I'd like to thank Senator Obama and his folks for inviting me. I've been here many times since 1973, but never on a day as glorious as this one. We are at the crossroads.
I've spent 35 years writing about America and its people. What does it mean to be an American? What are our duties, our responsibilities, our reasonable expectations when we live in a free society? I saw myself less as a partisan for any particular political party, than as an advocate for a set of ideas. Economic and social justice, America as a positive influence around the world. Truth, transparency and integrity in government. The right of every American to a job, a living wage, to be educated in a decent school, to a life filled with the dignity of work, promise, and the sanctity of home. These are the things that make a life, that build and define a society. These are the things we think of on the deepest level, when we refer to our freedoms. Today those freedoms have been damaged, and curtailed by eight years of a thoughtless, reckless, and morally adrift administration.
I spent most of my life as a musician measuring the distance between the American dream and American reality. For many Americans who are today losing their jobs, their homes, seeing their retirement funds disappear, who have no health care, or who have been abandoned in our inner cities, the distance between that dream and their reality has never been greater or more painful. I believe Senator Obama has taken the measure of that distance in his own life and work. I believe he understands in his heart the cost of that distance in blood and suffering in the lives of everyday Americans. I believe as president he would work to bring that dream back to life, and into the lives of many of our fellow Americans, who have justifiably lost faith in its meaning.
In my job, I travel around the world, and occasionally play in big stadiums, just like Senator Obama. I continue to find everywhere I go that America remains a repository for people's hopes and desires. That despite the terrible erosion of our standing around the world, for many we remain a house of dreams. One thousand George Bushes and one thousand Dick Cheneys will never be able to tear that house down. That is something only we can do, and we're not going to let that happen.
This administration will be leaving office, dumping in our laps the national tragedies of Katrina, Iraq, and our financial crisis. Our house of dreams has been abused, looted, and left in a terrible state of disrepair. It needs defending against those who would sell it down the river for power, influence or a quick buck. It needs strong arms, hearts and minds. It needs someone with Senator Obama's understanding, temperateness, deliberativeness, maturity, pragmatism, toughness and faith. But most of all it needs us. You and me. All a nation has that keeps it from coming apart is the social contract between its' citizens. Whatever grace God has deemed to impart to us resides in our connections with one another, in honoring the life, the hopes, the dreams, of the man or woman up the street, or across town. That's where we make our small claim upon heaven. In recent years that contract has been shredded and as we look around today, it is shredding before our eyes. But today we are at the crossroads.
I'm honored to be here on the same stage as Senator Obama. From the beginning, there has been something in Senator Obama that has called upon our better angels, I suspect, because he has had a life where he has so often had to call upon his. We're going to need all the angels we can get on the hard road ahead. Senator Obama helped us rebuild our house big enough for the dreams of all our citizens. For how well we accomplish this task will tell us what it means to be an American in the new century, what's at stake, and what it means to live in a free society. So I don't know about you, but I want my country back, I want my dream back, I want my America back. Now is the time to stand together with Barack Obama and Joe Biden and the millions of Americans that are hungry for a new day, roll up our sleeves and come on up for the rising.
Buy American. I Am.
By Warren Buffet
An argument for why you should jump on American stocks, using one of the all-time Gretzky-isms as an analogy.
Thanks to Flats via DJ Smitty for the link.
The Sports Czar is Fired Up, Ready to Go
By Bill Simmons and his readers
Rarely, if ever, will I offer up a Simmons selection as part of the Friday Diversion (most readers will have plowed through this particular mail bag a week ago), but I felt as though his first answer was so bang on that it warranted re-printing here. I literally don't disagree with a single suggestion. The man has my vote:
Q: I would like to nominate you, Bill Simmons, for a new Sports Czar position in the Obama cabinet. It's a position that's needed in government, no? You're the only one who can save this country from future sports missteps.
-- Travis, Minneapolis
SG: Travis, I accept your nomination even though I lack the legal background, the authority and the connections. With 10 weeks to fine-tune my platform before President Obama officially takes office, here's a rough draft of ideas I'm kicking around. Some of them have already been mentioned in this column; I just wanted to get everything in one place. Feel free to send me any additional suggestions. On the first week of 2009, I will post a complete platform for my bid to become the first Sports Czar.
Creations: A college football playoff system; a uniform boxing organization; a better trophy for the World Series; championship belts for the defending NBA champs that they must bring to every game; a hierarchy of alcoholic beverages for baseball celebrations (cheap beer, then good beer, then cheap champagne, then good champagne); an NBA expansion team in Seattle, effective for the 2010-11 season; a no-exception three-city rotation for the Super Bowl among New Orleans, Miami and San Diego; a full-length indoor basketball court in the White House, with all games involving Obama televised on NBA TV; a purple Masters-type sports coat for the winning March Madness coach (presented to him by last year's coach as Jim Nantz orgasmically looks on); relegation for Major League Baseball (a 30-team league with the bottom two teams forced to move to Triple-A for a year).
Eliminations: The backstroke, butterfly and breaststroke events in the Olympics; baseball managers cannot wear uniforms anymore; no more seat licenses, NIT or Tony Siragusa; no NFL division champ can make the playoffs unless it wins nine games; no more three-man booths except for Van Gundy, Jackson and Breen; the bullpens can't empty during a baseball fight; no NHL ticket can cost more than $75; no tax write-offs for season tickets, but you CAN write off luxury suites; no more sideline reporters unless they agree to dress like Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman"; no more cell-phone calls by spectators during sporting events (you can only text); no more sunglasses in the World Series of Poker.
Restructures: The NHL will disband eight teams, move a few more to Canada and form 11-team conferences in the United States and Canada; Fox's No. 1 team for baseball broadcasts will be selected in a vote by the users of FoxSports.com; the Nets and Bobcats will merge and move to Vegas next season (and become the Las Vegas Dice); the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Hornets will switch nicknames; Gus Johnson will be promoted to CBS' lead play-by-play guy for March Madness and the Final Four; Buffalo residents can purchase the Bills in a public trust (like how Sconnies own the Packers); all "live" sporting events will be shown live again and not on a brief tape delay, and if anyone out there can't handle hearing an occasional F-bomb, then don't watch live sporting events; a three-game exhibition season for the NFL with two regular-season bye weeks (not one); the entry fee for the WSOP will be raised to $25,000; two rounds for the Home Run Derby and that's it; H-O-R-S-E for NBA All-Star Weekend; ESPN Classic's budget is tripled; the Olympics and World Cup will happen every three years (not four).
New rules: No pregame show will be allowed to have more than four people (except for NBC's "Football Night in America," which will shift to a "Hollywood Squares" format); if you purchase a player's jersey and that player is traded within 12 months, you can return the jersey and buy a new one for half price; incoming college freshman recruits don't have to honor an NCAA scholarship if their sleaze-bag coach ditched them after he signed them; all professional owners either have to sell their team before they turn 80 or before they start looking like a sea monster; a forced agreement where the NFL Network is carried by all cable systems; baseball fans get to vote on the entrance music for their closers; golfers have to carry their own bags for the PGA Championship; the "Real World/Road Rules Challenge" will replace the Australian Open as tennis' fourth major (with the top six male and female tennis players competing against MTV cast members); no more 20/20 flashes on sports radio shows (we move to a 30/30 flash); the U.S. Olympic basketball team cannot have anyone over 25 years old; David Halberstam's "The Breaks of the Game" must be re-released; Chris Rose will be liberated from "The Best Damn Sports Show" and given a better show; Tropicana Field is immediately blown up; Isiah Thomas will replace Donna Orender as the commissioner of the WNBA, effective immediately.
Read My Lip
By Dave McGinn
Everything you ever needed to know about why you should grow a moustache. I'm telling you, after reading this piece, I was walking around the greatest city in the world with an entirely new swagger. Big, tough looking dudes were getting out of my way on the sidewalk. Young punks were opening the door for me at the supermarket. And I'll be damned if all the little girls' souls didn't grow just the least bit weak every time this man-child gave them a double-shot.
Women may not like mustaches, but the 'stache's ability to transform a man is undeniable. I wasn't the only one who noticed this transformation. When my friend Jen mentioned that her boyfriend had recently begun wearing a mustache, I asked if she had noticed any changes in his behaviour. "Yeah," she said. "He's kind of being a jerk."
Thanks to Llibs for the link.
Tribute to the Moustache
By Jill Kitchener
My friend Jill put together a fanstisc little slide show for Reuters in order to help celebrate Movember. You'll notice that just about everyone in this slide show is completely bad-ass. Especially Nick Cave.
A Better Brew
By Burkhard Bilger
From the annals of drinking comes this wildly entertaining look into the world of craft breweries in general and "extreme beers" in particular. This article has it all: drunken elephants trampling villages and electrocuting themselves, catapulting cases of industrial beer (read: Coors Light) into gargantuan toilet sculptures, giant barrels made from Palo Santo, and beer racism (the idea that the darker a beer is, the more impurities it has - wholly untrue... and entirely racist!).
I'm telling you, if you're reading this article on a Friday afternoon in your office, it will be almost impossible not to nip out to the nearest brew pub for a couple pints of the kinds of beers you were previously too afraid to sample. The descriptions of what some of Dogfish Head's beers taste like are simply out of this world. For example, the Palo Santo Marron:
There were hints of tobacco and molasses in it, black cherries and dark chocolate, all interlaced with the wood's spicy resin. It tasted like some ancient elixir that the Inca might have made.
I love the idea of beer being a liquid time capsule (ie, Dogfish's Midas Touch), and the notion that beer can be a valuable substitute for vegetables. But I think my favourite part of the article comes from the closing lines, where Sam Calagione, the founder of Dogfish, expresses a sentiment I've long felt myself:
“Remember what Patrick was saying that day in his office, about how alcohol affects the brain?” he said. I nodded. McGovern had shown us a paper illustrated with scans of animals’ brains. Alcohol’s emotional effect is unusually complex, he had said. It starts out as a stimulant and only later, when you’ve had a lot, becomes a depressant. Calagione laughed. “Does it work that way for you?” he said. “Because it doesn’t for me. I never get around to the depressant part.”
Thanks to Richie for the heads up.