Monday, March 06, 2006

Short Takes

On the Oscars: Responding to Three 6 Mafia’s winning the Academy Award for best song, Steven Levitt, University of Chicago Economics Professor and author of Freakonomics, announces he’s going to find out if it really is hard out there for a pimp. Responding to critics, Levitt said, “I think we’ve got the right data sets, so back up off me!”

On higher education: John Tierney and David Brooks of the New York Times launch a petition campaign to reinstate Harvard President Larry Summers. The petition also calls for replacing the Harvard Arts and Sciences faculty with Times columnists and for abolishing nationwide all forms of job security for anyone earning less than $500,000 annually.

On Katrina: The Wall Street Journal, after insisting that pre-storm briefings provided to President Bush warned only that the levees would be overtopped and not breached, observed that everyone knows that for Bush “it’s all a matter of details and semantics. He’s always looking for the fine print and nuance.” To prove its point the Journal recalled Bush’s response to the pre-9/11 daily intelligence briefing titled “Bin Laden Determined to Attack inside US.” Reportedly Bush told those around him, “This only tells us about Bin Laden’s state of mind. He’s a determined guy. Hell, I’m a determined guy, and I’m not about to do anything. Get back to me when you’ve got something concrete.” Returning to the highlights of Bush’s Katrina response, the Journal wrote, “And finally, it takes a truly unique individual to make Michael Brown look like a capable public servant.”

On books: C-Span books will discuss Michael Eric Dyson’s latest release, Is Mrs. Wimberly Right? Dyson explains that Wimberly was the seventh-grade teacher who told him he’d never amount to anything if he didn’t learn to think before he talked.” The subtitle of Dyson’s book is: “Or is knowledge overrated?”

On the polls: After looking at his 34% approval rating in the wake of his efforts to sell authority for US ports to the highest bidder, to sell high-level government posts to campaign contributors, to sell Social Security up the river, and to sell an illegal and increasingly unpopular war to the American public, President Bush is heard to mutter, “It is hard out here for a pimp.”