Friends who have known me for some time are familiar with Bear Day. It’s an idea I had several years ago – and for which I often advocate, sometimes with the inspiration of beverage, and often during the summer tourist season.
The idea is pretty simple: Once a year, before sunrise on a foreordained day, several dozen live bears are gathered up and let loose on the city streets. From dawn to dawn they can roam unfettered. Citizens are not allowed to shoot the bears, although they may engage them in manual combat, if it is their wont (or last hope).
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So where the !@#$ do I park my chopper: Indian kajillionaires Mukesh and Anil Ambani can’t build private helipads on their Mumbai mansions, due to a government order. The two men, estimated to be worth a combined $42 billion, recently ended a long-running feud with an agreement to share their family’s natural gas wealth. All that money, and they still have to look for helicopter parking like a peasant. So sad.
When genius fails: John Paulson, the hedge fund manager who made $20 billion betting that you and everyone you know will lose your homes, is down nearly 9% this year. Silver lining: turns out million-dollar bills are great for drying tears.
You can’t go home again: Billionaire accused fraudster Allan Stanford won’t get to leave prison before his trial, a judge ruled. The evidently snarky U.S. District Judge David Hittner wrote that although Houston’s federal pen is “much less ‘posh’ than Stanford prefers, there is no evidence that it is so burdensome as to impede his ability to prepare for trial.” Meanwhile, his ex-girlfriend/ex-employee isn’t having an easy time of it: she’s reportedly been barred from visiting Stanford in prison, she wasn’t allowed to retrieve belongings she left on his yacht before it was claimed by the government, and the lawyer hired to recover Stanford’s allegedly ill-gotten assets has targeted over a half-million dollars in wages Stanford paid her.
Man walking down 13th St. in 100-degree heat: “Damn, I shoulda had a V-8. Now I know what they talkin’ bout!”
Am I the only one who struggles to grok Washington Post infographics?
(Yes, I’m wearing my grumpy old man hat this morning.) This chart accompanying today’s insightful piece by Paul Kane and T.W. Farnham is a case in point. I stared at it for a good two minutes trying to understand what it was supposed to illustrate. I’m staring at it again now. And I still can’t tell you.
Of course, a smart-aleck would point to the captions and say, “doesn’t it illustrate that New Yorkers are cutting back their donations to Democrats, while Texans are giving more to Republicans?”
And the answer is yes, it does show that. But it shows a lot of other data also, none of which gives a clear picture of anything. Big circles, little circles, circles within circles, circles around circles… It might be useful to a historian of political fundraising, or a party strategist, but to a man of average intelligence and context (I optimistically put myself in that category), it looks like pretty raindrops. For the rest of us, those captions would probably be better off without the accompanying chart, which only makes our eyes water.
The sad thing is, good infographics can sometimes tell a story better than a well-written article. The New York Times excels at this. Even some blogs have done well — my favorite recent example is this chart from Talking Points Memo, showing the many iterations of BP’s “evolving” estimates of oil leakage in the Gulf of Mexico.
The world is becoming more image-oriented by the day, so telling stories through graphics is becoming increasingly vital for any news org. So why doesn’t the Post get it right?
“Dental Expert.” It is what it sounds like. Free today on iTunes. Don’t hurt yourself rushing for the “download now” button.
Meridian Pint opened in Columbia Heights last night. Great beer, good crowd, friendly staff, pool! And great onion rings, I’m told, though I didn’t try them myself. Check it out.
…Which D.C. restaurant did Mikhail Semenko use to slip intel to his Russian handler?
The Justice Department complaint says that on June 5th, Semenko — one of the 11 alleged Russian “deep cover” spies arrested by FBI agents this week — took a seat at a Washington, D.C. restaurant, and waited to transmit secret data to his Russian handler.
But prosecutors do not name the restaurant, and give only one clue to its identity: It has a parking lot. That’s where, according to the prosecutors, Semenko’s Russian handler, a diplomat, stopped his car for 20 minutes, and then drove away again. (Prosecutors say the diplomat had with him a wireless device that pulled signals being sent from Semenko’s computer.)
So which restaurant was it? We really need to know — Washington hasn’t had a good spy-friendly joint since Pied de Cochon in Georgetown became a Five Guys. (Pied de Cochon was where KGB spy Vitaly Yurchenko slipped his US handlers by crawling out the bathroom window, whereupon he redefected to the Soviet Union.)
For overnight fans of this spy caper, the complaint offers at least two other landmarks: One, the corner of 10th an H Streets NW (see map), where an FBI undercover agent posing as a Russian handler allegedly arranged to meet Semenko on June 26. (It was a daring spot for a Russian spy to meet, being a stone’s throw from both FBI and Secret Service headquarters.)
The other is a nearby park — whose exact location isn’t given — to which Semenko and the undercover agent walked after meeting up. The closest large park is Franklin Park, though there are smaller patches of greenery in the vicinity.
A final note on the location of the restaurant: Associated Press reported it was “blocks from the White House,” but that seems unlikely, for two reasons: first, how many restaurants mere blocks from the White House feature their own parking lot? Second, the reporter cites no authority for the characterization, which suggests he extrapolated it (incorrectly) from the complaint. But who knows.