May 31, 2010

Mexican pirates & Russian accents

The tone of Sunday's Washington Post front page, despite military and drug cartel emphasis, was fun. Fun doesn't always win, but this weekend it does. I'll playfully mock the Times for being so maniacal about delivering serious news about BP and the sneaky dealings of the salt industry.

From the Post:

Veteran learns to sweat the small stuff
Here, a ruler is almost as important as a rifle. Everything must be in its place -- medals half an inch above the breast pocket, U.S. insignia one inch from the lapel edge, buckle two inches from the belt loop. Nothing in the constellation of the many decorations on Pata's uniform may be outside a one-sixteenth-of-an-inch margin of error -- two tiny tick marks on the inspector's ruler, about the width of this o. Anything more and Pata gets what the Old Guard calls a gig. Three gigs and you fail.
Mexican pirates get hooks into Texas
There is a saying about not messing with Texas, and the idea that criminals are preying on American anglers is raising already-high temperatures along the southwest border


The traffickers cross day and night, driving boats with bales of marijuana right into the backyards of homes along the lake. They rent cabins at the lakeside state park and stash dope there. The border agents point to a three-story house built like a watchtower on the Mexican shore. The officers frequently see observers with binoculars on the roof. Up and down the lake, netting boats are idled. Nobody waves.
I really like the visuals this story invokes. The Wild West imagery comes out pretty naturally, and the "local color" elements and the detail about the binoculars in the three-story Mexican-side tower really make me want to go see the situation for myself.

It all sounds foreign to her
Some people fall on their heads and wake up with their memory wiped out. A few revive with their personality totally changed. Others die. Robin Jenks Vanderlip fell down a stairwell, smacked her head and woke up speaking with a Russian accent.
Reviewing the links that I've pulled from the Times reminds me to mention that they put out an important and fun paper as well. I've really taken a liking to the Week in Review and Sunday Styles sections. And the visual components of the Times are gaining my esteem as I select stories and photos and layouts that will later be used in some handmade books.

The Hard Sell on Salt
But the [salt] industry is working overtly and behind the scenes to fend off these attacks, using a shifting set of tactics that have defeated similar efforts for 30 years, records and interviews show. Industry insiders call the strategy “delay and divert” and say companies have a powerful incentive to fight back: they crave salt as a low-cost way to create tastes and textures. Doing without it risks losing customers, and replacing it with more expensive ingredients risks losing profits.


As a demonstration, Kellogg prepared some of its biggest sellers with most of the salt removed. The Cheez-It fell apart in surprising ways. The golden yellow hue faded. The crackers became sticky when chewed, and the mash packed onto the teeth. The taste was not merely bland but medicinal.
Necessary Secrets (book review)
Schoenfeld is at his best when discussing this controversial genre — secrets whose disclosure would, in the view of the government, endanger national security, but whose disclosure, in the view of the press, might ultimately serve the national interest. The real issue is not whether such secrets should be published, [but] who should be entrusted to make this real-time decision.
"So" as the new "um"
“So” may be the new “well,” “um,” “oh” and “like.” No longer content to lurk in the middle of sentences, it has jumped to the beginning, where it can portend many things: transition, certitude, logic, attentiveness, a major insight.

DateWinnerReason Picks
2/21Times n/a n/a
2/28WaPo sharp A1 FBI and drones; Times ditch-senior-year story
3/7Times landslide basketballs, Axelrod
3/14 Times
A1; lively
Frumin, drug killings, femivores; WaPo FOX
3/21 -draw-
WaPo's A1 vs. Times misc.
Panetta; Times Greenberg baseball story
3/28 WSJ
Strong WSJ A1
WSJ: Divided by kindness; Times was so-so
4/4Timeshonestly, the sports section
tit-for-tat coverage ... Chavez ... gangs
Post & Times
Poles vs. 'Old Man Crew'
Journal & Times
Hasids v. Hipsters, states, fleeing violence



5/16TimesGeneral excellenceSpying, Preakness, 311

5/30WaPoInterestingnessMexican pirates get hooks into Texas; "So" as the new "um"

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