Archive for December, 2010

Letters – Solving the States’ Deficit Problems

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Art direction: Aviva Michaelov

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Unless the advent of time travel reveals itself to us in our present time in the next few hours, the final New York Times’ Letters illustration for 2010 is above—and it concerns an issue that’s been brewing enough for the past few years to safely count on it percolating in 2011. On the state level, many of them (Illinois especially) are running on deficits between overdue payments while sponsoring tax cuts. The letters written in response to the Christmas Day editorial are all roundly angry and understandably so.

As our manic, stymieing, never-once-boring-not-even-for-a-second year of 2010 collapses in on itself like a dying star, a crazy thought: maybe 2011 is a good time to resume paying actual taxes?

Provided that those who have them now remain fortunate enough to continue having jobs?

Happy 2011! (I hope)!

Essay: Blowing Their Own Cover

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The above piece ran in the Book Review with Alex Berenson’s essay on the CIA over Thanksgiving while I was in absentia in Southeast Asia. The essay discusses several memoirs written by past CIA agents which dish with uniformly unflattering remarks about the agency’s bureaucratic policies and resource-squandering. The principal complaint points to a colossal waste of money as well as ‘fetishizing the rituals of tradecraft’ instead of taking actual risk in the interest of gathering useful, productive intelligence. After reading over the essay twice, visualizing this became a matter of red tape or bust. Mercifully, the Times agreed with the approach.

As an aside, it was no small satisfaction to find a copy of the paper close to a full week after its publication while staggering jetlagged beyond reproach through the Hong Kong airport while waiting for our connecting flight back to New York. As signals of homecoming go, in lieu of a working teleportation device, I was very happy to settle for the newspaper instead.

Art direction: Nicholas Blechman.

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