OFF THE GRID

Can Books Be Saved?

Aug 9, 10 | 7:45 AM   byMichael Wolff

No more books. That’s it. Barnes & Noble is on the verge of being sold for scrap and everybody—great pontificating futurist Nicholas Negroponte among them—is pronouncing the end of paper, printing, and binding. So what about the books that already exist—I’ve got five or six thousand of them? And what about the form, I mean literature, what happens to it—the page-after-page-ness of it—when it morphs into digital plasticity and connectedness? One curious thing about books is how long the form has existed without—at least since moveable...
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I Mean Where’s the Oil?

Aug 6, 10 | 7:45 AM   byMichael Wolff

Nowhere. Just broke up. Disappeared. Dissolved. Dispersed. Puff. “The vast majority of it,” according to Carol Browner, the White House energy and climate adviser, in what must seem as confounding and amazing and heaven sent to the White House as it does to us, “is gone.” The scientists are apoplectic, but, on the other hand, can’t find the oil either. Still, they believe it’s there: “50% to 75% of the material that came out of the well is still in the water,” said John Kessler of Texas A&M University, who led an on-site study. “It’s...
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Every Day Sarah Palin Gets Closer to Being President

Aug 5, 10 | 7:15 AM   byMichael Wolff

Sarah Palin’s going to run for president. She is running. Hers is the most long-term dedicated campaign since Ronald Reagan left the governorship of California in 1975 and became a full-time presidential aspirant. Notably, the very act of running doesn’t cost her resources, but creates resources for her. She’s self-sustaining. Every day her organization builds and her reach expands. The more she runs the more inevitable she is. In a nutshell, the system, meant to filter out the oddballs, has allowed one in. Never before has someone so outside the mainstream...
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The President Is Playing War Games

Aug 4, 10 | 7:41 AM   byMichael Wolff

Is it my imagination, or does the president seem less than sincere and quite to be holding his nose as he manages—not too competently—a task, our continuing war efforts, for which he has little heart or aptitude? Now, in theory, he once had heart for getting us out of Iraq—and, indeed, he’s now claiming that’s what he’s accomplished. By the end of the month, the 144,000 troops there when he began his term 18 months ago will be down to 50,000. So why does this feel less like progress and more like a ploy? He’s claiming victory, of course. But, confusingly,...
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The Ground Zero Mosque: What’s It Mean to You?

Aug 3, 10 | 7:08 AM   byMichael Wolff

How do you really feel about it? Perhaps you’re a dedicated multi-cultural-respecting liberal who believes the Ground Zero mosque represents progress and, even, righteousness. You might be stoutly civic-minded and regard the mosque as a reasonable and fair-minded part of the reconstruction of the neighborhood. Or an ordinary, not-too-aligned, middle-of-the-roader who feels it is sensible not to dwell too much on the issue. You might be unsettled by it, even vaguely creeped out, but too polite or acculturated to want to make a fight of it. Or you could be against it because...
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Bedbugs Are Coming to Get You

Aug 2, 10 | 7:41 AM   byMichael Wolff

I have lived through the breakdown of law and order, the crack epidemic, suburban flight, financial meltdowns (several), blackouts, riots, gentrification, and real estate booms and busts (several), all of which have seemed to threaten New York’s way of life. But perhaps not as much as bedbugs. It may be the nature of the alliteration, or the cuteness of the nursery rhyme, that makes it hard to discuss bedbugs as a profound urban crisis. It is perhaps the nature of New York: Sure, bedbugs are a growing bother, and there’s a certain schadenfreude that they’ve made it into a...
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Charlie Rangel Never Had a Chance

Jul 30, 10 | 7:41 AM   byMichael Wolff

Politics is as much about ignominy as about winning. Many careers have both experiences. Charlie Rangel, one of the most successful political figures of his generation in New York, is now, in the Washington Post’s estimation, a “pariah.” He’s a pariah partly because—quite unable to believe he is no longer a man of far-reaching influence, a fixer of legendary power—he has down to the wire refused to get out of the way of Democratic efforts to get him out of the way. In the end, his minor entitlements (a collection of rent-controlled apartments),...
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Honk if You Just Can’t Get Enough of Chelsea and Marc

Jul 29, 10 | 7:52 AM   byMichael Wolff

Presidential children’s weddings are, in modern history, terrifically ho-hum affairs. Sometimes the presidents in question seem to seek attention for their daughters (never particularly for their sons), but it is seldom given. The Nixon daughters' weddings were particular examples of their father trying to muster some reverence and awe and getting a lot of rude jokes instead. Harry Truman couldn’t get much respect for his daughter Margaret. The Johnsons fell flat with Lucy and Linda. Amy Carter, if memory serves, got married uneventfully. The Bush twin wedding hardly caused a ripple....
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Can WikiLeaks End the War?

Jul 28, 10 | 7:43 AM   byMichael Wolff

WikiLeaks and the three publications it chose to publish the Afghanistan reports—the New York Times, the Guardian, and Der Spiegel—are taking the position that they’ve revealed the smoking gun that must necessarily transform the course of the war. The White House and the news outlets not privy to the documents, still not quite sure what’s hit them, are scoffing—or fumfering. The Washington Post—its hurt status showing—went into contortions to minimize the effect of the report. Even its headline—“WikiLeaks...
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Can WikiLeaks Save Journalism?

Jul 27, 10 | 7:44 AM   byMichael Wolff

The WikiLeaks papers remake the journalism world. For one, they kick the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal out of the circle of world’s best print journalism organizations. The Post loses this position because of how it has been shrinking itself down to a more economic size and abandoning its national standing (curiously, the Pentagon Papers leak, 40 years ago, represented the Post’s bid for national standing). The Journal loses this position because of Rupert Murdoch. It would have been a telling test if Julian Assange,...
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OFF THE GRID is about why the news is the news. Here are the real motivations of both media and newsmakers. Here's the backstory. This is a look at the inner workings of desperate media, the inner life of the publicity crazed, and the true meaning of the news of the day.