Todd Purdum argues that President Obama’s isolation from the rest of Washington, D.C., has made him less effective as a politician over the last five years:
Obama is far from the first president—or the first suddenly world-famous figure—to keep his own counsel or to rely on the tightest possible circle of longtime advisers and old, close friends. More than 20 years ago, when Mario Cuomo was seen as the Democratic Party’s best hope for taking the White House, one knowledgeable New Yorker assured me that Cuomo would never run, because he could never bring himself to trust the number of people required to undertake an effective campaign. In February 2007, the week Obama declared his candidacy, his confidante Valerie Jarrett told me that she had warned him at a backyard barbecue in Chicago the previous fall, when his book tour for The Audacity of Hope was morphing into a presidential campaign, “You’ll never make any new friends.” Obama has since worked overtime to prove the prescience of Jarrett’s view.
PUBLISHED: Nov. 10, 2013
LENGTH: 12 minutes (3042 words)
Condé Nast executives, editors, designers and writers look back on the 1983 relaunch of Vanity Fair, which originally stopped publishing in 1936 and had been folded into Vogue:
As word leaked out that the company was pumping more than $10 million into the magazine, the sniping began. An enterprising Chicago Tribune reporter tracked down Clare Boothe Luce, who had been a V.F. managing editor in the 30s, and asked her what she made of the relaunch. “I do wish the new magazine could be as wonderful as the old,” she said, “but I don’t see how it can.” New York magazine also weighed in, long before the debut, with a skeptical piece reporting that Locke’s job was in jeopardy. Newsweek joined the fun, too, calling the prototype “aggressively ugly” and averring that there was an “uncertainty about Vanity Fair’s editorial focus.”
PUBLISHED: Oct. 15, 2013
LENGTH: 31 minutes (7759 words)
A profile of hip hop star Jay Z, who discusses his newly formed sports management venture and dispels rumors about his personal life:
"During our talk at Jungle studios, Jay said the sports agency 'just evolved. All the athletes came through New York, came to the 40/40; we’d give them advice and we’d put them with great people. I was like, Where are your agents? And—this is a real quote—one of those guys said to me, "I haven’t seen my agent since I signed my contract, seven years ago." Or a guy’s mother says she’s never even met the agent. In some cases they go through the family, but then again, it’s like: go through the family, charm the mother, tell her stuff … get him a car, and then … gone. Actually hoping to get fired so they can collect on the contract. This attitude that if you do one thing well you can’t do something else well is paralyzing for some people—but not for me. If people think that I only make music, they’re underestimating me. I’ve been a successful businessman my whole career. I can do more than one thing at one time. I can walk and chew gum.'"
PUBLISHED: Oct. 14, 2013
LENGTH: 30 minutes (7519 words)
The writer talks to teenage girls and boys to get an understanding of the effect that social media and dating apps have had on teens and their views on sex:
"'The thing with social media is, if a guy doesn’t respond to you or doesn’t, like, stalk you back, then you’re gonna feel rejected,' said Melissa.
"'And rejection hurts,' said Padma.
"'And then you’re gonna go, like, look for another person to fill that void and you’re gonna move on to stalking someone else,' Melissa said.
"'That’s how men become such whores,' said Greta."
PUBLISHED: Sept. 26, 2013
LENGTH: 27 minutes (6949 words)
From Deep Throat to Thomas Drake: Julia Wick selects five classic stories from The New York Times, Mother Jones, Vanity Fair and more.
Our favorite stories of the week, featuring GQ, The New York Times, Gawker, Aeon, and Vanity Fair with a guest pick by Jessica Lussenhop.
Programmer Sergey Aleynikov was sentenced to eight years in federal prison for downloading 8 megabytes of code he worked on from Goldman Sachs's high-frequency stock-trading system. Financial journalist Michael Lewis investigates how Aleynikov was punished for something only a few people understand, and holds a "kind of second trial" for Aleynikov so he can be judged by some people who actually do:
"The story the F.B.I. found so unconvincing—that Serge had taken the files because he thought he might later like to parse the open-source code contained within—made complete sense to the new jurors. As Goldman hadn’t permitted him to release his debugged or improved code back to the public—possibly in violation of the original free licenses, which often stated that improvements must be publicly shared—the only way to get his hands on these was to take the Goldman code. That he had taken, in the bargain, some code that wasn’t open source, which happened to be contained in the same files as the open-source code, surprised no one. Grabbing a bunch of files that contained both open-source and non-open-source code was an efficient, quick, and dirty way to collect the open-source code, even if the open-source code was the only part that interested him. It would have made far less sense for him to hunt around the Internet for the open-source code he wanted, as it was scattered all over cyberspace. It was entirely plausible to them that Serge’s interest was confined to the open-source code because that was the general-purpose code that might be re-purposed later. The Goldman proprietary code was written specifically for Goldman’s platform; it would have been of little use in any new system he wished to build. (Two small pieces of code Serge had sent into Teza’s computers before his arrest both came with open-source licenses.) 'Even if he had taken Goldman’s whole platform, it would have been faster and better for him to write the new platform himself,' said one juror. Several times he surprised them with his answers."
PUBLISHED: Aug. 2, 2013
LENGTH: 46 minutes (11593 words)
According to a lawsuit, Harper Lee's agent Samuel Pinkus duped the To Kill a Mockingbird author to assign him the copyright to her only book. An investigation into Lee's fight to regain the book's copyright, which continues to earn millions of dollars in royalties:
"His first move was to obtain the copyright to To Kill a Mockingbird, which he did on May 5, 2007, 'as part of a scheme to secure to himself an irrevocable interest in the income stream from Harper Lee’s copyright and to avoid his legal obligations to M&O under the arbitration decision,' Lee’s lawsuit contends. 'Pinkus knew that Harper Lee was an elderly woman with physical infirmities that made it difficult for her to read and see. He also knew that Harper Lee and her sister (and lawyer) relied on and trusted him. Pinkus abused that trust and took advantage of Harper Lee’s physical condition and years of trust built at M&O to engineer the assignment of her copyright in a document that did not even ensure her a contractual right to income.'
"Once Lee signed over her copyright to Pinkus, whether with or without her knowledge, he had the authority to do with her book whatever he pleased. 'Once the copyright is assigned, you stop being an agent and become the principal,' Eric Brown, a publishing-law attorney, told me. 'This applies to all media. As the owner of the copyright in the book, you can make whatever deals you want. You are now Harper Lee.'"
PUBLISHED: July 22, 2013
LENGTH: 32 minutes (8114 words)