Reuters blog archive
from The Great Debate:
An unreliable narrator cannot be trusted.
He comes in many guises. There is the delusional unreliable narrator, like Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye, unaware of how the reader and the other characters perceive him. There is the mad narrator, as in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. There are the unreliable narrators who lie to themselves to make the unreality appear real. Middle-aged professor Humbert Humbert in Lolita famously lies to the jury and to himself, believing his sexual affair with the drastically under-aged Lolita is not criminal. Yet Vladimir Nabokov, the author, gives a wink to the reader: We know the protagonist is not being honest with himself.
These characters are coming undone — the reader slowly notices fissures in their thinking, which clue us in that these narrators are living in an alternative universe. Then there is the more subtle unreliable. Nick Carraway, who narrates The Great Gatsby, is not to be trusted because of the way he chooses to tell his story. From the first word he is hiding the real story from the reader.
As with most linear storylines, the narrator knows far more than the reader, and Carraway’s is no different. From the first word, he is hiding the story of Jay Gatsby, a notorious unreliable, from the reader — the way Gatsby holds his identity from Nick.
Unreliables in the 20th century have become scary, baleful. They reach far beyond the page: They pass legislation; they determine budgets, dole out or cut benefits. The Democrats and the Republicans each have their own narratives.
from The Great Debate:
Two tough issues — immigration reform and gun control. “It won’t be easy,” President Barack Obama said about gun control in December, “but that’s no excuse not to try.” Tuesday, he said about immigration reform: “The closer we get, the more emotional this debate is going to become.”
Which does he stand a better chance of winning? Answer: immigration. On immigration, Obama has Democrats strongly behind him. Republicans are divided — and freaked out by the issue. On guns, he’s got Republicans strongly against him. Democrats are divided — and freaked out by the issue.
from David Rohde:
Jacqueline Pattison is giving Mayor Mike Bloomberg one more day. So far, she has been impressed by New York City's response to Hurricane Sandy. Along with millions of other New Yorkers, she is patiently enduring the lack of electricity, tortuous commute and a deep sense of uncertainty.
But if electricity does not return to her apartment a few blocks north of the World Trade Center soon, she will have lost faith in her government.
By Martin Hutchinson
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
New York City needs Mayor Michael Bloomberg to seek counsel from the billionaire financier Michael Bloomberg. Privatizing some 90,000 parking spaces, an idea the city is considering, could raise billions of dollars to head off looming budget deficits. But other similar deals have sacrificed long-term revenue for short-term relief. Political expediency should take a backseat in the Big Apple. A joint venture would work better.
Quick fixes can be hazardous. Chicago’s Mayor Richard Daley, for example, sold 75 years worth of parking revenue for almost $1.2 billion in 2008. Though the city has retained the right to set rates, annual revenue has nearly quadrupled, to $80 million, mostly under new management, between 2007 and 2011. The arrangement balanced the city’s budget in Daley’s last year in office but has been very unpopular because of the results.
from Emanuel Derman:
I am impaled on the horns of a dilemma.
Mayor Bloomberg telling me I can't smoke a cigar in Central Park
I think everyone should be treated as equally (as though he or she were) grown-up.
And yet …
I find myself liking the fact that they are going to outlaw 640z sodas in NYC.
I hate seeing people drink those things. I wish I knew how to find a principled yet nuanced way of both defending my right to stupidly smoke and simultaneously preventing people from drinking 64oz sodas, trashcan-size movie popcorns, Carnegie Deli sandwiches, lousy-restaurant-size bowls of pasta, 30 oz. steaks and all the other gross disgusting unnecessarily large things that often pass for food here. This isn't pure snobbery; some of these things, especially the steaks and pasta, sell in classy restaurants too.
from Geraldine Fabrikant:
By Geraldine Fabrikant
The opinions expressed are her own.
Last spring, several months after Steven Rattner, a cofounder of the private equity firm Quadrangle Partners, settled separate charges totaling $16.2 million that related to a kickback scheme involving New York state pension funds, he hosted a dinner at his sprawling upper east side co-op overlooking New York’s Central Park.
Always an avid courtier of the media, among the guests that night were Charlie Rose, Financial Times U.S. managing editor Gillian Tett, journalists Alexis Gelber and Mark Whitaker and literary agent Amanda Urban as well as Rattner’s friend and champion Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
from The Great Debate:
By Joyce Purnick
The views expressed are her own.
The Occupy Wall Street movement has been a headache for mayors around the country. For Michael Bloomberg of New York, the encampment-like protest in a privately-owned park in lower Manhattan was more like a chronic migraine.
It would not go away, and despite some false starts, Bloomberg could not, or would not, stop it for weeks on end. In the interim, his reputation suffered. Even the New York Post, otherwise devoted to Bloomberg, admonished him for his attack of indecision.
from Michele Gershberg:
When it comes to disaster planning, it pays to be a pessimist. This may be one of the biggest legacies from the last decade’s catastrophic events, from the September 11 attacks on New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and Japan’s earthquake-driven nuclear disaster. While a healthy, rational temperament may eschew worst-case scenarios, public officials will need to take an increasingly vigilant stance to save lives when the next major catastrophe strikes.
That view is shared by people like Dr. Jennifer Leaning, an expert in early response efforts to war and disaster at the Harvard School of Public Health. Most major disasters, she argues, have a significant element of the predictable to them and there can be little excuse for those who fail to think them through. Hurricanes and other storms will only do more damage to cities and towns that are more densely populated than ever. Earthquakes can shake the very core of nuclear reactors. And when struck hard enough, by men instead of the elements, the Twin Towers did fall.
from Tales from the Trail:
Republican Senator John McCain, who lost to Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, made clear that he doesn't see Donald Trump as a serious candidate for 2012.
"I think Mr. Trump is having a lot of fun and it's pretty clear he enjoys the limelight. We have very serious candidates. And I think that, if Mr. Trump wants to run, he's welcome to run," McCain said on CBS' "Face the Nation."
from Tales from the Trail:
Republican celebrity, best-selling author, reality TV star and self-proclaimed mama grizzly Sarah Palin is thinking about adding another title to her ever-growing resume: U.S. president.
Not exactly news, except that the forthcoming issue of the New York Times Magazine says she's now thinking seriously, right down to the need for new advisers and the means to prove herself on the issues.