Agent provocateur for our times

Julian Assange resurfaces

The WikiLeaks founder, still under house arrest despite not being charged with a crime, has launched a television interview program called The World Tomorrow.  That prompted The New York Times to take another shot at Assange, while Salon’s Glenn Greenwald rose to his defense.

Judge for yourself. Here is the first show, featuring an interview with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who has not spoken on camera since 2006.

 Good reads

Fast Company takes a look at Steve Jobs during his “wilderness years.”

Jobs matured as a manager and a boss; learned how to make the most of partnerships; found a way to turn his native stubbornness into a productive perseverance. He became a corporate architect, coming to appreciate the scaffolding of a business just as much as the skeletons of real buildings, which always fascinated him. He mastered the art of negotiation by immersing himself in Hollywood, and learned how to successfully manage creative talent, namely the artists at Pixar. Perhaps most important, he developed an astonishing adaptability that was critical to the hit-after-hit-after-hit climb of Apple’s last decade. All this, during a time many remember as his most disappointing.

The New York Times magazine profiles biographer extraordinaire Robert Caro.

Caro’s obsession with power explains a great deal about the nature of his work. For one thing, it accounts in large part for the size and scope of all his books, which Caro thinks of not as conventional biographies but as studies in the working of political power and how it affects both those who have it and those who don’t. Power, or Caro’s understanding of it, also underlies his conception of character and structure. In “The Power Broker,” it’s a drug that an insatiable Moses comes to require in larger and larger doses until it transforms him from an idealist into a monster devoid of human feeling, tearing down neighborhoods, flinging out roadways and plopping down bridges just for their own sake. Running through the Johnson books are what Caro calls “two threads, bright and dark”: the first is his naked, ruthless hunger for power — “power not to improve the lives of others, but to manipulate and dominate them, to bend them to his will” — and the other is the often compassionate use he made of that power. If Caro’s Moses is an operatic character — a city-transforming Faust — his Johnson is a Shakespearean one: Richard III, Lear, Iago and Cassio all rolled into one.

Tax 1, Tax 2 – hike, hike, hike

Jim Heaney of Investigative Post raised questions Monday regarding efforts by the Buffalo Bills to get taxpayers to fund an upgrade of Ralph Wilson Stadium.

How much of a public investment is warranted, given the tax revenues the Bills will generate? To me, this is a key question, as it speaks to the public’s return on investment. The Bills generate whatever-million in sales and income tax revenues, money that would be lost if they leave. An argument can be made that investing all or some of those revenues would represent a good investment of public funds. The question is, what is that number?

How much are the Bills willing to invest? I mean, they just guaranteed Mario Williams $100 million when they signed the free agent, so they have disposable income. TV money is constantly going up. The NFL’s labor contract should help small market teams like Buffalo. The team makes money and continues to grow in value, and the improvements would enable the team to increase ticket prices and otherwise increase revenue.

Bruce Fisher of Artvoice adds his two cents in the current issue of Artvoice:

This annual ($14 million) cash transfer to Ralph Wilson is more than twice what you spend to subsidize the zoo, plus the orchestra, plus the historical and science museums, plus the art galleries and plus 30 or so theaters, dance troupes, bands, and other arts and cultural organizations, none of which is a protected monopoly, and all of whose employees live and pay taxes here in this community. Actually, the football franchise gets almost three times what all those arts and cultural organizations receive from taxpayers combined.

This is how the National Football League likes it. But this arrangement doesn’t happen everywhere the NFL has a franchise. In other markets, owners have to pitch in. In some big places, they and their fans are the ones who actually have to foot their own bills.

Mayhem on the ice

Hockey used to resemble a boxing ring, sometimes still does. But these days, the rink most closely resembles a crime scene.

We’re still in the first round and already eight players have been suspended, double that of the entire 2011 playoffs. Still more could and should have been. Many of the players being targeted are among the game’s top stars.

Here’s a sampling of the outrage, not that all hockey scribes have a problem with what’s going on:

The player in the deepest doo doo is Raffi Torres, who is suspended indefinitely for his brutal hit on Marian Hossa of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Torres stands as one of Darcy Regier’s worst trade deadline acquisitions. Buffalo picked him up in 2010 for Nathan Paetsch and a second-round draft pick. He failed to score in 18 regular season and playoff games. You can look it up.

Check back with us Monday, as we have an exciting announcement to make at some point during the day.