Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bad News for Messy Moms

I can't stop thinking about the Emily Bazelon article in Slate I skimmed yesterday. In it, she describes a study that showed moms who are orderly do a better job of encouraging reading than do moms who are messy. She might have said something different or more nuanced than that, but I couldn't really take the specifics so I didn't read closely. I mean, I know my kids are supposed to have a bedtime routine (they do); I know their days are supposed to be consistent (they pretty much are); I know they need routine and continuity since they have no sense of time and never know what to expect. But does my house have to be neat all the time, too? And what about my husband? Why is it just messy moms that disoragnize the highly impressionable minds of small children? It's just relentless all this stuff I'm supposed to be as a parent -- patient! home baking! organized! And then what about that whole messy-is-creative thing I read about in the Times a while back. Turns out it's from 2006 and I still haven't forgotten! And I just skimmed that, too! Because you know what that article says? That article says if you've got a messy closet, you're probably a better parent. I think.

Of course one of the best parents I know has a closet so organized everything in it is labeled. I mean, containers with q-tips and band aids are labeled. It's astonishing. And her kids love to read and do art projects. Oh dear. I've got to go find a label machine. I know I read about those somewhere.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Books I Won't Read

Over at A Life Divided, Sue Dickman started a discussion about books she won't read. Today, on my table in the library, there was a book. Its title? Back to Kant. I promise you, I will never, not ever, ever, ever read that book.

The Budget. What do I know?

Really, I can't say a thing about the budget. But, I like what Sullivan said this morning about Obama and its presentation.

How Great Is This Headline?

I've yet to read the article (I'm an hour and a half late this morning), but the headline Obama's Budget Sweeps Away Reagan Ideas and then the lede, why, they made my heart skip a beat.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Achilles Heel (Top Chef Spoiler Alert)

Last week when I read the (incredibly boring) profile of Ian McEwan in The New Yorker (which doesn't seem to be online), I was struck by one anecdote. In it, McEwan gives his just completed first novel to Philip Roth. McEwan goes to Roth's to discuss the book (Roth was living in London at the time). He arrives and Roth, who has spread out the entire manuscript on the floor, announces (I'm paraphrasing all quotes): "The first half until the parents die is brilliant. After that, all hell should break out." To which McEwan then responded along the lines of: "That would make the novel a better one than I've written, but it would also make it a Philip Roth novel."

How I wish that Carla had had a chance to read that anecdote before the Top Chef finale. Maybe it would have scratched the back of her brain. Maybe it, along with the memory of her failure to take control of the cake in the restaurant challenge, would have come together and empowered her, finally, to say NO. And what was up with Casey being so smug and sous-vide and souffle? It wasn't her finale. It was Carla's, and I'm sorry Carla was the one to choke this year. Someone needs to tell her that competing with love doesn't mean agreeing to everything. And honestly, Hosea winning? Yuk. Stefan may be a jerk, but at least he's got an actual personality.

(PS. Skillet Doux has the right take on Hosea's win, although I still don't feel sorry for him.)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Then There's Mark Halperin

After this, I'm not going to write about last night's speech anymore. But I did like this list, thanks to my husband David for telling me about it.

Other People Respond

OK. So here's a round-up of responses to Obama's speech from Sullivan. Conservatives are well-represented and I guess important to read. The one that really makes my head explode is Russell Roberts who describes those making less than $250K as "getting all the goodies" while those making more, and especially the top one percent, paying for it all. And you know what I say? I say, Puh-Lease. Those guys in the top one percent: Do they drive their cars over bridges, through tunnels and on highways? Do they travel on American passports? Do they live on the power grid? Do they like the safety and security of their food chain and pharmaceutical drug systems? Do they remember what happened during the 1995 government shut down led by Newt Gingrich & Co.? I mean, people couldn't see the Vermeer exhibit at the National Galleries! All this to say that people in the top one percent tax bracket get plenty of goodies, and, really, I don't believe for a second that most of those at the top, at the tippy top of that bracket pay all that much, proportionally speaking, in taxes.

Goodies my A%$@#*&. It's time for rich people to pay some taxes and pay attention to the common good.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The It's Not the State of the Union Speech

That just rocked, right? I just love President Obama. And - do I have to say it? -- I remain so deeply and profoundly glad that wasn't John McCain giving that speech. So glad.

On the Express

Today, when I was on the express with my son, two young men got on and played a nice arrangement on congo drums. When they were done, they asked for money, sure, but they also asked for recognition. "We take any kind of support," one said, "Words, smiles...just don't ignore us." He was right, this man, to ask for recognition, because, let's face it, it's harder to give eye contact than a dollar. "Please take the money and go," I sometimes say to myself, and then mostly I force myself to look at the person I'm giving money to -- but I don't always succeed. Sometimes it's too hard to look, or too easy to look away. The drum-man today reminded me that recognition is a simple act and one I need to try to offer all the time. Because local or express, looking away just won't do.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Full Disclosure

I got a little weepy when Kate Winslet won. I know, it's so lame, and these awards make no sense, but still.....I'm such a softie that way.


Yesterday, I read in The New York Times that Wall Streeters fear if compensation is limited just a brain drain will result. The quote: "The sharpest financial minds will up and quit, the argument goes, and take their smarts with them at the very moment they’re needed to re-engineer their companies and restart the economy."

After reading the article I felt compelled to state the obvious, so forgive me, but here it is, my obvious:
1) Where are they going to go?
2) And, seriously, do these guys not get out of bed for less than a million dollars a year?
3) But then again, weren't these the bright lights that caused the financial crisis in the first place?
4) Also, wouldn't it be good for the world if smart people (not that they were so smart not to be fooled by their own arrogance) did things other than try to pretend like they know how to make a lot of money? Couldn't all that creativity be usefully applied elsewhere?
5) WTF?

OK. So I've had my little know-it-all-let-me-wag-my-finger-fest. Now, I want to get serious because what these guys did, the hubris with which they acted and the selfish demands they are now making have real and irrevocable consequences for hundreds of thousands of people. For the human face of the foreclosure nightmare, there's George Packer's piece in the February 9-16 New Yorker. (You have to register to read it online.)

After describing the craziness of the Florida real estate world, the political shortsightedness of the state, its boom psychology and the consequences of job losses and foreclosure on many, Packer gets to the Hartzells. They are a hard-working, blue-collar family of four living in a small apartment and relying solely on each other for emotional support through the trials of unemployment and threatened homelessness, Packer writes:

"Dan knew that his plight was the result of rising unemployment in a bad economy that was shedding jobs. In Hillsborough County, forty-eight thousand people had no work. And yet, in pondering the causes of his trouble, Dan couldn't avoid the feeling that the world had singled him out for some terrible payback, that it must have been his fault, that the failure was his alone and he had no right to anyone else's help. It occurred to me that this was an attitude that no senior figure on Wall Street had adopted."

Packer is right. Shame on them.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Problem with Gwyneth

Apparently, people don't really like Gwyneth Paltrow plying herself as a new-age lifestyle guru (cookbook, gym, web site called goop, TV show with Mario Batali), and this makes some people scratch their heads. Why not a Gwyneth cookbook when there's a Madonna children's book (or two). But, this doesn't surprise me. The New York Times article charting this phenomenon is all mystified, "Maybe we just like her too much as a nice to-the-manor-born Upper East Sider." Or maybe when you're born to the manor you shouldn't try to tell other people how to get there (even if there is a crystal new age interior castle built by yoga).

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Cake Bible

Someone just gave me a copy of this classic -- a surprise gift -- and I'm so happy! My 40s may be all about cakes.

The Violent Right

Sullivan predicts it. He's probably right, and if so I too hope we're prepared because the biggest terror threat could now be brewing within.

J.Warner is Right

I'm not always the biggest Judith Warner fan (see here), but this blog post about lack of access to mental health care for children with serious illnesses is significant and devastating. The quote:

"Their example (the one set by family in Nebraska who dropped of teens in safe haven programs so they could get care) also serves as a necessary corrective to the popular view that children being labeled mentally ill today are just spirited “Tom Sawyers” who don’t fit our society’s cookie-cutter norms, with parents who are desperate to drug them into conformity."

There's a lot to say here about how we think about illness and what's public and what's private and how to ask for help and what it means to be "OK" and how that's shaped by class and education and general expectations of life. A blog post isn't the place to say any of it (at least not for me this morning), but Warner's post got me thinking, and shining some light on the pain that children (who can't vote and so are an under-served constituency) can suffer because their families are supposed to do it all and they're supposed to grow up and out of whatever ails them seems like something important to do on a Friday morning.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What I Made Today

Butter. Not that hard, but kind of weird. All that sloshing. I also made oatmeal cookies with white chocolate and dried cranberries. A little disappointing. I should've made shortbread instead.

Oh No You Don't Ken Starr

Please sign this petition. (Watch the video, too.) No matter what, Love, and Reason, I might add, will prevail.

Gimme Shelter

About a year ago, I subscribed to Elle. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because at some point in the last two years the magazine ran a profile of Madonna by Daphne Merkin that was one of the best ever, but that's neither here nor there. I can't say it's close to my favorite mag-read (where are you now Domino?), but every so often I stumble on something I'm really happy to know about and last night was one of those times. In it, there was a review of a book by Mary Elizabeth Williams called Gimme Shelter. The book tells of her quest to find an apartment her family could afford when no one in her family worked on Wall Street in 2006. Not only does the title stir up the sound-memory of churning guitar and Mick Jagger oohing -- in a good way; not only is the subject one that obsesses me and almost everyone I know; but Mary Elizabeth Williams is a terrific writer and even though I've yet to read the book, I'm quite sure when I do it will be smart and funny and there will be nicely framed vignettes and perfect little moments that will illustrate the emotional toll and cultural place of househunting. How do I know all this about a book I've yet to read? Because back in the day, when Netscape was the big Internet IPO and Madonna didn't have an English accent I worked as an editor at a web site. There, I was lucky enough to work with a terrific group of writers including Melissa Clark, Marjorie Ingall, and thanks to Marjorie, Mary Elizabeth Williams. I always loved what she wrote, and not only that, when I was interviewing people for my pregnancy book, she gave me a priceless quote about her need to cook a pork butt bigger than her baby the night before she went into labor. I'm still grateful for that one. All this to say, now that Top Chef is almost over, we'll all have time to check out Gimme Shelter. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Top Chef-Not Spoiler-3

OK. The elimination? Totally wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. Plus, I ran out of yarn with, count 'em, 10 rows to go. Still, I loved the show and wanted to eat all that food.

The Bloggable Hayek

My husband showed me this Washington Post article last night which tells of Salma Hayek nursing another woman's baby while traveling in Africa. "You might want to blog about it," he said. And I would, except I'm not sure what to say. According to the article, a Maryland woman was investigated by police for nursing someone else's baby, but bloggers seemed to think what Hayek did was OK. Maybe because with those breasts, how could you say anything is bad?

Seriously, though, I think people have to check themselves when it comes to women offering the breast to children not their own. It's done, for all kinds of reasons, but I think many think it's somehow unclean (and we're obsessed with clean) or un-family-ish, as if breast access must be limited and must remain in the family. Whatever it is, the squeamish response points to the way I think we are disconnected from our bodies and overly fetishize motherhood.

Beyond that, I'm just glad Salma Hayek's character on 30 Rock didn't break up with Alec Baldwin, and I'm strangely happy she married that rich French guy.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Lure of Risk

In today's New York Times, Gina Kolata has an article about the health risks children conceived by IVF might face as a result of spending the first days of embryonic division in a petri dish. Her answer: Children conceived by IVF probably have an increased risk of certain genetic disorders, anatomical malformations, and low birth weight for their gestational age.

Almost every pregnant woman I know went through some period when her risks of something really wrong with her fetus or pregnancy was at the forefront of her mind. A test had a funny result, a second test was needed, a week of unknowns followed. Or there were other risks related to birth or medication or early labor or strange symptoms. Some people I know had wonderful endings to their stories, others have endured terrible losses. But pregnancy is risky business. I feel like this story about IVF (in-vitro fertilization) is worthwhile because we shouldn't think we can make human embryos in a lab and they'll just be AOK always and since they' won't be we must ask what can we do to increase the likelihood of those embryos being mostly AOK. On the other hand, talking about understanding the risks associated with IVF and the embryos it produces is almost besides the point because, let's face it, statistics only matter when you're on the wrong side of them. Otherwise, you can't make heads or tails of their importance. And this is what's been nagging me about this article, because it speaks to the desire to have science anticipate outcomes, to get a better result, always, when even nature doesn't always get it 100 percent right. Which is to say there's a piece of this story that is at once humble and lacks humility altogether. But I guess that's science for you, and maybe parenting, too.

Monday, February 16, 2009

President's Day

Ahhhh, I'm still without a sitter and last night I had a miserable sleep. What's strange is I find myself in this kind of suspended alternative reality. Like, I know things are happening -- books are being written, song are being sung, meals are being cooked, laws are being passed -- but I'm just not so connected to all that. If I can't explain it in an almost slow-in-a bad-moment-it-goes-sing-song voice, it's not really happening. Of course, I've been explaining death a lot in a sing-song (4-year-olds can be obsessed with death), so the sing-song doesn't mean all fun, but still.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


This weekend we went to visit my parents in Providence. My husband and I also started fighting colds. When told my parents this, my mom kept saying, "We have zycam swabs!" The first few times I just nodded, not quite sure if I was hearing English words through the fog in my ears but also not wanting to be rude to my mom. Finally, I ventured into Zycam territory, "What's that?" I asked. Well, apparently it's stuff you swab in your nose (and by doing so you make extra garbage that looks like it's medical but really is just garbage) and if you catch your cold "early enough" then the cold doesn't get to be "as bad." So, feeling like my cold was pretty early on (though I was probably contagious days ago), I decided to give it a go. I for one felt good enough the next day to keep swabing the stuff. (You're supposed to use it every four hours over the first 48 hours of your cold.) I even bought some. I think it might have helped to keep the awful cold that both my kids have had at bay. ButI can't be sure. After all, how do you know how bad your cold would've gotten if you hadn't spent $12-whatever on Zycam?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Bi-Partisanship-Part 2

I'd like to write something a little longer about this Salon piece about Obama and the stimulus mishegos, but I can't, what with what to do and all. But here's what interests me in it: I'm interested in the fact that Obama's team doesn't obsess over the daily news cycle. They don't react to the who's up who's down who's in who's out that characterizes immature social cliques and seems to be the habit of DC. They're interested in getting the job done. And if the job gets done and it works, then the current crop of Republicans will be exposed as self-interested, small-minded ninnies. And here's a thought: With any good luck some thoughtful, debate-interested Republicans will emerge and get themselves to Washington and then debate can happen. It's a pipe dream, I know...but since Republicans aren't going to just go away, how about we get a whole new sort. Right?

What Would Make Bi-Partisanship Work


Thursday, February 12, 2009


Can I just say? My March issue of Domino just arrived and I simply can not believe Conde Nast is shutting it down. It's so good at exactly what it does. Why must it go? Oh Damn You Sub-Prime Derivative-Whatever. This is All.Your.Fault.

Who Asks What?

Here's a big shocker, the Wall Street Journal Editorial page gets it all wrong. Check out how wrong on Salon.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Top Chef Not Spoiler-2

I won't say what happened, but I would have been pleased to see two people go -- even two and a half and my weird feeling of appreciation for the jerk revisionist Stefan is gone. I mean, over-cooked salmon is a serious pet peeve.

Waltz With Bashir

We're just home from seeing the movie Waltz with Bashir, and it's everything it's cracked up to be, and it's absolutely timely. To see this just weeks after Gaza.....I'm left casting around for some little bit of hope and feeling like it's futile to keep looking.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I Really Want to Blog

I really do. I think it would be fun to find some nugget of something and dig in. But, two things: (1) I can't believe the whole Republican stupid stimulus thing; (2) I got very little sleep last night and my brain, she's not doing so well. I'm looking forward to tomorrow. If I hear any Republicans complaining about "spending" I may go into full-on screed. And don't even get me started on that smug Ed Rollins on CNN. Don't even.


Via Sullivan on the octuplets. Bottom line: If you need to use all your embryos at once, and you can't afford the 46 doctors it'll take to help you give birth, maybe IVF isn't for you.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Short Reading

I've noticed the problem described in this quote -- that is, it can be hard to read something long. It's not only that I mostly read online now, it's that old saw, I have so little time to read, and when I have it, I'm so tired. That said, I really want to read more than a paragraph of the very big long book I'm now reading and would like to finish before the end of the month. (Yes, it's STILL Middlemarch.) And as a heads up to everyone, my regular baby sitting schedule will not be in place this coming week, so I won't be able to read or blog too much, but I'll do the best I can.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Cake

This past Tuesday, my son and I picked up my daughter from school. It was snowing. It was cold. All Helen wanted to do was bake a chocolate cake, with brown frosting and sprinkles. Unlike in the past, they were not interested in a pretend birthday (candles, singing), they just wanted the cake. So we made a mess and we made the cake and I've been eating it every night since. My husband, too. We keep waiting to get tired of it, but something about this cake is too good, and we haven't yet. I'm going to be sad when it's gone. I think it's my best cake yet, and certainly my best frosting. This is not so interesting, but, then again, neither is political maneuverings over the stimulus, so for a Saturday, I hope it'll do.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Quote

What's great about Andrew Sullivan's blog is he has people help him sort through the mass of stuff out there and after all that sorting, he can give us this from our President. And I'm glad.

Keith Olbermann on Dick Cheney

If you missed it last night, watch it now.

Good News In February

I can't quite believe what's going on in Washington with the stimulus, and there's something weird going on with my computer this morning but I can give this bit of good news: The recipes in Fresh Food Fast continue to rock my world. Last night I made sweet potato, collard and coconut milk soup and it was fresh, it was fast and it was delicious. Yet another winner from that book.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Message to Anyone Who Will Listen

The Republicans and their talk radio vice presidential candidate lost. I don't know why I'm reading stories like this, except that the media needs to have them.

The Knitting Needles Are Up and Running

If you were wondering how it went last night with the knitting, I figured it out. Once again, the problem was a simple failure to read correctly (how many mistakes are made that way?), and during the unbelievable Top Chef with an elimination that was just wrong, so so so wrong, I made some real headway. I even want to make another cute thing from the same pattern. Phew.

The Death of Domino

I'm not super-girly, but I loved Domino. too, and I'm sad to see it fo.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I know hate is a strong word, but I hate Dick Cheney.

Put the Knitting Needles Down

Last night I set out to start a new section of this thing I'm knitting. Since it's a surprise for someone who could possibly be reading, I'm not going to say what it is, but I will say it's cute. Now, I've read the pattern for this thing several times and I even took it to the knit shop because I've found the pattern to be, what's the word, incomprehensible. But Dona at the knit shop assured me that once I had the project in hand I'd be fine.

Dona was wrong.

I wrestled, I wrangled, I couldn't get it right. Finally, David (my husband who doesn't want me to knit anything for him) said, "Put those needles down. You're like a golfer on a bad day."

Can I just say? When you do something that's supposed to be if not simple then solvable and it's not, it's really annoying. Tonight, though, I will try again. What's that? Do you here the Da-da-daaaa and see Sylvester Stalone on top of those steps, too? I swear, while watching Top Chef, I will figure it out! (And if I don't, there's always Dona to help....)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Big Fix

If you missed this article by David Leonhardt about the economy, putting it back together, and what it means for us not only financially but culturally, I highly recommend checking it out. (And by checking it out, I mean reading it. Why couldn't I just say that? Is it some weird blogging rule I've incorporated too deeply?)

It's the Transparency....

For clean government, I guess you not only need clean air, but the chutzpah to suck it up and say it out loud first. Here's John Dickerson on Daschle.

The $140,000 Tax Question

Unlike some people I know, I feel very badly about Tom Daschle stepping down from becoming Secretary of Health and Human Services. I'm not saying he doesn't have to, I'm just saying it feels bad. On the one hand, his case shows just how much thoughtless hand-washing goes on in Washington and among the rich and powerful, and it's extremely distasteful. On the other, I think Daschle would do a good job. Besides, to me, the trickier moral question is his wife's job as a prominent lobbyist, not his tax problem.

But then there's this -- if everyone has tax problem, is the problem that everyone is corrupt or that the tax system is so convoluted that (almost) everyone pushes the envelope to get the best deal they can, even those who should know -- or simply do -- better. I'm not letting Daschle off the hook, I'm just wondering if the hook is getting in the way of the work. Which means it's now time to take a look, a long hard look, not only at how business as usual gets done in Washington, but on how the tax code itself is written.

We need better standards and clearer rules for sure, and we need people who are willing to live up to those standards no matter what everyone else is doing (if everyone else was jumping off a bridge, my mother would say to any of these folks who didn't pay their taxes because everyone doesn't). But until we get all that, we still desperately need serious people to attend to the crises we now face. Should failure to adhere to a code written to be broken exclude everyone who breaks it from public service, no matter how they broke it? Are all tax breaches equally egregious? For much more sophisticated and nuanced thinking on this, I recommend this selection of opinions over at The New York Times.

PS.: And yet, the Daschle thing does smell of politics/taxes as usual...when does real reform start, and who starts it?

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Ethics of the Octuplets

Last week I tried to write a post about the ethics of the octuplets after someone on Jezebel wondered if you're pro-choice, does that mean that you think a woman is allowed to do anything she wants with her body? Even if what she wants is to have eight embryos transferred? My answer was no, it's not an ethical choice. I got all hot and bothered when writing, so, in an unusual fit of restraint, I didn't post what I'd written. But a week late, I read what Lisa Belkin wrote. She also thinks the decision to transfer eight embryos was wrong. And she's (as always) very clear about it.

What Recovery Means to Me

I just got an email from President Obama. The subject line is "What Recovery Means to Me." Since the election, I haven't read the emails I've gotten from David Plouffe or Michelle Obama. Even Joe Biden couldn't get me to point and click. But the President with that subject line got me clicking, and you know what? I'm glad I did. Here's what it told me: Gov. Tim Kaine is going to be in a video about the recovery and there are going to be house parties and video taped questions that he'll answer and even though I can't go or host a house party, I appreciate, genuinely, that the administration is making an effort to not only inform me but include me in the process. This feels like something entirely new and it's fulfilling the promise of digital media. I'm almost geeked out thinking about it, and I'm choosing to not read it cynically, like, way to keep up the donor base. Instead, I'm thinking I'll get more emails. I'll be more informed. Maybe one day I'll make it to a house party. Maybe, I'll get involved, and, you know, it won't be that hard. Do you know what this is? This is a community organizer at work. Kind of like a mayor, but with the actual ability to motivate citizens to act.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Skating on Sunday

Once again, we took our kids skating today. This time, we went to a new rink, one that's uptown, right on the Hudson river. It was great. I loved going someplace new. There was a terrific view of the "great grey bridge" (the GW) and the "little red lighthouse." And, according to my daughter, the ice was "smoother." (She was right about that.) My son said he wanted to go back "lots of times for a long time." But there was one thing that wasn't great for me -- everyone else skating there. That is, there were a lot of nice people on the ice, but then there were a lot of really, really good skaters who were young and reckless, and a lot of really, really bad skaters who were just wrecked. Both are terrifying if you're skating with four-year-olds. Since, in general, both my kids prefer to skate with my husband who's surer on his skates and faster than I am, they skated holding hands three across. Me, I followed behind them, worrying. Imaging all those falls, it was exhausting. Fortunately, all the worrying and we were safe. Next time, maybe I'll forget about the ambulance that raced into the park just as we were leaving and worry a little less. After all, some guy could've tripped on the ice outside of the rink. I do that all the time.

Tennis I love

I never get to watch tennis anymore, but I still love knowing Federer and Nadal are out there playing their hearts out, respectfully.

The Web, Self-Publishing, Self-Promotion, and Writing

I find this post by Andrew Sullivan predicting the imminent demise of publishing as we know it slightly intriguing but mostly infuriating. In it we read the old saw that the Web lets writers write their own words and promote their own work, but first, and here's the hat trick, you have to become a brand -- or someone people read regardless of what you write about. Now, the hat trick is how do you become a brand? There are many ways, and, yes, the web offers many ore ways than previously imagined, but most of those ways cater to niche markets and then still rely on big media to break out. For example, you write a web only TV show -- it catches on for those 24 and younger in New York City and Chicago, viral marketing takes it to pockets in a few other cities, people like me hear about it, though, through the New York Times, and then the people who make it stop paying for it with their credit cards. Here's another example: Andrew Sullivan might have one of the most important blogs on the Web, but I believe it matters -- to some readers and certainly to Mr. Sullivan's bottom line -- that his URL reads ""

And that's the thing, new media doesn't become mass media without old media. I know I'm conflating media here (books/tv/web/magazines), but that's the point. It's all a mush. We don't know what the next big brands will be, but odds are good that the old media brands will still matter for a (long) while. They might slowly replace themselves with digital entities (look at The Atlantic, which started publishing in the nineteenth century), book publishers, too, but big brands will still make individual writers into writer-brands people read no matter what they're writing about. To pretend like they won't is to ignore what exactly a brand is, never mind the example successful writers themselves have set.