Sunday was Baby’s Day Out

Today I stole the baby, stuck him into a carrying sling, and trotted down the hill to pick up Sunday morning’s necessary items: The Sunday NY Times, the Sunday Washington Post, two bagels with lox, cream cheese, tomatoes, and onions, and a cappucino.

It wasn’t a bad trip, and my daddy skills were in top form as I kept the baby quiet so I could return home and bring my take on what you should read of Sunday’s papers.

Somehow, I managed to buy the NYT at 7-11 and it didn’t contain the Sunday magazine.  This is ok, since the magazine today really didn’t have anything in it to keep my interest.  Here’s what I think you should read in Sunday’s paper:

The Boy King Has Left The Table, by Alex Williams, NYT
This article talks about the current anti-hero of poker, Stu Ungar, whose tragic tale of drug and gambling snuffed an early talent.  Multiple books and one movie are being made about him.  He was a brilliant poker player long before the mathematicians figured out the necessary statistics that he seemed to grasp intuitively, but a long-term problem with drugs and women finally did him in under mysterious circumstances.

At PartyGaming, Everything’s Wild, by Kurt Eichenwald, NYT
PartyPoker, the world’s largest online poker room, has it’s coming IPO on the London stock exchange this week.  Many business writers are talking about Party’s weird legal dichotomy: how can a company that is in legal hot water in the United States, continue to function when most of it’s customers are US-based and in theory, breaking the law?  While journalists act as if this is an unusual circumstance, companies doing business primarily with US customers but not being able to set foot on American soil for fear of arrest is not a novelty.  In fact DeBeers (the worldwide diamond conglomerate) operated this way for over fifty years.

During World War 2, the White House tried to purchase large quantities of industrial-grade diamonds.  DeBeers refused.  DeBeers didn’t want to see the diamonds unloaded on the market and subsequently depress the price of stones, something they carefully manipulated to keep high.  The US responded by bringing anti-trust charges against DeBeers, making it virtually impossible for any DeBeers executive to set foot on American soil for the next fifty years for fear of being held in the anti-trust case.  DeBeers buyers all went to the company’s European buying sites where they continued to transact business, and DeBeers was careful never to allow any member of the Oppenheimer family to accidentally find themselves on American soil.

In reality, a quiet agreement with justice allowed individual DeBeers employees to enter the US on vacation, but if they ever came into the country in groups of more than 1, they were considered fair game. 

This will be Party’s life for the next several years, as they continue to do business primarily with US customers, and they find themselves safe in Gibraltar, out of reach of American laws.  Even the World Trade Organization has decided that America’s ban on Internet gaming is illegal, so the US will become more and more isolated on this topic.  Someday, the issue will resolve itself and Party executives will be able to travel to the US, but until then, it’s clear you can function successfully without it.

Silver Stars Affirm One Unit’s Mettle: Women Play Key Roles In Combat Near Baghdad, by Steve Fainaru, WP
The anatomy of a firefight during an ambush in Baghdad profiles the courage of ten National Guard soldiers from Kentucky.  Two of the soldiers were women who were firing weapons and participating in the combat right next to the men in their unit.  Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester received the Silver Star for her work clearing out a trench full of insurgents with her colleague, two M-4 assault rifles, and a handful of grenades.