Archive for the ‘NY Times’ tag
A piece I didn’t quite love by recognized myself in more than I’d like. This quote, especially, rang true (emphasis mine):
We have outsourced our opinions to this loop of data that will allow us to hold steady at a dinner party, though while you and I are ostensibly talking about “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” what we are actually doing, since neither of us has seen it, is comparing social media feeds. Does anyone anywhere ever admit that he or she is completely lost in the conversation? No. We nod and say, “I’ve heard the name,” or “It sounds very familiar,” which usually means we are totally unfamiliar with the subject at hand.
I’ve some entries in the busyness archive, and we’ll throw this on the pile too. It’s feels a little bit self-satisfied, but the basic point is undeniable and worthy of consideration:
We… choose some of what makes us “busy.” We choose Kumon. We choose the yoga class that’s just far enough from an after-violin-lesson pick up that it’s a rush every single time. We choose to let one child do swimming and the other soccer, on the same afternoon. We choose to add in the stop at the dry cleaner and the ATM. And maybe those choices make us feel rushed and unhappy, and maybe they don’t.
This editorial is a great explanation of a problem I’d heard expressed a lot but never mentioned here, it seems. The problem:
Something else began to happen around 1980. College graduation rates kept soaring for the affluent, but for those in the bottom half, a four-year degree is scarcely more attainable today than it was in the 1970s. And because some colleges actually hinder social mobility, what increasingly matters is not just whether you go to college but where.
Don’t really have much more to say about this than Mark Larson — from who I discovered it — said:
I really like the whole mood and vibe of this review. A smart writer who’s not super-invested in the industry or the product in general, but still curious and open-minded, talking about a new-to-them thing.
Kevin Baker — almost by accident — attended a book club reading his book and neglected to disclose that he’d written it. It makes for a charming little story:
The night the club was to meet, I showed up early, thinking I’d introduce myself at the start and ask if they wanted me there or not. But it was an informal setting, and it just felt too pompous to pop up and exclaim, “Hello, I’m the author!” I decided to wait until we were all supposed to introduce ourselves.
The New York Times put together a pretty awesome quiz that uses an understanding of the nuances of the American lexicon to pin down where in the states your vocabulary best represents. It’s actually, I believe, based on the exact same dataset as that pretty cool video I linked two weeks ago.
Ross Douthat’s latest column raises an interesting idea I’d never fully considered:
In meritocracies, though, it’s the very intelligence of our leaders that creates the worst disasters. Convinced that their own skills are equal to any task or challenge, meritocrats take risks that lower-wattage elites would never even contemplate, embark on more hubristic projects, and become infatuated with statistical models that hold out the promise of a perfectly rational and frictionless world.
Positive articles about introversion are very popular in my corner of the internet. I submit this one, from Susan Cain. It’s loaded with talk of interesting scientific studies about the value of introversion, but this paragraph had the most novel stuff for me:
We even find “introverts” in the animal kingdom, where 15 percent to 20 percent of many species are watchful, slow-to-warm-up types who stick to the sidelines (sometimes called “sitters”) while the other 80 percent are “rovers” who sally forth without paying much attention to their surroundings. Sitters and rovers favor different survival strategies, which could be summed up as the sitter’s “Look before you leap” versus the rover’s inclination to “Just do it!” Each strategy reaps different rewards.
I’d heard that a spoonful of local honey a day can keep the sneezes at bay, and was even casually interested in trying it. But, it seems one study that has been done on it showed no effect, and this hard-to-dispute point pretty well puts it to rest for me:
“Seasonal allergies are usually triggered by windborne pollens, not by pollens spread by insects,” he said. So it’s unlikely that honey “collected from plants that do not cause allergy symptoms would provide any therapeutic benefit.”
I’ve only been mildly attentive to the West’s plan in the intervention in Libya. It seems like even the attentive weren’t sure what the plan was. But David Brooks lays it out pretty clearly:
There are three plausible ways he might go, which inside the administration are sometimes known as the Three Ds. They are, in ascending order of likelihood: Defeat — the ragtag rebel army vanquishes his army on the battlefield; Departure — Qaddafi is persuaded to flee the country and move to a villa somewhere; and Defection — the people around Qaddafi decide there is no future hitching their wagon to his, and, as a result, the regime falls apart or is overthrown.
I’d heard about the defection of Musa Kusa, but I didn’t realize it had anything to do with wider strategy.
Also, if you missed it this piece from last weeks NYT Magazine is a good premier on the whys and hows of the rebel capital of Benghazi.