Why ‘Transcending Race’ Is a Lie [The New York Times] Few American athletes have been as widely beloved as Simpson was. Even today, his popularity seems inconceivable. “O. J.: Made in America,” the ESPN “30 for 30” documentary [ESPN] directed by Ezra Edelman that is airing this week, busies itself with the making of the man at the myth’s center and with the country that helped him become a monster. It’s the best thing ESPN has ever produced. And it answers my question: Simpson’s story is that of a black man who came of age during the civil rights era and spent his entire adult life trying to “transcend race” — to claim that strange accolade bestowed on blacks spanning from Pelé to Prince to Nelson Mandela to Muhammad Ali. Which is to say, it’s the story of a halfback trying, and failing, to outrun his own blackness. [more inside]
Period. Full Stop. Point. Whatever It’s Called, It’s Going Out of Style by Dan Bilefsky [The New York Times] The period — the full-stop signal we all learn as children, whose use stretches back at least to the Middle Ages — is gradually being felled in the barrage of instant messaging that has become synonymous with the digital age So says David Crystal, who has written more than 100 books on language and is a former master of original pronunciation at Shakespeare’s Globe theater in London — a man who understands the power of tradition in language The conspicuous omission of the period in text messages and in instant messaging on social media, he says, is a product of the punctuation-free staccato sentences favored by millennials — and increasingly their elders — a trend fueled by the freewheeling style of Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter
Mecca Goes Mega [The New York Times] A building boom in the city’s sacred center has created a dazzling, high-tech 21st-century pilgrimage. [more inside]
J. K. Rowling Just Can’t Let Harry Potter Go [The New York Times] J. K. Rowling always said that the seventh Harry Potter book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” would be the last in the series, and so far she has kept to her word. But though she’s written many new things in the intervening nine years, including four adult novels, she’s never been able to put Harry to rest, or to leave him alone. [more inside]
Bill Cosby Sexual Assault Trial Can Proceed, Judge Rules [The New York Times] Prosecutors in Pennsylvania on Tuesday crossed their final hurdle to bring Bill Cosby to trial on charges that he drugged and sexually assaulted a woman he once mentored, with a judge ruling that enough evidence existed for the case to move forward. While Mr. Cosby is fighting numerous civil cases involving similar accusations, the ruling, by Judge Elizabeth A. McHugh, means that the once popular entertainer must face at least one of his accusers in a criminal proceeding, likely to take place here this year. [Previously.] [Previously.] [Previously.]
More Men With Early Prostate Cancer Choosing to Avoid Treatment [Gina Kolata, New York Times] [more inside]
Which Rock Star Will Historians of the Future Remember? by Chuck Klosterman [The New York Times] The most important musical form of the 20th century will be nearly forgotten one day. People will probably learn about the genre through one figure — so who might that be? [more inside]
"Serotonin is the drug that puts you in the situation where you feel safe and comfortable. The drug that gives you the awe is the dopamine. And the adrenaline is the thing that keeps you going." Paul Simon’s Ambition, and Inspiration, Never Gets Old [SLNYT, Jon Pareles]
Inside Death Row: [New York Times] Between 2014 and 2015, the editorial cartoonist Patrick Chappatte and his wife, the journalist Anne-Frédérique Widmann, invited death-row inmates in the United States to draw their personal experiences in prison. Last year, the couple curated the drawings in an art and documentation exhibition in Los Angeles called “Windows on Death Row.” The prisoners’ stories became the basis of this five-part graphic journalism series. [more inside]
Not everyone has smiled benignly upon D&D. That is reflected in this offering from Retro Report, a series of video documentaries examining major news stories of the past
A Familiar Pattern in a Spouse’s Final Act by Benjamin Mueller, Ashley Southall and Al Baker [The New York Times] After years of violence, Nadia Saavedra finally told her husband to leave their Bronx home. Soon after, the police say, he returned to kill her and then himself. [WARNING: Article contains descriptions of physical violence, domestic abuse, assault, homicide.]
The first time I saw her she wasn’t even skating. I was flipping through the handful of channels our TV could pick up with its rabbit-ear antenna when I glimpsed her waving from the tallest podium at the 1991 World Figure Skating Championships, dazzling in rhinestone-studded hot magenta, with her high hair-sprayed bangs and million-watt smile. She’s Asian, I thought. There’s an Asian girl on television, and everyone is cheering for her. - What I Learned From Kristi Yamaguchi by Nicole Chung
This past weekend saw the latest eruption in a long-running campaign to shame the New York Times into no longer publishing trend pieces in its Styles section. It’s a tradition that goes back more than a decade—remember Jennifer 8. Lee’s canonical “man date” story or Warren St. John’s paradigm-shifting “Metrosexuals Come Out”?—and one that owes its longevity to the tantalizing sense of superiority many readers of trend pieces experience when scolding the often lovely and exuberant reportorial form as an affront to serious journalism.
Some babies are just easier than others. (SL New York Times Well blog)
A Powerful Collective Rooting for You: On Vin Diesel’s Facebook by Muna Mire [The New York Times] Vin Diesel’s hugely popular Facebook page is a community for inspiration and fellowship. [more inside]
New York Times Magazine's The Work Issue: Reimagining the Office presents longform articles on questions regarding hiring, teamwork, meetings, automation, and more. Semi-permeable paywall. [more inside]
New York Times' Frugal Traveler columnist Lucas Peterson was frugal travelin' on a Megabus from Chicago to Milwaukee (average fare $10) today when the coach burst into flames. He livetweeted the entire ordeal. [more inside]
In the deep stillness of a forest in winter, the sound of footsteps on a carpet of leaves died away. Peter Wohlleben had found what he was looking for: a pair of towering beeches. “These trees are friends,” he said, craning his neck to look at the leafless crowns, black against a gray sky. “You see how the thick branches point away from each other? That’s so they don’t block their buddy’s light."
Trying to Separate Bill Cosby From Cliff Huxtable by Rachel L. Swarns [The New York Times]
"It was hard then to know where Dr. Huxtable ended and Mr. Cosby began. Mr. Cosby inhabited the role so completely that for a long time I thought character and creator were pretty much one and the same, at least until the allegations of rape began surfacing with increasing frequency. Then I went from feeling certain that Mr. Cosby was just like Dr. Huxtable, to wondering whether Mr. Cosby was like Dr. Huxtable, to desperately hoping that Mr. Cosby was the devoted family man I once thought he had been."
Critics warned that Citizens United would bring about a new era of corporate influence in politics, with companies and businesspeople buying elections to promote their financial interests. So far, that hasn’t happened much… Instead, a small group of billionaires has flooded races with ideologically tinged contributions. Zachary Mider profiles the enigmatic Bob Mercer, the single biggest donor of the current campaign, for Bloomberg: “What Kind of Man Spends Millions to Elect Ted Cruz?” [more inside]
Leaders in different fields share the 10 books they’d take with them if they were marooned on a desert island. For his bookshop installation, One Grand, the editor Aaron Hicklin asked people to name the 10 books they’d take with them if they were marooned on a desert island. [more inside]
Even Insured Can Face Crushing Medical Debt, Study Finds. (slNYT) "I Am Drowning": The Voices of People with Medical Debt. (also slNYT)
Today the New York Times revisited Per Se and dropped them from four stars to two in a brutal review. There had been rumblings: a cutting reference in Harpers (previously), rumblings on chowhound and egullet and most notably an ugly review in Eater last month. Couple that with a C grade on a health inspection last year and a half-million dollar settlement of charges they failed to pay servers the "included" service charge now attached to every meal and it seems unlikely they will ever recover their once lofty status.
Over 50, Female and Jobless by Paticia Cohen [The New York Times] A new study found that the employment prospects for women over 50 darkened after the Great Recession, as many now earn far less and use many fewer skills than they did before. [more inside]
Navy SEALs, a Beating Death and Claims of a Cover-Up by Nicholas Kulish, Christopher Drew and Matthew Rosenberg [The New York Times] U.S. soldiers accused Afghan police and Navy SEALs of abusing detainees. But the SEAL command opted against a court-martial and cleared its men of wrongdoing.
Abuse of detainees is among the most serious offenses an American service member can commit. Several military justice experts, who reviewed a Naval Criminal Investigative Service report on the case at the request of The Times, said that it had been inappropriate for the SEAL command to treat such allegations as an internal disciplinary matter and that it should have referred the case for an Article 32 review, the equivalent of a grand jury, to consider a court-martial.[more inside]
Alan Dershowitz on the Defense (His Own) by Barry Meier [The New York Times]
Last month, demonstrators at Johns Hopkins University interrupted Alan M. Dershowitz as he was giving a fiery speech defending Israel. The disruption normally would not have fazed Mr. Dershowitz, a former Harvard Law School professor who thrives on controversy and relishes taking on opponents in and out of the courtroom. The protesters, however, were not challenging his Middle East politics. Instead, they held up a sign reading, “You Are Rape Culture.” Mr. Dershowitz knew what it meant. A decade ago, he had defended a friend, a money manager named Jeffrey E. Epstein, after authorities in Palm Beach, Fla., found evidence indicating that he was paying underage girls to give him sexual massages. The lawyer led a scorched-earth attack on the girls and, with a team of high-priced lawyers, cut a plea deal for Mr. Epstein that the local police said was too lenient.[more inside]
Take Flight [New York Times] [Magazine] The year’s best actors lift off in a series of tributes to the ultimate Hollywood magic trick. To watch in virtual reality on your phone, download our app. [more inside]
The New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2015 The year’s notable fiction, poetry and nonfiction, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review.
Photojournalists put their lives on the line every day, after all, and a photograph is less likely to contain bias, right? "With his new photobook War Is Beautiful: The New York Times Pictorial Guide to the Glamour of Armed Conflict, David Shields is taking aim at what he characterizes as the “war porn” routinely seen on the front page of America’s most respected paper of record." [more inside]
Tonight at 9 EST Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O'Malley will come together for a debate in Iowa at Drake University. [more inside]
We Mapped the Uninsured. You'll Notice a Pattern. By Quoctrung Bui and Margot Sanger-Katz [The New York Times]
Two years into the health care law, clear regional patterns are emerging about who has health insurance in America and who still doesn’t. The remaining uninsured are primarily in the South and the Southwest. They tend to be poor. They tend to live in Republican-leaning states. The rates of people without insurance in the Northeast and the upper Midwest have fallen into the single digits since the Affordable Care Act’s main provisions kicked in. But in many parts of the country, obtaining health insurance is still a problem for many Americans.[more inside]
Friends call Constable Collins Rain Man or Yoda or simply The Oracle. But to Scotland Yard, London’s metropolitan police force, he is known as a “super recognizer.” He has a special gift of facial recall powers that enables him to match even low-quality and partial imagery to a face he has seen before, on the street or in a database and possibly years earlier.[slNYT]
What do we really know about Osama bin Laden's death?
I saw this as more of a media story, a case study in how constructed narratives become accepted truth. This felt like a cop-out to [Seymour Hersh], as he explained in a long email the next day. He said that I was sidestepping the real issue, that I was ‘‘turning this into a ‘he-said, she-said’ dilemma,’’ instead of coming to my own conclusion about whose version was right. It was then that he introduced an even more disturbing notion: What if no one’s version could be trusted?
Amazon has posted (on Medium, natch) an aggressive response to the “everyone at Amazon is miserable but also paid well but also crying all the time” story in the New York Times [Previously]. This story and its aftermath represent a bit of a trap, particularly in discussions on Twitter: If you think the original story contained both valuable information and flaws, your default position is to go to bat for the Times; if you read this story as a portrait of a tough workplace written to cast it in the worst possible light, but acknowledge that it contained some worrying anecdotes, then your tendency will be to defend Amazon.
But these too reveal themselves as proxy positions. It’s not story versus story, or publication versus tech company. It’s media versus tech. [more inside]
But these too reveal themselves as proxy positions. It’s not story versus story, or publication versus tech company. It’s media versus tech. [more inside]
"Every society struggles to care for people with mental illness. In parts of West Africa, where psychiatry is virtually unknown, the chain is often a last resort for desperate families who cannot control a loved one in the grip of psychosis. Religious retreats, known as prayer camps, set up makeshift psychiatric wards, usually with prayer as the only intervention." NYTimes. Links contain upsetting images and video. [more inside]
The Passion of Nicki Minaj: "To put down a woman for something that men do, as if they're children and I'm responsible, has nothing to do with you asking stupid questions, because you know that's not just a stupid question. That's a premeditated thing you just did." [SLNYT]
To Revoke or Not: Colleges That Gave Cosby Honors Face a Tough Question by Sydney Ember and Colin Moynihan [New York Times]
Few people in American history have been recognized by universities as often as Mr. Cosby, whose publicist once estimated that the entertainer had collected more than 100 honorary degrees. The New York Times, in a quick search, found nearly 60. But now, as dozens of women have come forward to accuse Mr. Cosby of sexual assault, colleges across the country are confronting the question of what to do when someone who has been honored falls from grace.[more inside]
The Understated Elegance of the Airline Scarf by Troy Patterson [New York Times]
“Though the scarf coordinates with contemporary gender politics, it also conjures an old romance of the skies, stirring visions of aviators in open cockpits with white silk rippling at their throats and of fighter pilots wearing flight scarves printed with roaring beasts. It is also polymorphously practical. Heather Poole, a flight attendant and writer, has described scarves deployed as ad hoc bikini tops, improvised curtain ties and all-purpose utility tools: “I’ve seen a scarf used as a lanyard, a belt, a sweatband, a ponytail holder, a napkin and a compression bandage.”
Can’t Swallow a Pill? There’s Help for That [New York Times]
Most children start swallowing pills around age 10, said Dr. Tanya Altmann, a pediatrician in Calabasas, Calif., and a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics. And 20 percent to 40 percent are unable to swallow a standard-size pill or capsule, according to a recent study in the journal Pediatrics. [...] Many never outgrow the problem.[more inside]
Death in Syria by Karen Yourish, K.K. Rebecca Lai and Derek Watkins [New York Times]
“With each passing day there are fewer safe places in Syria,” Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, chairman of the United Nations panel investigating human rights abuses in Syria, wrote in a recent report. “Everyday decisions — whether to visit a neighbor, to go out to buy bread— have become, potentially, decisions about life and death.”
A Dying Young Woman’s Hope in Cryonics and a Future - (SLNYT) Kim Suozzi knew she was dying, but believed that cryonic preservation had a “1 or 2 percent chance” of offering her another shot at life. And for that, it was worth trying.
‘Moment’ Is Having a Moment [New York Times]
“What, exactly, is a cultural moment? How long does it last? Who participates in it? Who on earth gets to decide? Can you marshal literally anything that has happened in the last 10 years, or 10 months? What are the parameters? Is there a minimum Q rating? Who has to experience a thing, be aware of it, find satisfaction (or prestige) in discussing it? And how do we distinguish kairos from chronos — a moment from an ordinary shred of time? How do we distinguish a meaningful, fateful, crucial moment from all the other moments that fall all over the place like bread crumbs out of an overturned toaster?”
Can a Novelist Be Too Productive? by Stephen King [New York Times] [Op-Ed]
“No one in his or her right mind would argue that quantity guarantees quality, but to suggest that quantity never produces quality strikes me as snobbish, inane and demonstrably untrue.”
"The company is conducting an experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers to get them to achieve its ever-expanding ambitions."
President Obama’s Letter to the Editor [New York Times]
For the cover story of our Aug. 2 issue, Jim Rutenberg wrote about efforts over the last 50 years to dismantle the protections in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 [previously], the landmark piece of legislation that cleared barriers between black voters and the ballot. The story surveyed a broad sweep of history and characters, from United States Chief Justice John Roberts to ordinary citizens like 94-year-old Rosanell Eaton, a plaintiff in the current North Carolina case arguing to repeal voting restrictions enacted in 2013. The magazine received an unusual volume of responses to this article, most notably from President Barack Obama.