A 600-Year-Old Oak Tree Finally Succumbs [The New York Times] “The locals say that George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette — the Frenchman who bankrolled the American patriots with cold, hard cash — picnicked in the shade it provided. Rank-and-file soldiers are said to have rested under it, gathering strength before going on to beat the redcoats. It is a huge oak tree, now estimated to be 600 years old. Arborists such as Rob Gillies consider it one of the oldest in North America. It is a local landmark, right there in the cemetery of the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church. On Thursday, Mr. Gillies sliced into it with a chain saw.”
Racist Objects The New York Times and the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia are partnering to collect stories of personal encounters with racist objects, like producer Logan Jaffe's grandmother's salt and pepper shakers. [more inside]
To anyone who has avoided the debate over “false balance,” apologies for disturbing your bliss. But it’s necessary, because those who haven’t heard this phrase are missing out on one of the more consequential debates to engage the media in years. [more inside]
NYT: "Declines in state support for public universities have helped reshape the geography of public college admissions, leading many students to attend universities far from home, where they pay higher, out-of-state tuition. An analysis of migration patterns among college freshmen shows the states students leave each year and where they go." How does your state measure up? [more inside]
U.N. Admits Role in Cholera Epidemic in Haiti [The New York Times] “For the first time since a cholera epidemic believed to be imported by United Nations peacekeepers began killing thousands of Haitians nearly six years ago, the office of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has acknowledged that the United Nations played a role in the initial outbreak and that a “significant new set of U.N. actions” will be needed to respond to the crisis.” [Previously.] [Previously.] [more inside]
"There is something of a journalistic routine each time terror erupts. Cover the news, of course, and put it into geopolitical context. Capture the drama of the scene. Pursue every tidbit about the attackers. And, perhaps most wrenchingly, try to showcase the human suffering... It never feels like enough. During what seemed like a particularly intense spate of attacks back in March, we decided it was not enough... We decided not to move on but to look back... to show terrorism’s human toll."
More Men With Early Prostate Cancer Choosing to Avoid Treatment [Gina Kolata, New York Times] [more inside]
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."
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)
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.
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]
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]
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?”
Colorado’s Effort Against Teenage Pregnancies Is a Startling Success, by Sabrina Tavernese, New York Times [more inside]
The Mixed-Up Brothers of Bogotá:
After a hospital error, two pairs of Colombian identical twins were raised as two pairs of fraternal twins. This is the story of how they found one another — and of what happened next.A fascinating and improbable tale of coincidence, family, class, and genetics. [SLNYT]
Grilling with Lava [New York Times]
This July Fourth, we offer an intense, but minimalist way to grill steak. It requires 800 pounds of Wisconsin basaltic gravel heated to 2,000 degrees. New York Times food writers have advocated cooking directly on hot coals this Fourth of July, but the truly adventurous may want to consider another approach: lava-grilled steak. The Syracuse University professors Bob Wysocki and Jeff Karson, the leaders of this minimalist technique, say the key is to start with thin-cut steaks, the more marbled the better. You then find the nearest retrofitted bronze furnace. (Very likely, that is the one the professors have built for themselves in Syracuse as part of the university’s Lava Project. When not cooking dinner with it, Mr. Wysocki, an artist, and Mr. Karson, a geologist, create lava for scientific research and sculptures.)[more inside]
The New York Times has been around long enough to report on more or less everything, and its First Glimpses feature occasionally dives into the archives to see when some notable thing was mentioned for the very first time. This week, it's cheeseburgers. [more inside]
“We host one of the most renowned faculty in the world,” boasts a woman introduced in one promotional video as the head of a law school. “Come be a part of Newford University to soar the sky of excellence.”
Yet on closer examination, this picture shimmers like a mirage. The news reports are fabricated. The professors are paid actors. The university campuses exist only as stock photos on computer servers. The degrees have no true accreditation.
In fact, very little in this virtual academic realm, appearing to span at least 370 websites, is real — except for the tens of millions of dollars in estimated revenue it gleans each year from many thousands of people around the world, all paid to a secretive Pakistani software company.Declan Walsh for The New York Times
The Men of Condé Nast Photographed in Their Natural Habitat (New York Times)
Sally Mann's Exposure An essay by Sally Mann about the publication, and subsequent reaction to, her second book of photographs, Immediate Family. [Many of the photographs featured naked images of her young children.]
The Machines Are Coming by Zeynep Tufekci
Machines are getting better than humans at figuring out who to hire, who’s in a mood to pay a little more for that sweater, and who needs a coupon to nudge them toward a sale. In applications around the world, software is being used to predict whether people are lying, how they feel and whom they’ll vote for. To crack these cognitive and emotional puzzles, computers needed not only sophisticated, efficient algorithms, but also vast amounts of human-generated data, which can now be easily harvested from our digitized world. The results are dazzling. Most of what we think of as expertise, knowledge and intuition is being deconstructed and recreated as an algorithmic competency, fueled by big data. But computers do not just replace humans in the workplace. They shift the balance of power even more in favor of employers. Our normal response to technological innovation that threatens jobs is to encourage workers to acquire more skills, or to trust that the nuances of the human mind or human attention will always be superior in crucial ways. But when machines of this capacity enter the equation, employers have even more leverage, and our standard response is not sufficient for the looming crisis.[more inside]
Fit to Print documents the ways in which the New York Times writes around expletives even as it is often drawn to the very words it deems unprintable.
The most optimistic people often struggle the hardest. They can’t quite square what’s going on in the world with their beliefs, and the disparity is alarming. [slnyt]
Robert Stone, Novelist of the Vietnam Era and Beyond, Dies at 77 [New York Times]
"Robert Stone, who wrote ambitious, award-winning novels about errant Americans in dangerous circumstances or on existential quests — or both — as commentary on an unruly, wayward nation in the Vietnam era and beyond, died on Saturday at his home in Key West, Fla. He was 77.[more inside]
The Iguana in the Bathtub by Anne Doten [New York Times] Hard lessons on a cold day in Florida.
"When the temperature dipped below 40, iguanas started falling from the trees. Small, sleek green iguanas; big iguanas as long as four feet from snout to tail, scales cresting gloriously from their heads; orange-and-green iguanas, their muscled, goose-pimpled arms resolving into sharp claws. Iguanas were everywhere: in the bushy areas surrounding canals, on sidewalks, in backyards, lying helpless among the fallen, rotting fruit of mango and orange trees."
The NYT calculates the probability of pregnancy using 15 common birth control methods, for up to 10 years of both "typical" and "perfect" use. Protip: the graphs do slidey comparison things on mouseover!
I’ve been watching Odell Beckham practice similar one-handed catches for the past several weeks. He caught half a dozen in practice before Sunday’s game, and had an amazing one-handed fingertip catch in practice several weeks ago. So he was definitely on my radar screen. Today I was making a point of keeping track of where Beckham lined up, so I would be ready. -- The New York Times interviews photographers about how they themselves caught this incredible catch in the Giants game last night.
"Despite its youth, the section has a much longer history, one that encompasses the long effort of women in journalism to be taken seriously as reporters and as readers, the development of New Journalism, large-scale social changes that have brought gay culture into the mainstream, shifts in the way news is delivered and consumed, and economic consolidations and disruptions that the section has, sometimes in spite of itself, thoroughly documented and cataloged. The Styles section may well be pretty stupid sometimes. It’s also a richer and more complex entity than any of us would like to believe." - Bonfire Of The Inanities - Jacqui Shine writes a long, detailed history of the New York Times Style Section.
As hinted in the leaked digital innovation report which outlined how the venerable newspaper could leverage a substantial archive to compete with clickbait, The New York Times has been developing cooking.nytimes.com, a beautifully searchable repository of every recipe ever published in the newspaper. [more inside]
Deep Chords: Haruki Murakami’s ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage’ [New York Times] Patti Smith reviews Haruki Murakami's latest novel. Book Trailer
After years of debates, notoriously contentious public meetings, and the looming specter of a civil rights lawsuit, a federal mediation agreement between the Town of Hamden and the City of New Haven, Connecticut resulted in the removal of a 10-foot chain-link fence that separated New Haven's West Rock public housing projects from Hamden's Woodin Street neighborhood for nearly half a century. NYT's Benjamin Mueller reports: In Connecticut, Breaking a Barrier Between a Suburb and Public Housing. [more inside]
The NYT Style section reports that "image-conscious digital natives" are paying for expensive and elaborate portrait sessions to get one-of-a-kind shots to use in social media profiles and on professional websites. These photos (which the Times incorrectly calls "glamour selfies") are not your professional headshots; instead the subjects are depicted in a warehouse, in a field, in a pickup truck, etc. The motivations? Enhancing a personal brand, celebrating a milestone birthday... and, of course, getting lots of "likes" on Facebook. Slate's XX Factor blog defends the trend (if you can call it a trend) by suggesting that the portrait subjects are trying to avoid age discrimination.
NYT Dining & Wine's Ice Cream Issue:
- The Only Ice Cream Recipe You’ll Ever Need (video) (recipe)
- Ever True to You, Local Parlor – A Cone to Remember
- Chocolate Ganache, an Easygoing French Treat (video) (recipe)
- You Say Soft, I Say Serve
- At Morgenstern’s Finest, a Swirl of Innovation
- A Crush of Summer Flavors
- A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins With a Single Scoop
- A Malted Milk Crawl in New York
Yesterday, New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson - the first woman to hold that position for the paper - was unexpectedly fired, reportedly because she attempted to bring on a new co-managing editor without consulting the managing editor already at the paper or the publisher, though there is also a persistent rumor that it was because she addressed a pay gap between herself and her predecessor. Today, the first woman managing editor for French paper Le Monde resigned, claiming that she was being undermined, drawing more attention to journalism and media's woman problem. [more inside]
Something strange is happening at farms in upstate New York. The cows are milking themselves. Rise of the Milkbots.
The Toddler Who Survived, And the Cop Who Became Her Mom: [New York Times]
As a baby, Christina Rivera survived a massacre in Brooklyn whose 10 victims included her mother. Police Officer Joanne Jaffe was assigned to care for her that night, a task that was the first link in a bond that led Ms. Jaffe to adopt Christina. [Image][more inside]
Veiled Truths by Hossein Fatemi [New York Times] [ Photo essay.] Photographs of women in Iran — who still face censure for insufficiently modest dress — through their hijabs.
The original story of Kitty Genovese’s death, first promulgated by the New York Times in a front-page article 50 years ago today—young single woman brutally murdered while 38 strangers watched and did nothing—was incorrect in almost every particular.
The Scientific Quest to Prove Bisexuality Exists [New York Times]
How a new breed of activists is using science to show — once and for all — that someone can be truly attracted to both a man and a woman.
In its constant endeavor to identify emerging trends, the New York Times has uncovered a boom in monocle wearing... again. But they're not the only ones ever to be manipulated by the Monacle Lobby. [more inside]