A short game sheds light on government policy, corporate America and why no one likes to be wrong. [SLNYT]
A case against "glamping". Unless you are for glamping (especially during music festival season). [more inside]
The Agency is every online community member's worst fears come to life: a real honest-to-goodness troll/noise factory where dozens of employees using hundreds of accounts post thousands of highly targeted and coordinated attacks as awful comments on Twitter, Facebook, and forums in order to sway public opinion about geopolitics. From a nondescript office building in St. Petersburg, Russia, an army of well-paid “trolls” has tried to wreak havoc all around the Internet — and in real-life American communities...
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]
MeFi's own John Scalzi, author of numerous popular books and a blog almost as popular as said books, has done okay.
"At most restaurants, you are served what you ask for so routinely that your eyes glaze over with boredom. Javelina does not fall into the trap of dull predictability. One night after I left, I realized the guacamole I’d ordered had never arrived; it’s not every restaurant that gives you something to think about on your way home. Meanwhile, people at the next table were presented with a dish they insisted they hadn’t asked for. “You didn’t order brisket?” the server asked, keeping up the playful spirit." Move over, Flavortown: NYT's Pete Wells reviews Javelina
“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 Last Day of Her Life. When Cornell psychology professor Sandy Bem found out she had Alzheimer’s, she resolved that before the disease stole her mind, she would kill herself. The question was, when? [more inside]
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]
A Field Guide to the American Sandwich, with introduction. Both by Sam Sifton. Possibly related to yesterday's ode to the BEC and last week's roast beef tutorial (all NYT).
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 concept first bubbled up out of the pop-cultural ether when competitive reality shows hit upon their formula, in the form of “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race.” TV enthusiasts — part fan, part Roland Barthes with a TiVo — congregated on online message boards like Television Without Pity, creating a new slang with which to dis and deconstruct their favorites. Fifteen years later, the critical language used to carve up the phonies, saints and sad-sack wannabes of reality shows has migrated, and the loser edit has become a limber metaphor for exploring our own real-world failures. Colson Whitehead: The ‘Loser Edit’ That Awaits Us All
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]
According to a British linguist's research on Twitter users in the U.S. (direct link to 55-page PDF), what do young Southern black women and young Northern and Western white men have in common? They're "lexical innovators" whose slang creation skills are on fleek. [more inside]
A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis talk about what the Oscars mean today and how they paradoxically reach more people than the movies they celebrate. [SLNYT]
I started to wonder about the recipients of our shamings, the real humans who were the virtual targets of these campaigns. So for the past two years, I’ve been interviewing individuals like Justine Sacco: everyday people pilloried brutally, most often for posting some poorly considered joke on social media. Whenever possible, I have met them in person, to truly grasp the emotional toll at the other end of our screens. The people I met were mostly unemployed, fired for their transgressions, and they seemed broken somehow — deeply confused and traumatized.
This happened where I work and live, it's a devastating read about ignorance, healing and forgiveness Well balanced NYT article about Sasha Fleischman, an agender teen who fell asleep on a city bus and was set on fire by a 16 year old named Richard Thomas.
The NYT Social Media team pulls the curtain back on how Twitter works for them with detailed examples of how changing text and descriptions and focus in their short messages resonated with readers, and which fell flat. Really interesting bit of transparency on their process, and results.
When we are taking about racism, and anti-black racism in the United States, we have to remember that under slavery black lives were considered only a fraction of a human life, so the prevailing way of valuing lives assumed that some lives mattered more, were more human, more worthy, more deserving of life and freedom, where freedom meant minimally the freedom to move and thrive without being subjected to coercive force. But when and where did black lives ever really get free of coercive force? One reason the chant "Black Lives Matter" is so important is that it states the obvious but the obvious has not yet been historically realized. So it is a statement of outrage and a demand for equality, for the right to live free of constraint, but also a chant that links the history of slavery, of debt peonage, segregation, and a prison system geared toward the containment, neutralization and degradation of black lives, but also a police system that more and more easily and often can take away a black life in a flash all because some officer perceives a threat.George Yancy interviews Judith Butler for NYT: What's Wrong With 'All Lives Matter'? [more inside]
New York Times n'est pas Charlie? In which Michael Kupperman (previously here) relates his own "freedom of speech" experience when he and David Rees (previously here) were hired to create editorial comics for the Week in Review section of The New York Times.
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]
De-cluttering your house with love: "Marie Kondo has built a huge following in her native Japan with her “KonMari” method of organizing and de-cluttering. Clients perform a sort of tidying-up festival: time set aside specifically to go through belongings. Each object is picked up and held, and the client needs to decide if it inspires joy. If it doesn’t, it needs to go." [more inside]
"We know that people may be genetically pre-disposed to depression and anxiety disorders. We also know that specific life events may trigger depressive episodes in those who have previously been the picture of mental health. But so far we've been unable to identify one single, definitive catalyst. However, new research suggests that, for some people, depression may be caused by something as simple as an allergic reaction – a reaction to inflammation; a product of the body, not the mind." [more inside]
There are no grown-ups. We suspect this when we are younger, but can confirm it only once we are the ones writing books and attending parent-teacher conferences. Everyone is winging it, some just do it more confidently.
Ever wondered what a days worth of calories looks like in fast food form? Well wonder no more!
Here, we show you what roughly 2,000 calories looks like at some large chains. (Depending on age and gender, most adults should eat between 1,600 and 2,400 calories a day.) Researchers have long understood that people are more likely to finish what’s on their plate than to stop eating because they’ve consumed a given amount of food. It’s “the completion compulsion,” a phrase coined in the 1950s by the psychologist Paul S. Siegel.[more inside]
December is a month of darkness across the Northern Hemisphere, where 90 percent of the global population lives. We battle it with candles and song, and above all with parties and food.
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.
One day in the fall of 1981, eight men in their 70s stepped out of a van in front of a converted monastery in New Hampshire. They shuffled forward, a few of them arthritically stooped, a couple with canes. Then they passed through the door and entered a time warp. Perry Como crooned on a vintage radio. Ed Sullivan welcomed guests on a black-and-white TV. Everything inside — including the books on the shelves and the magazines lying around — were designed to conjure 1959. This was to be the men’s home for five days as they participated in a radical experiment, cooked up by a young psychologist named Ellen Langer.
"Trust Women" is a popular motto in the pro-choice movement. It sounds a little sentimental, doesn't it? Part of that old sisterhood-is-powerful feminism it is fashionable to mock today. But "Trust Women" doesn't mean that every woman is wise or good or has magical intuitive powers. It means that no one else can make a better decision, because no one else is living her life, and since she will have to live with that decision—not you, and not the state legislature or the Supreme Court—chances are she is doing her best in a tight spot.How Pro-Choicers Can Take Back the Moral High Ground: an excerpt from essayist and poet Katha Pollitt's latest book, Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights. [more inside]
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]
Madison is a new Vintage Ad archive from the New York Times. "But the Times is inviting readers to do more than just view the ads. It's also asking readers to help shape the archive by sifting through the ads, identifying them and even transcribing their text." [more inside]
The New York Times Magazine treated a group of second graders to a seven-course meal at a pricey NYC restaurant. Culinarity ensued. [video, via]
Who are these sisters? We’re never told (though we know their names: from left, Heather, Mimi, Bebe and Laurie; Bebe, of the penetrating gaze, is Nixon’s wife). The human impulse is to look for clues, but soon we dispense with our anthropological scrutiny — Irish? Yankee, quite likely, with their decidedly glamour-neutral attitudes — and our curiosity becomes piqued instead by their undaunted stares. All four sisters almost always look directly at the camera, as if to make contact, even if their gazes are guarded or restrained.*
All of Lanai's owners have sought, in one way or another, to refashion the island into a paradise on earth. Former Oracle CEO Larry Ellison hopes to transform it into the "first economically viable, 100% green community."
"Longings and Desires", a Slate.com book review by Amanda Katz:
[Sarah] Waters, who was born in Wales in 1966, has carved out an unusual spot in fiction. Her six novels, beginning with Tipping the Velvet in 1998, could be called historical fiction, but that doesn’t begin to capture their appeal. It is closer to say that she is creating pitch-perfect popular fiction of an earlier time, but swapping out its original moral engine for a sensibility that is distinctly queer and contemporary, as if retrofitting a classic car.[more inside]
Her books offer something like an alternate reality—a literary one, if not a historical one. There may have been lesbian male impersonators working the London music halls in the 1890s, as in Tipping the Velvet, but there were certainly not mainstream novels devoted to their inner lives and sexual exploits. Waters gives such characters their say in books that imitate earlier crowd-pleasers in their structure, slang, and atmosphere, but that are powered by queer longing, defiant identity politics, and lusty, occasionally downright kinky sex. (An exception is her last novel, The Little Stranger.) The most masterful of these books so far is Fingersmith, a Wilkie Collins-esque tale full of genuinely shocking twists (thieves, double-crossing, asylums, mistaken identity, just go read it). The saddest is The Night Watch, a tale told in reverse of a group of entwined characters during and after World War II. But among many readers she is still most beloved for Tipping the Velvet, a deliriously paced coming-of-age story that is impossible to read in public without blushing.
When the Supreme Court agrees to hear a case, they often receive dozens of amicus briefs, or "friend of the court" briefs; SCOTUS "opinions are increasingly studded with citations of facts they learned from amicus briefs." "The trouble with amicus facts... is that today anyone can claim to be a factual expert."
The Rise of Beefcake Yoga. (slnyt) Not the trend piece the title suggests, instead a very particular story centered around Diamond Dallas Page.
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
On a visit to Smithville, Texas, in 2012, the blogger behind My Big Gay Ears found himself talking with a local artist about paper dolls. The artist turned out to be Tom Tierney, a major force in reviving the tradition of drawing famous people in their skivvies (or swimsuits) and providing them with a 2-D wardrobe. He died last month at his home in Smithville (NYT obituary), leaving behind a memorable and varied body of work. [more inside]
"Since first opening in 1934 in a converted sheepfold off 67th Street, on the western edge of Central Park, the storied franchise (which is still licensed by the Parks Department) has been a reliable hit. Joe Baum put the restaurant on the national culinary map during the 1960s, and when Warner LeRoy doubled the capacity several years later and added the famous Crystal Room, it became one of the great circus-dining destinations in the world. LeRoy’s heirs ran the profitable old production for years (in 2006, it was still the second-highest-grossing restaurant in the USA, behind Tao Las Vegas), until the great crash of 2008 brought their company to its knees. Now, after years of drama and delay, Tavern on the Green has opened its doors once again, this time under the direction of a hospitality operation originally from Philadelphia called the Emerald Green Group. " So begins Adam Platt's zero star review of the re-opened Tavern On The Green. Others have not been glowing. Even the Post got a few kicks in. Peter Wells' scathing takedown in the New York Times might be better experienced with some happy sheep.
The success of “24” was just one innovation of the ‘00s that helped change the TV landscape into what we’re living with today. Another was the rise of the premium cable drama. “The Sopranos” wasn’t HBO’s first original series, but it was its first to draw comparisons to Shakespeare. Broadcast networks, seeing all that prestige flowing higher on the dial, started pushing the boundaries of what kind of language and imagery they could get away with in order for network series to be as dark and transgressive as premium-network fare. Or at least, I assume that’s how I came to see a human corpse turned into a cello on NBC’s “Hannibal” last year.Tara Ariano on Why Jack Bauer Is to Blame for ‘Bonkers TV’
(Article contains some SPOILERs for Game of Thrones, Salem, Scandal, and American Horror Story.)
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]