Can China take a joke? The NYT Magazine examines the growing standup comedy scene in China, and its complicated relationship with traditional Chinese "cross-talk" performances, and modern Chinese society. [previously on metafilter]
via NYT: "Each year, we put out a call for college application essays about money, work and social class. This year, we picked seven -- about pizza, parental sacrifice, prep school students, discrimination and deprivation."
When Birds Squawk, Other Species Seem to Listen by Christopher Solomon [New York Times]
A professor’s hunch is that birds are saying much more in warning of danger than previously suspected, and that other animals have evolved to understand the signals.
In Flight [New York Times] [Interactive] En route from London to Tokyo, a pilot’s-eye view of life in the sky.
In China, Pigs Are Flying. Almost. [New York Times]
"With summer almost here, swine across China are jumping or being shoved off platforms and splashing into pools and ponds, where they bob around before paddling to shore."
Transgender Lives: Your Stories (NYT). As part of a series of editorials about transgender experiences, we are featuring personal stories that reflect the strength, diversity and challenges of the community.
nytimes.cat is one of the strangest sites I've seen in some time. I have no idea how these people got their cats wedged into their newspaper, or why.
Hundreds Feared Dead After Boat Filled With Migrants Capsizes in Mediterranean [New York Times]
"For the past several years, Europe has been confronted with hundreds of thousands of migrants arriving illegally from Africa and the Middle East, many of them fleeing war and poverty. Italy has been in the vanguard of rescue efforts, with its Navy and Coast Guard ships rescuing more than 130,000 people last year in a widely praised program known as Mare Nostrum."[more inside]
Once-Prized Tibetan Mastiffs Are Discarded as Fad Ends in China [New York Times]
“Then there is the Tibetan mastiff, a lumbering shepherding dog native to the Himalayan highlands that was once the must-have accouterment for status-conscious Chinese. Four years ago, a reddish-brown purebred named Big Splash sold for $1.6 million, according to news reports, though cynics said the price was probably exaggerated for marketing purposes. No reasonable buyer, self-anointed experts said at the time, would pay more than $250,000 for a premium specimen.”
The Cuddly, Fluffy, Surreal World of Angora Show Bunnies [New York Times]
With beguiling beauty — and an arduous hair-care regimen — these rabbits compete to reach the height of perfection.
California Drought Tests History of Endless Growth [New York Times]
A punishing drought is forcing a reconsideration of whether the aspiration of untrammeled growth that has for so long been the state’s engine has run against the limits of nature.California Water Use [New York Times] Are you affected? [New York Times] The Drought, explained. [New York Times Video] [more inside]
"Mad Men" and Its Love Affair With 60s Pop Culture “Nothing ended up in the show that wasn’t related to story.”
Headgear Rule for Girls’ Lacrosse Ignites Outcry [New York Times]
Worried about the risk of serious head injuries in a sport where the players wield reinforced sticks and rifle shots with a hard, unyielding ball, Florida last month became the first state to require high school girls’ lacrosse teams to wear protective headgear.
The Brain’s Empathy Gap: [New York Times]
Can mapping neural pathways help us make friends with our enemies?
Raising Teenagers: The Mother of All Problems by Rachel Cusk [New York Times]
Children are characters in the family story we tell — until, one day, they start telling it themselves.
"In July 1960, Jane Goodall boarded a boat, and after a few hours motoring over the warm, deep waters of Lake Tanganyika, she stepped onto the pebbly beach at Gombe. Last summer, almost exactly 54 years later, Jane Goodall was standing on the same beach. The vast lake was still warm, the beach beneath her clear plastic sandals still pebbly. But nearly everything else in sight was different."
Cabbies’ Street Knowledge Takes Back Seat [New York Times]
New York cabbies have long had to face a rigorous set of geography questions on the test they must pass to get a license. Now those questions have disappeared.Related: Who Needs a GPS? A New York Geography Quiz
A Giant Picture of Snow Across the United States [New York Times]
These composite satellite images compare the snow cover in February of 2013, 2014 and 2015. This year, much of the Northeast, including the New York metropolitan area and New England, received more than a foot of extra snow than in an average February.Each image is a composite of about 60 satellite pictures taken between Feb. 1 and March 5 of each year. Whiter areas indicate greater snow cover.
Two Outcomes, Similar Paths: Radical Muslim and Neo-Nazi. "Religious ideology plays a central role in the radicalization of young Muslim Europeans currently being lured to join the Islamic State or kill in the group’s name at home. But the psychological process underlying radicalization is remarkably universal, terrorism experts say." (previously)
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]
My Saga, Part 1 By Karl Ove Knausgaard [New York Times] Following the trail of the first Europeans to set foot in America, the first of two parts. Previously. Previously. [more inside]
When you watch the Putin Show, you live in a superpower. You are a rebel in Ukraine bravely leveling the once-state-of-the-art Donetsk airport with Russian-supplied weaponry. You are a Russian-speaking grandmother standing by her destroyed home in Luhansk shouting at the fascist Nazis, much as her mother probably did when the Germans invaded more than 70 years ago. You are a priest sprinkling blessings on a photogenic convoy of Russian humanitarian aid headed for the front line. To suffer and to survive: This must be the meaning of being Russian. It was in the past and will be forever.Gary Shteyngart watches a week of Russian television.
2 Deadly Shootings Within Hours in Copenhagen; 5 Wounded [New York Times]
A shooting at a free speech event featuring an artist who had caricatured the Prophet Muhammad and a second shooting hours later outside a synagogue left two dead and five police officers wounded in Copenhagen, stirring fears that another terror spree was underway in a European capital a month after 17 people were killed in Paris attacks.[more inside]
David Carr, journalist and media columnist for the New York Times passed away suddenly earlier tonight. [more inside]
Lights Out in Nigeria by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie [New York Times]
"LAGOS, Nigeria — WE call it light; “electricity” is too sterile a word, and “power” too stiff, for this Nigerian phenomenon that can buoy spirits and smother dreams. Whenever I have been away from home for a while, my first question upon returning is always: “How has light been?” The response, from my gateman, comes in mournful degrees of a head shake. Bad. Very bad.Previously.
A Twist in the Murder of a 97-Year-Old Man: He Was Knifed 5 Decades Ago: [New York Times]
The New York medical examiner determined that an operation after a stabbing in the 1950s led to Antonio Ciccarello’s death in September at 97. The police have opened a murder investigation.
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.
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]
Céline Unveils Its Latest Poster Girl: Joan Didion [New York Times]
“I don’t have any clue,” said the 80-year-old author of well-thumbed classics such as “The White Album,” “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” and “The Year of Magical Thinking,” reached by telephone on Wednesday at her Upper East Side residence (where the photo, by Juergen Teller, was taken). “I have no idea.” Whose idea was this? “They got in touch with me,” Ms. Didion said, as crisp as one of Phoebe Philo’s cotton tunics."[The Céline ad featuring Joan Didion.] [more inside]
As the West African Ebola epidemic stretches into its 10th month: researchers have identified the likely cause of the initial outbreak: a young boy playing with bats in a village in Guinea. The NY Times considers how the opportunity to contain the epidemic was missed and the effects of Ebola on West African economies. Vanity Fair takes a look at the failure to contain the disease within Guinea, Frontline goes to "Ground Zero" in Guinea, and searches for a missing Ebola patient. Meanwhile, West Africans welcomed Christmas (previously) and the New Year. Africa Stop Ebola!
Poynter's List of the Best (and Worst) Corrections, Retractions and Apologies in Media in 2014 Previously. Previouslier.
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.
In the early 1990s, photographer and cinematographer Lisa Leone was a fixture on the New York hip hop scene. She recently uncovered a trove of old behind-the-scenes photos of iconic rappers and breakdancers, which have been collected into the book Here I Am, and are currently on exhibit at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. The New York Times' Lens blog has an excellent selection of the shots.
On The Cult of Connie Britton: "But loving the Britton of today is tantamount to ignoring much of what Hollywood has tried to impute as ideal. She’s still thin, white, beautiful, and straight, but she’s the thing that the vast majority of mainstream media pretends doesn’t exist: a woman over 40. More specifically, a woman over 40 whose image combines the sexual and the maternal, the ambitious and the empathetic. " Connie Britton is a late bloomer (NYTimes, 2013). Things I could have said to Connie Britton when she came into my coffee shop the other day.
You don’t protect my freedom: Our childish insistence on calling soldiers heroes deadens real democracy [more inside]
First editions, second thoughts: [New York Times] "On December 2, Christie's will auction 75 first-edition books, each of which is a unique object that has been annotated with words and/or illustrations by its author. Proceeds from the auction will benefit PEN American Center."
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.
After 80, some people don’t retire. They reign. A collection of portraits of and interviews with men and women of a certain age. Here there be wisdom.
Closing a Chapter of a Literary Life [New York Times] Ahead of the American publication of his latest work, “The Book of Strange New Things,” Michel Faber discusses it and why it will be his last novel.
For those of you who wanted to follow the exercise plan featured in the NY Times on the 7 minute workout (previously), they now offer an app to make it easier to follow their program. [more inside]
Exquisite Corpse [New York Times]
Taking their cue from the Surrealist parlor game, 15 renowned authors take turns contributing to an original short story.[more inside]
"The United States had gone to war declaring it must destroy an active weapons of mass destruction program. Instead, American troops gradually found and ultimately suffered from the remnants of long-abandoned programs, built in close collaboration with the West."
- The Secret Casualties of Iraq's Abandoned Chemical Weapons (SLNYT) [more inside]