Tag Archives: new york times

we hope. we despair. we hope.

If you are fed up with federal politics and just need some new faith in government (or want to see something clever and aesthetically pleasing), read this:

E Pluribus Unum

Out of many, one.

[Posted by Kathleen]

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tucked tails and benefits of blushing.

Here are two psych-ish articles you can think about today, both from the NYT:

  • Can your dog feel regret? (My dog, Copper, certainly hangs his head and sneaks around a little bit when he does something wrong, like eating an entire cake. Maybe it’s no coincidence.)
  • And can blushing actually be a good thing?

Share your thoughts in the comments!

[Posted by Mallory]

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tuesday roundup of interesting nytimes articles.

Some days, the New York Times seems particularly stacked with good articles. It could just be that those are the days I actually focus and read the articles (rather than just skimming the headlines), but for whatever reason, today was a good day. In no particular order, and with quite a range of topics, enjoy:

  • I haven’t been watching American Idol much this season, but according to Stephen Holden, we’ve got an interesting finale on our hands: sweet — if slightly boring — Southern dude versus androgynous L.A. dude. I might actually have to tune in tonight. Holden convinced me that along with being something of a godsend for Idol’s ratings, the matchup will make for some very watchable teevee. Better than the forgettable Davids of last year.
  • Speaking of Davids, according to David Brooks and a study called “Which C.E.O. Characteristics and Abilities Matter?”, warm and fun and friendly people are less likely to be C.E.O.’s. Basically, “warm, flexible, team-oriented and empathetic people are less likely to thrive as C.E.O.’s. Organized, dogged, anal-retentive and slightly boring people are more likely to thrive.” Of course, those sets of qualities can’t be mutually exclusive, but the study makes a point. Boring people of the world: aim high. Fun ones: go into politics.
  • What do our college degrees and cell phones say about us? According to this John Tierney article, they can potentially say a lot — and most of us like to believe they say a lot, which is why we aim for Ivy Leagues and iPhones — but it only matters if other people are paying attention. In other words, “A Harvard diploma might get you a date or a job interview, but what you say during the date or the conversation will make the difference. An elegantly thin Skagen watch might send a signal to a stranger at a cocktail party or in an airport lounge, but even if it were noticed, anyone who talked to you for just a few minutes would get a much better gauge of your intelligence and personality.”
  • I found this reflective piece by Dana Jennings to be quite thought-provoking. In it, he recounts three major hospital visits in his lifetime: one at the age of 12, one at the age of 27, and one just last year, at the age of 51. All of the visits were relatively serious and had the potential to be life-threatening, but the way he reacted to the hospital stays predictably changed a lot over the years. As he puts it, “When I was young and ill, all I cared about was the result, about scalpels and scars. But in this waltz with prostate cancer, I’ve cared about the process, too. All along, I’ve wanted to know what this cancer could teach me, and I’d like to think I gripped it just as hard as it has gripped me.”

[Posted by Mallory]

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mccain lied, i’m tired, the end.

I just had like a million hours of class — with the last class culminating in a raging debate over the format of our final — and then WALKED home so I’m kind of tired. I know, my life is really hard. But thanks to the New York Times News Alerts, I was among the first to read this little ditty, which I will cut and paste for your reading pleasure, because again, I’m tired.

McCain Aide’s Firm Was Paid by Freddie Mac

One of the giant mortgage companies at the heart of the credit crisis paid $15,000 a month to a firm owned by Senator John McCain’s campaign manager from the end of 2005 through last month, according to two people with direct knowledge of the arrangement. The disclosure contradicts a statement Sunday night by Mr. McCain that the campaign manager, Rick Davis, had no involvement with the company for the last several years.

You can read more about the issue here. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t exactly understand this stuff, but here’s a little more info to help us understand:


Mr. Davis’s firm received the payments from the company, Freddie Mac, until it was taken over by the government this month along with Fannie Mae, the other big mortgage lender whose deteriorating finances helped precipitate the cascading problems on Wall Street, the two people said.

They said they did not recall Mr. Davis’s doing much substantive work for the company in return for the money, other than to speak to a political action committee of high-ranking employees in October 2006 on the approaching midterm Congressional elections. They said Mr. Davis’s firm, Davis Manafort, had been kept on the payroll because of his close ties to Mr. McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, who by 2006 was widely expected to run again for the White House.

Mr. Davis took a leave from Davis Manafort for the presidential campaign, but as an equity holder continues to benefit from its income. No one at Davis Manafort other than Mr. Davis was involved in efforts on Freddie Mac’s behalf, the people familiar with the arrangement said.


And all this is on the heels of the McCain campaign releasing ads tying Obama to Fannie Mae chiefs. Hmm. Nice straight talk there, Maverick. But don’t worry, America: my Belgian friend just assured me that Obama and Biden have it in the bag.

[Posted by Mallory]

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bartlet, meet obama. obama, meet bartlet.

This comes via NJ correspondent, Madeline.  Maureen Dowd had a stroke of genius and asked Aaron Sorkin to write the scene (aka write her column for her) of a meeting between Barack Obama and the fictional (sadly) president from the West Wing, Jed Bartlet.  For the record, Jed Bartlet is from New Hampshire.

Anyway, here it is.  Straight from the New York Times.

BARACK OBAMA knocks on the front door of a 300-year-old New Hampshire farmhouse while his Secret Service detail waits in the driveway. The door opens and OBAMA is standing face to face with former President JED BARTLET.

BARTLET Senator.

OBAMA Mr. President.

BARTLET You seem startled.

OBAMA I didn’t expect you to answer the door yourself.

BARTLET I didn’t expect you to be getting beat by John McCain and a Lancôme rep who thinks “The Flintstones” was based on a true story, so let’s call it even.

OBAMA Yes, sir.

BARTLET Come on in.

BARTLET leads OBAMA into his study.

BARTLET That was a hell of a convention.

OBAMA Thank you, I was proud of it.

BARTLET I meant the Republicans. The Us versus Them-a-thon. As a Democrat I was surprised to learn that I don’t like small towns, God, people with jobs or America. I’ve been a little out of touch but is there a mandate that the vice president be skilled at field dressing a moose –

OBAMA Look –

BARTLET – and selling Air Force Two on eBay?

OBAMA Joke all you want, Mr. President, but it worked.

BARTLET Imagine my surprise. What can I do for you, kid?

OBAMA I’m interested in your advice.

BARTLET I can’t give it to you.

OBAMA Why not?

BARTLET I’m supporting McCain.


BARTLET He’s promised to eradicate evil and that was always on my “to do” list.


BARTLET And he’s surrounded himself, I think, with the best possible team to get us out of an economic crisis. Why, Sarah Palin just said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had “gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers.” Can you spot the error in that statement?

OBAMA Yes, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac aren’t funded by taxpayers.

BARTLET Well, at least they are now. Kind of reminds you of the time Bush said that Social Security wasn’t a government program. He was only off by a little – Social Security is the largest government program.

OBAMA I appreciate your sense of humor, sir, but I really could use your advice.

BARTLET Well, it seems to me your problem is a lot like the problem I had twice.

OBAMA Which was?

BARTLET A huge number of Americans thought I thought I was superior to them.



OBAMA I mean, how did you overcome that?

BARTLET I won’t lie to you, being fictional was a big advantage.

OBAMA What do you mean?

BARTLET I’m a fictional president. You’re dreaming right now, Senator.

OBAMA I’m asleep?

BARTLET Yes, and you’re losing a ton of white women.

OBAMA Yes, sir.

BARTLET I mean tons.

OBAMA I understand.

BARTLET I didn’t even think there were that many white women.

OBAMA I see the numbers, sir. What do they want from me?

BARTLET I’ve been married to a white woman for 40 years and I still don’t know what she wants from me.

OBAMA How did you do it?

BARTLET Well, I say I’m sorry a lot.

OBAMA I don’t mean your marriage, sir. I mean how did you get America on your side?

BARTLET There again, I didn’t have to be president of America, I just had to be president of the people who watched “The West Wing.”

OBAMA That would make it easier.

BARTLET You’d do very well on NBC. Thursday nights in the old “ER” time slot with “30 Rock” as your lead-in, you’d get seven, seven-five in the demo with a 20, 22 share – you’d be selling $450,000 minutes.

OBAMA What the hell does that mean?

BARTLET TV talk. I thought you’d be interested.

OBAMA I’m not. They pivoted off the argument that I was inexperienced to the criticism that I’m – wait for it – the Messiah, who, by the way, was a community organizer. When I speak I try to lead with inspiration and aptitude. How is that a liability?

BARTLET Because the idea of American exceptionalism doesn’t extend to Americans being exceptional. If you excelled academically and are able to casually use 690 SAT words then you might as well have the press shoot video of you giving the finger to the Statue of Liberty while the Dixie Chicks sing the University of the Taliban fight song. The people who want English to be the official language of the United States are uncomfortable with their leaders being fluent in it.

OBAMA You’re saying race doesn’t have anything to do with it?

BARTLET I wouldn’t go that far. Brains made me look arrogant but they make you look uppity. Plus, if you had a black daughter –

OBAMA I have two.

BARTLET – who was 17 and pregnant and unmarried and the father was a teenager hoping to launch a rap career with “Thug Life” inked across his chest, you’d come in fifth behind Bob Barr, Ralph Nader and a ficus.

OBAMA You’re not cheering me up.

BARTLET Is that what you came here for?

OBAMA No, but it wouldn’t kill you.

BARTLET Have you tried doing a two-hour special or a really good Christmas show?


BARTLET Hang on. Home run. Right here. Is there any chance you could get Michelle pregnant before the fall sweeps?

OBAMA The problem is we can’t appear angry. Bush called us the angry left. Did you see anyone in Denver who was angry?

BARTLET Well … let me think. …We went to war against the wrong country, Osama bin Laden just celebrated his seventh anniversary of not being caught either dead or alive, my family’s less safe than it was eight years ago, we’ve lost trillions of dollars, millions of jobs, thousands of lives and we lost an entire city due to bad weather. So, you know … I’m a little angry.

OBAMA What would you do?

BARTLET GET ANGRIER! Call them liars, because that’s what they are. Sarah Palin didn’t say “thanks but no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere. She just said “Thanks.” You were raised by a single mother on food stamps – where does a guy with eight houses who was legacied into Annapolis get off calling you an elitist? And by the way, if you do nothing else, take that word back. Elite is a good word, it means well above average. I’d ask them what their problem is with excellence. While you’re at it, I want the word “patriot” back. McCain can say that the transcendent issue of our time is the spread of Islamic fanaticism or he can choose a running mate who doesn’t know the Bush doctrine from the Monroe Doctrine, but he can’t do both at the same time and call it patriotic. They have to lie – the truth isn’t their friend right now. Get angry. Mock them mercilessly; they’ve earned it. McCain decried agents of intolerance, then chose a running mate who had to ask if she was allowed to ban books from a public library. It’s not bad enough she thinks the planet Earth was created in six days 6,000 years ago complete with a man, a woman and a talking snake, she wants schools to teach the rest of our kids to deny geology, anthropology, archaeology and common sense too? It’s not bad enough she’s forcing her own daughter into a loveless marriage to a teenage hood, she wants the rest of us to guide our daughters in that direction too? It’s not enough that a woman shouldn’t have the right to choose, it should be the law of the land that she has to carry and deliver her rapist’s baby too? I don’t know whether or not Governor Palin has the tenacity of a pit bull, but I know for sure she’s got the qualifications of one. And you’re worried about seeming angry? You could eat their lunch, make them cry and tell their mamas about it and God himself would call it restrained. There are times when you are simply required to be impolite. There are times when condescension is called for!

OBAMA Good to get that off your chest?

BARTLET Am I keeping you from something?

OBAMA Well, it’s not as if I didn’t know all of that and it took you like 20 minutes to say.

BARTLET I know, I have a problem, but admitting it is the first step.

OBAMA What’s the second step?

BARTLET I don’t care.

OBAMA So what about hope? Chuck it for outrage and put-downs?

BARTLET No. You’re elite, you can do both. Four weeks ago you had the best week of your campaign, followed – granted, inexplicably – by the worst week of your campaign. And you’re still in a statistical dead heat. You’re a 47-year-old black man with a foreign-sounding name who went to Harvard and thinks devotion to your country and lapel pins aren’t the same thing and you’re in a statistical tie with a war hero and a Cinemax heroine. To these aged eyes, Senator, that’s what progress looks like. You guys got four debates. Get out of my house and go back to work.

OBAMA Wait, what is it you always used to say? When you hit a bump on the show and your people were down and frustrated? You’d give them a pep talk and then you’d always end it with something. What was it …?

BARTLET “Break’s over.”


I thought the best line was, “The people who want English to be the official language of the United States are uncomfortable with their leaders being fluent in it.”  Oh, Jed Bartlet.  So wise.

I miss the West Wing.

[Posted by Kathleen]


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lebanon shrine honors a terrorist suspect.

I’m not even sure how to analyze this New York Times article, but I think you should read it. It’s about a shrine that was recently built in Lebanon to honor terrorist suspect Imad Mugniyah. Here’s an excerpt:

Now, [Hezbollah] has opened an exhibit in this southern town in honor of Mr. Mugniyah, who is widely accused in the West of masterminding devastating bombings, kidnappings and hijackings in the 1980s and ’90s. His stern, bearded face towers over the transformed parking lot where the exhibit is taking place, along with banners exalting him as “the leader of the two victories” — the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000 and the 2006 summer war with Israel.

The presentation, which opened Aug. 15, is Hezbollah’s most ambitious multimedia exhibit to date, meant to dramatize the group’s bitter conflict with Israel on the second anniversary of their latest war. Schoolchildren pour in throughout the day, absorbing the carefully honed message of heroic resistance. At night, light and laser shows illuminate the weaponry and tanks, and overflow crowds have been keeping it open until after 1 a.m.

At first glance, the exhibit could almost be taken for an outdoor children’s museum. The green entrance awning is a huge replica of Mr. Mugniyah’s signature cap, and visitors then cross a “victory bridge” made partly from artillery shells. But it soon takes on a more grisly cast.

A fake skeleton stands upright in a torn uniform and helmet beneath the legend, “The invincible Israeli soldier.” There are captured Israeli tanks jutting up from the ground at odd angles, their hatches burned and broken. As visitors crowd from one display to another, a soundtrack blares overhead, mixing the sounds of bombs and machine-gun fire with mournful operatic voices and warlike speeches.

Creepy, right? 

[Posted by Mallory]

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wonder if the olsens had trouble…

I’ve written before about how the college admissions process mystifies me. I also don’t often understand employment decisions, or acceptances into all sorts of programs (Teach For America, for instance). In each situation, someone has to make a decision based on relatively little information, and they must choose from among many, many applicants or candidates. It’s always sort of a fluke. It’s a hard job, and I certainly wouldn’t want to do it.

I found this article in today’s New York Times very interesting. Called “Is There a Better Half,” it talks about the unique challenges that twins and triplets face when applying to college. On top of considering whether or not they want to be together, or at least geographically close, they also have to consider how being a twin or a triplet will affect their applications when applying to the same school:

“Other people were applying to Harvard from our school,” Olivia [one of a set of triplets] explains, “and it’s not like Harvard was going to take five people. Sometimes it only takes one or two. I knew colleges place this huge emphasis on geographical diversity. So were they really going to take two people from the exact same household?”

Eek. Applying to college is hard enough as it is; I wouldn’t want any other factors complicating the process. (Thing about the agony that the Gosselins will go through!) Take a look at the article, then grab a frosty beverage and head outside, as I plan to do riiiiiight now.

[Posted by Mallory]


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nyt op-ed roundup of the day.

Okay, so I really just want to write about two particular New York Times op-ed pieces, but let’s go ahead and call it a roundup because that sounds more bloggy and professional.

The first article that all of you must read is Nicholas Kristof’s “It Takes a School, Not Missiles.” Kristof talks about Greg Mortenson, “a frumpy, genial man from Montana” who has made it his mission to build schools (mostly for girls) in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mortenson is the author of the crazy popular book Three Cups of Tea, which I actually had not heard of until my grandma recommended it to me this weekend. I can’t wait to read it. I’ll give you one of the best excerpts from the article, and then I’ll let you read it yourself:

“I am convinced that the long-term solution to terrorism in general, and Afghanistan specifically, is education,” Lt. Col. Christopher Kolenda, who works on the Afghan front lines, said in an e-mail in which he raved about Mr. Mortenson’s work. “The conflict here will not be won with bombs but with books. … The thirst for education here is palpable.”

Military force is essential in Afghanistan to combat the Taliban. But over time, in Pakistan and Afghanistan alike, the best tonic against militant fundamentalism will be education and economic opportunity.

So a lone Montanan staying at the cheapest guest houses has done more to advance U.S. interests in the region than the entire military and foreign policy apparatus of the Bush administration.

Here’s a photo of Mortenson and some of the kids he helped:

The second article I want to share with you was written by this obscure guest columnist for the Times, a United States senator from Illinois named Barack Obama. Saint B’s article is about his plan for Iraq. The article is worth reading for all those people who say that Obama is just some young punk who has no idea what he’s talking about and is going to send the world spiraling into chaos. Again, take a look at an excerpt, then go read the whole thing:

As I’ve said many times, we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 — two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began. After this redeployment, a residual force in Iraq would perform limited missions: going after any remnants of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, protecting American service members and, so long as the Iraqis make political progress, training Iraqi security forces. That would not be a precipitous withdrawal.

Well put, Barry. Well put.

And I know I’m not particularly ahead of the curve in talking about these articles — they are the top one and two most emailed articles on the NYT right now — but in case you don’t frequent the Times, I wanted to make sure you could take a look. Happy reading!

[Posted by Mallory]

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first, pill-popping pets. now suing simians?

This morning, while poking around the New York Times, I read that “Spain’s parliament recently passed a resolution granting legal rights to apes,” which is good news for Rafael Nadal. The law will allow chimps to be kept in zoos, but they will no longer be allowed to perform in circuses or other performances, and any research that would harm them has been banned.

I’m torn about my thoughts on this news. I’m a big fan of animals — though not to the point where I’ll give up my sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwiches — and in a lot of ways, apes certainly seem deserving of some legal rights. As the author, Adam Cohen, points out,

Great apes are biologically very close to humans; chimps and humans share about 98 percent of their DNA. Apes have complex communication skills and close emotional bonds. They experience loneliness and sorrow. They deserve some respect.

Still, I can also see where the worry about a slippery slope would come in. Sure, it might be easy to agree that because they are so close to humans, apes deserve some protection, but could this open the door to offering legal rights to dogs, cats, even hamsters? Maybe not, but it’s worth thinking about, especially in light of another recent NYT article that Kathleen briefly posted about: “Pill-Popping Pets.”

In the article, James Vlahos visits a German shepherd, Max, who has recently begun taking psychoactive drugs for the treatment of, essentially, doggy OCD. Max’s symptoms sound awfully familiar. For starters, he has separation anxiety. About a decade ago, my family got a dog named Granby, who was sweet and loving and mellow — while we were around. When left alone, he could break free from a kennel that was secured shut with bungee cords, and would, among other things, knock our TV from its shelf and eat the insulation from our pipes. After two months, we had to send Granby away to live on farm, where he had room to run around (I’m still not completely convinced that “farm” doesn’t mean “heaven,” but my mom swears Granby’s fine). If given the opportunity to get Granby to calm down with a little doggy Prozac, we might have jumped at the chance.

On the other hand, our current dog, Copper, is also a bit of a terror, but I don’t think we’d ever consider medicating him (besides “calming pills” that my mom used to give him, three at a time, which had absolutely no effect). Sure, Copper occasionally eats entire cakes or finds a way to shotgun a Hansen’s soda or hides my favorite shoes, but although his behavior is frustrating, we can handle it. 

Along with his love for human food, Copper has a need to always be close to people, like the dog in the article. About Max, Vlahos writes:

For starters, there was his overpowering need to be near people, especially Allan [his male owner]. If they put Max outside, he quickly relieved himself and then rushed back indoors; he raced into rooms that Allan was about to occupy; he rested his head against the bathroom door during his master’s ablutions.

That’s Copper in a nutshell. He’s not content to just be in the same room as me, but he feels the need to actually be on my lap (he’s not a lap dog). Waiting outside while I shower isn’t enough; he needs to sit directly in front of the shower door. And to get super cheesy on you, it’s these qualities that make Copper so endearing. The thought of medicating them away is appalling.

Cohen makes perhaps the most important conclusion we can take from both of these articles. Sure, we are obligated to take care of our animals (in the various ways that can manifest itself), but only so long as we are taking care of our fellow humans first:

American law is becoming increasingly cruel. The Supreme Court recently ruled that states are not obliged to administer lethal injections in ways that avoid unnecessary risk that inmates will suffer great pain. If apes are given the right to humane treatment, it just might become harder to deny that same right to their human cousins.

[Posted by Mallory]

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coleslaw and some pumpkin pie, anyone?

Killer Tofu

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a big fan of the New York Times, and in between important receptionisty phone calls, I like to peruse the website in an effort to make myself feel smarter. Because I’m a huge health nut (HAH!), I was drawn to this article on “The 11 Best Foods You Aren’t Eating Yet.” Let’s play a little free association game with the list:

  1. Beets: Whatever happened to Doug Funny? That was a great show. In the spring, a band came to my school and played a cover of one of The Beets’ songs, and that really made me happy. Also, did you know that there are people who go on Wikipedia and list all of the characters from a given TV show? Take a look at the list for Doug here.
  2. Cabbage: Mmm coleslaw and fish tacos. Cabbage and mayonnaise (hah, speaking of Doug) are the new peanut butter and jelly. No?
  3. Swiss chard: I haven’t the faintest idea what this is, but it makes me think of swiss cheese, which makes me think of my roommates, which makes me miss college.
  4. Cinnamon: The other day I found a bowl of atomic fireballs at work, and since my day had been so un-challenging in general, I decide to challenge myself to eat a fireball. Good god that think was hot! I barely finished it, but because I’m a dedicated eater who hates to lose any kind of contest, I prevailed.
  5. Pomegranate juice: I like this stuff. But did you know you can get a pomegranate martini these days? If you ever catch me drinking any kind of flavored -tini, smack me and pour the drink in my face, then order me a beer.
  6. Dried plums: Ha ha, see what they did there? They’re trying to trick you into eating PRUNES! Don’t be fooled!
  7. Pumpkin seeds: For some reason, I ate a lot of these when I was in Italy. I would get them at one of those adorable street stands, or at the massive totally American grocery store in my apartment building. I would eat them until my lips burned from all the salt (YUM) and the seeds had to be forcibly removed from my grip.
  8. Sardines: This is making me think of Popeye, but I think he just ate spinach. Hmm.
  9. Turmeric: Come again?
  10. Frozen blueberries: I know people say that frozen fruit is a delicious, healthy snack, but I like to keep my frozen desserts filled with chocolate and high in saturated fat.
  11. Canned pumpkin: “When you die, if you get a choice between going to regular heaven or pie heaven, choose pie heaven. It might be a trick, but if not…mmmmm, boy!” I love Jack Handy.

That was fun, but now I’m hungry.

[Posted by Mallory]

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