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An Atheist Christmas

December 26, 2014 at 10:35 pm

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The New York Times greeted Christmas with not just one but two op-ed pieces about how atheists should approach the holiday. That seemed a bit much even for the Times, but I suppose that paper's editors know their audience better than I do.


Florida Passes New York

December 24, 2014 at 12:46 pm

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The New York Times manages to write an entire news article about Florida passing New York in population without using the word "tax."

"population experts said that the new rankings probably had more to do with longstanding immigration trends — large concentrations of people from Central and Latin American staking out new lives in Florida — than with economic development policies," the Times reports.

What about the people from New York staking out new lives in Florida? And what would the Times ever do without "experts"?

The Times attributes Florida's population growth to "air-conditioning."

For the record, Florida has no state income tax, while New York City and state combined have some of the highest top rates in the whole country.


Mr. Carson

December 21, 2014 at 10:57 pm

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A Times dispatch about the presidential campaign of Ben Carson refers to him as "a retired pediatric neurosurgeon" but also, repeatedly, as "Mr. Carson" rather than "Dr. Carson." On Twitter, a Times social media editor responded to my question about it by citing Times style to the effect that "Dr. should be used in all references for physicians...whose practice is their primary current occupation."

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Liberal Guilt Over Israel

December 21, 2014 at 10:45 pm

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Is it just me or is the New York Times turning into a parody of itself in respect of its coverage of Israel primarily as a source of guilt/anxiety/embarrassment for liberal Jews who don't live there?

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Times Excellence

December 17, 2014 at 11:29 am

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This site spends a lot of time criticizing the Times, but we also try to notice when the newspaper performs well. Two recent examples of enterprising journalism that received front-page play in the Times despite running against the paper's ideological predilictions are: 1) A scathing and long profile of Norman Seabrook, the president of the union that represents New York City prison guards, and his influence with Mayor de Blasio, exposing public-sector unionism at its worse and 2) an article about how, as the Times put it, "The Obama administration overturned a ban preventing a wealthy, politically connected Ecuadorean woman from entering the United States after her family gave tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic campaigns, according to finance records and government officials."

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Amazon's Prices

December 15, 2014 at 9:36 am

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An article in today's Times by David Streitfeld is critical of Amazon.com for charging prices on books that Mr. Streitfeld says are too high.

This strikes me as a bizarre criticism. Mr. Streitfield describes Amazon's prices as "less than compelling." As an example, he writes that on Amazon, "The standard biography of Mr. Dick was discounted 15 percent." Absent from the article was a comparison of what the book was selling for on other sites. My check showed the Amazon price for that book was lower than the price at barnesandnoble.com (which had a 14% discount) and lower that the price at Powells.com, which had no discount at all.

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Times To Raise Prices

December 15, 2014 at 9:32 am

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From a letter in my morning paper: "Effective January 5, 2015, there will be an increase in the price of home delivery of The New York Times. The new weekly rates are shown below, and represent just 40 cents to 90 cents more per week, depending on which days of the week you receive service." The seven-day rate goes up to $17.80, which, at 52 weeks a year, is $925.60.


Times at a Crossroads

December 15, 2014 at 9:22 am

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"Bureaucrats are throttling businesses that are doing particularly well and forcing them to become joint ventures with the state. The underlying message seems to be: We want prosperity but not overly prosperous individuals." — From a Times editorial, "Cuba's Economy at a Crossroads," that appears to disapprove of this approach.

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France and Israel

December 9, 2014 at 9:22 am

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A front page New York Times article headlined "Israel Struggles With Its Identity" includes this passage:

Few would dispute that, say, France can be both a French homeland and a democracy with non-French citizens, but Israel is a different case, not least because its Arab and Druse minorities are indigenous, not immigrant.

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Times Journey to Cuba

November 25, 2014 at 9:26 am

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With its advertising and subscription revenue insufficient to support its news staff and still provide an acceptable return on capital to shareholders, the Times is turning to new areas of business, including organizing trips for tourists. A "Times Journey" to Iran guided by a Times journalist was the topic of a report here last month that attracted a lot of attention.

Now the Times has added Communist Cuba to the list of destinations of its "Times Journeys." For the sum of $6,495, you too can enjoy nine days and eight nights on a trip that the Times says is "permitted by a special People-to-People license for The New York Times from the Department of Treasury's Foreign Assets Control."

The itinerary includes a meeting with the U.S. government's interests section in Havana, but no visit to Cuban prisons such as the one in which the American Alan Gross is being held for the "crime" of bringing communications equipment into Cuba.

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Lost in Richmond

November 24, 2014 at 9:42 am

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The author Matthew Goodman flags a Times travel article from Richmond. The Times reports:

For decades, the 18th-century Church Hill neighborhood of Richmond, Va., has been a don't-go-after-dark spot. One of the city's oldest residential enclaves, its historic townhouses, gas lamps and St. John's Church — where Patrick Henry proclaimed "Give me liberty" — have long been tended to by a small band of passionate preservationists in an area of encroaching crime and poverty. But undervalued real estate and unparalleled views of downtown and the James River have increasingly drawn a fiercely loyal, self-starter set of residents. These days, Church Hill has some of the city's most appealing shops and dining spots.

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The Times on Harvard

November 21, 2014 at 8:54 am

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Reviewing Harvard's new art museum, Times art critic Holland Carter writes, "enough 'classical' touches have been retained to suit a school that has always been conservative and tradition bound at its cultural core."

Mr. Carter may be right on some level in his assessment, but it depends on where you sit. Plenty of conservatives, looking at Harvard, probably see it not as "conservative and tradition bound" but rather as a liberal institution whose law school has recently given us Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama. With its description of Harvard, the Times lets us know where it sits.


Foreign Language Times

November 20, 2014 at 10:11 am

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Times journalist Lydia Polgreen announced on Twitter that she is "starting a new gig, leading a team that will explore publishing the New York Times in languages other than English."

Good luck with that. Dow Jones just announced it was discontinuing its local-language websites in Germany and Turkey and its Turkish-language newswire, though it does produce Spanish-language content. The Times did publish a Spanish-language version of its recent editorial calling on America to restrict the immigration of Cuban doctors, and it published a Chinese-language version of its recent editorial about the visa issues facing Times journalists in China.

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Would Midnight Basketball Deter Jihad?

November 20, 2014 at 9:38 am

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Back in August of 2013, a front-page Times article about Palestinian Arab children who throw rocks at Israelis explained: "They throw because there is little else to do in Beit Ommar — no pool or cinema, no music lessons after school, no part-time jobs other than peddling produce along the road."

Today's Times carries a fascinating dispatch from Paris about two Frenchmen, Michael Dos Santos and Maxime Hauchard, who converted to Islam, joined the Islamic State, and appeared as ISIS members in the latest beheading video:

On Monday, news reports quoted friends describing Mr. Hauchard as gentle, joyful and a regular mosquegoer. "He was never rebellious," Philippe Vanheule, the mayor of Bosc-Roger-en-Roumois, told Le Monde.

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Brooks on Obama

November 18, 2014 at 9:38 am

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David Brooks uses the term "Gruberism" — defined as "the belief that everybody else is slightly dumber and less well-motivated than oneself and, therefore, politics is more about manipulation than conversation" — in his column today. I used the same term yesterday at FutureOfCapitalism.com. It's a pretty good column as Brooks columns go, but it is marred by a puzzling sentence toward the beginning: "President Obama has racked up some impressive foreign-policy accomplishments, but, domestically and politically, things are off the rails."

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