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New York Times Knee Surgery

July 4, 2017 at 11:47 pm

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Jane Brody's "Personal Health" column appears under the headline "What I Wish I'd Known About My Knees." It reports on arthroscopic surgery and steroid injections for knee troubles. The column reports: "Many of the procedures people undergo to counter chronic knee pain in the hopes of avoiding a knee replacement have limited or no evidence to support them. Some enrich the pockets of medical practitioners while rarely benefiting patients for more than a few months."

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Ignoring the Apple Architect

July 4, 2017 at 11:01 pm

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An excellent question from Paul Goldberger, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for his architecture criticism for the New York Times: "How can @nytimes write whole piece on new Apple hq, cite design details, and never mention architect, Norman Foster?"

The offending Times story is here.

The replies to Mr. Goldberger's Tweet are also worth a quick scroll — quite a few mention that the Times is not what it once was and that the newspaper is laying off a bunch of editors.

Foster's involvement would be particularly interesting to the Times' New York-based readers because of his involvement on the World Trade Center site and in a largely aborted plan to redesign the New York Public Library.


David Brooks Responds

June 30, 2017 at 10:44 am

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Maybe I'm reading too much into it, and it's just a coincidence, but it sure looks possible that Times columnist David Brooks read my criticism of his column and, in a subtle way, responded in his own column. Here's the back and forth:

My June 23 criticism:

From David Brooks' column, offering advice to people in their 20s:

"If you are going to be underemployed, do it in a way that people are going to find interesting later on. Nobody is ever going to ask you, 'What was it like being a nanny?' They will ask you, 'What was it like leading excursions of Outward Bound?'

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Most Condescending Passage of the Year

June 23, 2017 at 9:09 am

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From David Brooks' column, offering advice to people in their 20s:

If you are going to be underemployed, do it in a way that people are going to find interesting later on. Nobody is ever going to ask you, "What was it like being a nanny?" They will ask you, "What was it like leading excursions of Outward Bound?"

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Good Muslims

June 21, 2017 at 11:45 am

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From a New York Times theater review by Elisabeth Vincentelli of an off-Broadway production titled "36th Marathon Of One-Act Plays: Series C":

Most one-act plays have, by default, a tight focus: between two and four characters, unity of time and place. "The Good Muslim," on the other hand, ambitiously moves seven characters through a fast-food prep area, a porch, the subway and even virtual reality....

Until reality catches up, Aliah lets off steam by playing a game that appears to involve the mating rituals of white preppies. Then one day she has a terrifying encounter on the subway, a brief moment that evokes the racist harassment that's been flourishing during the past few months.

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Rediscovering the First Amendment

June 20, 2017 at 4:32 pm

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A New York Times staff editorial about the Supreme Court's Decision in Matal v. Tam includes this unusual passage:

The decision is likely to help the Washington Redskins, who lost their trademark protections in 2014 after years of complaints from Native American groups. At the time, this page supported the Trademark Office's decision, and we still regard the Redskins name as offensive. Based on this case, however, we've since reconsidered our underlying position.

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Trump Mergers and Acquisitions

June 19, 2017 at 9:02 am

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"C.E.O.s Say They're Confident, but Merger Numbers Don't Lie" was the headline on Andrew Ross Sorkin's June 12 New York Times column blaming President Trump for a lack of corporate deals. Mr. Sorkin wrote:

If you can't remember reading about a big deal announced recently, that's because there hasn't been one. The reality is that since Mr. Trump was elected, mergers have fallen off a cliff.

The numbers tell the story: So far this year, the number of deals and their size are at the lowest level since 2013....

Yes, the prospect of an early morning Twitter tirade from Mr. Trump may be holding back deal making. And that's not confidence inducing.

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Dwight Garner Versus the 1980s

June 19, 2017 at 8:45 am

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New York Times book critic Dwight Garner begins a review of a book that came out in 1984 by writing, "The 1980s, that otherwise deplorable decade, was a fertile era for satire."

It's a deplorable way to start a review, for a variety of reasons. Mr. Garner doesn't say what he found deplorable about the 1980s. Was it the economic growth? The tax cuts that allowed Americans to keep more of their own money? The Berlin Wall's fall, a Cold War victory that allowed millions to escape the misery of Soviet Communism? The stock market rally?

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Son of Communists Burns Money

June 11, 2017 at 7:16 pm

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Under the headline, "Oskar Eustis: The First Time I Burned Money (and Found My Calling)," the Times arts section features a first-person piece by Mr. Eustis, who "has been the artistic director of the Public Theater since 2005." Highlights:

I was born in 1958 and came of age in the '70s. I was raised in Minnesota by progressive Democrats (on my father and stepmother's side) and deeply committed Communists (my mother and stepfather).... After my parents' divorce, my mother married a second-generation Communist. She then converted and remained a passionate and committed party member until her death in 2014. ...

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Ponzi Scheme

June 8, 2017 at 3:07 pm

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The New York Times business section publishes an interview with Jenna Wortham, a staff writer for the New York Times magazine. It's not clear who conducted the interview; the byline on the article is "By Jenna Wortham," which makes it sound like she interviewed herself. Here is a passage from the interview:

What are your thoughts on Juicero, the $400 Silicon Valley system for squeezing juice that raised bucketloads of venture money but has faced questions over its effectiveness?

It's up there with the greatest Ponzi schemes of our lifetime....

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Drug Deaths Climb

June 7, 2017 at 9:23 am

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"U.S Drug Deaths Climbing Faster Than Ever," is the headline over a New York Times front-page news article.

Why is this happening now? The Times article mentions a state lawsuit accusing "five drug companies of abetting the opioid epidemic." But there's no explanation offered at all for why drug companies today would be more rapacious than they were, say, five or ten or 15 years ago.

The Times leaves causes other than "drug companies" completely unexplored. Could the wave of state- and local- level marijuana legalization and decriminalization campaigns have played any part? The Times doesn't get into the question. Could it have anything to do with the fact that we had a president, in Bill Clinton, who owned up to drug use, and another, in Barack Obama, who wrote about using cocaine? Again, the Times doesn't get into it. It all seems like a fine topic for additional Times reporting.


Red Century

June 7, 2017 at 9:07 am

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The Times is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution with a series of op-eds under the rubric "Red Century." It's hard to articulate precisely how tone-deaf this is; imagine marking the 100th anniversary of Hitler's rise with a series of elegiac articles headlined "Brown Century." For a flavor, check out this piece headlined "The Unexpected Afterlife of American Communism":

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Garner's Disclosure

June 7, 2017 at 8:51 am

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New York Times book critic Dwight Garner, reviewing a novel, writes:

It is impossible to read anything in 2017, or write anything, without thinking of America's political and moral predicament. It's tendentious to mention it in every review, but I am thinking about it while writing every line of every review.

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Fake Fir

June 4, 2017 at 5:55 am

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Times art critic Holland Cotter has a long piece about Henry David Thoreau, about whom a new exhibit has opened at the Morgan Library and Museum. The article begins:

When my father was in high school he worked summers as a lifeguard at Walden Pond. As a kid, I used to hang out there, bird-watching, reading from a slender volume of Henry David Thoreau's journal and soaking up Transcendentalist vibes from the big glacial bowl of clear water ringed with firs and footpaths.

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Hedge Fund Pay

May 16, 2017 at 11:30 am

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Bloomberg's Matt Levine does a fine job of explaining why the New York Times news article about hedge fund manager pay is totally inaccurate. Mr. Levine writes:

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