Tag Archives: nytimes

This is perfect

During a 2010 deposition, a lawyer and an IT professional got into a discussion about what is a photocopier. This Op-Doc from Brett Weiner depicts the discussion verbatim, with dramatic flair. It is brilliant.

In this short film, I sought to creatively reinterpret the original events. (I’ve not been able to locate any original video recordings, so I’m unsure how closely my actors’ appearance and delivery resembles the original participants.) My primary rule was the performance had to be verbatim -- no words could be modified or changed from the original legal transcripts. Nor did I internally edit the document to compress time. What you see is, word for word, an excerpt from what the record shows to have actually unfolded. However, I did give the actors creative range to craft their performances. As such, this is a hybrid of documentary and fiction. We’ve taken creative liberties in the staging and performance to imbue the material with our own perspectives.

Bartender slang

Ben Schott does the best NYTimes Op-Arts, thought I think his previous entries had actual art... In any case, here are a whole bunch of NY cocktail bars sharing slang that's either unique to them, or common in the world of bartending. My favorite is "Boomerang".

A specially prepared drink that is sealed (say with plastic wrap or a rubber glove) and dispatched as a gift to a nearby bar. Of dubious legality, Boomerangs are a way of "having a drink" with industry friends during work. Boomerangs are often shuttled from bar to bar by regulars, who are thereby identified as guests of quality.

Gun purity

If you're not one of the Americans that care passionately about guns, you'd think Dick Metcalf was a gun nut. He's got a gun club at his house, a shooting range, and gun manufacturers used to send him their weapons for review. He also had a popular column in Guns & Ammo magazine, from which he was fired after suggesting, that maybe, quite possibly, all rights, even the Second Amendment, should be regulated. "All constitutional rights are regulated, always have been, and need to be" was the line that got Metcalf fired, drew death threats, and caused two major advertisers, Ruger and Remington, to threaten to pull their ads. You can read Metcalf's column here. (PDF)

On the other side of that reasonable statement is Richard Venola, "We are locked in a struggle with powerful forces in this country who will do anything to destroy the Second Amendment. The time for ceding some rational points is gone." Venola recently had murder charges dropped against him after shooting a neighbor during an argument.

In any case, we're all screwed. More guns isn't the answer, and these people are insane, or, I guess if I'm being charitable, unreasonable.

‘And then the handle snapped.’ A gripping lost at sea tale

If you're a fan of the 'lost at sea' #longread (AND I KNOW YOU ARE), you'll like Paul Tough's latest in the NYTimes Magazine. Last July, Montauk fisherman John Aldridge fell overboard into the Atlantic Ocean while the rest of the guys on his lobster boat were asleep. These stories are always gripping, but I think this is the best in a while.

In the weeks after Aldridge’s rescue, I talked to several local fishermen on the docks about the search, and not only did they all admit that they cried when they heard the news that Aldridge was safe, but most of them teared up again, despite themselves, as they were telling me the story. It was hard to say what, exactly, was bringing them to tears. But what seems to go mostly unspoken in their lives is the inescapable risk of their jobs, and the improbable fact that Aldridge hadn’t drowned in the Atlantic somehow underscored that risk for them even more. He’d kept himself alive in a way that few people could, had managed to think and work his way through a situation that, for most of us, would have been immediately and completely overwhelming. And he’d willed himself to live. To be a fisherman and to really know the danger of the sea, and to think of Aldridge in the middle of the ocean for all those hours refusing to go under — maybe that was too much to contain.

La Quercia then and now

La Quercia is an American producer of Prosciutto, a traditional Italian cured meat. It's a remarkable product and if you see it somewhere you should buy it. They were recently profiled in the NY Times, which makes sense because of how good their Prosciutto is. What is strange, however, is practically the same article was written 4 years ago. In the NY Times. It's cool. I like reading about them.


For years, he imagined making good food in Iowa. “It was clear that we had this incredible bounty around us, but we weren’t known for creating great stuff to eat,” he told me, stretching his rangy frame at his dining room table. (Clearly things have changed: his wife, Kathy, was serving us apple pie whose heartbreaking crust was made with lard rendered from acorn-fed organic Berkshire pigs, their latest project.) “At the beginning of the 20th century, Iowa fed people. And here we are in the 21st century, and we’re feeding machines. It’s just a priori wrong.” He continued: “People were saying, ‘Iowa’s dying, and there’s no value added here.’ At that point I was thinking, Gosh, I wonder if we can make prosciutto in Iowa.”


The Eckhouses developed their taste for the thinly sliced, richly marbled cured ham during the 3 1/2 years they lived in Parma, Italy, where Mr. Eckhouse was the chief executive of the Italian subsidiary of what was then known as Pioneer Hi-Bred International, the seed company in Des Moines. They lived an Italian life, sent their children to Italian preschools and ate prosciutto two or three times a week. “We didn’t learn anything about making it, but we learned about eating it,” Mr. Eckhouse said.

When they returned to Iowa in 1989, they were struck by the beauty of the landscape, with crops “bursting out of the ground and the rich black soil,” he said. “You think: ‘This is amazing. What are we making here that we can be proud of? What are we making that shows that we really appreciate this bounty?’ ”

And So It Goes

"A lot of critics think I’m stupid because my sentences are so simple and my method is so direct: they think these are defects. No the point is to write as much as you know as quickly as possible." - Kurt Vonnegut

There's a Kurt Vonnegut just out and this quote was in the review of it. I liked it.

via And So It Goes

What’s in a word?

Do you think this quotation:
"Heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war."

Has a different meaning than this one:
"Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war."

NPR posted about Donald Rumsfeld's response to a Paul Krugman column about 9/11. For some reason, they left out the word 'fake' when highlighting the column. When I read the NPR piece, I noted to myself that Krugman called Kerik, Bush, and Giuliani heroes, which seemed weird. But he didn't. Why would NPR leave out that word, slightly changing the meaning of the quotation? What angle does that even push?

Swimming from Cuba to Key West

Just about every paragraph in this article has something that jumped out on me. The story is about Diana Nyad, a 61 year-old radio commentator who is going to swim from Cuba to Key West in 60 hours. Straight. As one of the marathon swimmers quoted says, "I can't imagine doing anything for 60 hours."

There will be liquid mixture of predigested protein, jellyfish stings, and swollen tongues from the salt water. Diana is the record holder for world's longest swim, and is probably going to go $150K in debt because she's only raised $350K of the $500K necessary. It costs that much because there are 22 people helping put this together.

But also, and let's be honest, this is why I'm posting this.
Two men in kayaks will follow Ms. Nyad’s every stroke. They will hold a shark shield — neoprene rods that emit electrical waves to zap sharks that come too close. The waters between Cuba and Key West are a notorious shark playground. But the shield is not foolproof. Just in case it fails, as it did last year in the Caribbean when another woman was on a marathon swim, four shark divers with spears will be onboard, ready to jump.

"Jack LaLanne was 60 when he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf, in San Francisco, for a second time, handcuffed, shackled and towing a 1,000-pound boat."

Somerville asks, ‘Are You Happy?’

My city in the NY Times! I remember noticing this question on the City's census form a couple months ago, but I didn't realize it was among the first in the nation...

Officials here want this Boston suburb to become the first city in the United States to systematically track people’s happiness. Like leaders in Britain, France and a few other places, they want to move beyond the traditional measures of success — economic growth — to promote policies that produce more than just material well-being.

To draw up its questions, Somerville turned to a neighbor, Daniel Gilbert, a Harvard psychology professor who wrote the 2006 best seller “Stumbling on Happiness.” Dr. Gilbert, who donated his time, is also helping the city do a more detailed telephone survey, using a randomized sample of Somerville’s 76,000 residents.

Inside Baseball

The Baseball Hall of Fame just announced this year's class of inductees, and there were some notable names missing. Here's Nate Silver on the numbers. His point is basically that good baseball players today are better than great baseball players of yesteryear.

If you’re not willing to reserve a place for players who meet or exceed the statistical standards of the average Hall of Famers at their positions, however — players like a Larkin or a Bagwell — the discussion really ought to turn to which players we need to kick out. No Barry Larkin? No Travis Jackson. No Tim Raines? No Max Carey. No Jeff Bagwell? No High Pockets Kelly. No Trammell and Whitaker? That’s fine: let’s boot Tinker and Evers.

Barry Larkin and Jeff Bagwell, 2 players who didn't make it but should have, are indicative of how people vote now. Barry Larkin didn't make it because he was merely spectacular for close to a decade, not eye poppingly amazing, during an era of steroid use. Jeff Bagwell, on the other hand, had amazing stats, also during an era of steroid use. It seems like Larkin is being compared unfavorably in light of ballooning offensive stats, for not doing steroids. On the other hand, Bagwell is being punished for having those stats during the same era, even though there's never been evidence of steroid abuse.