Posts Tagged ‘The New York Times’
May 7, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
Today brought welcome news that the New York Public Library has abandoned its plan to “renovate” (i.e., reduce and/or ruin) its research flagship at Bryant Park, on Forty-Second Street. The renovation would have meant removing the stacks beneath the main reading room, thus displacing an untold number of books and research materials; the plan met with derision among scholars and authors, and a piece in the Times last year by Michael Kimmelman made an elegant case against it.
And wouldn’t you know it—today is also Archibald MacLeish’s birthday. His 1974 Art of Poetry interview is great reading, but given the news of the day, and given his role as the Librarian of Congress—a position he held from 1939 to 1944—it seems fitting to peruse his 1940 essay, “The Librarian and the Democratic Process,” which addresses … well, not many of the same issues at stake in the NYPL’s renovation controversy. It was 1940; the world was on the brink of war, and digitization was not a going concern for librarians. But the piece does find MacLeish asking, in a sweeping, stentorian tone: What is a librarian supposed to do, anyway? Read More »
February 28, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
We at The Paris Review Daily do not ordinarily see fit to intervene in matters of geopolitics. But the Times brings news too dismaying to ignore: in a ham-fisted effort to tighten national security, Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters has intercepted millions of images from Yahoo webcams. And what have they gotten for their troubles? Not sensitive documents, hot tips, or even shifty conversation—just eyeful after eyeful of amateur porn. Worse still, they’re not even turned on by it.
“Unfortunately, there are issues with undesirable images within the data,” one GCHQ document reads. “It would appear that a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person.”
An internal agency survey of 323 Yahoo usernames found that 7.1 percent of those images contained “undesirable nudity.”
“Undesirable” our asses! (Which would, if bared on Yahoo webcams, provide only the most desirable foreign intelligence in the world.)
February 5, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
- “Auden said something disparaging about Samuel Beckett getting the Nobel Prize for Literature. Nikos said: ‘Who else is there?’ Auden shook his head so all the sagging wrinkles shook and said: ‘There’s me.’” The gossipy diaries of David Plante.
- Speaking of Beckett, “Fail better,” a quotation from his Worstward Ho, continues to be wildly misappropriated by Silicon Valley execs who refuse to pay obeisance to its pessimism.
- In the UK, a children’s book about a foulmouthed boy with Tourette’s syndrome prompts a debate: Should salty books for young readers come with a warning?
- Now in print: “Footlights,” a novella by Charlie Chaplin that inspired the screenplay for Limelight. “‘Footlights’ is 70 pages long and contains around 34,000 words,” notes the BBC. Gosh, tell me more!
- The New York Times’ facile editorial page is under fire from its own staff: “Largely irrelevant.” “A waste of money.” “An embarrassment.”
- Facebook, Gmail, and Twitter are classically conditioning us. Notifications are a “never-ending arms race of cheap con games to compete for user attention.”
February 4, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
There are many yardsticks for fame and influence, but by my lights, you haven’t really “made it” until you’ve appeared in a clue for the Times Sunday crossword. In which case, we’ve made it. The Times may direct its complimentary jeroboam of Dom Perignon to 544 West 27th Street, New York, NY, 10001.
The clue is “Contributors to The Paris Review, e.g.” The answer is eight letters. Take your best guess.
January 7, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
May 13, 2013 | by Joshua J. Friedman
In the late 1950s, the U.S. Supreme Court was as controversial and obscure as it had ever been. Little understood in the best of times, it had recently outlawed segregated schools over the objections of Southern states and expanded protections for criminal suspects—protections that Congress was already scheming to revoke. More than ever, the public needed the press to explain the workings of the court. But the newspapermen of the day were barely equipped for the task: they lacked the legal expertise to properly interpret a Supreme Court opinion, if they ever read one, and wire-service reporters habitually wrote their stories on the court’s opinions before they were even issued.
Yet while the justices resented being portrayed as “a mysterious body operating behind a veil of secrecy,” as Chief Justice Earl Warren once grumbled, they made little effort to communicate with the public. They generally refused to speak to the press, and until the 1920s, they delayed the distribution of printed copies of their opinions, forcing even the most diligent reporters to base their stories on a single hearing of the opinion from the bench. (And CNN and Fox News know how accurate first impressions can be.) “All of official Washington except the Supreme Court is acutely conscious of public relations,” wrote the New York Times’s Supreme Court correspondent Anthony Lewis in 1959. “The Supreme Court is about as oblivious as it is conceivable to be.”
Lewis was thirty years old in 1957 when it fell to him to justify the ways of the Supreme Court to men. A Harvard graduate who had already won a Pulitzer for national reporting, Lewis was hired by the Times’s Washington bureau chief Scotty Reston, who hoped to improve the paper’s coverage of the court. To do the job right, Lewis would need training, so Reston sent him back to Harvard on a one-year fellowship at the law school. Lewis would have made his mark simply by learning enough to parse opinions and report them. But he went further, writing eloquent articles that teased out larger truths from legal minutiae. Professorial by nature, Lewis treated newspaper readers to a continuing legal seminar over their morning coffee. After Lewis died this past March, at the age of eighty-five, he was eulogized as having transformed American legal journalism. Read More »