Tag Archives: The New Yorker

The irony of Trump’s “locker room talk”

As has been well-documented, our dearly beloved President-elect — the one with an ironic penchant for safe spaces — repeatedly took refuge during his election campaign in the proverbial locker room. Every time he did, I could not help but recall a semi-prescient New Yorker cover originally published back on June 1, 2015:

Continue reading The irony of Trump’s “locker room talk”

Tablet Magazine could use either a quick lesson in geometry, or free comments

Tablet Magazine’s article about Lee Kuan Yew, the founder of modern Singapore, “The Singapore Story is the Israel Story“, was published on March 25. Here’s a thing that it says:

Continue reading Tablet Magazine could use either a quick lesson in geometry, or free comments

How impotent has media coverage of O’Reilly’s reporting been?

When Brian Williams was revealed as a fraud, I couldn’t help but wonder about one thing: https://twitter.com/mntreiger/status/563505842100908032 Now that Bill O’Reilly has been similarly exposed, I have precisely the same question — but even more so. Consider this extended excerpt from an article about Media Matters, the organization responsible for discovering several of O’Reilly’s fabrications: Continue reading How impotent has media coverage of O’Reilly’s reporting been?

Corrigendum for Above the Law: Endangered Eagles edition

[Yes, I am getting exceedingly lazy with these titles of late.]

About a month ago, Above the Law published an article about eagle feathers. More specifically, it discussed whether the Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby (which recognized the company’s claim for a  religious exception to secular laws) will be extended to Native American tribes who wish to use eagle feathers in religious ceremonies despite their protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. In the form of an aside, the article made a good point:

Continue reading Corrigendum for Above the Law: Endangered Eagles edition

My plan to defeat JetBlue’s new baggage fees

Free checking is one of the best things JetBlue has going for it (after satellite TV; I have now spent two consecutive post-winter break flights watching Seahawks Championship Game highlights). But on November 19, JetBlue cut legroom and, for the first time, began charging passengers to check bags onto its flights.

I’m less interested in why the airline made that decision — the New Yorker has a great breakdown, “Why Airlines Want to Make You Suffer” — and more interested in whether it actually made that decision at all. You see, when I checked into my JetBlue flight a week and a half ago, here’s what I saw:

Continue reading My plan to defeat JetBlue’s new baggage fees

Complete guide to spelling the holiday

While some are looking to tomorrow’s special event as some sign of apocalypse, I’d be the first to admit that I’m pretty excited for the coincidence of Thanksgiving and Chanuka. What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than by encroaching upon its native turf? (Zing.)

This post was prompted by a recent email that turned up in my inbox, with a deceptively-simple subject line — one word: “Thanksgivikah.” I didn’t think much of it as I got to typing my reply, but the moment I pressed send, I noticed something a little off. You see, I had concluded my email in kind, by wishing the recipient a “Happy Thanksgivvukah!” and couldn’t help but do a double-take at my own spelling of the word: Two v’s? That couldn’t possibly be right.

Or could it?

Two years ago, this blog thoroughly covered the debate over the proper spelling of Hanuka/Chanuka/Hanukah/Chanukah/Hanukkah/Chanukkah/Hanukka/Chanukka in a post titled Google’s War on ‘Chanuka’. One of the highlights of that post was Avidan Ackerson’s deterministic finite automaton that helped define all of the possibilities (for Google to declare war against).

This year, Avidan and I have again teamed up to compile all the possible spellings of the seemingly-simple but deceptively-diverse portmanteau of Thanksgiving and Chanuka. Behold, DFA v2.013:

Continue reading Complete guide to spelling the holiday

The understatement of last year

My propensity for reading back-issues of just about everything is well-documented; this adventure in outdated print material takes us to the February 7, 2011 edition of The New Yorker, which included a 6500-word essay on crowd safety by John Seabrook.

In the course of exploring the human crush, it discussed specific incidents in which the failure to properly control crowds led to fatalities, including the Hillsborough Stadium incident of 1989 (pictured above), the Walmart Blitz Day incident of 2008, and the Love Parade incident of 2010:

Last July, twenty-one people were killed at the Love Parade, a free electronic-music festival Diusburg, Germany, when a crush developed in a disused rail tunnel that led to the festival grounds.

But Seabrook wasn’t done. Toward the end of the article, he revisited the Love Parade:

Continue reading The understatement of last year

Last word on The Hunger Games

Finally. I’ve been promising this post for three weeks now, and sitting on it for even longer.

I read The Hunger Games in late March, and watched the corresponding movie a few days later. I’d been aware of the series for years, but what finally got me to read it was dread of a spoiler (a la Fight Club and Citizen Kane).

Now, this isn’t a review, but I will begin by sharing one brief opinion to help establish the facts of this post.

I thought The Hunger Games was enjoyable – if not exactly high literature – but when I walked out of the theater, I was struck by the sense that the series’ success had less to do with Suzanne Collins’ skill in crafting a story than her ability to establish a gripping premise. Or, as I put it at the time:

Get it? Because a lot of people get executed lol

Little did I know that even these words of faint praise may have given Collins too much credit.

Continue reading Last word on The Hunger Games

Classic New Yorker

In a New Yorker article dated January 16*, Hendrik Hertzberg took time out from ridiculing Mitt Romney to ridicule Rick Santorum (this was back when Rick Santorum was a thing):

And more: he calls global warming “junk science”; he wants to keep American troops in Afghanistan until they achieve “victory”; he believes that the West Bank is “Israeli land,” as Israeli as Arizona is American; he blames the rape of children by priests on “academic, political, and cultural liberalism in America.”

If it wasn’t clear from the tone, the context, or the ideas themselves, Hertzberg does not think very highly of Santorum’s politics. And to be honest, on most counts, I’m with Hendrik.

One exception.

I’m not here to make a moral or political argument about Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. Whatever you think of it, you think of it, and nothing I write is going to change your opinion. But I am going to take issue with Hertzberg’s specific example of land that is indisputably American. Let’s review:

he believes that the West Bank is “Israeli land,” as Israeli as Arizona is American

To Hertzberg, Santorum’s position is patently ridiculous: Arizona’s as American as Iced Tea.

But here’s my problem: try as I might, I can find few meaningful differences between Israeli ownership of the West Bank and American ownership of Arizona.

If anything, Israel might have a stronger claim to the West Bank than America does to Arizona: When Jews settled Yehuda and Shomron, at least they returned to land once occupied by their ancestors. When the United States took Arizona from Mexico (Jordan), who had in turn dispossessed the Native Mexican inhabitants (Palestinian Arabs), they did so solely out of an unbridled sense of Manifest Destiny. And I think one would be hard pressed to argue that Israelis have treated Palestinians worse – in any meaningful way – than the US has dealt with its own native population.

So next time Hendrik wants to condemn the Israeli occupation, I suggest he spend some time coming up with a better way to do it. Unless, of course, he’d be happy to just give the West Bank a tax-free casino and call it a day.

Jeri-casino? I hope they come up with a better name.

Continue reading Classic New Yorker

A Pirate’s favorite blog

When two free copies of WIRED arrived in the mail, I felt compelled to read them – primarily because I feel the need to read everything that comes my way in print. (Confession: one ‘corner’ of my room is dedicated to stacks upon stacks upon boxes of New Yorkers, etc., dating back to high school, and I still have every intention of getting to them – eventually.)

This was not the first time I’ve read WIRED (in print or online), but it was the first time I had read it in a while, so I was mildly surprised to find a bundle of content on a decidedly non-wired topic: pirates. The magazine contained eight pages (not counting ads) dedicated exclusively to pirates (like Kim Dotcom Edward Teach). By far the highlight was a short bombshell cannonball entitled ‘An arrrrrrcane bit of arrrrmchair history about a piece of pirate arrrrgot’:

Continue reading A Pirate’s favorite blog