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Reading The New York Times (So You Don’t Have To)

October 27, 2010

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As I may have mentioned, I have a friend who sends me links to New York Times pieces she thinks I might find interesting. Those occasional snippets aside, I don’t read the Times. Why mess with my digestion at this stage of life?

Last Sunday, however, a friend was giving me a lift from Baltimore to New York. We took a bathroom break at an expressway service stop, and mooching vaguely around the concessions, I thought I’d pick up a newspaper so I could read out amusing excerpts to my driver when conversation flagged.

But conversation did not flag, so I arrived home with a mostly unread copy of October 24th’s Sunday New York Times. It’s been years since I held a whole Times in my hands. Curious, I did some random browsing.

Here is my report. Yes, I have read a copy of The New York Times“€”so you don’t have to.

“€¢ Main news section. “G.O.P. Is Poised to Seize House, If Not Senate.” You don’t say. This is a newspaper? Something about Iraq: “Private Gunmen Fed Turmoil.” To hell with Iraq.

Mexico: “Gunmen burst into a small concrete house in a working-class Ciudad Juárez neighborhood where a family was celebrating a son’s birthday and opened fire, killing 13 people and wounding 20….A 13-year-old girl was the youngest of the dead.” Coming soon to a Mexicanized U.S. neighborhood near you.

Haiti: “Fears Cholera Cases Will Spread in the Capital.” Hey, we’d better save those people so they can go on producing little Haitians at a total fertility rate of 3.72 (according to the CIA World Factbook) into a land stripped bare of vegetation and with no significant industrial or service sector.

“€¢ Week in Review. “In Losing, There May Be Winning”€”€”the 127th article I’ve seen about how a Republican takeover of Congress may be good for Ogabe. Can’t bring self to read another one; and is, that, comma, necessary?

Editorials: A big long one preaching the socialized healthcare gospel, a shorter one railing against multinational corporations. Hey, aren’t you the one-world open-borders people? Nice to see the spirit of Anthony Lewis still lives, anyway.

Op-Eds: Frank Rich on “the obscene income inequality bequeathed by the three-decade rise of the financial industry.” Careful what you wish for, Frank; that’s the only industry we have now. The others all fled to escape the regulators, revenuers, unions, and trial lawyers.

Thomas Friedman on healthcare jobs, which “can be done in a low-skilled way by cheap foreign workers and less-educated Americans, or they can be done by skilled labor that is trained….” I think we kind of made that decision, Tom. As for your skilled labor that is trained: silk purse, sow’s ear, Tom.

“€¢ Book Review. I’m not well disposed to the Book Review. I’ve published four books with respectable publishers, and the Times only reviewed one. Furthermore, I’ve been writing book reviews”€”sapient, witty, penetrating book reviews“€”for thirty years, yet the Times has never commissioned one from me. So screw the Book Review.

“€œSorry, I can’t separate the pages anymore; they’re all stuck together with estrogen. Have they killed off all the men in Manhattan?”€

“€¢ Arts & Leisure. Oddly, the A&L section’s front page is dominated by a huge black-and-white photograph showing an asteroid’s cracked, cratered, pockmarked surface. Taken by the Cassini space probe, no doubt….Oh, no, wait a minute; it’s actually a close-up photograph of Keith Richards.

The article covers Keef’s new autobiography, Life. Seems a bit odd to name your autobiography after a magazine, but if you must, I suppose Life is better than The Weekly Standard.

Reporter Janet Maslin struggles to come up with anything new to say about a bloke who’s been on the public scene for nigh on half a century. A musician, too”€”double tough. Musicians rarely have anything to say and are often totally inarticulate. I’d leap the ice floes across a river in a winter flood to have dinner with Samuel Johnson, Winston Churchill, or Mark Twain; but Mozart? Callas? Hank Williams? Bleh.

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