I read The Sunday New York Times, so you don’t have to: May 13
At 4:33 a.m., I heard the familiar coat-hanger-suspended muffler of my delivery guy creeping down the street, then the satisfying, heavy slap on the front stoop: The New York Times had arrived. And following a few weeks of time-consuming chaos that had altered all of my most-cherished routines, I was ready to read it.
1, The lead story opens with Kelsey Griffith, a 23-year-old who graduates today from Ohio Northern University, working two restaurant jobs to pay off a $120,000 college-loan debt at $900 a month. The numbers say that college grads will make more money over their lifetimes than those who don’t go on to higher education, yet they’re increasingly carrying life-crushing loans. And while Republicans insist they’re worried about saddling “our children and grandchildren” with national debt, they have no qualms about burdening the kids with a mountain of personal debt, as demonstrated by their decision last week to allow student-loan rates to rise precipitously. The Times story spends much time on Ohio colleges, and the recent actions of politicians such as Gov. John Kasich. According to the story, “There is an ideological and political tug of war as well. State Representative John Patrick Carney, a Democrat, said if legislators were serious about financing higher education they could find a way, like eliminating tax breaks for corporations. He noted that even as funds for higher education were being reduced, Mr. Kasich and the Republican-controlled Legislature eliminated the state’s estate tax, which will cost the state an estimated $7.2 million a year.”
2, Elmore Leonard is now officially irrelevant. “For years, it was a schedule as predictable as a calendar,” The Times writes in another front-page story. “Novelists who specialized in mysteries, thrillers and romance would write one book a year, output that was considered not only sufficient, but productive. The but the e-book age has accelerated the metabolism of book publishing. Authors are now pulling the literary equivalent of a double shift, churning out short stories, novellas or even an extra full-length book. They are trying to satisfy impatient readers who have become used to downloading any e-book they want at the touch of a button…. ”
3, As the Summer Olympics in London draws near, some residents of the city’s bleak public housing projects have been informed that their apartment buildings may be used as anti-terrorist posts. ” ‘It looked like one of those things where you get free pizzas through the post,’ Hilal Bozkurt said, describing the innocuous-looking leaflet that came through her mail slot recently. ‘But this was like, free missiles.’ Ms. Bozkurt said she did not think that a residential apartment building, even one made of concrete and built in the pugnacious Brutalist style of the 1960s, was a suitable place for a pop-up military base featuring surface-to-air weapons able to travel at three times the speed of sound and hit targets more than three miles away in less than eight seconds.”
4, In the Sunday Review, the smart political comic strip, The Strip, tackles Obama’s support of same-sex marriage with a killer final panel. “Oh No!” wails an elderly man, looking in a mirror at his bald, wrinkled, angry head. “I wasted my life obsessing over the lives of gay strangers!”
5, The Book Review tackles 808 pages of Lives of the Novelists: A History of Fiction in 294 Lives. I’m not sure how you can leave out Jack Kerouac and Henry Miller but include Dick Francis, but let’s try: The future author of racetrack thrillers was in fact a jockey as a young man, and once had a horse collapse beneath him just yards from victory. The horse’s distress, according to author John Sutherland, was a case of gas “so explosive as to prostrate the unluckily flatulent beast.” And on to the typewriter you go, Mr. Francis.
6, Also in the Sunday Review, “A recent study found that 10 percent of people who work on Wall Street are ‘clinical psychopaths,’ exhibiting a lack of interest in and empathy for others and an ‘unparalleled capacity for lying, fabrication and manipulation.’ (The proportion at large is one percent),” writes essayist William Deresiewicz. “Another study concluded that the rich are more likely to lie, cheat and break the law.” Deresiewicz then goes on to wonder why anyone is surprised by this. I am only surprised that the number is so low.
7, Oh, and how timely: In the magazine, the headline reads “Psychologists now believe fledgling psychopaths can be identified as early as kindergarten. The hope is to teach these kids empathy before it’s too late.” I’d read the story but, actually, it is too late.