Maybe, in fact, Google is a little too dominant. It’s not just that SEO (search-engine optimization) has become an actual job, mainly spent tweaking pages so they can rank high in Google search; it’s that Google, which promised to democratize information, has bigfooted actual information gatherers.
Paulette Leaphart gained a modicum of fame for announcing she was going to walk from her home in Mississippi to Washington, D.C., topless, to raise awareness for breast cancer. Leaphart had had a double mastectomy and was catnip to many journalists looking for a feel-good story. Who could argue with such heroics?
Jessica, too, thought Leaphart had a wonderful story and accompanied her in North Carolina for a day to gather background.
But Leaphart wasn’t quite what she seemed. As Jessica wrote:
Some stories land on a journalist’s plate like manna from heaven. They’re perfect morsels you can’t wait to share. Others arrive a mess of ingredients with no recipe to follow. This one started the first way and finished the other.
As Jessica dug into Leaphart’s personal history, the feel-good story turned into something more … well, let’s say awkward. Was Leaphart whom she said she was? Yes — and no.
I’m not going to spoil it for you. Just be prepared for surprises.
I love watches. I love the fact that some minuscule gears, springs and rotors can be arranged to tell time to within seconds every 24 hours. I love the designs, though I tend to favor minimalism over the dinner plate-sized wrist weights that have gained favor in recent years. I don’t care that my phone, my pedometer and my tablet all display the time in easy-to-read numbers. I look at my analog wrist.
In a recent New Yorker article, Shteyngart confesses his own fascination with watches. He started with a cheap Casio, progressed to a Seiko and Fossil, and then mentions the day in 2016 he walked out of a New York Tourneau store with a $4,000 Nomos on his wrist.
I hate flying into New York’s LaGuardia Airport, and I’m not alone: It’s the poster child of overcrowded, dilapidated airports. As Joe Biden noted a few years ago, “If I blindfolded you and took you to LaGuardia Airport in New York, you would think, ‘I must be in some third-world country.’ ”
To which he added, after his audience started laughing, “I’m not joking.”
I imagine he also wouldn’t joke about Newark, where last summer I sat at a gate with fans — fans! — blowing warm, humid air around because the air conditioning wasn’t working properly.
OK, so New York’s airports are shameful. What about O’Hare? LAX? DFW? They’ve all managed to add some bells and whistles, but they’re still not as sleek as their counterparts in Europe and Asia. (Though, at least, you can take public transit to some of them — which is the norm overseas. How nice it was to land at Amsterdam’s Schiphol many years ago and board a train into the city. Another demerit for you, New York.)
As you’ve probably noticed from the occasional photos of my cats, I’m an animal lover.
My family had dogs and cats when I was growing up, and upon getting my first solo apartment, I went out and adopted Queenie (1995-2014), who was soon followed by Thelonious (1996-2000, probably of a kitty version of Marfan’s syndrome), and now I’ve got Gillespie (1999- ), Oscar (2007- ) and Mulligan (2013- ).
If I had more patience and time, there would be dogs, too. Just that I always felt that I spent so much time at work that it wouldn’t be fair to the dog. Short of feeding and scooping, the cats can mostly take care of themselves. (And you know what they say: You own dogs, but cats own you.)
Three of my five cats were adopted from shelters; the other two were being given away by acquaintances and needed a home. (Need your own furball? If you’re in the Atlanta area, please visit PAWS. They’re wonderful. I’ll also put in a good word for the fine people at the Humane Society of Huron Valley near Ann Arbor, Michigan.) Nothing against people who buy purebreds in pet stores or from breeders if they can afford them, but there are so many animals who are waiting for a human friend in shelters, and you can have them for the cost of shots and tags.
Whoops! I didn’t have a Sunday read prepared this morning. So let’s just go to the vox populi and see what the Internets are yammering about. Here are the most-read stories on a variety of sites:
The Atlantic:I Was a Muslim in Trump’s White House. Rumana Ahmed talks about what it was like to be one of many enemies of the people — even as she tried to bring down those other enemies, the ones from other countries threatening America, as a National Security Council staffer. Chilling paragraph:
The climate in 2016 felt like it did just after 9/11. What made it worse was that this fear and hatred were being fueled by Americans in positions of power. Fifth-grade students at a local Sunday school where I volunteered shared stories of being bullied by classmates and teachers, feeling like they didn’t belong here anymore, and asked if they might get kicked out of this country if Trump won. I was almost hit by a car by a white man laughing as he drove by in a Costco parking lot, and on another occasion was followed out of the metro by a man screaming profanities: “Fuck you! Fuck Islam! Trump will send you back!”
BBC:Warren Buffett upbeat on US business growth. The Oracle of Omaha praised “a tide of talented and ambitious immigrants” and said “babies born in America today are the luckiest crop in history” in his annual letter.
That’s been particularly apparent during Syria’s civil war, during which al-Assad has presided over the destruction of his country, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and a refugee crisis that has shaken the world. Yet he holds on to power thanks to what an Atlantic writer called “the devil’s endgame.”
And the whole thing started with one scrawled line: “It’s your turn, Doctor Bashar al-Assad.”
For a couple years in the mid-’60s, Ryder was huge, known for manic, headlong versions of pop music chestnuts. (“Devil with the Blue Dress On” is the best example.) Suddenly the hits ended as suddenly as they began. I’d simply assumed that Ryder, like a lot of blazing singles acts, burned out when the trends turned to album-length releases and the move to psychedelia in 1967-68.
The truth is more complicated than that. It involves Bob Crewe — yes, of Four Seasons fame — a concert featuring Cream and the Who, and an LP that’s apparently truly awful.
It’s my Sunday read. You can enjoy it while listening to this:
I’m a city boy: Born in New York, raised in New Orleans, a resident of Atlanta for the last half of my life. The smallest place I ever lived for longer than a summer was Ann Arbor, Michigan, a sizable college town. I love cities: I love their vitality, their diversity, their amazing infrastructure. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever lived in a municipality smaller than 100,000 people. (I’m not counting suburbs; living in Mamaroneck, N.Y., is still very much living in New York City’s orbit.)
So I have almost no common ground with the residents of Connersville, Indiana.
Connersville is a town of about 13,500 in east-central Indiana. It’s perhaps 70 miles but a world away from Indianapolis, the state capital and center of a metro area of more than 1.7 million. Eight hundred fifty thousand live in the city itself. If I were living in Indiana, I’d definitely live in Indianapolis. (And I’d probably drive to Chicago regularly.)