Tag Archives: nytimes.com

Who are The Frightful Five?


According to the New York Times, the Frightful Five are Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Alphabet, Google’s parent company. What makes them frightening?

(The Frightful Five) have experienced astounding growth over the last few years, making them the world’s five most valuable public companies. Because they own the technology that will dominate much of life for the foreseeable future, they are also gaining vast social and political power over much of the world beyond tech.

These companies are getting alot more scrutiny lately. Any organization as wealthy and powerful as they are warrant it. Especially so because we aren’t even certain what impact they have on our societies. I hope the Times and other newspapers continue to give them focus and question their power. And I hope more writers like Scott Galloway examine what these companies do in books like the one he has just written. Most importantly, I hope you continue to seek out information on these companies and question how you interact with them, either directly or indirectly as a member of society.

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How to forge a painting in the Louvre 

Painting in the Louvre
Easy! Just follow these three simple steps:

  1. Apply for one of the 250 permits the museum gives out each year.
  2. Bring your supplies and stand in front of the painting you want to copy. You can do this most days in the months of  September through June from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  3. Start painting.

Ok, it’s not quite that easy. Even if you can perfectly reproduce the work you stand before, the staff of the Louvre take steps to insure no one mistakes your work for the original, as this NYTimes article points out. For example, in this article, they made sure that the copyists used

canvases that were one-fifth smaller or larger than the original, and that the original artists’ signatures were not reproduced on the copies. Then (the staff) stamped the backs of the canvases with a Louvre seal, added (the staff’s) own signature and escorted (the copyists) from the museum.

It’s a fine article highlighting a great tradition of the Louvre: well worth reading.

(Photo by IVAN GUILBERT / COSMOS and linked to in the article)

What No One Ever Tells You About Tiny Homes

Tiny home
What this piece in the New York Times says is the truth about tiny homes is really true about living in any small space, be it a tiny home or a very small apartment or condo. I liked this article because it mentioned things you might not think of, such as how ordinary objects which are not noticeable in bigger spaces become significant in larger spaces. Anyone thinking of downsizing should read this piece.

I still think there are lots of benefits in living in a small space. And some of them, like the one above from inhabitat.com, are gorgeous. But yeah, onions and laundry baskets. 🙂

Two portraits of a great writer: Robert Caro

Robert Caro

I find Caro a fascinating person and this portrait of him in this Paris Review interview is well worth reading: Paris Review – Robert Caro, The Art of Biography No. 5.

It’s worth comparing it to this piece on him in the New York Times that talks about his routine, including how he goes to a separate office in Manhattan just to work and that he wears formal business attire to do so. A rare life writing about another rare life.

Another cautionary tale: this time regarding Bleecker Street in NYC

The story of Bleecker Street’s Swerve From Luxe Shops to Vacant Stores in the  NYTimes is one playing out in many cities throughout the world, though perhaps not as extreme as this. It’s a big problem when money comes flooding into neighborhoods and cities, disrupting the people that live there, and making those areas unlivable in some cases. Most people need somewhat stable places to live, but unstable social systems (capitalist or otherwise) can make that difficult unless other social systems (like local governments) come in and press back against such instability. As more of the world moves from rural to urban areas, the tools to make streets and cities livable need to be developed and put to use.

Anyone living in a growing city needs to read this piece. Recommended.

(PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHRIS MOTTALINI FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Finally! The cappuccino scandal revealed by  The New York Times. (I am not joking)


For some time, I have been complaining that cappuccinos have evolved into something I call “latte-ccinos”, which is a drink that is somewhere between a latte and a cappuccino. Good to see that the New York Times has a piece on it highlighting the sad state of North American coffee and in particular the sham cappuccinos now commonly served.

But what is a true cappuccino? As the Times points out, there is a debate about what it is:

There was a time when cappuccino was easy to identify. It was a shot of espresso with steamed milk and a meringue-like milk foam on top. … “In the U.S., cappuccino are small, medium and large, and that actually doesn’t exist,” the food and coffee writer Oliver Strand said. “Cappuccino is basically a four-ounce drink.” … Others cling to old-school notions of what makes a cappuccino, with the layering of ingredients as the main thing. “The goal is to serve three distinct layers: caffè, hot milk and frothy (not dense) foam,” the chef and writer Mario Batali wrote in an email. “But to drink it Italian style, it will be stirred so that the three stratum come together as one.”

I agree with Strand: a cappuccino should be a small drink and the espresso, milk and foam proportional.. If you want a bigger drink, get a latte. And if you want a true cappuccino, find a good Italian establishment — in Toronto, Grano’s makes a superb one — and get your fix there.

For more on this, see: Is That Cappuccino You’re Drinking Really a Cappuccino? – The New York Times. The photo above is a link to that article.

Against gratitude and being grateful. Some thoughts from Barbara Ehrenreich and me

This piece, The Selfish Side of Gratitude – The New York Times, is a scathing attack on gratitude by Ehrenreich. She makes some good points, but overall the writing is so dismissive, from the references to yoga mats to the numerous quotation marks around so many things, that I didn’t find it persuasive. No doubt some abuse the notion of being grateful, but I think there is more too it than a form of evasion. Read it and see if you agree.

My criticism of gratitude is smaller. My problem with the notion is that it isn’t as useful for me. I think there are better words for expressing how I feel, like glad or appreciative. Gratitude in the context of other people is subservient. I do not look down on the people who provide me a service, nor do I think they should think themselves somehow superior. Likewise if I do something for you, I don’t expect you to be grateful: if you are appreciative, that’s enough. And gratitude for certain aspects of nature or the universe make no sense if you are not religious.

There are people who I am grateful towards. Most of the time I can use other words to describe my feelings toward them and what they do. Grateful and gratitude are two words that should be used less often.