NYT Edition: Good Times at Goldman Sachs, Sotomayor’s Bias, and the Branding of the Great Recession

 

Front Page of the New York Times, July 15, 2009

Front Page of the New York Times, July 15, 2009

 

1. Goldman Sachs Posts Richest Quarterly Profit in Its 140-year History

2. White Male Republicans Make Latina Supreme Court Nominee Swear that Her Gender and Race Won’t Interfere with Her Rulings

3. Editors at the New York Times endorse the branding of the Great Recession (capital G; capital R), surely (or hopefully) infuriating a copy editor somewhere. Back in March, they were still using quotation marks when they posted this chart about its usage:

 

Source: NYT/Nexis archives. Some big caveats: Though I tried to weed them out, these numbers do contain some duplicate stories (e.g., content that was syndicated); in some cases the term “Great Recession” may not have been capitalized and/or may have had an indefinite article preceding it (i.e., in a phrase like “this could be the beginning of a great recession“); and given the plethora of blogs, podcasts, etc., that don’t make it into the Nexis archives, these sources are by no means comprehensive.

Source: NYT/Nexis archives. Some big caveats: Though I tried to weed them out, these numbers do contain some duplicate stories (e.g., content that was syndicated); in some cases the term “Great Recession” may not have been capitalized and/or may have had an indefinite article preceding it (i.e., in a phrase like “this could be the beginning of a great recession“); and given the plethora of blogs, podcasts, etc., that don’t make it into the Nexis archives, these sources are by no means comprehensive.

We

We are a nation of people distinguished by the borders of our shores. We are no better or worse than you. We are not even all that different. Our problems are distinguishable but I would bet the house I can barely pay for that our joys are pretty much the same.

We are happy when we feel we are safe. Safe is safe and extraordinary. We don’t feel it often. Before September 11 we may have thought we felt it but we didn’t. To be human is to not feel especially safe. The absence, perhaps evasiveness, of reason makes life a precariously nebulous experience. Sometimes it’s worse than that. Sometimes it’s hopeless.

Life here is big business. We don’t mean it to be but money can feel like we’re a safe distance from worrying too much about the future. Until we spend too much of it. Then it is our intolerant leader, our abusive dictator. If there are those of us who are not constantly in search of more money, they are truly lucky. I think to be at peace with your want of money in America would make you a Mother Teresa or a Mahatma Ghandi. Such folk have been smart enough so far to live elsewhere.

We consume. We consume to stave off. We consume because most of us abhor feeling confused or deprived. Money is like love—there’s never enough of it. We crave it but it’s hell to get. It hurts. It causes serious pain and sleep-deprived nights. Sometimes we can’t breathe the fear of losing it is so great. We fear not having enough; we fear having too much. We fear waking up and realizing we have been greedy and now we are too greedy to stop.

The responsibility is on us. There are no exceptions, explanations, or excuses. We abdicate or we make things work. And then we look at what else needs to be fixed. If we ignore our failings, they come knocking on our door ready to blow the house down.

We have sorrows—deep sorrows. Our children die. They die in accidents, are murdered, disappear, wither, starve, take their own lives. We take their lives. Is there a greater sorrow than loss? Despite our money and our might we have yet to figure out how to prevent loss. That fight is futile enough to make the sanest of us lose our minds.

We believe we have the freedom to choose. Most of us choose to survive. If you come here you must do the same thing. Do not expect here to be different from where you are. It is more likely indifferent. Prepare to be disappointed until you take full responsibility for the quality of your life. You will not escape your sorrows and fears. They are human sorrows and fears. They are not American sorrows and fears or Muslim sorrows and fears or Jewish sorrows and fears or Christian sorrows and fears. We are all equally reprehensible and salvageable.

We live in a country that does not ensure happiness or safety or love or even freedom. We are a country that ensures only that we are a part our government’s decisions to the extent that human capacity allows.

We are American. No better or worse than you. We are a nation of people distinguished by the borders of our shores. We cannot blame our leaders for the mistakes that we as a country make. We are responsible every minute of every day for what happens to us and to others.

2004

Ten Things I Think About Obama’s Speech

20081218_obama

1. Let’s be clear: I voted for you (enthusiastically), but I fear you may still end up on my bastard list.

2. Nancy Pelosi looked like she was begging to be the target of a Gumby-inspired SNL skit.

3. Hillary Clinton looked like she felt like I do after an all-nighter. Keep. Eyes. Open.

4. Obama better start using “we” instead of “you” when talking about fears about the economy. [You can read the full text of his speech here.]

5. Top-heavy economies are destined to topple.

6. Hope can be as effective as fear at inducing blindness.

7. A lot of people believe in shortcuts and abuse.

8. Congress’s standing-and-clapping routine makes me think of wigs and England.

9. America doesn’t do what’s easy?

10. Here’s hoping we’re not quitters.

A Couple Dozen Questions About Copyright

Obama Poster

Who owns Barack Obama’s image? Does Shepard Fairey? Does the Associated Press? Does Obama? Whose expression is it? Who wears it? Who transmitted it? Who captured it? Who created it? Who reproduced it? Who sold it? What would Walter Benjamin say? What would Mikhail Bakhtin say? Who uttered it? from when? to where? to whom? Who infringed? Who doesn’t infringe? What do we owe each other for what we’ve taken, shared, created, borrowed, been given? What would Mike Kelley say? Forget if it can ever be repaid, what is it paying for? Whose debt is it, was it, will it be? Who is keeping the balance sheet of what is owed for likeness? 

 

 

The Ball

As long as nothing can be known for sure
(no signals have been picked up yet),
as long as Earth is still unlike
the nearer and more distant planets,
as long as there’s neither hide nor hair
of other grasses graced by other winds,
of other treetops bearing other crowns,
other animals as well-grounded as our own,
as long as only the local echo
has been known to speak in syllables,
as long as we still haven’t heard word
of better or worse mozarts,
platos, edisons somewhere,
as long as our inhuman crimes
are still committed only between humans,
as long as our kindness
is still incomparable,
peerless even in its imperfection,
as long as our heads packed with illusions
still pass for the only heads so packed,
as long as the roofs of our mouths alone
still raise voices to high heavens
let’s act like very special guests of honor
at the district-firemen’s ball,
dance to the beat of the local oompah band,
and pretend that it’s the ball
to end all balls.
I can’t speak for others
for me this is
misery and happiness enough:
just this sleepy backwater
where even the stars have time to burn
while winking at us
unintentionally.
—Wislawa Szymborska
(Translated, from the Polish, by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh.)

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