In Defense of Education, Books as Armor

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At first glance, they look like books. At a second glance, more like homemade versions of book covers. In fact, they are shields — albeit made out of cardboard and painted. But they do have handles on the back of them. These book shields, as they’re known, were created for Wednesday’s May Day events at Cooper Union, where students and activists plan to hold classes and a march to promote increased access to higher education. Conor Tomás Reed, an organizer of the book-shield project and a student at the CUNY Graduate Center, told me that while book shields represent a symbolic merger of art and politics — “We’re showing that our ideas and politics protect us” — they also offer very real protection during any possible clashes with the police. Continue reading at nytimes.com

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Undoing a Spell (Without Magic)

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As someone who uses The Times’s stylebook frequently enough to have installed it in the upper-right-hand search window in Firefox — it’s my second search-engine option, after Google — I’ve been interested in the ways that words are continually evolving at The Times. A couple of days ago, editors at the paper updated the stylebook’s guidelines on the use of “illegal immigrant”; a little more than a week before that, Margaret Sullivan, The Times’s public editor, argued that more attention should be paid to the way the paper uses the terms “torture” and “targeted killings.”

Another term (albeit less loaded) that generates some debate is “Voodoo,” … Continue reading at nytimes.com

End of the Adventure for an Enigmatic Heiress

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This New York Times Magazine cover story from 1989 marked what the author, David Margolick, now calls the “last hurrah” of Barbara Piasecka Johnson, a Polish-born immigrant who married into the Johnson & Johnson fortune. Margolick, a former New York Times reporter, wrote about Johnson’s attempt to “become a heroine” in her native country by donating as much as $100 million to rescue the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk, an effort coordinated by the labor activist Lech Walesa. After what Margolick calls her “marvelous P.R. stunt” failed, and sometime after his article was published, he told me, Johnson “fell off the face of the earth.” She died on Monday.

Here’s how Margolick described Johnson in his article: … Continue reading at nytimes.com

Parking Spot Causes Fight (No Drivers Are Involved)

Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

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Kate Blumm moved to Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in June 2011, seven weeks before her daughter, Zelda, was born. After “falling in love with the merchant community,” Ms. Blumm, and her husband, Michael De Zayas, opened a cafe last March on Franklin Avenue called Little Zelda.

The couple began to notice that bicycle parking seemed to be scarce in an area where bike traffic seemed to be on the rise.

So they did what a handful of other small-business owners in New York had started to do: ask the city to install a bike corral, a new style of rack that accommodates multiple bicycles and is installed in the street, taking the place of a parked car. … Continue reading at nytimes.com

When Living Hand to Mouth Becomes a Career

Grant Cornett for The New York Times. Food stylist: Suzanne Lenzer.

Grant Cornett for The New York Times. Food stylist: Suzanne Lenzer.

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This mouth, appearing on the cover of this weekend’s issue, belongs to Laura Williams, a model whose lips, teeth and hands are frequently sought for advertisements.

When we conceived of an image to accompany Michael Moss’s article on the addictive science of junk food, we wanted to emulate the way a food advertisement looks and feels — idealized, clean, enticing. So we called Parts Models, an agency that specializes in body parts, and it led us to Williams. … Continue reading at nytimes.com