frank bruni

nytimes.com
Stanford Admission Rate Drops to 0%
“We had exceptional applicants, yes, but not a single student we couldn’t live without,” said a Stanford administrator who requested anonymity. “In the stack of applications that I reviewed, I didn’t see any gold medalists from the last Olympics — Summer or Winter Games — and while there was a 17-year-old who’d performed surgery, it wasn’t open-heart or a transplant or anything like that. She’ll thrive at Yale.”
By Frank Bruni

ROAST ‘EM

There’s simply no real substitute for physical presence.

We delude ourselves when we say otherwise, when we invoke and venerate “quality time,” a shopworn phrase with a debatable promise: that we can plan instances of extraordinary candor, plot episodes of exquisite tenderness, engineer intimacy in an appointed hour.

[…]

But people tend not to operate on cue. At least our moods and emotions don’t. We reach out for help at odd points; we bloom at unpredictable ones. The surest way to see the brightest colors, or the darkest ones, is to be watching and waiting and ready for them.

—  Frank Bruni’s wonderful New York Times essay on the myth of “quality time.” Complement with this highly relevant and prescient 1948 manifesto for the endangered art of leisure

That Time a Times Columnist Found Courtney Love’s Lost iPhone in a Cab

It started, as so many things do these days, with a lost phone. A nice young lady named Courtney was traveling in a New York City cab. Upon leaving the cab, however, she left—as so many people do these days—her iPhone behind. 

Usually, young Courtney’s story would have a sad ending: the phone found, its precious contents wiped clean, its skeletal hardware sold on the black market to the highest bidder. 

But this story is not sad. This story is awesome. Because after Courtney left the cab, and her phone along with it, the vehicle was hailed by a guy named Frank. Frank found Courtney’s phone. He examined it, trying to determine who its owner might be. And after some investigation—phones, after all, containing much of our personal data—he came to a wondrous conclusion: The phone in question belonged to Courtney Love. Yes. That Courtney Love.

Oh, and the Frank in question? That would be Frank Bruni, op-ed columnist for The New York Times. Because New York. 

So, say you’re Frank Bruni, Timesman and gentleman, in possession of Courtney Love’s iPhone. What do you do then? How do you, you high-profile Good Samaritan, make sure that Courtney Love’s lost iPhone is returned to her? You tweet, obviously.

Read more.

These mighty men didn’t just choose mistresses, by all appearances. They chose fonts of gushing reverence. That’s at least as deliberate and damnable as any signals the alleged temptresses put out.

Petraeus’s choice suggests an additional measure of vanity. Broadwell exercises compulsively, as he does. She’s fascinated by all matters military, as he is. “Petraeus once joked I was his avatar,” she told The Charlotte Observer a while back. So by his own assessment, he was having an affair with a version of himself.

And yet it’s the women in these situations who are often subjected to a more vigorous public shaming — and assigned greater responsibility.

Sexism’s Puzzling Stamina by Frank Bruni

This month the Supreme Court will issue raptly awaited decisions about affirmative action and gay marriage. But what’s been foremost in my thoughts isn’t race, sexual orientation or our country’s deeply flawed handling of both.

It’s gender — and all the recent reminders of how often women are still victimized, how potently they’re still resented and how tenaciously a musty male chauvinism endures. On this front even more than the others, I somehow thought we’d be further along by now.

I can’t get past that widely noted image from a week ago, of the Senate hearing into the epidemic of sexual assault in the military. It showed an initial panel of witnesses: 11 men, one woman. It also showed the backs of some of the senators listening to them: five men and one woman, from a Senate committee encompassing 19 men and seven women in all. Under discussion was the violation of women and how to stop it. And men, once again, were getting more say.

I keep flashing back more than two decades, to 1991. That was the year of theTailhook incident, in which some 100 Navy and Marine aviators were accused of sexually assaulting scores of women. It was the year of Susan Faludi’s runaway best seller, “Backlash,” on the “war against American women,” as the subtitle said. It was when the issue of sexual harassment took center stage in Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings.

All in all it was a festival of teachable moments, raising our consciousness into the stratosphere. So where are we, fully 22 years later?

We’re listening to Saxby Chambliss, a senator from Georgia, attribute sexual abuse in the military to the ineluctable “hormone level” of virile young men in proximity to nubile young women.

We’re congratulating ourselves on the historic high of 20 women in the Senate, even though there are still four men to every one of them and, among governors, nine men to every woman.

I’ll leave aside boardrooms; they’ve been amply covered in Sheryl Sandberg’s book tour.

But what about movies? It was all the way back in 1986 that Sigourney Weaver trounced “Aliens” and landed on the cover of Time, supposedly presaging an era of action heroines. But there haven’t been so many: Angelina Jolie in the “Tomb Raider” adventures, “Salt” and a few other hectic flicks; Jennifer Lawrence in the unfolding “Hunger Games” serial. Last summer Kristen Stewart’s “Snow White” needed a “Huntsman” at her side, and this summer? I see an “Iron Man,” a “Man of Steel” and Will Smith, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Channing Tatum all shouldering the weight of civilization’s future. I see no comparable crew of warrior goddesses.

Heroines fare better on TV, but even there I’m struck by the persistent stereotype of a woman whose career devotion is both seed and flower of a tortured private life. Claire Danes in “Homeland,” Mireille Enos in “The Killing,” Dana Delany in “Body of Proof” and even Mariska Hargitay in “Law & Order: SVU” all fit this bill.

The idea that professional and domestic concerns can’t be balanced isn’t confined to the tube. A recent Pew Research Center report showing that women had become the primary providers in 40 percent of American households with at least one child under 18 prompted the conservative commentators Lou Dobbs and Erick Erickson to fret, respectively, over the dissolution of society and the endangerment of children. When Megyn Kelly challenged them on Fox News, they responded in a patronizing manner that they’d never use with a male news anchor.

Title IX, enacted in 1972, hasn’t led to an impressive advancement of women in pro sports. The country is now on its third attempt at a commercially viablewomen’s soccer league. The Women’s National Basketball Association lags far behind the men’s N.B.A. in visibility and revenue.

Even in the putatively high-minded realm of literature, there’s a gender gap, with male authors accorded the lion’s share of prominent reviews, as the annual VIDA survey documents. Reflecting on that in Salon last week, the critic Laura Miller acutely noted: “There’s a grandiose self-presentation, a swagger, that goes along with advancing your book as a Great American Novel that many women find impossible or silly.”

I congratulate them for that. They let less hot air into their heads.

But about the larger picture, I’m mystified. Our racial bigotry has often been tied to the ignorance abetted by unfamiliarity, our homophobia to a failure to realize how many gay people we know and respect.

Well, women are in the next cubicle, across the dinner table, on the other side of the bed. Almost every man has a mother he has known and probably cared about; most also have a wife, daughter, sister, aunt or niece as well. Our stubborn sexism harms and holds back them, not strangers. Still it survives.

New York Times names first openly gay columnist in its history

“The New York Times announced today that Frank Bruni, a 16-year veteran at the paper and its former chief restaurant critic, will be its newest op-ed columnist.

Bruni, who was once the ’most feared critic in New York,’ will become the first openly gay op-ed columnist in the Times’ 160-year history, the paper acknowledged while announcing the move.”

From - Yahoo News

Nora was a foodie not only before the word became so tiresome and tedious but before it even existed. Nora was a foodie in the best way: driven not by snobbery but by the joy of discovery and eager not to one-up you with her latest bliss, but to share it with you, guide you toward it. Nora was my kind of foodie.

[S]he wasn’t about to let any of life’s greatest pleasures pass her by, and she appreciated food as a pleasure beyond almost any other.
2

As anyone who has read an Op-Ed by New York Times columnist Frank Bruni knows all too well, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni is not very good at writing Op-Eds. True, he’s probably better at it than he was at being a political reporter. Then again, that’s an extremely low bar, considering how chummy he got with George W. Bush during the 2000 campaign. In fact, so long as Jeb Bush is never compelled to confess his “love” to him (something W did on multiple occasions) we’ll be able to say Bruni’s work has improved, technically.

The absurdly inept Times columnist proves once and for all that he’s a caricature of plutocratic neoliberalism

nytimes.com
The Oldest Hatred, Forever Young

Well beyond Kansas, anti-Semitism persists.

Most of the hate crimes in the United States don’t take the fatal form that the shootings in Kansas over the weekend did, and most aren’t perpetrated by villains as bloated with rage and blinded by conspiracy theories as the person accused in this case, Frazier Glenn Miller. He’s an extreme, not an emblem.

This is someone who went on Howard Stern’s radio show four years ago (why, Howard, did you even hand him that megaphone?) and called Adolf Hitler “the greatest man who ever walked the earth.” When Stern asked Miller whether he had more intense antipathy for Jews or for blacks (why that question?), Miller chose the Jews, definitely the Jews, “a thousand times more,” he said.

“Compared to our Jewish problem, all other problems are mere distractions,” he declaimed, and he apparently wasn’t just spouting off. He was gearing up.

On Sunday, according to the police, he drove to a Jewish community center in Overland Park, Kan., and opened fire, then moved on to a nearby Jewish retirement home and did the same. Three people were killed.

They were Christian, as it happens. When hatred is loosed, we’re all in the crossfire.

On Monday, as law enforcement officials formally branded what happened in Kansas a hate crime, I looked at the spectrum of such offenses nationally: assault, intimidation, vandalism.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation keeps statistics, the most recent of which are for 2012. In the United States that year there were 6,573 hate-crime incidents reported to the bureau (a fraction, no doubt, of all that occurred). While most were motivated by race, about 20 percent were motivated by the victims’ perceived religion — roughly the same percentage as those motivated by the victims’ presumed sexual orientation. I didn’t expect a number that high.

Nor did I expect this: Of the religion-prompted hate crimes, 65 percent were aimed at Jews, a share relatively unchanged from five years earlier (69 percent) and another five before that (65 percent). In contrast, 11 percent of religious-bias crimes in 2012 were against Muslims.

Our country has come so far from the anti-Semitism of decades ago that we tend to overlook the anti-Semitism that endures. We’ve moved on to fresher discussions, newer fears.

Following 9/11, there was enormous concern that all Muslims would be stereotyped and scapegoated, and this heightened sensitivity lingers. It partly explains what just happened at Brandeis University. The school had invited Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a celebrated advocate for Muslim women, to receive an honorary degree. But when some professors and students complained, citing statements of hers that seemed broadly derisive of Islam, the invitation was withdrawn. Clearly, university officials didn’t want their campus seen as a cradle or theater of Islamophobia.

But other college campuses in recent years have been theaters of anti-Israel discussions that occasionally veer toward, or bleed into, condemnations of Jews. And while we don’t have the anti-Semitism in our politics that some European countries do, there’s still bigotry under the surface. There are still caricatures that won’t die.

One of them flared last month on the Christian televangelist Pat Robertson’s TV show. His guest was a rabbi who, shockingly, was himself trafficking in the notion that Jews excel at making money. The rabbi said that a Jew wouldn’t squander a weekend tinkering with his car when he could hire a mechanic and concentrate on something else.

Polishing diamonds?

In a 2013 survey of 1,200 American adults for the Anti-Defamation League, 14 percent agreed with the statement that “Jews have too much power” in our country, while 15 percent said Jews are “more willing to use shady practices” and 30 percent said that American Jews are “more loyal to Israel” than to the United States.

That’s disturbing, as is the way in which the Holocaust is minimized by its repeated invocation as an analogy. In separate comments this year, both the venture capitalist Tom Perkins and Kenneth Langone, one of the founders of Home Depot, said that the superrich in America were being vilified the way Jews in Nazi Germany had been.

It’s not just Kansas and the heartland where anti-Semitism, sometimes called the oldest hatred, stays young.

A story in The Times last year focused on an upstate New York community in which three Jewish families filed suit against the school district, citing harassment of Jewish students by their peers. The abuse included Nazi salutes and swastikas drawn on desks, on lockers, on a playground slide.

When a parent complained in 2011, the district’s superintendent responded, in an email: “Your expectations for changing inbred prejudice may be a bit unrealistic.”

Well, the only way to breed that prejudice out of the generations to come is never to shrug our shoulders like that — and never to avert our eyes.

[T]he born-this-way approach carries an unintended implication that the behavior of gays and lesbians needs biological grounding to evade condemnation. Why should it? Our laws safeguard religious freedom, and that’s not because there’s a Presbyterian, Buddhist or Mormon gene. There’s only a tradition and theology that you elect or decline to follow. But this country has deemed worshiping in a way that feels consonant with who you are to be essential to a person’s humanity. So it’s protected. Our laws also safeguard the right to bear arms: not exactly a biological imperative. Among adults, the right to love whom you’re moved to love — and to express it through sex and maybe, yes, marriage — is surely as vital to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as a Glock. And it’s a lot less likely to cause injury, if that’s a deciding factor: how a person’s actions affect the community around him or her.
—  New York Times columnist Frank Bruni, on Cynthia Nixon’s controversial comments.