Thomas L. Friedman | Our New Promethean Moment – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“I had a most remarkable but unsettling experience last week. Craig Mundie, the former chief research and strategy officer for Microsoft, was giving me a demonstration of GPT-4, the most advanced version of the artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI and launched in November. Craig was preparing to brief the board of my wife’s museum, Planet Word, of which he is a member, about the effect ChatGPT will have on words, language and innovation.

“You need to understand,” Craig warned me before he started his demo, “this is going to change everything about how we do everything. I think that it represents mankind’s greatest invention to date. It is qualitatively different — and it will be transformational.”

Large language modules like ChatGPT will steadily increase in their capabilities, Craig added, and take us “toward a form of artificial general intelligence,” delivering efficiencies in operations, ideas, discoveries and insights “that have never been attainable before across every domain.”

Then he did a demonstration. And I realized Craig’s words were an understatement.”

Eli Lilly Says It Will Cut the Price of Insulin – The New York Times


“Eli Lilly and Company said on Wednesday that it would reduce the price of its most commonly prescribed insulins and expand a program that caps monthly out-of-pocket costs for patients at $35 or less.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT  NYT Comment:

Good article, thank you. Finally. One commenter says it is only $7 in Australia. I’d like more information on what it costs around the world, how much it costs to produce, and what should it cost here. Maybe a lot less than $35 a month?

EVT Will Save Millions of Lives From Stroke. Eventually. – The New York Times

“. . . .  If Walterson had suffered his stroke just a few years earlier, or on the same day in another part of the world, his prognosis would have looked entirely different. Instead, he received a recently developed treatment, one established in part by the neurology team at Foothills: what’s called an endovascular thrombectomy, or EVT. In the hospital’s angiography suite, a neuroradiologist, guided by X-ray imaging, pierced Walterson’s femoral artery at the top of his inner thigh and threaded a microcatheter through his body, northbound to the brain. The clot was extracted from his middle cerebral artery and pulled out through the incision in his groin. Just like that, blood flow was restored, and soon his symptoms all but disappeared.”

Opinion | Marrying an Identical Twin Helped Me Change My Relationship Mind-Set – The New York Times

Ms. Leibowitz is an editorial assistant in Opinion.

“When I was growing up, my family never had much patience for “we liked it” people, those couples who use the royal “we” as though their relationship were its own fief. For instance, the husband who, when asked, “What did you think of the show?” responds, “Oh, we liked it.” The rule was that when one of these couples came to dinner, we had to contain ourselves until they were on the front walk — then my siblings and I would start in.

What goes around comes around, and in recent years that kind of teasing has often been directed at me. Or I guess, us, me and my husband, David, who in the course of our half-decade relationship have found ourselves, on occasion, speaking like the king and queen of Genovia.”

David Brooks | How Do You Serve a Friend in Despair? – The Newpsy York Times


Opinion Columnist


“My friendship with Peter Marks was created around play. Starting at age 11, we played basketball, softball, capture the flag, rugby. We teased each other, pulled pranks, made fun of each other’s dance moves and pretty much everything else. We could turn eating a burger into a form of play, with elaborate smacking of lips and operatic exclamations about the excellence of the cheese. We kept it up for five decades.

My wife has a phrase that got Pete just right — a rare combo of normal and extraordinary: masculine in the way you’re supposed to be masculine, with great strength and great gentleness. A father in the way you’re supposed to be a father, with great devotion, fun and pride. A husband the way you are supposed to be a husband, going home at night grateful because the person in the whole world you want to talk with the most is going to be sitting right there across the dinner table.

Over the years, Pete and I often spoke about the stresses he was enduring over the management of his medical practice, but I didn’t see the depths of what he was going through until we spent a weekend with him in the spring of 2019. My wife noticed a change immediately. A light had gone out; there was an uncharacteristic flatness in his voice and a stillness in his eyes. One bright June afternoon, he pulled us aside and told us he wasn’t himself. He was doing what he loved most — playing basketball, swimming in the lake — but he couldn’t enjoy anything. He was worried for his family and himself and asked for our continued friendship and support. It was the first time I had seen such pain in him — what turned out to be severe depression. I was confronted with a question for which I had no preparation: How do you serve a friend who is hit with this illness?

I tried the best I could, but Pete succumbed to suicide last April. This article flows from what I learned from those agonizing three years and that senseless tragedy. It reflects a hard education with no panaceas.”


Peter Coy | Do Handouts Work? – The New York Times

Opinion Writer

“Josephy Amosi Kamanga, who lives in Malawi, couldn’t afford to pay the examination fee for his eldest child, so she dropped out of school two years ago. She later got pregnant and is living at home. The fee that changed his daughter’s life? Just $4.98.

That story comes from GiveDirectly Inc., an American charity that offers a simple proposition: Give poor people cash, with no strings attached, and good things will tend to happen. It certainly did to Kamanga and his family. GiveDirectly gave him $51.75 a month for a year. That enabled him to reopen a shop that sells soap, drinks, body lotion, sugar, eggs and cooking oil, and to buy a secondhand phone to operate the business. With the profits from the grocery he covered school expenses for three other children. He told a GiveDirectly interviewer that the news he’d been selected to receive the money “brought joy in my heart.” “

Day 2: The Secret Power of the 8-Minute Phone Call – The New York Times

Jan. 2, 2023, 9:21 p.m. ET

“I just had an eight-minute call with my good friend Tina, whom I’ve known for over three decades. I could never seem to connect with her (she has a very demanding job) until I sent her a text last week proposing an eight-minute phone call.

That seems weird, she wrote back.

Come on, I wheedled. You can do itThe president of the United States could probably do eight minutes! I promise not to go long. Name a time.

At the appointed hour, I gave her a ring. In short order, we talked about our mothers’ health, made birthday plans, gossiped about a friend who abruptly quit his job and moved to a tiny Mexican town, traded book recommendations and explored the possibility of an afterlife (verdict: we’re not sure). Intently focused, we knocked out subject after subject, before Tina announced that our eight minutes were up — and besides, she had arrived at the dry cleaner’s.

I hung up, smiling and humming a little tune. I had missed her, and didn’t realize it until I heard her voice. I was also surprised by how much ground we covered without the call feeling rushed. Our connection was brief, but it was real.”

Rob Walker | Clutter Is Good for You – The New York Times

Mr. Walker writes frequently about design and memory.

“Several years before she died, my mother began sending me things — ostensibly significant objects. These included expected items like jewelry and photographs, but also puzzling ones. For example, one afternoon I opened a package containing a carefully wrapped eight-inch-tall ceramic leprechaun that I don’t recall ever having seen. (My family has no connection to Ireland.) Not long after, she announced that she wanted to send along her collection of bird figurines, in which I had never expressed any special interest.

Clearly this was no longer about handing down heirlooms. It was about getting rid of objects — basically, a form of decluttering. I had to put a stop to it, and not just because these objects didn’t actually mean anything to me. Much more important: They did mean something to her. In fact, what I most enjoyed about her accumulation of bird figures and ceramics and sand dollars from Texas beaches was her enjoyment of these things. Her un-self-conscious confidence about what she liked was one of her most admirable traits.

So I persuaded her not only to keep her figurines, but to let herself continue to appreciate their presence. Because ultimately my mother’s urge to purge struck me as illuminating something misguided about our general relationship to material culture. In short: What we often dismiss as “clutter” — all those nonessential, often oddball objects that a third-party observer might write off as needless junk — can actually be good for us.”

David Brooks | The Sad Tales of George Santos – The New York Times

“What would it be like to be so ashamed of your life that you felt compelled to invent a new one?

Most of us don’t feel compelled to do that. Most of us take the actual events of our lives, including the failures and frailties, and we gradually construct coherent narratives about who we are. Those autobiographical narratives are always being updated as time passes — and, of course, tend to be at least modestly self-flattering. But for most of us, the life narrative we tell both the world and ourselves gives us a stable sense of identity. It helps us name what we’ve learned from experience and what meaning our life holds. It helps us make our biggest decisions. As the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre once observed, you can’t know what to do unless you know what story you are a part of.

A reasonably accurate and coherent autobiographical narrative is one of the most important things a person can have. If you don’t have a real story, you don’t have a real self.”

David Lindsay Jr.
NYT Comment:

Excellent and thoughtful, David Brooks. Thank you. How about a follow up and this crook. Is a recall possible, how would it come about, and what is needed if it is not available, for starters. It would also be interesting to hear you respond to to you many critics in the comments. You made impressive points about psychology, which is one of your beats that you cover.

Give Thanks for the Winter Solstice. You Might Not Be Here Without It. – The New York Times


[This article, which was originally published for 2017’s winter solstice, has been updated for 2022. Sign up for The Times Space Calendar here.]

“On Dec. 21, or Wednesday this year, the sun will hug the horizon. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it will seem to barely rise — hardly peeking above a city’s skyline or a forest’s snow-covered evergreens — before it swiftly sets.

For months, the orb’s arc across the sky has been slumping, shortening each day.

In New York City, for example, the sun will be in the sky for just over nine hours — roughly six hours less than in June at the summer solstice. The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year, before the sun reverses course and climbs higher into the sky. (At the same time, places like Australia in the Southern Hemisphere mark the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.)

This is a good opportunity to imagine what such a day might look like if we had evolved on another planet where the sun would take a different dance across the sky. You might want to feel thankful for the solstices and seasons we do have, or we might not be here to witness them at all.”