‘She Said’ Recounts How Two Times Reporters Broke the Harvey Weinstein Story

[ “She Said” names some of the people who helped Harvey Weinstein evade scrutiny. ]

And then there was Gloria Allred, the crusading feminist lawyer, whose law firm, in 2004, negotiated a nondisclosure agreement for one of Weinstein’s victims; the firm pocketed 40 percent of the settlement. “While the attorney cultivated a reputation for giving female victims a voice,” Kantor and Twohey write, “some of her work and revenue was in negotiating secret settlements that silenced them and buried allegations of sexual harassment and assault.” Allred went on to do the same with women who had been abused by the Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and the Olympics gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. In 2017, after a group of lawyers in California persuaded a state legislator to consider a bill that would ban confidentiality clauses muzzling sexual harassment victims, Allred denounced the move and threatened to go on the attack. The legislator, Connie Leyva, quickly shelved the idea. (A year later, Leyva introduced such a bill and it was signed into law.)

Maybe the most appalling figure in this constellation of collaborators and enablers is Lisa Bloom, Allred’s daughter. A lawyer likewise known for winning sexual-harassment settlements with nondisclosure agreements, Bloom was retained by Weinstein (who had also bought the movie rights to her book). In a jaw-dropping memo to Weinstein, Bloom itemized her game plan: Initiate “counterops online campaigns,” place articles in the press painting one of his accusers as a “pathological liar,” start a Weinstein Foundation “on gender equality” and hire a “reputation management company” to suppress negative articles on Google. Oh, and this gem: “You and I come out publicly in a pre-emptive interview where you talk about evolving on women’s issues, prompted by death of your mother, Trump pussy grab tape and, maybe, nasty unfounded hurtful rumors about you. … You should be the hero of the story, not the villain. This is very doable.”

“She Said” contains a second story of what’s doable against great odds: how two reporters with no connections in Hollywood and with almost no one willing to go on the record were able to penetrate this omertà and expose what lay behind it to public scrutiny. This is the book’s deeper level, the story of getting a story, signaled in the choice of chapter titles like “The First Phone Call” and “‘Who Else Is on the Record?’” Kantor and Twohey have crafted their news dispatches into a seamless and suspenseful account of their reportorial journey, a gripping blow-by-blow of how they managed, “working in the blank spaces between the words,” to corroborate allegations that had been chased and abandoned by multiple journalists before them. “She Said” reads a bit like a feminist “All the President’s Men.”

Kantor and Twohey take us through the time-consuming, meticulous and often go-nowhere grunt work that’s intrinsic to gathering evidence, winning the trust of gun-shy victims and maneuvering past barricades that block the path to a publishable article. Along the way, we witness how much institutional support such a protracted effort requires. Kantor and Twohey make a point throughout the book of stressing their reliance on a multilayered editorial team, from rigorous young research assistants like Grace Ashford, who combs through government employment data and tracks down a key former assistant from the late 1980s at Miramax, Weinstein’s film production company, to seasoned elder hands like the Times investigative editor Rebecca Corbett. “Sixtysomething, skeptical, scrupulous and allergic to flashiness or exaggeration,” Kantor and Twohey write of her, “but so low profile that she barely surfaced in Google search results. Her ambition was journalistic, not personal.” The night before the first article ran, Corbett remained in the newsroom until dawn, weighing and reweighing every word.

In this way, “She Said” is a dead-on description of what makes so-called “legacy” journalism so powerful. Ironically, the #MeToo movement that Kantor and Twohey’s articles about Weinstein helped launch promulgates an opposite message: that the best way to bring injustice to light is to get rid of the “gatekeepers” and let rip on Twitter, that we’ll only get to the “truth” when the Establishment is brought down and no one is in charge.

[ Read: “I’m Harvey Weinstein — you know what I can do.” ]

It may be, as the political writer Lee Smith argued in The Weekly Standard, that some journalists had protected Weinstein partly out of a craven illusion that the Hollywood rainmaker would someday make rain for them, buying their articles for high-grossing films. And no doubt the #MeToo movement has prompted the mainstream media to take these stories more seriously. Would Vanity Fair’s editor today omit allegations of sexual assault from a profile of Jeffrey Epstein, as happened in 2003? Nonetheless, the big-league sexual predators who have been brought to justice in the #MeToo era have been brought there not by internet whisper campaigns but by good old-fashioned reporting: O’Reilly by The Times, Nassar by The Indianapolis Star, Epstein by The Miami Herald, Roy Moore by The Washington Post, Weinstein by The Times and The New Yorker. “The Weinstein story had impact,” the authors note, “in part because it had achieved something that, in 2018, seemed rare and precious: broad consensus on the facts.”

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/08/books/review/she-said-jodi-kantor-megan-twohey.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

For Poison Dart Frogs, Markings Matter When It Comes to Survival

The fanciful colored markings of poison dart frogs are a warning to predators: If you eat me, you’ll regret it.

These tiny, colorful creatures secrete bitter toxins in their skin, and birds have come to associate their distinctive markings with danger. The frogs’ chemical defenses can cause swelling, paralysis and sometimes even death. Their markings are so distinctive that it seems any frog trying out a new look would be running a serious risk.

And yet, new markings do crop up. Dyeing poison dart frogs in one part of French Guiana usually are blue and black with yellow markings. But in the nearby Mont Grand Matoury nature preserve, they have white stripes. Scientists curious about how this alternative coloration was working out ran a series of experiments, and reported some surprising results last week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The white-striped frogs were not as effective at scaring off predators as their yellow brethren, they found. But they still managed to avoid being outcompeted by the fitter, more threatening yellow-striped frogs, perhaps in part because of their location.

The researchers began by setting out more than 2,000 clay models of frogs — some white-striped, some yellow-striped and some that were solid-colored — in both the Matoury nature preserve and in the Kaw Mountains, about 30 miles away, where a population of yellow-striped frogs lives.

When they collected the models later, they looked for gouges and scrapes that indicated a bird attack. They expected that birds in the Matoury preserve would avoid white-striped frogs while birds in the Kaw Mountains would steer clear of the ones with yellow stripes.

They were surprised to find that this was not the case. In Matoury, the white-striped frogs were attacked most, while in the Kaw Mountains frogs of all patterns were attacked about equally.

“This had us scratching our heads,” said J.P. Lawrence, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Irvine, and an author of the new paper.

Hoping to get more insight into the results, the researchers trained chicks in the lab to associate images of either white-striped or yellow-striped frogs with bitter, unpalatable mealworms. They found that the chicks came to dislike yellow-striped frogs much more quickly than white-striped frogs. Once they had learned to be skeptical of yellow frogs, the birds were more cautious about any new color.

That fit with the findings from the forest, Dr. Lawrence said. In the Matoury preserve, white-striped frogs were attacked more because birds had difficulty learning to associate white with a negative experience. In the Kaw Mountains, however, where birds had already learned to avoid yellow-striped frogs, they were equally skeptical of the newcomers with white stripes. Indeed, past research had shown that birds respond most strongly to warm colors like yellow, orange and red; white just doesn’t make the same impression.

If the white-striped frogs were failing to scare off predators with their colors, were they deadlier or at least more distasteful when caught?

Using a test pioneered by Bibiana Rojas, a researcher at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland and an author of the new paper, the researchers mixed oats with extracts of the frogs’ skin and fed them to chickens. They found that the white-striped frogs were less noxious than the yellow ones. In nearly every way that matters when it comes to surviving the ravages of natural selection, the white-striped frogs appeared to be failing.

Yet they have a healthy, lively population. The researchers believe that at least two factors are in play: The two populations of frogs appear to have no contact with each other, judging from limited genetic data. If they lived together, the white frogs would likely be outcompeted. But because they do not, the fact that the yellow-striped frogs are more successful has no effect on the survival of the white-striped frogs. As long as their gene pools do not mix, even a less-fit version can survive.

The other factor is a reminder that appearance isn’t everything. While the team was out collecting frogs in the forest, they noticed a key difference.

“When you come across one of these yellow-striped frogs, they’re just right out in the middle of the forest,” Dr. Lawrence said. “They don’t really care at all that you’re there. The white-striped frogs, they’re much more secretive, much more skittish. You often have to dive into a burrow to catch one.”

By altering their behavior, the white-striped frogs may have increased their chances of success. Even in the cutthroat natural world, where only the strong are said to survive, a counterintuitive new innovation can persist, given the right circumstances.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/12/science/poison-dart-frogs-markings.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

The Forces That Are Killing the American Dream

Nicholas Lemann’s “Transaction Man” is intended as a sequel to Whyte’s book. It is a story about a battle of ideas between the people who built postwar American culture and their critics, like Whyte. “Who won this contest of visions — the side that valued a structured, organization-based society or the side that saw it as profoundly unhealthy?” Lemann asks. “The anti-Organization Man view won, without question.” He continues: “Its victory was so thorough, and so consequential, that today the representative figure of our age is an almost completely opposite character, whom we can call Transaction Man. Transaction Man (who may be a woman, of course) often works in a job that is literally transactional, in such fields as trading financial instruments, private equity, venture capital and hedge funds.” Organization Man aspired to join a large corporation and become a pillar of his community. Transaction Man or Woman aspires to be a disrupter and global citizen.

Lemann, a New Yorker staff writer and former dean of the Columbia Journalism School, has a skill for making grand stories about American life feel human. He did it in two earlier books, “The Promised Land,” his 1991 account of the great black migration, and “The Big Test,” about the SAT and meritocracy, which was published in 1999. Anyone who read those books when they appeared would have been better prepared for some of the political and cultural debates that followed. I suspect the same will be true of “Transaction Man,” given the present focus on economic inequality and corporate America’s role in creating it.

Lemann tells his story through a handful of characters, including an adviser to Franklin D. Roosevelt, a University of Chicago economist, the top executives of Morgan Stanley and a General Motors car dealer on the South Side of Chicago. The first, chronologically, is the Roosevelt adviser, Adolf Berle, an intellectual architect of the Organization Man economy. Berle recognized that American corporations were becoming gigantic, and he believed the only force that could constrain them — and harness their power for the good — was the federal government. As a Columbia University professor, he argued that the government should not break up companies (as some liberals, notably Louis Brandeis, favored) and certainly should not take them over (as the Bolsheviks were doing in Moscow). Instead, Washington should take a distinctly American approach, regulating companies to ensure they were acting in citizens’ interest. After being invited to dinner in Albany with then-Governor Roosevelt during his 1932 campaign, Berle helped design the New Deal.

The post-New Deal prosperity helped create thousands of thriving communities, like Chicago Lawn, a neighborhood on the city’s South Side not far from Park Forest. Chicago Lawn, as Lemann writes, was “cut in on the deal.” Large employers, the Catholic Church, the Chicago Democratic machine and the federal government all contributed to building a middle class. The archetypal business was a General Motors dealership, in which the owner knew the neighborhood, sold cars, arranged loans and, with assistance from a special G.M. program, received help in handing down the business to the next generation. It was like a different kind of legacy admissions.

Of course, not far from Chicago Lawn were African-American neighborhoods that were decidedly not cut in on the deal. This exclusion was the great shame of the Organization Man decades. It played a role in unraveling the system, as liberals turned their focus away from the questions about corporate power that had occupied Berle and focused, understandably, on fairness.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/10/books/review/transaction-man-nicholas-lemann.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

Who’s Missing From Breast Cancer Trials? Men, Says the F.D.A.

In recent years, health officials have pushed aggressively to include more women in clinical trials of new drugs. Gone is the ban that once excluded women of childbearing age from participating in studies. Even scientists who work with animals are now encouraged to include mice and rats of both sexes.

But when it comes to breast cancer, it is men who get short shrift. They are often excluded from clinical trials of new treatments. When new breast cancer drugs come to market, there is little data to indicate whether they are safe or effective in men. Some new drugs are approved only for women.

The disease is extremely rare in men, who account for fewer than 1 percent of breast cancer cases. Nonetheless, the Food and Drug Administration is calling on researchers to include male patients in clinical trials of breast cancer treatments, even if the studies are unlikely to enroll more than a handful of male patients.

The guidance is a draft recommendation now open to public comment. Some breast cancer specialists called it a long overdue step.

“It’s so frustrating in clinic to see patients and say, ‘Well, we don’t really know — the drugs have been tested in women. We think it should work in men, but there’s no real evidence to back that up,’” said Dr. Sharon Giordano, a professor of breast medical oncology at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston who treats many male patients.

Even if only a few men participate in each trial, data on them could be pooled. Coupled with real-world experience using the medications, that data could shed light on treatment of men, she said.

The proposed guideline comes amid growing concerns that men with breast cancer — whose disease tends to be diagnosed in more advanced stages — are often not getting optimal care and may be missing out on lifesaving therapies.

One of the largest analyses of these patients, published in Annals of Oncology in 2017, reported what the authors called “troublesome findings.” The study, carried out by the International Male Breast Cancer Program, analyzed 1,500 men with breast cancer in Canada, the United States and seven European countries.

The vast majority of men with breast cancer have tumors that are fueled by estrogen. (Men produce the hormone, too.) In the study, virtually all men whose cancer had not spread had estrogen-receptor-positive tumors, which should be treated with therapy to reduce estrogen levels in the body or to block the hormone from attaching to breast cancer cells.

But only 77 percent of these patients received anti-estrogen therapy, the study found. That means that nearly one in five men who should have received a potentially lifesaving therapy did not get it, said Dr. Fatima Cardoso, the lead author of the study and director of the breast unit at Champalimaud Clinical Center in Lisbon. “We don’t know why,” she said.

The most common treatment for men was surgery: a mastectomy to remove the breast, or a lumpectomy to remove the tumor. But the men had low rates of radiation treatment, which is standard care after a lumpectomy and often recommended after a mastectomy if, for example, the tumor is very large, said Dr. Marisa C. Weiss, founder of Breastcancer.org. The study called the low rates a “major concern.”

Poor care is all too common when patients suffer from rare diseases, and for men, breast cancer is a rare disease, Dr. Cardoso noted.

“Many, many oncologists have never seen a case of breast cancer in a male patient,” she said. For these patients, she added, it’s particularly important to find experienced doctors.

Men with breast cancer are often older. They may have very large tumors by the time they seek care, because they were not on the lookout for the disease.

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“Some men are not even aware they have breasts and not aware they can have breast cancer,” Dr. Cardoso said. “Even health professionals often don’t think about it. General practitioners who see male patients don’t pay attention to the breast.”

“We need a lot of education to remind men they have breasts, too, and should check them,” she said. “And if they find something, go to the oncologist fast.”

Dr. Cardoso and other experts welcomed the proposed new guidelines, but said researchers should collaborate on large international trials focused on men with breast cancer. When the patient population is small, large trials are needed to make significant findings.

“Some data is better than no data, but it’s not the ultimate solution,” said Dr. Larry Norton, chairman of clinical oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

But pharmaceutical companies are not very interested in funding such trials. “No one wants to invest in a disease that is only 1 percent of all breast cancers,” Dr. Cardoso said.

As with women, one of the first warning signs of breast cancer in men can be a lump in the breast. Other possible early symptoms include nipple pain, discharge from the nipple, a sore on the nipple or areola, an inverted nipple, or swollen lymph glands under the arm.

The risk of breast cancer in men increases with age, and is higher in men who have high estrogen levels or genetic mutations, or who have been exposed to radiation. Men with Klinefelter syndrome — who carry an extra X chromosome — are also at increased risk.

Family history is important: Doctors recommend all men with breast cancer be tested for mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, which are linked to both breast and ovarian cancer in women.

Men who have mutations in these genes are 80 times as likely to develop breast cancer as men without these mutations. A positive result alerts female relatives that they may need to be tested, as well.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/09/health/breast-cancer-men.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

A New Collection Upends Conventional Wisdom About Migration

There’s a saying often attributed to the novelist John Gardner that there are really only two stories: A Person Goes on a Journey or A Stranger Comes to Town.

Which is, of course, the same story, just turned inside out. It’s the story of movement; of migration, its trauma or license, its challenge to one’s premises and moral coordinates, life and livelihood. In her Nobel Prize lecture, Toni Morrison recounted a folktale found across many cultures. A group of children visit a wise old woman, a storyteller or griot. “Tell us what it is to have no home in this place,” they ask. “To be set adrift from the one you knew. What it is to live at the edge of towns that cannot bear your company.”

“The Penguin Book of Migration Literature,” edited by Dohra Ahmad, has the startling distinction of being the first global anthology of migration literature, according to its publisher. Previous such collections have been “origin-specific,” devoted to particular diasporas, Ahmad writes; her book offers the opportunity for global comparison across history and genre. It includes excerpts from classics by Phillis Wheatley, Sam Selvon, Edwidge Danticat (who also contributes the foreword), Salman Rushdie, Marjane Satrapi and Zadie Smith, along with younger writers like the Nigerian novelist Sefi Atta and the Sudanese-American poet Safia Elhillo.

The anthology was born out of Ahmad’s literature course at St. John’s University, and bears the clear if charmless structure of a seminar, complete with a recommended reading section. But her introduction is fiery and charismatic, almost outshining the pieces themselves. The book doesn’t exist to benignly bear witness or give voice but to dislodge the lazy, pernicious — and dominant — conceptions of migration, she writes, to tell a more truthful and sophisticated version than the linear narrative of departure, arrival and assimilation. These stories and poems push back against the fallacies that migration is always elective; that migrants are always keen to leave their home countries; that migration is one-way, and necessarily leads to a better fate.

Ahmad also seeks to refine and enlarge our definition of migrant literature. It is critical, she writes, to consider the perspectives of original inhabitants of “destination countries”: “native people whose land, cultures and economies bore the cost of these voluntary and forced arrivals” — Native Americans, Canadian First Nations people, Indigenous Australians. Oddly, however, the anthology only rarely acknowledges such people, as in the poem “Ellis Island,” by the Native American writer Joseph Bruchac. The poem’s narrator recalls his Slovak grandparents arriving in America: “Only part of my blood loves that memory. / Another voice speaks / of native lands / within this nation. / Lands invaded / when the earth became owned.”

ImageDohra Ahmad, the editor of “The Penguin Book of Migration Literature.”CreditOrin Herskowitz

Ahmad also includes work inspired by “intranational” migration (occuring within the borders of a country) and stories about slavery, which are often left out of discussions of migration but necessary, she argues, for a full account of the movement of people through history, much of which has been involuntary, the consequences of enslavement, indentured labor, exile.

One out of every 30 people in the world is reportedly a migrant. This book encompasses the diversity of experience, with beautiful variations and stories that bicker back and forth. In Elhillo’s poem “Origin Stories (Reprise),” the narrator tells us she was born “carved up by borders,” but she is shown caught and cradled by the hands of her mother and grandmother. Against the fissures of migration stand the bonds of the women in her family.

Contrast that with the alienation in the excerpt from Paulette Ramsay’s novel “Aunt Jen.” A daughter writes home to her mother in Jamaica, after a long separation: “We would pass each other and not know that we are flesh and blood.” She tries to conjure her mother’s face but finds she cannot. “It’s like trying to see my own face in a dirty mirror.”

If there are mirrors, they can be found in the faces of other migrants — a common a point of overlap in the pieces that makes a brilliant case for the anthology itself. In the excerpt from Danticat’s short story “Children of the Sea,” a Haitian man on a boat to the United States writes to his beloved: “Since there are no mirrors, we look at each other’s faces to see just how frail and sick we are starting to look.”

For all their variety, many of the pieces sing in a similar key, in the note of orphanhood, of complicated longing. I found a phrase for this feeling not in this anthology but in the writing of the great Jamaican-born British scholar Stuart Hall (the only omission from the book that truly troubled me). “Nostalgia for what cannot be,” Hall once called the sound of Miles Davis’s trumpet — Davis, whose parents left Arkansas in an early wave of the Great Migration. This is the sound I hear — full of melancholy and hunger, but also deep pragmatism and wryness. It is a writing that has a way of looking you in the eye as if to say: This is a story without an ending; you will not be exempt for long.

“I hear them say, go home,” Warsan Shire writes in her poem “Conversations About Home (at the Deportation Center).” “All I can say is, I was once like you, the apathy, the pity, the ungrateful placement and now my home is the mouth of a shark, now my home is the barrel of a gun. I’ll see you on the other side.”

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/09/books/review-penguin-book-migration-literature-dohra-ahmad.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

What Can a Star Like Cardi B Do for a Politician Like Sanders?

Politicians have been looking to harness the power of the pop-culture celebrity since, at the very least, 1920, the year Warren G. Harding enjoyed the support of the actors Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, the backing of the Chicago Cubs and a campaign song by Al Jolson (“We’re here to make a fuss!/Mister Harding, you’re the man for us”). Evidence of the actual impact of such endorsements remains mixed — it all seems highly dependent on the circumstances. But the quest to translate celebrity allure into cold, hard votes seems almost irresistible.

This August, Bernie Sanders’s campaign released two separate videos made in conjunction with pop-culture figures. One had Sanders in conversation with a longtime surrogate, the rapper Killer Mike, but it’s the other that drew more attention. In that one, the candidate sits across from the 26-year-old star Cardi B in a nail salon in Detroit. Sanders wears a navy suit and his signature hunch. Cardi is in a mint-green dress, slightly sheer and buttoned up to her neck. (This is Business Cardi; the only added flash comes from her signature acrylic nails.) Everything about the scene reads as a classic television-news interview. Both are miked up, their gray armchairs angled toward one another in front of a tastefully neutral background. The sole difference is that instead of a gray-haired news anchor presiding, it’s Cardi B, the stripper turned reality-television star turned chart-topping rapper, asking questions about the minimum wage and health care.

There are many intersections of politics and popular culture we’re used to seeing, and while they always feel contrived, it’s usually clear whose rules everyone is expected to obey. A pop star, pumping up the crowd at a political rally, knows to be polite and sincere; a politician, visiting a late-night talk show, knows to act relatable and take some gentle ribbing. This video — inexplicably interspersed with interior shots of the salon and close-ups of Cardi’s nails — is more of a challenge, with the two figures trying to meet, casually, at the intersection of vastly different contexts. It is a celebrity-generated piece of political content, with which Sanders surely hopes to reach Cardi’s immense and youthful social-media audience, but it is also a simulacrum of a traditional broadcast interview, in which Cardi dutifully asks questions gathered from her followers on Instagram. The two seem a bit as if they’ve been shoved together into one large suit jacket. “Bernie, do you think it’s going to be possible to eliminate student debt?” Cardi asks. “Because so many people are suffering from these things, and it just — I feel like it discourages the youth to go to school.” Sanders responds as if he did not anticipate this question: “Cardi, you are 100 percent right.”

This pairing came about more naturally than it might look. In 2016, Cardi encouraged fans to “vote for Daddy Bernie”; she and Sanders have spent the last few years complimenting each other online. She is young enough to fit into Sanders’s base, and in many ways their brands align: Both appeal to their audiences by speaking with a certain blunt authenticity. That quality is clearly refreshing for younger audiences, but it also means that, throughout this video, you can almost feel the tension of the ghostly P.R. teams surrounding them, willing the conversation to go smoothly.

An influential celebrity backer can be valuable during a primary; one study credited Oprah Winfrey with netting Barack Obama an estimated million primary votes in 2008. But stars who ally themselves with political campaigns tend to show up during the general election, and usually lean on their own talents rather than their skill at talking politics; they’re safer fund-raising, making brief appearances at rallies or creating bits of comedic content. Frank Sinatra did it for both parties, backing John F. Kennedy and later Ronald Reagan. Bruce Springsteen played rallies for John Kerry and Obama. And in 2016, Hillary Clinton’s campaign occasioned a vast wave of celebrity content. Katy Perry sang at the Democratic National Convention, coaxing the crowd to “roar for Hillary” before singing her hit song “Roar.” Lena Dunham appeared in a Funny or Die video titled “Sensual Pantsuit Anthem,” wearing a red pantsuit, performing a self-deprecating rap and pausing, at one point, to muse, “I wonder if I’m actually hurting her chances of winning.” The actor Elizabeth Banks helped coordinate a video, shown during the convention, featuring Sia, Alan Cumming, Aisha Tyler, Connie Britton, America Ferrera and Eva Longoria singing a campaign-associated song a cappella, giving off strong freshman-dorm vibes. A top comment on the video’s YouTube page: “Well this didint work out.”

The goal of this content is simple get-out-the-vote enthusiasm; what the celebrities are lending the campaigns is their ability to reach and excite people, including those who don’t follow politics. One key segment, obviously, is young people, still widely imagined to be more interested in pop culture than voting. (Youth turnout has, after all, remained low for decades, only to well up in last year’s midterms.) Getting young people to vote is the sort of goal that can sound almost nonpartisan, even as everyone knows precisely which way that vote is expected to break. Organizations like Rock the Vote have long used the power of celebrity to try to entice young people to the polls; a 1990 ad had Madonna clad in an American flag, transforming the lyrics of her single “Vogue” into an exhortation to “vote.” This is the gist of Sanders’s sit-down with Cardi B, a subtext eventually made text: “If we have young people voting in large numbers,” he says, “you know what, I have zero doubt that Donald Trump will be defeated.”

It’s also, of course, the premise of Sanders’s campaigns for the presidency — that it’s possible, even necessary, to circumvent the usual routes to power by connecting with new masses of voters, and transforming a party in the bargain. And if that’s the goal, why not approach a sit-down with Cardi B with approximately the same aims as an appearance on “Meet the Press”? There’s celebrity cheerleading, troop-rallying and youth-pandering, and then there’s using the tools available to speak to audiences often deemed too unreliable to depend on for votes. The limits of that second approach are an open question, but the world, and the internet, offer more and more opportunities for trying it out: countless figures, from the mainstream to online niches, with immense followings to address. At the very least, it’s not a cappella.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/11/magazine/what-can-a-star-like-cardi-b-do-for-a-politician-like-sanders.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

How Parents Can Stay Close to Grown-Up Children

Diane Sanford, a relationship psychologist based in St. Louis and author of “Stress Less, Live Better: 5 Simple Steps to Ease Anxiety, Worry, and Self-Criticism,” suggests these trips go better if parents manage their expectations, don’t overschedule and allow everyone to have time to themselves.

Laura Sutherland, who lives in Santa Cruz, Calif., and her husband, Lance Linares, have taken their son, now 30, and daughter, now 32, on 10 trips since they graduated from college. The trips now include their spouses. Ms. Sutherland recommends booking accommodations with private rooms if possible. She assigns everyone responsibility for preparing or treating for a meal — and pitching in with cleanup. “We have clear communication in the beginning that parents shouldn’t be servants,” she said.

If budgets or timing don’t allow for travel, hiking close to home or going out for lunch and a visit to a local museum can work, too. As young adults strike out on their own, there’s a delicate balance that parents need to achieve. It starts with respecting kids’ growing independence in adolescence, said Dr. Ken Ginsburg, co-director of the Center for Parent and Teen Communication at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. They should feel comfortable coming to you for advice. By the time they are young adults, it’s no longer a one-way street.

“When you honor the fact that they can guide and support you, you’re developing a relationship that can last for decades,” Dr. Ginsburg said.

Dr. Sanford says if a dispute arises, instead of reacting or getting angry, “pause, take a breath and ask yourself whether it’s more important to get your way or have the opportunity for a good relationship.”

Carl Pickhardt, a counseling psychologist based in Austin, Tex., and author of the blog “Surviving Your Child’s Adolescence” and the book “Who Stole My Child? Parenting Through the Four Stages of Adolescence,” encourages parents of adult children to repeat a few mantras to themselves: I will respect the choices you make and how you face the consequences; I will not criticize or censor your behavior in any way; and I will cheer you on as you engage in life. He said to never provide unsolicited advice, but to request permission, saying something like, “I have some advice I would like to give that would be helpful, but only if that’s something you would like me to do.” Dr. Ginsburg suggests determining if your child wants you to listen or to provide advice, using language like: “I’m so glad that you always feel you can come and talk to me about these things. How can I be the most supportive?”

Dr. Ginsburg emphasized that there are some situations that call for a parent to become involved if the adult child’s safety is at risk, including dangerous depression, significant and substantial drug use or domestic abuse.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/10/well/family/parenting-young-adult-children.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

Inside the Minds of the Women Who Joined ISIS

The particular individuals Moaveni concentrates on have page-turning life stories that make the book’s analysis go down easy. Their starting points are diverse: Nour, a Tunisian teenager, was stifled by an authoritarian secular government, inspired by the peaceful revolution that toppled it and disillusioned when the revolt’s promise faded. Emma, a lonely young German, converted because she loved the warm Muslim community of her German-Turkish friends. Lina, a Lebanese-German, left her abusive husband and found solace in increased observance, only to be rejected by her secular Lebanese father. Asma, Aws and Dua were not-particularly-religious residents of Raqqa, Syria, forced to game out survival when ISIS took over their city.

And then there are the three Bethnal Green girls, from a well-regarded London high school. They were friends of Shamima Begum, and all four absconded to ISIS when they were in their teens. Begum, whose parents are from Bangladesh, recently resurfaced in a camp and was stripped of her British citizenship after being judged insufficiently apologetic. She had given birth to three children, one in the camp. All of them had died.

As Moaveni acknowledges, some of her sources may have had incentives to play down involvement and emphasize dissent. However, her portrayals dovetail with what my colleagues and I learned in years of reporting, and she goes deep into her sources’ experiences to provide convincing answers to crucial puzzles. For one, why was Tunisia, the relative success story of the Arab revolts, a top supplier of recruits? (She points to failed reforms and the dashed hopes of newly galvanized observant youth.) For another: Why were some academically successful second-generation Britons drawn to the group, and how could their parents not have known, or stopped them?

Here, Moaveni is particularly poignant and incisive. If these poor, sometimes non-English-speaking immigrant parents had time to notice daughters spending more time at mosques, they saw that as a sign of good values and safety. She brings to life the children’s chafing between their freewheeling London environment, pressure to succeed and conservative family strictures.

And she homes in on a prickly subject. The pain and anger over the West’s treatment of Muslims, while exploited by ISIS, are entirely mainstream in Muslim households, including the vast majority that deplore any violence against civilians. But children alienated from their parents, like converts with no family context, were vulnerable to extremists.

Even more disturbing, Moaveni reports that the Bethnal Green parents were not informed directly by the school, or the police, that one of their daughters’ friends had run off to join ISIS. The British police, she writes, knew one girl was in Turkey on her way to ISIS but failed to have Turkish authorities stop her. Did they treat young teenagers as counterterrorism pawns, Moaveni and the girls’ families wonder, rather than victims needing urgent rescue? For me, these questions raised another: Would they have treated white British girls the same way?

Finally, for all its compelling material, one of the book’s lasting accomplishments is its form. It is a master class in illustrating the big picture through small stories. And it uses women’s experiences — still so often framed as a subplot — to reach the heart of ISIS. Centering a narrative on women leads, here, to a superior analysis of the overall subject, and this is a lesson with applications far beyond ISIS.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/10/books/review/guest-house-for-young-widows-azadeh-moaveni.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

‘The Undying,’ an Extraordinary and Furious New Memoir About Cancer

Those vloggers offer Boyer something that she can’t quite find from classic texts like Susan Sontag’s “Illness as Metaphor” and Audre Lorde’s “The Cancer Journals” — a sense of what it feels like to have cancer right now, four decades after those books first appeared. Sontag was undergoing treatment for cancer but wrote impersonally, careful to avoid writing “I” and “cancer” in the same sentence; Lorde’s first-person book was published into a silence that has since been replaced by a din. Boyer notices that the old reluctance to speak publicly about one’s breast cancer has now become “an obligation, for those women who have it, to always do so.”

“I was afraid, on the first day, for my vocabulary,” Boyer writes, recalling how her journal entry for the date when she found the lump mentioned everything but the lump. She was telling herself one story “so I wouldn’t have to tell another.” She knows how writers lie by fixating on the “precisely avoidant detail.” Writers are instructed to show, don’t tell, but Boyer, who wrote about the limits of literature in her 2015 book “Garments Against Women,” argues that “telling is that other truth,” and might be ethically necessary. Until she felt the lump, she didn’t sense she was sick, even though she might have been dying. “The senses,” she writes, “are prone to showing’s lies.”

So she tells us not just what she feels but also what she thinks: about women and “sororal death,” overtreatment and the “ruinous carcinogenosphere.” She lives in one of the richest countries in the world, yet the hospital considered her double mastectomy an outpatient procedure, evicting her from the recovery ward before she could stand up. She had to return to work 10 days after her surgery and give a lecture on Walt Whitman with drainage bags stitched to her chest.

Reading Lorde’s description of spending five days in the hospital after the removal of a breast, Boyer admits to feeling “sometimes envious of the horrible circumstances of the past because they are at least differently horrible and differently degraded than our era’s own.” Some new kinds of degradation are so tied to technological change that they would have been completely unfathomable before. In 2014, in a pledge to raise “awareness” in partnership with the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation, the fossil-fuels company Baker Hughes produced a thousand pink drill bits to be used in hydraulic fracturing — even though chemicals released by fracking have been linked to cancer.

Where Boyer finds a measure of hope is in pain — not in valorizing it (insufficient), or in conquering it (impossible), but in recognizing it as something that’s real and shared with others. “Pain was my body being reasonable,” she writes. She recalls a time when her fellow patients joined her in the infusion room “to say what appears to hurt actually does hurt,” spurring her to grasp this strange solidarity, “the shared vistas of the terribly felt.”

Even the most resonant work of literature is historically specific, contingent not just on an author’s imagination but on where and when it was written, the context that gave it form. Boyer has more books in her, and when the treatment looks like it’s beginning to work she imagines what else she might write. “Now that I am undying, the world is full of possibility.”

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/10/books/review-undying-cancer-anne-boyer.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

Does Your Dog Need a Trainer?

The experts Wirecutter interviewed recommended hiring credentialed dog professionals, such as those registered with the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, a program run by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, or the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. The experts also praised the Karen Pryor Academy and Jean Donaldson’s Academy for Dog Trainers for their use of evidence-based approaches. (Both the C.C.P.D.T. and I.A.A.B.C. say pet owners should avoid programs that use punishment or pack-theory techniques because they’re not scientifically supported and are controversial in the training community.)

Certifications will help you parse through page after page of online listings — but you shouldn’t depend on the credentials alone. Experts also suggest calling references and researching a dog trainer’s training philosophy. And if that first training session leaves you unsure about the fit, it’s O.K. to say “no thanks.”

“Don’t be afraid to be picky,” Mx. Lowrey said. “If a trainer does or says something that makes you or your dog uncomfortable, leave and find someone new to work with.”

Get the right gear for practicing at home

Once you’ve consulted with a trainer, consider the gear you’ll need to reinforce good behavior at home. Obedience training often starts with mastering basic commands such as “sit,” “heel,” and “leave it” before advancing to long-distance recalls, impulse control, and flashy tricks in distracting environments.

A good collar ensures that identification tags will always remain accessible if you’re separated from your dog; it also acts as a connection point for a leash and serves as a training tool. Wirecutter recommends a flat-buckle collar, such as the Orvis Personalized Dog Collar, for most dogs. But if your dog has a slimmer head, as a whippet does, or a delicate trachea, as a Yorkshire terrier does, a limited-slip collar or harness is best. (In those cases, Wirecutter recommends the Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Dog Walking Harness.) A 4- to 6-foot-long dog leash, such as a nylon Max and Neo leash, is ideal for beginner training situations. And a dog crate aids in housebreaking and prevents pups from destroying property indoors. (We like the MidWest Ultima Pro.)

Use a small, smelly (trainers emphasize that the smell is important) treat to reward a dog’s good behavior — think pea-sized servings of dog-friendly jerky, string cheese, or hot dogs. For dogs on a specialized diet, kibble works in a pinch. Extra praise or a tug on a favorite toy makes training fun for dogs who aren’t food motivated.

Don’t rush the process

A trainer won’t be with you 24/7, so you should also incorporate obedience training (basic cues like “sit” and “touch”) into your daily routine, such as practicing good leash manners for 10 minutes a day during your dog’s afternoon walk. The routine also bolsters good training habits, much like learning a properly seated dumbbell curl from a personal trainer. And just like when you’re exercising, in training you shouldn’t overexert yourself or your pet. “When you’re learning something new it can be exhausting. We don’t want to overwhelm our learners, which would be our pets in that case,” Ms. Askeland said.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/09/smarter-living/wirecutter/does-your-dog-need-a-trainer.html?emc=rss&partner=rss