Keeping Up With The Times

Because I was obsessed with fashion as a teenager, everything about New York City fascinated me. To my young self, NYNY represented the pinnacle of culture and coolness—jazz clubs, sunglasses, taxicabs, skyscrapers, Central Park, The Plaza, Vogue and Bazaar magazines, Women’s Wear Daily, and, of course, the New York Times. To my way of thinking, people who read the New York Times were the chicest, most intellectual people in America.

Someday, I thought, I’ll be a smart, sophisticated person who dresses fashionably, travels by jet airplane, and reads the New York Times every day!

Thanks to digital publishing, I now start my day with The Times.

First, I vanquish Wordle and Connections, then move on to the Spelling Bee, which I play with my son-in-law Eric, an amazing speller. On our own, we work our way up to Genius, then merge our lists. By collaborating, we regularly achieve Queen Bee status.

At the Times website, I pick and choose from the Top Stories lined up under the masthead, then read my way down to lesser stories, to Culture and Lifestyles, Cooking, Wirecutter, Opinion, Arts, and all the rest.

I don’t think I’m all that smart or sophisticated, but I’ve learned a lot from reading the Times. Via an article two or three years ago, I found out about Heather Cox Richardson, a professor of history at Boston College. Richardson writes a daily Substack column called “Letters from an American.” Reading her letters has broadened my understanding of American history. Her deep dives go way behind the headlines. She’s a professional historian. She knows what she’s talking about.

Earlier this month, when the Arizona Supreme Court allowed an 1864 law banning abortion to be reinstated, Richardson’s letter explained that the law, written when Arizona was not yet a state, was actually designed to reign in a lawless population of men. The law addressed dueling and prohibited cutting out tongues or eyes, slitting noses or lips or rendering useless someone’s arm or leg. It defined the age of consent for sexual intercourse as ten.

After the Arizona Territorial Legislature adopted this Code of Laws a man named William Howell had brought with him to the gathering, they granted a member of the body a divorce from his wife. Next,

they established a county road near Prescott. After that, they gave a local army surgeon a divorce from his wife.

If you’d like to read everything Richardson had to say on this topic, here’s a link to her April 9 letter.

You can subscribe to Letters From An American for free, which I did for a while, or you can upgrade to paid for $5 amonth (worth it!). You can’t subscribe to the New York Times for free, but that’s understandable. They have legions of reporters and photographers all over the world that have to be paid, plus a newspaper to print.

I’d be a lot happier with the Times if more quilting-centric words were accepted in the Spelling Bee, words like faille, mola, and batt. I guess they’re not 100% smart.









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