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Comments: Week of October 27, 2008

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1. If Sarah Palin did not exist, the Internet would’ve had to invent her. Nothing lights up the board at nymag.com quite like the Republican vice-presidential candidate, and that held true for Mark Jacobson’s story about his trip to her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska (Sarah Palin’s Heaven,” October 20). Amid the partisan crossfire, a few readers sought to convey a simple critique of the story: Wasilla is no hellhole. “This reporter must have been drunk or blind to think the Matanuska Valley is an UGLY stretch of road,” wrote a commenter who chose the name beautifulalaska. “Surrounded by beautiful mountains, a clear view of Mount McKinley from Parks Highway. At every stoplight there is a beautiful view.” Another native Alaskan, who identified himself as an Obama supporter and a current resident of New York City, added, “No one I have met has dead animal heads in their living rooms, or goes hunting, or snow-machining for that matter. No one I have met goes to a crazy church, and no one calls the Lower 48 ‘the Outside.’  ”


2. People love Nate Silver, they really, really do. Adam Sternbergh’s profile of the baseball analyst turned political prognosticator (The Spreadsheet Psychic,” October 20) inspired lots of gooey compliments in the blogosphere, as well as on nymag.com. Readers praised the story but, more than that, expressed their admiration for the proprietor of FiveThirtyEight.com: “Nate’s ability to take other news stories and examine them critically by looking at available data should be a model for all good journalism.” Or, as another reader put it, “What a hot geek.”

3. Governor Paterson’s office wished to correct the record on certain details in Geoffrey Gray’s profile (Gov. Nice Guy,” October 13). The staffers note that the optic atrophy he suffered as a child was not, as previously reported, caused by an ear infection; the cause is apparently unclear. Though the governor is completely blind in one eye, they say, the magnifying eyewear he uses to read would be better described as glasses and not as a monocle. They also dispute the accuracy of a quote previously attributed to the governor’s father, Basil Paterson, in the New York Times during the elder Paterson’s 1970 campaign for lieutenant governor. Though they do not dispute that David Paterson smoked pot in the presence of his brother, Daniel, and Daniel’s friends, they say that Daniel himself never partook. They also dispute the magazine’s reporting that in 1995, Marty Connor, the then State Senate Democratic minority leader, was “under pressure from party elders to promote a person of color” when he chose Paterson to be his deputy, as well as the perception that at the time Paterson was considered “unreliable,” explaining that he never missed a vote or a session between January 1995 and August 1999. Finally, they generously point out that Paterson was not, in fact, the youngest New York State senator in history. Donald Halperin, who took office in 1971 at the age of 24, was younger.

4. We received an urgent plea from a reader relating to an apartment at 39 West 67th Street, featured on the real-estate page (Fame Slept Here,” September 22): “The antique Persian carpet shown in the photo of the apartment was thrown out on the sidewalk by our super. We asked him to throw out certain garbage, and apparently he felt the antique Persian was garbage, too. As you can imagine we are very upset over the matter and are offering to pay a ransom for the carpet. Please help! If any of your readers are at a cocktail party where they hear about a story of these Upper West Siders being so rich they threw out this gorgeous carpet … please come forward. We promise not to prosecute! Thank you. Susan Cipolla.”


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