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Comments: Week of July 22, 2013

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1. “R.I.P. the contemplative America of Thoreau and of Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener, who ‘would prefer not to’; this is the America that prefers to be out there, prizing networking, exhibitionism, and fame more than privacy, introspection, and solitude,” wrote Frank Rich in an essay on privacy in the Edward Snowden era (When Privacy Jumped the Shark,” July 8–15). At nymag.com, many readers criticized him for pooh-poohing the public impact of Snowden’s disclosures, though the essay was really more a description than an endorsement of national apathy. “Et tu Frank?” asked one. “Love Frank and always look forward to his perspective but there’s a major flaw in the basic premise of this story,” wrote another. “It’s our choice to use Twitter, Facebook, appear on reality shows, etc. It’s not our choice to have the govt. secretly monitor our e-mails, phone calls, etc. Just because I use a cell phone doesn’t give the govt. the right to monitor my calls without my knowing it. Last time I checked that’s not in my ­Verizon plan.” Others also raised their hands to say, well, actually the news did trouble them. “I definitely care if the government is looking at all of my information. Not all of us willingly surrender our info to the public. Maybe you think this isn’t such a big deal, but what will you say when it gets worse?” But many shrugged at Snowden, unsure what the fuss was supposed to be about. “Everyone is connected these days, and everyone with half a brain realizes that just about nothing is private anymore. I don’t sense much outrage from the mainstream about WikiLeaks, the Snowden NSA leaks, etc. I could only detect outrage from the extreme left or right.” And another: “Snowden is a moron—thinking for one moment that this guy is a ‘patriot’ is foolish—he’s an out-of-control isolate, ready for the loony bin. What Mr. Rich is saying is that the game is over. Corporations are the new nation states—they run the world.” One freedom-lover saw that as reason enough to celebrate the leader: “Run Edward Snowden run and long may you be at large.”

2. “Warning: If you eat all the cheap eats, it’s very expensive,” joked @­joshpetri on Twitter about Rob ­Patronite and Robin Raisfeld’s annual survey of the city’s best food under $25 (Cheap Eats,” July 8–15). “Thank you for not exclusively focusing on ­Williamsburg,” wrote one commenter at ­nymag.­com, though not everyone felt the same. “Inclusiveness is lovely, but most of your readers will never, ever, ever see Sheepshead Bay, Ridgewood, or something you call ‘Gravesend’ (which can’t possibly exist outside of Dickensian London).” That comment produced a huge backlash, with many readers arguing that “inclusiveness” was critical in a survey like this one. “If the growth of the middle-class populations in LIC, Greenpoint, and Williamsburg has shown NYC restaurant owners anything, it’s that people are willing to travel a bit more beyond the Manhattan comfort zone to experience a uniquely delicious meal,” one wrote. “What’s the point of living in New York City if you only eat at restaurants in Manhattan?”

3. “New York has too long and tangled a relationship with the waterfront to retreat upland or cower behind seawalls,” wrote Justin Davidson in his history of the city’s shoreline that doubled as a meditation on its future, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and a new mayoral report about how to defend against another ­superstorm (Liquid City,” July 8–15). The essay collected praise on Twitter (“Superb overview of NYC ­waterfront,” wrote @qvdalequ2; “this is the gullet of New York swallowing the tonnage of the world”), but some commenters at ­nymag.­com found the ­forward-looking material a bit pie-in-the-sky. “I like some of the ideas for buying time in lower Manhattan, most of them based on projects from the Netherlands. The cost, including kickbacks, graft, dirty pols, etc., would probably be too dear … It’s taken thirteen years to put up one building,” wrote one, referring to One World Trade. “I can’t imagine a substantially bigger project being implemented in time, even if they started in the near future.”

Send correspondence to: nymletters@nymag.com


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