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Comments: Week of June 11, 2018

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1. Adam Sternbergh sat in on Yale’s most popular course and gave readers his notes on what he learned about how to be happy (“The Cure for New York Face,” May 28–June 10). Beth Comstock, the former vice-chair of General Electric, wrote, “I can’t stop staring at this cover … We buy the fairy tale of perfection, and it makes us miserable. In business and in school, increasingly we think we can’t fail, so we don’t even try something new … Behavior change is the answer.” The author Mary Karr called it “a tractor beam of truth on happiness.” And Tal Ben-Shahar, the co-founder of the Happiness Studies Academy who pioneered Harvard’s hugely popular course on positive psychology, responded: “Reading about Yale’s most popular class indeed made me happier. My hope is that our entire system of education — from preschool to grad school — will expose students to the science of happiness. Learning about resilience, relationships, and reframing is no less important than learning reading, writing, and arithmetic. As a great deal of research has demonstrated, when students of all ages learn the very lessons that Professor Laurie Santos teaches in her class, they not only become happier, they also perform better academically and professionally.”


2. Anna Delvey ran a grifter scam worthy of the Instagram age, and Jessica Pressler chronicled in cinematic detail how she cut a swath through New York’s louche-rich circles (“Maybe She Had So Much Money She Just Lost Track of It,” May 28–June 10). April Anderson wrote, “This young woman’s character is so bizarre, it was like reading fiction.” Wil Wheaton tweeted, “Every con artist, ever, eventually says that they just told people what they wanted to hear … She played those idiots perfectly.” But HuffPost’s editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen pointed out, “Ain’t no black person getting away with this.” Readers immediately started dream-casting the inevitable film adaptation. Robert Kessler wrote, “Someone please tell Sofia Coppola about Anna Delvey immediately.” Michael Cuby added, “Anna Delvey is the comeback role Lindsay Lohan was born to play,” and Hari Nef chimed in, “I would also like to be considered.” For her part, Delvey said she’d like either Jennifer Lawrence or Margot Robbie to play her. The week after the story was published, Anna Delvey, née Sorokin, appeared in court — wearing Céline glasses — for a hearing. Her legal team is currently exploring a plea deal. Speaking to Pressler on the phone from Rikers, Delvey reacted to the enormous response to the story: “Only in America!”

3. Since taking his seat on the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch has shown a talent for “violating the unspoken norms of the institution and unsettling polite legal society,” Simon van Zuylen-Wood wrote in his profile of the newest addition to the bench (“Little Scalia,” May 28–June 10). Michael McGough wrote, “An entertaining read, and Gorsuch does seem to have led with his chin. But I wonder if he’d be under the same microscope if he didn’t occupy the ‘stolen’ seat.” But the (presumably conservative) @soonerwiz tweeted, “Raising the ire of @NYMag should be high on any conservative litmus test.” As the court nears the end of its term, the looming decision in Janus v. AFSCME could deal a blow to public-sector unions, and Gorsuch will likely cast the deciding vote. Frank Manzo IV, policy director at the Illinois Economic Policy Institute, wrote: “In Janus, the Court is being asked to invalidate a 40-year legal precedent, 23 state laws, and thousands of employment contracts. Research shows the effect of such extraordinary judicial activism would be a $2,000 per year pay cut for 5 million workers and a $33 billion hit to the U.S. economy. If Gorsuch chooses to go down this destructive road, he will reveal himself as more of a political ideologue than a principled Jurist.” University of Richmond law professor Ann Hodges, who specializes in labor-and-employment law, added, “Ruling for Janus would call into question the constitutionality of many other government-mandated fees like bar dues, homeowners’ association dues, employee contributions to government pensions, auto insurance premiums, university student fees, and even taxes. Perhaps the Justice will reject Janus’s challenge with a ‘brilliant, witty’ opinion that prevents the conservatives’ desire to destroy unions from creating unintended havoc.”


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