How do you see the American public?
Since taking the helm of The New Yorker in 1998, David Remnick has returned the magazine to its profitable glory days. A graduate of Princeton University, he began his journalistic career as a night police reporter at the Washington Post in 1982, becoming the paper's Moscow correspondent in 1988. His coverage of the Soviet Union's collapse led to his Pulitzer Prize-winning 1993 book "Lenin's Tomb." His latest book "The Bridge," is a biography of President Barack Obama. He lives in New York with his wife, Esther Fein, and their three children.
Question: How do you see the American public?
David Remnick: I don’t see the American public. I don’t think about the American public. It’s too large a category for me to think about.
What I think about honestly is: what’s the best we [The New Yorker magazine] can do? What’s the deepest we can go? What’s the most penetrating analysis we can publish? And then publish it and let the chips fall where they may.
And we have a readership of over a million people, which is well less than half a percent of the [U.S.] population. But it’s a lot of people, and that’s what I care about.
I know that fifty million people aren’t going to read the New Yorker. Fifty million people don’t do anything all at once.
So all I’m thinking about is to do what we do and what we do best. It’s not a question of snobbery. It’s not a question of elitism. It’s a question of doing what we know how to do.
When there first were potboilers in the ‘60s; Jacqueline Susann published a novel like “Valley of the Dolls,” and she’d sell a gazillion copies of it. And novelists everywhere who needed to make a living thought, “Okay. I’ll write one of those and that’ll support me for the rest of my life.” And a lot tried and they can’t do it.
And we only know how to do what we know how to do. It’s not a high brow magazine in the sense of Paris Review in the ‘50s at its zenith. And nor is it People or US. It is what it is.
The New Yorker is a very strange animal when you think about it.
If you had a billionaire today and you approached the billionaire with two ideas for a magazine, the first idea for a magazine would be let’s take the most popular television personality in America, and we will call it after her first initial, and we’ll put her on the cover every month. And the magazine will be an emanation of her sensibility, and advice, and the celebrities she knows, and the kind of earnest articles about women’s health. Whatever it may be, that will be one magazine and we’ll call it O for Oprah.
The billionaire nods. “Interesting idea.”
The other idea I have for a magazine is the following. The cover will not have photographs, neither of newsmakers nor women in bikinis. There will be drawings. They might be funny. They might be of a seasonal landscape. And the inside will have black and white cartoons; strange humor pieces by people like David Sedaris, or Andy Borowitz, or Patty; 14,000 words on the war in Iraq, say, or; and then maybe a piece on the scrap metal industry in a short story; and James Wood on [Leo] Tolstoy; and some reviews of current things. And that’ll be that magazine.
Which one do you think the billionaire would choose?
So the New Yorker, the second magazine I described, is a happy freak of nature and we’re lucky to have it. How it survived from 1925 and kept having various wonderful periods, which most magazines don’t have, they usually have one period that’s okay. And then they either die or they kind of drift into obscurity.
How this animal has learned to revive itself and stay vital, and important, and funny, lively is kind of a miracle. And that’s what we try to do.
Question: Can we cultivate more interest in the arts?
David Remnick: I think something that’s very hard to live with – and I’ve asked that question in one form or another all my adult life – is that the reading of difficult books, say, is never going to be the obsession of a vast majority of the American, English or any other people. To spend an hour or two or three a few nights a week placing yourself in front of an enigmatic text with little words in black and white, and then you’re supposed to form pictures in your mind or ideas in your mind and make that your central obsession, or pleasure, or entertainment.
To expect some huge portion of any people to do that has always been off base.
Now we live in a world of many screens. I grew up in a world of one screen – a television screen. That was an erotic lure enough.
Now I have good witness to teenagers who are faced with many more screens, and the lures have become even more tantalizing. And the pull away from placing yourself in front of that enigmatic text – whether it’s non-fiction, or fiction, or whatever – grows more difficult, more strained, more unlikely, and we have to work all the harder.
I don’t think that just because we have a couple of little videos on our Web site that’s going to be the salvation of the New Yorker. It’s nice. It might be fun, but I think there will always be readers.
I’m not as pessimistic even as the Caleb Crane piece in our own magazine about reading; but then I wouldn’t be on the business end if I were as pessimistic.
Recorded on Jan 7, 2008
It's not a question of elitism, Remnick says. It's about getting a good product out there.
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Astronomers spot an object heading into Earth orbit.
Minimoons<p>Scientists have confirmed just two prior minimoons. One was <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_RH120" target="_blank">2006 RH120</a>, which orbited us from September 2006 to June 2007. The other was <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_CD3" target="_blank">2020 CD3</a>, which got stuck in the 2015–2016 timeframe, and is believed to gotten away in May 2020.</p><p>2020 SO, the new kid on the block, is expected to arrive in October 2020 and pop out of orbit in May 2021.</p><div id="37962" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f4c0fc8a2cba6536ea4cd960ebed3e6e"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1307729521869611008" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Asteroid 2020 SO may get captured by Earth from Oct 2020 - May 2021. Current nominal trajectory shows shows capture… https://t.co/F5utxRvN6Z</div> — Tony Dunn (@Tony Dunn)<a href="https://twitter.com/tony873004/statuses/1307729521869611008">1600621989.0</a></blockquote></div>
Identifying 2020 SO<p>The first clue 2020 SO isn't your ordinary asteroid is its exceptionally low velocity. It's traveling much more slowly that a typical asteroid — their <a href="https://www.lpi.usra.edu/exploration/training/illustrations/craterMechanics/" target="_blank">average rate of travel</a> <a href="https://www.lpi.usra.edu/exploration/training/illustrations/craterMechanics/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"></a>is 18 kilometers (58,000 feet) per second. Even <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_rock" target="_blank">moon rocks</a> sent careening into Earth orbit by impacts on the lunar surface outpace pokey 2020 SO.</p><p>For another thing, 2020 SO has an orbital path very similar to Earth's, lasting about one Earth year. It's also just slightly less circular than our own orbit, from which it's barely tilted off-axis.</p><p>So, what is it? <a href="https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/ca/" target="_blank">NASA estimates</a> that the object has dimensions very reminiscent of a discarded Centaur rocket stage from the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surveyor_2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Surveyor 2 mission</a> that landed an unmanned craft on the moon. Back in the day, rocket stages were jettisoned as craft were aimed toward their desired position. This stuff, if released high enough, remains in space. It appears that this Centaur rocket, launched in September 1966, is now making its way back homeward, at least for a little bit.</p><p>When 2020 SO arrives at its closest point in December, the rocket is expected to be about 50,000 kilometers from Earth. Its next closest approach is much further: 220,000 kilometers, in February 2010.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQzMDk3NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyODg1MTQ1MX0.HGknDwqp0GmeuczKY_AS7vrPG7KMFUc_XO95tNoI2xo/img.jpg?width=980" id="e5cda" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="85eb1f790d8c3ee5b261f7ba13eaa5e1" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Centaur rocket stage" />
Centaur rocket stage
What we may be able to learn<p>Earthly space programs being as young as they are, scientists would love to know what's happened to our rocket during a half century in space.</p><p>While 2020 SO won't get close enough to drop into our atmosphere, its slow progress has scientists hopeful that they'll still get some kind of a decent look at it.</p><p>Spectroscopy may be able to reveal what the rocket's surface is like now — has any of its paint survived, for example? Of course, being out in space, it's likely to have been hit by lots of dust and micrometeorites, so the current state of its surfaces is also of interest. Experts are curious to know how reflective the rocket is at this point, valuable information that can help planners of future long-term missions anticipate how well a craft out in space for extended periods will remain able to reflect sunlight.</p>
Yet 80 percent of respondents want to reduce their risk of dementia.
- A new MDVIP/Ipsos survey found that only 35 percent of Americans know the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
- Eighty percent of respondents said they want to reduce their risks.
- An estimated 7.1 million Americans over the age of 65 will suffer from Alzheimer's by 2025.
Credit: logika600 / Shutterstock<p>Remaining healthy requires regular screenings. Here again we see a disassociation between risk reduction and proactivity. Seventy-seven percent of respondents don't talk to their doctors about lifestyle habits that support brain health; 51 percent have never been screened for depression; 44 percent have never had a neurological exam; and 32 percent have never been screened for hearing problems. </p><p>Common early warning signs of dementia, <a href="https://news.yahoo.com/americans-worry-alzheimers-disease-survey-140644803.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">according to</a> Dr. Jason Karlawish, co-director of the Penn Memory Center, include repetitive questions and stories, difficulties with complex daily tasks, and trouble with orientation. </p><p>In terms of intervention, <a href="https://bigthink.com/21st-century-spirituality/does-lack-of-exercise-lead-to-dementia" target="_self">exercise</a>, <a href="https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/obesity-dementia" target="_self">diet</a>, building a <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/brain-reserve" target="_self">brain reserve</a>, and challenging your brain (such as learning a new language or musical instrument) are all proven methods for staving off the ravages of Alzheimer's. Oxytocin has also <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/alzheimers-oxytocin" target="_self">showed promise</a> in brain-addled mice, while researchers found positive results for a <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/intermittent-fasting" target="_self">group of intermittent fasters</a> in promoting neurogenesis. </p><p>Epidemiologist Bryan James says that dementia is <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2013/04/15/176920391/how-exercise-and-other-activities-beat-back-dementia" target="_blank">not an inevitable result</a> of aging. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"It's simply not pre-destined for all human beings. Lots of people live into their 90s and even 100s with no symptoms of dementia." </p><p>Professor of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine, Andrew Budson, <a href="https://news.yahoo.com/americans-worry-alzheimers-disease-survey-140644803.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recommends</a> aerobic exercise and the Mediterranean diet. As has long been known, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish and shellfish, and healthy fasts like nuts and olive oil seem to have brain-boosting properties. </p><p>To learn more, take the <a href="https://www.mdvip.com/brain-health-iq-quiz" target="_blank">Brain Health IQ quiz</a>.</p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>