Philip Glass: Taxi Driver

Dan Wang on composer Philip Glass, who came out with a memoir earlier this year:

Glass didn’t work just as a taxi driver and as a (self-taught) plumber. He also worked in a steel factory, as a gallery assistant, and as a furniture mover. He continued doing these jobs until the age of 41, when a commission from the Netherlands Opera decisively freed him from having to drive taxis.… He seemed uninterested in stabilizing his position with more regular income. He never took up an honorary conductor position. He never ensconced himself in a plush conservatory professorship. And he didn’t even apply for grants because he didn’t like that they imposed terms.… Other music students may spend their Juilliard prize monies to practice and compose, but he bought a motorcycle so that he can ride around the country. When people made fun of him for appearing in a whiskey ad, he retorted: “It seemed to me that people who didn’t have to sell out… must have had rich parents.”

Related post: “Key to the Whole Thing.”

(Via Kottke.)

Sunday 8.2.2015 New York Times Digest

1. Protecting the Untamed Seas

“The waters farther than 200 nautical miles from shore are generally outside of national jurisdiction and largely beyond government control. More than 40 percent of the planet’s surface is covered by water that belongs to everyone and no one, and is relatively lawless and unregulated.”

2. Training Officers to Shoot First, and He Will Answer Questions Later

“When police officers shoot people under questionable circumstances, Dr. Lewinski is often there to defend their actions. Among the most influential voices on the subject, he has testified in or consulted in nearly 200 cases over the last decade or so and has helped justify countless shootings around the country.”

3. Dry Days Bring Ferocious Start to Fire Season

“Between 2005 and 2014, the average number of fires that burned more than 100,000 acres — known as ‘megafires’ — increased to 9.8 per year, up from fewer than one a year before 1995…. One reason, ecologists and historians say, is the well-established link between big fires and the steady loss of moisture in forests from higher temperatures brought on by climate change.”

4. Enter Sound Man: An Insider’s Look at Baseball’s Walk-Up Music

“Song choices range from merengue to Macklemore. Matt Harvey consulted with a music editor to create his own Frank Sinatra-infused clip; on the Yankees, Alex Rodriguez used ‘Don’t Stop Believin” by Journey earlier this season. Some players change their song every two years; others change it every other homestand.”

5. A Company Copes With Backlash Against the Raise That Roared

“Any plan that has the potential, as Mr. Price has put it, to ‘set the world on fire,’ is bound to make some people squirm.”

6. Stolen Consumer Data Is a Smaller Problem Than It Seems

“Enormous numbers like these can make it feel as if we’re living through an epidemic of data breaches, in which no one’s bank account or credit card is safe. But the actual effect on consumers is quite different from what the headlines suggest. Only a tiny number of people exposed by leaks end up paying any costs, and for the rare victims who do, the average cost has actually been falling steadily.”

7. Converse Treads Carefully in Updating Well-Worn Chuck Taylor Brand

“Converse sells more than 270,000 pairs of Chuck Taylors a day, 365 days a year.”

8. Download: Vahé Alaverdian

“I have been living off the land for the last 21 years. That is, I haven’t purchased any meat, poultry or fish. I archery hunt big game, fly fish for salmon and trout, and the falcons hunt all the fowl. Nothing goes to waste. I even tan the hides to make falconry equipment. If every human being had to kill and clean whatever they ate, waste management globally would be totally different. It’s not like buying a package of chicken thighs. If you have killed that animal, you look at it and you think, I owe that animal respect that I’ve taken its life.”

9. We’re Making Life Too Hard for Millennials

“They are faced with a slow economy, high unemployment, stagnant wages and student loans that constrict their ability both to maintain a reasonable lifestyle and to save for the future.”

10. Open the Music Industry’s Black Box

“Perhaps the biggest problem artists face today is that lack of transparency.”

11. Facing Death With a Shrug in Two Versions of The Killers

“The prose is terse and at times incantatory; the situation — a man known as the Swede anticipates without emotion the inevitable punishment for his unknown crime — is existential. Having occupied a near-empty diner to fulfill their contract on the Swede, two hit men for an unmentioned Chicago gang lord are scary, yet absurd, agents of death. ‘What’s the idea?’ the counterman demands. ‘There isn’t any idea,’ is the laconic response.”

12. My Dinner With Longevity Expert Dan Buettner (No Kale Required)

“This trim, tanned, 55-year-old guru of the golden years was geared up to show me that living a long time was not about subsisting on a thin gruel of, well, gruel.”

13. I’m Not Mad. That’s Just My RBF.

“When a man looks stern, or serious, or grumpy, it’s simply the default. We don’t inherently judge the moodiness of a male face. But as women, we are almost expected to put on a smile. So if we don’t, it’s deemed ‘bitchy.’”

14. This Hollywood House Sitter Makes His Own Rules

“You could call Mr. Farrell a professional house sitter.”

15. Wealth Secrets of the One Percent, by Sam Wilkin

“These are his major conclusions: First, many of the world’s richest people created their fortunes by changing the rules — more on this in a moment. Second, others did it by entering businesses with little or no regulation. Or by creating businesses in countries with little or no regulation. Third, and most important, they did it by creating monopolies for themselves, and by ruthlessly eliminating any and all possible competition.”

16. The Scholarship in Selfies

“Selfies raise important questions about identity, culture and technology.”

17. Liberal Arts, a Lost Cause?

“We are drifting toward turning college into a trade school. And that is ultimately harmful. The original ethos of education was that it prepared people for citizenship, for enlightened leadership, enhanced their creativity. There was a tradition going back to Jefferson, who founded the University of Virginia, that a liberal arts education was the core of our democracy. If we lose an educated populace, we’re open for demagogy. We need broadly educated people.”

18. How to Live Wisely

“The challenge is how to align your time commitments to reflect your personal convictions.”

19. Suicide on Campus and the Pressure of Perfection

“In 2003, Duke jolted academe with a report describing how its female students felt pressure to be ‘effortlessly perfect’: smart, accomplished, fit, beautiful and popular, all without visible effort. At Stanford, it’s called the Duck Syndrome. A duck appears to glide calmly across the water, while beneath the surface it frantically, relentlessly paddles.”

20. Affirmative Consent: Are Students Really Asking?

“It turns out that men and women are not great verbal communicators when it comes to sex.”

21. Finding a Career Track in LinkedIn Profiles

“The interrelated search engines allow anyone to essentially reverse-engineer career paths of LinkedIn members by navigating the connections between their majors, schools and careers. While only as accurate as the profiles, the results are nonetheless addictive if you’re interested in what people ended up doing with their English literature degree or where they worked before landing a great job at Google. Dive deep into profiles for details about members’ lives, their skill sets, and how they are connected to other companies and people.”

22. The Miracle of Preserves

“If cultivating soil was what let us settle, it was harnessing bacterial cultures and sugar, salt, acid, fat, sun and wind to paralyze microorganisms and save food from decay that let us unmoor, discovering all the world that was not visible from our cabbage patches. Basque cider allowed seamen to cross oceans. Dutch pickled herring fueled the exploration of the New World. Vikings spread cod in the riggings of their ships to dry and stiffen in the cold wind, then traded on it as they battled through Scandinavia, the Mediterranean and Central Asia. Cheese was first a way of preserving milk; wine, of grape juice; sauerkraut, of cabbage; prosciutto, of pork. In this sense, all preserved things are additionally miraculous, in that they all are also ways of storing other things: part vessel, part content.”

23. A Dream Undone

“The fundamental promise of American democracy is that every citizen gets a vote, but delivering the franchise from on high and in the face of violent local opposition has always been a complicated legal proposition.”

Sunday 7.26.2015 New York Times Digest

Tiny Hamburger
1. Americans Are Finally Eating Less

“Changes in eating habits suggest that what once seemed an inexorable decline in health may finally be changing course.”

2. For Ransom, Bitcoin Replaces the Bag of Bills

“Criminals like the virtual currency because it can be held in a digital wallet that does not have to be registered with any government or financial authority — and because it can be easily exchanged for real money.”

3. An Act That Enabled Acceptance

“Looking back, perhaps the most unexpected achievement of the A.D.A. isn’t the wheelchair lifts on buses or the sign-language interpreters at political conventions. It’s that it gave people like me a sense of entitlement, of belonging, of pride.”

4. Of Dogs, Faith and Imams

“Most of Muslims’ dog hate comes to us via the Hadith, a collection of sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad. There are various, often contradictory hadiths about whether or not you are allowed to keep a dog as a pet. Dogs are allowed for security, says one. Their fur is fine but their saliva is unclean, says another. But if the fur gets wet, it becomes unclean. You can pet dogs, but you may not kiss them. You can keep them if they are not allowed inside the house. You can have them as long as you use them for hunting. What about the saliva they leave on the hunted animals? That’s fine.”

5. The Rise of Climbing

“Every other fundamental human movement pattern developed long ago into a mature sport. Competitive running dates back thousands of years, competitive swimming got started in the early 19th century, and both now enjoy such immense demographic reach that genetically suited outliers self-select for each and every subspecialty. Generations of accumulated training wisdom bring Olympians like the sprinter Usain Bolt or the distance swimmer Katie Ledecky to performances that have long since reached the outer limits of human potential. World records are broken by fractions of a second, and we now have an excellent sense of just how fast the fastest human beings can swim and run. As a result, a middle-aged father who ran a modest 4:50 mile at his last high school track meet is quite unlikely to see his daughter’s entire generation suddenly start running 3:45 miles, with a few kids clocking 3:30. Something very like that, however, is happening to rock climbers of my generation.”

6. Passing on Wedding Gifts, Millennials Prefer Cash

“With large student loans to pay, later marriages and often houses already purchased and filled with furnishings, millennials are bypassing traditional registries.”

7. The Pros and (Considerable) Cons of Budget Bus Travel

“Megabus as a cheap way of getting from Point A to Point B is great, if you are doing a short route or are strapped for cash. Megabus road trips as leisure travel? That’s an off-label use prescribed for a specific type of person: the truly flexible, comfort-be-damned, all-out budget traveler.”

8. Black Travel Groups Find Kindred Spirits on Social Networks

“Nomadness is one of several virtual communities that have sprung up on social media in recent years catering to African-Americans, who rarely find themselves the target market of tourism and hospitality companies. They are carrying on a long tradition of travel media created by and for black consumers, from the ‘Negro Motorist Green Book,’ which helped black vacationers find lodging during the years of segregation, to the professional and fraternal organizations that book large group trips, to cultural sponsors like Essence, which draws thousands to New Orleans each year for its music festival.”

9. Dr. Seuss’ What Pet Should I Get?

“Geisel was known to be extremely self-critical, and while his books go down so easy that they risk seeming merely tossed off, his process was laborious. Each book went through many drafts; he once said he produced over a thousand pages in order to end up with 64.”

10. The (Continuing) End of Science?

“John Horgan’s The End of Science has been a cause of contention since it was published in 1996, partly because of its incendiary title. Horgan argues that science’s grandest discoveries (heliocentrism, evolution, relativity, etc.) are behind us, and all that remains is to fill in some blanks, however interesting they are.… Nearly 20 years later, Horgan has written a preface for a new edition, and is sticking by his guns. ‘In some ways, science is in even worse shape today than I would have guessed back in the 1990s,’ he writes. And the progress that has been made in recent years, he argues, proves his larger point. The discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012, for instance, ‘serves as the capstone of the standard model of particle physics,’ but ‘doesn’t take us any closer to physics’ ultimate goal than climbing a tree takes us to the moon.’”

11. It’s the End of the World as She Knows It

“Female post-apocalyptic writers have a history of being more interested in memory than dismemberment.”

12. The Unquiet Sky

“The key expansion in the public understanding of drones is in the realm of popular photography.”

13. Letter of Recommendation: New Balance 990s

“Nothing about the 990 has ever really changed: not the high price (they’re now $179.99), not the design, not the fact that they’re made in America. Plenty has happened since 1982, but nothing that has managed to make the 990 budge.”

14. How Taye Diggs Is Transforming the Role of Hedwig

“Black America’s most eligible bachelor is about to play a glammed-out Teutonic genderqueer mash-up of Nico and Axl Rose?”

15. Is This the End of Christianity in the Middle East?

“Now, ISIS is looking to eradicate Christians and other minorities altogether. The group twists the early history of Christians in the region — their subjugation by the sword — to legitimize its millenarian enterprise. Recently, ISIS posted videos delineating the second-class status of Christians in the caliphate. Those unwilling to pay the jizya tax or to convert would be destroyed, the narrator warned, as the videos culminated in the now-­infamous scenes of Egyptian and Ethiopian Christians in Libya being marched onto the beach and beheaded, their blood running into the surf.”

16. Why Is It So Hard to Get a Great Bagel in California?

“Californians, spoiled by Platonic produce, excellent burritos and fine-art coffee, have a tormented relationship with this particular food item.”

17. The Singular Mind of Terry Tao

“The ancient art of mathematics, Tao has discovered, does not reward speed so much as patience, cunning and, perhaps most surprising of all, the sort of gift for collaboration and improvisation that characterizes the best jazz musicians. Tao now believes that his younger self, the prodigy who wowed the math world, wasn’t truly doing math at all. ‘It’s as if your only experience with music were practicing scales or learning music theory,’ he said, looking into light pouring from his window. ‘I didn’t learn the deeper meaning of the subject until much later.’”

18. Ted Cruz Is More of a Spider-Man Guy

“Let me do a little psychoanalysis. If you look at ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation,’ it basically split James T. Kirk into two people. Picard was Kirk’s rational side, and William Riker was his passionate side. I prefer a complete captain. To be effective, you need both heart and mind.”

Sunday 7.19.2015 New York Times Digest

1. A Long Hardwood Journey

“One of the most successful public school coaches in New York City, he places emphasis less on athleticism than on chesslike analysis, film study and team play. He digs deep into the psyches of his players, to the point that some talk of him — to his discomfort — as being akin to a father. No Fannie Lou player has gone on to play college basketball at a top-tier program. But in this poor and working-class corner of the South Bronx, Skelton’s teams have amassed a 100 percent graduation rate and a formidable winning tradition. Last year, Fannie Lou, a small school of 386 students, came within a missed shot of a city championship. The previous year, Fannie Lou went 29-4 and won the championship.”

2. Stowaways and Crimes Aboard a Scofflaw Ship

“No one is required to report violent crimes committed in international waters.”

3. The Long, Strange Trip to Pluto, and How NASA Nearly Missed It

“The rest of the long cruise was mostly uneventful. Flinging a spacecraft to a rendezvous at the edge of the solar system is indeed rocket science, but not groundbreaking rocket science. The equations — the basic laws of Isaac Newton — are the same ones that were used decades ago.”

4. U.S. vs. Hackers: Still Lopsided Despite Years of Warnings and a Recent Push

“Many government agencies have demonstrated little commitment to making cybersecurity a priority.”

5. My Digital Cemetery

“The convenient-by-design act of deleting the name of a dead friend with a simple tap or click can feel like overtly participating in removing that person from the world.”

6. How the West Overcounts Its Water Supplies

“Leaders in California and Arizona acknowledge that their states have failed to adequately account for overlapping supplies of surface water and groundwater. And it’s not hard to appreciate why: Doing the water math properly would mean facing the fact that there is even less water available than residents have been led to believe. Acting on that grim jolt of reality would mean changing laws governing traditional water rights or forcing farmers and cities to accept even more dramatic cuts than they already face.”

7. The Revolt Against Tourism

“Outraged by tourists’ boorish and disrespectful behavior, and responding to the complaints of their constituents, local officials around the world have begun to crack down on tourism, and the tourism industry.”

8. Psychiatry’s Identity Crisis

“Despite a vast investment in basic neuroscience research and its rich intellectual promise, we have little to show for it on the treatment front.”

9. If World Leaders Can Skip Deadlines, Why Can’t I?

“If deadlines can be missed so easily, what is the point of having them at all?”

10. The Dangers of Happiness

“As we rush to make happiness the ultimate aim both for ourselves and society at large, we might want to recall some of the wonderfully rich and depressingly contradictory history of the concept.”

11. The Anxious Americans

“Americans are a pretty anxious people. Nearly one in five of us — 18 percent — has an anxiety disorder. We spend over $2 billion a year on anti-anxiety medications. College students are often described as more stressed than ever before. There are many explanations for these nerves: a bad job market, less cohesive communities, the constant self-comparison that is social media. In 2002 the World Mental Health Survey found that Americans were the most anxious people in the 14 countries studied, with more clinically significant levels of anxiety than people in Nigeria, Lebanon and Ukraine.”

12. At Comic-Con, Bring Out Your Fantasy and Fuel the Culture

“In other eras and societies — the Great Depression, the Soviet Union — long lines signify scarcity or oppression. In the Bizarro World that is 21st-century America, it’s the opposite: Long lines are signs of abundance and hedonism. Much can be learned about a civilization from studying its queuing habits, and Comic-Con surpasses even the Disney theme parks in the sophistication of its crowd management and the variety of its arrangements.”

13. The Weather Experiment, by Peter Moore

“The decision is one of the most second-guessed in the history of meteorology. It is also one of the most fateful, and not only for the terrifying finale that saw the Royal Charter bashed onto the rocks, all but 41 of its passengers crushed or drowned, many weighted down by the gold in their pockets.”

14. Big Science, by Michael Hiltzik

“Lawrence’s greatest contribution … was not building any specific cyclotron — a task often delegated to others — but creating the infrastructure that made them possible. His was less a scientific than a managerial genius. He learned how to feed the ambitions of wealthy and powerful patrons. To university administrators he promised prestige, to biologists medical isotopes, to industrialists new materials and energy sources, to philanthropists glory.”

15. In Search of Sir Thomas Browne, by Hugh Aldersey-Williams

“The all-time standard-bearer for the mandarin style has to be Sir Thomas Browne. This 17th-century English physician and philosopher, living in provincial isolation from literary London, managed to cultivate the most sonorous organ-voice in the history of English prose. At a time when the prevailing plain style was growing dull and insipid (John Locke is an example), it was Browne who showed the way to new possibilities of Ciceronian splendor. In doing so, he became a prolific contributor of novel words to the English language. Among his 784 credited neologisms are ‘electricity,’ ‘hallucination,’ ‘medical,’ ‘ferocious,’ ‘deductive’ and ‘swaggy.’ (Other coinages failed to take: like ‘retromingent,’ for urinating backward.)”

16. What Are the Consequences of Our Cultural Obsession With Newness?

“We can dissent with something of the curmudgeonly spirit of Thoreau railing against the ‘improved means to an unimproved end’ represented by the allure of the new. We shouldn’t reject the new by any means, but we can cultivate greater indifference to it. We can choose from both the new and the old, with the knowledge that work, thought and love are required to give meaning to what we hold in our hands.”

17. How ‘Privilege’ Became a Provocation

“Most of us already occupy some kind of visible social identity, but for those who have imagined themselves to be free agents, the notion of possessing privilege calls them back to their bodies in a way that feels new and unpleasant. It conflicts with a number of cherished American ideals of self-­invention and self-­reliance, meritocracy and quick fixes — and lends itself to no obvious action, which is perhaps why the ritual of ‘confessing’ to your privilege, or getting someone else to, has accumulated the meaning it has. It’s the fumbling hope that acknowledging privilege could offer some temporary absolution for having it.”

18. Hiding From Animals

“What you see from hides is supposed to be true reality: animals behaving perfectly naturally because they do not know they are being observed. But turning yourself into a pair of eyes in a darkened box distances you from the all-encompassing landscape around the hide, reinforcing a divide between human and natural worlds, encouraging us to think that animals and plants should be looked at, not interacted with. Sometimes the window in front of me resembles nothing so much as a television screen.”

19. How Hip-Hop Is Becoming the Oldies

“Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac should never be played back to back (it might call to mind their deadly feud), and a Biggie song should never be played before or after ‘I’ll Be Missing You,’ the tribute song Puff Daddy recorded after Biggie was killed. Michaels also won’t play Outkast next to Ludacris — it just feels weird.”

20. You Just Got Out of Prison. Now What?

“The job started as a simple delivery service, to carry some of these discombobulated bodies from one place to another. In late 2013, the director of the Three Strikes Project, Michael Romano, contacted a nonprofit called the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, which has built up a close community of formerly incarcerated people in Los Angeles. (Romano, who is also an A.R.C. board member, is a friend of mine.) Romano asked if A.R.C. could dispatch one of its members to pick up third-strikers and drive them to their housing near the Staples Center in Los Angeles. A.R.C. recommended Carlos, a dependable young man just three years out of prison himself, who — most important — also had his own car and a credit card to front money for gas. Carlos was hired, for $12 an hour, to fetch an old man named Terry Critton from a prison in Chino. On the way back, Critton asked if Carlos wouldn’t mind stopping at Amoeba Records, so he could look at jazz LPs — he’d been a big collector. They wound up spending almost two hours in the store, just looking. Then, Critton wanted a patty melt, so Carlos found a place called Flooky’s, where they ordered two and caught the end of a Dodgers game. It was extraordinary: All day, Carlos could see this man coming back to life. He wanted to do more pickups, and he wanted to get his friend Roby involved.”

21. Power in Numbers

“In 2015 there will be more than 1,500 gatherings branded as hackathons.”

22. The Happiness Project

“Walt Disney spent part of his childhood in Marceline, Mo., a railroad town and former prairie, 120 miles northeast of Kansas City. Its central street in the early 1900s, when Disney was a child, became a model for an idea of American happiness, and a version of it, Main Street, U.S.A., is the first thing you come across in Disneyland Park in California. Before he became king of the irresistible falsehood, Walt Disney was merely a child, and in his works we might understand what Freud viewed as the foolishness of American democracy. The Disney view of happiness — embodied in a perfect street, a cast of animals, a fairy-tale castle, a bunch of rides — might be foolish but it is also attuned to the habits of modern yearning. Freud was for bringing illusions to an end, whereas Walt Disney was for bringing them to fruition, and, in those two views of human progress, we might argue that Disney’s was the more forgiving of the human condition. In the world of Disney, we feel homesick for a home that never really existed, yet everything we care about, whether being loved or feeling right or having fun or looking good, stems from a set of narcissistic compulsions that Disney embraced and built to graphic completion. That is his contribution, and, however foolish, however impossible in the end, it gives life to the notion that happiness is a creation, something made rather than inherited, a beautiful, necessary lie.”

Research Techniques

“Write early in the morning, cultivate memory, reread core books, take detailed reading notes, work on several projects at once, maintain a thick archive, rotate crops, take a weekly Sabbath, go to bed at the same time, exercise so hard you can’t think during it, talk to different kinds of people including the very young and very old, take words and their histories seriously (i.e., read dictionaries), step outside of the empire of the English language regularly, look for vocabulary from other fields, love the basic, keep your antennae tuned, and seek out contexts of understanding quickly (i.e., use guides, encyclopedias, and Wikipedia without guilt).”

—John Durham Peters, in a wide-ranging interview with the Los Angeles Review of Books about his new book The Marvelous Clouds: Toward a Philosophy of Elemental Media

Sunday 7.12.2015 New York Times Digest

1. Addicted to Your Phone? There’s Help for That

“New companies see a business opportunity in helping people cut back.”

2. China Fences In Its Nomads, and an Ancient Life Withers

“In the two years since the Chinese government forced him to sell his livestock and move into a squat concrete house here on the windswept Tibetan plateau, Gere and his family have acquired a washing machine, a refrigerator and a color television that beams Mandarin-language historical dramas into their whitewashed living room. But Gere, who like many Tibetans uses a single name, is filled with regret.”

3. Modern Doctors’ House Calls: Skype Chat and Fast Diagnosis

“The same forces that have made instant messaging and video calls part of daily life for many Americans are now shaking up basic medical care. Health systems and insurers are rushing to offer video consultations for routine ailments, convinced they will save money and relieve pressure on overextended primary care systems in cities and rural areas alike. And more people … fluent in Skype and FaceTime and eager for cheaper, more convenient medical care, are trying them out.”

4. In Fiery Speeches, Francis Excoriates Global Capitalism

“Pope Francis does not just criticize the excesses of global capitalism. He compares them to the ‘dung of the devil.’ He does not simply argue that systemic ‘greed for money’ is a bad thing. He calls it a ‘subtle dictatorship’ that ‘condemns and enslaves men and women.’”

5. Why Are Our Parks So White?

“The national parks attracted a record 292.8 million visitors in 2014, but a vast majority were white and aging.”

6. D.I.Y. Education Before YouTube

“For the striving youths of 19th-century America, learning was often a self-driven, year-round process. Devouring books by candlelight and debating issues by bonfire, the young men and women of the so-called ‘go-ahead generation’ worked to educate themselves into a better life.”

7. What Type of Nostalgic ’90s TV Fan Are You? (The Wrong Kind)

“I don’t want to mistake fondness for excellence. It’s like looking at a photo of an old childhood crush and realizing that everything you loved about him was probably stuff you’d made up in your head.”

8. The Sneaky Power of Amy Schumer, in ‘Trainwreck’ and Elsewhere

“By giving selfies and boy bands the same political and comic weight as rape and reproductive rights, Ms. Schumer, 34, has emerged as a feminist hero, able to transform from the butt of her own jokes to a savvy debunker of double standards. Equal parts naughty cheerleader, self-deprecating Everywoman and fearless truth-teller, Ms. Schumer connects with women and men alike, all while she lampoons them and the media’s lopsided portrayals.”

9. Vince Staples and J. Cole, Outsiders in the Middle of Hip-Hop

“Mainstream hip-hop, as understood mainly through the radio, fiercely protects its dominant narrative by suppressing the stories of its most socially provocative artists.”

10. A Eulogy for the Long, Intimate Email

“I can’t remember the last time I wrote or read an email of more than four or five meaty, intimate paragraphs.”

11. Last Stop on the L Train: Detroit

“It is now well-documented that some of Brooklyn’s much-written-about creative class is being driven out of the borough by high prices and low housing stock. Some are going to Los Angeles (or even Queens), but others are migrating to the Midwest, where Detroit’s empty industrial spaces, community-based projects, experimental art scene and innovative design opportunities beckon, despite the city’s continuing challenges.”

12. Middle Passage at 25

“Johnson spent six years immersed in books about the sea: ‘all of Melville (mainly for props, language and costuming); Jack London’s The Sea Wolf; Dana’s marvelous Two Years Before the Mast; Apollonius of Rhodes’s The Voyage of Argo; the Sinbad stories; nautical dictionaries; an academic study of cockney slang (for the voices of the sailors).’”

13. Unstarched Shirt

“The turndown collar is essential to the polo’s presentability. If you doubt the importance of a collar to establishing the overall effect of an outfit, you would be well advised to talk with your tailor. Or your priest. This flap of fabric, so often superfluous to function, frames the face and caps the body, proving essential to tone. Thus is the polo shirt a staple of uniforms everywhere, from parochial schools to fast-food chains. Thus does the tourist in the aqua blue polo cling to his dignity in much the same way that the shirt clings to the fullness of his belly.”

14. The Mixed-Up Brothers of Bogotá

“Arguably the most intriguing branch of twins research involves a small and unusual class of research subjects: identical twins who were reared apart. Thomas Bouchard Jr., a psychologist at the University of Minnesota, began studying them in 1979, when he first learned of Jim and Jim, two Ohio men reunited that year at age 39. They not only looked remarkably similar, but had also vacationed on the same Florida beach, married women with the same first name, divorced those women and married second wives who also shared the same name, smoked the same brand of cigarette and built miniature furniture for fun. Similar in personality as well as in vocal intonation, they seemed to have been wholly formed from conception, impervious to the effects of parenting, siblings or geography. Bouchard went on to research more than 80 identical-­twin pairs reared apart, comparing them with identical twins reared together, fraternal twins reared together and fraternal twins reared apart. He found that in almost every instance, the identical twins, whether reared together or reared apart, were more similar to each other than their fraternal counterparts were for traits like personality and, more controversial, intelligence. One unexpected finding in his research suggested that the effect of a pair’s shared environment — say, their parents — had little bearing on personality. Genes and unique experiences — a semester abroad, an important friend — were more influential.”

Sunday 07.05.2015 New York Times Digest

Digital Lives
1. Days of Our Digital Lives

“Search rates for ‘how to roll a joint’ peak between 1 and 2 a.m.”

2. Facing a Selfie Election, Presidential Hopefuls Grin and Bear It

“Who wants their babies kissed or their yard signs autographed anymore? This is the Selfie Election. And if you are running for president, you have no choice but to submit.”

3. Teenager’s Jailing Brings a Call to Fix Sex Offender Registries

“His story is a parable of the digital age: the collision of the temporary relationships that young people develop on the Internet and the increasing criminalization of sexual activity through the expansion of online sex offender registries.”

4. My Own Private Baltimore

“The city is ideally positioned between New York and Washington so that all the ambitious people are siphoned off — the ones who crave wealth and fame to the north, the ones who lust for power to the south — leaving the lazier, saner remainder in peace to enjoy low rents, cheap beers and a life undisturbed by the clamorous egos of the driven. There were a few ambitious go-getters in Baltimore, but in that city they always seemed somehow ludicrous to me, like Machiavellians on the P.T.A. If they were really so ambitious, why were they in Baltimore?”

5. Download: Tim Tucker

“I haven’t watched a movie since 1996.”

6. Enduring Summer’s Deep Freeze

“Being able to make people feel cold in the summer is a sign of power and prestige.”

7. The Myth of Big, Bad Gluten

“The modern immune system appears to have gone on the fritz.”

8. The Science of Inside Out

“Emotions organize — rather than disrupt — rational thinking. Traditionally, in the history of Western thought, the prevailing view has been that emotions are enemies of rationality and disruptive of cooperative social relations. But the truth is that emotions guide our perceptions of the world, our memories of the past and even our moral judgments of right and wrong, most typically in ways that enable effective responses to the current situation. For example, studies find that when we are angry we are acutely attuned to what is unfair, which helps animate actions that remedy injustice.”

9. Heroines Triumph at Box Office, but Has Anything Changed in Hollywood?

“Just to put my own cards on the table: Some of my best friends are self-absorbed heterosexual white men (not naming any names here). Some of my favorite works of narrative, including ‘Spider-Man’ comic books, John Updike novels, murder ballads and episodes of ‘Louie,’ are chronicles of male angst, desire and heroism. But those can’t be the only stories, and our culture has often, especially since the middle of the 20th century, been governed by the assumption that the big stories, the universal stories, the stories with a claim on cultural centrality and serious attention, have to be stories about men.”

10. Joe Manganiello Shows Off His Moves in Magic Mike XXL

“A bet is made: Richie, who Mike contends could make a girl’s day just by tying his shoe, must coax a smile from a female clerk working at a gas station minimart or go back to his old firefighter routine. It’s a mighty task: Glued to her phone, she’s as animated as a slug. But Richie’s prop-heavy dance, performed with just the right touch of desperation and awkward vulnerability by Mr. Manganiello, is a delight.”

11. By the People and Wages of Rebellion

“n the absence of any perceptible contractions of revolt, two writers — Charles Murray on the libertarian right, Chris Hedges on the apocalyptic left — have given up waiting and decided to induce labor. Their methods are different: Murray’s By the People administers a strong but targeted dose of Pitocin, while Hedges’ Wages of Rebellion counsels lots of sex, which is called “sublime madness.” But the most interesting aspect of these two books is where their authors overlap. Both are appalled by the collusion between the federal government and corporations. Both describe the legal system as essentially lawless. Neither has any faith that electoral politics, the three branches of government or the Constitution itself can make a difference. Neither fits with any sizable faction of either of the two parties. Both despise elites. Both are willing, even eager, to see Americans break the law, in nonviolent ways, to force change.”

12. Skyfaring, by Mark Vanhoenacker

“In Skyfaring, a superb chronicle of his career as an airline pilot, Mark Vanhoenacker makes jet travel seem uncanny and intriguing all over again, finding delight in clouds, airports, rainstorms, fuel loads, sky gates, fragments of jargon, lonely electric lights on the plain, suns that rise and set four times in a single daylong journey and the fanciful names of waypoints on flight maps (one near Kansas City is BARBQ; another near St. Louis is AARCH).”

13. Do Genre Labels Matter Anymore?

“I await the day when the compulsion to sort every cultural artifact that comes along into the proper genre category — dismissing a movie because it’s ‘just a horror film’ or a book because it’s ‘just a Y.A. novel’ — becomes as déclassé as it’s rapidly becoming to categorize and dismiss people on the basis of their gender identity or sexual orientation.”

14. Letter of Recommendation: The Oxford English Dictionary

“Maybe 20 years ago, my husband bought the supersize 20-­volume 1989 edition of the O.E.D. from an old friend, this half-­crazy bond trader. It has been my favorite possession ever since, and by a wide margin, handily beating out all books, paintings and drawings, souvenirs, jewels — shoes, even. To own these books is to dwell alongside your own personal Eighth Wonder of the World, something to wander and delight in as you please. That such a thing should even exist in this chaotic world seems impossible — the painstaking record of not only a language but also value systems and cultures and ways of life, alphabetized and arranged in 20 beautiful volumes bound in midnight-­blue cloth with gilt-­lettered spines, weighing about seven pounds apiece.”

15. Arianna Huffington’s Improbable, Insatiable Content Machine

“Huffington may be the Internet’s most improbable media pioneer. This is her first job as an editor or publisher, and few would describe her as a techie. But as one of the first major media properties born in the full light of the digital age, The Huffington Post has always been a skunk works for the sorts of experiments that have come to define the news business in the Internet era.”

16. The Man Who Saw America

“To Bruce Springsteen, who keeps copies of The Americans around his home for songwriting motivation, ‘the photographs are still shocking. It created an entire American identity, that single book. To me, it’s Dylan’s Highway 61, the visual equivalent of that record. It’s an 83-picture book that has 27,000 pictures in it. That’s why Highway 61 is powerful. It’s nine songs with 12,000 songs in them. We’re all in the business of catching things. Sometimes we catch something. He just caught all of it.’”

17. Dinesh D’Souza Isn’t the Real Criminal

“At its highest level, America is a crime syndicate.”