Sunday 9.23.2018 New York Times Digest

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1. Shelf Life

“Wherever we are, at whatever age, we have an impulse to tell people who we really are through a few resonant objects.”

2. Can LeBron Bring Back Showtime? Don’t Bet Against Him.

“Any time LeBron steps on the court, he’s the best player on the court. There’s a bigger gap than I think many people would really believe.”

3. Why Trade Disputes Are More Than a Money Problem

“It’s important to realize that if you disrupt the world trading system — and the consensus outlawing war that is in place today — you are disrupting the financial means of punishing violations of war. In the end, you may be left with nothing but reliance on force.”

4. We Are Not the Resistance

“Viewed from the broad sweep of history, Donald Trump is the resistance. We are not.”

5. The Coders of Kentucky

“Why outsource coding jobs to Bangalore when we can insource jobs to eastern Kentucky, poor in jobs but rich in work ethic, and every one I.T. job brings four or five other jobs with it?”

6. Just Don’t Call It Privacy

“Asking companies whose business models revolve around exploiting data-based consumer-influence techniques to explain their privacy policies seems about as useful as asking sharks to hold forth on veganism.”

7. What China Can Teach The U.S. About A.I..

“China’s core data advantage lies not just in breadth (the number of users) and access (the amount of data that users contribute) but also in the depth of data on each user — the real-world activities of Chinese people that are captured in a digital format useful to an A.I. algorithm.”

8. Let Teenagers Sleep In

“Whenever schools have managed the transition to a later start time, students get more sleep, attendance goes up, grades improve and there is a significant reduction in car accidents.”

9. Nietzsche Made Me Do It

“What I discovered in the mountains … is that becoming who you are usually involves getting over who you think you are. In fact the ‘who’ — the idea of oneself — is probably an impediment to growth and honesty.”

10. The Big Secret of Celebrity Wealth (Is That No One Knows Anything)

“If you want to know how rich (or not) a celebrity is, CNW has an answer. No one is vouching for the veracity of that answer — CNW’s proprietors ‘expressly exclude liability for any such inaccuracies or errors to the fullest extent permitted by law,’ according to the terms of use — but it’s an answer nonetheless.”

11. By the Book: Reese Witherspoon

“I could write a whole dissertation on Go Set a Watchman.”

12. The Court and the Classroom

“No other arena of constitutional decision making — not churches, not hotels, not hospitals, not restaurants, not police stations, not military bases, not automobiles, not even homes — comes close to matching the cultural import of the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence governing public schools.”

13. Termites Are Actually Shrunken Cockroaches and Other Things About Them You Really Don’t Want to Know

“Termites are the unloved freaks of the social insect world. Bees are praised for their pollination skills and ants are lauded for their industry. Termites, on the other hand, are an affront to human civilization, munching their way through everything we hold dear: our libraries, our homes, even our cash — in 2011 an errant gang of termites burrowed into an Indian bank and ate $220,000 in bank notes.”

14. Listen to the World

“What if we chose where to travel based on sound?”

15. What Happens When a Single Art Project Becomes a Decades-Long Obsession?

“Any serious art requires prodigious commitment. Ambitious works can take years. But there is dedication to one’s craft, and then there is what many might call obsession, the decades-long fixation on a consuming project.”

16. The Craftsman Still Making Windsor Chairs by Hand

“A single chair takes George a full week, six hours a day, to build. The wood is cut locally, sometimes from trees on the 60-acre property, and he keeps it in whole logs so it stays moist; when he is ready to use it, he splits it with an iron wedge. Each component of a Windsor requires a different tensile strength, so he uses three kinds of timber: butternut for the seat, white oak for the spindles and cherry for the legs. George keeps their distinct grains intact; traditionally Windsors were painted black or green to hide differences in the woods, but buyers in recent years have come to embrace the mix.”

Sunday 9.16.2018 New York Times Digest

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1. A Trail of ‘Bread Crumbs,’ Leading Conspiracy Theorists Into the Wilderness

“Go hungry for too long, and a lot of strange things will start to look like food.”

2. The World of Today Brought to You by the Financial Crisis

“From bank bailouts to rock-bottom interest rates, the fallout influenced economics, politics and even the rise of Bitcoin over the past decade. Here’s a rough guide to some of those changes.”

3. The Recovery Threw the Middle-Class Dream Under a Benz

“The people who possess tradable assets, especially stocks, have enjoyed a recovery that Americans dependent on savings or income from their weekly paycheck have yet to see. Ten years after the financial crisis, getting ahead by going to work every day seems quaint, akin to using the phone book to find a number or renting a video at Blockbuster.”

4. The Policymakers Saved the Financial System. And America Never Forgave Them.

“The response to the crisis was in many ways the high-water mark for a mold of centrist, technocratic policymaking that seeks to tweak and nudge existing institutions toward better outcomes. It also undermined any widespread popular support for that mode of governing for the foreseeable future.”

5. The Housing Bubble Burst All Over Reality TV

“As the foreclosures piled up … networks like HGTV and DIY faced the problem of how to keep broadcasting houses 24/7 to a public traumatized by them.”

6. The Next Financial Calamity Is Coming. Here’s What to Watch.

“The amount of American student debt — roughly $1.5 trillion — has more than doubled since the financial crisis.”

7. The Hacking of America

“From the start, machines have driven American democracy and, just as often, crippled it. The printing press, the telegraph, the radio, the television, the mainframe, cable TV, the internet: Each had wild-eyed boosters who promised that a machine could hold the republic together, or make it more efficient, or repair the damage caused by the last machine. Each time, this assertion would be both right and terribly wrong. But lately, it’s mainly wrong, chiefly because the rules that prevail on the internet were devised by people who fundamentally don’t believe in government.”

8. Medicine’s Financial Contamination

“Decades of research and real world examples have shown that such entanglements can distort the practice of medicine in ways big and small. Even little gifts have been found to influence doctors’ prescribing habits and their perceptions of a given company’s products.”

9. Why Your Cardiologist Should Ask About Your Love Life

“The field of medicine is coming to understand that the connection between the heart and the emotions is an intimate one. The heart may not be the origin of our feelings, but it is highly affected by them. We have learned, for example, that fear and grief can cause serious cardiac injury.”

10. You Know These 20 Movies. Now Meet the Women Behind Them

“Women have been on the cinematic front lines from the start. While men took most of the credit for building the movie industry, women — on camera and off, in the executives suites and far from Hollywood — were busily, thrillingly, building it, too. That’s the reason for our list of Movie Women You Should Know, which is not a canon or a pantheon but a celebration and an invitation to further discovery. Here are some of the art’s other pioneers — its independents and entrepreneurs, auteurs and artisans.”

11. Movie Stars Have Heroines, Too

“Here, in their own words, women involved in this season’s films praise the female colleagues they most admire — past or present, relatively unknown or famous in their own right.”

12. Cher Has Never Been a Huge Cher Fan

“My whole life, I had to look out at the audience and go: ‘How am I doing? Do you like this?’ But when you act, you only have to look at the other actors. You just have to trust them and find a way to become this other thing.”

13. The Best New Social Thriller Is a Podcast

“The experimental sandbox of the new form has produced sharp plots and intriguing aural soundscapes but few stories that seem to access something bigger than themselves. The moment that changed, for me, came when I was white-knuckling the pole in a crowded subway car, piping the pilot of the politically charged dystopian fantasy ‘Adventures in New America’ into my ears.”

14. The Flea Circus

“Given how easy it is to search for concert tees on eBay, finding an authentic one from the Talking Heads 1983 tour for $50 has gotten increasingly unlikely. And shirts by Bell Biv Devoe and En Vogue cost a lot, the prices propelled by scarcity (most R&B and hip-hop acts from that time did not tour extensively) and surging demand from kids born in the ’90s, who now have money, nostalgia and a desire to look like Kanye West, even as they make fun of his behavior.”

15. A Simple Life

“It is often assumed that people who reject technology do so out of fear of its all-consuming nature, but the choice has more to do with skepticism and adherence to principle.”

16. At These Hotels, Ways to Recharge Your Mind and Your Body

“Guests staying at five-star The Corinthia Hotel London — a property steps away from Trafalgar Square — get access to high-end amenities. Starting this summer they get an additional perk: their very own futurist, an expert who predicts upcoming trends.”

17. Is Donald Trump a Fascist?

“The greater danger, he suggests, isn’t hyperbole, it’s normalization.”

18. The True Grit of Four American Presidents

“In her new book she forsakes the strict confines of biography for the brave new world of leadership studies. A booming field of scholarship — or, traditionalists would say, pseudoscholarship — leadership studies is usually taught in schools of business or public administration, geared toward would-be or midcareer executives and often focused on imparting useful lessons to apply in the workplace. Accordingly, much more than in her narrative histories, Goodwin here explicitly takes up the formation of her subjects’ characters and how their most notable qualities equipped them to lead the country during trying times.”

19. The American Past: A History of Contradictions

“This is not an account of relentless progress. It’s much subtler and darker than that. It reminds us of some simple facts so much in the foreground that we must revisit them: ‘Between 1500 and 1800, roughly two and a half million Europeans moved to the Americas; they carried 12 million Africans there by force; and as many as 50 million Native Americans died, chiefly of disease. … Taking possession of the Americas gave Europeans a surplus of land; it ended famine and led to four centuries of economic growth.’ Nothing like this had ever happened in world history; and nothing like it is possible again.”

20. Why the Right to Vote Is Not a Right

“Allan J. Lichtman’s important book emphasizes the founders’ great blunder: They failed to enshrine a right to vote in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Instead, the Constitution handed control over elections to state and local governments. Local officials developed thousands of different electoral systems with no uniform standards or regulations and little oversight. Elections were organized and supervised by partisans brazenly angling for advantage.”

21. From Russia With Love.

“Each of these three novels has had a remarkable afterlife. Lolita is a virtual guidebook to the abuses exposed by the #MeToo movement — the secret predations of the mentor and teacher who operates in a free zone of ‘enlightened’ complicity. Doctor Zhivago endures less as a novel than as a peak episode in the cultural Cold War. Publishers in America and Britain recently paid large advances to a young novelist who has told the story again, drawing on declassified documents on the secret C.I.A. operation that smuggled the manuscript back into Russia. And Atlas Shrugged remains a free market Bible on the right. What one of its most scathing early critics, the ex-Communist journalist Whittaker Chambers, identified as Rand’s appetite for ‘smashing up the house’ has become the stated cause of several generations of Republicans and libertarians.”

22. What’s the Matter With Wisconsin?

“The state’s roads are the second worst in the country, its renowned universities are bleeding talent and poverty rates have reached a 30-year high.”

23. The Key to Happiness Might Be as Simple as a Library or a Park

“Social infrastructure becomes less a thing to maximize than a lens that communities and policymakers should apply to every routine decision about physical investment: Do the features of this proposed school, park or sewer system tend to help human beings to form connections?”

24. Up From Hate

“Today, in the upside-down world that is Trump’s America, where anything seems possible and nothing is off limits, we’re seeing the emergence of a new type of redemption story: that of the white supremacist turned antiracist crusader.”

25. Henry Adams’s 1880 Novel, ‘Democracy,’ Resonates Now More Than Ever

“It is a reflection on corruption within the political class, but, read carefully, it also reinforces an ancient view that those who are disgusted with republican government need to remember that the fault, as Cassius in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar remarked, lies not in the stars, but in ourselves.”

26. A Modern Jeremiah Sees National Decline Everywhere He Looks

“The American Empire is coming to an end. The death spiral appears unstoppable, meaning the United States as we know it will no longer exist within a decade or, at most, two.”

27. Modern Political Ideas

“If both North Korea and the United States consider themselves democratic — and if liberals and conservatives, and socialists and Communists, and nationalists and populists, and American politicians of every stripe can all claim to embody the will of a people — then what, in practice, can the idea of democracy possibly mean?”

28. New Sentences: From Chelsea Hodson’s Tonight I’m Someone Else

“There is no greater joy than being almost done. Not beginning, not slogging through the middle, and certainly not finishing. Compared with these other stages, the concept ‘almost done’ is huge. It holds inside it so many states of being: relief, promise, risk, achievement. ‘I’m almost done,’ I often tell myself as soon as I begin something — and in that moment, I truly believe it. ‘Almost’ is a huge seeping mist of a word; it can fill a hairline crack or an entire continent, whatever you might need.”

29. Google Knows Where You’ve Been, but Does It Know Who You Are?

“An intensely personal diary is the sort of thing you could only be happy to discover in your own attic, in your own handwriting, not on the servers of a multibillion-dollar advertising corporation.”

30. ‘True Detective’ Director Cary Fukunaga Is Bringing His Obsessions to Netflix

“Yes, at some point, he and some buddies decided to learn as many skills as they could to survive the apocalypse — he’s not a prepper; it was more of a merit-badge thing — so he can sail a monohull, climb rocks, shoot a gun, use a bow and arrow and navigate with a compass. But he also has gorgeous handwriting, speaks several languages and loves many a lifestyle Instagram account. He just got a new cooking range upstate, the same kind as a French cook and lifestyle guru he follows, and he is thrilled about it: ‘It’s going to be sick. It’s wide, two ovens — you can do meat and your potatoes at the same time, your root vegetables.’”

31. Americans Want to Believe Jobs Are the Solution to Poverty. They’re Not.

“The question is not, Can I land a job? (The answer is almost certainly, Yes, you can.) Instead the question is, What kinds of jobs are available to people without much education? By and large, the answer is: jobs that do not pay enough to live on.”

Stanley Kubrick’s 12 “Basic Training” Rules

The documentary S Is for Stanley says Kubrick had these rules posted in every room of his house and that they exemplify his preoccupation with discipline and orderliness. I’m not sure I believe they were posted in every room, but surely the latter is true. Kubrick, one should note, had three daughters and worked from home.

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Part of me wonders if these originate with him. They seem like something that would be posted on a WWII Navy ship. Anyone know of an earlier source?

Cf. Jordan Peterson’s 12 rules for life.

Sunday 9.9.18 New York Times Digest

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1. The Violence at the Heart of Our Politics

“In the course of researching how the culture of politics changed after the 1790s … I uncovered roughly 70 physically violent political confrontations between 1830 and the Civil War, most of them in the House and Senate chambers, a few on nearby streets and dueling grounds. Fistfights, shoving matches, weapon wielding, mass brawls: Largely forgotten now, these clashes show a momentous political struggle unfolding in real time.”

2. Amazon’s Antitrust Antagonist Has a Breakthrough Idea

“Amazon has more revenue than Facebook, Google and Twitter put together, but it has largely escaped sustained examination. That is beginning to change, and one significant reason is Ms. Khan.”

3. It Pays to Work at Harvard

“At the university, service workers on the payroll of an outside contractor earn the same pay and benefits they would get as direct university employees — including health insurance and pension benefits, paid vacation and child care assistance.”

4. Rebecca Lynn of Canvas Ventures on Nuclear Reactors, Failure and Asking Questions

“I think society is going to have a come-to-Jesus moment about what the true state of privacy is. It isn’t existent today, and I think people are just sort of blissfully ignorant of that fact. If you look at these companies and what they have on you, I think most people would be highly alarmed.”

5. So Now You Own a Home. Do You Know How to Maintain it?

“Just as learning how to save for and finance a home is important to financial literacy, educating yourself on how to maintain your home will not only give you a sense of mastery, but can also help you save money on repairs.”

6. The Republican Approach to Voter Fraud: Lie

“Rampant voter fraud does not exist. There is no epidemic of illegal voting. But the lie is so mesmerizing, it takes off like a wildfire, so that the irrational fear that someone might vote who shouldn’t means that hundreds of thousands who should can’t cast ballots, in part because of the increase in voter ID laws across the country in recent years.”

7. Twitter’s Flawed Solution to Political Polarization

“Why did some social media users’ political views become more entrenched after we disrupted their echo chambers? One possibility is the structure of Twitter itself. Social psychologists have long argued that positive, intimate contact between members of rival groups across an extended period can produce compromise. But that is not what Twitter offers. Its character limits — combined with the anonymous, spontaneous nature of so many exchanges on the platform — simply may not be conducive to mutual understanding.”

8. The Kids Who Still Need Football

“In a country where the margin for error is especially thin for black and brown boys in poor and working-class communities, they and their families also had plans: First, the boys would trade their football talent for financial aid packages from local private high schools. Next would come athletic scholarships to college. Football, to these boys, was not the end but the means.”

9. The Big Myth About Teenage Anxiety

“Parents are conveying to their kids that their emotional responses to difficult but ordinary experiences are not to be taken in stride, but viewed as something needing clinical attention.”

10. To Restore Civil Society, Start With the Library

“Libraries are an example of what I call ‘social infrastructure’: the physical spaces and organizations that shape the way people interact. Libraries don’t just provide free access to books and other cultural materials, they also offer things like companionship for older adults, de facto child care for busy parents, language instruction for immigrants and welcoming public spaces for the poor, the homeless and young people.”

11. In Life’s Last Moments, Open a Window

“In the hospice where I work, I am often struck by the intense solace some patients find in the natural world.”

12. The Rio Grande Is Dying. Does Anyone Care?

“The Rio Grande is the third-longest river wholly in the United States, exceeded only by the Yukon and the combined Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. Yet this summer it nearly stopped flowing from Colorado into New Mexico.”

13. A Darker, Deeper Jim Carrey Returns to TV

“This is not the story of an actor who lost himself in a role and forgot where the boundaries were between his character and himself. This is about a performer who wanted to get lost entirely and perhaps still isn’t sure if he wants to come back at all.”

14. What Are the Biggest Problems Facing Us in the 21st Century?

“In an increasingly complex world, how can any of us have enough information to make educated decisions?”

15. Bill Cunningham: An Enigma in a Blue Sanitation Worker’s Jacket

“In the early years, he allows himself a fur-collared trench, flamboyant shirts and ties, and Ollie, ‘a large black beatnik French poodle.’ Over time these frou-frous fall away and his knees start to show through his worn pants. ‘I have the strongest desire to escape to the discomforts of the poor,’ he declares, and he means it. Austerity becomes his drug of choice. He appears to make a contract with himself: I will remain in this world of glamour but only as a sack-cloth-and-ashes observer who lives on a diet of Ovaltine and leftover hors d’oeuvres, and stays in crummy Parisian hotels while others dine at the Ritz. His rationale? Independence.”

16. The Father of Personal Computing Who Was Also a Terrible Dad

“It is not a stretch to say that if you read this book, you will never think of Jobs the same way again.”

17. Letter of Recommendation: Recently Returned Books

“So much of what we encounter each day is designed to influence our decisions and purchases, but the books on this shelf have no agenda. They are not being pushed by the publishing industry. There is no marketing budget behind them. They’re not trending on my social-media feeds or selected by a recommendation algorithm. They were not chosen to signal anyone’s intellect or righteousness or in-the-know-ness. They are often old and very often ugly. I’ve come to think of this shelf as an escape from hype, a kind of anti-curation.”

18. Teaching in the Age of School Shootings

“Teachers are at the quiet center of this recurring national horror. They are victims and ad hoc emergency workers, often with close ties to both shooter and slain and with decades-long connections to the school itself. But they are also, almost by definition, anonymous public servants accustomed to placing their students’ needs above their own. And as a result, our picture of their suffering is incomplete.”

19. What Teachers Are Doing to Pay Their Bills

“Some teachers devote 60 hours a week to the classroom, then go to work elsewhere. The hours can be long, the labor physical, the pay close to minimum wage. Teachers across the country are now baristas, Amazon warehouse employees, movie-theater managers and fast-food grill cooks. They’re entering the gig economy in off hours and struggling to stay awake during school days. Here are some of the things they do, the 16 percent of American teachers who have second jobs, to make ends meet.”

20. What Does It Mean to Be an Artist and a Mother?

“On the right-hand page of a spread from 1976, Morton wrote of her desire to ‘do work which has as its impetus the influences and working processes of the major 20th-century art movements. To do this work with the intention not of simulating the finished products of those historical movements but to confront the art ideas and problems of those times as directly as possible.’ On the left-hand page, in identical script, she writes: ‘milk, juice, bread, cottage cheese, can fruit, tuna, veg soup — onion soup, noodles, hamburger, cookies, soda.’”

21. Has This Neighborhood in Seoul Figured Out the Secret to Slow Living?

“This nostalgia for a simpler form of living is fueled by the dissatisfaction that many locals have expressed in the face of their country’s breakneck economic growth. Here, digital culture is richer and vaster than anywhere else: South Korea, home to the technology giants Samsung and LG, may have the world’s fastest internet and the highest rate of smartphone use, but amid the country’s accelerated 30-year transition from military state — which it was until the ’80s — to tech superpower, there’s a growing sentiment that somewhere along the road, much of the country’s own culture was lost. The hanok, then, has come to represent a safe vessel for introspection and a reassertion of Korean identity: a romantic return to the national architecture and, therefore, to a mythic, prelapsarian age. Rebuilding these houses is not only a chance to revisit a past that once was, free of influences from globalized monoculture, but also to create a future in Seoul that might have been.”

22. Why Aren’t We Eating More Insects?

“We’re quick to down slippery oysters, stinking cheese and hot dogs made of entrails unknown, but we shy from anything that might once have crawled, hopped or hovered over a picnic blanket.”

23. The Enduring Spell of The Outsiders

“There has never been a more fitting time to read The Outsiders. Divisions of race, of gender, of political affiliation have always been profoundly evident in our culture, but now the distinction between two kinds of white men — the rich and the not rich — has created a schism no one seems to know how best to bridge. To reread the book under the current administration is to engage with a parable of sorts, a folk song about the challenges of being a person whose birthright defines him. The Outsiders taps into this profound unrest.”

24. How Michigan Became the Epicenter of the Modernist Experiment

“If Michigan isn’t the first place that comes to mind when considering this period — unlike, say, Germany or France in the 1920s — it should be. The presence of Ford in the city and Booth in the country was enough to make Michigan ground zero for the Modernist experiment, which was, on an aesthetic level, concerned with clarity and flexibility: Ford wanted all the messy components of manufacturing to be housed under one enormous roof, and Kahn made it so. But ideologically, architectural Modernism was more complicated, rooted in the idea that if one were to reshape an environment in a kind of magnificent, functional order, then that environment would encourage a level of social harmony and cohesion. This experiment failed, of course, but its remnants still stand throughout Michigan, making the state home to perhaps the most diverse and best-preserved collection of early Modernist experiments in the world.”

 

Sunday 9.2.2018 New York Times Digest

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1. How to Make a Big Decision

“If you find yourself mapping a ‘whether or not’ question, looking at a simple fork in the road, you’re almost always better off turning it into a ‘which one’ question that gives you more available paths.”

2. Invisible Strike May Be Cause Of Envoys’ Ills

“Russia, China and many European states are seen as having the know-how to make basic microwave weapons that can debilitate, sow noise or even kill. Advanced powers, experts say, might accomplish more nuanced aims such as beaming spoken words into people’s heads.”

3. When You Love Chocolate, This Isn’t Like Work

“Culturally, the pre-Columbian Aztecs considered it so valuable they used the beans as currency. It was also sacred to the Mayans and other Mesoamerican groups; it still holds a high place spiritually in many indigenous societies.”

4. China Hits Pause on Video-Game Maker’s Fortunes

“Chinese state media has blamed video games for causing young people to become addicted, lowering their grades and worse.”

5. Big Mother Is Watching

“While parents of young children have long used nanny cams to keep tabs on the babysitters, companies are now marketing these products to parents of teens and preteens, too. This time, the camera lens is pointed not at the untrustworthy caregiver, but at the potentially rebellious adolescent.”

6. The Next Financial Crisis Lurks Underground

“Only five of the top 20 fracking companies managed to generate more cash than they spent in the first quarter of 2018.”

7. Summer Road-Tripping While Black

“African-Americans were largely left out of the car culture that flowered in the post-World War II period.”

8. How to Play Our Way to a Better Democracy

“It’s easy to see how overprotection harms individuals, but in a disturbing essay titled ‘Cooperation Over Coercion,’ the economist Steven Horwitz made the case that play deprivation also harms liberal democracies.”

9. The Religion of Whiteness Becomes a Suicide Cult

“Busy recyclers of Western supremacism, many of whom uphold a disgraced racial pseudoscience, remind us that history often repeats itself as intellectual farce.”

10. The Biblical Guide to Reporting

“Journalists, particularly those who do investigative reporting, tend to annoy people in powerful positions. Some people might think that Christians are supposed to be soft and acquiescent rather than muckrakers who hold the powerful to account. But what I do as an investigative reporter is consistent with what the Bible teaches.”

11. Do Public School Students Have Constitutional Rights?

“Students are the sole remaining group of Americans whom governmental employees may beat with impunity, even when they pose no threat to safety.”

12. Ethan Hawke Is Still Taking Ethan Hawke Extremely Seriously

“He never forgot that it was entirely possible that people wouldn’t appreciate your work while you were doing it. That they might appreciate it only long after you were dead. Or maybe even never! But that didn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. The critics — the ones who called him pretentious and too earnest and too overly serious for a movie star — became a force he worked in contrast to, a dark shadow that rode alongside him. He learned to defy them, if not ignore them. He learned to let them remind him what he was supposed to be, which is an artist, which is someone who tells the truth, not just a puppet who dances to please his audience in a series of films that resemble the one he just did.”

13. How to Retire in Your 30s With $1 Million in the Bank

“Millennials especially have embraced this so-called FIRE movement — the acronym stands for financial independence, retire early — seeing it as a way out of soul-sucking, time-stealing work and an economy fueled by consumerism.”

14. Lionel Richie Has Some Bedding to Sell You

“Lionel Richie, the 69-year-old multiplatinum singer-songwriter, is debuting a line of sheets and towels, which will be available in stores beginning Sept. 7.”

15. Does Our Cultural Obsession With Safety Spell the Downfall of Democracy?

“How did we arrive at this fraught place where the use of nothing more sinister than a body metaphor can assume the power to cause harm?”

16. What Is Identity?

“Both books help explain so much more than Trump. #MeToo. White nationalism. Hindu nationalism. Black Lives Matter. Campus debates about privilege and appropriation. Syria. Islamism. The spread of populism and retreat of democracy worldwide. The rise of the far right in Europe. The rise of the far left in the United States. All these phenomena throb with questions of identity, of ‘Who am I?’ and ‘To what do I belong?’ Appiah and Fukuyama seek out answers.”

17. By the Book: Ben Macintyre

“Last year, I finally read Moby-Dick. I am not only embarrassed not to have read it before, but faintly appalled by the thought that I might actually have gone through life without ever reading it. I became obsessed by Melville’s great novel of obsession, and Ishmael’s quest for life’s meaning in the ‘damp, drizzly November in my soul.’ Everyone should be made to read it, using force if necessary.”

18. King Arthur’s Court

“The young man who was trained to never argue became outspoken about civil rights as an athlete-activist.”

19. Exquisite Corpses

“The lure of autobiographical writing is also a longing to capture our experience of time, to trap us in a moment that is always passing.”

20. Attempting the Impossible: A Thoughtful Meditation on Technology

“One of Auerbach’s stated goals is to break down barriers, or at least initiate a conversation, between technology and the humanities, two often irreconcilable domains. He suggests that we need to be bitwise (i.e., understand the world through the lens of computers) as well as worldwise. We must ‘be able to translate our ideas between the two realms.’”

21. Behind the Poetry

“Convinced that critics have generally paid too little attention to what he calls ‘the practical aspects’ of the work in question, he says that his central task ‘is to drag poems back to the world in which they were made, to restore the lost background of their creation.’ While admitting that ‘knowledge of the circumstance is not ipso facto knowledge of the poem,’ he is keen to demonstrate ‘that facts lying outside the poem are often crucial to its inner working.’”

22. Letter of Recommendation: Clock Radios

“It’s a clock and it’s a radio, and that’s it!”

23. How to Survive a Shark Attack

“Hit the shark in the eyes and gills.”

24. Riz Ahmed Acts His Way Out of Every Cultural Pigeonhole

“On one hand, I was a professional reporter, trying my best to look as if I belonged where I was, doing what I was doing: sharp questions, clear thinking, research prepared. On the other hand, I was a black American man hanging out with a British-Pakistani man in a white cafe in what used to be a black neighborhood, chopping it up at a high level. On the third hand, I was a writer for a national magazine sharing a platform with an international film star while we talked about all the serpentine machinations of oppression and how they’ve woven and buried themselves in the very flesh of our lives. To dig haphazardly into his plate of quinoa or not?”

25. Norm Macdonald, Still in Search of the Perfect Joke

“Over the last two decades, he has grown more devoted to the pure joke, even as comedy has turned away from it. Contemporary stand-up increasingly positions the comedian either as a relatable personality whom audiences can follow from role to role or as a righteous truth-teller. Macdonald is neither.”

Sunday 8.26.2018 New York Times Digest

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1. Beware Rich People Who Say They Want to Change the World + Meet the ‘Change Agents’ Who Are Enabling Inequality

“Even as they give back, American elites generally seek to maintain the system that causes many of the problems they try to fix — and their helpfulness is part of how they pull it off. Thus their do-gooding is an accomplice to greater, if more invisible, harm.”

2. She Forgave Steve Jobs. Would You?

“I was afraid of him and, at the same time, I felt a quaking, electric love.”

3. Once-Trusted Studies Are Scorned by Trump’s E.P.A.

“What happens to children of pregnant mothers certain to have pesticides in their bloodstreams?”

4. How Do You Play a Porn Star in the #MeToo Era?

“Intimacy directors, or coaches, are a relatively new trend in TV.”

5. Money Really Does Lead to a More Satisfying Life

“These results provide strong evidence in support of the standard economic view that money increases well-being, albeit not in an entirely uniform manner. It runs counter to the view championed by many psychologists that people largely adapt to their circumstances — including their financial situation.”

6. The New Socialists

“The socialists’ story is one of capitalism and exclusion: how, as millennials struggling with low wages and high rents and looming debt, they and their generation are denied the promise of freedom.”

7. Why Manafort and Cohen Thought They’d Get Away With It

“The Department of Justice — in Democratic as well as Republican administrations — has lost the will and ability to prosecute top executives across corporate America, at large industrial firms, tech giants, retailers, drugmakers and so on.”

8. The Devil in Steve Bannon

“We all know that being an effective salesman is coming to believe in what you’re selling.”

9. America’s Never-Ending Culture War

“The harsh divisions among Americans in 1968 have largely endured.”

10. The Student Debt Problem Is Worse Than We Imagined

“Colleges are benefiting from billions in financial aid while students are left with debt they cannot repay.”

11. In Defense of Taking Things for Granted

“I think there’s something distinctively valuable about allowing many aspects of your life — even the very fact of your life — to recede into the background, into a unconscious mental box we might label ‘presuppositions.’ I would go so far as to say that these presuppositions are what enable you to live a life at all.”

12. Keep America’s Roadside Weird

“All across the country, on interstates the width of football fields and two-lane blue highways, stand an uncountable number of homespun reminders that American ingenuity and wit have not yet been Walmart-ized out of existence.”

13. How and Why Silicon Valley Gets High

“People in Silicon Valley tend to view drugs differently from those in places like, say, Hollywood and Wall Street. The point is less to let off steam or lose your inhibitions than to improve your mind.”

14. Those Who Can Do, Can’t Teach

“The best doers are often the worst teachers.”

15. How ‘Searching’ Uses Tech Devices as Narrative Devices

“How well could we navigate a sea of technology if someone’s life depended on it?”

16. Maybe Your Sleep Problem Isn’t a Problem

“The rise of agriculture brought fields to till at daybreak. The industrial revolution brought factories with 8 a.m. time clocks. Night owls were forced to adapt, and that appears to have taken a toll.”

17. Conan O’Brien’s Unrequited Fanboy Love for Robert Caro

“The biggest thing I want to stress is that my inability to get him to sit with me only makes me respect him more.”

18. American Heiresses Abroad

“A prime driver in the American heiress exodus was escape from the savage competitiveness of Gilded Age society in the capital of status, New York.”

19. The Criminalization of Parenthood

“Fear itself has a cost.”

20. A Biographer Considers Edward Lear’s Art and Its Sources

“Lear’s gift is to find his own thirst for companionship echoed in the sense-making elements of language.”

22. How Do You Explain the ‘Obvious?’

“America is built on an appeal to the obvious.”

23. How the Trump Administration Is Remaking the Courts + When the Supreme Court Lurches Right

“There is growing demand for judicial activism on the right.”

24. How Dev Hynes, English Misfit, Became Blood Orange, R.&B. Miracle Worker

“Ten or 15 years ago, a musician who inhabited and then discarded identities as quickly as Hynes has would have seemed insecure and unformed, an immature kid still in search of a voice. But Hynes’s creative coming of age coincided with a profound reframing of what it means to be an artist. With all the usual categories and gatekeepers weakened by the internet, today’s ideal ‘brand’ is one that’s both unmistakably unique and utterly adaptable — a kind of portable self that can be packed up and carried from recording studio to live show to writing session, and then on to the screen, the theater, the page, the walls of a gallery.”

Sunday 8.19.2018 New York Times Digest

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1. The Beast in Me

“To be human today is to deny our animal nature, though it’s always there, as the earth remains round beneath our feet even when it feels flat. I had always been an animal, and would always be one, but it wasn’t until I was prey, my own fur standing on end and certain base-level decisions being made in milliseconds (in a part of my mind that often takes 10 minutes to choose toothpaste in the grocery store), that the meat-and-bone reality settled over me. I was smaller and slower than the bear. My claws were no match for hers. And almost every part of me was edible.”

2. How “Crazy Rich” Asians Have Led to the Largest Income Gap in the U.S.

“They are now the most economically divided racial or ethnic group in the country.”

3. Witchcraft in the #MeToo Era

“Coven and community leaders estimate that as many as 10,000 witches live and practice in New York.”

4. How to Get the Most Out of College

How a student goes to school matters much, much more than where.”

5. It’s Not Technology That’s Disrupting Our Jobs

“The history of labor shows that technology does not usually drive social change. On the contrary, social change is typically driven by decisions we make about how to organize our world. Only later does technology swoop in, accelerating and consolidating those changes.”

6. Happy Children Do Chores

“The goal, after all, is not to raise children we can coddle into the Ivy League. The goal is to raise adults who can balance a caring role in their families and communities with whatever lifetime achievement goals they choose. Chores teach that balance. They’re not just chores — they’re life skills.”

7. To Live and Die in Paris

“Don’t confuse your own joys and preferences with anyone else’s. Observe your own mind and experiences carefully and arrange your life — and your death — accordingly.”

8. Rebecca Solnit: By the Book

“I should say that I’m often not a reader of books from one end to the other but a rover, as a result of more than half a lifetime of doing research in books, where you’re there not just for the pleasure (though there is often considerable pleasure) but to find out some particular thing. Also I get interrupted a lot, and misplace books in this house of books, and so one way or another I’m usually reading about a dozen books at a time.”

9. A Critic Who Worships Literature, and Defends His Faith Accordingly

“He champions writers of inventive prose, who possess ‘a cognizance of the self as an agent in history and society,’ who fulfill James Baldwin’s definition of art: ‘to prove, and to help one bear, the fact that all safety is an illusion.’”

10. What Role Do Teachers Play in Education?

“For more than three decades, an unlikely coalition of corporate philanthropists, educational technology entrepreneurs and public education bureaucrats has spearheaded a brand of school reform characterized by the overvaluing of technology and standardized testing and a devaluing of teachers and communities.”

11. Searching for Language to Capture How Climate Change Has Altered Our World

“The American language seems to lack the words to adequately capture this creeping calamity, the words that will help Americans comprehend the future, accept the fact that the waters will rise and continue to rise for decades and centuries thanks both to melting glaciers and to the physical expansion of warmer waters.”

12. The Virtues of Shelf-lessness

“A sentimental library is characterized by memory and association. It’s the halfway point between alphabetical and aesthetic. And, in my case, each book’s placement corresponds not just to when I read it and how I felt, but to whatever activity takes place beneath it now. They are thus animated in a way they might not be otherwise. Like it or not, I am in constant, real-time conversation with their contents.”

13. Why We Should Never Expect to Discover Sentient Ice Cubes

“If there is biology elsewhere in the universe (and it has risen beyond the level of green slime) we would find it strikingly familiar, he proposes, not only in appearance but down to the carbon-based machinery in its cells.”

14. Twitter’s Misguided Quest to Become a Forum for Everything

“On Twitter, it may seem that you are talking to friends or peers, and that the space is controlled or even safe. But it’s not: It’s shared with and extremely vulnerable to those with a desire to disrupt or terrorize it.”

15. The Unlikely Activists Who Took On Silicon Valley — and Won

“People and institutions — in politics, in Silicon Valley — can seem all-powerful right up to the moment they are not.”

16. The Scientist Who Scrambled Darwin’s Tree of Life

“We are not precisely who we thought we were. We are composite creatures, and our ancestry seems to arise from a dark zone of the living world, a group of creatures about which science, until recent decades, was ignorant. Evolution is trickier, far more complicated, than we realized. The tree of life is more tangled. Genes don’t just move vertically. They can also pass laterally across species boundaries, across wider gaps, even between different kingdoms of life, and some have come sideways into our own lineage — the primate lineage — from unsuspected, nonprimate sources.”

17. The Super Bowl of Beekeeping

“Bees are central to an enormous agricultural industry — about one of every three mouthfuls of food we eat wouldn’t exist without bee pollination — and beekeepers’ custodianship of billions of these delicate animals is as much an art as it is a science. Beekeepers themselves, Solomon confided, are funny creatures: solitary in the field, trying to anticipate the needs of a finicky insect and, unlike that insect, social only once in a while.”

18. Jerry Seinfeld Says Jokes Are Not Real Life

“What a horrible feeling it must be to have poured your soul into a book over a number of years and somebody comes up to you and goes, ‘I loved your book,’ and they walk away, and you have no idea what worked and what didn’t. That to me is hell. That’s my definition of hell.”

19. Before He Was a Photographer, Bill Cunningham Was a Hat Maker

“Seen now, they hint, startlingly, at a hidden, inner passion, a wildness at odds with the disciplined, even ascetic, existence for which he later became known. His hats were joyous, improbable things: an octopus and her dangling limbs, a fish with glittering scales, a giant clamshell through which a slice of a woman’s face peeked, a gleaming pearl.”