Sunday 1.19.2020 New York Times Digest

1. The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It

“Mr. Ton-That demonstrated the app on himself. He took a selfie and uploaded it. The app pulled up 23 photos of him. In one, he is shirtless and lighting a cigarette while covered in what looks like blood. Mr. Ton-That then took my photo with the app. The ‘software bug’ had been fixed, and now my photo returned numerous results, dating back a decade, including photos of myself that I had never seen before.”

2. This Is the Guy Who’s Taking Away the Likes

“What happens when a technology puts the idea of cool in the palm of our hand, tantalizing and taunting us at all hours?”

3. Why Mothers’ Choices About Work and Family Often Feel Like No Choice at All

“‘Choice’ has become the favorite term in family policy. Yet many parents — particularly women — feel their decisions about work and family are made within such constraints that they have little choice at all.”

4. Injustice on Repeat

“In my experience, those who argue that the systems of mass incarceration and mass deportation simply reflect sincere (but misguided) efforts to address the real harms caused by crime, or the real challenges created by surges in immigration, tend to underestimate the corrupting influence of white supremacy whenever black and brown people are perceived to be the problem.”

5. What Americans Don’t Understand About China’s Power

“While China takes more steps forward than backward, the United States is moving slowly in reverse.”

6. How Did Americans Lose Faith in Everything?

“What stands out about our era in particular is a distinct kind of institutional dereliction — a failure even to attempt to form trustworthy people, and a tendency to think of institutions not as molds of character and behavior but as platforms for performance and prominence.”

7. How the ‘Sharing’ Economy Erodes Both Privacy and Trust

“The proliferation of digital surveillance software is making the elimination of unmonitored, unaccountable moments an expected part of a business’s service. Without private spaces, where life occurs beyond our vision or knowledge, there is no need for trust. In an open-plan world, trustworthiness isn’t so much a moral quality as a condition of not having to be trusted at all.”

8. The Bearable Whiteness of Little Women

“There is a fine line between a piece of art that acknowledges it is about the worldview of a very specific person — in the case of Little Women, that of a white girl in Massachusetts, raised in an abolitionist family during the Civil War — and a piece of art that declares that this worldview is the only one that matters and is fatally incurious about all others.”

9. What It’s Like to Use Facebook When You’re Blind

“Every site on the internet should use facial recognition. This would allow blind and low-vision users full entry to everything that the web has to offer.”

10. Ed Ruscha Up and Went Home

“Recent history has rendered certain aspects of Mr. Ruscha’s career into dark portents, cataclysmic visions of a decadent culture that can’t help but devour itself.”

11. Who’s Watching Your Porch?

“In Ring, Amazon has something like a self-marketing machine: Amazon customers using Amazon cameras to watch Amazon contractors deliver Amazon packages.”

12. Dog the Bounty Hunter Is Hunting Alone

“When Dog’s mother died in 1995, he spent a year smoking crack, he said. Then he sobered up and started dating Ms. Chapman. They had met in 1986 when he posted her bond after she shoplifted a lemon. They finally married in 2006 — we saw it in Season 3 of ‘Dog the Bounty Hunter.’”

13. The New Generation of Self-Created Utopias

“The United States has been a laboratory for experiments in alternative living since its founding. The English Puritans and Pilgrims who, wishing to escape the oppression and persecution of the Church of England, fled to America in the early 17th century to create smaller societies where they could live according to their faith were followed, notably, by the Transcendentalists in 1830s New England, who sought to distance themselves from the ruthlessness of the Industrial Revolution and instead lead a life driven by Romantic ideals.”

14. Idle Hands

“In the past, humans programmed robots to mimic human behavior, and so robots could most easily do routine, repeatable tasks that were easily explained. That’s meant automation has mostly impacted middle-skill jobs, while unpredictable ones, like building houses or diagnosing diseases, have been relatively unaffected. But now, Susskind argues, people working at the frontiers of artificial intelligence are teaching machines to draw on vast amounts of processing power and data to solve problems in ways humans couldn’t.”

15. How to Scale a Chain-Link Fence

“Give yourself six months to develop upper-body musculature by doing regular push-ups, situps, biceps curls and triceps dips using a chair. Next, find a fence to practice on.”

16. The Sex Choreographer

“The form’s technical aspects are most similar to those of fight choreography, which also revolves around deconstructing movement and engineering a look of passion and spontaneity between two bodies.”

Sunday 1.12.2020 New York Times Digest

1. ‘Techlash’ Hits College Campuses

“There is a growing sentiment that Silicon Valley’s most lucrative positions aren’t worth the ethical quandaries.”

2. Why Home Field Advantage Is Not What It Used to Be

“Across sports, securing home-field advantage for the biggest games might not be as meaningful as it once was.”

3. Will We Ever Figure Out How to Talk to Boys About Sex?

“Despite a new imperative to be scrupulous about affirmative consent, young men are still subject to incessant messages that sexual conquest — being always down for sex, racking up their ‘body count,’ regardless of how they or their partner may feel about it — remains the measure of a ‘real’ man, and a reliable path to social status.”

4. Who Killed the Knapp Family?

“Suicides are at their highest rate since World War II; one child in seven is living with a parent suffering from substance abuse; a baby is born every 15 minutes after prenatal exposure to opioids; America is slipping as a great power.”

5. Hard Times

“America’s true exceptionalism is our lack of concern for one another. To rectify such a crisis, the authors argue, we cannot rely on charity; only robust public policy will suffice. They suggest that such policies should prioritize early childhood programs, high school graduation, universal health coverage, access to contraceptives, housing, jobs and government-issued savings bonds and monthly allowances for all children.”

6. The Gig Economy Is Coming for Your Job

“It’s a business model that reduces everything to a series of app-enabled transactions, and calls it work, leaving what’s left of the welfare state to fill in the rest.”

7. How to Stop Freaking Out and Tackle Climate Change

“The climate crisis is not going to be solved by personal sacrifice. It will be solved by electing the right people, passing the right laws, drafting the right regulations, signing the right treaties — and respecting those treaties already signed, particularly with indigenous nations. It will be solved by holding the companies and people who have made billions off our shared atmosphere to account.”

8. The Academic Apocalypse

“The path to recovery begins … with a renewed faith not only in humanism’s methods and approaches, but in the very thing itself.”

9. Talk Less. Listen More. Here’s How.

“It is only by listening that we engage, understand, empathize, cooperate and develop as human beings. It is fundamental to any successful relationship — personal, professional and political.”

10. Elizabeth Wurtzel and a Vanishing Dream

“Like everyone else she had to hustle.”

11. Gen X Women: More Opportunities, Less Satisfaction?

“Compared with earlier generations, those of us born between 1965 and 1980 earn less, are in greater debt, are more likely to have children with intellectual disabilities or developmental delays and are expected to be constantly available to both our kids and our jobs. If we’re single, heterosexual and well educated, we face a ‘man deficit’; if we’re married, we’re more frustrated by our spouses. As if all that’s not enough, there’s social media to really make us feel physically and existentially inadequate.”

12. By the Book: William Gibson

“After a certain point in one’s career, the worry that they’ll finally notice your true absence of talent morphs into worrying that they’ll finally notice that you’ve Lost It.”

13. Rebel, Rebel

“The real history of music is not respectable.”

14. Is the Viral Non-Ad Ad the Future of Advertising?

“The history of advertising is often cast as an arms race between ever-craftier pitchmen on one side and ever-savvier audiences on the other, who invariably get wise to old techniques of manipulation, necessitating the development of new techniques that are savvier still.”

15. Letter of Recommendation: Ginger Gum

“In the same way that a ribbon of pickled ginger can cleanse the senses of the fishy oils in a bite of mackerel, or a gingersnap after dinner can soften the lingering taste of raw garlic in your mouth, the gum has a clarifying quality, overpowering whatever sights, smells and tastes are haunting you.”

16. Old Musicians Never Die. They Just Become Holograms.

“Using technology to blur the line between the quick and the dead tends to be a recipe for dystopian science fiction, but in this case, it could also mean a lucrative new income stream for a music industry in flux, at a time when beloved entertainers can no longer count on CD or download revenues to support their loved ones after they’ve died.”

17. We Can Alter Entire Species, but Should We?

“Could a gene drive stop one virus only to open the way for another, more virulent one? Could it jump from one species to a related one? What would be the environmental effects, if any, of altering the genes of entire species? How about eliminating a species entirely?”

Sunday 1.5.2020 New York Times Digest

1. Right-Wing Views for Generation Z, Five Minutes at a Time

“To the founders and funders of PragerU, YouTube is a way to circumvent brick-and-mortar classrooms — and parents — and appeal to Generation Z, those born in the mid-1990s and early 2000s.”

2. The Unbearable Lightness of Being Russell Wilson

“There are ways in which Wilson, in his eighth season in the N.F.L., is still a question mark, still an enigma to those outside his immediate sphere.”

3. What’s Eating Jimmy Iovine?

“Make quality the priority, not speed.”

4. Scorsese Knows How It Ends

“Scorsese has other aspirations but they have nothing to do with moviemaking. ‘I would love to just take a year and read,’ he said. ‘Listen to music when it’s needed. Be with some friends. Because we’re all going. Friends are dying. Family’s going.’”

5. Y2K @ 20

“There was a problem with the computers. Or was there?”

6. Hype House and the Los Angeles TikTok Mansion Gold Rush

“So-called collab houses, also known as content houses, are an established tradition in the influencer world. Over the last five years they have formed a network of hubs across Los Angeles.”

7. U.S. Military Branches Block Access to TikTok App Amid Pentagon Warning

“In a Dec. 16 message to the various military branches, the Pentagon said there was a ‘potential risk associated with using the TikTok app,’ and it advised employees to take several precautions to safeguard their personal information. It said the easiest solution to prevent ‘unwanted actors’ from getting access to that information was to remove the app.”

8. Everyone’s Resolution Is to Drink More Water in 2020

“Hydration is now marketed as a cure for nearly all of life’s woes.”

9. A Tech Insider Stylishly Chronicles Her Industry’s ‘Uncanny Valley’

“Far from seeking to disabuse civic-minded techno-skeptics of our views, she is here to fill out our worst-case scenarios with shrewd insight and literary detail. It isn’t that those of us with skill sets as soft as our hearts don’t need to know what’s going on in ‘the ecosystem,’ as those ‘high on the fumes of world-historical potential’ call Silicon Valley. It’s more that everything over there is as absurdly wrong as we imagine.”

10. Death by a Thousand Cuts

“We may not be as far from such poetic conceits of the body as we like to believe. The feminist theorist Donna Haraway, for example, has pointed out the insufficiency of scientific language for depicting the world. When a biologist describes a cell process, Haraway argues, she is as much creating the phenomena under discussion as describing a fact. Because language mediates our communication, the ways we think and express ourselves shape the knowledge we put into words.”

11. Why the Most Ridiculous Part of The Irishman Actually Works

The Irishman is best watched as a film about old men, and the lifetimes they have spent wrapped up entirely in one another, moving through an era that has vanished from beneath their feet.”

12. Letter of Recommendation: Dumbvacs

“Shopping for a new toaster, new speakers, a new car, a microwave or even light bulbs entails not just comparing specifications and price tags but evaluating whether the convenience or enjoyment offered by the gadget will outweigh the chance that it’s going to spy on you.”

13. What I Learned in Avalanche School

“Ninety percent of human-avalanche encounters … are triggered by humans, making humans the primary avalanche problem. Nature doesn’t kill people with avalanches. People kill people with avalanches.”

Sunday 12.29.2019 New York Times Digest

1. The 2010s Were the End of Normal

“Apocalypse is not yet upon our world as the 2010s draw to an end, but there are portents of disorder.”

2. The Rikers Coffee Academy

“The barista program (it’s unpaid at Rikers) and a handful of others like it nationwide give inmates a new set of professional skills and a way to pass the time, but they also reflect a growing theory in the criminal justice system that the $88 billion coffee industry can soften the blow of incarceration and provide a critical link to employment.”

3. Twitter Made Us Better

“Many people who lacked public platforms 10 years ago — the young and members of marginalized groups in particular — are speaking up, insisting on being heard.”

4. The Cultural Canon Is Better Than Ever

“It’s not so much that canons have been completely obliterated, as Mr. Bloom and others feared — in any given collection, the old guard and their descendants have remained. But canons have continued to evolve, and new ones have sprung up alongside them.”

5. We Learned to Write the Way We Talk

“As writing has been expanding online into the informal conversational domains where speech used to be primary, the generations who spent their formative years online started expanding writing’s muted emotional range.”

6. Look Up

“At any given moment, thousands of them are so focused on their little screens that they fail to look up. Truly, they don’t know what they’re missing.”

7. The Decade of Disillusionment

“The sense of crisis, alienation and betrayal emerged more from backward glances than new disasters, reflecting newly-awakened — or awokened, if you prefer — readings of our recent history, our entire post-Cold War arc.”

8. Ralph Ellison’s Letters Reveal a Complex Philosopher of Black Expression

“He was a philosopher of black expressive form and an astute cultural analyst.”

9. The Lives They Lived … Remembering Some of the Artists, Innovators and Thinkers We Lost in the Past Year

  • Luke Perry
    • “Learn as much as you can and be as nice to everyone as you can be.”
  • Karl Lagerfeld
    • “Lagerfeld’s greatest invention may have been himself. He was ostentatious without being silly. He dieted madly, but allowed himself 10 to 20 Coca-Colas a day. He seemed genderless before such a thing existed, and yet not at all P.C. (‘The problem with political correctness is that it rapidly becomes very boring,’ he said.) Though he was a voracious reader, he liked to appear superficial. I didn’t know Lagerfeld, but I shared a plane ride with him in 2014, from Paris to Dubai, while writing about a male model in his entourage. ‘Chic plane, chic plane,’ Lagerfeld said upon boarding, and then proceeded to sketch a caricature of Angela Merkel, seemingly for his own amusement. Over a few days, I watched him consume carefully sliced pears and mangoes, each meal overseen by his butler, Frédéric, whom I would catch in the hotel elevator with trays of Lagerfeld’s protein powders. ‘I’m a very improvised person,’ Lagerfeld told me, even as every part of his existence appeared to be choreographed.”
  • Robert Frank
    • “Artists generally would come to regard him as the picture of how to live a creative life in America, trusting yourself, resisting norms, never repeating what made you successful.”
  • Toni Morrison
    • “Once, Toni got it in her mind that she wanted to go to these casinos to play bingo. She rented a limousine, and we went to Connecticut. I don’t remember if she won or not, but she had a wonderful time, because on the way we got to stop at McDonald’s, which she loved. I was never in a car with Toni where, if we passed a McDonald’s, we did not stop.”
  • Doris Day
    • “Always comfortable, in life, with sex in and out of marriage, and claiming never to have loved a man ‘with intensity,’ she allowed herself to become, in her later movies, the embodiment of the battling virgin, staking out an ‘all for love and marriage’ position that first captured a younger audience and then, once that audience came of age, caused them to treat her as a joke.”
  • Harold Bloom
    • “It can be hard to disentangle Bloom’s reality from his own self-mythology, but even his detractors — and he would accumulate a great many — had to acknowledge the raw power of that brain, a combination of bandwidth and storage capacity that was, by any measure, exceptional.”


“See the trailer in theaters for maximum effect”

Sunday 12.22.2019 New York Times Digest

1. Beautiful. Violent. American. The N.F.L. at 100.

“The game taps into deep and abiding strains of dominant American culture. The N.F.L. appeals, paradoxically, both to the American veneration of toughness and to the American love of organization and management.”

2. The Decade Tech Lost Its Way

“When the decade began, tech meant promise — cars that could drive themselves, social networks that could take down dictators. It connected us in ways we could barely imagine. But somewhere along the way, the flaws of technology became abundantly clear. What happened?”

3. Short-Term Thinking Is Poisoning American Business

“The ethos of move fast and break things, which has defined a generation of start-ups, is not the mantra of long-term investors. It is the clarion call of speculators, who fully expect to get out before any of their own things can get broken.”

4. Men Are in Trouble and Hollywood Wants to Help

“Hollywood has long had its own ideas on the subject, telling us that men want power, success, money, women, camaraderie, a good smoke, a fast car, a hero’s journey, a valiant return. This year, movie after movie … has also told us that men want, or rather desperately need, better life goals, greater self-awareness and deeper, more authentic relationships.”

5. Kumail Nanjiani and the Twilight of the Schlubs

“Even everymen are now supermen.”

6. Design That’s Got Users in Mind

“Successful products often give people what they’ve wanted all along without realizing it, rather than what they say they want.”

7. Letter of Recommendation: Cheap Sushi

“Connoisseurs complain that mediocre sushi is ubiquitous. Well, so is nirvana.”

8. Is Screen Time Really Bad for Kids?

“‘Screen time’ today can range from texting friends to using social media to passively watching videos to memorizing notes for class — all very different experiences with potentially very different effects.”

9. The Movement to Bring Death Closer

“Don’t cover the dead body immediately, and resist leaving the room. Slow down. Pay attention. Look.”

Sunday 12.15.2019 New York Times Digest

1. The Power of a $5 Folded Piece of Paper

“Exchanging letters is a practice that crisscrosses centuries. But its continued relevance in our digitized daily lives is somewhat of a marvel.”

2. The Incredible Shrinking Wallet

“In recent years, the physical wallet’s central role in our lives has been greatly reduced, as have the size of wallets themselves.”

3. What Would Jesus Do About Inequality?

“The evangelical faith and work movement used to be merely another trumpet for this peculiarly American political gospel. But in recent years the movement has become much more ideologically diverse — and far more interesting. Participants are moving beyond the idolatry of the free market to a conversation about economic justice that doesn’t align so neatly with culture war clichés or party platforms.”

4. How the Superrich Took Over the Museum World

“Today’s museum world is steeply hierarchical, mirroring the inequality in society at large.”

5. What Makes an American Hero? (Or a Canadian One?)

“The Hero Fund’s task is not to assign blame, nor to explain why something happened. It is to identify those mere mortals who attempted individually, and bodily, to disrupt the relentless course of fate. And to send them a check for $5,500 and a hand-struck medal on behalf of humankind.”

6. By the Book: Deborah Levy

“Love is riskier than hate because there is more to lose.”

7. The Elder and the Younger

“How do you compete with someone so intrepid that he dies while trying to inspect an active volcano?”

8. The 10 Best Actors of the Year

“These are the 10 actors whose work in movies we found most captivating, challenging, shocking and inspiring in 2019.”