Sunday 12.10.2017 New York Times Digest


1. The Return of the Techno-Moral Panic

“In the absence of coherent critiques, and in the context of a stunningly rapid adoption of smartphones, a righteously defensive posturing about the social consequences of tech went mainstream. Critics were easily dismissed as Luddites, unable to see the future through a misplaced nostalgia for the past. This assumption was frequently vindicated and started to feel a lot like wisdom. As the world truly moved online, abstract fears were repeatedly met with, and answered by, specific, irresistible and unthreatening products and experiences.”

2. The President vs. the Presidency

“People close to him estimate that Mr. Trump spends at least four hours a day, and sometimes as much as twice that, in front of a television.”

3. With 2020 Census Looming, Worries About Fairness and Accuracy

“For the first time, it will be conducted largely online instead of by mail.”

4. Tax Plans May Give Your Co-Worker a Better Deal Than You

“For the first time since the United States adopted an income tax, a higher rate would be applied to employee wages and salaries than to income earned by proprietors, partnerships and closely held corporations.”

5. Golden State Warriors’ Go-to Guy Doesn’t Play a Minute

“Housen knows his players’ habits and daily rhythms. He knows, for example, that Thompson will wear the same socks until he puts holes in them, so Housen will preemptively swap them out. He knows that Nick Young wants the insoles removed from his sneakers. He knows that JaVale McGee has the largest feet on the team (size 19). He knows that Curry has a shoe calendar — yes, a shoe calendar, to tell him what sneakers to wear for which game — and Housen knows that because Under Armour sends it straight to him. He knows that some of the players have discriminating taste when it comes to bottled water, so he stocks the refrigerator in the visiting locker room with three or four brands. He knows that if Ron Adams, the longtime assistant, indulges in an occasional beer on the plane, he likes Peroni. But Housen also knows that Coach Steve Kerr prefers Modelo Especial. He knows which players want hotel rooms away from the elevators. He knows that McGee is a vegetarian and that Curry avoids gluten. He knows that Zaza Pachulia likes to change into a fresh jersey at halftime. And he knows that Pachulia does not like to leave the arena with damp hair. ‘He’s the only guy I’ve ever had who uses a blow dryer,’ Housen said.”

6. How the Fingerling Caught On (Robot Grip and All) as 2017’s Hot Toy

“How the Fingerling reached this tipping point — when suddenly millions of children cannot do without a $15 farting monkey — is the story of a promising idea’s going viral on social media, a large retailer’s savvy pricing strategy and the science of managing scarcity.”

7. Alexa, Stop Listening! Hey Google, You Too.

“Last month, some Google Home Mini units were found to be recording conversations all the time, not just when users were interacting with it. And over the summer, a hacker showed that an Echo could effectively be turned into a wiretap, though that required physical contact with the device itself. A Bluetooth flaw was also found to be putting both devices at risk of remote hacking.”

8. Should Doctors Ignore Race?

“Rather than relying on race, doctors should focus on the genes important to whatever puzzle they face — an approach often called ‘precision’ or ‘personalized’ medicine. The idea is that tailoring treatment to the patient’s genotype, not to skin color or hair texture, would improve outcomes.”

9. Doom Season in Los Angeles

“Every year, California’s fire season gets a little longer.”

10. The Importance of Dumb Mistakes in College

“Because for all of the supposed liberating power of their digital devices, they might as well be wearing ankle monitors. Technological connectedness has made it much harder for them to make mistakes and learn from them.”

11. How Americans Fell for Korean Beauty

“In the last six years, Korean cosmetics in the United States have gone from nonexistent to almost mainstream.”

12. For Veterans, a Path to Healing ‘Moral Injury’

“The focus for those who suffer from moral injury (and those who care for them) should shift from forgiveness to creative deeds of atonement. Some veterans’ organizations provide such opportunities, even if they don’t adopt this language explicitly.”

13. DNA Tattoos Are the Final Frontier of Love

“Everence is a powdery substance synthesized from a sample of DNA, something as simple as a few thousand cells from a swab of a person’s inner cheek, or from cremated ashes. A small vial of Everence can be brought to a tattoo artist and added to any type of inks.”

14. Kevin Young’s Enthralling, Essential History of the Hoax

“The hoax is like an art that dulls our sense of reality, rather than sharpening it.”

15. The Ku Klux Klan’s Surprising History

“The second Klan was national in scope, with a surprisingly small footprint in the South — its highest per-capita state memberships were in Indiana and Oregon. In New Jersey, Klansmen burned a cross in the black section of Metuchen, today a liberal commuter suburb of New York. The Klan was so powerful in Southern California that it nicknamed Anaheim ‘Klanaheim.’ Its main focus was, as always, on spreading hatred against blacks, Jews and Catholics, but its agenda always fit the local context: In the Southwest, it turned its ire on Hispanics and Latino immigrants; in the Pacific Northwest, it took aim at Japanese.”

16. Letter of Recommendation: iNaturalist

“Learning the names of wild things changes the way we look at nature and the way we think about it.”

17. How to Have Fewer Regrets

“People identify regret as the second most common emotional state, after love.”

18. The Takedown of Title IX

“With funding from right-wing donors like the Charles Koch Institute, FIRE has often aligned with conservative sensibilities. But a number of academics and lawyers, among them a group of feminist Harvard law professors (including Gertner) who released a public letter in August calling for reform, have cited reasons Title IX policies should concern progressives, too: that overly broad definitions of misconduct, encompassing most drunken encounters, threaten to erode distinctions between consensual and nonconsensual sex; that anecdotal evidence (there’s little hard data available) suggests men of color are disproportionately punished; that a conservative administration could co-opt the campus-rape debate to further its own aims; or that perceptions of bias could trigger a backlash casting women as liars.”


Sunday 12.3.2017 New York Times Digest


1. Melting Arctic Ice Makes High-Speed Internet a Reality in a Remote Town

“High-speed internet cables snake under the world’s oceans, tying continents together and allowing email and other bits of digital data sent from Japan to arrive quickly in Britain. Until recently, those lines mostly bypassed the Arctic, where the ice blocked access to the ships that lay the cable. But as the ice has receded, new passageways have emerged.”

2. Builders Said Their Homes Were Out of a Flood Zone. Then Harvey Came.

“The land was raised less than 10 inches above the level that, under federal flood-insurance rules, would have required the family to be notified of their risk and purchase insurance. Other lots in their area were raised as little as 1.2 inches above that height.”

3. The Great American Single-Family Home Problem

“If cities are going to tackle their affordable housing problems, economists say, that is going to have to change. But how do you build up when neighbors want down?”

4. Bound by History, Two Colleges Confront Their #MeToo Moment.

“The torrent of claims against high-profile men in entertainment, media and politics is now spreading across academia, re-energizing the outcry over sexual misconduct on American campuses and bringing forth a new wave of complaints.”

5. The Cost of Devaluing Women

“The bigger cost derives from how women’s ideas are discounted and their talent ignored.”

6. How Drug Cartels Evade Border Security

“Even as the United States spends billions of dollars along the Mexican border — the main route for drug trafficking — as part of President Trump’s crackdown on border security, the traffickers have already found ways to avoid the cameras, drones, drug dogs and agents along the border, officials said.”

7. In a Venezuela Ravaged by Inflation, ‘a Race for Survival’

“At first glance the severity of the situation might not be immediately obvious to a newcomer. Viewed from a certain remove, Caracas may seem like any other capital in the developing world: streets crowded with traffic, people hustling to work, shops open and doing business. But on closer inspection, those impressions quickly fall away to reveal a society falling apart, and people struggling to hold their lives together and make it through the day.”

8. Will Tech Protect My Kids?.

“Unjust racial profiling and resulting racial disparities in the criminal justice system certainly don’t depend on artificial intelligence. But when you add it — as many law enforcement agencies across the country, including those in major cities like Miami, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Atlanta and New York, have over the past couple of years — things get even scarier for black families.”

9. Soil Power! The Dirty Way to a Green Planet

“Sequestering carbon in soil can produce a double dividend: It reduces climate change by extracting carbon from the atmosphere, and it restores the health of degraded soil and increases agricultural yields.”

10. The Sterile Society

“So far the process has not substituted successful marriages for failing ones, healthy relationships for exploitative ones, new courtship scripts for the ones torn up 50 years ago. Instead as Weinsteinian or Polanskian excesses have been corrected, we’ve increased singlehood, sterility and loneliness.”

11. Jean-Claude Van Damme Plays Jean-Claude Van Damme, for Kicks

“If you were born in the dojo, you will die in the dojo.”

12. When Did Poetry Speak to Us? When We Were Very Young

“The most remarkable thing about poetry’s unpopularity isn’t that it exists, but that it exists in the wake of a period in which poems were not merely popular, but embraced with a fierce and unembarrassed joy. That period, of course, is childhood.”

13. Muhammad Ali, Beginning to End for the First Time in a Book

“As a high school athlete in 1959 Cassius was already signing autographs for classmates — ‘Cassius Clay, World Heavyweight Champion.’”

14. A Renowned Travel Writer’s Letters From the Road

“He was a man of letters but also, like his hero Byron, a man of action — a war hero and a restless adventurer, who even swam the Hellespont when he was 69. He never finished school — his headmaster called him ‘a dangerous mixture of sophistication and recklessness’ and tossed him out for holding hands with a shopkeeper’s daughter — but was prodigiously learned, conversant in at least eight languages and able to recite hours of poetry by heart. He was an old-school Englishman, a toff — bespoke clothes, club memberships, plummy accent, riding to hounds — who lived most of his life abroad, broke much of the time, settling down at last in Greece. He was an unabashed snob and social climber who also relished the company of peasants and shepherds. He was a famous ladies’ man and at the same time deeply in love with his wife, who patiently overlooked his wanderings. (She even lent him money for prostitutes.) And he was a tireless socializer, beloved by an enormous circle of friends, who often yearned for solitude and sometimes hid out in monasteries.”

15. A Love Affair With Bookstores

“True, he notes, libraries also deal in books, but ‘the Bookshop is light; the Library is heavy.’ ‘While the Librarian accumulates, hoards, at most lends goods out for a short while,’ he explains, ‘the Bookseller acquires in order to free himself from what he has acquired; he sells and buys, puts into circulation. His business is traffic and transit. The Library is always one step behind: looking towards the past.”

16. What If Our Current State of Affairs Is Actually ‘Normal’?

“The responsibility for maintaining the world falls to you and your peers. This is why your elders pressured you to learn things; they were aware that they would die and that someone would need to be able to design power plants and do heart surgery. As with international law, we might enjoy the thought that there is some coherent structure holding everything together, but in the end the structure is only as stable as we’re prepared to step forward and make it.”

17. How Far Will Sean Hannity Go?

“Hannity later told me he had, over time, developed separate approaches for his radio and television shows. ‘My thoughts are the same: I’m mad,’ he said. ‘But with television, I’ve got the images to help me out. With radio, it’s on me to paint the picture.’”

18. The New Generation of Character Actors

“Over the course this great fragmentation in the film industry — a system increasingly divided between major-studio blockbusters that are announced a decade in advance at shareholder meetings and tiny indies that often disappear after a week in theaters — character actors have only moved further into the mainstream. In lower-budget projects, they are cast in complicated leading roles that win them acclaim; in mega-films (especially superhero ones), they are relied upon for their ability to bring soul to underwritten, potentially clichéd parts.”

19. The Sweet Rewards of Bitter Food

“Nothing worth doing is easy, and nothing worth consuming goes down easy. In an age of ready pleasures, choosing something difficult and unlikable is an announcement of sophistication.”

20. The School Prepping for Apocalypse

“Its popularity offers the provocative suggestion that the next generation of leaders requires not necessarily math or literature or history — though Green School teaches those too — but a wider set of tools, ranging from adaptability to teamwork to the sort of problem-solving that flourishes under conditions of constraint, which will prove useful in a world whose resources will only continue to diminish. It is a prep school meant to do more than merely prepare students for college, but also equip them with survival skills for an unknown new world, in which proficiency with alternative fuels and sustainable building practices — and the experience of living in a nontraditional, unpredictable environment — might be more useful benchmarks than SAT scores.”

21. Is the Age of the Artistic Recluse Over?

“What has increased in the age of distraction is our concern for the necessary conditions in which art could flourish. No longer can the world be kept at bay with the closing of a door; Woolf’s room of her own is now wired for internet. To look at my shelves of favorite novels written in feverish solitude and think that they might never have come to pass is also to know there must be many more today that are simply not being written.”

22. Jay-Z and Dean Banquet, in Conversation

“The goal is not to be successful and famous. That’s not the goal. The goal is, if you have a specific God-given ability, is to live your life out through that. One. And two, we have a responsibility to push the conversation forward until we’re all equal. Till we’re all equal in this place. Because until everyone’s free, no one’s free, and that’s just a fact.”


Sunday 11.26.2017 New York Times Digest


1. An Algorithm Isn’t Always the Answer

“The best things in life are unquantifiable.”

2. The Bad News on ‘Good’ Girls

“Girls today receive two conflicting messages: Be mighty and be good.”

3. The Unexamined Brutality of the Male Libido

“The masculine libido and its accompanying forces and pathologies drive so much of culture and politics and the economy, while remaining more or less unexamined, both in intellectual circles and in private life.”

4. How to Get Your Mind to Read

“Current education practices show that reading comprehension is misunderstood. It’s treated like a general skill that can be applied with equal success to all texts. Rather, comprehension is intimately intertwined with knowledge.”

5. 500 Years Later, the Reformation Is Still Creating Music

“Luther established his own musical currency in the form of chorales, those hymns in the vernacular. He surrounded himself with excellent composers, most notably Johann Walter, who became his chief collaborator in the creation of a Lutheran liturgy. And he continued to draw the attention of slightly later German masters, most now known only dimly to nonspecialists: the likes of Michael Praetorius, Samuel Scheidt, Johann Hermann Schein and Ludwig Senfl. Then came Bach, a long, multifaceted story in himself. His many surviving works written for Leipzig’s Lutheran churches make up an incomparably rich repertory and set a near-impossible standard for subsequent centuries.”

6. Hooray for Fiona the Hippo, Our Bundle of Social-Media Joy

“She has become America’s Large Adult Daughter, its triumphant baby queen, its reigning diva with the skin texture of a wet avocado.”

7. Anthony Bourdain: By the Book

“I’m a hunter of footnotes. If I’m heavily interested in a particular historical subject, I will often track down everything I can find on it. I can disappear down a rathole of books on, say, the history of the Congo or special operations in Southeast Asia for years. The Kennedy assassination, for instance, took me on a decade-long journey through the history of organized crime, the C.I.A., French intelligence, the French Algerian conflict, the Vietnam War, Castro’s Cuba and the history of the K.G.B. I’m like that.”

8. Plain Sight

“Exposure is about truth, sure, but it’s mostly about power — about the relationship of truth to power. When a powerful man exposes himself by forcing his nakedness on others, he’s commanding their attention in a violent way, making them see what they don’t want to see. In the moment of exposure, he’s not the one who feels vulnerable; they are. Conversely, when that man is exposed as a monster, he is shown in a different light. The perspective is forced, and he is revealed to be something else.”

9. Activity Trackers Don’t Always Work the Way We Want Them To

“A large percentage of the adolescents reported feeling less motivated to be active now than before getting the monitor.”

10. The Culture Caught Up With Spike Lee — Now What?

“In 31 years, Lee has achieved a rate of productivity that is rivaled in America only by Woody Allen. His body of work is prodigious: 22 feature movies, of which at least three are absolutely first-rate; a half-dozen more are flawed classics, and all of them are at least sporadically brilliant, artistically daring and always intellectually ambitious. There are also many documentaries, which cover a wide range of black American topics, including two on Michael Jackson and one on Kobe Bryant. Of these, 4 Little Girls (1997), about the Birmingham church bombing, and When the Levees Broke (2006), about Hurricane Katrina, are two of the best documentaries ever made about black life — or perhaps just life — in the South.”

11. Can A.I. Be Taught to Explain Itself?

“It has become commonplace to hear that machines, armed with machine learning, can outperform humans at decidedly human tasks, from playing Go to playing ‘Jeopardy!’ We assume that is because computers simply have more data-crunching power than our soggy three-pound brains. Kosinski’s results suggested something stranger: that artificial intelligences often excel by developing whole new ways of seeing, or even thinking, that are inscrutable to us.”


Sunday 11.19.2017 New York Times Digest


1. Our Love Affair With Digital Is Over

“The limits of analog, which were once seen as a disadvantage, are increasingly one of the benefits people are turning to as a counterweight to the easy manipulation of digital.”

2. When Unpaid Student Loan Bills Mean You Can No Longer Work

“Few people realize that the loans they take out to pay for their education could eventually derail their careers. But in 19 states, government agencies can seize state-issued professional licenses from residents who default on their educational debts. Another state, South Dakota, suspends driver’s licenses, making it nearly impossible for people to get to work.”

3. Azzedine Alaïa, Fashion’s Most Independent Designer, Is Dead at 82

“He rarely hewed to the official show calendar, preferring to reveal his work when he deemed it ready, as opposed to when retailers or the press demanded it. Instead he built his own system, and family of collaborators and supporters, and since the turn of the millennium had become an increasingly important voice for the value of striving to perfect and explore a single proprietary aesthetic, and against giving in to the relentless pressure to produce collections.”

4. Why People in Mississippi Have to Watch the Giants

“On each Sunday during the football season, CBS and Fox broadcast several football games simultaneously, but send only one to your home. The process by which the networks decide which game you will see is called regionalization.”

5. In China, an Education in Dating

“While dating is hard everywhere, it is arguably worse for Chinese men looking for a woman. China’s now-ended one-child policy, carried out in a country with a strong cultural preference for boys, prompted many couples to abort female fetuses. In 2016, there were about 33.6 million more men than women in China.”

6. How Cutting Taxes Makes Life Worse for the Rich

“When everyone buys larger houses and faster cars, or stages more elaborate wedding celebrations, standards adjust accordingly.”

7. What if You Knew Alzheimer’s Was Coming for You?

“Do you want to receive potentially alarming news about your cognitive health, or would you rather not? If you learn that you have a high risk for Alzheimer’s, is that information you will want to keep private — from employers, clients, health insurers and others? Or will you want to openly embrace it as part of your identity and publicly advocate for a cure?”

8. We Were Warned

“Hour by hour, minute by minute, I make decisions that seem like the right things to do at the time, but which prevent me from reflecting on the most significant, most critical fact in my life: Every day I participate in a system that is weaponizing our big, gorgeous planet against our kids.”

9. Thanksgiving Nutrition Tips: Eat Whatever You Want, but Not That

“This revolutionary nutrition concept has only one rule: Eat what you want when you’re hungry and don’t eat when you’re not hungry.”

10. America’s Statue Wars Are a Family Feud

“What could be more logical than taxpayers’ patriotic plea that their federal, state and municipal governments consider removing, from public property, tributes to traitors loyal to the Confederate States of America who took up arms against the United States to perpetuate the institution of slavery?”

11. New & Noteworthy

“Trumpism is not Stalinism, but the relevance of Milosz’s insights — that intellectuals yearn to ‘belong to the masses’; that there is never a shortage of ways to justify cruelty in the name of the presumptively higher truth; that those who refuse to conform are caricatured as self-righteous purists — continues to haunt me as I watch so many I used to admire offer ever-more contorted defenses of Trumpism.”

12. The Uncounted

“We found that one in five of the coalition strikes we identified resulted in civilian death, a rate more than 31 times that acknowledged by the coalition. It is at such a distance from official claims that, in terms of civilian deaths, this may be the least transparent war in recent American history.”


Sunday 11.12.2017 New York Times Digest


1. Hunt for a Good Beginning. Then Write It.

“When you’re getting nowhere and ‘you don’t know what to do. Stop everything. Stop looking at the notes. Hunt through your mind for a good beginning. Then write it. Write a lead.’”

2. Lessons From Hurricane Harvey: Houston’s Struggle Is America’s Tale

“Unfortunately, nature always gets the last word. Houston’s growth contributed to the misery Harvey unleashed. The very forces that pushed the city forward are threatening its way of life.”

3. Plugging Into the Gig Economy, From Home With a Headset

“Is there really such a thing as a righteous gig-economy job?”

4. Where Self-Driving Cars Go to Learn

“The federal government is only now poised to create its first law for autonomous vehicles; the law, which echoes Arizona’s stance, would let hundreds of thousands of them be deployed within a few years and would restrict states from putting up hurdles for the industry.”

5. America’s Wildest Place Is Open for Business

“The Trump administration has declared the nation’s public lands and waters open for business, particularly to oil and gas companies.”

6. Why Christians Must Support Gun Control

“Christianity demands action. It insists on the protection of the innocent.”

7. The Power of the Courts Is Messing Up Politics

“Deflating the power of the judiciary might help to normalize our politics and help restore the primacy of considerations like policy and character in the choice of public officials.”

8. Women Cracked Wartime Codes. They Can Fix Tech Today, Too. & The Women Who Helped America Crack Axis Codes

“More than half of the American code-breaking force was female — roughly 10,000 women. Many were college graduates who had been shut out of graduate schools and excluded from fields such as math and engineering, and who now had a place for their talents.”

9. History, Totally Destroyed

“It is now painfully clear that we’ve overestimated intelligence as a world-changing force; it is idiocy that holds sway.”

10. We’re Sick of Racism, Literally

“More than 700 studies on the link between discrimination and health have been published since 2000. This body of work establishes a connection between discrimination and physical and mental well-being. With all of these effects, it is no wonder that more than 100,000 black people die prematurely each year.”

11. How I Learned to Yell

“For women it’s always a lose-lose scenario: Be quiet and spend 10 years in therapy; be delicate and suffer from a chronically stiff neck; be firm and get ostracized; be loud and get punished.”

12. President Trump, Please Read the Constitution

“His most frequent target is the Bill of Rights, which protects Americans against the federal government and, through the 14th Amendment, against the states. The list below is a small sampling of Mr. Trump’s depredations of those foundational amendments — via tweet, speech or interview — over the past two and a half years.”

13. The Swine of Conservatism

“Any social order that vests particular forms of power in men needs to do more, not less, to hold the male of the species accountable.”

14. How I Rolled on the Crescent: New York to New Orleans by Rail

“Train travel presents certain immediate advantages over air travel. It forces you to relax, as you have time on your hands.”

15. Rap Disrupted Music First. Now It’s TV and Film.

“From Empire to Atlanta to The Get Down, hip-hop has been the subject of some of the most inventive television of the last few years. Documentaries have been preserving the music through a historical lens, but it’s also being celebrated — and reimagined — through an artistic one.”

16. No Room for America Left in Those Jeans

“So much for the days when tattooed Brooklyn web designers and rifle-toting Montana ranchers seemingly stood arm in arm, united by their common love of Filson bags, Red Wing boots and White Oak denim.”

17. In Search of Silence

“I’m not recommending people move into a monastery. We’re social beings. But in the silence, you meet yourself.”

18. Memoirs Take the Wheel

“Three recent memoirs celebrate driving in three very different ways.”

19. What the Car Did — and What It Might Do

“For this installment of our annual Tech and Design Issue, we’ve devoted the entire magazine, front to back, to the question of autonomous cars and the future they could usher in. That level of attention seems warranted, given how profoundly this technology could change the way we live, with first- and second- and third-order effects that boggle the mind. We’ve visited with automakers in Detroit and in Silicon Valley to take the measure of their self-driving schemes. But we’ve also indulged in some sci-fi speculation of our own, trying to imagine what would happen if this unprecedented engine of American society — the machine that, more than any other, for better or worse, has given shape to American life for a century — really does undergo this radical transformation. The consequences would touch crime and punishment, work and leisure, exercise and partying and sex. Over the next century, they may well alter the built environment as radically as the manually driven car did over the last century.”

20. Modest Dressing, as a Virtue

“What happens when women start dressing in ways that are less than conventionally flattering? Why are they doing it? And what does it look like when fashion choices that might have been linked to female oppression perform in the service of liberation?”

21. The Feminist Pioneers Making Provocative Art About Sex

“Censored, shunned and banished to obscurity for most of their careers, they’ve been working with remarkable consistency, and it is only now — when these artists are in their 70s, 80s and 90s — that they, and their work, are being embraced as canonical.”

22. Lessons in Stillness From One of the Quietest Places on Earth

“Along with being one of the most diverse ecosystems in the country, the Hoh Rain Forest is also one of the quietest places in the U.S., according to the One Square Inch project, run by the acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton, who has worked over the years to preserve the Hoh’s quiet (for example, by requesting that airlines remap their flight patterns). Here, the absence of sound is complete.”

23. Asian-American Cuisine’s Rise, and Triumph

“As a nation we were once beholden to the Old World traditions of early settlers; we now crave ingredients from farther shores. The briny rush of soy; ginger’s low burn; pickled cabbage with that heady funk so close to rot. Vinegar applied to everything. Fish sauce like the underbelly of the sea. Palm sugar, velvet to cane sugar’s silk. Coconut milk slowing the tongue. Smoky black cardamom with its menthol aftermath. Sichuan peppercorns that paralyze the lips and turn speech to a burr, and Thai bird chilies that immolate everything they touch. Fat rice grains that cling, that you can scoop up with your hands.”

24. Sight and Insight in the California Desert

“Instead of moving earth with giant machines, or leaving hulking, unpeopled abstractions amid the dust, she employs this vast landscape to explore and challenge the quotidian functions of our existence. She was trained as a sculptor and still considers herself one, but her art is really a kind of philosophical quest, one that involves an ongoing and intense examination of what it means to live: What do we really mean when we say we need shelter, community, clothes, tools, light? How elaborate a space — indeed, how much space, down to the millimeter — do we need to survive, to thrive? What structures best facilitate creativity, serenity, unity?”


Sunday 11.5.2017 New York Times Digest


1. When ‘Conservatives’ Turned Into Radicals

“Conservatism has long had two faces — one for its ideological elites and another for its voters.”

2. Smuggled, Beaten and Drugged: The Illicit Global Ape Trade

“Ape trafficking is a little-known corner of the illicit wildlife trade, a global criminal enterprise that hauls in billions of dollars. But unlike the thriving business in elephant ivory, rhino horns, tiger bone wine or pangolin scales, ape smuggling involves live animals — some of the most endangered, intelligent and sensitive animals on Earth.”

3. On YouTube Kids, Startling Videos Slip Past Filters

“While the offending videos are a tiny fraction of YouTube Kids’ universe, they are another example of the potential for abuse on digital media platforms that rely on computer algorithms, rather than humans, to police the content that appears in front of people — in this case, very young people.”

4. Swelling College Endowments Tempt Lawmakers Looking for Tax Dollars

“Universities have been fiercely protective of their endowments, and have ramped up lobbying efforts to keep control over them.”

5. Women’s Whisper Network Raises Its Voice

“With the internet offering a clearinghouse for complaints … whisper networks have been amplified. Through public forums, invitation-only Facebook groups, private Google surveys, locked websites and shielded threads on anonymous apps, women — and some men — are seeking catharsis and validation by sharing their stories.”

6. Everything Is Bad. Blame the Tax Code.

“Everyone wants a ‘fair’ tax system. But like children in the schoolyard, we have definitions of what’s fair that vary widely and are typically transparently self-serving.”

7. The Right to Vote Is Never Safe

“Access matters at least as much as legal right.”

8. Are Christians Supposed to Be Communists?

“The New Testament’s Book of Acts tells us that in Jerusalem the first converts to the proclamation of the risen Christ affirmed their new faith by living in a single dwelling, selling their fixed holdings, redistributing their wealth ‘as each needed’ and owning all possessions communally.”

9. Kids, Would You Please Start Fighting?

“If kids never get exposed to disagreement, we’ll end up limiting their creativity.”

10. Relax, You Don’t Need to ‘Eat Clean’

“Food should be a cause for pleasure, not panic.”

11. Walter Isaacson: By the Book

“Paper turns out to be a superb information-storage technology, still readable after five hundred years, which our own tweets likely (and fortunately) won’t be.”

12. Between the Presidency and Him

“The book provides a master class on the essay form. Structured as a call and response between eight of his most significant articles and briefer, more personal essays arranged by year, Coates gives us something between a mixtape and a Künstlerroman, demonstrating how he came to dominate the nonfiction genre.”

13. Why Arthur Schlesinger’s ‘Disuniting of America’ Lives On

“To the challenges of teaching history in a way that is at once accurate and inclusive, Schlesinger remains an insightful guide.”

14. Six Myths About Choosing a College Major

“Much of the conventional thinking about majors is wrong.”

15. Where the STEM Jobs Are (and Where They Aren’t)

“Much of the public enthusiasm for STEM education rests on the assumption that these fields are rich in job opportunity. Some are, some aren’t.”

16. The Disappearing American Grad Student

“About 64 percent of doctoral candidates and almost 68 percent in master’s programs last year were international students.”

17. Class, Interrupted

“Today’s students bring a multiplicity of personal identities to campus — their sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, religion, political leanings — and they want to see that reflected in course content. The values in readings, lectures and even conversations are open to questioning. All good — that’s what college is supposed to be about — except that now the safety screen around the examination of ideas has been pulled away. Higher education is increasingly partisan, and professors must manage these disconnected ideologies, which are sometimes between themselves and their students.”

18. Greta Gerwig’s Radical Confidence

“In most films, girls exist to be looked at. Sometimes they help a male protagonist come to a realization about himself. Sometimes they die. Gerwig makes Lady Bird the one who looks: at boys but also houses, magazines, books, clothes and at the city of Sacramento.”

19. How Facebook’s Oracular Algorithm Determines the Fates of Start-Ups

“As we delegate more control to artificial intelligence, both businesses as well as users are venturing into uncertain territory. In the meantime, more and more companies — start-ups, mom-and-pop stores, major corporations — are handing their dollars and their data to the social-networking giant. Facebook’s Ads Manager is user-friendly. Sales are plentiful. And if you don’t take advantage of it, your competitors will. How could you not go there?”

20. The First Woman to Translate the ‘Odyssey’ Into English

“Throughout her translation of the Odyssey, Wilson has made small but, it turns out, radical changes to the way many key scenes of the epic are presented — ‘radical’ in that, in 400 years of versions of the poem, no translator has made the kinds of alterations Wilson has, changes that go to truing a text that, as she says, has through translation accumulated distortions that affect the way even scholars who read Greek discuss the original. These changes seem, at each turn, to ask us to appreciate the gravity of the events that are unfolding, the human cost of differences of mind.”


Sunday 10.29.2017 New York Times Digest


1. How We Find Our Way to the Dead

“Today even skeptics live in the presence of the departed, the disembodied and the illusory — internet shadows that are no less influential for not being real.”

2. North Korea Rouses Neighbors to Reconsider Nuclear Weapons

“This brutal calculus over how to respond to North Korea is taking place in a region where several nations have the material, the technology, the expertise and the money to produce nuclear weapons.”

3. Public Shaming and Even Prison for Plastic Bag Use in Rwanda

“In Rwanda, it is illegal to import, produce, use or sell plastic bags and plastic packaging except within specific industries like hospitals and pharmaceuticals. The nation is one of more than 40 around the world that have banned, restricted or taxed the use of plastic bags, including China, France and Italy. But Rwanda’s approach is on another level. Traffickers caught carrying illegal plastic are liable to be fined, jailed or forced to make public confessions.”

4. Will Congress Ever Limit the Forever-Expanding 9/11 War?

“As the 9/11 war enters its 17th year, questions about the scope and limits of presidential war-making powers are taking on new urgency.”

5. Lord & Taylor, WeWork and the Death of Leisure

“Today … shopping is something else entirely, not a diversion but just an extension of our working or ‘productive’ lives. At our desks and laptops we buy our avocados, face creams, bathing suits, boxer shorts, coffee tables, routers, sport coats, ski clothes. We can spend $53 or $8,500. There is nothing to immortalize unless you are a writer or artist moved to render the image of an exhausted-looking middle-aged woman staring at a screen-full of Amazon reviews.”

6. Happiness Is Other People

“In an individualistic culture powered by self-actualization, the idea that happiness should be engineered from the inside out, rather than the outside in, is slowly taking on the status of a default truism.”

7. James Madison’s Lessons in Racism

“Madison is the founding father who can teach Americans the most about our present contradictions on race. Madison insisted that enslaved Africans were entitled to a right to liberty and proposed that Congress purchase all the slaves in the United States and set them free. Yet not only did he hold slaves on his plantation in Virginia and fail to free them upon his death, but he also originated the notorious three-fifths compromise in the Constitution, which counted a slave as three-fifths of a person for purposes of legislative representation.”

8. Let It Go: Making Peace With Princesses

“The Disney princesses we know and love take much of the fun, feminist spark and quirky historical value out of the fairy tale tradition.”

9. My ‘Orphan Disease’ Has Given Me a New Family

“People with disabilities are the unexpected made flesh. The challenges of living in a world not built for us are occasions for resourcefulness and adaptability, especially for those of us who start out disabled early in life. We are innovators, early adopters, expert users and technology hackers as we respond to the adversity that the built and natural environments present us.”

10. The Misery Filter

“In America we have education for success, but no education for suffering.”

11. David Harbour of ‘Stranger Things’ Never Wants to Play the Dad

“One of the things I’ve been interested in my whole career is exploring masculinity and what it means to be a man. The sensitivity of a man, but also the violence and power that goes along with it.”

12. ‘Alias Grace’: 20 Years in the Making, but on TV at the Right Time

The Handmaid’s Tale offers us a window into a possible future when women’s rights are eroded. Alias Grace offers a look at what it was like before women had any rights.”

13. Making Room for Deaf Performers in Hollywood

“Deaf and hearing audiences could delight equally in silent films. What’s more, deaf actors appeared frequently, always as hearing characters; five found regular work onscreen, where facial expression and gestures signified more than moving lips. Charlie Chaplin cast the best known of them, Granville Redmond, in a handful of films. In the decades since, deaf audiences have struggled for equal access.”

14. The Hidden History of Japan’s Folk-Rock Boom

Even a Tree Can Shed Tears: Japanese Folk & Rock 1969–1973, released this month by the eclectic American label Light in the Attic, is a primer on how Japanese musicians absorbed the influence of Mr. Dylan, the Band and Joni Mitchell, as well as a portrait of a postwar generation that explored its own identity through an imported sound.”

15. Art Lurks in an Unlikely Place for Mary Kelly: the Dryer

“She first began making images out of compressed lint in 1999, carefully culling the material from a standard lint screen covered with a vinyl sheet that has been laser cut, in what amounts to an intaglio printing process, to create desired forms. The lint works as pigment and as an ephemeral reminder of daily life or, more specifically, of the never-ending rhythms of women’s domestic labor. Now, it has become such an integral part of her work that she does thousands of extra loads just to create enough lint, in the right colors, for her artwork.”

16. An Artistic Approach to Becoming a U.S. Citizen

“The project is a 32-hour interactive program that uses artifacts, documents and art from the museum’s permanent collection and covers all the questions used in the test.”

17. It’s Always Fishnets Season Somewhere

“Fashion in general is always borrowing from street wear, and it doesn’t get more street wear than hooker.”

18. Virtual Reality Gets Naughty

“Pornography is what rushed along the first printing press, and spurred developments in the internet, online payment systems and other technology. Now it’s time for virtual reality.”

19. Amazon Key Is a Lot Less Scary Than My Post-1-Click Remorse

“Cookie-based ads and targeted emails reminding you of other possibilities reinforce the paradox of choice.”

20. Night of Our Ghastly Longings

“What makes Halloween scary is the nature of the spirits we let out. They are re-embodiments of secret fears and desires, of monstrous hungers and frightful lusts. Ghosts, ghouls, witches, incubi, succubi, werewolves, possessing demons and demonic children are figures of fascination, repulsion and threat. Halloween threatens with what it promises, like a good-looking vampire puckering up for a kiss.”

21. Ron Chernow: By the Book

“It’s a shameful thing to admit for someone who writes such long books, but I read so slowly that I almost subvocalize. I always sympathize with people who complain about the length of my books. It would take me a year to get through one of them.”

22. The Best of Richard Matheson

“To me, his great subject — which I also think is the key question of the horror genre itself — is the problem of belief. He was the master of a particular kind of story in which puzzlement turns gradually to acceptance of an impossible-seeming reality, and ultimately to full-blown panic.”

23. The Man Who Photographed Ghosts

“No sooner had people invented a way of creating photographic images (whether it was a daguerreotype, an ambrotype or a hallotype) than people found ways of altering the images — and, even more relevantly, of lying about their contents and how they were obtained.”

24. Our Villains, Ourselves: A Thriller Roundup

“If our heroes disclose who we wish to be, our villains reveal what we fear we may become.”

25. The Pop-Culture Evolution of Frankenstein’s Monster

“The relentlessly gloomy weather and frequent storms forced the unmarried Mary Godwin, Percy Shelley and Lord Byron to entertain themselves indoors. Gossipy English tourists in the region suspected these radical freethinkers were engaging in every form of bad behavior (one fashionable hotel even furnished a telescope from which guests could spy on the villa). But the reality was more sedate: Lord Byron challenged his friends to write ghost stories, and the rest is literary history. When the 18-year-old Godwin read her effort, she created modern science fiction as a genre.”

26. In These Lying Times, ‘Receipts’ Offer a Glimmer of Justice

“When judicial and legislative avenues seem stalled or faulty, receipts work as currency in the people’s court. And sometimes they command actual consequences.”