Sunday 5.21.2017 New York Times Digest


1. We Aren’t Built to Live in the Moment

“What best distinguishes our species is an ability that scientists are just beginning to appreciate: We contemplate the future.”

2. The Conservative Force Behind Speeches Roiling College Campuses

“It’s part of a larger systematic and extremely well-funded effort to disrupt public universities and create tension among student groups on campus.”

3. ‘The Internet Is Broken’: @ev Is Trying to Salvage It

“The trouble with the internet, Mr. Williams says, is that it rewards extremes. Say you’re driving down the road and see a car crash. Of course you look. Everyone looks. The internet interprets behavior like this to mean everyone is asking for car crashes, so it tries to supply them.”

4. When Power Makes Leaders More Sensitive

“When you see power as a source of freedom, you are likely to use it to serve yourself, selfishly. But when you see it as responsibility, you tend to be selfless.”

5. If Every Day Is a Rainy Day, What Am I Saving For?

“I grew up without money, but adjacent to the kind of wealth that afforded my classmates cars with electronic windows and multiple pairs of quality jeans. It never occurred to me that once I got ahold of even the littlest bit of money myself, I should carefully ration it.”

6. You Still Need Your Brain

“It’s a grave mistake to think Google can replace your memory.”

7. How ‘Twin Peaks’ Got Lost, and Found Its Way Back + Was ‘Twin Peaks’ Ahead of Its Time? Let’s Look Back and See + The People of ‘Twin Peaks’: Here’s Where We Left Off

“I always say, if you had a little goose that laid golden eggs, why in the world would you kill that little goose?”

8. Jeffrey Tambor: By the Book

“I still check books out at our local library here in New York — there is something about reading a book that you know other people enjoyed that thrills me — it’s all about ‘connection,’ isn’t it?”

9. The Value and Virtue of Good Writing (Rule No. 7: Don’t Be a Bore)

“Writing well is a two-stage process: (1) write not so well; (2) fix it.”

10. Three 18th-Century Revolutions and Why They Matter in 2017

“What forces account for differing degrees of upheaval when societies are in crisis?”

11. The American Revolution: A History of Violence

“The United States took shape not only in coffeehouses and on the pages of political pamphlets, but also on blood-soaked battlefields.”

12. The Scam Economy Is Entering Its Baroque Phase

“Where is the line, exactly, between a poorly produced but well-advertised product and a con?”

13. Should Students Get ‘Grades 13 and 14’ Free of Charge?

“It’s hard to do almost any job now without a 13th or 14th year of schooling.”

14. Scotland’s Love Affair With Seaweed

“To many urban westerners, seaweed is Asian fare, a staple of the sushi bar, but it has long been regarded as a delicacy in the western highlands and islands of Scotland.”

15. In Praise of International Crime Dramas

“In a time of deflating globalism, it is curious, to say the least, that TV is offering a defense of a fading internationalist vision of the world.”

16. Running Free in Germany’s Outdoor Preschools

“Robin Hood Waldkindergarten, which opened in 2005, is one of more than 1,500 waldkitas, or ‘forest kindergartens,’ in Germany; Berlin alone has about 20. Most have opened in the last 15 years and are usually located in the city’s parks, with a bare-bones structure serving as a sort of home base, but others, like Robin Hood, rely on public transportation to shuttle their charges daily out into the wilderness, where they spend most of the day, regardless of weather. Toys, typically disparaged at waldkitas, are replaced by the imaginative use of sticks, rocks and leaves.”

17. L.A.’s Vintage Bookstores

“Despite its richly deserved reputation for superficiality, Los Angeles is indeed a reading town, but with a uniquely transactional relationship to books, especially those that are remnants of bygone eras.”

18. What Animals Taught Me About Being Human

“Animals don’t exist in order to teach us things, but that is what they have always done, and most of what they teach us is what we think we know about ourselves.”

19. Why Close Encounters With Animals Soothe Us

“Something extraordinary occurs when we’re in the presence of a fellow sentient being. When we let go of language’s tacit conceptual constraints and judgments, we allow ourselves a kind of time travel toward our own inner animal. Science is revealing the ways that the physiology of our psychology can be found across species: the common neuronal structures and attendant nerve wirings that we share in varying measures with a startling array of both vertebrates and invertebrates, including fellow primates, elephants, whales, parrots, bees and fruit flies. Animal therapy makes us aware of this cross-species interconnectivity on the purest, subconscious level.”

20. The Mystery of the Wasting House-Cats

“Beginning in the 1970s, large quantities of the chemicals were routinely added to many household goods, including couch cushions, carpet padding and electronics. PBDEs can be itinerant compounds; they leach from our sofas and TVs and latch onto particles of house dust, coating our floors and furniture. They drift into soil, water and air and slip into the bodies of animals, collecting in everything from the eggs of peregrine falcons to the blubber of beluga whales. PBDEs also happen to have a chemical structure that resembles thyroid hormones and may mimic or compete with these hormones in the body, binding to their receptors and interfering with their transport and metabolism.”

21. A Pet Tortoise Who Will Outlive Us All

“To be in the company of a tortoise is to be reminded — instantly, inarticulably — of the oldness of the world and the newness of us (humans, specifically, but also mammals in general). Nature has created thousands of creatures, but most of us have been redrawn over the millenniums: Our heads have grown larger, our teeth smaller, our legs longer, our jaws weaker. But tortoises, some varieties of which are 300 million years old, older than the dinosaurs, are a rough draft that was never refined, because they never needed to be. They are proof of nature’s genius and of our own imperfection, our fragility and brevity in a world that existed long before us and will exist long after we’re gone.”

22. The Self-Medicating Animal

“In recent decades, primatologists have shown that chimps use tools, know right from wrong and even have the ability, called theory of mind, to imagine what other chimps are experiencing. Huffman’s contribution to this increasingly nuanced understanding of our nearest relative has been to establish that, even though they lack the abilities we consider might be necessary for the development of medical knowledge — namely, humanlike language — chimps practice a form of rudimentary medicine. They know enough about the plants around them to treat illness.”

Sunday 5.14.2017 New York Times Digest


1. How Google Took Over the Classroom

“Schools may be giving Google more than they are getting: generations of future customers.”

2. With New Digital Tools, Even Nonexperts Can Wage Cyberattacks

“Now anyone can visit a web page, generate a ransomware file with the click of a mouse, encrypt someone’s systems and demand a ransom to restore access to the files. If the victim pays, the ransomware provider takes a cut of the payment.”

3. U Can’t Talk to Ur Professor Like This

“Explaining the rules of professional interaction is not an act of condescension; it’s the first step in treating students like adults.”

4. If Liberals Hate Him, Then Trump Must Be Doing Something Right

“Mr. Trump’s most vocal supporters don’t have to defend his specific actions as long as they make liberal heads explode.”

5. The Census and Right-Wing Hysteria

“Whites are already seeing the descendants of some Asian and Latino immigrants as being similar to them. Consequently, whites treat them as white. This ‘whitening’ process will only increase in the future.”

6. Aziz Ansari on the Return of ‘Master of None’ and that ‘S.N.L.’ Monologue

“You always hear that people come up with ideas in the shower — when I live in these places, it’s like living my whole life in the shower.”

7. The Rich, Famous and Oh So Vulnerable

“Almost all celebrities aim for an impregnable public image, one that can hold up to any assault. But in this era of 24-7-365 mythmaking, the most visionary ones understand the value and uses of weakness, too.”

8. Where, Oh Where, Has My Little Dog Gone? Refresh Your Feeds

“An animal is lost. A message or picture is broadcast on social media. Hundreds of concerned ‘friends’ — some you may not have heard from since the 2016 presidential election — will repost on Instagram or retweet a lost pet notice without hesitation. The same fur fervor that causes people to mourn helplessly the death of Cecil the Lion, watch a runaway llama or consider depressed pandas at the zoo is in these cases channeled into helpful community activity rather than selfies.”

9. Solving a Reign of Terror Against Native Americans

“Among the towering thefts and crimes visited upon the native peoples of the continent, what was done to the Osage must rank among the most depraved and ignoble.”

10. How Privacy Became a Commodity for the Rich and Powerful

“Data-mining companies know everything about us, but we know very little about what they know. And just as ‘privacy’ has grown into an anxious buzzword, the powerful have co-opted it in order to maintain control over others and evade accountability. As we bargain away the amount of privacy that an ordinary person expects, we’ve also watched businesses and government figures grow ever more indignant about their own need to be left alone.”

11. Can Prairie Dogs Talk?

“Beyond identifying the type of predator, prairie-dog calls also specified its size, shape, color and speed; the animals could even combine the structural elements of their calls in novel ways to describe something they had never seen before. No scientist had ever put forward such a thorough guide to the native tongue of a wild species or discovered one so intricate. Prairie-dog communication is so complex, Slobodchikoff says — so expressive and rich in information — that it constitutes nothing less than language.”

12. Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?

“Divorce, or not marrying in the first place, might seem like a more logical response to a desire for openness. But even as marriage rates have declined in this country, the institution has retained a seductive status for Americans. In his 2010 book, The Marriage-Go-Round, Andrew J. Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University, argues that Americans, who are more religious than their counterparts in other wealthy, developed nations, are also more infatuated with marriage. And yet the tradition is nonetheless at odds, he argues, with the country’s emphasis on individualism, a tension that leads to high rates of divorce but also to remarriage, with worrisome outcomes for finances and children. Openness in a marriage, for better or for worse, would seem a natural outgrowth of those conflicting cultural values, especially since same-sex marriage, open adoptions, single-parent homes, and ideas about gender fluidity have already redefined what constitutes a family.”

13. How Homeownership Became the Engine of American Inequality

“Because of rising housing costs and stagnant wages, slightly more than half of all poor renting families in the country spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing costs, and at least one in four spends more than 70 percent. Yet America’s national housing policy gives affluent homeowners large benefits; middle-class homeowners, smaller benefits; and most renters, who are disproportionately poor, nothing. It is difficult to think of another social policy that more successfully multiplies America’s inequality in such a sweeping fashion.”

Sunday 5.7.2017 New York Times Digest


1. How Censorship Works

“The harm of a censorship system is not just that it impoverishes intellectual life; it also fundamentally distorts the rational order in which the natural and spiritual worlds are understood. The censorship system relies on robbing a person of the self-perception that one needs in order to maintain an independent existence. It cuts off one’s access to independence and happiness.”

2. Mexican Drug Smugglers to Trump: Thanks!

“Every time the wall goes up, so do smuggling profits.”

3. The Hidden Radicalism of Southern Food

“The South is more than a locus for food-system problems and a battleground for policy arguments. Throughout its history, the region has incubated bold American solutions to hunger and food access. Radical Southerners, especially black women, who long provided the expertise and labor on farms and in kitchens, have challenged American agricultural practices and driven our changing relationship to food.”

4. It’s Not This Muslim Comedian’s Job to Open Your Mind

“I’ve become convinced that the primary role of political humor today shouldn’t be to alleviate tensions or smooth out differences. It should be to heighten them and illuminate for everyone what is a moment of crisis.”

5. To Be Great Again, America Needs Immigrants

“Increasingly … the underlying difference between the fast- and slow-growing economies is explained more by the differences in population growth than by productivity. And the United States now relies more than ever on demographics to defend its economic power. In the past decade, population growth, including immigration, has accounted for roughly half of the potential economic growth rate in the United States, compared with just one-sixth in Europe, and none in Japan.”

6. Are These Birds Too Sexy to Survive?

“They have evolved to be worse at flying in order to be more attractive to mates.”

7. Don’t Let Facebook Make You Miserable

“Once you’ve looked at enough aggregate search data, it’s hard to take the curated selves we see on social media too seriously. Or, as I like to sum up what Google data has taught me: We’re all a mess.”

8. Our Monsters, Ourselves

“The vampires and zombies that recently enjoyed their moments in the pop-cultural sun crystallized collective anxieties about sex and dehumanization. We’re afraid of (and fascinated by) our own desires and panicked by the thought of being turned into (or revealed to be) shambling, brainless consumers. The classic monsters, though — smashing cities, swatting planes out of the sky, exploding out of torsos — are embodiments of rage. And there seems to be an awful lot of that these days.”

9. Molly at the Marriott: Inside America’s Premier Psychedelics Conference

“Microdosing — the practice of taking such small doses of a psychedelic that you can only just barely register its presence — is becoming enormously popular across the country, from elite pockets of innovators seeking an edge in Silicon Valley, to others who are simply trying to feel better, work harder, focus more.”

10. Social Insecurity? Internet Turns Boomers Into Twits

“Beyond aping youngsters, there is something inherently juvenile about social media. To begin with, it elevates superficiality, speed and the image — all youthful preoccupations — over depth, deliberation and text, which we associate with mature adults.”

11. My So-Called (Instagram) Life

“Once you master what is essentially an onstage performance of yourself, it can be hard to break character.”

12. That Solo Travel Blogger? She Just Wants a Vacation

“If it sounds like a business, it is.”

13. What’s the Big Idea?

“Three large-scale forces have remade the marketplace of ideas. The erosion of trust in prestigious institutions has weakened the position of both academia and the traditional journalistic perches of public intellectuals. The polarization of American politics has segmented that marketplace into distinct and separate niches. Most important, the dramatic growth in economic inequality has made wealthy individuals and corporations into the primary buyers, dominating the market.”

14. How Do You Make a Fox Your Friend?

“The new foxes run toward people, jump on the bed and nuzzle one another as well as their human caretakers. Such a behavioral transformation was to some degree expected, since they were bred from the tamest members of their groups. Perhaps more intriguing, they also look more doglike, with floppy ears, wagging tails and piebald fur.”

15. The Humanity of Numbers

“Like a flint arrowhead or the wheel, they are tools people invented a long time ago, and we know how to use them only because we find ourselves in a society in which that knowledge has been preserved and transmitted. Without these symbols, we, like the Pirahã, could not ‘see’ divisions between most quantities. With them, as Everett tells it, our ancestors learned to count, and thereby ‘radically transformed the human condition,’ making possible such number-dependent developments as complex agriculture.”

16 Why Hollywood’s Most Thrilling Scenes Are Now Orchestrated Thousands of Miles Away

“While visual effects’ role in movie making is growing, its presence in Hollywood is shrinking.”

Sunday 4.30.2017 New York Times Digest


1. The Border Is All Around Us, and It’s Growing

“This is such a staggering fact that it bears repeating: The vast majority of Americans, roughly 200 million, are effectively living in the border zone.”

2. China’s Appetite Pushes Fisheries to the Brink

“Overfishing is depleting oceans across the globe, with 90 percent of the world’s fisheries fully exploited or facing collapse.”

3. Keystone XL Pipeline Again Divides Nebraska

“Gas doesn’t magically appear in your car tank. Asphalt doesn’t magically appear on the road you drive on.”

4. Fighting Compulsive Gambling Among Women

“Many experts say that men are often ‘action’ gamblers, who favor blackjack and poker, while women tend to be ‘escape’ gamblers, drawn to games based on luck, like slot machines and lottery tickets.”

5. Meet the People Who Train the Robots (to Do Their Own Jobs)

“Before the machines become smart enough to replace humans, as some people fear, the machines need teachers.”

6. He Discovered the Secret to Living Rent-Free

“I’m a nomad, not a hobo. A nomad is a functional man who moves from place to place, he goes where he needs to be.”

7. Are Women Allowed to Love Their Jobs?

“Historically, women weren’t supposed to need their individual identity to be formed through work, because women weren’t supposed to have individual identities at all: They melded into their husband’s identity when they married. Women’s identities have long been relational — daughter, wife, mother — rather than individual.”

8. Republicans Are Now the ‘America First’ Party

“Globalism poses a threat to the future of democracy because it disenfranchises the vast majority and empowers a technocratic elite. It’s a telling paradox that the most ardent supporters of a ‘borderless world’ live in gated communities and channel their children toward a narrow set of elite educational institutions with stiff admissions standards that do the work of ‘border control.’”

9. Expand Your World, Go to the Beach in Alabama

“People live in their part of the Union, and if they don’t travel a lot, then there is a tendency to believe that the other parts of America couldn’t possibly be as American as their part.”

10. The Man Behind the Metal Detector

“I am an administrator at a public high school in Boston, serving almost entirely low-income black and Latino students, and that means every morning I am the white guy at the metal detector telling them they are suspected of a crime as they walk into their school.”

11. You’re Too Focused on What You’re Focused On

“Assuming other people are focused on the same thing we are is at the root of many kinds of miscommunication.”

12. 100 Days of Trump Style

“Fashion, from the industry to the individual, has played a role in the opening narrative of this president that it hasn’t in any other administration. As a compelling expression of a (sur)real time it is, literally, everywhere you turn.”

13. John Waters’s Writing Room in Baltimore, Full of Kitsch

“Every morning, Monday to Friday, I get up at 6 a.m., and I read six or seven newspapers, look at my email and come here at exactly 8 o’clock. Everyone in the world that I know knows don’t call here, don’t email, I’m not going to answer. And then in the afternoon, I go in that room and sell the ideas.”

14. What Anthony Bourdain Can’t Travel Without

“Getting angry and frustrated in much of the world doesn’t help at all. It’s incomprehensible, you lose face, it makes you look ridiculous. Have a willingness to try new stuff. Be grateful for any hospitality offered. And be flexible in your plans, because a rigid itinerary is lethal to a good time.”

15. A Still-Grieving Prince Fan Looks Back on the Purple One

“‘He seems to have been straight,’ Greenman writes. Yes, the way Usain Bolt seems to be fast. Robert Christgau ended a brief review of Dirty Mind in 1980 like this: ‘Mick Jagger should fold up his penis and go home.’”

16. How Harvard Business School Has Reshaped American Capitalism

“In The Golden Passport, he’s determined to call the Harvard Business School to account, citing its founding doctrine, which was to develop ‘a heightened sense of responsibility among businessmen’ (and eventually women) who ‘will handle their current business problems in socially constructive ways.’ In that regard, McDonald is scathing in his critique: Harvard Business School has not only ‘proven an enormous failure,’ but its very success has made it positively ‘dangerous.’”

17. Viet Thanh Nguyen Reveals How Writers’ Workshops Can Be Hostile

“As an institution, the workshop reproduces its ideology, which pretends that ‘Show, don’t tell’ is universal when it is, in fact, the expression of a particular population, the white majority, typically at least middle-class and often, but not exclusively, male. The identity behind the workshop’s origins is invisible. Like all privileges, this identity is unmarked until it is thrown into relief against that which is marked, visible and outspoken, which is to say me and others like me.”

18. The Truth Is Out There, and the Feds Paid to Find It

“When Uri Geller met Wernher von Braun, he used psychokinesis to bend the rocket scientist’s gold wedding band, then fixed his pocket calculator via mind control. Analysts in the Pentagon decided Geller could be used as an antiballistic missile system, altering the electrical circuits of incoming ICBMs. In the Pentagon’s words, imagining the utility of psychokinesis for this task ‘would not be conceptually difficult.’”

19. Letter of Recommendation: ‘Pistol Pete’s Homework Basketball’

“If Pistol Pete’s videos remain ‘instructional’ for me, it’s because they insist that glimmers of artistry can live, however briefly, in activities we might otherwise regard as brute and mechanistic.”

20. The Other Side of Anne of Green Gables

“The book has sold over 50 million copies and has been translated into at least 36 languages. Polish resistance fighters took Green Gables with them to the front; the novel became a part of the Japanese school curriculum in the orphan-filled postwar 1950s; a television show based on the series aired in Sri Lanka; and the book occupies a pre-eminent place in Canada, where Green Gables is taught in school and featured on postage stamps — a cultural export matched only by hockey and the Mounties.”

21. Can Facebook Fix Its Own Worst Bug?

“Across the globe, Facebook now seems to benefit actors who want to undermine the global vision at its foundation. Supporters of Trump and the European right-wing nationalists who aim to turn their nations inward and dissolve alliances, trolls sowing cross-border paranoia, even ISIS with its skillful social-media recruiting and propagandizing — all of them have sought in their own ways to split the Zuckerbergian world apart. And they are using his own machine to do it.”

Sunday 4.23.2017 New York Times Digest


1. America’s New ‘Anxiety’ Disorder

“Few Americans, at the moment, would assess our national emotional state as anything better than ‘not great.’ We are not in the midst of real disaster, of course: no Civil War, no Great Depression, not even that grim bit of the 1970s that featured near-constant bombings and hijackings, a presidential resignation and two different women trying to kill Gerald Ford in a single month. But when the new president referred to the country as a scene of ‘carnage’ in his inaugural address, the objections were relatively muted. There’s a bleakness in the atmosphere, and a consensus on what to call it: ‘anxiety.’”

2. Syria Changed the World

“Now in its seventh year, this war allowed to rage for so long, killing 400,000 Syrians and plunging millions more into misery, has sent shock waves around the world.”

3. Go East, Young American

“Maybe the solution is emigration from America.”

4. Is It Time to Break Up Google?

“Could it be that these companies — and Google in particular — have become natural monopolies by supplying an entire market’s demand for a service, at a price lower than what would be offered by two competing firms? And if so, is it time to regulate them like public utilities?”

5. Our Costly Addiction to Health Care Jobs

“For every doctor, there are 16 other health care workers. And half of those 16 are in administrative and other nonclinical roles.”

6. The Planet Can’t Stand This Presidency

“Trump is in charge at a critical moment for keeping climate change in check. We may never recover.”

7. Crime and Different Punishments

“It is not clear that this method of dealing with crime succeeds at avoiding cruel and unusual punishment so much as it avoids making anyone outside the prison system see it. Nor is it clear that a different system, with a sometimes more old-fashioned set of penalties, would necessarily be more inhumane.”

8. ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’: A Newly Resonant Dystopia Comes to TV

“We were hoping to be relevant, but we weren’t hoping it would be this relevant.”

9. Trump Proposed a Wall. They Imagined How It Would Work.

“President Trump’s pronouncements have inspired a boom in border projects of a very different sort: documentaries, shorts, cartoons and art installations about the contested area, where barriers and fences already exist along some stretches.”

10. How Six Degrees Became a Forever Meme

“‘The president of the United States. A gondolier in Venice,’ she says. ‘It’s not just the big names,’ she continues. ‘It’s anyone.’”

11. Cash Is King No More

“At the dawn of what would become our modern economy, in the 17th century, the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza wrote that ‘money has presented us with the abstract of everything.’ What he meant was that money had become the consummate medium for the human desire to possess. Now, 400 years later, everything has become the abstract of money.”

12. Spin Class

“Carry a small notebook everywhere (‘Don’t lose it. Please don’t lose it’); read your work aloud; and study the masters (for dialogue, he recommends Louise Erdrich, Roddy Doyle, Marlon James and Elmore Leonard). And, perhaps less familiarly: Go to the gym? ‘Very few people talk about it, but writers have to have the stamina of world-class athletes,’ McCann writes. ‘The exhaustion of sitting in the one place. … The dropping of the bucket down into the near-empty well over and over again.’”

13. John Waters: By the Book

“Grade school ruined reading for me by demanding book reports for such snore-a-thons as Benjamin Franklin’s biography written for children. I wanted to read Hot Rod and Street Rod, by Henry Gregor Felsen, but my teachers hadn’t heard of them. It wasn’t until I was a teenager and Grove Press came along and introduced me to Burroughs, Marguerite Duras and the Marquis de Sade that I became a real bookworm.”

14. People Have Limited Knowledge. What’s the Remedy? Nobody Knows

“Humans rarely think for themselves. Rather, we think in groups. Just as it takes a tribe to raise a child, it also takes a tribe to invent a tool, solve a conflict or cure a disease. No individual knows everything it takes to build a cathedral, an atom bomb or an aircraft. What gave Homo sapiens an edge over all other animals and turned us into the masters of the planet was not our individual rationality, but our unparalleled ability to think together in large groups.”

15. The Hermit-Burglar and the Optimistic Journalist

“He didn’t choose to become a hermit — he was born one, and the woods gave him exactly what he sought.”

16. Our Climate Future Is Actually Our Climate Present

“The future we’ve been warned about is beginning to saturate the present. We tend to imagine climate change as a destroyer. But it also traffics in disruption, disarray: increasingly frequent and more powerful storms and droughts; heightened flooding; expanded ranges of pests turning forests into fuel for wildfires; stretches of inhospitable heat. So many facets of our existence — agriculture, transportation, cities and the architecture they spawned — were designed to suit specific environments. Now they are being slowly transplanted into different, more volatile ones, without ever actually moving.”

17. Is It O.K. to Tinker With the Environment to Fight Climate Change?

“Once we start putting sulfate particles in the atmosphere, he mused, would we really be able to stop?”

18. When Rising Seas Transform Risk Into Certainty

“Calamity can come for us all, but by bundling enough separate peril together we manage to form a general stability, a collective hedge against helplessness. As climate insecurity mounts, though, that math will get harder.”

19. Why Are We So Obsessed With the End of the World?

“We’ve been imagining the end of the world since we inherited it, and in most of our mythologies the world ceases to exist before it can begin.”

20. 25 Years Later, David Lynch Returns to ‘Twin Peaks’

“You concentrate on your work, try to do the best you can, and when it comes time, you release control, realizing it’s in the hands of fate.”

21. Dave Chappelle Is an American Folk Hero

“That Chappelle is an African-American raised by college professor parents, a Muslim with a Filipino wife, three biracial children and a white stepbrother, speaks to his singular ability to remix cultural boundaries in ways many cannot, or wish they could. He also happens to feel most comfortable in Middle America, on the acres of land he bought in Yellow Springs, Ohio, in the 2000s. So, yes, he is sprawling urban graffiti, with his casual usage of the N-word, his elastic black English and his fusillade of curse words, but he’s also small-town folk with a hard-won vulnerability.”

Cheap Coffee

“Cheap coffee is one of America’s most unsung comfort foods. It’s as warming and familiar as a homemade lasagna or a 6-hour stew. It tastes of midnight diners and Tom Waits songs; ice cream and cigarettes with a dash of Swiss Miss. It makes me remember the best cup of coffee I ever had. Even though there was never just one best cup: there were hundreds.”

—Keith Pandolfi, “The Case for Bad Coffee”

(Via Austin Kleon.)

Previously: “A Beverage, Not a Lifestyle.”

Sunday 4.16.2017 New York Times Digest


1. Is American Retail at a Historic Tipping Point? + From ‘Zombie Malls’ to Bonobos: What America’s Retail Transformation Looks Like

“About one out of every 10 Americans works in retail.”

2. Supply-Side Economics, but for Liberals

“Certain social welfare policies, according to an emerging body of research, may actually encourage more people to work and enable them to do so more productively.”

3. Why You Should Read Books You Hate

“It was only by burrowing through books that I hated, books that provoked feelings of outrage and indignation, that I truly learned how to read. Defensiveness makes you a better reader, a closer, more skeptical reader: a critic. Arguing with the author in your head forces you to gather opposing evidence. You may find yourself turning to other texts with determination, stowing away facts, fighting against the book at hand. You may find yourself developing a point of view.”

4. What Kind of Pet Should Donald Trump Get?

“Of all the stains besmirching the Trump presidency — the ethical lacunae, the spasmodic ‘policy’ fits, the Golf Digest aesthetic — none looms so large as the absence of a White House pet.”

5. The Real Reason Black Kids Benefit From Black Teachers

“The fact that my skin color matches that of my students doesn’t give me any superpowers as an educator. But it does give me the ability to see them in a way that’s untarnished by the stereotypes, biases and cultural disconnects that fuel inequality and injustice — like the outlook that made Trayvon Martin, carrying Skittles, appear dangerously suspicious to the man who took his life.”

6. America’s Uncivil War Over Words

“The writing of dictionaries in the United States has always been political.”

7. The Evangelical Roots of Our Post-Truth Society

“The conservative Christian worldview is not just a posture of mistrust toward the secular world’s ‘fake news.’ It is a network of institutions and experts versed in shadow versions of climate change science, biology and other fields.”

8. Where Nature Gets to Run Amok

“Chances are you know a place like this yourself. They are those spaces in the peripheries of our vision, glimpsed from the corner of the eye on our daily commute or maybe half-remembered from explorations as a kid; those wastelands that seem to defy the capitalist definitions of usable or workable, they run wild between the urban and the rural environment as a strip of old common, a fenced-off belt of trees, an abandoned, rough, wildflower-filled patch beside a housing project, highway, office block, mall, mill or warehouse.”

9. I Want My Lesbian Bars Back

“In most cities, ‘queer’ bars cater almost exclusively to gay men.”

10. Charles Murray’s ‘Provocative’ Talk

“It is not obvious, to put it mildly, that Middlebury students and faculty had a moral obligation to prevent Mr. Murray from airing these views in public.”

11. The Quiet Power of Humility

“Since humility is so out of fashion as to almost have been forgotten, it’s worth making the case for how to rightly understand it, to articulate why humility is not only an essential Christian virtue but also … an essential civic one.”

12. Oprah Winfrey on ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’

“How can you have Dorothy Dandridge come and sing at your club, and then she can’t use the bathroom and find a hotel? We certainly want to be entertained by you and appreciate you and make ourselves feel good from the experience of your art. But nope, can’t sit down, can’t eat. In 1951, all the people that benefited from those cells didn’t know that it was a black woman’s cells. It’s indicative of the times.”

13. Power and Punishment: Two New Books About Race and Crime

“Forman’s novel claim is this: What most explains the punitive turn in black America is not a repudiation of civil rights activism, as some have argued, but an embrace of it.”

14. A New Biography of Martin Luther Reveals the Life Beyond the Theses

“In 1517, Martin Luther was an unknown academic in search of a cause. Only a few years later, he was the most published author in the history of Christendom. By the time of his death in 1546, the church was riven into competing confessions, Protestant and Catholic, with consequences we still live with today.”

15. The Enduring Power of Adam and Eve (Minus the Sin and Sexism)

“Why were Adam and Eve able to love each other so fiercely? Because those lucky bastards had no choice.”

16. Which Force is More Harmful to the Arts: Elitism or Populism?

“The difference between elitism and populism might better be understood as a difference in a writer’s attitude toward time.”

17. New Technology Is Built on a ‘Stack.’ Is That the Best Way to Understand Everything Else, Too?

“Stack logic is only just finding its footing in the corporate world, and it hasn’t spilled into mainstream conversation just yet. (People might intuit what you meant if you described your Twitter and Facebook accounts as a ‘social-media stack,’ but they might also intuit that they want their conversation with you to be over as quickly as possible.) The concept, however, has gained traction in a telling set of subcultures.”

18. Mike Judge, the Bard of Suck

“If Idiocracy imagined that America would one day amuse itself into ruin, then ‘Silicon Valley’ offers a compelling case for how we’ll go about doing it — not in spite of our best and brightest, but because of them.”

19. The Return of Lorde

“A lot of musicians think they can do pop, and the ones who don’t succeed are the ones who don’t have the reverence — who think it’s just a dumb version of other music. You need to be awe-struck.”

20. I Thought I Understood the American Right. Trump Proved Me Wrong.

“We advanced a narrative of the American right that was far too constricted to anticipate the rise of a man like Trump. Historians, of course, are not called upon to be seers. Our professional canons warn us against presentism — we are supposed to weigh the evidence of the past on its own terms — but at the same time, the questions we ask are conditioned by the present. That is, ultimately, what we are called upon to explain. Which poses a question: If Donald Trump is the latest chapter of conservatism’s story, might historians have been telling that story wrong?”

21. How to Escape From a Car in Water

“No one else will arrive in time; you have to save yourself.”