Sunday 6.29.2014 New York Times Digest

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1. San Francisco Noir

“San Francisco is well known for its transformations, the most recent one fueled by tech money that has seemingly scrubbed much of the city clean. Evidence of it tends to be easy to mock: the $4 artisanal toast, the shuttle buses carrying workers from the city interior to Silicon Valley, the preponderance of reclaimed wood. But for almost a century, the city has been indelibly linked with an enigmatic genre that might be considered an antidote to all of that: noir.”

2. When a Health Plan Knows How You Shop

“This intensive, intrusive kind of data analytics that leads to differential treatment of customers, even if we are fine with it in the business context, needs to be disclosed in the medical context.”

3. Cupid’s Arrows Fly on Social Media, Too

“While there is no shortage of apps and services to help people find someone to date, it can be easier to unearth them in online spaces one already frequents, like Instagram.”

4. Why Teenagers Act Crazy

“Largely because of a quirk of brain development, adolescents, on average, experience more anxiety and fear and have a harder time learning how not to be afraid than either children or adults.”

5. Americans Think We Have the World’s Best Colleges. We Don’t.

“There is no reason to believe that American colleges are, on average, the best in the world.”

6. ‘Be Not Afraid of My Body’

“Walt Whitman was my Adamic other, and as he approached, he beckoned me to touch him, to embrace him, to lay hold of his language, to seize his rugged, electric self in all of its untamed authenticity.”

7. The Right to Write

“For centuries, African-Americans couldn’t fully participate in the literary conversation, since for many of them literacy was forbidden. Why wouldn’t they resent the fact that their stories were told by whites? But does this mean that, as novelists, we can write stories only of our own race, our own gender, our own subcultural niche?”

8. Stopping Campus Rape

“Here are three shifts I suspect would, in combination, do more to reduce the rate of sexual assault than any disciplinary change being contemplated.”

9. The Lively Soul of a Decaying City

“‘There are cities that get by on their good looks, offer climate and scenery, views of mountains or oceans, rockbound or with palm trees,’ Elmore Leonard wrote. ‘And there are cities like Detroit that have to work for a living.’”

10. Gluten-Free Dining in Italy

“You’d think Italy would be hell for the gluten-intolerant. To our surprise, we found it to be closer to heaven.”

11. A Call to Rally

“Their thesis: For 500 years, the West’s ability to reinvent the state has enabled it to lead the world. Today, however, the West is weighed down by dysfunctional governments, bloated budgets and self-indulgent publics; it risks losing its edge to the hungrier, more autocratic Asian states. Nonetheless, if we in the West can only learn to put ‘more emphasis on individual rights and less on social rights’ and thereby lighten ‘the burden,’ we can still revive ‘the spirit of democracy’ — which remains ‘the best guarantee of innovation and problem solving.’”

12. When We Read Fiction, How Relevant Is the Author’s Biography?

“Novelists’ lives are considerably less interesting than they used to be. Longer, yes, but much drier in every sense; less full of rivalrous brawling, less harrowed by the unemployment that was so often their lot before creative writing programs started offering them day jobs.”

13. Carl Hart: ‘Crack Wasn’t the Real Problem’

“The problem was that crack wasn’t the real problem. The real problem was unemployment, lack of education, lack of skills. Politicians are happy not to have to focus on those larger issues. You can just focus on crack cocaine, put more cops on the street and make tougher laws.”

14. What’s the Matter With Eastern Kentucky?

“In its persistent poverty, Eastern Kentucky — land of storybook hills and drawls — just might be the hardest place to live in the United States.”

15. Kendrick Lamar, Hip-Hop’s Newest Old-School Star

“In person, Lamar is so serene and warm, and on his record, so erudite and philosophical, that it’s tempting to read him as a mellow, cerebral guy, a monk reincarnated as a young rap star. But that would be a mistake.”

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