Sunday 7.13.2014 New York Times Digest

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1. A Rare Bond

“Anyone who thinks the bond between man and dog or cat is the supreme human-house pet attachment will have to reconsider after reading Martin Windrow’s touching account of the bird who changed his life, a possessive and characterful tawny owl named Mumble who was his domestic companion for 15 action-packed years.”

2. Reporting Rape, and Wishing She Hadn’t

“School disciplinary panels are a world unto themselves, operating in secret with scant accountability and limited protections for the accuser or the accused.”

3. Amazon, a Friendly Giant as Long as It’s Fed

“From household names to deeply obscure scribblers, authors are inflamed this summer, perhaps more deeply divided than at any point in nearly a half-century. Back then, it was the question of being a hawk or dove on Vietnam. Now it is not a war but an Internet retailer and its unparalleled grip on the cultural machinery that is provoking fierce controversy.”

4. The Children of the Drug Wars

“What the United States is seeing on its borders now is not an immigration crisis. It is a refugee crisis.”

5. The Data of Hate

“Perhaps it was my own naïveté, but I would have imagined white nationalists’ inhabiting a different universe from that of my friends and me. Instead, they have long threads praising ‘Breaking Bad’ and discussing the comparative merits of online dating sites, like Plenty of Fish and OkCupid.”

6. All Children Should Be Delinquents

“By making things, breaking things and taking real risks, by becoming citizens in our ad hoc community, we used the fallow days of summer to put our Catholic-school education, and our parents’ parenting, to the test. Trial and error often proved that they were right. But in discovering what we enjoyed most — not what we were taught to enjoy — we also discovered new parts of ourselves: artists, engineers, combatants, daredevils, explorers, criminals, comedians and more. Our summer fun was a field study in life, which is the last thing we would have thought at the time.”

7. The Afterlife

“Two and half years ago, he died after mixing heroin and alcohol, at the age of 21. That has not stopped the slow and steady trickle of mail and email, oblivious to our loss.”

8. How to Talk About Pain

“We have made great strides in making patients more comfortable over the last few centuries. We may no longer believe that pain is sent by God to test us; and we may no longer need lengthy descriptions of pain to arrive at diagnoses. But pain will always be with us, and by listening closely to the stories patients tell us about their pain, we can gain hints about the nature of their suffering and the best way we can provide succor. This is why the clinical sciences need disciplines like history and the medical humanities.”

9. Look Homeward, LeBron

“Now he’s making the migration in reverse, returning to the battered Midwestern city he famously betrayed. And strikingly, his statement announcing the move doubled as a kind of communitarian manifesto, implicitly critiquing the values underlying elite self-segregation in America.”

10. Turning ‘Likes’ Into a Career

“People like Mr. Lachtman and his co-founder, Rob Fishman, run what may be seen as a parallel universe to Hollywood, one in which shares and likes matter more than box-office sales and paparazzi shots.”

11. They’re Dropping Like Middle Initials

“John Q. Public has spoken: Time to K.O. the Q.”

12. Into the Deep

“We learn that squid can ejaculate in our mouths after we cook them and eat them, and that because squid ink is ‘invulnerable to decay,’ people in 19th-century England were able to use the ink of a 150-million-year-old squid to make drawings of its carcass.”

13. Unlikely Warriors

“Williams would later fall in love with and marry an attractive and like-minded young woman, Susan Rowland, who once ‘pardoned’ two ducks that were intended for dinner, and kept them as pets. Unlike most company wives, Susan stayed by her husband’s side as he traversed the jungle. At one camp, the newlywed Susan was alarmed by a strange odor rising from their bed. Williams investigated, and discovered that one of the servants had greased the frame with pig fat to reduce the sounds of their enthusiastic lovemaking.”

14. School for a Scoundrel

“Above all, he embodies the central conflict of human life: Can we be good while engaging with the imperfect world around us?”

15. The Mystery of the Vanishing Screwball

“A pitcher’s typical menu includes a fastball, a curveball and a changeup as the meat and potatoes, with perhaps a slider, cut fastball or sinker as a side. The screwball is another dish entirely. Those who serve one have typically been looked upon as oddities, custodians of a quirky art beyond the realm of conventional pitching. Over time, the word itself has taken on the characteristics of both the pitch and those who throw it: erratic, irrational or illogical, unexpected. Unlike the knuckleball, which is easy to throw but hard to master, the screwball requires special expertise just to get it to the plate.”

16. The Post-Post-Apocalyptic Detroit

“The belief in Detroit’s imminent revival has spread far beyond Dan Gilbert and the skyscrapers of downtown. Out in the neighborhoods, there is a legion of mini-Gilberts, longtime Detroiters and recent transplants alike, who have united around a conviction that the city has fallen as far as it can go — that the time to buy in is at hand. Just a couple of years after Detroit slid into what the national news media incessantly called a ‘post-apocalyptic’ collapse, the city now teems with a post-post-apocalyptic optimism.”

17. The Future Sure Looks Better From the Past

“In addition to our retreat into wishfulness, something else was brewing: a sense that the past was not only better than the present, but that the past’s predictions for the future were also better than what had actually become the present. No longer content to live in (or through) our memories of the past, we also yearned to live in the past’s vision of the future. We were nostalgic for yesterday’s prognostications: You could say that we succumbed to prognostalgia.”

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