Sunday 06.21.2015 New York Times Digest

1. Why Grow Up? by Susan Neiman

“In infancy, we have no choice but to accept the world as it is. In adolescence, we rebel against the discrepancy between the ‘is’ and the ‘ought.’ Adulthood, for Kant and for Neiman, ‘requires facing squarely the fact that you will never get the world you want, while refusing to talk yourself out of wanting it.’ It is a state of neither easy cynicism nor naïve idealism, but of engaged reasonableness.”

2. Oh, to Be Young, Millennial, and So Wanted by Marketers

“Not since the baby boomers came of age has a generation been the target of such fixation.”

3. Around the Globe, a Desperate Flight From Turmoil

“Nearly 60 million people are displaced around the world because of conflict
and persecution, the largest number ever recorded by the United Nations.”

4. Radio D.J.s Offer Comfort and Community After Charleston Church Killings

“Across the country, many local stations with primarily black audiences — known as urban radio, playing mostly soul, rap, R&B and gospel — put the music largely aside in favor of discussing the Charleston killings. In trying to make sense of the shootings, seen by many as a hate crime, stations used their traditional medium to relay the latest news and act as a community sounding board. They took calls from listeners, channeling their shock, grief, anger and distress. And they altered their playlists to reflect the somber mood.”

5. For the New Superrich, Life Is Much More Than a Beach

“The new rich have developed their own annual migration pattern. While the wealthy of the past traveled mainly for leisure and climate — the ocean breezes of New England in the summer and the sunny golf greens of Palm Beach in winter — today’s rich crisscross the globe almost monthly in search of access, entertainment and intellectual status. Traveling in flocks of private G5 and Citation jets, they have created a new social calendar of economic conferences, entertainment events, exclusive parties and art auctions. And in the separate nation of the rich, citizens no longer speak in terms of countries. They simply say, ‘We’ll see you at Art Basel.’”

6. No Time to Be Nice at Work

“How we believe others see us shapes who we are. We ride a wave of pride or get swallowed in a sea of embarrassment based on brief interactions that signal respect or disrespect. Individuals feel valued and powerful when respected. Civility lifts people. Incivility holds people down. It makes people feel small.”

7. Can Wikipedia Survive?

“The pool of potential Wikipedia editors could dry up as the number of mobile users keeps growing; it’s simply too hard to manipulate complex code on a tiny screen.”

8. What Is Whiteness?

“We don’t know the history of whiteness, and therefore are ignorant of the many ways it has changed over the years. If you investigate that history, you’ll see that white identity has been no more stable than black identity.”

9. Pope Francis’ Call to Action Goes Beyond the Environment

“Reading Laudato Si’ simply as a case for taking climate change seriously misses the depth of its critique — which extends to the whole ‘technological paradigm’ of our civilization, all the ways (economic and cultural) that we live now.”

10. Nina Simone’s Time Is Now, Again

“Every generation has to discover Nina Simone. She is evidence that female genius is real.”

11. Clues to the Mood for ‘True Detective,’ Season 2, on HBO

“Here are four things to watch, listen to and read to get in the appropriate mind space.”

12. Turning to a Ghostwriter for a Personal Toast

“Then Mr. Ruggiero had an idea: Maybe he could hire someone to help script his remarks.”

13. Keep It Fake, by Eric G. Wilson

“Wilson adopted a more self-consciously performative role in all of his relationships, and he found that rather than feeling what we might fear for him — a kind of disjunctive distance from himself and others — his social life, his love life and his depression all improved. It wasn’t just ‘fake it till you make it.’ He had to be more intelligent than that; he had to recognize his strengths and weaknesses, and be willing to actively cultivate those habits that contributed to his particular flourishing in the many different roles he had to perform. Like any good actor, he had to play to his strengths.”

14. Is Self-Loathing a Requirement for Writers?

“The aggrieved writer’s immortal longings represent, finally, a loathing not of the self but of the human condition, a desire to thwart the tragic fact of death. Writing has always offered a particularly good means of doing that. Books are extremely durable and, in their wide distribution, less vulnerable to toppling than most of Ozymandias’ works. Carefully wrought and revised, they can say exactly what the writer wishes — a special boon to the creature seeking to ‘get back his own.’ The writer need never suffer from staircase wit; his books keep him forever in the room, striking his opponents dumb.”

15. Identification, Please

“Even the simplest of field guides are far from transparent windows onto nature: You have to learn how to read them against the messiness of reality. Out in the field, birds and insects are often seen briefly, at a distance, in low light or half-obscured by foliage; they do not resemble the tabular arrangements of paintings in guides, where similar species are brought together on a plain background on the same page, all facing one way and bathed in bright, shadowless light so they may be easily compared. To use field guides successfully, you must learn to ask the right questions of the living organism in front of you: Assess its size and habitat, disassemble it into relevant details (tail length, leg length, particular patterns of wing cases or scales or plumage), check each against images of similar species, read the accompanying text, squint at tiny maps showing the animal’s usual geographical range, then look back to the image again, refining your identification until you have fixed it to your satisfaction.”

16. Comedy Central in the Post-TV Era

“The network, owned by the media conglomerate Viacom, is trying to adapt to trends that have changed the television business irrevocably since Stewart began hosting ‘The Daily Show’ in 1999, and the program sits at the center of thorny questions about how best to face the future. Contemporary news cycles can seem to comprise nanoseconds and to unfold as much on social media as anywhere else. And viewers — especially the younger ones Comedy Central wants in its cross hairs — slip elusively among smartphone apps, Xbox consoles, YouTube windows, Apple TVs, bootleg streaming portals, Roku units, Hulu pages, Netflix accounts, Amazon interfaces, torrent clients and, if they even own them, cable boxes. Any traditional media institution faces a version of this challenge, but Comedy Central’s quandary is almost paradoxically acute: What does a television network do when its bread-and-butter demographic — young, piracy-fluent, glued to phones — stops watching television?”

17. Better Judgment

“Judges rarely change their minds. They often feel they can’t. When they put on their robes, they wrap themselves in a mythos of authority and certainty. They’re supposed to be distant, neutral and wise. They’re supposed to have all the answers.”

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