Sunday 10.4.2015 New York Times Digest


1. Is Cultural Appropriation Always Wrong?

“It’s a truth only selectively acknowledged that all cultures are mongrel.”

2. Confusion, Horror and Heroism in Oregon Shooting

“Roseburg now joins Charleston, S.C.; Newtown, Conn.; Blacksburg, Va.; Aurora, Colo.; and many more on the roster of places where troubled men with firearms — almost uniformly men — have uncorked their rage through mass killings.”

3. How They Got Their Guns

“Criminal histories and documented mental health problems did not prevent at least eight of the gunmen in 14 recent mass shootings from obtaining their weapons, after federal background checks led to approval of the purchases of the guns used.”

4. The Decline of ‘Big Soda’

“The drop in soda consumption represents the single largest change in the American diet in the last decade and is responsible for a substantial reduction in the number of daily calories consumed by the average American child.”

5. The Reign of Recycling

“As you sort everything into the right bins, you probably assume that recycling is helping your community and protecting the environment. But is it? Are you in fact wasting your time?”

6. Patti Smith, Survivor

“I just do my work, and I work every day, and my ambition is just to do something better than I last did. I’d like to write something as great as Pinocchio or Little Women. I won’t say Moby-Dick because that’s impossible. I’d like to write a book that everybody loves. I’d like to take a picture that someone wants to put above their desk so they can look at it while they’re writing a letter or doing whatever they’re doing while sitting at their desk. I’d like to do a painting that would astonish people.”

7. The Flâneur Discovers Paris, a Step at a Time

“Since moving to Paris long ago, I have learned the two cardinal rules of flânerie. First, don’t smile at strangers on the street. The smile is too intimate and fraught with meaning to be casually shared. On the other hand, the ‘regard,’ or ‘look’ — the electric charge between two people when their eyes lock — is part of the game. Second, don’t rush. This is not New York, where people are caught in a constant battle to get somewhere very quickly and impatient with hapless tourists or just about anyone who blocks the way. This is not even the Opéra Metro stop on weekday mornings when commuters rush to connect with the interurban RER train and the No. 3 Metro line. You have to surrender to the present.”

8. Sherry Turkle’s Reclaiming Conversation

“Our rapturous submission to digital technology has led to an atrophying of human capacities like empathy and self-­reflection, and the time has come to reassert ourselves, behave like adults and put technology in its place.”

9. Changing the Subject, by Sven Birkerts

“The ideal situation, repeatedly evoked, is that of the rapt reading experience of the child; literature, like modern technologies, distances us from sensory reality, but it does so in a focused way that consolidates our habit of self-narrative and indeed of reframing and possessing the world in words.”

10. How to Hold a Stranger’s Baby

“Start with the classic cradle hold, but change positions if the child cries, arches its back or looks exasperated. One of Rice’s go-to moves is to nestle a baby upright against his chest and gently pat its behind.”

11. Donald Trump Is Not Going Anywhere

“Trump said he was not following any special diet or exercise regimen for the campaign. ‘All my friends who work out all the time, they’re going for knee replacements, hip replacements — they’re a disaster,’ he said. He exerts himself fully by standing in front of an audience for an hour, as he just did. ‘That’s exercise.’”

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