Sunday 11.15.2015 New York Times Digest


1. Strategy Shift for ISIS: Inflicting Terror in Distant Lands

“Defying Western efforts to confront the Islamic State on the battlefield, the group has evolved in its reach and organizational ability, with increasingly dangerous hubs outside Iraq and Syria and strategies that call for using spectacular acts of violence against civilians.”

2. As Paris Terror Attacks Unfolded, Social Media Tools Offered Help in Crisis

“Facebook activated its Safety Check tool, which allows users in an area affected by a crisis to mark themselves or others as safe. Facebook created the tool to help in times of crisis, a spokeswoman, Anna Richardson White, said on Saturday, and it has activated it five times in the last year after natural disasters. But this was the first time it was activated for something like this, she said.”

3. Many Say High Deductibles Make Their Health Law Insurance All but Useless

“We have insurance, but can’t afford to use it.”

4. Men’s Lib!

“Women have learned to become more like men. Now men need to learn to become more like women.”

5. The Seduction of Safety, on Campus and Beyond

“I am now always searching for safety, and I appreciate safe spaces — the ones I create for my students in a classroom, the ones I create with my writing and the ones others create, too — because there is so much unsafe space in this world.”

6. Teaching Peace in Elementary School

“A growing number of educators are trying to bolster emotional competency not on college campuses, but where they believe it will have the greatest impact: in elementary schools.”

7. America, the Not So Promised Land

“In spite of the rhetoric of globalization, we still live with the passports and border controls introduced after the First World War. This system, a response to xenophobic agitation, created the current distinction between legal immigrants and ‘illegal’ aliens.”

8. The Virtue of Contradicting Ourselves

“Intelligence is often defined as the ability to learn, and a sign of learning is changing your views over time.”

9. To Weld, Perchance, to Dream

“Philosophers don’t know the answers, but we do know the questions and the fact that we keep on asking them is evidence to the fact that human beings are still perplexed by the major issues of truth, reality, God, justice and even happiness.”

10. A Crisis Our Universities Deserve

“The protesters may be obnoxious enemies of free debate … but they aren’t wrong to smell the rot around them.”

11. Meet the Instamom, a Stage Mother for Social Media

“Instagram, which Pew Research says is the fastest growing major social network among adults in the United States, has become an express track for parents interested in sharing and sometimes capitalizing on the visual story line of their children’s lives.”

12. The Microcomplaint: Nothing Too Small to Whine About

“The same technology that allows people to voice their displeasure with dictatorships, police brutality and prejudice also enables them to carp about mediocre meals, rude customer service and that obnoxious guy at the next table who won’t shut up.”

13. Using High Heels for Self-Defense

“Her argument is that women shouldn’t have to alter their physical appearance or ‘compromise their femininity,’ she said, to ensure their ability to protect themselves.”

14. Cuffing Season Is Here: Till Spring Do Us Part

“Leaves fall off the trees, the sun sets before 5 p.m., and Starbucks transitions from pumpkin spice lattes to red holiday cups: The advent of cuffing season is upon us. This is the time of year when temperatures drop, going outside becomes a hassle and having someone to cuddle with becomes a priority.”

15. In Letters to Véra, Vladimir Nabokov Writes to His Wife

“One of Nabokov’s most striking peculiarities was his near-pathological good cheer — he himself found it ‘indecent.’ Young writers tend to cherish their sensitivity, and thus their alienation, but the only source of angst Nabokov admitted to was ‘the impossibility of assimilating, swallowing, all the beauty in the world.’”

16. Nabokov in America, by Robert Roper

“Let me say, then, right off, that Nabokov in America — a scholarly romp that should engage admirers of Nabokov as well as fans of first-rate literary sleuthing — is not only necessary, it’s exhilarating: a reminder that some of the closest, most discerning readers of what have come to be called ‘texts’ remain outside the academy.”

17. Robert Reich’s Saving Capitalism

“Upward mobility has largely vanished. Sometime in the 1970s, wages began to stagnate, though productivity gains and economic growth continued. By 2013, the median American household, after adjusting for inflation, was earning less than it did in 1989. Last year, more than two-thirds of Americans were living from paycheck to paycheck. The winnings at the top, meanwhile, have piled up. In 1978, the chief executives of America’s big companies took home 30 times the pay of their average workers; in 2013, that multiplier was 296. Most people don’t have a shot at even getting close to such wealth. Middle-income children are half as likely to climb to the top quintile as those born there are to stay; for children of the poorest families, the odds of reaching the financial top are just 6 percent.”

18. Economists, Biologists and Skrillex on How to Predict the Future

“The problems that most haunt our world today — climate change and pollution, inequality and war — are problems for which technology, long our spur to envisioning better futures, looks more like a cause than a solution.”

19. The Cult of the ‘Amateur’

“Since 1990, most Americans have told Gallup that we get our sense of purpose through our work, but in recent years we also say that we hate our jobs, which must mean on some level that we hate ourselves. Amateurs get their name from the Latin amator, or ‘lover,’ and we turn to them to model a type of work freed from the constraints of the workplace. Win or lose, Ohio State’s football players end their games by rushing to the end zone, joining arms and belting the school’s alma mater with the crowd. We click through videos of supposedly amateur porn performers and feel safe in the fantasy that they’re really getting off. We suspect that traditional politicians have been squeezed by special interests, filtered through focus groups and massaged by advisers before being cleared to approach the podium, whereas the amateurs saunter up to the stage and express who they really are.”

20. The Secrets in Greenland’s Ice Sheet

“When it comes to understanding the implications of ice-­sheet collapse, the speed of that breakdown is everything. It could mean sea levels that rise slowly and steadily, perhaps a foot or two per century, which might allow coastal communities to adapt and adjust. Or it could mean levels that rise at an accelerating pace, perhaps five feet or more per century — forcing the evacuation of the earth’s great coastal cities and producing millions of refugees and almost unimaginable financial costs. The difference between slowly and rapidly is a crucial distinction that one scientist recently described to me as ‘the trillion-­dollar question.’”

21. You, Only Better

“He wants to push humanity past its biological limits — but his sell is a little more palatable: We need only think of our bodies as hardware in order to improve upon them.”

22. The Dream Life of Driverless Cars

“As the first wave of autonomous vehicles emerges, engineers are struggling with the complex, even absurd, circumstances that constitute everyday street life.”

23. Can a Trip Ever Be ‘Authentic’?

“The ‘reality’ we crave … is itself a fantasy.”

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