Sunday 12.27.2015 New York Times Digest


1. The Year in Pictures: 2015

“Just look. The year is here.”

2. As Graduation Rates Rise, Experts Fear Diplomas Come Up Short

“The number of students earning high school diplomas has risen to historic peaks, yet measures of academic readiness for college or jobs are much lower. This has led educators to question the real value of a high school diploma and whether graduation requirements are too easy.”

3. In Sweden, a Cash-Free Future Nears

“Stefan Wikberg, 65, was homeless for four years after losing his job as an I.T. technician. He has a place to live now and sells magazines for Situation Stockholm, a charitable organization, and began using a mobile card reader to take payments, after noticing that almost no one carried cash. ‘Now people can’t get away,’ said Mr. Wikberg, who carries a sign saying he accepts Visa, MasterCard and American Express. ‘When they say, “I don’t have change,” I tell them they can pay with card or even by SMS,’ he said, referring to text messages. His sales have grown by 30 percent since he adopted the card reader two years ago.”

4. The Marriages of Power Couples Reinforce Income Inequality

“As it becomes harder for many people to ‘marry up’ as a path for income mobility for themselves or their children, families that are not well connected may feel disengaged, and the significant, family-based advantages for some children may discourage others from even trying.”

5. Breaking Up? Let an App Do It for You

“Dissolving a relationship used to be a private matter between the two principals, with a Greek chorus of close friends and family. Now the sopranos and tenors include apps, websites, social media tools and digital Cyranos for hire.”

6. What’s Your Favorite Poem?

Stephen King: My favorite poem is ‘Falling,’ by James Dickey. Published in 1967, its delirious language, coupled with a clear narrative, make it a precursor to Dickey’s novel Deliverance, published three years later. The poem is audacious, sensuous and completely beautiful. It’s also as neat a parable of the human condition as has ever been written.”

7. Ghosts in the Machine

“The near pervasiveness of social technology has delivered death back into our daily interactions. With the exception of our friends and closest kin, we typically encounter news of deaths through social media. The same feed that informs us about sports scores and plot twists on ‘Empire’ also tells us, without any ceremony, that a life has come to an end.”

8. All The Presidents’ Tailor

“His father, a judge, was shot dead in front of him when de Paris was 14. During World War II, he was a child messenger for the Resistance. He found himself penniless and homeless in Washington sometime around 1960, but within the decade he was running his own tailor shop and counted among his clients the Louisiana congressman Otto Passman, who sent along his compliments to Lyndon Johnson.”

9. Booyah!

“Stuart Scott sounded black. For a time, at America’s most-beloved sports network, that was revolutionary.”

10. The Comedian’s Comedian

“A good comedy writers’ room is filled with talented people, but there is usually one really funny person to whom the room turns when you hit a wall. Harris was that person. His jokes were unexpected and bizarre and full of joy.”

11. A Beloved Villain

“Piper never won a world championship, but he didn’t need to. He was the W.W.E.’s hero, his energy a shot of adrenaline into wrestling’s weary heart.”

12. Literary Theft

“Here’s a dirty secret: Writers are an unruly tribe of thieves, frauds and ventriloquists, desperately lifting what they can from real life, other writers, liquor stores — it doesn’t matter — and putting it to sometimes dubious use in the name of art and authenticity. If that sounds outrageous, or ungenerous, remember T.S. Eliot’s boiled-down dictum: Good writers borrow, great writers steal. Or that the best-selling novel of all-time, Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities, was most likely ripped off from, among other sources, The Dead Heart, a play by a writer we most certainly don’t remember, Watts Phillips.”

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