Sunday 1.24.2016 New York Times Digest


1. Can Shame Be Useful?

“The experience of shame — the feeling that one has failed to live up to one’s own standards — can play a positive role in recovery from addiction, as well as from other kinds of destructive habits.”

2. When the Water Turned Brown

“Interviews, documents and emails show that as every major decision was made over more than a year, officials at all levels of government acted in ways that contributed to the public health emergency and allowed it to persist for months. The government continued on its harmful course even after lead levels were found to be rising, and after pointed, detailed warnings came from a federal water expert, a Virginia Tech researcher and others.”

3. The Art of Home Staging

“In the past, many stagers focused on decluttering and implementing minor tweaks in furnished homes. Or they appointed vacant apartments with basic rental furniture to prove that rooms were large enough for regular sofas and queen-size mattresses. Today, they are increasingly tackling all-out transformations that aim to present compelling contemporary design, while projecting a complete aspirational package.”

4. The Oscars and Hollywood’s Race Problem

“Hollywood has a race problem. Hollywood has always had a race problem. The movie industry continues to ignore audiences of color, to its own detriment, given the box office success of movies that do feature diverse casts. It continues to ignore the simple fact that people of color want to see their lives reflected in the movies they watch. Representation is not a lot to ask.”

5. What a Million Syllabuses Can Teach Us

“Such data has many uses. For academics, for example, it offers a window onto something they generally know very little about: how widely their work is read.”

6. Drivers With Head Shots: The New Side Job for the Creative Class in Los Angeles

“This is Hollywood’s new creative underclass, where being a driver for hire has replaced waiting on tables as the preferred side job for the city’s underemployed actors and artists. Over the last two years, droves of them have gone to work for ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft because of their flexible hours and, until recently, decent pay.”

7. The Cult of Marie Kondo

“More than five million copies of Ms. Kondo’s books have been sold, along with licenses to print them in 40 languages, including Mongolian. Fox and NBC are working on a sitcom inspired by her.”

8. Under No Certain Search Terms

“I could open a browser, punch in a range of dates and a few search terms, and within seconds have a presorted queue of articles, every one of which was relevant. I could feel confident that when it came to coverage of, let’s say, an embassy of Japanese statesmen arriving in San Francisco in 1872, I hadn’t missed a single mention. I blessed the librarians who had digitized their holdings, and got to work. But there’s a problem with doing research this way: You find exactly what you’re looking for, and nothing you’re not.”

9. Why Are Corporations Hoarding Trillions?

“Collectively, American businesses currently have $1.9 trillion in cash, just sitting around. Not only is this state of affairs unparalleled in economic history, but we don’t even have much data to compare it with, because corporations have traditionally been borrowers, not savers. The notion that a corporation would hold on to so much of its profit seems economically absurd, especially now, when it is probably earning only about 2 percent interest by parking that money in United States Treasury bonds. These companies would be better off investing in anything — a product, a service, a corporate acquisition — that would make them more than 2 cents of profit on the dollar, a razor-thin margin by corporate standards. And yet they choose to keep the cash.”

10. The Living Dead

“Much like the research on the microbiome has fundamentally reshaped our understanding of biology, studies of the necrobiome appear poised to illustrate, on a small scale, what many hope will be a more rigorous way of doing forensic science.”

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