Sunday 2.14.2016 New York Times Digest


1. Death, the Prosperity Gospel and Me

“The most I can say about why I have cancer, medically speaking, is that bodies are delicate and prone to error. As a Christian, I can say that the Kingdom of God is not yet fully here, and so we get sick and die. And as a scholar, I can say that our society is steeped in a culture of facile reasoning. What goes around comes around. Karma is a bitch. And God is always, for some reason, going around closing doors and opening windows. God is super into that.”

2. It’s Like the N.B.A., Minus the Money, Fame and Fans

“There is a purity to the pursuit. Why else would he, and so many of his teammates, be here? Not for the money. Not for the fame. ‘Because it’s basketball,’ he said.”

3. A Reformed ‘Sneaker Pimp’ Takes On the N.C.A.A.

“He was funny, angry and passionate as he condemned the N.C.A.A. for being, as he put it, somewhat over the top in one speech, ‘the most fraudulent organization that ever lived.’”

4. Skip the Upkeep and Rent the Jet, or Island, Instead

“Ownership does not have the cachet it once commanded, and renting is shedding its déclassé image. Even among the very wealthy who could easily afford to buy an island, renting simply makes more sense. And not just renting property. In other luxury categories, including exotic automobiles, designer frocks, private jets, flashy diamond jewelry, spacious villas and sleek yachts, the well-to-do are taking a cue from the broader shift to a sharing economy, epitomized by the ride-hailing service Uber, city bike programs and the peer-to-peer sharing of many goods and services.”

5. Are You a Toxic Waste Disposal Site?

“Lead poisoning in many places in America is even worse than in Flint. Kids are more likely to suffer lead poisoning in Pennsylvania or Illinois or even most of New York State than in Flint.”

6. Ignore the GPS. That Ocean Is Not a Road.

“Faith is a concept that often enters the accounts of GPS-induced mishaps. ‘It kept saying it would navigate us a road,’ said a Japanese tourist in Australia who, while attempting to reach North Stradbroke Island, drove into the Pacific Ocean. A man in West Yorkshire, England, who took his BMW off-road and nearly over a cliff, told authorities that his GPS ‘kept insisting the path was a road.’ In perhaps the most infamous incident, a woman in Belgium asked GPS to take her to a destination less than two hours away. Two days later, she turned up in Croatia.”

7. Emmett Till and Tamir Rice, Sons of the Great Migration

“The brutal decades preceding the Great Migration — when a black person was lynched on average every four days — were given a name by the historian Rayford Logan. He called them the Nadir. Today, in the era of the Charleston massacre, when, according to one analysis of F.B.I. statistics, an African-American is killed by a white police officer roughly every three and a half days, has the makings of a second Nadir.”

8. The Sexual Misery of the Arab World

“Today sex is a great paradox in many countries of the Arab world: One acts as though it doesn’t exist, and yet it determines everything that’s unspoken. Denied, it weighs on the mind by its very concealment. Although women are veiled, they are at the center of our connections, exchanges and concerns.”

9. The Revenant Lends Trapper Chic a Dose of Gritty Realness

“‘We are so inundated with stuff in our closets,’ she said. In stark contrast, the trappers and Indians of the film hang on to their few garments, wearing them throughout their grueling two-year expedition.”

10. The House D.J. of the Bernie Sanders Campaign

“Ayers, the Delfonics, Southside Movement and other soul singers who provided the samples for hip-hop classics are pretty much what you would expect in the playlist of a guy wearing a Reigning Champ black hoodie under a Patagonia vest, a pair of Naked & Famous jeans over Air Jordan 1s, and a Supreme black cap over his clear framed glasses and fashionable beard. Less so from a presidential campaign. And yet Mr. Sandico has become the house D.J. of Mr. Sanders’s parties, playing a mix of soul, funk and disco that is in equal parts laid-back lounge bar, alternative college radio and dancey early ’90s bar mitzvah.”

11. The Road to the Top of the World

“The road is situated at the northern tip of the Northwest Territories, a vast expanse almost three times the size of California, with a population of just over 43,000 people. This juxtaposition of land and population is crucial to its extraordinary beauty. True wilderness is five minutes out of town. The landscape — forest, tundra, countless rivers and lakes, mountains, a vast tapestry of sky — feels like North America’s last frontier.”

11. The Good Death, When Breath Becomes Air and More

“The gloss of youthful vitality can persuade us that life is for the living, but life is also for the dying, and repudiating that ultimate punctuation escalates our anxiety and deprives us of final dignity. Time and again, we must clarify our individual and collective beliefs about how the last chapter changes the rest of the narrative. ‘Or not to be’ is not in fact a question.”

12. How to Survive Falling Through the Ice

“Once your core body temperature drops to 95 degrees Fahrenheit, you will be officially hypothermic. Below 86 degrees, you will probably be unconscious, but not necessarily lifeless. People have been successfully revived from frigid states as low as 56.7 degrees, a temperature at which bodies exhibit the clinical signs of death, including no pulse or breathing.”

13. Pee-wee’s Big Comeback

“One of the greatest achievements of ‘Playhouse’ was that it created a place where desires are not policed, otherness is not demonized, gender roles are juggled and erotic energies attach where they will.”

14. The World’s Most Dedicated All-Natural Perfumer

“To demonstrate the differences between synthetics and naturals, Aftel put before me three tiny bottles of jasmine: synthetic, natural and natural aged. I inhaled them in that order, sniffing a swatch of wool between each to offset nasal fatigue, and it was like seeing a graphite sketch transform into a value study that in turn became a fully finished portrait. Had I been given only the synthetic, I would have found it divine — syrupy, sweet, like something I’d like to lap up — but the natural jasmine and even more so the aged natural jasmine made the synthetic seem, in retrospect, simplistic, shallow, somehow relegated only to the front of my nose as opposed to the deep recesses of my throat and tongue.”

15. The Tiny London Shop Behind Some of the Very Best Libraries

“Let’s say you need some books. Maybe you have recently acquired a big fancy house, boat or plane with a big empty library, and you want to fill it with real books, not those things that look like books but are actually built-in fake book spines engraved with ornate titles. One lazy solution would be to employ a decorator to acquire an aesthetically pleasing instant collection. Another would be to visit an estate sale and hoover up someone else’s, caveat emptor. Or you could do what the smartest bibliophiles do: Put yourself in the hands of the staff at the London bookstore Heywood Hill, who promise to go to the ends of the earth to hunt down the books you need — the rare, the old and the out of print as well as the newly published — to build your perfect custom library.”

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