Sunday 2.28.2016 New York Times Digest


1. Trigger Warnings

“The improvement of machines designed to kill has not broken the continuity between the past and the present — it has reinforced it by offering the false security of domesticating objects that will remain always half wild.”

2. Hillary Clinton, ‘Smart Power’ and a Dictator’s Fall

“This is the story of how a woman whose Senate vote for the Iraq war may have doomed her first presidential campaign nonetheless doubled down and pushed for military action in another Muslim country. As she once again seeks the White House, campaigning in part on her experience as the nation’s chief diplomat, an examination of the intervention she championed shows her at what was arguably her moment of greatest influence as secretary of state. It is a working portrait rich with evidence of what kind of president she might be, and especially of her expansive approach to the signal foreign-policy conundrum of today: whether, when and how the United States should wield its military power in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.”

3. Equality in Marriages Grows, and So Does Class Divide

“Assortative mating is the idea that people marry people like themselves, with similar education and earnings potential and the values and lifestyle that come with them.”

4. What It’s Really Like to Risk It All in Silicon Valley

“Venture capital firms invest in 1 percent of the companies that pitch them. The overwhelming majority of entrepreneurs who are funded are white men. Just 1 percent are black, 8 percent are female and 12 percent are Asian.”

5. Ask Your Doctor if This Ad Is Right for You

“The United State and New Zealand are the only two countries that allow consumer advertising for drugs.”

6. The Wrong Way to Teach Math

“Ours has become a quantitative century, and we must master its language. Decimals and ratios are now as crucial as nouns and verbs.”

7. Who Are the Gay Evangelicals?

“These dissenters proudly call themselves gay or queer or bisexual. But they have turned to ideologies outside the conventional boundaries of evangelicalism — including Catholic theology and queer theory — to argue against both conservatives and liberals. They insist that the church should welcome gay people, yet still condemn homosexual acts. They have provoked a dispute that gets to the heart of the culture wars: a debate over the meaning of vocation that reveals the tension between modern assumptions about living a full life and older ideas about the sacrifices God’s calling requires.”

8. What’s the Point of Moral Outrage?

“Expressing moral outrage can serve as a form of personal advertisement: People who invest time and effort in condemning those who behave badly are trusted more.”

9. What It’s Really Like to Work in Hollywood* (*If you’re not a straight white man.)

“In 1985, I’m sitting in the casting office of a major studio. The head of casting said, ‘I couldn’t put you in a Shakespeare movie, because they didn’t have black people then.’ He literally said that. I told that casting director: ‘You ever heard of Othello? Shakespeare couldn’t just make up black people. He saw them.'”

10. Loretta Lynn Mines a Legacy of Heartaches and High Notes

“The more you hurt, the better the song is.”

11. For Some Men, Mark Zuckerberg Is a Lifestyle Guru

“Mr. Zuckerberg’s efforts have made him the object of fascination and emulation among a subset of millennials in and around the tech industry. More than seeing Mr. Zuckerberg as merely an avatar of tech success and unfathomable wealth, they consider him a role model.”

12. The Day My Megabus Caught Fire

“Suddenly, there was a series of pops followed by several loud booms, and flames completely consumed the back half of the bus.”

13. Matthew Desmond’s Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

“The owner of the trailer park takes in over $400,000 a year. These incomes are made possible by the extreme poverty of the tenants, who are afraid to complain and lack any form of legal representation. Desmond mentions payday loans and for-profit colleges as additional exploiters of the poor — a list to which could be added credit card companies, loan sharks, pay-to-own furniture purveyors and many others who have found a way to spin gold out of human sweat and tears. Poverty in America has become a lucrative business, with appalling results: ‘No moral code or ethical principle,” he writes, ‘no piece of scripture or holy teaching, can be summoned to defend what we have allowed our country to become.'”

14. Weatherland, by Alexandra Harris

Weatherland is an ambitious, sweeping survey of British art and literature as seen through the lens of clouds, skies, sunshine and drizzle.”

15. The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition, by Manisha Sinha

“Her new book is an encyclopedic survey of the movement against slavery in the United States from its first stirrings before the American Revolution to the institution’s final demise in the ashes of civil war. It is difficult to imagine a more comprehensive history of the abolitionist movement.”

16. What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team

“The behaviors that create psychological safety — conversational turn-taking and empathy — are part of the same unwritten rules we often turn to, as individuals, when we need to establish a bond. And those human bonds matter as much at work as anywhere else. In fact, they sometimes matter more.”

17. Meet Is Murder

“Meetings are not just considered indispensable to many professions; they are almost coextensive with them. You can make a whole career of planning, holding and attending meetings and never dare contemplate the possibility of your being exempt. They can’t be avoided, but maybe they can be made bearable.”

18. Managed by Q’s ‘Good Jobs’ Gamble

“Teran believes that most American businesses, and especially fast-growing start-ups like Uber, have mistaken short-term gains for long-term value, undercutting the share of revenue that flows to workers in a way that will perversely hurt their bottom line. He believes, even more radically, that decades of rising inequality and stagnant wages in America are not an inevitable byproduct of capitalism; instead, they come from a simple misunderstanding about how best to deploy workers and recognize the value they bring to a company. The future of jobs in the United States would be very different if Teran’s ideas catch on. But first, of course, he has to prove that they actually work.”

19. Rethinking the Work-Life Equation

“How do companies that believe in giving their workers more control over their schedules actually make it work?”

20. Failure to Lunch

“The way people eat at work is pretty sad.”

21. The Robots Are Coming for Wall Street

“Now software is increasingly doing the work that has been the province of educated people sitting in desk chairs. The vulnerability of these jobs is due, in large part, to the easy availability and rapidly declining price of computing power, as well as the rise of ‘machine learning’ software … that gathers and assimilates new information on its own.”

22. The Post-Cubicle Office and Its Discontents

“Office design concerned with employees’ happiness, well-being, instincts for play — this ought to be the best of all possible worlds. There is no question that such offices look vastly more inviting than your average cubicle farm; it’s not surprising that so many companies seek to emulate them. Yet the ‘disruptive’ thinking that insists a workplace ought to care not just for your average needs (supplies, potable coffee, a microwave) but for your deepest psychological ones as well has its insidious side. If the new workplace technology makes it impossible to leave work at work, the ‘ethonomic’ thinking behind new workplace design is intended to make it increasingly difficult to separate our work lives from everything else.”

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