Sunday 3.6.2016 New York Times Digest


1. The Art of Failing Upward

“Not everyone can, shall we say, fail successfully.”

2. Competing Interests on Encryption Divide Top Obama Officials

“The Federal Bureau of Investigation wants the ability to break into smartphones and computers for investigations. The Pentagon and intelligence officials worry that the same techniques could be used by foreign powers or hackers to drain data from phones used by the United States government, and that countries like China will demand the same access provided to American law enforcement officials.”

3. It’s Discounted, but Is It a Deal? How List Prices Lost Their Meaning

“If everyone is getting a deal, is anyone really getting a deal?”

4. Rev. Robert Palladino, Scribe Who Shaped Apple’s Fonts, Dies at 83

“‘Priest and calligrapher,’ his business card read, in his unimpeachable Renaissance italic, and he long plied both trades at once.”

5. Hidden Gold in College Applications

“There has been a crescendo lately in talk about how to conduct college admissions in a manner that brings greater socioeconomic diversity to campuses, making them richer places to learn and better engines of social mobility.”

6. She Wanted to Do Her Research. He Wanted to Talk ‘Feelings.’

“Sexual harassment in science generally starts like this: A woman (she is a student, a technician, a professor) gets an email and notices that the subject line is a bit off: ‘I need to tell you,’ or ‘my feelings.’ The opening lines refer to the altered physical and mental state of the author: ‘It’s late and I can’t sleep’ is a favorite, though ‘Maybe it’s the three glasses of cognac’ is popular as well.”

7. The Eviction Economy

“Jobs are only part of the solution because poverty is not just a product of joblessness and low wages. It is also a product of exploitation.”

8. Can Nicotine Be Good for You?

“Research has confirmed my patients’ experience of the positive psychiatric effects of nicotine: It has been shown to improve cognition, memory, attention and mood, as well as reduce anxiety. People with serious mental illnesses, particularly schizophrenia and depression, smoke at much higher rates than people without them and have more difficulty quitting — perhaps because nicotine ameliorates some of their symptoms. Oddly, there may even be health benefits from smoking: Smokers have lower rates of Parkinson’s disease. (Of course, this doesn’t outweigh the risks.)”

9. The World Has a Problem: Too Many Young People

“Aspirations, when thwarted, can be a potent, spiteful force.”

10. Bob Dylan’s Secret Archive

“This is an artist whose working process has been as private as his personal life.”

11. You Could Look It Up, by Jack Lynch

Lynch has constrained his work to just over 450 pages, in which he manages to discuss legal and scientific works like the Code of Hammurabi of the 18th century B.C.; the lexicographical volumes of what was then called the Dictionnaire de l’Académie Françoise and Dr. Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language; repertories of censored books like the Catholic Church’s infamous Index Librorum Prohibitorum of 1559; rules of social conduct like Emily Post’s “Etiquette in Society” of 1922; geographical atlases including Abraham Ortelius’s Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, credited with first imagining continental drift; sprawling encyclopedias from Amarasimha’s Sanskrit Amarakosha of the fourth century A.D. to Diderot and D’Alembert’s masterpiece of the Enlightenment, L’Encyclopédie; medical manuals from Avicenna’s Kitab al-Qanun fi al-tibb of 1025 to the D.S.M. (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) of 1952, which seems to confirm the Cheshire cat’s dictum that ‘we’re all mad here.’ Lynch ends, unavoidably, with Wikipedia, now in its 16th adolescent year.

12. The Politics of the Hoodie

“Who enjoys the right to wear one without challenge?”

13. Jerrod Carmichael Goes There

“Carmichael’s willingness to stay heavy — to create prolonged moments of discomfort — may be the most formally radical thing about him. In his sitcom and his stand-up, he can seem as satisfied provoking groans, or awkward silence, as he is provoking laughter. At work here is a fundamental reconsideration of a joke teller’s function: With Carmichael, the goal is not only to orchestrate a series of raucous eruptions — signaling, as they do, a simpatico mind meld with the audience — but to generate rifts of displeasure, confusion and anger too.”

14. Multitools Make the Man

“Everyday carry (or E.D.C.) denotes what you carry wherever you go. It is a niche preparedness culture that is lately becoming mainstream; amid the groundswell, it has been called a ‘movement,’ a ‘mindset’ and even a ‘philosophy,’ for it also connotes a heightened consciousness about what you carry and why. The objects in an individual’s E.D.C. may be as unremarkable as keys, a cell phone and a wallet, but might be as various as a brass marine shackle or a tourniquet, a seatbelt cutter or a small multipurpose tool that looks like a seahorse, a reclining monkey or a gaping tyrannosaur. E.D.C. sites are awash in lovingly curated still lifes of all this — a murse dump with occasional Glocks.”

15. A Writer’s Room: Darryl Pinckney

“These boxes make me feel that I am squatting in my own life. To open any of them would explode the past across the floor.”

16. The Pleasures of the Passenger Seat

“As Michael Caine once said, ‘The greatest luxury is not driving.’ Give me a car that I never need to put gas in, a car that never wants you to park it, a car you never wash or fix or insure, a car you never de-ice or trade in or sell. I know men and women who glory in their cars, taking care of something that they feel takes care of them. There are parts of the world, particularly in America, where having a car appears less like a convenience than a necessity, and where being driven must appear like a form of infantilization. But those people are missing the point. Being driven is luxurious because it is a step back into the realm of personal freedom, which — when it comes to all areas of good service — is the freedom to enjoy an outcome without being responsible for it.”

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