Sunday 5.1.2016 New York Times Digest


1. Read This Story Without Distraction (Can You?)

“As much as people would like to believe otherwise, humans have finite neural resources that are depleted every time we switch between tasks, which, especially for those who work online.”

2. A Potent Side Effect to the Flint Water Crisis: Mental Health Problems

“Health care workers are scrambling to help the people here cope with what many fear will be chronic consequences of the city’s water contamination crisis: profound stress, worry, depression and guilt.”

3. The Professor Has a Daring Past

“The students know that he lived through World War II, that he speaks several languages. And yet he has left that history a bit vague.”

4. Better Aging Through Practice, Practice, Practice

“I am talking about improving at a demanding skill or set of skills — a craft, a discipline. I have in mind something that will take years to get proficient at, something that there is a correct way of doing, handed down for generations or even ages, and for which there is no way for you to create shortcuts with your cleverness or charm. Playing the cello, maybe. Or cabinetry. Or, in my case, tennis, serious tennis.”

5. What Can Stop Kids From Dropping Out

“Only 53 percent of college freshmen earn a bachelor’s degree within six years. Even fewer community-college students — 39 percent — obtain a credential from a two- or four-year institution within six years.”

6. Stop Saying ‘I Feel Like’

“‘I feel like’ masquerades as a humble conversational offering, an invitation to share your feelings, too — but the phrase is an absolutist trump card. It halts argument in its tracks.”

7. A Warmer, Fuzzier Los Angeles

“Certainly, Los Angeles will always be a city of the car. But it may also become, is becoming, a city of the walker, of the rider, in which the streets are not only a terrain we pass through, but also one we actively share.”

8. In an Era of Streaming, Cinema Is Under Attack

“The threat to movies appears more existential now, because the very digital revolution that has changed how movies are made has also changed how many of us watch them.”

9. And Now, I Unfollow Thee

“The current pull to unfollow and unfriend may be stronger than ever.”

10. Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? and The Genius of Birds

“Tool use, cooperation, awareness of individual identity, theory of mind, planning, metacognition and perceptions of time — we now know that all these archetypically human, cognitive feats are performed by some animals as well. And not just primates: By the middle of Chapter 6, we’re reading about cooperation among leopard coral trout.”

11. Nicholas Guyatt’s Bind Us Apart

“Segregation and its ideological justification ‘separate but equal,’ he argues, originated in the early Republic in the efforts of ‘enlightened Americans’ to uplift and protect Indians and African-Americans. After trying and abandoning other policies, these reformers and policy makers concluded that only separation from whites — removal of Indians to the trans-Mississippi West and blacks to Africa — would enable these groups to enjoy their natural rights and achieve economic and cultural advancement. Thus, almost from the outset, the idea of separating the races was built into the DNA of the United States.”

12. When the Powerful Cry ‘Bully’

“‘Feeling bullied’ is used broadly by the powerful and the powerless alike to describe feeling insulted (by a peer), feeling unfairly criticized (by a professional critic), feeling diminished (by commenters) or merely feeling exposed to potential profit losses, ego injuries or points of view that run counter to your own.”

13. Is the U.S. Ready for Post-Middle-Class Politics?

“America’s self-­image as a middle-­class nation is so deeply ingrained in the country’s politics that we don’t often stop to think what, precisely, that means: whether it defines a concrete socioeconomic identity — a country where most people are neither very rich nor very poor — or an aspiration, the notion that if you ‘work hard and play by the rules’ … you’re entitled to at least a modest prosperity.”

14. President Obama Weighs His Economic Legacy

“He has, by his own lights, managed the recovery as well as any president ever could, with results that in many cases exceeded his own best hopes. But despite the gains of the past seven years, many Americans have been left behind. Something has changed, and as he prepares to leave office, Obama seems to understand that his economic legacy might be judged not just by what he has done, but by how the results compare to a bygone era of middle-class opportunity, one that perhaps no president, faced with the sweeping changes transforming the global economy, could ever bring back.”

15. TV’s Dwindling Middle Class

“Now on TV, no matter your actual job, almost everybody belongs to the same generic, vaguely upper-class class.”

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