Sunday 7.17.2016 New York Times Digest


1. Professors, Stop Opining About Trump

“I would have no problem with individuals, who also happened to be historians, disseminating their political conclusions in an op-ed or letter to the editor; but I do have a problem when a bunch of individuals claim for themselves a corporate identity and more than imply that they speak for the profession of history.”

2. Want to Work in 18 Miles of Books? First, the Quiz

“How many accurate matches an applicant must make has always been a closely guarded secret. What is the minimum score to be hired?”

3. Eggs That Clear the Cages, but Maybe Not the Conscience

“So-called pasture-raised hens fit many people’s ideal of happy chickens on Old MacDonald’s Farm. They can roam in the sun, peck for insects in the dirt and roost in roomy nests. But pasture-raised eggs are more expensive than those from hens raised in cages or aviaries, and pastures require a lot of space. Satisfying America’s voracious egg appetite this way would require a farm bigger than the state of Massachusetts.”

4. Why Land and Homes Actually Tend to Be Disappointing Investments

“Neither farmland nor housing has been a great place to invest money over the long term.”

5. Pool of Thought

“There is no drug — recreational or prescription — capable of inducing the tranquil euphoria brought on by swimming.”

6. Obamacare’s Kindest Critic

“Despite the subsidies, many people still can’t afford health care. For some middle-class families who buy coverage on the exchanges, the cost of insurance and out-of-pocket expenses like co-pays and deductibles can add up to nearly a quarter of household income.”

7. Don’t Vote for Me, I’m Not Worthy

“Washington’s emotional expressions of reluctance and self-doubt are startling to read in light of the absolute certainty and unbreakable confidence we require presidential candidates to project today.”

8. Cynthia Ozick Takes Up Arms Against Today’s Literary Scene

“Critics, she warns, are not to be confused with reviewers, whose ubiquitous productions merely ‘simulate the skin of a genuine literary culture — rather like those plastic faux-alligator bags sold everywhere, which can almost pass for the real thing.’ Critics are to reviewers as string theorists are to bookkeepers. They call on ‘horizonless freedoms, multiple histories, multiple libraries, multiple metaphysics and intuitions’ to show us how individual novels ‘are connected, what they portend in the aggregate, how they comprise and color an era.’”

9. ‘I Want to Know What It Is Like to Be a Wild Thing’

“The author, Charles Foster, is an eccentric, big-brained Briton who enjoys success as a lawyer, a veterinarian and an Oxford academic (with a Ph.D. in medical law and ethics from Cambridge). But he yearns to be other: a swift, a badger, a fox or perhaps an otter or a red deer. He is a lifelong naturalist, and he has a simple dream, as he puts it: ‘I want to know what it is like to be a wild thing.’ So he devises a series of experiments.”

10. Was She a Feminist? The Complicated Legacy of Helen Gurley Brown.

“Cosmopolitan may have been crass, but it also disseminated feminist messages to a working-class audience whom the canonical front of the women’s movement didn’t reach.”

11. Adrienne Rich’s Poetry Became Political, but It Remained Rooted in Material Fact

“Listen to her long vowels and keen consonants; listen to the leitmotif of pain.”

12. The Dark Side of American Soccer Culture

“Seattle has become one of the main breeding grounds for Europhilic American soccer culture, boasting the highest attendance numbers in Major League Soccer and the Emerald City Supporters (E.C.S.), one of the largest, rowdiest supporter organizations in the country. I was surprised to see small signs in the stands declaring that anyone who said anything racist would be removed from the stadium. Many stadiums in Europe carry such signage for obvious reasons, but why would they be needed in a supposedly progressive city on the West Coast of the United States?”

13. Letter of Recommendation: Audiobooks Read by the Author

“I cannot bear listening to fiction read by anyone other than its author.”

14. The American Who Accidentally Became a Chinese Movie Star

“He rarely played bad guys, because there are very few American villains in Chinese movies (those roles tend to go to the woeful cohort of Japanese actors working in China). Instead, Kos-Read was often typecast as a ‘dumb guy,’ he says. Most frequently, he was an arrogant foreign businessman who falls for a local beauty, only to be spurned as she inevitably makes the virtuous choice to stay with her Chinese suitor. Sometimes he played the foreign friend whose presence onscreen is intended to make the main character seem more worldly; Kos-Read dubbed another stock character ‘the fool,’ an arrogant Westerner whose disdain for China is, by the end of the movie, transformed into admiration.”

15. The Mysterious Metamorphosis of Chuck Close

“What you are seeing isn’t really there. You are no longer looking at the actual surface of the painting, but some apparition hovering above it, a numinous specter that arises in part from the engagement of your own imagination. Through the painting, Close has accessed the perceptual center of your mind, exploiting the way we process human identity: the gaps of knowledge and the unknown spaces we fill with our own presumptions, the expectations and delusions we layer upon everyone we meet.”

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