Sunday 8.14.2016 New York Times Digest


1. Join the Army and Choose Whichever God You Like

“I have qualms about the Spanish-American War — who doesn’t? But I wolfed down the part of Theodore Roosevelt’s book The Rough Riders portraying the men he commanded in Cuba: sheriffs and sharpshooters, Creeks and Chickasaws, a Louisiana bookworm, an Idaho hunter, a Jew nicknamed Pork-chop and a cowpuncher who went by ‘the Dude,’ all living together in ‘complete equality.’”

2. Once Skeptical of Executive Power, Obama Has Come to Embrace It

“Once a presidential candidate with deep misgivings about executive power, Mr. Obama will leave the White House as one of the most prolific authors of major regulations in presidential history.”

3. Is That Real Tuna in Your Sushi? Now, a Way to Track That Fish

“In a recent Oceana investigation of seafood fraud, the organization bought fish sold at restaurants, seafood markets, sushi places and grocery stores, and ran DNA tests. It discovered that 33 percent of the fish was mislabeled per federal guidelines. Fish labeled snapper and tuna were the least likely to be what their purveyors claimed they were.”

4. Why American Schools Are Even More Unequal Than We Thought

“Years spent eligible for subsidized school meals serves as a good proxy for the depth of disadvantage.”

5. The Billion-Dollar Jackpot: Engineered to Drain Your Wallet

“Once the jackpot reaches a certain threshold — somewhere in the hundreds of millions, these days — people begin talking and rushing to buy tickets, including people who don’t typically buy lottery tickets, and the jackpot soars even higher.”

6. Sisterhood Is Not Enough: Why Workplace Equality Needs Men, Too

“Lately, I’ve been hearing professional women sing a different tune, questioning the purpose of women-only conferences, corporate workshops and networking soirees. As someone who has led professional development workshops, including women-only gatherings, naturally my ears perk up. Some tell me these single-sex events are outmoded — so last century — and should be done away with because they mirror the exclusionary behavior that made victims of us.”

7. The Secret of Jamaica’s Runners

“Jamaica is perhaps the only country in the world where a track and field meet is the premier sporting event.”

8. To Get to Harvard, Go to Haiti?

“It turns developing-world hardship into a prose-ready opportunity for growth, empathy into an extracurricular activity.”

9. The Election Won’t Be Rigged. But It Could Be Hacked.

“The United States needs to return, as soon as possible, to a paper-based, auditable voting system in all jurisdictions that still use electronic-only, unverifiable voting machines.”

10. Obit for the Obits

“The significant irony to retiring from the obits department is this: I may be going but you’re not quite rid of me. My byline is likely to continue to appear for months, even years, because of the 40 or 50 obituaries I’ve written of people who are still living — the future dead, as we say, in mordant obit-speak. Perhaps I’ll even have a posthumous byline or two — not something I aspire to, by the way.”

11. A Playboy for President

“Much of what seems strange and reactionary about Trump is tied to what was normal to a certain kind of Sinatra and Mad Men-era man — the casual sexism, the odd mix of sleaziness and formality, even the insult-comic style.”

12. How to Write About Trauma

“Sometimes the surface content, no matter how well it’s written, is not compelling enough and needs to connect to something more, something deeper. Or to put it another way: Not every troubling or difficult thing you have experienced will be interesting to someone who doesn’t know you.”

13. Even Superheroes Punch the Clock

“Every action movie is a workplace sitcom in disguise.”

14. De La Soul’s Legacy Is Trapped in Digital Limbo

“We’re in the Library of Congress, but we’re not on iTunes.”

15. He Likes Trump. She Doesn’t. Can This Marriage Be Saved?

“A political season that has made for hot debates in the public arena has also seeped into private lives, complicating friendships, marriages, romances and relationships among family members.”

16. A ‘Sex and the City’ for African Viewers

“Through the five women, ‘An African City’ explores what it means to be a westernized young woman readjusting to the culture and surroundings of her home continent.”

17. The Tyranny of Other People’s Vacation Photos

“The study found that one in seven who own a smartphone and who use social media would unfollow or block someone who posts what they perceive as boastful vacation pictures.”

18. Q: Why Do Gay Men Love the Olympics? A: Isn’t It Obvious?

“Many Olympic sports possess an outsider’s sensibility that gay men can appreciate. Many sports are filled with artistry often missing from the usual weekend sports selection on television. And, for some, admittedly, the attraction is physical.”

19. London Bookstores Go Rogue as No Wi-Fi Zones

“A crop of bookshops is rebelling against frenzied online engagement and is creating environments where the real-life, internet-free book browse is the most effective way to expand your social and professional networks. And in countering the internet overload, some stores are proving to be among London’s hottest hangouts.”

20. In Colson Whitehead’s Latest, the Underground Railroad Is More Than a Metaphor

“The central conceit of the novel is as simple as it is bold. The underground railroad is not, in Whitehead’s novel, the secret network of passageways and safe houses used by runaway slaves to reach the free North from their slaveholding states. Or rather it is that, but it is something else, too: You open a trap door in the safe house or find the entrance to a hidden cave, and you reach an actual railroad, with actual locomotives and boxcars and conductors, sometimes complete with benches on the platform.”

21. Hard Bodies

“Our culture claims to celebrate vigor and well-being, yet holds up steroid-­addled men and impossibly thin women as models of physical perfection. Those of us unwilling to juice or starve ourselves are left feeling inadequate and confused about why we do not bear any resemblance to the humans we are meant to emulate. Two new books approach these questions from different angles, the first seeking to examine masculine physicality and fragility, the second a thorough history of the activity and business of fitness.”

22. Teju Cole’s Essays Build Connections Between African and Western Art

“How does the imagination cross and recross racial and filial boundaries, and what does this crossing mean? With our ever-enlarging global access to the visions and voices and influences of others, Cole attempts to untangle the knot of who or what belongs to us and to whom or what do we belong as artists, thinkers and, finally, human beings.”

23. God, Realigned: The Era of Reformation

“His book, he writes in his preface, ‘is a narrative for beginners and nonspecialists’ — an ‘introduction and a survey’ that aims ‘to make the past come alive’ and ‘make the reader thirst for more,’ with ‘an eye firmly fixed on present-day concerns.’ Throughout, Eire was guided by the conviction that ‘we cannot begin to comprehend who we are now as Westerners without first understanding the changes wrought by the Reformations of the early modern era.’ The plural, he explains, reflects recent changes in how historians view the period, with the Protestant Reformation considered just one of ‘multiple Reformations’ that occurred in the 16th and 17th centuries.”

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