Sunday 10.2.2016 New York Times Digest

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1. Social Media Got You Down? Be More Like Beyoncé

“Most people treat social media like the stage for their own reality show, but Beyoncé treats her public persona more like a Barbie — she offers up images and little more, allowing people to project their own ideas, fantasies and narratives about her life onto it.”

2. To the N.F.L., 40 Winks Is as Vital as the 40-Yard Dash

“Some of the best players on the team are the best sleepers.”

3. What New York Can Learn From Barcelona’s ‘Superblocks’

“In an initiative that has drawn international attention and represents a transformative remaking of its streetscape, Barcelona has decided that many of its car-clogged streets and intersections will hardly have cars at all. Instead, they will be turned over to pedestrians.”

4. To Put More Students in the Seats, Colleges Cue the D.J.

“More than ever, college football programs are finding it difficult to draw and retain the young fans who grow up to be lifelong season-ticket holders. In many athletic departments, the reasons can practically be cited as catechism: high-definition televisions, DVRs, diffuse fan bases and higher ticket and parking costs.”

5. 15 Years in the Afghan Crucible

“In America and Europe, I detect general weariness with the Afghanistan campaign. I often hear people describe it as the ‘Afghan disaster.’ Certainly there have been many blunders: the corruption, the poor leadership and the unremitting casualties. But I would never term it a disaster.”

6. The Shame of Fat Shaming

“Fat people, she reports, actually stigmatize themselves. They shame and blame themselves for being fat and have the same sorts of thoughts about other people who are obese.”

7. Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Advice for Living

“At Cornell University, my professor of European literature, Vladimir Nabokov, changed the way I read and the way I write. Words could paint pictures, I learned from him. Choosing the right word, and the right word order, he illustrated, could make an enormous difference in conveying an image or an idea.”

8. ‘If I Sleep for an Hour, 30 People Will Die’

“He continued forging papers for 30 more years, playing a small role in conflicts ranging from the Algerian war of independence to the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa to the Vietnam War, making documents for American draft dodgers. He estimates that in 1967 alone, he supplied forged papers to people in 15 countries.”

9. Time Travel: A History

“He employs time travel to initiate engrossing discussions of causation, fatalism, predestination and even consciousness itself. He includes a humorously derisive chapter on people who bury time capsules (‘If time capsulists are enacting reverse archaeology, they are also engaging in reverse nostalgia’), he tackles cyberspace (‘Every hyperlink is a time gate’), and throughout the book he displays an acute and playful sensitivity to how quickly language gets slippery when we talk about time. Why, for example, do English speakers say the future lies ahead and the past lies behind, while Mandarin speakers say future events are below and earlier events are above?”

10. The Case for Shirley Jackson

“She sees Jackson not as an oddball, one-off writer of horror tales and ghost stories but as someone belonging to the great tradition of Hawthorne, Poe and James, writers preoccupied, as she was, with inner evil in the human soul.”

11. Games People Play: Three Books on What’s Behind the Fun

“Each in its own way, these books demonstrate the importance of thoughtful, serious criticism on gaming and play. Humans are now firmly connected to this new medium that, unlike film or literature, has had only a few decades to find its voice.”

12. Why Do We Love to Curse So Much?

“He reports on studies showing that people can keep their hands immersed in very cold water for longer if they shout swear words while they suffer.”

13. Can You Read a Book the Wrong Way?

“You might say that the greater the book, the greater the variety of ways people use it — which also means, from certain points of view, misuse it.”

14. How Donald Trump Set Off a Civil War Within the Right-Wing Media

“Trump was a TV star for more than a decade before he became a politician; he watches TV news incessantly and understands the medium intimately. He knows the optimal time slots on the morning shows. He stage-manages the on-set lighting. He is not only on speaking terms with every network chief executive but also knows their booking agents. He monitors the opinions of hosts and regular guests more avidly than most media critics do and works them obsessively, often directly.”

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