Sunday 10.23.2016 New York Times Digest


1. Go Midwest, Young Hipster

“If you really want Democrats to win in Iowa, move there.”

2. Think Your Retirement Plan Is Bad? Talk to a Teacher

“The people who do the most good in the world, spending their careers helping others in exchange for modest paychecks, often get the worst retirement plans.”

3. Corner Office: Deborah Lee James

“Be prepared to zigzag, because life does not always turn out like you think it’s going to turn out, and that’s true on the personal side, too. When life throws you a curveball, it’s O.K. to grieve. But don’t take too long, because you’ve got to get back up on your feet and then maybe focus on Plan B.”

4. I Paid $2,500 for a ‘Hamilton’ Ticket. I’m Happy About It.

“High prices are a natural reflection of great demand and scant supply. In a free market, in which private individuals can engage in mutually advantageous gains from trade, they are inevitable until demand subsides or supply expands.”

5. The Fake Laugh

“Laughter at its purest and most spontaneous is affiliative and bonding. To our forebears it meant, ‘We’re not going to kill each other! What a relief!’ But as we’ve developed as humans so has our repertoire of laughter, unleashed to achieve ends quite apart from its original function of telling friend from foe.”

6. Pardon the American Taliban

“Hillary Clinton called Mr. Lindh a traitor on national television. I think that far from being traitorous, the idealism of Mr. Lindh is deep in the American grain.”

7. Men Need Help. Is Hillary Clinton the Answer?

“Succeeding in the new economy and culture may well require rethinking conventional ideas about masculinity.”

8. On the Trail of Interdependence

“Truly endarkic people crave solitude and, perhaps less consciously, cataclysm, if only for the opportunity to prove their self-reliance.”

9. Christopher Guest: No Eccentric Obsession Left Behind

“There is a document that has the back histories of every single character, where they went to school, their upbringing, everything about them. What’s not written is any dialogue. And there’s no rehearsal. But the actors know what happens in every single scene. This is more rigid than you can imagine. It takes longer to lay this out than to write a conventional screenplay.”

10. David Letterman (and His Beard) Shop at Target These Days

“‘I don’t miss late-night television,’ he said. ‘And I’m a little embarrassed that, for 33 years, it was the laser focus of my life.… It took a lot of energy, and it probably would have been better expended elsewhere. Now it just seems like, really, that’s what you did?’”

11. The Mission to Save Vanishing Internet Art

“In the early days of the web, art was frequently a cause and the internet was an alternate universe in which to pursue it. Two decades later, preserving this work has become a mission. As web browsers and computer operating systems stopped supporting the software tools they were built with, many works have fallen victim to digital obsolescence.”

12. Talking to Your Therapist About Election Anxiety

“The American Psychological Association says that 52 percent of American adults are coping with high levels of stress brought on by the election.”

13. On the Water, and Into the Wild

“From the air it looks like a green carpet, gouged southwest to northeast by glaciers. From the water it looks like another time — when nature was not a thing that grew at the edge of civilization, but a world unto itself in which humans were guests.”

14. Ulysses S. Grant: New Biography of ‘A Nobody From Nowhere’

“This moral courage equated with ruthlessness, a steely ability to send men to die. Yet he often erupted in rage when he saw animals mistreated. For a biographer, such contradictions present an opportunity to depict a round character, in E.M. Forster’s sense, one who can surprise the reader convincingly. But Grant made it hard to find organic unity in his disunity.”

15. Collected Works of a Poet Who Took Her Time

“Most of Marie Ponsot’s career has been belated. Her first book was published in the City Lights Pocket Poets series in 1956, when she was already 35 — late, but not as late as Frost or Stevens. Her next, not until she was 60. Now 95, she has continued to publish a book every decade or so, as if she had all the time in the world. Collected Poems is the model for every poet who worships procrastination.”

16. Saving Nature, for the Joy of It

“McCarthy reports that Britain has lost half its biodiversity in only 50 years, and the reason for much of this destruction is farming. Unlike in the United States, where agriculture and wilderness have long been separated, in Britain wildlife coexisted for centuries with farmland — hedgerows, meadows and ponds, for example, provided habitats. Then after the Second World War came new technology, modern farming techniques and chemicals — combined with the knowledge that Germany had almost cut off Britain’s food supplies during the war. Never again, the British thought, and farmers were given price guarantees to encourage home production. Suddenly even the most marginal land was considered arable, and chemicals were dumped on the fields. Birds, insects, otters, wildflowers — all gone.”

17. A New Biography Focuses on Karl Instead of Marxism

“Marx the man was rather more improvisatory in his thinking than the official ideologies that later borrowed his name.”

18. What’s Up With Those Voices in Your Head?

“Tune into yours right now: What are you hearing? Who’s speaking, and when did the conversation begin? This is ambiguous territory. Measuring one’s own private soundtrack is hard enough. Now add in the confounding element of other people’s, too.”

19. Should Novels Aim for the Heart or the Head?

“Art is constantly in the business of manipulating our emotions, as if this were an end in itself. This, after all, was Plato’s objection to the arts and every kind of artistic effect — that it was manipulative and potentially mendacious. Or simply a waste: ‘How often,’ Montaigne asks, ‘do we encumber our spirits with yellow bile or sadness by means of such shadows?’”

20. Should We See Everything a Cop Sees?

“Many people think of body cameras as a tool for police accountability, but the primary subject of their surveillance isn’t the police — it’s the public.”

21. The Anti-Helicopter Parent’s Plea: Let Kids Play!

“Mike is a deep believer in the idea that ‘kids have to find their own balance of power.’ He wants his boys to create their own society governed by its own rules. He consciously transformed his family’s house into a kid hangout, spreading the word that local children were welcome to play in the yard anytime, even when the family wasn’t home. Discontented with the expensive, highly structured summer camps typical of the area, Mike started one of his own: Camp Yale, named after his street, where the kids make their own games and get to roam the neighborhood.”

22. A Six-Day Walk Through the Alps, Inspired by Simone de Beauvoir

“Beauvoir is remembered as a philosopher, feminist and novelist, not as an outdoorswoman, and yet pages of her memoirs are taken up with descriptions of the hikes she took in her 20s and 30s: in the Maritime Alps, the Haute-Loire, in Brittany, in the Jura, in Auvergne, in the Midi. Since the publication of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild or even Robyn Davidson’s Tracks, it has become commonplace to see the solo excursion in the wilderness as a possible experience of feminine catharsis. Beauvoir abhorred sentimentalism in her writing and seemed constitutionally incapable of contriving a sudden epiphany after cresting a peak, but it turns out that in addition to all of her philosophical contributions she is a forgotten pioneer of this genre of memoir.”

23. William Eggleston, the Pioneer of Color Photography

“Eggleston’s images can trick you if you’re not careful. You have to look at them, then you have to look again and then keep looking until the reason he took the picture kind of clicks in your chest.”

24. The Pieces of Zadie Smith

“Novelists are like fur trappers. They disappear into the north woods for months or years at a time, sometimes never to reemerge, giving in to despair out there, or going native (taking a real job, in other words), or catching their legs in their own traps and bleeding out, silently, into the snow. The lucky ones return, laden with pelts.”

25. Kerry James Marshall Is Shifting the Color of Art History

“From the historical sense that, throughout the American experiment, very little has been possible for black people; to a generational sense that, despite a great deal of change in American society through time, a great deal still isn’t possible; to Marshall’s personal sense that, nonetheless, everything is possible: That’s the short version of the story that his work has been telling — mostly in paint but also in sculpture, photography and installations — since he became the first member of his family to go to college, graduating from Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles in 1978.”

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