Sunday 11.27.2016 New York Times Digest


1. An Indian Protest for Everyone

“The Standing Rock protesters are making the argument that the pipeline threatens not just tribal land and resources but American land and resources.”

2. New York’s Vanishing Diner Culture

“Urban renewal, astronomical rents, changing eating habits and the preponderance of no-refill coffee places like Starbucks have all contributed to the demise of the New York diner. There are roughly half as many as there were 20 years ago….”

3. Trump’s Election? Some Students Are Too Busy to Worry

“Members of the well-meaning liberal ruling order were sure they knew what the poor and working class thought and felt. Talking to some of LaGuardia’s students, one is reminded of how much more easily the American narrative of self-reliance is adopted by people who have come here from somewhere else, compelled by their aspirations and not yet immunized against the mythologies.”

4. Choke Point of a Nation: The High Cost of an Aging River Lock

“If corn cannot get to the factories, the price of any grain-based product will go up, and people will say, ‘What do you mean I’ve got to pay $10 for a box of cornflakes? Are you out of your mind?’”

5. Anger Rooms: A Smashing New Way to Relieve Stress

“The Anger Room charges $25 for five minutes of crushing printers, alarm clocks, glass cups, vases and the like. Prices rise to about $500 for custom room setups. The most expensive setup so far has been a faux retail store, replete with racks of clothing.”

6. Why I Left White Nationalism

“I never would have begun my own conversations without first experiencing clear and passionate outrage to what I believed from those I interacted with. Now is the time for me to pass on that outrage by clearly and unremittingly denouncing the people who used a wave of white anger to take the White House.”

7. The Saloon, America’s Forgotten Democratic Institution

“Saloons were once everywhere in America, from urban alleys to rural crossroads. They were about more than drinking; from the 1860s through 1920, they dominated social life for the laboring majority building a new industrial nation. By 1897 there were roughly a quarter of a million saloons, or 23 for every Starbucks franchise today.”

8. Actually, Let’s Not Be in the Moment

“Mindfulness is supposed to be a defense against the pressures of modern life, but it’s starting to feel suspiciously like it’s actually adding to them.”

9. Flossing and the Art of Scientific Investigation

“Distrusting expertise makes it easy to confuse an absence of randomized evaluations with an absence of knowledge.”

10. La La Land Makes Musicals Matter Again

“Contemporary American movies could use more s’wonderful, more music and dance, and way, way more surrealism. They’re too dull, too ordinary and too straight, whether they’re mired in superhero clichés or remodeled kitchen-sink realism. One of the transformative pleasures of musicals is that even at their most choreographed, they break from conformity, the dos and don’ts of a regimented life, suggesting the possibility that everyone can move to her own beat.”

11. Long Before ‘Hamilton’ Brouhaha, Theater Was Anything but Polite

“Far more so than the voting booth (which restricted who could vote not only on the basis of race and gender, but also on the basis of wealth, meaning only half of white men were eligible to vote in 1800), the theater itself was a place where people of many different classes, races and religions — including African-Americans, Native Americans, Jews, Muslims, working-class whites and immigrant Irishmen — appeared onstage and often in the audience as well.”

12. What Is the Color of Beauty?

“They are banning the products that give women lighter skin (although no one believes the ban will work) without banning the social messaging that tells women they should have lighter skin.”

13. The AIDS Fight: Andrew Sullivan on a History of the Movement

“AIDS was not an early crisis that finally abated; it was a slowly building mass death experience. The year with the most corpses in America was 1995. The darkest night really was just before the dawn.”

14. Steven Johnson on How Play Shaped the World

“‘Play’ here designates by turns novelty, delight, sport, games, prettiness, music of any kind, gambling, magic shows, spectacles, illusions and fashion. The word slips and skips like a pinball. If Johnson can show that the primary purpose of some pastime is not, strictly speaking, money, war or sex, he labels it play and closes his case. His pinball manages to light a lot of stuff up, so it’s hard to begrudge him this sometimes reckless game.”

15. Good at Skipping Ads? No, You’re Not

“The realization that something you thought to be ‘real’ is actually an advertisement is an increasingly common, if unsettling, sensation. Mara Einstein calls it ‘content confusion,’ and if her book, Black Ops Advertising, is right, we’re in for even more such trickery, indeed a possible future where nearly everything becomes hidden commercial propaganda of one form or another. She forecasts the potential of a ‘world where there is no real content: Everything we experience is some form of sales pitch.’”

16. Are Domestic Responsibilities at Odds With Becoming a Great Artist?

“n the end, what’s mysterious, worth aspiring to and impossible to prescribe for anyone else are the conviction and fortitude that allow some creators to do their best possible work in whatever circumstances they find themselves, whether in a remote hut adorned by a single calla lily or a cluttered and sometimes noisy kitchen with an unknown but truly impressive quantity of rainbow sequins scattered across the floor.”

17. The Identity Politics of Whiteness

“If whiteness is no longer the default and is to be treated as an identity — even, soon, a ‘minority’ — then perhaps it is time white people considered the disadvantages of being a race. The next time a white man bombs an abortion clinic or goes on a shooting rampage on a college campus, white people might have to be lectured on religious tolerance and called upon to denounce the violent extremists in their midst. The opioid epidemic in today’s white communities could be treated the way we once treated the crack epidemic in black ones — not as a failure of the government to take care of its people but as a failure of the race. The fact that this has not happened, nor is it likely to, only serves as evidence that white Americans can still escape race.”

18. Is Social Media Disconnecting Us From the Big Picture?

“I knew about Eli Pariser’s theory on filter bubbles, or the idea that online personalization distorts the type of information we see, and even so, I still chose to let algorithms shape how I perceive the world. Everything I could want to see is available at my fingertips, and yet I didn’t look.”

19. The Passion of Martin Scorsese

“For half a century, Scorsese has been a missionary for the cinema: making his own movies, promoting the work of great international directors, consolidating the history of the medium in a brilliant group of documentaries and advocating for the preservation of classics. Over time, this picture of his about a missionary adventure became a mission in its own right, and the act of getting it made became an act of faith.”

20. Billionaires vs. the Press in the Era of Trump

“What’s new here are two forces squeezing journalism like pincers. The first is a figure like Thiel, willing to place bets on lawsuit after lawsuit until he hits on a winning combination of facts, judge and jury. The second is the public’s animosity toward the press, now fueled by the soon-to-be president.”

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