Sunday 1.22.2017 New York Times Digest


1. How Marches in Washington Have Shaped America

“From the suffrage processions of the early 20th century to the Tea Party rallies of 2009, marches have drawn attention to crucial issues, occasionally resulted in violence and often prompted opposing gatherings.”

2. San Francisco Asks: Where Have All the Children Gone?

“It’s starting to feel like a no-kids type of city.”

3. At Student Loan Giant Navient, Troubled Past Was Prologue

“In a lengthy complaint, the bureau said Navient, which oversees $300 billion in student loans for 12.5 million borrowers, failed customers ‘at every stage of repayment.’”

4. Wind Power Tests the Waters

“The appeal of offshore winds as an energy source goes beyond their potential role in efforts to slow global warming. As people flock to coastal cities, where land is scarce and expensive, and conventional power plants are moving toward retirement, states have looked to add new forms of power production. Moving it out to sea has become more attractive, proponents say.”

5. Seniors Welcome New, Battery-Powered Friends

“Their new pal has a screen for a head and scuttles around on wheels. The lure was being able to connect more easily with their families via video calls. The couple were immediately smitten. They have named the robot Jimmy.”

6. How to Listen to Donald Trump Every Day for Years

“The truth is that President Trump’s choppy, rambling self-expression is not so exotic. A great many thoroughly intelligent people talk more like Donald Trump than they might know. What’s new is that someone who talks like this in public has become the president of the United States.”

7. America’s Great Working-Class Colleges

“Working-class colleges have become vastly larger engines of social mobility. The new data shows, for example, that the City University of New York system propelled almost six times as many low-income students into the middle class and beyond as all eight Ivy League campuses, plus Duke, M.I.T., Stanford and Chicago, combined.”

8. The Conversation Placebo

“The simple conversation between doctor and patient can be as potent an analgesic as many treatments we prescribe.”

9. Racial Progress Is Real. But So Is Racist Progress.

“Mr. Obama sees in America’s messiness and complexity a single historical force taking steps forward and backward on race. But what if there have been two historical forces at work: a dual and dueling history of racial progress and the simultaneous progression of racism? What if President Trump does not represent a step back, but a step forward?”

10. The Internet of Things Is Coming for Us

“The modern world is full of such opportunities for chaos, often created by humans and the increasing sophistication and technology-centeredness of modern life. A solar flare has the potential to disrupt electrical networks. A tsunami can flood a nuclear reactor. The digitalization of stock markets leads to flash crashes. Russian hackers stealing Democratic Party emails seek to influence an American presidential election. Order gives way to chaos. The internet of things turns on its makers.”

11. The America We Lost When Trump Won

“Yet when I say that I have lost the America I knew, I’m not talking about policy, or even fundamental rights, disorienting as their loss would be. I mean a greater, almost spiritual faith that I had in my fellow citizens and their better instincts, something that served as my north star in all I wrote and all I did.”

12. Does Breast Milk Have a Sex Bias?

“In recent years, evidence has emerged suggesting that in various mammalian species, breast milk — which is, of course, a resource that can be given to children — is tailored for the sex of each offspring. For example, macaque monkey mothers produce richer milk (with higher gross energy and fat content) for sons than for daughters, but also provide greater quantities of milk and higher concentrations of calcium for daughters than for sons.”

13. In Beijing, and Washington, a Breath of Foul Air

“What Mr. Trump denounced during a campaign speech to West Virginia coal miners as ‘these ridiculous rules and regulations that make it impossible for you to compete’ actually kept Americans alive and made the country more competitive.”

14. The Tempting of the Media

“Trump comes to power as a destroyer of norms, a flouter of conventions, and everyone will be tempted to join the carnival — to escalate when he escalates, to radicalize whenever he turns authoritarian.”

15. Burgers, Fries and a Couple of Wiseguys

“I see how the McDonald brothers transformed, for good or for ill, how America eats — and frankly how the world eats. It was in some ways more transforming to our bodies than the Model A. I think that’s both a triumph and a bit chilling. That transforms American capitalism from personal success based on hard work and quality of work, to inventive, dominant business models. When the McDonald brothers were developing the way to get you your sandwich in 30 seconds and not 30 minutes, they didn’t foresee that it would take the place of the family dinner every day. It has ramifications around my own midsection that I didn’t see coming.”

16. The Smothers Brothers and the Birth of TV Buzz

“Some of the material that made it onto the air was pointed enough to raise eyebrows even today. A series of sketches in a December 1967 episode, for instance, mocked the American obsession with guns mercilessly. In one bit, a game-show contestant was to take shots at three hidden figures in hopes of killing either a stranger, a celebrity or his own wife.”

17. The Protest Playlist, From the Hip-Hop Duo Run the Jewels

“The Times offered the group a chance to make a playlist of protest songs, given the current wave of discontent on both sides of American politics.”

18. Melania Trump’s ‘America First’ Inaugural Wardrobe

“The politics of clothing may be subtle, and may strike some as frivolous, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a requisite part of the pageantry that surrounds the presidency — especially on a day with more photo opportunities than speeches. They paint a picture of the family that now represents the country, of their ambitions, goals and values, at a moment when the world is watching. This time, the brush strokes swirled: not with accessibility, but with aspiration, and nationalism.”

19. For Taste of Farm Life, There’s No Place Like a Homestead

“The rise of so-called slow living has inspired many to migrate from cities to rural hamlets. For all its idiosyncrasies — walls lined with tin cans and glass bottles, rainwater collection systems, the attached greenhouse — the Earthship in Freeville, N.Y., is now one of several hundred listings appearing on short-term rental websites like Airbnb, VRBO and Hipcamp that promote a relaxed, environmentally friendly approach to travel and a 21st-century take on homesteading.”

20. What Do They Want? Graeme Wood Speaks With Supporters of ISIS

“The most novel aspect of Wood’s book is that he shows, convincingly, that the stifling and abhorrent practices of the Islamic State are rooted in Islam itself — not mainstream Islam, but in scriptures and practices that have persisted for centuries. There’s no use denying it. ‘For years now, the Islamic State and its supporters have been producing essays, fatwas, … films and tweets at an industrial pace,’ Wood writes. ‘In studying them we see a coherent view of the world rooted in a minority interpretation of Islamic scripture that has existed, in various forms, for almost as long as the religion itself.’ That goes for the most barbarous practices as well: ‘Slavery has been practiced by Muslims for most of Islamic history, and it was practiced without apology by Muhammad and his companions, who owned slaves and had sex with them.’”

21. We’ve Been Here Before: Jon Meecham on the Literature of Our Discontent

“The 45th president of the United States comes to office at a calmer time than the 32nd did, but Donald Trump’s demagogic populism and his movement’s willingness to traffic in ethnic and racial stereotypes have put many Americans in the mind of the chaos of the 1930s. From Long to Charles Coughlin, we have been here before. Some fiction from the period … repay attention as we seek our bearings now.”

22. Reading the Classic Novel That Predicted Trump

It Can’t Happen Here is a work of dystopian fantasy, one man’s effort in the 1930s to imagine what it might look like if fascism came to America. At the time, the obvious specter was Adolf Hitler, whose rise to power in Germany provoked fears that men like the Louisiana senator Huey Long or the radio priest Charles Coughlin might accomplish a similar feat in the United States. Today, Lewis’s novel is making a comeback as an analogy for the Age of Trump.”

23. How Did Rumi Become One of Our Best-Selling Poets?

“Few religious figures in the history of civilization have as successfully crossed borders of faith, language and geography as nimbly as Jalal al-Din Mohammad Rumi, the great 13th-century theologian and mystic poet.”

24. For Better Vision, Let the Sunshine In

“A lack of direct sunlight may reshape the human eye and impair vision.”

25. Letter of Recommendation: Hot-Water Bottles

“I feel about hot-water bottles the way Sylvia Plath felt about baths: There must be quite a few things they won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them.”

26. When the National Bird Is a Burden

“Harris is an idealist, the kind of all-natural farmer whose cows finish on grass, whose birds run free, whose goats and sheep transform overgrown land. His faith in biodiverse, sustainable methods has only been affirmed by his multimillion-dollar annual revenues. And not that he would, but shooting a bald eagle is punishable by a $100,000 fine and a year in prison. Whatever was to be done about the eagles, Harris’s farm would work with nature, not fight against it. But as he would discover, that’s not as easy as it sounds.”

27. To Obama With Love, and Hate, and Desperation

“At the beginning of his first term, President Obama said he wanted to read his mail. He said he would like to see 10 letters a day. After that, the 10LADs, as they came to be called, were put in a purple folder and added to the back of the briefing book he took with him to the residence on the second floor of the White House each night.”

28. Who Decides Who Counts as Native American?

“Outside the lands legally known as ‘Indian Country,’ ‘membership’ and ‘enrollment’ are such blandly bureaucratic words that it’s easy to lose sight of how much they matter there. To the 566 federally recognized tribal nations, the ability to determine who is and isn’t part of a tribe is an essential element of what makes tribes sovereign entities. To individuals, membership means citizenship and all the emotional ties and treaty rights that come with it. To be disenrolled is to lose that citizenship: to become stateless. It can also mean the loss of a broader identity, because recognition by a tribe is the most accepted way to prove you are Indian — not just Nooksack but Native American at all.”

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