Sunday 2.19.2017 New York Times Digest


1. An Elegy for the Library

“Computers are much too costly for many families. Even books remain out of reach. The library’s website lists ‘uninterrupted lighting’ as one of its services — a real draw in a city that suffers from frequent power cutoffs. This is a place of refuge. It offers a respite from the heat, from office life, from noisy households, from all the irritations that crowd in. It also offers the intangible entanglements of a common space. One of my favorite descriptions of the public library comes from the journalist and academic Sophie Mayer, who has called it ‘the ideal model of society, the best possible shared space,’ because there ‘each person is pursuing their own aim (education, entertainment, affect, rest) with respect to others, through the best possible medium of the transmission of ideas, feelings and knowledge — the book.’”

2. Mexico City, Parched and Sinking, Faces a Water Crisis

“Much is being written about climate change and the impact of rising seas on waterfront populations. But coasts are not the only places affected. Mexico City — high in the mountains, in the center of the country — is a glaring example.”

3. The Ultimate Pursuit in Hunting: Sheep

“Non-hunters often presume that the biggest prize in North America is something large and fierce — some kind of bear, perhaps, or an elk, a moose or a mountain lion. But the widespread belief among serious hunters is that rams are the ultimate pursuit. That is for two reasons. One, opportunities to hunt sheep are scarce, and often prohibitively expensive. Two, the hunts are among the most difficult, often lasting weeks in some of the most remote regions on Earth.”

4. A Bee Mogul Confronts the Crisis in His Field

“There would be no almond crop — not to mention avocados, apples, cherries and alfalfa — without honeybees. Of the 100 crops that account for 90 percent of the food eaten around the globe, 71 rely on bee pollination, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.”

5. Are Liberals Helping Trump?

“Protests and righteous indignation on social media and in Hollywood may seem to liberals to be about policy and persuasion. But moderate conservatives say they are having the opposite effect, chipping away at their middle ground and pushing them closer to Mr. Trump.”

6. Name Brand Nostalgia

“While my mother was in charge of packing the paisley, non-rolling suitcases, the toilet articles bag was my father’s domain. Into its navy blue plastic he put all those brands I associate with my childhood — Sea and Ski, Bayer aspirin, Noxzema.”

7. First, Sex Ed. Then Death Ed.

“I am a passionate advocate for educating teenagers to be responsible about their sexuality. And I believe it is past time for us to educate them also about death, an equally important stage of life, and one for which the consequences of poor preparedness are as bad, arguably worse. Ideally this education would come early, well before it’s likely to be needed.”

8. Jordan Peele on a Truly Terrifying Monster: Racism

“Society is the scariest monster.”

9. Apocalypse Now: Wattle Mood of Today’hat’s Behind the Vols American — and European — Voters

“His premise is that broad swaths of the globe are retracing the past, reliving the same traumas and violent dislocations that accompanied Europe’s transition to modernity in the 18th and 19th centuries. A trauma felt most acutely by the ‘young man of promise’ in the countries late arriving to capitalism and Enlightenment, especially Germany and Russia. The prospect of freedom and cultural transformation stirred unachievable expectations, which predictably ended in humiliation and rage.”

10. Which Canonical Work is Frequently and Frustratingly Misread?

“Empires fall, and usually deserve to: This is not a message with much purchase among American politicians, especially those who most ostentatiously flaunt their faith. If they read the Bible, they would find the story, on page after page after page, of the predictable fate of nations that abandon their covenants: ‘Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled; suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment.’”

11. Is the ‘Anthropocene’ Epoch a Condemnation of Human Interference — or a Call for More?

“While humanists have bent the Anthropocene to serve their own purposes, technologists have turned what began as a call for radical austerity into a renewed push for significant technological advances.”

12. Letter of Recommendation: Presidential Biographies

“Presidential biographies don’t tell you that everything is going to be O.K., but rather that nothing was ever really O.K. to begin with. And yet, for hundreds of years, Americans have not only survived heartbreaking, backbreaking periods but also stood tall in them. My advice, for these divisive times, is to find the perspective that history gives us. The next time you feel anxious or incensed, or even if you feel hopeful and gratified, turn off the television. Close your laptop. Silence your phone. Go ahead and put it screen-side down for the rest of the evening.”

13. These ’80s Artists Are More Important Than Ever

“Our present bedazzlement-by-pixels was anticipated by a loosely affiliated group of artists who emerged in New York in the mid-1970s and early ’80s — before iPhones, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. ‘The Pictures Generation’ has become a ubiquitous, awkward catchall term, probably abrasive to the artists themselves, for something that was less an organized movement than a heterogeneous expression of a zeitgeist. Their art was connected by an interest in examining power and identity in a media-saturated, politically uncertain age.”

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