Sunday 2.26.2017 New York Times Digest


1. America’s Best Picture? All of Them

“Each of these movies, in other words, is about the struggle for individual and cultural self-definition — and the challenge of allowing for all those competing self-definitions to flourish and coexist within some larger American community. They are portraits of a nation fragmented by race, class, culture and geography.”

2. For Marketers, TV Sets Are an Invaluable Pair of Eyes

“The marketing company said, ‘We’re going to ask you to put this device in your home, connect it to your TV and they’re going to watch you for the Olympics to see how you like it, what sports, your expression, who’s around.’ And I said, ‘Whatever, I have nothing to hide.’”

3. Amazon Deforestation, Once Tamed, Comes Roaring Back

“A decade after the ‘Save the Rainforest’ movement forced changes that dramatically slowed deforestation across the Amazon basin, activity is roaring back in some of the biggest expanses of forests in the world. That resurgence, driven by the world’s growing appetite for soy and other agricultural crops, is raising the specter of a backward slide in efforts to preserve biodiversity and fight climate change.”

4. For Millionaire Immigrants, a Global Welcome Mat

“The wealthy today don’t have a country.”

5. Not From Venus, Not From Mars

“With keen precision and sharp humor, Fine shows how deeply our assumptions about gender are embedded in the questions that we — scientists, journalists and the rest of us — pose, the analogies we choose, even the options we’re offered on surveys. Built into the very structures of our thinking is the notion of women as less: less lustful, less competitive, less aggressive than men. Fine holds one such belief after another up to the light and wonders: How do we know this is true? Often, it turns out, it’s not true to the extent we imagine, or not true at all.”

6. What Happens Next (or Doesn’t)

“Published in 1928 by William Wallace Cook, an inhumanly prolific pulp fiction writer, and reissued in 2011, the book purports to be an exhaustive breakdown of what might be every possible plot on earth (all 1,462, apparently), cross-referenced when appropriate. An example: Start with #A9: ‘A Person Subjected to Adverse Conditions.’ Amp up the conflict with #B56: ‘Seeking to test the value of a mysterious communication and becoming involved in weird complexities.’ Resolve with #C13: ‘Comes finally to the blank wall of enigma.’ Mix it all together, shake and … Plotto!”

7. A History of Race and Racism in America, in 24 Chapters

“On the occasion of Black History Month, I’ve selected the most influential books on race and the black experience published in the United States for each decade of the nation’s existence — a history of race through ideas, arranged chronologically on the shelf.”

8. A New Book on Cannibalism Says It’s Not as Rare as We Once Thought

“Early in its pages we learn that almost everybody does it: not just in China, or the Donner party, or the New Guinea highlanders whose practice of eating the brains of dead relatives spread the deadly neurological disease kuru (though there’s plenty on these examples, too, in the book). Europeans, we read, ‘routinely consumed human blood, bones, skin, guts and body parts’ for hundreds of years. Cannibalism, in fact, is not that unusual.”

9. Have We Lost Sight of the Promise of Public Schools?

“We began moving away from the ‘public’ in public education a long time ago. In fact, treating public schools like a business these days is largely a matter of fact in many places. Parents have pushed for school-choice policies that encourage shopping for public schools that they hope will give their children an advantage and for the expansion of charter schools that are run by private organizations with public funds. Large numbers of public schools have selective admissions policies that keep most kids out. And parents pay top dollar to buy into neighborhoods zoned to ‘good’ public schools that can be as exclusive as private ones. The glaring reality is, whether we are talking about schools or other institutions, it seems as if we have forgotten what ‘public’ really means.”

10. How to Block Out Pain

“Active engagement in challenges that are important to you can override the feeling of pain. Tauben shares a slide with his students showing a print of a medieval Arab warrior who is using his own cut-off leg as a weapon.”

11. Divisions Of Labor

“In the new economic landscape of low-paid service jobs, some of the old nostrums of the left have stopped making sense.”

12. Learning to Love Our Robot Co-Workers

“Fewer than 5 percent of careers can be completely automated using existing technology — but ‘about half of all the activities people are paid to do in the world’s work force could potentially be.’”

13. The Jobs Americans Do

“The emerging face of the American working class is a Hispanic woman who has never set foot on a factory floor.”

14. The Retraining Paradox

“There’s a strange disconnect between two of the big narratives about the American blue-collar work force right now. In one story, there is a population of unemployed and underemployed working-class adults for whom well-paying work seems increasingly out of reach; their jobs have gone overseas or become automated, and they find themselves working retail, or not working at all. But an apparently conflicting story comes from American employers, which have been insisting for years that they have a hard time finding workers to fill many skilled blue-collar jobs.”

15. The Future of Not Working

“A universal basic income has thus far lacked what tech folks might call a proof of concept. There have been a handful of experiments, including ones in Canada, India and Namibia. Finland is sending money to unemployed people, and the Dutch city Utrecht is doing a trial run, too. But no experiment has been truly complete, studying what happens when you give a whole community money for an extended period of time — when nobody has to worry where his or her next meal is coming from or fear the loss of a job or the birth of a child.”


Comments are closed.