Sunday 3.19.2017 New York Times Digest

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1. Books Can Take You Places Donald Trump Doesn’t Want You to Go

“The most magical moments in reading occur not when I encounter something unknown but when I happen upon myself, when I read a sentence that perfectly describes something I have known or felt all along. I am reminded then that I am really no different from anyone else.”

2. Norman Podhoretz Still Picks Fights and Drops Names

“It’s hard to imagine today, but people actually came to blows over literary disagreements.”

3. How Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, Cancer Expert, Spends His Sundays

“We don’t have a television. The girls don’t complain because they don’t know any better, and with them sleeping, Sarah and I will talk for a few hours. Then, we’ll get into bed and read again. Eventually, maybe around 11, we fall asleep.”

4. Where Fountain Pens Are Saved and Sold

“It slows you down. It makes you think about what you’re writing.”

5. What if Sociologists Had as Much Influence as Economists?

“Sociologists spend their careers trying to understand how societies work. And some of the most pressing problems in big chunks of the United States may show up in economic data as low employment levels and stagnant wages but are also evident in elevated rates of depression, drug addiction and premature death. In other words, economics is only a piece of a broader, societal problem. So maybe the people who study just that could be worth listening to.”

6. How Liberal Colleges Breed Conservative Firebrands

“Life on the defensive can also foster a kind of ideological contrarianism that can curdle into reactionary politics.”

7. The Fake Freedom of American Health Care

“If you can’t afford it, not buying it is hardly a choice.”

8. Chickens Can Help Save Wildlife

“A study last year identified bushmeat hunting as the primary threat pushing 301 mammal species worldwide toward extinction. The victims include bonobo apes, one of our closet living relatives, and Grauer’s gorillas, the world’s largest. (The latter have recently lost about 80 percent of their population, hunted down by mining camp crews with shotguns and AK-47s. Much of the mining is for a product integral to our cultural identities, a mineral used in the circuit boards of our cellphones.)”

9. The Seasons Aren’t What They Used to Be

“Early spring felt good; early spring felt dreadful. Now, whiplash as we slam into a snowbank. This is the motion sickness of climate change: The world lurches, and our bodies know that all is not well. What we experienced as spring, a predictable appearance of buds and birds, is passing away. Our children will live in uncharted, unnamed seasons.”

10. What My Red State Sees in Me

“This kind of denial of racism was common behavior in Austin. People here were so attached to their idea of a liberal city that they couldn’t see that it was strikingly segregated; that, till the 1970s, Austin had promoted a policy of segregation, pushing African-Americans and Hispanics to the East Side. They were now being weeded out of that area by gentrification (among the 10 fastest-growing major American cities, Austin is the only one losing its black population).”

11. Ignore the Snobs, Drink the Cheap, Delicious Wine

“More than 60 additives can legally be added to wine, and aside from the preservative sulfur dioxide, winemakers aren’t required to disclose any of them.”

12. Make America Singapore

“Health insurance should be, like other forms of insurance, something that protects you against serious illnesses and pays unexpected bills but doesn’t cover more everyday expenses. People need catastrophic coverage, but otherwise they should spend their own money whenever possible, because that’s the best way to bring normal market pressures to bear on health care services, driving down costs without strangling medical innovation.”

13. With Her Dating App, Women Are in Control

“I think a lot of the dysfunction around dating has to do with men having the control. So how do we put more control in women’s hands?”

14. These Women’s Magazines Aren’t Just for Women

“At least five new publications with women at the helm have started since 2010, running deeply reported articles on culture, politics and style that are often several thousand words. The magazines seek to redefine how women are portrayed in print, and who might want to read stories by and about them.”

15. G.O.P.’s Health Care Tightrope Winds Through the Blue-Collar Midwest + Rural Areas Brace for a Shortage of Doctors Due to Visa Policy

“As Republicans in Washington grapple with how to meet their promise of undoing the greatest expansion of health care coverage since the Great Society, they are struggling with what may be an irreconcilable problem: bridging the vast gulf between the expectations of blue-collar voters … who propelled Mr. Trump to the presidency, and longstanding party orthodoxy that it is not the federal government’s role to provide benefits to a wide swath of society.”

16. Margaret Atwood on What ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Means in the Age of Trump

“One of my rules was that I would not put any events into the book that had not already happened in what James Joyce called the ‘nightmare’ of history, nor any technology not already available. No imaginary gizmos, no imaginary laws, no imaginary atrocities. God is in the details, they say. So is the Devil.”

17. The Future of Humans? One Forecaster Calls for Obsolescence + Ray Kurzweil on How We’ll End Up Merging With Our Technology

“Harari is not the first to describe this progression of the human species, but his account may well be one of the most chilling to date.”

18. Opposing Views on What to Do About the Data We Create

“Both books are meant to scare us, and the central theme is privacy: Without intervention, they suggest, we’ll come to regret today’s inaction. I agree, but the authors miss the real horror show on the horizon. The future’s fundamental infrastructure is being built by computer scientists, data scientists, network engineers and security experts just like Weigend and Mitnick, who do not recognize their own biases. This encodes an urgent flaw in the foundation itself. The next layer will be just a little off, along with the next one and the one after that, as the problems compound.”

19. Tinkers and Tailors: Three Books Look to the Biomedical Frontier

“Today’s big ethical issues in biomedicine are not about safety but often more profound questions of parental control over their children’s future; personal identity; and the importance of mortality to being human. And yet these books — and much of American culture — have a hard time engaging with these fundamental questions.”

20. Which Dystopian Novel Got It Right: Orwell’s ‘1984’ or Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’?

“Huxley believed that his version of dystopia was the more plausible one. In a 1949 letter, thanking Orwell for sending him a copy of 1984, he wrote that he really didn’t think all that torture and jackbooting was necessary to subdue a population, and that he believed his own book offered a better solution. All you need to do, he said, is teach people to love their servitude.”

21. The Magician Who Wants to Break Magic

“His conviction — one he articulates with winning passion and occasional Shakespeare-quoting grandiosity — is that magic offers a means of exploring ideas just as complex, and of provoking emotions just as powerful, as those encountered in any other art form.”

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