Sunday 3.26.2017 New York Times Digest

Save Gas

1. What You Can Do About Climate Change

“If every American household drove a vehicle getting 56 miles per gallon, it would reduce U.S. emissions by 10 percent.”

2. Going Under the Knife, With Eyes and Ears Wide Open

“More surgery is being performed with the patient awake and looking on, for both financial and medical reasons. But as surgical patients are electing to keep their eyes wide open, doctor-patient protocol has not kept pace with the new practice. Patients can become unnerved by a seemingly ominous silence, or put off by what passes for office humor. Doctors are only beginning to realize that when a patient is alert, it is just not O.K. to say: ‘Oops!’ or ‘I wasn’t expecting that,’ or even ‘Oh, my God, what are you doing?!’”

3. Amazon’s Ambitions Unboxed: Stores for Furniture, Appliances and More

“Amazon is slowly building a fleet of physical stores.”

4.Banks and Tech Firms Battle Over Something Akin to Gold: Your Data

“Both sides see big money to be made from the reams of highly personal information created by financial transactions.”

5. When Others Die, Tontine Investors Win

“Tontines became popular in 17th-century Europe, largely to help governments raise money to fight wars. A group of people would invest equal amounts in a fund run by the government, and in turn would draw an annuity — an annual payment — until they died. The annual payments of surviving members increased as others died, and the last one standing wound up with the entire dividend. Upon that last investor’s death, the arrangement terminated.”

6. Justice Springs Eternal

“The movement for a more merciful criminal justice system had begun to seem, if not unstoppable, at least plenty powerful.”

7. Not Leadership Material? Good. The World Needs Followers.

“What if we said to college applicants that the qualities we’re looking for are not leadership skills, but excellence, passion and a desire to contribute beyond the self? This framework would encompass exceptional team captains and class presidents. But it wouldn’t make leadership the be-all and end-all.”

8. The Love Letters of Manly Men

“Tenderness hidden behind a tough guy facade may explain why an immaculately handwritten love letter from the slugger Joe DiMaggio to Marilyn Monroe went for far more ($62,500) than any of the several typewritten love letters to her from the playwright Arthur Miller ($1,024 to $9,728). Miller had an easier time expressing his feelings, but his prolixity comes off, perhaps, as more annoying than enchanting. For context, one of Ms. Monroe’s brassieres went for $16,000.”

9. After Great Pain, Where Is God?

“While it’s fine for Christians to say God will comfort people in their pain, if a child dies, if the cancer doesn’t go into remission, if the marriage breaks apart, how much good is that exactly?”

10. The Perverse Thrill of Chaotic Times

“As Donald J. Trump helms arguably the most turbulent presidency since Richard M. Nixon’s, the nation is entering an era of volatility unseen for decades (post-9/11 excepted). And for some people (even the president’s opponents), the climate of crisis inspires a perverse thrill.”

11. It’s Not Just Unfair: Inequality Is a Threat to Our Governance

“Perhaps the least familiar and most intriguing policy proposal that Sitaraman discusses is the idea of reviving the Roman tribunate: 51 citizens would be selected by lot from the bottom 90 percent of the income distribution. They would be able to veto one statute, one executive order and one Supreme Court decision each year; they would be able to call a referendum, and impeach federal officials.”

12. Fran Lebowitz: By the Book

“My idea of a great literary dinner party is Fran, eating alone, reading a book.”

13. The Tooth Divide: Beauty, Class and the Story of Dentistry

The dividing line between the classes might be starkest between those who spend thousands of dollars on a gleaming smile and those who suffer and even die from preventable tooth decay.

14. After Dylan’s Nobel, What Makes a Poet a Poet?

“Culture is less a series of peaceable, adjacent neighborhoods, each inhabited by different art forms, than a jungle in which various animals claim whatever territory is there for the taking.”

15. How ‘Un-American’ Became the Political Insult of the Moment

“As a point of strategy, it may behoove Democrats to embrace patriotic or nationalistic language — to insist that there is more than one way to make America great. As a matter of history, however, this tends to obscure the bitter and enduring conflicts of the past. During election season, many Democrats apparently believed their own story, assuming that Americans were too dedicated to the expansion of liberty to elect Donald Trump. His victory is a reminder that, despite the country’s fondness for aspirational rhetoric, our illiberal traditions have serious staying power, too.”

16. Platform Companies Are Becoming More Powerful — but What Exactly Do They Want?

“Platforms are, in a sense, capitalism distilled to its essence. They are proudly experimental and maximally consequential, prone to creating externalities and especially disinclined to address or even acknowledge what happens beyond their rising walls. And accordingly, platforms are the underlying trend that ties together popular narratives about technology and the economy in general. Platforms provide the substructure for the ‘gig economy’ and the ‘sharing economy’; they’re the economic engine of social media; they’re the architecture of the ‘attention economy’ and the inspiration for claims about the ‘end of ownership.’”

17. Letter of Recommendation: Kidz Bop

“The oddest thing about Kidz Bop is that these defanged versions have a much more perverse bite than their source material. Racy as the originals may be, at least they have adults singing about adult lust and adult plight. With Kidz Bop, the tykes unwittingly present themselves as fireballs of rage and libido, bemoaning their deadbeat boyfriends, exalting their plump rumps and ‘goodies’ that ‘make the boys jump on it’ and ‘starving’ for intercourse.”

18. The Wonder of Three Ingredients

“The peppery, fiery radishes are tamed by the swipe through the cool, creamy butter, and then the flavors of both are brought out by the salt. The radishes are so cold and crunchy and spicy, and they have a mildly sulfuric note. The butter is unexpectedly sweet in contrast. It’s addictive.”

19. Why Does Mount Rushmore Exist?

“Mount Rushmore is not just big; it is about bigness — a monument to monumentalism. Borglum was obsessed with America’s size: the heroic story of a handful of tiny East Coast settlements growing to engulf an entire continent. The four presidents were chosen largely for their roles in this expansion.”

20. In the Land of Giants

“The delirium of their size is enhanced by their age, by the knowledge that some of the oldest sequoias predate our best tools for processing and communicating phenomena like sequoias, that the trees are older than the English language and most of the world’s major religions — older by centuries, easily, even millenniums.”

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