Sunday 4.16.2017 New York Times Digest

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1. Is American Retail at a Historic Tipping Point? + From ‘Zombie Malls’ to Bonobos: What America’s Retail Transformation Looks Like

“About one out of every 10 Americans works in retail.”

2. Supply-Side Economics, but for Liberals

“Certain social welfare policies, according to an emerging body of research, may actually encourage more people to work and enable them to do so more productively.”

3. Why You Should Read Books You Hate

“It was only by burrowing through books that I hated, books that provoked feelings of outrage and indignation, that I truly learned how to read. Defensiveness makes you a better reader, a closer, more skeptical reader: a critic. Arguing with the author in your head forces you to gather opposing evidence. You may find yourself turning to other texts with determination, stowing away facts, fighting against the book at hand. You may find yourself developing a point of view.”

4. What Kind of Pet Should Donald Trump Get?

“Of all the stains besmirching the Trump presidency — the ethical lacunae, the spasmodic ‘policy’ fits, the Golf Digest aesthetic — none looms so large as the absence of a White House pet.”

5. The Real Reason Black Kids Benefit From Black Teachers

“The fact that my skin color matches that of my students doesn’t give me any superpowers as an educator. But it does give me the ability to see them in a way that’s untarnished by the stereotypes, biases and cultural disconnects that fuel inequality and injustice — like the outlook that made Trayvon Martin, carrying Skittles, appear dangerously suspicious to the man who took his life.”

6. America’s Uncivil War Over Words

“The writing of dictionaries in the United States has always been political.”

7. The Evangelical Roots of Our Post-Truth Society

“The conservative Christian worldview is not just a posture of mistrust toward the secular world’s ‘fake news.’ It is a network of institutions and experts versed in shadow versions of climate change science, biology and other fields.”

8. Where Nature Gets to Run Amok

“Chances are you know a place like this yourself. They are those spaces in the peripheries of our vision, glimpsed from the corner of the eye on our daily commute or maybe half-remembered from explorations as a kid; those wastelands that seem to defy the capitalist definitions of usable or workable, they run wild between the urban and the rural environment as a strip of old common, a fenced-off belt of trees, an abandoned, rough, wildflower-filled patch beside a housing project, highway, office block, mall, mill or warehouse.”

9. I Want My Lesbian Bars Back

“In most cities, ‘queer’ bars cater almost exclusively to gay men.”

10. Charles Murray’s ‘Provocative’ Talk

“It is not obvious, to put it mildly, that Middlebury students and faculty had a moral obligation to prevent Mr. Murray from airing these views in public.”

11. The Quiet Power of Humility

“Since humility is so out of fashion as to almost have been forgotten, it’s worth making the case for how to rightly understand it, to articulate why humility is not only an essential Christian virtue but also … an essential civic one.”

12. Oprah Winfrey on ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’

“How can you have Dorothy Dandridge come and sing at your club, and then she can’t use the bathroom and find a hotel? We certainly want to be entertained by you and appreciate you and make ourselves feel good from the experience of your art. But nope, can’t sit down, can’t eat. In 1951, all the people that benefited from those cells didn’t know that it was a black woman’s cells. It’s indicative of the times.”

13. Power and Punishment: Two New Books About Race and Crime

“Forman’s novel claim is this: What most explains the punitive turn in black America is not a repudiation of civil rights activism, as some have argued, but an embrace of it.”

14. A New Biography of Martin Luther Reveals the Life Beyond the Theses

“In 1517, Martin Luther was an unknown academic in search of a cause. Only a few years later, he was the most published author in the history of Christendom. By the time of his death in 1546, the church was riven into competing confessions, Protestant and Catholic, with consequences we still live with today.”

15. The Enduring Power of Adam and Eve (Minus the Sin and Sexism)

“Why were Adam and Eve able to love each other so fiercely? Because those lucky bastards had no choice.”

16. Which Force is More Harmful to the Arts: Elitism or Populism?

“The difference between elitism and populism might better be understood as a difference in a writer’s attitude toward time.”

17. New Technology Is Built on a ‘Stack.’ Is That the Best Way to Understand Everything Else, Too?

“Stack logic is only just finding its footing in the corporate world, and it hasn’t spilled into mainstream conversation just yet. (People might intuit what you meant if you described your Twitter and Facebook accounts as a ‘social-media stack,’ but they might also intuit that they want their conversation with you to be over as quickly as possible.) The concept, however, has gained traction in a telling set of subcultures.”

18. Mike Judge, the Bard of Suck

“If Idiocracy imagined that America would one day amuse itself into ruin, then ‘Silicon Valley’ offers a compelling case for how we’ll go about doing it — not in spite of our best and brightest, but because of them.”

19. The Return of Lorde

“A lot of musicians think they can do pop, and the ones who don’t succeed are the ones who don’t have the reverence — who think it’s just a dumb version of other music. You need to be awe-struck.”

20. I Thought I Understood the American Right. Trump Proved Me Wrong.

“We advanced a narrative of the American right that was far too constricted to anticipate the rise of a man like Trump. Historians, of course, are not called upon to be seers. Our professional canons warn us against presentism — we are supposed to weigh the evidence of the past on its own terms — but at the same time, the questions we ask are conditioned by the present. That is, ultimately, what we are called upon to explain. Which poses a question: If Donald Trump is the latest chapter of conservatism’s story, might historians have been telling that story wrong?”

21. How to Escape From a Car in Water

“No one else will arrive in time; you have to save yourself.”

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