Sunday 5.21.2017 New York Times Digest

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1. We Aren’t Built to Live in the Moment

“What best distinguishes our species is an ability that scientists are just beginning to appreciate: We contemplate the future.”

2. The Conservative Force Behind Speeches Roiling College Campuses

“It’s part of a larger systematic and extremely well-funded effort to disrupt public universities and create tension among student groups on campus.”

3. ‘The Internet Is Broken’: @ev Is Trying to Salvage It

“The trouble with the internet, Mr. Williams says, is that it rewards extremes. Say you’re driving down the road and see a car crash. Of course you look. Everyone looks. The internet interprets behavior like this to mean everyone is asking for car crashes, so it tries to supply them.”

4. When Power Makes Leaders More Sensitive

“When you see power as a source of freedom, you are likely to use it to serve yourself, selfishly. But when you see it as responsibility, you tend to be selfless.”

5. If Every Day Is a Rainy Day, What Am I Saving For?

“I grew up without money, but adjacent to the kind of wealth that afforded my classmates cars with electronic windows and multiple pairs of quality jeans. It never occurred to me that once I got ahold of even the littlest bit of money myself, I should carefully ration it.”

6. You Still Need Your Brain

“It’s a grave mistake to think Google can replace your memory.”

7. How ‘Twin Peaks’ Got Lost, and Found Its Way Back + Was ‘Twin Peaks’ Ahead of Its Time? Let’s Look Back and See + The People of ‘Twin Peaks’: Here’s Where We Left Off

“I always say, if you had a little goose that laid golden eggs, why in the world would you kill that little goose?”

8. Jeffrey Tambor: By the Book

“I still check books out at our local library here in New York — there is something about reading a book that you know other people enjoyed that thrills me — it’s all about ‘connection,’ isn’t it?”

9. The Value and Virtue of Good Writing (Rule No. 7: Don’t Be a Bore)

“Writing well is a two-stage process: (1) write not so well; (2) fix it.”

10. Three 18th-Century Revolutions and Why They Matter in 2017

“What forces account for differing degrees of upheaval when societies are in crisis?”

11. The American Revolution: A History of Violence

“The United States took shape not only in coffeehouses and on the pages of political pamphlets, but also on blood-soaked battlefields.”

12. The Scam Economy Is Entering Its Baroque Phase

“Where is the line, exactly, between a poorly produced but well-advertised product and a con?”

13. Should Students Get ‘Grades 13 and 14’ Free of Charge?

“It’s hard to do almost any job now without a 13th or 14th year of schooling.”

14. Scotland’s Love Affair With Seaweed

“To many urban westerners, seaweed is Asian fare, a staple of the sushi bar, but it has long been regarded as a delicacy in the western highlands and islands of Scotland.”

15. In Praise of International Crime Dramas

“In a time of deflating globalism, it is curious, to say the least, that TV is offering a defense of a fading internationalist vision of the world.”

16. Running Free in Germany’s Outdoor Preschools

“Robin Hood Waldkindergarten, which opened in 2005, is one of more than 1,500 waldkitas, or ‘forest kindergartens,’ in Germany; Berlin alone has about 20. Most have opened in the last 15 years and are usually located in the city’s parks, with a bare-bones structure serving as a sort of home base, but others, like Robin Hood, rely on public transportation to shuttle their charges daily out into the wilderness, where they spend most of the day, regardless of weather. Toys, typically disparaged at waldkitas, are replaced by the imaginative use of sticks, rocks and leaves.”

17. L.A.’s Vintage Bookstores

“Despite its richly deserved reputation for superficiality, Los Angeles is indeed a reading town, but with a uniquely transactional relationship to books, especially those that are remnants of bygone eras.”

18. What Animals Taught Me About Being Human

“Animals don’t exist in order to teach us things, but that is what they have always done, and most of what they teach us is what we think we know about ourselves.”

19. Why Close Encounters With Animals Soothe Us

“Something extraordinary occurs when we’re in the presence of a fellow sentient being. When we let go of language’s tacit conceptual constraints and judgments, we allow ourselves a kind of time travel toward our own inner animal. Science is revealing the ways that the physiology of our psychology can be found across species: the common neuronal structures and attendant nerve wirings that we share in varying measures with a startling array of both vertebrates and invertebrates, including fellow primates, elephants, whales, parrots, bees and fruit flies. Animal therapy makes us aware of this cross-species interconnectivity on the purest, subconscious level.”

20. The Mystery of the Wasting House-Cats

“Beginning in the 1970s, large quantities of the chemicals were routinely added to many household goods, including couch cushions, carpet padding and electronics. PBDEs can be itinerant compounds; they leach from our sofas and TVs and latch onto particles of house dust, coating our floors and furniture. They drift into soil, water and air and slip into the bodies of animals, collecting in everything from the eggs of peregrine falcons to the blubber of beluga whales. PBDEs also happen to have a chemical structure that resembles thyroid hormones and may mimic or compete with these hormones in the body, binding to their receptors and interfering with their transport and metabolism.”

21. A Pet Tortoise Who Will Outlive Us All

“To be in the company of a tortoise is to be reminded — instantly, inarticulably — of the oldness of the world and the newness of us (humans, specifically, but also mammals in general). Nature has created thousands of creatures, but most of us have been redrawn over the millenniums: Our heads have grown larger, our teeth smaller, our legs longer, our jaws weaker. But tortoises, some varieties of which are 300 million years old, older than the dinosaurs, are a rough draft that was never refined, because they never needed to be. They are proof of nature’s genius and of our own imperfection, our fragility and brevity in a world that existed long before us and will exist long after we’re gone.”

22. The Self-Medicating Animal

“In recent decades, primatologists have shown that chimps use tools, know right from wrong and even have the ability, called theory of mind, to imagine what other chimps are experiencing. Huffman’s contribution to this increasingly nuanced understanding of our nearest relative has been to establish that, even though they lack the abilities we consider might be necessary for the development of medical knowledge — namely, humanlike language — chimps practice a form of rudimentary medicine. They know enough about the plants around them to treat illness.”

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