Sunday 7.30.2017 New York Times Digest


1. When Life on Earth Was Nearly Extinguished

“The planet’s most profound catastrophe struck 252 million years ago, at the end of the Permian period, killing 90 percent of life in the ocean and 75 percent on land.”

2. How to Repair the Health Law (It’s Tricky but Not Impossible)

“The politics are exceedingly tricky in a divided and dysfunctional Washington, but economists, insurers, doctors and health policy experts across the political spectrum agree that immediately addressing three or four basic shortcomings in the existing system would go a long way toward making the law more effective and financially stable.”

3. Why Health Care Policy Is So Hard

“The magic of the free market sometimes fails us when it comes to health care.”

4. Finland Has a Sports Screw Loose

“We have some weird hobbies.”

5. White Economic Privilege Is Alive and Well

“The income gap between black and white working-class Americans, like the gap between black and white Americans at every income level, remains every bit as extreme as it was five decades ago. (This is also true of the income gap between Hispanic and white Americans.)”

6. How We Make Black Girls Grow Up Too Fast

“All women in our culture are subject to this kind of symbolic violence, when people judge their bodies to decide if they deserve abuse. But for black women and girls that treatment is refracted through history and today’s context.”

7. Artificial Intelligence Is Stuck. Here’s How to Move It Forward.

“A.I. systems tend to be passive vessels, dredging through data in search of statistical correlations; humans are active engines for discovering how things work.”

8. Young Digital Artists, Anxious About … Technology

“The young artists in the show … tend to share, despite their immersion in digital technology, a profound ambivalence about where it is taking us. They also seem to share the ‘Black Mirror’ sensibility…: The perception, endemic to the satirical British TV series, that technology has led us into a digital fun house where nothing is as it seems and everything is as we fear it might be.”

9. A Doctor Gives Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop a Pelvic Exam

“Dr. Gunter has emerged as the most ardent critic of Ms. Paltrow’s website, routinely responding with snark and medical data to its pronouncements on diet and female genital health.”

10. Keeping Up, on Camera, Is No Longer Just for the Kardashians

“Mr. Henry is one of a small but growing number of entrepreneurs who have turned their lives into do-it-yourself reality shows. They pay videographers, editors and producers thousands of dollars a month to shadow them and create content for their social media platforms. They ‘star’ as part motivational speaker, part life coach, as they dispense advice and speak enthusiastically about the hustle. They are earnest to a fault; you’ll find no melodrama here (or even much drama).”

11. A Lot Like Prayer: Remembering Denis Johnson

“He never assumed a tough-guy persona. His stories, fiction and nonfiction alike, exalt the innate dignity inherent in cowardice and failure, in loserdom, in life at the bottom of the barrel. He seems to ask whether at some level, cowardice might not be the same as love of life.”

12. Is It O.K. to Protest Trump by Withholding Taxes?

“Today nearly two-thirds of the federal budget covers so-called mandatory spending: Medicare and other health expenditures, Social Security payments, unemployment benefits, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. If secretly reducing your tax payments prevented you from being complicit with expenditures you dislike, it would also make you complicit in trying to reduce expenditures you do like.”

13. Letter of Recommendation: Duolingo

“Any online time-waster offers an escape from the world, often by preying on your worst instincts: envy, pettiness, poor impulse control. But Duolingo offered an escape that made me feel connected to the better parts of the world, and of myself.”

14. How to Be Selected for a Jury

“We are wary of people who are trying to get on a jury.”

15. How to Make a Movie Out of Anything — Even a Mindless Phone Game

“There are no protagonists or antagonists in Fruit Ninja. There’s no mythology. No moral. The game play involves staring at a wall as pineapples, watermelons, kiwis, apples and oranges fly up into view. The only thing you do is swipe at the fruit with your finger, cutting them in half. Sometimes there are bombs, and you’re not supposed to swipe at those. ‘There’s a fun game to play, but that’s it,’ Vinson says. ‘The challenge was: What the [expletive] am I going to do with Fruit Ninja?’”

16. The Majestic Marble Quarries of Northern Italy

“There is no avoiding the tyranny of weight.”

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