Sunday 8.27.2017 New York Times Digest


1. Memorize That Poem!

“Since ancient times, humans have memorized and recited poetry. Before the invention of writing, the only way to possess a poem was to memorize it. Long after scrolls and folios supplemented our brains, court poets, priests and wandering bards recited poetry in order to entertain and connect with the divine. For individuals, a poem learned by heart could be a lifeline — to grapple with overwhelming emotion or preserve sanity amid the brutalities of prison and warfare.”

2. Late Wages for Migrant Workers at a Trump Golf Course in Dubai

“Mr. Paindkhel is not familiar with golf. He does not understand the purpose of the lush grass that he and his co-workers have grown in the desert, though he admires its serene beauty. He cannot read the signs identifying the golf resort as a Trump property. He cannot read at all.”

3. The Worst (and Best) Places to Be Gay in America

“There’s no such thing as L.G.B.T. life in America, a country even more divided on this front than on others. There’s L.G.B.T. life in a group of essentially progressive places like New York, Maryland, Oregon and California, which bans government-funded travel to states it deems unduly discriminatory. Then there is L.G.B.T. life on that blacklist, which includes Texas, Kansas, Mississippi and South Dakota.”

4. Networking Is Overrated

“It’s true that networking can help you accomplish great things. But this obscures the opposite truth: Accomplishing great things helps you develop a network.”

5. The Secret to a Good Robot Teacher

“For millenniums, the environs in which we learned best were social ones. It was through other people’s testimony or through interactive discourse and exploration with them that we learned facts about our world and new ways of solving problems. And it’s precisely because of this history that we can expect the mind to be socially tuned, meaning that it should rely on and incorporate social cues to facilitate learning. When it comes to most educational technology, this insight has been ignored.”

6. There Once Was a Great Nation With an Unstable Leader

“As Caligula wreaked havoc, Rome also had values, institutions and mores that inspired resistance. He offended practically everyone, he couldn’t deliver on his promises, his mental stability was increasingly doubted and he showed he simply had no idea how to govern. Within a few years, he had lost all support, and the Praetorian Guard murdered him.”

7. Cure Yourself of Tree Blindness

“Just naming trees might sound a bit like a parlor trick to impress your friends. But it’s also a way to start paying attention. Then you notice more interesting things. Trees put on one of nature’s great sex shows. Each spring they break their winter dormancy with a burst of genitalia, also known as flowers.”

8. In Virginia and on TV, A Supremacist Summer

“To watch the movies or TV — or even to catch the hype for a certain boxing match — is to know that normalized white supremacy has been here all summer. It’s to know that the people who manufacture all sorts of popular culture have also, intentionally or not, tossed some racism onto the assembly line. It’s to know that whatever occurred in Charlottesville and then at that news conference didn’t happen in a vacuum. They were just the gnarliest flare-ups in a season of provocations that seem so business-as-usual that they scarcely feel provoked.”

9. Going Hyperlocal, Filmmakers Explore the Pain of Racism

“Only in America does it take movies to authenticate reality, and not the other way around.”

10. The Invisible Forces That Make Writing Work

“There are things the writer sees that the reader does not; things the reader sees that the writer does not; and things neither of us ever sees.”

11. A Grown-Up’s Travels Down the Rabbit Hole of Children’s Literature

“In pointing out how classic girl books aren’t always as conventionally girlish as you may think, he notes of the Little House on the Prairie series not only that Laura relishes playing, as though it were a balloon, with an inflated pig bladder that belonged to the animal her father has just skinned before her eyes, but also that ‘from the denatured vantage point of 21st-century urban fatherhood, where bantering with the super as he fixes your toilet counts as manly self-sufficiency, Pa cuts an intimidating figure: Not only does he feed and shelter his family using his own two hands … he also makes his own bullets.’”

12. How Chester B. Himes Became the Rage in Harlem, and Beyond

“Despite Himes’s literary output, wealth and sustained praise eluded him until the final third of his career. Disappointed by his American book sales and haunted by the fact that literary elites did not hold him in the same esteem as Ellison and James Baldwin, Himes took the advice of the French editor Marcel Duhamel and started writing detective novels.”

13. Don’t Panic, Liberal Arts Majors. The Tech World Wants You.

“According to both Anders and Stross, the ever-expanding tech sector is now producing career opportunities in fields — project management, recruitment, human relations, branding, data analysis, market research, design, fund-raising and sourcing, to name some — that specifically require the skills taught in the humanities. To thrive in these areas, one must be able to communicate effectively, read subtle social and emotional cues, make persuasive arguments, adapt quickly to fluid environments, interpret new forms of information while translating them into a compelling narrative and anticipate obstacles and opportunities before they arise.”

14. In ‘Campus Confidential,’ a Professor Laments That Teaching Is Not the Priority of Teachers

“Prospective students may be drawn to schools because of their esteemed faculty, but once they arrive on campus … they will find that these scholars want nothing to do with them. Instead, their education will likely be guided by part-time teachers and graduate students, who are paid a few thousand dollars a course. As Berlinerblau puts it, ‘While teaching undergraduates is normally a very large part of a professor’s job, success in our field is correlated with a professor’s ability to avoid teaching undergraduates.’”

15. An Educator Makes the Case That Higher Learning Needs to Grow Up

“The existing system dominates and discourages teachers who want to do better.”

16. How Hate Groups Forced Online Platforms to Reveal Their True Nature

“Despite their participatory rhetoric, social platforms are closer to authoritarian spaces than democratic ones. It makes some sense that people with authoritarian tendencies would have an intuitive understanding of how they work and how to take advantage of them.”

17. How to Stand Still

“Recognize what’s happening, but don’t give in.”

18. Wonder Year

“While the world had little doubt Federer was done, Federer himself thought otherwise and plotted his return.”


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