Sunday 9.3.2017 New York Times Digest

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1. In Silicon Valley, Working 9 to 5 Is for Losers

“A century ago, factory workers were forming unions and going on strike to demand better conditions and a limit on hours. Today, Silicon Valley employees celebrate their own exploitation.”

2. Football Among the Old Believers, in Alaska

“There’s a fear by some that ‘We’re losing our culture, our identity.’ But the flip side is, if you don’t offer something, you’ll lose the kids.”

3. Consider the Janitors at Two Top Companies, Then and Now

“In the 35 years between their jobs as janitors, corporations across America have flocked to a new management theory: Focus on core competence and outsource the rest. The approach has made companies more nimble and more productive, and delivered huge profits for shareholders. It has also fueled inequality and helps explain why many working-class Americans are struggling even in an ostensibly healthy economy.”

4. Jason Fried of Basecamp on the Importance of Writing Skills

“The other thing that is weird about the business world in general is the obsession with domination and winning and destroying and fighting. Why? What is that about? It doesn’t ring true with me at all. Can’t you just build a nice business and can’t other people have a nice business?”

5. Get Ready for Technological Upheaval by Expecting the Unimagined

“Rather than planning for the specific changes we imagine, it is better to prepare for the unimagined — for change itself.”

6. Goodbye, Yosemite. Hello, What?

“I agree with the photographer Ansel Adams that ‘on entering the Ahwahnee, one is conscious of calm and complete beauty echoing the mood of majesty and peace that is the essential quality of Yosemite.’ But I also think there is something inescapably sick about a hotel on the site of a torched town copping a little mysto-Indian vibe from the word used by the arsonists’ victims for the valley they called home, and deliberately designed with a pan-Indian motif meant to conjure white fantasy while avoiding reference to any particular Native people.”

7. Don’t Suspend Students. Empathize.

“What looks like disobedience may reflect the ways teenagers are learning how to navigate the world — not as troublemakers, but as adolescents, testing out new identities.”

8. Instagram Your Leftovers: History Depends on It

“With its vast reach and the technological savvy of its users, Instagram could go beyond mere glamour and open up a domestic world that has always been elusive. I’m talking about ordinary meals at home — the great unknown in the study of food.”

9. The Best Era for Working Women Was 20 Years Ago

“The late 1990s … may have been as good as it gets for American women in the workplace.”

10. Ken Burns and Lynn Novick Tackle the Vietnam War

“The 79 onscreen interviews give the ground-up view of the war from the mostly ordinary people who lived through it: American veterans (including former P.O.W.’s), Gold Star mothers, diplomats, intelligence officers, antiwar activists, journalists, Vietcong fighters, North and South Vietnamese army regulars, even a (woman) truck driver from the Ho Chi Minh Trail.”

11. Paul Newman’s Rare Rolex Has Auction Watchers Buzzing

“It is basically the Mona Lisa, perhaps the most famous timepiece in the world, coveted all the more because for decades, no one outside the Newman family seemed to know where it was.”

12. Who’s Allowed to Hold Hands?

“There is a strange hierarchy of handholding that dictates who gets to express physical affection without repercussions. For straight couples it’s fine, of course. For white gay couples it’s a little less fine. For black lesbians like us, it can feel like a radical act.”

13. Silicon Valley Courts Brand-Name Teachers, Raising Ethics Issues

“Ms. Delzer is a member of a growing tribe of teacher influencers, many of whom promote classroom technology. They attract notice through their blogs, social media accounts and conference talks. And they are cultivated not only by start-ups like Seesaw, but by giants like Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft, to influence which tools are used to teach American schoolchildren.”

14. Jesmyn Ward: By the Book

“All told, more than $600 million, or almost half of the economic activity in the United States in 1836, derived directly or indirectly from cotton produced by the million-odd slaves — 6 percent of the total U.S. population — who in that year toiled in labor camps on slavery’s frontier.”

15. ‘Good Booty’: The Sexual Power of Music

“Her argument, that ‘we, as a nation, most truly and openly acknowledge sexuality’s power through music,’ is intimately tied to the body: enslaved and objectified black bodies, the erotic sublimation and liberation of dance, the dialogue between charismatic performer and enraptured audience and the problem of ‘cyborg’ singers like Britney Spears.”

16. The Amish Guide to the Apocalypse

“Jacob, an Amish farmer and carpenter, serves as our tour guide to this disorienting psychological landscape. The novel takes the form of his diary, and his sentences proceed with Amish forbearance: His words are simple and, like a buggy-tugging horse, each pulls its weight. This stylistic staidness runs in satisfying counterpoint to the dramas unfolding in the outside world of the ‘English’ — the Amish term for non-Amish people. Without electricity or fuel, transportation systems fail and the English lose access to food shipments. Looting, murder and mass starvation result.”

17. The Real-Life Reality Show That Jumped the Shark

“Like the best episodes of Black Mirror, Made for Love provokes the disturbing realization that we are, more or less, already living in the time portrayed as a couple of steps beyond too much.”

18. Should Critics Aim to Be Open-Minded or to Pass Judgment

“The simplest prescription for better criticism of all kinds — electronic, journalistic, academic — remains: read more; think longer; write less.”

19. In Our Cynical Age, No One Fails Anymore — Everybody ‘Pivots

“The ‘pivot’ has assumed a peculiar place in our common lexicon. A word once used to describe a guard angling for position on the basketball court is now in wide circulation in politics and business. That’s especially the case in Sili­con Valley, where pivoting has become the new failure, a concept to describe a haphazard, practically madcap form of iterative development. With its sheen of management-speak, pivoting is well suited to our moment. And like any act of public relations, pivoting is also a performance. A key part of the act is acknowledging that you are doing it while trying to recast the effort as something larger, more sophisticated, highly planned. The pivot, though it arises from desperation, is nevertheless supposed to appear methodical.”

20. How to Write a Love Letter

“You need a minimum of one hour.”

21. The Incarcerated Women Who Fight California’s Wildfires

“When they work, California’s inmates typically earn between 8 cents and 95 cents an hour. They make office furniture for state employees, state license plates, prison uniforms, anything that any state institution might use. But wages in the forestry program, while still wildly low by outside standards, are significantly better than the rest … Inmate firefighters can make a maximum of $2.56 a day in camp and $1 an hour when they’re fighting fires.”

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