Sunday 9.10.2017 New York Times Digest


1. Waiting for the Big One in Florida

“At first, we bought our supplies three and four days before a hurricane hit. Then we refined our strategy to a day or two. I filled the bathtub with water we could use in the toilet when we lost power. I cleaned and oiled our 9-millimeter pistols, then loaded them.”

2. A de Kooning, a Theft and an Enduring Mystery

“They are trying to determine if the heist was engineered by a retired New York City schoolteacher — something of a renaissance man — who donned women’s clothing and took his son along as his accomplice, and then hung the masterwork in the bedroom of his own rural New Mexico home, where it remained. In other words, they are examining whether he stole a painting now valued at in excess of $100 million simply so he could enjoy it.”

3. How Henry Threadgill, Composer, Spends His Sundays

“I don’t worry about staying out late. I can stay up all night. I may be out at some performance until 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning, but I’ll still be up at 6:30 the next day. I take naps — in the morning, in the afternoon, it doesn’t matter. What matters to me is the work, the music. Researching and studying. I do it every day, no matter what day of the week it is.”

4. His Bravery Unsung, Varian Fry Acted to Save Jews

“Given the scope of his heroism and its implications for the momentum of 20th century cultural life, Fry remains relatively little known. He died in 1967, in Connecticut, a high school Latin teacher.”

5. The Awakening of Colin Kaepernick

“In Kaepernick’s absence, other players will kneel. Demonstrators will protest. Some will boycott. His jersey will be seen, more as a political statement than a sporting allegiance, as the game goes on without him.”

6. Ray Dalio Spreads His Gospel of ‘Radical Transparency’

“Is it a hedge fund, or a social experiment?”

7. What the Rich Won’t Tell You

“Their ambivalence about recognizing privilege suggests a deep tension at the heart of the idea of American dream. While pursuing wealth is unequivocally desirable, having wealth is not simple and straightforward. Our ideas about egalitarianism make even the beneficiaries of inequality uncomfortable with it. And it is hard to know what they, as individuals, can do to change things.”

8. How to Fix the Person You Love

“Today, we expect our spouse not only to make us feel loved, but also to be a kind of life coach.”

9. These Are Not the Robots We Were Promised

“Whether real or fictional, robots hold a mirror up to society. If Rosie and her kin embodied a 20th-century yearning for domestic order and familial bliss, smart speakers symbolize our own, more self-absorbed time.”

10. One Nation Under a Movie Theater? It’s a Myth.

“White supremacy is part of the heritage of Hollywood, which is to say of the American mainstream.”

11. Is Jake Paul a Social Media Genius or a Jerk?

“He has 10.5 million subscribers on YouTube, and seemingly five million haters. This high school dropout from Ohio has already outlasted Vine, the short-form video platform that gave him his first taste of fame; survived an ill-fated turn as a Disney star; cut a rap anthem (‘It’s Everyday Bro’) that became, simultaneously, one of the most viral and reviled songs on the internet; and established himself in the eyes of grown-up America as an embodiment of everything that is wonderful and horrible about Generation Z.”

12. What We Talk About When We Talk About and Exactly Like Trump

“Quick — try to recall anything Barack Obama, one of our most oratorically gifted presidents, said during his eight-year tenure outside of a written speech (and still nothing comes to mind as readily as President Trump’s ‘This American carnage stops right here and stops right now’). Even Mr. Obama’s abstract ‘Yes we can’ campaign slogan seems to have been crushed by the concrete force of ‘Build the wall.’”

13. Fake News: It’s as American as George Washington’s Cherry Tree

“Our national character gels into one that’s distinctly comfortable fogging up the boundary between fantasy and reality in nearly every realm.”

14. Americans Are Confronting an Alarming Question: Are Many of Our Fellow Citizens ‘Nazis?’

“The uncomfortable truth is that Nazi policy was itself influenced by American white supremacy, a heritage well documented in James Q. Whitman’s recent book Hitler’s American Model. The Germans admired, and borrowed from, the ‘distinctive legal techniques that Americans had developed to combat the menace of race mixing’ — like the anti-miscegenation laws of Maryland, which mandated up to 10 years in prison for interracial marriage. At the time, no other country had such specific laws; they were an American innovation.”

15. Michigan Gambled on Charter Schools. Its Children Lost.

“It’s important to understand that what happened to Michigan’s schools isn’t solely, or even primarily, an education story: It’s a business story.”

16. ‘The Way to Survive It Was to Make A’s’

“An idea took hold of her. What would society look like if she exposed young wealthy white students to black scholarship students? Would the South change if its future leaders were socialized to be less bigoted? Her aim, using a few token blacks to mend the South’s racial divide from the top down, was utopian to say the least. It was also novel, a systematic effort by whites to help rid other whites of their prejudices. Providing a better life for black students was secondary.”

17. Who Benefits From the Expansion of A.P. Classes?

“Questions about the A.P. program’s purpose are complicated further by the fact that it provides a not-insignificant amount of revenue for the College Board.”

18. In a Topsy-Turvy World, Fashion Finds Solace in the Mundane

“When the world is falling apart around you, you just want to wear a cardigan.”

19. The Weird Brilliance of Joaquin Phoenix

“Phoenix’s life is remarkably simple compared to what people might imagine. He lives with Mara in the Hollywood Hills (he’s never been married and has no children) and is usually asleep by 9 p.m. and up at 6. When he’s not working his daily routine consists of answering emails, ‘chilling’ with his dog, meditating, taking a karate class, eating lunch, reading scripts and dinner — but for most of last year he’d been on location. He watches documentaries on Netflix (and he watched the 10-hour true-crime doc The Staircase recently because Mara wanted to) but rarely watches new movies.”

20. Who Will Save These Dying Italian Towns?

“There are nearly 2,500 rural Italian villages that are perilously depopulated, some semi-abandoned and others virtual ghost towns.”

21. Bruce Chatwin: One of the Last Great Explorers

“We think of travelers as people who have no attachment to things, but true travelers are people who really have no attachment to place. Home is not a beloved memory or something to yearn for and fetishize, but merely a matter of circumstance: a piece of land (sometimes large, but usually small) on which one eats and sleeps, sometimes for a lifetime, and sometimes for a day. Home, therefore, is anywhere, and yet nowhere as well. Chatwin was powerfully attracted to nomadism, and you might view his collective writings as a struggle to discard this idea of home as a kind of heaven, and to replace it with the radical notion that the person who found himself adrift, in perpetual motion, might already be at home — that movement itself might be the ideal human state.”


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