Sunday 9.17.2017 New York Times Digest


1. Our Constitution Wasn’t Built for This

“Our Constitution was not built for a country with so much wealth concentrated at the very top nor for the threats that invariably accompany it: oligarchs and populist demagogues.”

2. How Big Business Got Brazil Hooked on Junk Food

“Nestlé’s direct-sales army in Brazil is part of a broader transformation of the food system that is delivering Western-style processed food and sugary drinks to the most isolated pockets of Latin America, Africa and Asia. As their growth slows in the wealthiest countries, multinational food companies like Nestlé, PepsiCo and General Mills have been aggressively expanding their presence in developing nations, unleashing a marketing juggernaut that is upending traditional diets from Brazil to Ghana to India.”

3. Hold the Egg Sandwich: Egyptian TV Is Calling

“Mr. El-Gamasy owns the Lotus Deli in Ridgewood, Queens, a place known for its sandwiches, extensive craft beer selection, and its gracious, friendly owner. But few of his customers — and likely, none of his viewers in Egypt — know that the man making egg sandwiches and small talk behind the counter is the same one who appears on popular Egyptian television news programs, holding forth on subjects from immigration policy to North Korea.”

4. Computers Are Taking Design Cues From Human Brains

“For about half a century, computer makers have built systems around a single, do-it-all chip — the central processing unit — from a company like Intel, one of the world’s biggest semiconductor makers. That’s what you’ll find in the middle of your own laptop computer or smartphone. Now, computer engineers are fashioning more complex systems. Rather than funneling all tasks through one beefy chip made by Intel, newer machines are dividing work into tiny pieces and spreading them among vast farms of simpler, specialized chips that consume less power.”

5. Bump in U.S. Incomes Doesn’t Erase 50 Years of Pain

“Since the 1950s, three-quarters of working Americans have seen no change in lifetime income.”

6. In Amish Country, the Future Is Calling

“The Amish have not given up on horse-drawn buggies. Their rigid abstinence from many kinds of technology has left parts of their lifestyle frozen since the 19th century: no cars, TVs or connections to electric utilities, for example. But computers and cellphones are making their way into some Amish communities, pushing them — sometimes willingly, often not — into the 21st century.”

7. When History’s Losers Write the Story

“The South, facing catastrophic loss of life and mass destruction on a European scale, wrote its own history of the war. It cast itself as an underdog overwhelmed by the North’s superior numbers, but whose cause — a noble fight for states’ rights — was just. The North looked the other way. Northern elites were more interested in re-establishing economic ties than in keeping their commitments to blacks’ constitutional rights. The political will to complete Reconstruction died.”

8. The Making and the Breaking of the Legend of Robert E. Lee

“The ups and downs of his reputation reflect changes in key elements of Americans’ historical consciousness — how we understand race relations, the causes and consequences of the Civil War and the nature of the good society.”

9. The Suburb of the Future, Almost Here

“Millennial suburbanites want a new kind of landscape. They want breathing room but disdain the energy wastefulness, visual monotony and social conformity of postwar manufactured neighborhoods. If new suburbs can hit the sweet spot that accommodates the priorities of that generation, millennial habitats will redefine everyday life for all suburbanites, which is 70 percent of Americans.”

10. How to Bring Your Vacation Home With You

“Beyond a week or two away from work, more time off isn’t going to make you happier or calmer or produce more lasting gains of another sort.”

11. The Nazis’ First Victims Were the Disabled

“We often say what happened in Nazi Germany couldn’t happen here. But some of it, like the mistreatment and sterilization of the disabled, did happen here.”

12. The Ever-Changing Business of ‘Anti-Aging’

“The only real solution to aging is, of course, death, but our central mode of dealing with that inevitability is to delay and deny it.”

13. New Sentences: From Lower Ed, by Tressie McMillan Cottom

Lower Ed is a dense little wonder. What seems like it might be a narrow academic study — a sociological analysis of for-profit colleges — turns out to be about the whole agitated essence of America: our markets, inequalities, prejudices, blind spots and guiding mythologies.”

14. What the World’s Emptiest International Airport Says About China’s Influence

“For centuries, Western liberalism has ruled the world. The Chinese believe their time has come.”

15. RT, Sputnik and Russia’s New Theory of War

“You can tighten your internet security protocols to protect against data breaches, run counterhacking operations to take out infiltrators, sanction countries with proven links to such activities. But RT and Sputnik operate on the stated terms of Western liberal democracy; they count themselves as news organizations, protected by the First Amendment and the libertarian ethos of the internet.”

16. What Could We Lose if a NASA Climate Mission Goes Dark?

“One lesson of publicly funded science is that Americans are not very good at predicting how useful it will be.”


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