Sunday 10.1.2017 New York Times Digest


1. Preparing Your Home for a Disaster

“There is no time like the present to think about all the things that could go wrong.”

2. In a Warming World, Keeping the Planes Running

“Low-lying airports may become increasingly vulnerable to storm surges. Hotter temperatures may cause tarmac to melt, restrict takeoff weights or require heavier aircraft to take off later in the day.”

3. The Latin Mass, Thriving in Southeastern Nigeria

“Catholic traditionalists see the ancient language of the Latin Mass as a sign of their faith’s stability and unity, an indication that Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. They would like to see it return worldwide, but for now, some of its strongest adherents have been in places like Nigeria, where historical tumult and ethnic strife have given traditionalists special reason to value this aspect of their faith.”

4. We Are All Jew-ish Now

“It’s not necessarily an identity. Better to call it a sensibility: the sensibility of whoever feels a bit unsure of who they are — a bit peculiar or out of place, a bit funny.”

5. Brevity Is the Soul of Twit

“The medium forces one to stick to the point.”

6. Speaking Ill of Hugh Hefner

“The things that were distinctively Hefnerian, that made him influential and important, were all rotten, and to the extent they were part of stories that people tend to celebrate, they showed the rot in larger things as well.”

7. Hugh Hefner, the Pajama Man

“In his endless dream, forever partying in his custom black lodge, nothing changed around him. Even his Christmas cards featured him in pajamas.”

8. Professors Behaving Badly

“Is there something about adjunct faculty members that makes them prone to outrageous political outbursts?”

9. Production of a Lifetime: Whitney Houston and Clive Davis

“There was a psychological cost to being a black superstar whose image was created with the express purpose of maximum crossover.”

10. A Muslim American’s Homecoming: Cowboys, Country Music, Chapatis

“As a Muslim American immigrant, am I just a few 140-character proclamations away from having my citizenship revoked? But fear also sparked curiosity. To me, ‘Wyoming’ sounds foreign and peculiar, spilling lazily off the tongue like a yawn and evoking in my mind the wild terrain someone else might associate with a Zimbabwe or Mozambique. What’s exotic to me isn’t food gilded with turmeric and six-day weddings — it’s grits and rodeos. How much time did I have left to experience them?”

11. Jennifer Egan: By the Book

“Nineteenth-century novels. I’m amazed by their capaciousness and flexibility — all the gutsy things that happen routinely in those books and today would be called experimental. Their authors were essentially rock stars, and you can feel the swagger in their prose.”

12. Karl Ove Knausgaard’s Visions for His Daughter

“Knausgaard’s art can still seem a kind of magic. How does he take the plainest things, in the plainest language, and make them feel so alive?”

13. Tracking the Hyper-Gentrification of New York, One Lost Knish Place at a Time

“The essential pain is not in the disappearance of wherever it was that used to serve the best 3 a.m. souvlaki … but in the transformation of the city into a place that no longer accommodates failure, a place that disavows mediocrity in the human form — defined now as the person without the big job, brilliant kid, sweeping view, outsize network — while all too willingly embracing any aesthetic expression of the average (this chain store, that grotesquely bland glass high-rise).”

14. Is Free Speech an Absolute Right, or Does Context Matter?

“Liberalism is founded on the belief that we should tolerate one another’s error, not because we approve of it, but to avoid the violence that would result if we each sought to silence the other. The liberal believes that life is more important than truth — that it is better to live in a peaceful society full of error than in a pure society full of persecution. The price of this toleration is that we must constantly put up with hearing speech that we consider wrong; we must smother our moral instincts.”

15. What I Care About Is Important. What You Care About Is a ‘Distraction.’

“The magic of waving away a ‘distraction’ is that it lets you minimize and dismiss something without having to explain why. The whole discussion is tabled, by fiat. It’s to trump everything, instantly. By calling something a distraction, you declare yourself — and the things you value — squarely in the white-hot center of the universe, far away from all tangential concerns, without pausing to justify that placement at all.”

16. Letter of Recommendation: ‘Shark Tank’

“You start to feel as if you could write your own business plan after watching a few episodes.”

17. How to Eat Spicy Food

“Relax and let the plant compounds expand your ability to experience food in a new way.”

18. Have Your Date and Your Garlic Too

“There are two proper ways to use garlic: pounding and blooming.”

19. The Mind of John McPhee

“McPhee gathers every single scrap of reporting on a given project — every interview, description, stray thought and research tidbit — and types all of it into his computer. He studies that data and comes up with organizing categories: themes, set pieces, characters and so on. Each category is assigned a code. To find the structure of a piece, McPhee makes an index card for each of his codes, sets them on a large table and arranges and rearranges the cards until the sequence seems right. Then he works back through his mass of assembled data, labeling each piece with the relevant code. On the computer, a program called ‘Structur’ arranges these scraps into organized batches, and McPhee then works sequentially, batch by batch, converting all of it into prose. (In the old days, McPhee would manually type out his notes, photocopy them, cut up everything with scissors, and sort it all into coded envelopes. His first computer, he says, was ‘a five-thousand-dollar pair of scissors.’)”

20. When ‘Not Guilty’ Is a Life Sentence

“More than 10,000 mentally ill Americans who haven’t been convicted of a crime — people who have been found not guilty by reason of insanity or who have been arrested but found incompetent to stand trial — are involuntarily confined to psychiatric hospitals.”

21. How Fake News Turned a Small Town Upside Down

“I started to ask why anyone should be allowed to publish false information for the express purpose of angering their audience and pushing them further away from those with whom they disagree, but Stranahan cut me off. ‘Hey, I’m walking into the White House right now,’ he said. He had just arrived for a press briefing with the president’s spokesman. ‘Let me call you back.’”


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