Sunday 10.22.2017 New York Times Digest


1. To Complain Is to Truly Be Alive

“Being a person is terrible. And complaining about it is the purest, most soothing form of protest there is.”

2. Why Has the E.P.A. Shifted on Toxic Chemicals? An Industry Insider Helps Call the Shots & The E.P.A.’s Top 10 Toxic Threats, and Industry’s Pushback

“The E.P.A.’s abrupt new direction on legacy chemicals is part of a broad initiative by the Trump administration to change the way the federal government evaluates health and environmental risks associated with hazardous chemicals, making it more aligned with the industry’s wishes.”

3. Australia’s Amazon Book Battle

“This is still a place where many Australians can buy a novel, sausages and shampoo in three different shops, each owned by a neighbor with children at the local school.”

4. Fighting Racism Is Not Just a War of Words

“Ceaseless statement-writing as an act of protest is sucking us dry — of time, rest, energy, creativity and our place in the public square.”

5. Famous Athletes Have Always Led the Way

“At their best, the black blessed have always spoken up for the black beleaguered.”

6. Why We Don’t Vote With Our Wallets

“Withholding our cash from companies that cause harm or behave badly is one of the few avenues of protest we have as consumers. So why are we so bad at boycotting?”

7. Hollywood’s Diversity Problem and Undocumented Immigrants

“Producers have moved away from director-driven passion projects and toward properties with more international potential. Meanwhile, period films about the immigrant experience — like Brooklyn (2015), The Immigrant (2014) and Gangs of New York (2002) — freeze the experience in the first half of the 20th century, as if people aren’t still trying to come to this country to start new lives.”

8. Once So Chic and Swooshy, Freeways Are Falling Out of Favor

“Perhaps the greatest argument that removal advocates have is that so much of this infrastructure is nearing the end of its life span. In this era of tight budgets and political gridlock, it may be cheaper for local and state governments to remove a freeway rather than repair or build a new one.”

9. She’s 26, and Brought Down Uber’s C.E.O. What’s Next?

“One of the things that kept popping up was this idea that if you do whistle-blow about sexual harassment, then that is what will define the rest of your life. And I kind of struggled with this. But then, to me, I realized, you know what? No. Stepping back, just being in my little Stoicism Susan bubble, if what people know you for is bringing light to an issue about bad behavior, about bad stuff going on and laws not being followed and people being treated inappropriately, why wouldn’t I want that? That’s a badge of honor.”

10. Stalin, Hitler and the Temptations of Totalitarianism

“As Bullock shuttles between his two subjects, he continues to refute commentators who have treated Stalinism and Nazism as diametrically opposed ideologies by labeling the first internationalist and the second nationalist. In fact, those terms were, in this pairing, a distinction without a difference. Both regimes were chauvinistic and expansionist, and both were police states with one-man rule and a reliance on terror, concentration camps and the Big Lie.”

11. Why Is ‘Politicization’ So Partisan?

“Change, of course, is inherently destabilizing. It upsets an existing state of affairs that might be unbearable to some but suits others just fine. Which is why accusations of ‘politicizing’ might seem like so much mudslinging but often reflect deeper assumptions and arguments about what is objective, what is natural — what is the truth, in other words, free from the distortions of political interference. For those who benefit from the way things are, a raised consciousness is a threat.”

12. North Korea Is No Longer the Hermit Kingdom

“Despite the tightening of international sanctions meant to brake the country’s development of nuclear weapons, North Korea generates about a billion dollars in invisible income every year by selling everything from arms and coal to seafood and textiles — and the labor of exported workers.”

13. When the Revolution Came for Amy Cuddy

“Cuddy … has emerged from this upheaval as a unique object of social psychology’s new, enthusiastic spirit of self-flagellation — as if only in punishing one of its most public stars could it fully break from its past. At conferences, in classrooms and on social media, fellow academics (or commenters on their sites) have savaged not just Cuddy’s work but also her career, her income, her ambition, even her intelligence, sometimes with evident malice. Last spring, she quietly left her tenure-track job at Harvard.”

14. How the Appetite for Emojis Complicates the Effort to Standardize the World’s Alphabets

“The issue isn’t space — Unicode has about 800,000 unused numerical identifiers — but about whose expertise and worldview shapes the standard and prioritizes its projects.”

15. Why Frankenstein’s Monster Haunts Queer Art

“When you’re gay and grow up feeling like a hideous misfit, fully conscious that some believe your desires to be wicked and want to kill you for them, identifying with the Monster is hardly a stretch: A misunderstood beast finds solace in the solitude of the woods, but seems to endlessly face the wrath of the torch-bearing, small-minded inhabitants in the world beyond.”

16. The Novel Taste of Old Food

“Sometimes an ingredient can be too young, callow — as yet uncommitted in flavor. Age brings depth and contours. It pushes past the obvious. If fresh food affirms the splendor of the natural world, aged food speaks to human ingenuity. What is more human than refusing to accept things as they are, than believing we can make them better?”

17. What Does It Mean When an Artist Retires?

“Why call attention to a retreat? Why not just stop?”

18. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Humanist On and Off the Page

“Adichie looks with a gimlet eye at American liberal doctrine, preferring open and frank debate to the narrow constraints of approved messaging. Though she is considered a global icon of feminism, she has, on occasion, displeased progressive sects when she’s expressed her beliefs about gender with candor and without using the latest terminology.”

19. The Versatile and Resilient Amy Adams

“Part of Adams’s greatness as an actor is that she gives herself over to her roles so completely. She doesn’t showboat, calling attention to her technique with histrionics and self-flattering moments, but instead surrenders herself to her characters. She builds histories for them, working on details and finding triggers instead of opening a vein like some performers do.”

20. Park Chan-wook, the Man Who Put Korean Cinema on the Map

“The reason these images resonate, in this age when so much violence has dehumanized us, is that his films return more feeling to the viewer than they take away, born as they are from his love for the underdog — the person driven to the edge of despair and then beyond it.”


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