Sunday 12.3.2017 New York Times Digest


1. Melting Arctic Ice Makes High-Speed Internet a Reality in a Remote Town

“High-speed internet cables snake under the world’s oceans, tying continents together and allowing email and other bits of digital data sent from Japan to arrive quickly in Britain. Until recently, those lines mostly bypassed the Arctic, where the ice blocked access to the ships that lay the cable. But as the ice has receded, new passageways have emerged.”

2. Builders Said Their Homes Were Out of a Flood Zone. Then Harvey Came.

“The land was raised less than 10 inches above the level that, under federal flood-insurance rules, would have required the family to be notified of their risk and purchase insurance. Other lots in their area were raised as little as 1.2 inches above that height.”

3. The Great American Single-Family Home Problem

“If cities are going to tackle their affordable housing problems, economists say, that is going to have to change. But how do you build up when neighbors want down?”

4. Bound by History, Two Colleges Confront Their #MeToo Moment.

“The torrent of claims against high-profile men in entertainment, media and politics is now spreading across academia, re-energizing the outcry over sexual misconduct on American campuses and bringing forth a new wave of complaints.”

5. The Cost of Devaluing Women

“The bigger cost derives from how women’s ideas are discounted and their talent ignored.”

6. How Drug Cartels Evade Border Security

“Even as the United States spends billions of dollars along the Mexican border — the main route for drug trafficking — as part of President Trump’s crackdown on border security, the traffickers have already found ways to avoid the cameras, drones, drug dogs and agents along the border, officials said.”

7. In a Venezuela Ravaged by Inflation, ‘a Race for Survival’

“At first glance the severity of the situation might not be immediately obvious to a newcomer. Viewed from a certain remove, Caracas may seem like any other capital in the developing world: streets crowded with traffic, people hustling to work, shops open and doing business. But on closer inspection, those impressions quickly fall away to reveal a society falling apart, and people struggling to hold their lives together and make it through the day.”

8. Will Tech Protect My Kids?.

“Unjust racial profiling and resulting racial disparities in the criminal justice system certainly don’t depend on artificial intelligence. But when you add it — as many law enforcement agencies across the country, including those in major cities like Miami, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Atlanta and New York, have over the past couple of years — things get even scarier for black families.”

9. Soil Power! The Dirty Way to a Green Planet

“Sequestering carbon in soil can produce a double dividend: It reduces climate change by extracting carbon from the atmosphere, and it restores the health of degraded soil and increases agricultural yields.”

10. The Sterile Society

“So far the process has not substituted successful marriages for failing ones, healthy relationships for exploitative ones, new courtship scripts for the ones torn up 50 years ago. Instead as Weinsteinian or Polanskian excesses have been corrected, we’ve increased singlehood, sterility and loneliness.”

11. Jean-Claude Van Damme Plays Jean-Claude Van Damme, for Kicks

“If you were born in the dojo, you will die in the dojo.”

12. When Did Poetry Speak to Us? When We Were Very Young

“The most remarkable thing about poetry’s unpopularity isn’t that it exists, but that it exists in the wake of a period in which poems were not merely popular, but embraced with a fierce and unembarrassed joy. That period, of course, is childhood.”

13. Muhammad Ali, Beginning to End for the First Time in a Book

“As a high school athlete in 1959 Cassius was already signing autographs for classmates — ‘Cassius Clay, World Heavyweight Champion.’”

14. A Renowned Travel Writer’s Letters From the Road

“He was a man of letters but also, like his hero Byron, a man of action — a war hero and a restless adventurer, who even swam the Hellespont when he was 69. He never finished school — his headmaster called him ‘a dangerous mixture of sophistication and recklessness’ and tossed him out for holding hands with a shopkeeper’s daughter — but was prodigiously learned, conversant in at least eight languages and able to recite hours of poetry by heart. He was an old-school Englishman, a toff — bespoke clothes, club memberships, plummy accent, riding to hounds — who lived most of his life abroad, broke much of the time, settling down at last in Greece. He was an unabashed snob and social climber who also relished the company of peasants and shepherds. He was a famous ladies’ man and at the same time deeply in love with his wife, who patiently overlooked his wanderings. (She even lent him money for prostitutes.) And he was a tireless socializer, beloved by an enormous circle of friends, who often yearned for solitude and sometimes hid out in monasteries.”

15. A Love Affair With Bookstores

“True, he notes, libraries also deal in books, but ‘the Bookshop is light; the Library is heavy.’ ‘While the Librarian accumulates, hoards, at most lends goods out for a short while,’ he explains, ‘the Bookseller acquires in order to free himself from what he has acquired; he sells and buys, puts into circulation. His business is traffic and transit. The Library is always one step behind: looking towards the past.”

16. What If Our Current State of Affairs Is Actually ‘Normal’?

“The responsibility for maintaining the world falls to you and your peers. This is why your elders pressured you to learn things; they were aware that they would die and that someone would need to be able to design power plants and do heart surgery. As with international law, we might enjoy the thought that there is some coherent structure holding everything together, but in the end the structure is only as stable as we’re prepared to step forward and make it.”

17. How Far Will Sean Hannity Go?

“Hannity later told me he had, over time, developed separate approaches for his radio and television shows. ‘My thoughts are the same: I’m mad,’ he said. ‘But with television, I’ve got the images to help me out. With radio, it’s on me to paint the picture.’”

18. The New Generation of Character Actors

“Over the course this great fragmentation in the film industry — a system increasingly divided between major-studio blockbusters that are announced a decade in advance at shareholder meetings and tiny indies that often disappear after a week in theaters — character actors have only moved further into the mainstream. In lower-budget projects, they are cast in complicated leading roles that win them acclaim; in mega-films (especially superhero ones), they are relied upon for their ability to bring soul to underwritten, potentially clichéd parts.”

19. The Sweet Rewards of Bitter Food

“Nothing worth doing is easy, and nothing worth consuming goes down easy. In an age of ready pleasures, choosing something difficult and unlikable is an announcement of sophistication.”

20. The School Prepping for Apocalypse

“Its popularity offers the provocative suggestion that the next generation of leaders requires not necessarily math or literature or history — though Green School teaches those too — but a wider set of tools, ranging from adaptability to teamwork to the sort of problem-solving that flourishes under conditions of constraint, which will prove useful in a world whose resources will only continue to diminish. It is a prep school meant to do more than merely prepare students for college, but also equip them with survival skills for an unknown new world, in which proficiency with alternative fuels and sustainable building practices — and the experience of living in a nontraditional, unpredictable environment — might be more useful benchmarks than SAT scores.”

21. Is the Age of the Artistic Recluse Over?

“What has increased in the age of distraction is our concern for the necessary conditions in which art could flourish. No longer can the world be kept at bay with the closing of a door; Woolf’s room of her own is now wired for internet. To look at my shelves of favorite novels written in feverish solitude and think that they might never have come to pass is also to know there must be many more today that are simply not being written.”

22. Jay-Z and Dean Banquet, in Conversation

“The goal is not to be successful and famous. That’s not the goal. The goal is, if you have a specific God-given ability, is to live your life out through that. One. And two, we have a responsibility to push the conversation forward until we’re all equal. Till we’re all equal in this place. Because until everyone’s free, no one’s free, and that’s just a fact.”


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