Sunday 12.17.2017 New York Times Digest


1. At the Solstice, in Praise of Darkness

“However we may celebrate the return of light to our skies and lives, she continued, we might also wish to pause to honor the darkness that will give way to it.”

2. The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program

“We’re sort of in the position of what would happen if you gave Leonardo da Vinci a garage-door opener.”

3. How a President’s Name Became a Racial Jeer

“Across the country, students have used the president’s name to mock or goad minority opponents at sporting events.”

4. Google Thinks I’m Dead

“When an acquaintance said she was alarmed to read that I had passed away, it seemed like an error worth correcting. And so began the quest to convince someone at Google that I am alive.”

5. Asked About Retiring, They Have a Simple Answer: Why?

“The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the labor force participation rate for those 75 and older rose from 6.4 percent in 2006 to 8.4 percent in 2016 and is likely to reach 10.8 percent by 2026.”

6. America’s New Religion: Fox Evangelicalism

“The nationalistic, race-baiting, fear-mongering form of politics enthusiastically practiced by Mr. Trump and Roy Moore in Alabama is central to a new strain of American evangelicalism. This emerging religious worldview — let’s call it ‘Fox evangelicalism’ — is preached from the pulpits of conservative media outlets like Fox News. It imbues secular practices like shopping for gifts with religious significance and declares sacred something as worldly and profane as gun culture.”

7. Earthlings, Unite: Let’s Go to Mars

“I think we should plan to go to Mars because it would be a healthy sign that we, as a civilization, are still planning for a future — that we intend to live. Because right now, frankly, we’re not acting as though we do. We’re acting more the way a friend of mine did in the last year of his life: letting the mail pile up unopened, heaping garbage in the house, littering the floor with detritus, no longer bothering to turn over the calendar pages. He’d clearly decided, on some level, to die.”

8. My Year of No Shopping

“The trick of no shopping isn’t just that you don’t buy things. You don’t shop. That means no trawling the sale section of the J. Crew website in idle moments. It means the catalogs go into the recycle bin unopened on the theory that if I don’t see it, I don’t want it.”

9. When Saying ‘Yes’ Is Easier Than Saying ‘No’

“There are other names for this kind of sex: gray zone sex, in reference to that murky gray area of consent; begrudgingly consensual sex, because, you know, you don’t really want to do it but it’s probably easier to just get it over with; lukewarm sex, because you’re kind of ‘meh’ about it; and, of course, bad sex, where the ‘bad’ refers not to the perceived pleasure of it, but to the way you feel in the aftermath.”

10. Gift-Giving Tips From Scientists

“The appeal of well-wrapped, worthless gifts is nearly universal, and even goes beyond Homo sapiens. Early this year in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology, researchers showed that some male spiders … give food gifts to prospective mates that are nutritionally worthless but wrapped ornately in the silk produced by their bodies. Imagine giving your beloved a chicken nugget meticulously wrapped in beautiful fabric, and you get the idea. Apparently for spiders, as for humans, it’s the wrapping that counts, because the worthlessness of the gift inside did not affect the receptivity of the female.”

11. Jason Segel: By the Book

“I read very slowly and methodically on paper. I have heard that reading a physical book is better for retention as it engages the spatial part of your brain, which a tablet does not: ‘This thing happened around this far into the book.’ You don’t get that on a tablet as everything is on the same page. Apparently our spatial memory is our most developed due to old evolutionary necessity. You had to remember how to get back home.”

12. The Most Popular Poets in the World

“Fights about artistic tastes are nearly always about submerged social hostilities — putting down the audiences as much as the artists.”

13. The Odd, Otherwordly Glow of Fred Herzog’s Photography

“If this is rush hour, where’s the traffic?”

14. Seven Women Discuss Work, Fairness, Sex and Ambition

“Why is this all happening now?”


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