Sunday 12.31.2017 New York Times Digest

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1. The Only Way to Keep Your Resolutions

“We too often think about self-improvement and the pursuit of our goals in bracing, self-flagellating terms: I will do better, I will muscle through, I will wake up earlier. But it doesn’t need to be that way, and it shouldn’t: Self-control isn’t about feeling miserable.”

2. Want to Be Happy? Think Like an Old Person

“As people’s minds and bodies decline, instead of feeling worse about their lives, they feel better.”

3. Using the Airbnb Model to Protect the Environment

“Much as homeowners can use Airbnb and other services to turn their living space into pop-up hotels when demand warrants it, conservationists are creating ‘pop-up nature reserves’ on idle land.”

4. The Patriarchy Isn’t Going Anywhere

“The patriarchy is bigger than the patriarch.”

5. Dad Believed in U.F.O.s. He Wasn’t Alone.

“I can hear what he would have said, there at the veterans’ home, his broken vessel of a body in a wheelchair but his mind as quick and bright as a shooting star. ‘I’ve been saying it for years,’ he’d assert, followed by a choice epithet he reserved for government officials, followed by, ‘I knew it.’ Then, a satisfying drag on a cigarette.”

6. Is It Too Late to Follow My Dreams?

“There is no age limit to finding artistic success.”

7. America, Can We Talk About Your Drinking?

“Many alcohol researchers and substance-use clinicians believe the steady increase in problem drinking arises from a deeply felt sense of despair.”

8. A D.J. Could Save Your Life Tonight

“Good D.J.s are extraordinary artists, and great D.J.s are transcendent magicians. The art requires extensive musical knowledge. It demands technical know-how. It turns one into a psychologist and reader of moods in order to gauge the whims of a dance floor. And it insists that you spend days, weeks and years learning how to mix flawlessly. That is the core of a D.J.’s magic. The ability to blend, to weave two songs together and seamlessly connect them in a way that continues the narrative you’re spinning on this night.”

9. Your Mother’s Maiden Name Is Not a Secret

“Security questions are astonishingly insecure: The answers to many of them are easily researched or guessed, yet they can be the sole barrier to someone gaining access to your account.”

10. How We Know It Was Climate Change

“There is now ample evidence that global warming has influenced extremes in the United States and around the world through such factors as temperature, atmospheric moisture and sea level. This doesn’t mean that every event has a human fingerprint. But it does mean that we can expect more years like this one, when our old expectations no longer apply.”

11. The College Sports Tax Dodge

“Student-athletes have always been considered unpaid amateurs engaging in extracurricular activities rather than profitable professions. So college sports is deemed part of the educational mission of schools and exempt from income taxes.”

12. An Antidote to Digital Dehumanization? Live Theater

“The theater is an art form scaled to the human, and stubbornly so, relying on the absolute necessity of physical audience, a large part of why theater is so difficult to monetize. It only happens when and where it happens. Once it starts, you can’t stop it. It doesn’t exist to be paused or pulled out at the consumer’s whim. It can’t be copied and sold. In a world increasingly lost to virtuality and unreality — the theater points to an antidote.”

13. How They Created ‘Phantom Thread’

“There’s no strangeness you can imagine that is more strange than the lives of apparently conventional people behind closed doors.”

14. Free Your Mind? ‘Black Mirror’ Isn’t Too Hopeful

“His target isn’t technology per se. Rather, the series assumes that people — enough people anyway — will look at any new device the way a terrorist looks at a truck or a boxcutter, with an eye toward the damage they can do with it.”

15. Why Every Pop Star Wants a Piece of Starrah

“I like my privacy.”

16. Black Gold

“There may be no factor more influential in contemporary geopolitics and yet least understood by journalists and policymakers than the energy revolution, which is less about renewables like wind and solar power than about how the oil and gas sector itself is changing.”

17. Are the American West’s Wildfires Inevitable?

“Today’s forests are often clogged with desiccated vegetation because — unlike in countless millenniums past — they are seldom cleansed by naturally occurring blazes. With such an abundance of fuel to feast on, wildfires like those currently raging in California have become increasingly ruinous and intense.”

18. Planned Obsolescence

“The technological micromoment has become a constant pitfall for authors as our emotional life migrates to platforms with ever-changing protocols and social rites.”

19. Unplanned Obsolescence

“As his thumbs danced over the tiny screen, I realized that ‘all thumbs’ cannot much longer mean clumsy with one’s hands. And I realized how much I’m going to miss it. It has always seemed to me a way of noting a deficit without being vicious about it — a description of the bumbling sitcom dad who tries to fiddle with a circuit breaker and plunges the entire house into darkness. But how can that man be labeled all thumbs if the teenager sitting across from me can use his thumbs on his smartphone fast enough to take dictation from a cattle auctioneer?”

20. We Aren’t Destroying the Earth

“People spreading out across the globe and building international trade networks have reunited the continents in a kind of virtual supercontinent, mixing plant, animal, microbe and fungal species in a way unseen since Pangaea, more than 200 million years ago.”

 

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