Sunday 2.18.2018 New York Times Digest


1. A Message From the Club No One Wants to Join

“Not only has my loved one died, I have died as well. My former life, the life I would have lived with that now-dead loved one, exists no more. All the years we’ll spend grieving for our loved ones, we’ll also be grieving for our own lives — our old lives. Because we don’t know we’re grieving for ourselves as well as our loved ones, we can’t get to the source of our grief, and it comes to seem bottomless, as if the world were made of grief.”

2. The Tyranny of Convenience

“Though understood and promoted as an instrument of liberation, convenience has a dark side. With its promise of smooth, effortless efficiency, it threatens to erase the sort of struggles and challenges that help give meaning to life. Created to free us, it can become a constraint on what we are willing to do, and thus in a subtle way it can enslave us.”

3. The WeWork Manifesto: First, Office Space. Next, the World.

“It will be the kind of place you never have to leave until you need to go to sleep — and if Mr. Neumann has his way, you’ll sleep at one of the apartments he is renting nearby.”

4. The Feminist Pursuit of Good Sex

“At bottom, #MeToo is not about hashtags or individual firings. It’s a chance to reset the table of sexual politics — not by infantilizing women or declaring a war on flirting or administering litmus tests, but by continuing a decades-long push for true equality in the bedroom, for a world in which women are not intimidated or coerced into sex but are also not stuffed into the role of gatekeepers.”

5. Russia Isn’t the Only One Meddling in Elections. We Do It, Too.

“His findings underscore how routine election meddling by the United States — sometimes covert and sometimes quite open — has been.”

6. A University of, by and for the People

“It is one of the government-supported land-grant colleges established by the Morrill Act, which Abraham Lincoln signed into law in 1862 to educate the children of farm and factory workers, ‘the sons of toil.’”

7. The Currency of a Relaxing Tingle

“Every few months, usually in a rented or borrowed apartment, audience members show up and pay $90 to $120 to experience scenes presented by a semiregular cast of performers and designed to elicit autonomous sensory meridian response, more commonly known as A.S.M.R., the suddenly popular phenomenon in which gentle sounds or touch make some people feel relaxing tingles at the back of the skull.”

8. Why Did Christianity Prevail?

“Ehrman rejects the idea that Constantine’s conversion made much difference; the empire, he writes, would most likely have turned Christian in time without him. So how did Christianity triumph? To put it plainly, Christianity was something new on this earth. It wasn’t closed to women. It was so concerned with questions of social welfare (healing the sick, caring for the poor) that it embedded them into its doctrines. And while there were plenty of henotheist pagans (that is, people who worshiped one god while not denying the validity of others), Christianity went far beyond henotheism’s hesitant claim upon ultimate truth. It was an exclusivist faith that foreclosed — was designed to foreclose — devotion to all other deities. Yet it was different from Judaism, which was just as exclusivist but crucially lacked a missionary impulse.”

9. How We Got From Twinkies to Tofu

“Hippie food resulted from the convergence, around 1970, of three different strains of food ideology: health food faddism; ethical vegetarianism; and a post-Silent Spring critique of industrialized food and farming.”

10. How to Forgive

“Forgiveness means abandoning anger, and that can be long, hard work — possibly a lifetime’s worth.”

11. Black Panther and the Revenge of the Black Nerds

“You can be a hip-hop head, a sneaker fiend, a theater expert, a modern dance aficionado or an unapologetic comic book nerd. The democratizing power of social media has elevated the voices of those who were previously marginalized, helping undermine white culture’s habit of limiting black people to a handful of stereotypes.”

12. Why Black Panther Is a Defining Moment for Black America

Black Panther is a Hollywood movie, and Wakanda is a fictional nation. But coming when they do, from a director like Coogler, they must also function as a place for multiple generations of black Americans to store some of our most deeply held aspirations.”

13. ‘I’m Just More Afraid of Climate Change Than I Am of Prison’

“The Valve Turners are, for the most part, quiet people. They wear sensible shoes, and several attend church regularly. Most are parents, and one is a grandparent. All are white, all are college-educated and none are truly poor. While all are deeply concerned about climate change, none are immediately threatened by its worst effects: no one’s home has flooded, and no one’s health has been seriously damaged by heat waves or failed harvests or northward-creeping tropical diseases. All say that it is this relative safety — and the relative advantages of age, race, education and wealth — that makes them feel they have a particular responsibility, as climate activists, to push the boundaries of civil disobedience.”

14. The New Face of Portrait Painting

“Why paint someone’s picture in the age of the selfie? Most painters responded by getting weirder, more abstract, more experimental; representational figurative art was anachronistic, inert, crusty — a form of vanity exclusive to the rich. And yet portraiture — in the classic, realist sense — has become increasingly essential (and visible) in the last few years.”

15. The Enduring Appeal of: Baskets

“Baskets are among the most ancient and geographically pervasive objects humankind has ever fashioned from nature — and the only craft that has proved insusceptible to mechanization. (Every basket you see is the product of human handiwork.)”

16. The Golden Age of Crudités

“What they offer is that most elusive of qualities: honesty. Their beauty comes entirely from within; it can’t be enhanced or faked. That’s both a comfort and a rarity in a world dominated by the ersatz and the airbrushed, of novelty food trends like rainbow-dyed bagels and super-size soup dumplings, or sci-fi kitchen experiments involving mortadella foam and edible balloons.”

17. The Power of Wearing Flowers

“It’s a shocking reminder of how tenuous our hold is on earth. Against the age of the universe, our lives are not much longer than a blossom’s. So we seize what we can from our pillaged landscape and, like our ancestors before us, take beauty, however fleeting, where we find it.”


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