Sunday 2.25.2018 New York Times Digest


1. Why People Love to Jump Off Cliffs

“You do it right, or you die. It requires maximum focus and, at least for a little while, erases all other concerns. Therein, perhaps, lies the appeal.”

2. Left to Louisiana’s Tides, a Village Fights for Time

“What strikes you first is how much is already lost.”

3. ‘Crisis Actor’ Isn’t a New Smear. The Idea Goes Back to the Civil War Era.

“Conspiracy theories have been amplified in the internet age, but they are a part of a long, troubled history of dismissing the voices of those seeking change.”

4. An Olympic Challenge: Eat All the Korean Food That Visitors Won’t

“‘I got everything ready for the Olympics, hired some more part-time help,’ he said, flicking ash from his cigarette. ‘And then: nothing.’”

5. Walter Winans, the Ultimate Two-Event Olympic Medalist

“Winans is the only person to win gold in a sport and an art.”

6. She’s Ringside at TrumpMania

“Ms. McMahon has distinguished herself as the rare high-ranking administration official deemed broadly unobjectionable.”

7. The Misguided Drive to Measure ‘Learning Outcomes’

“The ballooning assessment industry — including the tech companies and consulting firms that profit from assessment — is a symptom of higher education’s crisis, not a solution to it. It preys especially on less prestigious schools and contributes to the system’s deepening divide into a narrow tier of elite institutions primarily serving the rich and a vast landscape of glorified trade schools for everyone else.”

8. Tech Envisions the Ultimate Start-Up: An Entire City

“The tech industry tries to produce better versions of familiar things — cheaper phones, smaller computers, faster chips. But cities like San Francisco don’t seem to be evolving into more efficient versions of themselves.”

9. I Was a Marine. I Don’t Want a Gun in My Classroom.

“I will immodestly state that among professors in the United States, I am almost certainly one of the best shooters. But I would never bring a weapon into a classroom. The presence of a firearm is always an invitation to violence. Weapons have no place in a learning environment.”

10. Frederick Douglass’s Fight Against Scientific Racism

“Even as Douglass refused to allow racist scientific theories to go unchallenged, he always understood that science was not the antidote to white people’s racism. There were only so many facts you could give to prove black people’s humanity.”

11. What Poisons Are in Your Body?

“I eat organic to reduce exposure to endocrine disruptors in pesticides. I try to store leftover meals in glass containers, not plastic. I avoid handling A.T.M. and gas station receipts. I try to avoid flame-retardant furniture. Those are all common sources of toxic endocrine disruptors, so I figured that my urine would test pristine.”

12. Brian Selznick: By the Book

“Some years ago I received a fan letter from Ray Bradbury that simply said, ‘I love Hugo Cabret!’ I was floored, particularly because I’d loved his books since high school. I wrote him back and ended up in a phone conversation with one of his daughters, who told me that I should stop by if I’m ever in Los Angeles. ‘I’m supposed to be in L.A. next week,’ I lied. When I arrived at his house his daughter met me at the door and ushered me into a tiny room where Mr. Bradbury was sitting in a recliner surrounded by VHS tapes of old movies, piles of books and papers, and a model of the Nautilus from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Around his neck was a medal, which he said had recently been given to him by the president of France. We talked for a while, and I asked him if it was true that he wrote every single day. He pointed to a nearby box and told me to bring it to him. He opened the box and inside was a manuscript he’d just finished typing for a new book of short stories to be called We’ll Always Have Paris. One of the short story titles jumped out at me. ‘Remembrance, Ohio.’ ‘That’s a beautiful title,’ I said to him. ‘Thanks,’ he said, ‘I made it up.’”

13. The Philosopher Who Believed That Art Was Key to Black Liberation

“Even before college, Locke knew he was gay and that he would live his life as a gay man. These contradictory commitments — to respectable, elitist and homophobic black Victorianism on the one hand, and to his gay lifestyle on the other — produced a friction that sparked Locke’s intellectual fire.”

14. How to Take a Vow of Silence

“John Francis woke up on his 27th birthday in 1973 and decided not to speak for the day. He found he liked not talking, so extended his vow of silence for a year. Francis, an environmental activist, suggests starting with four days, knowing you can always opt to go longer. In the end, he didn’t speak for 17 years.”

15. What Happens When Athletes Do the Sportswriting?

“The Players’ Tribune represents the first truly new wrinkle in sportswriting in a decade. But what is it, exactly? It’s not fair to call it P.R. The access it provides is genuine. But you can’t really get around one tricky fact: When you give the subject the final cut, you can’t call it journalism either. Perhaps The Players’ Tribune can be best understood as an effort by athletes to seize that most precious contemporary commodity — the narrative.”

16. The Case Against Google

“Monopolies and technology often seem intertwined. When a company discovers a technological advantage — like the innovations of Rockefeller’s scientists — it sometimes makes that firm so powerful that it becomes a monopoly almost without trying very hard. Many of the most important antitrust lawsuits in American history — against IBM, Alcoa, Kodak and others — were rooted in claims that one company had made technological discoveries that allowed it to outpace competitors.”


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