Sunday 3.18.2018 New York Times Digest


1. Folly Marches On

“President Trump and his alt-right coterie are not something new under the sun but another chapter in the oldest of human dramas: the tension between appetite and the common good, between ambition and common sense.”

2. Back to the Health Policy Drawing Board

“In no other wealthy country do we see people organize bake sales to help pay for a neighbor’s cancer care.”

3. It’s Hard to Be Hungry on Spring Break

“Spring break is a luxury that many students can’t afford. In a sense, though, it is one that many colleges make them buy anyway.”

4. Babushkas for Putin

“Their emotional response to Mr. Putin — the only man their age who is a presence in their lives — seems to speak to both the holes and the scars that Russian men, in their absence, have left. Mr. Putin is not lazy, these women say. He doesn’t drink. He’s calm, sober, even charming.”

5. In Praise of A.D.H.D.

“Some people with A.D.H.D. may be naturally suited to our turbocharged world.”

6. Stop Apologizing for Being Elite

“The energy expended by many ‘elitists’ on constructing tortuous apologies for their advantages would be better invested in sharing the fruits of those advantages.”

7. A Parable of Self-Destruction + Easter Island Is Eroding

“The islanders cut down trees for cremation, for firewood, for canoes, for homes and perhaps for devices to move the statues. Rats and beetles may also have contributed to the deforestation. Once the trees were gone, there were no more fruit and nuts, and it became impossible to build large canoes to hunt porpoises and to fish for tuna. Hungry villagers also ate up the land birds, such as herons, parrots and owls, until they were gone, too. Deforestation caused erosion that led crops to fail, and this advanced society disintegrated into civil war. Without oceangoing canoes, it was impossible for inhabitants to flee to other islands, the way their ancestors had arrived centuries before. Groups began attacking one another and destroying one another’s statues, with oral histories even recounting cannibalism.”

8. Instagram Age Has Its Pastor

“Saving souls is a business like any other. Pastors today who want to start a ministry for those 40 and under follow a well-traveled path. First, they lease an old theater or club. Next, they find great singers and backup musicians. A fog machine on stage is nice. A church should also have a catchy logo or catchphrase that can be stamped onto merchandise and branded — socks, knit hats, shoes and sweatshirts.”

9. How Does Submissive Sex Work in the Age of #MeToo?

“What began as a very public airing of powerful men’s sexual misconduct has come to cast a certain sinister pall over private intimacies that once seemed perfectly O.K. to enjoy.”

10. Can Donald Trump Be Impeached?

“An unimpeachable president is slowly constructing the kind of authoritarian state that America was actually founded to overthrow.”

11. A Corporeal History of the 19th Century

“Hughes’s blow-by-blow accounts of bowel movements, menstruation, menopause, pores and salivary glands shouldn’t be mistaken for celebrity gossip or scatological humor — though it takes guts, so to speak, to depict courtiers fat-shaming one another and guesstimating who had missed a period.”

12. How Language Came to Be — and How We Use It Today

“Conversation is the entire point of human language and the most useful way to study it.”

13. Letter of Recommendation: Candle Hour

“An hour before I go to bed, I turn off all my devices for the night. I hit the lights. I light a candle or two or three — enough to read a book by, or to just sit and stare at the flame, which, by drawing oxygen, reminds me I need to breathe, too. I surround myself with scents and objects I like — some fresh rosemary plucked from a neighbor’s bush, a jar of redwood seed pods. I have a journal ready, but I don’t pressure myself to write in it. Candle Hour doesn’t even need to last a full hour, though; sometimes it lasts far longer. I sit until I feel an uncoupling from the chaos, or until the candle burns all the way down, or sometimes both.”

14. Should Some Species Be Allowed to Die Out?

“In the face of growing political and environmental pressures, how should we decide what to save?”


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