Sunday 4.1.208 New York Times Digest


1. Decomposition: An Easter Story.

“The resurrection part of the life cycle is performed by decomposers.”

2. Hey, Alexa, What Can You Hear? And What Will You Do With It?

“When you read parts of the applications, it’s really clear that this is spyware and a surveillance system meant to serve you up to advertisers.”

3. In the Bronx, Stadium Scents Take Fans Out to the Ballgame

“The kiosk features six ballpark scents — hot dogs, popcorn, beer, grass, cola and the mitt — in separate push-button dispensers installed at a height accessible to residents in wheelchairs.”

4. Black Cowboys Get Back on the Trail, in Compton

“We’re different than most cowboys because we wear Air Jordan’s, Gucci belts and baseball hats while we ride.”

5. As Top Players Flock to Elite Schools, the Rich Get Better.

“Players and their families are realizing that in an increasingly stratified economy, it pays to think more broadly about the kinds of ends to which basketball can be a means.”

6. We Forgot What Dr. King Believed In

“Dr. King passionately believed that a commitment to God is a commitment to bettering humanity, that the spiritual practices of prayer and worship must be translated into concern for the poor and vulnerable. Dr. King would want us to live his specific faith: work to defeat racism, speak out in principled opposition to war and combat poverty with enlightened and compassionate public policy.”

7. How Memphis Gave Up on Dr. King’s Dream.

“Today, the city of Memphis is 64 percent black and 30 percent white. Memphis is the poorest large metropolitan area in the country.”

8. 50 Years After Dr. King’s Death, New Lessons for Today

“The emphasis of the present-day protest movements is on inclusion: equal salaries, equal education, the right to marry. The goal is to get a share in the system. The civil rights movement began with that goal too, then realized that the system was the problem. Dr. King eventually came to this conviction, and in some ways it made the end of his life hard, complicated and unsettled.”

9. Democrats Are Christians, Too

“Generations of white evangelicals have been conditioned to see evangelicalism as so synonymous with Republican politics that the idea of a non-Republican political option for religious voters simply does not exist.”

10. The Nazi History Behind ‘Asperger’

“Naming a disorder after someone is meant to credit and commend, and Asperger merited neither. His definition of ‘autistic psychopaths’ is antithetical to understandings of autism today, and he sent dozens of children to their deaths.”

11. The Bright, Shiny Distraction of Self-Driving Cars

“American roads are becoming less safe. More than 37,000 people were killed on American roads in 2016, up 5.6 percent from 2015.”

12. God and Men and Jordan Peterson

“Men looking for post-Christian enlightenment seem to gravitate toward secular-rationalist cults like the New Atheism, or more recently toward toxic forms of alt-right politics. In this sense the post-Christian religious landscape is potentially taking Christianity’s gender gap and widening it, playing its own metaphysical role in the growing divergence and polarization of the sexes.”

13. The Americans Our Government Won’t Count

“To be counted in the census is to be both seen and supported.”

14. HAL 9000 Wasn’t Always So Eerily Calm.

“Mr. Rain’s HAL has become the default reference, not just for the voice, but also for the humanesque qualities of what a sentient machine’s personality should be. Just ask Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home — the cadence, the friendly formality, the pleasant intelligence and sense of calm control in their voices evoke Mr. Rain’s unforgettable performance. As we warily eye a future utterly transformed by A.I. incursions into all aspects of our lives, HAL has been lurking.”

15. In Energized Detroit, Savoring an Architectural Legacy

“Kahn is striking for the fact that he’s so low-key and his immense talents were hidden behind a quite conventional persona. I think that’s true of the buildings as well. The buildings are conventional-looking and that tends to throw you off the scent in terms of their innovation and modernity.”

16. Galloping Through History

“Though this book is about horses, it is just as much about thinking as a devotional act. It’s a powerful display of one writer’s willingness to train his mind with unusual care on our coexistence with an animal that has unduly borne both our ‘physical and metaphorical burdens.’”

17. The Resurrection Conundrum

“The story in many ways really begins when Jesus’ female disciples find the empty tomb on Sunday morning. According to the Gospel of Luke, the male disciples at first treated the women’s report as ‘an idle tale,’ and ‘did not believe them.’”

18. Can Islamic and European Civilizations Coexist?

“Throughout history, Islamic and European civilizations have often been not just compatible, but complementary.”

19. Water, Water Everywhere, for Better and Worse

“Eventually the water will come, and with it corroded infrastructure, unusable farmland, public health disasters, destroyed homes and businesses.”

20. Everyone Wants ‘Power.’ Everyone Thinks Someone Else Has It.

“Everyone, from the online critic to the president, seems always to believe that power lies elsewhere, in some branch of the constellation beyond their reach. Try to map out almost any part of this cultural moment, and you will find something similarly chaotic — all the players passing by one another, each convinced they are doing the right thing, and very few convinced that they, in the face of powerful opposition, have enough influence to affect much at all.”

21. How the Avocado Became the Fruit of Global Trade

“A decade ago, avocados were virtually unknown in China. The country imported only two tons in 2010; last year, it brought in 32,100 tons.”

22. Can Jim Mattis Hold the Line in Trump’s ‘War Cabinet’?

“Some of Trump’s old friends and associates speculate that he is drawn to Mattis and the other military men partly for the opposite reason: They represent the austere virtues he knows he lacks. ‘With the generals, the demeanor, discipline, self-sacrifice, the strict adherence to a code is something he doesn’t see around him’ in the business world, I was told by an executive who has known Trump for years.”

23. A People in Limbo, Many Living Entirely on the Water

“Most of the floating villages I saw were peaceful mélanges of Vietnamese, Khmer and Cham fishers, and many of the people I met, including Hoarith, were the product of mixed Khmer and Vietnamese marriages. But everyone seemed to agree that floating villages were traditionally a Vietnamese way of life, enlarged out of economic necessity to include other groups. Today the ethnic Vietnamese live on the water because they are not able to live elsewhere. Neither documented citizen nor, in most cases, immigrant, they are what the government has sometimes described as ‘nonimmigrant foreigners.’ They cannot attend public schools or open bank accounts, get a driver’s license or a factory job or own land or property. Their children are not issued birth certificates, precipitating a generational cycle of de facto statelessness.”

24. Is the Next Nobel Laureate in Literature Tending Bar in a Dusty Australian Town?

“Even by the standards of the solitary writer, his eccentricities are manifest.”


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