Sunday 4.8.2018 New York Times Digest

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1. The ISIS Files

“The world knows the Islamic State for its brutality, but the militants did not rule by the sword alone. They wielded power through two complementary tools: brutality and bureaucracy. ISIS built a state of administrative efficiency that collected taxes and picked up the garbage. It ran a marriage office that oversaw medical examinations to ensure that couples could have children. It issued birth certificates — printed on Islamic State stationery — to babies born under the caliphate’s black flag. It even ran its own D.M.V.”

2. In 83 Million Eviction Records, a Sweeping and Intimate New Look at Housing in America

“An eviction isn’t one problem. It’s like 12 problems.”

3. Many People Taking Antidepressants Discover They Cannot Quit + Matter Over Mind

“The drugs have helped millions of people ease depression and anxiety, and are widely regarded as milestones in psychiatric treatment. Many, perhaps most, people stop the medications without significant trouble. But the rise in longtime use is also the result of an unanticipated and growing problem: Many who try to quit say they cannot because of withdrawal symptoms they were never warned about.”

4. A Purveyor of Fountain Pens and Carbon Paper, Reinvented.

“And who uses fountain pens anymore? ‘Real traditional lawyers or judges from the old school, and they usually use it to make an impression when they’re with people,’ he said. But many younger customers don’t even bother with ballpoints. ‘Some don’t have a pen in their in their pocket,’ said Mr. Gutman. ‘The ones that do, their image is the iPhone that they have in their hands. It’s almost embarrassing for them to have a pen.’”

5. At the Masters, Low-Tech Data Still Rules

“There will be multiple times you’ll be confused. Then you trust your instincts.”

6. India’s ‘Big Brother’ Program

“India is scanning the fingerprints, eyes and faces of its 1.3 billion residents and connecting the data to everything from welfare benefits to mobile phones.”

7. Merger Medicine and the Disappearing Doctor

“People are flocking to retail clinics and urgent care centers in strip malls or shopping centers, where simple health needs can usually be tended to by health professionals like nurse practitioners or physician assistants much more cheaply than in a doctor’s office.”

8. Medicare Doesn’t Equal Dental Care

“The separation of coverage for dental care from the rest of our health care has had dramatic effects on both.”

9. How to Clean Up the Student Loan Mess

“The decisions made during loan servicing matter enormously to the financial well-being of millions of people.”

10. Who Doesn’t Love to Hate-Watch HGTV? + HGTV’s Roster of Power (Tool) Couples. + Letter of Recommendation: ‘House Hunters’

“For many of us, HGTV is the antidote to Fox News and MSNBC. In an era of political uncertainty, turmoil and real-life cliffhangers, who doesn’t want to escape to an alternate universe where, with the right blend of shiplap and granite, you could achieve perfection in your home, and by extension, your life?”

11. How Democracy Became the Enemy + Fascism on The March

“Lo, the new Promised Land: competitive authoritarianism, a form of European single-party rule that retains a veneer of democracy while skewing the contest sufficiently to ensure it is likely to yield only one result.”

12. How to Level the College Playing Field

“Despite the best efforts of many, the gap between the numbers of rich and poor college graduates continues to grow.”

13. Mark Zuckerberg Can Still Fix This Mess

“We should look to how the law treats professionals with specialized skills who get to know clients’ troubles and secrets intimately. For example, doctors and lawyers draw lots of sensitive information from, and wield a lot of power over, their patients and clients. There’s not only an ethical trust relationship there but also a legal one: that of a ‘fiduciary,’ which at its core means that the professionals are obliged to place their clients’ interests ahead of their own. The legal scholar Jack Balkin has convincingly argued that companies like Facebook and Twitter are in a similar relationship of knowledge about, and power over, their users — and thus should be considered ‘information fiduciaries.’”

14. The Germs That Love Diet Soda

“Our gut bacteria are being bombarded with things that we never ate — or never ate in the concentrations we eat now.”

15. America’s Deathtrap Schools

“In May 2013, 56 schools there were damaged or destroyed by tornadoes, including Plaza Towers Elementary School, where seven children were killed. That school did not have a tornado shelter or safe room.”

16. America’s Federally Financed Ghettos

“The residential segregation that is pervasive in the United States today was partly created by explicit federal policies that date back at least to World War I. It is now widely acknowledged that the federal insistence on segregated housing introduced Jim Crow separation in areas of the country outside the South where it had previously been unknown.”

17. Something Extra With Every DVD

“Sometimes things have to go away for people to kind of miss them.”

18. Catching a Ride On the Juul Wave

“The glamorization of the cigarette took place over decades and throughout countless Hollywood movies and glossy ads. The Juul iconicity was birthed much faster: through social media. That includes personal accounts, kids eager to fuel the Juul wave with winkingly knowing tweets about the hype cycle.”

19. With Changing Students and Times, Colleges Are Going Back to School

“Amid a growing disillusionment with higher education, thousands of institutions are seeking ways to adapt to a rapidly changing landscape that has been destabilized by skeptics, an impatient work force and a fierce conservative populace streak.”

20. Middle-Class Families Increasingly Look to Community Colleges

“Community colleges have long catered to low-income students who dream of becoming the first in their families to earn a college degree. And for many, that remains their central mission. But as middle- and upper-middle-class families … face college prices in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, more of them are looking for ways to spend less for their children’s quality education.”

21. Alexis Ohanian, a Start-Up Spirit, Opens Up + Tired of Your Cubicle? Try a Trade

“Do you really need to go to college? There is a huge student loan debt problem in this country. I think there’s going to need to be a drastic change in how these universities work. And I also think we’ve lambasted the trades for way too long. You can make six figures as a welder.”

22. Defining Itself by What It Hates

“Despite its edgy, countercultural pretensions, the alt-right is almost entirely ‘culturally sterile.’ Endless piles of ephemeral internet memes aside, it has produced little or no music, literature, film or poetry.”

23. Necessary Evil

“As more people began to spend more of each day arguing about serious issues with strangers online, it became necessary to sort out which opinions could be summarily dismissed. So the devil’s advocate is pictured as a highhanded nerd popping up to play logic games in the face of pressing issues. Concern trolls are disingenuous drags on the conversation. There’s hand-wringing, derailing, distraction, tone policing, silencing, gaslighting, ‘sea lioning’ — a label for every depressing rhetorical habit that could possibly present itself, each term a tool for narrowing down the number of ideas waiting in line for your consideration. Taken as a whole, this taxonomy feels both totally rational and slightly desperate — a way of insisting, against abundant evidence to the contrary, that a productive conversation remains possible.”

24. How to Crack a Safe

“At a minimum, you’ll need a drill; diamond and tungsten carbide drill bits, capable of boring into reinforced metals; an optical device called a borescope; and a stethoscope.”

25. The Case of Hong Kong’s Missing Booksellers

“The Chinese government has long sought to shape and control information, but the scope and intensity of this effort was something new — and its origins could be traced to a 61-year-old bookseller and a few stacks of forbidden titles.”

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