Sunday 5.6.2018 New York Times Digest

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1. The Russian Comic Writer Who’s an Antidote to Mad Times

“When people say that America’s absurdity has outpaced fiction, I refer them to the works of Nikolai Gogol, the Russian writer and playwright, who understood better than any artist since what ‘perfect nonsense goes on in the world.’”

2. Stop Calling Washington a Swamp. It’s Offensive to Swamps.

“The swamp is also the perfection of paradox. A marsh with trees. Water. Land. Both and neither. The use of ‘swamp’ as a pejorative ignores all of this, while reflecting an ecological ignorance and a general disparagement of the swampier regions of the country, particularly in the South.”

3. The Upside of Envy

“If we are honest with ourselves, envy can help us identify our vision of excellence and where need be, perhaps reshape it.”

4. When Southern Newspapers Justified Lynching

“Newspapers even bragged about the roles they had played in arranging particularly spectacular lynchings. But the real damage was done in terse, workaday stories that justified lynching by casting its victims as ‘fiends,’ ‘brutes,’ ‘born criminals’ or, that catchall favorite, ‘troublesome Negroes.’ The narrative that tied blackness inextricably to criminality — and to the death penalty — survived the lynching era and lives on to this day.”

5. Our Addiction to Trump

“As president, Trump is enormously important, but there’s so much else happening as well.”

6. Did That Just Happen?! Skyscraper Stunts in the Movies

“Since King Kong climbed to the top of the Empire State Building in 1933, the movies have often relied on skyscrapers as a tense setting for action thrills. And the buildings, along with studio ambitions, keep getting higher.”

7. Bans on Plastic Straws Are Growing. But Is the Travel Industry Doing Enough?

“Plastic straws kill marine life and choke reefs and beaches, never decomposing completely, but instead breaking into bits of microplastics, which eventually enter the food chain.”

8. Yes, It’s Bad. Robocalls, and Their Scams, Are Surging. + Robocalls Flooding Your Cellphone? Here’s How to Stop Them

“The most simple and effective remedy is to not answer numbers you don’t know.”

9. How Big Data Is ‘Automating Inequality’

“For the poor, she argues, government data and its abuses have imposed a new regime of surveillance, profiling, punishment, containment and exclusion, which she evocatively calls the ‘digital poorhouse.’”

10. What Happens When People and Companies Are Both Just ‘Brands’?

“The brand, in fact, is such a ubiquitous organizing principle for so many things — companies, products, people — that it has been forced to spawn an expansive glossary of subcategories and varieties.”

11. Corrupt Leaders Are Falling Around the World. Will It Boost Economies?

“Corruption is being exposed, denounced and prosecuted more vigorously, and at higher levels, than ever.”

12. Letter of Recommendation: Crying at Movies

“I started going to movies alone. At first the theater was just an escape from the city, which had begun to make me feel like a penny in an immense jar of loose change. Then I started writing about movies professionally, giving me full license to indulge in the strangely taboo practice of solo moviegoing — a habit that can be remarkably meditative and fortifying, almost like prayer. I don’t remember exactly which movie it was that did it, but eventually something revelatory happened: I remembered how to cry.”

13. The Man Who Cracked the Lottery

“The prosecution knew Tipton had bought the winning ticket. The video, specifically the distinct voice that colleagues had recognized, made that pretty clear. So did cellphone records, which showed Tipton was in town that day, not out of town for the holidays as he claimed, and that he had been on the phone for 71 minutes with Robert Rhodes, the man who briefly had possession of the ticket. Investigators believed he’d fixed the lottery. But how?”

 

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