Sunday 6.10.2018 New York Times Digest


1. The Kind of ‘Bad Boy’ We Need More Of

“The world has lost more than a talented chef, writer and media personality. We also lost a man who brilliantly and bravely wove political education into food culture in a way that provided the kind of historical context and compassion for the oppressed that Americans need now more than ever.”

2. Anthony Bourdain: The Man Who Ate the World

“There are two ways of traveling, which are really two ways of looking at the world. You can see another country as simply an experience to consume, a place to collect trophies. Or you can look at it as an environment to interact with, something that changes you through the encounter and that you inevitably change by visiting.”

3. In Newark, Police Cameras, and the Internet, Watch You

“Surveillance cameras are an inescapable fixture of the modern city. Law enforcement agencies have deployed vast networks to guard against terrorism and combat street crime. But in Newark, the police have taken an extraordinary step that few, if any, other departments in the country have pursued: They have opened up feeds from dozens of closed-circuit cameras to the public, asking viewers to assist the force by watching over the city and reporting anything suspicious.”

4. The Resource Curse of Appalachia

“An abundance of coal, oil and natural gas has been, at best, a mixed blessing for rural Americans.”

5. Selling the Protected Area Myth

“Designating protected areas is relatively easy (and with publicity bonus points for politicians), but hardly anyone seems to be bothering with the hard work of actually protecting them.”

6. The Magic of a Cardboard Box

“The box is an avatar of inspiration, no charging required. Cardboard is the ideal material for creativity, and has been since the big purchase, and the big box, became a fixture of American postwar homes.”

7. African-Americans and the Strains of the National Anthem

“African-American anthem dissidents are heirs to a venerable tradition of critical patriotism that dates to what W.E.B. Du Bois termed ‘double consciousness’ — the feeling of being part of the American polity yet not fully of it.”

8. Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and the Feud Over Killer Robots

“Warnings about the risks of artificial intelligence have been around for years, of course. But few of those Cassandras have the tech cred of Mr. Musk. Few, if any, have spent as much time and money on it. And perhaps none has had as complicated a history with the technology.”

9. Kevin Costner, Tall in the Saddle Again

“The story of America just repeated itself from sea to shining sea. There were the Native Americans everywhere, and we ingratiated ourselves the best we could. And then, when there were enough of us, we killed them. And as America expanded, we kept repeating these promises that we’re just passing through, that we’ll share the land, and none of it was true.”

10. Fred Rogers’s Life in 5 Artifacts

“If you look at the old scripts, there are pages and pages of notes, just tons of notations, on every single episode. For something that seemed so simple, he put in an incredible amount of work.”

11. The Rich Are Planning to Leave This Wretched Planet

“Maybe it will be so nice they’ll want to stay there.”

12. ‘Saved by the Bell’ Now a Restaurant

“People’s interest in the show hasn’t died.”

13. Bill Cunningham’s Unseen Scrapbooks

“As a milliner, he catered to Jackie Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield and Josephine Baker.”

14. Take Acid. Not Too Much…

“Why does anyone take drugs? The simplest answer is that drugs are generally fun to take, until they aren’t. But psychedelics are different. They don’t drape you in marijuana’s gauzy haze or imbue you with cocaine’s wintry, italicized focus. They’re nothing like opioids, which balance the human body on a knife’s edge between pleasure and death. Psychedelics are to drugs what the Pyramids are to architecture — majestic, ancient and a little frightening. Pollan persuasively argues that our anxieties are misplaced when it comes to psychedelics, most of which are nonaddictive.”

15. A Battle for the ‘Soul of America’? It’s as Old as America, One Historian Notes

“Meacham commends a particular liberal disposition that once dominated our politics but whose influence has long since waned. It is a public philosophy akin to what Schlesinger described as the politics of ‘the vital center,’ devoted to egalitarian reform but disbelieving in human perfection, fierce in its advocacy but humble in the face of human folly. Above all, it is pragmatic, its idealism tempered not by timidity or cupidity or corporate fealty but by a respect for its own limits. This is also, of course, the view of James Madison, and it undergirds the Constitution. By its very nature, it is anti-Trump, whose narcissism is only the beginning of his antithesis to the American political tradition. Yet it is also at odds with the strident purism so evident today from many quarters that insists on turning politics into a kind of crusading hysteria.”

16. How Christians Destroyed the Ancient World

“While we lionize Christian culture for preserving works of learning, sponsoring exquisite art and adhering to an ethos of ‘love thy neighbor,’ the early church was in fact a master of anti-intellectualism, iconoclasm and mortal prejudice.”

17. Kicking the Geeks Where It Hurts

“What he’s really asking is that we remember that the tools we’ve invented to improve our lives are just that, tools, to be picked up and put down. We wield them.”

18. What Data Has Done to Capitalism

“In the market, the dominant mechanism for coordination and communication has long been price. It’s simple to understand, often too simple. It is one-dimensional. That’s why firms have long provided a more efficient way for people to coordinate, because they could better synthesize a rich stream of information and then act on it. Today, however, the explosion of computing power has enabled many more people to gather information and analyze it quickly, which has allowed the lingua franca of the market to become more sophisticated.”

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