Sunday 8.19.2018 New York Times Digest

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1. The Beast in Me

“To be human today is to deny our animal nature, though it’s always there, as the earth remains round beneath our feet even when it feels flat. I had always been an animal, and would always be one, but it wasn’t until I was prey, my own fur standing on end and certain base-level decisions being made in milliseconds (in a part of my mind that often takes 10 minutes to choose toothpaste in the grocery store), that the meat-and-bone reality settled over me. I was smaller and slower than the bear. My claws were no match for hers. And almost every part of me was edible.”

2. How “Crazy Rich” Asians Have Led to the Largest Income Gap in the U.S.

“They are now the most economically divided racial or ethnic group in the country.”

3. Witchcraft in the #MeToo Era

“Coven and community leaders estimate that as many as 10,000 witches live and practice in New York.”

4. How to Get the Most Out of College

How a student goes to school matters much, much more than where.”

5. It’s Not Technology That’s Disrupting Our Jobs

“The history of labor shows that technology does not usually drive social change. On the contrary, social change is typically driven by decisions we make about how to organize our world. Only later does technology swoop in, accelerating and consolidating those changes.”

6. Happy Children Do Chores

“The goal, after all, is not to raise children we can coddle into the Ivy League. The goal is to raise adults who can balance a caring role in their families and communities with whatever lifetime achievement goals they choose. Chores teach that balance. They’re not just chores — they’re life skills.”

7. To Live and Die in Paris

“Don’t confuse your own joys and preferences with anyone else’s. Observe your own mind and experiences carefully and arrange your life — and your death — accordingly.”

8. Rebecca Solnit: By the Book

“I should say that I’m often not a reader of books from one end to the other but a rover, as a result of more than half a lifetime of doing research in books, where you’re there not just for the pleasure (though there is often considerable pleasure) but to find out some particular thing. Also I get interrupted a lot, and misplace books in this house of books, and so one way or another I’m usually reading about a dozen books at a time.”

9. A Critic Who Worships Literature, and Defends His Faith Accordingly

“He champions writers of inventive prose, who possess ‘a cognizance of the self as an agent in history and society,’ who fulfill James Baldwin’s definition of art: ‘to prove, and to help one bear, the fact that all safety is an illusion.’”

10. What Role Do Teachers Play in Education?

“For more than three decades, an unlikely coalition of corporate philanthropists, educational technology entrepreneurs and public education bureaucrats has spearheaded a brand of school reform characterized by the overvaluing of technology and standardized testing and a devaluing of teachers and communities.”

11. Searching for Language to Capture How Climate Change Has Altered Our World

“The American language seems to lack the words to adequately capture this creeping calamity, the words that will help Americans comprehend the future, accept the fact that the waters will rise and continue to rise for decades and centuries thanks both to melting glaciers and to the physical expansion of warmer waters.”

12. The Virtues of Shelf-lessness

“A sentimental library is characterized by memory and association. It’s the halfway point between alphabetical and aesthetic. And, in my case, each book’s placement corresponds not just to when I read it and how I felt, but to whatever activity takes place beneath it now. They are thus animated in a way they might not be otherwise. Like it or not, I am in constant, real-time conversation with their contents.”

13. Why We Should Never Expect to Discover Sentient Ice Cubes

“If there is biology elsewhere in the universe (and it has risen beyond the level of green slime) we would find it strikingly familiar, he proposes, not only in appearance but down to the carbon-based machinery in its cells.”

14. Twitter’s Misguided Quest to Become a Forum for Everything

“On Twitter, it may seem that you are talking to friends or peers, and that the space is controlled or even safe. But it’s not: It’s shared with and extremely vulnerable to those with a desire to disrupt or terrorize it.”

15. The Unlikely Activists Who Took On Silicon Valley — and Won

“People and institutions — in politics, in Silicon Valley — can seem all-powerful right up to the moment they are not.”

16. The Scientist Who Scrambled Darwin’s Tree of Life

“We are not precisely who we thought we were. We are composite creatures, and our ancestry seems to arise from a dark zone of the living world, a group of creatures about which science, until recent decades, was ignorant. Evolution is trickier, far more complicated, than we realized. The tree of life is more tangled. Genes don’t just move vertically. They can also pass laterally across species boundaries, across wider gaps, even between different kingdoms of life, and some have come sideways into our own lineage — the primate lineage — from unsuspected, nonprimate sources.”

17. The Super Bowl of Beekeeping

“Bees are central to an enormous agricultural industry — about one of every three mouthfuls of food we eat wouldn’t exist without bee pollination — and beekeepers’ custodianship of billions of these delicate animals is as much an art as it is a science. Beekeepers themselves, Solomon confided, are funny creatures: solitary in the field, trying to anticipate the needs of a finicky insect and, unlike that insect, social only once in a while.”

18. Jerry Seinfeld Says Jokes Are Not Real Life

“What a horrible feeling it must be to have poured your soul into a book over a number of years and somebody comes up to you and goes, ‘I loved your book,’ and they walk away, and you have no idea what worked and what didn’t. That to me is hell. That’s my definition of hell.”

19. Before He Was a Photographer, Bill Cunningham Was a Hat Maker

“Seen now, they hint, startlingly, at a hidden, inner passion, a wildness at odds with the disciplined, even ascetic, existence for which he later became known. His hats were joyous, improbable things: an octopus and her dangling limbs, a fish with glittering scales, a giant clamshell through which a slice of a woman’s face peeked, a gleaming pearl.”

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