Sunday 9.9.18 New York Times Digest


1. The Violence at the Heart of Our Politics

“In the course of researching how the culture of politics changed after the 1790s … I uncovered roughly 70 physically violent political confrontations between 1830 and the Civil War, most of them in the House and Senate chambers, a few on nearby streets and dueling grounds. Fistfights, shoving matches, weapon wielding, mass brawls: Largely forgotten now, these clashes show a momentous political struggle unfolding in real time.”

2. Amazon’s Antitrust Antagonist Has a Breakthrough Idea

“Amazon has more revenue than Facebook, Google and Twitter put together, but it has largely escaped sustained examination. That is beginning to change, and one significant reason is Ms. Khan.”

3. It Pays to Work at Harvard

“At the university, service workers on the payroll of an outside contractor earn the same pay and benefits they would get as direct university employees — including health insurance and pension benefits, paid vacation and child care assistance.”

4. Rebecca Lynn of Canvas Ventures on Nuclear Reactors, Failure and Asking Questions

“I think society is going to have a come-to-Jesus moment about what the true state of privacy is. It isn’t existent today, and I think people are just sort of blissfully ignorant of that fact. If you look at these companies and what they have on you, I think most people would be highly alarmed.”

5. So Now You Own a Home. Do You Know How to Maintain it?

“Just as learning how to save for and finance a home is important to financial literacy, educating yourself on how to maintain your home will not only give you a sense of mastery, but can also help you save money on repairs.”

6. The Republican Approach to Voter Fraud: Lie

“Rampant voter fraud does not exist. There is no epidemic of illegal voting. But the lie is so mesmerizing, it takes off like a wildfire, so that the irrational fear that someone might vote who shouldn’t means that hundreds of thousands who should can’t cast ballots, in part because of the increase in voter ID laws across the country in recent years.”

7. Twitter’s Flawed Solution to Political Polarization

“Why did some social media users’ political views become more entrenched after we disrupted their echo chambers? One possibility is the structure of Twitter itself. Social psychologists have long argued that positive, intimate contact between members of rival groups across an extended period can produce compromise. But that is not what Twitter offers. Its character limits — combined with the anonymous, spontaneous nature of so many exchanges on the platform — simply may not be conducive to mutual understanding.”

8. The Kids Who Still Need Football

“In a country where the margin for error is especially thin for black and brown boys in poor and working-class communities, they and their families also had plans: First, the boys would trade their football talent for financial aid packages from local private high schools. Next would come athletic scholarships to college. Football, to these boys, was not the end but the means.”

9. The Big Myth About Teenage Anxiety

“Parents are conveying to their kids that their emotional responses to difficult but ordinary experiences are not to be taken in stride, but viewed as something needing clinical attention.”

10. To Restore Civil Society, Start With the Library

“Libraries are an example of what I call ‘social infrastructure’: the physical spaces and organizations that shape the way people interact. Libraries don’t just provide free access to books and other cultural materials, they also offer things like companionship for older adults, de facto child care for busy parents, language instruction for immigrants and welcoming public spaces for the poor, the homeless and young people.”

11. In Life’s Last Moments, Open a Window

“In the hospice where I work, I am often struck by the intense solace some patients find in the natural world.”

12. The Rio Grande Is Dying. Does Anyone Care?

“The Rio Grande is the third-longest river wholly in the United States, exceeded only by the Yukon and the combined Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. Yet this summer it nearly stopped flowing from Colorado into New Mexico.”

13. A Darker, Deeper Jim Carrey Returns to TV

“This is not the story of an actor who lost himself in a role and forgot where the boundaries were between his character and himself. This is about a performer who wanted to get lost entirely and perhaps still isn’t sure if he wants to come back at all.”

14. What Are the Biggest Problems Facing Us in the 21st Century?

“In an increasingly complex world, how can any of us have enough information to make educated decisions?”

15. Bill Cunningham: An Enigma in a Blue Sanitation Worker’s Jacket

“In the early years, he allows himself a fur-collared trench, flamboyant shirts and ties, and Ollie, ‘a large black beatnik French poodle.’ Over time these frou-frous fall away and his knees start to show through his worn pants. ‘I have the strongest desire to escape to the discomforts of the poor,’ he declares, and he means it. Austerity becomes his drug of choice. He appears to make a contract with himself: I will remain in this world of glamour but only as a sack-cloth-and-ashes observer who lives on a diet of Ovaltine and leftover hors d’oeuvres, and stays in crummy Parisian hotels while others dine at the Ritz. His rationale? Independence.”

16. The Father of Personal Computing Who Was Also a Terrible Dad

“It is not a stretch to say that if you read this book, you will never think of Jobs the same way again.”

17. Letter of Recommendation: Recently Returned Books

“So much of what we encounter each day is designed to influence our decisions and purchases, but the books on this shelf have no agenda. They are not being pushed by the publishing industry. There is no marketing budget behind them. They’re not trending on my social-media feeds or selected by a recommendation algorithm. They were not chosen to signal anyone’s intellect or righteousness or in-the-know-ness. They are often old and very often ugly. I’ve come to think of this shelf as an escape from hype, a kind of anti-curation.”

18. Teaching in the Age of School Shootings

“Teachers are at the quiet center of this recurring national horror. They are victims and ad hoc emergency workers, often with close ties to both shooter and slain and with decades-long connections to the school itself. But they are also, almost by definition, anonymous public servants accustomed to placing their students’ needs above their own. And as a result, our picture of their suffering is incomplete.”

19. What Teachers Are Doing to Pay Their Bills

“Some teachers devote 60 hours a week to the classroom, then go to work elsewhere. The hours can be long, the labor physical, the pay close to minimum wage. Teachers across the country are now baristas, Amazon warehouse employees, movie-theater managers and fast-food grill cooks. They’re entering the gig economy in off hours and struggling to stay awake during school days. Here are some of the things they do, the 16 percent of American teachers who have second jobs, to make ends meet.”

20. What Does It Mean to Be an Artist and a Mother?

“On the right-hand page of a spread from 1976, Morton wrote of her desire to ‘do work which has as its impetus the influences and working processes of the major 20th-century art movements. To do this work with the intention not of simulating the finished products of those historical movements but to confront the art ideas and problems of those times as directly as possible.’ On the left-hand page, in identical script, she writes: ‘milk, juice, bread, cottage cheese, can fruit, tuna, veg soup — onion soup, noodles, hamburger, cookies, soda.’”

21. Has This Neighborhood in Seoul Figured Out the Secret to Slow Living?

“This nostalgia for a simpler form of living is fueled by the dissatisfaction that many locals have expressed in the face of their country’s breakneck economic growth. Here, digital culture is richer and vaster than anywhere else: South Korea, home to the technology giants Samsung and LG, may have the world’s fastest internet and the highest rate of smartphone use, but amid the country’s accelerated 30-year transition from military state — which it was until the ’80s — to tech superpower, there’s a growing sentiment that somewhere along the road, much of the country’s own culture was lost. The hanok, then, has come to represent a safe vessel for introspection and a reassertion of Korean identity: a romantic return to the national architecture and, therefore, to a mythic, prelapsarian age. Rebuilding these houses is not only a chance to revisit a past that once was, free of influences from globalized monoculture, but also to create a future in Seoul that might have been.”

22. Why Aren’t We Eating More Insects?

“We’re quick to down slippery oysters, stinking cheese and hot dogs made of entrails unknown, but we shy from anything that might once have crawled, hopped or hovered over a picnic blanket.”

23. The Enduring Spell of The Outsiders

“There has never been a more fitting time to read The Outsiders. Divisions of race, of gender, of political affiliation have always been profoundly evident in our culture, but now the distinction between two kinds of white men — the rich and the not rich — has created a schism no one seems to know how best to bridge. To reread the book under the current administration is to engage with a parable of sorts, a folk song about the challenges of being a person whose birthright defines him. The Outsiders taps into this profound unrest.”

24. How Michigan Became the Epicenter of the Modernist Experiment

“If Michigan isn’t the first place that comes to mind when considering this period — unlike, say, Germany or France in the 1920s — it should be. The presence of Ford in the city and Booth in the country was enough to make Michigan ground zero for the Modernist experiment, which was, on an aesthetic level, concerned with clarity and flexibility: Ford wanted all the messy components of manufacturing to be housed under one enormous roof, and Kahn made it so. But ideologically, architectural Modernism was more complicated, rooted in the idea that if one were to reshape an environment in a kind of magnificent, functional order, then that environment would encourage a level of social harmony and cohesion. This experiment failed, of course, but its remnants still stand throughout Michigan, making the state home to perhaps the most diverse and best-preserved collection of early Modernist experiments in the world.”


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