Sunday 9.16.2018 New York Times Digest


1. A Trail of ‘Bread Crumbs,’ Leading Conspiracy Theorists Into the Wilderness

“Go hungry for too long, and a lot of strange things will start to look like food.”

2. The World of Today Brought to You by the Financial Crisis

“From bank bailouts to rock-bottom interest rates, the fallout influenced economics, politics and even the rise of Bitcoin over the past decade. Here’s a rough guide to some of those changes.”

3. The Recovery Threw the Middle-Class Dream Under a Benz

“The people who possess tradable assets, especially stocks, have enjoyed a recovery that Americans dependent on savings or income from their weekly paycheck have yet to see. Ten years after the financial crisis, getting ahead by going to work every day seems quaint, akin to using the phone book to find a number or renting a video at Blockbuster.”

4. The Policymakers Saved the Financial System. And America Never Forgave Them.

“The response to the crisis was in many ways the high-water mark for a mold of centrist, technocratic policymaking that seeks to tweak and nudge existing institutions toward better outcomes. It also undermined any widespread popular support for that mode of governing for the foreseeable future.”

5. The Housing Bubble Burst All Over Reality TV

“As the foreclosures piled up … networks like HGTV and DIY faced the problem of how to keep broadcasting houses 24/7 to a public traumatized by them.”

6. The Next Financial Calamity Is Coming. Here’s What to Watch.

“The amount of American student debt — roughly $1.5 trillion — has more than doubled since the financial crisis.”

7. The Hacking of America

“From the start, machines have driven American democracy and, just as often, crippled it. The printing press, the telegraph, the radio, the television, the mainframe, cable TV, the internet: Each had wild-eyed boosters who promised that a machine could hold the republic together, or make it more efficient, or repair the damage caused by the last machine. Each time, this assertion would be both right and terribly wrong. But lately, it’s mainly wrong, chiefly because the rules that prevail on the internet were devised by people who fundamentally don’t believe in government.”

8. Medicine’s Financial Contamination

“Decades of research and real world examples have shown that such entanglements can distort the practice of medicine in ways big and small. Even little gifts have been found to influence doctors’ prescribing habits and their perceptions of a given company’s products.”

9. Why Your Cardiologist Should Ask About Your Love Life

“The field of medicine is coming to understand that the connection between the heart and the emotions is an intimate one. The heart may not be the origin of our feelings, but it is highly affected by them. We have learned, for example, that fear and grief can cause serious cardiac injury.”

10. You Know These 20 Movies. Now Meet the Women Behind Them

“Women have been on the cinematic front lines from the start. While men took most of the credit for building the movie industry, women — on camera and off, in the executives suites and far from Hollywood — were busily, thrillingly, building it, too. That’s the reason for our list of Movie Women You Should Know, which is not a canon or a pantheon but a celebration and an invitation to further discovery. Here are some of the art’s other pioneers — its independents and entrepreneurs, auteurs and artisans.”

11. Movie Stars Have Heroines, Too

“Here, in their own words, women involved in this season’s films praise the female colleagues they most admire — past or present, relatively unknown or famous in their own right.”

12. Cher Has Never Been a Huge Cher Fan

“My whole life, I had to look out at the audience and go: ‘How am I doing? Do you like this?’ But when you act, you only have to look at the other actors. You just have to trust them and find a way to become this other thing.”

13. The Best New Social Thriller Is a Podcast

“The experimental sandbox of the new form has produced sharp plots and intriguing aural soundscapes but few stories that seem to access something bigger than themselves. The moment that changed, for me, came when I was white-knuckling the pole in a crowded subway car, piping the pilot of the politically charged dystopian fantasy ‘Adventures in New America’ into my ears.”

14. The Flea Circus

“Given how easy it is to search for concert tees on eBay, finding an authentic one from the Talking Heads 1983 tour for $50 has gotten increasingly unlikely. And shirts by Bell Biv Devoe and En Vogue cost a lot, the prices propelled by scarcity (most R&B and hip-hop acts from that time did not tour extensively) and surging demand from kids born in the ’90s, who now have money, nostalgia and a desire to look like Kanye West, even as they make fun of his behavior.”

15. A Simple Life

“It is often assumed that people who reject technology do so out of fear of its all-consuming nature, but the choice has more to do with skepticism and adherence to principle.”

16. At These Hotels, Ways to Recharge Your Mind and Your Body

“Guests staying at five-star The Corinthia Hotel London — a property steps away from Trafalgar Square — get access to high-end amenities. Starting this summer they get an additional perk: their very own futurist, an expert who predicts upcoming trends.”

17. Is Donald Trump a Fascist?

“The greater danger, he suggests, isn’t hyperbole, it’s normalization.”

18. The True Grit of Four American Presidents

“In her new book she forsakes the strict confines of biography for the brave new world of leadership studies. A booming field of scholarship — or, traditionalists would say, pseudoscholarship — leadership studies is usually taught in schools of business or public administration, geared toward would-be or midcareer executives and often focused on imparting useful lessons to apply in the workplace. Accordingly, much more than in her narrative histories, Goodwin here explicitly takes up the formation of her subjects’ characters and how their most notable qualities equipped them to lead the country during trying times.”

19. The American Past: A History of Contradictions

“This is not an account of relentless progress. It’s much subtler and darker than that. It reminds us of some simple facts so much in the foreground that we must revisit them: ‘Between 1500 and 1800, roughly two and a half million Europeans moved to the Americas; they carried 12 million Africans there by force; and as many as 50 million Native Americans died, chiefly of disease. … Taking possession of the Americas gave Europeans a surplus of land; it ended famine and led to four centuries of economic growth.’ Nothing like this had ever happened in world history; and nothing like it is possible again.”

20. Why the Right to Vote Is Not a Right

“Allan J. Lichtman’s important book emphasizes the founders’ great blunder: They failed to enshrine a right to vote in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Instead, the Constitution handed control over elections to state and local governments. Local officials developed thousands of different electoral systems with no uniform standards or regulations and little oversight. Elections were organized and supervised by partisans brazenly angling for advantage.”

21. From Russia With Love.

“Each of these three novels has had a remarkable afterlife. Lolita is a virtual guidebook to the abuses exposed by the #MeToo movement — the secret predations of the mentor and teacher who operates in a free zone of ‘enlightened’ complicity. Doctor Zhivago endures less as a novel than as a peak episode in the cultural Cold War. Publishers in America and Britain recently paid large advances to a young novelist who has told the story again, drawing on declassified documents on the secret C.I.A. operation that smuggled the manuscript back into Russia. And Atlas Shrugged remains a free market Bible on the right. What one of its most scathing early critics, the ex-Communist journalist Whittaker Chambers, identified as Rand’s appetite for ‘smashing up the house’ has become the stated cause of several generations of Republicans and libertarians.”

22. What’s the Matter With Wisconsin?

“The state’s roads are the second worst in the country, its renowned universities are bleeding talent and poverty rates have reached a 30-year high.”

23. The Key to Happiness Might Be as Simple as a Library or a Park

“Social infrastructure becomes less a thing to maximize than a lens that communities and policymakers should apply to every routine decision about physical investment: Do the features of this proposed school, park or sewer system tend to help human beings to form connections?”

24. Up From Hate

“Today, in the upside-down world that is Trump’s America, where anything seems possible and nothing is off limits, we’re seeing the emergence of a new type of redemption story: that of the white supremacist turned antiracist crusader.”

25. Henry Adams’s 1880 Novel, ‘Democracy,’ Resonates Now More Than Ever

“It is a reflection on corruption within the political class, but, read carefully, it also reinforces an ancient view that those who are disgusted with republican government need to remember that the fault, as Cassius in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar remarked, lies not in the stars, but in ourselves.”

26. A Modern Jeremiah Sees National Decline Everywhere He Looks

“The American Empire is coming to an end. The death spiral appears unstoppable, meaning the United States as we know it will no longer exist within a decade or, at most, two.”

27. Modern Political Ideas

“If both North Korea and the United States consider themselves democratic — and if liberals and conservatives, and socialists and Communists, and nationalists and populists, and American politicians of every stripe can all claim to embody the will of a people — then what, in practice, can the idea of democracy possibly mean?”

28. New Sentences: From Chelsea Hodson’s Tonight I’m Someone Else

“There is no greater joy than being almost done. Not beginning, not slogging through the middle, and certainly not finishing. Compared with these other stages, the concept ‘almost done’ is huge. It holds inside it so many states of being: relief, promise, risk, achievement. ‘I’m almost done,’ I often tell myself as soon as I begin something — and in that moment, I truly believe it. ‘Almost’ is a huge seeping mist of a word; it can fill a hairline crack or an entire continent, whatever you might need.”

29. Google Knows Where You’ve Been, but Does It Know Who You Are?

“An intensely personal diary is the sort of thing you could only be happy to discover in your own attic, in your own handwriting, not on the servers of a multibillion-dollar advertising corporation.”

30. ‘True Detective’ Director Cary Fukunaga Is Bringing His Obsessions to Netflix

“Yes, at some point, he and some buddies decided to learn as many skills as they could to survive the apocalypse — he’s not a prepper; it was more of a merit-badge thing — so he can sail a monohull, climb rocks, shoot a gun, use a bow and arrow and navigate with a compass. But he also has gorgeous handwriting, speaks several languages and loves many a lifestyle Instagram account. He just got a new cooking range upstate, the same kind as a French cook and lifestyle guru he follows, and he is thrilled about it: ‘It’s going to be sick. It’s wide, two ovens — you can do meat and your potatoes at the same time, your root vegetables.’”

31. Americans Want to Believe Jobs Are the Solution to Poverty. They’re Not.

“The question is not, Can I land a job? (The answer is almost certainly, Yes, you can.) Instead the question is, What kinds of jobs are available to people without much education? By and large, the answer is: jobs that do not pay enough to live on.”

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