Sunday 11.25.2018 New York Times Digest

1. Everything Is for Sale Now. Even Us.

“Almost everyone I know now has some kind of hustle, whether job, hobby, or side or vanity project. Share my blog post, buy my book, click on my link, follow me on Instagram, visit my Etsy shop, donate to my Kickstarter, crowdfund my heart surgery. It’s as though we are all working in Walmart on an endless Black Friday of the soul.”

2. China Rules

“Eight American presidents assumed, or hoped, that China would eventually bend to what were considered the established rules of modernization: Prosperity would fuel popular demands for political freedom and bring China into the fold of democratic nations. Or the Chinese economy would falter under the weight of authoritarian rule and bureaucratic rot. But neither happened. Instead, China’s Communist leaders have defied expectations again and again. They embraced capitalism even as they continued to call themselves Marxists. They used repression to maintain power but without stifling entrepreneurship or innovation. Surrounded by foes and rivals, they avoided war, with one brief exception, even as they fanned nationalist sentiment at home. And they presided over 40 years of uninterrupted growth, often with unorthodox policies the textbooks said would fail.”

3. Weed Is Legal, Spot. Give Us Your Badge.

“As states and cities loosen their drug laws, the highly trained dogs their police departments use to sniff out narcotics can’t always be counted on to smell the right thing.”

4. A Rare Look at a Hometown Champ

“What makes this collection stand out are its intimacy and simplicity: Ali reading a newspaper on his hotel bed; Ali tickling his young daughters; Ali surprising his mother with a new car; Ali jogging with his wife in the early-morning fog of his training grounds in Deer Lake, Pa. Wherever he went, the Louisville photographers were always close by.”

5. Thinking Outside the Coffin

“These days, everyone wants to be a tree.”

6. Libraries, Gardens, Museums. Oh, and a Clothing Store.

“If the old model — the merch emporium — gave way during the turn of the millennium to the flagship model, which saw stores become echoing and somewhat austere temples where consumers worshiped the handbag on the plinth, we are now entering a new stage. One embodied more by Apple or Starbucks than any previous fashion retail space.”

7. Do You Have a Moral Duty to Leave Facebook?

“In moral philosophy, it is common to draw a distinction between duties to oneself and duties to others. From a self-regarding perspective, there are numerous reasons one might have a duty to leave Facebook.… From the perspective of one’s duties to others, the possibility of a duty to leave Facebook arises once one recognizes that Facebook has played a significant role in undermining democratic values around the world.”

8. Much More Than a Silly Game

“The best games reveal a mass cultural medium that has come fully into its own, artistically flourishing in ways that resemble the movie industry during its 20th-century peak and television over the past 20 years. From The Searchers to The Godfather, from The Sopranos to ‘The Americans,’ what connects these eras, and their most outstanding works, is a shared ambition, a desire to be both grand and granular, telling individual stories against the backdrop of national and cultural identity, deconstructing their genres while advancing the form.”

9. The New Radicalization of the Internet

“The fundamental design of social media sometimes exacerbates the problem.”

10. The Two-Emperor Problem

“The old problem is that the Supreme Court’s legal supremacy over the White House depends upon the presidency’s willingness to accept the court’s rulings.”

11. It’s Better to Give Than to Concede

“Flinging money at political and social causes as a knee-jerk response to the headlines has become tantamount to self-care.”

12. Want Faster Airline Customer Service? Try Tweeting + 6 Tips for Getting What You Want From an Airline

“When it comes to customer service, travelers are increasingly skipping calls to the airlines and are instead taking their requests to Twitter and Facebook. Airlines are responding by expanding their social media staff and empowering them with the resources they need to aid travelers.”

13. Ben Sasse: By the Book

“Michael Lewis’s brilliant Moneyball is not really just about the transformation of baseball scouting; it is about the arrival of big data in everyday life. Before anyone had envisioned Uber and Lyft triumphing over the old taxi industry, Lewis was already seeing around the corner to how life is going to be transformed by digital technologies.”

14. Two New Books Confront Nietzsche and His Ideas

“It was during this period of self-imposed exile that he wrote his greatest and most enduring books, The Genealogy of Morals and Thus Spake Zarathustra. His later years were spent in wanderings throughout Italy and Switzerland before his final breakdown in Turin, where he threw his arms around the neck of a horse that he saw being beaten on the street, leading to his final institutionalization.”

15. Why Aren’t People Buying Much Fiction These Days?

“It’s not a new phenomenon. Fiction sales have waxed and waned over the decades. When they plummeted over 100 years ago, in 1914, one article in The Times speculated that ‘the diminutive size of the typical modern apartment, frequent removals, the growing popularity of hotel life, the attractions of golf playing, motoring and “the movies”’ had all led to decreased sales.”

16. Everyone Wants to ‘Influence’ You

“Influence used to be understood as a top-down phenomenon, with governments, advertisers, donors or other powerful figures holding sway over the masses. These days we understand that the most powerful influences aren’t the distant ones but the most immediate and social — so the powerful tend to exert their influence by pretending to be ordinary people. Marketers, for instance, work harder and harder to obscure the distinction between ads and real life. The last decade featured the rise of the professional ‘influencer’ — someone paid to use their personal magnetism to promote specific agendas online. Instead of the top-down influence of a commercial or a billboard, these ads are embedded, shared by someone who seems, on some aspirational level, like a peer.”

17. Breathing Through the Nose May Offer Unique Brain Benefits

“The men and women were consistently much better at recognizing smells if they breathed through their noses during the quiet hour. Mouth breathing resulted in fuzzier recall and more incorrect answers.”

18. Yorgos Lanthimos’s Polarizing Visions

“Each of his films foreground the claustrophobia of the civilized and an almost primordial struggle to survive within its confines.”

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