Sunday 12.2.2018 New York Times Digest

1. The Most Wonderful Smelling Time of the Year

“No other sense is as direct as smell. No other sense is as ancient. Smell bypasses the neural processing centers that mediate all other senses. The aroma of fir trees flies me directly into specific wordless memories: childhood holidays, hand-sawn woodwork and my feet tramping through wet forests.”

2. To Help Prevent the Next Big Wildfire, Let the Forest Burn

“Policymakers and citizens alike must abandon the idea that trees are always worth saving and that fire is always a threat. Instead, they should permit modest, ecologically necessary wildfires to burn.”

3. Should We Contact Isolated Tribes?

“How do they want to live? Can outsiders presume they don’t want contact without communicating with them? Where does their hostility come from?”

4. The $25 Nap Is Worth It

“In a gig economy, the ability to take a nap is a huge advantage. “

5. What the Movies Taught Me About Being a Woman

“Movies teach us all sorts of things: how to aspire, who to fantasize about (all those princes will come), how to smoke, dress, walk into a room (always like Bette Davis). They teach us who to love and how, as well as the ostensible necessity of sacrificing love along with careers. They also teach us that showering, babysitting, being in underground parking lots or simply being female might get you killed. There isn’t a causal relationship between viewer behavior and the screen. There doesn’t have to be. Because movies get into our bodies, making us howl and weep, while their narrative and visual patterns, their ideas and ideologies leave their imprint.”

6. And the Beat Goes On

“It’s a whole culture.”

7. Nice Shirt. I Know How You Voted.

“Clothing preferences were a key metric for Cambridge Analytica, whose business was constructing and selling voter profiles drawn from Facebook data.”

8. Do You Know What You’re Breathing?

“Installed on a porch, a console table or hooked to a backpack, these small, sleek and increasingly inexpensive devices measure hyper-local air quality. They are marketed to the discerning and alarmed consumer. Some have begun to self-identify as ‘breathers.’”

9. New & Noteworthy Books

“The basic argument is that people with choices are less likely to seek improvements; they just head for the exits.”

10. Imagining What Happens When the Robots Take the Wheel

“Schwartz figures that autonomous vehicles, or A.V.s, will arrive in huge numbers in the decades ahead, bringing cheaper mobility options, improved safety, reduced pollution thanks to the electric motors they will favor, but also profound ethical dilemmas — namely, the restaging of the conflict between walking and driving.”

11. Letter of Recommendation: Jazz on European TV

“In the late ’50s and 1960s, television was spreading rapidly throughout Europe. Producers needed content, and it happened that American jazz musicians like Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong had been touring the Continent for decades, often playing to audiences better prepared to celebrate black artistry than those in the United States. The new stations — most of them state-owned — would present performances by jazz’s defining greats as major cultural events. Collectively they created a documentary record like no other: dozens of expertly staged and photographed concerts by heroic figures, captured at close range.”

12. The Radicalization of Adam McKay

“Throughout the film, Cheney is depicted as a fearsomely capable stalker of prey; a recurring motif concerns his passion for fly fishing, which McKay described to me as crucial to understanding him. He hired a fly fisherman as a consultant. ‘You can’t believe the level of patience and detail that’s involved — lifting up the rocks to see what kinds of bugs are underneath so you know what kind of lure to use; watching the drift, the way the sun’s hitting it so you know what illusion to create with your lure. And that’s the story with Dick Cheney. Meticulous detail and tremendous patience.’”

13. The Insect Apocalypse Is Here

“The world never feels fallen, because we grow accustomed to the fall.”

14. How the Myth of the Hedonistic Artist Lost Its Allure

“Artists, even the hedonistic ones, are fundamentally, one might say excessively, ascetic.”

15. Why Is Japan Still So Attached to Paper?

“Paper has a long history all over the world, but it is to Japan something like what wine is to the French — a national obsession and point of pride. It remains, despite every innovation since, the central material of Japanese culture.”

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