Sunday 2.24.2019 New York Times Digest

1. Disappearing Acts

“Two new books on the value of invisibility and silence seem like a clever bit of counterprogramming. Coming upon them was like finding the Advil bottle in the medicine cabinet after stumbling about with a headache for a long time. They are both, perhaps purposefully, slow reads. They demand patience from addled minds primed to see such subject matter as a result of subtraction, the blank pages between chapters.”

2. Sports Anchors in the Era of Social Media

“As television viewing habits change and sports media develop new ways to bring fans what they want when they want it. (Now!) That means what was once a premier placement in TV sports — the anchor desk — is not the high perch it used to be. It is not clear anymore what it is at all.”

3. The Shutdown Made Sara Nelson Into America’s Most Powerful Flight Attendant

“While a vanishing fraction of Americans belong to unions, workers are increasingly fed up with their lot and amenable to the idea of taking on their bosses directly.”

4. Made on the Inside, Worn on the Outside

“Fashion has a long-established history in prisons, dating back to the 1700s.”

5. Can Peer Pressure Defeat Trump?

“The rush to design apps to increase voter turnout is part of a wider push in Silicon Valley — trying to shake the taint of peddling fake news and Russian propaganda — toward ‘civic tech,’ or innovations designed in the public interest.”

6. Why the Priesthood Needs Women

“For myself, and for many of the Catholics I know (especially women), the question of how much corruption we can tolerate is now weighed against the tremendous loss we would feel, if we left this church. It’s an institution that has shaped us, comforted us, guided and informed us, that is the center of our spiritual lives as well as our community lives and family lives, the source of our own moral strength, of our faith in the substance of things hoped for. And yet small commiserations can no longer placate our outrage. A sea change is required.”

7. Not the Fun Kind of Feminist

“Dworkin, so profoundly out of fashion just a few years ago, suddenly seems prophetic.”

8. The ‘Oddly Satisfying’ Internet

“The videos seemed to scratch an itch I didn’t know I had. If I watched long enough, I felt lightly hypnotized, as if one of those disembodied hands had reached in and massaged my brain.”

9. Don’t Fight the Robots. Tax Them.

“To afford any kind of government services in the robot era, governments will have to find something else to tax. Why not the robots themselves?”

10. Netflix Is the Most Intoxicating Portal to Planet Earth

“Despite a supposed surge in nationalism across the globe, many people like to watch movies and TV shows from other countries.”

11. Everything Is War and Nothing Is True

“One way to understand the upheavals of the past decade, manifest in political populism and the surge in talk about ‘post-truth’ and ‘fake news,’ is as the penetration of warlike mobilization and propaganda into our democracies.”

12. Can Bitcoin Save Venezuelans?

“‘Borderless money’ is more than a buzzword for those of us who live in a collapsing economy and a collapsing dictatorship.”

13. President Trump Has Inspired Art. That’s Not Always a Good Thing.

“I’m grateful that artists are responding creatively to the current moment, but why do so many of their efforts miss the mark?”

14. We Love to Be Smushed

“Heavy bedding and other compression items have resonated, metaphorically and psychologically, as transitional objects for a population under stress.”

15. Map Quest

“GPS has been a salve for my emotional life. And yet, I miss the old road trip and the way it could make you feel lost between here and the rest of your life. With a map you believed the world was large and the car was small and every possibility was open. With GPS you know when you will leave and when you will arrive and what will happen along the way. Or you believe you do, which is even worse.”

16. The Campus as Counselor

“Students and institutions are grappling with issues like the surge in school shootings and trauma from suicides and sexual assault. But it’s not just the crises that have shaken this generation — it’s the grinding, everyday stresses, from social media pressures to relationship problems to increased academic expectations.”

17. Wealthy, Successful, and Invisible

“Even in a boom economy, a surprising portion of Americans are professionally miserable right now. In the mid-1980s, roughly 61 percent of workers told pollsters they were satisfied with their jobs. Since then, that number has declined substantially, hovering around half; the low point was in 2010, when only 43 percent of workers were satisfied, according to data collected by the Conference Board, a nonprofit research organization. The rest said they were unhappy, or at best neutral, about how they spent the bulk of their days. Even among professionals given to lofty self-images, like those in medicine and law, other studies have noted a rise in discontent. Why? Based on my own conversations with classmates and the research I began reviewing, the answer comes down to oppressive hours, political infighting, increased competition sparked by globalization, an ‘always-on culture’ bred by the internet — but also something that’s hard for these professionals to put their finger on, an underlying sense that their work isn’t worth the grueling effort they’re putting into it.”

18. The Rise of the WeWorking Class

“The conviction behind the rapid growth of WeWork is that the office culture of the future is likely to be the culture of the future, full stop, and that it is WeWork’s special vocation to bring it to market.”

19. Still At It

“These New Yorkers have been doing the same thing for 50, 60, 70 years — and love it too much to stop.”

20. Dollars on the Margins

“A $15 minimum wage is an antidepressant. It is a sleep aid. A diet. A stress reliever. It is a contraceptive, preventing teenage pregnancy. It prevents premature death. It shields children from neglect. But why? Poverty can be unrelenting, shame-inducing and exhausting. When people live so close to the bone, a small setback can quickly spiral into a major trauma. Being a few days behind on the rent can trigger a hefty late fee, which can lead to an eviction and homelessness. An unpaid traffic ticket can lead to a suspended license, which can cause people to lose their only means of transportation to work. In the same way, modest wage increases have a profound impact on people’s well-being and happiness.”

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