Sunday 4.7.2019 New York Times Digest

1. The Con of the Side Hustle

“The ‘side hustle’ is one of a growing roster of trendy corporatized idioms, like ordinary household appliances that are now ‘smart’ or plain vanilla businessmen and women remade into the more exotic ‘entrepreneurs.’ Our jobs are now ‘flexible,’ although we are the ones contorting ourselves to work at all hours, or we are professionally ‘nimble’ because we are trying to survive on freelance gigs.”

2. Fungus Immune to Drugs Quietly Sweeps the Globe

“For decades, public health experts have warned that the overuse of antibiotics was reducing the effectiveness of drugs that have lengthened life spans by curing bacterial infections once commonly fatal. But lately, there has been an explosion of resistant fungi as well, adding a new and frightening dimension to a phenomenon that is undermining a pillar of modern medicine.”

3. In San Francisco, Making a Living From Your Billionaire Neighbor’s Trash

“A military veteran who fell into homelessness and now lives in government subsidized housing, Mr. Orta is a full-time trash picker, part of an underground economy in San Francisco of people who work the sidewalks in front of multimillion-dollar homes, rummaging for things they can sell.”

4. How to See a Stamp: As a 55-Cent Canvas

“The process can take years.”

5. The Moral Peril of Meritocracy

“When people are broken open in this way, they are more sensitive to the pains and joys of the world. They realize: Oh, that first mountain wasn’t my mountain. I am ready for a larger journey.”

6. You Are Not as Good at Kissing as You Think. But You Are Better at Dancing.

“People tended to overestimate how they compared with others in their ability to dodge a fraud, win a trivia contest or cuddle. But they tended to underestimate how they ranked in their ability to predict the outcome of a sporting event, win a fistfight or dance.”

7. Why Do We All Have to Be Beautiful?

“Challenging social norms about who can be beautiful is vital work, and of course it is true that representations of beauty in the media are pathetically white, thin, able-bodied and hetero, and of course this should change. But somewhere along the way, the message of inclusivity went from ‘every kind of person can be beautiful’ to ‘every person is beautiful.’ I’m increasingly convinced that this message isn’t only less radical than we might like to believe, but also actively harmful.”

8. If Prisons Don’t Work, What Will?

“Now, with public opinion shifting far and fast and politicians hurrying to catch up, you could even argue that criminal justice reform has become the new marriage equality in terms of the turnaround in public attitudes.”

9. It’s Your iPhone. Why Can’t You Fix It Yourself?

“The growing complexity of electronic devices … means that people need help from manufacturers. And companies have taken advantage of that shift in power.”

10. Tracing the Roots of Photo Sharing, From Mail Art to Instagram

“‘We have been sending postcards and snapshots since the early time of photography,’ Mr. Chéroux said, though noting that the volume and intensity of communication have of course grown with social media.”

11. Like, Comment, Subscribe, Weep

“I’ve made a digital product for you to consume. It’s a video series about internet culture, and it is branded around me. It’s called ‘Internetting With Amanda Hess’ and it’s about the downfall of cat memes, the rise of Instagram cyborgs, the creeping dominance of hands videos, and more. I want you to watch it and share it with everyone you know, and everyone you don’t. I want you to Tweet it, Facebook it, Pin it, Instagram it and post it everywhere else influence is sold.”

12. By the Book: Henry Louis Gates Jr.

“I just donated 14,000 books to Spelman College, so I’m starting the organizational process all over.”

13. A Journey — if You Dare — Into the Minds of Silicon Valley Programmers

“To understand what isn’t working for so many people it’s necessary to scrutinize the coders themselves, their personalities and biases. The very particular culture they’ve created infuses everything they produce for the rest of us.”

14. Robert A. Caro on the Means and Ends of Power

I don’t believe that I’m writing a ‘great-man theory of history.’ I believe that what I’m writing about are the rare individuals who can harness political forces and bring something out of them, either for good or for ill.

15. How to Dig Up a Grave

“If you’re lucky, the remains will be contained in an intact coffin.”

16. How A.S.M.R. Became a Sensation

“Around the time when Allen found SteadyHealth, there were, by one count, 12 whispering channels on YouTube; three years later, that number had more than tripled. Soon a hard-won Wikipedia page would further extend the reach of the term — and further enshrine the new video genre. By 2015, the ASMR Group had made itself irrelevant. When Allen set out to name the weird sensation, she thought she was simply describing what she felt. She couldn’t foresee that her term would enable a whole new form of entertainment — or possibly something that transcended entertainment — born of the kismet of algorithmic fate as it brushed up against the crossed wires of the brain.”

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