Sunday 4.14.2019 New York Times Digest

1. Central American Farmers Head to the U.S., Fleeing Climate Change

“Average temperatures have risen by about two degrees Fahrenheit in Central America over the past several decades, making the cultivation of coffee difficult, if not untenable, at lower altitudes that were once suitable. That has forced some farmers to search for land at higher altitudes, switch to other crops, change professions — or migrate.”

2. Tracking Phones, Google Is a Dragnet for the Police

“Anytime a technology company creates a system that could be used in surveillance, law enforcement inevitably comes knocking.”

3. Cursive Seemed to Go the Way of Quills and Parchment. Now It’s Coming Back.

“The history of society is intertwined with the history of script.”

4. How Capitalism Betrayed Privacy

“The historical link between privacy and the forces of wealth creation helps explain why privacy is under siege today. It reminds us, first, that mass privacy is not a basic feature of human existence but a byproduct of a specific economic arrangement — and therefore a contingent and impermanent state of affairs.”

5. What the Bible Says About Secrets

“Beyond the spiritual considerations, for any sort of moral formation, some privacy is necessary. To develop human relationships and a sense of the social self, we need privacy.”

6. The Infinite Scroll

“We are much more likely to be looking at our digital slabs than at our fellow human beings.”

7. A.I. Is Changing Insurance

“This is the cutting edge of the insurance industry, adjusting premiums and policies based on new forms of surveillance. It will affect your life insurance, your car insurance and your homeowner’s insurance — if it hasn’t already.”

8. What Women Know About the Internet

“It isn’t just that real-life harassment also shows up online, it’s that the internet isn’t designed for women, even when the majority of users of some popular applications and platforms are women. In fact, some features of digital life have been constructed, intentionally or not, in ways that make women feel less safe.”

9. The Only Answer Is Less Internet

“A movement to restore privacy must be, at some level, a movement against the internet. Not a pure Luddism, but a movement for limits, for internet-free spaces, for zones of enforced pre-virtual reality (childhood and education above all), for social conventions that discourage career-destroying tweets and crotch shots by encouraging us to put away our iPhones.”

10. Facebook Is Stealing Your Family’s Joy

“I came to a simple conclusion about getting the reactions of friends, family and acquaintances via emojis and exclamations points rather than hugs and actual exclamations. It’s no fun. And I don’t want to do it any more.”

11. How Tough-on-Crime Prosecutors Contribute to Mass Incarceration

“In Charged, a persuasive indictment of prosecutorial excess, Bazelon argues that the lawyers who work in the more than 2,000 prosecutors’ offices around the country — conducting investigations, filing criminal charges and trying cases (or, much more commonly, striking plea bargains) — bear much of the responsibility for over-incarceration, conviction of the innocent and other serious problems of the criminal justice system.”

12. Animal Videos Are How We Escape the Internet (While on the Internet)

“The online world is an interactive museum of humiliation, sadism, greed, bleak news, bad faith and gross memes. This is why we need animal videos. They are small windows of grace.”

13. Letter of Recommendation: Spuds MacKenzie

“Spuds, an anthropomorphized bull terrier, was dreamed up by a 20-something advertising exec in the mid-1980s in an attempt to target beer drinkers between the ages of 21 and 34. He was rich, impossibly cool, unabashedly heterosexual and responsible for increasing Bud Light sales 20 percent between 1987 and 1988. (The campaign was so popular that Miller Lite released a T-shirt that featured a dead dog run over by a Miller Lite truck.)”

14. How to Laugh at Yourself

“Your underlying mind-set should be playful.”

15. How Big Business Is Hedging Against the Apocalypse

“Depending on whom you ask, climate change doesn’t exist, or is an engineering problem, or requires global mobilization, or could be solved by simply nudging the free market into action. Absent a coherent strategy, opportunists can step in and benefit in wily ways from the shifting landscape.”

16. Climate Chaos Is Coming — and the Pinkertons Are Ready

“For Pinkerton, the bet is twofold: first, that there’s no real material difference between climate change and any other conflict — as the world grows more predictably dangerous, tactical know-how will simply be more in demand than ever. And second, that by adding data analytics, Pinkerton stands to compete more directly with traditional consulting firms like Deloitte, which offer pre- and postdisaster services (supply-chain monitoring, damage documentation, etc.), but which cannot, say, dispatch a helicopter full of armed guards to Guatemala in an afternoon. In theory, Pinkerton can do both — a fully militarized managerial class at corporate disposal.”

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