Sunday 4.21.2019 New York Times Digest

1. The Healing Power of Gardens

“I cannot say exactly how nature exerts its calming and organizing effects on our brains, but I have seen in my patients the restorative and healing powers of nature and gardens, even for those who are deeply disabled neurologically. In many cases, gardens and nature are more powerful than any medication.”

2. Silicon Valley Came to Kansas Schools. That Started a Rebellion.

“We’re allowing the computers to teach and the kids all looked like zombies.”

3. The Most Measured Person in Tech Is Running the Most Chaotic Place on the Internet

“At the top of the world’s largest and most volatile video platform is a calm, levelheaded person. But her deliberate style may be at odds with the pace and scale of horrors and just plain stupidity that relentlessly arises on YouTube.”

4. Let’s Celebrate the Easter Bug.

“Much candy on the market is coated with confectioner’s glaze, a.k.a. ‘shellac’ — a natural, F.D.A.-approved, edible lacquer created through cultivating and processing the resinous discharge from teeny tiny lac bugs in India and Southeast Asia.”

5. Finding the Beauty in Cultural Appropriation

“Through my travels, I’ve come to see appropriation as a form of communication: Sometimes what people are trying to say is trivial, hurtful and condescending — a bindi to proclaim that they’re ‘exotic’ for instance, or cornrows to say they’re ‘cool.’ But other times, what is being said is difficult and important.”

6. The Earth Is Just as Alive as You Are

“The history of life on Earth is the history of life remaking Earth.”

7. We Built an ‘Unbelievable’ (but Legal) Facial Recognition Machine

“If you’re an adult in America, there’s more than a 50 percent chance that you’re already in a law enforcement facial recognition database.”

8. Reverend, You Say the Virgin Birth Is ‘a Bizarre Claim’?

“We need a new way entirely to think about what it means to be a human being and what the purpose of our lives is. For me, this moment feels apocalyptic, as if something new is struggling to be born.”

9. Lil Nas X’s Smash Makes Country Wonder if Rap Is Friend or Foe. Again. + A History of Country-Rap in 29 Songs

“Pop, more than ever, is an identity playground.”

10. Stepping Out on Easter Sunday

“Spring is more than a ritual — it’s a necessary reminder that these hardships we endure are only temporary. And what better way to celebrate a time of year marked by life and vitality than elaborate rituals of beauty, bodily adornment and anointment?”

11. Robert A. Caro, Private Eye

“He slowed down. Thought takes time. Truth takes time. When the research had filled in the blanks, he compiled first drafts in longhand, second and third and fourth drafts, too, and on a Smith-Corona Electra 210, writing 1,000 words a day.”

12. A Meditation on Our Relationship to the Landscapes We Inhabit

“Lessard devotes much of the book to exploring what she terms America’s ‘atopia,’ our vast, seemingly unplanned, inchoate, exurban sprawl, which remains to her largely inscrutable and tragic. She writes about such places from what you might call an exalted literary remove. The mode is epistolary, poetic, occasionally honest to a fault.”

13. Alex Jones Under Oath Is an Antidote to a ‘Post-Truth’ Age

“It is not really possible anymore to say where Jones’s universe ends and mainstream conservatism begins.”

14. Letter of Recommendation: Digging a Trench

“I’d dug holes before, to plant trees and post fences, and I’d chopped wood to heat the house in winter, but those jobs took place in one spot. Their focus was stationary, whereas the trench had a vector that carried me into the unknown.”

15. Is Prison Necessary? Ruth Wilson Gilmore Might Change Your Mind

“If prison, in its philosophical origin, was meant as a humane alternative to beatings or torture or death, it has transformed into a fixed feature of modern life, one that is not known, even by its supporters and administrators, for its humanity. In the United States, we now have more than two million incarcerated people, a majority of them black or brown, virtually all of them from poor communities. Prisons not only have violated human rights and failed at rehabilitation; it’s not even clear that prisons deter crime or increase public safety.”

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