Sunday 7.7.2019 New York Times Digest

1. The Last Time a Wall Went Up to Keep Out Immigrants

“The nativist movement, as anti-immigrant campaigns were once called, began a century and a half ago, directed first against the Irish, later against those arriving from southern and eastern Europe. The case against these European immigrants was remarkably similar to today’s complaints about those at our gates: They steal jobs from the native-born, they are costly to taxpayers, they don’t respect American values, and they are inclined to be criminals.”

2. They Paid Nearly a Half Million in Ransom. Where’s the Data?

“The bureau’s official position was that victims should not pay ransoms. But many city officials and computer network specialists say that cities often have no choice. The cost for recovering data can far surpass the ransom demand, and agencies often find themselves unable able to perform the most basic municipal tasks. In some cases, even emergency services have been affected.”

3. The Curious Mystical Text Behind Marianne Williamson’s Presidential Bid

“This is not some homey book of feel-good bromides. Rather, it is taken by its readers as a genuine gospel, produced by a Manhattan doctor who believed she was channeling new revelations from Jesus Christ himself. And stepping into this unusual book’s story, in fact, is the key to understanding Ms. Williamson’s latest venture.”

4. ‘This Old House’ Turns 40

“We don’t redo a house in one episode. People want that level of detail, and that’s what’s lacking in the other shows.”

5. What Middle-Class Families Want Politicians to Know

“Being middle class in America used to come with a certain amount of leisure and economic security. Today it involves an endless series of trade-offs and creative workarounds, career reinventions and an inescapable sense of dread.”

6. Why Caves Are Cool

“In my house, air-conditioning is built in to the geology. Last summer, the inside temperature did not exceed 72 degrees.”

7. Writing With Your Eyes Closed

“Milton produced Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained more than a decade after his eyes failed around 1652. ‘A good argument can be made that he was able to render these masterpieces not in spite of his blindness but because of it,’ John Rumrich, who teaches Milton at the University of Texas, told me.”

8. The Dominance of the White Male Critic

“The six most influential art critics in the country, as selected by their peers, are all white…. Yet the most dynamic art in America today is being made by artists of color and indigenous artists.”

9. There Should Be a Public Option for Everything

“Throughout our history, Americans have turned to public options as a way to promote equal opportunity and reconcile markets with democracy. For example, public libraries allow anyone to read, check out books or surf the internet. This expands educational opportunities and guarantees access to information to everyone, but it doesn’t prevent people from buying books at the bookstore if they choose.”

10. Black Directors of the ’90s Speak Out

“The New York Times recently convened a discussion with six directors who were part of a wave of young black talent that surged 30 years ago this month — beginning with the success of Do the Right Thing in July 1989 — only to come crashing down, as Hollywood in the 1990s and 2000s reconstituted itself around films with white directors and white casts.”

11. Can Kidz Bop Survive the Streaming Era?

“Only three artists — the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Barbra Streisand — have more Top 10 albums than the Kidz Bop Kids.”

12. Some Families Are Hiring Coaches to Help Them Raise Phone-Free Children

“A new screen-free parenting coach economy has sprung up to serve the demand. Screen consultants come into homes, schools, churches and synagogues to remind parents how people parented before.”

13. The Horrible Place Between the Apps

“We are not well.”

14. New & Noteworthy

“Mailer, who died the year this book was published, seemed particularly preoccupied with the role of technology at the time. He called it the ‘Devil’s invention’ and the ‘perfect weapon in the Devil’s armory.’ Technology, he argues, is less about pleasure and ease than about wielding power, a view that feels particularly prescient in our current political moment.”

15. We Have Abundant Food. Why Is Our Health — and the Planet’s — So Bad?

“The availability of sugar, that dietary nemesis, has risen 20 percent in the past 50 years — but the amount of cheap vegetable cooking oils on the world market has doubled or tripled, depending on the base plant, the result of agricultural policies pursued by countries like Brazil, which has become the world’s second-largest producer of soybeans after the United States. Cheap fat is hiding in your food far more unobtrusively than sugar.”

16. What Makes an Author’s Obsession a Thrill, Not a Bore?

“Reading about someone’s obsessions can be catching.”

17. Why Do Sports Fans Watch — And Rewatch — Injury Footage?

“On the strength of a single ligament, thousands of fortunes rise or fall. To study an injury is simply to keep yourself informed of a significant world event.”

18. Talk: Dapper Dan

“You cannot isolate what transpired in my life from the African-American experience. You have to start with that. We came to this country as slaves. We didn’t have our own language. We didn’t have our culture. We have to take those elements of this new culture that’s been forced upon us and use that to recreate a culture for ourselves. We continue to do that, and you continue to take it.”

19. Why Is There So Much Saudi Money in American Universities?

“Saudi money flows to all sorts of American schools: M.I.T.’s elite peers, including Harvard, Yale, Northwestern, Stanford and the California Institute of Technology; flagship public universities like Michigan and the University of California, Berkeley; institutions in oil-producing regions, like Texas A&M; and state schools like Eastern Washington University and Ball State University.”

20. Scientists Are Giving Dead Brains New Life. What Could Go Wrong?

“Studies showed that the brain was far more resilient than had been understood. It could, for example, recover neuronal function after a half-hour of oxygen and blood deprivation — in other words, it could be taken offline and turned back on again.”

21. Digital Jail: How Electronic Monitoring Drives Defendants Into Debt

“States and cities, which incur around 90 percent of the expenditures for jails and prisons, are increasingly passing the financial burden of the devices onto those who wear them. It costs St. Louis roughly $90 a day to detain a person awaiting trial in the Workhouse, where in 2017 the average stay was 291 days. When individuals pay Emass $10 a day for their own supervision, it costs the city nothing.”

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