Sunday 8.25.2019 New York Times Digest

1. Summer on the Swollen Great Lakes

“Long term, I don’t know how anybody along the lakeshore deals with it.”

2. Apple’s Watch Is Smarter, but My Casio Keeps Getting the Job Done

“In this era of rampant planned obsolescence, the Casio watch remains a remarkable outlier: a once-advanced device that has been available for a quarter-century and still does exactly what it was designed to do.”

3. Many Are Abandoning Facebook. These People Have the Opposite Problem.

“While many users are abandoning Facebook, fed up with what seems like a never-ending series of privacy violations, a small cohort find themselves in the opposite position. They’ve been kicked off the platform, and no matter how hard they try — and they try really, really hard — they can’t get back on.”

4. A Glut of Pings Intruding on Your Vacation Getaway

“Unlike other interruptions, like those from a boss at work, which intrude despite our best efforts, alerts from a smart home are disruptions of our own making. We buy the equipment and set our phones to dole out constant reminders at the beach that responsibilities continue elsewhere. Rather than ask a neighbor to check on the house while we’re gone, as we might have done a decade ago, we take the burden with us.”

5. I Visited 47 Sites. Hundreds of Trackers Followed Me.

“This is happening every day, all the time, and the only reason we’re O.K. with it is that it’s happening behind the scenes, in the comfortable shadows. If we all had pictures like this, we might revolt.”

6. Seattle Has Figured Out How to End the War on Drugs

“In effect, Seattle is decriminalizing the use of hard drugs. It is relying less on the criminal justice toolbox to deal with hard drugs and more on the public health toolbox.”

7. Blame Economists for the Mess We’re In

“Accounts of the rise of inequality often take a fatalistic view. The problem is described as a natural consequence of capitalism, or it is blamed on forces, like globalization or technological change, that are beyond the direct control of policymakers. But much of the fault lies in ourselves, in our collective decision to embrace policies that prioritized efficiency and encouraged the concentration of wealth, and to neglect policies that equalized opportunity and distributed rewards. The rise of economics is a primary reason for the rise of inequality.”

8. How ‘Sesame Street’ Started a Musical Revolution

“Long before inclusion was a curriculum goal, ‘Sesame Street’ made a point to showcase Afro-Caribbean rhythms, operatic powerhouses, Latin beats, Broadway showstoppers and bebop alongside its notably diverse cast.”

9. Why Doesn’t Anyone Want to Live in This Perfect Place?

“Fifty years ago, just as gay liberation movements swept cities around the world, some lesbians began to leave them. The women decamped to rural areas where they could collectively purchase property and build communities from scratch. They erected outhouses, laid pipelines and set up chicken coops. In the process, many found romance. Membership grew by word of mouth, and eventually a directory of womyn’s lands was compiled and passed between communities, creating a social network of potential friends and partners.”

10. Why Sexually Transmitted Infections Can’t Shake Their Stigma

“50 percent of sexually active people will have at least one S.T.I. by age 25.”

11. As American as Deconstructed Potpie

“Welcome to the hipsterfied diner. Same look and vibe as the classic steel original, but the food has been upgraded to reflect current tastes.”

12. In Southern Appalachia, Searching for the ‘Big Bang’ of Country Music

“While the rest of America was roaring to jazz during the ’20s, in a small corner of the South, where back roads snake through early-morning mist and porches are used for melody-making as much as sitting in rocking chairs, another form of music was quietly taking root. In the heart of southern Appalachia, at the convergence of northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia, a set of early recording sessions, conducted by a New York City record producer over two epoch-making weeks in the summer of 1927, would catapult the careers of the Carter Family from Virginia, the ‘first family of country music,’ and the Mississippi singer and songwriter Jimmie Rodgers, who would become known as ‘the father of country music.’”

13. Can the American West Be Saved?

“The ingredients of tragedy — here you have them.”

14. By the Book: Cathleen Schine

“Many years ago, as a 30-year-old, I attended a dinner party with a number of well-known New York writers. The talk was fast and witty and allusive and, self-conscious and self-absorbed as only a young person who does not understand that everyone suffers from impostor syndrome can be, I spent an excruciating evening among these very successful, older writers, trying not to spill my wine and wondering if I should pretend I had read The Bonfire of the Vanities and tell Tom Wolfe, who was sitting next to me, how much I liked it. I did not, which is a good thing, because I realized when I got home that Tom Wolfe sitting next to me was actually Gay Talese. I have avoided literary dinner parties ever since.”

15. How the Department of Defense Bankrolled Silicon Valley

“It took a whole lot of Defense Department dollars to transform the region.”

16. Reading the Hidden Racial Life of American Fiction

“Literary white flight — into imagined worlds from which black people and the urgent questions their presence begs have been absented — is no less a matter of power.”

17. Why Do Politicians Blame ‘Cosmopolitans’ for Local Problems?

“Actual cosmopolitans typically agree that cosmopolitanism works best when it’s rooted.”

18. Talk: James Ellroy

“This is the great pianist Glenn Gould on the great composer Richard Strauss. ‘The great thing about the music of Richard Strauss is that … it presents to us an example of the man who makes richer his own time for not being of it, who speaks for all generations by being of none. It is an ultimate argument of individuality, an argument that a man can create his own synthesis of time without being bound by the conformities that time imposes.’ That says it all.”

19. How Many Steps Should You Take a Day?

“She found that increasing your average step count by even a small amount reduced your risk of mortality.”

20. Neil Young’s Lonely Quest to Save Music

“We are poisoning ourselves with degraded sound, he believes, the same way that Monsanto is poisoning our food with genetically engineered seeds. The development of our brains is led by our senses; take away too many of the necessary cues, and we are trapped inside a room with no doors or windows. Substituting smoothed-out algorithms for the contingent complexity of biological existence is bad for us, Young thinks. He doesn’t care much about being called a crank.”

21. Did Venus Williams Ever Get Her Due?

“Venus was first.”

22. The Big Business of Scavenging in Postindustrial America

“According to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), the world’s premier recyclers’ trade association, the scrap industry as a whole — which includes processors of plastics, paper, glass, rubber and textiles — employs 531,500 people. That exceeds the number of Americans who work as computer programmers, web developers, chemical engineers and biomedical engineers combined.”

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