Sunday 9.22.2019 New York Times Digest

1. The Beauty of the Ordinary

“From Vermont to Beijing, people relish autumn days precisely because they’re reminders of how much we cannot afford to take for granted, and how much there is to celebrate right now, this shining late September afternoon.”

2. Watches Encroach on the Football Field

“Fine watches send a signal to fans that fans that today’s multimillionaire athletes are not sweat-drenched gladiators, but men and women of taste and refinement, who appreciate exquisite timepieces just as they would fine wine or contemporary art.”

3. Silicon Valley Goes to Therapy

“Those funding the therapy start-ups see an entire cohort of tech employees who long ago fused their sense of self-worth to their work, and who are emotionally adrift now that the industry is under assault.”

4. Roundup Weedkiller Is Blamed for Cancers, but Farmers Say It’s Not Going Away

“Farmers are by far the primary users, and many say they are satisfied with glyphosate’s safety record.”

5. Don’t Underestimate the Poets

“A liberal arts education fosters valuable ‘soft skills’ like problem-solving, critical thinking and adaptability. Such skills are hard to quantify, and they don’t create clean pathways to high-paying first jobs. But they have long-run value in a wide variety of careers.”

6. Saying No Is Hard

“Nearly 20 percent of baby boomers who received $100,000 or more spend their entire gift.”

7. Seven Ways Telecommuting Has Changed Real Estate

“As more people are able to work from home, housing priorities have changed, and different places and types of housing have become more popular.”

8. The Climate Crisis Is the Battle of Our Time

“The best available technology for pulling carbon dioxide from the air is something called a tree.”

9. Keeping Out Black Pioneers

“By 1860 there were more than 330 rural settlements home to propertied African-American farmers in the five states from that territory — Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. This region had seen the nation’s first Great Migration, the movement of tens of thousands of free black pioneers onto this frontier starting just after the American Revolution. There should have been many more settlements. But a majority of whites in those states — whites who had often arrived after African-American pioneers — were doing everything they could to keep free black people out.”

10. What Does It Mean to ‘Look Like Me’?

“We want our dreams, not just our realities, to be represented.”

11. Tucker Carlson 2024

“Carlson is aiming to mix a lefty-sounding economic agenda with a white nationalist-inspired cultural agenda — and to muddy the marriage by arguing that his and his followers’ ideas are being stifled by the tech giants that he’s fighting.”

12. The 19th-Century Troll Who Hated Dirty Postcards and Sex Toys

“Comstock — not satisfied with attacking just pornography — argued that the definition of obscenity should be expanded to include materials related to reproductive health, birth control and abortion, and he drafted legislation with some help from a Supreme Court justice.”

13. Young People Are Going to Save Us All From Office Life

“For many Americans, work has become an obsession, and long hours and endless striving something to aspire to. It has caused burnout, unhappiness and gender inequity, as people struggle to find time for children or passions or pets or any sort of life besides what they do for a paycheck. But increasingly, younger workers are pushing back. More of them expect and demand flexibility — paid leave for a new baby, say, and generous vacation time, along with daily things, like the ability to work remotely, come in late or leave early, or make time for exercise or meditation. The rest of their lives happens on their phones, not tied to a certain place or time — why should work be any different?”

14. Want to Do Business in Silicon Valley? Better Act Nice

“Tech entrepreneurs truly believe they are saving the world.”

15. 50 Years in Denim and Khaki

“In helping to define the world’s uniform informality, the Gap helped make its strategy obsolete.”

16. Train vs. Plane

“Once you factor in the commute to the airport (in my case, one hour), suggested arrival at least an hour before takeoff, runway taxiing at touchdown, disembarkation and traveling to your destination (often an hour), flying takes about 255 minutes. I accepted the 65-minute difference as a productivity trade-off and the price of peace of mind.”

17. Do Men and Women Have Different Brains?

“Once we recognize the existence of brain plasticity, this entire enterprise seems nonsensical.”

18. What Can Brain Scans Tell Us About Sex?

“It was somewhat surprising when a paper in the prestigious journal P.N.A.S. reported in July that what happens in the brains of female study subjects when they look at sexual imagery is pretty much the same as what happens in the brains of their male counterparts.”

19. Why Do Hoax Videos Proliferate When Disaster Strikes?

“To live in our present moment is to discover, over and over, that much of what we have imagined to be solid and permanent is in fact fragile.”

20. Talk: Pam Grier

“The power of ‘no’ is one thing I’ve learned.”

21. What Really Brought Down the Boeing 737 Max?

“The paradox is that the failures of the 737 Max were really the product of an incredible success: a decades-long transformation of the whole business of flying, in which airplanes became so automated and accidents so rare that a cheap air-travel boom was able to take root around the world. Along the way, though, this system never managed to fully account for the unexpected: for the moment when technology fails and humans — a growing population of more than 300,000 airline pilots of variable and largely unpredictable skills — are required to intervene.”

22. My Family’s Life Inside and Outside America’s Racial Categories

“Growing up, I understood myself to be black, and yet I was also exposed to whiteness through my mother and most (though certainly not all) members of her family in nonantagonistic, positively nurturing ways. Today, my children, who are roughly a fifth West African descended, are so blond-haired and fair-skinned that they can blend in with the locals when we travel in Sweden. All this and more has forced me to wrestle with the particulars of my family’s story — its painful past as well as its unwritten future — and reflect on what these specific contradictions might imply about the broader color categories we are all forced into.”

23. The Distinctly American Ethos of the Grifter

“America is perhaps the rightful home of grifters, for where else in the world is so deeply identified with the possibility of transcending humble origins and becoming someone powerful and new?”

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