Sunday 10.13.2019 New York Times Digest

1. How Photos of Your Kids Are Powering Surveillance Technology

“Who could have possibly predicted that a snapshot of a toddler in 2005 would contribute, a decade and a half later, to the development of bleeding-edge surveillance technology?”

2. Bill Gates Met With Jeffrey Epstein Many Times, Despite His Past

“Mr. Gates started the relationship after Mr. Epstein was convicted of sex crimes.”

3. Witches Are Having Their Hour

“The witch is a feminine archetype who has authority over herself. She doesn’t get power in relationship to other people. She has power on her own terms. And because of that she is, I believe, the ultimate feminist icon.”

4. When a Steady Paycheck Is Good Medicine

“A coalition of nonprofit health care providers is investing in the notion that ample paychecks, stable housing and nutritious food are no less critical to well-being than doctors, medical equipment and pharmacies.”

5. Sharp Cuts in Immigration Threaten U.S. Economy

“Lower immigration portends big problems because the basic American retirement system — Social Security and Medicare — relies on workers to pay for retirees, and the entire expansion of the work force over the next 15 years will come from immigration.”

6. How Italians Became ‘White’

“The story of how Italian immigrants went from racialized pariah status in the 19th century to white Americans in good standing in the 20th offers a window onto the alchemy through which race is constructed in the United States, and how racial hierarchies can sometimes change.”

7. Taxing Our Way to Justice

“For the first time in the past hundred years, the working class — the 50 percent of Americans with the lowest incomes — today pays higher tax rates than billionaires.”

8. A Threat To Political Discourse?

“School debate ultimately strengthens and rewards biased reasoning.”

9. 48 Hours in the Strange and Beautiful World of TikTok

“The video app offers an endless scroll of creativity and goofing off, told in 15-second snippets. What did five critics see when they went down the rabbit hole? Art, artistry and a lot of dancing.”

10. Quickie Weddings Slow Down

“Peek in on an average day and you are likely to witness Mr. Decar emerge from a vertical coffin to officiate a ceremony in a chapel flooded with fog and tombstones. Gothic is one of the most popular themes.”

11. The Forces That Are Killing the American Dream

“Organization Man aspired to join a large corporation and become a pillar of his community. Transaction Man or Woman aspires to be a disrupter and global citizen.”

12. What Reconstruction-Era Laws Can Teach Our Democracy

“The 13th abolished slavery, in 1865. The 14th guaranteed equality and also citizenship for anyone born in America, in 1868. The 15th gave black men who were citizens the right to vote, in 1870. (The 19th gave female citizens that right, in 1920.) Foner agrees with the abolitionist senator Charles Sumner that the Reconstruction amendments were ‘sleeping giants,’ and notes that they provided the foundation for the civil rights revolution of the 1960s.”

13. The Upheaval in the American Workplace

“Greenhouse probably knows more about what is happening in the American workplace than anybody else in the country, having covered labor as a journalist for two decades. He achieves a near-impossible task, producing a page-turning book that spans a century of worker strikes, without overcondensing or oversimplifying, and with plausible suggestions for the future. This is labor history seen from the moments when that history could have turned out differently.”

14. How Fast Fashion Is Destroying the Planet

“More than 60 percent of fabric fibers are now synthetics, derived from fossil fuels, so if and when our clothing ends up in a landfill (about 85 percent of textile waste in the United States goes to landfills or is incinerated), it will not decay.”

15. Penguins Are Promiscuous Too

“Levick witnessed penguins engaging in indiscreet behavior — not just casual sex, but rape, sodomy, even necrophilia. (The birds also engage in their own form of prostitution, where females submit to a quick tryst in exchange for stones to line their nests.)”

16. How Susan Sontag Taught Me to Think

“In the era of prestige TV, we may have lost our appetite for difficult books, but we relish difficult characters, and the biographical Sontag — brave and imperious, insecure and unpredictable — surely fits the bill.”

17. Talk: Edward Norton

“There’s a point at which any actor starts to become their own pollution.”

18. Black Theater Is Having a Moment. Thank Tyler Perry. (Seriously.)

“Right now a circle of young black playwrights is doing some of the most imaginative, confrontational work in the American theater, and Perry is right there at its center. Didn’t see that coming? Maybe it’s not immediately obvious. But it makes sense. He’s the biggest black playwright in America. If you were a kid, teenager or barely an adult in the 2000s, living in a black city and attracted to the stage, it would be hard for Perry not to become someone to revere, reckon with or resist.”

19. What Does PewDiePie Really Believe?

“One crucial thing to understand about YouTube is that there are really two of them. The first YouTube is the YouTube that everyone knows — the vast reference library filled with sports highlights, music videos and old Comedy Central roasts. But there’s a second YouTube inside that one. It is a self-contained universe with its own values and customs, its own incentive structures and market dynamics and its own fully developed celebrity culture that includes gamers, beauty vloggers, musicians, D.I.Y.ers, political commentators, artists and pranksters. The biggest of these personalities have millions of subscribers and Oprah-level influence over their fandoms. Many Inner YouTubers never watch TV and develop elaborate parasocial bonds with their favorite creators. For people who frequent Inner YouTube — generally people under 25, along with some older people with abundant free time — the site is not just a video platform but a prism through which all culture and information is refracted.”

20. To Decode White Male Rage, First He Had to Write in His Mother’s Voice

“The social novel sets out to speak for others but often merely speaks over them. Autofiction, with its resolution to speak only for the authorial self, risks dead-ending in solipsism. Lerner’s escape hatch is a kind of synthesis, a narrative mode that dares to imagine the inner lives of other people while at the same time foregrounding how such efforts are always faulty and provisional, riddled with blind spots.”


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