Sunday 10.20.2019 New York Times Digest

1. Trump Campaign Floods Web With Ads, Raking In Cash as Democrats Struggle

“That campaigns are now being fought largely online is hardly a revelation, yet only one political party seems to have gotten the message.”

2. High Schools to TikTok: We’re Catching Feelings

“TikTok’s addictiveness can be traced, in part, to its use of artificial intelligence to anticipate what users want and fill their feeds with it. That technology is so effective that the app’s owner, Bytedance (a Chinese tech conglomerate), last year introduced anti-addiction measures in Douyin, the Chinese version, to help both users and the parents who may be worried about them.”

3. As Local Papers Disappear, Student Journalists Fill Void

“Student journalists across the country have stepped in to help fill a void after more than 2,000 newspapers have closed or merged, leaving more than 1,300 communities without any local news coverage. And several young reporters have broken consequential stories that have prodded powerful institutions into changing policies.”

4. Why Is a Secretive Billionaire Buying Up the Cayman Islands?

“Mr. Dart has chosen an existentially vulnerable piece of land. At 76 square miles, Grand Cayman is roughly the size of Brooklyn and is, on average, only seven feet above sea level. In 2004, Ivan, a Category 5 hurricane, submerged most of the island. The damage was valued at close to $3 billion. Bodies buried in beach cemeteries floated out to sea. Animals escaped their enclosures, and, to this day, rewilded chickens roam the islands.”

5. Out With the Old, In With the Young

“An antiquated system that produces unrepresentative leadership is ill equipped to respond to the problems of our time. And that should concern anyone committed to democratic ideals.”

6. Did Harold Bloom Win the Canon Wars?

“The evolution of the curriculum over several decades has not prevented a sharp decline in humanities enrollment. It is hard to attribute this to particular curricular trends. It is perhaps easier to see how the loss of the privileged place accorded to literary expression in society translates into different decisions by students about what to study.”

7. Are We Ready for the Breastfeeding Father?

“Tales of men whose breasts contained milk date back centuries. In the fourth century B.C., the philosopher Aristotle noted that some men were able to produce milk by squeezing their breasts. In the King James translation of the Bible, the breasts of the malnourished Job are described as full of milk. Later, in the Babylonian Talmud, we find a story of a widowed man whose ‘breasts opened and he nursed his child.’”

8. The Socialist City on a Hill

“Mocked by ideological purists for practicing ‘sewer socialism,’ Milwaukee’s pragmatic socialists focused on winning concrete gains for their working-class constituents. From 1910 to 1960, they held the mayor’s office for nearly 40 years, elected numerous state legislators and aldermen, and won a congressional seat. Sewer socialists — who carried out measures to improve public health and investments in public infrastructure like schools, libraries, parks and, yes, sewers — were known for their integrity, their tactical ingenuity and their relentless organizing. Even today, when third-party politics are more untenable and labor unions are in decline, the sewer socialists’ blend of unwavering idealism and dogged gradualism offers valuable lessons for building and sustaining a progressive working-class movement.”

9. When the Dream of Owning a Home Became a Nightmare

“Real estate brokers and mortgage bankers valued black women like Janice Johnson precisely because they were poor, desperate and likely to fall behind on their payments. The HUD-F.H.A. guarantee to pay lenders in full for the mortgage of any home in foreclosure transformed risk from a reason for exclusion into an incentive for inclusion. Banks could profit from being repaid for inflated mortgages, and profit again when the foreclosed property was resold to another poor family that qualified for a government-guaranteed mortgage.”

10. When We Laugh at Nazis, Maybe the Joke’s on Us

“Recent history shows that the medicine of laughter can have scary side effects.”

11. The Screen Is Changing Shape

“Digital projection has made it easier than ever for filmmakers to play with screen shape, without worrying about a projectionist’s need to adjust the lens or the masking, the paneling around the screen.”

12. What Can Robert Pattinson Do to Keep You Guessing?

“I’ve always thought that the only reason you’d want to play a good guy all the time is because you’re desperately ashamed of what you’re doing in real life, whereas if you’re a pretty normal person, the most fun part of doing movies is that you can explore the more grotesque or naughty sides of your psyche in a somewhat safe environment.”

13. Why Don’t Rich People Just Stop Working?

“The hustle is deeply baked into mainstream notions of what it means to be American.”

14. Fly Fishing Is the New Bird-Watching

“Plus, it’s very Instagrammable, even as it encourages people to put down their phones.”

15. What St. Louis Tells Us About America

“As the northernmost Southern city and the westernmost Eastern city, St. Louis has had peculiar forms of racial stratification.”

16. How Moving to France and Having Children Led a Black American to Rethink Race

“Williams married a white woman and both their children were born with blond hair and blue eyes. Are they, too, black by the one-drop rule? In questioning their determinative race, he has plumbed not only his own but also the complexity of racial identity for people outside the prevalent white/nonwhite binary.”

17. By the Book: Elton John

“I have a huge library of books on art and photography, kept in the gallery at my home in Windsor, all cataloged and detailed so I can have what I want at my fingertips. They’re very well arranged. I hate seeing things lying on the floor in a horrible state. I’m a very organized bloke.”

18. When the C.I.A. Was Into Mind Control

“The program should be remembered for what it was: a vehicle for abominable experiments that often targeted the most vulnerable — drug users, prisoners and psychiatric patients, who were deprived of meaningful informed consent, if there was any consent at all.”

19. Reinventing the Midwestern Supper Club

“If you were tilling the land, logic dictated you fortify yourself with dinner at noon, having been up since dawn, and end the evening with supper, historically lighter fare, its name derived from the Old French souper, with its hint of sipping broth and sopping it up with bread, and the Old English supan, which originally meant simply ‘to drink’ (often to excess). It was the arrival of gaslights and, later, electricity that allowed privileged city dwellers to stay up late, pushing back the dinner hour and making supper a more impromptu, round-midnight affair. Meanwhile, their thriftier country counterparts continued to eat at sundown before snuffing out the candles and going to bed. Noah Webster, in the inaugural 1828 edition of his American Dictionary of the English Language, noted, ‘The dinner of fashionable people would be the supper of rustics.’”

20. Rachel Weisz Is Performing for Herself

“For all her beauty and success, Weisz is still better known for her talent and taste than for an all-consuming and occluding kind of celebrity; it is an endearing pitch of fame, the kind that inspires more admiration than awe.”


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