Sunday 12.1.2019 New York Times Digest

1. Want to Get Into the Christmas Spirit? Face the Darkness

“Joy is trivialized if we do not first intentionally acknowledge the pain and wreckage of the world.”

2. How Amazon Wove Itself Into the Life of an American City

“The New York Times has explored the company’s impact in one American community: greater Baltimore.”

3. Latin Dictionary’s Journey: A to Zythum in 125 Years (and Counting)

“When German researchers began working on a new Latin dictionary in the 1890s, they thought they might finish in 15 or 20 years. In the 125 years since, the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae (T.L.L.) has seen the fall of an empire, two world wars and the division and reunification of Germany. In the meantime, they are up to the letter R.”

4. For Deaf Fans, Bucks News Is Now Loud and Clear

“Closed captioning is not always an effective form of communication, especially as captions do not capture emotion, inflection or tone. Interpreters, though, can convey all the nuance that captions miss.”

5. Meet the Leftish Economist With a New Story About Capitalism

“She says the state has been an underappreciated driver of growth and innovation.”

6. A Better Social Media World Is Waiting for Us

“Facebook and Twitter are slowly imploding. And before they’re finally dead, we need to think about what the future will be like after social media so we can prepare for what comes next.”

7. Why Progressive Candidates Should Invoke Conservative Values

“The most effective candidate in a national election would combine the most popular feature of the Democratic Party, progressive economic policies, with the most popular feature of the Republican Party: the invocation of conservative ideology and values like patriotism, family and the ‘American dream.’”

8. City Malaise, Cured by a Cloud Forest?

“Now I recommend a trip into nature — or even just a hobby requiring fresh air and a bit of discovery — to everyone I know. It has done something different for me than yoga, experimenting with psychedelics or talk therapy, which while helpful, never allowed me to ‘break clear away, once in a while,’ as John Muir put it, to ‘wash your spirit clean.’”

9. Don’t Blame Tech Bros for the Housing Crisis

“We look to Big Tech to solve the housing crisis, when the solution involves things only government — and voters — can do, like changing land use rules and tax laws. And tech’s billions will mean little if homeowners continue to oppose new development.”

10. Here’s What’s Happening in the American Teenage Bedroom

“On the internet, clout is a social currency that can be used to obtain just about anything. Rack up enough while you’re young, and doors everywhere begin to open. College recruiters notice you. Job opportunities and internships come your way. Your social status among peers rises, money flows in.”

11. Giving Suburban Wildlife a Lift

“While humans are pushing into wildlife territory more and more, some of them are also becoming more aware of, and attuned to, the wildlife in their backyards.”

12. The Streaming Era Has Finally Arrived. Everything Is About to Change.

“There are 271 online video services available in the United States.”

13. The Great Streaming Space-Time Warp Is Coming

“So many of the ways that we’re used to experiencing TV are artifacts of technology and business. September became TV’s New Year because that was when the new car models came out. TV episodes developed their multi-act structure to make room for commercials. Weekly schedules were set because you had to broadcast shows to everyone at once (a practice we may someday look back upon as a medieval ritual, like baking your bread in the village communal oven).”

14. What Is the Meaning of Sacred Texts?

“Armstrong argues in her magisterial new book, The Lost Art of Scripture, that Scripture shouldn’t be interpreted literally or rigidly from a pulpit or in a library. She argues that Scripture is flexible, evolving, contextual and more like performance art than a book.”

15. Two Authors Explore the Persistence of Religious Feeling

“How have we, in contemporary culture, come to separate religion from what we think of as ordinary, secular life? How was that artificial separation made for the first time?”

16. The Evil Repercussions of the American Revolution

“For the vast majority of Earth’s inhabitants, who did not give a damn about a civil war in British North America or the ideas and ideals that inspired it, the American Revolution was a disaster.”

17. Architecture’s Most Irredeemable Cad

“Let’s get one thing straight. Wright was a cad.”

18. What Tweets and Emojis Did to the Novel

“The scroll and the ideogram died out because of their simplicity, only to have been revived for that reason. The scroll is a frictionless waterfall on the screen. And while an entire alphabet of ideograms would be unusably bulky, a handful of key ones, scattered into our language, condense thousands of complicated reactions into a few dozen universal symbols.”

19. ‘I Think This Guy Is, Like, Passed Out in His Tesla’

“These videos are magnetic not just because of the eerie images they contain, but also because, watching them, we can’t actually be sure what we’re seeing. Is this danger or safety or both at once?”

20. Talk: Pete Townshend

“What we were hoping to do was to create a system by which we gathered in order to hear music that in some way served the spiritual needs of the audience. It didn’t work out that way. We abandoned our parents’ church, and we haven’t replaced it with anything solid and substantial. But I do still believe in it.”

21. Letter of Recommendation: ‘Penn & Teller: Fool Us’

“‘Fool Us’ is … an island of civility and generosity in our cruel, contentious and otherwise debased times.”

22. Truth Hurts

“In its piercing tone and operatic overstatement, Jagged Little Pill remains a wonderfully transparent document of a young woman’s emotions, of her passion, of her capacity for catharsis. If her tone was singular then, it isn’t anymore. We live in a moment when women are fed up, openly, much of the time. Morissette’s register no longer sounds histrionic — it’s descriptive of a mood many of us recognize.”

23. Adam Sandler’s Everlasting Shtick

“Sandler makes movies for people to watch when they’re tired from work, or stoned, or 13. And over the years, as he has garnered control, the most recessive traits of his filmmaking style have begun to combine in more flagrant disorder.”

24. Does Who You Are at 7 Determine Who You Are at 63?

“To spend time with a child is to dwell under the terms of an uneasy truce between the possibility of the present and the inevitability of the future. Our deepest hope for the children we love is that they will enjoy the liberties of an open-ended destiny, that their desires will be given the free play they deserve, that the circumstances of their birth and upbringing will be felt as opportunities rather than encumbrances; our greatest fear is that they will feel thwarted by forces beyond their control. At the same time, we can’t help poring over their faces and gestures for any signals of eventuality — the trace hints and betrayals of what will emerge in time as their character, their plot, their fate. And what we project forward for the children in our midst can rarely be disentangled from what we project backward for ourselves.”

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