Sunday 12.8.2019 New York Times Digest

1. Video Games and Online Chats Are ‘Hunting Grounds’ for Sexual Predators

“Sexual predators and other bad actors have found an easy access point into the lives of young people: They are meeting them online through multiplayer video games and chat apps, making virtual connections right in their victims’ homes.”

2. Can Biology Class Reduce Racism?

“And among some biology teachers, there has been a growing sense that avoiding any direct mention of race in their genetics curriculum may be backfiring.”

3. The Price of Recycling Old Laptops

“The notion of recycling these gadgets sounds virtuous: an infinite loop of technological utility. But it is dirty and dangerous work to extract the tiny quantities of precious metals — like gold, silver and copper — from castoff phones, computers and televisions.”

4. Lovers in Auschwitz, Reunited 72 Years Later.

“For a few months, they managed to be each other’s escape, but they knew these visits wouldn’t last. Around them, death was everywhere. Still, the lovers planned a life together, a future outside of Auschwitz. They knew they would be separated, but they had a plan, after the fighting was done, to reunite. It took them 72 years.”

5. The Chinese Roots of Italy’s Far-Right Rage

“Italy has proved especially vulnerable to competition from China, given that many of its artisanal trades — textiles, leather, shoemaking — have long been dominated by small, family-run operations lacking the scale to compete with factories in a nation of 1.4 billion people. Four Italian regions — Tuscany, Umbria, Marche and Emilia-Romagna — that were as late as the 1980s electing Communists, and then reliably supporting center-left candidates, have in recent years swung sharply toward the extreme right.”

6. Biased Algorithms Are Easier to Fix

“Changing algorithms is easier than changing people: software on computers can be updated; the ‘wetware’ in our brains has so far proven much less pliable.”

7. Christian Doomsayers Have Lost It

“Many Christians have become invested in a dark narrative.”

8. Finland Is a Capitalist Paradise

“Finland’s capitalist growth and dynamism have been helped, not hurt, by the nation’s commitment to providing generous and universal public services that support basic human well-being. These services have buffered and absorbed the risks and dislocations caused by capitalist innovation.”

9. Hypnosis Changed My Life

“But after hitting rock bottom with my depression, anxiety, insomnia and obsessive-compulsive disorder after a layoff from my media job, I was willing to try anything.”

10. Exhausted With the Experts

The experts had their chance; let the moralists and radicals have theirs.

11. The Topanga Tea Ceremony

“Having a ceremony under an oak tree in Topanga Canyon alongside a handful of women who were once professionally beautiful is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon, but it’s not required for the practice.”

12. These Cocktails Are Garbage. Yum!

“They believe the average bar could save $550 a night simply by reusing 50 percent of its ingredients”

13. My Week of ‘Noble Silence’

“The week had given me a sort of spalike experience for my mind, protected from the distractions and stressors of daily life.”

14. Eurovision

“The railways enabled people across Europe to see themselves as ‘Europeans’ in ways that they had not done before.”

15. Faith Journey

“Egan is so well informed, he starts to seem like the world’s greatest tour guide. You follow along as much to hear him talk as to see the sights. It feels as if there’s nothing he hasn’t digested for the reader, and his extraordinary reliability is reminiscent of that of the monks he describes so evocatively throughout the book.”

16. Why Movie Musicals Work

“Although she includes a few examples from the international arena — a passing glance at the films of Jacques Demy, a terse footnote for the wildly popular musicals of Bollywood — Basinger makes it clear that Hollywood occupies center stage for her when it comes to the movie musical. She conceives of it, at its core, as ‘an original American art form.’”

17. How Watching ‘Jeopardy!’ Together Helped Me Say Goodbye to My Father

“The show implied a whole world: a hushed, calm, serious space in which knowledge was celebrated and rewarded. Its format (Jeopardy, Double Jeopardy, Final Jeopardy) was so orderly and ritualistic that watching felt almost religious, like running rosary beads through your fingers.”

18. How Chinese Sci-Fi Conquered America

“As an emissary for some of China’s most provocative and boundary-breaking writers, Liu has become much more than a scout and a translator. He’s now a fixer, an editor and a curator — a savvy interpreter who has done more than anyone to bridge the imagination gap between the world’s current, fading superpower and its ascendant one.”

19. I Worked for Alex Jones. I Regret It.

“When he came hours later, after eating a few handfuls of jalapeño chips, he picked up an AR-15 and accidentally fired it in my direction.”

20. Why Does Rage Define ‘Parasite’ and Other Popular East Asian Movies?

“These movies both reinforce certain Confucian values and simultaneously combat stereotypes about Asians: that they are obedient, dutiful, loyal, timid and fearful. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.”

21. When the Whole-Animal Ethos Includes the Dinner Plates

“Together, the chef and potter conceived the purest distillation of the farm’s whole-animal philosophy: china made from the bones of its own cows.”

22. How Spices Have Made, and Unmade, Empires

“Spices are luxuries, ornamental to our lives. They provide little nutritional value and, beyond a few medicinal applications, are entirely unnecessary to survival. What they offer is an escape from tedium — a reason to take joy in food beyond the baseline requirements of existence.”

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