Sunday 3.8.2020 New York Times Digest

1. I’m Going to Die. I May as Well Be Cheerful About It.

“Facing death offers us an opportunity to work with everything we have within us and everything we know about the world. If we have been resilient most of our lives, most likely we will cope well with our own dying. It is frightening, of course, but it is our last chance to be a role model, even a hero.”

2. Seeing Sanders As Only Escape In a Sea of Debt

“Mr. Sanders seemed to be telling him why his life looked and felt the way it did. His financial instability was not some individual failure, but a function of a broader economic system that had become so unequal that fixing it was a moral calling.”

3. The Tax Code Is Overtaxed

“The I.R.S.’s tax collectors spend remarkably little time collecting taxes. Rather, they administer social welfare programs, regulate retirement savings and, well, adjudicate discounts on those 23andMe kits.”

4. The Rise of Location Trackers for Kids as Young as 3

“These products miss the point of what it means to be a kid, hampering children on the road to independence. And more heartbreakingly, trackers may prevent our kids from feeling truly free.”

5. The Open Borders Trap

“Many progressives also reject the kind of arguments that supporters of immigration once made.”

6. How Working-Class Life Is Killing Americans, in Charts

“Life for many middle- and low-income Americans can lack structure, status and meaning.”

7. Are You an Anti-Influencer?

“‘We looked in the data and saw there were some customers who were really good at picking out failures’ — so good, in fact, that a newly introduced product was less likely to survive if it attracted these buyers. (And if they bought it repeatedly, its chances of survival were even worse.) Professor Tucker called these people harbingers of failure because, statistically speaking, their fondness for a product heralded its demise.”

8. How to Prepare Now for the Complete End of the World

“When the end comes, some will not be waiting in a bunker for a savior. They will stride out into the wilderness with confidence, ready to hunt and kill a deer, tan its hide and sleep easily in a hand-built shelter, close by a fire they made from the force of their two palms on a stick.”

9. The Rich Are Preparing for Coronavirus Differently

“The rich are sparing no expense when it comes to minimizing their experience with the coronavirus.”

10. The Handshake Is on Hold

“As the new coronavirus spreads, leaders around the world are offering guidance about how to touch other humans going forward.”

11. Are Frequent Flier Miles Killing the Planet?

“At a time when the airline industry is bending over backward to be — or at least seem to be — concerned about climate change, can airline companies still justify loyalty programs that would seem to encourage people to fly more?”

12. Grim and Grimmer

“By ‘decadence’ he means a kind of cultural exhaustion and world-weariness he senses in our time and that worries him precisely because it seems to be sustainable rather than a prelude to collapse. The malaise he analyzes is the result of various forces — economic, institutional, technological, cultural, even biological — coming together to sap us of our strength and hope. He treats each of these in turn, weighing different hypotheses that might explain us to ourselves — something rare in works of social prophecy, which tend to roll on a single track.”

13. How a Fake Priest Duped Oxford and a World-Famous Historian

“Peters seemed to others to be a genius at two things: mimicking the verbal pretentiousness and obscurantism of academic parlance and sweeping naïve young women off their feet by means of an alchemy that remained mysterious to everyone else.”

14. Talk: Aaron Sorkin

“It’s a bad idea to sit down and say, ‘I’m going to write something important.’”

15. Letter of Recommendation: Gambling

“You end up in some interesting places at interesting times when you know gamblers, and the gamblers themselves are often good company. These facts alone are salutary. But gambling itself — investing in chance — is an activity that needs to be rehabilitated as much as recommended.”

16. A $60 Billion Housing Grab by Wall Street

“Neighborhoods that were formerly ownership neighborhoods that were one of the few ways that working-class families and communities of color could build wealth and gain stability are being slowly, or not so slowly, turned into renter communities, and not renter communities owned by mom-and-pop landlords but by some of the biggest private-equity firms in the world.”

17. Hideo Kojima’s Strange, Unforgettable Video-Game Worlds

“How do you explain Hideo Kojima to someone who has never picked up a PlayStation controller? His admirers have often compared him to filmmakers: Quentin Tarantino, David Lynch, George Lucas, James Cameron. Each comparison has its merits. Like Lucas, Kojima is inseparable from a beloved franchise, in Metal Gear Solid, that has achieved mythic status among fans; like Tarantino, he cheekily shows off his virtuo­sity through postmodern tricks of deconstruction and self-referentiality. The narratives of the Metal Gear Solid games can be hallucinatorily surreal and difficult to follow, in a Lynchian manner, but at the same time the games are staggeringly popular big-budget blockbusters that marry technical wizardry with cheesy melodrama, à la Cameron.”

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