Category Archives: new york times

Sunday 10.15.2017 New York Times Digest

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1. Is Globalization Drawing Us Together or Tearing Us Apart?

“How can we hang on to decency in a world where old patterns, good and bad, have been disrupted?

2. Becoming a Steelworker Liberated Her. Then Her Job Moved to Mexico.

“For months, Shannon kept working as the factory shut down around her. She struggled with straightforward questions: Should she train workers from Mexico for extra pay or refuse? Should she go back to school or find a new job, no matter what it paid? And she was forced to confront a more sweeping question that nags at many of the 67 percent of adults in this country who do not have a four-year college degree: What does my future look like in the new American economy?”

3. How a Seed Bank, Almost Lost in Syria’s War, Could Help Feed a Warming Planet

“Mr. Shehadeh is a plant conservationist from Syria. He hunts for the genes contained in the seeds we plant today and what he calls their ‘wild relatives’ from long ago. His goal is to safeguard those seeds that may be hardy enough to feed us in the future, when many more parts of the world could become as hot, arid and inhospitable as it is here.”

4. ‘Allah’ Is Found on Viking Funeral Clothes

“The evidence, she added, supported the theory that the Viking settlements in the Malar Valley of Sweden were, in fact, a western outpost of the Silk Road that stretched through Russia to silk-producing centers east of the Caspian Sea. It is well known that the Vikings traded with the Arab world, and archaeologists have found plenty of Arab coins in Viking settlements. The trade lasted 150 years, beginning in the first half of the ninth century. But Dr. Larsson said that the silk and other artifacts found in the Viking graves suggested not just trade or plundering — but a deeper cultural exchange and shared ideas.”

5. Black Lawmakers Hold a Particular Grievance With Facebook: Racial Exploitation

“As black activists tried last year to focus attention on police brutality, unfair treatment before the law, inequality and white supremacy, social media giants like Facebook were being commandeered by Russian intelligence agents to turn white voters against them.”

6. An Alternate Universe of Shopping, in Ohio

“Stores are trying out all manner of gimmickry — anything, really — to win back shoppers. And when brands want to try out new concepts, they often come to Columbus.”

7. Why Surge Prices Make Us So Mad

“Technology is making ‘variable’ or ‘dynamic’ pricing — the same strategies that ensure a seat on an airplane, a hotel room or an Uber car are almost always available if you’re willing to pay the price — more plausible in areas with huge social consequences.”

8. Harvey Weinstein, Hollywood’s Oldest Horror Story

“How many times do we have to go through this before things really change?”

9. White Nationalism Is Destroying the West

“The greatest threat to liberal democracies does not come from immigrants and refugees but from the backlash against them by those on the inside who are exploiting fear of outsiders to chip away at the values and institutions that make our societies liberal.”

10. Why Are Millennials Wary of Freedom?

“Only about 30 percent of Americans born after 1980 believe it is absolutely essential to live in a democratic country.”

11. Would You Buy a Self-Driving Future From These Guys?

“People have good reason to doubt grand promises about world-changing technology.”

12. The New Bedtime Story Is a Podcast

“As podcast makers look to expand their audience — just under a quarter of Americans have listened to a podcast in the past month — they’re turning to a previously untapped demographic: children.”

13. Should Your Spouse Be Your Best Friend?

“Is considering your spouse your closest friend a sign of hard-earned intimacy, attachment and trust, or is it a sign you’ve become so enmeshed in the day-to-day logistics of managing your lives that you’ve given up sexual attraction, passion and erotic play? Has marriage become little more than benefits with friendship?”

14. Tired of Twee Edison Bulbs? Bring On the Neon

“Whatever you could do with light bulbs, you could do in bigger, better, clearer ways with neon tubes.”

15. As the 747 Begins Its Final Approach, a Pilot Takes a Flight Down Memory Lane

“For those who grew up under 747-crossed skies, it can be hard to appreciate how revolutionary the jet’s dimensions were when it first (and improbably, to some observers) got airborne in 1969. The inaugural model, the 747-100, was the world’s first wide-bodied airliner. The jet weighed hundreds of thousands of pounds more than its predecessors (the Boeing 707, for example), and carried more than twice as many passengers. Born in a factory so large that clouds once formed within it, the 747-100 was nearly twice as long as the Wright brothers’ entire first flight.”

16. Along the Mississippi

“Sometimes traveling is filled with annoyances – missing the turn off a highway or negotiating between three children and only two pretzel sticks. But other moments are so unexpectedly profound that they make the entire trip worthwhile.”

17. President Clinton Looks Back at President Grant

“As Americans continue the struggle to defend justice and equality in our tumultuous and divisive era, we need to know what Grant did when our country’s very existence hung in the balance. If we still believe in forming a more perfect union, his steady and courageous example is more valuable than ever.”

18. The Ghost That Haunts Grant’s Memoirs

“Grant’s style is strikingly modern in its economy. It stood out in that age of clambering, winding prose, with shameless sentences like lines of thieves in a marketplace, grabbing everything in reach and stuffing it all into their sacks.”

19. Tom Hanks: By the Book

“I stack up the books, three columns six or eight books at a time, and just wear that pile down.”

20. Exploring the Necessity and Virtue of Sleep

“Sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day — Mother Nature’s best effort yet at contra-death.”

21. How to Pawn Valuables

“You don’t need good credit, income or a bank account.”

22. In Northern Minnesota, Two Economies Square Off: Mining vs. Wilderness

“Central to the debate between the two camps is a philosophical question: What is the right kind of economy for a place like the Boundary Waters?”

23. Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety?

“Over the last decade, anxiety has overtaken depression as the most common reason college students seek counseling services. In its annual survey of students, the American College Health Association found a significant increase — to 62 percent in 2016 from 50 percent in 2011 — of undergraduates reporting ‘overwhelming anxiety’ in the previous year.”

24. The Prophet of Germany’s New Right

“Despite the unique cultural taboos arising from the historical memory of Nazism, Germany has joined a long list of European countries — Austria, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy and Slovakia among them — where far-right, sometimes explicitly racist political parties command significant minorities in national elections. This ethno-nationalist renaissance presents an odd paradox. European nationalists who at one time might have gone to war with one another now promote a kind of New Right rainbow coalition, in which sovereign states steadfastly maintain their ethnic and cultural identities in service of some larger ‘Western’ ideal. This ‘ethno-pluralism,’ as New Right activists call it, is not based on Western liberal notions of equality or the primacy of individual rights but in opposition to other cultures, usually nonwhite, that they say are threatening to overtake Europe and, indeed, the entire Western world by means of immigration. The threat to the West is also often cast in vague cultural terms as a kind of internal decay.”

 

Sunday 10.8.2017 New York Times Digest

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1. The Golden Age of ‘Existential’ Dread

“Calling something ‘a matter of life and death’ sounds hysterical and alarmist; ‘existential threat’ feels more solemn, gravely analytical, as if you’ve been poring over classified reports with world-weary experts. It is the verbal equivalent of a B-movie scientist somberly removing his glasses. We say it with abandon now, in every context.”

2. As Overdose Deaths Pile Up, a Medical Examiner Quits the Morgue

“After laboring here as the chief forensic pathologist for two decades, exploring the mysteries of the dead, he retired last month to explore the mysteries of the soul. In a sharp career turn, he is entering a seminary program to pursue a divinity degree, and ultimately plans to minister to young people to stay away from drugs.”

3. Global Economy’s Stubborn Reality: Plenty of Work, Not Enough Pay

“In many major countries, including the United States, Britain and Japan, labor markets are exceedingly tight, with jobless rates a fraction of what they were during the crisis of recent years. Yet workers are still waiting for a benefit that traditionally accompanies lower unemployment: fatter paychecks.”

4. Don’t Get Too Comfortable at That Desk

“New office designs are coming to a workplace near you, with layouts meant to cater to the variety of tasks required of modern white-collar workers.”

5. A Robot Makes a Mean Caesar Salad, but Will It Cost Jobs?

“Walking a couple of minutes within a building to a salad-tossing robot instead of venturing outside for lunch would mean shorter work breaks and increased productivity, he said.”

6. Pinpointing Racial Discrimination by Government Officials

“Emails with black-sounding names were 13 percent more likely to go unanswered than those with white-sounding names.”

7. Inside North Korea, and Feeling the Drums of War + While the U.S. Talks of
War, South Korea Shudders

“High school students march in the streets in military uniform every day to denounce America. Posters and billboards along the public roads show missiles destroying the U.S. Capitol and shredding the American flag.”

8. Confessions of a Sensible Gun Owner

“A great many hunters and gun owners are like me. We are not ‘gun nuts,’ stockpiling weapons in the name of some future apocalypse. We exercise our Second Amendment rights in a way that is palatable to most people who otherwise oppose guns — we’re the bridge that connects the two sides of the chasm in the national debate.”

9. N.R.A. and G.O.P., Together Forever

“The N.R.A. has successfully taken the issue of rational gun regulation out of the policy realm and made it a central feature of the culture wars. The issue is no longer simply about bump stock, or assault weapons, or specific regulations, or public safety; the debate over guns has become a subset of the larger cultural clash that pits us against them — liberals versus ‘normal’ Americans.”

10. No, That Robot Will Not Steal Your Job

“In the natural world, matter is neither created nor destroyed, but things are transformed. The same is true in the economic world. When new technology destroys, it leaves behind a layer of ash in which new jobs grow.”

11. Co-Parenting With Alexa

“Today, we’re no longer trusting machines just to do something, but to decide what to do and when to do it. The next generation will grow up in an age where it’s normal to be surrounded by autonomous agents, with or without cute names. The Alexas of the world will make a raft of decisions for my kids and others like them as they proceed through life — everything from whether to have mac and cheese or a green bowl for dinner to the perfect gift for a friend’s birthday to what to do to improve their mood or energy and even advice on whom they should date. In time, the question for them won’t be, ‘Should we trust robots?’ but ‘Do we trust them too much?’”

12. How Computers Turned Gerrymandering Into a Science

“Gerrymandering used to be an art, but advanced computation has made it a science.”

13. Who Invented ‘Zero’?

“The void is as old as time, but it was a human innovation to harness it with a symbol.”

14. Our Changing Climate Mind-Set

“When we viewed photographs and film of the annihilated cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we sensed that the world could be ended by nuclear weapons. Now these hurricanes have conveyed a similar feeling of world-ending, having left whole islands, once alive in their beauty and commerce, in ruin.”

15. Whatever Happened to Just Being Type A?

“One trend we see is people putting their personality types in their profiles as a shortcut to describing themselves.”

16. Blade Runner, Serving Sexy Replicant Looks for Fall

“Film professors put it on their syllabuses. Fashion designers turn to it as frequently as Breakfast at Tiffany’s. And music video directors ape it shot for shot.”

17. A Trust Buster for the New ‘Knowledge Monopoly’

“We, the consuming public, have failed to properly understand the new tech superpowers, he suggests, leaving little hope for stodgy and reluctant American regulators. The scope of their influence is obscured by the sheer number of things they do and sell, or problems they purport to be solving, and by our outdated sense of what constitutes a monopoly.”

18. What if Platforms Like Facebook Are Too Big to Regulate?

“What can a government realistically do about a problem like Facebook?”

19. After the Hurricane Winds Die Down, Larry McMurtry’s Houston Trilogy Lives On

“Some claim the three essential books in Texas history are the Bible, the Warren Commission report and Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove, his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about 19th-century cattle drives.”

20. How to Fight and Fix Your Car Like a Woman

“The book’s explanations of how to ‘fight like a woman’ are eye-opening, but of course there’s no substitute for physical practice. The biggest takeaway is counterintuitive: At all costs, resist. Many women are taught from an early age that the best chance of survival in an attack is to obey. Not true, says Kardian …. Get in the car, follow him to the deserted apartment, do what he wants — and you’re toast.”

21. Should Women Make Their Own Pop Music Canon?

“We take female musicians just seriously enough not to notice that we don’t actually take them seriously enough. They matter in the present. But posterity is another matter.”

22. Letters of Recommendation

“Six writers on their favorite cultural experiences of 2017.”

23. Frances McDormand’s Difficult Women

“I’m not an actor because I want my picture taken. I’m an actor because I want to be part of the human exchange.”

 

Sunday 10.1.2017 New York Times Digest

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1. Preparing Your Home for a Disaster

“There is no time like the present to think about all the things that could go wrong.”

2. In a Warming World, Keeping the Planes Running

“Low-lying airports may become increasingly vulnerable to storm surges. Hotter temperatures may cause tarmac to melt, restrict takeoff weights or require heavier aircraft to take off later in the day.”

3. The Latin Mass, Thriving in Southeastern Nigeria

“Catholic traditionalists see the ancient language of the Latin Mass as a sign of their faith’s stability and unity, an indication that Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. They would like to see it return worldwide, but for now, some of its strongest adherents have been in places like Nigeria, where historical tumult and ethnic strife have given traditionalists special reason to value this aspect of their faith.”

4. We Are All Jew-ish Now

“It’s not necessarily an identity. Better to call it a sensibility: the sensibility of whoever feels a bit unsure of who they are — a bit peculiar or out of place, a bit funny.”

5. Brevity Is the Soul of Twit

“The medium forces one to stick to the point.”

6. Speaking Ill of Hugh Hefner

“The things that were distinctively Hefnerian, that made him influential and important, were all rotten, and to the extent they were part of stories that people tend to celebrate, they showed the rot in larger things as well.”

7. Hugh Hefner, the Pajama Man

“In his endless dream, forever partying in his custom black lodge, nothing changed around him. Even his Christmas cards featured him in pajamas.”

8. Professors Behaving Badly

“Is there something about adjunct faculty members that makes them prone to outrageous political outbursts?”

9. Production of a Lifetime: Whitney Houston and Clive Davis

“There was a psychological cost to being a black superstar whose image was created with the express purpose of maximum crossover.”

10. A Muslim American’s Homecoming: Cowboys, Country Music, Chapatis

“As a Muslim American immigrant, am I just a few 140-character proclamations away from having my citizenship revoked? But fear also sparked curiosity. To me, ‘Wyoming’ sounds foreign and peculiar, spilling lazily off the tongue like a yawn and evoking in my mind the wild terrain someone else might associate with a Zimbabwe or Mozambique. What’s exotic to me isn’t food gilded with turmeric and six-day weddings — it’s grits and rodeos. How much time did I have left to experience them?”

11. Jennifer Egan: By the Book

“Nineteenth-century novels. I’m amazed by their capaciousness and flexibility — all the gutsy things that happen routinely in those books and today would be called experimental. Their authors were essentially rock stars, and you can feel the swagger in their prose.”

12. Karl Ove Knausgaard’s Visions for His Daughter

“Knausgaard’s art can still seem a kind of magic. How does he take the plainest things, in the plainest language, and make them feel so alive?”

13. Tracking the Hyper-Gentrification of New York, One Lost Knish Place at a Time

“The essential pain is not in the disappearance of wherever it was that used to serve the best 3 a.m. souvlaki … but in the transformation of the city into a place that no longer accommodates failure, a place that disavows mediocrity in the human form — defined now as the person without the big job, brilliant kid, sweeping view, outsize network — while all too willingly embracing any aesthetic expression of the average (this chain store, that grotesquely bland glass high-rise).”

14. Is Free Speech an Absolute Right, or Does Context Matter?

“Liberalism is founded on the belief that we should tolerate one another’s error, not because we approve of it, but to avoid the violence that would result if we each sought to silence the other. The liberal believes that life is more important than truth — that it is better to live in a peaceful society full of error than in a pure society full of persecution. The price of this toleration is that we must constantly put up with hearing speech that we consider wrong; we must smother our moral instincts.”

15. What I Care About Is Important. What You Care About Is a ‘Distraction.’

“The magic of waving away a ‘distraction’ is that it lets you minimize and dismiss something without having to explain why. The whole discussion is tabled, by fiat. It’s to trump everything, instantly. By calling something a distraction, you declare yourself — and the things you value — squarely in the white-hot center of the universe, far away from all tangential concerns, without pausing to justify that placement at all.”

16. Letter of Recommendation: ‘Shark Tank’

“You start to feel as if you could write your own business plan after watching a few episodes.”

17. How to Eat Spicy Food

“Relax and let the plant compounds expand your ability to experience food in a new way.”

18. Have Your Date and Your Garlic Too

“There are two proper ways to use garlic: pounding and blooming.”

19. The Mind of John McPhee

“McPhee gathers every single scrap of reporting on a given project — every interview, description, stray thought and research tidbit — and types all of it into his computer. He studies that data and comes up with organizing categories: themes, set pieces, characters and so on. Each category is assigned a code. To find the structure of a piece, McPhee makes an index card for each of his codes, sets them on a large table and arranges and rearranges the cards until the sequence seems right. Then he works back through his mass of assembled data, labeling each piece with the relevant code. On the computer, a program called ‘Structur’ arranges these scraps into organized batches, and McPhee then works sequentially, batch by batch, converting all of it into prose. (In the old days, McPhee would manually type out his notes, photocopy them, cut up everything with scissors, and sort it all into coded envelopes. His first computer, he says, was ‘a five-thousand-dollar pair of scissors.’)”

20. When ‘Not Guilty’ Is a Life Sentence

“More than 10,000 mentally ill Americans who haven’t been convicted of a crime — people who have been found not guilty by reason of insanity or who have been arrested but found incompetent to stand trial — are involuntarily confined to psychiatric hospitals.”

21. How Fake News Turned a Small Town Upside Down

“I started to ask why anyone should be allowed to publish false information for the express purpose of angering their audience and pushing them further away from those with whom they disagree, but Stranahan cut me off. ‘Hey, I’m walking into the White House right now,’ he said. He had just arrived for a press briefing with the president’s spokesman. ‘Let me call you back.’”

 

Sunday 9.24.2017 New York Times Digest

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1. Facebook’s Ad Scandal Isn’t a ‘Fail,’ It’s a Feature & Will Mark Zuckerberg ‘Like’ This Column?

“People who use the platform to keep in touch with loved ones may forget that the site makes its money by serving as a conduit for whatever messages people with money want to push at us.”

2. Push for Gender Equality in Tech? Some Men Say It’s Gone Too Far

“One radical fringe that is growing is Mgtow, which stands for Men Going Their Own Way and pronounced MIG-tow. Mgtow aims for total male separatism, including forgoing children, avoiding marriage and limiting involvement with women.”

3. As Equifax Amassed Ever More Data, Safety Was a Sales Pitch

“As part of its pitch to clients, the company promised to safeguard information.”

4. Technology Used to Track Players’ Steps Now Charts Their Sleep, Too

“Wearable technology represents opportunity not only for the teams, but for the companies who sell it. Many teams break down their data for their own personal insights, effectively doing research on the companies’ behalf.”

5. Some People Learn to Code in Their 60s, 70s or 80s

“While millennials make up the bulk of those learning in-demand skills like web design, programming or digital marketing — the average age of students at coding boot camps, for instance, is just under 30 — some people old enough to be their parents or even grandparents are also acquiring these abilities.”

6. The Best Investment Since 1926? Apple

“In the history of the markets since 1926, Apple has generated more profit for investors than any other American company.”

7. Climate Change Is Complex. We’ve Got Answers to Your Questions.

“The emissions that create those risks are happening now, raising deep moral questions for our generation.”

8. The Not-So-Glossy Future of Magazines

“Increasingly, the longtime core of the business — the print product — is an afterthought, overshadowed by investments in live events, podcasts, video, and partnerships with outside brands.”

9. The U.S. Still Leans on the Military-Industrial Complex

“As weapons production increased, the manufacture of autos and electronics shifted partly or wholly overseas. So did the production of other civilian products — leaving behind weapons bought by the Defense Department as an ever bigger share of the nation’s factory output.”

10. Coming Home to a Shipping Container

“Building with shipping containers isn’t exactly new, but until recently it hasn’t been exactly mainstream either. Now, though, it is becoming a lot more popular, as eco-friendly practices begin to influence market trends. Containers are loved by the hip and the practical, artisans and DIY-ers, engineers and construction foremen, as they are both sustainable and affordable. And used 20- or 40-foot containers can be obtained for as little as several hundred dollars apiece, so it’s not surprising that some industry professionals consider them the future of home building.”

11. How to Win a War on Drugs

“The U.S. could achieve Portugal’s death rate from drugs, we would save one life every 10 minutes. We would save almost as many lives as are now lost to guns and car accidents combined.”

12. Everyone Wants to Reduce Drug Prices. So Why Can’t We Do It?

“The pharmaceutical and health products industries spent $145 million on lobbying for the first half of 2017.”

13. Sisterhood’ Felt Meaningless. So My Sisters and I Got in the Car.

“The art historian Moyo Okediji notes that in Yoruban concepts of history, the community must assure children that they are not physically alone and ‘that a series of road maps exists, made by great and talented ancestors who as individuals have beaten a track for succeeding generations.’”

14. Want Geniuses? Welcome Immigrants

“Many of our country’s finest minds and brightest ideas are forged when dreamers from elsewhere encounter an unfamiliar place with unimagined possibilities. There’s a creative spark in that convergence. It has powered American greatness.”

15. Rocket Man Knows Better

“As global anxiety mounts, remedial history is in order.”

16. Why Texas Is No Longer Feeling Miraculous

“It finally seems to be dawning on people that low taxes, less regulation and more oil are no substitute for actually governing.”

17. Do Women Get to Write With Authority?

“Young men purchase authority on credit for which they are preapproved. But if you are a young woman, even now, no one and nothing will guarantee you. Is it any wonder, then, that if you wish to be in possession of authority, you seek to borrow before you expect to own?”

18. The Last Stand of the Amazon’s Arrow People

“Hidden deep in primeval Amazon forests, these groups represent the final frontier of a seemingly inexorable conquest that began with the landing of Portuguese and Spanish navigators on South America’s shores at the start of the 16th century.”

19. A Starry Night Crowded With Selfies

“It’s as if taking a photo of a work in a museum means ‘seeing’ it to a viewer, even though someone like me worries that taking the photo replaces seeing it in the slow and thoughtful way I would ideally wish.”

20. Learning to Live With a Changing World Map

“The United States, a country founded as a breakaway colony, has generally been reluctant to see changes to the world map.”

21. Alternative Movie Posters: Fan Art We Love

“Created by artists outside Hollywood, these hand-drawn beauties are not only better than most fan art, they’re often better than the real thing.”

22. How to Survive the Apocalypse

“In a world where the bombproof bunker has replaced the Tesla as the hot status symbol for young Silicon Valley plutocrats, everyone, it seems, is a ‘prepper.’”

23. Marilynne Robinson on Finding the Right Word

“I was very struck by something that I came across in my reading of Jonathan Edwards. I recall him quoting a writer who talks about how whatever we say lives on after us, that we continue to exist so long as any word we say exists in a living mind. And that there should be two judgments: one when we die, and one when the full impact of our lives has played itself out. That is, when every word that we’ve said, for good or ill, basically ceases to be active.”

24. Sally Hemings, Thomas Jefferson and the Ways We Talk About Our Past

“The talk in these rejoinders of Hemings as simply ‘property,’ as if she were akin to an inanimate object or nonsentient being, turns aside decades of historiography that makes clear that enslaved people, when they had chances, often acted to shape their circumstances to the extent that they could.”

25. When Corruption and Venality Were the Lifeblood of America

“The ambiguous liberal ideals of contract freedom and self-regulation that helped eradicate slavery became instruments for brute and chaotic corporate power. With the ex-slaves betrayed and the Indians conquered at last, an ‘uncommon’ America emerged, characterized by neither the imperatives of creative destruction nor even simple greed as much as by extravagance, mismanagement and predatory flimflam. Risk-taking and rugged individualism, big business’s eternally self-proclaimed virtues, were in extremely short supply at the top; Gilded Age fortunes sprang from government subsidies, insider tips and, above all, the corruption required to get these favors.”

26. Survival of the Prettiest

“Books by Darwin number 25. Books about Darwin, according to the global library catalog WorldCat, number about 7,500, with production ever rising. This cascade started with 22 books about Darwin published in 1860, the year after his On the Origin of Species appeared, averaged about 30 a year for almost a century, ballooned to almost 50 a year after World War II, and reached 100-plus in the 1980s. Currently we get about 160 a year — a Darwin tome every 2.3 days.”

27. How We Make Up Our Minds

“New knowledge doesn’t erase old misconceptions the way a software upgrade deletes the previous code. Instead, different theories coexist within our minds, and compete to explain the world.”

28. Are Artists the New Interpreters of Scientific Innovation?

“Science is too important to leave to the scientists.”

29. The Visionaries Behind the Memorable Worlds of Film

“Transcendent production design isn’t just about getting surfaces right, any more than great acting is just memorizing words. It’s about translating writers’ and directors’ intentions into a crystallized universe that’s both visceral and rich with meaning, telling parts of the story that even the best actors can’t.”

 

Sunday 9.17.2017 New York Times Digest

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1. Our Constitution Wasn’t Built for This

“Our Constitution was not built for a country with so much wealth concentrated at the very top nor for the threats that invariably accompany it: oligarchs and populist demagogues.”

2. How Big Business Got Brazil Hooked on Junk Food

“Nestlé’s direct-sales army in Brazil is part of a broader transformation of the food system that is delivering Western-style processed food and sugary drinks to the most isolated pockets of Latin America, Africa and Asia. As their growth slows in the wealthiest countries, multinational food companies like Nestlé, PepsiCo and General Mills have been aggressively expanding their presence in developing nations, unleashing a marketing juggernaut that is upending traditional diets from Brazil to Ghana to India.”

3. Hold the Egg Sandwich: Egyptian TV Is Calling

“Mr. El-Gamasy owns the Lotus Deli in Ridgewood, Queens, a place known for its sandwiches, extensive craft beer selection, and its gracious, friendly owner. But few of his customers — and likely, none of his viewers in Egypt — know that the man making egg sandwiches and small talk behind the counter is the same one who appears on popular Egyptian television news programs, holding forth on subjects from immigration policy to North Korea.”

4. Computers Are Taking Design Cues From Human Brains

“For about half a century, computer makers have built systems around a single, do-it-all chip — the central processing unit — from a company like Intel, one of the world’s biggest semiconductor makers. That’s what you’ll find in the middle of your own laptop computer or smartphone. Now, computer engineers are fashioning more complex systems. Rather than funneling all tasks through one beefy chip made by Intel, newer machines are dividing work into tiny pieces and spreading them among vast farms of simpler, specialized chips that consume less power.”

5. Bump in U.S. Incomes Doesn’t Erase 50 Years of Pain

“Since the 1950s, three-quarters of working Americans have seen no change in lifetime income.”

6. In Amish Country, the Future Is Calling

“The Amish have not given up on horse-drawn buggies. Their rigid abstinence from many kinds of technology has left parts of their lifestyle frozen since the 19th century: no cars, TVs or connections to electric utilities, for example. But computers and cellphones are making their way into some Amish communities, pushing them — sometimes willingly, often not — into the 21st century.”

7. When History’s Losers Write the Story

“The South, facing catastrophic loss of life and mass destruction on a European scale, wrote its own history of the war. It cast itself as an underdog overwhelmed by the North’s superior numbers, but whose cause — a noble fight for states’ rights — was just. The North looked the other way. Northern elites were more interested in re-establishing economic ties than in keeping their commitments to blacks’ constitutional rights. The political will to complete Reconstruction died.”

8. The Making and the Breaking of the Legend of Robert E. Lee

“The ups and downs of his reputation reflect changes in key elements of Americans’ historical consciousness — how we understand race relations, the causes and consequences of the Civil War and the nature of the good society.”

9. The Suburb of the Future, Almost Here

“Millennial suburbanites want a new kind of landscape. They want breathing room but disdain the energy wastefulness, visual monotony and social conformity of postwar manufactured neighborhoods. If new suburbs can hit the sweet spot that accommodates the priorities of that generation, millennial habitats will redefine everyday life for all suburbanites, which is 70 percent of Americans.”

10. How to Bring Your Vacation Home With You

“Beyond a week or two away from work, more time off isn’t going to make you happier or calmer or produce more lasting gains of another sort.”

11. The Nazis’ First Victims Were the Disabled

“We often say what happened in Nazi Germany couldn’t happen here. But some of it, like the mistreatment and sterilization of the disabled, did happen here.”

12. The Ever-Changing Business of ‘Anti-Aging’

“The only real solution to aging is, of course, death, but our central mode of dealing with that inevitability is to delay and deny it.”

13. New Sentences: From Lower Ed, by Tressie McMillan Cottom

Lower Ed is a dense little wonder. What seems like it might be a narrow academic study — a sociological analysis of for-profit colleges — turns out to be about the whole agitated essence of America: our markets, inequalities, prejudices, blind spots and guiding mythologies.”

14. What the World’s Emptiest International Airport Says About China’s Influence

“For centuries, Western liberalism has ruled the world. The Chinese believe their time has come.”

15. RT, Sputnik and Russia’s New Theory of War

“You can tighten your internet security protocols to protect against data breaches, run counterhacking operations to take out infiltrators, sanction countries with proven links to such activities. But RT and Sputnik operate on the stated terms of Western liberal democracy; they count themselves as news organizations, protected by the First Amendment and the libertarian ethos of the internet.”

16. What Could We Lose if a NASA Climate Mission Goes Dark?

“One lesson of publicly funded science is that Americans are not very good at predicting how useful it will be.”

 

Sunday 9.10.2017 New York Times Digest

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1. Waiting for the Big One in Florida

“At first, we bought our supplies three and four days before a hurricane hit. Then we refined our strategy to a day or two. I filled the bathtub with water we could use in the toilet when we lost power. I cleaned and oiled our 9-millimeter pistols, then loaded them.”

2. A de Kooning, a Theft and an Enduring Mystery

“They are trying to determine if the heist was engineered by a retired New York City schoolteacher — something of a renaissance man — who donned women’s clothing and took his son along as his accomplice, and then hung the masterwork in the bedroom of his own rural New Mexico home, where it remained. In other words, they are examining whether he stole a painting now valued at in excess of $100 million simply so he could enjoy it.”

3. How Henry Threadgill, Composer, Spends His Sundays

“I don’t worry about staying out late. I can stay up all night. I may be out at some performance until 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning, but I’ll still be up at 6:30 the next day. I take naps — in the morning, in the afternoon, it doesn’t matter. What matters to me is the work, the music. Researching and studying. I do it every day, no matter what day of the week it is.”

4. His Bravery Unsung, Varian Fry Acted to Save Jews

“Given the scope of his heroism and its implications for the momentum of 20th century cultural life, Fry remains relatively little known. He died in 1967, in Connecticut, a high school Latin teacher.”

5. The Awakening of Colin Kaepernick

“In Kaepernick’s absence, other players will kneel. Demonstrators will protest. Some will boycott. His jersey will be seen, more as a political statement than a sporting allegiance, as the game goes on without him.”

6. Ray Dalio Spreads His Gospel of ‘Radical Transparency’

“Is it a hedge fund, or a social experiment?”

7. What the Rich Won’t Tell You

“Their ambivalence about recognizing privilege suggests a deep tension at the heart of the idea of American dream. While pursuing wealth is unequivocally desirable, having wealth is not simple and straightforward. Our ideas about egalitarianism make even the beneficiaries of inequality uncomfortable with it. And it is hard to know what they, as individuals, can do to change things.”

8. How to Fix the Person You Love

“Today, we expect our spouse not only to make us feel loved, but also to be a kind of life coach.”

9. These Are Not the Robots We Were Promised

“Whether real or fictional, robots hold a mirror up to society. If Rosie and her kin embodied a 20th-century yearning for domestic order and familial bliss, smart speakers symbolize our own, more self-absorbed time.”

10. One Nation Under a Movie Theater? It’s a Myth.

“White supremacy is part of the heritage of Hollywood, which is to say of the American mainstream.”

11. Is Jake Paul a Social Media Genius or a Jerk?

“He has 10.5 million subscribers on YouTube, and seemingly five million haters. This high school dropout from Ohio has already outlasted Vine, the short-form video platform that gave him his first taste of fame; survived an ill-fated turn as a Disney star; cut a rap anthem (‘It’s Everyday Bro’) that became, simultaneously, one of the most viral and reviled songs on the internet; and established himself in the eyes of grown-up America as an embodiment of everything that is wonderful and horrible about Generation Z.”

12. What We Talk About When We Talk About and Exactly Like Trump

“Quick — try to recall anything Barack Obama, one of our most oratorically gifted presidents, said during his eight-year tenure outside of a written speech (and still nothing comes to mind as readily as President Trump’s ‘This American carnage stops right here and stops right now’). Even Mr. Obama’s abstract ‘Yes we can’ campaign slogan seems to have been crushed by the concrete force of ‘Build the wall.’”

13. Fake News: It’s as American as George Washington’s Cherry Tree

“Our national character gels into one that’s distinctly comfortable fogging up the boundary between fantasy and reality in nearly every realm.”

14. Americans Are Confronting an Alarming Question: Are Many of Our Fellow Citizens ‘Nazis?’

“The uncomfortable truth is that Nazi policy was itself influenced by American white supremacy, a heritage well documented in James Q. Whitman’s recent book Hitler’s American Model. The Germans admired, and borrowed from, the ‘distinctive legal techniques that Americans had developed to combat the menace of race mixing’ — like the anti-miscegenation laws of Maryland, which mandated up to 10 years in prison for interracial marriage. At the time, no other country had such specific laws; they were an American innovation.”

15. Michigan Gambled on Charter Schools. Its Children Lost.

“It’s important to understand that what happened to Michigan’s schools isn’t solely, or even primarily, an education story: It’s a business story.”

16. ‘The Way to Survive It Was to Make A’s’

“An idea took hold of her. What would society look like if she exposed young wealthy white students to black scholarship students? Would the South change if its future leaders were socialized to be less bigoted? Her aim, using a few token blacks to mend the South’s racial divide from the top down, was utopian to say the least. It was also novel, a systematic effort by whites to help rid other whites of their prejudices. Providing a better life for black students was secondary.”

17. Who Benefits From the Expansion of A.P. Classes?

“Questions about the A.P. program’s purpose are complicated further by the fact that it provides a not-insignificant amount of revenue for the College Board.”

18. In a Topsy-Turvy World, Fashion Finds Solace in the Mundane

“When the world is falling apart around you, you just want to wear a cardigan.”

19. The Weird Brilliance of Joaquin Phoenix

“Phoenix’s life is remarkably simple compared to what people might imagine. He lives with Mara in the Hollywood Hills (he’s never been married and has no children) and is usually asleep by 9 p.m. and up at 6. When he’s not working his daily routine consists of answering emails, ‘chilling’ with his dog, meditating, taking a karate class, eating lunch, reading scripts and dinner — but for most of last year he’d been on location. He watches documentaries on Netflix (and he watched the 10-hour true-crime doc The Staircase recently because Mara wanted to) but rarely watches new movies.”

20. Who Will Save These Dying Italian Towns?

“There are nearly 2,500 rural Italian villages that are perilously depopulated, some semi-abandoned and others virtual ghost towns.”

21. Bruce Chatwin: One of the Last Great Explorers

“We think of travelers as people who have no attachment to things, but true travelers are people who really have no attachment to place. Home is not a beloved memory or something to yearn for and fetishize, but merely a matter of circumstance: a piece of land (sometimes large, but usually small) on which one eats and sleeps, sometimes for a lifetime, and sometimes for a day. Home, therefore, is anywhere, and yet nowhere as well. Chatwin was powerfully attracted to nomadism, and you might view his collective writings as a struggle to discard this idea of home as a kind of heaven, and to replace it with the radical notion that the person who found himself adrift, in perpetual motion, might already be at home — that movement itself might be the ideal human state.”

 

Sunday 9.3.2017 New York Times Digest

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1. In Silicon Valley, Working 9 to 5 Is for Losers

“A century ago, factory workers were forming unions and going on strike to demand better conditions and a limit on hours. Today, Silicon Valley employees celebrate their own exploitation.”

2. Football Among the Old Believers, in Alaska

“There’s a fear by some that ‘We’re losing our culture, our identity.’ But the flip side is, if you don’t offer something, you’ll lose the kids.”

3. Consider the Janitors at Two Top Companies, Then and Now

“In the 35 years between their jobs as janitors, corporations across America have flocked to a new management theory: Focus on core competence and outsource the rest. The approach has made companies more nimble and more productive, and delivered huge profits for shareholders. It has also fueled inequality and helps explain why many working-class Americans are struggling even in an ostensibly healthy economy.”

4. Jason Fried of Basecamp on the Importance of Writing Skills

“The other thing that is weird about the business world in general is the obsession with domination and winning and destroying and fighting. Why? What is that about? It doesn’t ring true with me at all. Can’t you just build a nice business and can’t other people have a nice business?”

5. Get Ready for Technological Upheaval by Expecting the Unimagined

“Rather than planning for the specific changes we imagine, it is better to prepare for the unimagined — for change itself.”

6. Goodbye, Yosemite. Hello, What?

“I agree with the photographer Ansel Adams that ‘on entering the Ahwahnee, one is conscious of calm and complete beauty echoing the mood of majesty and peace that is the essential quality of Yosemite.’ But I also think there is something inescapably sick about a hotel on the site of a torched town copping a little mysto-Indian vibe from the word used by the arsonists’ victims for the valley they called home, and deliberately designed with a pan-Indian motif meant to conjure white fantasy while avoiding reference to any particular Native people.”

7. Don’t Suspend Students. Empathize.

“What looks like disobedience may reflect the ways teenagers are learning how to navigate the world — not as troublemakers, but as adolescents, testing out new identities.”

8. Instagram Your Leftovers: History Depends on It

“With its vast reach and the technological savvy of its users, Instagram could go beyond mere glamour and open up a domestic world that has always been elusive. I’m talking about ordinary meals at home — the great unknown in the study of food.”

9. The Best Era for Working Women Was 20 Years Ago

“The late 1990s … may have been as good as it gets for American women in the workplace.”

10. Ken Burns and Lynn Novick Tackle the Vietnam War

“The 79 onscreen interviews give the ground-up view of the war from the mostly ordinary people who lived through it: American veterans (including former P.O.W.’s), Gold Star mothers, diplomats, intelligence officers, antiwar activists, journalists, Vietcong fighters, North and South Vietnamese army regulars, even a (woman) truck driver from the Ho Chi Minh Trail.”

11. Paul Newman’s Rare Rolex Has Auction Watchers Buzzing

“It is basically the Mona Lisa, perhaps the most famous timepiece in the world, coveted all the more because for decades, no one outside the Newman family seemed to know where it was.”

12. Who’s Allowed to Hold Hands?

“There is a strange hierarchy of handholding that dictates who gets to express physical affection without repercussions. For straight couples it’s fine, of course. For white gay couples it’s a little less fine. For black lesbians like us, it can feel like a radical act.”

13. Silicon Valley Courts Brand-Name Teachers, Raising Ethics Issues

“Ms. Delzer is a member of a growing tribe of teacher influencers, many of whom promote classroom technology. They attract notice through their blogs, social media accounts and conference talks. And they are cultivated not only by start-ups like Seesaw, but by giants like Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft, to influence which tools are used to teach American schoolchildren.”

14. Jesmyn Ward: By the Book

“All told, more than $600 million, or almost half of the economic activity in the United States in 1836, derived directly or indirectly from cotton produced by the million-odd slaves — 6 percent of the total U.S. population — who in that year toiled in labor camps on slavery’s frontier.”

15. ‘Good Booty’: The Sexual Power of Music

“Her argument, that ‘we, as a nation, most truly and openly acknowledge sexuality’s power through music,’ is intimately tied to the body: enslaved and objectified black bodies, the erotic sublimation and liberation of dance, the dialogue between charismatic performer and enraptured audience and the problem of ‘cyborg’ singers like Britney Spears.”

16. The Amish Guide to the Apocalypse

“Jacob, an Amish farmer and carpenter, serves as our tour guide to this disorienting psychological landscape. The novel takes the form of his diary, and his sentences proceed with Amish forbearance: His words are simple and, like a buggy-tugging horse, each pulls its weight. This stylistic staidness runs in satisfying counterpoint to the dramas unfolding in the outside world of the ‘English’ — the Amish term for non-Amish people. Without electricity or fuel, transportation systems fail and the English lose access to food shipments. Looting, murder and mass starvation result.”

17. The Real-Life Reality Show That Jumped the Shark

“Like the best episodes of Black Mirror, Made for Love provokes the disturbing realization that we are, more or less, already living in the time portrayed as a couple of steps beyond too much.”

18. Should Critics Aim to Be Open-Minded or to Pass Judgment

“The simplest prescription for better criticism of all kinds — electronic, journalistic, academic — remains: read more; think longer; write less.”

19. In Our Cynical Age, No One Fails Anymore — Everybody ‘Pivots

“The ‘pivot’ has assumed a peculiar place in our common lexicon. A word once used to describe a guard angling for position on the basketball court is now in wide circulation in politics and business. That’s especially the case in Sili­con Valley, where pivoting has become the new failure, a concept to describe a haphazard, practically madcap form of iterative development. With its sheen of management-speak, pivoting is well suited to our moment. And like any act of public relations, pivoting is also a performance. A key part of the act is acknowledging that you are doing it while trying to recast the effort as something larger, more sophisticated, highly planned. The pivot, though it arises from desperation, is nevertheless supposed to appear methodical.”

20. How to Write a Love Letter

“You need a minimum of one hour.”

21. The Incarcerated Women Who Fight California’s Wildfires

“When they work, California’s inmates typically earn between 8 cents and 95 cents an hour. They make office furniture for state employees, state license plates, prison uniforms, anything that any state institution might use. But wages in the forestry program, while still wildly low by outside standards, are significantly better than the rest … Inmate firefighters can make a maximum of $2.56 a day in camp and $1 an hour when they’re fighting fires.”