Category Archives: new york times

Sunday 3.11.2018 New York Times Digest


1. No Magic Pill Will Get You to 100.

“Some of the biggest names in dieting, organic agriculture and preventive medicine died at surprisingly young ages.”

2. In Britain’s Playgrounds, ‘Bringing in Risk’ to Build Resilience

“Out went the plastic playhouses and in came the dicey stuff: stacks of two-by-fours, crates and loose bricks. The schoolyard got a mud pit, a tire swing, log stumps and workbenches with hammers and saws.”

3. Overlooked

“Since 1851, The New York Times has published thousands of obituaries: of heads of state, opera singers, the inventor of Stove Top stuffing and the namer of the Slinky. The vast majority chronicled the lives of men, mostly white ones; even in the last two years, just over one in five of our subjects were female.”

4. There Are Still DVD Rental Stores in New York

“When you’ve got a store like this, it’s nice that you can look at the boxes and see what you’re getting.”

5. Dial P for Privacy: The Phone Booth Is Back

“The return of the phone booth signals a gesture toward more civility. Talking on the phone for others to overhear, especially in a work environment, has become at best an etiquette issue, and at worst … a pollutant.”

6. Plant-Loving Millennials at Home and at Work + Houseplants for Beginners

“Wellness-minded millennials, especially ones in large urban environments that lack natural greenery, are opting to fill their voids — both decorative and emotional — with houseplants.”

7. Money Is Power. And Women Need More of Both.

“Girls as they are growing up are not socialized to feel that it’s O.K. for them to have ambition about creating wealth, not the way it is for little boys.”

8. When Smug Liberals Met Conservative Trolls

“The more smugness, the more satisfying it is to poke holes in it; the more toxic the trolling, the greater the sense of moral superiority. The result: an odoriferous stew of political rhetoric that is nearly irresistible to those on the inside and confusingly abhorrent to those on the outside.”

9. How Lies Spread Online

“For all categories of information — politics, entertainment, business and so on — we found that false stories spread significantly farther, faster and more broadly than did true ones.”

10. YouTube, the Great Radicalizer

“It seems as if you are never ‘hard core’ enough for YouTube’s recommendation algorithm. It promotes, recommends and disseminates videos in a manner that appears to constantly up the stakes. Given its billion or so users, YouTube may be one of the most powerful radicalizing instruments of the 21st century.”

11. The Northwest Passage That Might Have Been

“Ideas do not exist only on their own merits. Timing matters.”

12. The Man Who Knew Too Little

“Donald Trump’s victory shook him. Badly. And so Mr. Hagerman developed his own eccentric experiment, one that was part silent protest, part coping mechanism, part extreme self-care plan. He swore that he would avoid learning about anything that happened to America after Nov. 8, 2016.”

13. Secret to a Great Trip: Ditch the Devices

“Many people are too absorbed by the convenience and distraction of their phones to pay close attention to their surroundings.”

14. 25 Songs That Tell Us Where Music Is Going

“If the last version of pop was driven by people who desperately wanted everyone to care and everything to matter, it’s only natural for the next wave to be interested in what it looks like when you don’t care, and nothing matters.”

15. We Are What We Manufacture

“The history of large factories … is the history of the modern world and most everything we see, experience and touch.”

16. How Businesses Became People

“From 1607, when the Virginia Company established the Jamestown colony, corporations have been inextricably embedded in American life.”

17. Fierce Convictions

“America’s public universities were founded, Robinson notes, to democratize privilege — the privilege to prepare for a profession, yes, but also to learn how others over the course of history have answered the Great Questions, and how to ask and answer such questions for one’s self.”


Sunday 3.4.2018 New York Times Digest


1. How Tiny Red Dots Took Over Your Life

“Is it possible to reform profit-driven systems that turn attention into money? In such a business, can you even separate addiction from success?”

2. Romance, Rough Sex or Rape?

“On the big screen, consent has long been a fuzzy, negotiable concept.”

3. Why We Should Lower the Voting Age to 16

“Adolescents can gather and process information, weigh pros and cons, reason logically with facts and take time before making a decision. Teenagers may sometimes make bad choices, but statistically speaking, they do not make them any more often than adults do.”

4. Power to the Parents

“The simplest mechanism would be to assign half a vote to each custodial parent; presumably single parents with full custody could exercise the full franchise for each child.”

5. When Your College Has Your Back

“Today just 40 percent of college students earn a degree in four years. This phenomenon is so common that educators now use six years, by which time 59 percent of undergraduates receive their diplomas, as the new normal.”

6. The 8 Million Species We Don’t Know

“Once species are gone, they’re gone forever. Even if the climate is stabilized, the extinction of species will remove Earth’s foundational, billion-year-old environmental support system. A growing number of researchers, myself included, believe that the only way to reverse the extinction crisis is through a conservation moonshot: We have to enlarge the area of Earth devoted to the natural world enough to save the variety of life within it.”

7. Let’s Bag Plastic Bags

“The United Nations Environment Program estimates that some eight million tons of plastic waste end up in the oceans each year, while a 2016 World Economic Forum report projects that there will be more plastic than fish by weight in the oceans by 2050 if current trends continue.”

8. Helen Mirren Hits the Road

“I was astounded when I first came to America how people would get in the car and drive for five hours without even thinking about it. I think 50 percent of Americans don’t own a passport because there’s an awful lot of America to see. There’s a ubiquitousness that Europeans find quite difficult to deal with, the fact that you can drive for thousands of miles into a place that looks exactly the same, with a Marshalls, Staples, T.J. Maxx, Home Depot. But I have yet to go to a part of America that is not unbelievably beautiful — New Mexico, the Smoky Mountains, South Dakota, the redwood forests, Yosemite, the bayou.”

9. Put On a Happy Face and Getting Better All the Time?

“Progress has been interrupted by catastrophes, and we cannot soothe ourselves with the thought that the catastrophes will be temporary, even if we can persuade ourselves that temporary bumps cannot cause permanent derailment.”

10. The Battle Over What It Means to Be American

“Chua both condemns tribalism and respects its power. She insists that the United States alone of nations among the earth has often transcended it — and then presents impressive contrary evidence from the past and the present. Chua reckons with the many tribalisms of the American past: ethnic, religious and racial. She hopes for a future in which tribalism fades — even as she mercilessly details its accumulating strength.”

11. When Writing a Book Leaves a (Literal) Mark on Its Author

“The tattoo artist lines up tiny pots of ink, 16 in all, blacks and browns and reds, a metallic gold, a lurid pink. She has studied the image, taking apart its planes and colors, rewinding Copley’s brushstrokes. To watch her build it up again, from outline to underlayer to surface, working in pigment and blood, is as close as I will ever come to watching Copley’s hand and seeing through his eyes.”

12. How Much Is Anyone ‘Entitled’ To, in the End?

“Lately, ‘entitled’ is the scalpel we use to divide one from the other, affirming the things we believe are owed to us, then turning around and shaming others for expecting anything beyond that. It lets us claim that certain rights are fundamental, granted by a higher authority, and it lets us accuse others of being grasping, arrogant and superior.”

13. Letter of Recommendation: Celsius

“Before I adopted Celsius, the difference between a 60- and a 70-degree day, in Fahrenheit, meant a great deal to me, dictating my wardrobe and perhaps even my mood. But when I started walking around with Celsius in my head, I noticed that such minor gradations don’t really matter — it was hot, or it was cold, or it was neither. I would survive. There was something psychically soothing about that.”

14. What Is the Perfect Color Worth?

“Color forecasters like Shah and his team at Pantone have tremendous influence over the visible elements of the global economy — the parts of it that are designed, manufactured and purchased — though their profession itself is all but invisible.”


Sunday 2.25.2018 New York Times Digest


1. Why People Love to Jump Off Cliffs

“You do it right, or you die. It requires maximum focus and, at least for a little while, erases all other concerns. Therein, perhaps, lies the appeal.”

2. Left to Louisiana’s Tides, a Village Fights for Time

“What strikes you first is how much is already lost.”

3. ‘Crisis Actor’ Isn’t a New Smear. The Idea Goes Back to the Civil War Era.

“Conspiracy theories have been amplified in the internet age, but they are a part of a long, troubled history of dismissing the voices of those seeking change.”

4. An Olympic Challenge: Eat All the Korean Food That Visitors Won’t

“‘I got everything ready for the Olympics, hired some more part-time help,’ he said, flicking ash from his cigarette. ‘And then: nothing.’”

5. Walter Winans, the Ultimate Two-Event Olympic Medalist

“Winans is the only person to win gold in a sport and an art.”

6. She’s Ringside at TrumpMania

“Ms. McMahon has distinguished herself as the rare high-ranking administration official deemed broadly unobjectionable.”

7. The Misguided Drive to Measure ‘Learning Outcomes’

“The ballooning assessment industry — including the tech companies and consulting firms that profit from assessment — is a symptom of higher education’s crisis, not a solution to it. It preys especially on less prestigious schools and contributes to the system’s deepening divide into a narrow tier of elite institutions primarily serving the rich and a vast landscape of glorified trade schools for everyone else.”

8. Tech Envisions the Ultimate Start-Up: An Entire City

“The tech industry tries to produce better versions of familiar things — cheaper phones, smaller computers, faster chips. But cities like San Francisco don’t seem to be evolving into more efficient versions of themselves.”

9. I Was a Marine. I Don’t Want a Gun in My Classroom.

“I will immodestly state that among professors in the United States, I am almost certainly one of the best shooters. But I would never bring a weapon into a classroom. The presence of a firearm is always an invitation to violence. Weapons have no place in a learning environment.”

10. Frederick Douglass’s Fight Against Scientific Racism

“Even as Douglass refused to allow racist scientific theories to go unchallenged, he always understood that science was not the antidote to white people’s racism. There were only so many facts you could give to prove black people’s humanity.”

11. What Poisons Are in Your Body?

“I eat organic to reduce exposure to endocrine disruptors in pesticides. I try to store leftover meals in glass containers, not plastic. I avoid handling A.T.M. and gas station receipts. I try to avoid flame-retardant furniture. Those are all common sources of toxic endocrine disruptors, so I figured that my urine would test pristine.”

12. Brian Selznick: By the Book

“Some years ago I received a fan letter from Ray Bradbury that simply said, ‘I love Hugo Cabret!’ I was floored, particularly because I’d loved his books since high school. I wrote him back and ended up in a phone conversation with one of his daughters, who told me that I should stop by if I’m ever in Los Angeles. ‘I’m supposed to be in L.A. next week,’ I lied. When I arrived at his house his daughter met me at the door and ushered me into a tiny room where Mr. Bradbury was sitting in a recliner surrounded by VHS tapes of old movies, piles of books and papers, and a model of the Nautilus from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Around his neck was a medal, which he said had recently been given to him by the president of France. We talked for a while, and I asked him if it was true that he wrote every single day. He pointed to a nearby box and told me to bring it to him. He opened the box and inside was a manuscript he’d just finished typing for a new book of short stories to be called We’ll Always Have Paris. One of the short story titles jumped out at me. ‘Remembrance, Ohio.’ ‘That’s a beautiful title,’ I said to him. ‘Thanks,’ he said, ‘I made it up.’”

13. The Philosopher Who Believed That Art Was Key to Black Liberation

“Even before college, Locke knew he was gay and that he would live his life as a gay man. These contradictory commitments — to respectable, elitist and homophobic black Victorianism on the one hand, and to his gay lifestyle on the other — produced a friction that sparked Locke’s intellectual fire.”

14. How to Take a Vow of Silence

“John Francis woke up on his 27th birthday in 1973 and decided not to speak for the day. He found he liked not talking, so extended his vow of silence for a year. Francis, an environmental activist, suggests starting with four days, knowing you can always opt to go longer. In the end, he didn’t speak for 17 years.”

15. What Happens When Athletes Do the Sportswriting?

“The Players’ Tribune represents the first truly new wrinkle in sportswriting in a decade. But what is it, exactly? It’s not fair to call it P.R. The access it provides is genuine. But you can’t really get around one tricky fact: When you give the subject the final cut, you can’t call it journalism either. Perhaps The Players’ Tribune can be best understood as an effort by athletes to seize that most precious contemporary commodity — the narrative.”

16. The Case Against Google

“Monopolies and technology often seem intertwined. When a company discovers a technological advantage — like the innovations of Rockefeller’s scientists — it sometimes makes that firm so powerful that it becomes a monopoly almost without trying very hard. Many of the most important antitrust lawsuits in American history — against IBM, Alcoa, Kodak and others — were rooted in claims that one company had made technological discoveries that allowed it to outpace competitors.”


Sunday 2.18.2018 New York Times Digest


1. A Message From the Club No One Wants to Join

“Not only has my loved one died, I have died as well. My former life, the life I would have lived with that now-dead loved one, exists no more. All the years we’ll spend grieving for our loved ones, we’ll also be grieving for our own lives — our old lives. Because we don’t know we’re grieving for ourselves as well as our loved ones, we can’t get to the source of our grief, and it comes to seem bottomless, as if the world were made of grief.”

2. The Tyranny of Convenience

“Though understood and promoted as an instrument of liberation, convenience has a dark side. With its promise of smooth, effortless efficiency, it threatens to erase the sort of struggles and challenges that help give meaning to life. Created to free us, it can become a constraint on what we are willing to do, and thus in a subtle way it can enslave us.”

3. The WeWork Manifesto: First, Office Space. Next, the World.

“It will be the kind of place you never have to leave until you need to go to sleep — and if Mr. Neumann has his way, you’ll sleep at one of the apartments he is renting nearby.”

4. The Feminist Pursuit of Good Sex

“At bottom, #MeToo is not about hashtags or individual firings. It’s a chance to reset the table of sexual politics — not by infantilizing women or declaring a war on flirting or administering litmus tests, but by continuing a decades-long push for true equality in the bedroom, for a world in which women are not intimidated or coerced into sex but are also not stuffed into the role of gatekeepers.”

5. Russia Isn’t the Only One Meddling in Elections. We Do It, Too.

“His findings underscore how routine election meddling by the United States — sometimes covert and sometimes quite open — has been.”

6. A University of, by and for the People

“It is one of the government-supported land-grant colleges established by the Morrill Act, which Abraham Lincoln signed into law in 1862 to educate the children of farm and factory workers, ‘the sons of toil.’”

7. The Currency of a Relaxing Tingle

“Every few months, usually in a rented or borrowed apartment, audience members show up and pay $90 to $120 to experience scenes presented by a semiregular cast of performers and designed to elicit autonomous sensory meridian response, more commonly known as A.S.M.R., the suddenly popular phenomenon in which gentle sounds or touch make some people feel relaxing tingles at the back of the skull.”

8. Why Did Christianity Prevail?

“Ehrman rejects the idea that Constantine’s conversion made much difference; the empire, he writes, would most likely have turned Christian in time without him. So how did Christianity triumph? To put it plainly, Christianity was something new on this earth. It wasn’t closed to women. It was so concerned with questions of social welfare (healing the sick, caring for the poor) that it embedded them into its doctrines. And while there were plenty of henotheist pagans (that is, people who worshiped one god while not denying the validity of others), Christianity went far beyond henotheism’s hesitant claim upon ultimate truth. It was an exclusivist faith that foreclosed — was designed to foreclose — devotion to all other deities. Yet it was different from Judaism, which was just as exclusivist but crucially lacked a missionary impulse.”

9. How We Got From Twinkies to Tofu

“Hippie food resulted from the convergence, around 1970, of three different strains of food ideology: health food faddism; ethical vegetarianism; and a post-Silent Spring critique of industrialized food and farming.”

10. How to Forgive

“Forgiveness means abandoning anger, and that can be long, hard work — possibly a lifetime’s worth.”

11. Black Panther and the Revenge of the Black Nerds

“You can be a hip-hop head, a sneaker fiend, a theater expert, a modern dance aficionado or an unapologetic comic book nerd. The democratizing power of social media has elevated the voices of those who were previously marginalized, helping undermine white culture’s habit of limiting black people to a handful of stereotypes.”

12. Why Black Panther Is a Defining Moment for Black America

Black Panther is a Hollywood movie, and Wakanda is a fictional nation. But coming when they do, from a director like Coogler, they must also function as a place for multiple generations of black Americans to store some of our most deeply held aspirations.”

13. ‘I’m Just More Afraid of Climate Change Than I Am of Prison’

“The Valve Turners are, for the most part, quiet people. They wear sensible shoes, and several attend church regularly. Most are parents, and one is a grandparent. All are white, all are college-educated and none are truly poor. While all are deeply concerned about climate change, none are immediately threatened by its worst effects: no one’s home has flooded, and no one’s health has been seriously damaged by heat waves or failed harvests or northward-creeping tropical diseases. All say that it is this relative safety — and the relative advantages of age, race, education and wealth — that makes them feel they have a particular responsibility, as climate activists, to push the boundaries of civil disobedience.”

14. The New Face of Portrait Painting

“Why paint someone’s picture in the age of the selfie? Most painters responded by getting weirder, more abstract, more experimental; representational figurative art was anachronistic, inert, crusty — a form of vanity exclusive to the rich. And yet portraiture — in the classic, realist sense — has become increasingly essential (and visible) in the last few years.”

15. The Enduring Appeal of: Baskets

“Baskets are among the most ancient and geographically pervasive objects humankind has ever fashioned from nature — and the only craft that has proved insusceptible to mechanization. (Every basket you see is the product of human handiwork.)”

16. The Golden Age of Crudités

“What they offer is that most elusive of qualities: honesty. Their beauty comes entirely from within; it can’t be enhanced or faked. That’s both a comfort and a rarity in a world dominated by the ersatz and the airbrushed, of novelty food trends like rainbow-dyed bagels and super-size soup dumplings, or sci-fi kitchen experiments involving mortadella foam and edible balloons.”

17. The Power of Wearing Flowers

“It’s a shocking reminder of how tenuous our hold is on earth. Against the age of the universe, our lives are not much longer than a blossom’s. So we seize what we can from our pillaged landscape and, like our ancestors before us, take beauty, however fleeting, where we find it.”


Sunday 2.11.2018 New York Times Digest


1. For a Better Marriage, Act Like a Single Person

“People who are successful as singles are especially likely to end up in happy marriages, in large part because of the personal and social resources they developed before marrying.”

2. His 2020 Campaign Message: The Robots Are Coming

“Mr. Yang, a former tech executive who started the nonprofit organization Venture for America, believes that automation and advanced artificial intelligence will soon make millions of jobs obsolete — yours, mine, those of our accountants and radiologists and grocery store cashiers. He says America needs to take radical steps to prevent Great Depression-level unemployment and a total societal meltdown, including handing out trillions of dollars in cash.”

3. How Silicon Valley Came to Be a Land of ‘Bros’

“The secret sex parties are just a symptom of a much deeper problem that Silicon Valley’s tech industry has with its treatment of women.”

4. Black With (Some) White Privilege

“What does it mean that many prominent self-identified black people in America today were born to a white parent?”

5. This Is Peak Olympics

“As far as human performance itself, this may be as good as it gets.”

6. Corporations Will Inherit the Earth

“We Americans are living a paradox. We’re keenly suspicious of big corporations — just look at how many voters thrilled to Bernie Sanders’s jeremiads about a corrupt oligarchy, or at polls that show a growing antipathy to capitalism — and yet we’re ever more reliant on them. They’re in turn bolder, egged on by the ineptness and inertia of Washington.”

7. The ‘Manly’ Jobs Problem

“What if the problem isn’t simply how their male co-workers behave? What if the problem is the very way society has come to see the jobs themselves? Some jobs are ‘male’ — not just men’s work, but also a core definition of masculinity itself. Threatening that status quo is not just uppity — it can be dangerous.”

8. Single Mothers Are Not the Problem

“Single motherhood is not the reason we have unusually high poverty in the United States, compared with other rich democracies.”

9. The Student Loan Serenity Prayer

“All I knew was what I was told: College was the ticket to social mobility, and good students deserved to go to schools that matched our talent and ambition. Folks like me, who come from working-class backgrounds, are told to chase down a bachelor’s degree by any means necessary. But no one mentions just how expensive and soul-crushing the debt will be.”

10. The Songs That Bind

“The most important period for men in forming their adult tastes were the ages 13 to 16. What about women? On average, their favorite songs came out when they were 13. The most important period for women were the ages 11 to 14.”

11. Jimmy Buffett Does Not Live the Jimmy Buffett Lifestyle

“The Jimmy Buffett lifestyle shakes its fist at the Man even while, Jimmy Buffett, with his 5,000 employees, is basically now the Man.”

12. ‘Black Panther’ Brings Hope, Hype and Pride

Black Panther is as much an alternative to our contemporary racial discourse as it is a throwback, not only a desire for what could have been but also a nostalgia for what we once had.”

13. Engulfed in the Artificial Audioscape

“Bombastic, attention-grabbing inorganic noises are becoming the norm, disruptive sonic alerts trigger Pavlovian feedback, and simulated sounds are supplanting analog ones.”

14. The Sex Toy Shops That Switched On a Feminist Revolution

“The quest for sexual self-knowledge, as two new books on the history and politics of sex toys reveal, would become a driver of feminist social change, striking a blow against men’s overweening insecurity and the attempt (still with us today) to control women’s bodies.”

15. Danielle Steel: ‘I Know an Idea Is Right for Me When It Just Clicks’

“After all these years, Steel continues to use the same 1946 Olympia typewriter she bought used when working on her first book. ‘I am utterly, totally and faithfully in love with my typewriter,’ she says. ‘I think I paid $20 for it. Excellent investment! And by now, we’re old friends.’ She adds, ‘I work for 20 hours at a stretch, glued to my desk, sometimes 24 hours straight. Thirty-six hours once, when I just couldn’t leave the story.’”

16. What I Learned from Watching My iPad’s Slow Death

“My old iPad has revealed itself as a cursed object of a modern sort. It wears out without wearing. It breaks down without breaking. And it will be left for dead before it dies.”

17. How to Hoot Like an Owl

“Try hooting around dusk; owls tend to be nocturnal.”

18. When You’re a ‘Digital Nomad,’ the World Is Your Office

“In the competitive freelance economy, geographic mobility has become a superficial sign of both success and creative freedom: the ability to do anything, anywhere, at any time.”

19. The Towers Came Down, and With Them the Promise of Public Housing

“Virtually no new public housing has been built in the country in decades. There’s still a stock of over a million units nationwide, down from a peak of 1.4 million. Much of it is at risk. A HUD-commissioned study in 2010 found a $26 billion backlog in repair and maintenance needs, a figure estimated to have ballooned since then to more than $50 billion. Each year, some 10,000 to 15,000 units are lost solely because of neglect.”

20. The Rise of China and the Fall of the ‘Free Trade’ Myth

“Economic history reveals that great economic powers have always become great because of activist states. Regardless of the mystical properties claimed for it, the invisible hand of self-interest depends on the visible and often heavy hand of government.”

Sunday 2.4.2018 New York Times Digest


1. Force Overtime? Or Go for the Win?

“When facing decisions like this, people are often myopic, focusing too much on the possibility of an immediate loss. They avoid the risk of instant defeat, even when taking that risk offers the best path to victory.”

2. Most Afghans Can’t Read, but Their Book Trade Is Booming

“The publisher’s big sellers are self-help books, particularly in the how-to-get-rich genre. Ivanka Trump’s Women Who Work is also popular in translation, particularly among female readers.”

3. School Shooting Simulation Trains Teachers for the Worst

“In an option reminiscent of first-person shooter video games, they can also play the person with a gun.”

4. Making a Crypto Utopia in Puerto Rico

“Dozens of entrepreneurs, made newly wealthy by blockchain and cryptocurrencies, are heading en masse to Puerto Rico this winter. They are selling their homes and cars in California and establishing residency on the Caribbean island in hopes of avoiding what they see as onerous state and federal taxes on their growing fortunes, some of which now reach into the billions of dollars.”

5. Businesses Look at Washington and Say, ‘Never Mind, We’ll Do It’

“Together, the three men have revolutionized industries, forged empires and navigated all manner of crises. But can they fix health care?”

6. How a Crowdsourced List Set Off Months of #MeToo Debate

“The spreadsheet, which captured the ideals of what would soon grow into the #metoo movement, had almost immediate real-world effects. It caused prominent men to lose their jobs and disrupted the lives of lesser-known journalists. Four months after it was created, it remains a subject of intense debate.”

7. Why Women’s Voices Are Scarce in Economics

“At virtually every level of training and every professional rank within economics, women are a minority.”

8. This Is Why Uma Thurman Is Angry

“Quentin used Harvey as the executive producer of Kill Bill, a movie that symbolizes female empowerment. And all these lambs walked into slaughter because they were convinced nobody rises to such a position who would do something illegal to you, but they do.”

9. The Republican Tax Act Could Turn Texas Blue

“The demographic trends posing an imminent hurdle to Republicans in states like Texas and Georgia are, ironically, partly a consequence of the party’s own light-touch fiscal and regulatory policy.”

10. What It’s Like to Live in a Surveillance State

“A science-fiction dystopia? No. This is life in northwestern China today.”

11. Who’s Able-Bodied Anyway?

“There is no standard for physical or mental ability that makes a person able. Rather, the term has long been a political one. Across centuries of use, it has consistently implied another negative: The able-bodied could work, but are not working (or working hard enough). And, as such, they don’t deserve our aid.”

12. Beyond the Slave Trade, the Cadaver Trade

“There was a robust body-snatching industry in which cadavers — mostly the bodies of black people, many of whom had been enslaved when they were alive — were used at Harvard, the Universities of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and other institutions.”

13. The Women Behind White Power

“What white women teach us is that white-supremacist politics is sustained at a much more grass-roots level by our neighbors, school boards and even friends.”

14. 5 Hours of Glenn Gould Outtakes. Why? Listen and Find Out.

“Over his career, Gould increasingly embraced recording’s potential to foster experimentation. He gave up playing concerts in 1964 and retreated to the studio, where he got involved with the detailed engineering of his releases, sometimes juxtaposing different portions of a piece played with various styles and approaches into a curious final synthesis.”

15. Easier Path To Divorce? Go Online.

“Since couples now meet online, plan weddings online, cheat online and find couples therapists online, it is only logical that they should be able to divorce online.”

16. Hand-Painted Ads for a Digital Age

“Like other novelties of the post-hipster age, the source of the value is not just the finished work, but also the tedious and rarefied conditions of its production.”

17. Enter the Holodeck

“They desperately want it to be good for society. But Bailenson and Lanier cannot have it both ways: insisting that VR is very realistic, and thus affecting and potentially therapeutic, but also that it will be used only for good.”

18. To Respect the Earth’s Limits — or Push Them?

“Mann’s storytelling skills are unmatched — the sprightly tempo with which this book unfolds, each question answered as it comes to mind, makes for pure pleasure reading. But you may find yourself troubled a little along the way by the analytical framework he’s imposed on the material, the division between the technologically minded Wizards and the limits-embracing Prophets.”

19. The Hidden Drama of Speedskating

“The oldest ice skates that anyone has found so far were made in Finland 2,000 years before the birth of Christ, which is to say 800 years before the Trojan War depicted by Homer in the Iliad.”

20. What Cross-Country Skiing Reveals About the Human Condition

“Cross-country skiers lean right into a bleak truth: We are stranded on a planet that is largely indifferent to us, a world that sets mountains in our path and drops iceballs from 50,000 feet and tortures our skin with hostile air. There is no escaping it; the only noble choice is to strap on a helmet and slog right in. Cross-country skiing expresses something deep about the human condition: the absolute, nonnegotiable necessity of the grind. The purity and sanctity of the goddamn slog.”


Sunday 1.28.2018 New York Times Digest

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1. The Follower Factory

“Devumi sells Twitter followers and retweets to celebrities, businesses and anyone who wants to appear more popular or exert influence online. Drawing on an estimated stock of at least 3.5 million automated accounts, each sold many times over, the company has provided customers with more than 200 million Twitter followers.”

2. Every One of the World’s Big Economies Is Now Growing

“We are investing heavily in Asia and also in Africa because the growth of the population there is stronger.”

3. Africa’s Gains Come With an Alarming Byproduct: Obesity

“Many Africans are eating more junk food, much of it imported. They are also getting much less exercise, as millions of people abandon a more active farming life to crowd into cities, where they tend to be more sedentary. More affordable cars and a wave of motorbike imports also mean that fewer Africans walk to work.”

4. Postcard People

“The world may have largely abandoned postcard writing, but deltiology — or postcard collecting — persists.”

5. What the Sharing Economy Really Delivers: Entitlement

“As people become their own brands, in the nonsense argot of the new economy, as work increasingly happens anywhere and everywhere, disaggregated from institutions and hierarchies and protocols that can offer various protections and clear channels of recourse, the policing of harassment will face new challenges.”

6. The Remote Control, Out of Control

“I’ve got Netflix. I’ve got Amazon. I’ve got cable. I’m done.”

7. Rambling Through Time

“The story of life on earth so far isn’t one of a tidy march of progress, culminating in humanity’s ‘end of history.’ Other alien worlds have claimed this planet for unimaginably longer spans, relinquishing their place only under the duress of mind-bending episodes of chaos, like asteroid hits and large-scale volcanic activity.”

8. How Wobbly Is Our Democracy?

“We should not take democracy for granted. There is nothing intrinsic in American culture that immunizes us against its breakdown.”

9. The Men Who Want to Live Forever

“The people publicly championing life extension are mainly men.”

10. We Need Protests. And Paintings.

“To defend the place of millions of immigrants and their progeny in American society, we need not only protest of political changes but also more art.”

11. Hollywood Uses the Very Women It Exploited to Change the Subject

“Hollywood has nimbly absorbed its critiques and converted them into inspirational messaging and digestible branding exercises, just in time for the unfurling of the red carpets.”

12. SZA Almost Quit Music. Now She’s a Grammys Contender.

“In an industry where the youngest stars radiate the most heat, SZA was a relatively late bloomer. She self-released her first EP at 22 and came to music as a refuge from jobs as a bartender and a sales assistant on the floor at Sephora.”

13. Robert Coover: By the Book

“The conventional novel, only readable if the writing’s stunningly or quirkily great. On the other hand, sci-fi, detective novels, westerns, pornography, spy stories, horror and romance, though very conservative forms, are all more like folk and fairy tales, and so much more alluring to a writer trying to burrow inside the collective psyche.”

14. Letter of Recommendation: Rodney Dangerfield

“By the time he perfected his act, he was nearly 60. But everything about Dangerfield was weird.”

15. Is ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ the Most Radical Show on TV?

“When ‘Drag Race’ first began, it seemed like a fun window into an underground culture, but over the nine years it has aired, the show has evolved to reflect America’s changing relationship to queer rights and acceptance.”