Category Archives: new york times

Sunday 3.19.2017 New York Times Digest


1. Books Can Take You Places Donald Trump Doesn’t Want You to Go

“The most magical moments in reading occur not when I encounter something unknown but when I happen upon myself, when I read a sentence that perfectly describes something I have known or felt all along. I am reminded then that I am really no different from anyone else.”

2. Norman Podhoretz Still Picks Fights and Drops Names

“It’s hard to imagine today, but people actually came to blows over literary disagreements.”

3. How Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, Cancer Expert, Spends His Sundays

“We don’t have a television. The girls don’t complain because they don’t know any better, and with them sleeping, Sarah and I will talk for a few hours. Then, we’ll get into bed and read again. Eventually, maybe around 11, we fall asleep.”

4. Where Fountain Pens Are Saved and Sold

“It slows you down. It makes you think about what you’re writing.”

5. What if Sociologists Had as Much Influence as Economists?

“Sociologists spend their careers trying to understand how societies work. And some of the most pressing problems in big chunks of the United States may show up in economic data as low employment levels and stagnant wages but are also evident in elevated rates of depression, drug addiction and premature death. In other words, economics is only a piece of a broader, societal problem. So maybe the people who study just that could be worth listening to.”

6. How Liberal Colleges Breed Conservative Firebrands

“Life on the defensive can also foster a kind of ideological contrarianism that can curdle into reactionary politics.”

7. The Fake Freedom of American Health Care

“If you can’t afford it, not buying it is hardly a choice.”

8. Chickens Can Help Save Wildlife

“A study last year identified bushmeat hunting as the primary threat pushing 301 mammal species worldwide toward extinction. The victims include bonobo apes, one of our closet living relatives, and Grauer’s gorillas, the world’s largest. (The latter have recently lost about 80 percent of their population, hunted down by mining camp crews with shotguns and AK-47s. Much of the mining is for a product integral to our cultural identities, a mineral used in the circuit boards of our cellphones.)”

9. The Seasons Aren’t What They Used to Be

“Early spring felt good; early spring felt dreadful. Now, whiplash as we slam into a snowbank. This is the motion sickness of climate change: The world lurches, and our bodies know that all is not well. What we experienced as spring, a predictable appearance of buds and birds, is passing away. Our children will live in uncharted, unnamed seasons.”

10. What My Red State Sees in Me

“This kind of denial of racism was common behavior in Austin. People here were so attached to their idea of a liberal city that they couldn’t see that it was strikingly segregated; that, till the 1970s, Austin had promoted a policy of segregation, pushing African-Americans and Hispanics to the East Side. They were now being weeded out of that area by gentrification (among the 10 fastest-growing major American cities, Austin is the only one losing its black population).”

11. Ignore the Snobs, Drink the Cheap, Delicious Wine

“More than 60 additives can legally be added to wine, and aside from the preservative sulfur dioxide, winemakers aren’t required to disclose any of them.”

12. Make America Singapore

“Health insurance should be, like other forms of insurance, something that protects you against serious illnesses and pays unexpected bills but doesn’t cover more everyday expenses. People need catastrophic coverage, but otherwise they should spend their own money whenever possible, because that’s the best way to bring normal market pressures to bear on health care services, driving down costs without strangling medical innovation.”

13. With Her Dating App, Women Are in Control

“I think a lot of the dysfunction around dating has to do with men having the control. So how do we put more control in women’s hands?”

14. These Women’s Magazines Aren’t Just for Women

“At least five new publications with women at the helm have started since 2010, running deeply reported articles on culture, politics and style that are often several thousand words. The magazines seek to redefine how women are portrayed in print, and who might want to read stories by and about them.”

15. G.O.P.’s Health Care Tightrope Winds Through the Blue-Collar Midwest + Rural Areas Brace for a Shortage of Doctors Due to Visa Policy

“As Republicans in Washington grapple with how to meet their promise of undoing the greatest expansion of health care coverage since the Great Society, they are struggling with what may be an irreconcilable problem: bridging the vast gulf between the expectations of blue-collar voters … who propelled Mr. Trump to the presidency, and longstanding party orthodoxy that it is not the federal government’s role to provide benefits to a wide swath of society.”

16. Margaret Atwood on What ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Means in the Age of Trump

“One of my rules was that I would not put any events into the book that had not already happened in what James Joyce called the ‘nightmare’ of history, nor any technology not already available. No imaginary gizmos, no imaginary laws, no imaginary atrocities. God is in the details, they say. So is the Devil.”

17. The Future of Humans? One Forecaster Calls for Obsolescence + Ray Kurzweil on How We’ll End Up Merging With Our Technology

“Harari is not the first to describe this progression of the human species, but his account may well be one of the most chilling to date.”

18. Opposing Views on What to Do About the Data We Create

“Both books are meant to scare us, and the central theme is privacy: Without intervention, they suggest, we’ll come to regret today’s inaction. I agree, but the authors miss the real horror show on the horizon. The future’s fundamental infrastructure is being built by computer scientists, data scientists, network engineers and security experts just like Weigend and Mitnick, who do not recognize their own biases. This encodes an urgent flaw in the foundation itself. The next layer will be just a little off, along with the next one and the one after that, as the problems compound.”

19. Tinkers and Tailors: Three Books Look to the Biomedical Frontier

“Today’s big ethical issues in biomedicine are not about safety but often more profound questions of parental control over their children’s future; personal identity; and the importance of mortality to being human. And yet these books — and much of American culture — have a hard time engaging with these fundamental questions.”

20. Which Dystopian Novel Got It Right: Orwell’s ‘1984’ or Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’?

“Huxley believed that his version of dystopia was the more plausible one. In a 1949 letter, thanking Orwell for sending him a copy of 1984, he wrote that he really didn’t think all that torture and jackbooting was necessary to subdue a population, and that he believed his own book offered a better solution. All you need to do, he said, is teach people to love their servitude.”

21. The Magician Who Wants to Break Magic

“His conviction — one he articulates with winning passion and occasional Shakespeare-quoting grandiosity — is that magic offers a means of exploring ideas just as complex, and of provoking emotions just as powerful, as those encountered in any other art form.”

Sunday 3.12.2017 New York Times Digest


1. Resist the Internet

“Used within reasonable limits, of course, these devices also offer us new graces. But we are not using them within reasonable limits. They are the masters; we are not.”

2. Meet Diego, the Centenarian Whose Sex Drive Saved His Species

“He’ll keep reproducing until death.”

3. No Health Insurance Is Hard. No Phone? Unthinkable.

“A cellphone is a lifeline.”

4. Chasing Big Sports Goals, Rutgers Stumbles Into a Vat of Red Ink

“Rutgers is a fine school, but David Hughes, an anthropology professor and the president of the faculty union, noted that 30 percent of the curriculum is taught by contract teachers, many of them paid like piecework seamstresses. And Rutgers’s tuition costs rank high nationally.”

5. As Dubai’s Skyline Adds a Trophy, the Architect Calls It Stolen

“Monarchy states play the game by their own rules.”

6. Want to Fix Schools? Go to the Principal’s Office

“Teaching quality matters tremendously. So do empowered principals, held accountable for their schools’ performance.”

7. Still Fighting, and Dying, in the Forever War

“Our country has created a self-selected and battle-hardened cohort of frequent fliers, one that is almost entirely separate from mainstream civilian culture, because service in the Forever War, as many of us call it, isn’t so much about going as returning.”

8. The Law’s Emotion Problem

“Our legal system is one of the most impressive feats of Western civilization. But psychology and neuroscience in recent years have shown many of its tacit assumptions to be out of sync with our best understanding of how our brains and minds work.”

9. Are Your Sperm in Trouble?

“Human and animal studies suggest that a crucial culprit is a common class of chemical called endocrine disruptors, found in plastics, cosmetics, couches, pesticides and countless other products.”

10. Stop Beating Black Children

“Black parents are still about twice as likely as white and Latino families to use corporal punishment on their children.”

11. I’m Not O.K. Neither Are You. Who Cares?

“A new literary genre, which might be called anti-self-help or anti-improvement, is upon us.”

12. The Old Table of a Beloved 101-Year-Old Artist

“I think if the table represents my work in any way, it’s that it’s resilient, sturdy and unassuming. It is an object that quietly but firmly states, ‘I am a table.’”

13. What Carrie Brownstein of ‘Portlandia’ Won’t Travel Without

“I spent so many years when I was touring as a musician visiting grand cities with dense history and filling my head with culture and architecture and museums. So now I focus more on the opposite — it’s a detox from an overload of information and stimulus.”

14. The Troubling Appeal of Education at For-Profit Schools

“Some two million Americans are enrolled in for-profit colleges, up from 400,000 in 2000. Those students, most of them working adults getting short-term certificates, are disproportionately nonwhite and female. They graduate with more debt than students who have attended public and nonprofit institutions, and are more likely to default on their loans.”

15. Literature by Degree

“When universities hire writers, they are making important decisions not just about who gets to teach (and what they teach), but about who gets to write (and what they write).”

16. High Anxiety: A New Approach to What Explains Compulsive Behavior

“What if all of my self-sabotaging and self-destructive behaviors, regardless of what form they took, had the same pathology? What if my compulsive drug use and compulsive organizing and, for that matter, anything that I’ve felt compelled to do, were all attempts to quiet the unceasing drumbeat of anxiety that is forever pounding out its rhythm in my brain?”

17. Jackboot Germany: A New History of the Gestapo

“Many citizens shared Gestapo fantasies of ‘cleaning up’ the country by throwing ‘riffraff’ into concentration camps.”

18. In David Shields’s Brief Essays, People May Be Farther Than They Appear

“All good writers make us feel less alone. But Shields also makes us feel better.”

19. All Too Human

“Our animal nature and our personhood are two distinct, contrasting aspects of us. One or the other comes into focus depending on what sort of questions we ask about ourselves.”

20. 25 Songs That Tell Us Where Music Is Going

“In 2017, identity is the topic at the absolute center of our conversations about music.”

Sunday 3.5.2017 New York Times Digest



1. How to Escape Your Political Bubble for a Clearer View

“The filter bubble describes the tendency of social networks like Facebook and Twitter to lock users into personalized feedback loops, each with its own news sources, cultural touchstones and political inclinations. We seem to like these places, and so do social media companies — they keep us clicking from one self-affirmation to another. But now our bubbles are being blamed for leading us toward the most divisive presidency in recent memory, and suddenly, the bubble doesn’t feel so inviting anymore. So media and tech companies are pivoting, selling us a whole suite of offerings aimed at bursting the bubbles they helped to create.”

2. What Does a Diverse Hollywood Look Like? This Brooklyn Film School

“It costs a third of most other film schools — $18,400 a year — and part of its mission is to admit women and minorities whose stories aren’t usually told.”

3. Team Plagiarizes Golden State Warriors. Team Is Undefeated.

“In his grand experiment to turn his team into the junior college version of the Golden State Warriors — yes, those Warriors — Green has coached the South Plains Texans to a 28-0 record as they enter the postseason.”

4. Working Longer May Benefit Your Health and Workers Are Working Longer — and Better

“Is a job a force for keeping older people mentally and physically healthy?”

5. What Biracial People Know

“The point is that diversity — of one’s own makeup, one’s experience, of groups of people solving problems, of cities and nations — is linked to economic prosperity, greater scientific prowess and a fairer judicial process. If human groups represent a series of brains networked together, the more dissimilar these brains are in terms of life experience, the better the ‘hivemind’ may be at thinking around any given problem.”

6. Is the Pope the Anti-Trump?

“Pope Francis and President Trump provide rich material for contrast. One is, notwithstanding his weaknesses, a spiritual leader of extraordinary maturity; the other, his strengths aside, is a thin-skinned, petulant narcissist. One is a celibate who lives in simplicity and austerity, embracing the disabled and the diseased; the other is a thrice-married germophobe who lived in a gaudy gold tower and mocks the feeble. And yet: The world’s two most compelling populists have more in common than some might admit.”

7. Travel Abroad, in Your Own Country

“In a fissured nation, there are fewer and fewer moments of genuine encounter between rival tribes, each confined in its ideological canyon.”

8. How Donald Trump Wins by Losing

“A good sign that Mr. Trump is winning by his own terms is just how many of your private conversations somehow turn to him.”

9. Why We Believe Obvious Untruths

“Knowledge isn’t in my head or in your head. It’s shared.”

10. What Ever Happened to Roles for Women?

“The real jolt might be how little seems to have changed.”

11. Erased Onscreen: Where Are All the Interracial Couples?

“Film is a repository of societal beliefs — it authenticates experience, archives cultural memories, and suggests aesthetic and moral standards. Paired with legal proscriptions, film is a persuasive medium for administering racial convention and shaping romantic aspirations.”

12. You Must Remember This: Why We Return to Casablanca and High Noon

“It’s a story that bears retelling because Hollywood, not to mention the rest of the country, is haunted by ghosts that won’t go away.”

13. Walk on By: A Celebration of Women’s Pleasure in Wandering a City

“As a student in Paris, Lauren Elkin loved to wander aimlessly in the streets, but she needed to adapt the existing word for a person doing that, flâneur — an idle stroller, killing time — to fit her own case: feminine. But the feminine form, flâneuse, implied sitting decorously on benches rather than anything more vigorous. One point Elkin makes in her absorbing new book is that although men had always enjoyed the practice of loafing through city streets with no particular object, just enjoying the scene, women had long been prevented, culturally and practically, from going out alone. Respectable women couldn’t make their way along the streets without being harassed, perhaps even assaulted or arrested. Young American travelers with Eurail passes will have discovered that this is still true in too many places. Try parts of Italy or Istanbul.”

14. The Surprising Role of Jesus in Islam

“Akyol makes good use of both canonical and noncanonical sources, tracing where and why the Islamic approach agrees with Christian tradition (yes to Jesus as the messenger, prophet, word and spirit of God), and where it disagrees (no to the Resurrection, and no to divinity).”

15. A Social History of Food Mixes Revelation With Revolution

“Our tastes are never purely subjective; rather, they’re the product of forces like the quest for empire or the urge for class distinction. We learn, for example, that American politicians have been asserting their authenticity by eating barbecue pretty much as long as there have been American politicians (George Washington attended one such gathering), and that the place where cannibalism is most developed as a culinary practice is in the fevered imagination of English authors eager to assign savagery to others.”

16. Scientists Examine the Benefits of Forests

“Imagine a miracle drug that could ease many of the stresses of modern life — a combination mood enhancer and smart pill that might even encourage the remission of cancer. Now imagine that this cure-all was an old-fashioned folk remedy: Just take a hike in the woods or a walk in the park. No prescription necessary.”

17. Why the Internet Didn’t Kill Zines

“In theory, the maturation of the internet should have killed off the desire for zines entirely. The web is a Gutenberg press on steroids, predicated on free software platforms created by companies that invest considerable sums to lure people to their sites and make exactly the kind of content I craved growing up. Millions, maybe hundreds of millions, of posts are published to social-media sites each day. And yet somehow, it can feel impossible to engage with new ideas, even as our compulsive inability to stop scrolling exposes us to an unending stream of new content.”

18. A Writer’s Room: Bernard-Henri Lévy

“Here, I really am cut off from the rest of the world — there’s no phone, no internet, a landline that very few know the number for. It’s a good place to put my body and soul completely into the writing.”

19. Three Iconic Musicians on Artistic Creation — and Its Importance Now

“As a delivery device for moments of inner emergency, no art form can approach the immediacy of popular song. A novel cannot assault you while you wait in line at the supermarket; a painting cannot reach out and turn your head as you walk on by; a poem’s feet cannot chase you down the street; a movie cannot screen itself. A song, though, can steal upon you in the dark, on a road, far from home, blow out your tires and leave you sobbing, in gratitude, at the wheel. All other art lives and dies in a medium that mandates we engage if we are to receive its gifts. Songs live in the air. Ears don’t have lids that can keep the songs there.”

20. Otherworldly Architecture in Japan’s Magical Mountainside

“Japan, perhaps more than any other country, is a culture of deliberate appearances, a place where seeing is not just part of the experience of life, but life itself. Food is meant to please not just the palate, but the eyes as well; a cone of incense should be smelled, of course, but it should first be seen. Or to put it another way: There is a difference between self-expression and the expression of self. The latter, the right to say and act and behave as we want, is what we value in America. But Japan embraces the former, and that embrace is accompanied by a permission for a specific kind of deviance: For as long as you abide by the culture’s manners and etiquette, you can look however you wish. The society is greater than the self, but the self — its externals, at least — is yours to do with what you choose.”

Sunday 2.26.2017 New York Times Digest


1. America’s Best Picture? All of Them

“Each of these movies, in other words, is about the struggle for individual and cultural self-definition — and the challenge of allowing for all those competing self-definitions to flourish and coexist within some larger American community. They are portraits of a nation fragmented by race, class, culture and geography.”

2. For Marketers, TV Sets Are an Invaluable Pair of Eyes

“The marketing company said, ‘We’re going to ask you to put this device in your home, connect it to your TV and they’re going to watch you for the Olympics to see how you like it, what sports, your expression, who’s around.’ And I said, ‘Whatever, I have nothing to hide.’”

3. Amazon Deforestation, Once Tamed, Comes Roaring Back

“A decade after the ‘Save the Rainforest’ movement forced changes that dramatically slowed deforestation across the Amazon basin, activity is roaring back in some of the biggest expanses of forests in the world. That resurgence, driven by the world’s growing appetite for soy and other agricultural crops, is raising the specter of a backward slide in efforts to preserve biodiversity and fight climate change.”

4. For Millionaire Immigrants, a Global Welcome Mat

“The wealthy today don’t have a country.”

5. Not From Venus, Not From Mars

“With keen precision and sharp humor, Fine shows how deeply our assumptions about gender are embedded in the questions that we — scientists, journalists and the rest of us — pose, the analogies we choose, even the options we’re offered on surveys. Built into the very structures of our thinking is the notion of women as less: less lustful, less competitive, less aggressive than men. Fine holds one such belief after another up to the light and wonders: How do we know this is true? Often, it turns out, it’s not true to the extent we imagine, or not true at all.”

6. What Happens Next (or Doesn’t)

“Published in 1928 by William Wallace Cook, an inhumanly prolific pulp fiction writer, and reissued in 2011, the book purports to be an exhaustive breakdown of what might be every possible plot on earth (all 1,462, apparently), cross-referenced when appropriate. An example: Start with #A9: ‘A Person Subjected to Adverse Conditions.’ Amp up the conflict with #B56: ‘Seeking to test the value of a mysterious communication and becoming involved in weird complexities.’ Resolve with #C13: ‘Comes finally to the blank wall of enigma.’ Mix it all together, shake and … Plotto!”

7. A History of Race and Racism in America, in 24 Chapters

“On the occasion of Black History Month, I’ve selected the most influential books on race and the black experience published in the United States for each decade of the nation’s existence — a history of race through ideas, arranged chronologically on the shelf.”

8. A New Book on Cannibalism Says It’s Not as Rare as We Once Thought

“Early in its pages we learn that almost everybody does it: not just in China, or the Donner party, or the New Guinea highlanders whose practice of eating the brains of dead relatives spread the deadly neurological disease kuru (though there’s plenty on these examples, too, in the book). Europeans, we read, ‘routinely consumed human blood, bones, skin, guts and body parts’ for hundreds of years. Cannibalism, in fact, is not that unusual.”

9. Have We Lost Sight of the Promise of Public Schools?

“We began moving away from the ‘public’ in public education a long time ago. In fact, treating public schools like a business these days is largely a matter of fact in many places. Parents have pushed for school-choice policies that encourage shopping for public schools that they hope will give their children an advantage and for the expansion of charter schools that are run by private organizations with public funds. Large numbers of public schools have selective admissions policies that keep most kids out. And parents pay top dollar to buy into neighborhoods zoned to ‘good’ public schools that can be as exclusive as private ones. The glaring reality is, whether we are talking about schools or other institutions, it seems as if we have forgotten what ‘public’ really means.”

10. How to Block Out Pain

“Active engagement in challenges that are important to you can override the feeling of pain. Tauben shares a slide with his students showing a print of a medieval Arab warrior who is using his own cut-off leg as a weapon.”

11. Divisions Of Labor

“In the new economic landscape of low-paid service jobs, some of the old nostrums of the left have stopped making sense.”

12. Learning to Love Our Robot Co-Workers

“Fewer than 5 percent of careers can be completely automated using existing technology — but ‘about half of all the activities people are paid to do in the world’s work force could potentially be.’”

13. The Jobs Americans Do

“The emerging face of the American working class is a Hispanic woman who has never set foot on a factory floor.”

14. The Retraining Paradox

“There’s a strange disconnect between two of the big narratives about the American blue-collar work force right now. In one story, there is a population of unemployed and underemployed working-class adults for whom well-paying work seems increasingly out of reach; their jobs have gone overseas or become automated, and they find themselves working retail, or not working at all. But an apparently conflicting story comes from American employers, which have been insisting for years that they have a hard time finding workers to fill many skilled blue-collar jobs.”

15. The Future of Not Working

“A universal basic income has thus far lacked what tech folks might call a proof of concept. There have been a handful of experiments, including ones in Canada, India and Namibia. Finland is sending money to unemployed people, and the Dutch city Utrecht is doing a trial run, too. But no experiment has been truly complete, studying what happens when you give a whole community money for an extended period of time — when nobody has to worry where his or her next meal is coming from or fear the loss of a job or the birth of a child.”

Sunday 2.19.2017 New York Times Digest


1. An Elegy for the Library

“Computers are much too costly for many families. Even books remain out of reach. The library’s website lists ‘uninterrupted lighting’ as one of its services — a real draw in a city that suffers from frequent power cutoffs. This is a place of refuge. It offers a respite from the heat, from office life, from noisy households, from all the irritations that crowd in. It also offers the intangible entanglements of a common space. One of my favorite descriptions of the public library comes from the journalist and academic Sophie Mayer, who has called it ‘the ideal model of society, the best possible shared space,’ because there ‘each person is pursuing their own aim (education, entertainment, affect, rest) with respect to others, through the best possible medium of the transmission of ideas, feelings and knowledge — the book.’”

2. Mexico City, Parched and Sinking, Faces a Water Crisis

“Much is being written about climate change and the impact of rising seas on waterfront populations. But coasts are not the only places affected. Mexico City — high in the mountains, in the center of the country — is a glaring example.”

3. The Ultimate Pursuit in Hunting: Sheep

“Non-hunters often presume that the biggest prize in North America is something large and fierce — some kind of bear, perhaps, or an elk, a moose or a mountain lion. But the widespread belief among serious hunters is that rams are the ultimate pursuit. That is for two reasons. One, opportunities to hunt sheep are scarce, and often prohibitively expensive. Two, the hunts are among the most difficult, often lasting weeks in some of the most remote regions on Earth.”

4. A Bee Mogul Confronts the Crisis in His Field

“There would be no almond crop — not to mention avocados, apples, cherries and alfalfa — without honeybees. Of the 100 crops that account for 90 percent of the food eaten around the globe, 71 rely on bee pollination, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.”

5. Are Liberals Helping Trump?

“Protests and righteous indignation on social media and in Hollywood may seem to liberals to be about policy and persuasion. But moderate conservatives say they are having the opposite effect, chipping away at their middle ground and pushing them closer to Mr. Trump.”

6. Name Brand Nostalgia

“While my mother was in charge of packing the paisley, non-rolling suitcases, the toilet articles bag was my father’s domain. Into its navy blue plastic he put all those brands I associate with my childhood — Sea and Ski, Bayer aspirin, Noxzema.”

7. First, Sex Ed. Then Death Ed.

“I am a passionate advocate for educating teenagers to be responsible about their sexuality. And I believe it is past time for us to educate them also about death, an equally important stage of life, and one for which the consequences of poor preparedness are as bad, arguably worse. Ideally this education would come early, well before it’s likely to be needed.”

8. Jordan Peele on a Truly Terrifying Monster: Racism

“Society is the scariest monster.”

9. Apocalypse Now: Wattle Mood of Today’hat’s Behind the Vols American — and European — Voters

“His premise is that broad swaths of the globe are retracing the past, reliving the same traumas and violent dislocations that accompanied Europe’s transition to modernity in the 18th and 19th centuries. A trauma felt most acutely by the ‘young man of promise’ in the countries late arriving to capitalism and Enlightenment, especially Germany and Russia. The prospect of freedom and cultural transformation stirred unachievable expectations, which predictably ended in humiliation and rage.”

10. Which Canonical Work is Frequently and Frustratingly Misread?

“Empires fall, and usually deserve to: This is not a message with much purchase among American politicians, especially those who most ostentatiously flaunt their faith. If they read the Bible, they would find the story, on page after page after page, of the predictable fate of nations that abandon their covenants: ‘Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled; suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment.’”

11. Is the ‘Anthropocene’ Epoch a Condemnation of Human Interference — or a Call for More?

“While humanists have bent the Anthropocene to serve their own purposes, technologists have turned what began as a call for radical austerity into a renewed push for significant technological advances.”

12. Letter of Recommendation: Presidential Biographies

“Presidential biographies don’t tell you that everything is going to be O.K., but rather that nothing was ever really O.K. to begin with. And yet, for hundreds of years, Americans have not only survived heartbreaking, backbreaking periods but also stood tall in them. My advice, for these divisive times, is to find the perspective that history gives us. The next time you feel anxious or incensed, or even if you feel hopeful and gratified, turn off the television. Close your laptop. Silence your phone. Go ahead and put it screen-side down for the rest of the evening.”

13. These ’80s Artists Are More Important Than Ever

“Our present bedazzlement-by-pixels was anticipated by a loosely affiliated group of artists who emerged in New York in the mid-1970s and early ’80s — before iPhones, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. ‘The Pictures Generation’ has become a ubiquitous, awkward catchall term, probably abrasive to the artists themselves, for something that was less an organized movement than a heterogeneous expression of a zeitgeist. Their art was connected by an interest in examining power and identity in a media-saturated, politically uncertain age.”

Sunday 2.12.2017 New York Times Digest


1. It’s Not Really on Your Side

“Time is not only something we live immersed in, like fish in water, but also an element of our lives with which we constantly struggle, which drives us crazy, opens up possibilities, lulls us and loses us.”

2. More Women in Their 60s and 70s Are Having ‘Way Too Much Fun’ to Retire

“Women have become significantly more likely to work into their 60s and even 70s, often full time, according to the analyses. And many of these women report that they do it because they enjoy it.”

3. Japan Limited Immigration; Now It’s Short of Workers

“Its tough stance on immigration — legal and illegal — is causing problems. Many Japanese industries are suffering from severe labor shortages, which has helped put a brake on economic growth.”

4. Why Falling Home Prices Could Be a Good Thing

“Instead of looking at homes as investments, what if we regarded them like a TV or a car or any other consumer good? People might expect home prices to go down instead of up.”

5. Feeling ‘Pressure All the Time’ on Europe’s Treadmill of Temporary Work

“Meet the new generation of permatemps in Europe.”

6. What We’re Fighting For

“From our founding we have made these kinds of moral demands of our soldiers. It starts with the oath they swear to support and defend the Constitution, an oath made not to a flag, or to a piece of ground, or to an ethnically distinct people, but to a set of principles established in our founding documents. An oath that demands a commitment to democracy, to liberty, to the rule of law and to the self-evident equality of all men. The Marines I knew fought, and some of them died, for these principles.”

7. Caitlyn Jenner’s Mission

“As I listened, I wondered whether L.G.B.T. rights really ought not to be the most conservative of causes. Above all else we want to be left alone, without interference, to live our lives with truth and grace. What could be more conservative than that?”

8. Microbes, a Love Story

“The microbes we carry, the same ones that make us attractive to potential mates, also directly influence our reproductive success. So when mammals choose mates based on the glow of health, they’re choosing not just an attractive set of genes, but also perhaps a microbial community that might facilitate reproduction.”

9. How to Do Social Science Without Data

Modernity and the Holocaust was a work of theory and synthesis. He collected no data and had no methodology to speak of. That didn’t make it any less of a powerful contribution.”

10. Since When Is Being a Woman a Liberal Cause?

“Who gets to define what it means to be pro-women?”

11. Finally, a Screenplay by James Baldwin

“The film covers the five years in which those leaders were assassinated, but it also retells the history of the long 20th century and now 21st century through the lens of American race relations. Mr. Peck achieves this by using rare footage of Baldwin giving interviews and speeches in the 1960s, and even more impressive, by revealing how intimately tied the technologies of American film have always been to our country’s practices and policies of racial inequality.”

12. Blaxploitation Movies Are Ready to Stream, Nostalgia Included

“The more mainstream services such as Netflix and Amazon don’t offer a whole lot of black filmmaking outside of the parameters established by Tyler Perry and David E. Talbert — relatively conventional melodramas and comedies with varying amounts of social consciousness.”

13. ‘The Ring’ Told Us in 2002 That the Medium Is the Monster

“You would think that a 15-year-old horror movie that makes a VCR complicit in a series of murders would come across today as a laughable concept. But it is the idea of ‘death by watching’ that resonates the most now, especially given the way the latest sequel upgrades the technology, threading the idea of a soul’s journey into our iPhones and QuickTime files.”

14. ‘Planet Earth II’: A Lizard’s Great Escape

“The most memorable screen performance of 2016 won’t be recognized at the Oscars in a couple weeks. For one thing, it appeared on television. For another, it was given by an iguana.”

15. Move Over, Wikipedia. Dictionaries Are Hot Again.

“Right now there are a lot of questions about what is true. We want clear statements about what things are, and dictionaries provide that.”

16. The Major Blind Spots in Macroeconomics

“Economists literally think they have nothing to learn from anyone else.”

17. How a Fractious Women’s Movement Came to Lead the Left

“The women’s movement has not always been a site for unity. It has been marked just as deeply by its fractures, failures and tensions. But more than a century of internal turmoil has also forced the movement to reckon with its divisions. Now, the question is whether it can bring even more Americans into the fold.”

Sunday 2.5.2017 New York Times Digest


1. The Image of Time

“When you make one photograph and, some time later, make another of the same thing, what is inside the frame changes. With the passage of time, you no longer have ‘the same thing.’”

2. China’s Intelligent Weaponry Gets Smarter

“Well into the 1960s, the United States held a military advantage based on technological leadership in nuclear weapons. In the 1970s, that perceived lead shifted to smart weapons, based on brand-new Silicon Valley technologies like computer chips. Now, the nation’s leaders plan on retaining that military advantage with a significant commitment to artificial intelligence and robotic weapons. But the global technology balance of power is shifting.”

3. Is the U.S. Economy Too Dynamic, or Not Dynamic Enough?

“Maybe the economy really isn’t working for many Americans because globalization, automation and changing labor practices have thrown them to the wolves. But maybe there are also deep-seated structural shifts preventing communities and individuals from tapping the great opportunities the modern economy offers.”

4. An Ancient Practice That’s Music to Their Ears, and More

“The ringers at St. Mark’s and about 6,000 other churches of various denominations around the world create their joyful symphony with a small number of bells — typically six or eight. The notes remain the same, but the bells are played in a perpetually changing sequence and emphasis, requiring close teamwork, a keen memory and years of practice.”

5. The History the Slaveholders Wanted Us to Forget

“African history is replete with riveting stories that refute centuries of stereotypes about black people and that show our shared humanity.”

6. How to Pick a Preschool in Less Than an Hour

“When you walk in the door of a prekindergarten, check out the walls — they should be festooned with children’s projects, and not, as is too often the case, plastered with posters that are calculated to please adults and mounted too high for 4-year-olds to see. Look around. There should be lots of different things for children to do.”

7. Who Are We?

“So far we haven’t found a way to correct the story while honoring its full sweep — including all the white-male-Protestant-European protagonists to whom, for all their sins, we owe so much of our inheritance.”

8. The ‘Esquire Man’ Is Dead. Long Live the ‘Esquire Man.’

“As we move into the era of transgender bathrooms and L.G.B.T.Q.I.A. studies, when millennials are more likely to take their cultural cues from Justin Bieber’s Instagram feed than 6,000-word profiles of Sean Penn, Mr. Fielden is charged not just with bringing back Esquire’s glory days, but with also figuring out exactly what the Esquire man — that is, the American man — is in 2017.”

9. Viet Thanh Nguyen: By the Book

“I love that Berger gave half his Booker Prize money in 1972 to the Black Panthers, and used the other half to fund the research for his next book on migrant laborers. Berger was the kind of writer we need more of — politically committed, aesthetically serious, always curious.”

10. Will You Graduate? Ask Big Data

“Georgia State is one of a growing number of colleges and universities using what is known as predictive analytics to spot students in danger of dropping out. Crunching hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of student academic and personal records, past and present, they are coming up with courses that signal a need for intervention.”

11. Wanted: Factory Workers, Degree Required

“Rarely discussed in the political debate over lost jobs are the academic skills needed for today’s factory-floor positions, and the pathways through education that lead to them.”

12. Colleges Discover the Rural Student

“To college administrators, rural students, many of them the first in their families to attend college, have become the new underrepresented minority. In their aim to shape leaders and provide access to the disadvantaged, higher education experts have been recognizing that these students bring valuable experiences and viewpoints to campuses that don’t typically attract agriculture majors.”

13. In Hillsdale College, a ‘Shining City on a Hill’ for Conservatives

“Hillsdale, a private college of 1,400 students in southern Michigan that describes itself as ‘nonsectarian Christian’ and dedicated to ‘civil and religious liberty,’ is scarcely known in many circles. But among erudite conservatives — think progeny of William F. Buckley Jr. — it is considered a hidden gem.”

14. Creating a Safe Space for California Dreamers and Campuses Wary of Offering ‘Sanctuary’ to Undocumented Students

“Collectively, the freshmen in Tenaya Hall are the beacons of a better life. They are the sons and daughters of housekeepers, dishwashers, fast-food cooks, farm laborers, landscapers, garment workers who stitch labels onto clothing and contractors who build swimming pools for affluent homeowners along the coast.”

15. The Youth Group That Launched a Movement at Standing Rock

“As Donald Trump pushes forward with the Keystone XL and Dakota Access, he will face a movement emboldened by a victory on Dec. 4, 2016, when the Department of the Army denied an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline and directed the Army Corps to consider an alternate route. It was a rare triumph for both the environmental and land rights movements, as well as for the American left in an otherwise dark moment. But little remarked upon at the time was the unlikely seed from which the movement had grown: an anti-suicide campaign among a tight-knit group of youths, most younger than 25, impelled by tragedy and guided by prophecy.”

16. The Misunderstood Genius of Russell Westbrook

“This is the lesson of Russell Westbrook. In a deeply imperfect world — a world where a shooting touch will suddenly abandon you at the worst possible moment, where your teammates might not be good enough to make a win possible, where an economy might suddenly collapse for no apparent reason, where the decency of strangers cannot be presumed — in a world like that, Westbrook’s approach to life might actually be the most rational one. You control the things you can control (family, daily routines, the occasional big choice) and outside that you fling yourself with wild abandon, every day, at every object that seems worthy of pursuit. In the absence of guarantees, in the absence of certainty, in the new American volatility, we can bank on only one thing: total presence, total sincerity, total effort, all the time. That is the sound of one hand clapping.”

17. The Parachute Generation

“Even as U.S.-China relations have slipped toward mutual antagonism, the flood of Chinese students coming to the United States has continued to rise. Roughly 370,000 students from the mainland are enrolled in American high schools and universities, six times more than a decade ago. Their financial impact — $11.4 billion was contributed to the American economy in 2015, according to the Department of Commerce — has turned education into one of America’s top ‘exports’ to China.”