Category Archives: new york times

Sunday 3.3.2019 New York Times Digest

1. How the Weather Gets Weaponized in Climate Change Messaging

“As battle lines harden between supporters and opponents of climate action, both are increasingly using bouts of extreme weather as a weapon to try to win people to their side. Weather, after all, is one of the easiest things for people to bond over or gripe about, a staple of small talk and shared experience that can make it a simple but powerful opportunity to discuss global warming.”

2. Goodbye Sidewalk Trees

“Street trees planted decades — and in some cases, a century — ago were not ideal species for a paved environment and are now large, mature and in need of maintenance. With little soil available beneath the sidewalk, roots interfere with drainage systems, and buckle concrete. Utility companies aggressively prune tree limbs away from power lines, leaving awkward, and potentially unstable, V-shaped trees.”

3. The A.I. Diet

“A good diet, it turns out, has to be individualized.”

4. The New ‘Dream Home’ Should Be a Condo

“What if there was a new American dream, not of auto-dependent suburbia, but walkable urbanism?”

5. The Life of a Comment Moderator for a Right-Wing Website

“I started my day at 8 a.m., and by then it was already bedlam. My first task was to go over the flagged comments, and ones from problem users, that had been held throughout the night. I have only anecdotal evidence to base this on, but anti-Semites and spambots, speaking generally, tend to be night owls.”

6. Our Culture of Contempt

“What we need is not to disagree less, but to disagree better. And that starts when you turn away the rhetorical dope peddlers — the powerful people on your own side who are profiting from the culture of contempt. As satisfying as it can feel to hear that your foes are irredeemable, stupid and deviant, remember: When you find yourself hating something, someone is making money or winning elections or getting more famous and powerful. Unless a leader is actually teaching you something you didn’t know or expanding your worldview and moral outlook, you are being used.”

7. Michael Jackson Cast a Spell. ‘Leaving Neverland’ Breaks It.

“The mothers both mention an early limit they set. For Stephanie, it was refusing to let James sleep in Jackson’s room on that trip to Hawaii. And Joy recalls vehemently nixing Jackson’s request to abscond with Wade for a year. But Jackson ultimately wins, anyway. He gets his way, in part, because he could be as manipulative as he could be affectionate, but also because each woman feels, in her way, maternal toward him. He was, both women more or less say, a member of their families.”

8. 21 Savage’s Still-Bumpy Path to Freedom

“This American music, like so many American musics before it, wouldn’t sound the same without immigrants. A quick reminder: Almost all of hip-hop’s founder generation — Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, Doug E. Fresh — was born in the Caribbean. The island influence continues through today: Last year, Nicki Minaj wrote on Instagram about coming to the United States as an undocumented immigrant from Trinidad and Tobago when she was 5.”

9. The New 30-Something

“A lot of 30-somethings are still getting financial help from their parents, if they are lucky enough to take advantage of it.”

10. Animal Care

“Instead of worrying about anthropomorphizing animals, we should fear making a far worse mistake, what de Waal calls ‘anthropodenial.’ When we deny the facts of evolution, when we pretend that only humans think, feel and know, ‘it stands in the way of a frank assessment of who we are as a species,’ he writes. An understanding of evolution demands that we recognize continuity across life-forms. And even more important, achieving realistic and compassionate relationships with the rest of the animate world requires that we honor these connections, which extend far and deep.”

11. Toni Morrison: First Lady of Letters

The Source of Self-Regard is a book of essays, lectures and meditations, a reminder that the old music is still the best, that in this time of tumult and sadness and continuous war, where tawdry words are blasted about like junk food, and the nation staggers from one crisis to the next, led by a president with all the grace of a Cyclops and a brain the size of a full-grown pea, the mightiness, the stillness, the pure power and beauty of words delivered in thought, reason and discourse, still carry the unstoppable force of a thousand hammer blows, spreading the salve of righteousness that can heal our nation and restore the future our children deserve.”

12. Is the West Really the Best?

“In Sharman’s account, the dominance of the West (note Europe’s easy baton-pass to the United States), roughly from the Enlightenment to World War II, represents a historical blip in the last millennium. And, perhaps more important, today we seem to be on the cusp of a return to a more regular state of affairs, where the large states of Asia will again be the globe’s hegemons.”

13. Recoil Offgrid

“Among the contradictions, there is a more abstract form of comfort — a tacit acknowledgment that, though we may struggle mightily to influence fate, we can never entirely predict or control it.”

14. How to Tackle Someone

“Get close before you strike. Decide which shoulder you intend to hit the person with, and then keep the foot on that side planted on the ground — if you’re slamming with your left shoulder, for example, put your weight into the ball of your left foot as you make contact.”

15. Inside the Secret Sting Operations to Expose Celebrity Psychics

“There are nearly 95,000 psychic ‘businesses’ in America, generating some $2 billion in revenue in 2018. Lately, technology has changed the business of talking to the dead and created new kinds of openings for psychics to lure customers but also new ways for skeptics to flip that technology right back at them.”

16. The Man Who Designed Dean & Deluca, and the Look of Modern Kitchens

“In an era defined by shag carpeting, wicker baskets and macramé tapestries — the prevailing palette was, as Ceglic recalls, harvest gold and avocado green — he decided the corner storefront should instead be completely free of color or texture: a monochrome box that would contrast against, say, the crimson of sun-dried tomatoes. In keeping with the minimalist floor-through apartment that he and Dean resided in nearby (the current owner has kept it, museumlike, as one of the last examples of the period’s early ’80s loft style, all white columns and exposed piping), Ceglic built out Dean & DeLuca with bright white plaster walls, floors of matching white ceramic tile, butcher-block countertops in bleached maple and glass-and-stainless-steel cases to display the prepared foods and salads, a novel concept at the time.”

17. Jasper Johns, American Legend

“If Abstract Expressionism was a melodramatically psychological exercise, with each splash of paint communicating some anguished search for American identity in the midst of the Cold War’s atomic glow, here was something cool and detached, familiar and yet forever unknowable. It was as if Marlon Brando had driven his motorcycle onto the set of a Clark Gable movie.”

Sunday 2.24.2019 New York Times Digest

1. Disappearing Acts

“Two new books on the value of invisibility and silence seem like a clever bit of counterprogramming. Coming upon them was like finding the Advil bottle in the medicine cabinet after stumbling about with a headache for a long time. They are both, perhaps purposefully, slow reads. They demand patience from addled minds primed to see such subject matter as a result of subtraction, the blank pages between chapters.”

2. Sports Anchors in the Era of Social Media

“As television viewing habits change and sports media develop new ways to bring fans what they want when they want it. (Now!) That means what was once a premier placement in TV sports — the anchor desk — is not the high perch it used to be. It is not clear anymore what it is at all.”

3. The Shutdown Made Sara Nelson Into America’s Most Powerful Flight Attendant

“While a vanishing fraction of Americans belong to unions, workers are increasingly fed up with their lot and amenable to the idea of taking on their bosses directly.”

4. Made on the Inside, Worn on the Outside

“Fashion has a long-established history in prisons, dating back to the 1700s.”

5. Can Peer Pressure Defeat Trump?

“The rush to design apps to increase voter turnout is part of a wider push in Silicon Valley — trying to shake the taint of peddling fake news and Russian propaganda — toward ‘civic tech,’ or innovations designed in the public interest.”

6. Why the Priesthood Needs Women

“For myself, and for many of the Catholics I know (especially women), the question of how much corruption we can tolerate is now weighed against the tremendous loss we would feel, if we left this church. It’s an institution that has shaped us, comforted us, guided and informed us, that is the center of our spiritual lives as well as our community lives and family lives, the source of our own moral strength, of our faith in the substance of things hoped for. And yet small commiserations can no longer placate our outrage. A sea change is required.”

7. Not the Fun Kind of Feminist

“Dworkin, so profoundly out of fashion just a few years ago, suddenly seems prophetic.”

8. The ‘Oddly Satisfying’ Internet

“The videos seemed to scratch an itch I didn’t know I had. If I watched long enough, I felt lightly hypnotized, as if one of those disembodied hands had reached in and massaged my brain.”

9. Don’t Fight the Robots. Tax Them.

“To afford any kind of government services in the robot era, governments will have to find something else to tax. Why not the robots themselves?”

10. Netflix Is the Most Intoxicating Portal to Planet Earth

“Despite a supposed surge in nationalism across the globe, many people like to watch movies and TV shows from other countries.”

11. Everything Is War and Nothing Is True

“One way to understand the upheavals of the past decade, manifest in political populism and the surge in talk about ‘post-truth’ and ‘fake news,’ is as the penetration of warlike mobilization and propaganda into our democracies.”

12. Can Bitcoin Save Venezuelans?

“‘Borderless money’ is more than a buzzword for those of us who live in a collapsing economy and a collapsing dictatorship.”

13. President Trump Has Inspired Art. That’s Not Always a Good Thing.

“I’m grateful that artists are responding creatively to the current moment, but why do so many of their efforts miss the mark?”

14. We Love to Be Smushed

“Heavy bedding and other compression items have resonated, metaphorically and psychologically, as transitional objects for a population under stress.”

15. Map Quest

“GPS has been a salve for my emotional life. And yet, I miss the old road trip and the way it could make you feel lost between here and the rest of your life. With a map you believed the world was large and the car was small and every possibility was open. With GPS you know when you will leave and when you will arrive and what will happen along the way. Or you believe you do, which is even worse.”

16. The Campus as Counselor

“Students and institutions are grappling with issues like the surge in school shootings and trauma from suicides and sexual assault. But it’s not just the crises that have shaken this generation — it’s the grinding, everyday stresses, from social media pressures to relationship problems to increased academic expectations.”

17. Wealthy, Successful, and Invisible

“Even in a boom economy, a surprising portion of Americans are professionally miserable right now. In the mid-1980s, roughly 61 percent of workers told pollsters they were satisfied with their jobs. Since then, that number has declined substantially, hovering around half; the low point was in 2010, when only 43 percent of workers were satisfied, according to data collected by the Conference Board, a nonprofit research organization. The rest said they were unhappy, or at best neutral, about how they spent the bulk of their days. Even among professionals given to lofty self-images, like those in medicine and law, other studies have noted a rise in discontent. Why? Based on my own conversations with classmates and the research I began reviewing, the answer comes down to oppressive hours, political infighting, increased competition sparked by globalization, an ‘always-on culture’ bred by the internet — but also something that’s hard for these professionals to put their finger on, an underlying sense that their work isn’t worth the grueling effort they’re putting into it.”

18. The Rise of the WeWorking Class

“The conviction behind the rapid growth of WeWork is that the office culture of the future is likely to be the culture of the future, full stop, and that it is WeWork’s special vocation to bring it to market.”

19. Still At It

“These New Yorkers have been doing the same thing for 50, 60, 70 years — and love it too much to stop.”

20. Dollars on the Margins

“A $15 minimum wage is an antidepressant. It is a sleep aid. A diet. A stress reliever. It is a contraceptive, preventing teenage pregnancy. It prevents premature death. It shields children from neglect. But why? Poverty can be unrelenting, shame-inducing and exhausting. When people live so close to the bone, a small setback can quickly spiral into a major trauma. Being a few days behind on the rent can trigger a hefty late fee, which can lead to an eviction and homelessness. An unpaid traffic ticket can lead to a suspended license, which can cause people to lose their only means of transportation to work. In the same way, modest wage increases have a profound impact on people’s well-being and happiness.”

Sunday 2.17.2019 New York Times Digest

1. Time to Panic

“Being alarmed is not a sign of being hysterical; when it comes to climate change, being alarmed is what the facts demand. Perhaps the only logical response.”

2. A Poet and His Muse

“It takes hard work to become a great artist, but it also requires something mysterious and intuitive.”

3. What Is Death?

“Death is not a binary state or a simple biological fact but a complex social choice.”

4. The Nuns Who Taught Me Feminism

“At a time when violence against children, against women, against the displaced and against the planet is so pervasive, I find glimpses of hope in the nuns’ conviction that compassion can be taught and forgiveness fostered.”

5. The ‘Some of My Best Friends Are Black’ Defense

“Sometimes it’s the relationships that white people have with black friends that can lead them astray. They can be lulled into a false sense of familiarity that might have them pushing boundaries better left untouched.”

6. No, You Can’t Ignore Email. It’s Rude.

“Ignoring email is an act of incivility.”

7. The Joy of Standards

“Our modern existence depends on things we can take for granted.”

8. Life Without Plastic Is Possible. It’s Just Very Hard. + 9 Ways to Cut Down on Plastic

“Treating plastic like a drug habit that needs to be kicked is a lifestyle pledge being shared by more and more consumers, horrified by the tens of millions of metric tons of plastic created worldwide each year, much of it in the form of single-use items like straws, that end up in landfills or, worse, the oceans.”

9. A.S.M.R. Videos Give People the Tingles (No, Not That Way)

“As the industry has expanded, it has also faced resistance from those who see it as something sexual.”

10. Book Agent in the Morning, Carpenter in the Afternoon

“He spends most mornings at the McCormick offices in Manhattan’s flower district, (when the agency moved, Rift was tasked with fabricating new desks and bookcases for the space). Then, at around 1 p.m., he rides two subways to a desolate block in Ridgewood, Queens, to spend afternoons at his garage-turned-shop.”

11. Janet Malcolm: By the Book

“Why have a large library and not use it? Why keep books, if you are not going to read them more than once? For the décor? The answer isn’t entirely no. A book-lined room looks nice. I like walking into my living room and seeing the walls of books with faded spines that have accreted over many decades.”

12. How Wild Was Wild Bill Hickok?

“To succeed as a gunfighter in the American West, it helped to have a competitive advantage. Being fast on the draw was essential — and removing a revolver from a stiff leather holster was never as easy as Hollywood made it seem. But possessing good aim in an age of faulty, smoky ammo and inaccurate weaponry helped even more. The best shot in the early days of the era was the taciturn James Butler Hickok, who for no good reason earned the sobriquet Wild Bill. He boasted another advantage: He was ambidextrous, which meant he could fire off a hail of 12 rounds to the six by an ordinary mortal.”

13. Meg Ryan

“Even if you’re famous in just your office building or neighborhood, social media has given everybody the experience I had; more people are having the experience of cultivating other people’s opinions. Everyone is so happy on social media. It’s depressing.”

14. The Secret History of Women in Coding

“If biology were the reason so few women are in coding, it would be impossible to explain why women were so prominent in the early years of American programming, when the work could be, if anything, far harder than today’s programming. It was an uncharted new field, in which you had to do math in binary and hexadecimal formats, and there were no helpful internet forums, no Google to query, for assistance with your bug. It was just your brain in a jar, solving hellish problems.”

15. The Gay History of America’s Classic Children’s Books

“The authors of many of the most successful and influential works of children’s literature in the middle years of the last century — works that were formative for baby boomers, Gen-Xers, millennials and beyond — were gay.”

16. The Tiny Swiss Company That Thinks It Can Help Stop Climate Change

“The ultimate goal for air capture, however, isn’t to turn it into a product — at least not in the traditional sense. What Gebald and Wurzbacher really want to do is to pull vast amounts of CO₂ out of the atmosphere and bury it, forever, deep underground, and sell that service as an offset. Climeworks’s captured CO₂ has already been injected deep into rock formations beneath Iceland; by the end of the year, the firm intends to deploy 50 units near Reykjavik to expand the operation. But at that point the company will be moving into uncharted economic territory — purveyors of a service that seems desperately needed to help slow climate change but does not, at present, replace anything on the consumer or industrial landscape. To complicate matters, a ton of buried CO₂ is not something that human beings or governments have shown much demand for. And so companies like Climeworks face a quandary: How do you sell something that never existed before, something that may never be cheap, into a market that is not yet real?”

Sunday 2.10.2019 New York Times Digest

1. America’s War of Stories

“We are in the midst of another great war, one that encompasses all of the others: a war of stories.”

2. Why Won’t Blackface Go Away?

“It has been a part of American popular culture since what we recognize as popular culture emerged — roughly round 1832, when Thomas Dartmouth Rice, in blackface, performed his song ‘Jump Jim Crow’ to thunderous applause at the Bowery Theatre in New York.”

3. Day Care for All

“Free public college, health care for all, a living wage: These are all important causes that will improve life for millions. But there’s another proposal that belongs on the progressive to-do list: universal affordable high-quality child care. In fact, I would put it ahead of free public college: It would help more people and do more to change society for the better.”

4. The Real Mommy War Is Against the State

“The United States has the least generous benefits, the lowest public commitment to caregiving, one of the highest wage gaps between employed men and women, and among the highest maternal and child poverty rates of any Western industrialized nation.”

5. Why Girls Beat Boys at School and Lose to Them at the Office

“What if school is a confidence factory for our sons, but only a competence factory for our daughters?”

6. Our Brains Aren’t Designed to Handle the Trump Era

“He told me he suspects that humans during the Trump era are unwittingly re-enacting the rat experiments that James Olds and Peter Milner did in the 1950s, wherein the creatures repeatedly pressed a lever to feel an electric jolt to their reward centers. The poor subjects became such hostages to gratification that they stopped eating, drinking, even having sex. Eventually, they died of exhaustion.”

7. Erykah Badu: Accidental Spirit Guide

“Those are phases of wokeness, where you are judgmental and you’re strong in your opinion, and you’re learning this new information, and all that’s a part of building your character. As you grow more and more, you begin to eliminate the need to judge others and to crucify others and to compete, to have a word debate. You lose those interests as you grow.”

8. Maria Popova: By the Book

“Literature is the original internet — every allusion, footnote and reference is a hyperlink to another text.”

9. A Sensible Climate Change Solution, Borrowed From Sweden

“No other source or collection of sources of energy, they argue, is positioned to meet these challenges in time. Without growth in nuclear power, replacing fossil fuels with renewables simply decarbonizes the existing supply. It doesn’t deal with the increased demand coming from the developing world.”

10. How to Reject an Online Suitor

“Keep it straightforward.”

Sunday 2.3.2019 New York Times Digest

1. Why Can’t Rich People Save Winter?

“With the outlook for winter so dim, it is surprising, shocking even, that the ski industry and the alpine 1 percent it serves have not led the charge to slow climate change — if not to keep the climate safe for their progeny, then at least to save the snow outside their resorts and chalets. Instead, they have largely kept silent or, at most, pursued anemic, low-impact ‘sustainability’ and ‘awareness’ campaigns that give the appearance of advocacy but have done little to accomplish what the winter sports world, and the world at large, needs: rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.”

2. In the Pale of Winter, Trump’s Tan Remains a State Secret

“The official line from the White House, as with other matters surrounding the president’s physical health and appearance, is that Mr. Trump’s glow is the result of ‘good genes,’ according to a senior administration official who would speak only on the condition of anonymity.”

3. Overlooked

“These remarkable black men and women never received obituaries in The New York Times — until now. We’re adding their stories to our project about prominent people whose deaths were not reported by the newspaper.”

4. Murderer, Esq.

“Even as Mr. Reilly makes it his life’s work to advance the cause, he finds himself illustrating its limits. That’s both because his crime was so severe and because he is not satisfied merely to be housed or employed. He craves elite credentials and recognition, like advanced degrees and fellowships, and wants to work on cutting-edge legal issues.”

5. Taunting the Networks, an App Streams Free TV.

“Why is he doing this? The answer is partly principle, and partly intellectual mischief.”

6. When the Suffrage Movement Sold Out to White Supremacy

“The ratification of the 19th Amendment set off celebratory parades all across the country. But confetti was still rustling in the streets when black women across the South learned that the segregationist electoral systems would override the promise of voting rights by obstructing their attempts to register.”

7. Instagram’s Sneakiness Makes Super Bowl Ads Look Quaint

“There is something hollow and dystopian about opening an app to see people you like and instead seeing people you like try to sell products to you.”

8. The Luckiest Sports Fans, Ranked

“A ranking of the best two-decade runs that any pro sports fans have had since World War II, based on both statistical and subjective factors.”

9. Let Children Get Bored Again

“Once you’ve truly settled into the anesthetizing effects of boredom, you find yourself en route to discovery. With monotony, small differences begin to emerge, between those trees, those sweaters.”

10. What Is the Blood of a Poor Person Worth?

“Blood products made up 1.9 percent of all American exports in 2016, more than soybeans, more than computers.”

11. My Mother Was a Betting Woman

“While racetrack gambling and Catholic church bingo nights were legal, informal lottery betting — a practice created by and largely practiced by African-Americans — was illegal. None of this hypocrisy was lost on my mother. ‘We already know that when white folks want to do something bad enough,’ she said, ‘they can just create a law to get away with it.’”

12. The Real Legacy of the 1970s

“Then along came Ronald Reagan. The great secret to his success was not his uncomplicated optimism or his instinct for seizing a moment. It was that he freed people of the responsibility of introspection, released them from the guilt in which liberalism seemed to want to make them wallow.”

13. How Silicon Valley Puts the ‘Con’ in Consent

“The average person would have to spend 76 working days reading all of the digital privacy policies they agree to in the span of a year.”

14. One Way to Make College Meaningful

“Universities have always been hybrid creatures, serving many masters at once: social norms, the market, churches and the exacting standards of disciplinary research, to name four. But the fantasy of the university as a disinterested sphere of pure knowledge is just that. This is not so much to attack the liberal arts as it is to point out that to link them purposefully with life and career goals is not at all to alter the way they have long functioned.”

15. What Science Can Learn From Religion

“It is hubristic to assume that religious thinkers who have grappled for centuries with the workings of the human mind have never discovered anything of interest to scientists studying human behavior.”

16. At the Border, Nuance Is Held in Check.

“Based on these movies and shows, which coincide with the current political debate over a wall between Mexico and the United States, Americans might think nothing but death unfolds on the border. Violence, after all, sells, much as sex does. It’s hard to find the vitality and color of life on the border amid all the onscreen gunfire and despair. It takes some digging to find alternatives to Hollywood’s view.”

17. Frida Kahlo Was a Painter, a Brand Builder, a Survivor. And So Much More.

“By the time she died at the age of 47 in 1954, she left behind a public persona that is still being mined well into the 21st century; today she has more than 800,000 Instagram followers.”

18. The ‘Winter Friday’ Off Is Now a Thing

“Scientific studies conducted in recent years conclude that a four-day week helped employees be more productive and happy at work.”

19. The Queen of Change

“The book’s enduring success — over 4 million copies have been sold since its publication in 1992 — have made its author, a shy Midwesterner who had a bit of early fame in the 1970s for practicing lively New Journalism at the Washington Post and Rolling Stone, among other publications, and for being married, briefly, to Martin Scorsese, with whom she has a daughter, Domenica — an unlikely celebrity. With its gentle affirmations, inspirational quotes, fill-in-the-blank lists and tasks — write yourself a thank-you letter, describe yourself at 80, for example — The Artist’s Way proposes an egalitarian view of creativity: Everyone’s got it.”

20. Marlon James: By the Book

“Here’s the funny thing about so-called genre books: Nobody has ever had to teach a crime writer about cultural appropriation or representation of other people. That’s an affliction that affects only literary novelists. And scoff at chick lit all you want, but it is the only genre where women work.”

21. An Anti-Facebook Manifesto, by an Early Facebook Investor

“Maybe the more frightening dystopia is the one no one warned you about, the one you wake up one morning to realize you’re living inside.”

22. Does ‘Creative’ Work Free You From Drudgery, or Just Security?

“For the privilege of doing ‘creative’ work, we are asked to accept conditions of financial anxiety and precariousness that in previous times were unthinkable to the gainfully employed. ‘Creative’ puts lipstick — or, more precisely, a pair of Warby Parker eyeglasses and a sleeve tattoo — on a pig. It dresses up a ruptured social compact, the raw deal of the gig economy, as bohemian freedom.”

23. How to Win an Argument

“Ultimately, you don’t really convince people — people convince themselves. You just give them the means to do that.”

24. How Iran’s Greatest Director Makes Art of Moral Ambiguity

“The taste of love and the taste of hate are everywhere the same.”

25. Will Sports Betting Transform How Games Are Watched, and Even Played?

“In the middle of the 20th century, television began reframing the way we experience sports. It gave us replays and extended timeouts, pushed World Series games into prime time, scrambled conference affiliations. Through national telecasts and highlights and, later, superstations and cable networks, fans grew intimate with teams many hundreds of miles away. Now gambling is poised to unleash changes just as transformative, and they may come fast.”

Sunday 1.27.2019 New York Times Digest

1. The Real Wall Isn’t at the Border

“Not long from now, it won’t make sense to think of the border as a line, a wall or even any kind of imposing vertical structure. Tearing down, or refusing to fund, border walls won’t get anyone very far in the broader pursuit of global justice. The borders of the future won’t be as easy to spot, build or demolish as the wall that Mr. Trump is proposing. That’s because they aren’t just going up around countries — they’re going up around us. And they’re taking away our freedom.”

2. Washington State Weighs New Option After Death

“A bill before the Washington State Legislature would make this state the first in the nation — and probably the world, legal experts said — to explicitly allow human remains to be disposed of and reduced to soil through composting, or what the bill calls recomposition.”

3. Speaking Black Dialect in Courtrooms Can Have Striking Consequences

“Researchers played audio recordings of a series of sentences spoken in African-American English and asked 27 stenographers who work in courthouses in Philadelphia to transcribe them. On average, the reporters made errors in two out of every five sentences, according to the study.”

4. Why Are Young People Pretending to Love Work?

“In the new work culture, enduring or even merely liking one’s job is not enough. Workers should love what they do, and then promote that love on social media, thus fusing their identities to that of their employers.”

5. Dark-Sky Tourism

“Ninety-nine percent of the U.S. population lives under light-polluted skies.”

6. A Frat Boy and a Gentleman

“It’s wrong to assume that every all-male group is toxic. I found many fraternities offering a comforting family away from home, a safe space for guys who worried that it would be hard to be themselves or find friends in college.”

7. You’re Using Your iPhone Wrong

“To be a minimalist smartphone user means that you deploy this device for a small number of features that do things you value (and that the phone does particularly well), and then outside of these activities, put it away. This approach dethrones this gadget from a position of constant companion down to a luxury object, like a fancy bike or a high-end blender, that gives you great pleasure when you use it but doesn’t dominate your entire day.”

8. Why Do the Oscars Keep Falling for Racial Reconciliation Fantasies?

“They symbolize a style of American storytelling in which the wheels of interracial friendship are greased by employment, in which prolonged exposure to the black half of the duo enhances the humanity of his white, frequently racist counterpart. All the optimism of racial progress — from desegregation to integration to equality to something like true companionship — is stipulated by terms of service.”

9. Car Wash, a Raunchy 1970s Comedy Brimming With Meta and Mayhem

“The contradictions between their labor and our leisure are manifest in the irresistible title song. Punctuated by the exhortation ‘work and work and work,’ the song by the soul group Rose Royce explains that while the Dee-Luxe is ‘no place to be if you plan on being a star’ (never mind that at least in the final credits just about everyone gets to be one), it’s ‘better than digging a ditch’ (what isn’t?) and ‘the boss don’t mind if you act the fool’ (of course not). Heard over the radio, the tune sets the Dee-Luxe employees bopping while they work in a speeded-up version of the Funky Robot dance. Has a $3-an-hour job ever been more fun?”

10. What Adam Conover Can’t Travel Without

“We dispel that image by sharing what flying really looked like back then. In the ’60s planes flew a little lower than they do now. In the ’30s and the ’40s, they flew much lower to the ground. It was a horrible experience. There was a lot more turbulence and it was a lot more dangerous. People were much more likely to die in a plane crash. But the cabins were also full of the smell of cigarette smoke and fuel fumes because they weren’t as good at separating the fuel fumes. The main reason that barf bags are on planes today is because the cabins were constantly full of the smell of jet fuel and cigarette smoke, and there was so much more turbulence, so people were just constantly throwing up.”

11. A New History of Native Americans

“White Americans have long defined the past through narratives of frontier freedoms. Recently, however, historians have moved away from such self-justifying accounts, and a growing field has made the experiences of indigenous displacement, survival and resurgence a new pathway for understanding the nation’s history. Celebratory accounts of European settlement and expansion have increasingly passed into an antiquarian realm, succeeded by studies of settler colonialism that approach the past more comparatively as well as more cautiously.”

12. Need a New Self-Help Guru? Try Aristotle

“An Aristotelian life is not solely about bearing the inevitable, but about identifying the particular talents or natural proclivities that each of us has, and then pursuing a path, consistently and deliberately, over the course of a life.”

13. Mama Was a Numbers Runner

“Especially exhilarating is her history of lotteries. All 13 original colonies ran them and used the proceeds to fund capital improvements. But by 1860, most states had become suspicious of lotteries and had outlawed them precisely because of the egalitarian nature of luck — a poor black person could win one. Denmark Vesey, Davis tells us, was one such example. He used his winnings from a 1799 lottery to buy his freedom; later he founded the African Methodist Church in Charleston and led a famous rebellion against slaveholders in 1822. Lotteries, then, had the potential to upend the systems the states ran on — no wonder they were outlawed for so long. (States did not begin to reintroduce legal lotteries until 1964.)”

14. Is Being a ‘Minority’ Really Just a Matter of Numbers?

“In the United States, you’re either straight and white (and so on), or you’re in the minority. In fact, you are a minority. And that can be awkward.”

15. How to Become Less Angry

“Beware the myth of catharsis: Smashing things won’t help. Despite the popularity of so-called rage rooms, where customers pay to bash televisions with a bat or shatter dishware, research shows that such expressions of anger tend to increase anger. Nor can you rely on pharmacology; in fact, anger is not in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and Tafrate knows of no clinical drug trials for treating anger akin to diagnosable problems like anxiety and depression.”

Sunday 1.20.2019 New York Times Digest


1. How Tech Companies Manipulate Our Personal Data

“Surveillance capitalism depends on the constant gathering of ‘behavioral surplus,’ or the data exhaust that we produce as part of the normal course of web browsing, app use and digital consumption. All of it is potentially revealing, allowing companies to make sophisticated inferences about who we are, what we want and what we’re likely to do.”

2. The N.F.L.’s Obesity Scourge

“Blocking for a $25-million-a-year quarterback, it turns out, can put linemen in the high-risk category for many of the ailments health experts readily encourage people to avoid.”

3. How Sticky Gloves Have Changed Football

“The grippy polymer used on the new generation of gloves, said to be developed first by a Canadian wide receiver and a chemist in a Pakistan laboratory in 1999, is about 20 percent stickier than a human hand.”

4. Hollywood’s Mountain, Now a Molehill

“Netflix, which occupies a rented office tower six blocks from Paramount headquarters, has been swallowing the entertainment business whole. This year, the streaming service will pump out about 90 movies, including documentaries. To compare, the five conventional studios left standing — Paramount, Universal, Sony, Disney and Warner Bros. — will make about that many combined. Paramount is set to contribute 13.”

5. How to Think About the Costs of Climate Change

“Many of the big economic questions in coming decades will come down to just how extreme the weather will be, and how to value the future versus the present.”

6. The Malign Incompetence of the British Ruling Class

“The British political class has offered to the world an astounding spectacle of mendacious, intellectually limited hustlers.”

7. An Adjunct Instructor’s Final Syllabus

“They will experience the short story as a brief immersion in the lives and experiences of others — a vehicle for insight. Students may come to understand, for example, why a 39-year-old woman, graduate degree in hand and reasonably attractive, would allow herself to be seduced by a potbellied has-been 20 years her senior, a scholar-cum-novelist who, after buying her a number of drinks at a conference, persuaded her to relocate from a reasonable metropolitan area to a splotch on the prairie, only to reunite, two and a half weeks after her arrival, with an almost-ex-wife he had somehow neglected to mention.”

8. In Search of Non-Toxic Manhood

“In the actual history of the human race ‘traditional masculinity’ as a single coherent category simply does not exist.”

9. You Have to Look Really Closely

“Up close we can see that in Mr. Opdyke’s fevered vision, the forests are aflame, smoke billowing up from one card into the next, while an orange grove is decimated by freeze. (‘Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice.’) A steamboat lolling up the Mississippi is being swallowed up whole by some sort of invasive new species: a mega-faunapus, if you will. The shimmering wheat fields are desiccated, the once proud threshing machines abandoned. A plague of locusts swells out over another tranche of cards. Giant tornadoes churn through entire sections of the grid up to the left. Frogs are falling out of the sky to the right. Monarch butterflies flit and flutter, probably the last of their kind.”

10. A Woman’s Rights

“More and more laws are treating a fetus as a person, and a woman as less of one.”

11. Do You Take This Robot…

“In a world where sex toys that respond and give feedback and artificial-intelligence-powered sex robots are inching toward the mainstream, are digisexuals a fringe group, destined to remain buried in the sexual underground? Or, in a culture permeated with online pornography, sexting and Tinder swiping, isn’t everyone a closet digisexual?”

12. Why Do We Hurt Robots?

“While human antagonism toward robots has different forms and motivations, it often resembles the ways that humans hurt each other. Robot abuse, she said, might stem from the tribal psychology of insiders and outsiders.”

13. New & Noteworthy

“A professor of media theory, Rushkoff files field notes from the war between man and machine, arguing gloomily that technology is currently winning, quickly chipping away at our humanity.”

14. Double Exposure

“Why did a man whose life and work were knitted into the civil rights movement feed information to J. Edgar Hoover?”

15. Behind the Guitar Heroes

“He came up with something simpler, eliminating fine woodworking and its sculptural glued-on neck; his neck was bolted on and easily replaceable, for a guitar that could be manufactured, affordable and practical. ‘This was the leap from classical design to modernism; from the age of walnut to the age of celluloid; from the America of brick-and-iron cities to the America of stucco-and-glass suburbs.’”

16. All the President’s Memes

“It’s impossible to overstate how peculiar it is that the most powerful man in the world, who will turn 73 in June, posts memes.”

17. How Secrecy Fuels Facebook Paranoia

“When platforms become entrenched and harder for users to leave, the secrets they keep are reflected back to them as resentments.”

18. Letter of Recommendation: Rides to the Airport

“In modern friendship, riding in a car with someone represents a significant form of intimacy, one almost equivalent to lying on the couch in contented silence. It’s an intimacy built through comfort, proximity and aimlessness. And the airport ride is the ultimate gesture of selflessness: an act of service with little reward for the giver. So that has always been my standard of knowing you have found a place in a new town: having someone whom you’d call to grab you from the airport with little promised in return, besides a beer or two.”

19. How to Wear Camouflage

“No whites anywhere but in the snow.”

20. Is Ancient DNA Research Revealing New Truths — or Falling Into Old Traps?

“When we thought of populations as stationary and largely stable, we assumed that whatever evolutionary progress they made, from toolmaking to agriculture, reflected either a native innovation or the incorporation of some adjacent group’s avant-garde practice. Now it seemed as though culture was less about the invention and spread of new ideas and more about the mass movements of particular peoples — and the resulting integration, outcompetition or extermination of the communities they overran.”