Early Success Will Spoil You

“When you’re young, and things come super easily to you, and you have success right out of the gate, you’re liable to think that’s how it actually works. You start to think you don’t need to be fully prepared or committed to have these things meet you.”

—actress Sarah Paulson on success later in lifeGQ, October 2016

Sunday 9.25.2016 New York Times Digest


1. Phone Makers Could Cut Off Drivers. So Why Don’t They?

“Does Apple — or any cellphone maker or wireless company — have a responsibility to prevent devices from being used by drivers in illegal and dangerous ways?”

2. Clinton-Trump Debate Expected to Be Rare Draw in a Polarized Age

“This is Americans gathering around the electronic hearth.”

3. Where Ice Once Crushed Ships, Open Water Beckons

“Because of global warming this year, the ice has melted so much that actually we had to look for ice rather than try to avoid it.”

4. Why Industrial Farms Are Good for the Environment

“Improvements in agricultural technologies and production practices have significantly lowered the use of energy and water, and greenhouse-gas emissions of food production per unit of output over time. United States crop production now is twice what it was in 1970.”

5. Longing for the Male Gaze

“I was never hit on or sexually harassed by my professors in college, or later, by my co-workers or superiors. I have not felt as if my male teachers, friends or colleagues thought less of me because of my gender. I’ve never been aggressively ‘hit on’ in a bar, despite the fact that I have frequented them alone throughout the years. In fact, I’ve rarely been approached in a bar at all.”

6. Am I Introverted, or Just Rude?

“Society has a rich history of people seizing on social evolution as an excuse for bad manners. From the Romantic poets to the transcendentalists to the Summer of Love hippies, many have rejected a supposed facade of good behavior in favor of being true to their inner nature. Good manners are mere mannerisms, the argument goes, which serve only to put barriers in the way of deeper connections.”

7. The Political Magic of C.S. Lewis

“There are many politically prominent Christians today who should think and act more like Lewis.”

8. Aging and My Beauty Dilemma

“For women in certain professional or social circles, the bar of normal keeps going up.”

9. Richard Ford Reviews Bruce Springsteen’s Memoir

“His work’s entirety — the songs, the music, the guitar, the voice, the persona, the gyrations, the recitativos, the whole artifice of ‘the act,’ or what Springsteen calls the ‘sum of all my parts’ — is so dense, involved and authentic-seeming as to all but defy what we think we know about how regular human beings make things at ground level. Having been present at many of his performances, I can attest that you’re often close to being overwhelmed by what you’re hearing and seeing. It’s an experience that draws you toward itself — to taste the best and richest stuff, but also naturally enough to find things out, such as if you’re being deceived.”

10. Why Do People Who Need Help From the Government Hate It So Much?

“What unites her subjects is the powerful feeling that others are ‘cutting in line’ and that the federal government is supporting people on the dole — ‘taking money from the workers and giving it to the idle.’ Income is flowing up, but the anger points down. The people who feel this are white. The usurpers they picture are blacks and immigrants.”

11. Remainders of the Day

“Not only would no one buy my book, but libraries in various countries were disposing of them because people wouldn’t take them for free.”

12. What We See When We Look at Travel Photography

“The tourist caricature is in a funny position. The ‘point’ of his or her vacation is not something discrete, like Lévi-Strauss’s registration of a new marriage rule, but simply the accumulation of rarefied experience for its own sake, which means that every single moment must be optimally memorable — that is, photographable. Unlike the tourist, the traveler accepts that the point isn’t the intensity of the peak experiences but the way the journey itself sacralizes any given moment as a metonym for the whole. Feel free to photograph the gas station.”

13. Effortless Hair? It’s Complicated

“The stylish are not risk-takers: They have a deep and unfailing sense of what works, what looks good on them, what feels good, what they like. They don’t waste time trying to turn lead into gold. Some people talk about style as ‘owning’ something, usually ‘it.’ But what seems more important than ‘owning’ one’s body or aesthetic or look is inhabiting it. The stylish do not control their bodies from above like a ghost in a machine; they live in them. They may appear fierce or daring or avant-garde, but they are actually quite comfortable. They are nesters.”

14. Ikea Forever

“The reason Ikea furniture is so popular, one could argue, is that, with its combination of astonishingly low prices and streamlined Scandinavian design, it addresses the needs of almost everyone.”

Sunday 9.18.2016 New York Times Digest


1. Why Do Anything? A Meditation on Procrastination

“That which is yet to be born — be it the world, a person, a piece of furniture or a piece of writing like this one — may be nothing, but at this stage it is at its utmost. Its nothingness is fuller and richer than any ordinary existence. To fall into existence is to enter time, and with time comes decay, aging and death.”

2. Swamps, Marijuana, Moonshine: 2 Prison Escapees’ 3 Weeks on the Run in New York

“They managed to avoid capture for three weeks in the rugged northernmost reaches of New York State. Navigating by the stars and using evasion tactics gleaned from Vietnam War movies, they pillaged peanut butter and pasta — as well as moonshine and marijuana — from remote hunting cabins. They stole sleep by the hour and tracked their pursuers’ movements via news reports on a purloined transistor radio. In the end, feet worn bloody by flight, they argued and went their separate ways before their bids for freedom ended — one in capture, one in death.”

3. Scuba, Parrots, Yoga: Veterans Embrace Alternative Therapies for PTSD

“Traditional medical approaches generally rely on drugs and controlled re-experiencing of trauma, called exposure therapy. But this combination has proved so unpopular that many veterans quit before finishing or avoid it altogether. This has given rise to hundreds of small nonprofits across the country that offer alternatives: therapeutic fishing, rafting and backpacking trips, horse riding, combat yoga, dogs, art collectives, dolphin swims, sweat lodge vision quests and parrot husbandry centers, among many, many others.”

4. Baseball’s Stirrups: Always in Season, if Not in Fashion

“In the 1860s, players were said to have started wearing colored high socks to display their calves, under the notion that it would entice female fans. As more players embraced the fashion, a health problem arose — blood from spike wounds could easily mix with the toxic dyes used at the time. A white sanitary sock under a stirrup, though, could prevent infection.”

5. Fictional New York City Apartments Get Real

“As rising rents squeeze young New Yorkers, the TV apartment has become grittier, dirtier and ever more cramped. You could almost say it is angry.”

6. So You Think Your Place Is Small?

“It would be nice if I could use the stove to cook eggs and potatoes on. Everything else I can eat without cooking. I assure you, the items listed are the extent of my limited diet. Occasionally I will bring home a jalapeño.”

7. Can You Have a Good Life if You Don’t Have a Good Job?

“Slowly, incrementally, Americans have been moving away from a system in which a good job with a generous employer was the key to having a good life to a new system in which even people with low-wage jobs can have access to the basic goods and services that define a decent life in a modern society.”

8. Why College Rankings Are a Joke

“The rankings nourish the myth that the richest, most selective colleges have some corner on superior education; don’t adequately recognize public institutions that prioritize access and affordability; and do insufficient justice to the particular virtues of individual campuses.”

9. Put Globalization to Work for Democracies

“We must reassess the balance between national autonomy and economic globalization. Simply put, we have pushed economic globalization too far — toward an impractical version that we might call ‘hyperglobalization.’”

10. Would You Hide a Jew From the Nazis?

“In the 1930s and ’40s, the United States denied visas to most Jews.”

11. Hollywood, Separate and Unequal and Hollywood in Black and White: 6 Moments From Film History

“Early in their history, the movies were greeted as the great equalizer, a democratic ideal in beautiful celluloid, a mass medium for the masses. That’s a reassuring fantasy, because, as anyone who watches an old Hollywood movie knows, most movies didn’t speak to everyone equally. They still don’t, despite occasional efforts to change.”

12. Want to Find Fulfillment at Last? Think Like a Designer

“The two professors claim that you can design an amazing life in the same way that Jonathan Ive designed the iPhone. They say the practices taught in the class and the book can help you (in designing-your-life-speak) ‘reframe’ dysfunctional beliefs that surround life and career decisions and help you ‘wayfind’ in a chaotic world through the adoption of such design tenets as bias-for-action, prototyping and team-building.”

13. Colin Kaepernick and the Question of Who Gets to Be Called a ‘Patriot’

“When a black American protests the demoralizing practices of American government, there is always a white person eager to unfurl the welcome mat to Africa. This is where racism and patriotism tend to point: toward the exits. For some, we learn, being American is conditional on behaving like a grateful guest: You belong here because we tolerate your presence. We don’t yet appear to have settled the matter of citizenship — not even for our president, another black man backhandedly accused of harboring terrorist sympathies. We operate on the old logic that only members of the family are allowed to tell hard truths about the family’s flaws. And when black people speak about America, they’re informed that they do not actually have a seat at the grown-ups’ table and that they should be grateful to be around at all.”

14. What Playing Madden Teaches Us About Football — and What It Doesn’t

“The accumulation of all the years of Madden has provided a safer, more manageable facsimile of what we watch on Sunday.”

15. How to Escape a Sinking Ship

“Leaping into the water should be your last resort.”

16. Could Ancient Remedies Hold the Answer to the Looming Antibiotics Crisis?

“As far as organic drug factories go, it’s difficult to beat the complexity and ingenuity of plants. Plants are nature’s chemical wizards.”

Sunday 9.11.2016 New York Times Digest


1. What Should You Choose: Time or Money?

“The people who chose time were on average statistically happier and more satisfied with life than the people who chose money.”

2. Arm Wrestling’s Popularity Goes Over the Top

“Mr. Ayello works as a New York City firefighter for Ladder Company 135 in Glendale, Queens, but for seven years, he has moonlighted as a professional arm wrestler.”

3. With Wearable Tech Deals, New Player Data Is Up for Grabs

As debates about athletes’ rights intensify in big-time college sports, the next frontier, independent experts say, could be privacy issues related to wearable tech, which in coming years could expand beyond health trackers like Fitbit and the Apple Watch to so-called smart clothing, with sensors embedded in the material itself.

4. Boise State Mounts a Paper Defense of Its Home Turf

“Boise State has the right to license or deny any field that could be mistakenly associated with its trademark.”

5. How to Become a C.E.O.? The Quickest Path Is a Winding One

“Early evidence suggests that success in the business world isn’t just about brainpower or climbing a linear path to the top, but about accumulating diverse skills and showing an ability to learn about fields outside one’s comfort zone.”

6. A Robot May Be Training to Do Your Job. Don’t Panic.

“Eventually … the moment will come when machines possess empathy, the ability to innovate and other traits we perceive as uniquely human. What then? How will we sustain our own career relevance?”

7. We Need ‘Somebody Spectacular’: Views From Trump Country

“She voted for Barack Obama in 2008, and says her political choices are gut-driven rather than party-driven. ‘I have never been this political,’ she tells me. ‘This is the most fired-up I’ve ever been for a candidate.’ She believes Trump will get business going, revoke trade deals she sees as draining domestic jobs, and ‘clean up the mess Obama has left us.’ But what, I ask, of Trump’s evident character flaws? ‘Sure, he’s kind of a loose cannon, but he tells it the way it is and, if elected, people will be there to calm him down a bit, tweak a word or two in his speeches. And I just don’t trust Hillary Clinton.’”

8. Before You Spend $26,000 on Weight-Loss Surgery, Do This

“It is nonsensical that we’re expected to prescribe these techniques to our patients while the medical guidelines don’t include another better, safer and far cheaper method: a diet low in carbohydrates.”

9. Why We Should Stop Grading Students on a Curve

“At best, it creates a hypercompetitive culture, and at worst, it sends students the message that the world is a zero-sum game: Your success means my failure.”

10. Trigger Warnings, Safe Spaces and Free Speech, Too

“A little heads-up can help students engage with uncomfortable and complex topics, and a little sensitivity to others, at the most basic level, isn’t coddling. Civic discourse in this country has become pretty ugly, so maybe it’s not surprising that students are trying to create ways to have compassionate, civil dialogue.”

11. Temperatures Rise, and We’re Cooked

“Murders go up with the temperature.”

12. The Trauma of Violent News on the Internet

“There are several reasons to suspect that the emotional impact of such intimate social-media images or internet-derived news is different, and perhaps even longer-lasting in some cases, than that from old-media sources.”

13. One-Thing Shop: Tinned Fish, Lisbon

“Really, our future is our past.”

14. How the American Revolution Worked Against Blacks, Indians and Women

“Can a revolution conceived mainly as sordid, racist and divisive be the inspiration for a nation?”

15. Jon Ronson Reviews a New Book About Bad Digital Behavior

“This is her provocative and at times compelling thesis: The internet — ‘the largest unregulated social experiment of all time,’ in the words of the clinical psychologist Michael Seto — is turning us, as a species, more mentally disordered, anxious, obsessive, narcissistic, exhibitionist, body dysmorphic, psychopathic, schizophrenic.”

16. The Hunger in Our Heads

“We often seek food after focused mental activity, like preparing for an exam or poring over spreadsheets. Researchers speculate that heavy bouts of thinking drain energy from the brain, whose capacity to store fuel is very limited. So the brain, sensing that it may soon require more calories to keep going, apparently stimulates bodily hunger, and even though there has been little in the way of physical movement or caloric expenditure, we eat.”

17. Letter of Recommendation: Glass Bricks

“You’ll find them all around you once you start looking, hidden in plain sight, suturing together memories of the past and visions of the future.”

18. The New High-School Outsiders

“When these students land in Idaho, they may know little or no English. The bucolic landscape looks nothing like the America they say they fantasized about from glimpses of pop culture abroad.”

19. Fortress of Tedium: What I Learned as a Substitute Teacher.

Everything is interesting. Potentially. Sometimes it may not seem so. You may think a certain thing is completely without interest. You may think, or I may think, eh, dull, boring, heck with it, let’s move on. But there is someone on this planet who can find something interesting in that particular thing. And it’s often good to try. You have to poke at a thing, sometimes, and find out where it squeaks. Any seemingly dull thing is made up of subsidiary things. It’s a composite — of smaller events or decisions. Or of atoms and molecules and prejudices and hunches that are fireflying around in unexpected and impossible trajectories. Everything is interesting because everything is not what it is, but is something on the way to being something else. Everything has a history and a secret stash of fascination.”

20. When Dick Cavett Met Seth Meyers

“There’s no honor now to have a talk show.”

21. The Most Famous Pop Artist You Don’t Know

“Throughout the decades of underappreciation that followed his original success, the shy, slim Cincinnati native produced a polished and graphically appealing body of work that, nearly 12 years after his death and 40 or so after the first cold shoulder, is re-emerging as a joyful, innocent rejoinder to the cynical materialism of much of contemporary art.”

Sunday 9.4.2016 New York Times Digest


1. Flooding of Coast, Caused by Global Warming, Has Already Begun

“For decades, as the global warming created by human emissions caused land ice to melt and ocean water to expand, scientists warned that the accelerating rise of the sea would eventually imperil the United States’ coastline. Now, those warnings are no longer theoretical: The inundation of the coast has begun.”

2. The Curse of a Phoenix Weatherman: Finding New Ways to Say ‘It’s Hot’

“‘I go, “It’s hot,” or, “It’s above average,” or, “It’s going to be extremely warm today,”’ he said on a 105-degree day, from the safety of a Starbucks where he sipped a strawberry smoothie to ‘take the edge off the heat,’ as he put it.”

3. Celebrity Answering Service Endures, Its Secrets Intact

“Days were rarely dull, and were typified by incidents that might seem impossible in today’s relentlessly managed culture of celebrity. Noël Coward once called in despair in the middle of the night: He needed more Scotch to keep Marlene Dietrich entertained. But it was Sunday, and the liquor stores were closed. Mrs. Printz dispatched her husband to buy a bottle from a bartender and deliver it personally.”

4. Venture Communism: How China Is Building a Start-Up Boom

“For much of China’s long economic boom, young people flocked to manufacturing zones for jobs making bluejeans or iPhones. But today China is trying to move beyond just being the world’s factory floor. Policy makers want the next generation to find better-paying work in modern offices, creating the ideas, technologies and jobs to feed the country’s future growth.”

5. The Formula for a Richer World? Equality, Liberty, Justice

“Give masses of ordinary people equality before the law and equality of social dignity, and leave them alone, and it turns out that they become extraordinarily creative and energetic.”

6. Download: Taylor Sheridan

“If you want to get an email to Robert Redford, you send it to his assistant and she prints it out. And then he will write you a letter, which is incredibly rare and incredibly classy.”

7. Political Correctness and Its Real Enemies

“If anything, the real threat to free inquiry isn’t students, but that same market imperative that First Amendment defenders claim to hold dear. Most university leaders serve not politically correct pieties but pressures to satisfy student ‘customers’ and to avoid negative publicity, liability and losses in ‘brand’ or ‘market share’ — terms that belong in corporate suites but appear, increasingly, in deans’ offices.”

8. For a Long Life, Retire to Manhattan

“The city remains completely indifferent to me, as it is to everyone. But without doing anything or talking to anyone, a walker on the street participates in the general excitement. Sitting at a diner and looking out, you see life itself on the other side of the window. Whatever your opinion of humanity, you have people to bewilder or console you. Manhattan reminds you of your utter irrelevance to the greater scheme of the universe.”

9. What Religion Would Jesus Belong To?

“Only half of American Christians can name the four Gospels, only 41 percent are familiar with Job, and barely half of American Catholics understand Catholic teaching about the eucharist.”

10. You’re How Old? We’ll Be in Touch

“Age segregation impoverishes us, because it cuts us off from most of humanity and because the exchange of skills and stories across generations is the natural order of things. In the United States, ageism has subverted it.”

11. Mike Birbiglia’s 6 Tips for Making It Small in Hollywood. Or Anywhere.

“Write. Make a short film. Go to an open mike. Take an improv class. There’s no substitute for actually doing something. Don’t talk about it anymore. Maybe don’t even finish reading this essay.”

12. Tom Wolfe Raises His Voice in an Account of Human Speech

“We are dealing with a short book by a big writer on a dull topic, further complicated — as it turns out — by an old man’s willingness to digress (surely the Spanish Civil War could have been left out of all this?), and the result is a qualified success. The scope is far too vast for such brief treatment, and the author’s lifelong commitment to carbonating even the most esoteric subjects leads him to get caught up in so many gossipy side notes — the scientist whose wife and daughter were stricken with volcanic diarrhea during his fieldwork in the Amazon; the class anxiety of a 19th-century visitor to the ­Lin­nean Society — that the reader is left to wonder what, exactly, is Wolfe’s point.”

13. How to Tickle Someone

“Do not try to tickle a stranger.”

14. Making House: Notes on Domesticity

“I have often looked at photographs of writers in their elegant book-lined studies and marveled at what seems to me a mirage of sorts, the near-perfect alignment of seeming with being, the convincing illusion of mental processes on public display, as though writing a book were not the work of someone capable of all the shame and deviousness and coldheartedness in the world.”

Sunday 8.28.2016 New York Times Digest


1. Do You Believe in God, or Is That a Software Glitch?

“When you divide the brain into bitty bits and make millions of calculations according to a bunch of inferences, there are abundant opportunities for error, particularly when you are relying on software to do much of the work. This was made glaringly apparent back in 2009, when a graduate student conducted an fM.R.I. scan of a dead salmon and found neural activity in its brain when it was shown photographs of humans in social situations. Again, it was a salmon. And it was dead.”

2. What University of Texas Campus Is Saying About Concealed Guns

“The question now is how do those abstract ideas play out — for students trying to get through organic chemistry or meet a professor after class, professors who want to introduce critical thinking and intellectual exploration without fear, and administrators walking a tightrope with the Legislature. Here are the thoughts of four members of this campus.”

3. From Bikinis to Burkinis, Regulating What Women Wear

“What is it about women’s swimwear and more generally women’s attire that over and over in history has attracted controversy and impelled societies to legislate or regulate women’s choices?”

4. Grandmaster Flash Beats Back Time

“For a city in distress, hip-hop was an embodiment of disorder and a creative response to it. Even the performers did not see much future in the music beyond their local parks and rec centers, or the mix tapes they sold to peers. There were no instruments and no singing, and the musical accompaniment came from others’ recordings — how could anyone make records out of that?”

5. G.E., the 124-Year-Old Software Start-Up

“Their marching orders are to try to adapt the digital wizardry and hurry-up habits of Silicon Valley to G.E.’s world of industrial manufacturing.”

6. Packing Technology Into the Timeless Barrel

“The United States is now the largest market for wine barrels. Domestic whiskey production is up 41 percent in the last decade — and, thanks to a quirk in federal law, almost every drop has to be aged in a new oak barrel. The demand has come on so suddenly and vertiginously that barrel prices are up 70 percent since 2012, and some cooperages have 12-month waiting lists.”

7. Trump and the Dark History of Straight Talk

“It may feel like a new phenomenon in contemporary American politics, but the ‘I just want to tell it like it is’ maneuver is a familiar one in the annals of rhetoric. It’s what Mark Antony is up to when he says to the Roman crowd in ‘Julius Caesar,’ ‘I am no orator, as Brutus is; / But, as you know me all, a plain, blunt man,’ in the midst of his ‘Friends, Romans and countrymen’ speech, one of the most cunning displays of technical rhetoric, not only in Shakespeare, but in the English language.”

8. Where Is God on the Small Screen?

Often, faith has been relegated to syrupy treatments (‘Touched by an Angel’), used as a vehicle for supernatural plots (see Fox’s ‘The Exorcist,’ coming this fall, and Cinemax’s ‘Outcast’) or ignored altogether. It’s rare to see the kind of immersive depiction that a series like ‘Greenleaf’ makes possible: religion as a way of life, a means for good and bad and struggling people to engage with existence.”

9. The Race to Save the Films We Love

“All movies are time machines, and restoration helps bring the moving-image present together with a past that is always — as prints decay, labs close and money ebbs — moving further away.”

10. Black Health Matters

“Ms. Leigh’s work is carried out in the black radical tradition, one that declares that holistic health care is not a luxury, but rather an act of resilience, survival and disobedience — a necessity.”

11. How to Raise a Mensch

“Jews come from a vertiginously long tradition of ‘questioning, yammering, challenging and disputing,’ she writes. ‘The Talmud, the compendium of Jewish law, is pretty much a bunch of dudes contradicting one another. Each page is a big box of text in the middle, and wrapped around it like a frame is lots of “Wait, you think what?”’ Encouraging such chutzpah and sharp debate from a young age has not only helped the tiny religious minority survive centuries of persecution, she argues, but also made them creative freethinkers as well as humanitarians who stand up for what’s right.”

12. Imagine Your Substitute Teacher Is Nicholson Baker. For These Kids, He Was.

“Failed schoolmasters like Thoreau and Wittgenstein further support my point, which is how lost even the most gifted person can become in a classroom full of needy kids.”

13. Overselling A.D.H.D.: A New Book Exposes Big Pharma’s Role

“No blood test or CT scan can tell you if you have the condition — the diagnosis is made by subjective clinical evaluation and screening questionnaires. This lack of any bright line between pathology and eccentricity, Schwarz argues, has allowed Big Pharma to get away with relentless expansion of the franchise.”

14. The Co-Founder of n+1 Is ‘Against Everything’

“In our dumbed-down, social-media-­driven age, Against Everything embodies a return to the pleasures of critical discourse at its most cerebral and personable.”

15. Fiction or Standardized Test? Multiple Choice Is Both

“What to do when you’re confined to a series of choices that all lead to despair?”

16. A Critical History Asks, What Does It Mean to Be Modern?

“For Smith, the ‘modernity’ of his book’s title connotes (among other things) a handful of core convictions: the value of freedom and equality; the importance of being able to think for oneself; the real possibility of universal enlightenment. Like Tocqueville, Smith worries that these liberal convictions, though superficially benign, nevertheless issue in a debased form of life that he associates with ‘low-minded materialism, moral cowardice and philistinism.’ It’s as if an expansion of popular optimism about the future, alongside an amelioration of everyday life for ordinary people, must produce, as its shadow, a supine complacency, conjoined with a lazy form of what-me-worry nihilism — a democracy of dunces.”

17. Do People Hate Poetry? According to Ben Lerner, Yes

“Lerner’s thesis is essentially as follows: Poetry ‘arises from the desire to get beyond the finite and the historical … and to reach the transcendent or divine.’ Since this can’t be done, the poet is ‘a tragic figure’ and any given poem is ‘always a record of failure.’”

18. Read It Later: A Procrastinator’s Memoir

“Committing to a demanding personal project is also very difficult because we are perfectionists and fear failure, and it is much easier just to sit around and look at baby owl videos on the internet.”

19. The Story of How Handwriting Evolved, and May Soon Die Off

“Considering its rich significance, instead of hustling handwriting off to the graveyard, perhaps what’s called for is resurrection.”

20. Memo to Parents: Back Off, and Children Learn More

“Gopnik’s title comes from her idea that modern parents too often approach their tasks like a carpenter, attempting to shape the raw material into a particular finished product. Better to be a gardener, she writes, cultivating ‘a protected and nurturing space for plants to flourish’ but realizing that the greatest beauty comes when we relinquish total control. After all, the whole point about the future is that we don’t know exactly what we’ll face there. If children are specially built to adapt and innovate, then it’s counterproductive to overschedule their time and overdetermine their interests.”

21. How Donald Trump Blew Up the ‘Gaffe’

“What Reagan understood … was that a gaffe revealed at least as much about the journalists who called attention to it as it did about the politician who uttered it. It reflected their own preoccupations and biases, which voters did not necessarily share. Ever since the late 1960s, when reporters began to take a more active role in scrutinizing presidential candidates, they had operated on the assumption that the way a candidate managed the challenges and humiliations of the campaign trail was in some way reflective of how they would perform in the White House itself — that a candidacy was a meaningful simulation of a presidency. By the 1980s, this vision of campaign reporting was toppling into solipsism. Journalists were, effectively, grading politicians on their ability to perform what everyone understood to be a largely artificial version of themselves — practicing a kind of theater criticism as much as political reporting.”

22. Turning Instagram Into a Radically Unfiltered Travel Guide

“This has become my compass, my way of navigating the world. Rather than obsessing over travel sites or print guides or bothering friends for recommendations, I check a new city or town’s location tag right before I get there and see which recent posts are most popular. What I see there is wildly unfiltered, refracted through multiple perspectives — and much more revealing than any other guide.”

23. Where the Death Penalty Still Lives

“Twenty states and the District of Columbia have abolished capital punishment. Four more have imposed a moratorium on executions. Of the 26 remaining states, only 14 handed down any death sentences last year, for a total of 50 across the country — less than half the number six years before. California, which issued more than one-quarter of last year’s death sentences, hasn’t actu­ally executed anyone since 2006. A new geography of capital punishment is taking shape, with just 2 percent of the nation’s counties now accounting for a majority of the people sitting on death row.”

24. Inside Facebook’s (Totally Insane, Unintentionally Gigantic, Hyperpartisan) Political-Media Machine

“This year, political content has become more popular all across the platform: on homegrown Facebook pages, through media companies with a growing Facebook presence and through the sharing habits of users in general. But truly Facebook-native political pages have begun to create and refine a new approach to political news: cherry-picking and reconstituting the most effective tactics and tropes from activism, advocacy and journalism into a potent new mixture. This strange new class of media organization slots seamlessly into the news feed and is especially notable in what it asks, or doesn’t ask, of its readers. The point is not to get them to click on more stories or to engage further with a brand. The point is to get them to share the post that’s right in front of them. Everything else is secondary.”

All I Think About Is Money

“I’ve lived in the city all my life. I grew up on the Upper East Side, and when I was ten years old I was rich, I was an aristocrat, riding around in taxis, surrounded by comfort, and all I thought about was art and music. Now I’m thirty-six, and all I think about is money.”

—Wallace Shawn, My Dinner with André (1981)