Sunday 12.2.2018 New York Times Digest

1. The Most Wonderful Smelling Time of the Year

“No other sense is as direct as smell. No other sense is as ancient. Smell bypasses the neural processing centers that mediate all other senses. The aroma of fir trees flies me directly into specific wordless memories: childhood holidays, hand-sawn woodwork and my feet tramping through wet forests.”

2. To Help Prevent the Next Big Wildfire, Let the Forest Burn

“Policymakers and citizens alike must abandon the idea that trees are always worth saving and that fire is always a threat. Instead, they should permit modest, ecologically necessary wildfires to burn.”

3. Should We Contact Isolated Tribes?

“How do they want to live? Can outsiders presume they don’t want contact without communicating with them? Where does their hostility come from?”

4. The $25 Nap Is Worth It

“In a gig economy, the ability to take a nap is a huge advantage. “

5. What the Movies Taught Me About Being a Woman

“Movies teach us all sorts of things: how to aspire, who to fantasize about (all those princes will come), how to smoke, dress, walk into a room (always like Bette Davis). They teach us who to love and how, as well as the ostensible necessity of sacrificing love along with careers. They also teach us that showering, babysitting, being in underground parking lots or simply being female might get you killed. There isn’t a causal relationship between viewer behavior and the screen. There doesn’t have to be. Because movies get into our bodies, making us howl and weep, while their narrative and visual patterns, their ideas and ideologies leave their imprint.”

6. And the Beat Goes On

“It’s a whole culture.”

7. Nice Shirt. I Know How You Voted.

“Clothing preferences were a key metric for Cambridge Analytica, whose business was constructing and selling voter profiles drawn from Facebook data.”

8. Do You Know What You’re Breathing?

“Installed on a porch, a console table or hooked to a backpack, these small, sleek and increasingly inexpensive devices measure hyper-local air quality. They are marketed to the discerning and alarmed consumer. Some have begun to self-identify as ‘breathers.’”

9. New & Noteworthy Books

“The basic argument is that people with choices are less likely to seek improvements; they just head for the exits.”

10. Imagining What Happens When the Robots Take the Wheel

“Schwartz figures that autonomous vehicles, or A.V.s, will arrive in huge numbers in the decades ahead, bringing cheaper mobility options, improved safety, reduced pollution thanks to the electric motors they will favor, but also profound ethical dilemmas — namely, the restaging of the conflict between walking and driving.”

11. Letter of Recommendation: Jazz on European TV

“In the late ’50s and 1960s, television was spreading rapidly throughout Europe. Producers needed content, and it happened that American jazz musicians like Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong had been touring the Continent for decades, often playing to audiences better prepared to celebrate black artistry than those in the United States. The new stations — most of them state-owned — would present performances by jazz’s defining greats as major cultural events. Collectively they created a documentary record like no other: dozens of expertly staged and photographed concerts by heroic figures, captured at close range.”

12. The Radicalization of Adam McKay

“Throughout the film, Cheney is depicted as a fearsomely capable stalker of prey; a recurring motif concerns his passion for fly fishing, which McKay described to me as crucial to understanding him. He hired a fly fisherman as a consultant. ‘You can’t believe the level of patience and detail that’s involved — lifting up the rocks to see what kinds of bugs are underneath so you know what kind of lure to use; watching the drift, the way the sun’s hitting it so you know what illusion to create with your lure. And that’s the story with Dick Cheney. Meticulous detail and tremendous patience.’”

13. The Insect Apocalypse Is Here

“The world never feels fallen, because we grow accustomed to the fall.”

14. How the Myth of the Hedonistic Artist Lost Its Allure

“Artists, even the hedonistic ones, are fundamentally, one might say excessively, ascetic.”

15. Why Is Japan Still So Attached to Paper?

“Paper has a long history all over the world, but it is to Japan something like what wine is to the French — a national obsession and point of pride. It remains, despite every innovation since, the central material of Japanese culture.”

Sunday 11.25.2018 New York Times Digest

1. Everything Is for Sale Now. Even Us.

“Almost everyone I know now has some kind of hustle, whether job, hobby, or side or vanity project. Share my blog post, buy my book, click on my link, follow me on Instagram, visit my Etsy shop, donate to my Kickstarter, crowdfund my heart surgery. It’s as though we are all working in Walmart on an endless Black Friday of the soul.”

2. China Rules

“Eight American presidents assumed, or hoped, that China would eventually bend to what were considered the established rules of modernization: Prosperity would fuel popular demands for political freedom and bring China into the fold of democratic nations. Or the Chinese economy would falter under the weight of authoritarian rule and bureaucratic rot. But neither happened. Instead, China’s Communist leaders have defied expectations again and again. They embraced capitalism even as they continued to call themselves Marxists. They used repression to maintain power but without stifling entrepreneurship or innovation. Surrounded by foes and rivals, they avoided war, with one brief exception, even as they fanned nationalist sentiment at home. And they presided over 40 years of uninterrupted growth, often with unorthodox policies the textbooks said would fail.”

3. Weed Is Legal, Spot. Give Us Your Badge.

“As states and cities loosen their drug laws, the highly trained dogs their police departments use to sniff out narcotics can’t always be counted on to smell the right thing.”

4. A Rare Look at a Hometown Champ

“What makes this collection stand out are its intimacy and simplicity: Ali reading a newspaper on his hotel bed; Ali tickling his young daughters; Ali surprising his mother with a new car; Ali jogging with his wife in the early-morning fog of his training grounds in Deer Lake, Pa. Wherever he went, the Louisville photographers were always close by.”

5. Thinking Outside the Coffin

“These days, everyone wants to be a tree.”

6. Libraries, Gardens, Museums. Oh, and a Clothing Store.

“If the old model — the merch emporium — gave way during the turn of the millennium to the flagship model, which saw stores become echoing and somewhat austere temples where consumers worshiped the handbag on the plinth, we are now entering a new stage. One embodied more by Apple or Starbucks than any previous fashion retail space.”

7. Do You Have a Moral Duty to Leave Facebook?

“In moral philosophy, it is common to draw a distinction between duties to oneself and duties to others. From a self-regarding perspective, there are numerous reasons one might have a duty to leave Facebook.… From the perspective of one’s duties to others, the possibility of a duty to leave Facebook arises once one recognizes that Facebook has played a significant role in undermining democratic values around the world.”

8. Much More Than a Silly Game

“The best games reveal a mass cultural medium that has come fully into its own, artistically flourishing in ways that resemble the movie industry during its 20th-century peak and television over the past 20 years. From The Searchers to The Godfather, from The Sopranos to ‘The Americans,’ what connects these eras, and their most outstanding works, is a shared ambition, a desire to be both grand and granular, telling individual stories against the backdrop of national and cultural identity, deconstructing their genres while advancing the form.”

9. The New Radicalization of the Internet

“The fundamental design of social media sometimes exacerbates the problem.”

10. The Two-Emperor Problem

“The old problem is that the Supreme Court’s legal supremacy over the White House depends upon the presidency’s willingness to accept the court’s rulings.”

11. It’s Better to Give Than to Concede

“Flinging money at political and social causes as a knee-jerk response to the headlines has become tantamount to self-care.”

12. Want Faster Airline Customer Service? Try Tweeting + 6 Tips for Getting What You Want From an Airline

“When it comes to customer service, travelers are increasingly skipping calls to the airlines and are instead taking their requests to Twitter and Facebook. Airlines are responding by expanding their social media staff and empowering them with the resources they need to aid travelers.”

13. Ben Sasse: By the Book

“Michael Lewis’s brilliant Moneyball is not really just about the transformation of baseball scouting; it is about the arrival of big data in everyday life. Before anyone had envisioned Uber and Lyft triumphing over the old taxi industry, Lewis was already seeing around the corner to how life is going to be transformed by digital technologies.”

14. Two New Books Confront Nietzsche and His Ideas

“It was during this period of self-imposed exile that he wrote his greatest and most enduring books, The Genealogy of Morals and Thus Spake Zarathustra. His later years were spent in wanderings throughout Italy and Switzerland before his final breakdown in Turin, where he threw his arms around the neck of a horse that he saw being beaten on the street, leading to his final institutionalization.”

15. Why Aren’t People Buying Much Fiction These Days?

“It’s not a new phenomenon. Fiction sales have waxed and waned over the decades. When they plummeted over 100 years ago, in 1914, one article in The Times speculated that ‘the diminutive size of the typical modern apartment, frequent removals, the growing popularity of hotel life, the attractions of golf playing, motoring and “the movies”’ had all led to decreased sales.”

16. Everyone Wants to ‘Influence’ You

“Influence used to be understood as a top-down phenomenon, with governments, advertisers, donors or other powerful figures holding sway over the masses. These days we understand that the most powerful influences aren’t the distant ones but the most immediate and social — so the powerful tend to exert their influence by pretending to be ordinary people. Marketers, for instance, work harder and harder to obscure the distinction between ads and real life. The last decade featured the rise of the professional ‘influencer’ — someone paid to use their personal magnetism to promote specific agendas online. Instead of the top-down influence of a commercial or a billboard, these ads are embedded, shared by someone who seems, on some aspirational level, like a peer.”

17. Breathing Through the Nose May Offer Unique Brain Benefits

“The men and women were consistently much better at recognizing smells if they breathed through their noses during the quiet hour. Mouth breathing resulted in fuzzier recall and more incorrect answers.”

18. Yorgos Lanthimos’s Polarizing Visions

“Each of his films foreground the claustrophobia of the civilized and an almost primordial struggle to survive within its confines.”

Sunday 11.18.2018 New York Times Digest


1. How to Live With Wildfires

Much of the Netherlands sits below sea level and is therefore prone to flooding, but the Dutch can’t exactly move en masse next door to Germany. So they have learned over the centuries that the solution is to stop fighting the sea, and build their cities and towns to maximize saving lives through smarter planning and infrastructure. We could do the same with wildfire.

2. How Californians Are Breathing in the ‘New Abnormal’ of Epic Fires

“In high-pollution places like Beijing, design masks show up on runways and street-style blogs.”

3. Talent. A Football Scholarship. Then Crushing Depression.

“Recent studies place suicide as the third leading cause of death for college athletes, behind motor vehicle accidents and medical issues.”

4. These Americans Are Done With Politics

“The study shows that most Americans have political tastes that are not uniform: They may lean toward one party, but they see things they like in both. Its findings suggest a deep hunger for political leaders who are practical and not tribal — who do not cast the world in starkly moral terms, but in bread-and-butter policy terms.”

5. When Showboats Collide

“The continual presence of cameras has a way of eroding public affection for whatever they are trained on, while paradoxically increasing appetite for the subject matter.”

6. Buying to Last: Back to a Bygone Era

“The idea of buying goods that last isn’t new, of course. It was what consumers did in earlier generations. But the notion of lasting value appears to be resonating these days with young, value-conscious, environmentally aware buyers who are rebelling against the proliferation of cheap, disposable goods or the planned obsolescence built into many products.”

7. Get a Handle on Your Pots and Pans

“Finally, the Great Disruption has come for your cookware.”

8. Louis Armstrong’s Life in Letters, Music and Art

“For his entire adult life, away from the spotlight, Armstrong amassed a huge trove of personal writings, recordings and artifacts.”

9. Victoria’s Secret Has Trouble Fitting Into the #MeToo Era

“Consumers have come to reject the ideals that Victoria’s Secret continues to manufacture.”

10. How to Talk to People, According to Terry Gross

“Ms. Gross offered her thoughts on how to have a good conversation.”

11. Alkaline Water

“The trend is spreading.”

12. How to Up the Spontaneity Quotient on Your Next Trip

“Serendipity is essentially a synonym for good luck, but it’s hardly random.”

13. Lamentations

“The last Holocaust survivor will most likely die within the next decade or two, and Israel, increasingly since 1967, is a thornbush. American Jews are now back to where they once were: on their own, as they haven’t been in over a century, left to try to sustain themselves.”

14. The Symbiosis Between War and Astrophysics

“From the celestial events that influenced battles in ancient Greece and China, to the indispensable telescopes of the American Civil War, the scientific and military spheres have never been all that separate. Even the founding fathers of astronomy were in dialogue with war makers; Ptolemy published military predictions based on his astronomical knowledge, Galileo secured the patronage of the doge in Venice by touting the military uses of his telescope and Kepler served as the astrologer for a prominent general during the Thirty Years’ War.”

15. Decoding the Story of Yourself

“The most popular tests are those that promise to reveal test takers’ ancestry and identify their relatives — and have the potential to upend our understanding of ourselves. Just imagine what you might find out: Your father is not your dad but actually your dad’s best friend. Or your sister is really your half sister or isn’t your biological sister at all. Or you’re the child of a sperm donor and have 150 half siblings. These and endless other DNA surprises all raise the same question: Are we really who we think we are?”

16. The Future of Aging Just Might Be in Margaritaville

“The fastest-growing segment of the population … is between the ages of 85 and 94.”

17. May A.I. Help You?

“The rise of ‘conversational agents’ is the next great shift in computer interfaces — one arguably as significant as the ‘point-and-click’ interface that emerged in the ’80s.”

18. 20 Americans Die Each Day Waiting for Organs. Can Pigs Save Them?

“He and others on the xenotransplantation frontier believe they are on the cusp of … creating a future in which designer swine, raised in pathogen-free indoor farms, will serve as spare-parts factories for our ailing, aging bodies.”

19. The Human Brain Is a Time Traveler

“In our resting states, we do not rest. Left to its own devices, the human brain resorts to one of its most emblematic tricks, maybe one that helped make us human in the first place. It time-travels.”

20. Savage Future

“Each new superstorm and superfire forces a reconsideration of the unfashionable, long-discredited view that human beings are, in Descartes’ phrase, ‘the lords and possessors of nature.’ But it is now undeniable that, for better or worse, that is what we have become. Neglect is no less a strategy than cultivation. When we speak about the conservation of nature, we are really talking about a desire to conserve our own human identity: the parts of us that are beautiful and free and holy, those that we want to carry with us into the future. If we don’t, all we’ll have left are holograms of our worst instincts, automatons acting out our nightmares and a slow drift into an inhuman hellscape of biblical dimensions — a tract of solitude and savageness.”

21. The End of Endings

“Today the tradition of the novel has been supplanted by that of the comic book: Stories extend indefinitely, their plot holes patched through superpower, magic and dreams. Or maybe every story is a soap opera now: Nobody dead is dead forever…. Of course, to Hollywood’s bean counters, sequels are mere brand extensions of intellectual property. But something bigger is happening, too: The logic of the internet is colonizing everything.”

Sunday 11.11.2018 New York Times Digest


1. Your Dreams Tell You Who You Are

“According to one popular hypothesis, dreams evolved to serve an important psychological function: They let us work through our anxieties in a low-risk environment, helping us practice for stressful events and cope with trauma and grief.”

2. John Delaney Is Already Running for President

“It’s hard to overstate how unusual Mr. Delaney’s timeline is. He announced his candidacy on July 28, 2017, almost three years before the Democratic convention.”

3. The Times’s Capsule of History Goes Digital + California: State of Change

“In a basement three floors underground, next to The New York Times’s headquarters, steel filing cabinets hold about six million photographs … Now, for the first time, as part of a technology and advertising partnership with Google, the photos are being pulled from their drawers, fed through scanners and saved to servers.”

4. A Year After #MeToo, Hollywood’s Got a Malaise Money Can’t Cure

“In the 100-year history of Hollywood, rarely if ever has so much upheaval arrived so fast and on so many fronts.”

5. The 16-oz. Beer Can: A Cold One That’s a Hot One

“The great irony is that cans are better for beer in every way. They are literally a miniature keg.”

6. Sundar Pichai of Google: ‘Technology Doesn’t Solve Humanity’s Problems’

“Every generation is worried about the new technology, and feels like this time it’s different.”

7. Tech C.E.O.s Are in Love With Their Principal Doomsayer

“Silicon Valley, at a certain level, is not optimistic on the future of democracy. The more of a mess Washington becomes, the more interested the tech world is in creating something else, and it might not look like elected representation.”

8. A Good Guy With A Gun

“A few years ago, tired of being told by gun rights people that I knew nothing about firearms, I bought a handgun and learned to carry and use it. I found the transgressive nature of the exercise stimulating. Survivors of gun violence are not supposed to walk around with guns.”

9. The Newest Jim Crow

“Under new policies in California, New Jersey, New York and beyond, ‘risk assessment’ algorithms recommend to judges whether a person who’s been arrested should be released. These advanced mathematical models — or ‘weapons of math destruction’ as data scientist Cathy O’Neil calls them — appear colorblind on the surface but they are based on factors that are not only highly correlated with race and class, but are also significantly influenced by pervasive bias in the criminal justice system.”

10. Be Afraid of Economic ‘Bigness.’ Be Very Afraid.

“Extreme economic concentration does create conditions ripe for dictatorship.”

11. America Needs a Bigger House

“The House’s current size — 435 representatives — was set in 1911, when there were fewer than one-third as many people living in the United States as there are now.”

12. By Protecting Veterans’ Health, You May Protect Your Own

“Seventy percent of all American doctors have received some training at V.A. hospitals.”

13. Who’s the Real American Psycho?

“Those who sold us the ‘cakewalk’ Iraq war and the outrageously unprepared Sarah Palin and torture as ‘enhanced interrogation,’ those who left the Middle East shattered with a cascading refugee crisis and a rising ISIS, and those who midwifed the birth of the Tea Party are washing away their sins in a basin of Trump hate.”

14. The Unreality of Racial Justice Cinema

“In lieu of either factually representing or making sense of the world, they invite us to escape it.”

15. Frederick Douglass in Full

“Dependent upon abolitionist charity for his family’s daily bread, Douglass nonetheless chafed under a stifling Garrisonian orthodoxy that required adherents to embrace pacifism and abstain from politics. He charted a course away from all that by starting his own newspaper and openly embracing as household saints blood-drenched figures like the slave-rebellion leader Nat Turner and the white revolutionary John Brown, both of whom he classed with the founders. His fledgling newspaper, The North Star, served as the school where he sharpened his grasp of politics and developed a penetrating style as an editorialist. By the time Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1860, Douglass understood full well that slavery could be purged from the United States only with blood — as his friend John Brown had put it on the way to the gallows — and launched blistering attacks on those who sought to compromise with the institution rather than obliterate it.”

16. You Already Email Like a Robot — Why Not Automate It?

“Using these features is a bit like minding a machine that is trying to learn how to do what you do for a living. And even if it’s the part of the job you wish you didn’t have to do, it still prompts uncomfortable thoughts of replacement — or, if not replacement, then something close to it. It is not remotely implausible that in the near future, a tremendous amount of communication could be conducted in tandem with an A.I.”

17. How to Play Dead

“To be convincing, you must not visibly breathe, swallow, blink or let your eyes or body convey any of the twitchy, lit-from-within traits of the living.”

18. Gillian Flynn Peers Into the Dark Side of Femininity

“Things in Flynn’s novels do not get bad; they start out far beyond it and deteriorate as we learn how they got that way.”

19. U.S. Law Enforcement Failed to See the Threat of White Nationalism. Now They Don’t Know How to Stop It.

“Between 2002 and 2017, the United States spent $2.8 trillion — 15 percent of discretionary spending — on counterterrorism. Terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists killed 100 people in the United States during that time. Between 2008 and 2017, domestic extremists killed 387 in the United States.”

20. What if the Placebo Effect Isn’t a Trick?

“Give people a sugar pill, they have shown, and those patients — especially if they have one of the chronic, stress-related conditions that register the strongest placebo effects and if the treatment is delivered by someone in whom they have confidence — will improve. Tell someone a normal milkshake is a diet beverage, and his gut will respond as if the drink were low fat. Take athletes to the top of the Alps, put them on exercise machines and hook them to an oxygen tank, and they will perform better than when they are breathing room air — even if room air is all that’s in the tank. Wake a patient from surgery and tell him you’ve done an arthroscopic repair, and his knee gets better even if all you did was knock him out and put a couple of incisions in his skin. Give a drug a fancy name, and it works better than if you don’t.”

21. The Witch Continues to Enchant as a Feminist Symbol

“They may not all recite spells or worship a moon goddess, but at a time when misogyny is rampant and women’s rights are on shaky ground, they relate to the witch as a feminist symbol. A witch, after all, is a woman with power.”

22. How Does a Museum Buy an Artwork That Doesn’t Physically Exist?

“Sehgal does not issue receipts. He does not permit his work to be photographed or filmed, nor does he produce catalogs or even wall labels to accompany his exhibitions. In fact, he eschews all forms of documentation, written or otherwise, in relation to the sale, presentation and care of his work.”

23. How a Group of Gay Male Ballet Dancers Is Rethinking Masculinity

“If you didn’t know much about classical ballet, you might think it’s an obvious home for queer artists and narratives, but it’s more complicated than that.”

24. Why Do Asian-Americans Remain Largely Unseen in Film and Television?

“It is only when we are hidden that we are allowed to succeed. Which leads to a more troubling but inevitable conclusion: that there is something about the very physiognomy of the Asian face that American audiences still cannot or will not accept.”

25. What if the Powerful (and Paranoid) Started Using Official Tasters Again?

“As long as there have been power structures and people teetering at the top of them, there have been assassinations. Those most at risk surround themselves with bodyguards trained in Krav Maga and Secret Service agents armed with Sig Sauer P229 pistols. But poison is trickier to defend against, an invisible enemy: The best ones are colorless, odorless, tasteless and traceless, vanishing into food or drink without any sign of contamination. From the dawn of the Persian Achaemenid Empire in the sixth century B.C. to the sustained hold of Vladimir Putin over the Russian Federation today, it has long been believed that the only way to detect the presence of poison is to make someone of lesser importance take the first bite or sip, then wait and see if they survive.”

Sunday 11.4.2018 New York Times Digest


1. Rural America’s Own Private Flint: Polluted Water Too Dangerous to Drink

“In Wisconsin, a state report recently found that as many as 42,000 of the state’s 676,000 private wells, or 6 percent, were likely to exceed the federal health standards for nitrates, which can come from fertilizer use and manure spreading.”

2. The Case Against Running With Headphones

“If I don’t leave my headphones behind when I run, I wouldn’t spend a single minute of my waking life free from input.”

3. How the Economic Lives of the Middle Class Have Changed Since 2016

“Debtors — and the average middle-class American fits that description — are paying a price for the surging economy even as they enjoy the benefits of higher pay and low inflation.”

4. Preserving the Wealth That Conservation Built

“Let us not forget the important situations where government can prevent market failures and unlock value.”

5. The Democrats’ Next Job

“The Democrats have impulses, they have beliefs, they even have principles. But they don’t have a story to challenge the supply-side story and tell people about how the economy grows and helps everyone.”

6. 6 Tips for Getting Your Solo Play to Broadway

“I’d say, ‘There was no single step.’ It was a series of steps over years. And, even then on top of that, it’s luck. It’s your 10,000 hours of preparation meeting 12 other people’s 10,000 hours of preparation meeting $3 million laundered through the Cayman Islands … meeting luck.”

7. Andy Warhol Inc.: How He Made Business His Art + Think You Know Andy Warhol? Here Are Five Truths That May Surprise

“The heart of Warhol’s idea — that by playing the role of businessman, an artist could turn himself into the latest, living example of a commodification he believed none of us can avoid — was perhaps as revolutionary in its time as Marcel Duchamp presenting a humble urinal as sculpture had been in 1917. Duchamp’s gesture declared that artists alone get to define what is art; five decades later, Warhol took that as permission to treat the spreadsheet, press release and launch party as creative endeavors. This set an example for some of his most notable heirs in our current century.”

8. This Library Has New Books by Major Authors, but They Can’t Be Read Until 2114

“In 96 years, when the seedlings become trees and the trees are sacrificed to the written word, it is impossible to know whose reality they will touch.”

9. Alan Greenspan’s Ode to Creative Destruction

Capitalism in America, in both its interpretation of economic history and its recipe for revival, is likely to offend the dominant Trump wing of the Republican Party and the resurgent left among Democrats.”

10. The Founders Look at Modern America

“Our civic dialogue has broken down, Ellis observes, and our ‘divided America,’ contentious in all the wrong ways, is ‘currently incapable of sustained argument’ on any subject — the kind of argument that goes somewhere other than round and round, the kind that yields understanding and possibly, over time, solutions.”

11. What Isaac Asimov Taught Us About Predicting the Future

“The notion was framed as a science that could predict events centuries in advance, but it was driven by a desire to know what would happen in the war over the next few months — a form of wishful thinking that is all but inevitable at times of profound uncertainty.”

12. Race and Class and Youth Football in Brownsville, Brooklyn

“Does a game like football offer lifesaving discipline, fatherly coaches and means to a scholarship? Or is it just a cruel chimera, holding out the allure of an elusive pro career? And, to add a very current concern, is the risk of a head injury at a tender age worth the potential rewards of stardom?”

13. Thinking Clearly About Immigration

“What immigration policies would best inch us toward the elusive goal of a fair and just society?”

14. Reign of the Trolls

“Reddit was created by millions of Americans with a taste for darkness.”

15. Nothing Proves You Right Like Getting It on ‘Tape’

“The tape is an attempt to circumvent the politics-addled brain and access a purer, more visceral response. Maybe even a spiritual one.”

16. How to Write a Condolence Letter

“Death is part of the connective tissue that binds humans across time and culture and place.”


Sunday 10.28.2018 New York Times Digest


1. The Ghost Story Persists in American Literature. Why?

“The ghost story shape-shifts because ghosts themselves are so protean — they emanate from specific cultural fears and fantasies. They emerge from their time, which is why Jacobeans saw ghosts wearing pale shrouds and Victorians saw them draped in black bombazine.”

2. A Baseball Bat Dies, and Chopsticks Are Born

“The barrel of one bat can yield five or six pairs of chopsticks.”

3. She Made the Shift From Academic Writing to Hallmark Cards

“That’s what many people think, that we are the lowbrow ditch diggers of the writing profession, the punch lines of jokes and films. Frankly I, too, thought this would be a quotidian task. But it requires a specific, well-honed skill set.”

4. You’ve Become Rich. That Doesn’t Mean You’re Great at Everything.

“Success and wealth that move from one arena to another often breed inefficiency.”

5. Blocking the Ballot Box

“The fight over voting rights in the midterms is a reminder that elections are not solely about who is running, what their commercials say or how many people are registered to vote. They are about who is allowed to vote and which officials are placing obstacles in the way of would-be voters.”

6. How to Turn a Person Into a Voter

“Our model is one that any party or politician or group looking to increase turnout — or to mobilize the six in 10 eligible voters who stay at home for the midterms — should use.”

7. Who Says Allie Kieffer Isn’t Thin Enough to Run Marathons?

“When we focus less on fixing what we consider to be inadequacies and more on reinforcing our strengths, we can realize potential we didn’t even know we had.”

8. A Fate Worse Than Slavery, Unearthed in Sugar Land

“70 percent of the 12 million or so captives who left Africa for the Americas on slave ships were destined for sugar colonies.”

9. Liberal Hypocrisy in College Admissions?

“33.6 percent of legacy children were admitted to Harvard, compared with 5.9 percent of nonlegacy applicants.”

10. People Are Not Pets

“When we are rewarded for doing something, we tend to lose interest in whatever we had to do to get the reward.”

11. Discovering the Great Indoors

“In another study of 1,000 homes across the United States, we found tens of thousands of bacteria species, most of them unstudied, many new to science. Inside those homes we discovered more kinds of fungi than there were named fungal species in North America. Each time we study homes what we most clearly find is how little we know about what is hidden in our midst.”

12. Truth in Advertising. Terror, Too.

“With creepy, meticulously designed illustrations that threw subtlety out the window, and text that made outrageous claims far beyond the movie’s actual contents, these ads could make a minor piece of schlock look like the most elaborate exercise in terror.”

13. Frankenstein at 200

“It has become the rare story to pass from literature into common myth.”

14. Why Is CBD Everywhere?

“The ice caps are melting, the Dow teeters, and a divided country seems headed for divorce court. Is it any wonder, then, that everyone seems to be reaching for the tincture?”

15. Silicon Valley Nannies Are Phone Police for Kids

“Silicon Valley parents are increasingly obsessed with keeping their children away from screens.”

16. What’s All This About Journaling?

“Once the domain of teenage girls and the literati, journaling has become a hallmark of the so-called self-care movement, right up there with meditation.”

17. What Our Extremist Politics Owe to Batman and Captain America

““Here are analyses of the apocalypse and its aftermath through readings of Avatar and ‘The Walking Dead,’ of Batman and Captain America, as they reinforce centrist, liberal or conservative worldviews.”

18. Dispatches From a Ruined Paradise

“A road offers the possibility of taking you somewhere but also poses a question about the cost of roadwork, what violence has been done to both nature and culture in the name of progress.”

19. Candy Crush

“Candy is controversial. As with a beloved sports team, your affinities and fealties have been ingrained since your prelinguistic days. Such innate belief systems defy reasoning.”

Sunday 10.21.2018 New York Times Digest


1. Let’s Agree Not to Kill One Another

“What does it say about a society when people just routinely call for the killing of those they disagree with?”

2. Four Thousand Miles for the W

“Sending an N.F.L. team overseas is a herculean venture. Players need passports, the equipment staff sends supplies months in advance, the travel director has to navigate an unfamiliar airport and hotel, and the trainers will often modify the players’ diet and sleep regimens. Then there is the equipment, some 21,000 pounds of it, that must be transported.”

3. Congratulations, You’re a Certified N.B.A. Agent. Good Luck Finding a Client.

“Just nine agents represent a quarter of the league, and 27 represent half.”

4. Where the Streets Have No Names

“Street names and house numbers weren’t inevitable; they were invented. Almost 250 years ago, for example, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria began to number the homes across her vast realm to enable mass conscription of men to fight her wars.”

5. Doctors Should Tell Their Patients to Vote

“Political decisions that affect insurance coverage, access to medical care, housing, minimum wage, immigration law, water sources — just to name a few examples — exert medical effects that are comparable with those of major diseases.”

6. No, A.I. Won’t Solve the Fake News Problem

“Existing A.I. systems that have been built to comprehend news accounts are extremely limited.”

7. Before Arguing About DNA Tests, Learn the Science Behind Them

“Look back far enough in your family tree, and you’ll encounter ancestors from whom you inherit no DNA at all.”

8. Fear of a Black Continent

“In the late 1990s Europe and Africa had about the same population; a hundred years later there could be seven Africans for every European.”

9. The Sound of ‘Housewives’

“Nearly every day of the year, somewhere on earth, at least one episode of ‘The Real Housewives’ is being filmed. They all sound like this: doot doot doot da da tsa tsa pleenk.”

10. At the Library

“Even in the age of the internet, the public library remains the place people come to for answers to their most pressing questions. The search has not been entirely replaced by the search engine.”

11. 12 Authors Write About the Libraries They Love

“We asked several authors to tell us about their local public library or to share a memory of a library from their past.”

12. Were the Founders Against Slavery All Along?

“Slavery is at the heart of the nation’s origin story. The core of our democratic institutions — from the presidency to the Congress to the courts — was shaped immeasurably by it. And yet it is one of the least understood and distorted subjects in American history.”

13. The Man Who Pioneered Food Safety

“The origins of today’s food safety laws, drug safety laws, labeling requirements and environmental regulations can be found in the arguments of the Progressive movement at the turn of the last century.”

14. Books for Better Sex and Better Relationships

“Republicans are publicly more conservative in their tastes, but in their private lives are more likely than Democrats to crave taboo situations like exhibitionism, voyeurism and fetishism.”

15. Does This Moment in History Call for More ‘Nuance,’ or Less?

“Often we obey the vague format of a deliberative conversation, putting forth arguments and evidence only to be shocked when we learn that we are not in a deliberation at all: We are in a raw struggle for power.”

16. Letter of Recommendation: Bandannas

“Unlike hats, bandannas are malleable. They can be relatively useless — mere decorative headwear — or relatively functional, as they were for a variety of laborers: cowboys, mine workers, maids, women with rivet guns in World War II factories. They can keep dust out of mouths, sweat out of eyes, hair out of the way. They’re ubiquitous among the Harley-Davidson crowd and old-school bank robbers. They can double as wraps and tignons, necklaces and tissues.”

17. How to Navigate a Maze

“Draw on all your senses.”

18. This Melissa McCarthy Story Just Might (Maybe? Possibly?) Cheer You Up

“She worries about comedy. She worries about the gloom and fatigue that flows beneath the streets, waiting to suck away her will to laugh and to make laughter.”

19. In Literature, Who Decides When Homage Becomes Theft?

“Now cultural appropriation is wielded as a pejorative against writers and artists who draw material from the trauma of those less privileged than themselves.”

20. Frogs Are Disappearing. What Does That Mean?

“One study estimates that since the 1970s, around 200 frog species have disappeared, with a projected loss of hundreds more in the next century. Frogs are under threat on nearly every continent: from the French Pyrenees to the Central American rain forests to the Sierra Nevada in California. Some species, like the dusky gopher frog, have been depleted by human encroachment on their habitats. But the decimation that started 50 years ago was largely the work of the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, which thickens a frog’s skin, hindering the animal’s ability to absorb water and oxygen and to maintain a balanced flow of electrolytes, leading to heart failure. Once infected, entire populations can collapse in a single season.”

21. Solange, the Polymathic Cultural Force

“Limitation leads her to discovery.”

22. Viggo Mortensen, the Unlikely Leading Man

“He is Hollywood’s most appealing man probably because he is Hollywood’s least threatening man. He is paternal but not patronizing; he possesses strength without aggression. Even in his most violent scenes, the tension builds but Mortensen rarely acts on it until necessary — like a judo master, he seems able to take another’s energy and flip it to his advantage. You desire him, but he doesn’t set out to seduce. He is one of the few actors for whom the female gaze has been possible (the shock of seeing a naked man on the screen only exists because it is still so rare). The women in his movies are drawn to him as if there’s a hidden stillness that they need to reach, like finding a pond in the middle of a forest. So much of masculinity on film feels like watching a gift you don’t want being unwrapped. But Mortensen’s operates on another plane.”