Last Christmas

Sunday 12.18.2016 New York Times Digest


1. Is Donald Trump a Threat to Democracy?

“The institutional safeguards protecting our democracy may be less effective than we think. A well-designed constitution is not enough to ensure a stable democracy — a lesson many Latin American independence leaders learned when they borrowed the American constitutional model in the early 19th century, only to see their countries plunge into chaos.”

2. In Turkey’s Home of St. Nick, Far From North Pole, All Is Not Jolly

“The man who would capture the imaginations of children the world over got his start as a fourth-century bishop in what is now Turkey, centuries before the Ottomans invaded these lands and established a towering Islamic empire. His name was St. Nicholas, and his church is now a museum. Born a rich man’s son, he took his inheritance and gave to the poor, in anonymous gifts that some here say were dropped down the chimneys of homes.”

3. Free Cash in Finland. Must Be Jobless.

“Early next year, the government plans to randomly select roughly 2,000 unemployed people — from white-collar coders to blue-collar construction workers. It will give them benefits automatically, absent bureaucratic hassle and minus penalties for amassing extra income.”

4. Whistle-Blowers Spur Companies to Change Their Ways

“Financial shenanigans at companies decrease markedly in the years after truth tellers come forward with information about wrongdoing inside their operations.”

5. Want to Get Rid of Obamacare? Be Careful What You Wish For

“The amount of effort people will expend to resist being stripped of something they already possess is significantly larger than the effort they will devote to acquiring something they don’t already have.”

6. The Tent Cities of San Francisco

“There are now tents on sidewalks above which people pay $4,500 a month for one-bedroom apartments.”

7. White Resentment on the Night Shift at Walmart

“Working-class whites aren’t losing out because other groups are taking limited resources. They, along with the minority workers who the Economic Policy Institute says constitute about 40 percent of the working class, are facing uncertainty because of structural economic change.”

8. Are Americans Experiencing Collective Trauma?

“The concept of collective trauma was rooted in the thought of Émile Durkheim, a turn-of-the-20th-century French sociologist and an architect of the field. Durkheim argued that norms, values and rituals were the linchpins of social order; they provided the basis for solidarity and social cohesion. Collective trauma occurs when an unexpected event severs the ties that bind community members to one another.”

9. My Family Was Interned. Now They’re With Trump.

“A rapid assimilation into American culture defined how my family responded to their years in confinement. While they were Americans on paper even before the war, afterward, they were willing to make any sacrifice to prove it. For my relatives who were interned, that assimilation, and love for this country, found a new expression in supporting Mr. Trump.”

10. One Way Not to Be Like Trump

“Moderation … is out of step with the times, which are characterized by populist anger and widespread anxiety, by cross-partisan animosity and dogmatic certainty. Those with whom we have political disagreements are not only wrong; they are often judged to be evil and irredeemable.”

11. 9 Ways to Improve Your Love Life

“If a man uses a sandwich for his online dating headshot, steer clear.”

12. The Message of Thomas Friedman’s New Book: It’s Going to Be O.K.

“First, Friedman wants to explain why the world is the way it is — why so many things seem to be spinning out of control, especially for the Minnesota white middle class he grew up in. And then he wants to reassure us that it is basically going to be O.K. In general the explanation is more convincing than the reassurance. But as a guide for perplexed Westerners, this book is very hard to beat.”

13. From Michael Lewis, the Story of Two Friends Who Changed How We Think About the Way We Think

“The human species is fantastically complex and often doesn’t know what it is doing.”

14. Steven Johnson: By the Book

“My books have so many different disciplines and historical periods woven through them that by definition I have to read a million different books and articles when I am in research mode, or actively writing. The main thing I try to avoid reading is my own prose. When you’re in the middle of writing a book, it’s so easy to procrastinate by going back and rereading the chapter you’re working on before you actually start typing out new words. And if you do that, by the time you’re actually done with the first draft, you’ve read many passages dozens of times, which means you’re completely sick of them and can’t tell what’s working and what’s not working, because it all just seems flat and obvious by that point, like a pop song you’ve played too many times. So I just try to power through, and then read it all at the end with fresh eyes.”

15. Working Less, Resting More

“His central thesis is that rest not only makes us more productive and more creative, but also makes our lives ‘richer and more fulfilling.’ But not all rest is created equal — it’s not just about not-working. The most productive kind of rest, according to Pang, is also active and deliberate.”

16. The Conquerers: A New 19th-Century History Focuses on American Imperialism

“Hahn argues that America developed into a nation precisely because of its obsession with owning space; that is, it sought to become a continental empire, which meant acquiring land and resources, almost at any cost, and dominating sovereign peoples both at home and abroad.”

17. Who’s Responsible When Extremists Get a Platform?

“Somewhere between media and social media — between familiar ideas about politics and the news and the ones that underpin the world we live in today — platforms changed from responsibilities into abdications of responsibility. Claiming to provide a platform, in Silicon Valley, doesn’t demand defense. It is the defense. Platforms don’t cause problems; people do.”

18. What the West Can Learn From Japan About the Cultural Value of Work

“Work is good, but meaningful work is better. I wonder whether our shiny new Western world of work — post-manufacturing, un-unionized, gig-based, insecure — offers as much sense of meaning as work once did, or as it still seems to in Japan.”

19. How to Arm Wrestle

“You need a thick wrist and a big hand and a long forearm.”

20. Is It Possible to Make a Less Allergenic Peanut?

“Rather than changing people, they say, we should change the peanut.”

21. The Great A.I. Awakening

“What is at stake is not just one more piecemeal innovation but control over what very well could represent an entirely new computational platform: pervasive, ambient artificial intelligence.”

Sunday 12.11.2016 New York Times Digest


1. Tourists Gone Wild

“Freedom from constraint is at the core of travel’s appeal; no wonder it’s always getting out of hand.”

2. An Alt-Right Makeover Shrouds the Swastikas

“Fewer pointed hoods, more khaki pants.”

3. Libraries Become Unexpected Sites of Hate Crimes

“There has been a spate of hate crimes targeting libraries, their books or patrons, the authorities say — offenses they had rarely seen before.”

4. ‘I’m Prejudiced,’ He Said. Then We Kept Talking.

“Garry makes me believe that even though a man endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan won the majority of white support, people can change. He told me he now notices his own stereotypes and is eager to replace them with something more generous and true about his fellow Americans.”

5. The Roots of Implicit Bias

“Implicit bias is grounded in a basic human tendency to divide the social world into groups. In other words, what may appear as an example of tacit racism may actually be a manifestation of a broader propensity to think in terms of ‘us versus them’ — a prejudice that can apply, say, to fans of a different sports team. This doesn’t make the effects of implicit bias any less worrisome, but it does mean people should be less defensive about it.”

6. In Chicago, Bodies Pile Up at Intersection of ‘Depression and Rage’

“In places like this, cycles reinforce themselves: Poverty and joblessness breed an underground economy that leads to jail and makes it harder to get jobs. Struggling, emptying schools result in the closings of the very institutions that hold communities together. Segregation throws up obstacles to economic investment. And people and programs with good intentions come and go, thwarting hopes, reinforcing frustrations while never quite addressing the underlying problems, anyway. Into it all comes a lethal mix of readily available guns, a growing number of splintering gangs and groups, and a sense among some here that the punishment for carrying a weapon on these streets will never be larger than the risk of not carrying one.”

7. The American Dream, Quantified at Last

“For babies born in 1980 — today’s 36-year-olds — the index of the American dream has fallen to 50 percent: Only half of them make as much money as their parents did.”

8. It’s Our Land. Let’s Keep It That Way.

“Back in January, Mr. Trump told Field & Stream magazine that he opposed divesting such holdings because ‘I want to keep the lands great, and you don’t know what the state is going to do.’ That particular resolve, if it holds firm, deserves our approval and support. Public lands under federal management, including not just national monuments but also national forests, national parks, national wildlife refuges and other entities, deliver enormous value, of several sorts, to the communal and individual lives of Americans.”

9. My Headphones, My Self

“The latest round of headphones popularity may be an expression of our disaffected times, coming during a season when people holding different views on matters political and cultural struggle to open their mouths without triggering an argument.”

10. The ‘H-Bomb’ Fizzles: The Harvard Brand Takes a Hit

“The rose-garden perfume of privilege — as charged a word as can be found on campuses these days — emanating from anyone with a Harvard diploma receives more censure now than ever, whether that privilege came in the form of significant parental help in gaining admission or was acquired at the school and now opens endless doors.”

11. Dating With a Disability

“Dating is an emotionally risky proposition for everyone, but it is particularly challenging for people with disabilities. People who rely on wheelchairs or who have another form of physical impairment often begin to date much later in life, and the rate of marriage is lower.”

12. Soak, Steam, Spritz: It’s All Self-Care

“What is the difference between self-care and simply pampering?”

13. Neither War Nor Peace: A New Look at the Aftermath of World War I

“Even stable societies buckled.”

14. In Defense of the Analog

“He works through his topics chapter by chapter — ‘The Revenge of Paper,’ ‘The Revenge of Film,’ ‘The Revenge of Retail’ — with scene-setting and friendly interviews with various innovators. One of his more substantial chapters looks at the cyber-utopian impulse that’s led public school districts to purchase laptops and related technology; these kids, he argues, mostly just need good teaching. And his ardor for analog models does not turn entirely on nostalgia: He argues that the older system created more jobs, and filled human needs — for a sensory, tactile experience, for example — that the new ones don’t.”

15. Looking to the Future of Our Humans-First World

“A dramatic high point comes when Biello recounts how a man living in the United States (him) fares as an Anthropocenic Homo sapiens, which is either really impressive or really distressing, depending on your scruples: ‘The average American uses 90 kilograms of stuff each day, day in and day out. We consume 25 percent of the world’s energy despite being 5 percent of the world’s population. We lust for the latest gadget, which hides away minerals wrested from beneath the Congo, among other places, deep in its innards.’”

16. Life in Obamacare’s Dead Zone

“The residents with the lowest incomes in those 19 states were now caught between two nonoptions: They made too much to qualify for Medicaid, or didn’t qualify at all, but they also made too little for publicly subsidized insurance on the exchanges, their income not high enough to trigger the refundable tax credits and cost-sharing that could make the possibility remotely affordable to someone making just a few dollars above the federal poverty level.”

Sunday 12.4.2016 New York Times Digest


1. The End of the Anglo-American Order

“Brexit Britain and Trump’s America are linked in their desire to pull down the pillars of Pax Americana and European unification.”

2. Extremists Turn to a Leader to Protect Western Values: Vladimir Putin

“Throughout the collection of white ethnocentrists, nationalists, populists and neo-Nazis that has taken root on both sides of the Atlantic, Mr. Putin is widely revered as a kind of white knight: a symbol of strength, racial purity and traditional Christian values in a world under threat from Islam, immigrants and rootless cosmopolitan elites.”

3. Modern World Tugs at an Indonesian Tribe Clinging to Its Ancient Ways

“The Mentawai tribe, which today numbers around 60,000, is a rare Indonesian culture that was not influenced by Hindu, Buddhist or Muslim currents over the last two millenniums. Instead, their traditions and beliefs strongly resemble those of the original Austronesian settlers who came to this vast archipelago from Taiwan around 4,000 years ago. If the tribe’s culture disappears, one of the last links to Indonesia’s early human inhabitants will go with it.”

4. The Array of Conflicts of Interest Facing the Trump Presidency

“Donald J. Trump’s global business empire will create an unprecedented number of conflicts of interest for a United States president, experts in legal ethics say.”

5. At Liberty University, All Sins Are Forgiven on the Altar of Football

“Athletic leaders (that would be McCaw) and football coaches learned of accusations of gang and date rape and decided not to report that violence; they met with the alleged victims, and their parents, and still did nothing.”

6. Inner Peace in the Palm of Your Hand, for a Price

“What Headspace is selling is deceptively simple. By instructing people to focus on their breathing and let go of thoughts and emotions, Mr. Puddicombe gently coaxes users back to fuller engagement with the present moment. In modern parlance, it is mindfulness — a quick, secularized adaptation of Buddhist teachings that have been distilled for a modern, Western audience. A 10-day course on the app is free. Annual subscriptions cost about $100.”

7. What the Alt-Right Really Means

“But most of all there is sex. The alt-right has a lot of young men in it, young men whose ideology can be assumed to confront them with obstacles to meeting people and dating. Sex-cynicism and race-pessimism, of course, often travel in tandem.”

8. Mother Nature Is Brought to You By…

“The spread of advertising to natural settings is just a taste of what’s coming. Over the next decade, prepare for a new wave of efforts to reach some of the last remaining bastions of peace, quiet and individual focus — like schools, libraries, churches and even our homes.”

9. Can I Go to Great Books Camp?

“A small but growing number of young conservatives see themselves not only as engaged citizens, but as guardians of an ancient intellectual tradition.”

10. States’ Rights for the Left

“Since the 1930s, progressives have unapologetically embraced Hamiltonian big government. But in rediscovering the virtues of Jeffersonian small government, Democrats and liberals are returning to a tradition of ‘progressive federalism’ that they favored before the New Deal and the Great Society.”

11. Why Blue States Are the Real ‘Tea Party’

“The urban states are subsidizing the rural states, and yet somehow in return, the rural states get more power at the voting booth.”

12. Cashing In on Climate Change

“For many, the perceived gap between socially responsible investing and good business has narrowed almost to the point of convergence.”

13. I Am a Dangerous Professor

“The list is not simply designed to get others to spy on us, to out us, but to install forms of psychological self-policing to eliminate thoughts, pedagogical approaches and theoretical orientations that it defines as subversive.”

14. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Talks Beauty, Femininity and Feminism

“But I do remember that when I moved to the U.S. — and I think maybe there are different standards for people who are supposed to be particularly intellectual or particularly creative — I very quickly realized that if you want to seem as a serious writer, you can’t possibly look like a person who looks in the mirror.”

15. David Foster Wallace’s Peaceful Prairie

“The meditative spaces and down-to-earth people of the Midwest were central to Wallace’s writing, as he pushed back the ironic for the heartfelt. And he didn’t produce brilliant work in spite of the more conventional folks surrounding him in Illinois; as his essays and books like The Pale King reveal, he was inspired by the Midwest’s sincerity to go beyond America’s cultural snark for truth about its contemporary life, which he found rushed, overstimulated and lonely. At home in Illinois, this tormented genius, wild maximalist and yet somehow earnest moralist of a writer said he felt ‘unalone and unstressed.’”

16. What Explains Our Obsession With Ancient Egypt?

“Largely self-nourishing, Egyptomania was often detached from its original sources, and the stream of dime novels and films about mummies and their curses have, according to scholars, more to do with Western guilt over imperialism than with the supernatural. Even the artifacts exhumed from Tutankhamen’s tomb with great fanfare beginning in 1922 did not, in fact, add much to our knowledge of ancient Egypt.”

17. Examining the Artists of the Revolutionary Era

“The visual record of the Revolution commemorates eminent founders, not ordinary participants, and the signing of documents rather than the quarrels that accompanied their composition. It is, however, the only visual record we have.”

18. Is Rashomon Kurosawa’s Best Film?

“Kurosawa was only 13 when the earthquake occurred, but his older brother, Heigo, insisted they walk through the ruins and view the corpses, ostensibly to overcome fear by staring reality in the face. That older brother exerted a major influence on Kurosawa: A movie buff, he took Akira along to silent film classics, mostly foreign, and even became a benshi: ‘The benshi were there to explain the plot but also to impersonate the characters. Such a narrator, standing at the podium to the left of the stage, made faintly visible by the lectern light, would declaim from the start to the finish of a feature film.’ Heigo was a celebrated benshi, but when sound came in, his profession evaporated. Depressed, he committed double suicide with a waitress.”

19. Why the Legend of Al Capone Still Fascinates

“At the heart of the legend stands the big personality. Al dressed in beautifully tailored lemon-, lime- and lavender-colored suits. He dispensed wads of cash to anyone who caught his fancy. During the Depression, he opened a soup kitchen that served up to 3,000 people a day. For one of Capone’s birthday binges, his men kidnapped the jazz great Fats Waller at gunpoint and made him play for three anxious days before stuffing his pockets with thousand-dollar bills and driving him home.”

20. 45 Pop Music Hits, in the Words of Their Creators

“I once asked the Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora if, after hundreds, perhaps thousands of performances, he ever got tired of playing the band’s much-loved hit ‘Livin’ on a Prayer.’ ‘You ever get tired of getting laid?’ he replied.”

21. The Rise of Glam Rock

“For the four years that Reynolds identifies as glam’s peak, there was a renewed focus on issues of performance, gender fluidity and irony that is still found in countless nooks of pop culture. The genre’s provocateurs won.”

22. Rock Lives: This Season’s Pop Music Biographies and Memoirs

“The book takes its title from a line in the Rolling Stones’ 1971 No. 1 hit ‘Brown Sugar,’ a song about a white slave trader’s sexual fetishization of black women that Hamilton writes is either ‘the most racially offensive composition in the catalog of one of the most racially troublesome bands in rock and roll’ or ‘the most unflinching exploration of racial and musical imagination ever put on record by a white rock and roll band.’ Clearly, this is not a book looking for easy solutions.”

23. Is ‘Empathy’ Really What the Nation Needs?

“What social networks like Facebook really offer is empathy in the aggregate — an illusion of having captured the mood of entire families and friend networks from a safe, neutral distance. Then they turn around and offer advertisers a read on more than a billion users at once.”

24. Letter of Recommendation: ‘Primitive Technology’

“Taken as a whole, the project seems mystifying, impossible. Seeing all the component steps only makes it exponentially more miraculous.”

25. The Pleasure (and Popularity) of Really Short Books

“This short-book renaissance comes at the height of our Age of the Essay. Everyone is reading them, and even more people are writing them. The books’ modesty of scale appears like a rebellion against importance, but they are insistent, even a little pedantic — self-conscious intellectual sallies that bring a dignified brevity to nonfiction. They take themselves seriously, much like a very short man.”

26. Reflections on True Friendship

“Social media is a vehicle of self-promotion, a means of fixing an idea of yourself in the social sphere, without people actually knowing you at all. And that’s a change: The thing about friendship used to be that the ideal was shared entirely by the pair of you, or sometimes by a group, yet it remained local, and that was part of its power.”

27. The Man Who Brought Paris to Dallas

“The store represented something utterly new: an alternate reality at the intersection of commerce and culture, where ordinary women and men learned not what to wear but how to live, a place were they could become, if only for a moment, their best selves.”

28. Can a Corset Be Feminist?

“Is a woman who wears a corset today, whether following the trends of fashion or the further down-market effects of the Kardashians’ ‘waist trainers,’ restricted, or freed? Conforming to a masculine ideal of femininity, or experimenting with her own perception of self and sexuality?”

Sunday 11.27.2016 New York Times Digest


1. An Indian Protest for Everyone

“The Standing Rock protesters are making the argument that the pipeline threatens not just tribal land and resources but American land and resources.”

2. New York’s Vanishing Diner Culture

“Urban renewal, astronomical rents, changing eating habits and the preponderance of no-refill coffee places like Starbucks have all contributed to the demise of the New York diner. There are roughly half as many as there were 20 years ago….”

3. Trump’s Election? Some Students Are Too Busy to Worry

“Members of the well-meaning liberal ruling order were sure they knew what the poor and working class thought and felt. Talking to some of LaGuardia’s students, one is reminded of how much more easily the American narrative of self-reliance is adopted by people who have come here from somewhere else, compelled by their aspirations and not yet immunized against the mythologies.”

4. Choke Point of a Nation: The High Cost of an Aging River Lock

“If corn cannot get to the factories, the price of any grain-based product will go up, and people will say, ‘What do you mean I’ve got to pay $10 for a box of cornflakes? Are you out of your mind?’”

5. Anger Rooms: A Smashing New Way to Relieve Stress

“The Anger Room charges $25 for five minutes of crushing printers, alarm clocks, glass cups, vases and the like. Prices rise to about $500 for custom room setups. The most expensive setup so far has been a faux retail store, replete with racks of clothing.”

6. Why I Left White Nationalism

“I never would have begun my own conversations without first experiencing clear and passionate outrage to what I believed from those I interacted with. Now is the time for me to pass on that outrage by clearly and unremittingly denouncing the people who used a wave of white anger to take the White House.”

7. The Saloon, America’s Forgotten Democratic Institution

“Saloons were once everywhere in America, from urban alleys to rural crossroads. They were about more than drinking; from the 1860s through 1920, they dominated social life for the laboring majority building a new industrial nation. By 1897 there were roughly a quarter of a million saloons, or 23 for every Starbucks franchise today.”

8. Actually, Let’s Not Be in the Moment

“Mindfulness is supposed to be a defense against the pressures of modern life, but it’s starting to feel suspiciously like it’s actually adding to them.”

9. Flossing and the Art of Scientific Investigation

“Distrusting expertise makes it easy to confuse an absence of randomized evaluations with an absence of knowledge.”

10. La La Land Makes Musicals Matter Again

“Contemporary American movies could use more s’wonderful, more music and dance, and way, way more surrealism. They’re too dull, too ordinary and too straight, whether they’re mired in superhero clichés or remodeled kitchen-sink realism. One of the transformative pleasures of musicals is that even at their most choreographed, they break from conformity, the dos and don’ts of a regimented life, suggesting the possibility that everyone can move to her own beat.”

11. Long Before ‘Hamilton’ Brouhaha, Theater Was Anything but Polite

“Far more so than the voting booth (which restricted who could vote not only on the basis of race and gender, but also on the basis of wealth, meaning only half of white men were eligible to vote in 1800), the theater itself was a place where people of many different classes, races and religions — including African-Americans, Native Americans, Jews, Muslims, working-class whites and immigrant Irishmen — appeared onstage and often in the audience as well.”

12. What Is the Color of Beauty?

“They are banning the products that give women lighter skin (although no one believes the ban will work) without banning the social messaging that tells women they should have lighter skin.”

13. The AIDS Fight: Andrew Sullivan on a History of the Movement

“AIDS was not an early crisis that finally abated; it was a slowly building mass death experience. The year with the most corpses in America was 1995. The darkest night really was just before the dawn.”

14. Steven Johnson on How Play Shaped the World

“‘Play’ here designates by turns novelty, delight, sport, games, prettiness, music of any kind, gambling, magic shows, spectacles, illusions and fashion. The word slips and skips like a pinball. If Johnson can show that the primary purpose of some pastime is not, strictly speaking, money, war or sex, he labels it play and closes his case. His pinball manages to light a lot of stuff up, so it’s hard to begrudge him this sometimes reckless game.”

15. Good at Skipping Ads? No, You’re Not

“The realization that something you thought to be ‘real’ is actually an advertisement is an increasingly common, if unsettling, sensation. Mara Einstein calls it ‘content confusion,’ and if her book, Black Ops Advertising, is right, we’re in for even more such trickery, indeed a possible future where nearly everything becomes hidden commercial propaganda of one form or another. She forecasts the potential of a ‘world where there is no real content: Everything we experience is some form of sales pitch.’”

16. Are Domestic Responsibilities at Odds With Becoming a Great Artist?

“n the end, what’s mysterious, worth aspiring to and impossible to prescribe for anyone else are the conviction and fortitude that allow some creators to do their best possible work in whatever circumstances they find themselves, whether in a remote hut adorned by a single calla lily or a cluttered and sometimes noisy kitchen with an unknown but truly impressive quantity of rainbow sequins scattered across the floor.”

17. The Identity Politics of Whiteness

“If whiteness is no longer the default and is to be treated as an identity — even, soon, a ‘minority’ — then perhaps it is time white people considered the disadvantages of being a race. The next time a white man bombs an abortion clinic or goes on a shooting rampage on a college campus, white people might have to be lectured on religious tolerance and called upon to denounce the violent extremists in their midst. The opioid epidemic in today’s white communities could be treated the way we once treated the crack epidemic in black ones — not as a failure of the government to take care of its people but as a failure of the race. The fact that this has not happened, nor is it likely to, only serves as evidence that white Americans can still escape race.”

18. Is Social Media Disconnecting Us From the Big Picture?

“I knew about Eli Pariser’s theory on filter bubbles, or the idea that online personalization distorts the type of information we see, and even so, I still chose to let algorithms shape how I perceive the world. Everything I could want to see is available at my fingertips, and yet I didn’t look.”

19. The Passion of Martin Scorsese

“For half a century, Scorsese has been a missionary for the cinema: making his own movies, promoting the work of great international directors, consolidating the history of the medium in a brilliant group of documentaries and advocating for the preservation of classics. Over time, this picture of his about a missionary adventure became a mission in its own right, and the act of getting it made became an act of faith.”

20. Billionaires vs. the Press in the Era of Trump

“What’s new here are two forces squeezing journalism like pincers. The first is a figure like Thiel, willing to place bets on lawsuit after lawsuit until he hits on a winning combination of facts, judge and jury. The second is the public’s animosity toward the press, now fueled by the soon-to-be president.”

Sunday 11.20.2016 New York Times Digest

(Note: This post is “late” because I was traveling [see article #1]. But now I’m back in Iowa City [see article #2] and getting caught up on things. Thanks for your patience and look for another one of these on Sunday.)


1. I Wish We All Could Be Californian

“Nearly everyone I know would vote yes tomorrow if we could secede peacefully and get security guarantees while we annex Oregon and Washington, join the Canadian health care system and claim Brooklyn in the same way that West Germany once claimed West Berlin.”

2. At Iowa High School, Election Results Kindle Tensions and Protests

“Like many other schools around the country since the election, West High has become a microcosm of the United States itself, a place roiled by tension, divisions and mistrust. Students in many schools say supporters of Donald J. Trump have felt empowered to lash out at minorities, while outraged backers of Hillary Clinton have been spurred to organize and demonstrate. And teachers have been struggling to provide guidance even as they themselves are processing the election results.”

3. Along the Autism Spectrum, a Path Through Campus Life

“For decades, universities have provided academic safety nets to students with physical disabilities and learning challenges like dyslexia. But students on the autism spectrum need a web of support that is far more nuanced and complex.”

4. Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It.

“A dedication to cultivating your social media brand is a fundamentally passive approach to professional advancement. It diverts your time and attention away from producing work that matters and toward convincing the world that you matter.”

5. The End of Identity Liberalism

“National politics in healthy periods is not about ‘difference,’ it is about commonality. And it will be dominated by whoever best captures Americans’ imaginations about our shared destiny.”

6. Climate Change in Trump’s Age of Ignorance

“We now live in a world where ignorance of a very dangerous sort is being deliberately manufactured, to protect certain kinds of unfettered corporate enterprise.”

7. The Secret Agenda of a Facebook Quiz

“For several years, a data firm eventually hired by the Trump campaign, Cambridge Analytica, has been using Facebook as a tool to build psychological profiles that represent some 230 million adult Americans.”

8. ‘Westworld’ and the Moral Dilemma of Cyborgs

“The father of cybernetics cautioned human beings against the desire to be waited upon by intelligent machines that are equipped to improve their minds over time. ‘We wish a slave to be intelligent, to be able to assist us in the carrying out of our tasks,’ Wiener writes. ‘However, we also wish him to be subservient.’ The obvious problem is that keen intelligence and groveling submission do not go hand in hand.”

9. The Crisis for Liberalism

“Liberal societies have always depended on an illiberal or pre-liberal substructure to answer the varied human needs — meaning, belonging, a vertical dimension to human life, a hope against mortality.”

10. Dancing in a Hurricane

“What the hell happened in and around 2007? 2007? That’s such an innocuous year. But look again.”

11. Race in America After the Great Migration

“A century ago, almost all black Americans lived in the South, largely in rural areas. By 1970, most lived outside the South, a great many in Northern and Western industrial cities. Driven, in part, by hopes for greater economic opportunity, millions of black migrants made this move. Did they find what they were looking for?”

Bruce Bliven on Los Angeles

“Here is the world’s prize collection of cranks, semi-cranks, placid creatures whose bovine expression shows that each of them is studying, without much hope of success, to be a high-grade moron, angry or ecstatic exponents of food fads, sun-bathing, ancient Greek costumes, diaphragm breathing and the imminent second coming of Christ.”

—Bruce Bliven, The New Republic, 1927