August 04, 2014

Sunday New York Times Digest

Hi,

Every Sunday since 2007 (that’s 346 consecutive weeks), I've posted links to and quotes from articles I thought were interesting in that day’s New York Times on my blog. I started doing it to give myself a Sunday morning ritual, to keep track of articles I wanted to talk to my dad about, and to assemble an archive of my recurring preoccupations, as well as track how those preoccupations shift over time. Today, Austin Kleon suggested I package and distribute these digests via an email newsletter, so here we are. Every Sunday (or Monday, depending on what else I have going on) you can expect something that looks like what’s below. Basically, I read the Sunday New York Times so you don’t have to. Questions? Comments? Wondering why I didn’t include your favorite article? Email me. Until then, thanks for reading. I promise not to abuse my access to your inbox.

Matt

P.S. You can subscribe to the New York Times by going to their subscriptions page.
 

Sunday 8.3.2014 New York Times Digest

by Matt Thomas

1. The Squeeze on the Middlebrow

“In 1949, if you were eating avocado, you were most likely at an upper-middlebrow dinner party. Today, you are probably at Subway.”

2. How Facebook Sold You Krill Oil

“With its trove of knowledge about the likes, histories and social connections of its 1.3 billion users worldwide, Facebook executives argue, it can help advertisers reach exactly the right audience and measure the impact of their ads — while also, like TV, conveying a broad brand message.”

3. Jiminy Cricket! Bugs Could Be Next Food Craze

“There are, like, thousands of insects crawling over one another.”

4. Shattering Myths to Help the Climate

“Reducing CO2 emissions would actually be surprisingly easy.”

5. An Appeal to Our Inner Judge

“Every day, our biases determine what we see and how we judge those around us.”

6. How South Korea Enslaves Its Students

“Herded to various educational outlets and programs by parents, the average South Korean student works up to 13 hours a day, while the average high school student sleeps only 5.5 hours a night to ensure there is sufficient time for studying.”

7. Facebook’s Gateway Drug

“The goal of providing universal, affordable Internet access is a laudatory one. But there’s more to the nonprofit-tinged ‘dot.org’ agenda than meets the eye, and its subtext is indicative of a bigger problem with Silicon Valley ‘solutionism’ — the belief that the tech industry could and should solve all of life’s problems.”

8. Three Myths About the Brain

“Myths about the brain typically arise in this fashion: An intriguing experimental result generates a plausible if speculative interpretation (a small part of the lobe seems sufficient) that is later overextended or distorted (we use only 10 percent of our brain). The caricature ultimately infiltrates pop culture and takes on a life of its own, quite independent from the facts that spawned it.”

9. ‘Fury,’ Starring Brad Pitt, a Raw Look at Warfare

“American fighters were not saints.”

10. Delayed Zombification

“I was reading a lot of Jacques Derrida at the time, writing Beth. He actually talked about zombies. Zombies sort of typify this ambiguity, that they’re not dead and not alive.”

11. Sci-Fi Beats With a Pacific Flavor

“While outsiders might think the city’s hip-hop scene revolves around the ubiquitous white rapper Macklemore, the reality is more idiosyncratic and diverse. Shabazz Palaces are part of Black Constellation, a collective of visual artists (Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes, Nicholas Galanin and Nep Sidhu, who creates their stage clothing), fashion designers and musicians, including the rapper OCnotes and the avant-R&B duo THEESatisfaction, who host a series of parties called Black Weirdo in Seattle, Toronto, New York and Minneapolis.”

12. Tell Me What You See, Even if It Hurts Me

“People at my school and camp say I’m the most ugliest person they’ve ever seen and I could be the ugliest person that could ever be living. Be honest and tell me if I am ugly or not. I can take it, but please don’t say really mean stuff.”

13. Immortal Beloved

“Swafford repeatedly points out the way Beethoven cunningly derived pieces from a single, simple idea. This is not news — but it’s worth meditating on. Beethoven preferred musical ideas of almost unusable simplicity, things that seem pre-musical, or ur-musical, like chords, or scales — not music, but the stuff music is made of. Imagine a building constructed of blueprints, or a novel based on the word ‘the.’”

14. Mind Ablaze

“Poems and first paragraphs came to him with ‘every word in place, every comma, every period fixed.’ His synesthesia endowed sounds with colors; he had a prodigious memory and a seer’s empathy. In a span of 10 productive years, Crane wrote five novels, two books of poems, several classic stories and many journalistic sketches.”

15. Best Exotic Kingdom

“In Hollywood, she spurned Errol Flynn, whose plan for a film version of the original rajah’s exploits was, she decided, vastly inferior to her own. During her heyday, between the two world wars, she presided over a kingdom the size of England whose subjects greeted her arrival with 21-gun salutes and elaborate parades. Marooned in New York in 1941, with little to sustain her but hot dogs and gin, she was reduced to telling fortunes in a bar called Leon and Eddie’s, ‘where I was known as “Toots.”’”

16. War Comes to America

“The president could be secretive and manipulative. As it turned out, he also had better instincts than the military men who served him.”

17. Head Count

“The biggest problem with Malthusiasm, as Mayhew addresses at length, is that Malthus was wrong.”

18. Math

“We still need math.”

19. The Kids Who Beat Autism

“A small but reliable subset of children really do overcome autism.”