H.D.R. Is Coming to a TV Near You. Here’s Why You Should Care.

Dolby Vision, on the other hand, supports 12-bit color for a whopping 68 billion possible colors. The Dolby spec also allows for televisions that support up to ten times the brightness levels of even baseline HDR10 sets, and can even adjust brightness levels on the fly during a movie or show. However, in practice most TVs don’t reach that upper limit. In other words, it will be a long time before you can buy a TV that pushes the limit of what Dolby Vision can do.

Dolby Vision offers some advantages over HDR10, but here’s the kicker: The TV shows and movies you watch have to specifically support Dolby Vision, not just generic H.D.R. However, since comparatively few TVs can support this — and Dolby Vision-compatible TVs tend to be more expensive — many productions optimize for the basic HDR10 standard instead. That means, for now at least, you’re spending more money on a better TV even though there’s less content that makes use of it.

You’ll need H.D.R. content, but there’s more arriving every day

Your fancy new H.D.R. TV won’t mean much if the TV shows and movies you watch still look like the old stuff you’re used to watching. In 2019, there’s more H.D.R. content available than ever.

Netflix has a wide collection of shows that stream in H.D.R., including “Stranger Things” and “Glow.” And Amazon has its own shows and movies, like “The Grand Tour,” all streaming in 4K H.D.R. You can also rent or buy supported movies from iTunes or Vudu and stream them to your TV. 4K H.D.R. content will require a fairly high-speed internet connection (25 Mbps or higher according to Netflix’s help documents), although streaming content can compress the quality compared to playing it from a disc. While Netflix, Amazon and Vudu charge more for 4K content, that upgrade includes H.D.R. Apple, on the other hand, doesn’t charge extra for a 4K upgrade on its movie rentals at all.

When it comes to broadcast TV, there are a few options available, however, your TV will need to support a slightly different H.D.R. standard called H.L.G. It’s common for TVs that support HDR10 to also support H.L.G., but due in part to this extra minor hurdle — and broadcast TV’s notorious tendency to upgrade slowly — there’s not as much H.D.R. content coming in over the air as you can find from streaming sites.

4K Blu-ray players offer the best option, as these don’t need to stream over the internet. If you want to watch H.D.R. content, you’ll need a compatible Blu-ray player, as well as 4K H.D.R. versions of any movies you buy. 4K discs can be a bit more expensive than a standard HD Blu-ray, and not all of them will fully support Dolby Vision, but most of them support some form of H.D.R. and when you upgrade to 4K, H.D.R. almost always comes with it.

Finally, there are H.D.R.-compatible games. If you have a PS4 Pro or an Xbox One X (the latter of which is also a 4K H.D.R.-compatible Blu-ray player), then some games can make use of H.D.R. on your TV. The list of compatible games for each console grows every year and you can check out lists like this one for the PS4 or this one for the Xbox One X.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/16/smarter-living/hdr-is-coming-to-a-tv-near-you-heres-why-you-should-care.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

Fighting Harassers and Stalkers on the Web, in Court and in Print

Goldberg builds a convincing case that sexual privacy is a right that should be protected by federal law, much in the way that our personal, financial and medical information already is. If anyone can make that happen, it is she. In 2014, with little more than the resolve to become “the lawyer I’d needed,” Goldberg quit her job at the Vera Institute of Justice, rented a tiny, windowless office in a shared work space in Dumbo and hung a shingle as a victims’ rights attorney specializing in sexual privacy. In the five years since, her firm — now 13 people strong — has removed more than 30,000 nonconsensual images and videos from the internet, jailed more than a dozen offenders, and successfully sued the New York City Department of Education on behalf of a teenage girl who was gang-raped by classmates in her school’s stairwell and then suspended for lying. Goldberg also helped craft a dozen states’ revenge-porn laws and promote the first federal bill aimed at protecting victims of revenge porn. Introduced to Congress in 2016 by Representative Jackie Speier of California, the bill was reintroduced in 2017 by Senator Kamala Harris as the Ending Nonconsensual Online User Graphic Harassment (ENOUGH) Act. (As of this writing, the bill is still pending.)

In a 2016 New Yorker profile, Margaret Talbot suggested Goldberg is a cross between Gloria Allred and the Marvel Comics superhero Jessica Jones. It’s a wonderful characterization, though it would seem that Goldberg is far more upbeat than her depressive fictional doppelgänger. With the help of Jeannine Amber, an award-winning journalist who often reports on communities in crisis, Goldberg chronicles in “Nobody’s Victim” her battle for justice in a tone that is both take-no-prisoners and warmly gregarious (indeed, she befriends many of her clients). The text bubbles with colloquialisms like “shrug emoji” and “mouth-breathers,” who, along with “power pervs” and those who simply feel free to conduct themselves with “unbridled assholery,” make up her “Carrie Goldberg Offender Taxonomy.”

The cases she narrates are gut-wrenching, and her conversational approach lightens what could otherwise be an unbearably heavy load. It also makes accessible the complicated legal history leading to our current moment. Goldberg reminds us that “the internet was a very different place” in 1996, when the Communications Decency Act was signed, with a small provision called Section 230 declaring that interactive computer services were not publishers and therefore weren’t liable for user-posted content: “There was no Google, Reddit, YouTube or Twitter. Mark Zuckerberg was in middle school, and Amazon was an exciting new website that only sold books.” She believes that the “free speech purists and tech heads” who claim the law enables the internet as we know it today are missing the forest for the trees. Section 230, she writes, “is the No. 1 reason the internet is a safe space for peddlers of fake news, graphic death threats, conspiracy theories, Russian propaganda, racist slurs, Nazi hate speech, anti-L.G.B.T.Q. vitriol, vivid promotions of violence against women, instructions for how to make your own bomb and phony dating profiles offering sex in someone else’s name,” which is to say it’s the “enabler of every … troll, psycho and perv on the internet.”

Donna Freitas became a young adult in the late 1980s and ’90s, which limited the man who stalked her — her much older graduate school professor and mentor, who also happened to be a Catholic priest — to postal mail and landlines. In “Consent: A Memoir of Unwanted Attention,” Freitas recounts with great thoughtfulness how her perception of the power differential between them, as well as her faith in the religious and educational institutions she’d grown up with, lulled her into susceptibility and disbelief. She let more than a year pass before reporting the man’s harassment to university officials, who gave her “a very small sum of money” to never speak of it again. “I cut out my tongue,” she writes, now well aware, thanks in large part to the #MeToo movement, that she was hardly the only one to suffer this particular injustice. “All around the country, at universities far and wide, at workplaces of all sizes and types, at companies that boast of doing good and making the world a better place, there are file cabinets full of the bloody tongues of women.”

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/13/books/review/nobodys-victim-carrie-goldberg-consent-donna-freitas.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

DealBook Briefing: How a Recession Could Hit This Year

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The path to a 2019 downturn

The chances that the U.S. will fall into recession have increased sharply in the last two weeks. Here’s how it could happen, according to Neil Irwin of The Upshot:

• “The trade wars and a breakdown in international economic diplomacy cause businesses around the world to pull back.”

• “This leads to further tumbles in markets and job losses, prompting American consumers to become more cautious.”

• “High corporate debt loads create a wave of bankruptcies.”

• “And central bank policy proves impotent, combined with fiscal policy that is nonexistent.”

“Chances of a near-term recession are only about one in three, in the view of most forecasters,” Mr. Irwin adds. “But if it does develop, the big question will be whether the usual tools to fight it are up to the task.”

And what would it look like on the ground? Besides the hardships for businesses and individuals, Ross Douthat of the NYT makes a few predictions in his latest column:

• President Trump could lose re-election, as he would be unlikely to muster enough votes if his boom evaporates.

• Venture-capital funding could start to dry up, which might make business like Uber and WeWork unsustainable.

• The immigration crisis could diminish, as the U.S. becomes less attractive to those in other countries, while domestic social problems like suicide rates and drug overdoses could get worse.

More: Mr. Trump dismissed the threat of a recession. But Larry Kudlow, the White House economic adviser, said that the administration was “looking at” potential stimulus measures like tax cuts. And the Fed chairman, Jay Powell, may now be facing the toughest decisions of his tenure.

SoftBank’s employees could invest in its new Vision Fund

The company is taking the unusual step of lending its staff huge amounts of money to invest into the second of its big tech funds, according to reports in the WSJ and FT.

SoftBank “plans to lend up to $20 billion to its employees to buy stakes in its second giant venture-capital fund,” the WSJ reports, citing unidentified sources. The FT pegs the figure at $15 billion. That would bring employee contributions to the fund to 14 percent to 19 percent.

It’s not unusual for executives to invest like this, industry experts told the FT. (SoftBank did something similar with the first Vision Fund, but with just $8 billion of employee money in an almost $100 billion fund, the WSJ notes.) But “typically the amount of employee contribution would be less than 5 percent of the total funds raised,” the FT explains.

SoftBank believes the move would “better align its managers’ interests with those of Vision Fund investors because the fund investments can be canceled if someone departs or is found to have done a reckless deal,” the WSJ writes.

But it could leave SoftBank exposed to “a start-up economy that is starting to show cracks,” the WSJ adds. The first Vision Fund’s investments in Uber (whose stock price has fallen by 30 percent since going public in May) and WeWork (which last week disclosed huge and growing losses as it filed for an I.P.O.), for instance, now look riskier than ever.

Mixed messages from the White House on Huawei

The administration is set to further suspend its punishment of the Chinese technology company — but President Trump also undercut that idea overnight.

Because of national security concerns, Huawei was blocked in May from buying U.S. supplies. But that ban was quickly followed by a reprieve, to allow the Chinese company to continue buying some goods and services from American companies if they weren’t considered a security threat. That reprieve ends today.

An extension of that reprieve was first reported by Reuters and the WSJ. Both reports said that Huawei would be allowed to continue doing some business in the U.S. for another 90 days. Larry Kudlow, the White House economic adviser, confirmed the news Sunday, and told NBC that it was a gesture of “good faith” amid trade negotiations with China, to give American companies more time to obtain licenses to continue trading after the ban takes effect.

But Mr. Trump tamped down expectations. “We’re looking really not to do business with Huawei,” he told reporters last night. “We’ll see what happens,” he said of the reprieve extension, adding that he was “making a decision” on it today.

September could be make-or-break on gun legislation

Lawmakers plan to cut their summer recess short and return to Washington early next month to vote on three gun safety bills. It could be their last chance to take action on firearms before the 2020 election.

• The House Judiciary Committee announced last week that lawmakers would return to vote on the gun bills on Sept 4.

• They will consider measures that include a ban on high-capacity magazines, a federal “red flag” law meant to prevent those “deemed a risk to themselves or others from accessing firearms,” and another bill that bars people convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from buying a gun.

• The committee will also convene a hearing on Sept. 25 “to consider ways to address the dangers posed by assault weapons,” though it stopped short of promising a vote on an assault weapons ban.

But “it’s September or bust,” an unidentified source involved in the gun bill negotiations between the White House and Capitol Hill told Axios. “We’ll either have everything ready for when Congress returns, drop it on the floor, vote on it and move on — or we blow it.”

Companies feel heat from China over Hong Kong protests

Beijing is increasingly putting pressure on the business world to take its side in the protests in Hong Kong. Both global and local companies are falling in line — and their employees are caught in the crossfire, Sui-Lee Wee and Raymond Zhong of the NYT report.

• “The most dramatic example came on Friday, when Rupert Hogg, the chief executive of Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways, resigned in the face of Chinese pressure after some of the airline’s workers participated in the demonstrations.”

• “Now, global accounting firms are coming under the same pressure.”

• “The Big Four firms — PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and Ernst & Young, now known as EY — put out statements distancing themselves from a full-page ad supporting the demonstrations that appeared in Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper on Friday. The ad was signed and paid for by a group of anonymous employees of the firms.”

• “The Global Times, a tabloid controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, has urged the firms to ‘fire employees found to have the wrong stance on the Hong Kong situation.’ Mainland Chinese internet users have warned them against ‘becoming the next Cathay Pacific.’ ”

The world has a diamond glut

At every stage of the diamond supply chain the numbers of the precious gemstones are piling up. But don’t expect bargains at the jewelry counter, Elizabeth Paton of the NYT reports.

• ”The top diamond miners in the world, including the two largest, Alrosa and De Beers, have an inventory problem. So do many of the cutters and polishers who buy the rough stones and sell them to retailers.”

• “A glut in many other industries would ordinarily lead to deep price cuts. But consumers are buying stones that have passed through many layers of middlemen: traders, polishers and cutters, who have absorbed much of the raw stones’ price volatility.”

• That means “the oversupply of rough stones and the increasingly strained finances of middlemen have hit miners’ balance sheets in recent months as they try to manage the surplus and increase the value of existing stones.”

• De Beers is scaling back production; Petra Diamonds, a mining group, has reported full-year revenue below analyst estimates and expects next year’s production to be even lower.

Revolving door

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau named Robert Cameron, previously a top compliance official at the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, as its new ombudsman.

The speed read


• Warren Buffett is buying bank stocks. Why isn’t everyone else? (DealBook)

• A federal judge on Friday allowed the parent company of Pacific Gas and Electric “to retain the sole rights to propose a plan to exit bankruptcy.” (Reuters)

• Alibaba had been planning a $15 billion public offering in Hong Kong — but the unrest there is reportedly causing it to think very carefully about its timing. (Reuters)

• An e-commerce joint venture of JD.com and Walmart called Dada-JD Daojia is reportedly planning an I.P.O. in the U.S. to raise $500 million. (Information)

• Only 84 new companies have been listed in Europe this year, the fewest in a decade by far. (Bloomberg)

Politics and policy

• The Trump administration approved an $8 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan, which is certain to anger China and could complicate the trade war. (NYT)

• President Trump said yesterday that buying Greenland is “strategically” interesting. The idea has drawn derision from residents of the semiautonomous Danish territory. (Hill, NYT)

• A federal appeals court ruled that the U.S. can block migrants seeking asylum, but only in some states. (NYT)

• An Iranian oil tanker that was held for six weeks after being impounded left Gibraltar on Sunday. (NYT)

• Germany said it could spend $55 billion on fiscal stimulus in an economic crisis. Also: What happens if its economy stumbles? (Bloomberg, NYT)


• Shortages of food, fuel and medicine are all plausible in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to leaked government documents. (Times)


• Low-level trade talks between the U.S. and China are expected to restart within 10 days. But President Trump suggested that he would like China to resolve the protests in Hong Kong in a humanitarian fashion before a trade deal is made. (Reuters)

• Mr. Trump said that Tim Cook, Apple’s C.E.O., made “a very compelling argument” about how the company would struggle to compete with Samsung if iPhones are subject to import tariffs. (Bloomberg)


• A.I. still has to learn from humans — and it’s endlessly repetitive work. (NYT)

• Terrorists have turned to fund-raising using Bitcoin. (NYT)

• Silicon Valley is expanding — into Toronto. (WSJ)

• Landlords who lease building space to WeWork may be exposed to over $40 billion of rent commitments, with little recourse if the company fails to pay. (FT)

• Mastercard is reportedly assembling its own cryptocurrency team. (NY Post)

• Beto O’Rourke said that he would clamp down on Big Tech’s legal immunity if he was elected president. (Verge)

Jeffrey Epstein

• Documents revealed how Mr. Epstein’s lawyers tried to sway prosecutors into assigning him a milder sex-offender status nearly a decade ago. (WSJ)

• Joichi Ito, the director of M.I.T.’s Media Lab (and a member of The New York Times Company’s board) apologized for his ties to Jeffrey Epstein. (NYT)

Best of the rest

• There’s been 12 months of stock market angst, and barely anything to show for it. (NYT)

• “In designing the flight controls for the 737 MAX, Boeing assumed that pilots trained on existing safety procedures should be able to sift through the jumble of contradictory warnings and take the proper action 100 percent of the time within four seconds.” (WSJ)

• How an unlikely group of activists in an Appalachian town recognized the early stages of the opioid epidemic, and fought in vain to stem its rise. (The Weekly)

• Chinese headwinds threaten to blow HSBC off course. (FT)

• A blunder by Sotheby’s meant that a 1939 Porsche Type 64, expected to fetch $20 million, failed to sell. (Bloomberg)

• Momofuku’s secret sauce? A 30-year-old C.E.O. (NYT)

Thanks for reading! We’ll see you tomorrow.

We’d love your feedback. Please email thoughts and suggestions to [email protected]

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/19/business/dealbook/2019-recession.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

Developing New Guidelines on Lyme Disease

Lyme remains challenging for many reasons, not least because the bacteria that cause the disease cannot be easily grown in the lab, like strep. Without the ability to test directly for the organism, making that diagnosis early continues to depend on clinical assessment, not on the lab.

“About 80 percent of patients who have Lyme disease will have the rash of erythema migrans, and that’s a sufficient basis to start treatment,” Dr. Meissner said, referencing the signature rash, often resembling a target, which can appear (though it doesn’t always) soon after infection with the bacteria causing Lyme.

In these situations, “blood testing is not recommended because only about a third of people will have detectable antibodies when they present with erythema migrans,” he said. “If it’s the right season, if the rash has a quality that’s consistent with Lyme disease, and a person lives in an endemic area or visited an endemic area and particularly if there was a tick attachment, then it’s a clinical diagnosis,” he said.

The highest risk season is late spring and summer, when the young (and tiny) nymphal stage ticks are active and looking for hosts; adult ticks also play a role, and can transmit the disease during the spring and fall.

What about when parents do find a tick? First of all, Dr. Meissner said, testing the tick is not recommended. However, the length of time the tick was attached is relevant. And if you can tell that the tick is engorged, that may provide some information about whether it has been attached for long enough to make transmission a risk. Borrelia burgdorferi, the main type of spirochete bacteria that cause Lyme, live in the tick’s midgut, he said, and once the tick attaches to its host and begins its “blood meal,” it takes some time for the blood to activate the bacteria.

“The spirochete has to migrate to the mouth of the tick,” Dr. Meissner said. It then gets transmitted from tick to human by reflux, journeying out from the salivary glands as the tick is feeding on blood. “If the tick is attached for less than 36 to 48 hours, then probably there’s not enough time for the spirochete to activate and get to the salivary glands,” Dr. Meissner said. “That’s why tick checks are so important — if you can catch it before 36 hours, 48 hours, it’s less likely the spirochete will be transmitted.”

The transmission process is complicated for other reasons as well. Scientists are studying the elements in tick saliva, which contains anticoagulant that gets injected through the skin into the host’s capillaries.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/19/well/family/developing-new-guidelines-on-lyme-disease.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

They Supply the Garage, You Bring the Elbow Grease

LIVONIA, Mich. — A few months after Dayna Freeland bought her 2008 Ford F-150 last year, she discovered the frame was so badly rusted that it was in danger of breaking apart. Rather than storm into the used-car dealership to complain, though, she took the truck to My Mechanics Place along with an uncorroded frame she had picked up for $200 at a salvage yard.

A week later, Ms. Freeland, a 22-year-old doctoral candidate in physics from Milford, Mich., who is also an actor and a model, drove away in her newly stable truck, with a rebuilt timing system to boot. Her total cost was a little over $2,000 because, despite having never done such a thing before, she did all the work herself.

My Mechanics Place, in suburban Detroit, is among a couple of dozen do-it-yourself auto repair shops in the United States. It provided the bay, the lift and some tools for $125 a day.

For the rest, Ms. Freeland read parts manuals, watched YouTube videos and chatted up the more experienced D.I.Y.-ers working at the garage.

“People keep coming up to me and saying, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t believe you’re doing this, it would suck to do this,’ but I love it,” Ms. Freeland said, her arm adorned with a reminder to herself, written in black marker, of the correct order for screwing back on the engine’s timing cover.

“I started getting into the mechanical stuff out of necessity because mechanics are expensive and I didn’t have the budget, so I had to figure it out,” she added. “And then I learned that I liked it.”

Most customers use My Mechanics Place for simpler tasks like oil changes, brake jobs and tire alignments, said Jay Rabaut, 56, who opened the shop in 2015. But his garage, with 22 service bays that include eight car lifts as well as a paint booth, draws an eclectic array of ambitious, cost-conscious wrenchers who frequently include millennials like Ms. Freeland.

The field is growing. Andrew Koretz owns Garagetime, where people can search for and book places to rent a garage or lift in their area.

“The younger generation,” Mr. Koretz said, “is holding on to cars longer than ever, are tech-savvy, are inspired by what they see on DIY Network and used to being able to find cheap parts online and have them shipped to them for free in two days.”

D.I.Y. car repair is obviously not a new concept. Beyond the perennial image of the dad under the hood of his car in his suburban driveway, The New York Times in 1978 reported on a “relatively recent phenomenon” in which oil companies like Shell and Mobil were testing the concept of leasing garage stalls and lifts to customers to do their own work. In most cases, customers sign waivers releasing the garage from liability should they be injured during their repairs.

But those efforts largely died out in the subsequent decades in part because cars became more durable, more affordable and, with all those electronic and computerized amenities, seemingly more complex.

“Parts and cars became easily replaceable in the 1980s and 1990s, so it was easier to buy another car or take out another lease than to take pride in taking care of your vehicle,” Mr. Koretz said. “Now we’re in a stage of society where we’ve moved away from the higher-consumption mentality.

“The average age of a car on the road in the U.S. today is a record 11.8 years,” he added, “so people are keeping them and investing in them longer than ever.”

Mr. Rabout and other latter-day D.I.Y. garage entrepreneurs saw the escalating cost of auto repairs and the reputation of some dishonest mechanics as an opportunity for a renaissance. Many military bases offer bay and lift space for amateurs to fix their vehicles, he noted, and he wondered if civilians would want that opportunity. Turns out they do, he said.

“People are tired of paying $100 an hour for a guy to hold their car for a week and work on it on the last day and call you up and say it’s done,” said Mr. Rabout, who charges $25 an hour or $125 a day for a bay. “People can bring their car here and work on it that day and save 60 or 80 percent on the repair costs.

“My goal is not to charge a lot, because I’m talking about the guys who can’t afford to take it somewhere anyway.”

Mr. Koretz said My Mechanics Place was among the nation’s largest and most elaborate D.I.Y. auto repair centers. Garagetime lists about 50 locations in 14 states where garages or bays are available for rent, although many are simply underused bays in existing full-service repair shops or even residential garages where apartment dwellers can go to work indoors.

Mr. Koretz, in fact, said he had gotten the idea for the website while trying to do car repair work on the rooftop parking structure of a Whole Foods in Chicago in freezing weather and noticed with envy the many empty residential garages nearby.

At Mr. Rabaut’s shop, Ms. Freeland is an outlier in the sheer ambition of her work, but the clientele ranges wildly.

Karl Vernon, 50, spent a few days there with a 2006 Winnebago replacing a leaky roof and cutting out accumulated mold and dry rot, reducing the cost of the repair from more than $10,000 in a shop to under $2,000.

Gjoka Lucaj, 44, frequently rents a stall and the paint booth to complete independent body repair jobs, which Mr. Rabaut encourages as Mr. Lucaj also offers free advice to other customers if he sees them struggling.

But the typical client is more often like Logan Kubin, 20, who popped in one Saturday to replace the exhaust pipe on his 2018 Subaru with “one that’s a little more free-flowing to make it faster for racing.”

“For about five years, I’ve always done everything under a shady tree in the backyard, lifting the car on ramps or gas cans, but I wanted to actually use a lift and I found this spot on Google,” Mr. Kubin said. “It’s hard to get the car high enough to get in the middle here, so putting this on the lift turned an all-day job into about a two-hour job.”

Ms. Freeland said she welcomed advice and oversight from others and believes that with a little bit of guidance most people could do more auto repair on their own than they thought. But she also related a cautionary tale of an Audi owner who showed up to refill his transmission fluid.

“He had no idea what he was doing, and he just wandered around talking to people, asking them for help, and didn’t get done what he came in to be done,” she recalled. “The employees here did their best to help him, but he just had no idea what he was even trying to do. He ended up leaving and going to the dealership.”

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/15/business/diy-car-repair-shops.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

A.I. Is Learning From Humans. Many Humans.

Prasenjit Baidya grew up on a farm about 30 miles from Kolkata, the largest city in West Bengal, on the east coast of India. His parents and extended family still live in his childhood home, a cluster of brick buildings built at the turn of the 19th century. They grow rice and sunflowers in the surrounding fields and dry the seeds on rugs spread across the rooftops.

He was the first in his family to get a college education, which included a computer class. But the class didn’t teach him all that much. The room offered only one computer for every 25 students. He learned his computer skills after college, when he enrolled in a training course run by a nonprofit called Anudip. It was recommended by a friend, and it cost the equivalent of $5 a month.

Anudip runs English and computer courses across India, training about 22,000 people a year. It feeds students directly into iMerit, which its founders set up as a sister operation in 2013. Through Anudip, Mr. Baidya landed a job at an iMerit office in Kolkata, and so did his wife, Barnali Paik, who grew up in a nearby village.

Over the last six years, iMerit has hired more than 1,600 students from Anudip. It now employs about 2,500 people in total. More than 80 percent come from families with incomes below $150 a month.

Founded in 2012 and still a private company, iMerit has its employees perform digital tasks like transcribing audio files or identifying objects in photos. Businesses across the globe pay the company to use its workers, and increasingly, they assist work on artificial intelligence.

“We want to bring people from low-income backgrounds into technology — and technology jobs,” said Radha Basu, who founded Anudip and iMerit with her husband, Dipak, after long careers in Silicon Valley with the tech giants Cisco Systems and HP.

The average age of these workers is 24. Like Mr. Baidya, most of them come from rural villages. The company recently opened a new office in Metiabruz, a largely Muslim neighborhood in western Kolkata. There, it hires mostly Muslim women whose families are reluctant to let them outside the bustling area. They are not asked to look at pornographic images or violent material.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/16/technology/ai-humans.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

A Road Trip to the Fiberglass Frontier of Northern Wisconsin

On the bathroom door, a wooden sign read, “John F. Kennedy used these facilities on March 18, 1960.” Sure enough, a newspaper clipping showed a campaigning Kennedy speaking from the hood of a car outside the bar. Down the street from Big Dick’s was the marquee for the small Palace Theater, built in 1939. Multiplexes are few up here, so independent theaters survive. The movies playing at the Palace when we visited were “Hotel Transylvania” and “Mission: Impossible — Fallout.”

On the way back, we passed through Shell Lake, the seat of Washburn County. It’s a small town on a large, picturesque lake, cut into frothy lines that day by Jet Skis and sailboats. At the entrance of Memorial Park was a large fiberglass statue of a Walleye. Sparta’s work?, I wondered.

Outside Cumberland, I brought the car to a near screeching halt at the sight of Louie’s Finer Meats. “Welcome sausage lovers,” read the sign above the door. That’s me! Customers wandered the aisles eyeing the dozens of bratwurst varieties, which range from gyro to bloody mary. A country singer over the loudspeaker sang, “Only in America.” Yes, I thought. On the wall, a poster told me the 86th Annual Rutabaga Festival would be held in four weeks. I experienced a severe attack of FOMO.

Before returning to the lodge, we stopped at Drag’s Roman Lounge, an old-school pizzeria in downtown Rice Lake, for a pie and an old-fashioned. Christmas lights and small chandeliers adorned the long horseshoe-shaped bar in back. The pizza came out fast: thin crust, tangy sauce, rich cheese and lump sausage. Drag’s served me one of the best pizzas I’d ever had. It was like finding a pearl inside an oyster.

My Uncle Dean and Aunt Ruth have a cabin in Minocqua, a town in north central Wisconsin, near the Upper Michigan border, and they invited us over after the reunion ended. We drove east, past rolling farmland and snowmobile-crossing signs and over rivers that, a century or so ago, were choked with pine logs on their way to the Chippewa River, and then to the Mississippi.

At Phillips, we found Fred Smith’s Wisconsin Concrete Park. Mr. Smith was a logger and tavern owner who, in 1948, at age 55, began constructing sculptures made of concrete and the broken Rhinelander “Shorty Export” beer bottles from his saloon. The rough-hewed figures possess an unexpected gravity. Soldiers, farmers, Native Americans, deer and horses (with beer-bottle manes), all silent sentinels of a vanished pioneer life, stared out of stiff stone faces, waiting to be remembered.

Down a long, tree-lined lane, just outside Manitowish Waters, the isolated Little Bohemia Lodge has been trading on infamy since 1934, when the gangster John Dillinger evaded an FBI raid there. Inside, the bar is decorated with Tommy Guns. The sole customer was a man dressed in a Milwaukee Brewers cap, Green Bay Packers sweatshirt and pajama pants. He seemed to know all about the place, and had his opinions as to whether the bullet holes in the side of the building were real.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/14/travel/a-road-trip-to-the-fiberglass-frontier-of-northern-wisconsin.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

A Texas-Size Political Scandal Threatens Powerful House Speaker

Empower Texans gave $9.2 million to 685 Republican candidates from 2008 to 2018, according to the National Institute on Money in Politics in Helena, Mont. “They are definitely players in the state,” the institute’s managing director, Denise Roth Barber, said. “They distribute their money very, very widely.”

The big question many are trying to answer now in the Texas capital is why Mr. Bonnen would have approached a group about which he has been openly dismissive.

After Mr. Sullivan criticized the latest “amazing LOSER #Texlege session” on Twitter, Mr. Bonnen brushed it off. “They speak only for themselves,” he told reporters. “They aren’t worth responding to. The reality of it is, if we passed every pro-life bill filed in the history of the state they would say we have not done enough. You will never please or appease those folks and I’m sure as hell not going to waste my time trying.”

That was at the end of May. Then came the meeting in the speaker’s office, in June. Mr. Sullivan said he was expecting a “tongue-lashing” for not supporting what he called the “lackluster results” of the legislative session, but instead, according to his account, he was asked by the House speaker to refrain from further criticizing the just-ended legislative session, leave a select group of Republicans alone and target 10 others.

In exchange, Mr. Sullivan said, he was offered press credentials for Texas Scorecard, the media arm of Empower Texans — though the House speaker has since pointed out he would not have the authority to grant such credentials.

Cal Jillson, a political-science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said Mr. Bonnen may have been seeking to soften the “enmity” between Republican factions and head off “incoming fire” from Empower Texans and affiliated groups in the future. “What Sullivan did was lay a trap for him,” Professor Jillson said.

In a July 29 press statement before Mr. Sullivan revealed that he had taped the conversations, Mr. Bonnen said that he had “one simple reason for taking the meeting — I saw it as an opportunity to protect my Republican colleagues and prevent us from having to waste millions of dollars defending ourselves against Empower Texans’ destructive primary attacks, as we have had to do in the past several cycles.”

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/16/us/texas-house-speaker-sullivan-bonnen.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

Vacation Must-Cooks – The New York Times

I got an email from a reader named Julia that read, “Dear Emily, I am going away on vacation next week and I have a fantasy that my relaxation will include not being asked ‘What are we doing for dinner?’ every night. So I have a fantasy that I will meal-plan the week.” Julia, I feel you. I too don’t want to shop, cook and, most crucially, think about shopping and cooking during my vacation.

I am a New Yorker who lives in a fourth-floor apartment. To me, food cooked on a grill is summer exotica; that same meal eaten outdoors constitutes true bliss. That’s vacation food, along with clams if you can get them, and fresh tomatoes and corn. But the vibe is more important than the ingredients: Post-beach (or post-lake, or post-pool) meals should be the laziest of endeavors, done barefoot and loose, maybe still in your bathing suit and over by dusk.

The recipes this week are all good for vacation cooking one way or another: heavy on the grill and light on other equipment; minimal chopping; easy to scale up or make ahead. And it’s not dinner, but one last thought: One of my colleagues, the esteemed reporter Kate Zernike, pointed out that the crisp is the perfect rental-house dessert. So true. It’s easy, you can use any fruit, and there are always a few relevant spices kicking around.

Ideas? Feedback? I’m [email protected], and I read every email you send to me.

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Here are five dishes for the week:

1. Lemon and Thyme Grilled Chicken Breasts

Somehow it doesn’t feel like work if you’re cooking outdoors. Maybe it’s because grill duty is mostly about holding a drink in one hand and tongs in the other as you zone out and appreciate the view, or the fresh air. One strong move is to make your entire meal on the grill, and to that end I’d throw on a few ears of corn with this crowd-pleasing chicken, and some sliced zucchini. (Everything you need to know about grilling vegetables is in this guide, and we have six truly delicious ideas for that corn over here.)

View this recipe.


2. Caprese Antipasto

The slice-and-serve dinner is another must. This recipe is known in my home as the Super Caprese, and in tomato season we eat some jumbo version of it for dinner almost once a week, skipping the roasted red peppers, swapping in salami for prosciutto or omitting the meat altogether, slipping in some sliced nectarines or peaches. The only nonnegotiable is bread, and lots of it. If someone you love doesn’t think this is dinner, just explain that it’s a cool, deconstructed pizza and that nothing is better in the month of August. Burrata would make it truly obscene.

3. Skirt Steak With Salsa Verde Salad

Another dish for the grill, and an efficient one: The salsa verde is both the steak marinade and the salad dressing. You can forget the salad if you like, and use the dressing on grilled zucchini or other vegetables, or sliced fresh tomatoes. I’d also put corn on the grill (again) to make this a full meal. Feel free to skip the pine nuts for the salad; they’re nice to have, but we’re avoiding extra pans this week, remember?

View this recipe.


4. Spicy Clams With Garlicky Toasts

I have a no-clam policy for this newsletter — not for a lack of love for clams (which are recommended in our guide to food and climate change), but because I want to avoid ingredients that are best used the day you buy them, on the assumption that your Tuesdays don’t typically include a stop at the fish market. But we are on vacation, people! You can omit the hot peppers so the dish isn’t spicy, skip some herbs and double up on others, and serve over pasta if you like. Or, to keep cooking to a minimum, just serve with toast as the recipe suggests. If you aren’t near fresh clams (or even if you are, I’m not here to judge), you can used good canned clams and make pantry pasta with clam sauce.

View this recipe.


5. Chickpea Salad With Fresh Herbs and Scallions

It’s a good idea to make an enormous salad you can stick in the fridge and eat for lunch and dinner over several days. The chickpeas here make this more filling than potato salad, and it would be so good as a vegetarian dinner with bread and other salady things, store-bought or homemade, or as a side to grilled sausage — one of the best vacation house grillables because it comes already seasoned and it’s impossible to mess up. Pasta salad is, of course, another solid move; this one is great, and mayo-free.

View this recipe.


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[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/16/dining/vacation-must-cooks.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

When You Love to Cook but Also Have a Kid, Embrace the Microwave

Tara O’Brady, author of “Seven Spoons” and mom to 11- and 13-year-old boys, uses an upright blender to make quick puréed soups. “They come together lightning fast in a blender, especially one with a cook function,” she said. “The rest of dinner might be grilled cheese sandwiches, but there’s a homemade, hearty soup to accompany, and I feel like that’s a win.” (The Vitamix 5200, which we recommend in our guide to blenders, will heat soup, although it won’t actually cook the ingredients.)

Sheet pans can also do double duty for baking and making easy dinners. “I love my sheet pans: It’s a way to make delicious dinners with minimal cleanup (this is key),” said Emily Weinstein, deputy editor of The New York Times Food section and editor of NYT Cooking, who has a 21-month-old daughter. Ms. Weinstein will pile vegetables and a protein onto one pan (she recommends this recipe for sheet-pan squash and sausages served over farro or herbs), or she’ll bake carrots on one pan and meatballs on another (she also recommends these four simple shape-and-bake meatball recipes). We recommend Nordic Ware half-sheet pans, if you’re looking for good ones.

Maximize your freezer

On nights that you’re cooking something special, take advantage of the effort by making extra to freeze. “I always try to make a double batch of Bolognese, meatballs, or falafel, or simply cooked beans in their broth,” said Ms. O’Brady. “Quinoa, pasta, and grains also hold well in the freezer. I’ll roast a second chicken, or plan on extra when braising or grilling meats and vegetables that freeze or keep well.”

Frozen dinners certainly extend past meals you’ve made. “I love frozen or pre-prepared dumplings or tamales from Trader Joe’s or bought, wrapped, and frozen, from our great local vendors,” said Ms. Copeland. “These are two things I serve about once a month each that feels like a complete night off.” And freezing specialty items you love can help elevate even the simplest meals. Ms. Téllez freezes freshly made tortillas from a tortilleria near her home in Queens, N.Y., then defrosts them as needed.

Collect a few back-pocket dinners

For those times when you don’t have a dinner plan, try to learn a few dishes that you can always fall back on. For Ms. Téllez, that often means hot dogs wrapped and baked in Pillsbury crescent rolls, served with ketchup and mustard, along with frozen veggies or a spinach salad on the side. For Mr. Lam, that’s generally spaghetti aglio e olio — pasta mixed with garlic sautéed in olive oil — combined with whatever vegetables he has on hand. For Ms. Weinstein, it’s a breakfast classic: “My now-and-forever easy dinner is scrambled eggs with toast. It’s one of my favorite foods, and I can always make it, no matter how tired I am.”

And dinner doesn’t always need to be cooked. “I rely on grazing, platter-style meals at least once a week, and much more in the summer,” said Ms. Copeland. “This lets me get away with serving all the things — meats, cheeses, crackers, vegetables, dips, olives, bread, hummus, or whatever we have on any given day — in new and inventive ways that always end up to be a please-all meal.”

On the nights when you really don’t have energy — maybe a child is sick, or you’re late getting home from work — it’s worth budgeting for takeout, especially if it will relieve your stress level. “I try to leave one day a week when we order out,” said Ms. Téllez. “Just having the one day of a break is really nice. I try to keep a Wednesday or Thursday, when I’m in a rut.”

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/14/smarter-living/wirecutter/when-you-love-to-cook-but-also-have-a-kid-embrace-the-microwave.html?emc=rss&partner=rss