Ways to Stop Facebook From Eating Your Battery

Q. I checked the battery usage setting on my phone and saw that Facebook was taking up a huge amount of energy. What is that app doing to suck up all that juice, and is there a way to limit it?

A. Over the years, the Facebook app for Android and iOS has added more power-hungry features, like autoplay videos, location-based suggestions and real-time notifications. That means that more power is demanded from the battery. The separate Facebook Messenger app for text, audio and video calls has also been found to consume a noticeable amount of battery charge.

Adjusting settings in the Facebook app can rein in some of the energy consumption, though be aware that doing so can limit the app’s functionality. For example, disabling the app’s ability to use the phone’s location-services function can save some power, but the map-based features may not work as well.

In the settings for the phone or app, you can also turn off Facebook’s ability to download data in the background, which also helps if you have a cellular plan with data-use limits; the Android version of the app has a Data Saver setting that may help streamline bandwidth consumption, too. You can find specific instructions for maximizing mobile battery life in Android and iOS on the websites for Google and Apple.

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In the Facebook settings on your phone, you can limit some of the app’s features, like its use of your location, to cut down on its power and data consumption.

Credit
The New York Times

In the Facebook app’s settings, turning off the autoplay option for videos and mobile notifications can save energy. Forcibly closing the Android or iOS app when you do not expect to be using it for a while is another power play.

Facebook’s mobile app is convenient and makes using the service easy, but it is not the only way to get to your Friends list if you decide to delete the software to save battery life. Instead, you can log into the mobile version of the site at m.facebook.com with your phone’s web browser, which should take up less battery power. Many Android users also have the option to use the Facebook Lite app, which was designed for less-powerful phones using slower connections. It performs basic Facebook functions like sharing photos and posting status updates.

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[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/24/technology/personaltech/facebook-battery-drain.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Am I at High Risk for a Heart Attack?

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Stuart Bradford for The New York Times

Q. How do physicians assess a patient’s risk for heart attack, and what factors are taken into consideration? After 20 years of resisting medication and being told my cholesterol numbers were so off the chart I was at extreme risk for a heart attack, I was told at my last checkup that my 10-year risk for a heart attack was only 9 percent.

A. Physicians use a number of different factors to assess your risk of having a heart attack or stroke, including your age, gender, race, total cholesterol and levels of so-called “good” HDL and “bad” LDL cholesterol. Whether you have high blood pressure or diabetes and whether you smoke are also important risk factors.

Though your level of “bad” cholesterol is a very important risk factor, “the need for a cholesterol-lowering statin is not based solely on the LDL level, but on the other risk factors it keeps company with,” said Dr. Robert Eckel, a former president of the American Heart Association.

Weight, physical activity and diet also play a role in heart disease, though they aren’t usually included in heart risk calculators that you find online and that physicians utilize to assess risk, from groups like the American College of Cardiology. (Some heart risk calculators you’ll find online have been criticized for overestimating the risk of heart disease, but they can give you a rough idea of where you stand, as long as you’ve had your cholesterol and blood pressure tested recently).

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The estimation of risk can change based on a single factor. So, for example, while a 50- or 60-year-old woman with high LDL cholesterol but no other problems may face a very low risk of a heart attack or stroke over the next 10 years, a man of the same age with a similar profile will be at considerably higher risk. Advancing age increases the risk for both men and women.

That said, if your 10-year risk of developing cardiovascular disease is assessed at 9 percent, you should consider medical treatment. Current medical guidelines recommend starting nondiabetic patients ages 40 to 75 on statins once their 10-year risk for cardiovascular disease is 7.5 percent or higher.

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[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/24/well/live/am-i-at-high-risk-for-a-heart-attack.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

The Other Woman Speaks – The New York Times

Ms. Chaulk was 28 and had been married just shy of five years when she learned of her husband’s infidelity. She had gone to see the therapist, she said, because she and her husband had met with the woman previously for marriage counseling. Ms. Chaulk wanted to get answers from someone who knew and understood her situation. It turned out that person was not the therapist, but Mr. Hertwig.

Indeed, one ponders the mysterious ways of chance and fate after learning that Ms. Chaulk visited the therapist just once (after couples counseling). Meeting Mr. Hertwig that day in the waiting room was “a total fluke” and “surreal,” she said.

She found talking with the husband of the woman that her husband was having an affair with more therapeutic than any therapy session.

For one thing, she was able, through Mr. Hertwig, to “piece together some of the timeline,” she said, to better know what had happened by comparing their spouses’ behavior and schedules over the previous months. “I’ll never get the full story,” she said. “But having some sense helped me find some closure and move on.”

It also helped that Mr. Hertwig knew exactly what she was going through because he was going through it, too. “With some of my friends, they were so angry on my behalf and I didn’t want the anger,” Ms. Chaulk said. “Whereas Benjamin and I could express a wide spectrum of feelings. It was a safe place to do it, and more productive.”

Mr. Hertwig, looking back on the encounter four years later, had a similar assessment of his conversations with Ms. Chaulk, who had “experienced the flip side of the coin,” he said. Being able to talk to her likewise for him made the therapist largely unnecessary. What was more helpful, he said, was “the feeling of looking across at someone who had experienced much of what I experienced and felt what I had felt.”

Mr. Hertwig is a former soldier who had served in Afghanistan, a difficult experience he was struggling with. In his essay, he said he was “attracted to her strength — maybe to her as well.” How did Ms. Chaulk feel in that moment?

For so long in her relationship with her husband, she said, “I’d been lying to my friends and everyone, pretending all was well when it wasn’t. During that time in the cafe, I was willing to look it in the eye and embrace it and make a plan. That was the first time I was honest with myself and how I was feeling.”

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If she felt a similar romantic spark toward Mr. Hertwig, it was because they were communicating honestly, she said, “and because we so clearly were on the same page. We had some very similar values. Being able to share that with someone was intimate in its own way.”

These days, Ms. Chaulk is a nurse in the same Canadian city where the story takes place. She is divorced from her husband, with whom she shares custody of their son, and is currently in a long-term relationship.

Every now and then, she said, she dusts off Mr. Hertwig’s essay. “Rereading it puts me back in a place where I was the most honest I’ve been with myself,” Ms. Chaulk said. “I use that story as a checkpoint so that I maintain that.”

Mr. Hertwig is now a Ph.D. student in English in Vancouver, British Columbia. He said he has more emotional distance from both his divorce and his military service, and better understands how the two were interconnected. He recently published a book of poetry, “Slow War,” that deals with these topics.

Mr. Hertwig is no longer in contact with his ex-wife. He has been dating the same woman for several years, and he also communicates with Ms. Chaulk every so often through Facebook. Despite their brief interaction, and the unhappy circumstances under which it took place, Mr. Hertwig said he will always feel “linked” to her, even as the years pass.

“Because however brief, it was important to me,” he said.

Read new Modern Love essays and follow-ups from past favorites here.

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[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/07/style/modern-love-the-other-woman-speaks.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

The ‘Good Time’ Stylist Has Some Tips for Style on a Budget

Name Miyako Bellizzi

Age 29

Hometown Alameda, Calif.

Now Lives In a three-bedroom apartment in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.

Claim to Fame Ms. Bellizzi is a stylist and costume designer who worked on the film “Good Time,” transforming Robert Pattinson into Connie Nikas, who plays a con artist. She read the script, she said, and was intrigued by the chance to turn “this pretty boy” into a greasy-haired scammer. She teamed up with Mordechai Rubinstein, a street-style photographer and blogger, to take photos of New Yorkers as inspiration for the looks.

Big Break In 2015, a couple of years after graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and producing shoots for Vice, she landed a job as a costume designer on the indie film “As You Are.” It was about teenage skateboarders in the early ’90s, and Ms. Bellizzi spent weeks sifting through old Thrasher magazines, tracking down labels like Airwalk and researching events like Kurt Cobain’s death that would have had an impact on the characters. “I’d never seen another costume designer work, so I had to kind of figure out a system that works for me,” she said.

Latest Project Ms. Bellizzi worked on two of the latest Jay-Z music videos, one of which was directed by Joshua and Ben Safdie, the brothers who directed “Good Time.” It was a childhood dream of Ms. Bellizzi’s to work on a hip-hop video, and she has vivid memories of watching Lil’ Kim, Foxy Brown, Missy Elliott and Method Man on TV. “You’re a kid, and you’re like, ‘God, I want to do that,’” she said.

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Next Thing “I want to do the next ‘Matrix,’” said Ms. Bellizzi, who hopes to work on more films where style is a strategic element in the storytelling. Some of her favorites are the original “Blade Runner” and “Casino.” While filming “Good Time,” Josh Safdie told her to think about creating a character that someone would want to be as a Halloween costume. “That has always stuck with me,” she said.

In our overly commercialized world, creating looks can be costly and time consuming, but learning how and where to source items makes it easier and more affordable. Here are some of the tricks Ms. Bellizzi has honed along the way.

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Ms. Bellizzi believes that when it comes to style, more is more.

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Natalia Mantini for The New York Times

1. More is more Coco Chanel advised: “Always remove one thing before you leave the house.” For Ms. Bellizzi, this does not apply. “I think more is better,” she said. For her, no look is complete without layers of silver jewelry, including nameplate necklaces, chains of varying thickness and chokers with hanging dice, which she makes herself. She finds most of her jewelry and clothes at swap meets, learning from an early age in California that you can find unique pieces on a budget.

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[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/21/style/stylist-miyako-bellizzi-good-time-robert-pattinson.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

New York Punk, Out of Retirement

They were at Arlene’s with several dozen fellow veterans, those who never quite made the big time. There was a guy in the corner who used to play with Johnny Thunders, and a woman who used to sing backup for Ronnie Spector. There were those whose record contracts had long expired, and those who never landed a contract. They all hugged and kissed as they met one another yet again in the comfort of a dark club.

Many of their friends and contemporaries fell victim years ago to drugs and hard living: Thunders and several of his fellow New York Dolls, two of the Cramps, most of the Ramones, Stiv Bators from the Dead Boys and a legion of the undiscovered. But they were here that night to celebrate that they’re still kicking.

In the last few years it has become a tribal ritual, every week or two, to see old friends play. Some have wandered back from the suburbs or from retirement to the old neighborhood to join a new scene, a community that’s risen out of the ashes and bones of the old one.

These survivors are here to keep the wolf from the door — to socialize, to dance and drink. But mostly they are here to rock.

And they are not alone. Musicians from back in the day — in acts old and new like Manitoba NYC, Bush Tetras, Exit 99, Lenny Kaye, New York Junk, the Phil Gammage Quartet, Gass Wild, Cheetah Chrome, the Skelecasters, The Fleshtones and Walter Lure and the Waldos — are gigging like there’s no tomorrow. They’re as punk as it gets — with nothing to prove, no chance of selling out and a special brand of nihilism that can only come with old age.

The Rousers, Max’s alumni who have been playing since 1977, took the stage at Arlene’s in their black shirts and sharkskin suits as the crowd thundered. Their newer song lyrics and titles — “Back in the [expletive] Day” and “Old Man Band” — poke fun of the fact that they are relics. But they are amazingly tight and rock incredibly hard, with an edge that has only seemed to sharpen with time. Some say they are in their prime.

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The Rousers, back in the actual day, onstage at CBGB in 1988.

Credit
via Brett Wilder

As they launched into a furious rendition of a recent favorite from 2009, “Kickin’” — the mirror ball spinning overhead, Tom Milmore’s guitar howling as he balanced at the front of the stage, the singer and bass player, Bill Dickson, cursing and singing in equal measure — the audience cut loose. Ms. Shaw — purseless — grooved near the front of the stage. The show’s MC, Steve Krebs, a club promoter and singer with the Skelecasters, kicked his legs out along to the music with his German girlfriend, Simone Zimmermann.

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Among the 80-strong crowd, people held iPhones to document the moment. Since, frankly, it could be the last moment. Some in the crowd were concerned for the health of the band’s hard-driving drummer, Sal Cappi, whose exertion was a bit alarming.

Earlier that week, Mr. Cappi, 62, was reminiscing about decades playing in New York and on the road. “These are some of the best musicians in the country right here,” he said of the old New York scenesters. Even though he plays a vintage 1966 set of sparkly red Ludwigs, he said, “I’m still learning new stuff, new tricks.”

Back in the day, the Rousers were pulling in $1,000 a show at nightclubs like Hurrah. They had roadies, and girlfriends in different towns. In 1979 they were offered an EP deal with Epic Records, home to the Clash, but their manager turned it down. “He told them we wanted a full album or nothing,” Mr. Milmore said, shaking his head. “We didn’t even know about it until years later.”

They persevered. Madonna, around the time she left her alternative band, Emmy and the Emmys, opened for them as a solo act at Max’s, right before it closed in 1981. That year they released a single, produced by MC5’s Wayne Kramer. It got good press, including a write up from this paper, which called it “psychedelic rockabilly,” but it got no traction.

“Things happen for a reason,” Mr. Cappi said. “It wasn’t meant to be. That life, that rock ’n’ roll life, is a life of heavy partying. So being famous might have led to my early demise.”

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[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/24/nyregion/new-york-punk-out-of-retirement.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Saudi Arabia’s Arab Spring, at Last

So when his father, who has never been tainted by corruption charges during his nearly five decades as governor of Riyadh, ascended to the throne in 2015 (at a time of falling oil prices), he vowed to put a stop to it all, M.B.S. said:

“My father saw that there is no way we can stay in the G-20 and grow with this level of corruption. In early 2015, one of his first orders to his team was to collect all the information about corruption — at the top. This team worked for two years until they collected the most accurate information, and then they came up with about 200 names.”

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King Salman praying at Quba mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia, this month.

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Reuters

When all the data was ready, the public prosecutor, Saud al-Mojib, took action, M.B.S. said, explaining that each suspected billionaire or prince was arrested and given two choices: “We show them all the files that we have and as soon as they see those about 95 percent agree to a settlement,” which means signing over cash or shares of their business to the Saudi state treasury.

“About 1 percent,” he added, “are able to prove they are clean and their case is dropped right there. About 4 percent say they are not corrupt and with their lawyers want to go to court. Under Saudi law, the public prosecutor is independent. We cannot interfere with his job — the king can dismiss him, but he is driving the process … We have experts making sure no businesses are bankrupted in the process” — to avoid causing unemployment.

“How much money are they recovering?” I asked.

The public prosecutor says it could eventually “be around $100 billion in settlements,” said M.B.S.

There is no way, he added, to root out all corruption from top to the bottom, “So you have to send a signal, and the signal going forward now is, ‘You will not escape.’ And we are already seeing the impact,” like people writing on social media, “I called my middle man and he doesn’t answer.” Saudi business people who paid bribes to get services done by bureaucrats are not being prosecuted, explained M.B.S. “It’s those who shook the money out of the government” — by overcharging and getting kickbacks.

The stakes are high for M.B.S. in this anticorruption drive. If the public feels that he is truly purging corruption that was sapping the system and doing so in a way that is transparent and makes clear to future Saudi and foreign investors that the rule of law will prevail, it will really instill a lot of new confidence in the system. But if the process ends up feeling arbitrary, bullying and opaque, aimed more at aggregating power for power’s sake and unchecked by any rule of law, it will end up instilling fear that will unnerve Saudi and foreign investors in ways the country can’t afford.

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But one thing I know for sure: Not a single Saudi I spoke to here over three days expressed anything other than effusive support for this anticorruption drive. The Saudi silent majority is clearly fed up with the injustice of so many princes and billionaires ripping off their country. While foreigners, like me, were inquiring about the legal framework for this operation, the mood among Saudis I spoke with was: “Just turn them all upside down, shake the money out of their pockets and don’t stop shaking them until it’s all out!”

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Men entering Alrajhi Mosque for noon prayer last month.

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Tasneem Alsultan for The New York Times

But guess what? This anticorruption drive is only the second-most unusual and important initiative launched by M.B.S. The first is to bring Saudi Islam back to its more open and modern orientation — whence it diverted in 1979. That is, back to what M.B.S. described to a recent global investment conference here as a “moderate, balanced Islam that is open to the world and to all religions and all traditions and peoples.”

I know that year well. I started my career as a reporter in the Middle East in Beirut in 1979, and so much of the region that I have covered since was shaped by the three big events of that year: the takeover of the Grand Mosque in Mecca by Saudi puritanical extremists — who denounced the Saudi ruling family as corrupt, impious sellouts to Western values; the Iranian Islamic revolution; and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

These three events together freaked out the Saudi ruling family at the time, and prompted it to try to shore up its legitimacy by allowing its Wahhabi clerics to impose a much more austere Islam on the society and by launching a worldwide competition with Iran’s ayatollahs over who could export more fundamentalist Islam. It didn’t help that the U.S. tried to leverage this trend by using Islamist fighters against Russia in Afghanistan. In all, it pushed Islam globally way to the right and helped nurture 9/11.

A lawyer by training, who rose up in his family’s education-social welfare foundation, M.B.S. is on a mission to bring Saudi Islam back to the center. He has not only curbed the authority of the once feared Saudi religious police to berate a woman for not covering every inch of her skin, he has also let women drive. And unlike any Saudi leader before him, he has taken the hard-liners on ideologically. As one U.S.-educated 28-year-old Saudi woman told me: M.B.S. “uses a different language. He says, ‘We are going to destroy extremism.’ He’s not sugar-coating. That is reassuring to me that the change is real.”

Indeed, M.B.S. instructed me: “Do not write that we are ‘reinterpreting’ Islam — we are ‘restoring’ Islam to its origins — and our biggest tools are the Prophet’s practices and [daily life in] Saudi Arabia before 1979.” At the time of the Prophet Muhammad, he argued, there were musical theaters, there was mixing between men and women, there was respect for Christians and Jews in Arabia. “The first commercial judge in Medina was a woman!” So if the Prophet embraced all of this, M.B.S. asked, “Do you mean the Prophet was not a Muslim?”

Then one of his ministers got out his cellphone and shared with me pictures and YouTube videos of Saudi Arabia in the 1950s — women without heads covered, wearing skirts and walking with men in public, as well as concerts and cinemas. It was still a traditional and modest place, but not one where fun had been outlawed, which is what happened after 1979.

If this virus of an antipluralistic, misogynistic Islam that came out of Saudi Arabia in 1979 can be reversed by Saudi Arabia, it would drive moderation across the Muslim world and surely be welcomed here where 65 percent of the population is under 30.

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One middle-age Saudi banker said to me: “My generation was held hostage by 1979. I know now that my kids will not be hostages.” Added a 28-year-old Saudi woman social entrepreneur: “Ten years ago when we talked about music in Riyadh it meant buying a CD — now it is about the concert next month and what ticket are you buying and which of your friends will go with you.”

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Participants at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, in October.

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Tasneem Alsultan for The New York Times

Saudi Arabia would have a very long way to go before it approached anything like Western standards for free speech and women’s rights. But as someone who has been coming here for almost 30 years, it blew my mind to learn that you can hear Western classical music concerts in Riyadh now, that country singer Toby Keith held a men-only concert here in September, where he even sang with a Saudi, and that Lebanese soprano Hiba Tawaji will be among the first woman singers to perform a women-only concert here on Dec. 6. And M.B.S told me, it was just decided that women will be able to go to stadiums and attend soccer games. The Saudi clerics have completely acquiesced.

The Saudi education minister chimed in that among a broad set of education reforms, he’s redoing and digitizing all textbooks, sending 1,700 Saudi teachers each year to world-class schools in places like Finland to upgrade their skills, announcing that for the first time Saudi girls will have physical education classes in public schools and this year adding an hour to the Saudi school day for kids to explore their passions in science and social issues, under a teacher’s supervision, with their own projects.

So many of these reforms were so long overdue it’s ridiculous. Better late than never, though.

On foreign policy, M.B.S. would not discuss the strange goings on with Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon coming to Saudi Arabia and announcing his resignation, seemingly under Saudi pressure, and now returning to Beirut and rescinding that resignation. He simply insisted that the bottom line of the whole affair is that Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, is not going to continue providing political cover for a Lebanese government that is essentially controlled by the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah militia, which is essentially controlled by Tehran.

He insisted that the Saudi-backed war in Yemen, which has been a humanitarian nightmare, was tilting in the direction of the pro-Saudi legitimate government there, which, he said is now in control of 85 percent of the country, but given the fact that pro-Iranian Houthi rebels, who hold the rest, launched a missile at Riyadh airport, anything less than 100 percent is still problematic.

His general view seemed to be that with the backing of the Trump administration — he praised President Trump as “the right person at the right time” — the Saudis and their Arab allies were slowly building a coalition to stand up to Iran. I am skeptical. The dysfunction and rivalries within the Sunni Arab world generally have prevented forming a unified front up to now, which is why Iran indirectly controls four Arab capitals today — Damascus, Sana, Baghdad and Beirut. That Iranian over-reach is one reason M.B.S. was scathing about Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran’s “supreme leader is the new Hitler of the Middle East,” said M.B.S. “But we learned from Europe that appeasement doesn’t work. We don’t want the new Hitler in Iran to repeat what happened in Europe in the Middle East.” What matters most, though, is what Saudi Arabia does at home to build its strength and economy.

But can M.B.S. and his team see this through? Again, I make no predictions. He has his flaws that he will have to control, insiders here tell me. They include relying on a very tight circle of advisers who don’t always challenge him sufficiently, and a tendency to start too many things that don’t get finished. There’s a whole list. But guess what? Perfect is not on the menu here. Someone had to do this job — wrench Saudi Arabia into the 21st century — and M.B.S. stepped up. I, for one, am rooting for him to succeed in his reform efforts.

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And so are a lot of young Saudis. There was something a 30-year-old Saudi woman social entrepreneur said to me that stuck in my ear. “We are privileged to be the generation that has seen the before and the after.” The previous generation of Saudi women, she explained, could never imagine a day when a woman could drive and the coming generation will never be able to imagine a day when a woman couldn’t.

“But I will always remember not being able to drive,” she told me. And the fact that starting in June that will never again be so “gives me so much hope. It proves to me that anything is possible — that this is a time of opportunity. We have seen things change and we are young enough to make the transition.”

This reform push is giving the youth here a new pride in their country, almost a new identity, which many of them clearly relish. Being a Saudi student in post-9/11 America, young Saudis confess, is to always feel you are being looked at as a potential terrorist or someone who comes from a country locked in the Stone Age.

Now they have a young leader who is driving religious and economic reform, who talks the language of high tech, and whose biggest sin may be that he wants to go too fast. Most ministers are now in their 40s — and not 60s. And with the suffocating hand of a puritanical Islam being lifted, it’s giving them a chance to think afresh about their country and their identity as Saudis.

“We need to restore our culture to what it was before the [Islamic] radical culture took over,” a Saudi woman friend who works with an N.G.O. said to me. ”`We have 13 regions in this country, and they each have a different cuisine. But nobody knows that. Did you know that? But I never saw one Saudi dish go global. It is time for us to embrace who we are and who we were.”

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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

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Fayez Nureldine/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Alas, who Saudi Arabia is also includes a large cohort of older, more rural, more traditional Saudis, and pulling them into the 21st century will be a challenge. But that’s in part why every senior bureaucrat is working crazy hours now. They know M.B.S. can call them on the phone at any of those hours to find out if something he wanted done is getting done. I told him his work habits reminded me of a line in the play “Hamilton,” when the chorus asks: Why does he always work like “he’s running out of time.”

“Because,” said M.B.S., “I fear that the day I die I am going to die without accomplishing what I have in my mind. Life is too short and a lot of things can happen, and I am really keen to see it with my own eyes — and that is why I am in a hurry.”

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[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/23/opinion/saudi-prince-mbs-arab-spring.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

How to Cover Rocket Blastoffs With an iPhone

Mr. Bezos’ rocket company, Blue Origin, has a similar approach toward reusable rockets. Blue Origin has not yet finished its New Glenn rocket, which will take payloads to orbit, but it has been testing and launching a smaller vehicle, known as New Shepard, that will take space tourists on a short up-and-down ride to the edge of space.

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Mr. Chang preparing for work in his home in Jersey City. SpaceX, he said, is good at showing video from its rockets.

Credit
Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

Do you have a favorite space app or a piece of technology for covering space?

I don’t use any space-specific apps. But the interconnectedness of everything today is awesome.

Early one morning a few years ago, I interviewed astronauts on the International Space Station while sitting at my kitchen counter. Just oldfangled technology: a landline telephone. But it’s something that I wouldn’t have imagined possible 20 years ago. It’s easier than ever to connect Point A to Point B even when Point B is 250 miles up, speeding at 17,000 miles per hour.

Rocket launches are routinely webstreamed now. And I can watch a launch on my phone while going to pick up my family at the airport, as I did this month when the latest cargo rocket, an Orbital ATK Antares rocket, headed to the space station. SpaceX has gotten really good at showing video from its rockets, even the boosters descending back to Earth.

A time-lapse video of the descent of a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster. SpaceX

That all makes it easier to cover space without going anywhere. The downside is not being at launches. Space shuttle launches were Earth-rattling.

Back on Earth, how do keep on top of the space industry? Are there publications or websites that you routinely turn to?

Jeff Foust at SpaceNews somehow manages to do four things simultaneously (tweet, respond to tweets, file his story, ask questions). When Elon Musk did a Reddit A.M.A. (“Ask Me Anything”), instead of wading through the A.M.A., I took a glance at Jeff’s Twitter feed to see if there were any big revelations. There weren’t.

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Emily Lakdawalla at the Planetary Society presents wonderfully insightful dives into the latest data from NASA’s planetary probes. Eric Berger, a former Houston Chronicle space reporter, has been freed from the chains of shrinking newspapers and is now at the Ars Technica website. He has his ear to the ground for D.C. whisperings of space policy, and he has great yarns, too. Among the many other reporters worth mentioning: William Harwood, Robert Pearlman, Miriam Kramer, Loren Grush, Lee Billings, Nadia Drake and Marcia Smith.

Two similar-sounding websites — spaceflightnow.com and nasaspaceflight.com — are ones I turn to often.

Outside work, what tech product are you currently obsessed with using in your daily life and why?

I guess I’m not obsessed with the iPhone X. I just returned it, even though I had gotten up at 2:45 a.m. to order it at the moment it went on sale and then received it a week later on the first day it was available.

Gorgeous phone. Gorgeous screen. Great camera. FaceID works really well (except when I was lying in bed). I found the new gestures easy to learn. It worked great. But with a case, it was wider than I liked. I decided I preferred the smaller iPhone SE. It wasn’t worth $1,000 for something I merely liked quite a bit.

Once upon a time, I used a microrecorder for capturing interviews and lectures. Then I used an iPod with a microphone attachment. Now it’s all on my phone.

What could be better about your iPhone?

Maybe Apple will cram the guts of the X into the body of the SE with an all-screen front. Here’s hoping.

However, the quick pace of change in tech makes it hard to maintain a functional work flow. It’s the curse of app rot. I’ve cycled through several voice memo apps. The one that Apple provides works fine, except it’s inconvenient to get the recordings off the phone.

I found a different app that worked well; then it didn’t work as well. I found another app I really liked. Then it started losing entire interviews, and that was unacceptable. I am currently using Just Press Record, which works across the Mac, iPhone and Apple Watch and stores the recordings in iCloud, so it’s easy to get at them wherever I am. I’m hoping the developer won’t lose interest in it anytime soon.

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[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/22/technology/personaltech/rocket-launches-space-iphone.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Tricky Cockatoos Match Shapes Better Than Primates

Cockatoos are smart birds, and the Goffin’s cockatoos in a Vienna lab are among the smartest. In an experiment reported about a year ago, they turned out to be real stars at making tools from a variety of materials in order to get a treat.

In a new study, researchers tested the birds’ ability to match shapes using an apparatus reminiscent of a child’s toy. The birds had to put a square tile into a square hole and more complicated, asymmetrical shapes into matching holes. If they were successful, they got a treat.

Cornelia Habl, a master’s student at the University of Vienna, and Alice M. I. Auersperg, a researcher at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, ran several experiments. They reported in the journal PLOS One that the cockatoos were not only able to match the shapes to the holes, but did much better than monkeys or chimpanzees.

“It was thought to be an exclusively human ability for a long time,” Ms. Habl said. Tests of matching shapes are used to mark milestones in child development.

Babies can put a sphere into the right hole at age 1, but they can’t place a cube until age 2. From there, they continue to improve.

Some primates can do similar tasks, although they need a lot of basic training to get up to speed before they can use the experimental apparatus, called a key box.

The birds jumped right in without any training and excelled. “Compared to primates, the cockatoos performed very well,” Ms. Habl said.

Why are they so good? In the wild, they haven’t been observed using tools. But they are generalists, foragers who take whatever food they can find.

They are adaptable enough to do well in some urban areas in Australia, Ms. Habl said. To succeed in a variety of environments eating a variety of foods, “they have to be very, very flexible.”

They are so flexible that they managed to go outside the parameters of the experiment to get a treat. In a video, one bird tears a splinter off a chair and uses it to open the apparatus without matching a shape to a hole.

“They did figure out a couple of ways to trick the box,” Ms. Habl said. “But it was not counted as successful because it was not what I wanted them to do.”

Just as in human life, the students who were so smart they could game the test did not get good marks because they didn’t follow the rules.

Working with the birds, said Ms. Habl, can be rewarding. “They surprise you every day,” she said. “Sometimes they outsmart me.”

“They are escape artists,” she said, and don’t make good pets. “They are very, very exhausting in a home environment.”

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page D4 of the New York edition with the headline: Cockatoos Match Shapes Better Than Primates. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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  • [1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/21/science/cockatoos-shapes-primates.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

    Laptops Are Great. But Not During a Lecture or a Meeting.

    Researchers can solve that problem by randomly assigning some students to use laptops. With that approach, the students who use laptops are comparable in all other ways to those who don’t.

    In a series of experiments at Princeton University and the University of California, Los Angeles, students were randomly assigned either laptops or pen and paper for note-taking at a lecture. Those who had used laptops had substantially worse understanding of the lecture, as measured by a standardized test, than those who did not.

    The researchers hypothesized that, because students can type faster than they can write, the lecturer’s words flowed right to the students’ typing fingers without stopping in their brains for substantive processing. Students writing by hand had to process and condense the spoken material simply to enable their pens to keep up with the lecture. Indeed, the notes of the laptop users more closely resembled transcripts than lecture summaries. The handwritten versions were more succinct but included the salient issues discussed in the lecture.

    Even so, it may seem heavy-handed to ban electronics in the classroom. Most college students are legal adults who can serve in the armed forces, vote and own property. Why shouldn’t they decide themselves whether to use a laptop?

    The strongest argument against allowing that choice is that one student’s use of a laptop harms the learning of students around them. In a series of lab experiments, researchers at York University and McMaster University in Canada tested the effect of laptops on students who weren’t using them. Some students were told to perform small tasks on their laptops unrelated to the lecture, like looking up movie times. As expected, these students retained less of the lecture material. But what is really interesting is that the learning of students seated near the laptop users was also negatively affected.

    The economic term for such a spillover is a “negative externality,” which occurs when one person’s consumption harms the well-being of others. The classic negative externality is pollution: A factory burning coal or a car using gasoline can harm the air and environment for those around it. A laptop can sometimes be a form of visual pollution: Those nearby see its screen, and their attention is pulled toward its enticements, which often include not just note-taking but Facebook, Twitter, email and news.

    These experiments go only so far. They may not capture positive effects of laptops in real classrooms over the course of a semester, when students use their typed notes for review and grades are at stake. But another study did just that.

    At the United States Military Academy, a team of professors studied laptop use in an introductory economics class. The course was taught in small sections, which the researchers randomly assigned to one of three conditions: electronics allowed, electronics banned and tablets allowed but only if laid flat on desks, where professors could monitor their use. By the end of the semester, students in the classrooms with laptops or tablets had performed substantially worse than those in the sections where electronics were banned.

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    You might question whether the experience of military cadets learning economics is relevant to students in other settings — say, community college students learning Shakespeare. But we’d expect the negative effects of laptops to be, if anything, less at West Point, where all courses are taught in small sections, than it is at institutions with many large lectures. Further, cadets have very strong incentives to perform well and avoid distractions, since class rank has a major impact on their job status after graduation.

    The best way to settle this question is probably to study laptop use in more colleges. But until then, I find the evidence sufficiently compelling that I’ve made my decision: I ban electronics in my own classes.

    I do make one major exception. Students with learning disabilities may use electronics in order to participate in class. This does reveal that any student using electronics has a learning disability. That is a loss of privacy for those students, which also occurs when they are given more time to complete a test. Those negatives must be weighed against the learning losses of other students when laptops are used in class.

    Students may object that a laptop ban prevents them from storing notes on their computers. But smartphones can snap pictures of handwritten pages and convert them to an electronic format. Even better, outside class, students can read their own handwritten notes and type them, if they like, a process that enhances learning.

    The best evidence available now suggests that students should avoid laptops during lectures and just pick up their pens. It’s not a leap to think that the same holds for middle and high school classrooms, as well as for workplace meetings.

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    [1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/22/business/laptops-not-during-lecture-or-meeting.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

    How to Deep Clean Your Fridge

    Here are some of the things you might need for your clean-out:

    • Trash bags

    • Rubber or disposable gloves

    • A cooler

    • Cleaning solution

    • A Dobie Pad, sponges, rags or paper towels

    • Microfiber cloths

    [Read Next: A Smarter Way to Clean Your Home]

    Start by Taking Everything Out

    Yes, everything.

    You will be tempted to leave some things behind in the name of timesaving (“I can just clean around that box of baking soda.”) Resist this temptation! Removing everything from the icebox all at once will be far less time-consuming than trying to clean around anything.

    Plus, with everything out of the fridge, it will be easier to take stock of what will stay and what will get thrown out because you can turn a more critical eye to, say, your robust collection of jams and jellies when they’re out of their native environment.

    This directive also includes taking out any removable shelves, drawers or door inserts. (Cleaning tips for these below.)

    Do a First Pass at Inventorying Your Foodstuffs

    Transfer highly perishable items like milk, raw chicken or pork to a cooler or the freezer for the duration of your fridge-cleaning efforts (check those items for spoiling and toss anything that’s gone off). Then set aside bottles, jars, produce and the like, reviewing the food to weed out rotting, moldy or unused things that should go into the trash.

    Last, review leftovers. This will be, perhaps, unpleasant! Gloves can help to make scooping out old lasagna or soggy salad less disgusting. And, as facile as it sounds, holding a deep breath while decanting moldy foods into the trash will help minimize any stomach-turning.

    [Read More: 5 Things Around Your Home You Never Clean But Should]

    Time to Scrub

    Start with those shelves, drawers and door inserts you removed. You’ll want to wash them just like you wash dishes, using a sponge and dish soap. Because they’re oddly shaped and oversized items, you might find it easier to wash them in a bathtub or large utility sink, or even outdoors with a hose. Wearing utility clothing for this operation is a good idea, as you’re likely to wind up a bit waterlogged, with bits of old food on you, or possibly just a little sweaty.

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    Once the removable parts are washed, dry them and set them aside. Now fill the sink about halfway up with water and a small amount of dish soap and place any now-empty storage containers in there for a soak while you turn your attention to the interior of the refrigerator. The soaking will expedite the process of washing the containers down the line.

    There are many good choices when it comes to a cleaning solution for the fridge, and you should take into account what makes you feel comfortable: Some people want the reassurance of a strong disinfectant like bleach, while others shudder at the idea of using bleach in the place where they store their food. Some options to consider are: diluted bleach or white vinegar (but never mix the two); a commercial all-purpose cleaner like Puracy Natural Multi-Surface Cleaner (the top pick from Wirecutter, the New York Times Company’s product review site); glass cleaner; a solution of dish soap and water.

    While the choice of cleaning solution is flexible, I strongly recommend using a Dobie Pad as a scrubbing tool. These sponges are excellent at scouring stuck-on food and spills from surfaces without scratching the plastic or glass.

    You can also use regular sponges, dish cloths or rags; an old toothbrush might also be useful if the design of your refrigerator has many nooks and crannies. Thin rags are great for cleaning the rubber seal around the door, where crumbs and all manner of other horrors lurk.

    For the exterior of your fridge, I recommend using a microfiber cloth, as it’s great at eliminating the streaks and fingerprints that so often mar the surface of stainless appliances. The exterior of plastic refrigerators can be cleaned in the same way as the interior; don’t forget to clean the top, where an unholy amount of grime has likely collected.

    [Read Next: The Best Refrigerator]

    Particularly Stubborn Spills and Stains

    Here’s an easy trick that will make short work of removing a badly stuck-on spill: Wet a sponge or rag with very hot water — being careful not to burn your hands — then wring it out and hold it on the sticky substance as you would a compress. The heat and moisture will reconstitute whatever it is that’s congealed, making it more pliable and easier to wipe up. For unrelenting spills, reapply the compress as needed.

    If the interior of your refrigerator has become stained, try a Magic Eraser to remove unsightly yellowing scuffs or stains left behind by brightly hued condiments (Sriracha, we’re looking at you). Wet the eraser, squeeze it out then rub it on the stain, just like a pencil eraser (note: it will disintegrate similarly).

    Now, Put Everything Back

    Start by returning the shelves and drawers and inserts to their places. Do you need to adjust shelf placement to make room for the large plucked bird that will call your refrigerator home shortly? This is a good time to do that.

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    Next, review the condiments you didn’t throw out on your first pass. Open lids to check for mold and empties. Use a sponge or rag dampened with hot water to wipe the exterior of bottles free of sticky drips — don’t forget the bottoms — and tighten caps that haven’t been properly screwed on, so you can prevent future drips.

    (And here’s a quick trick if you have a mustard jar that’s nearly out: You can make a delicious salad dressing using mustard dregs by pouring oil and vinegar directly into an almost-empty jar, replacing the lid tightly and shake-shake-shaking.).

    Then, return produce, dairy, meat, drinks and the rest to the refrigerator.

    [Read Next: The Best All-Purpose Cleaner]

    Advice for food storage

    According to the maker of Sub-Zero refrigerators, these are some of the best practices when it comes to food storage. A list of ethylene gas-producing foods can be found here.

    Wrapped raw meat and fish: Place on a plate or in a container to prevent drips. Store on the lowest shelf to keep drips from contaminating things below.

    Milk and other dairy: Place milk and other dairy-based foods deep on the shelves to avoid the temperature fluctuations that come with door shelves. Wrapped cheeses can also be stored in drawers.

    Jarred items like jellies, olives, dressings: These highly stable items can be stored in door shelves, where temperature changes won’t have as much of an effect.

    Lettuce and fresh herbs: Store in refrigerator drawers.

    Tomatoes: Store on countertop, away from ethylene gas-producing fruits and vegetables, unless very ripe.

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    Berries: Store unwashed in refrigerator drawers. Wash just before eating.

    Ethylene gas-producing fruits and vegetables: Store these away from fruits and vegetables that are sensitive to ethylene, like avocados, mangos and tomatoes.

    Eggs: A still egg is a happy egg! Place eggs in a place where they won’t be disturbed.

    One Last Tip!

    Is your refrigerator too quick to turn into a horror show of liquefied lettuce and old taco meat? Add this step to your trash-day routine: Before you tie up the garbage bag, open the fridge and review what’s in there. Throw out anything that’s gone bad or you know you’re not going to eat. Make a mental note of lingering foods that you could incorporate into an upcoming meal. Lots of leftovers? Serve a leftovers buffet for dinner or transfer them into portable containers to bring to work for lunch.

    For tips and advice for living a better, more fulfilling life, sign up here for the Smarter Living Newsletter.

    A Smarter Way to Clean Your Home

    Take this guided tour of your home — from the kitchen and bathroom to the bedroom and living areas — to learn the basic rules of cleaning as well as some tips and short cuts that will help you clean thoroughly and efficiently, starting now.

    Continue reading the main story

    [1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/15/smarter-living/how-to-clean-your-fridge.html?partner=rss&emc=rss