Sunday Paper - The Tyranny of Metrics, Medicare, Generation X is a Mess, Facial Recognition Software Ban, LED lights and eye health, The Best Salad in the World

Sunday Paper is my personal collage of long-form articles, between 1,000 and 20,000 words, that I have saved during the weekend, that I found interesting and which I think require deep slow thinking. I think they are best read on a Sunday morning as a sort of personal Sunday newspaper.

We are drowning under a tsunami of data.

We live in an intensely and increasingly measured world. Virtually everything we do yields data, numbers, and information that we think will improve our performance, help us hit target goals, or figure out if we’re doing things right. Even just a few decades ago, this would have struck most of us as nuts, but now we take it for granted—at home, at work, at play.

In The Tyranny of Metrics, just out in paperback from Princeton University Press, historian Jerry Z. Muller explains how we got to a place where we’re constantly measuring everything we do—and why much of the time we’re not just wasting our time but making things objectively worse. How To Crush 'the Tyranny of Metrics' by Nik Gillespie

We all want free healthcare unless we have to pay for it.

In theory, Medicare for All is more popular than ever. Polls show that a majority of the country favors the idea, which, as proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.), would set up a single-payer health care system that would make the government the financier of nearly all health care in the United States. Some surveys have even found that a surprisingly large percentage of Republicans are open to the idea.

But those same surveys consistently reveal that support for Medicare for All falls apart as soon people hear that it would raise taxes, result in delays for care, and eliminate private insurance—all of which are likely outcomes of a transition to single-payer. The public, in other words, favors the non-specific, cost-free idea of Medicare for All, but not the practical reality and the many trade-offs that it would necessarily entail.Kamala Harris Is Dodging Hard Questions About Medicare for All by Peter Suderman

We, Generation X, were we ever real?

Like many things considered “cool,” Gen X is pretty exclusive. You had to be born between 1965 and 1980 to get in to this gloomy, goofy club of forgotten middle children, and only about 65 million of us were. (Both boomers, at 75 million, and millennials, at 83 million, far outnumber us.)

The idea behind that “X” was about coming between. Gen X supposedly didn’t know what they were, or what they wanted. All they knew, they were told, was what they didn’t want — marriage, money, success — and then they shrugged and popped a Prozac.

As “Reality Bites” celebrates its 25th anniversary; as groups like Bikini Kill, Wu-Tang Clan and Hootie & the Blowfish reunite for tours; as generational idols like Ani DiFranco and Liz Phair publish memoirs; and as the first real Gen X candidates make a run for president, Gen X is in the air.

And you know what else Gen X is? Getting older. Its oldest members are 54; its youngest are preparing for 40. As we try to make sense of that fact, here’s a look at the stuff we loved and hated, as well as a re-evaluation of things like “The Rules,” grunge, CK One and 1994; an appreciation of John Singleton; a quiz to figure out which generation you actually are; and a visit with Evan Dando, plus some dynamite for the myths that have always dogged Gen X. So plug in your headphones, click on that Walkman and let’s travel through this time machine together.This Gen X Mess by Anya Strzemien in the New York Times

Time to start wearing reflective facepaint.

I’m less optimistic, and so is Ms. Garvie. “Face recognition gives law enforcement a unique ability that they’ve never had before,” Ms. Garvie told me. “That’s the ability to conduct biometric surveillance — the ability to see not just what is happening on the ground but who is doing it. This has never been possible before. We’ve never been able to take mass fingerprint scans of a group of people in secret. We’ve never been able to do that with DNA. Now we can with face scans.”

That ability alters how we should think about privacy in public spaces. It has chilling implications for speech and assembly protected by the First Amendment; it means that the police can watch who participates in protests against the police and keep tabs on them afterward.

In fact, this is already happening. In 2015, when protests erupted in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody, the Baltimore County Police Department used facial recognition software to find people in the crowd who had outstanding warrants — arresting them immediately, in the name of public safety.San Francisco Is Right: Facial Recognition Must Be Put On Hold

According to a French health study, LED lights are damaging to the human eye, specifically the retina.

New scientific evidence confirms the "phototoxic effects" of short-term exposures to high-intensity blue light, as well as an increased risk of age-related macular degeneration after chronic exposure to lower-intensity sources, according to the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety, known as ANSES. Age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss among people over 50, causes damage to the macula, a small spot near the center of the retina that's needed for sharp central vision. LED lights damage eyes and disturb sleep, European health authority warns

Is is possible to fall in love with a salad?

... every time I’m in New York, I visit Via Carota, the charming West Village restaurant run by the partners Jody Williams and Rita Sodi — sometimes twice in a single day — just to order the insalata verde. For three years I’ve been eating this salad, and bite by bite, trying to decipher what makes it so unbelievably, mouth-smackingly perfect. The menu description gives little away: “leafy greens in sherry vinaigrette.” A visual inspection of the dish reveals only leaves of endive, butter lettuce, frisée and watercress all piled as high as gravity will allow, topped by a drizzle of dressing studded generously with shallots and mustard seeds. About a year into my obsession, an equally bedeviled friend suggested that there might be sugar in the vinaigrette. Thinking of the Mexican cook I’d met who sneaks a little Knorr seasoning into every salsa and salad dressing, I wondered: Maybe there was a tiny, secret pinch of MSG too? What else, besides such concessions to the dark arts, could make a green salad so appealing? The Best Green Salad in the World