A Beginner’s Guide to Backing Up Photos – The New York Times

One of the most effective ways to back up photos on smartphones is by using one of several well-known cloud services, such as Apple iCloud, Google Photos, Amazon’s Prime Photos, and Dropbox. One reason you should use them is that they all share an important feature: automatic backups. (Note: You’ll find this feature on other services, as well.) “You can never predict when a crash will happen or your phone will be stolen,” says Jill Duffy, a contributing technology editor who covers productivity for PCMag.com.

Each also offers free versions to back up your photos, although it’s generally just a small amount of storage space. You’ll also want to be sure to drill down and examine the details of each service to find additional pros and cons. For example, the pricing model is very different on just these four services (not to mention other photo backup apps). Take Apple iCloud. It’s very well known, but it provides just five gigabytes of free storage to start for those with Apple devices, and just one GB if you don’t own one. For more space, you’ll pay a monthly fee: $0.99/month (50 GB), $2.99/month (200 GB), or $9.99/month (two terabytes). Apple lets you share storage space on the 200-GB and two-TB plans with your family. If you’re accustomed to Apple devices (and the service integrates nicely with Apple products) and are willing to splurge for a monthly fee, iCloud might serve your needs. But if you own an Android device, it might not be the best solution.

By contrast, you get free, unlimited photo storage on Google Photos, allowing you to automatically backup all images from your phone, computer and other devices. Google also recently updated its app for desktop computers, which now can automatically upload photos directly into Google Photos when transferring images from your camera to your computer, which is very convenient.

via A Beginner’s Guide to Backing Up Photos – The New York Times

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Iranian and Saudi Youth Try to Bury 1979 – by Thomas Friedman – NYT

“The biggest question about the recent protests in Iran — combined with the recent lifting of religious restrictions in Saudi Arabia — is whether together they mark the beginning of the end of the hard-right puritanical turn that the Muslim world took in 1979, when, as Middle East expert Mamoun Fandy once observed, “Islam lost its brakes” and the whole world felt it.

The events of 1979 diminished the status of women, pluralism and modern education across the Arab-Muslim region, and they fueled religious extremist groups like Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and ISIS, whose activities have brought ruin to so many innocent Muslims and non-Muslims alike — and so many metal detectors to airports across the globe.

I know a bit about 1979. I began my career then as a cub reporter in Beirut, where I promptly found myself writing about the following events: the ayatollahs’ takeover in Iran, creating a hard-right Shiite clerical regime bent on spreading its Islamic revolution and veiling of women across the Muslim world; and the takeover of the Grand Mosque in Mecca by puritanical Sunni extremists, which freaked out the Saudi ruling family. The family reacted by purging music, fun and entertainment from their desert kingdom, strengthening the hold of the religious police over their society and redoubling the export of the most misogynist, antipluralistic interpretation of Islam to mosques and madrasas from London to Jakarta.”

The year was pivotal to their countries, but they reject the changes it brought.


Yes, Great piece by Thomas Friedman.
Here is a top comment I endorse:
David Underwood is a trusted commenter Citrus Heights 18 hours ago
“Iran was a very progressive country before the Eisenhower/Churchill engineered overthrow of Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953 for the benefit of British Petroleum, Standard Oil, shell, and four other petroleum companies known as the Seven Sisters.. Iran has not known Democracy since. The Dulles Brothers and their virulent ant communism were the motivating force behind this as Iran was seen as becoming a Socialist state.

But the descent of Islam begins with the crusades and through 1492 with the expulsion if the Umayyad’s from Andalusia by the Christian forces. It was the progressive culture of the times, it gave us the numbers we use and algebra. It had hospitals and advance medical treatment of the times. But the Umayyad and Sassanid factions were enemies due to different interpretations of the Koran. The Saudi Sunni’s are descendants of those Umayyad’s. But they long abandoned the progressive ways of them.

Christianity is as much responsible for the retreat of Islam as they are themselves. Arabic literature was the prime source of learning around the Mediterranean and the libraries were destroyed by the Christians. Many of their great mosques were either destroyed or defiled such as the one in Cordoba.

The Iranians are descendants of the Persians, indo Europeans, the Saudis are Semites. They both have histories if learning an knowledge, hopefully their young will return to these roots.”
125 Recommended

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Fighting Climate Change- One Laundry Load at a Time – by Stanley Reed – NYT

Experts in the study of fungi are playing a bigger role in improving laundry detergents and, by extension, leading efforts to cut energy use.

Modern detergents contain as many as eight different enzymes. In 2016, Novozymes generated about $2.2 billion in revenue and provided enzymes for detergents including Tide, Ariel and Seventh Generation.

The quantity of enzymes required in a detergent is relatively small compared with chemical alternatives, an appealing quality for customers looking for more natural ingredients. A tenth of a teaspoon of enzymes in a typical European laundry load cuts by half the amount of soap from petrochemicals or palm oil in a detergent.

Enzymes are also well suited to helping cut energy consumption. They are often found in relatively cool environments, like forests and oceans. As a result of that low natural temperature, they do not require the heat and pressure typically used in washing machines and other laundry processes.

via Fighting Climate Change, One Laundry Load at a Time – The New York Times

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The Case for Using a Paper Planner – The New York Times

Aside from the nostalgia factor, writing by hand forces you to slow down and approach your planning with more mindfulness. Research, like this 2006 study, by researchers Karin James of Indiana University and Laura Engelhardt, now at the University of Texas at Austin, even suggests that writing things down by hand helps you retain information better, which is a useful perk if you really don’t want to forget that important work deadline.

“Some people are going to find paper very frustrating,” said Jackie Reeve, a writer at Wirecutter, a New York Times company. “But when we interviewed experts for our planner guide, a lot of them noticed this tangible feel to paper that people prefer.” In her in-depth review of paper planners for Wirecutter, Ms. Reeve discovered a commonly cited perk of using a paper planner: the ability to keep everything in one place, instead of bouncing from app to app.

via The Case for Using a Paper Planner – The New York Times

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Trump Is Right- This Time- About Iran – by Roger Cohen – NYT

“I have a New Year’s confession: I retweeted President Trump with approval, not something I had expected to do, especially on the subject of Iran. But Trump has been right to get behind the brave Iranian protesters calling for political and economic change.

The tweet in question:

These are the largest popular protests since the Iranian uprising in 2009 against a fraudulent election. I was in an enormous crowd (estimated in the millions) that marched from Tehran’s Enghelab (Revolution) Square to Azadi (Freedom) Square three days after the vote. Fear evaporated in that throng.

I asked a young woman to whom I’d been talking what her name was. “My name is Iran,” she replied. The memory still gives me goose bumps.”

via Trump Is Right, This Time, About Iran – The New York Times

The Roger Cohen piece has some nice moments, but I have to side with his critics, such as the following:

Robert Westwind

Suntree, Florida 6 hours ago

We’re talking about a president who knows nothing about Iran and has no understanding of how his own government works. This is the same guy that saw crowds that didn’t exist at his inauguration event and has recently taken credit for no loss of life on commercial airlines in his first year as president, completely ignoring the fact that the no US air carrier has had a loss of life crash since 2009. Behind this claim, he has not implemented any policy to change air travel safety. HIs tweets and statements about the Russia investigation and how no one in his campaign communicated with Russian operatives ended up with two guilty pleas from those in his campaign orbit and two indictments and the investigation is becoming even deeper than previously expected. The Fusion GPS testimony debunked the claim that the dossier was the impetus for the Russia investigation but the Republican congress doesn’t really want to talk about that. Now Trump tweets the “deep state” is out to get him. His own cabinet appointees. A tweet about Iran is just giving their Mullah’s a reason to claim the US is interfering with their internal politics and the protesters are in bed with the CIA. The US will do nothing to help those protesting in that country. Trump’s tweets are meaningless and are a reflection of his ignorance and flawed view of the world. Nothing more. The guy is an empty suit protected by a complicit Republican congress unwilling to acknowledge his perfidy for their own agenda.


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The Republicans’ Fake Investigations – By GLENN R. SIMPSON and PETER FRITSCH – NYT

A generation ago, Republicans sought to protect President Richard Nixon by urging the Senate Watergate committee to look at supposed wrongdoing by Democrats in previous elections. The committee chairman, Sam Ervin, a Democrat, said that would be “as foolish as the man who went bear hunting and stopped to chase rabbits.”

Today, amid a growing criminal inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, congressional Republicans are again chasing rabbits. We know because we’re their favorite quarry.

In the year since the publication of the so-called Steele dossier — the collection of intelligence reports we commissioned about Donald Trump’s ties to Russia — the president has repeatedly attacked us on Twitter. His allies in Congress have dug through our bank records and sought to tarnish our firm to punish us for highlighting his links to Russia. Conservative news outlets and even our former employer, The Wall Street Journal, have spun a succession of mendacious conspiracy theories about our motives and backers.

We are happy to correct the record. In fact, we already have.

Three congressional committees have heard over 21 hours of testimony from our firm, Fusion GPS. In those sessions, we toppled the far right’s conspiracy theories and explained how The Washington Free Beacon and the Clinton campaign — the Republican and Democratic funders of our Trump research — separately came to hire us in the first place.

via The Republicans’ Fake Investigations – The New York Times

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What Happens When the Richest U.S. Cities Turn to the World? – by Emily Badger – NYT

This is the piece that was referred to by Paul Krugman in today’s NYT.

By Emily Badger

Dec. 22, 2017
“SAN FRANCISCO — Well before anyone thought of this place as the center of the tech economy, the Bay Area built ships. And it did so with the help of many parts of the country.

Douglas fir trees logged in the Pacific Northwest were turned into lumber schooners here. Steel from the East, brought in by railroad, became merchant vessels. During World War II, workers assembled military ships with parts from across the country: steam turbines from Schenectady, N.Y., and Lester, Pa.; gear winches from Tacoma, Wash.; radio equipment from Newark; compasses from Detroit; generators from Milwaukee.

Most of these links that tied the Bay Area’s prosperity to a web of places far from here have faded. Westinghouse closed the Pennsylvania plant. General Electric downsized in Schenectady. The Milwaukee manufacturer dissolved. The old Bethlehem Shipbuilding yard in San Francisco will soon be redeveloped. And its former parent company, the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in Bethlehem, Pa., went bankrupt in 2001.

The companies that now drive the Bay Area’s soaring wealth — and that represent part of the American economy that’s booming — don’t need these communities in the same way. Google’s digital products don’t have a physical supply chain. Facebook doesn’t have dispersed manufacturers. Apple, which does make tangible things, now primarily makes them overseas.”

DL: Lots to think about, and many links to follow. Here is a comment I liked mostly because it praised the journalist:

Tibby Elgato
Tibby Elgato
West county, Republic of California

This is one of the most insightful pieces published in a good while. One reason for the divide between big metro areas not covered in the article is tolerance for people who may not fit the local mold. To attract the best a place has to be the best. Provincialism is not the route to success. If you are from NY, SF or DC Paris or Rome will be like home whereas parts of Kansas or Oklahoma will be alien and nasty. It’s just how it is.

via What Happens When the Richest U.S. Cities Turn to the World? – The New York Times

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The Gambler’s Ruin of Small Cities (Wonkish) – by Paul Krugman – NYT

Terrific column. It ends:

“Notice, by the way, that globalization and all that isn’t central to this story. If I’m right, the conditions for small-city decline and fall have been building for a very long time, and we’d be seeing much the same story – maybe more slowly – even without the growth of world trade.

Are there policy implications from this diagnosis? Maybe. There are arguably social costs involved in letting small cities implode, so that there’s a case for regional development policies that try to preserve their viability. But it’s going to be an uphill struggle. In the modern economy, which has cut loose from the land, any particular small city exists only because of historical contingency that sooner or later loses its relevance.”

DL:  This column argues, with supporting data, that many small cities are doomed without regional or national support, and has very little to do with globalization, inspite of what Trump and his ilk say about global trade being the cause of all our discomforts.

via The Gambler’s Ruin of Small Cities (Wonkish) – The New York Times

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Why I’m Still a NeverTrumper – by Brett Stephens – NYT

Brett Stephens gets an attaboy!

“Tax cuts. Deregulation. More for the military; less for the United Nations. The Islamic State crushed in its heartland. Assad hit with cruise missiles. Troops to Afghanistan. Arms for Ukraine. A tougher approach to North Korea. Jerusalem recognized as Israel’s capital. The Iran deal decertified. Title IX kangaroo courts on campus condemned. Yes to Keystone. No to Paris. Wall Street roaring and consumer confidence high.And, of course, Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. What, for a conservative, is there to dislike about this policy record as the Trump administration rounds out its first year in office?That’s the question I keep hearing from old friends on the right who voted with misgiving for Donald Trump last year and now find reasons to like him. I admit it gives me pause. I agree with every one of the policy decisions mentioned above. But I still wish Hillary Clinton were president.”

via Why I’m Still a NeverTrumper – The New York Times

I quibble with some of the items on his list. He doesn’t seem to know much about Iran. He doesn’t understand why we got a fair and important treaty with them. And as one commenter wrote, he is a neanderthal on climate change. But the arc of his reasoning is vital and important.

Here are a few comments I recommended:


VA 15 hours ago

“But character does count, and virtue does matter, and Trump’s shortcomings prove it daily.”

This hits the nail on the head. It has never been, nor will it ever be, about politics and policy with President Trump. In the sense that he is a politician who transcends politics, he is now a transcendent figure. A man who was born into inherited wealth and power with no sense of self-awareness or empathy. The fact remains that before he won the election, his legacy would have been a trail of destruction and burned bridges—bankruptcies, divorces, lawsuits, and stiffed contractors—and a tv show. He has no real friends or business partners who will vouch for him or his character and he has zero record of serious charitable giving.

You wouldn’t be thrilled if he was coaching your son’s little league team or if your daughter brought a younger version of his current cariicature of himself home for thanksgiving dinner to meet the family.

No one comes out better for having entered a relationship with Donald Trump. No one. And yet here we are.


San Francisco 5 hours ago

Simply stated, this administration isn’t about conservatism – it’s a nascent dictatorship, as Mr. Stephens so aptly describes.

NYT Pick

William Trainor

Rock Hall,MD 7 hours ago

I am intrigued by your litany of accomplishments for the conservatives. Tax cuts and deregulation are obvious and perhaps actually the central hypothesis of conservatism, but the military strong arm stuff is conservative? Jerusalem as capital is a weird conservative agenda, more of a public relations prank for holding evangelical votes? Iran and North Korean diplomacy is on the wrong side of history unless we want to repeat Iraq. Climate denial is kind of neanderthal thinking, like denying a round world. Come on admit it the way to conservative heaven is to keep everyone in the dim while taxes and regulations rig the system for businesses. If that is what its all about, Trump is a genius. He had the angry worried about white lives matter while he samples their wallets. Buy enough polemics, the issue we face is culture. What is the culture of our country? We strive for better lives, love our neighbors, help the helpless and like to think we are the good guys. Oh, we aren’t always that idealistic and when progressives get all pure and purge their best for being rude, some people think that is the culture war and hate liberals. In order to keep America great, we have to stop listening to the demagogues and get back to the legitimate political discussions where one could discuss for 3 hours and finally say “you have a point there”; “so do you, lets get a beer”.

NYT Pick

John Dixon

Kansas City 13 hours ago

My parents raised us to be like them – to believe in Senator Moynahan’s version of liberalism. Yet they understood – and respected – the Senator’s version of conservatism, and raised us to do so, too. It wasn’t hard, because close at hand, we had examples of those on the other side that we respected; both of my parents had siblings with opposing views – and they raised our cousins with the same respect for the ideology of others.

All of our parents are gone now. Regardless of their ideology, all of them would be appalled by what is now occurring in the country they served and loved. And the surviving cousins? Almost all are now liberal Democrats.

For decades, Republicans have sought to gain power through whatever means necessary – first by hijacking “family values” as an election strategy instead of a political goal, and then consolidating that power incrementally through equally shady means. The end result is the election of this President. If my extended family is any indicator, it may also mean the coming end of the Republican party.


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Opinion by Thomas Friedman | Merry Christmas- Vladimir — Your Friend- Donald

“At the end of this banner stock market year, you can bet that major business publications will be naming their investor of the year. You can stop now. I have the winner, and nobody is even close when it comes to his total return on investment: Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.

A recent report in The Washington Post, quoting intelligence sources, said Putin may have spent less than $500,000 to hack our last election and help (though Hillary helped much more) Donald Trump become president. And Putin’s payoff is Trump’s first year: a president who is simultaneously eroding some of our most basic norms, undermining some of our most cherished institutions and enacting a mammoth tax bill that will not make America great again.

If you assume, as I do, that Putin wants to see an America that is not an attractive model for his own people or others to emulate, and that he wants an America run by a chaos president who cannot lead the West, then Trump is his dream come true, whether or not there was any collusion between them.

So Vladimir Putin, come on up! You’re my Investor of the Year. You’re the Warren Buffett of geopolitics.”

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