4.22.2012 New York Times Digest

1. “Trailing a Master Photographer in Los Angeles

“Unlike the monuments of other cities, those of Los Angeles require you to work for them. Many are not even open to the public. Some that are, are off the beaten path. As a result, when you arrive at some of the city’s greatest architectural masterpieces … you’re often all alone, or touring with a few other people, communing with the building and reliving a photograph.”

2. “The Secret Life of a Society Maven

“I don’t like the phrase ‘reinvent yourself.’ I think what really happened is that when Alan got to England, whatever he found there allowed him to discover who he already was.”

3. “The New Shades of Feminism?

“I recently learned about an activist group called Spark in the world of real-life youthful Brooklyn, a collective of girls spanning age 13 to their early 20s who have bound together to fight retrograde sexual and gender stereotyping. Members surreptitiously place Post-it notes in stores, on toys and games they deem questionable. Beginning in late December, when Lego was about to release its first girl-specific building set, called Friends, which succumbed to the familiar purple and pink and heart-shaped fantasia, Spark began a petition that has claimed 55,000 signatures.”

4. “Keeping Body and Image in Shape

“I do check the Weather Channel, because that determines my wardrobe. I hate it when they’re wrong. Last week I put on my leopard suit, went outside, and it was 63 degrees; I had to come back in and change.”

5. “When a Sugar High Isn’t Enough

“Everyone here is either making snacks or eating snacks they have just made. Some are snacking as they make snacks.”

6. “Don’t Be Evil, but Don’t Miss the Train

“Arrogance can come easily to phenomenally well-educated people who have always been at the top of the class.”

7. “The Flight From Conversation

“Someday, someday, but certainly not now, I’d like to learn how to have a conversation.”

8. “Plato’s Body, and Mine

“Excessive emphasis on athletics produces an excessively uncivilized type, while a purely literary training leaves men indecently soft.”

9. “Teach the Books, Touch the Heart

“We cannot enrich the minds of our students by testing them on texts that purposely ignore their hearts.”

10. “In Therapy Forever? Enough Already

“Ineffective therapy is disturbingly common.”

11. “Why Are We Drugging Our Soldiers?

“Annual spending on stimulants jumped to $39 million in 2010 from $7.5 million in 2001 – more than a fivefold increase. Additional data provided by Tricare Management Activity, the arm of the Department of Defense that manages health care services for the military, reveals that the number of Ritalin and Adderall prescriptions written for active-duty service members increased by nearly 1,000 percent in five years, to 32,000 from 3,000.”

12. “Everyone’s Lives, in Pictures

“Maybe, instead of trying to make our new photos look more like old ones, we are trying to make our new photos look like art that looks like old photos.”

13. “Sacking a Palace of Culture

“My earliest was an awareness that the profile of the guy next to me in the microfilm reading area (nobly illumined by the refraction of an image he had selected, focused and enlarged) was that of Arthur Miller. What might such a distinguished cardholder be studying with such absorption? I passed behind him and sneaked a peek. It was an old news article about Marilyn Monroe. Illustrated, natch. Something about the stillness of his shoulders touched me. Great playwright and aspiring hack, we were searching together in the city’s principal repository of memory.”

14. “Filmmaker’s Newest Work Is About … Something

“Believers will confront a fiction that purports to tell a truth about their world, without specifically portraying them, at least by the filmmakers’ claim.”

15. “Poe Taunts Filmmakers Evermore

“Poe’s work – violent, frightening, romantic, and distinctly unwholesome – seemed made for the movies then, and now it still does. Times have changed, but filmmakers’ fascination with his wild, sensation-based art seems destined to linger into eternity.”

16. “Watching Every Click You Make

“The ghostly forces of the Internet can wreak especial havoc for people who have recently gone through a breakup or divorce.”

17. “The Creator of HBO’s Girls Shares Her Reading Habits

“If you couldn’t tell, I mostly like confessional books by women.”

18. “Cheerful Debauchery

“Sluts are the best – hungry for experience and generous with themselves in its pursuit.”

19. “Her Calling

“In her lexicon, lonesomeness means the opposite of isolation. It envelops the mind and heart in unsullied nature, allowing focused apprehension of the miracle of creation, as when she remembers kneeling alone as a child ‘by a creek that spilled and pooled among rocks and fallen trees with the unspeakably tender growth of small trees already sprouting from their backs, and thinking, there is only one thing wrong here, which is my own presence, and that is the slightest imaginable intrusion – feeling that my solitude, my loneliness, made me almost acceptable in so sacred a place.’”

20. “Race, the Remix

“Black life has taught America how revolutionary pleasure is against the capitalism of the Pilgrim, the plantation and plagiarism. ‘Pleasure is a revolutionary act in the face of pain.’”

21. “Who Made That Pie Chart?

“Playfair’s graphic innovations went beyond the pie chart: he also invented the bar graph.”

21. “Can You Make Yourself Smarter?

“What long-term memory is to crystallized intelligence, working memory is to fluid intelligence. Working memory is more than just the ability to remember a telephone number long enough to dial it; it’s the capacity to manipulate the information you’re holding in your head – to add or subtract those numbers, place them in reverse order or sort them from high to low. Understanding a metaphor or an analogy is equally dependent on working memory; you can’t follow even a simple statement like ‘See Jane run’ if you can’t put together how ‘see’ and ‘Jane’ connect with ‘run.’ Without it, you can’t make sense of anything.”

23. “How Exercise Could Lead to a Better Brain

“Exercise seems to make neurons nimble.”

24. “Post-Prozac Nation

“Our modern conception of the link between depression and chemicals in the brain was sparked quite by accident in the middle of the last century. In the autumn of 1951, doctors treating tubercular patients at Sea View Hospital on Staten Island with a new drug – isoniazid – observed sudden transformations in their patients’ moods and behaviors. The wards – typically glum and silent, with moribund, lethargic patients – were ‘bright last week with the happy faces of men and women,’ a journalist wrote. Patients laughed and joked in the dining hall, as if a dark veil of grief had lifted. Energy flooded back and appetites returned. Many, ill for months, demanded five eggs for breakfast and then consumed them with gusto. When Life magazine sent a photographer to the hospital to investigate, the patients could no longer be found lying numbly in their beds: they were playing cards or dancing in the corridors.”

25. “The Maniac in Me

“It starts with a thought – a what if or a should have been or a never will be or a could have been – and metastasizes from there, sparking down the spine and rooting out into my body in the form of clamminess, fatigue, palpitations and a terrible sense that the world in which I find myself is at once holographically insubstantial and grotesquely threatening. On more than one occasion my anxiety has paralyzed me over something as inconsequential as the choice between blue cheese and vinaigrette on a salad.”

26. “How the Comedy Nerds Took Over

“A real comic can’t stand the idea of not being funny or of an audience he can’t win over.”

27. “The Ripped, Bikini-Clad Reverend

“Despite our belief that both sexes can serve the church, it seems there’s still something unnerving about a priest who is a woman. It has to do with having a woman’s body.”

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