6.3.2012 New York Times Digest

1. “The Science of ‘Gaydar’

“Gaydar is indeed real and that its accuracy is driven by sensitivity to individual facial features as well as the spatial relationships among facial features.”

2. “Lawsuit Shakes Foundation of a Man’s World of Tech

“It depicts venture capitalists here as a group of 21st-century men who may be hard at work building the 22nd century but, when it comes to dealing with women in the workplace, are stuck firmly in the caveman era – or at least in the 1950s. It’s a portrait that many women in tech find all too familiar.”

3. “It’s Not Billions, but It Can Help Rescue an Artist

“A number of small, private rescue funds have been lending a hand to a group that is definitely not in the too-big-to-fail camp: writers, artists and other creative types.”

4. “Privacy, Please: This Is Only for the Two of Us

“The app highlights the best elements of social networking – the warm, fuzzy feeling of being connected to people you care about when you’re physically nowhere near them. And it says it eliminates some of the worst – the worry about who can see the content you’re posting and how they may interpret it.”

5. “Carbon Paper? What’s That?

“The passing of carbon paper (and, more worrisome, the passing of people to whom the words “carbon paper” are as familiar as air) captures in miniature the sea change sweeping today’s work force. With the retirement of each member of the carbon-paper cohort – my cohort – a certain body of collective knowledge, which for decades has lent the American work product an essential, indefinable, generational something, is eroded a little more.”

6. “Mutually Assured Cyberdestruction?

“Somebody has crossed the Rubicon.”

7. “Protecting Many Species to Help Our Own

“This should keep us awake at night.”

8. “Salt, We Misjudged You

“The actual evidence to support it has always been so weak.”

9. “Wi-Fi and Amtrak: Missed Connections

“For rail travelers of the Northeast Corridor, the promise of Wi-Fi has become an infuriating tease.”

10. “If These Barns Could Talk

“Iowa is an ideal place for historic barn buffs because the land’s varied topography fostered a variety of agricultural activity among early farmers who consolidated their settlements in the mid-1800s and fashioned their barns to serve their specific needs, from smaller diversified dairy farms to bigger cattle operations.”

11. “Four Faces From a Thousand

“If Chaney had a thousand faces, he, like many great stars, had essentially only one story to tell. In film after film he plays an outcast, exiled because of a physical deformity to live on the margins of society, whose monstrous appearance disguises a great tenderness of feeling. He focuses his yearnings on a beautiful young woman, who remains blind to the depth of his love and the greatness of his soul. Inevitably she discards him in favor of the nearest handsome, callow youth, choosing superficial beauty over wisdom and sensitivity. Hey, we’ve all been there, and Chaney’s ability to transform this universal human experience of longing and rejection into vivid drama remains as seductive as ever.”

12. “Underscoring the Drama in the Dark

“Tangerine Dream’s visions of the sounds of the future remain an important monument in cinema’s musical landscape.”

13. “Once Upon a Time in Italy

“In the Corbucci film Django (played by a young Franco Nero) arrives in a muddy shantytown on foot, dragging a coffin. In the coffin is a machine gun with which he will shortly kill many enemies. Why does he do this? Apparently they are racist Southerners who wear red hoods rather than white ones. In a brief scene Django visits his wife’s grave and reflects that she was murdered by the leader of the bad guys, Major Jackson. Why the major killed her, and why Django has waited so many years to take revenge, is entirely unclear. And, equally, unimportant.”

14. “They’re Pretty, Normal and in Wheelchairs

“All spend far more time on camera reflecting on love, work and motherhood than they do discussing life with a wheelchair.”

15. “Sage Mehta and Michael Robinson

“The two met in Paris in the summer of 2001. She was on a summer-abroad program for high school students; he was a counselor. For her, he was an anomaly: a boy she could talk to, for hours.”

16. “Two-Step

“For the duration of their astonishing 27-year partnership, the longest in his life – it began when Fred was 5 and Adele 8 – she was the undisputed star of the duo. In her fascinating new book, The Astaires, the Australian theater historian Kathleen Riley describes the exploits of this brother-sister team in glorious detail. And it becomes clear that it was behind and beside, but never in front of, Adele that Fred learned not only how to dance, but how to present a woman, honor her and make her glow. It is now a mostly lost art, hard-won equality having removed woman’s pedestal and left her prevaricating in the ditch of parallelism.”

17. “Hollywood Chronicle

“The French film industry, which prefers nuance, ambiguity and the riddles of human behavior over easy moral absolutes, nurtures and cherishes actresses late into their lives.”

18. “Dwyane Wade Loves His Jordans and His Body Lotion

“I am one of those men who love the body wash, the lotions, the powders for my feet. I like to smell good too.”

19. “Who Made That Kraft Single?

“It took another 15 years for Norman and Kraft engineers to perfect the technology and bring the product to market.”

20. “Rejoice! A New Day Is Here

“This is what innovation looks like. It’s messy, and it’s awesome.”

21. “Craig Venter’s Bugs Might Save the World

“The challenge of building a synthetic bacterium from raw DNA is as byzantine as it probably sounds. It means taking four bottles of chemicals – the adenine, thymine, cytosine and guanine that make up DNA – and linking them into a daisy chain at least half a million units long, then inserting that molecule into a host cell and hoping it will spring to life as an organism that not only grows and reproduces but also manufactures exactly what its designer intended. (A line about hubris, Icarus and Frankenstein typically follows here.)”

22. “Freaks, Geeks and Microsoft

“The idea of a loosely knit band of outsider creative coders forcing a massive company to rethink a crucial new product is appealing. Especially when that company is Microsoft.”

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