07.15.2012 New York Times Digest

1. “That’s No Phone. That’s My Tracker.

“Don’t have a cellphone or just accept that you’re living in the Panopticon.”

2. “Two Classes, Divided by ‘I Do’

“Scholars have said that changes in marriage patterns – as opposed to changes in individual earnings – may account for as much as 40 percent of the growth in certain measures of inequality. Long a nation of economic extremes, the United States is also becoming a society of family haves and family have-nots, with marriage and its rewards evermore confined to the fortunate classes.”

3. “In Vast Effort, F.D.A. Spied on E-Mails of Its Own Scientists

“The agency, using so-called spy software designed to help employers monitor workers, captured screen images from the government laptops of the five scientists as they were being used at work or at home. The software tracked their keystrokes, intercepted their personal e-mails, copied the documents on their personal thumb drives and even followed their messages line by line as they were being drafted.”

4. “The Ecology of Disease

“Most epidemics – AIDS, Ebola, West Nile, SARS, Lyme disease and hundreds more that have occurred over the last several decades – don’t just happen. They are a result of things people do to nature.”

5. “The Moral Case for Drones

“After a concentrated study of remotely piloted vehicles, he said, he concluded that using them to go after terrorists not only was ethically permissible but also might be ethically obligatory, because of their advantages in identifying targets and striking with precision.”

6. “Sartre and Camus in New York

“The ‘roots’ of 20th-century French philosophy are canonically located on mainland Europe, in the fertile terrain of Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Husserl and Heidegger. But it was not entirely immune to the metaphysical turmoil of the United States at the end of the 19th century. French philosophy retained elements of the pragmatism of C.S. Peirce and the psychologism of William James (each receives an honorable mention in Sartre’s Being and Nothingness). More significantly, both Camus and Sartre had learned and borrowed from 20th-century writers like Faulkner, Hemingway and dos Passos – and, of course, from the films of Humphrey Bogart. Camus, in particular, cultivated the trench coat with the upturned collar and described himself as a mix of Bogart, Fernandel and a samurai.”

7. “Goldman Sachs and the $580 Million Black Hole

“The Goldman Four were unsupervised, inexperienced, incompetent and lazy investment bankers who were put on a transaction that in the scheme of things was small potatoes for Goldman.”

8. “He Made a Splash, and Dance History

“Kelly danced in order to choreograph. It’s not exactly the image many of us have of Kelly, whose defining and deceptively casual approach centered on virility and athleticism. He embodied a new ideal of the American male dancer that contrasted with Fred Astaire’s debonair elegance. Kelly’s elegance was carefree. Still, Kelly, who came from working-class Pittsburgh, wasn’t afraid of beauty. With a seductively light touch, he turned the prospect of dancing in puddles into a vigorous, masculine act. He was more than a dancer; he was a game changer in how society viewed, understood and ultimately embraced dance.”

9. “Facing Evil, Both Terrestrial and Otherwise

“The threat is no longer external – an invasion of outlaws or the Communist horde – but internal: an enemy indistinguishable from our neighbors and co-workers, our mothers and fathers, ourselves.”

10. “The Imax Difference, Blockbuster Size

“Mr. Nolan’s latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises – he says the film, due Friday, will be his last in the series – features 72 minutes of Imax footage, currently the most any studio film has used.”

11. “Friends of a Certain Age

“As people approach midlife, the days of youthful exploration, when life felt like one big blind date, are fading. Schedules compress, priorities change and people often become pickier in what they want in their friends.”

12. “Troubled by a Weak Connection

“Social networking, I realized, is a type of asocial engineering. It tries to disguise the finality of time – the most consequential dimension of relationships – with the cozy convenience of spatial proximity.”

13. “How the Tough Get Going: Silicon Valley Travel Tips

“Hacking the airport.”

14. “Hiking to the Edge of the Lower 48

“The Olympic Wilderness Coast, more than 73 miles of beach and headland, is the longest stretch of undeveloped coastline in the United States outside Alaska.”

15. “Dave Eggers: By the Book

“I’m a paper-only reader, and I get most of my books at the independent bookstores in the Bay Area. I like used books, too, so I raid the big used-book sales the libraries around here put on. That’s where you can fill any holes in your collection for, say, a buck a book. Once I got a full Balzac set for $20. Not bad.”

16. “Revolutionary Theory

“Aristotle makes it, but Empedocles, Epicurus, Democritus and Lucretius, who all have a stronger claim as evolutionists (albeit less as natural historians), receive only passing nods. Diderot and Leonardo are in, as is the extraordinary potter Bernard Palissy. None of these made Darwin’s cut, and none were known primarily for their evolutionary thinking. Among credible representatives of a vital German tradition of naturalist thought, Kant is absent, Goethe virtually so. As in Darwin’s list, there’s a yawning gap between the ancients and the moderns. Stott partly plugs it with the story of al-Jahiz of Basra, a mercurial ninth-century scholar who propounded ecological complexity, although he did so in a theory of intelligent design.”

17. “Have It Your Way

“Of course, questions persist.”

18. “Can Tumblr’s David Karp Embrace Ads Without Selling Out?

“The trick is making page views equal money.”

19. “Love, Money and Other People’s Children

“These moments of private contentment, with the serenity and depth borrowed from the portraiture legacy of the Madonna and child, do not depict mothers with their infants. The women holding the children are nannies.”

20. “Postville, Iowa, Is Up for Grabs

“Postville – a town with no stoplights, no fast-food restaurants and a weekly newspaper that for years featured the ‘Yard of the Week’ – had been through one of biggest single-site immigration raids in U.S. history.”

21. “Caitlin Moran: ‘Congratulations, You’re a Feminist!’

“When I talk to girls, they go, ‘I’m not a feminist,’ ” she said. “And I say: ‘What? You don’t want to vote? Do you want to be owned by your husband? Do you want your money from your job to go into his bank account? If you were raped, do you still want that to be a crime? Congratulations: you are a feminist.’”

22. “Lady Mondegreen and the Miracle of Misheard Song Lyrics

“As lyrically dense as rap can be, it’s no wonder that the lyrics present themselves as a problem to be solved, something to be organized either in wiki fashion or to be parsed like raw data. In wiki arrangement, the lyrics are treated as having no intrinsic value beyond the references they make; as raw data, they are done away with almost entirely. Both approaches belie an attitude that ultimately creates distance between the listener and the music: rap lyrics are data; rap lyrics are graphs.”

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