07.22.2012 New York Times Digest

1. “Consumer Data, but Not for Consumers

“Data brokers like Acxiom have developed advanced techniques to collect and collate information about consumers’ offline, online and mobile behavior. But they have been slow to develop innovative ways for consumers to gain access to the information that companies obtain, share and sell about them for marketing purposes.”

2. “Police at Home of Colorado Suspect Disarm Major Threats

“Our time here is limited, and it is precious. And what matters in the end are not the small and trivial things which often consume our lives. It’s how we choose to treat one another, and love one another. It’s what we do on a daily basis to give our lives meaning and to give our lives purpose. That’s what matters. That’s why we’re here.”

3. “Art’s Sale Value? Zero. The Tax Bill? $29 Million.

“Because the work, a sculptural combine, includes a stuffed bald eagle, a bird under federal protection, the heirs would be committing a felony if they ever tried to sell it. So their appraisers have valued the work at zero. But the Internal Revenue Service takes a different view. It has appraised ‘Canyon’ at $65 million and is demanding that the owners pay $29.2 million in taxes.”

4. “In New Exhibit, Disney Lends Its Star Power to Reagan, and Vice Versa

“In an unusual collaboration of presidential scholarship and mass-market entertainment – featuring two men who, truth be told, were never particularly close – the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and the Walt Disney Company have joined together to open a sprawling, nine-month exhibition drawn from the Disney archives.”

5. “Self-Correcting Mechanism for Fans With Regret

“Retro-rooting allows for hindsight in backing teams and athletes. It doesn’t replace blindly supporting favorite teams, and opposing their archrivals. Blood feuds are off limits. Retro-rooting is a more quotidian device, one that allows any fan to be, years later, on the side of righteousness, if not victory.”

6. “A Nation That’s Losing Its Toolbox

“This isn’t a lament – or not merely a lament – for bygone times. It’s a social and cultural issue, as well as an economic one. The Home Depot approach to craftsmanship – simplify it, dumb it down, hire a contractor – is one signal that mastering tools and working with one’s hands is receding in America as a hobby, as a valued skill, as a cultural influence that shaped thinking and behavior in vast sections of the country.”

7. “How a Cellphone’s Case Can Imitate Its Maker

“Why is it fairly easy to open some smartphones and tablets, while others seem designed to thwart a user’s effort to repair them – or even replace the battery?”

8. “Life During Wartime

“One evening in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, in 2002, I went to bed after dinner at a lavish French restaurant. When I woke up, there was no telephone service and no radio broadcast in the capital; ‘rebels’ occupied the television station and flares shot through the sky. In my garden I could smell both the scent of mango trees and the smell of burning homes.”

9. “There’s Still Hope for the Planet

“The weather has made the climate harder to ignore. And when you look closer, there are some reasons for hope – tentative, but full of potential – hiding beneath the surface.”

10. “Download: Jack Gantos

“Since I admire Moby-Dick, my daughter gave me In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick, which is a great companion to the Melville. Now I’m reading Tocqueville’s Discovery of America by Leo Damrosch. Tocqueville was touring America in 1831-32 while Nantucketers were touring the Pacific for whales. It’s quite interesting to compare land-based democracy vs. ship-based autocracy and land-based slave-raised crops vs. whale harvesting.”

11. “What’s a Body to Do?

“His caretakers got drunk on the alcohol used in embalming Lenin’s corpse, and in one instance, one was caught groping the other’s daughter. There are group photos of them striking jaunty poses, as if they’ve gathered for a picnic.”

12. “Our Ridiculous Approach to Retirement

“To maintain living standards into old age we need roughly 20 times our annual income in financial wealth.”

13. “Don’t Jump to Conclusions About the Killer

“Over the next several days, you will be hit with all sorts of evidence fragments suggesting one motive or another. Don’t believe any one detail. Mr. Holmes has already been described as a loner. Proceed with caution on that. Nearly every shooter gets tagged with that label, because the public is convinced that that’s the profile, and people barely acquainted with the gunman parrot it back to every journalist they encounter. The Secret Service report determined that it’s usually not true.”

14. “Fighting Depression, One Village at a Time

“What is the most burdensome disease in the world today? According to the World Health Organization, the disease that robs the most adults of the most years of productive life is not AIDS, not heart disease, not cancer. It is depression.”

15. “We’re All Climate-Change Idiots

“The mental habits that help us navigate the local, practical demands of day-to-day life make it difficult to engage with the more abstract, global dangers posed by climate change.”

16. “The Way We Fear Now

“Every human society has feared the anarchic, the nihilistic, the inexplicably depraved. But from the Columbine murderers to the post-9/11 anthrax killer (a literal mad scientist, most likely), from the Virginia Tech shooter to Jared Lee Loughner, our contemporary iconography of evil is increasingly dominated by figures who seem to have stepped out of Nolan’s take on the DC Comics universe: world-burners, meticulous madmen, terrorists without a cause.”

17. “A Real-Life Fairy Tale, Long in the Making and Set to Old Tunes

“Rodriguez became a familiar figure, a lean, spectral presence dressed in black like Johnny Cash, a beloved eccentric who walked everywhere in the city and had no telephone, which complicated the South Africans’ search for him. But he also earned a degree in philosophy, specializing in logic and ethics, and dove into politics, even running for mayor of Detroit.”

18. “Actual Couples Explore a Fantasy, the Aesthetic Sort

“Loving someone wholly, loving someone for themselves, loving someone for all the parts of them is how you grow and become an adult person.”

19. “For Rain Pryor and Kelly Carlin, Comedy Is a Family Business

“My dad was introverted. He did a lot of characters, voices in the house. He had a goofy sense of humor. I love my dad’s mind, but when he does a goofy face, that is his true nature: the clown.”

20. “Jazz Apprentices Still Find Their Masters

“The music essentially models a community, with every ensemble thriving on communication, a code of ethics and an implicit grasp of roles. Jazz is also still a young music, with about a century of precedent, imperfectly captured on record and poorly served by written notation. Its lifeblood is the direct transmission of a vast, intangible body of knowledge.”

21. “Maternity Leave? It’s More Like a Pause

“Is it progress for high-profile women to willingly forgo their right to a maternity leave? Or, by making maternity leave yet another victim of our always-on culture, does it send the message that taking true time off is only for the uncommitted?”

22. “Church, Temple, Mosque

“In Nussbaum’s view, the difference in severity stems from divergent views of national identity. Whereas European nations tend to ‘conceive of nationhood and national belonging in ethno-religious and cultural-linguistic terms,’ the United States associates citizenship with the affirmation of an ideal of freedom that explicitly precludes the persecution of religious minorities. She suggests that Europe migrate to ‘a more inclusive and political definition of national belonging, in which land, ethnicity and religion would be less important than shared political ideals.’ In other words, Europe should become more like America.”

23. “Staying Safe on Campus

“At campuses big and small, rural or urban, many students seem reluctant to venture out at night alone.”

24. “Got the Next Great Idea?

“Campuses are beginning to put their bets on undergraduates.”

25. “Drop Out, Start Up

“The fellowship offers little structure. Fellows meet quarterly to discuss their projects and listen to guest speakers, but they work on their own. They are assigned mentors to turn to for what Mr. O’Neill calls ‘life-hacking skills,’ like whether it is productive to work every day or to take time off and how much exercise entrepreneurs need. The grant comes with no strings; Mr. Thiel doesn’t even get first refusal rights to invest if fellows are raising money to start a company.”

26. “Digital Overload?

“If the user enters ‘e-mail apnea’ – the affliction associated with a full in-box – an iPhone app provides an exercise that can restore optimal respiration.”

27. “The New Community College Try

“The new college represents not just a tweaking of the experience but an attempt to redesign it from top to bottom. The calendar, the required hours, the interaction with staff members, the content and structure of classes – all will be different.”

28. “Taking the High Road

“Mr. Shorris, who died in May, rejected the notion that the poor should focus on learning practical skills to prepare for mostly low-paying jobs. He believed that studying the humanities would teach them how to reflect on the world, putting them on more equal footing with the privileged class.”

29. “Big Data on Campus

“This is college life, quantified.”

30. “One Course, 150,000 Students

“Our goal is to change the world through education.”

31. “An Amorous Professor

“A professor teaching in the college where I am the dean responded to anonymous accusations that he had an amorous relationship with a student by claiming the relationship took place only after the student graduated. Today, he confessed to me that he lied – the relationship did start before she graduated, but he said it did not influence her grades. He was in tears while telling me this. Although nobody seems to be hurt, he violated a policy that no intimate relationships take place between students and professors. Should I prosecute him despite the fact that he voluntarily admitted the offense?”

32. “Pinterest, Tumblr and the Trouble With ‘Curation’

“There’s a German word for it, of course: Sehnsucht, which translates as ‘addictive yearning.’ This is, I think, what these sites evoke: the feeling of being addicted to longing for something; specifically being addicted to the feeling that something is missing or incomplete. The point is not the thing that is being longed for, but the feeling of longing for the thing. And that feeling is necessarily ambivalent, combining both positive and negative emotions.”

One response to “07.22.2012 New York Times Digest

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