Sunday 8.26.2012 New York Times Digest

1. Turn Off the Phone (and the Tension)

“My revelation – relearning the beauty of living in the moment, devoid of any digital link – may seem silly to people who are less attached to their devices. But for many people, smartphones and social networks have become lifelines – appendages that they are rarely without. As such, they can sway our moods, decisions and feelings.”

2. Genes Now Tell Doctors Secrets They Can’t Utter

“We are living in an awkward interval where our ability to capture the information often exceeds our ability to know what to do with it.”

3. Apple-Samsung Case Shows Smartphone as Legal Magnet

“The technology, like water, will find its way around impediments.”

4. After Violence in India, a Crackdown Online

“Most of India’s top political leaders are in their 70s and 80s and began their political careers as socialists who admired the Soviet Union.”

5. Trial to Begin for 16 Members of Amish Group Charged in Beard-Cutting Attacks

“Former followers of Mr. Mullet also provided lurid details about his domination of some 18 families, many of them his close relatives, in an isolated settlement near Bergholz, Ohio. In a court document filed this month, federal authorities said Mr. Mullet had confined followers in chicken coops for days or weeks to ‘cleanse’ them of impure thoughts or other sins, and had also had adult members hit one another with thick wooden paddles. Witnesses said Mr. Mullet counseled couples, particularly women, ‘on how to be sexually satisfied,’ sometimes having other men’s wives live in his house and have intimate relations with him.”

6. The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy

“Attention, despite being contrived, draws more attention.”

7. A Hardware Renaissance in Silicon Valley

“The rapidly falling cost of building computer-based gadgets has touched off a wave of innovation that is starting to eclipse the software-driven world that came to dominate the Valley in the dot-com boom of the late 1990s.”

8. An Immune Disorder at the Root of Autism

“A subset of autism – perhaps one-third, and very likely more – looks like a type of inflammatory disease. And it begins in the womb.”

9. Ever Meek, Ever Malleable

“History has amply documented the human capacity for cruelty and quickness to exploit vulnerability, and Compliance touches on those themes. But it has even more to say about the human capacity for credulousness, along with obedience.”

10. How Long Do You Want to Live?

“How long do you want to live?”

11. Debunking the Hunter-Gatherer Workout

“Despite all this physical activity, the number of calories that the Hadza burned per day was indistinguishable from that of typical adults in Europe and the United States.”

12. Where the Mob Keeps Its Money

“A series of recent scandals have exposed the connection between some of the biggest global banks and the seamy underworld of mobsters, smugglers, drug traffickers and arms dealers. American banks have profited from money laundering by Latin American drug cartels, while the European debt crisis has strengthened the grip of the loan sharks and speculators who control the vast underground economies in countries like Spain and Greece.”

13. Drugs, Sweat and Fear

“You have to grab your own foot. No one’s going to grab it for you.”

14. Big Chem, Big Harm?

“It’s scary.”

15. Pussy Riot Was Carefully Calibrated for Protest

“The world needs more feminist masked avengers.”

16. My Father, the Cable Pioneer

“Today people might think of cable television as having begun in the 1970s, when HBO took off, but it goes back much further, to when entrepreneurs went looking for a way to conquer topography.”

17. Richard Linklater on America’s Ignored Monuments

“In Chicago, there is this ancient Roman column, just sitting along a bike path in Burnham Park. It was a gift from Mussolini in honor of this guy, Italo Balbo, an aviator, an Italian Howard Hughes, who flew from Rome to Chicago for the 1933 World’s Fair. The city of Chicago gave Balbo a parade and put this column up, and there it still stands. Its inscription says, ‘in the eleventh year of the Fascist Era,’ and so we have this documentation of the time that Chicago and Fascist Italy were actually on the same page.”

18. Academic Battleground

“There’s a modicum of truth to this picture – but it’s mostly a caricature.”

19. An Innocent in the Ivy League

“He sits in the back where a couple of pervy professors are lurking, and watches his dreams die.”

20. School of Hard Knocks

“Tough sets out to replace this assumption with what might be called the character hypothesis: the notion that noncognitive skills, like persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, grit and self-confidence, are more crucial than sheer brainpower to achieving success.”

21. Simon Says Don’t Use Flashcards

“A growing body of research suggests that playing certain kinds of childhood games may be the best way to increase a child’s ability to do well in school.”

22. Venus and Serena Against the World

“The idea of this African-American family organizing itself, as a unit, in order to lay siege to perhaps the whitest sport in the world and pulling it off somehow.”

23. From Bible-Belt Pastor to Atheist Leader

“They have their own apostles (Bertrand Russell, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens) and their own language, a glossary borrowed from Alcoholics Anonymous, the Bible and gay liberation (you always ‘come out’ of the atheist closet).”

24. What’s a Monkey to Do in Tampa?

“There’s no way to describe how intelligent this thing is.”

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