09.04.2011 New York Times Digest

1. “I’m on Facebook. It’s Over.”

“The time suck wasn’t the biggest reason I avoided joining for so long. The biggest reason was that I didn’t know which me would join.”

2. “In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores”

“Schools are spending billions on technology, even as they cut budgets and lay off teachers, with little proof that this approach is improving basic learning.”

3. “Hope, Fear and Insomnia: Journey of a Jobless Man”

“Some nights, he couldn’t sleep. Other times, he woke at 4 a.m., reached for his cellphone and played video games for an hour or two, until he grew so tired that the phone fell from his hand and he was dozing once again. It was hard to say exactly what caused the insomnia — anxiety about unpaid bills, fear of never finding another job, an internal time clock accustomed to working the night shift — but it was a problem he shared with many of his former co-workers.”

4. “Straw Dogs, Stirring Up Trouble Again”

“There are few more unnerving scenes in movies than the rape of Amy by her ex-boyfriend … and what makes it so memorably terrifying is the awful ambivalence it engenders in both the victim and the viewer — of either sex. Appallingly, Amy, who resists strongly at first, begins to feel some stirrings of pleasure as her old lover does his worst.”

5. “Choosing Cinematheque Over Cineplex”

“One way to trace the history of the movies is to look at the evolution of alternative cinemas — to consider, in other words, how an inventive approach to showing films can foster a new way of understanding them.”

6. “Jewels of Olmsted’s Unspoiled Midwest”

“Much attention is given to Olmsted’s creations on the Eastern Seaboard, including Central Park and Prospect Park in New York City, and the Emerald Necklace in Boston. But he is also responsible for public spaces elsewhere, most notably in the Midwest.”

7. “A Brand Keeps Its Cool (and Endures)”

“Can it be that sometimes anti-innovation, as it were, is the most innovative route of all?”

8. “Before Wal-Mart, There Was A.& P.”

“We want ‘everyday low prices,’ but we feel great affinity for small, local businesses and, as recent controversies about Wal-Mart opening stores in big cities attest, we are often hostile to the large enterprises that make such prices possible.”

9. “New York Was Calm as Irene Stormed Through”

“Time definitely slowed down.”

10. “Download: Matthew Ferguson”

“His principles are as relevant today as they were 100 years ago. The book reads like anything you’d find in the Harvard Business Review. Ford not only created an industry, he developed modern manufacturing. Through his constant push for efficiency he was able to charge less for his automobiles and pay his employees more. It was important to him for his employees to be able to afford the product.”

11. “The Limping Middle Class”

“Starting in the late 1970s, the middle class began to weaken. Although productivity continued to grow and the economy continued to expand, wages began flattening in the 1970s because new technologies — container ships, satellite communications, eventually computers and the Internet — started to undermine any American job that could be automated or done more cheaply abroad. The same technologies bestowed ever larger rewards on people who could use them to innovate and solve problems. Some were product entrepreneurs; a growing number were financial entrepreneurs. The pay of graduates of prestigious colleges and M.B.A. programs — the ‘talent’ who reached the pinnacles of power in executive suites and on Wall Street — soared.”

12. “One Path to Better Jobs: More Density in Cities”

“The world’s richest places tend to be dense, with well-educated residents and a free-market-orientation.”

13. “Do Happier People Work Harder?”

“Work should ennoble, not kill, the human spirit.”

14. “Errol Morris Looks for the Truth in Photography”

Believing Is Seeing, though perceptive about photography, is fundamentally concerned with something very different: epistemology. Morris is chiefly interested in the nature of knowledge, in figuring out where the truth — in both senses — lies.”

15. “Here’s Looking at You, Katydid”

“Male honeybee genitals explode after sex; wasps turn cockroaches into zombie incubators; male scorpionflies produce wads of saliva to feed their mates — a nuptial gift that distracts her front end while her hind end mates (the larger the gift, the longer the pairing).”

16. “From Scroll to Screen”

“The codex also came with a fringe benefit: It created a very different reading experience. With a codex, for the first time, you could jump to any point in a text instantly, nonlinearly. You could flip back and forth between two pages and even study them both at once. You could cross-check passages and compare them and bookmark them. You could skim if you were bored, and jump back to reread your favorite parts. It was the paper equivalent of random-access memory, and it must have been almost supernaturally empowering. With a scroll you could only trudge through texts the long way, linearly.”

17. “The Sugary Secret of Self-Control”

“Willpower consists of circuitry in the brain that runs on glucose, has a limited capacity and operates by rules that scientists can reverse-engineer — and, crucially, that can find work-arounds for its own shortcomings.”

18. “The Fresh Prince of Cool Air”

“Derelict husbands seem to be the leading cause of AC failure.”

19. “Hugh Laurie Sings the Blues”

“I equate happiness with contentment, and contentment with complacency, and complacency with impending disaster.”

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