10.02.2011 New York Times Digest

1. “Super People”

“Has our hysterically competitive, education-obsessed society finally outdone itself in its tireless efforts to produce winners whose abilities are literally off the charts? And if so, what convergence of historical, social and economic forces has been responsible for the emergence of this new type? Why does Super Person appear among us now?”

2. “When the Nurse Wants to Be Called ‘Doctor’”

“Dr. Roland Goertz, the board chairman of the American Academy of Family Physicians, says that physicians are worried that losing control over ‘doctor,’ a word that has defined their profession for centuries, will be followed by the loss of control over the profession itself.”

3. “Coupon Sites Are a Great Deal, but Not Always to Merchants”

“Some entrepreneurs are questioning the entire premise of the industry.”

4. “Long-Secret Fallout Shelter Was a Cold War Camelot”

“Shelves are stocked with giant tins of waterless hand cleaner (today’s Purell), cans lined with lead that contained drinking water (no longer advisable), deodorant to clean clothes, petroleum jelly, castor oil and ample Army K-rations. Gas masks sat at the ready. An escape hatch lies at one end, just in case the Russians were coming.”

5. “Your Worst Nightmare? Not Anymore”

“Filmed in black-and-white, The Human Centipede 2 opens with the closing minutes of the first film, until the camera pulls back to reveal that we are watching the original movie on someone’s DVD player. Its owner, we learn, is a deranged parking-garage attendant named Martin (Mr. Harvey), a squat, uncommunicative man with googly eyes and a disturbing tendency to lick his fingers. Molested by his father, bullied by his mother and disregarded by the world, Martin sets about creating his own human centipede with victims he kidnaps.”

6. “A Trip to China Can Make a Guy Hate His iPhone”

“If we’re talking about him as an artist, I’d say that he completely lost track of his ideals.”

7. “Future Shock”

“Here is a survey of some other films set in very different near-futures.”

8. “A Detective Who Gazes Into the Abyss”

“Luther is the last truly weird detective standing.”

9. “Reading the Writing on the Envelope”

“In 1861, it was easy to decommission the Pony Express, a technologically obsolete, privately owned delivery service. A century and a half later, we have a delivery service whose raison d’être is rapidly vanishing before our eyes.”

10. “When Data Guys Triumph”

“At its heart, of course, Moneyball isn’t about baseball. It’s not even about statistics. Rather, it’s about challenging conventional wisdom with data.”

11. “The Freedom To Choose Your Pronoun”

“Katy is one of a growing number of high school and college students who are questioning the gender roles society assigns individuals simply because they have been born male or female.”

12. “How Yoga Won the West”

“His prescription for life was simple, and perfectly American: ‘work and worship.’”

13. “How Did the Robot End Up With My Job?”

“The hyperconnected world is now a challenge to white-collar workers. They have to compete with a bigger pool of cheap geniuses — some of whom are people and some are now robots, microchips and software-guided machines.”

14. “The Indomitable Will of Gustav Mahler”

“For all its professional, emotional and physical crises, Mahler’s life was exemplary for an artist who, no matter how loud the outside world might pound on the walls of his concentration, vigilantly maintained an unobstructed direct line to his creative self, keeping it uncorrupted and unblocked to the end.”

15. “The Almost-Lost Poem That Changed the World”

“It is a rich literary paradox: authors are embedded in history, yet they slip away; they time-travel.”

16. “The Origins of Religion, Beginning With the Big Bang”

“When Bellah says that his book could have been much longer — he leaves out Christianity, Islam, indeed every religious development of the last 2,000 years — there is no reason to doubt him. Bellah stands in the tradition of such stalwarts of the sociological imagination as Emile Durkheim and Max Weber. Only one word is appropriate to characterize this book’s subject as well as its substance, and that is ‘magisterial.’”

17. “The Motivational-Speaker Smackdown”

“The prize: just a trophy and a title. No money.”

18. “What is the Food and Drink Issue?”

“Cooking changes lives in ways that eating never approaches. Cooking makes you care about nourishment, family meals, nutrition, pleasure, relaxation, skills, control, health, the environment, culture and the earth.”

19. “Mother Modern”

“The two most interesting things about Los Angeles are the domestic architecture and the ephemeral population.”


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