11.27.2011 New York Times Digest

1. “The Dwindling Power of a College Degree”

“It used to be that if you worked hard, you were guaranteed a certain kind of life. There are reasons success is no longer a straight shot.”

2. “Out of Work, and Trying to Stay Positive”

“Every morning, Ms. Henry checks her e-mail alerts from the Web site CareerBuilder.com. Then it is on to Monster.com and Indeed.com. Since being laid off in June 2009, Ms. Henry said, she has sent out an average of 50 to 100 résumés a month – more than 2,000 in all. Last year, she had two interviews.”

3. “The Agony of Gift-Giving in a City That Has Seen It All”

“It is not merely that so many New Yorkers have a lot, but rather that so many have heard about way too much. Really, they have heard about everything, it seems, so that presenting the novel, the outré, the unforeseen, quickly becomes a challenge that feels insurmountable.”

4. “Naked Truth: New Sitcoms Are Reruns”

“It’s definitely the End of Comedy. As with Francis Fukuyama’s much-discussed essay ‘The End of History,’ that doesn’t mean there will be no more small-screen humor. It means that television comedy has ceased evolving.”

5. “Famous Minds, Keeping Secrets”

J. Edgar and A Dangerous Method are movies about secrecy, about the psychological mechanism of repression, about the gap between the face that is presented to the world and the morass of desires, fears and contradictions that lurk behind that face. Mr. Eastwood and Mr. Cronenberg, in different ways, try to probe the obscure zones of their characters’ inner selves, to indicate truths about those people that cannot quite be seen or expressed in words.”

6. “Let’s See What’s Inside That Pretty Head”

“With the exception of Woody Allen movies and, God help us, The Prince of Tides, the psychological aberrations of men rarely attract the attention of serious filmmakers.”

7. “The Unbelievers”

“88 percent of African-Americans believe in God with absolute certainty.”

8. “Willpower: It’s in Your Head”

“When people believe that willpower is fixed and limited, their willpower is easily depleted. But when people believe that willpower is self-renewing – that when you work hard, you’re energized to work more; that when you’ve resisted one temptation, you can better resist the next one – then people successfully exert more willpower.”

9. “How It Went”

“A lot of critics think I’m stupid because my sentences are so simple and my method is so direct: they think these are defects. No. The point is to write as much as you know as quickly as possible.”

10. “The Mind’s Ear”

“At the very moment the poor old book-object dissolves before our eyes, pecked to pieces by the angry birds of Kindle, iPad and the rest, we are renewing our primary contract with the author by offering him our ears.”

11. “Enthusiasms”

“The man writes a lot.”

12. “Two Brains Running”

“It is an astonishingly rich book: lucid, profound, full of intellectual surprises and self-help value. It is consistently entertaining and frequently touching.”

13. “A Good Run”

“Just why, beginning around 1500, did a few small polities on the western end of the Eurasian landmass come to dominate the rest of the world?”

14. “So Much Depends”

“To many, including me, he was the greatest poet of the 20th century. Unlike Eliot and Pound, two of his rivals in importance, he refused to be an expatriate. When Pound wrote him from overseas, urging Williams to leave America, Williams incorporated the advice into a brutally terse and powerful poem in praise of staying home. He spent virtually all his life in Rutherford, N.J., close to the American voices that enthralled him.”

15. “The Not-So-Invisible Empire”

“In the early 1920s, the K.K.K. became a national phenomenon, more popular north of the Mason-Dixon line than south of it. At its peak in 1924 there were probably 35,000 Klansmen in Detroit, about 55,000 in Chicago, 200,000 in Ohio, 240,000 in Indiana and 260,000 in Pennsylvania: a veritable army of proud Anglo-Saxons kluxing in their local klaverns. Ten bucks a head for membership, another six and a half for those fine flowing robes.”

16. “What Muncie Read”

“Women read romances, kids read pulp and white-collar workers read mass-market titles.”

17. “The Evolution of Fleece, From Scratchy to Snuggie”

“It completely changed the way the world dresses for cold weather.”

18. “Can the Bulldog Be Saved?”

“Most can’t have sex without help – they’re too short and stocky. Most can’t give birth on their own – their heads are too big. A breed that has trouble doing those two things is, by definition, in trouble.”

19. “Should We All Go Gluten-Free?”

“Even a healthy intestine does not completely break gluten down. For those with celiac disease, the undigested gluten essentially causes the body’s immune system to lash out at itself, leading to malabsorption, bloating and diarrhea – the classic gastrointestinal symptoms – but also, at times, joint pain, skin rashes and other problems.”

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