01.22.2012 New York Times Digest

1. “Blogs vs. Term Papers

“The debate about academic writing has given rise to new terminology: ‘old literacy’ refers to more traditional forms of discourse and training; ‘new literacy’ stretches from the blog and tweet to multimedia presentation with PowerPoint and audio essay.”

2. “How U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work

“If it’s the pinnacle of capitalism, we should be worried.”

3. “True to His Abstraction

“Ellsworth has been fearless in his commitment to the limitless possibilities of abstraction.”

4. “The Energy of New York Still Seduces Jackson

“Jackson does meditate, but a sign on his desk reads: ‘There are no Zen masters. There is only Zen.'”

5. “A Clash of Media Worlds (and Generations)

“Technology types don’t see this as a battle between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. They see it as a battle between old and new.”

6. “A Better Tax System (Assembly Instructions Included)

“Here are four principles of tax reform that most of those economists would endorse.”

7. “Her Key to Efficiency: Arrive Late, Leave Early

“As an academic, I’m lucky: I can come and go as I please as long as I keep publishing my work. I wish that there were a way to extend this flexibility to more men and women.”

8. “Do Drones Undermine Democracy?

“I do not condemn these strikes; I support most of them. What troubles me, though, is how a new technology is short-circuiting the decision-making process for what used to be the most important choice a democracy could make. Something that would have previously been viewed as a war is simply not being treated like a war.”

9. “Why World War I Resonates

“Imagine an officer in the United States Army – in his 50s, say – on the Argonne front in 1918. As a young soldier he could conceivably have fought, 30 years earlier, in the last of the wars against the Plains Indians in the late 1880s. Yet now he stands surveying a different world. The tactics were 19th century – advance on the enemy. But the enemy had weapons of mass destruction – the battlefield was dominated by tanks, machine guns, howitzers, aircraft and poisonous gas. Some 117,000 American servicemen died in the 19 months of United States participation in World War I – more than twice as many as in Vietnam, nearly 20 times as many as in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

10. “Cracking Teenagers’ Online Codes

“Children today, she said, are reacting online largely to social changes that have taken place off line.”

11. “How Americans Have Reshaped Language

“Prosecutable hate speech in 17th-century Massachusetts included calling people ‘dogs,’ ‘rogues’ and even ‘queens’ (though the last referred to prostitution); magistrates took serious umbrage at being labeled ‘poopes’ (‘dolts’).”

12. “Guidebooks to Babylon

“There is no more vivid means of evoking the shadowy back streets, raucous taverns and perfumed boudoirs of a vanished city than to pore over a prostitute directory’s brittle, yellowed pages.”

13. “Renaissance Man

“For two and a half years, Mr. Gleick, a sophomore majoring in bioengineering at the University of California, Los Angeles, has devoted an hour a day to learning something new. His rule: It can’t be related to schoolwork, or merely reading a novel.”

14. “David Helfand’s New Quest

“Quest has no departments, no tenure and no classes larger than 20. It uses the block system, in which students take one course at a time for a month. Students get a grade, plus a faculty assessment of whether they are ‘contributing to, and benefiting from, the intellectual life of the classroom.’ And students spend their last two years focused on a single question of their choosing.”

15. “A Sharper Mind, Middle Age and Beyond

“Education seems to be an elixir that can bring us a healthy body and mind throughout adulthood and even a longer life.”

16. “How Big-Time Sports Ate College Life

“We’ve reached a point where big-time intercollegiate athletics is undermining the integrity of our institutions, diverting presidents and institutions from their main purpose.”

17. “What You (Really) Need to Know

“Suppose the educational system is drastically altered to reflect the structure of society and what we now understand about how people learn. How will what universities teach be different?”

18. “One Percent Education

“Just as the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans gobble up a disproportionate share of the nation’s economic resources and rejigger our institutions to funnel them benefits and power, so too do our educational 1 percent suck up a disproportionate share of academic opportunities, and threaten to reconfigure academic culture so that it both mimics and serves their values.”

19. “A Mess on the Ladder of Success

“The U.S. has always been a remarkably itinerant country, but new data from the Census Bureau indicate that mobility has reached its lowest level in recorded history.”

20. “The Hand-Held Highlighter

“By the 1970s, highlighting was already overtaking underlining as the dominant way to refer back to something important, or just kind of important.”

21. “George Lucas Is Ready to Roll the Credits

“Lucas has decided to devote the rest of his life to what cineastes in the 1970s used to call personal films. They’ll be small in scope, esoteric in subject and screened mostly in art houses.”

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