1.29.2012 New York Times Digest

1. “Privacy, Technology And Law

“Every day, those of us who live in the digital world give little bits of ourselves away.”

2. “Private Snoops Find GPS Trail Legal to Follow

“Sales of GPS trackers to private individuals may have already surpassed more than 100,000 per year, some experts believe. The marketing is just getting started.”

3. “The Bookstore’s Last Stand

“It was Nick Carraway who told Jay Gatsby, ‘You can’t repeat the past.’ That warning seems to hang over these offices.”

4. “The Yin and the Yang of Corporate Innovation

“In business, as in jazz, the interaction of those two sides, the yin and the yang of innovation, fuels new ideas and products. The mixture varies by company.”

5. “The BlackBerry, Trying to Avoid the Hall of Fallen Giants

“The road of progress is littered with the corpses of fallen titans.”

6. “Ritalin Gone Wrong

“In 30 years there has been a twentyfold increase in the consumption of drugs for attention-deficit disorder.”

7. “Are We Ready for a ‘Morality Pill’?

“If continuing brain research does in fact show biochemical differences between the brains of those who help others and the brains of those who do not, could this lead to a ‘morality pill’ — a drug that makes us more likely to help?”

8. “The Perils of ‘Bite Size’ Science

“In recent years, a trend has emerged in the behavioral sciences toward shorter and more rapidly published journal articles. These articles are often only a third the length of a standard paper, often describe only a single study and tend to include smaller data sets. Shorter formats are promoted by many journals, and limits on article length are stringent — in many cases as low as 2,000 words. This shift is partly a result of the pressure that academics now feel to generate measurable output. According to the cold calculus of ‘publish or perish,’ in which success is often gauged by counting citations, three short articles can be preferable to a single longer one.”

9. “Cracking the Code in ‘Heeere’s Johnny!’

“It’s really about the Holocaust, one interviewee says, and Mr. Kubrick’s inability to address the horrors of the Final Solution on film. No, it’s about a different genocide, that of American Indians, another says, pointing to all the tribal-theme items adorning the Overlook Hotel’s walls. A third claims it’s really Kubrick’s veiled confession that he helped NASA fake the Apollo Moon landings.”

10. “Why Men Always Tell You to See Movies

“In one study conducted at Stanford two versions of the same video of a woman were presented to subjects: one had the low frequencies of the woman’s voice increased and the high frequencies reduced, the other vice versa. Consistently subjects perceived the deep voice to be smarter, more authoritative and more trustworthy.”

11. “Dissected Long Before Her Debut

“Ms. Del Rey generates so much anger precisely because she does so little.”

12. “Final Reckonings, a Tuneful Fedora and Forgiveness

“It’s probably not a good idea to do an autopsy on a living thing.”

13. “It’s Not Me, It’s You

“Even though research shows that it is natural, and perhaps inevitable, for people to prune the weeds from their social groups as they move through adulthood, those who actually attempt to defriend in real life find that it often plays out like a divorce in miniature — a tangle of awkward exchanges, made-up excuses, hurt feelings and lingering ill will.”

14. “Hollywood Fixer Opens His Little Black Book

“It is a lurid, no-detail-too-excruciating account of a sexual Zelig who (if you believe him) trawled an X-rated underworld for over three decades without getting caught.”

15. “The Dangers of Sharing

“What if most people are willing to surrender their privacy in exchange for coupons, free music and videos, or simple book recommendations? This seems to be Facebook’s preferred strategy, an instance in which the mere right to privacy — even if enshrined in a constitution — is not going to be enough. Someone also needs to make a powerful argument about the dangers of sacrificing that right.”

16. “The Influence of the Inquisition

“Looking at the Inquisition, one sees the West crossing a threshold from one kind of world into another. Persecution acquired a modern platform — the advantages afforded by a growing web of standardized law, communications, administrative oversight and controlled mechanisms of force. It was run not merely by warriors but by an educated elite; not merely by thugs but by skilled professionals. And in its higher dimensions it was animated not by greed or hope of gain or love of power, though these were never absent, but by the fervent conviction that all must subscribe to some ultimate truth.”

17. “Our Favorite Weapon

“Reaching beneath his jacket, he quickly unholstered, unloaded and handed me his Glock 9 millimeter — this was in Kentucky, land of permissive ­concealed-carry laws. ‘I always carry this, and I always will.’”

18. “‘A Wrinkle in Time’ and Its Sci-Fi Heroine

“In 1962, when A Wrinkle in Time, after 26 rejections, was acquired by John Farrar at Farrar, Straus & Giroux, science fiction by women and aimed at female readers was a rarity.”

19. “Is There Anything Marc Newson Hasn’t Designed?

“Newson’s career as arguably the most influential industrial designer of his generation and the leading exponent of the so-called design-art movement may stand as much on the quasi-­moral power of design to affirm the social virtues of wit, proportion, elegance and simplicity, as on his obsession with futuristic forms and modernist aesthetics. Not that he has any overt agenda as a design evangelist. His motivation, apart from the business of it all, is the spirit of personal discovery, not civic edification. Each project is a fresh encounter with the material world.”

20. “The Dilemma of Being a Cyborg

“We’re collectively engaged in a mass conversion of what we used to call, variously, records, accounts, entries, archives, registers, collections, keepsakes, catalogs, testimonies and memories into, simply, data.”

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