4.01.2012 New York Times Digest

1. “Where Have All the Neurotics Gone?

“I think some of the qualities we once attributed to neurotics have simply been normalized.”

2. “Police Are Using Phone Tracking as a Routine Tool

“Do not mention to the public or the media the use of cellphone technology or equipment used to locate the targeted subject.”

3. “Young Writers Dazzle Publisher (Mom and Dad)

“What’s next Kiddie architects, juvenile dentists, 11-year-old rocket scientists? Any parent who thinks that the crafting of engrossing, meaningful, publishable fiction requires less talent and experience than designing a house, extracting a wisdom tooth, or supervising a lunar probe is, frankly, delusional.”

4. “Uranium Mines Dot Navajo Land, Neglected and Still Perilous

“For years, unsuspecting Navajos inhaled radioactive dust and drank contaminated well water. Many of them became sick with cancer and other diseases.”

5. “Chasing Ghosts of Poets Past

“Billed as an East Village poetry walk, the project, ‘Passing Stranger,’ is a site-specific audio tour that guides listeners through the history of the neighborhood’s interconnected writers and shakers, with interviews, archival recordings and recitations of poems. Narrated by the filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, with music by John Zorn, it is a literary and geographic keepsake, a portrait of a bohemian community that still resounds.”

6. “Birds Do It, Bees Do It (Fill Screens)

“In a sense animals are encoded in the DNA of the cinema.”

7. “The Human Voice, as Game Changer

“Until now … we’ve talked only to one another. What if we begin talking to all sorts of machines, too – and, like Siri, those machines respond as if they were human?”

8. “Computer Science for the Rest of Us

“Many professors of computer science say college graduates in every major should understand software fundamentals. They don’t argue that everyone needs to be a skilled programmer. Rather, they seek to teach ‘computational thinking’ – the general concepts programming languages employ.”

9. “The Bleaker Sex

“There’s a biological reason why women feel about sex the way they do and men feel about sex the way they do. It’s not as simple as divesting yourself of your gender roles.”

10. “What Baseball Does to the Soul

“If soccer is the world’s game, then baseball belongs to those who have left their worlds behind. This is not so much nostalgia as it a sense of saudade – a longing for something that is absent.”

11. “A Sontag Sampler

“I don’t care about someone being intelligent; any situation between people, when they are really human with each other, produces ‘intelligence.’”

12. “In Florida, a Death Foretold

“A study released in 2006 by Duke University on attitudes on race in Durham, N.C., a city with one of the fastest-growing Latino populations in the country, found that an overwhelming majority of Latinos – 78 percent – felt they had the most in common with whites, while 53 percent of them felt they had the least in common with blacks. So it would make sense for those respondents to act with the same assumptions about blacks that they perceive are held by native whites. In fact the Latino respondents, many of them immigrants from Mexico and Central America, actually reported higher negative feelings toward blacks than most native-born whites. Nearly 60 percent reported feeling that few or almost no blacks were hard-working or could be trusted, while only 10 percent of whites held that view.”

13. “Education’s Hungry Hearts

“The best students and the ones who get the most out of their educations are the ones who come to school with the most energy to learn.”

14. “Not Waiting to Say Goodbye

“And perhaps he was lonelier than he let on.”

15. “Rockers at Sea

“Fans willing to pony up somewhere between $900 and $1,400 – not including airfare or bar tab – can rub shoulders with their favorite acts and enjoy three to five days of food, music, Caribbean sunshine and extras like a photo with the band (no autographs, please). Everyone from oldies acts like Frankie Avalon to current artists like R. Kelly and Blake Shelton are taking to the seas.”

16. “A Trip Across Water, and Time, From Seattle

“‘We’re not all crazy hippies!’ a sprightly, white-haired organic farmer declared. Then she handed me a business card that identified her as the ‘Contessa of Compost.’”

17. “Plenty to Go Around

“He’ll give you dozens of reasons, some highly technical, why it’s half full. Then he’ll explain that your cognitive biases are tricking you into seeing the glass of water in a negative light, and cart out the research of acclaimed psychologists like Daniel Kahne­man to prove his point. Finally he may suggest you stop fretting: new technologies will soon fill the glass up anyway. Indeed, they are likely to overfill it.”

18. “Puberty Before Age 10: A New ‘Normal’?

“Who gets pubic hair in first grade?”

19. “How the American Action Movie Went Kablooey

“For roughly a decade, from the early ’80s to the early ’90s – marked by high-water films all weirdly clustered together, like Commando (1985), Aliens (1986), RoboCop (1987) and Die Hard (1988) – the great American action film was a robust genre, as complex and thematically rich and aesthetically unified as the musical or the western.”

10. “The Know-It-All

“Anything that eats has a system of organizing the world.”

21. “Prick Up Your Ears

“People not only forgot what great sound reproduction sounded like, but at this point, most have never even heard it.”

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