4.8.2012 New York Times Digest

1. “A Man. A Woman. Just Friends?

“Friendship between the sexes was more or less unknown in traditional society.”

2. “Trying to Find a Measure for How Well Colleges Do

“We used to hear a lot more of, ‘The value of college can’t be measured,’ and now we hear more of, ‘Let’s talk about how we can measure.’”

3. “Berkeley Group Digs In to Challenge of Making Sense of All That Data

“Making sense of Big Data is, in fact, a holy grail of computer science these days – and technology companies, academic institutions and the federal government are investing heavily in the endeavor.”

4. “Actor Rushes to Aid of Damsel in Pink Wig

“Mr. Gosling has not commented publicly on the incident. No visual evidence of a good deed has surfaced, as it did last August after Mr. Gosling broke up a fight on Astor Place over a painting. And yet the legend has grown.”

5. “A Radical Female Hero From Dystopia

“One reason Katniss may be speaking to so many is that she doesn’t just seem to be a new kind of female character but also represents an alternative to an enduring cultural type that the literary critic R. W. B. Lewis described as the American Adam. Lewis saw this type as ‘an individual emancipated from history, happily bereft of ancestry, untouched and undefiled by the usual inheritances of family and race; an individual standing alone, self-reliant and self-propelling, ready to confront whatever awaited him with the aid of his own unique and inherent resources.’”

6. “The Phones Are Out, but the Robot Is In

“To me, being a C.E.O., being a manager, was really a direct extension of being a programmer, which I think explains some of the things I’m good at and some of the things I’m bad at. When you’re programming, you have a very specific goal that you want to accomplish, and you do it by basically pulling together blocks of code. When I became a C.E.O., I was basically doing the same thing, except I was working with people who needed to accomplish some stuff, and it was still kind of very functional.”

7. “Taking a Chance on Love, and Algorithms

“At the end of the day, the human algorithm – neural tissue in our cranium called a brain – has evolved over a long period of time to size up people efficiently.”

8. “What 23 Years of E-Mail May Say About You

“Computers are good at spotting patterns, and Dr. Wolfram thought an analysis of his own personal data might reveal patterns in his life – for example, when he was most likely to come up with new ideas, ‘preferably good ones.’”

9. “In Defense of Superstition

“To believe in magic – as, on some deep level, we all do – does not make you stupid, ignorant or crazy. It makes you human.”

10. “Making Crime Pay

“‘Never walk across a wet floor,’ Mr. Mulholland advised, saying you might mess up the work of the prisoner manning the mop. And then he might kill you.”

11. “The Mystery of the Flying Laptop

“When is a laptop a laptop?”

12. “Inventing the Future

What causes innovation? Why does it happen, and how might we nurture it?

13. “What’s the Easiest Way to Cheat on Your Taxes?

“Who is the greatest accountant of all time? Many consider Luca Pacioli, a 15th-century Italian bookkeeper who hung out with Leonardo, as their standard-bearer.”

14. “Just One More Game …

“Stupid games are rarely occasions in themselves. They are designed to push their way through the cracks of other occasions. We play them incidentally, ambivalently, compulsively, almost accidentally. They’re less an activity in our day than a blank space in our day; less a pursuit than a distraction from other pursuits. You glance down to check your calendar and suddenly it’s 40 minutes later and there’s only one level left before you jump to the next stage, so you might as well just launch another bird.”

15. “Jack Outside the Box

“On his desk sat a cowbell, a pocketknife, a George Orwell reader and an antique ice-cream scoop. There was also a stack of business cards that read: ‘John A. White III, D.D.S. – Accidentist and Occidental Archaeologist.’”

16. “Why the Old-School Music Snob Is the Least Cool Kid on Twitter

“There is no longer any honor in musical obscurity.”

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