5.06.2012 New York Times Digest

1. “He’s Not Done With Exploring the Universe

“It’s not much of a spoiler to say that things don’t go well. In Greek mythology Prometheus, after all, was chained to a rock and had his liver eternally pecked out for the crime of stealing fire from the gods and giving it to humans.”

2. “A Desert Town on the Way Up … to Space

“Adherents believe that the next phase of space exploration will be led by nimble, ambitious entrepreneurs – a new generation of people like Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, who helped create the electronics industry in a garage – and that this is their moment to come together and make it happen.”

3. “Amid Brazil’s Rush to Develop, Workers Resist

“No one burns anything if they’re satisfied.”

4. “From Misfit With Blog to Author With Deal

“Her father was a taxidermist prone to keeping bobcats and wild turkeys as pets. Her neighbors regularly invited the family over to swim in a pool created by water from an open-air cistern that was used to clean pigs.”

5. “Whistling His Own Tune

“Most players in sports believe they actually know something about officiating. And they don’t.”

6. “At California State, Protesters Start a Fast

“California was once the model system, and now that seems to be breaking down at every level.”

7. “Rising Early, With a New Sentence in Mind

“Whenever I go to work I wear a jacket and a tie, because I’m inherently quite lazy, and my books take so long to do, and my publishers don’t bug me, so it’s so easy to fool yourself into thinking you’re working harder than you really are. So I do everything possible to make myself remember this is a job I’m going to, and I have to produce every day. The tie and the jacket are part of that.”

8. “Jobs Few, Grads Flock to Unpaid Internships

“A few years ago you hardly heard about college graduates taking unpaid internships. But now I’ve even heard of people taking unpaid internships after graduating from Ivy League schools.”

9. “The Jobless Young Find Their Voice

“Where are the advocacy groups for jobless youth?”

10. “The Outsourced Life

“The more anxious, isolated and time-deprived we are, the more likely we are to turn to paid personal services. To finance these extra services, we work longer hours. This leaves less time to spend with family, friends and neighbors; we become less likely to call on them for help, and they on us. And, the more we rely on the market, the more hooked we become on its promises: Do you need a tidier closet? A nicer family picture album? Elderly parents who are truly well cared for? Children who have an edge in school, on tests, in college and beyond? If we can afford the services involved, many if not most of us are prone to say, sure, why not?”

11. “Future TED Talks

“Returning TED talker Sherry Turkle, an author and academic, says that giving lectures about how lonely the Internet is making people has made her and her audiences even lonelier.”

12. “Science and Truth: We’re All in It Together

“By now, readers understand that the definitive ‘copy’ of any article is no longer the one on paper but the online copy, precisely because it’s the version that’s been read and mauled and annotated by readers. (If a book isn’t read until it’s written in – as I was always told – then maybe an article is not published until it’s been commented upon.) Writers know this already. The print edition of any article is little more than a trophy version, the equivalent of a diploma or certificate of merit – suitable for framing, not much else.”

13. “Black Women and Fat

“Many black women are fat because we want to be.”

14. “In the Middle of a Food Fight

“If they had a chance, they would eat us.”

15. “The Screen Can’t Hear When You Yell ‘Bravo’

“Most of the audience doesn’t quite know what to do, caught between the intensity opera elicits and the sobering realization that, well, they are in a movie theater, perhaps thousands of miles from what they want to cheer and even farther from the relationship live performance engenders. For all the praise HD deserves, and it deserves a great deal, this disconnect is damning. What the audience in a movie theater experiences is not just the opposite of opera. It is the undoing of opera, an art form in which a present, active audience is fundamental.”

16. “Comic Guerrilla Tries Sticking With the Script

“He operates from courage, and I operate from fear. But we’re both fanatical engineers of comedy. There are people in comedy that like to take a funny idea and wing it, and then you have the people that like to take out rulers and protractors and try to figure out everything.” He added that Mr. Baron Cohen’s comedy amounted to a kind of ‘cultural surgery.’”

17. “Scriptless in Seattle: A Filmmaker’s Map

“‘I’m taking you to some of my favorite places in Seattle.’ Her guided tour on that March morning included a cafe, a bookstore and Scarecrow Video, where she returned a sack of DVDs by Ingmar Bergman and Woody Allen that she had been using for research.”

18. “Cherishing Sun-Baked Cinema

Sam Elliott was so damn good-looking in that sleazy, ’70s bathing-trunks-and-mustache way (predating ‘Baywatch’ and ‘Magnum, P.I.’) that he could pretty much charm the bra and panties off of anybody. But there was also something wildly sexy about Los Angeles, the city. Somehow I knew it held the key to my future, and Lifeguard was the sales pitch: sunsets and muscle cars and beach houses and lazy sex on unmade beds.”

19. “Sit Down, Cool Off and Fire Up a DVD

“It was once fashionable to dismiss her work in Barbarella as evidence of her pre-radicalized frivolousness. Maybe people were too busy looking at what else was on display to notice her prodigious comic gifts were as well. In Barbarella she’s a sexy Buck Rogers, the all-American hero as lewd buttercup.”

20. “Adding a Little Flicker to Those Lights

“They’re for making statements, not love.”

21. “Workouts, Times 2 (or 3)

“Most are professionals with full-time jobs, yet they manage to spend some two hours a day – and upward of $500 a month – exercising.”

22. “Hello, Stranger

“I think we are moving toward that shift where people prefer to engage with each other over the Internet.”

23. “In Iris Love’s Wide Circle of Friends

“I trust people who like animals and who drink because it shows they have a soul.”

24. “Unleashing the Power

“At his 1926 doctoral exam, the mathematician David Hilbert is said to have asked but one question: ‘Pray, who is the candidate’s tailor?’ He had never seen such beautiful evening clothes.”

25. “The Purpose of Spectacular Wealth, According to a Spectacularly Wealthy Guy

“This could be the most hated book of the year.”

26. “How McDonald’s Came Back Bigger Than Ever

“In 2011, the average free-standing McDonald’s restaurant in the United States generated nearly $2.6 million in sales, an increase of roughly 13 percent since 2008. Last year, sales nearly doubled the industry’s projected growth rate by growing 4.8 percent over the previous year.”

27. “Honey, I Got a Year’s Worth of Tuna Fish

“For ‘couponers,’ as they call themselves, free product is the holy grail. Freebies are obtained by combining various promotions in ways that can seem laborious and arcane to the civilian shopper: waiting for items to go on sale and then using coupons to buy them; ‘stacking’ manufacturers’ coupons with store coupons; shopping during “double coupon” days; or receiving, post-purchase, a ‘catalina’ – a coupon from a company called Catalina Marketing that can be redeemed on a future transaction.”

28. “Color Me My Way

“That story begins in Minnesota, where Neiman grew up tough and poor. Enough happens to him in the 1940s alone to fill a book: he spends a night in jail for brawling and ships off to basic training the next day. When G.I.’s land on Omaha Beach, the Army gives them condoms to protect their rifle muzzles; Neiman uses his to safeguard his cigars. He eventually goes AWOL in Belgium, paints murals for the Red Cross, bootlegs Cognac and loses a girlfriend to Marlene Dietrich.”

29. “Small Wonder

“She only ate nuts.”

30. “In-Between Days

“The first notable, strange thing about living in two places is that whenever you are ‘here,’ you carry within you a ‘there.’”

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