6.13.2012 New York Times Digest

1. “Our Animal Natures

“What do you call a physician? A veterinarian who treats only one species.”

2. “Risky Rise of the Good-Grade Pill

“It’s like it does your work for you.”

3. “Forced to Early Social Security, Unemployed Pay a Steep Price

“Her monthly check covers the $336 mobile home park fee plus utilities, her cellphone bill, insurance and a satellite dish. She is also paying $100 a month in credit card debt. To save money, she has canceled the data plan on her BlackBerry and cut back on fresh fruits and vegetables. After a wind storm blew out a window, she covered it with a tarp because she could not afford to replace the glass.”

4. “Rhythms for the Highway, Before the Age of the iPod

“The ongoing thread in infotainment development has been that drivers have always wanted to bring into their cars the things they use at home for entertainment and information.”

5. “Thieves of Light, Built by Barbarians

“No one talks seriously about banning skyscrapers anymore.”

6. “Shh! Scholars Fight Over Library Plan

“We can’t say that someone isn’t going to walk in the door tomorrow and say, ‘Show me a directory of Southern sawmills from 1917.’”

7. “Nurturing a Baby and a Start-Up Business

“Much of the investment world, heavily dominated by men, remains skeptical about a woman’s ability to combine running a fast-growing tech start-up and motherhood.”

8. “The Algorithm Didn’t Like My Essay

“The predictive algorithms were eerily accurate.”

9. “Physicists, Stop the Churlishness

“Physicists say they do not need any help from philosophers. But sometimes physicists are, whether they realize it or not, actually engaging in philosophy themselves.”

10. “Electronic Woe: The Short Lives of Instruments

“You have to scramble to keep your music playable.”

11. “Real Reporters on the Screen? Get Me Rewrite!

“That’s the press, baby. The press! And there’s nothing you can do about it. Nothing!

12. “R.I.P. Promises, It Was Nice Knowing You

“He is often called a narcissist and a provocateur, not without reason, but his films and music exude a deeply felt angst, an almost painful sincerity. He is a born salesman, active in real estate deals, but he plays to perfection the part of the misunderstood outsider who would never stoop to selling out. He courts publicity that he seems genuinely to resent.”

13. “Guitars, Groupies and Lots and Lots of Hair

“It’s 1987, and the boys look like girls, the groupies look like strippers, and the hair is highly flammable.”

14. “A Pioneer in a Mad Men’s World

“”I think women who spend the most productive years of their life nurturing children are unhappy.”

15. “John Irving: By the Book

“I plan what I write, not what I read.”

16. “Light, Truth and Whatever

“At a time when many are trying to reduce the college years to a training period for economic competition, Delbanco reminds readers of the ideal of democratic education.”

17. “From Here to Infinity

“When Simon Norton was 3½, his I.Q. was measured at 178. For three years running in high school, he was among the top scorers in the world at the International Mathematical Olympiad. At the age of 27, he and a colleague, John Conway, formulated an audacious conjecture in group theory called ‘monstrous moonshine,’ which inspired a frenzy of mathematical work around the globe that culminated in a Fields Medal-winning proof by Richard Borcherds almost two decades later. Today, Norton holds no paid employment, publishes in his field only occasionally, subsists largely on canned mackerel and rice packets, and spends much of his time riding buses around Britain in a campaign to preserve public transport against deregulation.”

18. “Words Per Minute

“We have developed a wealth of technologies that are supposed to save us time for leisurely pursuits, but for some this has only made such pursuits seem ponderous and archaic. ‘Saving time’ has made us slaves to speed.”

19. “French Women Worry About Getting Fat, Too

“Jenny Craig’s approach to that challenge is to try to persuade clients that the plan is not a departure from French culture but a return to its fundamental values. To sell this novelty to the French requires convincing them that they are in fact resisting rather than succumbing to the inexorable influence of American eating habits – that the American scourge of obesity can still be neutralized by the power of French tradition, even if that tradition comes in the form of vacuum-sealed, shelf-stabilized products.”

20. “Liberals Are Ruining America. I Know Because I Am One.

“We have helped redefine liberalism as an essentially reactionary movement. Rather than initiating discussion, or advocating for more humane policy, we react to the most vile and nihilistic voices on the right.”

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