Sunday 9.23.2012 New York Times Digest

1. Power, Pollution and the Internet

“This foundation of the information industry is sharply at odds with its image of sleek efficiency and environmental friendliness.”

2. Middle Schools Add a Team Rule: Get a Drug Test

“Olympic athletes must submit urine samples to prove they are not doping. The same is true for Tour de France cyclists, N.F.L. players, college athletes and even some high school athletes. Now, children in grades as low as middle school are being told that providing a urine sample is required to play sports or participate in extracurricular activities like drama and choir.”

3. University Is Uneasy as Court Ruling Allows Guns on Campus

“More than 200 colleges and universities in the country allow individuals to carry concealed firearms.”

4. New York’s 50: Wait! There’s More

“What else did we overlook the first time?”

5. In N.F.L., the Show Goes On and On

“While many fans might think of the officials as simply judges making decisions, when it comes to working in the N.F.L., the officials are intimately involved in production, serving almost as co-directors of the advertising bonanza that is an N.F.L. telecast.”

6. Commander of the Apps, Except the One for Guilt

“I certainly felt uneasy about how simple it was to command an army of mobile helpers via my phone.”

7. Rethinking Sleep

“The idea that we should sleep in eight-hour chunks is relatively recent. The world’s population sleeps in various and surprising ways.”

8. Underdogged

“The word ‘underdog’ is an Americanism. I went into the archives to sniff out these sous-chiens. The expression dates from at least 1859, and a widely printed poem, ‘The Under Dog in the Fight.’ The underdog is the cur who’s been bitten and trampled and who, at the end of the fight, lies bloodied and beaten. Sympathy for the underdog meant sympathy for the downtrodden.”

9. America the Anxious

“This obsessive, driven, relentless pursuit is a characteristically American struggle – the exhausting daily application of the Declaration of Independence. But at the same time this elusive MacGuffin is creating a nation of nervous wrecks.”

10. Deciding When a Pet Has Suffered Enough

“Pain is the barometer most often used to assess whether an animal should be euthanized, and one of the most important improvements we can make in caring for our pets is to provide them with better palliative care.”

11. I Was a Welfare Mother

“Judge-and-punish-the-poor is not a demonstration of American values. It is, simply, mean.”

12. Exploiting the Prophet

“A Pakistani imam, Abdul Wahid Qasmi, once told me that President Bill Clinton burned to death scores of Americans for criticizing Jesus. If America can execute blasphemers, he said, why can’t Pakistan? I challenged him, and he plucked an Urdu-language book off his shelf, thumbed through it, and began reading triumphantly about the 1993 raid on David Koresh’s cult in Waco, Tex.”

13. A Writer’s Unusual Rituals Yield Results

“He writes from 9 in the morning to 2 in the afternoon and again from 8:30 to 11 every night, meditating for at least an hour as well. His friend Mr. Mandvi said Mr. Akhtar practices another unusual writerly ritual, taking frequent baths, up to six a day, when a literary problem presents itself.”

14. Time Has Been Kind to Heaven’s Gate

“Critical opinion has shifted over time – to the point that a film once damned as a self-indulgent behemoth now seems, to many eyes, a misunderstood giant.”

15. Taking the Long View of Cinerama

“Cinerama endures as a transporting, almost mystical experience.”

16. University of Shmacked

“Kids don’t want to read anymore. Seeing a video is a much more fun way to learn about a school.”

17. The Pop Diplomacy of Quincy Jones

“I’ve been called a blonde-lover, a pedophile, gay, everything. I don’t care, man.”

18. How Silent Spring Ignited the Environmental Movement

“She was the very first person to knock some of the shine off modernity.”

19. The Internet? We Built That

“Like many of the bedrock technologies that have come to define the digital age, the Internet was created by – and continues to be shaped by – decentralized groups of scientists and programmers and hobbyists (and more than a few entrepreneurs) freely sharing the fruits of their intellectual labor with the entire world.”

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