Sunday 10.07.2012 New York Times Digest

1. They Work Long Hours, but What About Results?

“It’s an unfortunate reality that efficiency often goes unrewarded in the workplace.”

2. The Very Best of Vince Guaraldi

“‘You wouldn’t want to say, “Yeah, things are bad and who knows if they can even get better,”’ Inspector Robert Lukach, the unit’s executive, said. ‘You always have to be positive. I like to tell my guys: Bring yourself into it. If he says, “Oh, I’m having problems with my wife,” say: “Yeah, I have problems with my wife, too. My wife just yelled at me yesterday for not doing the dishes.”’”

3. Before a Test, a Poverty of Words

“Children of professionals were, on average, exposed to approximately 1,500 more words hourly than children growing up in poverty. This resulted in a gap of more than 32 million words by the time the children reached the age of 4.”

4. A Master of Improv, Writing Twitter’s Script

“Silicon Valley sometimes seems like high school.”

5. The Seeds That Federal Money Can Plant

“Government support plays a vital role in incubating new ideas that are harvested by the private sector, sometimes many years later, creating companies and jobs.”

6. The Case for Calm Over Rising Health Costs

“The costs of health care, education, the live performing arts and several other ‘personal services’ depend largely on human evaluative skills – a ‘handicraft element’ that is not easily replaced by machines. These costs consistently rise at a rate much greater than that of inflation because the quantity of labor required to produce these services is hard to reduce, while costs in other areas of the economy can be brought down via technology or other factors.”

7. Who’s in Charge Inside Your Head?

“Maybe there is no one in charge – no independent, self-serving, order-issuing homunculus. Buddhists note that our skin doesn’t separate us from the environment, but joins us, just as biologists know that ‘we’ are manipulated by, no less than manipulators of, the rest of life. Who is left after ‘you’ are separated from your genes? Where does the rest of the world end, and each of us begin?”

8. Writing With Miles Davis

“If Miles Davis’s midcentury trumpet solos can be described by a single phrase, it might be ‘doing more with less.’ Despite his renown, Davis wasn’t a flashy or highly technical player during the late 1950s and early ’60s. He was melodic and economical, and his approach can teach prose writers a lot about the power of concision, suggestion and space.”

9. Chicago Hip-Hop’s Raw Burst of Change

“With rare exception this music is unmediated and raw and without bright spots, focused on anger and violence. The instinct is to call this tough, unforgiving and concrete-hard music joyless, but in truth it’s exuberant in its darkness.”

10. A Waking Dream Made Just for You

“In previous projects an audience member was buried in sand, another left overnight in a field of butterflies. In New York a subject awoke to a talk show composed just for him, delivered via a clock radio that had been smuggled into his bedroom.”

11. Classic Arnold in His Own Script

“He was smiling the whole time.”

12. New Zealand’s Hobbit Trail

“Movies – ephemeral, imaginary – have a way of sending fans in search of something real.”

13. Consider the Writer

“It reminds me of what an amateur deep-sea diver once said to me about why he liked diving solo: If you stop concentrating for even a few seconds you might die, he said, and I have a hard time concentrating, and so, well, I like to dive.”

14. Why Your Car Isn’t Electric

“Society shapes the development and use of technology (this is a function of social determinism; for example, cars didn’t really become ubiquitous until they became easy to operate and cheap to buy), but technology also shapes society (technological determinism; think of the way cars then essentially created the suburbs). Over time, the two interact with and change each other, an idea known as technological momentum, which was introduced in 1969 by Thomas P. Hughes, a historian of technology. According to Hughes’s theory, the technologies we end up using aren’t determined by any objective measure of quality. In fact, the tools we choose are often deeply flawed. They just happened to meet our particular social needs at a particular time and then became embedded in our culture.”

15. Who Made That Escape Key?

“It says to the computer: ‘Stop what you’re doing. I need to take control.’”

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