Sunday 11.04.2012 New York Times Digest

1. Dining Through Disaster

“It’s never been easier to eat well in the face of the Apocalypse.”

2. Gay Pakistanis, Still in Shadows, Seek Acceptance

“While the notion of homosexuality may be taboo, homosocial, and even homosexual, behavior is common enough. Pakistani society is sharply segregated on gender lines, with taboos about extramarital sex that make it almost harder to conduct a secret heterosexual romance than a homosexual one.”

3. A Capitalist’s Dilemma, Whoever Wins on Tuesday

“As long as empowering innovations create more jobs than efficiency innovations eliminate, and as long as the capital that efficiency innovations liberate is invested back into empowering innovations, we keep recessions at bay.”

4. Download: Sal Khan

“I’m actually a bit of a technophobe, which surprises people. I like to stay unplugged as much as possible. I’m not the kind to hang out on Facebook or Twitter or even talk on the cellphone, really. I think I’ve written like five text messages this year.”

5. How Science Can Build a Better You

“How far would you go to modify yourself using the latest medical technology?”

6. Abe Lincoln as You’ve Never Heard Him

“For The Last of the Mohicans he taught himself to build a canoe, shoot a flintlock and trap and skin animals. For the opening scene of My Left Foot, about Christy Brown, an artist with cerebral palsy, he taught himself to put a record on a turntable with his toes; he also insisted on remaining in a wheelchair between takes and being fed by the crew. He learned to box, naturally, for The Boxer, in which he played a prizefighter and former member of the Irish Republican Army and in the process broke his nose and damaged his back. To play the gang leader Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York, he took butchering lessons, and to play Abraham Lincoln he half-convinced himself that he was Abraham Lincoln.”

7. How Hurricane Sandy Slapped the Sarcasm Out of Twitter

“Twitter not only keeps you in the data stream, but because you can contribute and re-tweet, you feel as if you are adding something even though Mother Nature clearly has the upper hand. The activity of it, the sharing aspect, the feeling that everyone is in the boat and rowing, is far different from consuming mass media.”

8. Single for the Holidays

“Ah, the holidays. The perfect time of year to be with the one you love the most: yourself.”

9. What Everyone Was Saying

“You can always look it up.”

10. Known Unknowns

“What Silver is doing here is playing the role of public statistician — bringing simple but powerful empirical methods to bear on a controversial policy question, and making the results accessible to anyone with a high-school level of numeracy. The exercise is not so different in spirit from the way public intellectuals like John Kenneth Galbraith once shaped discussions of economic policy and public figures like Walter Cronkite helped sway opinion on the Vietnam War. Except that their authority was based to varying degrees on their establishment credentials, whereas Silver’s derives from his data savvy in the age of the stats nerd.”

11. Digital Natives and Their Customs

“To my shock, when we asked about the key event in their lives, they said it was the advent of digital culture.”

12. Tips From a Professional Cheat

“Editing is important. But in this context, by not editing, by leaving in the inevitable typos and spoonerisms, my work might more closely resemble that of the client.”

13. The Year of the MOOC

“The shimmery hope is that free courses can bring the best education in the world to the most remote corners of the planet, help people in their careers, and expand intellectual and personal networks.”

14. Show Me Your Badge

“Badges are gaining currency at the same time that a growing number of elite universities have begun offering free or low-cost, noncredit courses to anyone with access to the Internet and a desire to learn.”

15. Regrets of an Accomplished Child

“The overtly accomplished child is often the less educated one.”

16. Empire of the In-Between

“Inside the train, it’s all tidy and digital, everybody absorbed in laptops and iPhones, while outside the windows an entirely different world glides by. Traveling south is like moving through a curated exhibit of urban and industrial decay. “

17. How Do You Raise a Prodigy?

Prodigy derives from the Latin prodigium, a monster that violates the natural order.”

18. A Problem of Churchillian Proportions

“I realized that having never written a book before, Paul had no idea how much time it was really going to take, and so his estimates were, as he would cheerfully admit later, hopelessly off. And some of what did come in was really rough.”

19. #InPraiseOfTheHashtag

“The hashtag, for the dexterous user, is a versatile tool — one that can be deployed in a host of linguistically complex ways. In addition to serving as metadata (#whatthetweetisabout), the hashtag gives the writer the opportunity to comment on his own emotional state, to sarcastically undercut his own tweet, to construct an extra layer of irony, to offer a flash of evocative imagery or to deliver metaphors with striking economy. It’s a device that allows the best writers to operate in multiple registers at once, in a compressed space. It’s the Tuvan throat singing of the Internet.”

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