Sunday 12.02.2012 New York Times Digest


1. The Art of Being Still

“Too many writers today are afraid to be still.”

2. Columbia’s Gang Scholar Lives on the Edge

“Look, I’m a scholar. I’m a sociologist. I have a particular way I do my work. I’m really proud of it. I’d like to have that be the basis on which I’m known.”

3. Drug of Focus Is at Center of Suspensions

“Players are taking Adderall, a medication widely prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, whether they need it or not, and are failing drug tests because of it.”

4. Taking a Stand for Office Ergonomics

“The science is still evolving, but we believe that sitting is harmful in itself.”

5. When the H.R. Office Leaves the Building

“‘The world has moved toward self-service,’ he said, and that puts the emphasis on technology, and on information over advice. Sometimes, he said, ‘there’s literally no one to talk to.’”

6. New Love: A Short Shelf Life

“We may love our partners deeply, idolize them, and even be willing to die for them, but these feelings rarely translate into long-term passion. And studies show that in long-term relationships, women are more likely than men to lose interest in sex, and to lose it sooner. Why? Because women’s idea of passionate sex depends far more centrally on novelty than does men’s.”

7. Biz Stone

“Wabi-Sabi is a concept and an art form. It’s about the beauty of the natural degradation of things like the rust on a can. Something that I’ve always wanted to do is work the idea of natural degradation into software, like an app you use a lot would become worn-looking. It would be a visual thing because I think having an app that would break down over time wouldn’t be cool.”

8. The Buzzwords of the Crowd

“Could fashionable buzzwords reflect the limits of public interest in a particular area of science? And what if the relative ubiquity of certain words affected what scientists chose to focus on?”

9. Saying No to College

“The idea that a college diploma is an all-but-mandatory ticket to a successful career is showing fissures. Feeling squeezed by a sagging job market and mounting student debt, a groundswell of university-age heretics are pledging allegiance to new groups like UnCollege, dedicated to ‘hacking’ higher education. Inspired by billionaire role models, and empowered by online college courses, they consider themselves a D.I.Y. vanguard, committed to changing the perception of dropping out from a personal failure to a sensible option, at least for a certain breed of risk-embracing maverick.”

10. She’s Got Some Big Ideas

“A fierce creature of habit, she begins every day by working out. On this morning, she alternates 20 chin-ups with 50 push-ups, then performs a series of planks and stretches. Once on the elliptical, she frantically highlights an obscure 1976 book, The Creativity Question (Amazon sales ranking: one million-plus), and checks her RSS feed on her iPad.”

11. If I Do Humblebrag So Myself

“Outright bragging expects to be met with awe, but humblebragging wants to met with awe and sympathy. It asks for two reactions from its audience, and in so doing makes fools of its beholders twice over.”

12. American Theater

“Life beats down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you have one.”

13. Hotels

“Some bellmen can tell the difference between a $100 bill and a $1 bill just by the feel.”

14. Paglia on Art

“The book is full of similar noisy art-historical proclamations that are better suited to the blogosphere than to a cogent historical survey that hopes to expose its readers, and particularly young readers, to the immensity and subtlety of artistic creation.”

15. Burton on Burton

“He tops Onassis’ wedding gift to his bride of almost £100,000 in jewelry with a £127,000 diamond ring for Elizabeth, ‘simply because it was a Tuesday.’”

16. The Rolling Stones

“Leafing through the first hundred pages or so, I was struck by how hard they worked. They’re living, breathing proof of the argument in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers (which discusses the Beatles at some length, but doesn’t mention the Rolling Stones). As Gladwell summarizes a study out of Berlin’s elite Academy of Music: ‘The thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That’s it. And what’s more, the people at the very top don’t work just harder or even much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder.’ That’s the Rolling Stones.”

17. Bloom Town

“Places like Baltimore, Minneapolis and Phoenix appear to be becoming more like one another ecologically than they are like the wild environments around them.”

18. The Autism Advantage

Many companies struggle to find workers who can perform specific, often tedious tasks, like data entry or software testing; some autistic people would be exceptionally good at those tasks. So in 2003, Sonne quit his job, mortgaged the family’s home, took a two-day accounting course and started a company called Specialisterne, Danish for ‘the specialists,’ on the theory that, given the right environment, an autistic adult could not just hold down a job but also be the best person for it.”

19. Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality?

“One of the paper’s authors, Ferdinando Boero, likened the Turritopsis to a butterfly that, instead of dying, turns back into a caterpillar. Another metaphor is a chicken that transforms into an egg, which gives birth to another chicken. The anthropomorphic analogy is that of an old man who grows younger and younger until he is again a fetus. For this reason Turritopsis dohrnii is often referred to as the Benjamin Button jellyfish.”

20. Who Do Online Advertisers Think You Are?

“Our consumer profiles are beginning to define us in all of our online interactions, and a result may be that we get different prices at the mall — or different news articles and campaign ads on our mobile devices — based on a hidden auction system that we’re unable to alter or control.”

21. The Life Lessons Hidden in Reality TV

“What ‘Survivor’ is really about is the inescapability of your being yourself, even when you have told yourself you can be someone different for 30 days.”



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