Sunday 01.20.2013 New York Times Digest

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1. The Art of Adding by Taking Away

“A great piece of art is composed not just of what is in the final piece, but equally important, what is not. It is the discipline to discard what does not fit — to cut out what might have already cost days or even years of effort — that distinguishes the truly exceptional artist and marks the ideal piece of work, be it a symphony, a novel, a painting, a company or, most important of all, a life.”

2. A Cat’s 200-Mile Trek Home Leaves Scientists Guessing

“Murka, a tortoiseshell in Russia, traveling about 325 miles home to Moscow from her owner’s mother’s house in Voronezh in 1989; Ninja, who returned to Farmington, Utah, in 1997, a year after her family moved from there to Mill Creek, Wash.; and Howie, an indoor Persian cat in Australia who in 1978 ran away from relatives his vacationing family left him with and eventually traveled 1,000 miles to his family’s home.”

3. Reveling in the Rites of the City

“The TV stays off for months at a time. I barely know how to turn it on.”

4. At Home With Millions of Books

“In recent years, the store has put in place a computerized inventory system, but Mr. McFall relies largely on his prodigious mental map of the tens of thousands of books in the section to keep track of the waxing and waning of various titles.”

5. 100 Years of Grandeur

“The idea for the new Grand Central Terminal came to William J. Wilgus ‘in a flash of light,’ he recalled decades later. ‘It was the most daring idea that ever occurred to me.’”

6. Clinging to Youth, at a Cost

“Players from ages 18 to 40-plus gathered one more time to wear a helmet and pads, to sit with their buddies in the stale and yearning reek of the locker room, to hear the clack of cleats on concrete, to be inspired by their own adrenaline screams and the profane exhortation of their coaches, to lift out of a stance and hit someone, to catch a pass and make a tackle, to feel sweat drip and cheers swell, to remind themselves of what they were or might have been.”

7. Buying the N.Y.S.E., in One Shot

“ICE, as IntercontinentalExchange is known, did not even exist 13 years ago. It has no cavernous trading floor, no gilded halls, no sweaty brokers braying for money on the financial markets. What it has is technology.”

8. The Guns Hiding in Your Portfolio

“As a publicly traded company included in numerous market indexes, Smith & Wesson is widely held in multistock portfolios like mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, as well as in financial instruments based on them.”

9. What Is Middle Class in Manhattan?

“Household incomes in Manhattan are about as evenly distributed as they are in Bolivia or Sierra Leone.”

10. Movies in the Age of Obama

“It may be too soon to identify an Obama Cinema, but the president’s second inauguration seems like an appropriate time to try.”

11. Action Star With Savoir-Faire and a Killer Kick

“Not since Sean Connery had the action genre seen such Continental savoir-faire. Mr. Connery, however, couldn’t execute a roundhouse kick.”

12. Eyes Wide Shut

“When people are running something akin to a private gulag across the United States and, to a lesser extent, the entire world, who cares whether they get the joke? And what is the joke, exactly?”

13. Second Selves

“We’re so sure of what our unlived lives would have been like that we feel guilty for not living them — for not living up to our potential. But ‘where did we get our picture of this potential from?’ Phillips asks. We live in an age in which many of us no longer feel rooted in traditional systems of belief; we know we are nothing special — ‘on a par with ants and daffodils’ — and so seek our satisfaction in the perpetual present of consumer capitalism, in which ‘knowing ourselves’ means ‘simply knowing what we want to have.’”

14. I Change, You Change

“It’s time to christen a new subgenre: the self-help memoir, a kind of long-form personal narrative fused with life coaching.”

15. The Smartphone Have-Nots

“The standard explanation of this unhinging, repeated in graduate-school classrooms and in advice to politicians, is technological change. The rise of networked laptops and smartphones and their countless iterations and spawn have helped highly educated professionals create more and more value just as they have created barriers to entry and rendered irrelevant millions of less-educated workers, in places like factory production lines and typing pools. This explanation, known as skill-biased technical change, is so common that economists just call it S.B.T.C. They use it to explain why everyone from the extremely rich to the just-kind-of rich are doing so much better than everyone else.”

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