Sunday 01.27.2013 New York Times Digest

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1. January Is the Cruelest Month

“Written inside of us is the birth of the solar system and workings of the planet itself.”

2. Selling a New Generation on Guns

“Threatened by long-term declining participation in shooting sports, the firearms industry has poured millions of dollars into a broad campaign to ensure its future by getting guns into the hands of more, and younger, children.”

3. The Preppers Next Door

“A good number were tweaked to fit their owners’ needs and interests. A locksmith in the group had a lock-picking set. A vegetarian had a stash of homemade dehydrated lentils. One man had a condom designed to serve as an emergency canteen; another had a rat trap — to catch and eat the rats.”

4. The Card of My Dreams, Always Elusive

“This was The Card.”

5. Lincoln’s School of Management

“Even before Lincoln the movie came along, there was a certain cult of leadership surrounding the 16th president. C.E.O.’s and lesser business lights have long sought inspiration from his life and work. But today, as President Obama embarks on a new term and business leaders struggle to keep pace with a rapidly changing global economy, the lessons of Lincoln seem as fresh as ever. They demonstrate the importance of resilience, forbearance, emotional intelligence, thoughtful listening and the consideration of all sides of an argument. They also show the value of staying true to a larger mission.”

6. Dickens, Austen and Twain, Through a Digital Lens

“The new tools of discovery provide a fresh look at culture, much as the microscope gave us a closer look at the subtleties of life and the telescope opened the way to faraway galaxies.”

7. How to Say ‘Look at Me!’ to an Online Recruiter

“Having a blog can be a good way to show that you are a thought leader.”

8. Talking, Walking Objects

“Robots are entering our homes in subtle ways, through countertop appliances, hand-held tools and wearable gadgets that display specialized and isolated robotic behaviors.”

9. The Rise of the Permanent Temp Economy

“Low-wage, temporary jobs have become so widespread that they threaten to become the norm.”

10. Enjoying Snow, While We Still Have It

“Snow gives us a new world. It gives us (not least) a day off to contemplate it. Snow bestows silence: deep snowfalls ‘spread their peace,’ said Saint-Exupéry. Above all, snow gives meaning to the great indoors. Thoreau wrote that in winter, ‘warmth stands for all virtue.’”

11. Your Biggest Carbon Sin May Be Air Travel

“One round-trip flight from New York to Europe or to San Francisco creates about 2 or 3 tons of carbon dioxide per person.”

12. Successful and Schizophrenic

“Far too often, the conventional psychiatric approach to mental illness is to see clusters of symptoms that characterize people. Accordingly, many psychiatrists hold the view that treating symptoms with medication is treating mental illness. But this fails to take into account individuals’ strengths and capabilities, leading mental health professionals to underestimate what their patients can hope to achieve in the world.”

13. A Back-Seat Narrator by the Name of Ishmael

In Moby-Dick, nature is a horror. If a creature is believed to be knowing, like the great white whale, it is assumed to be malevolent. And if it has no humanlike awareness, it is endowed, like the polar bear, with ‘irresponsible ferociousness.’ Beneath ‘the loveliest tints of azure,’ there is ‘the universal cannibalism of the sea.’ Under Ishmael’s tutelage, I began to feel guilty for admiring the sunset as we rolled toward Albuquerque. Who knew what the sun was scorching as it rolled over the horizon?”

14. The Race Grows Sweeter Near Its Final Lap

“At home, we planted a garden; I finished writing a memoir. Every morning we did push-ups; every evening we sat on the rim of our bathtub and flossed our teeth. He called me ‘sweetheart.’ He never forgot an anniversary, including our first movie date. I gave him flowers on Betty’s birthday.”

15. Alain de Botton: By the Book

“We can regard our life as a uselessly disturbing episode in the blissful repose of nothingness. It may be said of it: ‘It is bad today and every day it will get worse, until the worst of all happens.’”

16. Running Through His Mind

“He dressed in clothing so tattered that his uncombed, usually unwashed, hair poked out of holes in his hat, and his pants threatened to fall off in pieces as he walked. He ate cheese flies, tiny insects that hover around the tops of old cheese and that he used to gather up into packages and snack on as he brooded over his photographs. Then there was the small matter of the murder.”

17. Ray Kurzweil Says We’re Going to Live Forever

“The problem is I can’t get on the phone with you in the future and say, ‘Well, I’ve done it, I have lived forever,’ because it’s never forever.”

18. What Does It Mean to Be Comfortable?

“Historically, societies developed methods of dealing with their local climates, and those tools and behaviors became ingrained cultural customs. As the world becomes more interconnected, these customs are changing, and so is the definition of something as elemental as comfort.”

19. How to Make an Ironman Whimper (and Cough)

“He is the only person in the world who makes a living at stair racing … In interviews, Dold is chipper and exudes supreme confidence. ‘I can run backward faster than most people can run forward,’ he boasts. (He is in fact one of the world’s premier backward runners, having completed a heels-first mile in 5:46, a world record.)”

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