Sunday 05.05.2013 New York Times Digest

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1. Where Do Old Cellphones Go to Die?

“The answer isn’t pretty.”

2. Latest Product From Tech Firms: An Immigration Bill

“The fact that technology lobbyists were given an unusual degree of access to the negotiators on the bill is entirely justified, he said.”

3. The Last Refuge From Scandal? Professorships

“The traditional path to an academic job is long and laborious: the solitude and penury of graduate study, the scramble for one of the few open positions in each field, the blood sport of competitive publishing. But while colleges have always courted accomplished public figures, a leap to the front of the class has now become a natural move for those who have suffered spectacular career flameouts.”

4. The Apprentices of a Digital Age

“They are not debating Chaucer; they are debating product features.”

5. Corporations Find a Friend in the Supreme Court

“The Roberts court is the most pro-business court since the mid-1930s.”

6. More Tech Magic, if You Can Afford It

“The experience of wearing Glass raised questions for me about the future of new technology and who gains access to it first – part of a much larger debate concerning the undercurrents of power and privilege that course through the Web.”

7. A Child’s Wild Kingdom

“Right when someone is learning to be human, we surround them with nonhumans.”

8. The Idled Young Americans

“The United States has quietly surpassed much of Europe in the percentage of young adults without jobs. It’s not just Europe, either. Over the last 12 years, the United States has gone from having the highest share of employed 25- to 34-year-olds among large, wealthy economies to having among the lowest.”

9. What Health Insurance Doesn’t Do

“If the benefit of health insurance is mostly or exclusively financial, then shouldn’t health insurance policies work more like normal insurance? Fire, flood and car insurance exist to protect people against actual disasters, after all, not to pay for ordinary repairs. If the best evidence suggests that health insurance is most helpful in protecting people’s pocketbooks from similar disasters, and that more comprehensive coverage often just pays for doctor visits that don’t improve people’s actual health, then shouldn’t we be promoting catastrophic health coverage, rather than expanding Medicaid?”

10. Brain, Interrupted

“Tweet about this at your own risk.”

11. Beyond the Code of the Streets

“Even in victory, the distance between expectation and results is dizzying for both. The old code remains a part of you, and with it comes a particular strain of impostor syndrome. You have learned another language, but your accent betrays you. And there are times when you wonder if the real you is not here among the professionals, but out there in the streets.”

12. Blu-rays to Avoid Ultraviolet Rays

“One of the great pleasures of Hard Times is the way it romanticizes, just barely, the idea of living on a shoestring, of being secure enough in your own skin to know you don’t need much to live the way you want. Chaney drifts into the movie wearing a beat-up newsboy cap and toting a scruffy duffel bag and drifts out pretty much the same way, much to the awe of his temporary compatriots.”

13. Working Alone, Together

“This was supposed to be the age of the mobile (a k a nonexistent) office, with ‘solopreneurs’ telecommuting from home or the beach in elastic-waist pants. But many who work independently are discovering alienation lurking behind the home-office fantasy, and an increasing number are joining a new generation of co-working organizations.”

14. Urban Gardening: An Appleseed With Attitude

“In a city where an elite few fuss over $13 plates of escarole wedges, too many others eat at 98-cent stores and drive-throughs or go hungry altogether. Mr. Finley estimates that the City of Los Angeles owns 26 square miles of vacant lots, an area equivalent to 20 Central Parks, with enough space for 724,838,400 tomato plants. His radical fix is to take back that land and plant it, even if it’s the skinny strip between concrete and curb.”

15. Cyberparenting and the Risk of T.M.I.

“Parents describe finding out things they had rather not have known. One quick glance at Instagram, and they may not want that lovely girl they welcomed at their weekend house several times last summer to return. You wouldn’t believe what that boy, the one who is a lifeguard at the town pool, said about a 12-year-old in her bikini. And who is rolling a spliff on the 14-year-old neighbor’s Tumblr?”

16. The Right Stance Can Be Reassuring

“Striking a commanding pose, whether you are in a sparkling gown or frayed jeans, can change how you perceive yourself, which ultimately influences how you are perceived by others.”

17. Go the Same Way, or Go the Wrong Way

“For the pop sociologists of the period after World War II, ‘crowd’ was a scare word, an impersonal entity that would extinguish your personality, spew contempt at your uniqueness, disable the operation of your individual instincts and judgment. Now the ‘wisdom of crowds’ has become an accepted platitude. ‘Peer pressure,’ far from being a pernicious influence, is something we seek out as we race from one review site to another. You might call this the Yelpification of culture. The goal and appeal of Yelp, and of countless similar companies, is to make everyone, regardless of income or social status, feel like a teenager trying to get into an exclusive private school that evening.”

18. Science Chronicle

“For this project, McLellan photographed 50 disassembled classics of mechanical and electronic design, with the components first arrayed in formal order and then in midair free fall.”

19. Face Value

“If your aim is to own the finest specimens in a category pursued by other wealthy collectors, insufficient scarcity will never be your problem.”

20. Basic Training

“While miniature war-gaming has never been able to claim a place in the mainstream, it has influenced almost everything we think of as gaming today.”

21. Silicon Valley’s Start-Up Machin

“The Mountain View investors are the partners of Y Combinator, an organization that can be likened to a sleep-away camp for start-up companies. Y.C. holds two three-month sessions every year. During that time, campers, or founders, have regular meetings with each of Y.C.’s counselors, or partners, at which they receive technical advice, emotional support and, most critical, lessons on the art of the sale. There is no campus, only a nondescript office building in Mountain View – on Pioneer Way, around the corner from Easy Street.”

22. My Desperate, Stupid, Emotional Hunt for the Perfect Pants

“I thought the whole pitch was ridiculous, but of course I was secretly obsessed with the idea of perfect pants. I am secretly obsessed with the idea of perfect anything. I am weak and searching and desperate, just once, to have a perfect thing. So I bought the pants.”

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