Sunday 08.11.2013 New York Times Digest

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1. Measuring the Sycamore

“At a time when we so rely on numbers, big data and statistical analyses, when information systems seem to offer us infinite ways to quantify the world around us, it may be worth remembering that measuring a tree — or a shoreline or coral reef or blooms of native flora — is more than a matter of collecting a few additional bytes of data.”

2. Strong Coffee, Weak Hitters

“On Sundays I sleep late. I get up about a quarter to 6 — even earlier if I’m in the throes of writing something.”

3. Download: Thomas Lewis

“I think one of the appeals of Springsteen is that he’s a strong man but also nakedly emotional and very wounded and sad in some of his music. As a young man, I had no idea how to combine those things — no idea what to do when I was sad.”

4. After Guantánamo, Another Injustice

“The United States military and intelligence agents relied on corrupt informants who were raking in American cash, or even worse, jailhouse snitches who swapped false stories for candy bars, porn and sometimes just a break from their own beatings.”

5. I Flirt and Tweet. Follow Me at #Socialbot.

“Researchers estimate that only 35% of the average Twitter user’s followers are real people.”

6. What if Novelists Took Steroids?

“What if there were a drug I could take to make me a better storyteller, or more prolific with a hyphen, or able to slice through a 300-page edit in half the time?”

7. Books to Have and to Hold

“When I look up from my e-reading, I realize that the physical books are serving a new purpose — as constant reminders of what I’ve read.”

8. Dr. Google Will See You Now

“The state with the highest rate of depression is North Dakota; the one with the lowest, Virginia. The city with the highest rate is Presque Isle, Me.; the city with the lowest, San Francisco. Depression is, unsurprisingly, highest on Mondays and lowest on Saturdays. The date on which depression is lowest is Dec. 25, followed by a few days surrounding it.”

9. Adam’s Rib, van Gogh’s Ear, Einstein’s Brain

“Harvey was working at a time when fresh dead bodies were hard to come by. He was so determined to find specimens that he dissected his own father and sister. Criminals could be legally dissected after execution, but females were rare. One anatomist, William Hunter, is believed to have acquired pregnant bodies through devious means, possibly murder; another, Robert Knox, bought at least 16 cadavers from a pair of ruffians who lured docile loners into their lodgings, plied them with whiskey and suffocated them. In a satisfying resolution, one of the murderers was himself dissected.”

10. Midlist Crisis

“We are all soon to be dust and ashes under the aspect of eternity — a comfortingly modest thought. There is nothing, I repeat, in an author more becoming than modesty.”

11. Harrison Ford on Fanboys and Fat Suits

“The form of film in the ’70s and ’80s and early ’90s, when I was working more and playing leading-man roles, was such that I always felt the burden of having to carry the audience along. Of making sure that they identified with the emotional condition of the character. And knowing that if they lost sympathy or investment in that character, that happened at the peril of the film. The pleasure of being a character actor is that you don’t have to think about that.”

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